Saturday, January 05, 2013

'He can barely point to a single success . . .'

Protests coninue in Iraq.  Today security forces attempted to prevent protesters from entering Liberal Square in Mosul, Alsumaria reports; however,  Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi (also spelled Ethyl) ordered that the square be opened and that protesters be allowed to demonstrate thereAll Iraq News adds that al-Nujaifi and other Iraiqya deputies took part in a demonstration in Liberal Square last Sunday.  Alsumaria quotes MP Jawad Alshahyla of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc stating that Moqtada has sent delegations to Anbar Province and Salahuddin Province to speak to protesters and to be clear on what their demands are.

Meanwhile Reuters notes, "Saudi Arabia on Saturday warned against sectarian extremism after two weeks of protests."    Al Arabiya reports Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya, continues his call for prime minister and thug Nouri al-Maliki to step down stating that the country needs "radical solutions" and it "does not belong to one person."  World Bulletin quotes Allawi stating, "Maliki government cannot take the country out of economic and political crisis."

Detsche Welle offers an opinion piece on Nouri which includes:

He's one of the most powerful men in Iraq - and one of the least popular. Nuri al-Maliki has, for many Iraqis, forfeited his credibility as prime minister. His allegedly authoritarian and inefficient leadership style has even been criticized by members of the parties that make up the government coalition.
No wonder - a year after the withdrawal of the US army, he can barely point to a single success. Unemployment is high, terrorists have infiltrated security forces and corruption is widespread. Some of his coalition partners are even accusing Maliki of behaving like Iraq's former dictator Saddam Hussein.

". . . he can barely point to a single success."  Can he point to one?  Does even one exist?

And those 'accomplishments' are even worse when you factor in that Nouri's been prime minister since spring 2006. All this time to improve the lives of the Iraqi people but nothing to show for it.  Can't claim that, like many countries, Iraq was suffering economically.  No, the government rakes in billions and billions each year off the oil exports.  But what do Iraqis have to show for that?

Nouri's political slate is State of Law.  Tomorrow, a special seassion of Parliament is supposed to take place (called by Speaker or Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Deputy Prime Minister).  All Iraq News notes that State of Law is stating that they won't attend any such session.

Violence continues today.  All Iraq News reports that a Karbala car bombing claimed 1 life and left twenty-three people injured.  Xinhua adds a Kan'an car bombing claimed 3 lives and left six people injured, a Sa'diyah roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier with four more left injured and 1 person was shot dead in Baquba.

In other news, AP notes that the office of Iraq President Jalal Talabani has finally issued a statement identifying the incident that led to Talabani's hospitalization: a stroke.  The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.

The following community sites -- plus, Jody Watley,  Great Britain's Socialist Worker and NYT's At War -- updated last night and today:

Lastly, Law Professor Francis A. Boyle is an expert on international law and human rights.  He has written the following:

2013 Nobel Peace Prize Nomination of Governor George H. Ryan
University of Illinois College of Law Professor Francis A. Boyle nominated retired Illinois Governor George H. Ryan for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize because of his courageous, heroic, and principled opposition to the racist and class-based death penalty system in America.
The Illinois General Assembly and Governor Pat Quinn recently abolished the death penalty--a life-long objective of Professor Boyle, a Native Illinoisan. See his article "Teaching Against the Death Penalty," 21 J. Development Alternatives & Areas Studies, No. 1 & 2, at 90-96 (March-June 2002), which recounts his experiences at teaching against the death penalty since his arrival at the College of Law in August of 1978.
Together with his former student Karen Conti and her late partner Greg Adamski, they served as Co-Counsel to prevent the execution of convicted mass-murderer John Wayne Gacey by then Illinois Governor Jim Edgar. The three of them won a Request for a Stay of Execution by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Governor Edgar on the grounds that the Illinois lethal injection procedure constituted torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Nevertheless, Governor Edgar violated this Request and illegally tortured Mr. Gacey to death over a period of eighteen minutes.
But thanks to Governor George Ryan there had been no similar executions by the State of Illinois for over a decade and now never again!
Boyle was elected by the 200,000 members of Amnesty International USA to serve two two- year terms on their Board of Directors from 1988 to 1992. The Nobel Peace Prize Winning Amnesty International is an abolitionist organization that will work to prevent the execution of any human being for any reason. So will Professor Boyle. Amnesty International also opposes the torture of human beings for any reason. So does Professor Boyle.
For information :
Francis A. Boyle
Law Building
504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA
217-333-7954 (Voice)
217-244-1478 (Fax)
(personal comments only)

The e-mail address for this site is


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Ron Brynaert is not a friend of mine

Online, things tend to stay up forever.  I'm also not going to delete things.  What's here is here.

Because what's here is here, I want to clarify something, I am not friends with Ron Brynaert.

In 2004, Brynaert began e-mailing the public account for this website.  When I noted him at this website, two bloggers (one male, still around; one female who's closed her site) e-mailed to say don't trust him and don't trust him with anything personal.

Ron knows nothing about me.  He would repeatedly attempt to ask personal questions.  I don't do personal with strangers.  This site exists because of Iraq.  If we're going to talk about Iraq, let's talk about Iraq.  (Ron has earned the reputation he has -- with rumors of his being a government snoop -- because he does ask personal questions that come up out of nowhere.)

Months after, Ron was screaming in e-mails (along with one of his friends) about how I hadn't made the community do something, sign some petiton or something he wanted, I don't know.  I don't control this community.  I am one member of the community.  It's not a cult.  I couldn't issue marching orders here if I wanted to.

