Tuesday, December 23, 2014

AP gets Iraq wrong again

Let's start with news of the Iraqi budget.  Khalid al-Ansary (Bloomberg News) reports:

Iraq’s cabinet approved a smaller 2015 spending plan than the government expected because of the collapse in oil, which provides most government revenue.
The budget, based on a $60 a barrel price for oil, stands at 123 trillion dinars ($103 billion), Saad Al-Hadithi, spokesman for the office of the prime minister, said by phone. The budget deficit was set at 23 trillion dinars and total revenue at 99.8 trillion dinars, including oil revenue of 84 trillion dinars, Obaid Mahal, deputy secretary general of the cabinet, said by phone.

You may wrongly be thinking it's time to uncork the champagne.  AP certainly did, "The approval is considered an achievement for Haider al-Abadi's government as the previous administration never managed to approve the 2014 budget due to political wrangling."

The above, pay attention because the Associated Press didn't, is not a budget approved.

I can't grasp -- and I keep arguing with friends at AP about this -- whether AP is just flat out lying these days for the thrill of lying or if the correspondents are that damn stupid?

Nothing has happened.

There is no 2015 budget.

I'm sorry that alleged professional news outlets are willing to lie -- and I should say "outlet" since I'm talking about AP.  Bloomberg News didn't distort.

Parliament approves a budget.

We've been mocking the current Speaker of Parliament, Salim al-Jabouri, for some time now because he repeatedly announces that the budget will be before Parliament in X days and Parliament will approve it.

But that doesn't happen.  We counted him doing it five times and he's not done it since.  But if he makes another announcement, it will be his sixth public promise that the budget is going to be passed in two to three days.

Now in the last few days, the Sadr bloc is on record saying if and when the Council gets the budget through the Council, Parliament will hold an emergency session to vote on the budget.

That's cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc.  He has tremendous power in Iraq.  That said, I'm not sure the Sadr bloc will be able to pull that off (getting an emergency session together).  But at some point, the proposed budget should go before Parliament and Parliament should vote for it or not.

At that point, Haider can claim to have done something Nouri could not do.

Until then, AP's just offering nonsense.

It makes Nouri al-Maliki look bad.  I loathe Nouri.  I love it when he looks bad.  But he looks bad enough already that there's no need to lie to make him look worse.

And as much as I loathe him, I'm not going to repeat an untruth just because it insults him.

At this point, there's no reason to get excited at all.

We could talk about -- and certainly Bloomberg while AP plays dumb on this aspect to -- how Iraq needs to diversify its economy.

The price of oil per barrel dropped and now Iraq's scrambling with their budget.

Last Friday, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a number of proclamations including that Iraq needed to diversify its economy.

While al-Sistani's voice carries weight is should also be noted that the only one who publicly championed that need in the past was . . .

Anyone remember?

Tareq al-Hashemi.

And Nouri had a fit.

This was during Tareq's first term as Vice President.  He finished his second term outside of Iraq.  Where he remains.  Nouri targeted him and allowed Baghdad  'justice' to convict him -- despite the fact that he had immunity from prosecution which Parliament refused to strip him of, despite the fact that he was tried in absentia, despite the fact that the Baghdad judges announced his guilt . . . before they ever heard any testimony or saw any evidence.  It was a travesty and if Haider al-Abadi had any real spine and desire to improve life in Iraq, the first thing he'd do would be either pardon Tareq or call for the decision to be reviewed.

For those wondering, yes, Tareq is a Sunni.  That's really all it takes, isn't it, to be targeted in Iraq by the government.

So Tareq was calling for diversification and he even visited other countries as part of that call.  And do we remember Nouri's response?  It was one of his first big public tantrums.  He wanted Tareq charged and claimed Tareq was no longer a vice president.  (This was during the 8 month plus political stalemate that followed the 2010 elections when the government of Iraq was paralyzed because loser Nouri refused to step down as prime minister.  Instead of demanding that he step down, the White House backed him and, eventually, negotiated a contract -- The Erbil Agreement -- that went around the voters wishes and intent and gave Nouri a second term.)

Now maybe if people had called Nouri then -- instead of covering for the White House -- maybe Iraq would be further along in diversification of its economy?

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