Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nouri stands accused of assassination

Another journalist killed, Nouri accused of murder, Brookings trying to re-write history. 

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 146 killed in violence so far this month.  Today?  All Iraq News reports a Baghdad roadside bombing has injured three police officers and an armed Baghdad attack has left 2 Iraqi soldiers deadAP says the Baghdad roadside bombing followed the armed attack and note that 1 of the three injured police officers have died. Alsumaria reports a Kirkuk roadside bombing left one 1 student dead and 2 more injured and a Kirkuk bicycle bombing has left three police officers injured.  In addition, Kitabat reports that journalist Zia Mehdi was stabbed to death in Baghdad while she was doing an investigation into the persecution of Iraq's LGBT community.

Dropping back to the October 15th snapshot:

So far this year, Iraq is known to have executed 119 people. It has ignored calls from the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others to impose a moratorium on the death penalty. Despite the fact that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani insists he is against the death penalty and regularly basks in applause for that stance, he has not blocked one execution. (His 'opposition' is refusing to sign the death warrants, leaving it for a vice president to sign it. As president, he could object to any or all executions and stop them immediately. He refuses to use that power.)
These executions are beginning to cause more problems for Iraq. Kitabat reports that Alegeria has summed the Iraqi ambassador to express their alarm that an Alegerian, Abdullah Ahmad Belhadi, has been executed and Saudi Arabia is objecting to plans to execute their citizens -- though Faleh al-Fayad, Iraqi national security adviser, declares the Saudi executions will go forward.

Today, Meshal al-Otaibi (Saudi Gazette) reports that the execution of Abdullah al-Qahtani, Saudi citizen in Iraq, has been postponed "according to his lawyer Abdulrahman Al-Jurais." Still on violence, from the September 27th snapshot:  "Alsumaria reports that the former governor of Basra, Mohammed Misbah Waili, was assassinated today (the firearm had a silencer)."  And from the October 2nd snapshot: "On fear, Alsumaria reports that in Basara accusations are being tossed around following the assassination last Thursday of former Governor (2005 to 2009) Mohammed Misbah Waili with some accusing a clan within the province and the clan accusing unnamed foreign powers."  Despite a so-called investigation, nothing has been turned up regarding the who or why of the assassination.  However, Kitabat reports that the family of the late governor is stating that Nouri and others in Dawa (Nouri's political party -- State of Law is his political slate) wanted him dead and they are accusing Nouri of ordering the assassination.  Family members state that when they arrived at the scene they found security officers in offficial Iraqi military uniforms, these officers surrounded the scene and prevented the family from going to the car where they could hear the governor, still alive, screaming.  They are arguing that had he been immediately moved to a hospital, he would be alive today.  The family says that the refusal to move the injured governor to a hospital resulted from orders from higher up.  They are going to file a lawsuit against Nouri and others (Abdullah Auaz al-Jubouri and Issam al-Asadi) in a Basra court.  A member of the family tells Kitabat that although they know Nouri acts as if he is above the Constitution and the judiciary, the family is stronger than Nouri and the Dawa Party because they have the truth on their side.

There's no argument that Nouri's targeted Vice President Tareq al-Hashem.  In December 2011, Nouri accused him of being a terrorist and a kangaroo court found him 'guilty.'  Josh Rogan (Foreign Policy) picks up the story there:

But Hashimi is still technically the vice president and he is fighting for what he calls a "fair trial." He argues that Maliki has hijacked the Iraqi political system and become beholden to Iranian interests, which include supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Hashimi said he has evidence and reports from politicians, from officers in the Interior Ministry, and from Iraqi intelligence officials, all pointing to a growing and active ground transport route from Iran to Syria. The route crosses through the Zarbatia checkpoint on the Iran-Iraq border, west of the Iranian town of Mehran, flows through the city of Karbala, and crosses over to Syria via the al-Qaim border crossing, he said.
"The transit is not only aerial using Iraqi airspace, but the ground transit is becoming a phenomenon. Munitions, heavy arms, and even militias are passing checkpoints without any sort of obstruction," Hashimi said in a telephone interview. "I am very afraid the U.S. and the international community is only focused on the aerial transit and leaving behind the ground transit. Everything should be checked now."

As Glenn Kessler (Washington Post) points out today, "In fact, Obama made a dubious claim in the debate that having any troops in Iraq 'would not help us in the Middle East.'  Since the departure of U.S. troops, the United States has lost leverage in Iraq.  For instance, Iran uses Iraqi airspace and convoys on the ground to ferry arms and military equipment to the beleaguered regime in Syria -- a government that Obama says must fall."

Which should lead you to wonder, how Nouri ended up prime minister of Iraq?

In 2006, the White House refused to go along with the choice of Iraqi MPs (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) and instead insisted on Nouri.  The Bush White House installed him.  But Bush left in 2008.  By that time, it was obvious Nouri was an abject failure.  It was obvious to anyone who, for example, attended Senate hearings.  Sadly, Barack was always too busy to attend hearings unless the press was covering the hearing.  Then he'd show up late, demand that he immediately get to speak, yammer and uh-uh-uh his way through a few non-questions and split.  Joe Biden, as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was very good about letting Barack cut in line and speak ahead of other senators -- senators with seniority and who showed up for the hearing, not just for the cameras.

