Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bad news for Nouri

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 103 deaths in the country by violence this month. 
Alsumaria reports 1 person shot dead today near his Mosul home and an Enaimah car bombing (south of Falluja) left four Iraqi soldiers injured. All Iraq News adds a Baghdad roadside bombing left three people injured.

Like the violence, the polticial crisis continues.  Iraq had a political stalemate that lasted a little over 8 months following the March 2010 elections when Iraqiy came in first and Nouri's State of Law came in second but Nouri refused to honor the results and allow Iraqiya to move to establish a cabinet.  The White House tossed the will of the Iraqi people, democracy and respect for elections to the side to back Nouri.  The country was at a standstill for months as the US government shamed the various political blocs for standing in the way of second place Nouri and worked the guilt angle pretending that they -- not Nouri -- was the one keeping Iraq from moving forward.  They also negotiated the Erbil Agreement which ended the political stalemate in November 2010.  This contract gave them various concessions in return for their allowing Nouri to have a second term as prime minister.  Nouri signed the contract and used it to get his second term and then trashed the contract and refused to make good on what he'd promised in exchange for holding on as prime minister.

It was fairly obvious that he was trashing the agreement but the US government and the press covered for him repeatedly.  Such as when he failed to nominate people to head the security ministries.  Iraqiya rightly labled that a power grab.  The press (I'm referring to the US and European press) rushed in to insist it was no such thing and Nouri would name people to head the ministries in a matter of weeks.  The three year mark is closing in and Nouri's still not nominated people to head the seucrity ministires.  It was, indeed, a power grab.

In 2011, he tried an even greater power grab.  He wanted control of two bodies the Constitution has made independent of the prime minister: the Electoral Comission and Central Bank.  Unreast in the region and protests in Iraq resulted in Nouri fearing his own ouster.  He quickly promised (lied) he wouldn't seek a third term as prime minister (about 24 hours after the foreign press had run with that, it was announced that Nouri reserved the right to run for a third office, but he'd already gotten his headlines and his praise from stupid -- as opposed to skeptical -- reporters) and backed off that power grab.

For a brief moment.

This week, charges were brought against Sinan al-Shabibi, the governor of the Central Bank, and he was replaced.  Al Mada reports that Parliament's Legal Committee is saying the actions were both rash and illegal.  Nouri does not control the Central Bank and he cannot fire a governor with it.  They point to Article 103 of the Iraqi Constitution which has two clauses pertaining to the Central Bank:

First: The Central Bank of Iraq, the Board of Supreme Audit, the Communication and Media Commission, and the Endowment Commissions are financially and administratively independent institutions, and the work of each of these institutions shall be regulated by law.
Second: The Central Bank of Iraq is responsible before the Council of Representatives.  The Board of Supreme Audit and the Communication and Media Commission shall be attached to the Council of Representatives. 

The second clause puts the Parliament over the Central Bank.  (The third clause, not quoted, puts the Cabinet over the Endowment Commission.)

And that's just some of the bad news for Nouri.  Al Mada reports Ahmad al-Maliki, Nouri's son, can't get along with other employees (we'll assume the problems are more than that) and the complaints have led Nouri to freeze his son's salary in the hopes that this will let the matter die down.
You may remember when Nouri said there was no oil surplus money that could be dividends for the Iraqi people and Moqtada al-Sadr expressed doubt and disapproval.  All Iraq News explains that Moqtada and his poltical bloc have not let the matter die or just resorted to words, they're actively working with the Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi and the Minister of Planning Ali Shukri to find oil money that can go to the Iraqi people with plans to set aside 25% of future revenues for that.

In even worse news for Nouri?  Remember last month's assault on the Tikrit prison that left many dead and wounded and over 100 prisoners escaped?  Dropping back to the September 27th snapshot:

The latest day's violence includes a prison attack BBC News reports assailants using bombs and guns attacked a Tikrit prison.  AFP quotes a police Lieutenant Colonel stating, "A suicide bomber targeted the gate of the prison with a car bomb and gunment then assaulted the prison, after which they killed guards" and a police Colonel stating, "The prisoners killed one policeman and wounded (prison director) Brigadier General Laith al-Sagmani, the gunmen took control of the prison, and clashes are continuing."  Kitabat states two car bombs were used to blow up the entrance to the prison and gain access and they also state 12 guards have been killed. Reports note the riot is continuing.  Alsumaria reports four guards have died, 1 police officer and the injured include two soldiers and the prison director al-Sagmani.  There's confusion as to whether a number of prisoners were able to escape in the early stages after the bombing and during gunfire.  Reuters goes with "dozens" escaping which is probably smarter than the hard number some are repeating. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports 5 police officers killed and another two injured -- the numbers are going to vary until tomorrow, this is ongoing -- and state over 200 prisoners escaped with 33 of them already having been recaptured.  If you skip the English language media, what's not confusing is why it happened and why it was able to happen.   Alsumaria reports that there are approximately 900 inmates in the prison and that many have death sentences.  Alsumaria does even more than that.  It notes the recent prison violence throughout the country and ties it into the death sentences.  These aren't just happening at random, this is about the many people being sentenced to death -- a fact the English language press either doesn't know or doesn't think people need to know.
That was an extremely violent act.  And apparently one that was preventable.  Alsumaria has an exclusive report that the police chief in Salahuddin Province had warned the Ministry of Interior over 3 days in advance -- in writing -- that there were serious problems and the possibility of a prison break.  Why is that so damning to Nouri especially?    Three months ago,   Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support." 

 With no minister nominated to Parliament and approved by Parilament, Nouri controls the Ministry of Interior.  If the Ministry had information over 3 days ahead that something was supposed to have happened and nothing was done to try to prevent it, that goes to Nouri's leadership.

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