Monday, May 21, 2012

Nouri has Ammar but little else

As the deadline Moqtada al-Sadr announced last week for Nouri al-Maliki to implement the Erbil Agreement and the 18-point plan proposed by Moqtada al-Sadr gets closer, Nouri thought yesterday he could defuse the crisis by calling for a Baghdad meet-up.  Alsumaria reports that today, while attending the International Conference on Human Trafficking in Sulaymaniya, KRG Vice President Kosrat Rasul dismissed Nouri's call for a meet-up with no preconditions.  And Rasul notes that the meetings that have been taking place, which State of Law dismisses and attacks as a 'conspiracy,' are, in fact, part of the democratic process.

Saturday, Moqtada al-Sadr hosted another such meeting at his Najaf home and attendees including Iraqiya, the Kurdistan Alliance and the National Alliance.  Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that Moqtada has told his followers that this was a meeting to preserve democracy and that State of Law elements decided not to attend while Nouri was not invited.  Outside of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim remains the closest thing to a public supporter Nouri has. He tells Al Mada that the Sadrist bloc is part of the National Alliance but it cannot speak for the alliance itself.  He also tsk-tsks what he sees as "extortion language" in some of the comments.  The remarks about Moqtada not speaking for the entire National Alliance was already made by Nouri's State of Law.  Al Rafidayn reports that here.  But your underlings defending you in the press cares very little weight or influence.

Ammar al-Hakim, like a prince, was born into his current role.  He became leader of ISCI after his father died.  Dar Addustour notes that he just won re-election to his post of presidency.  That outcome was never in doubt.  And that might be why al-Hakim can repeat the comments urged on him without too much fear of being toppled.  But possibly al-Hakim should worry more about schisms and factions which are growing in the party he presides over? Al Mada has Talabani repeating his call for dialogue.

Among the things Nouri doesn't want on the agenda is the status of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.  Shortly after the bulk of US forces left in December, Nouri swore out an arrest warrant for the vice president who was in the KRG and remained there until April.  He is currently in Turkey.  The 'trial' against him started and with Nouri's Baghdad judges holding a press conference in February to declare Tareq al-Hashemi guilty, no one in their right mind would take what has gone in as fair or impartial.  AFP reports that his attorneys finally had enough yesterday and walked out:

"We decided to withdraw from the case as the appeals commission did not review the appeals we presented to it," Muayad al-Izzi, the head of Hashemi's defence team, told reporters, referring to their attempts to have the case heard in a special tribunal rather than the Central Criminal Court of Iraq.
The CCCI, which held the fourth hearing on the case on Sunday, responded by appointing two new lawyers to replace those who withdrew.

Press TV adds:

Hashemi said in a statement issued on his website on May 17 that he was considering the withdrawal of his lawyers from the case due to “legal violations” including a refusal to transfer his trial to another court and his lawyers not being permitted to meet with the accused members of his staff or witnesses individually.
This weekend, three angry e-mails declaring Tareq al-Hashemi guilty arrived in the inbox of the public account  -- I didn't know Baghdad judges had time for e-mail pranks -- and expressed outrage that I wasn't noting witnesses in the al-Hashemi trial.

That's incorrect.  We noted family members of victims testified.  I'd stated that morning that it was doubtful they were eyewitnesses to any alleged crimes al-Hashemi is accuesed of.  By the afternoon, reports established that my guess was correct.  If they had been, we would have done more than note them, we would have included their testimony.

But, check the archives, we don't offer torture 'confessions.'  Check the archives, I slammed the NPR reporter (married to a CIA operative) who broadcast torture confessions and then tried to minimize her actions.  Iraq is known to torture.  Though many in the US government have embraced torture -- which is an illegal crime -- and though the Democratic Party's embraced since 2009, I haven't and I won't.  We have resisted many 'juicy tidbits' over the years that came from people who were imprisoned and were most likely tortured into making their 'confessions.'  I'm not interested and like the civilized world -- which used to include the United States -- I don't support, endorse or popularize torture.

I will not offer the 'confessions' of those who have been imprisoned, I will not popularize it, I will not give it the appearance of actual evidence or of being even remotely credible.

Radio notes:  Law and Disorder Radio  is  a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights).  Today they discuss a federal appeal on behalf of two Iraqis, the Palestinian Prisoner Hunger Strike, Azadeh Shahshahani joins them to discuss the ACLU's findings on the immigration detention center in Georgia, Sean Strub joins them for a discussion on HIV-specific criminal laws and labor issues pertaining to retail and food employees are the topic for a discussion with attorney Daniel Gross of Brandworkers.  Yesterday, Michael Ratner was Cindy Sheehan's guest on Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox.  And, on this week's Progressive Radio, Matthew Rothschild speaks with Dr. Helen Caldicott. 

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