Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cleared names, targeted institution, State of Law has to walk it back

Though the US press ignored it, many people died in violence across Iraq yesterdayIraq Body Count counts 17 dead from Monday's violence.  17 dead would normally be reason for headlines.  They also count 88 dead from violence so far this month.  All Iraq News reports 2 Amiriyah bombings left five people injured and 2 Latifiyah bombings have left three people injuredAlsumaria notes the Amiriyah area has been blocked off by security and that the number injured has risen to six.

Dropping back to yesterday:

When not having the then-head of Iraq's Electoral Commission arrested, you may remember, Nouri was attempting to take over Iraq's Central Bank, insisting it must come under his authority -- he targeted all the independent institutions in his attempted power grab.  Al Mada reports today that Parliament sources say an arrest warrant exists for Sinan al-Shabibi, the Centeral Bank president, and that the people are seeing this as another effort by Nouri to take control of the independent institution.  Alsumaria notes that al-Shabibi is currently in Tokyo at a conference and due to return to Baghdad later today.  Dar Addustour offers a run down on what happened with the warrant itself  It was issued by a judge who did not ask questions and when the news reached the Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud, he ordered that the warrant be pulled.   Iraqiya's spokesperson Maysoun al-Damalouji tells the outlet that it is necessary for the central bank  to maintain its independence.

There are updates on both.  Let's start with someone's name being cleared because false charges can linger.  Al Rafidayn notes that Faraj al-Haidari, Karim al-Tamimi and Osama al-Ani have been cleared of charges by an appeals court.  For those who've forgotten, Nouri attempted to take over the Electoral Commission and the Central Bank in 2011 -- upheaveal in the region as well as resistance in Iraq -- prevented him.  Faraj al-Haidari was president of the Electoral Commission.  al-Tamimi and al-Ani served on it.  From the April 16, 2012 snapshot:

Yesterday Farah al-Haidari and Karim al-Tamimi were released from jail as was expected -- AFP reported Friday that they would "be jailed until Sunday, a fellow commission member told AFP."  As noted in Friday's snapshot, last Tuesday the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy Martin Kobler was praising the Independent High Electoral Commission to the United Nations Security Council and discussing how important it was to the upcoming provincial elections next year and then the parliamentary elections scheduled for the year after. So news that Nouri's had two members of that commission arrested on Thursday, as reported in real time by Raheem Salman (ioL news), was startling and alarming. Karim al-Tamimi serves on the commission while Faraj al-Haidari is the head of the commission. 
How outrageous were the arrests?  Saturday, Al Mada reported that Moqtada al-Sadr declared that the arrests were indications that Nouri al-Maliki might be attempting to delay the elections or call them off all together. He makes it clear that the the arrest needs to be based on eveidence and not on some whim of Nouri's and that it shouldn't be done because Nouri desires to "postpone or call of the election."   Xinhua reported, "The government in Iraq's northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region said Saturday that it has called on the central government in Baghdad to release the electoral commission's head and another member arrested on corruption charges." The Oman Tribune notes that the KRG issued the following statement on Friday: "The decision of the authorities in Baghdad to issue a detention order against Faraj Al Haidari and Karim Al Tamimi amounts to a gross violation and dangerous infringement of the political process. Such a decision is targeting the independence of the electoral commission ... We call (on the authorities) to reconsider the detention order immediately and refrain from persisting in insulting the democratic operation."  As Mohamad Ali Harissi (AFP) observed, "Key political factions accused the premier of moving towards a dictatorship with the arrest of Iraq's electoral commission chief, a charge the prime minister denied on Saturday."  W.G. Dunlop (AFP) quoted Iraqiya MP Haidar al-Mullah stating, "When the head of the independent electoral commission is being targeted, it means it is a message from the one who is targeting him that he is above the law and above the political process. The one who is standing behind this is the head of the State of Law coalition (Maliki), because he wants to send a message that either the elections should be fraudulent, or he will use the authorities to get revenge on the commission. This arrest is an indication that the judiciary has become an obedient tool in the hands of Mr Nuri al-Maliki."
Al Rafidayn explained Nouri al-Maliki released a statement Saturday decrying those who doubted the arrests were sound.

Again, their names have been cleared by an appeals court.  There are no known charges against them.  Known?  There are arrest warrants all over Iraq that are never issued until Nouri wants political vengence.  So that's the Electoral Commission, now for the Central Bank.

Al Rafidayn reports Sinan al-Shabibi is back in Baghdad (he was at a conference in Japan) and stating he's ready to appear in court.  All Iraq News notes that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc is accusing Nouri of targeting the Centeral Bank due to the independence of the institution.  It's worth noting that the charges are said to be rigging the value of the dinar -- and that there's a suggestion that this has allowed Iran and Syria to profit.  When US forces moved into the Baghdad Airport recently, the same reports tended to note that the US was also wanting to inspect the records of the Central Bank.  Is Nouri yet again doing the bidding of the US?  Is the US government silent about the latest power grab attempt because it may benefit its own aims?

Today Ranj Alaaldin (Guardian) offers a column on Iraq which includes:

Iraq has no national foreign policy. For the past decade, a lack of unity among its ruling elite has failed to allow for a unified approach towards its international relations – one that could have protected the country from becoming a playground for outside powers, with disastrous consequences for its political and security stability.

What Iraq has that can't be denied is an ongoing political crisis.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports the other political blocs are accusing Nouri's State of Law of preventing progress on proposed legislation due to a walk out State of Law staged.  Iraqiya says State of Law's goal Monday was to disable the Parliament with their walk out.

From yesterday's snapshot:

Today Al Mada reports Yassin Majeed, an MP with Nouri's State of Law, is declaring that KRG President Massoud Barzani is a threat to Iraq. Majeed held a press conference outside Parliament to denounce Barzani. Alsumaria notes that among Barzani's supposed outrageous offenses is objecting to the infrastructure bill and objecting to the recent weapons shopping spree Nouri's been on ($1 billion dollar deal with the Czech Republic, $4.2 billion dollar deal with Russia). All Iraq News notes that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani issued a statement noting that, at a time when they are trying to resolve the current political crisis, the remarks are not helpful.

Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports today that State of Law is rushing to walk away from Majeed's remarks after Talabani and Iraqiya both called out the "reckless" remarks yesterday.  Alsumaria reports Iraqiya stated there was no way to justify the remarks and called on everyone to condemn the remarks and this method to destroy a foundation of unity.  In addition, All Iraq News notes the Kurdistan Alliance announced yesterday that there is no political difference between Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani and that the Allliance's statement was in response to the verbal attack on Barzani from Majeed.  State of Law has never walked away from their constant smack talk before.  The difference here appears to have been a united push back from the blocs at the same time that Nouri wanted it to appear he was trying to reach an understanding with everyone and be a national leader.  Majeed's remarks were in keeping with State of Law's trash talk in the past.  A month ago -- or maybe a month from now -- they wouldn't have raised an eyebrow and are part of State of Law's never-ending attacks on other politicians.

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