Saturday, May 26, 2012

Talabani's still offering no leadership

Press TV reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is calling for a national conference again.  He's been calling for that since December 21st.  How long he'll continue to call, who knows?  His son, of course, just spent over a million dollars on a DC home (the six bedroom and six bath house -- not all six baths are full bathrooms -- is on Daniel Road in Chevy Chase, Maryland and they closed on it January 27th agreeing to the price of $1,155,000).  I guess if I were a child of Talabani's and I was seeing exactly how ineffective he had become, I think I'd probably decide to spend money on a home in another country as well.  It is interesting that a public servant like Talabani can afford to purchase a home in that neighborhood.  You wouldn't assume that being the KRG lobbyist in the US would pay enough to warrant a million-dollar home.  I believe his home has a bigger square footage than Bully Boy Bush's home in Dallas, Texas.   (Whenever I mention Bush's home, we always get e-mails: 'He lives in Highland Park.'  No, he was too cheap to buy in Highland Park.  Highland Park is not a section of the city of Dallas.  Highland Park is its own muncipality -- surrounded by Dallas city limits.  H. Ross Perot lives in Highland Park. SMU -- where we often speak -- is in Highland Park.  Bush's house is near Highland Park.  It's not in Highland Park.) 

I think someone should ask Talabani why his son purchased a home in the US -- you can lease in that area -- and how large of a salary his son draws.  Regardless, Talabani's days are limited in Iraq.

He's swearing to Kurds that he's going to stand with them but even PUK (the political party he heads) doubts that.  They're starting to point out the obvious: Is Jalal really in a position to demand that Nouri not seek a third term?  If he takes up that position, doesn't that mean that Talabani can't seek a third term as president of Iraq?

Without that position, he's just the aged head of political party he's led to lower and lower turnout.  The PUK needs new leadership. 

Talabani's too squishy to count on for anything.  He's never taken a stand in his two terms as president.  Some will (falsely) argue that he's taken a stand against the death penalty. 

While Talabani claims to be against the death penalty -- and may in fact be -- he's done nothing to stop it.  It's noted that he refuses to sign the execution orders.  But he knoews, when he refuses, that someone else can sign and will.  And he's fine with that.  He does have the power as president to stop an execution.  He can do more than refuse to sign an order, he can question that order and stall the process.  But he doesn't do that.  Again, he's too squishy.  He's never been able to take a stand.

Bushra Juhi (AP) reports, "President Jalal Talabani's statement, posted on his website, is the latest plea for an end to the crisis that has engulfed Iraq since Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government issued an arrest warrant for the country's Sunni vice president in December -- just as the last U.S. troops left the country."  The political crisis has been going on for over a year and a half.    Marina Ottaway and Danial Kaysi's [PDF format warning] "The State Of Iraq"  (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) notes the events since mid-December as well as what kicked off Political Stalemate II:

Within days of the official ceremonies marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved to indict Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and sought to remove Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq from his position, triggering a major political crisis that fully revealed Iraq as an unstable, undemocractic country governed by raw competition for power and barely affected by institutional arrangements.  Large-scale violence immediately flared up again, with a series of terrorist attacks against mostly Shi'i targets reminiscent of the worst days of 2006.
But there is more to the crisis than an escalation of violence.  The tenuous political agreement among parties and factions reached at the end of 2010 has collapsed.  The government of national unity has stopped functioning, and provinces that want to become regions with autonomous power comparable to Kurdistan's are putting increasing pressure on the central government.  Unless a new political agreement is reached soon, Iraq may plunge into civil war or split apart.

Staying with the Kurds, Al Mada reports that  Kurdish Alliance MP Chuan Mohamed Taha is stating that Nouri's actions are alarming Kurds and that they fear Nouri using weapons -- such as the F-16s the US is planning to provide Nouri -- on them.   This is not a minor concern.  By refusing to appoint ministers to the security ministers, Nouri controls them.  And now, AFP notes, some are proposing that all Iraqi men should be forced to do military service.  Alsumria informs that currently Speaker of Parliament Osama Najaifi is calling for 'people' to avoid politicizing the military.  As Nouri more and more lives up to his nickname of "Little Saddam," there are some serious concerns.

Alsumaria has a report that has me laughing.  US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey gave interviews to outlets -- most likely a sit-down press conference -- and Jeffrey -- speaking to media going all over Iraq -- feels the need (or, more likely, was ordered) to include a statement insisting that the US has been a great friend to the KRG.  He stresses that and you really don't do that.  Except when the Kurdish leadership -- KRG President Massoud Barzani, among others -- have awakened to the fact that the US has repeatedly broken the promises made to the KRG. When that happens, you ignore what Sunnis and Shi'ites (among others) are going to think of the US Ambassador to Iraq insisting that the KRG has benefitted more than anyone in Iraq from the US.  As the White House knows, that sort of remark, if taken seriously, can drive a wedge between groups in Iraq -- and that's probably what the White House is hoping for.

To address the ongoing crisis, Al Mada reports, Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya, is working with others to form a national political body that would not only address the political crisis but would also propose solutions for the security problems and other political problems. Al Rafidayn reports on Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq head Ammar al-Hakim who launched into yet another speech applauding Nouri. al-Hakim remains Nouri's only high profile public supporter.

Al Mada reports Nouri's been invited by Moqtada al-Sadr to visit him in Najaf.   Moqtada was the one who announced that Nouri had a limited time to implement the Erbil Agreement or face a no-confidence vote.  Moqtada has repeatedly stated publicly that it's still not too late for Nouri to implement the agreement.

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