That faded and Ron decided we were friends again.

Then he went to work for Raw Story.  We don't like Raw Story.  Why?  We've kept that in the newsletters and off this site.  I don't know that I ever even mentioned it to Ron in any e-mails. 

At some point, Ron e-mailed me (2006?) to praise me for some piece on a war resister.  He'd linked to it at Raw Story.  My reply didn't thrill him.

So sorry.

I don't ask for links.  I've never e-mailed Ron and asked for a link.  He's e-mailed many times and he's had his friends e-mail asking for links.  That includes the weirdo in Australia who got furious with me because I wouldn't link to his 'great work' on a New York Times reporter.  We'd called her out when she was factually wrong.  I'd link to nutty's articles where he called her out for being factually wrong.  Then nutty became convinced that this reporter was covering up the murder of a US judge.  The nutso had no concept of what goes into reporting.  By that I mean, the woman filed a report that was an early version.  As she got more information, she added that.  Some early information proved not to be accurate and she changed that.  This is reporting in any newsroom on any given day.  But nutso became convinced that this meant the reporter was covering up for the murder of a US judge and began making those charges.  We weren't interested anymore.

My apologies here to Isaiah who took an insult from Nutsy online because Nutsy didn't have the guts to go after me.  I've never commented on that before and hadn't planned on it now.  But since we're on this topic, my apologies to Isaiah.

My reply didn't thrill Ron.  I don't know why it would.  Was I supposed to gush, "Thank you!!!!"  I have asked friends not to link to this site, not to mention this site.  When we get a shout out on NPR, I know we're doing something wrong.  That's not meant as an insult to anyone, it's just that any such mention means we need to be hitting a lot harder.

Also true, friends are often surprised by how hard I hit here.  In real life, I'm far more comfortable listening than speaking.  (And go back to the early days and you'll find various comments or acknowledgements by me that community members were complaining about my avoiding a topic or writing "in fairness . . .")  Here we have to have an opinion.  I have to take a position.  And I do.  But if you were a guest in my home, unless we were talking about the betrayal of the Iraqi people, you would see a much calmer person than you encounter here.  I'm much more laid back.

I have repeatedly stated that this site is only as good as the community is.  I can speak for the community when a member needs me to.  If an Iraqi community member e-mails about something that has outraged him or her, I can grab the baton and I can run with that and will do so gladly.   As I've noted a few times before, if I didn't do this website, I would've voted for Barack in 2008 and in 2012.  I would've held my nose and just voted for him.  (In 2008, I voted for a non-duopoly party candidate.  In 2012, I did not vote in the presidential race.)  But this community has an impact on all the members, including me.

So the point being, this isn't my autobiography.  I don't need friends to link to it or mention it.  It's an important site and I'd be a huge reader of it if I wasn't involved with it but it's not autobiography.  And from day one, for example, I have hoped to write about water rights -- that's an issue that's going to grow in importance and one we are not ready for globally -- but businesses are ready for it.  There's never been time.  By 2007 or 2008, I gave up on ever being able to address the issue here.  Again, this site is about the community.

So there's no "I was linked to!" joys here.

In addition, I worry about conflicts of interests.  I have so many as it is.  There is a wonderful reporter for the Los Angeles Times and a wonderful one for the New York Times that, if the site went dark tomorrow, I'd be making arrangements to have drinks with.  They are both wonderful reporters and I praise them highly.  (Ned Parker is praised repeatedly here.  He does great work.  But I'm not speaking of Ned Parker.)  In both cases, I violated my own rule and replied to e-mails and justified it as they were leaving Iraq.  And I feel tremendous guilt over that (I've written about it here before).  I can't have private conversations with people whose work I'm critiquing.  If I do, it's not fair.

And I came into thise with enough conflicts of interests via existing friendships.

So Ron is no longer the Ron of his own website but Raw Story.  What did he expect?  A personal e-mail?  Now there was a new conflict of interest.

And I didn't want to appear to be courting Raw Story for links.

Also, I didn't write anything.

I've written on war resisters repeatedly.  In that case, I took a report (AP?) and linked to it.  I wrote a sentence or two.

Because friends asked for it, we cover Congress.  I'm not going to pretend that what we do on hearings isn't reporting.  But I do that reluctantly.  I think what appears here on that is good and of value -- but if newspapers were doing their jobs -- as they once did -- in covering hearings, even what I manage on a good day of reporting on a hearing, on a best day, would be of little value.

I have no inflated sense of self.

So I didn't give him the e-mail he wanted and that stopped the e-mail flow.  Which was fine.  I didn't have the time and I'm sure he didn't.  I'd hear about him from time to time and think, "Good, I hope he's happy."  And I meant that.  And I used to still feel that way until this summer.  We're getting there.

Ron got fired from Raw Story (or he left, don't e-mail me, Ron).  He returned to his website.  I got an e-mail on that (not from Ron, from someone making fun of him).  So I wrote a little something in a Sunday or Thursday entry and linked to his site, welcoming him back.  He was supposedly going to be offering some Iraq coverage.  That really didn't happen.

I want to say that was 2010 but I don't know.  I've tried to block this all out for what we're about to get to.

So for several months I kept getting e-mails asking me why I hated Ron?

I didn't reply, I didn't read most of them.  Martha and Shirley would note, in their summaries of the e-mails coming in, that the topic had popped up again.

Then one day last spring or summer, there was an e-mail that quoted Ron.  Attacking me.

