Saturday, November 24, 2012

The standoff continues

As what little of the international press attention that goes to Iraq focusing on the latest political crisis Nouri's ignited, the failed Russian arms deal is largely forgotten.  Weeks ago, Nouri traveled with a delegation to Russia and, while there, signed a $4.2 billion weapons deal.  The deal was a surprise and it involved so much money that it garnered huge press.  Russia took bows on the world stage as did Nouri.  And then Nouri went back to Iraq . . .

and announced the deal was off.

Long before he made that announcement, there was calls for him to appear before the Parliament to explain the deal.  There were accusations of corruption and graft.  These accusations have not vanished.  Ali al-Dabbagh, Nouri's spokesperson until this week, felt the need to publicly announce this week that he was not part of the deal.  All Iraq News reports that Nouri's son is now accused of being part of the alleged corruption.  Ahmed al-Maliki has long been accused of benefitting from nepotism but now the Sadr bloc has accused him of being in on the corruption.  And despite Ali al-Dabbagh's public disavowal of being involved in the arms deal, the report notes that he continues to be linked to it.

Still on the Iraqi Parliament, All Iraq News reports the Women, Family and Children's Committee is calling for the Ministry of Justice to make prisons and detention centers open to legislative committees so they can see what the conditions are.  In addition, All Iraq News notes MP Safia al-Suhail is calling on the Ministry of Women to focus on eliminating violence against women in prison.

Onto the latest political crisis Nouri has instigated.  Having refused to honor the Constitution he took an oath to uphold, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has refused, since 2006, to implement Article 140 which outlines how to resolve disputed territories.  While refusing to follow the Constitution, Nouri decided to utilize the Iraqi military.  Tigris Operation Command has been sent into disputed areas in the north.  What you have is a stand off between the Tigris forces and the Kurdish forces.

And because he can't stop trying to destroy Iraq?  Kitabat reports that Nouri issued a directive (in writing, dated November 22nd) that no vehicles with Kurdish registration plates may enter Baghdad.

Meanwhile Isabel Coles and Paul Simao (Reuters) report, "Iraq's Kurdish region has sent reinforcements to a disputed area where its troops are involved in a standoff with the Iraqi army, a senior Kurdish military official said, despite calls on both sides for dialogue to calm the situation."  The standoff has led many to attempt to mediate.  Alsumaria quotes Kurdistan Alliance MP Mahmoud Othman declaring today that the shaky truce is at risk of falling appart.

 AFP notes, "Iraqi parliament speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi said Saturday that 'significant progress' has been made on resolving an Arab-Kurd crisis and a meeting on the issue will be held in Baghdad next week. Nujaifi has been pushing to resolve a crisis between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq that he has warned could lead to civil war."  Speaker Osama al-Nuajifi traveled to Erbil and spoke with Kurdistan Regional President Massoudd Barzani on Wednesday and returned to Baghdad to speak with Nouri al-Maliki Thursday evening.  But that was November 22nd.  And while al-Nujaifi wants to believe that an understanding was reached in his mediation, the reality is that Nouri decreed no Kurdish officials could leave the country without his permission and that no Kurdish vehicles could enter Baghdad.  That's not an improvement, that's not even a slight de-escalation.

Moqtata al-Sadr has offered to host a working lunch with Barzani and Nouri.  All Iraq News notes that Barzani has responded in a statement thanking al-Sadr for the "gracious invitation" but declaring that the problem is about disagreements, not about personalities.  Alsumaria adds that the statement also notes Barzani is more than happy to meet with Moqtada al-Sadr at any time.  Kitabat reports al-Nujaifi is asserting that he has just received confirmation from both Nouri and Barzani that they will sit down with him for a meet-up.

While the US government uses their diplomats to do the bidding of Nouri and convince the Kurds to go along with whatever Nouri wants, Alsumaria reports Turkish Foriegn Ministry spokesperson Selcuk Unal has called on Nouri to drop the delusions and stop moving Iraq closer to violence.  Hurriyet covers the statement as well, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is living in a fantasy world, Ankara has implied amid high tension between Iraq and Turkey that has been escalated by tit-for-tat statements from both sides."

The following commmunity sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan,, Jody Watley and Adam Kokesh-- updated yesterday and today:

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