Monday, December 24, 2012

Iraq's perspective about the US?

Ali Younes (Foreign Policy) offers a column entitled "President Obama Might Be Time's Person of the Year, but Not the Middle-East's" which is a promising topic but quickly disappoints.  Barack did not offer the Arab Spring (of 2011) enough support (that's putting it mildly), the column argues.  And, "from an Arab perspective," that's the most disappointing thing in the Arab world.

That's a sweeping statement and it's also untrue.  How stupid do you have to be to think a diverse region like the Middle East would coalesce around one and only one issue?  And, again, that's 2011 (although it actually began in December 2010).  Time was declaring their person of the year for 2012.  You may or may not believe Barack deserved the honor (that's your opionon and you can feel whatever you want), but Time was reviewing 2012.

The Arab Spring was not a major issue in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Mauritania and Djibouti -- to name just a few Arab countries.  It was a major issue in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria.  Other countries fell somewhere in between.  But this was a 2011 event.  (I would eliminate Libya from the list completely due to the CIA-backed 'rebels' and the lack of clarity on the ground in most US reporting on Libya at that time.  Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya was the reporter to follow on Libya and you can refer to Global Research for many of his reports.)

Ali Younes is writing a column and needs to take a point of view for it, I understand that.  But if you're going to quarrel with a magazine's choice for someone to be Person of the Year in 2012, you need to be reviewing 2012 events.  Now I would not have picked Barack Obama.  He wouldn't have been on my top twenty.   My short list?   Chris Fry and Workers World go with Bradley Manning.  He would be part of my top four.  The other three?  Curiosity (which Betty was hoping Time would pick), the land rover on Mars;  A.M. MacDonald, H.C. Bonsor, B.E.O. Dochartaigh and R.G. Taylor for their discovery regarding groundwater resources in Africa; Shonda Rhimes.
Shonda Rhimes is the show runner for three different shows on television.  She's not doing Grey's Anatomy and Grey's Anatomy NYC, Grey's Anatomy: Trial By Jury, Grey's Antaomy Miami and Grey's Anatomy: Special Victims Unit.  She's created three distinct and popular shows that are all airing right now.  And her latest show, Scandal, is riveting, is the success story of fall 2012, and provides the writing that finally gives Kerry Washington the opportunity to truly shine (she's amazing and should be Emmy nominated for Best Actress).  Shonda Rhimes has changed and is changing television.  She would make my top four and any of the four would be, I would argue, worthy of person of the year.

But I am basing person of the year on 2012 events.  And it would help if Ali Younes would do that same.

Iraq is our focus and Barack and the Arab Spring isn't the complaint I hear about in e-mails from Iraqis or read about on Iraqi social sites.

The feeling is that the US has walked away from Iraq.  It's noted -- over and over -- that Barack only mentions the country in the last month to note troop departures.  Iraqis feel abandoned.  That's why I hit so hard on Friday about the fact that it was an insult (and it was) to Iraqis that no one in the administration had bothered to say anything about President Jalal Talabani and his health emergency (which everyone seems to agree was a stroke). Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden had a letter delivered.  We featured that at the top of our Saturday entry:

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is in Germany having been medically transported there yesterday.  On Monday evening, following a meeting with Nouri, Jalal was taken to Baghdad Medical Center Hospital for what the prime minister's office has said was a stroke but the president's staff has left it as an unidentified health condition.  The news broke on Tuesday.  Wednesday, Iraqi doctors were joined by British and German doctors.  It was felt that Talabani was in stable enough condition and could be transferred to Germany.  Al Mada reports he is  at Berlin's  Charite University Hospital which is one of Europe's largest hospitals and was established in the year 1710.
All Iraq News notes that a letter from US Vice President Joe Biden was delivered to the Talabanis today wishing Jalal improved health and successful treatment in Germany.  The letter notes that Jalal Talabani has long been a voice of sobriety and reason and that he is urgently needed.  It cites his work in the last weeks on de-escalating tensions between Baghdad and Erbil over the military-standoff between the Tigris Operation Command forces and the Peshmerga in the disputed areas.  Biden stresses that Iraq greatly needs Talabani and asks the Talabani family to call on him if there is any way he can provide assistance at this time.  Alsumaria adds that the letter noted Biden's distress over hearing of Jalal's medical problems and stressed the partnership between Jalal and the US.

[Before anyone says, "Icky Vicky Nuland spoke!"  She's a spokesperson and her remarks were insulting.  They were generic and she made sure, at that press conference, to convey that they were generic, pausing and speaking in a bored voice and shuffling papers.  Wow.  Can you imagine if Barack had a stroke and a spokesperson for another country's diplomatic corps spoke like that?  There would be hell to pay.  In addition to Icky Vicky, the US Embassy in Baghdad issued a Tweet.  Neither are players in the administration.  A message should have been made publicly by Barack, Joe or Hillary.  Thank goodness Joe stepped up to the plate on Saturday.]

Iraqis feel abandoned by the US.  They were led to believe that they had a strategic partner but Barack doesn't visit (hasn't the entire year).  He doesn't speak to Iraqi politicians, palming them off on Joe Biden.  He's seen as seriously insulting Iraq by his treatment of their leaders.

If you asked Iraqis about their disappointments, it would include what they see as being shunned by the President of the United States.

It's bad enough when a foreigner (Barack) overrules your choice and your vote (as he did in 2010 when he demanded Nouri al-Maliki get a second term as prime minister -- something in conflict with both the vote total and the Constitution).  But when he does that and then ignores your country -- specifically ignoring the abuses you live with and under as a result of the person he installed?

The US government is a joke in Iraq.

To get Nouri a second term, they had to go around the Constituion.  The White House brokered the Erbil Agreement and to get the various political blocs to sign on and to agree to a second term, the White House had to swear that this contract was legal and had the full backing of the administration.  But when Nouri used the contract to get his second term while refusing to honor the promises made to the various blocs headed by other leaders, the White House played dumb.

The Kurds feel completely stabbed in the back.  There was an excellent article in Rudaw last week about that they we may highlight today, there wasn't time last week.  They thought they had a special realtionship with the US and the US gave its word on the contract.  But then the US walked away.  That's why it's going to be increasingly difficult for the US to have any impact.  They made a very important promise (re: Erbil Agreement) and then they ignored it.  The Kurds and other political blocs feel betrayed.

That's when Barack should have been reaching out but instead he always has something else to do.  Iraqis feel betrayed by him.  It's not a surprise unless you haven't been paying attention.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barry O's Favorite Topic" went up last night.  On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include the late Robert Bork, the shooting in Newton Connecticut, political prisoner Lynne Stewart (we will note that in a snaphot this week) is discussed with guest Ralph Poynter (Lynne's husband).

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