Starting with the never ending violence which has at least 9 dead and 26 injured so far today. Alsumaria reports that a Falluja roadside bombing has claimed the life of Mohammed Saleh, an adviser with the Ministry of Electricity, a Falluja car bombing left nine people (eight police officers) injured and a roadside bombing targeted the city's mayor (he surived) while claiming the life of a 2nd grade student and injuring six more. They also note a roadside bombing just outside of Falluja left an alderman and his brother injured. In addition, Alsumaria notes a Mosul armed attack which left 1 police officer dead. Trend News Agency adds Brig Gen Falih Kareem is dead from a Baghdad shooting, an assault on a Baghdad chceckpoint left 2 police officers dead (three more injured), 1 soldier was shot dead in Baghdad (with another left injured) and an armed assault on a Tarmiyah police station left 1 police officer dead and two more injured. AFP states the Tarmiyah assualt involved car bombs, rifles and rockets and that 1 police officer was shot dead in Baquba with three more left injured. Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count notes 265 deaths from violence in Iraq for the month so far.
In equally disturbing news, Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports that State of Law has announced provincial elections have been postponed. State of Law is thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's political slate. Thursday, July 19th, the United Nations Security Council held a hearing on Iraq. Offering testimony was Martin Kolber, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq.
Martin Kobler: Mr. President, there is no democracy without elections and there are no credible elections without a strong and truly independent election commission. As we speak, my political deputy, Mr. [Gyorgy Busztin], is engaged in facilitation efforts to bring about the formation of a new, Independent High Election Commission which is representative of the main components of Iraq -- including women and children and minorities. The urgent selection of the commissioners is essential for ensuring that the provincial council elections due to take place in March 2013 can be conducted on time. I'm concerned that the ongoing political stalemate is hindering the process however. In recent days, I have discussed with political leaders -- including Prime Minister al-Maliki -- the need for a swfit conclusion of this political process and the need for an adequate representation of women and minorities in the commission. Today, I would like to re-iterate my appeal to all political blocs to expedite the selection of professional commissioners.
Now the March elections are postponed. Are we grasping that Nouri al-Malki cannot oversee a functioning government? The March 2010 parliamentary elections? They were supposed to take place in 2009. Among the things delaying them? Nouri's group refusing to properaly recognize refugees (who had voting rights). You may remember that the March 2010 elections were followed by an eight month political stalemate (ended only by the US-brokered Erbil Agreement which Nouri used to grab a second term as prime minister and then trashed, creating the current and ongoing political stalemate). Iraq is not 'progressing.' The repeated inability to hold scheduled elections on time is more than disturbing. These are not oh-no-an-attack-on-the-Green-Zone-we-didn't-anticipate-that. These are planned events, known ahead of time. With years to plan, there's no excuse for being able to pull this off.
This is a known. This is something UNAMI's been prodding on all year long and before the start of this year. Now it's announced that Nouri's failed government can't even manage to pull off scheduled elections? That they have to postpone yet another scheduled election?
These are the basics of governance and Nouri repeatedly fails. Over and over.
The Independent High Election Commission? What IHEC?
The current commission has had their term extended and extended and extended. And then finally there was the announcement that Iraq had 9 new IHEC commissioners.
Well . . . 8. But they'd get that ninth one. Probably a Turkman.
No one noticed, only in Nouri's Iraq, the problem with the 8. From the September 18th snapshot:
Yesterday came news that 8 people had been voted onto the Independent High Electoral Commission. A vote on the 9th member was blocked by Christian MPs who felt they were not being represented. Alaa Sabbagh (Kitabat) wonders if this commission is going to promote democracy or embrace a dictatorship in Iraq? All Iraq News reports that the Sadr bloc has announced they support a Christian member for the Commission and declare that they are a "respectable part of the country." Kitabat notes that the 8 voted on do not represent minorities. This includes women. Not one woman was voted onto the commission yesterday.
Only in Nouri's Iraq can 8 people be voted in and it not be noticed during the voting that, oops, there's not even one woman. Back to the September 18th snapshot:
Wafaa Zangana (AK News) reports Christian MP Yonadam Yousef Kanna is calling for the number of seats on the commission to be increased since there is now "only one seat for minorities, while the women, Turkmen and Christians were not represented [in the new commission]. The law of the Federal Court stresses the need to represent all parties in the electoral commission, but the presidency of the Council of Representatives violated this law." In related news, an Iraqiya MP tells All Iraq News that there is a conpiracy taking place to ensure that women will not be members of the next Parliament (parliamentary elections are supposed to take place in 2014) and she is calling for a woman to be appointed to the electoral commission so that women's rights will be protected. She notes women make up 65% of the Iraqi population but are barely represented in the Parliament and, at present, not even on the new IHEC.