My response should have been to explode.  But he was unemployed and I felt sorry for him.  He's also got problems that I had hoped Raw Story would fix but clearly that did not happen.  So I wrote him a sincere e-mail (I dictated it, I remember that).  I asked him if I had done something to make him feel the need to attack me, what caused that?

He responded with something to the effect of he knew it was false when he Tweeted it but some nonsense that basically comes down to 'I had to feed Twitter.'  I dictated a response to that along the lines of okay, then, so there's no problem?

But clearly there was because a string of abusive e-mails followed, one right after the other, I wasn't dictating replies to them, that continued for a bit.  Several e-mails cursing me out and raging against me.

And at some point, I said to Martha, "You're not putting me on, are you?  This isn't a prank?"

Because it made no sense.

She wasn't putting me on, these e-mails were arriving.

As one curse filled insult after another was read to me, I stopped caring about Ron's emotional health.  As far I was concerned, he was a cheap liar.  He knew I hadn't done anything to him but to try to get attention on Twitter, he attacked me.

That was months ago and I've never mentioned it here or in a newsletter.   When people have heard of the e-mails from Martha or Shirley, I've said nothing.

That was my intention.

Thursday, Stan called out some ridiculous remarks Ron had made on race and on films.  Stan backed up his points and did so with stats.  Of course, when you're insane, that just makes you rage more so Ron shows up to insult Stan in the comments.  And, as Keesha pointed out in her comments, Ron had to bring me into it.  I hadn't done a damn thing.  I had said nothing about him publicly.

Now there are two e-mails in the public inbox from Ron.

I'm not reading them.

You cannot cuss me out and write abusive e-mails to me months ago and then show up and act like we're pen pals.

Until right now, I hadn't said a word about any of this.

Now I am.  I am not Ron's friend.  We do not speak.  We have never spoken.  We did exchange e-mails -- superficial ones but I believe in giving credit so I've always credited him if I've written about any topic we'd mentioned in e-mails.

After his attack of me on Twitter and his admitting that he knew I didn't do anything to him, his 'defense' that Tweeting non-stop requires that you feed the machine?

That's not a friend.

Ron needs to stop writing me.  Ron needs to get psychiatric help.

Writing that means Ron will write insulting e-mails about me.  Fine, I won't read him.  He'll take to Twitter and say nasty things about me.  Fine, I won't read him.

But his name is up at this site in various entries.  So I do need to clarify, Ron is not a friend of mine.  He is not to be trusted.  The two bloggers who e-mailed me years ago were exactly right.  He will appeal to you for sympathy.  You will feel sorry for him.  You will let your guard down in some form and then the response will be he will attack you.  That's what he does.

We're not friends.  I'm not involved in what Stan posted but Ron thinks he can come running to me.  I don't care what he has to say.  He can leave comments (could, I believe Stan's currently deleting most of Ron's comments and closing the comments on that entry)  at Stan's blog and Stan's got a public e-mail address.  I haven't mentioned him.  But right now I have a 25K e-mail and a 24K e-mail from Ron.  I'm not reading either of them.  I've already clicked on them to indicate they are spam, his future e-mails will go in the spam folder so no one has to read them.

Ron's pattern?  The first one's a plea for me to talk Stan into deleting the post about Ron and explaining how hard things are right now for Ron.  The second one's Ron screaming at me that the Stan hasn't deleted the post and how hard things are for him.

A long time ago, the DLC was e-mailing the public account to whine about what Rebecca blogged about them -- about their bad hair cuts, actually.  (And if you've ever seen a DLC-er, you know they've got bad hair cuts.)  I don't police Rebecca.  Here, I wrote at the time (and since), don't e-mail me about what someone else writes at another site.  I am responsible for what I write.

Ron's familiar with that because he's been treated roughly by the community before.  So there was never a reason for him to write me about what Stan posted.

Since he is dragging me into it (and will no doubt take to Twitter to rage some more), let me say what I always say, "I stand with the community."  If you're an outsider and you think an e-mail's going to make me turn on Stan or whomever, you're an idiot.  I stand with the community.

And that includes agreeing with Stan.  White Ron may think it's funny when every Tarentino film uses the n-word, but White Ron isn't an African-American sitting in the theater hearing all the Whites laugh hilariously every time that word comes up.  Stan is completely right that he has every right to criticize or call out someone using the n-word.  That Ron's devotion to Quentin is so great that he can't grasp that an African-American could respond differently to what he finds hilarious goes to the limitations of Ron.

I hadn't planned to write on this topic.  I'd have preferred to have stayed out of it.  However, Ron's now trying to claim that he's been threatened.

Sickos in comments at blog smearing me as racist want e-fame, claim I "will end up dead" for, um, defending Tarantino

Drama Queen Ron.

At Stan's site, Ron's left several comments -- one with his name, others without.  I don't know if he was drinking or if he has sock puppets.  But this one appears to be from him (Stan is deleting as I type this):

Anonymous said...
I'm going to end up dead?


You are sickos.

Yes, Ron, you are going to end up dead.  You are mortal.  I know that's a shock to you.

Ron's actually referring to a comment Wally left:

Wally said...
Oh, look, Little Ron the professional coward left a comment. Gee, Ronnie b**ch, maybe people would take you more seriously if you didn't lie about people and, when confronted on it, say "I'm fighting for my life." You're a f**king piece of trash liar who will end up dead and no one will miss you.

Wally's not threatening Ron.  Wally's referring to all of Ron's legal and emotional problems.  (I also think "I'm fighting for my life" was read to me by Martha from one of Ron's e-mails a few months back -- which would mean Wally's working from those as well.  I don't know, I haven't spoken to him about it.)  Wally's referring to Ron's crazy behavior.  Like when he is lucky enough that a New York Times reporter wants to work with him and Ron's 'thank you' is to then go and smear the woman over and over and over for months at his Twitter account.

