Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nouri the rabid dog (petted by the gullible)

Eid al-Adha is officially over meaning most Iraqi news outlets are back to publishing.  Since a number shut down for the holiday, some news that emerged over the holiday may be startling.  Certainly, the Kurds appear surprised by one development.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports that the Kurdistan Alliance is expressing disbelief that Nouri al-Maliki is again floating the notion of pushing a majority-government.

Iraq has many different sects, ethnicities and races.  But the three major groupings are Shi'ites (approximately 60%) with Sunni Arabs and Kurds being the next two largest groupings.  A majority-government would be a Shi'ite government made up of a segment of Shi'ites and turncoats from other groupings that Nouri can peal off as he convinces them to sell out their own interests.

Nouri could not form a majority-government in 2010.  Among other reasons, his State of Law did not win the 2010 parliamentary elections.  Iraqiya, led by Ayad Allawi, won.

Nouri got  a second term because he had the White House's backing.  It's cute the way some want to play blame-Iran.  Iran was certainly involved and they held more sway on Moqtada al-Sadr and probably equal sway (as the US) on Ibrahim al-Jaffari -- two leaders who both declared publicly that Nouri would not get a second term.  But whatever Iran might have wanted to do, it was the US government that negotiated a contract giving Nouri a second term.

Nouri dug his feet in for eight months after coming in second in the elections.  He refused to allow the process to move forward.  Moving forward would mean naming someone from Iraqiya prime minister-designate.  (Most likely, that someone would have been Ayad Allawi.)

The results of the election were very encouraging.  As Deborah Amos and other observers have noted, in the lead up to the election, Nouri dominated state-controlled TV.  Others didn't have a chance at coverage.  In addition, Nouri also went around with his bribes (potable water) among them like he had during the 2009 provincial elections.  Nouri can't provide the country with potable water, but a month before election time, he may visit your area with a water truck and, if you swear to vote for him, your town may get some water.

Nouri also tried to demonize the newly created Iraqiya.  He declared them terrorists and Ba'athists.  He had them disqualifed (via the Justice and Accountability Comission), arrested and he may have been the one behind the murders of Iraqiya candidates.  In the six weeks before the election, it is certainly strange that only Iraqiya candidates were targeted, that the only candidates killed in the lead up to the election were from Iraqiya.

While Nouri was running on sectarianism, Iraqiya was a political coalition about Iraqis.  Ayad Allawi is a Shi'ite.  Saleh al-Mutlaw, Osama al-Nujaifi and Tareq al-Hashemi (three prominent Iraqiya members) are all Sunni.  In addition, they have various religious minorities and made an attempt to be a party inclusive to all.  That includes women.  No other party has a female member as prominent as Maysoon Salem al-Damluji who is Iraqiya's spokesperson.  She is not a female figurehead put in place to meet a quota -- something State of Law female MPs are accused of being.  She is a woman rights activist with a long history including being the president of Iraqi Independent Women's Group.

Iraqiya came from no where and emerged with Nouri tarring them as Ba'athists and terrorists but still managed to pull ahead of Nouri's highly publicized State of Law.


The answer was in the 2009 elections.  Iraqis were tired of the split -- a split some Iraqis believe the US imposed by insisting that they identify as Sunni or Shi'ite.  That was the first question asked of Iraqis by Americans; however, it's also true that most Shi'ites felt a split in the years under Saddam when they were oppressed.

If this was a new Iraq, the people felt, then be a new Iraq.  The sectarian election results of 2005 had produced a government that did little besides bicker.  It was time to pull together as Iraqis.  That thread is in the 2009 results and it overtook the 2010 election results.

It was a wonderful message of hope and belief in their country.  And it was that hope and belief that made Iraqis turn out at these elections despite the physical dangers, despite having to go through multiple checkpoints.

They turned out because they believed they could shape their country and they could come together as a people.

Which makes it all the sadder that the White House refused to respect and embrace this belief and the outcome it produced.

The White House had a list of several wants and it was decided -- a political decision -- that Nouri could best give them what they wanted.  They ignored the assessment General Ray Odierno made -- top US commander in Iraq -- and even shut him out of the loop.  They ignored the CIA assessment.  They ignored career diplomats in the State Dept who were pointing out that Nouri was unbalanced and paranoid -- the State Dept position on Nouri going back to 2008 and there are now cables in the public record which back that up.

They wanted Nouri.