Following the 2006 mid-terms that put Democrats in charge of both houses of Congress, the Bush White House was pressed to show progress -- measurable progress -- in Iraq. So they came up with a set of benchmarks that Iraq would have to meet.  Nouri was prime minister.  He signed off on those benchmarks.  He was supposed to meet them by the end of 2007.  He didn't.  And he didn't in 2008.  And all this time later, he still hasn't.  In addition, Iraqis still have to use generators because -- oil rich country or not -- Nouri can't turn the lights on and keep them on.  Nor can he provide potable water which is why Iraq is suffering yet another cholera outbreak.  Nouri can't provide jobs.  Nouri can't provide safety.

This was all obvious in his first term.

So how did Nouri get a second one?

The people voted State of Law the most seats in Parliament?

Nope.  In the 2010 elections, the people gave that honor to Iraqiya (led by Ayad Allawi). 

But the White House ignored that -- this is 2010.  Barack's president, Bush is gone. 

A new piece at The National Interest  has some flaws but I was going to highlight without comment.  That changed. First, the excerpt:

The 2010 national elections should have been a huge step forward for Iraqi democracy since the majority of voters, Sunni and Shia, had endorsed the two parties seen as most secular and least tied to the militias that had waged the civil war. Unfortunately, the elections proved to be the exact opposite. Rather than insist that the party that had secured the most votes in the election (the secular but mostly Sunni Iraqiya party led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi) get the first chance to form a government -- as is the practice in most democracies -- Washington (and the UN) took no position on the matter. This threw the Iraqi political and constitutional systems into paralysis. Frustrated with this impasse, the United States simply embraced the party of the incumbent prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, which had received the second-most votes. Regardless of Maliki’s qualifications for the position, this sent a disastrous message to both the Iraqi people and the political leadership: the United States is more concerned with expediency than with enforcing the system’s rules; there will be no punishment for subverting the system or rewards for playing by the rules; power will be distributed not according to the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box but by political machinations carried on in traditional, cutthroat Iraqi fashion. In effect, the United States announced that it would not prevent the reemergence of Iraq’s bad, old political culture because it would not continue to enforce the new, democratic rules of the road. At that moment, even those parties that had benefited from Iraq’s budding democratization (including Iraqiya and Maliki’s State of Law coalition) knew that the rules had suddenly changed. The referee was gone, and Iraq’s leaders now were free to go back to the old rules, which had produced Iraq’s tragic twentieth-century history.

There are several mistakes in just that excerpt.  But I was going to ignore that and just highlight the fact that someone was trying to tell some truth.  Then I saw the byline: Kenneth M. Pollack.  And I thought of Betty's phrase, "Oh, hell no."

See, he's Brookings and he and his buddy were counseling the White House.

Now there's a huge problem brewing.  For years, they thought they could keep it hidden.  And back then, in real time, we were calling out what was going down.  We were alone in terms of doing it publicly.  But that's fine.  It was going to catch up with them and it did.

You can't be an adjunct of government -- as the Brookings Institution is -- and clearly work to snuff out democracy and get away with it.

That's what happened in 2010.  And this year, what's happened is that people are starting to talk about it finally.  For example, last month saw a book and saw press on that book -- such as
John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

As the book details, Brookings wasn't fighting for democracy in Iraq.  Brookings wasn't advising the White House to support the people's vote.  No, it was backing Nouri al-Maliki.

So if someone else wrote Pollack's piece, I'd bite my tongue and just highlight and be glad that we're not having to do all the heavy lifting on this that we did in 2010.  In fact, I wouldn't even point out that for two years we have led this argument and done so all by ourselves publicly.

But if a Brookings thinks they're going to come along now and lie?

As Betty says, "Oh, hell no."

The United Nations?  Pollack wants to blame them.

That's a damn lie.  The US circumvented the UN.  We wrote about it in real time, check the damn archives.  There was a push for the UN to create a caretaker government as it became obvious that Nouri wasn't going to honor the election results.  This move was supported by the French government.  Unlike Kenny and Michael of Brookings, I do have contacts in the French government.  That's why we were able to cover this in real time.  (If it helps Kenny and Michael, the contacts are mainly former lovers.  I've slept around a lot in my time.)  France pushed for it.  This was established by friends at the UN and by friends at the US State Dept.  And who killed it? Susan Rice on behalf of the White House.

So don't play that game of blame the UN.  The UN was moving towards stepping up, the ball was rolling, discussions were taking place.  The White House stopped that.

And don't play the game of innocence, Pollack.  In 2010, when it mattered, Brookings supported pissing on the votes of the Iraqi people, supported stripping them of their right to self-determination.  Now that these actions are getting some attention, you can't show up and rewrite history, you can't show up and lie.  As Betty says, "Oh, hell no."

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