Tuesday, January 15, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, a Sunni politicians is assassinated by a suicide bomber, Nouri al-Maliki tries to distort the details of the death of his political rival, whispers in Iraq move to Iran as the chatter is that the United States intends to split Iraq into three sections, and more.
Maureen Dowd is many things -- some good, some bad -- but she's rarely as boring as Bob. Dowd wrote about a White House photo that's been getting a great deal of press attention of late. You can see it at Third in "The real War on Women" and Ava and I covered the photo in "TV: Screw Little Mika." Idiot Bob quotes David Gregory from Sunday'sMeet The Press. Ava and I had to quote that broadcast in our piece -- that we wrote two days ago -- but we didn't go with David Gregory, we went with Andrea Mitchell explaining the photo to the Meet The Press panel.
Andrea Mitchell: Let me just say that was a White House photo. That picture was taken by the president's photographer, and that indicated who was around him when he was dealing with the fiscal cliff negotiations. That's what that picture represented. At the highest levels of the White House and in the cabinet you have men and they are white men. Now, the numbers, we can play the numbers game, but as another Democratic president said during a transition in 1992, "You bean counters, you women's groups who are, you know, counting heads, I'm going to fill these jobs." But they were at lower levels. The fact is that men help elect the president. Women voted for the president in the greatest numbers, but the men on his team were the predominant people. You have two women who are the White House deputy chiefs of staff --- Nancy -- Ann DeParle is leaving this week -- but two women, and neither of them are being mentioned in any of these trial balloons to replace Jack Lew. And that's why women, including the women in the White House, I've got to tell you, I wrote a story about this this week, and I did not get one complaint. I get lots of complaints from the White House about things that I say and do. And, you know, sometimes it's correct, sometimes I have to correct something, but not one person, and I have talked to several people inside the White House, women, and they said, "No, we didn't have any problem with what you wrote about this week." The women are not happy.
Somerby doesn't quote Andrea. Quoting her would expose the fallacy of his column. The picture is about who's in the room when the decisions are made. Andrea Mitchell, Soledad O'Brien, Ruth Marcus and many others have managed to explain the point that escapes Somerby. It's interesting because they all made points about diversity -- they all made points about all women and they also made points about men of color. Somerby ignores the men of color aspect. We're opening with this to make two main points.
First, I don't give a damn what you did four years ago if you think that excuses what you do today. It doesn't.
You need to do better than you did four years ago or you need to retire. I don't care what your business is, what your profession is. You strive for better or you walk away. If your the President of the United States, you damn well better do better than you did before. So this idea that we can excuse today's choices because of something (minor) that was done four years ago? It doesn't cut it. On Sunday's Meet The Press, Cory Booker said people should wait and see what unfolds. That's a valid viewpoint. But it's not one that's going to change anything, but it is a viewpoint. You want to ensure women get on the Cabinet this year? You call out the lack of women right now while it can put some pressuer on Barack Obama and influence his selections. NOW has an online letter you can add your name to.
Somerby attacks Dowd because Dowd objected to Susan Rice for Secretary of State. So what?
I'm sorry, is there only one woman that can be nominated? What world does an idiot like Bob Somerby live in? Here are three names: Zoe Baird, Kima Wood and Janet Reno.
Those three women are? Bill Clinton's nominees for Attorney General. Baird and Wood would both withdraw their names for the post. The third choices was Janet Reno who was confirmed.
Because one woman is not the choice for a post does not mean that no woman is a choice. Bob Somerby seems to think women were being done a favor with Susan Rice and, having not been sufficiently dutiful, we now get nothing. No, that's not how it works unless you're a sick, twisted, sexist pig like Bob Somerby. Can you imagine if the same 'logic' were applied to male nominees? Brett McGurk's failure as Barack's 2012 nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq did not prevent Barack from coming up with the name of yet another man (Robert Beecroft).
