Friday, May 18, 2012

State of Law smears, Moqtada waits, or does he?

In Iraq, the political crisis continues.  US news outlets haven't even bothered to delve into the deadline Moqtada al-Sadr gave Nouri al-Maliki last week, let alone cover all that's happened since.  A few days back, we noted a photo of Nouri and Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim in a public display of affection together, they were practically rubbing noses.  Al Mada reports al-Hakim gave a speech declaring that failure to resolve the political crisis will lead Iraq into a dark abyss.  Could things get darker?  Alsumaria reports that State of Law is invoking Saddam Hussein, likening him to Iraqiya.  Mp Mohammed Chihod insists that Allawi is an exile (as is Nouri, as are most the US allowed into leadership) and that he doesn't care about anything but authority, that he leaves the country to this day (as do most Iraqis in Parliament) and he leaves to plot with Iraq's enemies. 

 On the issue of Allawi being in and out of the country, State of Law picked a bad time to make that argument -- the same day Lara Jakes (AP) reports members of Parliament "hightailed it out of town" as they leave on their six-week vacation in "free armored cars" (free for them, $50 million price tag for the people of Iraq) that outraged the Iraqi people and that the Parliament swore they'd be looking into -- how did it happen, they were just so confused and swearing they understood the public's outrage over it all.  Again, Jakes is reporting they headed out in those cars they never paid for themselves and that they swore they would be doing away with. Jakes also points out that while "raw sewage runs through the streets in many neighborhoods, polluting tap water," the MPs not only receive a salary (and those armored cars) but they've given themselves a $90,000 per diem to cover living expenses. 

 At any rate, State of Law's character smear on Allawi is quite lengthy, almost as lengthy as the political crisis itself.

March 7, 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections.  Iraqiya, led by Ayad Allawi, came in first, State of Law, led by Nouri, came in second.  Nouri did not want to give up the post of prime minister and, with support from the White House and Tehran, Nouri dug his heels in creating eight months of gridlock, Political Stalemate I.  This only ended in November 2010 when the US brokered a deal known as the Erbil Agreement.  At a big meet-up in Erbil, the various political blocs signed off on the agreement.  Nouri got his second term as prime minister in exchange for concessions to other political blocs.  But once he became prime minister, Nouri refused to honor the agreement.  By the summer of 2011, the Kurds were publicly demanding that Nouri return to the Erbil Agreement and Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr joined in the call.  More recently, April 28th, another meet up took place in Erbil.  Participants included KRG President Massoud Barzani, President of Iraq Jalal Talabani, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, Ayad Allawi and Moqtada al-Sadr.  The demands coming out of that meet-up were a return to the Erbil Agreement and the implementation of 18-point plan by Moqtada.

All eyes are on Moqtada today.  Al Mada reports that Iraqiya states they are waiting for word from Moqtada regarding the withdrawal of confidence vote on Nouri.  Moqtada is thought to be either still waiting on a communication from the National Alliance (a grouping of Shi'ite political blocs including ISCI, Moqtada's bloc, Nouri's State of Law and others) or else contemplating which step to take now?  Alsumaria reports Moqtada is stating today that he received no response from the National Alliance yesterday and that there will be a meeting soon on outstanding issues.  These statements were made online in the Q&A he regularly does with his follwers. Al Mada notes that there are conflicting reports on whether or not the National Alliance sent Moqtada a communication with MP Ali al-Tamimi stating that Moqtada was sent a letter which was a formal response.  al-Tamimi states he does not know the contents of the letter; however, he states that Moqtada is expected to respond to the National Alliance no later than tomorrow.

According to Kitabat, a meetings already taking place, one that lasted several hours today and that involved Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and senior members of Parliament and US Ambasador to Iraq James Jeffrey.  Among the topics reportedly discussed were the Erbil Agreement and the fact that Nouri must not be permitted to run for a third term as prime minister. 

That's internally.  Externally?  As noted yesterday, Nouri and his Baghdad-based government have engaged in another war of words with the Turkish government.  Turkey is one of Iraq's biggest trading partners.  Today Hurriyet Daily News reports:

Turkey and the regional government of northern Iraq have taken additional steps to deepen economic and energy ties at a moment when both parties’ relations with Baghdad are strained.

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government of northern Iraq received a high-level reception in Ankara yesterday as he met with President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

One 'accomplishment' Nouri can claim is he's succeeded in building a wall between Baghdad and Anakara while allowing Turkey and northern Iraq to strengthen their ties to one another.

Finally, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from that opening of Bacon's "Fighting for the right to a union and to stay in Mexico" (Working In These Times):

Jacinto Martinez is the labor secretary of Section 65 of the Mineros, Mexico's union for miners and one of the oldest unions in the country. His union has been on strike for five years at the huge Cananea mine, one of the longest strikes in the history of North America. Critical support for this strike has come from the U.S. miners' union, the United Steel Workers, and both unions have announced their desire to merge to form a single organization. Martinez describes the history of the strike and the horrifying conditions in Cananea today in an interview with David Bacon.
Members of the miners' union, the Mineros, march to Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo, to protest the repression of unions by President Felipe Calderon.

Our town is where the Mexican Revolution began in 1906, at a time when miners there were virtually enslaved. The mine was eventually taken over by the government, which ran it for many years. Nevertheless, over the last hundred years there were many strikes in this mine over wages and working conditions
Finally, in 1989, the government stopped all operations at the mine, and President Carlos Salinas de Gortari declared that the mine was bankrupt. In August of that year the government sent in Federal troops. The miners were expelled from the mine, and the mine was closed for three months. Then Salinas sold it to private owners, Grupo Mexico, the company run by the Larrea family. Really, it was basically given away. The government had just invested 400 million pesos in the ore concentrator alone. Grupo Mexico bought the whole mine for 650 million.

The e-mail address for this site is