Monday, July 14, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Monday, July 14, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, another session that fails to form a new government, Nouri continues his stalling tactics, Nouri continues his War Crimes and much more.

Reminder on World Can't Wait action:

Day of / Day After Protests When the US Starts Bombing Iraq

IN THE EVENT of U.S. bombing of Iraq, choose the best protest location in your city/town, and call on people to go there at 5:00 pm the day of the attack, or, in the case of an evening attack, the next day at 5:00 pm.
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The State Dept did not hold a press briefing today.  They always get silent when Iraq goes bad, don't they?  They're supposed to be leading the mission of helping put together a political solution.  US President Barack Obama has said that is the only answer to end the crises in Iraq.

Isra' al-Rubei'i and Maggie Fick (Reuters) note, "The White House has pressed for an inclusive government but so far Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ignored calls from Sunnis and Kurds to step down in favour of a less polarising figure who would allow Sunnis a greater voice."  And the White House issued a readout of Barack's phone call yesterday to United Kingdom's Prime Minister David Cameron, "With regard to Iraq, the President and Prime Minister agreed to keep working with all parties to form an inclusive and representative government that can work to promote the interests of all Iraqis."

But the State Dept feels no need to update the American people on how the State Dept wastes taxpayer money in Iraq -- not with a press briefing, not with a Tweet.

For those who missed the weekend's events, let's move slowly.  The US Embassy in Baghdad issued a lengthy statement late Friday which included:

Any efforts to delay the government formation process, or to take advantage of this crisis through mechanisms outside the constitutional and legal framework, would only play into the hands of ISIL.  The Iraqi constitution provides a roadmap for holding the country together, including through peaceful resolution of territorial disputes, delegation of authority to regions and provinces, and a pathway for forming a new government that can unite the citizenry and draw on the nation’s vast resources to protect the population and expel ISIL from Iraqi lands.  All political and security measures must be pursued through these constitutional mechanisms.
The situation in Iraq today remains extremely serious.  Further delays or escalation by any side, no matter the pretext, cannot be justified and would disserve the Iraqi people, 14 million of whom recently risked their own lives to vote for a new government, and a better future.  Therefore, we call on all Iraqi leaders, from all political parties, and from all parts of the country, to act with seriousness and dispatch over these coming days to unite their efforts against ISIL and activate the process of forming a new government, with the first step being a new speaker of parliament, which triggers the timelines prescribed in the Iraqi constitution.

As they do, the United States will stand staunchly behind all the Iraqi people, through intensive diplomatic, political, and security measures to help defeat ISIL and advance the vision of a united, federal, and democratic Iraq, as defined in the Iraqi constitution.

There was near giddiness on Saturday in anticipation of the Sunday session of Parliament that would form a new government.  For example, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Brett McGurk Tweeted the following on Saturday:

Saturday, US Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Kurdistan Regional President Masoud Barzani:

Office of the Vice President
Washington, D.C.
July 12, 2014

Readout of Vice President Biden's Conversation with President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani
This morning, Vice President Biden spoke with Masoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. The Vice President and President agreed on the importance of forming a new Iraqi government as quickly as possible, consistent with the timelines set forth in Iraq’s constitution. They confirmed that one of the new government’s key tasks will be to address long-standing disputes between the central and regional governments consistent with the Iraqi constitution. Towards this end, the two leaders agreed that any territorial dispute arising due to an exigency from the current crisis must be resolved peacefully, in a fair and transparent manner, and in full consultation with all communities. They also agreed that any such process should be undertaken only pursuant to the mechanisms set forth in the Iraqi constitution. The Vice President offered his sympathy for Kurdish Peshmerga fighters recently killed in battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as well as all Iraqi soldiers fighting the same enemy, and he encouraged all political forces to unite against this serious threat to every component of Iraq.

So much hope the day before.

Your toy balloon has sailed in the sky
But now it must fall to the ground
Now your sad eyes reveal
Just how badly you feel
'Cause there is no easy way down.
-- "No Easy Way Down," written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Carole's version first appears on Carole's album Writer (Dusty Springfield recorded it a year earlier on her classic Dusty in Memphis).

For Barack, there is no easy way down.  Sunday arrived and the session went bust.  As noted in Third's"Editorial: The Political Solution Nouri al-Maliki Can Offer:"

Today the Iraqi Parliament met and the hopes were that a new government would be formed following April 30th's parliamentary elections.  That was the hope.
That was also the hope July 1st, the first time the Parliament met.
As Americans learned in 2009 (and 2010, and 2011, and 2012, and 2013 and 2014) there is hope and then there is reality.
All Iraq News notes some members of the Kurdistan Alliance, those hoping to arrive in Baghdad this morning by flying in, did not attend due to a dust storm at Erbil International Airport.  National Iraqi News Agency reports that 233 MPs did manage to attend today's session.  (That's 233 out of 328 elected.)
But the session that quickly started also quickly ended.  NINA notes acting Speaker of Parliament Mehdi al-Hafez announced the end of the session and that the Parliament would meet next on Tuesday.
The monkey wrench tossed into the proceedings?

