Friday, June 15, 2012

Biden will get left holding the bag

Al Rafidayn carries AFP's report on how, despite Wednesday's attacks which left at least 93 dead "and 312 people wounded," Shi'ites continued their pilgrims Thursday.   Margaret Griffis ( notes this took place as 14 people were killed yesterday and another 21 injured.  Kitabat notes that KRG President Massoud Barzani, Iraiqya leader Ayad Allawi and Moqtada al-Sadr (leader of the Sadr bloc) issued a joint-statement decrying the violence and calling on the government to provide security.

Until Saturday night, Barzani, Allawi and al-Sadr were part of a four-some with President Jalal Talabani, working to replace Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister.  Saturday night, surprising few, Jalal showed his hand and refused to forward the petition for a no-confidence vote to the Parliament.  He insisted 16 signatures were not valid.  He allowed people who had signed it weeks prior to remove their signatures.  That's not how it works but that's how Jalal does.  Now fat boy Jalal and his nearly 400 pounds of girth are all alone.  He's the joke of Iraq with Iraqi social media laughing at him constantly. Both Allawi and members of the Kurdistan Alliance have exposed remarks Jalal made April 28th about replacing Nouri prompting a furious Jalal to deny them (and cite Allawi was wrong but Jalal knew enough not to attack the Kurdistan Alliance and didn't mention them) and his increasingly unpopular political party PUK was distributing explanations from Jalal in an attempt to help Talabani become less of a national joke. 

Alsumaria reports that the Sadr bloc states the move for a no-confidence vote is still on.  The way it would work now is summoning Nouri before the Parliament for questioning (which they have the Constitutional power to do) and then, after questioning, making a motion for a vote.  This would cut the treacherous Jalal Talabani out of the picture and he'd be resigned to his ceremonial, do-nothing post that he does nothing in.

Desperate to appear to have some strength in a country where perceptions of strength matter, Al Rafidayn reports Jalal is now saying he'll call a national conference to address the political crisis that started as 2010 ended when Nouri ignored the Erbil Agreement.  That US-brokered contract ended the 8 month political stalemate which followed the March 2010 elections.  Nouri's State of Law came in second to Iraqiya but the Little Saddam wouldn't step down.  Little Saddam wanted a second term.  Little Saddam was backed by Tehran and DC so his public tantrum was rewarded.  The US got the political blocs to go along with Nouri having a second term by promising various concessions would be made (such as, in his second term, Nouri will be bound by the Constitution, specifically Article 140 which he refused to follow in his first term).  All political blocs signed off on this contract, Nouri signed off as well (November 2010), the US government swore it was a binding agreement that would be honored.  The next day, Parliament held a session finally -- the first real one since the elections.  They elected a Speaker of Parliament and Jalal named Nouri prime minister-designate.  Nouri immediately refused to implement the creation of an independent national security commission headed by Allawi.  Allawi and the bulk of Iraqiya walked out.  The American officials talked them back into the session, swearing this was temporary, the Erbil Agreement would be honored.

They lied.

In December Nouri went from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  And Nouri made clear that the Erbil Agreement wasn't a priority.  By summer 2011, the Kurds, Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr are calling for the agreement to be implemented.  This is the ongoing political crisis.

Who has benefitted the most from it?

Moqtada al-Sadr. 

'Too eratic, too radical, too young.'  There was a list of 'toos' attached to the name of the person who wanted to be prime minister.  While Nouri has looked like a dictator and out of control, Moqtada's actually benefitted from Little Saddam's tantrums which provided al-Sadr with the opportunity to show a rational and reasoned side as well as leadership skills that rarely translated prior on the world stage.  It's a more mature Moqtada al-Sadr.

And that's really funny because the US government has always feared "radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr."  True of the Bush adminsitration, true of the Barack administration.

In 2014, new elections are supposed to be held.  If the US backs their puppet Nouri (who has had flunkies state that he would not run for a third term but whose attorney has stated Nouri can seek a third term), not only will it be clear to one and all that he is Little Saddam and 'democracy' in Iraq is a joke, but it will also become clear who has more power in the 'new' Iraq: DC or Tehran?

In 2010, Moqtada was not a viable choice for Tehran which feels closer ties to al-Sadr than Nouri but which was bothered by the 'too' list applied to Moqtada and by the fact that he was seen as divisive among Shi'ites (not to mention most Sunnis weren't crazy about him).  The political crisis has allowed Moqtada to strut as a statesman and he's grabbed that opportunity and used it very well.  He is the political star of Iraq currently.  And, if nothing changes, in 2014, he will likely be backed by Tehran.

Not only did the current White House push Iraq into the arms of Iran, they've now alarmed their national security experts who have long believed that nothing is more dangerous to Iraq's future than Moqtada al-Sadr being in charge.  Way to go, Barack!!!!  What a leader.

But not just Barack, sadly.

US Vice President Joe Biden knows Nouri is a thug but has had to make excuses for him.  Should Nouri hold on in 2014, then he will no longer be Little Saddam, he will be New Saddam.  Meaning that in two decades, the US government will declare another illegal war to again topple the leadership in Iraq.  At that time, Joe probably won't be with us.  If he is, he won't have the strength to defend himself so that will fall to Beau and Beau will be stuck tring to explain how, yes, his father knew Nouri was a thug but the policies of US President Barack Obama insisted the thug be backed (right now Samantha Power is telling everyone to stay with Nouri because, she just knows -- Psychic Sammy -- Iraq's about to be put in charge of OPEC when they elect a Secretary General; this, Sammy insists, is what the US has long been hoping for, control of OPEC via a puppet!).  Beau will be left to explain how someone known to run torture cells and secret prisons was backed by his father.  The things people have said of Bush in the last eight years will be nothing compared to what gets said of Joe Biden and Barack Obama. 

Barack will probably beg off insisting that Joe was the 'foreign policy expert, he was in charge of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee all those years, that's why I put him in charge of Iraq, I was misled.'  Joe will be dead or in ill health and become the fall guy for all the talking pundits on TV.  The chattering class will revisit Joe's turns of phrases to ridicule him to a new generation and everyone will be too busy chuckeling to wonder how the vice president got blamed for what the president did.

And Beau, who loves his father very much, will be left to defend him from the chattering class.  Those will be some hard years for Beau.

Alsumaria reports Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi informed the world today that he refused Joe Biden's request that he meet with Nouri al-Maliki.  He states that Tony Blinken (Biden's National Security Advisor) made the request on Biden's behalf and urged that the opposition to Nouri back down.  Kitabat notes that the US publicly insists it is not biased towards either side of the debate but that it worked repeatedly to undercut the opposition and to save Nouri.  In an effort to distract from the foreign interference that saves his ass, Nouri al-Maliki is pointing fingers at Arab neighbors.  Alsumaria reports that he has accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of trying to overthrow Iraq and Syria.

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