Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Metallica, Aniston, Arrests, Protests and Look Who's Supporting Ba'athists

The Iraq Times reports today that the Navy Seal who shot Osama bin Laden revealed to the Spanish press that Metallica's music was used in the torture of Iraqis up until he encountered the group and told them how their music was being used and they asked him to stop because they do not favor violence.  The outlet refers to this article -- so if you read Spanish but not Arabic, you can refer to it.  The article refers to a magazine interview in Squire.  I don't have time to track that down.  But when the third main story at Iraq Times is about Metallica, we open with that.  (Unlike Al Rafidayn, they don't front page entertainment stories.  Al Rafidayn's been carrying the news that Jennifer Aniston has joined the cast for Peter Bogdanovich new film She's Funny That Way along with "stars Owen Wilson, Cybill Shepherd and Eugene Levy".  Al Rafidyan's kept that on their main page sidebar for several days now.)

October 9th, Nouri al-Maliki was strutting across the world stage as he inked a $4.2 billion weapons deal with Russia. The deal imploded amidst corruption accusations.  In the process, prime minister Nouri lost his spokesperson.  Ali al-Dabbagh felt the need to hold a press conference to note he had nothing to do with any corruption.  He then quickly left Iraq (he's reportedly in the UAE currently) and told the press, after, that he had nothing to do with the corruption, that there was an attempt to frame him, that he'd repeatedly warned about the deal and that he left the country because he was innocent. Aswat al-Iraq reported Saturday, "The Iraqi investigative committee on the Russian arms deal demanded the court to summon former spokesperson of the Iraqi government Ali al-Dabbagh to provide evidences against son of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.Kitabat reports today that Parliament's Security and Defense Committee wants al-Dabbagh to appear before them and testify about Ahmed al-Maliki's involvement in the deal. (Ahmed is Nouri's son.)

In related news, Alsumaria reports that the Supreme Judicial Council has issued an arrest warrant for Sinan al-Shabibi who is currently in Switzerland.  Who?  Dropping back to October 21st, " In other scandals, Nouri fired Sinan al-Shabibi as Governor of the Central Bank (despite Article 103 of the Constitution making clear that he doesn't have that right -- Parliament does).  Since then a warrant's been put out for al-Shabibi who is said to be in Europe.  An unnamed MP tells Al Mada that Nouri fired al-Shabibi because the man refused to loan Nouri $63 billion that Nouri said was for the government's budget.  Al Mada notes that Moqtada al-Sadr is calling out Nouri's attempts to politicize the Central Bank and he also asks where is the reform that Nouri promised in early 2011?"  October 22nd, Prashant Rao (AFP) reported, "The targeting of Iraq's well-respected central bank chief appears to be a move by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to consolidate power and sends a bad message to international investors, experts and diplomats say."  Long time Iraq observer Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group tells Rao, "The Maliki government will claim it (the move against Shabibi) is part of long-standing efforts to root out corruption.  It looks more like a long-standing effort to gain control over independent institutions."

As the October 2012 quarterly report from the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction noted:

On October 16, 2012, the Council of Ministers dismissed Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) Governor Sinan al-Shabibi, amid allegations of corruption leveled against him. This peremptory and constitutionally questionalbe move occured as an audit of the DBI's foreign currency auctions surfaced.

Alsumaria notes that Sinan al-Shabibi is not expected to return to Iraq.  Maybe Nouri can scream at INTERPOL again and get them to issue an arrest notice of some form?  Oh, wait, Nouri screamed at Interpol near the end of last year to the point that they don't want anything to do with him or Iraq.

On arrests, yesterday there was outrage over the arrest of Imam Mohammad Zaidi.  Alsumaria reports today that the he has been released after being held for a little over 24 hours.  His supporters see the arrest as evidence of Nouri's practice of arbitrary arrests targeting those he sees as political rivals.  Mohammed Sabah (Al Mada) reports State of Law (Nouri's political slate) is insisting that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi is keeping 30 people from being arrested -- that they have warrants and he won't lift immunity (members of Parliament cannot be arrested while serving unless their immunity is lifted).  Iraqiya (political slate Osama al-Nujaifi belongs to) responds that the warrants are an attempt by Nouri to intimidate political opponents.

Moving over to protests, All Iraq News reports a new development in Basra where "hundreds" have staged a sit-in outside a center for the blind.  There are said to be as many as 500 people taking part in the sit-in that's calling for the government to care for the people with special needs (at least 13,000 people in the province are recognized by the federal government as challenged or disabled).  All Iraq News also reports that National Alliance MP Jawad Franck is insisting that protesters elsewhere in Iraq are being supported by 'third parties,' outsiders, foreigners.  More alarmist talk.  The reason?  Saturday, protesters in Anbar Province asked for permission to do a sit-in in Baghdad this Friday.  Nouri's been in a tizzy.  He's held multiple meetings with the National Alliance trying to figure out how to stop the protests.  Al Mada reports Anbar responds today with protesters saying they will go to Baghdad and take part in morning prayers and that Nouri cannot prevent them from entering their country's capital, not these residents and tribes of Anbar who refuse to allow their dignity to be besmirched.

By the way, who's supporting 'Ba'athists'?  Nouri's forever accusing protesters of being 'terrorists' and 'Ba'athists' and having connections to Saddam Hussein's regime.  But Al Mada reports it's Nouri who's paying for the treatment of a Ba'athist in Turkey.  Sheikh Ali Hussein al-Hamadani's medical expenses are being covered by Nouri (which most likely means the Iraqi people are paying the costs) and the rumor is that he's doing it to curry favor with tribal leaders in Anbar in the hopes that they'll call off the protests.

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