Can you imagine that? If a male nominee not going through or being 'Borked" meant that no other man was nominated? No, I can't imagine that either because it just doesn't happen. Dowd can oppose any woman she wants and she can still object to the lack of women being nominated. it's all apparently too complicated for Bob Somerby.
Got a chip upon your shoulder, I just knocked it off
Show me what you're gonna do, I ain't 'bout to run
You have just run out of ammunition,
Shootin' blanks now, you son of a gun
-- "Son of a Gun," written by James Harris III, Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson and Carly Simon, performed by Janet Jackson, featuring Missy Elliott with Carly Simon, first appears on Janet's All For You
SCHIEFFER: And, good morning, again. And we're going to begin with the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain. Senator, thanks for being with us this morning. Well, the president made it pretty clear on Friday, we're leaving Afghanistan, and perhaps sooner than some expected. And every report you hear from behind the scenes is, we're going to keep very, very few people there. What do you make of this? What's your take on all of this?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, it's a one of a series of decisions the president has made basically overruling his military advisers. So whether it be in Iraq, which is now unraveling very significantly, or whether it be the decisions about a surge and how many and how soon they leave. There's a series of decisions, all of which the president and the vice president have overruled our military leaders and their advice and counsel, which is the president's right to do. But each time I believe that it has ensured the risk of failure. I think there's a very, very great risk now that with the president's announcement that they are basically going to be out, that the Afghans will not be able to effectively counter what still remains a significant Taliban and significantly discordant situation in both Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan. So I think you are probably going to see an unraveling gradually. I think you're going to be -- there's only one Iraq -- Afghan brigade that is capable of acting independently. These forces need air support, intelligence, all of the kinds of logistics and other support that is necessary to be effective. Fighting forces, they're not going to have that, and so I am much less than optimistic about this eventual outcome. But when you look at the Middle East, look at what has happened at Iraq, look at what has happened in Syria, the United States no longer leading from behind, waiting from behind. And then you look at the decisions concerning Afghanistan, you can understand why people throughout the region believe the United States is withdrawing, and that is not good for the region.
1) Iraq: Better known to most Americans these days as "NotOurProblemAnymoreistan," Iraq is in for one rough year – which is really saying something. The federal system set up following the U.S. invasion is splitting apart at the country's regional and sectarian seams, and upcoming provincial elections in the spring will only exacerbate tensions. In recent weeks, a national protest movement against the ineffective Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has spread, but frustration with the status quo is about the only unifying element among the Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish elements taking part. In 2013, expect the rift between the cash-strapped government in Baghdad and the oil-rich autonomous Kurdish region in the North to reach a breaking point. Also, while much is said of the Sunni-Shia divide, keep an eye on rifts within the Shia majority, which may not only cast out Maliki, but also topple the regime and send everyone back to the streets to "re-negotiate" the political order…
As Iraq falls apart the White House -- out of guilt or stupidity -- doesn't even try to take part in the conversation. That's great. They'll allow John McCain to define the terms of the discussion. And they'll allow various other interested parties to define the terms.
One terms Iraqis are being exposed to these days is "division." That the US government wants (again wants) to divide Iraq into three parts. Saturday, the Ahlul Bayt News Agency reported:
According to this source, who spoke in condition of anonymity, the objective of the meetings was fulfillment of some Iraqi political figures, namely the declaration of a Sunny Autonomous Region in Iraq.
"Topics of the meeting between Iraqi political figures and US officials were declaration of independence in Al-Anbar, Mosul, Saladin, and Diyala provinces," he added.
Today the Iraq Times reports that the US wants to divide Iraq into three parts and sees that as the best answer to the country's ongoing crises. Those aren't the only articles covering this rumor. Many articles note Vice President Joe Biden once proposed a federation (three independent parts making up Iraq). You'd think someone at the White House would be in charge of following what's being said in the media and that they'd have some sort of response to it. You'd think that, maybe hope for it. But they just don't care.