Ron's considered nuts all over the place online -- left, right, what have you.  If his name is known, he's considered nuts.  And he will end up dead shortly or in a mental home.  That's the reality.  That's not me threatening him, that's me pointing out he's needs to get his life in order.  

He's had problems with various district attorneys, he's apparently been the subject of many law suits, he's admitted to some form a criminal history that's been expunged -- What do you say?

Ron  is a sexist.  A lot of people don't know what that means.  It means that you don't believe women are equal, you don't believe women are not all one stereotype.  I bring that up because, like many sexists, Ron needs to scream "bitch" at the women he's raging against and needs to make the others into saints (before they disappoint him -- and they always disappoint him).  It's the whole sexist Madonna/Whore.  I bring that up because Ron doesn't get women and doesn't grasp where things stand with us.

"When you hang up that phone, you cease to exist" ("Welcome to the Room . . . Sara," written by Stevie Nicks, first appears on Fleetwood Mac's Tango in the Night).  I can and do walk away.  I'm not Ron's nuturing mother or 'old lady' that's going to go down with the sinking ship.  Like some other women (though not enough) I did master survival.  That means I don't have the desire to rescue you, Ron.  I don't have the need to fix your problems.

You're a grown up, you should have dealt with your own problems a long time ago.  Your failure to do so put you in your current situation.  You had everything you always said you wanted with Raw Story but you screwed that up and left on such bad terms that it became an ongoing, online controversy.  You then got lucky enough to partner with a reporter for the New York Times.  And you screwed that up.  And you went on to attack her over and over and over on your useless Twitter feed.  How many chances did you think you were going to get to be what you really wanted to be?

Parting advice, Ron, if you were an actress, you'd be Sean Young right now.

You are a joke.  Your Twitter feed doesn't help your image.  It only makes you look even nuttier, even more explosive, even more unreliable and more unemployable.  It's as though every day you're running around the set of Joan Rivers' daytime talk show dressed like Catwoman.  Ron, Tim Burton's not going to call you.

Stop the Twitter and try to write something that doesn't scream "conspiracy."

Or accept what you've become: A joke.  But that's on you.  I have a very full life and you have no place in it.

I Hate The War

Michael Moore wants you to know that, "Six Years Ago, Chuck Hagel Told the Truth About Iraq" (Huffington Post).  Moore explains he's referring to 2007.  Who the hell care? 

Who the hell carries what that sorry, disgusting politician in 2007?

What mattered was his vote in 2002 when he was a US senator.  He voted for the war.  He cheerleaded the war.  Bully Boy Bush did not win the 2000 election.  He was appointed/annointed by the Supreme Court.  What was Chuckie doing in 2004?  On the campaign trail with Bush.

In 2005, 12 days after Cindy Sheehan started Camp Casey, while Cindy's opposition to the illegal war and Camp Casey were getting massive press coverage, Hagel finally found the ability to speak.

So basically, finger in the wind, eyes glued to cable, Hagel saw the shift taking place and a new leader emerging and was smart enough to go in for a makeover?

Let's not mistake that for a brave stand.  Let's not mistake that for leadership.  From 2007 through early 2008, former US Senator Mike Gravel ran for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination before then attempting to win the Libertarian Party's nomination.  Throughout those campaigns, Gravel repeatedly explained how you end the war and end it now.  Hagel wasn't interested.  So 'brave,' so 'independent.'

A deeply unpopular war grew even more unpopular and self-serving War Hawk Chuck looked at the polls and this passes for bravery?

You know who in the Senate was right about the Iraq War?  Russ Feingold.  In 2002, he voted against it. 

Where's his reward.

We don't need cheap whores like Michael Moore pimping for War Hawks like Chuck Hagel.

You want to reward a War Hawk, have the damn guts to admit it.  Stop being such a cheap lying whore.

Chuck Hagel was a lousy senator (who was reportedly only elected due to the fact that he owned the voting machines) and he'd make an awful Secretary of Defense. 

Michael Moore is trying to use the Iraq War to justify Hagel.  There is no case to make, re: the Iraq War, for Hagel.  He voted for it, he cheerleaded it, he only turned against it after popular opinion had.  Once he turned against is, he provided the occassional bitchy remark but did nothing in his role as US senator to end the war.

Michael Moore is a cheap, fat whore, that's all he's ever been, it's all he ever will be.  When he asserts "We're all in your debt"  to Chuck Hagel, he may be speaking for all 700 pounds of fat on his body but he's not speaking for the peace movement.

Moore's speaking for less and less people (for a reply to another column Moore wrote this week, click here).

There has been a need for a burn pit registry, there is a need for more to be done on numerous veterans and service members' issues.  Moore hasn't led on any of that.  Moore hasn't helped on any of that. 

He's done nothing this year to call attention to military and veteran suicides to assault and rape in the ranks.  He's done nothing.

These are two of the most pressing issues.  They are two issues that the next Secretary of Defense will have to address.

Michael Moore is obviously ignorant of those issues and that may explain why he is pimping Hagel whose comments about rape and abortion, while in the Senate, indicate he doesn't grasp the issues invovled. His record (and his remarks on gays and lesbians) beg questions about how Hagel would deal with emerging issues (such as this one).   In addition, he's done no work on suicide.  Maybe if he could have thought of a bitchy one-liner about suicide for Meet The Press, he would've weighed in?

