Thursday, November 15, 2012

Moqtada issues strong statement, State of Law remains lost

In Iraq, the political crisis continues.  All Iraq News reports Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement yesterday where he explained that the effort to cancel the ration cards was an effort to control the markets, that it was not about addressing corruption and that it was the start of an attempt to rig the upcoming elections.  That's a very strong statement from Moqtada and part of the efforts to draw a line between him and Nouri and to set him up to be the next prime minister.  It's the sort of leadership Jalal Talabani fails to exhibit repeatedly.   Background on the food-rations card system, from Monday's snapshot:

Last Tuesday, Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh announced the cancellation of the program. There was a huge pushback that grew and grew -- from politicians, from clerics, from the people until Friday when it really couldn't be ignored. The program has been in place since 1991 meaning that it is all over half of Iraqis know (Iraq has a very young population, the median age has now risen to 21). It allowed Iraqis to get basic staples such as flour sugar, rice, etc. As the clerics, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, noted, this move would hurt the people who are already struggling economically. It was also an idiotic political move to make. In April, provinicial elections will be held. Nouri's already in campaign mode and this very unpopular move did not help him there. The smartest thing politically would have been to go into a full retreat on the proposal and announce that you had heard the people, to flatter them and make it appear you listened. 
Saturday, there was a moment when it looked like Nouri might grasp that. All Iraq News reportedAlsumaria reported Dawa announced that they had nothing to do with the decision and they're also tried to insist at the same time that it wasn't Nouri's decision. Kurdistan Alliance MP Sharif Soliman told All Iraq News that those responsible for the decision are trying to make up excuses and push the blame elsewhere. The Kurdistan Alliance's Mohsen Saadoun told Alsumaria that Nouri is responsible for this decision. the Cabinet of Ministers will hold an emergency meeting on the issue. Nouri's political slate is State of Law, his political party is Dawa. How unpopular is the move to cancel the food-ration program?
Today Alsumaria reports that the food program is not getting the axe. Instead, the people will be able to decide if they would like to remain on the existing system or receive cash. When you tell people they can remain on the ration card system or they can get cash, when you tell that to people in a bad economy with many bills, they will be tempted to go for the cash. The ration card is the better system. But there are bills owed that have to be paid and there is the hope in people that things have to get better. So they will tell themselves that they can make it right now with the cash and that, in a few months or a year, fate will provide and things will be better. In the meantime, they've been moved off the progam and the prices -- as Sistani, politicans and the people have noted -- will sky rocket. So the money will be of little use to them then.

Al Mada reports that a poll found 69.5% of Iraqis surveyed felt that cancellation of the ration cards would negatively effect their families' standard of living and 81% opposed doing away with the ration cards.

The only thing dumber than trying to cancel the ration cards?  Having everyone insist (Dawa, etc.) that it wasn't your idea and that you didn't even support it.

A) That sounds like a lie if you're the prime minister.  B) For those willing to give you the benefit of the doubt on lying, they're left with the fact that you are a very inept prime minister if a program you wanted to keep is announced cancelled.

Nouri wants a third term as prime minister.  The parliamentary elections planned for 2014 are supposed to determine that.   Members of Parliament are elected, the bloc with the most seats is supposed to get first crack at forming a govenrment so the president names someone from that bloc to be prime minister-designate and that person then has 30 days to form a complete Cabinet or someone else is named prime minister-designate.

The 2014 election is supposed to determine that.  Supposed to.  Iraq's had parliamentary elections twice now -- 2005 and 2010.  In both instances, the United States government determined the outcome.  First, the Bush administration installed Nouri in 2006 (Ibrahim al-Jafaari was the choice of Parliament).  Second, the Barack administration gave second place Nouri a second term in 2010 via an extra-Constitutional contract known as the Erbil Agreement.

If the White House plans to again pick the Iraqi prime minister in 2014, could they let Iraq know now before money's spent printing ballots and adding security to the various polling places?

Al Mada notes the efforts to pass a bill that would limit the prime minister post to two terms only.   Some reports have said there are 150 backers in Parliament, some say 130.  A simple majority is needed.  That's half-plus-one of the MPs (there are 325 members of Parliament).   So that's already very close to the target number.  Press TV notes: "Maliki's supporters also say that they will try to split support for the term limit campaign by adjusting the law to include other posts such as Kurdistan Regional Government president and parliament speaker."

I am sure that they did that say that.  I don't doubt Press TV's accuracy.  Mainly because the members of State of Law repeatedly demonstrate stupidity.

It might help State of Law to read the Iraqi Constitution at some point.  Familiarizing themselves with something they swear an oath to would be a good idea and it would also help them look a little less stupid in public.  The first clause of Article 117 would probably be most helpful to State of Law at this point along with the first and second clauses of Article 121.

There is nothing in the Constitution that gives the Baghdad-based government the right to declare anything about the KRG president or prime minister.  

State of Law MP Sami al-Askari has been talking trash about political rivals for the last  few days.  From Tuesday's snapshot:

Yesterday,  Alsumaria reported that State of Law MP Sami al-Askari is calling Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi a failure and he told Alsumaria that the Kurds are playing up the Sunni - Shi'ite divide.  Today Kurdistan Alliance MP and leader Muhsin al-Sadoun tells Alsumaria that al-Askari's remarks are not helpful and that the suffering that has taken place has been under Nouri al-Maliki's leadership as people have increasingly lost confidence in the government's ability to provide as a result of the vast corruption and the failure to provide security.   al-Askari hasn't stopped trashing politicians.  Al Rafidayn reports he went on Alsumaria television tonight and trashed Iraqiya's Osama al-Nujaifi who is the Speaker of Parliament.  He stated that al-Nujaifi is indebted to the Kurds who pushed for him to be Speaker of Parliament, implying that he does their bidding.  Iraqiya came in first in the 2010 parliamentary elections.  After Nouri refused to honor the Constitution and give up the post of prime minister and Jalal was bound and determined to remain prime minister, that only left one post for the political bloc that got the most votes.  Iraqiya was always going to get the spot and al-Askari knows that, he's just attempting to inflame tensions with his bitchy nature.

It's so bad that finally, today, President Jalal Talabani speaks.  Alsumaria reports Jalal said he could no longer remain silent in light of all the accusations al-Askari has been making.  Talabani states that whether al-Askari meant to or not, the statements drive a wedge and break the bonds between the political blocs.

In other . . . news?  It's a State of Law MP making an accusation.  Keep in mind their track record.  All Iraq News reports MP Abudl Salam al-Maliki has accused Abdul Aziz Narowi, Iraq's Ambassador to Russia, of working with the Russian Defense Minister in the interest of the KRG and not Baghdad.  There's a full-on push to salvage Nouri's image after the mess that the $4.2 billion deal between Russia and Iraq has become.  We'll go over it in the snapshot. 

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