Monday, June 18, 2012

White House wants Iraq crisis resolved before Nov. elections?

Alsumaria is trumpeting a major get.  Tomorrow evening (Iraq time), they will air an exclusive interview with Moqtada al-Sadr.  Though Moqtada has participated in a few press conferences of late (such as the one following the April 28th meet-up in Erbil), he largely communicates via his online forum.  It is being called his first major interview since 2010. 

Nouri al-Maliki may face questions in Parliament.  If he does, there may be a vote after to determine whether or not he should remain as prime minister.  But even without knowing that, a reader could tell Nouri was in big trouble just going through the news in Iraq this morning.  Dar Addustour reports that Nouri has proclaimed 200,000 housing units will soon be constructed.  And they will be given away free!!!!!  And the electricity crisis will end next year!!!!!

Nouri always unrolls the promises when his political career is at risk.  So despite the fact that Baghdad still doesn't have more than six hours a day of electricity (outside the Green Zone), it'll all be fixed next year?  Despite the fact that this hasn't taken place thus far? 

Meanwhile Kitabat reports what everyone's thinking, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani fled to Germany in order to avoid the increasing pressure around the issue.  The paper says Talabani has fled to avoid continued pressure from Iran.   Before fleeing, Jalal was again calling for a national conference.  Al Rafidayn has a non-scientific, ongoing readers' poll asking "What are your expectations for the national conference of political leaders in Iraq?"  976 readers have voted.  Their top expectation?  28.4% say they expect to see the current government survive.  Just behind that, with 25.1% of the vote is a group that expects to see early elections called. 

Dar Addustour reports that the Sadr bloc is denying they have agreed to side with Nouri in order to have the presidency of the Justice and Accountability Commission.  This is the commission that was used in 2010 to disqualify various candidates -- mainly Iraqiya and other rivals of Nouri -- ahead of the elections.  The National Alliance states that this position was decided upon some time ago.

Kitabat notes the US government (via Vice President Joe Biden's office) continues to apply pressure to the situation in Iraq.  Dar Addustour states Nouri was told to wrap it up (what that means isn't explained: Return to the Erbil Agreement, take out his rivals?) because the White House is worried how the continued turmoil will reflect on them as November elections approach.  There are rumors of a meeting being held on Wednesday that will be "crucial."

Alsumaria notes that Iraq is hit by dust storms today.  Kitabat's more concerned with ambassadors.  They note that England's Ambassador to Syria Simon Paul Collis was kicked out of that country but has now been named Ambassador to Iraq.  And here's the official United Kingdom announcement on that:

Mr Simon Paul Collis has been appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq.
FCO plaque in King Charles Street. Crown copyright.
He will succeed Mr Michael Aron who will be transferring to another Diplomatic Service appointment. Mr Collis will take up his appointment at the end of June 2012.
Mr Collis joined the FCO in 1978 and after studying Arabic has served mainly in the Middle East. His most recent postings have been as Her Majesty's Consul General in Dubai and in Basra, and Her Majesty's Ambassador in Doha and in Damascus. He left Syria on the withdrawal of remaining staff in February 2012, and was declared persona non grata by the Syrian regime in June 2012.
On his appointment as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq, Mr Collis has said "I am honoured to be appointed Ambassador to Iraq and look forward to returning there. I will do my best to work with the Government and people of Iraq to strengthen relations between our countries.
At a time of change in the region and in the wider world there are many challenges and opportunities across political, economic, security and cultural fields where both countries can benefit from working more closely together in pursuit of our shared interests and objectives.
I believe that success in these endeavours must be rooted in a sound appreciation of our historical links while remaining firmly focused on building the future. I am very happy to have been afforded this opportunity to contribute to that exciting and valuable work."

Curriculum vitae

Full name: Simon Paul Collis
Married to: Huda Mujarkech
Children: Five adult children
October 2007 – Present Her Majesty’s Ambassador, Damascus
2005 – 2007   Her Majesty’s Ambassador, Doha
2004 – 2005 Basra, Consul General
2000 – 2004 Dubai, Consul General
1999 – 2000 Secondment to BP
1996 – 1999 Amman, Deputy Head of Mission
1994 – 1996 FCO, Deputy Head, Near East & North Africa Dept
1991 – 1994 New Delhi, First Secretary
1990 – 1991 FCO, Gulf War Emergency Unit
1988 – 1990 Tunis, Deputy Head of Mission
1987 – 1988 FCO, Head of India Section, South Asia Department
1986 UKMis New York, Temporary Duty
1984 – 1986 FCO, Middle East Spokesman, News Department
1981 – 1984 Bahrain, Second Secretary
1980 – 1981 Full Time Arabic Language Training
1978 – 1979 FCO, Desk Officer, Southern European Department

Those are some serious qualifiacations.  As opposed to the US where any fool gets made Ambassador.  Yeah, Kitabt goes there yet again noting that the White House refuses to back down from the nomination of Brett McGurk despite his sexual scandal and Congressional opposition.  I don't know if there can be a worse scandal in the current Iraq other than a "sexual scandal."  We've noted that women would be at risk if McGurk was confirmed and they visited the US Embassy.  But a community member in Tirkit thinks it's much more than just Iraqi women.  He wonders how, for example, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani could meet with McGurk after all the coverage in Iraq about the sex scandal?  He assumes that al-Sistani and other clerics would have to avoid McGurk whom he feels would be seen as "an infindel" who brought dishonor upon the United States while on Iraqi soil (in 2008, while in Iraq as a Bush official, the married McGurk began an affair with the married Gina Chon -- both subsequently divorced their spouses -- divorce is not a minor thing in Iraq).  So why in the world, our community member in Tikrit wonders, is the US government trying to force McGurk as Ambassador when his actions mean most Iraqis will avoid him and whisper about him?

It's a very good point and you have to wonder how many strikes one person gets before the White House wakes up and pulls the nomination?  And it would probably be a good thing for the xenophobia in the US press to stop.  For all the dumb idiots who want to claim, "They got married!," McGurk isn't trying to be ambassador to the US, he's trying to be the US ambassador to Iraq.  And he's really not the best face for that. 

Peter Van Buren notes that Cryptome has published some of Brett McGurk's blogging. Peter Van Buren is the author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the War for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People .  And we'll note this from Peter Van Buren:

Let’s also talk about whether not speaking any Arabic is a good or bad thing for McGurk. Let’s ask what experience he has had managing a $6.5 billion enterprise with 16,000 employees. Let’s ask what job if any he has held other than appointed political hack. Let’s talk about how many Iraqi groups see him as so close to PM Malaki that they initially refused to even work with him. Let’s talk about the little paid-for nooky at Harvard. Let’s talk about whether using US Government email to conduct an extra-marital affair suggests you have the discretion, maturity and personal credibility to be an ambassador. Let’s talk about John McCain’s objections. Let’s talk about Inoufe’s objections.

Let’s talk about all those issues, and whether they add up to someone who deserves to be an ambassador.

And as if to make sure the story drags on for another news cycle, Chon also spoke to CNN. Better yet, some apology email Chon sent to her “friends” ended up leaked to CNN by one of them. The embattled spouse told CNN:

People have jumped to unfair and inaccurate conclusions using our own words against us.

Oh, the old “using our own words” defense. We call that taking responsibility for what you say and write. And this woman worked for a major newspaper?

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Gentlemen's Journalism Club" went up Saturday and Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Standing Behind McGurk" went up last night.   On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include Jose Padilla, austerity moves in Greece, student protests in Quebec and more.

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