Saturday, September 15, 2012

I Hate The War

Sami al-Askari made a ridiculous but very informative statement today.  Al Mada reports that he has stated that it is not a problem that Iraq has no Minister of Defense, Minister of National Security or Minister of Interiror (the Interior heads the police) and, furthermore, Nouri's second term as prime minister will end without any of the three vacancies being filled.

First, let's note that, through Thursday, Iraq Body Count has 175 people dead in the country due to violence.   Violence has increased in the last two years an has increased since December 2011 when most US troops left Iraq.  And yet Iraq has no Minister of Defense, no Minister of National Security and no Minister of the Interior.  The positions that are supposed to for the protection of the Iraqi people are vacant.

Second, let's deal with the Constitution.  How someone becomes prime minister -- outlined in the Constitution -- was largely shoved aside when the White House decided Nouri al-Maliki would have a second term -- the will of the Iraqi people be damned.  The White House backed Nouri and then brokered a contract, known as the Erbil Agreement, among the political blocs in which, if they would sign on to Nouri's second term, they would get various concessions.  Barack Obama allowed the US to stake its reputation on this contract.

This is a very important point that no one has ever explored in a column or televised discussion in the US.  The US image in Iraq is in shambles.  There are many reasons for that.  Chief among those reasons are this contract.  The US vouched for the contract, swore it was legal, brought the parties together, got  them to sign in.  And then?

Nouri broke it and the US said nothing.  The White House made no push for the contract.  They did not condemn the breaking of the contract.  They ignored it.

Per the Constitution, a prime minister-designate is named and has 30 days to name a Cabinet.  Idiots like the Blonde Norwegian Online Boyfriend of Nouri ignore this detail or say it's not a full Cabinet.
There is a 30 day time limit to name the Cabinet.  If it's a partial Cabinet, why the time limit?  The time limit should make clear to even the most dense that you have 30 days to name a Cabinet means you have 30 days to name every member of your Cabinet.

Due to the Erbil Agreement, Nouri was able to sidestep that.  And the Western press rushed to assure, post-Christmas 2010, that Nouri would quickly nonminate people to head the security posts.  Iraqiya and its leader Ayad Allawi, at the same time, were saying the posts would not be filled and that this was a power grab on Nouri's part.

(Nouri names a Minister of the Interior nominee, the nominee then goes before Parliament.  If Parliament votes to confirm the man or woman, that person is then the Minister of the Interior. They head the ministry.  They cannot be removed by Nouri.  To remove the minister, Nouri must have the approval of Parliament.  This was illustrated most visibly in the last months when Nouri repeatedly attempted to have Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq stripped of his post and the Parliament refused. al-Mutlaq remains Deputy Prime Minister and Nouri's had to give up his months-long effort to have him stripped of his post.  The process is the same for National Security, Interior and all members of the Cabinet.  This gives a Minister independence.  By refusing to name nominees, Nouri controls the three ministries.  He has resorted to 'acting ministers' -- they have no power.  They do Nouri's bidding or he pulls them.  They have no power or independence because Parliament never confirmed them to the post.)

Three months shy of 2 years and the positions remain empty.

 So let's do a check here: the Western press said that Nouri would provide nominations in weeks, Ayad Allawi and Iraqiya said it was a power grab.  Who was right?  Ayad Allawi and Iraqiya.

Third, this nonsense sets a very bad precedent.  Barack Obama and others in the administration have this on their hands. Iraq is not the US (which has a questionable committment to democracy when it comes to the rights of its own citizens -- among other examples see the indefintate detention of  Iraq War veteran Bradley Manning who has still not seen a trial despite being imprisoned by the government for well over 500 days -- in clear violation of the US Constitutional promise of a fair and speedy trial as outlined in the Sixth Amendment).  When an emerging government -- that may or may not become a democracy -- is struggling for existence, you do not support going against the legal Constitution -- written and passed in 2005.  In the law, there is what is on the books (written) and there is what is done (custom or precedent).  The White House has possibly created a precedent as a result of what they did and what Nouri's done since the March 2010 elections.  This is disgusting and it would be nice if just once the administration could take responsibility for their actions.  But why should they?  Check throughout the US press for any outlet or columnist that has ever even once held them accountable for this?  Why get honest about your actions if the news outlets aren't even covering them?

No surprise, Sami al-Askari is a member of State of Law.  And so when he speaks, he's floating for Nouri.  How much push back this gets will determine what happens next.  If there is loud condemnation of the trial balloon not to fill the positions, then Nouri may attempt to fill the positions.  Otherwise, he'll bob along behind the balloon.  And please grasp if he bobs along, it is now possible for Nouri in a third term or any prime minister-designate after the next elections (parliamentary are currently scheduled for 2014) to argue that they don't have to fill the slots and to control them as Nouri has done.

Alsumaria reports that KRG President Massoud Barani's Kurdish Democratic Party issued a statement today noting that they are prepared to work with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to see to it that the Erbil Agreement is returned to.

This is not a minor issue and is at the heart of the political stalemate and the political crisis but the US press ignores it, they downplay, the minimize it.  Apparently, it's much more important that the American people not know the US brokered a contract, gave its word and then backed out then it is that the truth be told.

Al Mada reports that Ayad Allawi expressed his hope that a break through in the crisis may take place and quotes a statement issued by him where he refers to changes in the political landscape in Iraq and the world that he hopes will benefit the Iraqi people.  All Iraq News notes that he also spoke of how national dialogue has been killed and buried and the Iraqi judiciary politicized.

Without the White House honoring their word that the Erbil Agreement would be enforced, it's unlikely anything will change in Iraq.  It's a shame so many are so unaware of the promises the current administration made to Iraqi leaders and how the administration has gone back on its word.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

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