It would appear the Ministry of Defense is attempting to distort the death. Nayla Razzouk and Kadhim Ajrash (Bloomberg News) notes the Ministry of Defense is stating the attack came "during an opposition demonstration." Everyone else reports that al-Essawi was on his way to a demonstration. It matters.
The Ministry of Defense has no minister. Nouri al-Maliki has never nominated anyone for the post. He's saying someone's an 'acting minister.' The Constitution recognizes no such position. To be a minister, you have to be nominated by the prime minister and you have to be confirmed by the Parliament. Once confirmed, to be removed, the Parliament has to vote you out. Nouri has tried to removed a deputy prime minister and a vice president in his second term. He had no luck getting the votes needed in Parliament. Creating 'acting' positions allows him to control ministries the Constitution does not put him in charge of. If you are 'acting minister,' you are someone Nouri gave the job to -- it would be interesting to find out what acting ministers are being paid since they have not been confirmed by Parliament. Nouri gave you the job and, the second you disagree with him, he can pull you from the job. You have no protection you have no power. Nouri was supposed to name a full Cabinet -- as the Constitution requires -- to move from prime minister-designate (November 2010) to prime minister (December 2010). However, the Erbil Agreement (a US government brokered contract) gave him a second term. The voters didn't, the Constiution didn't. So he wasn't apparently required to obey the Constitution and come up with a full Cabinet. Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support." Those positions still haven't been filled. So Nouri is the Minister of Interior currently.
Which is why, if the Ministry of Interior is attempting to say that the attack took place today at a demonstration, we need to stop a minute and ask what's going on? What may be going on is that Nouri may be attempting to use this attack to stop the protests, to declare them dangerous (he's called them that since the start) and to try to outlaw them as a result. This is not minor. Bloomberg News should have noted in their report that no one else is saying that the attack took place at a demonstration. Again, Nouri is repeatedly claiming that the protests are dangerous or that they will be the object of danger in his attempt to shut them down. For example, Abdulrahman al-Rashed (Al Arabiya) points out:
"The government [of Iraq] has obtained high-level intelligence information about plans to carry out terrorist attacks against protestors." You have to be ignorant about geopolitics to believe the story of this alleged intelligence, made public by an anonymous government source to justify the closure of the border crossing with Jordan and the subsequent damage inflicted upon the residents of al-Anbar. Had the Maliki government enjoyed any credibility, we would have never doubted its reasons for closing the vital crossing to Jordan, for terrorism is a painful reality that still threatens Iraq. But Maliki's government has decided to punish the people of al-Anbar, the province raging with anger against him and leading the popular opposition movement in Iraq.
MWC notes he was inspecting a new road being constructed in southern Falluja and quotes his chief of staff Sohaib Haqi stating, "The moment he stepped out of the car to check out this road between Fallujah and Amriyah, at this moment, there was a man. He came to him, hugged him, said Allahu Akbar, and blew himself up." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "Lawmaker Ayfan Sadoon al-Essawi was visiting a construction site on a commercial street in central Falluja on Tuesday when the bomber, disguised as a laborer, approached him, authorities said." Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports, "According to police, the lawmaker was inspecting a roadwork project when his attacker, dressed as one of the construction workers, approached and pretended that he was trying to shake hands before blowing himself up." Again, why the (headless) Ministry of Defense is allowed to speak on this issue is beyond me. It's also true that al-Issawi and Nouri were political rivals and that he had criticized Nouri's decision (last week) to shut down the road and port connecting Iraq with Jordan and Syria.
Al Arabiya notes, "Before his death, Saadoun said that Maliki's closing of the Terabeel crossing to Jordan was wrong and can be described as an act of war against Anbar and the Sunni people in thie country." They quote him stating, "The closure of Teraibeel crossing is disastrous for us, and this is like impsoing sanctions against the people of Anbar. This is a declaration of war against the Sunnis and the province of Anbar. I urged the parliament to form an emergency session to discuss security and the closure of the crossing which I believe is a big mistake and shouldn't be happening."