Moore wants to champion the unfit Hagel (who is a homophobe, but Moore's a sexist and probably they bonded over homophobia).  Moore really doesn't need to speak any more.  He's been an embarrasment since he fell to his knees on national TV and begged Ralph Nader not to run for president in 2004.  That's what Fatty is, a beggar.  He's not a leader.

And he can play dress up with Hagel all he wants but Hagel was and is a War Hawk who voted for the Iraq War, who supported it and who only turned against when well over 58% of the American public were against the war.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, January 04, 2013

Iraq snapshot

Friday, January 4, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, calls ring out for the government to be dissolved, Victoria Nuland is again forced to address Iraq in a press briefing, Parliament calls a special meeting for Sunday, and more.
Weeks ago, Nouri threatened to call early elections.  Today someone called his bluff.  Alsumaria notes Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi has joined Nouri's call for early elections -- this is parliamentary elections, not provincial elections which are scheduled to take place in a few months.   KUNA quotes Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq stating, "The incumbent government has to step down."  Like Allawi,  al-Mutlaq is a member of Iraqiya.  Though Nouri's had no response as of yet.  Alsumaria reveals that MP Jabbar Kanani with Nouri's State of Law states that the answer to the current problems is to dissolve the Parliament and hold early elections.  Paul D. Shinkman (US News and World Reports) states they have been told by a source (unnamed) that "the fledgling Baghdad government may be on the brink of dissolving parliament within days" and that this may happen "as soon as 48 hours."
Allawi's not just calling for early elections, he's calling for an interim government to be set up.
In 2010, there was a push for just such a thing.  The United Nations and France were on board with the idea but the US government killed that proposal.  As reported in Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor's The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, had concerns that if Nouri's State of Law did not come in first in the March 2010 parliamentary elections, Nouri would refuse to stand down.  France, the UN and Odierno were right to be concerned.
Nouri's State of Law was supposed to run in a landslide -- that's what he said would happen.  But the voters had a different plan.  There was no landslide for Nouri and, in fact, State of Law didn't win.  Iraqiya came in first.  State of Law came in second.  Having won the elections, per the Constitution, it would be Iraqiya's job to form the government.  Someone from the slate would be named prime minister-designate.  That person would then have 30 days to create a Cabinet (that's a full Cabinet, the Iraqi Constitution does not recognize a partial Cabinet).  If the person can't form a Cabinet within 30 days, it's up to the President of Iraq to name another person prime minister-designate. 
None of that happened.  Nouri had the White House on his side.  And he refused to stop being prime minister.  He refused to let a new government be formed.  He basically threw a temper tantrum for over eight months holding Iraq hostage.   It was a political stalemate. 
Instead of reasoning with the loser (Nouri), the White House told the other political blocs that Nouri could continues this for months and, for the good of the country, to allow Iraq to move forward, it was time for the leaders of the political blocs to be the bigger person and let go of their objections to the loser remaining prime minister. 
The White House basically said to what they had termed a "democracy," 'Forget what the Iraqi people voted for, forget what the Constitution says, let Nouri have a second term as prime minister.  Now, for that to happen, what do you need in return?"
The extra-Constitutional contract that the US brokered is known as the Erbil Agreement.  Had an interim government been set up, Nouri would have had no edge, no place from which to toss a tantrum and bring the country to a standstill.
There were consequences for what the US did.  John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast) notes:

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
There were other consequences as well.
What some called a 'democracy' would have been an 'emerging democracy' at best.  Barack Obama decided the lesson to teach Iraqis was (a) your vote doesn't matter and (b) your Constitution doesn't matter.  This does not make for building blocks to a strong democracy.  This was hugely damaging.  You puff out your chest and lie that you've brought people democracy -- when all you've really brough them was death and destruction -- and then the ones who were willing to hope that was true, the ones who were willing to believe in the process are given the message that your vote doesn't matter and it can be overturned in a backroom bargain, your Constitution doesn't matter and the US government can circumvent it on a whim. 
The White House, in an honest moment, would argue that they were comfortable with (US puppet) Nouri and felt he was a 'stabilizing' force.  In a really honest moment, which they are incapable of, they'd admit that Nouri swore now, finally, he could push through the oil and gas law the US has long wanted.  Now this is the same law that Nouri promised to push through years ago.  In fact, these are part of the Bush White House's benchmarks which Nouri agreed to in 2007.  He didn't accomplish it then or in all the years since.
A smart person looks at the record and says, "Uh, Nouri can't accomplish this.  If he could have, he would have done it yesterday."  However, an idiot says, "He just screwed Bush.  Nouri would never screw me over.  It will be different this time, Nouri will keep his word."  That's what an idiot said and that's why the US insisted Nouri get a second term.
Allawi wants a caretaker government because that's the only thing that can curb Nouri.  A temporary government can prevent him from hanging on to an office if he hasn't earned it.  Zaid Sabah and Khalid al-Ansary (Bloomberg News) has State of Law's MP Khalid al-Aadi stating, "The State of Law didn't ask to dissolve the parliament.  But when any party asks for dissolving the parliament and dissolve the government and call for early election, we will not stand against it."  They also say that the request is for Nouri to continue -- after the Parliament is dissolved -- "to govern as a caretaker."  That is completely false and it is not what Ayad Allawi stated.
As protests continued to spread in Iraq today, Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and thug of the occupation, had a message.  KUNA quotes him stating, "The recent calls by extremists to turn the protests into civil disobedience only serve external agendas and could undermine the entire political process in Iraq."  By Nouri's 'standards,' Martin Luther King Jr., Hendry David Thoreau, Mahatma Ghandi and other proponents of civil disobedience would be branded 'terrorists' as would the Muslim women in Pakistan in 1947.  Not only is that global tradition ignored, Sun Yunlong (Xinhua) reported March 25, 2008, "Iraq's radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr Tuesday called on Iraqis to hold sit-ins across Iraq if attacks by U.S. and Iraqi troops continue against his follwers, a Sadr statement said." 
Despite Nouri's attempts to demonize protests, Pakistan Today reports, "Thousands of Sunni Iraqis have continued to protest in Fallujah and other Iraq cities" and that they continue to insist upon "the release of prisoners and the end to allegedly sectarian policies."  And Nouri continues to refuse to allow Iraqis to exercise their rights freely.  AFP reports, "Demonstrators gathered at the Abu Hanifa mosque in the mostly-Sunni neighbourhood of Adhamiyah, but were barred by security forces from leaving the compound to rally on the street, an AFP correspondent said." The Voice of Russia adds, "The protests, which were attended by hundreds of thousands of people took place in other cities across the country as part of a declared 'Resistance Friday'."  SAPA Asian News Agency spoke with two protesters, one male, one female.  Abu Adbullah wondered, "How much longer will our children stay in prisons for no other reason than being Sunni."  Umm Mohammed states, "My three children were arrested four years ago for no reason and I ask Maliki -- release them."  Ahlul Bayt News Agency notes that "anit-government protests took place in several Iraqi cities, including Salahuddin, Diyala, Kirkuk, and Nineveh provinces, while demonstrators in western Anbar province continued to block off a highway linking Iraq to Syria and Jordan for a 12th succssive day."

