Saturday, October 13, 2012

Nouri threatens to dissolve Parliament, assassination attempt on Iraqiya

Alsumaria reports that Iraqiya MP Ahmed al-Alwani was the target of assassination attempt that left him unharmed but injured two members of his security detail.  It was a bombing between Baghdad and Falluja.
Petra refers to him as "an outspoken critic of the government of Prime Minister Noui Maliki."

Iraqiya?  We need to review the history (for this story and another in the news cycle).  March 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections.  The White House brushed aside serious concerns of Gen Ray Odierno (then the top US commander in Iraq) and instead relied on the 'observations' of the deranged and highly anti-social Chris Hill.  All that Odierno feared would basically come to pass but Barack Obama placed more trust in Chris Hill -- who did not speak Arabic and had only been in Iraq less than a year and whose State Dept employee file was a nightmare that should have been made public -- than he did in Odierno.

Nouri knew he would win the elections.  Chris Hill knew that.  Samantha Power knew that.  The White House knew it.  Two days after the elections, NPR's Quil Lawrence knew Nouri won.  But thing was, Nouri didn't win.

Nouri had decided not to be a part of the National Alliance (headed by Ibrahim al-Jafarri) -- in part because they didn't want him to have a second term as prime minister.  (In 2006, Iraqi MPs wanted al-Jafarri as prime minister.  The Bush White House overrode that and appointed Nouri al-Maliki to that position.)  Nouri started his own State of Law political slate.  He just knew he was such a marvelous and charasmatic person that he would be able to win.

But even after the Justice and Accountability Commission (which was no longer funded by Parliament and was supposed to have termed out) started kicking out candidates from Iraqiya, even after state TV promoted Nouri constantly and aired his speeches while ignoring those of others.  Even after all of that, Nouri couldn't pull out a win.

Iraqiya -- a party inclusive of all Iraqis, regardless of sect or religion -- won.

And that was a message that had begun in the 2009 provincial elections.  Iraqis wanted a national identity.  The 2010 results confirmed it. They were tired of the sects fighting, tired of the mass killings and revenge raids and all the rest.  They wanted to be Iraqis.  That was the message of the 2010 elections.

And what a great message.  Despite the US governments attempts to sew divisions, the Iraqi people weren't buying it.

Per the Constitution, Ayad Allawi would now get to work on forming a cabinet.

Except Nouri got the Baghdad judiciary he controlled to issue a ruling that was in violation of the Constitiution -- and that those who drafted the Constitution decried.

The ruling said he would have first crack at forming a government.  He did this by having the Justice and Accountability Commission continue to disqualify Iraqiya members.  This was after the election and a key detail many miss. Even the ruling itself did not give him the right.  He only had that right if he could knock out the lead Iraqiya had in members of parliament.  (Thank Chris The Ass Hill for that one as well.)

Even with that ruling, Nouri was still in trouble.  Most didn't accept the ruling.  That court was already seen as being controlled by Nouri (by Iraqis, also by Odierno who had warned about that judge specifically and how he might aid Nouri if Nouri lost -- warned before the elections took place).  What saved Nouri was that the White House decided to back him.

What the Iraqi people wanted didn't matter to Barack Obama.  What the Iraqi Constitution said did not matter to Barack Obama.  What democracy compelled to happen did not matter to Barack Obama.  The Iraqi people expressing a desire for a national identity did not matter to Barack Obama.

That was all pushed aside so that the White House could keep their ineffectual puppet.  (Nouri was always ineffectual.  He was also always a back stabber.  This was estabilshed by the US government well before 2008.  If Barack had bothered to attend Senate hearings, he would have known that.)

The White House destroyed any hope that democracy would take hold in Iraq.  When the people voted, they thought their votes counted.  They quickly learned that their votes didn't matter at all.

Iraqi politicians refused to let Nouri and the US have their way.  So for eight months, there was a standstill -- known as Political Stalemate I.  To end it, the US government began negotiating a contract, they staked the US government's reputation on this contract.  The contract became known as the Erbil Agreement (because that's where it was signed). The Erbil Agreement was a contract that would allow Iraqiya to have, for example, the leadership role on a newly created National Security Commission -- an independent one at that. The Kurds? They would get Article 140 finally implemented. (Article 140 of the Constitution determines the fate of oil-rich Kirkuk -- will it be part of the Kurdistan Regional Government or part of the Baghdad-based central government -- and was supposed to be implemented no later than the end of 2007. That deadline is written into the Constitution. But Nouri, in his first term, refused to implement Article 140.) There were various things that Nouri agreed to do provided he had a second term as prime minister. He signed off on the Erbil Agreement. The leader of all the political blocs did.

Nouri used the contract to get his second term and then trashed the contract.