So piss on the Iraqi people, spit on their constitution and who gives a damn about the message we're sending to a country the US government supposedly wants to instill and build democracy in.

The White House negotiated the Erbil Agreement.  In the contract, the leaders of the various political blocs made the concession to give Nouri a second term as prime minister and Nouri made various concessions in the contract as well.

In the contract.

Nouri used the contract to get his second term and insisted that, in a few weeks, he'd honor the various details.  It was too soon, he insisted, that a national and independent security commission be created.  But, he swore, it would be in a few weeks.  All these months, ten days shy of two years, later, Nouri's still not honored the contract.

That's what's created the ongoing political stalemate.  Nouri's attempt to attack political rivals is what has turned the stalemate into a political crisis.

Grasp that the Iraqi people didn't even vote to have Nouri as a prime minister for a second term.  Grasp that his political slate came in second.  But now this loser is the one who's going to form a majority government and shut others out including the people's first choice?

Iran did not negotiate the Erbil Agreement.  Iran did not tell political leaders this was a binding contract and it was one that would have the full backing of the United States government.  Iran never made those promises.  The White House did.

And then, as usual, the White House had no spine and couldn't stand up to Nouri.

Their puppet is yet again off his leash.

That's the thing about rabid dogs, they rarely stay in their own yards.  That's what makes them a public menace and why they get put down.

As the holiday was starting, the Kurds were seeing in the Iraqi press what every one else was seeing.  State of Law making comments about how there would be a national conference soon.  And many fell for that crap.  We didn't.  From last Friday's snapshot:

Al Mada reports that Nouri al-Maliki is calling for the spirit of Eid al-Adha to lead the political blocs to create a better atmosphere for a national conference.  Nouri's long opposed such a conference.  When he supports it, he's usually working to destroy it.  History would indicate that's what's happening behind the scenes right now.  He also wants people to "discard their differences."  Like their differences over the Erbil Agreement?

The holiday is over, the government is back at work and the Kurdistan Alliance is surprised to discover that Nouri's calls for reconciliation and a national conference were public cover as he moved to create a majority-government.  If you're surprised at this late date by Nouri's duplicity, you have no one to blame but yourself.  He is sneaky, he is a snake, but he is not good at deception.  If you pay attention, you can be several steps ahead of him.  But some people apparently live to be fooled.  Today the Kurdistan Alliance is surprised and shocked by what Nouri's done.

At this late date, being shocked that Nouri would lie is a bit like being shocked that rain accompanies spring.

All Iraq News reports that State of Law MP Saleh al-Asadi is declaring that Parliament does not need consensus to pass laws.  This is a novel and new interpretation of the Iraqi Constitution but it is perfectly in keeping with State of Law's never-ending power grab.

All Iraq News is reporting US Ambassador to Iraq Robert S. Beecroft's ridiculous statements about no US troops being in Iraq.  (See the previous entry, "Beecroft blows his credibility.")  Beecroft has done a great job conveying to Iraqis that American officials are still not to be trusted.  And he picked a great day to do it.

Doubt that it was a great day?  Alsumaria notes that Beecroft also said that Iraq could buy weapons fro mwhomever they wanted.  Some will see that as generous.  Some will see it as more lies from an American official.

That's because if you're talking weapons in Iraq today, you're talking about the F-16s the US just delivered.

And though the US and European press can't find the story -- as usual -- it's all over the Iraqi press.  What's that?  What the US planes allegedly have.

All Iraq News probably reports it better than most, Iraqis state they have discovered a device on the F-16s.  No, it's not a plasma screen TV.  It's a recording device allegedly.  Supposedly, it's "Israeli-made."  Which will of course really inflame the issue.  Attach Israel to any story of outrage in Iraq and you've got a week's worth of coverage.  The Iraqi Air Force leadership has sent a letter objecting to the device to Lockheed Martin, manufacturers of the F-16s.

What a day for Beecroft to blow his credibility.  As Iraqis talk about how the US tried to sell them F-16s that carried spying equipment -- Israeli spying equipment.  That is how it will play.  It'll actually play a lot worse by the time the conversations shifts to Arabic social media sites.  And Beecroft won't be able to calm it because he's blown his credibility.

The White House, the current administration, had it so easy.  Bully Boy Bush had done so much damage to Iraq that Barack and company just had to play fair and it would have been an improvement.  They couldn't even manage that.  They actually, somehow, managed to make things even worse in Iraq than Bush did.  Don't expect to see that reality popping up in any re-election ads.

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