Saturday, June 16, 2012

Violence claims 51 lives and leaves 154 injured

Wednesday, Iraq was slammed with bombings, it is again today.  Today it was again today, despite all the claims by Nouri al-Maliki of additional security.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "Two car bombs targeted Shiite pilgrims Saturday in Baghdad, killing at least 32 people and injuring 68 others, police said."  Ahlul Bayt News Agency puts the injured toll at "more than 140." As Kitabat noted earlier this week, the pilgrims were taking part in the holy journey on the anniversary of the death of Imam Musa al-Kadhim.  Deutsche Welle notes, "Crowds carried symbolic coffins through the streets as pilgrims beat their chests in mourning as they made their way toward the mosque's two gold domes."

Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) explains, "The pilgrims were marching on foot to return to their homes after they participated in the observation of one of the major Shiite rituals at Kadmiyah's masusoleum of Imam Mussa al-Kadhim the 7th of the most sacred 12 Shiite Imams.  During the past few days, large crowds of pilgrims from Iraqi cities and some Muslim countries flocked to Kadhmiyah to observe the annual commemoration of the Imam's death."  Hsahim also notes that Nouri's security measures included a ban on all vehicles in "and around the district of Kadhmiyah," as well as closing roads, dispatching military helicopters to fly overhead, adding checkpoints and dispatching "dozens of thousands of Iraqi security troops." AP quotes Mohamed Ali who state, "There is no real security, no real searches,"   UPI adds:

Khalad Fadhel, a military analyst, said security officials over-emphasized deploying large numbers of soldiers and police officers without focusing enough on intelligence work to detect terrorist plots.
"It shouldn't be a military parade," Mr. Fadhel said. "We need a security strategy that addresses these shortcomings. I think that what we've really missed after the withdrawal of the United States is intelligence information. They were good providers of this kind of information about possible attacks."

Duraid Adnan and Tim Arango (New York Times) report, "The attacks represented an embarrassment to the army and police, and their top commander, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, and raised questions about the ability of Iraq's security forces to protect the population." And that's what happens when you refuse to name heads to the security ministries.  Nouri was named prime minister-designate in November 2010.

Per the Constitution, he was supposed to name a Cabinet -- full, not partial -- within 30 days.  Failure to do so meant that someone else would be named prime minister-designate.  Instead of following the Constitution, Nouri was allowed to become prime minister in December 2010.

The press assured us that Nouri would quickly nominate people to head the security posts.  Iraqiya, at the same time, warned Nouri would avoid nominating anyone because then he could control the posts.

How it works is if Nouri nominates Tim Arango to be Minister of the Defense and the Parliament confirms Arango, then Arango's in that post.  Arango controls the ministry.  If Nouri doesn't like what he's doing, he can't remove him.  It takes a vote in Parliament to remove a minister.  Just like it takes a vote in Parliament to confirm a minister.

'Acting ministers' do not exist in the Constitution.  Nouri pretends that an 'acting minister,' for example, runs the Defense Ministry.  No.  Nouri runs it.  The person has never been confirmed by Parliament and he does what Nouri tells him to do.  If he doesn't, Nouri replaces him. 

How does a so-called leader not get impeached when two years after he's been sworn in as prime minister he still hasn't nominated anyone to be the Minister of Defense?

Especially at a time when Iraq is seeing increased violence.

 AP quotes Brookings Doha Center's analyst and director Salman Shaikh stating, "Those behind the attacks, they've become more determined now and see more of an opportunity because of the dysfunctional political process." 

Alsumaria reports that Parliament's Commission on Security and Defense Council is insisting that there is "success" in protecting the people from terrorism.  Apparently, those killed and wounded today and the rest of the week are supposed to be swept under the rug because an estimated 6 million people made the pilgrimage.  (AFP's Salam Faraj and Laith Hammoudi report "tens of thousands," not millions.)  That probably won't bring comfort to the wounded or the family members of the dead.  BBC News quotes police officer Ahmed Maati stating, "We rushed to the scene, there were dismembered bodies, shoes, plastic bags, women's robes left all around, and people were screaming everywhere."  Al Rafidayn points out that nine provinces have seen large scale bombings this week (Iraq has 18 provinces).  Moving the focus beyond just Baghdad, Margaret Griffis ( counts 51 dead and one-hundred-and-fifty-four injured across the country.

As Iraq explodes, President Jalal Talabani continues to shrink.  Alsumaria reports that he's written an indignant letter to Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi and KRG President Massoud Barazni in which he belittles Moqtada al-Sadr and in which he insists he'd rather resign than change his opinion and forward the petition with 176 signatures to Parliament (the petition calls for a no-confidence vote on Nouri).  Poor overweight Jalal.  Last month, he'd pictured himself getting his arteries cleaned in the US and the pigging out on Philly Cheesesteaks.   Now his image is in tatters, his political party PUK has asked him to lower his profile (his weakness is hurting the party) and he's been told not to leave the country.  Back on April 28th, he talked big to Moqtada, Allawi and Barzani.  He swore that he could remove Nouri as prime minister all by his lonesome.  Then Nouri did a little pressue, the US did a little pressure, and like a cheap belt, Jalal buckled.  Next year the KRG holds provincial elections.  The PUK is furious with Jalal for his decision not to forward the petition.  It's made Massoud Barzani even more popular in the KRG, it's made him look even more like a leader and Jalal look even weaker and more ineffectual.  (The two main parties in the KRG are the Jalal's PUK and Barzani's KDP.  In the last years, Goran has emerged as a third party.  PUK officials fear that they are losing power not to Barzani's KDP but to the emerging Goran as a result of Jalal's embarrassing moves.)

With or without Jalal, efforts at a no-confidence continue.  Alsumaria reports that Moqtada al-Sadr says there will be a meeting on Sunday to address the issue of questioning Nouri before Parliament.  With Jalal betraying them, Moqtada, Allawi and Barzani are now pursuing another avenue -- one in the Constitution -- in which they bring Nouri before the Parliament, question him and then move towards a vote.

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, The NewsHour and the Guardian -- updated last night and today:

At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdrof has an important article entitled "What Bush's Iraq War and Obama's Drone Strikes Have in Common."  It doesn't lend itself to a pull quote or an excerpt but it's very much worth reading.

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