Thursday, September 10, 2015

Haider skips out on Parliament, reality skips out on the press

Alsumaria reports that the Iraqi Parliament is expected to host Haider al-Abadi next week.  Of course, he was due to appear before Parliament today.  But didn't.  All Iraq News notes that the prime minister issued an apology for his no-show.  Alsumaria notes he made it to the Parliament but then cited an emergency for not attending today's session.

Meanwhile US General Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Germany yesterday. The US Defense Dept's Lisa Ferdinando notes some of his comments:

"ISIL is today's manifestation of a much deeper and broader and longer-term issue, which is pervasive instability, disenfranchised groups, ethnic conflict, [and] religious conflict in the Middle East and North Africa that will take a decade or more to resolve."
The underlying issues that allowed ISIL to be created are "not going to be resolved in the near term," Dempsey said.

"We have to look at it over time and achieve a sustainable level of effort that the military instrument can be used and integrated into other lines of effort that relate to diplomacy, economics and information."

But giddy fools mistake talk (simplistic talk) of  reform or 'reform' for the real issues.  Case in point, Tristan Dunning and Damian Doyle (The Conversation) think they know something worth sharing (wrong):

While global attention focuses on Islamic State (IS), recent mass protests throughout Iraq have prompted Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to promise what many long believed impossible: tackling the systemic corruption endemic to the Iraqi political system.

Moving decisively to cut the fat, al-Abadi slashed the Iraqi cabinet by one-third. He abolished the positions of 11 ministers, three deputy presidencies, three deputy prime ministers and a total of four ministries altogether – although this, worryingly, includes the portfolios for human rights and women’s affairs.

That's a misreading of the protests and a display of vast ignorance.

You can cite lack of electricity during the summer heat as a spark for the protests.

But the real protesters, the actual activists, are the same ones who were protesting from December 2012 through January 2014.  Their grievances are the same.  Haider al-Abadi was given a year -- check your calendar -- to do something and he failed to do anything.

That's the actual reasons the protests returned.

Before Haider was picked to be the new prime minister, we noted (repeatedly) here that a new prime minister could provide a re-set for Iraq, that a new prime minister could temporarily provide space for tensions to calm but that he or she would need to actually do something.

I gave Haider less time than the Iraqi activists.

But the protests, which Haider's used to get what he wants, were not in favor of Haider.

Last Friday, a new development emerged.  A politician was being praised.  As Mustafa Sadoun (Niqash) reports, it wasn't an Iraqi politician, it was Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany:

Iraqi social media was also buzzing with similar sentiments.
“Merkel is more honourable than the Iraqi parliament”.
“Merkel is more honourable than Arab rulers.”
“Oh God, give us a ruler like Merkel”.
“We are so thankful to you, Merkel.”
These were just some of the things young Iraqis were tweeting. Some even got into trouble with local clerics for – apparently falsely - quoting the German politician, who said: “One day, we will tell our children that Syrian refugees fled their land to ours on death boats, although Mecca was closer to them”.
Other locals found pictures of Angela Merkel online and made her the screen saver on their mobile phones.
“I wanted to thank her for her humanitarian position and for her efforts,” another of the young demonstrators in Baghdad, Muyad Abbas, told NIQASH. “We wish that all the presidents of the world would do the same because helping those escaping from conflict is very important. By carrying pictures of Merkel in the demonstrations we also wanted to send a clear message to Iraqi politicians,” Abbas added. “We wanted to tell them that a woman from another country cares more about Iraqis than you – you have ruled us but you've bought nothing more than destruction and devastation.”

Another of the demonstrators in Tahrir Square who carried a picture of Angela Merkel says that if he can save enough money he will go to Germany. “ I would like to carry pictures of Iraqis, to put them in my phone or in my house,” says Ammar Ali. “But they've done nothing but steal and cause Iraqis to lose their homes. They have taken us to a dark place. In Germany I would be distant from all that and I would find peace and respect,” he concluded optimistically.

What 'reform' under Haider means thus far is that quotas are going and gone -- meaning minority populations will not be represented or have a seat at the table.  In addition, shutting down the Ministry of Women's Affairs -- not a budget concern since it never had a real budget -- means that there will not be bodies in the government to track the treatment (or mistreatment) of certain segments.

If you've forgotten, and many in The Cult of St. Barack have, Barack Obama insisted Nouri al-Maliki get a second term as prime minister in 2010 even though he lost the election.  The reason?  As failed US Ambassador Chris Hill insisted, "Iraq needs a strong man."

So pause a moment in all the US government hoopla of so-called reforms to grasp that what Haider is doing is about strengthening his position.

And remember that five years ago, Barack was supporting a strong man (despot) for Iraq and, five years later, apparently still is.

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