Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nouri makes another power grab and the White House backs him on it

Last week, we were noting how the Western press continued to ignore Tigris Operation Command, the forces Nouri al-Maliki was sending into northern Iraq, had been for months, despite the continued escalation of tensions between Nouri's Baghdad-based government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.   As part of the tensions, you can include Nouri's refusal to include the Peshmerga in the 2013 federal budget.  The Peshmerga are Kurdish forces.  State of Law  is offering to allow the Peshmerga to merge with Iraqi forces -- the point being for Nouri to take control of the KRG forces.  No, that's really not how the Constitution reads.  This has all been bubbling over for weeks now.  Since Friday, when at least one person died, even the Western press has had to start paying attention. 

This morning, it's difficult to track which side made the latest assertion.

Bushra Juhi (AP) reports that, as a result of Nouri sending "tanks and armored vehicles toward"  the city of  Kirkuk (actually, towards Tuz Khurmatu) the Peshmerga are ready to attack at a minute's notice according to Commander Mahmoud Sankawi.  Al Mada notes that there are 35 Tigris forces tanks at the edge of Tuz Khurmatu currently.  Alsumaria notes that Iraqi Minister of Trade Khairallah Babker has stated that if Nouri does not stop the movements of the Tigris forces into disputed territories, the Kurds made clear to Nouri yesterday evening, that violence would ensue.  Al Mada adds that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc has declared they do not support war on the KRG, that Nouri's actions are his alone and that Iraq needs someone to step forward and create a peaceful, civil state.  Kitabat notes that Ahmed Chalabi has declared Nouri's actions will cause violence and are harmful to all Iraqis.

Late yesterday, AFP reported that Col Dhia al-Wakil, of Nouri's Tigris forces, was stating Nouri was warning the Kurdish forces not to approach his troops.   Dar Addustour quotes the Secretary General of the Ministry of Peshmerga, Jabbar Yawar, stating that Nouri knows fully well what are and what not disputed territories in Iraq.

Hevidar Ahmed (Rudaw) notes that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (a Kurd)  "repeatedly asked Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to halt the activities of the military command.  Maliki ignored his calls and broadened the activities of the DOC instead."  The Tigris forces are also known as Dijla Operations Command.  As we noted some time ago, these forces were seen as Nouri's attempt to take over disputed territories.  He has been prime minister since 2006.  The Constitution mandated that he implement Article 140 and he was supposed to do it by the end of 2007.  He never has.  Article 140 provides for resolving disputed territories like oil-rich Kirkuk which both the Baghdad-based government and the KRG insists is rightly their land.  Per Article 140, a census and referendum will be held.  The last time Nouri acknowledged this was when he was desperate for a second term and promised a census would take place at the start of December 2010.  But the Erbil Agreement in November 2010 meant he could go back on his promise and he immediately cancelled the census.

Ahmed notes that Talabani initially took Nouri at his words despite rumors and reports from the Kurdish Asayish forces.  Events have forced Jalal to open his eyes and he has now called out the Tigris forces.  Ahmed reports:

Spokesperson and member of the KDP political bureau, Jaafar Ibrahim, told Rudaw, "Talabani was never alone and has always been supported by Barzani and the KDP. Sometimes we might have had our differences, but in fateful matters such as Article 140 and the Kirkuk issue, KDP members support Talabani and the PUK." 
After Talabani prevented the effort to withdraw confidence from Maliki – brought forward by the KDP, Iraqiya List, Sadr Movement, Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal) -- it was said that the KDP would not support Talabani in this case in Baghdad. 
But Ibrahim said, "The KDP will not leave Talabani alone in Baghdad as we have openly told Maliki that the DOC is a provocation and playing with fire."

Reports yesterday noted that Jalal was in Erbil to meet with KRG President Massoud Barzani.  All Iraq News reports the two political rivals (the KRG has two dominant political parties, the KDP and the PUK, each heads one) met today.

In related news, Hou Qiang (Xinhua) reports:

The Iraqi government suggested Tuesday to jointly control the security with the Kurdish regional forces in the disputed areas in northern Iraq, in a bid to ease the tension between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan region, an official Kurdish website said.
"The ministerial council proposed in its meeting Tuesday to jointly run the security file of the disputed areas between the federal government and Kurdistan region," said the official website of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), a major Kurdish party.

That would be a huge mistake based on Nouri's record.  Once in, he would then work to push the Kurds out. That is how he works, examine his record.  The US government is currently pushing that nonsense (according to 2 friends at the State Dept).  They are also assuring the Kurds that they will stand by this agreement.



The US government cannot be trusted to stand by any agreement.  The US government brokered the Erbil Agreement.  They swore it was a legal binding contract and one that they would back.  This was November 2010.  It is how Nouri got the second term as prime minister despite his political slate (State of Law) coming in second in the March 2010 elections.  The US government swore their support for the Erbil Agreement but when Nouri trashed it, they stalled and then they pretended like it never existed.

The US government refused to honor that contract or keep its word.

That is the reality of all the players in the White House currently.  Nouri got a second term not because the Iraqi people wanted him.  He got it because Barack Obama wanted him to have a second term.  The Kurds would do well to remember that and also grasp that US diplomats have spent the last two months telling the Turkish government that it has gotten too close to the Kurds.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

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