In Iraq, if you can't name a Cabinet, you are not supposed to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister. (The Erbil Agreement trumped the Constitution and allowed Nouri to move without appointing a full Cabinet.)
The Cabinet isn't about who you like, it's about the deals you make to get to be prime minister. And Nouri's nominations only become appointments if Parliament votes for them. Once Parliament has voted to approve a member of the Cabinet, only Parliament can remove the person.
Saleh al-Mutlaq has never been fired. AK Press reported yesterday that Nouri had withdrawn his order for Saleh al-Mutlaq to be fired. That order was never executed. AK Press notes, "By virtue of article 78 of the Iraqi Constitution the PM is the chief executive director of the public policy, the chief commander of the armed forces who also runs the Council of Ministers and chairs its meetings. He has the right to dismiss ministers with the consent of the House of Representatives." The Voice of Russia adds, "Bending under strong parliamentary pressure, Iraq’s PM Nouri al-Maliki has decided to keep his Sunni Deputy Saleh al-Mutlaq, local media report from Baghdad."
AK Press has an error. The error is that al-Mutlaq was the first to call Nouri a dictator. I'm sure many others have. But the error is that a group of people -- they name KRG President Massoud Barzani, Moqtada al-Sadr and Ayad Allawi -- follow al-Multaq's CNN interview charge. False. Ayad Allawi had already made that charge to a London-based Arabic newspaper and Nouri was enraged when the story ran. If Nouri could, he be going after Ayad Allawi. (And that may be his next step.) It's a minor error, but it's an error.
From yesterday's snapshot:
Alsumaria reports on rumors swirling around Baghdad that the National Dialogue Front will be splitting from Iraqiya and joining Nouri's State of Law. Saleh al-Mutlaq is the leader of the National Dialogue Front. Yes, he is the Deputy Prime Minister (one of three) that Nouri's been trying to strip of his post after al-Mutlaq told CNN that Nouri was becoming a dictator.
Have Nouri and al-Mutlaq formed an agreement? Or is this part of Nouri's efforts to take the steam out of efforts to remove him via a no-confidence vote? Al Mada reports that State of Law (Nouri's political slate) made clear that the request to withdraw confidence in al-Mutlaq stands. (al-Mutlaq is a member of Iraqiya, the rival slate that came in first in the March 2010 elections.) That would appear to indicate no deal because al-Mutlaq should be too smart to go for half a deal. In addition, Al Mada reports that the National Dialogue Front denies the rumor that they're entering into an arrangement with Nouri and State of Law and al-Mutlaq states that no members of the National Dialogue Front are planning to defect from Iraqiya.
Meanwhile Alsumaria reports that Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya, declared today that KRG President Massoud Barzani has their support for his efforts at addressing the political crisis.
If Saleh al-Mutlaq hasn't made a deal with Nouri (he says he hasn't, who knows) then the rumors were likely part of the continued efforts of State of Law to sway public opinion. Those eforts included falsely claiming that Allawi made a deal with Barzani that results in the KRG receiving Kirkuk, Qhanaqin and Nineveh after they run Nouri out of office. That rumor would anger many Shi'ites and Sunnis. To help spread it, Alsumaria reports, 'someone' circulated it on websites stating that it was from an article published by the British Observer (a Sunday paper, it's owned by the Guardian). The Observer denied the 'report' and noted they had no one on staff by the name of Robert Doclas (the byline to the fake story).
State of Law may also be behind the latest rumors about the KRG. Al Mada reports they are denying claims put foward that the Massoud is in the KRG.
Al Mada also reports that State of Law is stating early elections frighten Nouri's political opponents. Aswat al-Iraq reports:
Sadrist leader Muqtada al-Sadr described the call for early elections as "challenging the ethics and morals of Iraq and its people, and will permit Premier Maliki to remain in office limitlessly," according Sadrist Media Office.
"This state is under a form of dictatorship and we do not want it to remain under Premier Maliki," he added.
So the political crisis continues. US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffreys continues meeting with various blocs and urging them privately to cease their opposition to Nouri while Amir al-Hakim goes around doing the same thing publicly.
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