Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's not looking good for Nouri

In a major blow to Nouri al-Maliki's already fragile public image (click here for Human Rights Watch's report on his torture prison), Alsumaria reports that it is said that there are now 200 MPs ready to vote to withdraw confidence in him -- and 20 of those votes would come from Nouri's own State of Law political slate.

March 7, 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections.  Nouri is the head of Dawa, a political party.  He didn't want to run with Dawa and wasn't crazy about the Shi'ite groupings that existed.  So he ran on his own political slate, State of Law.  Despite using the Justice and Accountability Commission to force various rival politicians (such as members of Iraqiya, such as Saleh al-Mutlaq) out of the election, despite tarring and feathering the other new political slate  Iraqiya as "terrorists,"  Ba'athists and controlled by foriegners, despite suddenly taking an interest (as he does two months before every election) in 'public works' project such as water -- no, not improving the infrastructure so people can have potable water, instead he sends a water truck to the area to try to make the residents feel they owe him  -- and so much more, State of Law still came in second to Iraqiya.

Because he is the US puppet, the White House backed him over the Iraqi people and the notions of democracy and the process outlined in Iraq's Constitution.  Because he had the backing of both the White House and Tehran, he could bring the country to a standstill and did.  For eight months following the election, Iraq suffered from gridlock.  That means one, brief embarrassing session of Parliament and nothing else.  Nouri refused to step aside and let the country move forward.  Finally, in November 2010 (over eight months later), the US brokered a contract known as the Erbil Agreement.   Nouri was given his second term as prime minister.  The political blocs agreed to that provided Nouri met their demands such as finally implementing Articel 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, such as creating an independent security body headed by Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya).  Every one of the blocs gave up something and did so to try to end Political Stalemate I.  The day after the agreement was signed by all parties, Nouri was named prime minister-designate (Jalal Talabani, president of Iraq, would 'officially' name him that days later to give him more time than the Constitution allowed to create a Cabinet).

Iraqiya wanted to discuss the independent security council, Nouri and State of Law said "too soon."  Allawi led many members of Iraqiya in a walk-out.  The US worked over time to get Allawi and his MPs back into that session.  They told him that the agreement would be honored but that Allawi had to give it time.

In December, having failed to name a full Cabinet (a Constitutional requirement), Nouri was illegal moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  And still people waited for the implementation of the Erbil Agreement.  Last summer, the Kurdish bloc was tired of being put off and ignored and declared publicly that Nouri needed to return to and honor the Erbil Agreement.  They were quickly joined in that call by Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr.

Political Stalemate II has gone on for over a year.  This is the ongoing political crisis.  Nouri's decision to target Sunnis and Iraqiya in the fall of last year didn't help.  His attacks on provinces who wanted to -- as they are allowed in the Constitution -- move towards semi-autonomy went along with his arrests of various innocent Sunnis (such as elderly college professors) in an attempt to destroy their lives and then, in December, he went after Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq and Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi -- both Sunni, both members of Iraiqya.

A real leader would have resolved the political crisis long ago.  Not just because it's good for Iraq but because it's good for the leader's own image and legacy.   Nouri's not a leader.  Puppets so rarely are.  April 28th, there was another Erbil meet-up and among those attending were Allawi, Moqtada, KRG President Massoud Barzani, Iraqi President Jalal Talabni.  At the meeting, it was decided that the Erbil Agreement needed to be implemented and so did Moqtada's 18-point plan.  Moqtada al-Sadr then informed Nouri that if this did not take place, they would pursue a no-confidence vote against him.  If unsuccessful, it still leaves him wounded image wise.  If successful, it leaves him out of a job.  So you'd think a real leader would say, "Sure, I promised to abide by the Erbil Agreement, let me implement it right now and stop all this fighting."  But Nouri's no leader.

And now there are supposed to be 200 votes against him.  Moqtada al-Sadr has repeatedly stated that Nouri still has time so you'd think, before the deadline got here, Nouri would implement the agreement.   Dar Addustour reports that Jalal Talabani met with Nouri yesterday and urged him to resolve the crisis by implementing the agreement but Nouri refused.

Nouri's sometime political ally, sometime political foe, Ahmed Chalabi is in the news today.  Alsumaria reports he has stated that the National Alliance (a political slate of various Shi'ite groups including Moqtada's and Nouri's) to determine what their plan of action will be and how to best resolve the political crisis.  Ibrahim al-Jaafari is said to have called the meet-up.  Chalaib also insisted that the supposed move to have a vote of no-confidence on Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi (a member of Iraqiya) was not a National alliance plan, did not originate with the National Alliance and that the alliance has received no request for such an action.

 Remember how Nouri was illegally moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister at the end of December 2010?  He had not filled a Cabinet.  That's nominating them, that's getting the Parliament to vote for them.  The security ministries were left vacant.  Iraqiya stated Nouri was doing that intentionally because it would allow him to control them.

Because Iraq's system's different than the US, let's explain that.

If Barack Obama wants Noam Chomsky to be Secretary of Education, he nominates him and the Senate votes on whether or not to confirm him.  If he's confirmed, he begins serving.  Barack might decide Chomsky's not doing a good job or that he's a liability to his election campaign or that he just wants someone else in the job.  So he would convey that to Chomsky who would offer his resignation and depart.  Then Barack could name someone else to the post.

That's not the way it works in Iraq.  Nouri nominates.  The Parliament votes.  If the Parliament votes someone into the Cabinet, only the Parliament can remove them.  So if Nouri nominates Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers journalist) to be Minister of Defense and the Parliament approves that nomination, Laith is in place and running things and has a great deal of power including that he can't be forced out of the post by anyone but the Parliament.

Nouri has 'named' 'acting ministers' to the security posts.  Acting ministers are not real ministers.  They are not approved by Parliament.  They have no independence and no powers.  (The notion of them doesn't even exist in the Constitution.)  Nouri can name Ahmed Chalabi acting Minister of the Interior tomorrow and fire him three days later for no reason other than Nouri had gas the night before.  Because it's not a real position and it doesn't require a vote from Parliament.  These are people Nouri puts in place and that Nouri controls.  As his first term established, Nouri does not control the Cabinet.  He is a member of it, the alleged head of it but he has to work with these members he can't fire or risk more gridlock.

Dar Addustour reports today that Nouri is nixing names for Minister of Defense.  There is no Minister of Defense.  All this time later.  None.  Nouri was supposed to have nominated and seen one confirmed  before he could move to prime minister (from prime minister-designate).  The Constitution gives the designate 30 days to form that Cabinet.  It's two years later and Nouri still doesn't have a Minister of Defense.  Or Interior.  Or National Security.

That's not leadership but it does allow him to control the posts.  And that appears to have been the plan all along.

Turning to the US, Peter Van Buren is a US State Dept employee, a whistleblower and the author of  We Meant Well: How I helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.  The administration is targeting him for what he has spoken of and written of.  Lisa Rein (Washington Post) reports the ACLU is backing Peter  and stating that, if the State Dept continues to pursue termination, they may be violating Peter's Constitutional rights:

The ACLU said public employees like Van Buren retain their First Amendment rights even when speaking about issues directly related to their jobs, as long as they are speaking as private citizens.
Van Buren lost his security clearance, was banned from agency headquarters for a time and transferred to a telework job that requires him to do almost no work.
His termination notice cited eight charges ranging from linking on his blog to documents on the whistleblowing site Wikileaks to disclosing classified information. He denied that he disclosed anything classified and says linking to Wikileaks is not a fireable offense.

The e-mail address for this site is