Friday, November 30, 2012

Ali al-Dabbagh refuses to fall on Nouri's sword

As Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe explained in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, "When love goes wrong, nothing goes right."  It appears the lesson is learned yet again in Iraq as former 'blood brothers' -- a prime minister and a spokesperson -- turn on one another publicly.

As is often the case, money appears to be the root of the conflict.

Ali al-Dabbagh used to be so close to Nouri that the two were practically bath buddies.  Today All Iraq News reports that he's accusing Nouri's Media Affairs Office Ali al-Moussawi of a media lynching as Nouri attempts to weasel out of the corruption charges regarding the $4.2 billion weapons deal with Russia on al-Dabbagh.  In a written statement to the news outlet, al-Dabbagh alludes to information about Nouri's inner circle that he could reveal.  al-Dabbagh has twice publicly denied any involvement in the arms deal.  Al Mada notes that in his written statement, he cited his six years of being a spokesperson for the Iraqi government as proof of his (no laughter, please) integrity.  Kitabat quotes it in full and that includes insisting that his image is being distorted and that his reputation is unfairly maligned.  As a result, he insists, he can no longer do his job.  That might have carried more weight had he issued it when he was still in Iraq and before he reportedly fled the country.

October 9th, with much fanfare, Nouri signed a $4.2 billion dollar weapons deal with Russia.  After taking his bows on the world stage and with Parliament and others raising objections, Nouri quickly announced the deal was off.  The scandal, however, refuses to go away. The Iraq Times states Nouri's offering up Ali al-Dabbagh and others to protect the truly corrupt.  Meanwhile, All Iraq News notes National Alliance member and one-time MP Wael Abdul Latif is calling for Nouri to quickly bring charges against those involved in the corruption.  (The arms deal is now treated by the Iraqi press as corrupt and not allegedly corrupt, FYI.)   Latif remains a major player in the National Alliance and the National Alliance has backed Nouri during his second term.  With his current hold on power reportedly tenous and having already lost the support of Moqtada al-Sadr, Nouri really can't afford to tick off the National Alliance as well.  Kitabat reports MP Maha al-Douri, of Moqtada's bloc in Parliament, is saying Nouri's on a list of officials bribed by Russia for the deal.  The outlet also notes rumors that al-Dabbagh is leaving the UAE for Bulgaria. 

From yesterday's snapshot:

Adding to the view of Nouri as an incompetent on the world stage are the issues emerging over another big contract.  Dar Addustour reports that Rotana Arabia, a cell phone company, signed a contract with Iraq woth as much as $30 million.  The contract was brokered by Saadoun al-Dulaimi who is the Minister of Culture.  Nouri's calling for the contract to be cancelled, citing corruption.  He wants the Ministry to cancel the contract.  Not the Minister.  He can't ask Minister of Culture Saadoun al-Dulaimi to do anything because no one can find him and he's reportedly fled the country. 

Today All Iraq News reports that the Ministry of Culture is insisting there is no final contract with the cell phone service provider.

Yesterday, violence broke out across Iraq . . .  including in the halls of Parliament:

All Iraq News reports an "altercation" took place in Parliament today between several deputies and led Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi to immediately adjourn the session and postpone the next session until Saturday.  Thrown fists have not been uncommon in the Iraqi Parliament in the last seven years but it has been some time since there were any reports of physical violence among MPs.  Whatever happened, All Iraq News notes it took place in the hallway.  Alsumaria also terms it an "altercation" and notes that prior to that, the Parliament had read six bills and was discussing the allegations of torture in Iraqi prisons and detention centers.  

Al Mada reports today that the fight was between State of Law (Nouri al-Maliki's political slate) and Iraqiya (led by Ayad Allawi) and that it was over the issue of what is happening to Iraqi women in prisons and detention centers as well as an allegation that State of Law had attempted to bury the report and refusing to allow Parliament's Committee on Women to issue the report on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25th).  Dar Addustour notes that the Committee report is said to have found that women are being arrested without judicial warrants and that, while in prison, women are being tortured to force confessions against their husbands.  The Ministry of the Interior denies the charges.  Who's in charge of that Ministry?  That's right Nouri al-Maliki.  Because he refused to nominate anyone to head it.
As  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed in July, "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."  The Iraq Times notes that Parliament's Commission on Human Rights has declared that Nouri's government is responsible for any torture of detainees or prisoners.

 Outside the Parliament yesterday, violence including bombings and shootings.  Alsumaria notes that many of the dead were buried today.  In this morning's New York Times, Duraid Adnan has a strong report on yesterday's violence.

An honorific degree may be pulled from Nouri, we'll note that and other things (Baghdad and Erbil tensions, State of Law's latest attack on the Iraqi Constitution, etc) in the snapshot.

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