Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Iraq: Corruption, threats, War Crimes and the votes are still being counted

Last Wednesday, Iraqis voted in parliamentary elections.  Cihan observes today:

The real competition is between incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his rivals, namely Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites who believe he will not serve for a third time. There are secondary rivalries between pious Shiites and secularists and between moderate Sunnis and radicals/insurgents.
The Shiites are split three ways between al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition, Muqtada al-Sadr's Sadrist movement and the Citizen Coalition of Shiite cleric Ammar al-Hakim's Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.
The Sunnis in turn are split between parliamentary speaker Osama al-Nujaifi's Muttahidoon list and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq's al-Arabiya list. Given this political split, no single bloc is expected to win a majority in the new parliament.

Ammar al-Hakim was busy today.  All Iraq News notes he met with the Swedish Ambassador to Iraq and he met with Karar al-Khafaji who heads the political commission of cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr's coaltion.  NINA notes that in addition to meeting with Jorgen Lindstrom (Swedish Ambassador), Ammar also met with British Ambassador to Iraq Simon Paul  Collins today.

On the subject of the Sadr bloc, Monday's snapshot included:

On Saturday, the Independent High Electoral Commission declared their intention to announce the results May 25th. Today, Ghassan Hamid and Mohammed Shafiq (Alsumaria) report the IHEC has stated the large number of complaints alleging violations during the vote will delay the release of the votes.  Violations would be one way to word what State of Law MP Mahmoud al-Hassan is accused of.  All Iraq News notes MP Hussein al-Shirifi, of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc, is calling for the IHEC to toss al-Hassan's eligibility as a result of al-Hassan's alleged voter intimidation to scare up votes for Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition.

Alsumaria reports today that MP Hussein al-Sharifi is stating that a fine for Mahmoud Hassan would not be justice since the State of Law MP was extorting and threatening Iraqi people, specifically those in the slums of Baghdad, that this is recorded on video and that this was broadcast on television so a fine is not enough.

Amjad Salah and Mohammad Shafiq (Alsumaria) report MP Hassoun Fatlawi who serves on Parliament's Legal Committee declared today that Nouri's term will expire June 14th

And Nouri?

He gave his weekly speech today.  Alsumaria notes he used it to savage the Parliament and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi as he insisted that they accomplished nothing.

Nouri al-Maliki will have completed his second term in one month and seven days and he will have done so without ever finding three individuals to head the security ministries -- his entire term he has had, for example, no Minister of Defense.  For four years, Iraq's been without a Minister of Defense -- as violence has increased.  He's in no position to call anyone else a failure.

In fairness to Nouri, he is accomplishing something currently -- increasing his number of War Crimes.  As he continues to use collective punishment (legally defined by the United Nations and the United States as a War Crime) on the civilians of Falluja, he kills and he wounds.  Alsumaria reports that today's assault on Falluja's residential neighborhoods by Nouri's military bombings left 7 civilians dead and forty-five injured.

Monday, Aswat al-Iraq noted the Kurds were insisting that holding the presidency of Iraq was actually a "right."  It's not.  It's been a custom. There's nothing in the Iraqi Constitution that guarantees the president will be a Kurd. (Only that he or she will be an Iraqi citizen by birth, born of Iraqi parents.)  Massoud Barzani is the KRG President (and he's back in Iraq after his visit to Jordan).  Barzani heads the Kurdistan Democratic Party and NINA notes that they are saying that a Kurd must be president and quotes KDP member Abdul Salam Berwari stating, "The entitlement of the presidency is exclusive for Kurds will not renounce it in any way."  The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.  Alsumaria reports that PUK member Burhan Faraj states that the Kurds are discussing now who should be president.

Back to the ongoing violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Hit suicide bomber took his own life and the lives of 4 Iraqi soldiers and 1 federal police and injured six more, 1 person was shot dead in Tarmiyah, the Ministry of the Interior announced 1 suspect was killed in Salah al-Din, the Joint Operations Command announced they killed 12 suspects, 1 agronomist was shot dead in Mosul, police forces killed 1 suspect west of Mosul, a Mosul car bombing left four people injured, an armed clash in Falluja left 4 rebels dead, and 2 corpses were discovered south of Kirkuk.  Alsumaria adds the corpses had gunshot wounds, were blindfolded and bound.

Meanwhile this is the opening to Pierce Nahigyan's "Seymour Hersh Links Turkey to Benghazi, Syria and Sarin" (Foreign Policy Journal):

A recent report by journalist Seymour Hersh claims to uncover new information about the U.S. and Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian civil war. Combined with Turkey’s shutdown of YouTube and Twitter over rumors of government corruption, Hersh’s allegations further condemn the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan for political and military manipulation. Yet the sins of Erdoğan’s administration seem to be an outgrowth of America’s own self-destructive foreign policy.
The Sarin Attack
On August 21, 2013, a lethal nerve agent was released on the Syrian town of Ghouta outside Damascus. The town was host to a faction of rebels fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad, one of many engaged in a brutal civil war stretching back to early 2011.
More than a thousand Syrians were killed after exposure to the deadly gas, what was later classified by the UK Defense Science Technology Laboratory as “kitchen” grade sarin. On September 10, President Obama publicly denounced the attack and Assad, whom he asserted was the man behind it. “We know the Assad regime was responsible,” he said on national television. “And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.”
President Obama had previously warned that, should the Syrian government engage in chemical warfare, they would be treading over a dangerous “red line,” provoking military intervention by the United States. One year before the sarin attack, almost to the day, Obama told reporter Chuck Todd, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime…that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”
The case seemed cut and dry: American intelligence confirmed that Assad was guilty of chemical warfare, putting him in violation of international law. But that case, according to Hersh, was made through a “deliberate manipulation of intelligence.” That a deadly gas had been used was unquestionable, but a biased narrative was “cherry picked” from the available evidence to cast the Assad regime as the perpetrator.

The following community sites -- plus Jake Tapper, On the Wilder Side, Jody Watley, Ms. magazine's blog, Z on TV,  Black Agenda Report, Iraq Inquiry Digest, Pacifica Evening News and -- updated:

  • Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration  is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press). We'll close with this from Bacon's "WHY IS THIS FARM USING GUEST WORKERS AS STRIKEBREAKERS?" (The Nation):

    In 2001 Rosario Ventura came to the US from Mexico and went to work in Washington State, picking blueberries for Sakuma Farms. "I was expecting a different type of work here," she recalls, "but this is all there is. I thought I would save up something here and go back, but I haven't been able to do it. It is too difficult."

    The first job she had was pruning blueberry bushes. "It was really hard. After cutting the branches, they'd spring back and hit me in the face or all over. It really hurt." She stuck it out though, working summers in Washington, and in the winter trying to find work further south in California, near Fresno.

    Two years after she arrived from Oaxaca she met Isidro Silva in the Sakuma fields. Although they belong to two different indigenous ethnic groups-she speaks Triqui and he speaks Mixteco-they got married. For the next ten years they made the trip back and forth each year with their children.

    "You don't get enough work, and what little you earn is quickly used up," Ventura explains. "My children are growing. They need clothes, all of that. We have to pay the rent, bills and everything we eat. We don't ever have enough money, because it runs out like water."

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