Only Iraqiya (Ayad Allawi's political slate -- the one that came in first in the 2010 elections and should have been able to form a government but the White House backed Nouri over the choice of the Iraqi people) objected. It wasn't just important because of a belief that the IHEC needs to be representative, it was important because of the law. From the September 19th snapshot:
About the only thing that could be passed off as 'progress' this week just imploded. Yesterday, 8 of 9 Independent High Electoral Commission commissioners elected. Alsumaria reported this morning that the Federal Court says the number of commissioners must be increased because women must make up a third of the members. (Not one of the eight was a woman -- an oversight Iraqiya called out -- the only political bloc to publicly call that out.) Al Mada notes that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc was insisting yesterday that if they just make the ninth member a Christian, they'll have all their bases covered. The judiciary begs to differ. They're calling on members -- not a single seat, multiple seats. That means that the Parliament either gets very focused on this or it is highly likely that an election cannot take place in March of 2013. It's tarting to look a lot like fall 2009 in Iraq.
And that should have been that. The law states women must make up a third of the members. That's not something you can 'massage.' Yet Alsumaria reports the issue is still 'can we get a Turkman on the IHEC?' as opposed to dealing with what the law requires. Is math difficult for the Iraqi government? Is the concept of 1/3 of the members of the IHEC being women a word problem that's difficult to solve?
Back in July, when Kobler addressed the UN Security Council, it was already past time for the IHEC members to have been selected. Two months later all they have to show for it is 8 members and they fail to include women so the court says they're going to need more than 9 commissioners?
This is ridiculous and yet another indication of how Nouri can't lead -- a detail that was impossible to ignore by anyone observing Nouri's first term as prime minister (2006-2010).
This lack of progress was noted in last week's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing:
Committee Chair John Kerry: Mr. Ambassador, I remember sitting downstairs, we were in this building on the ground floor in that big hearing room, when Secretary Condolezza Rice testified and I remember her saying to us vividly, 'Well we're just a few weeks away from signing an agreement on the oil -- on the division of the oil and having an oil agreement -- a global oil agreement for Iraq.' I guess we're about five years later now, maybe six. I don't remember the precise timing of that [January 11, 2007 was the date of one Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing where she made that statement], still no agreement, still the problem with the Kurds, still the problem with the Sunni majority feeling divorced, there's a certain amount of skepticism now about whether or not the current government actually intends for the government to be a pluralistic, representative government or whether they're moving towards some other form of sectarian division here.
Since 2008, Iraq's been working on an amnesty law. (It was publicly proposed prior to 2008. Arianna Huffington wrote an column decrying it when it was first proposed, stating her disbelief that Iraqis who had harmed US troops might be among those granted amnesty. As we noted back then, that is what happens when wars begin to wind down.) Where is it?
Still not passed. Every week seems to bring news that it's almost about to be passed probably. All Iraq News notes that supposedly the vote will finally take place Thursday. It was announced late because yesterday evening Dar Addustour filed a report on all the votes coming up this week and the amnesty law isn't on it. Alsumaria reports the announcement came this morning. Again, this is not the first week that it's been announced the law was almost, maybe, possibly on the verge of being passed probably.
How bad are things in Iraq? They need an infrastructure law to authorize spending but . . . Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that there are MPs -- including Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc -- that want additional guidelines written in because they see it as likely that Nouri could use the $40 billion to grab even more power and to militarize Iraqi society. Things are so bad that members of Parliament have to attempt to write into the infrastructure budget guidelines to prevent Little Saddam from misusing the money in his effort to grab even more power.
Find another country that the US would pour billions into each year (as the US government continues to do) which doesn't have a Minister of Defense or a Minister of Interior or a Minister of National Security. Nearly two years ago, Nouri was supposed to nominate people to those posts (and see them confirmed or, per the Constitution, he's not prime minister). He never has. The US press whored for Nouri. Though the press is supposed to be skeptical, the US press assured their news consumers that Nouri would name people to those posts it would just take a couple weeks. I don't think most of us consider "a couple of weeks" to be more than 52 weeks.
Nouri is an absolute failure and that was obvious in his first term.
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