Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Nouri and his string of failures

The failures just continue to pile up for Nouri al-Maliki.  Security issues, protests, failed deals you name it.  The violence sweeping Iraq was covered in the previous entry.  In a big blow to Nouri's image, Dar Addustour reports that the Russian arms deal has been officially cancelled by the Russian government.

October 9th, with much fanfare, and wall-to-wall press coverage, Nouri signed a $4.2 billion dollar weapons deal with Russia.  He strutted and preened and was so proud of himself.  Yet shortly after taking his bows on the world stage and with Parliament and others raising objections, Nouri quickly announced the deal was off.  The scandal, however, refuses to go away. The Iraq Times stated Nouri was offering up his former spokesperson  Ali al-Dabbagh and others to protect the truly corrupt -- the truly corrupt -- according to members of Parliament -- including Nouri's son who got a nice little slice off the deal.  These charges came from Shi'ite MPs as well as Sunnis and Kurds.  Even the Shi'ite National Alliance has spoken out.  All Iraq News noted National Alliance member and one-time MP Wael Abdul Latif is calling for Nouri to quickly bring charges against those involved in the corruption.  (The arms deal is now treated by the Iraqi press as corrupt and not allegedly corrupt, FYI.)   Latif remains a major player in the National Alliance and the National Alliance has backed Nouri during his second term.  With his current hold on power reportedly tenous and having already lost the support of Moqtada al-Sadr, Nouri really can't afford to tick off the National Alliance as well.  Kitabat reported MP Maha al-Douri, of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc in Parliament, is saying Nouri's on a list of officials bribed by Russia for the deal. As it became obvious that Nouri could sign a contract but not honor it (that is his pattern -- see especially the Erbil Agreement), the government of Russia apparently tired of being jerked around.

Protests continue in Iraq.  Guillaume Decamme (AFP) reports on the ongoing protest in Samarra where thousands occupy the city square, "They sleep in tents surrounding a large platform from where speeches are delivered.  During the day, children wander around the square as Iraqi flags, including at least one flown during Saddam's rule, flutter in the wind."  The tribal bonds that the US government ignored in the invasion and occupation remain and Decamme reports that the tribes in the area are represented in the protests.  Decamme repeats the claim that "335 detainees" have recently been released while apparently forgetting that only 4 of that alleged number were women.  Iraqi media doesn't forget that.  Iraqi media is where that number surfaced.  Iraqi media also doesn't write of 'prisoners' and forget to include the allegations of rape and torture -- allegations supported by the Parliament -- of girls and women in Iraqi prisons and detention centers.   It's always interesting to watch a Western outlet for what they will include and what they will ignore. 

In October, allegations of torture and rape of women held in Iraqi prisons and detention centers began to make the rounds.  In November, the allegations became a bit more and a fistfight broke out in Parliament with an angry State of Law storming out.  By December, Members of Parliament on certain security committees were speaking publicly about the abuses.  Then Nouri declared that anyone talking about this topic was breaking the law. He continued on this tangent for weeks claiming this past week that he would strip MPs of their immunity.  (The Constitution doesn't allow for that.)  As 2012 ended, it was learned that at least four females were raped in a Baghdad prison.

Also ignored by Decamme is that the released -- regardless of number -- were already set to be released: they'd either served their complete sentences or were never charged.  A press that calls that a 'concession' to the protesters isn't much of a press, in fact, they're pretty pathetic.  So is ignoring who gets arrested in Iraq.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports on that noting Parliament is considering passing a law barring the police from arresting family members of suspects.  That's one of the many reasons why Iraqi prisons and detention centers are so crowded -- though don't go looking for the Western press to ever cover this -- if Mohammed Saleh is the suspect and the police want him for questioning about a crime but can't find him, they will arrest, for example his wife and his mother and hold (torture) them in an attempt to find information about where he is.  Article IV, the law the protesters specifically cite over and over as bad for Iraq?  It's the law that currently allows for the arrest of people just for being related to someone -- not for committing a crime, just for being related.

Wael Grace quotes the Badr bloc's head MP Qassim al-Araji stating that the National Alliance favors cancelling Clause II of Article IV which would eliminate the right to arrest the father, son, mother and/or wife of a suspect. al-Araji also sits on Parliaments Defense and Security Committee.

The Western press has also done a horrible job reporting on the call for an amnesty law, the years Nouri has promised an amnesty law was coming and the fact that there's still no amnesty law.  There's an amnesty bill.  It's been read and discussed by Parliament for months now.  Until there's an amnesty law, there won't be any shot at fairness.

This is one of the issues Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) explores  in his essay on the Iraqi 'justice' system:
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.

Nouri's State of Law has been the biggest obstacle preventing an amnesty law.  This falls on him.  Yet another failure in a career that's nothing but a string of failures.

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