Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nouri's power grab and plans to occupy

Alsumaria reports a Mosul motorcycle bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left another injured today.  AFP notes 15 people died from violence yesterday and calls it the deadliest month of October in Iraq.  Yesterday,  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported a Falluja suicide bomber attacked the home of the father of Rafei al-Essawi (Minister of Finance) leaving 1 woman dead and five more injured (and the suicide bomber dead).  Rafei al-Essawi is a Sunni (not noted in yesterday's coverage) and a member of Iraqiya.   This was not the first attack this year on the al-Essawi family.  Dropping back to the January 3rd snapshot:

 Another member of Iraqiay that Nouri has been targeting is Finance Minister Rafe al-Essawi whom Jack Healy and Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) profiled Saturday and noted that Nouri had tried to get the Cabinet to toss him out but the Cabinet had refused. al-Esawi told the New York Times, "Maliki now wants just to get rid of his partners, to build a dictatorship. He wants to consolidate power more and more. Someone else should be prime minister." The day after the comments ran, there was an attempt on al-Essawi's life.  Press TV reported he was the target of a roadside bombing Sunday which left "three of Essawi's bodyguards, two officers and one soldier" wounded. Dan Morse (Washington Post) reports Essawi is calling for an investigation and Morse writes, "Essawi is widely regarded in Iraq as a moderate official."

All Iraq News reports MP Khalid al-Alwani has denounced the attack on al-Essawi's father.  All Iraq News quotes MP Walid al-Mohammadi stating that the targeting of the fathr of an official sets a dangerous precedent. The attack may be (or may not be) part of the continued assault on Sunnis and/or Iraqiya.

Iraqiya came in first in the March 2010 parliamentary elections (Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law came in second).  Nouri has targeted both Iraqiya and Sunnis -- when the two overlap, they tend to get run out of the country.  Among the targeted by Nouri, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi who is both a member of Iraqiya and a Sunni.  All Iraq News reports he gave an interview in which he stated Nouri had attempted to send security officials into Turkey to kill him.  Shortly after Tareq arrived in the KRG in December 2011, Nouri accused him of terrorism and had a warrant issued.  Tareq has moved on to Turkey and Nouri's court has found him guilty of terrorism.  Tareq states in the interview that the verdict isn't to be taken seriously because (a) he was tried in absentia, (b) he was not allowed to present defense witnesses and (c) when the judge refused to rule the way Nouri wanted, the judge was replaced.  He also states that the solution to the ongoing political crisis is not Nouri because Nouri is the root of the problem.  He speaks of returning to Iraq.

The political crisis continues as does Nouri's power-grab.  He's refused to honor the Constitution and implement Article 140.  He was supposed to do that in his first term as Prime Minister.  It's written into the Constitution that it's implemented by the end of 2007.  Why anyone would think Nouri would do in a second term what he refused to do in a first -- US-negotiated contract or not (Erbil Agreement) -- is a puzzler.  Al Mada reports that he is attempting to swarm Kirkuk with Operation Tigris. (Operation Tigris has been going on for weeks now.)  Nouri has declared that the Peshmerga (Kurdish force) is in violation of the law and the Constitution by providing protection and refusing to surrender areas to his army.

Those who've paid attention will remember that General Ray Odierno warned of this.  It's a shame the White House refused to listen to him and took the word of the idiot Chris Hill instead.  (Yes, I know, after Robert Gates set up a meeting between Odierno and Hillary Clinton, she took the issues to the Cabinet.  By then, however, it was too late.)

Kirkuk is disputed territory.  This issue of Nouri sending in forces to disputed territory has raised its head before.  In the past, the US military would mediate.  What happens now?

Dar Addustour quotes Nouri declaring that his army should be free to cover every inch of Iraq.  You better read that the way Nouri intended it.  Meaning the US and foreign press will merely repeat that or ignore it.  But what it is actually is a threat to the KRG.  The Peshmerga are their forces and now Nouri is trying to occupy the disputed territories and claiming he can occupy any place in Iraq which, yes, does mean he's claiming he can send the Iraqi army into the Kurdistan Region despite it being semi-autonomous.  In a fair fight, it's very likely Kurdish forces would repeal Nouri's attempt to seize control.  That's because (a) Iraqi forces wouldn't favor such a move and many would check-out (as many did when Nouri used them in early 2008 to attack Basra), (b) the Kurds would fight to death on the KRG and that would be Iraqi Kurds and Kurds from surrounding areas -- the KRG is the closest thing to a homeland the world's most displaced population has, and (c) the nothern region is not like the rest of Iraq and the KRG would have an advantage because they know the terrain.

But it wouldn't be a fair fight.  Nouri's been on a weapons shopping spree, remember?  4.2 billion dollars to Russia for weapons and 1 billion dollars to the Czech Republic.  And then 18 more fighter jets from the US for a a total of 36.  Do you get now why KRG President Massoud Barzani has objected to these purchases?  Why he's noted these weapons could be used on the Iraqi people?

Al Mada reports President Barzani noted the ongoing political crisis and stated that dialogue is the only way to address these unresolved problems.

Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports Parliament is considering passing a bill that would end the 'acting' positions.

What's are they talking about?

To move from prime minister-designate to prime minister, an individual must put together a Cabinet -- that's nominating them and getting Parliament to vote in favor of them -- within 30 days.  This isn't a partial Cabinet.  If it was partial, why the 30 day limit? This is a full Cabinet. 

Nouri never did that.  He got away with violating the Constitution because his second term was guaranteed not by the Constitution (nor by the will of the Iraqi people) but by a contract the White House negotiated (the Erbil Agreement). 

Back in July, 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." 

Those positions were supposed to be filled in Decmeber 2010.  Go back to press as late as January 2010 -- US and European -- and you will see claims that Nouri would do so in a matter of weeks.  He never did.  Currently, he's made people 'acting' ministers.  An acting minister -- which is not recognized by the Constitution -- is a puppet of Nouri's who does what Nouri says or loses the job.  You only have job protection if the Parliament confirms your nomination.  If that takes place, Nouri can't get rid of you without the approval of Parliament (which is difficult to get as Nouri discovered earlier this year when he tried for months to have Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq removed from his post).

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