The US government's word is mud in Iraq because of the Erbil Agreement. As Iraq gets closer and closer with Iran, understand that. The US government, this is the White House, assured various political leaders that the Erbil Agreement (a) was a binding, legal contract and (b) that the US would ensure it was honored. It was obvious to most that it wasn't being honored as soon as Jalal Talabani named Nouri prime minister-designate. That's when Nouri announced that the independent security commission would have to wait. This is what prompted, in the first real meeting of Parliament after the 2010 elections (eight months after) most Iraqiya members to walk out.

Nouri trashed the Erbil Agreement. Month after month went by in 2011 without it being implemented. Finally, in the summer of 2011 Political Stalemate II begins as Moqtada al-Sadr ('rebel cleric' -- a Shi'ite with large support that only grows greater when he is attacked or when he draws a wall between himself and Nouri), the Kurds and Iraqiya begin calling for Nouri to return to and implement the Erbil Agreement.

He refuses. Fall 2011 sees Sunnis rounded up in mass arrests. There's (false) talk that all US troops will be out by the end of December 2011. The country is very nervous about what might happen next. As most (not all) US troops leave, Nouri announces he wants al-Mutlaq stripped of his post. He also swears out an arrest warrant for Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi. Tareq is Sunni and Iraqiya. This is when the stalemate becomes a crisis.

By April, major names are in Erbil for a big meet up. They include Jala Talabani (President of Iraq), Allawi, KRG President Massoud Barzani, Moqtada and others. They announce they will move towards a no-confidence vote in Nouri.  They get signatures, they prepare and Jalal stabs them in the back.  (After serious lobbying from the US including NSC members sent to the KRG to lobby him.)  Jalal runs his big chicken ass to Germany with the claim that he needs immediate surgery on a life threatening condition (he had knee surgery).  He hides out in Germany for June, July, August and part of September before he tries to ease back into Iraq and portray himself as a peace maker.

That's where Iraq is now in terms of politics.  An assassination attempt on one of Nouri's critics calls to mind the politicians assassinated and the ones who survived assassination attempts in the month ahead of the 2010 elections.  They were all also members of Iraqiya.  Nouri and his thugs really hope no one makes that connection.  (Or that you don't, as Alsumaria does, remind that Iraqiya MP Hamid al-Mutlaq was targeted for assassination on August 4th -- he survived the attempt.)

We'll come back to the politics, let's finish off today's violence first.  Press TV reports 4 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Mosul.  AFP adds 1 civilian was shot dead in Mosul and a Qaiyarah roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left two more injured.  Alsumaria adds that a Kirkuk roadside bombing injured one person and that there were 23 mass arrests today (over half in Baghdad). 

Violence that is presumably unconnected to the war -- but who knows in a war zone -- includes the rape and murder of four-year-old Abeer Ali Abdul, reported by Al Mada.  She is the second girl in her area of Nasiriyah to be kidnapped and found murdered. Also Alsumaria notes two villages in Basra are being victimized by packs of stray dogs with six children and one man bitten in the last two days alone.  The dogs have not been confirmed as having rabies at present (though that is a concern of the people in the two villages).

Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that, for the tenth time, the Parliament failed to pass the amnesty bill today.  Iraqiya accuses State of Law of behind the scene proceedings that helped torpedo the bill.  An MP with Iraqiya tells All Iraq News that the roots of the failure to pass the amnesty bill can be found in the continuing political crisis in Iraq.  The outlet notes that the version of the bill proposed today would have included granting amnesty to Awakenings and various former milita groups who had joined the political process.  Alsumaria says that the bill is now postponed until further notice while All Iraq News says it is scheduled for a vote on Monday.

The amnesty law could do many things.  One thing it could do was end the need for the Justice and Accountability Commission and it's hard to believe that isn't part of the reason that State of Law continues to try to torpedo it.  Another thing it would do, and numerous MPs have pointed this out, is calm the situation in Iraq -- for families whose loved ones have disappeared into the Iraqi justice labyrinth and for those who are imprisoned.  It could also lead to some death row prisoners being taken off death row.  Many Sunnis believe the huge number of executions taking place in Iraq are Nouri's efforts to kill as many Sunnis as possible before an amnesty law passes.

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..

The amnesty bill wasn't the only thing the Parliament didn't pass today.  Alsumaria notes the infrastructure bill did not become law and that the Kurdistan Alliance is stating that they need to know what projects they are voting for.  State of Law MP Hadi al-Yasiri tells All Iraq News that if the infrastructure law is blocked, they will take retaliation.  What does he mean?  Al Mada explains it: State of Law is threatening it will dissolve the Parliament if the infrastructure law is not passed as is.  Iraqiya MP Haidar al-Mullah explains that State of law wants billions authorized for Nouri to spend but will not detail on what and that their fears and concerns are brushed aside.  He offers that the bill is intended to allow State of Law to remain in power -- while pretending to be about infrastructure -- when they've had six years to address the situation but haven't and that the bill, as written, is ripe for theft and corruption.