Baghdad, 15 January 2013 - The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Iraq (SRSG), Martin Kobler, condemns in the strongest terms possible the heinous killing of Anbar Member of Parliament, 'Ifan Al-Issawi, in a terrorist attack in the middle of a demonstration in Fallujah, causing the death and injury of a number of other persons.
The SRSG reiterates that it is equally vital to peacefully demonstrate and to protect protestors from infiltration of terrorists.
"I call again on all political forces to foil any attempt at instigating strife and to demonstrate utmost restraint," the SRSG said, adding that political dialogue must be resumed without further delay to exit from the current situation.
The SRSG extends his sincere condolences to the families of Mr. Al-Issawi and of the other victims, and wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded.
In addition, APA reports, "Turkey strongly condemned a bombing attack that targeted and killed a Sunni lawmaker in western Iraq on Tuesday amidst the festering tension in the politically fragile country as protests against the central government in Baghdad still continue in various cities." And Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) Tweets:
All Iraq News reports that the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar Hakim is calling for dialogue to address the continued crisis. Alsumaria adds that Anbar Provincial Council is selecting a delegation to send to speak with cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr about ways to resolve the current crisis or crises. Al Mada notes that there is a call for a national conference. You may remember that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for one since December 21st -- December 21st of 2011. Yes, the crisis has been going on that long.
On the topic of Jalal Talabani (currently in Germany following his December stroke), Hurriyet Daily News reports: Iraq has been left much like a fatherless orphan because it has been deprived of a president capable of listening to problems and conducting mediation, one of the country's top Shiite leaders said yesterday. "If the problem of the presidency is not resolved, the dictatorship will spread to the presidency from the prime ministry, and this would make the situation worse and more problematic. Iraq is like a son without a father because it does not have its president who deals with problems and mediates," influential Shiite figure Muqtada al-Sadr said in reference to the absence of President Jalal Talabani, who suffered a stroke last month and was flown to Germany for treatment. His ailing health has raised concerns about his political future while also tipping off a new crisis in Iraq. The crisis has been worsened by weeks of demonstrations against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's rule in mostly-Sunni areas, with protesters alleging that the premier has misused anti-terror laws to wrongfully detain members of their community.
An Iranian lawmaker says the return of ailing Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to the country's political stage will foil seditionist schemes in Iraq's northern Kurdish region. "The return of Jalal Talabani to Iraq's political arena can render ineffective the attempts made by the seditionist countries in the region and the Western enemies of an independent Iraq in order to drag the country into unrest," Mohammad-Saleh Jokar said on Tuesday.
Seditionist countries? Mohammad-Saleh Jokar is among those repeating that the US government is planning to split Iraq into three parts. Again, a functioning White House would be aware of what was being said in the Iraqi media and have a response before Iranian officials started spreading the rumors even futher.
Yesterday's snapshot noted that the press observed a few dozen prisoners and detainees released. Leave it to the New York Times to run with a 300 figure as fact and not a claim by the Iraqi government, leave it to the paper of record to run with that and with nothing to back it up. Only four women were released, however many people have been. And women were the element that outraged so many. Equally true, yesterday's 'big release' only released people who had already completed their sentencing or who were nerver charged. Aswat al-Iraq reports today, "Women State Minister Ibtihal al-Zaidi stressed today the necessity to finalize the cases of the detained women as soon as possible, as well as better condition in women prisons to meet their humanistic needs [and . . .] urged the legal system to finalize all cases, particularly un-convicted ones." Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) explores the Iraqi 'justice' system in an essay which includes:
Returning to the root of the term justice, Iraqi law was somewhat confused with how to deal with the legal definition which could solve this conceptual crisis. Even at present, Iraqis do not know whether using weapons against U.S. forces between 2003 and 2012 was a criminal offense or not. The American administration did not invest much effort in this matter because of the volatile nature and general lack of law and order which accompanied this troubled occupation.