Nouri al-Maliki.
Even trying to sugar coat it here -- AP notes destructive Nouri.
The two-term prime minister and thug made his support for the candidacy of Salim al-Jubouri (nominated by the Sunnis to be Speaker of Parliament) conditional upon the Sunnis backing Nouri (whom they loathe for good reason) for a third term of Prime Minister.  Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq (a Sunni) told AP, "This will not happen as we do not accept that."
When the offer was refused, the session fell apart.  All Iraq News noted that Sadr MP Baha al-Araji even took to nominating Nouri for the post of Speaker of Parliament -- presumably in an attempt to prevent a third term as prime minister for Nouri.

Knowing the Sunnis do not and will not support him for a third term as prime minister, Nouri derailed the session by attempting to make his bloc's vote for Speaker of Parliament dependent upon the Sunnis supporting him for a third term.  (Speaker of Parliament is the first position that has to be selected, then president and then prime minister -- they are known as the three presidencies.)

These are documented facts.  It would be nice if the press could start to recognize them.  (The Iraqi press is aware of them and reporting the facts.)

Nouri al-Maliki's 'trick' or 'strategy' when he wants something?

Draw the process out in the hopes that his opponents will tire and give in.

He drug things out for over eight months in 2010 until he could get what he wanted.

He's really making the White House look like fools.

All Iraq News notes that US Vice President Joe Biden spoke on the phone yesterday with Sunni leader and previous Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi:

"For his part, Biden stressed the need to adhere to the constitutional timings in the nomination for the three presidencies and to form a government of national partnership able to eliminate the challenges facing Iraq, especially the security challenges posed by the ISIL with the need to adopt a new policy based on adopting citizens' needs and aspirations," the statement concluded.

As long as Nouri derails sessions and doesn't get called on it by the western press, he'll keep doing it.  His plan is to exhaust his opponents, that's what he always does.  The rabid dog has no new tricks and only an ignorant press stays silent as he does the same thing over and over.

Susannah George (Global Post) notes:

The Parliament is supposed to meet again on Tuesday.  If the western press hasn't found a voice by then (and the White House is silent as well), look for Nouri to continue his antics.  And remember, in 2010, he pulled this stunt for over 8 months in a row -- that was the political stalemate.

In January of this year, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki dispatched his military to quell a protest in Ramadi, triggering a months-long bloody confrontation where Sunni militants, including the Islamic State under its earlier name of ISIL, took control of parts of Falluja and Ramadi while the Iraqi military heavily shelled what it said were militant targets. The violence killed hundreds and displaced more than a hundred thousand.
The Ramadi protest was the product of a nearly year-long, largely peaceful Sunni demonstration against the Iraqi government's perceived preferential treatment of the country's Shia. Maliki's heavy-handed response alienated Sunni populations further, deepended the country's sectarian fault lines, and set the stage for the Islamic State to make an unprecedented sweep across the country’s north just five months later, joining Iraq territories to conquered regions in Syria and plunging Iraq into one of the country’s worst security and political crises since the US-led invasion in 2003.

"Maliki was using aircraft against normal civilian people. He bombarded the entire city," says a man from Fallujah who asked to be called Ali. He said the indiscriminate, sustained violence eventually forced him and his family to flee to the relative safety of Iraq's Kurdistan region. But he said after watching the news from Syria unfold over the last three years, he wasn't surprised by Maliki's response.

Nouri's War Crimes continue as he continues to bomb the residential neighborhoods of Falluja.  Alsumaria reports 1 civilian died in the latest bombings and six adult civilians were left injured along with one child left injured.

Violence continues in Iraq today.  All Iraq News notes the Iraqi Air Force bombed northern Baghdad and killed 10 suspects, from the safety of the sky the military bombed what they hope were suspects in northern Tikrit leaving 3 people dead, a battle in Shook al-Reem Village left 8 men dead, the government announced that 71 suspects were killed in Babel Province,  and 7 corpses were dumped in al-Hidaya Village. Sinan Salaheddin (AP) adds a Baghdad car bombing killed at least 4 people and left at least twelve injured.   AFP reports, "Militants on Monday assaulted the final area of the Iraqi town of Dhuluiyah still outside their control, after tribesmen rejected an offer to let them enter uncontested, an official said."  Alsumaria notes a roadside bombing south of Baghdad left three people injured, a Baquba armed attack left 1 former Ba'ath leader dead, and an armed battle to the northeast of Baquba left 3 rebels dead.