Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The price Jalal now pays

Alsumaria reports Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi explained today that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was the one reassuring everyone that a withdrawal of confidence could be done and Nouri al-Maliki easily replaced.  Allawi states that Talabani stated no Constitutional mechanism was required, Talabani merely had to withdraw confidence.  Why is Allawi leaking?

Probably because he's among the many furious with the way Jalal stabbed everyone in the back.

Is Jalal correct?  Yes, he was.  He's acting on implied powers within the Constituion.  And may also be bringing in the Erbil Agreement.  (It has a clause in it -- as the US White House damn well knows -- which states that the coalition government falls if the Kurds withdraw their consent.  Since Jalal was speaking for himself and Allawi's not raising this aspect, my guess is Jalal was acting on implied powers within the Constitution.)

Why didn't he utilize it?

Why did he disqualify signatures on the petition?  Why did he refuse to forward it?

Here's reality, you sign off on a motion, you signed off on it.  You can't say, "Oh, remove my signature!"

That's not how it works.  You can say, "Well I'm not voting no-confidence!"  That's fine.  But your signature never meant you were.  All it meant was you were calling for Parliament to hold a no-confidence vote.

Repeating, there's no 'take my name off!'  MPs should remember that and weigh carefully whether they wish to sign it or not.

Had Jalal not created hurdles, that petition would have gone to the Parliament over 8 days ago.  And those whining "I wanted my name off!" would have to deal with the fact that you don't sign your name to something unless you agree to it.

The reality, of course, is that they did agree to it.  What changed is they were offered inducements to withdraw their support.

Regardless of what happens to Nouri, Jalal has badly misplayed his hand.  All he's done is strengthen KRG President Massoud Barzani who looks commanding and leader-like while Jalal looks indecisive, hesitant and untrust worthy.  The KRG is having to redraft their election laws because, as they stand, the Christian minority (which has increased since the last provincial elections in 2009) would only be allowed to vote for Christians.  While some or all might wish to do so and even do so, the reality is that the law was illegal as written.  You can't mandate which candidate someone votes for in an election.  The KRG Parliament is currently addressing that issue.  It's not expected to take a great deal of time and provincial elections are expected to be held next year as planned.

Point being, Jalal couldn't have found a worse time to look weak.  While it doesn't matter in terms of his office (President), it does matter in that he's the face of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and he has repeatedly weakened support for the party.  Massoud Barzani is the face of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.  2012 has been a very good year for Barzani and KDP.

The last years have been very good for the KDP period.  And that's why you hear more grumbles from the PUK about how ineffective the 78-year-old Jalal is as the face of the party.  (He looks much older but that's because he weighs over 325 pounds.) With his son buying the mansion in the DC area and Jalal's popuarity continuing to decline,  PUK may consider replacing Jalal a lot sooner than planned.

Right now, there's nothing for him.  He swore he wouldn't seek a second term as president but he did.  He would find a great deal of opposition if he sought a third term.  And he can't get elected to any major office in the KRG.  So barring some brave move on his part (unlikely but possible) or some major p.r. this is the end of the political road for Jalal.

Al Rafidayn reports that Massoud Barzani declared yesterday that efforts continue to replace Nouri and to "repel the dictatorship" as the Iraqi people want to happen.

Nouri al-Maliki has long been at war with Iraq's Inependent High Electoral Commission.  This includes stamping his feet for a recount of the 2010 ballots.  More recently Faraj al-Haydari, head of the IHEC, and another member of the committee were arrested.  NIQASH's Mustafa Habib reminds:

Critics of Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said the arrest was “part of a pattern of power grabs — his near total takeover of the security forces, a recent attempt to exert influence over the central bank and politically motivated arrests under the pretext of thwarting coup plots,” the New York Times wrote the week al-Haydari was arrested. “And it reinforces a narrative that Mr. Maliki is emerging as an authoritarian leader in the wake of the American military withdrawal,” they concluded.

Habib interviewed al-Haydari at the end of May.  Excerpt.

 NIQASH: In mid-April, you and a colleague at IHEC were arrested on corruption charges. What is happening with that now?

Faraj al-Haydari: Actually the case isn’t closed yet. I was detained for three days because I had paid some of my employees a bonus of US$125 each. Yet there are other public officials who have been accused of embezzling billions – and they have yet to be arrested. I was released on bail of around US$12,000. But the case is still open and it’s been transferred to the criminal court. So it seems that will take a long time to resolve this. And that will impact IHEC’s credibility. I consider my arrest an assault on Iraq’s democracy.

NIQASH: Why do you think it’s an “assault”, as you call it?

Al-Haydari: There is no doubt that the arrest of IHEC’s head has an impact on the Iraqi people. By arresting me, they didn’t intend to attack me as a person, rather they wanted to target the IHEC because it’s a professional institution that doesn’t succumb to political pressure. Some political parties or blocs have tried to undermine the IHEC’s integrity. And obviously this [arresting the IHEC’s head] will have an impact on the voter.

NIQASH: How do you think the international community see the arrests?

Al-Haydari: The international community is well aware of the significant role that we played during electoral processes in this country and it is also very well aware of the purpose of the attacks against us.

In the latest violence, Alsumaria notes 4 assailants shot up the Basra home of provincial council member Mohammed Saadoun al-Abadi last night and 2 people were shot dead while walking in southern Baghdad.

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