As a result of such a legal negligence, it became easy to try those accused of violence against U.S. forces and treat them as criminals, and acquit other defendants facing the same charges and treat them as heroes.
It is no coincidence that Sunni leaders residing in Turkey and sentenced to death in absentia on charges of murder, such as Hashemi, have prompted the Iraqi government to declare Ankara's provision of sanctuary an international crime, whereas other persons with ties to the sectarian war, such as Abu Deraa, have resided in Tehran for years without causing any diplomatic strife with Iran.
Exploring this argument will not lead to a clear conclusion, for it was never intended to distinguish those who took part in the civil war from those who abstained. If this were the case, it would be difficult to find one Iraqi politician who had not participated in one form or another. Moreover, this categorization overlooks the victims of the civil war and of the violence in Iraq from different denominational backgrounds.
Following are excerpts from a Jan. 12 release from the International Anti-Occupation Network on recent developments in Iraq against the regime that was put in power by the nine-year-long U.S. invasion and occupation. The full release is at brussellstribunal.org. Massive protests have taken place every day in Ramadi since Dec. 25, when more than 200,000 people demonstrated. These protests have expanded further to cities all over the country, in which hundreds of thousands have participated. … A key element of the current protests has been the slogan for national unity and an end to sectarianism, as well as the denunciation of the [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki regime's inability to meet these popular demands. Change is inevitable! The protests are supported nationwide. Several Iraqi cities have sent delegations to join the demonstrators in Ramadi. Shiite religious leaders have encouraged the faithful to support the protests and there is a strong presence of Kurdish delegations in Mosul, Tikrit and Anbar. Symbols of political parties are avoided as much as possible to reinforce the spirit of national unity. … The withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq did not signify an end to occupation. The U.S. footprint is still heavy. Accordingly, the Iraqi anti-occupation movements are opposed to what they call "the second face of the occupation." This implies continued resistance against all structures imposed by the U.S. … Despite the violent repression of the security forces and the militias of the sectarian political parties, the Iraqi people have now gone beyond the frontier of fear. There is no turning back. The International Occupation Network warns the international community, including the United Nations and the European Union, that there are serious indications that the regime is planning on attacking Anbar [Province]. …The risk of major bloodshed is imminent, a situation for which al-Maliki and the U.S. occupiers have been warned that they will bear full responsibility if the demonstrators are harmed. In this situation it is … of vital importance that all peace-loving forces support what is taking place on the streets of Iraq. The protesters are justly demanding: 1. The immediate release of detained protesters and dissident prisoners. 2 . A stop to the death penalty. 3. The approval of an amnesty law for innocent detainees. 4. The abolition of anti-terrorism laws (especially Clause 4 used to target them). 5. The repeal of unfair rulings against dissidents. 6. Fair opportunities for work based on professionalism. 7.The end of the use of all military command based on geographic areas. 8. The provision of essential services to all areas in Iraq neglected by the state. 9. The holding of all … governmental officials, army or security units who have committed crimes against dissidents accountable, especially those who have violated the honor of women in prisons. 10. A U.N.-sponsored population count. 11. An end to marginalization, a stop to agitating divisions between ethnic and religious groups, and a stop to the house raids without legal warrant based on the information of secret informers. 12. A stop to financial, administrative and legal corruption. 13. The combating of sectarianism in all its forms by returning religious buildings and all religious properties to their rightful owners, and the abolishment of law No. 19 of 2005. The International Occupation Network (IAON) welcomes the spread of these non-sectarian protests and supports the efforts of the Iraqi people to regain their full independence and national sovereignty. Ten years of foreign occupation is enough! Ten years of massive human rights violations is enough! Ten years of corruption and depriving the whole population of basic services is enough! — The International Anti-Occupation Network / IAON Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.