All Iraq News notes that, following today's morning prayers, Arabs in Kirkuk took to the streets to protest and demand the release of the prisoners and the abolition of Article 4 which is seen as being used for political purposes against Sunnis.  October 31, 2010, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was assaulted.  Today, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr visited the Church to show solidarity with Iraqi Christians and underscore that the dream is one Iraq that is welcoming and home to all Iraqis regardless of faith.  Alsumaria notes he spoke of sending delegates to speak to the protesters in Anbar Province for that reason.  He repeated his statements from earlier this week noting that the protesters had a legitimate right to express their grievances.   All Iraq News notes that he stressed the importance of the Christian community to Iraq.  Alsumaria adds that Moqtada then went to Kilani Mosque in central Baghdad for morning prayers.  Emily Alpert (Los Angeles Times) offers, "Sadr is believed to be making gestures to the Sunni protesters and religious minorities in order to style himself as a unifying figure ahead of the provincial vote."  Adam Schreck (AP) echoes Alpert, "Al-Sadr [appears] to be trying to capitalize on the political turmoil by attempting to portray himself as a unifying figure ahead of provincial elections in the spring."
Maybe so.  But what is known is that Nouri's held onto the arrest warrant for Moqtada.  It's part of the reason Moqtada stayed out of Iraq (especially after Nouri's 2008 attacks on Basra and Baghdad's Sadr City).  Moqtada is taking a real chance going into Baghdad today.  Whether that's to see himself up as "a unifying figure," I have no idea.  Since 2010, we've talked about how he believes he will be Iraq's next prime minister.  But ambitions or no ambitions today, with that still outstanding arrest warrant (which dates back to the US occupation), Moqtada took a real chance going into Baghdad, speaking of the need for unity and decrying what is taking place.
While Moqtada was talking inclusion and one Iraq, Nouri continues his attempts to divide the country.  Al Mada reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has called out Nouri's attack on him (saying al-Nujaifi was unfit because he supported the protesters).  al-Nujaifi has responded that the right of protest is guaranteed in the Constitution and that the citizens have the right to exercise their freedoms and to reject tyranny and injustice.  Kitabat states that there was supposed to be a meeting of various political leaders today but the head of the National Alliance, Ibrahim Jafaari, postponed the meeting.  Nouri was busy today too.  Kitabat reports that he sent out forms to the local governments asking the identify the people leading the protests and to arrest them.
That's a fact US State Dept spokesperson Victorial Nuland worked hard to avoid at today's State Dept press briefing.
QUESTION: Just on Iraq.
QUESTION: More protests today. Have you guys had contacts with the Iraqi government about how they're going to respond to this, how they're going to reduce tensions?
MS. NULAND: We have had contacts with the Iraqi government. We've had contacts with all of the stakeholders in Iraq along the lines of the comments that I made yesterday calling for peaceful protesters to be allowed to protest peacefully, but that also for restraint on all sides, including on the part of protesters and on the part of security forces. Our understanding is that they were relatively big protests today but that they were somewhat more peaceful than they had been in previous days, which is a good thing.
QUESTION: Victoria, are you involved directly in mediating, like at the Embassy level or perhaps at the "someone from the building level" between the different parties in Iraq? Because Allawi, the Iraqiya – the head of the Iraqiya – today called on Maliki to resign. Are you mediating any kind of talks between the two?
MS. NULAND: Well, Said, I wouldn't use that word. We've talked about this before here. You know that on a weekly basis, sometimes on a daily basis, our Ambassador in Iraq has meetings with all of the key leaders, encouraging them to work with each other to settle issues that they have through dialogue, to protect and preserve the basic tenets of the Iraqi constitution. He regularly sees the Prime Minister, the deputy prime ministers, the Vice President, cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, parliamentarians. So we try to use our good offices with all of the groups to encourage them to participate actively in dialogue with each other.
QUESTION: Okay. And Muqtada al-Sadr, the fiery Shia leader who heads Jaish al-Mahdi – the Mahdi Army is also is threatening to sort of break away with Malaki. Do you see this as a good sign as breaking away from Iran's hold?
MS. NULAND: Again, what we want to see is the major stakeholders in Iraq, political leaders, work through their issues through dialogue in consultation with each other. I'm obviously not going to comment on specific political moves by one player or another, except to say that when there are grievances, we don't want them settled through violence. We don't want to see them settled through moves that will hurt innocents. We want to see conversation, we want to see dialogue, we want to see protection of the constitution.
Still on Iraq? No?
MS. NULAND: Yes on Iraq?
QUESTION: Yeah. One of the issues that the protesters are angry about is the prisoners. They say that up to 50,000 people are being imprisoned in Iraq just because of their – this sectarian reasons. And the government is denying that number, and they're saying there are 900 women, and they didn't provide the number of male prisoners. Between those numbers of the government and the protesters' numbers, from your people on the ground during those meetings, do they have an idea? I mean, can they – do they have anything solid regarding the number of prisoners? Because this is one of the main issues that the people are protesting against in Iraq.
MS. NULAND: I'm not prepared to address here our assessment of what the accurate numbers may or may not be. I will say that this is one of the issues that we have encouraged dialogue and transparency on. It's important in any democracy for the justice system to be transparent, for there to be fairness and a level playing field, and that's something that needs to be addressed, obviously.
It's cute how Nuland ignores topics that matter and how she continues to attack the Iraqi protesters.   Professor Gareth Stansfeld (Royal United Services Institute) provides a more concrete take on what's going on:
Fallujah, Ramadi, Tikrit, Mosul - all saw demonstrations against the Maliki government, with some, including Mosul, calling for the withdrawal of the Iraqi government and police forces. Never one to shirk from a challenge to his power, Maliki has responded with ominous language - including calling up protesters to 'end their strike before the state intervenes to end it'.
While Maliki has faced threats from the Sunni areas before, he has never faced them in isolation. This time, however, the Kurds are no longer his allies and instead have increasingly common cause with their Sunni neighbours. Following years of poor relations between Erbil and Baghdad, caused over disputes over oil and gas policy, budgetary allocations, the status of the disputed territories (including Kirkuk), and an overall disenchantment within Erbil towards the Maliki government, the relationship between the two capitals has, by the start of 2013, become appalling.
Following a military stand-off in the disputed territories at the end of 2012, the scene is set for 2013 to be one of the Kurds moving ahead with securing their autonomy by strengthening their relationship with Turkey and the Arab Gulf states, and by exporting oil and gas directly to their northern neighbour. In order to protect their region, it would make sense for them to do so from the disputed territories themselves, and so raise the spectre of increased military confrontation with Maliki in such volatile flashpoints as Kirkuk, Diyala, and Ninevah. This is a confrontation that the Kurds, with at least tacit Sunni support, may feel capable of winning. The Kurdistan War of 2013 may not be too unlikely, looking at the current pieces on the board.
Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq have called a special session of Parliament for Sunday.  Alsumaria notes that MP Ali al-Tamimi, member of the Sadr bloc, states that they will be attending the Sunday special session.

