Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tareq al-Hashemi floats a return, now it's Nouri's move

tareq al-hashemi

In startling news today, All Iraq News reports Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi (above) has announced he will be returning to the Kurdistan Regional Government.

al-Hashemi is the Vice President of Iraq -- he has not been removed from office.  Nouri would love for him to be removed but, while Nouri al-Maliki may control Baghdad courts, he does not, however, control the Parliament.  Only they can remove him from office.

Not that Nouri's ever paid attention to the Constitution he took an oath to but any convictions against al-Hashemi don't count until he's removed from office.  He can't be put on trial until then.

So the laughable 'trial in absentia' has no legal bearing.  Unless Nouri's announcing that he has officially shredded the Iraqi Constitution.  Strange out how the alleged news outlets and alleged analysts never include that.

But there's an MP by the name of Sabah al-Saadi.  People may remember his charges a few weeks back against the head of Baghdad's judiciary.  But you really need to drop back to September 2011.  That's when al-Saadi criticized Nouri.  September 22, 2011, Nouri swore out an arrest warrant for al-Saadi. Let's drop back to the September 20, 2011 snapshot:

Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports MP Sabah al-Saadi is stating there is no arrest warrant out against him and that the claims of one stem from Nouri al-Maliki attempting to cover up his own corruption and he states Nouri has deliberately kept the three security ministries vacant and he charges Nouri is willing "to sell Iraq to maintain his hold on power."  Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "The increasing violence is likely to be taken as a further sign of political gridlock in the Iraqi government, in particular the inability of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to name permanent ministers for the key security posts 18 months after the March 2010 elections."

What happened there, do you remember?  I don't think most of the gas bags and 'reporters' do.  What happened there was that Nouri did issue an arrest warrant.  Parliament received it.  And?  Not one damn thing happened.

Why?  Because al-Saadi had immunity.  While serving.  Check the Constitution.

From the September 22, 2011 snapshot:

Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports on Moqtada al-Sadr's criticism of Nouri al-Maliki swearing out an arrest warrant for Sabah al-Saadi claiming that criticizing Nouri is a threat to national security (see yesterday's snapshot). al-Sadr has called out the move and compared it to a new dictatorship and issued a call for the government to work on inclusion and not exclusion. Another Al Mada report notes Sadr declaring that Nouri needs to drop this issue and focus on the needed political work. It's noted that the Sadr bloc waited until Moqtada issued a statement to weigh in and that the Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barazni declared that the Kurdish bloc would not support a vote to strip al-Saadi of his immunity. As a member of Parliament, Sabah al-Saadi should be immune to Nouri's arrest warrant for the 'crime' of speech. Currently, the warrant exists but cannot be executed due to the immunity members of Parliament have. So in addition to filing charges against al-Saadi, Nouri and State of Law (his political slate) are also attempting to strip a member of Parliament of his immunity.

Nouri may wish he could strip immunity on his say-so but that's not the process outlined in the Constitution.

The news just broke and already Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman is insisting that this return will complicate things

That's life, complicated.

It's a smart move on the part of Kurdish leadership.

Tareq al-Hashemi does not have to be in Baghdad to exercise his powers.  There have been rumblings for over two months about the Suzette Charles of Iraq's VPs -- Nouri's little boy toy that was appointed in 2011 when Iraq already had two vice presidents.  Since then, Adel Abdul-Mahdi has resigned -- over corruption and Nouri's refusal to keep his promise to the protesters of give him a 100 days and he would address the problems.  (If you're not following closely, these are the 2011 protesters.  Yes, ongoing protests are taking place now in Iraq.  Yes, the protesters are demanding the same thing they did in 2011.)

Iraq has two vice presidents currently: Tareq and Nouri's play thing Khudayer al-Khuzaie.

Why does this matter?

Nouri's make real moves to change the country and doing so without the approval of the Parliament or respect for the Constitution.

Since mid-January, the Kurds have been urged to make a move regarding Jalal Talabani.  In December, Jalal had a heart attack following a meeting with Nouri (the Talabani family does blame Nouri for the heart attack and, yes, they maintain that Nouri and Jalal were in the midst of a heated argument when the meeting ended because Jalal did not feel right; he was having his stroke it later turned out).

Jalal's still in Germany.  His medical team reports improvement which is good for him.

