Monday, April 20, 2015

Haider al-Abadi and his empty words

Yesterday, we noted that Iraqis fleeing the violence in Ramadi were being denied entry into Baghdad.  The Tweet above is about the results of that policy (which demands that you have a "sponsor" to enter Baghdad).

Yes, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi did imply, on Saturday, that he was ending the policy.

But like so many of his words, they were empty and meaningless.  The policy continued Sunday and continues today.  Despite his Saturday statements.

NINA reported on Saturday:

The Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi discussed on Saturday with his Deputy Saleh al-Mutlaq in a telephone contact the conduct of operations in Anbar province and canceling the / sponsor / condition of entry of the displaced people to Baghdad.

A statement by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said that the two sides discussed during the contact the security situation and the conduct of military operations in Anbar province, as well as ways to provide services to thousands of displaced families, and the position of the issue of the sponsor requirement as a security measure to enter the capital, Baghdad.

The PM and his Deputy also agreed, according to the statement on "the abolition of this condition and the sufficiency with identifiable routine procedures and maintain fraternal spirit among Iraqis, noting that the people of Baghdad are able to embrace their brothers and their own displaced people from Anbar. 

Yerevan Saeed (Rudaw) has a piece today entitled "Can Iraqi prime minister deliver on pledges made in Washington?" which notes that what he stated on his DC visit was either incorrect or embarrassing.  Incorrect:

“Our government has successfully concluded a long-sought, interim agreement with our Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). This agreement provides for a fair sharing of oil revenues and the weapons and support that the Peshmerga forces need to participate fully in the fight against Daesh (ISIS) as a part of Iraq’s security forces,” Abadi added. “We are also restoring relationships with the local tribes in areas threatened or dominated by Daesh. I have met regularly with representatives from the provinces of Anbar, Salahaddin and Mosul.”
While it is true that Abadi signed a temporary deal with the KRG, facts on the ground indicate that the agreement has not been followed by action: the salaries of Kurdish civil servants are still months behind, the KRG treasury is empty, Kurdish officials still complain they lack proper weapons to fight ISIS;  and Erbil is suffering financially from the burden of providing for more than 1.4 million war refugees and internally displaced from Syria and other parts of Iraq who have flooded to Kurdistan for safety.


Abadi also touched on the importance of free speech at a very sensitive time: only a fortnight ago Reuter’s bureau chief Ned Parker left Iraq following threats from Shiite militias, after reporting serious human rights violations by Shiite fighters in Tikrit earlier this month.
[. . .]
Responding to a question about Parker, Abadi said he did not understand why the journalist had left the country, and added that the government had ordered more protection to the Reuters office – an unconvincing reply to an important question. 

Nouri al-Maliki had a pattern that he established in his first term and perfected in his second.  He would say the time is not right for something.  He first did this in July of 2006 when the Bremer Walls went up throughout Baghdad -- in response to the Green Zone almost being breached -- while he was out of the country.  He insisted that as soon as he returned, they would come down.  They did not come down during his first term.

To get a second term as prime minister (after losing the election), he promised to implement Article 140 of the Constitution at last and allow a referendum and census to resolve who had the rights to Kirkuk -- the KRG or the government out of Baghdad.  And this was put into The Erbil Agreement which, a day after being signed, allowed Parliament to finally meet, name a president, a prime minister-designate and a Speaker of Parliament.  That was November 2010 and a referendum and census were set to take place in December of 2010 but then Nouri declared the time wasn't yet right.

In February 2011, he claimed protesters were causing problems and insisted if they would stop protesting and give him 100 days, he would end corruption in Iraq.  The protesters went home.  100 days came and went.  And Nouri ignored his promise.

We can go over this repeatedly.

This is how Nouri responded.  He lied and insisted he would do something shortly.

Haider's different.

Haider lies up front claiming he's done something when he has hasn't.

There's the (incomplete) oil deal he keeps taking credit for, for example.  And there's his September 13th announcement that he had ended the Iraqi military's illegal bombing of Falluja homes (illegal and a War Crime) which was followed by . . . the military's continued bombing of Falluja homes.

There's Saturday's announcement that really didn't imply, really stated, that his new rule on a "sponsor" being required to enter Baghdad was being shelved.

It has not been shelved.

So to Rudaw's question,  "Can Iraqi prime minister deliver on pledges made in Washington?"  Since becoming prime minister in August, when has Haider ever done what he's said he's done?

In other news, World Bulletin notes, "The Iraqi government is in full control of a key oil refinery located just north of Tikrit, the U.S. officials confirmed Sunday."

For those who missed it, last Wednesday, while he was in DC, Ramadi was being blocked in as the Islamic State took three of the four sides of the city.  In response to that?

Haider sent reinforcements.

To Baiji.

He sent reinforcements miles away to Baiji to protect the oil refinery.

As the Iraqi people suffered in and around Ramadi.

As thousands began fleeing their homes.

But, good news, the refinery safe and secure!

The people of Anbar are not.

But Haider's his priorities: Protecting Iraqi oil.

The Iraqi people will just have to accept that, if they're lucky, they're the second priority on his list.

On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) Heidi covers the Armenian genocide.   New content at Third:

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