A bombing yesterday in Musayyib targeted pilgrims taking part in the Arbaeen rituals.  Today Yasir Ghazi and Christine Hauser (New York Times) report the death toll rose to at least 32 (injured is at twenty-eight).  They also note a Thursday Baghdad roadside bombing which left 4 dead and fifteen injured.   The UN News Center notes that United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has strongly condemned the bombing and  "The Mission expresses its profound sympathy to the families of the victims, to whom it extends sincere condolences, and wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded."  The month has just begun, is not even a week old, and already Iraq Body Count counts 55 people killed by violence in Iraq so far in January.  Today,
Alsumaria reports that a grenade attack on a Mosul checkpoint left two police officers injured.
Yesterday's snapshot included this:
 Fars News Agency notes, "Turkish Fighter jets bombed over 20 targets of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Northern Iraq late Monday."  Trend News Agency points out, "The conflict between Turkey and the PKK has lasted over 25 years."   Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."  Today the World Tribune reports the government of Turkey is in talks with the PKK on a disarmament treaty, "Officials said Turkey's intelligence community was examining the prospect of a long-term ceasefire with the PKK. They said the intelligence community offered the PKK a range of options after Ankara determined that Kurdish insurgents could not be defeated militarily."  This follows their report from yesterday that Turkey was speaking to Abdullah Ocalan (imprisoned PKK leader) about a ceasefire.  Hurriyet Daily News adds, "Peace and Democracy Party Deputy Ayla Akat Ata, lawyer Meral Danış and independent deputy Ahmet Türk traveled to İmralı Island on Jan.3 to meet with the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan, according to daily Radikal."
Citing Turkish Minister of the Interior Naim Sahin, AP states that the Turkish military will continue its operations even as talks are pursuded.  Sahin states, "Operations are continuing.  They will continue until members of the group who bear enmity against our people are no longer in a position to attack or shed blood."  Hurriyet Daily News informs, "Imprisoned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan said during a meeting on Imrali island on Jan. 3 that he should be considered the 'only authority' in the process of  of PKK disarmament."
al-Qa'im is in Anbar Province -- where so many protests have taken place in the last days.  al-Qa'im is where one of the non-KRG refugee camps for Syrian refugees has been set up.  Amy Mina is with Save The Children and she wrote a piece for CNN about the needs of the refugees in that camp:


The baby is crying. Her cheeks are swollen and yellowish as are those of many of the older children. "Al Sfar" (jaundice), confirms Um Ahmed. She says the clinic offers no help. One mother hugs her 3-year-old daughter. "I'm just watching my child get sicker every day and there is nothing I can do."