In the meantime, Nouri's calling for early elections and though the press and the gas bags never paid attention to the Constitution, the Kurds did.  And they're damn well aware of a power that could kick in for Nouri's play thing Khudayer al-Khuzaie.

Othman's on the outside of all of this as usual.  The press always portrays him as 'independent' but "uninformed" might be a better term.  For a US equivalent, see him as "maverick" John McCain -- remember when the press used to pimp that?

Tareq's return to the KRG?  It can block some of what Nouri plans.  Again, there's nothing in the Constitution requiring Tareq to be in Baghdad to exercise his duties.  He's a two-term Vice President, he outranks Khudyaer.  He trumps a move the Kurds fear Nouri may be making.

Little known because the press either doesn't know or doesn't care, in DC this week, a Kurdish delegation has had a flurry of meetings with various members of the US government (White House and Congress).  The Tareq move?

When I heard it seriously floated last week, it was said to be the move the Kurds would make if they didn't believe the US government was supporting them.

They're making the move now.

It'll be interesting to see what happens next.

As it was explained to me last week, step one would be to float it.  That's what's taking place now.  If Nouri agreed to certain conditions, that would mean Tareq would then stay in Turkey.  If he didn't, Tareq would enter the KRG.

I honestly did not think it was going to happen this quickly (nor did the senator who filled me in on it).  I thought they were going to save it for after April 20th when it would be more clear what sort of a move Nouri was intending.  But the Kurds are making the move now.

What happens next will be determined by whether or not Nouri and the Kurds can reach an understanding.

(To be clear, that understanding will not include turning over Tareq.  The most Nouri can hope for is that Tareq will not return.)

We'll cover other topics in the snapshot today.  But this is the big news.

For those late to the party, al-Hashemi was accused of 'terrorism' by Nouri al-Maliki.  

Nouri waited until the bulk of US forces had left to Iraq to suddenly declare his political rival al-Hashemi a "terrorist" at the end of December, 2011.

Iraq practices forced confessions and, despite the Iraqi Constitution insisting upon innocence until proven guilty, the Baghdad court declared al-Hashemi guilty in Februray, 2012.  Tareq al-Hashemi has repeatedly requested that the trial be moved elsewhere -- a request that should have been honored the moment the Baghdad judges declared him guilty in February at their press conference and while one judge was stating that he had been threatened by al-Hashemi!  Why was it wrong for the judges to declare Tareq guilty on February 16, 2012?  Because the trial didn't start until May 15, 2012.  Months before the judges heard any testimony or reviewed any evidence, they stood up at a Baghdad press conference and pronounced Tareq guilty.  They didn't even have the right to try him because, unless he's stripped of office, he's got immunity and can't be tried.

Added quickly about 25 minutes after this went up.  A friend with one of the commercial networks called to make a few points and ask a few questions.  First, question was isn't Tareq less safe with Talabani in Germany?  No.  Talabani spoke in support of al-Hashemi and welcomed him to the KRG.  Even housed him.  Then Nouri applied non-stop pressure and at that point al-Hashemi's safety in the KRG (safety from Nouri) was guaranteed by KRG President Massoud Barzani.

Barzani is the reason al-Hashemi could and did remain in the KRG all those months.  Barzani can stand up to any fallout on it if al-Hashemi returns.

If al-Hashemi returns.  This is a move, this is a game.  This is not al-Hashemi is back in the KRG.  That will be determined by Nouri's move.  (I was asked to emphasize that.)

I heard about the plan last week from a US senator first.  I then heard about from others after.  The knowledge about the fight between Nouri and Jalal comes not from the US government.  Information is power, I pay good money for it when necessary.  I have paid a large sum at the German hospital after the rumors first surfaced of a fight between Nouri and Jalal right before the stroke.  To be clear, I have no idea of -- nor would I seek the status of -- Talabani's medical condition.  (I wouldn't do that on anyone nor would I try to obtain their medical records.  My rule of thumb is how outraged would I be if it happened to me?  Medical records?  I would be outraged.  Overheard conversations?  If I didn't want it overheard, I shouldn't have spoken of it around staff.) Does the staff hear that Nouri's blamed for what happened to Jalal?  Yeah, I'll ask that and I'll pay for the answer.  After I paid for that information, I checked it out with a friend who used to date a Talabani and she verified it for me with the family.

I was asked on the phone to clarify those things.  (Also this addition only goes up at the main site.  I don't have time to open up the other two sites, pull up the entry and copy and paste it in.)

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