At the end of last month, Mustafa Habib (Niqash) explained some of the opposition to the infrastructure bill:

Meanwhile critics of the law are united in opposition – almost every political party other than al-Maliki’s own expressed doubts about the bill’s current draft. Even other parties in al-Maliki’s ruling coalition were opposed to the bill in its current state.

“The bill has huge political and economic repercussions,” Mahma Khalil, an MP from the Kurdish Alliance, told NIQASH. “The law violates the Constitution and Iraqi financial management laws which restrict state spending to within the annual federal budget.”

Khalil explains that, in its current draft, the law guarantees any foreign firms payment for their work with interest. Should the country be unable to pay the firms for their work, or payments be delayed, then it is possible that Iraqi oil payments could be forfeit. “This is very dangerous and has serious political and economic repercussions,” Khalil noted, adding that the law doesn’t take into account the possibility that the price of oil falls or that Iraqi oil production could halt for as yet unknown reasons.

Khalil concluded by saying that his bloc - the Kurdish bloc which often holds a balance of power in the almost-evenly-split Iraqi Parliament - wouldn’t be voting for the law without further amendments and information.

“Because of the ambiguity in the legislation with regard to how money will be spent and how it will be managed, this draft law opens the door even wider to financial and administrative corruption,” argued MP Haider al-Mula, a member of the main opposition bloc, Iraqiya.

Another opposition MP, Wael Abdul-Latif, stated that it was important that parliament, not the executive branch, “supervised the implementation of these projects and approved them”.

And behind the scenes, further reasons were given for the antipathy being directed at a legislation the country really seems to need badly: the upcoming elections. Al-Maliki is not a popular man – a large group of MPs have recently tried to oust him from his position. And with upcoming elections, they’re worried that his main motivation with a law like this – which relates to many things that the Iraqi voters need and want – is to increase his own popularity with electors, without concern for consequences.

Al Mada reports that Falah Hassan Zeidan, an MP serving on Parliament's Security and Defense Committee, states that State of Law is attempting to distract from security issues and that the fact is all security leaders were chosen by Nouri al-Maliki and not brought before the Parliament.  Zeidan further states that this is how Nouri keeps appointing State of Law members to security posts.

All Iraq News reports on the political crisis and notes that Jalal Talabani often flees the country -- for health reasons -- when Iraq faces a political crisis but most don't see him as a coward for doing that.  As the crisis has continued, the report notes, Grand Aytollah Ali al-Sistani has refused to receive Iraqi politicians.  He's made it clear through his representatives over the last months that he feels the politicians are not serving Iraq or putting Iraq's interests first.   The article notes that Jalal has announced a national meeting would take place on October 15th but that this does not seem likely with the meeting now only two days away.  The article notes that Nouri's State of Law is now attempting to dissolve the Parliament over the infrastructure law.  The article also notes the lack of faith between the political blocs.

Why might that be?

Why might you not trust one another?

The most important detail isn't in All Iraq News' article.  The country went through this same thing in 2010.  What ended it was the Erbil Agreement.  But Nouri used it to get a second term and then made a point to break the contract.  Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraqiya and the Kurds have been calling for a return to the Erbil Agreement for over one year now -- publicly calling for it.

How can you have any sort of an agreement with Nouri now?

How can you trust him when you trusted him last time -- because the US told you it was a binding and legal contract that they would back and ensure was honored -- and signed a contract with him only to see him trash the contract and to see the US government betray you and go back on their word?

The Erbil Agreement ended Political Stalemate I.  Nouri's refusal to honor it created Political Stalemate II (the ongoing stalemate).  You cannot address the current political situation in Iraq and not discuss the Erbil Agreement.

The following community sites -- plus On The Wilder Side, Adam Kokesh, Tavis Smiley, Pacifica Evening News, and FPIF -- updated last night and today:

Cindy Sheehan offers her response to the debate Thursday between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan: 

Wasn't the assassination of the U.S. Ambassador in Libya a massive intelligence failure?

Actually, according to recent testimony on Capitol Hill, it was revealed that State Department personnel in Libya had repeatedly asked and been denied more security forces. So, surprise, the Vice President lied through his teeth when he said that the Obama administration was “unaware.” Last time I looked, the State Department, including the Secretary of State, is a cabinet level institution that definitely is part of the administration.

I was against the “humanitarian intervention” in Libya from the beginning and am appalled that in the interest of global resource extraction, tens of thousands of innocent Libyans were killed. The attack that unfortunately killed the ambassador and three other Americans was in reaction to the invasion and corporate occupation of Libya: it’s called, Blowback.

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