Another woman, Intisar, wordlessly pulls the base of the tent out to show me how damp the gravel is under the tent. "It seeps into those sponge mattresses, into our bones, into our skin. There is no way of staying warm or dry." Her husband shows me the deep crevice dug by their resident rats. "All night they crawl under us, trying to get warmth. The children scream, and I spend all night beating the rats out."

As I walk out, the tears rise in me. It hurts to look into the despair on the children's faces, to see a toddler barefoot on the gravel. There is so much that needs to be done. Without support these children truly suffer. As winter tightens its grip on Syria's neighboring countries, stories like those I heard in Al Qaem are far from unique.

[.  . .]

As with all other organizations responding to the humanitarian needs of the Syrian refugees in the region, our greatest challenge is funding. We are on the ground. We have established operations in Al Qaem, which is no small feat. We are ready to deliver aid immediately but we need the funds to make it happen.

That night, I cannot get warm, despite the blankets and thick walls. I cannot stop thinking of the children, out in the desert cold.

To donate to Save the Children's Syria Children in Crisis Fund, which provides relief and support for Syrian children seeking refuge in Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan, please click here.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is a US group that works on issues effecting the basic rights.  It is a national group that first came on my radar when I was going campus to campus speaking about the then-just started Iraq War.  When Congress was unwilling or unable to stop the Patriot Act, BRDC organized city by city to get local governments to pass resolutions against the Patriot Act.  Usually, people appeared before the municipal body to speak about why such a measure was necessary.  Often they would be color coordinated (such as all wearing blue shirts).  When the Patriot Act needed resistance it came down to librarians and the BRDC fighting for the rights we too often take for granted.   Barack Obama has a Drone War in the rest of the world.  He's bringing the drones closer in 2013.  Many US cities and towns will discover the surveilance drones.  From surveilance, what comes next?  The Congress doesn't care.  The weapons lobby has, as usual, bought off the Congress which is how drones are now about to operate freely just above US soil.  The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is hoping to repeat their earlier efforts and get cities and towns to stand up.  This year, they made the list of Great Nonprofits.  If you're not familiar with their work, you can check out the website and you can also refer to the following news articles:

Allawi calls for early elections

Proving that he paid attention in 2010, Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi isssued a call today.  Alsumaria notes he's calling for early elections -- this is parliamentary elections, not provincial elections which are scheduled to take place in a few months.  Allawi's not just calling for early elections, he's calling for an interim government to be set up.


France and the United Nations were behind the idea in 2010.  It never got beyond talking because the US nixed it and did so loudly (Susan Rice was the hatchet person).  If an interim government had been put in place in 2010, Nouri would not be prime minister today.

Yes, he had the White House's backing.  But the eight months plus that he dug his feet in (and wore down his rivals) went a long, long way towards his getting a second term.  The US government counseled the Kurds in October 2010 that Nouri was prepared to continue the political stalemate, to continue to refuse to allow a government to be named.  That's one of the reasons the Kurds went along with the Erbil Agreement (the US brokered contract that gave Nouri a second term; he did not win a second term, his State of Law came in second to Iraqiya).

Had an interim government been set up, Nouri would have had no edge, no place from which to toss a tantrum and bring the country to a standstill.

All Iraq News quotes Allawi stating he supports Nouri's call for early elections and that Nouri can offer his resignation to allow the process to begin and the Parliament can work with the UN to create an interim government to be temporarily in place.

It will be interesting to see what Nouri's response is.

A bombing yesterday in Musayyib targeted pilgrims taking part in the Arbaeen rituals.  Today Yasir Ghazi and Christine Hauser (New York Times) report the death toll rose to at least 32 (injured is at twenty-eight).  They also note a Thursday Baghdad roadside bombing which left 4 dead and fifteen injured.  They note the supposed release of 11 women prisoners as well.  Supposed?  Released if their families can pay a fee.

Iraqi females -- women and girls -- in prisons and detention centers have been the focus for months in Iraq now as rumors leaked out of rape and torture.  The rumors were confirmed by Parliament.  When they were confirmed by Parliament, Nouri al-Maliki hit the roof and began threatening to punish members of Parliament who were speaking on the topic.  This is one of the issues fueling the protests currently taking place in Iraq.

All Iraq News notes that, following today's morning prayers, Arabs in Kirkuk took to the streets to protest and demand the release of the prisoners and the abolition of Article 4 which is seen as being used for political purposes against Sunnis.  October 31, 2010*, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was assaulted.  Today, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr visited the Church to show solidarity with Iraqi Christians and underscore that the dream is one Iraq that is welcoming and home to all Iraqis regardless of faith.  Alsumaria notes he spoke of sending delegates to speak to the protesters in Anbar Province for that reason.  He repeated his statements from earlier this week noting that the protesters had a legitimate right to express their grievances.   All Iraq News notes that he stressed the importance of the Christian community to Iraq.  Alsumaria adds that Moqtada then went to Kilani Mosque in central Baghdad for morning prayers.

[*Date corrected.  My apologies.]

While Moqtada was talking inclusion and one Iraq, Nouri continues his attempts to divide the country.  Al Mada reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has called out Nouri's attack on him (saying al-Nujaifi was unfit because he supported the protesters).  al-Nujaifi has responded that the right of protest is guaranteed in the Constitution and that the citizens have the right to exercise their freedoms and to reject tyranny and injustice.

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