Nouri hasn't been able to stop the violence -- not in the six years he's been prime minister -- but he's decided to try and tackle illiteracy. All Iraq News notes Nouri has announced the start of a campaign to wipe illiteracy and quotes Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh declaring that Nouri announced the program in a Cabinet meeting earlier this month and al-Dabbagh stated that the Minister of Finance has worked with the Minister of Education to ensure that the program is properly funded. Last week, the Iraqi press was noting an official survey which estimated that 1/5 of Iraqis are illiterate. That is especially surprising when the median age is below 21-years-old. It's not at all surprising when you grasp that, following years of devastating sanctions, public institutions have struggled under the continued war.
Iraq is supposed to hold provincial elections in March 2013 and parlimenatary elections in 2014. The Independent High Commission for Elections has been extended 30 days and then 15 because their terms have expired. The commission is needed to oversee the elections. Al Mada reports that the political blocs have finally agreed on nine people to nominate to the posts. MPs speaking to the news outlet express confidence that the matter will be resolved in the next two days. Over the weekend, the Iraqi press was reporting that one of the slots would go to a woman (yes, only one). Al Mada notes today that one slot will go to a Turkman.
On elections, Mayada al-Askari (Gulf News) reports the disturbing but non-surprising news:
The Iraqi government, which is in a political stalemate, remained defiant with its number two official saying that there is no crisis and that Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki will be re-elected in the next election.
Dr. Khudair Al Khuzaie, Vice-President, affirmed that the political process has not reached a dead end and the country is going through a ‘highly developed democratic process’ where it moved from a totalitarian rule to the one of freedom.
“Even if the opposition were united, I believe that Al Maliki’s chances are high and on the rise. However, the next election, which will be in two years’ time will reveal what Iraq wants through the voters and it is only the voters who will decide the identity of Iraq’s next prime minister,” he told Gulf News.
Yes, Nouri is planning to run for prime minister again. Yes, his lie in 2011 was a lie. Yes, the press trumpted it as truth. Yes, the press ignored it when he immediately withdrew the promise. What's a whoring press to do but lie and whore some more. Why is Iraq so hopelessly f**ked up right now? Maybe because the press refuses to hold the officials accountable -- that is the role of the press -- and refuses to report reality. They were happy to run with the lie -- when they should have known it was a damn lie. Do we need to go over all the people who printed as gospel that Nouri wouldn't seek a third term? We can do that in the snapshot if needed.
Little Saddam wants to rule Iraq. And the press is more than happy to help him in that goal with very few exceptions. One exception is the Guardian and a friend with the paper called this morning to ask why I ignored the editorial? Because I forgot it. Other things came up Monday and Tuesday, the BBC's investigation deserved focus. My apologies. Sunday night, I said I would note it and then never did. My apologies. It's entitled "Iraq: back to the future" and this is the opening:
Is Nouri al-Maliki becoming Iraq's next dictator and, if he is, does anyone in Washington care? The second half of the question is easy to answer. The Pentagon wanted to keep 8,000 troops in Iraq after withdrawal. But Maliki made it clear there would be no US troops after the agreement expired on 31 December 2011. The state department also planned for an embassy up to 16,000 strong, and a CIA station 700 strong, but the Iraqi strongman made short shrift of a sizeable US civilian presence, by insisting that his office take direct responsibility for approving every US diplomatic visa. Washington could use the soft power of military supply contracts, but is unwilling to do that. Maliki is allowing Iranian overflights to resupply Assad's embattled regime in Syria. Washington still does not want to know.
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