Friday, August 17, 2012

How close are Iraq and Kuwait really?

A mass protest took place today in Babylon Province.  All Iraq News reports thousands of demonstrators turned out for the annual protest against Israel's occupation of Jerusalem and to voice their support for the Palestinian people

Yesterday, Iraq was slammed with a wave of violence.  Today the numbers are still rising.  AP earlier reported 59 died from yesterday's bombings and shootings.  But when Iraqi officials later claimed the death toll was 93, AP had to rush out with that totalAl Mada notes the wave of violence and that the dead included at least one child (Kirkuk home bombing).  Alsumaria reports that a Nineveh Province citizen's council is blaming the Ministry of Health for the death of many wounded.  Why?  They state that the Ministry has inadequately funded the hospitals leading to a lack of doctors and ambulances which resulted in a number of wounded whom they feel should have survived the attacks instead ending up among the dead.  The Minister of Health is Dr. Majeed Jamil.  Alsumaria also notes that others, including a member of the Parliament's Security and Defense Committee, are calling out the security plan.

Possibly in response to yesterday's violence, it's been announced that there will be over 8,000 security forces in Diwaniya for Eid al-Fitr.

The political crisis continues in Iraq and the 'Reform Commission' -- now just a list -- becomes more laughable each day.  The Sadr bloc notes that a piece of paper is not going to solve the ongoing crisisAl Mada reports that State of Law is stating that they did not bother to address the issue of the three presidencies.  That's Speaker of Parliament, President of Iraq and Prime Minister.  It's not a minor issue.  It's one State of Law has hissed at publicly when others raised it -- Moqtada al-Sadr, Ayad Allawi and Massoud Barzani among others have raised.  Nouri has had two terms and, in Februrary 2011, announced he would not seek a third term when rulers in the region were being forced out of office.  He quickly took back that promise and his attorney has told the press repeatedly that Nouri can seek a third term.   If Nouri doesn't try for a third term, State of Law loses the office because they have no other name leader -- they're a motley band of has-beens and strugglers who've made no real impact on the political scene.  And they know Moqtada al-Sadr wants to be prime minister as does the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim and Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Ibrahaim al-Jaafari (for al-Jaafari, it would be a second term as prime minister) so if Nouri can't have a third term, short of poaching from a rival political slate, State of Law stands a good chance of petering out.

All Iraq News notes that Arshad Salhi, head of the Turkmen Front, has stated that the three presidencies, the Cabinet ministers and the MPs should all hold a meeting to address the situation in Iraq and that the meeting should continue until all can reach a shared solution on what needs to be done. Al Mada notes that ISCI states meetings will be held following Eid al-Fitr.  Still hiding out in Germany, Jalal Talabani issued a statement hailing the 'progress' on the political crisis, Alsumaria notes.

As All Iraq News notes, there continues to be disagreement about the composition of the Electoral Commission.  This was supposed to have been decided long, long ago.  And a law passed.  Elections are supposed to take place in March of next year (provincial elections).  The Parliament recently extended the 'current' commission by 35 days while they continue working on the new law.  ('Current' written that way because before they were extended, their terms really had ended.) The National Alliance's Qassim al-Araji states that the commission should be expanded (increase the number of members) and he criticized those who are opposing this move.

Though various State of Law-ers are insulting Saudi Arabia in the press today, the key neighbor in the news cycle is probably Kuwait.  The United Nations long ago placed Iraq in Chapter VII.  It had debts to Kuwait, the UN decided.  It is not a truly independent country until it is out of Chapter VII.  That's why every year that's what an Iraqi representative addresses before the Security Council.  Nouri made a special effort to cozy up to Kuwait this year.  And, in fact, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler has praised that sudden friendship and seen it as an example of progress.

But as this Kitabat article and this Al Mada article make clear, relations with Kuwait are not written in stone and a number of Iraqis are very bothered by a TV portrayal of Iraqis in an unflattering light.  The tensions that existed remain, they've not gone away, they've not been replaced. 

Meanwhile, within Iraq, Al Mada reports that the Kurdistan Alliance bloc is objecting because the Office of the KRG in Baghdad will be closed -- the federal government made that decision on Wednesday.  The Kurdistan Alliance is stating that it must remain open and that the move is both unconstitutional and illegal while also requiring an official notice explaining the closure. This may be related to the prospect of a Turkish consulate being opened in Kirkuk -- an idea which has enraged a number of Parliamentary membersAl Mada also reports former Minister of Defense Abdul Qader al-Obedi has disappeared and the government wants information from the US.

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