Friday, April 15, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Friday, April 15, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue . . . and that's just in the Parliament!

Yes, starting with PARLIAMENT GONE WILD.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi Parliament got wild.

On Wednesday, it got wilder.

And Thursday?

It was off the chain.

AFP words it this way:

Iraqi lawmakers voted Thursday to remove the parliament speaker and his deputies from office, increasing political turmoil as the country battles jihadists and struggles with a financial crisis.
The chaos at parliament is a significant setback for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, overshadowing his efforts to replace the current cabinet and preventing nominees from being brought to a vote.

The lead up to Thursday was an ongoing sit-in (against the list of proposed ministers).  Wednesday had been an emergency session.  Thursday was supposed to see a vote on the list.

Instead, it saw a vote on the Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri.

Mohammad Sabah (AL MADA) calls it a "dramatic" and a "raucous" session.

REUTERS notes that neither Haider nor al-Jabouri showed up for Thursday's session.

In fact, a lot of MPs failed to show up.  That's an important detail.

But those who did show up decided to table the proposed nominees, to table the issue of the three presidencies and instead launch a vote on whether to remove the Speaker.

Ali al-Badri, of the large Shi'ite block the National Alliance, insists the vote was unanimous.

But it wasn't agreed to by all the political blocs.

ALL IRAQ NEWS quotes State of Law Mp Kazem Sayadi declaring that they do not support the vote to remove the Speaker and insisting State of Law is one of the largest blocs in Parliament.

State of Law is the political alliance Nouri al-Maliki started.  Nouri was prime minister of Iraq from 2006 through 2014 and left unwillingly.  He wants to return to the post.

It's said on Arabic social media that he's formed alliances with Ammar al-Hakim (leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) and Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya).

If so, that would be a powerful group banded together in opposition to Haider al-Abadi.

ALSUMARIA reports MP Adnan al-Janabi insists that Saturday should see the Parliament voting on a new Speaker and, oh, by the way, Adnan's declared himself the interim Speaker.

But will such a vote take place?

These days, you can even question whether a session will be held.

But in terms of a vote taking place, the reports of the Speaker being voted out of office, while very dramatic, might not be very realistic.

NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY notes 171 MPs were assembled for the session.

They have 328 MPs so 171 did not reach a quorum.

Without a quorum, no real vote took place.

RUDAW quotes Speaker al-Jabouri declaring, "I have no objections if the parliament wants me to leave my position but the vote was both inconclusive and unconstitutional."

 Pinned Tweet
sum up today: vote removing speaker, likely invalid, leaves parl't w/o recognized legit leadership. Abadi's 2nd cabinet shuffle fails.

ALSUMARIA reports that Haider called on the Parliament to wisdom and patience.

Oh, yeah, he should talk, right?

His sudden push for a new Constitution not only is unconstitutional, it also showed no patient or restraint.

His first effort, began March 31st, outright failed.

Instead of learning from his lesson, he tried to shove through a new list this week.

That's what's caused the turmoil.

ALL IRAQ NEWS notes the comments were in a televised address where he offered that this political struggle "could lead, God forbid, Iraq into turmoil."

As though he were somehow above the fray?

And exactly when was turmoil absent from Iraq?

More to the point, what's going on in Parliament is not that disruptive.

Nouri al-Maliki refusing to step down after the 2010 elections for eight months, thereby refusing to allow a new government to form?

That was disruptive.

This just qualifies as lively politics.

Haider's attempting to replace the Cabinet in a manner that goes around the Iraqi Constitution.

He's calling it a 'reform' and a way to address corruption -- which is also an insult to every member of the Cabinet.

What's really going on?

Erin Banco (IBT) notes one aspect of the issue:

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says he is trying to curtail endemic corruption by appointing a new Cabinet filled with technocrats, but his efforts have so far failed: Several of his nominees have refused to accept his appointments and, amid the ensuing chaos, officials are quietly trying to skew the country’s economy for personal gain.
Ayad Allawi, a former interim prime minister under the U.S. occupation and one of the vice presidents whose position was cut by Abadi in 2015, is one of those officials. The recently released Panama Papers have revealed Allawi’s secret offshore accounts and the scope of his connection to one of the world’s largest energy companies, raising questions not only about his current motivations, but also the motivations of his Kurdish and Sunni confidants.  
[. . .]
Although he may not be vying for a leadership position himself, he is looking to put some of his Kurdish allies into power, according to two officials in the Ministry of Natural Resources in Erbil who asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to speak on the matter. 
If Allawi succeeds, he could get massive financial payouts from energy companies. Many of those companies, including the United Arab Emirates' Crescent Petroleum, have received late payments from the Kurdistan Regional Government. Those companies are also interested in keeping allies in top positions in order to continue to maintain profitable contracts. 

And that's one aspect -- one oil aspect.

Of course, there are others.

We're dropping back to Tuesday because the above is one oil aspect but it's not the only one:

  • After dramatic media hype, PM Abadi & his comrades caged in the Green Zone agreed to continue the etho-sectarian distribution of power

  • It certainly says it all.
    "Dramatic media hype."
    As we noted in last night's snapshot, to push that drama, they had to ignore the pushback which was immediate.
    Our April 2nd snapshot noted at length the various objections to what Haider al-Abadi was proposing.
    REUTERS didn't report it.
    AP didn't cover it.
    But if you read Arabic, you could find coverage from the Iraqi press -- and we did.
    It was obvious immediately that this plan cooked up by the White House was going to fail.
    And it has.
    That hydrocarbons legislation?
    They want it, they want it so bad.
    They being elements of the ruling class in the United States.
    They wanted it when Bully Boy Bush was in the White House.
    And they tried repeatedly to get it.
    Bully Boy Bush even made it one of his 2007 benchmarks -- the passage of that legislation.
    He failed repeatedly.
    As has Barack.
    And bad news -- and, no surprise, unreported by US outlets -- Iraqi officials are calling for the oil wealth to be distributed to the people.
    It's not just Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr -- though he has been the most prominent thus far.
    The story of Iraq's oil is the story the western press is always skittish to cover -- other than how it's doing in the stock market.
    Barack Obama and his underlings tried to present the move as 'democratic' and 'reform.'
    And the western press went along.
    They ignored that the move went completely against the Constitution of Iraq -- both how it was done and what was being proposed.
    They ignored the objections to the proposal.
    They did everything they could to propagandize for the White House.
    But it all imploded.

    ALSUMARIA observes fun and games are to resume on Saturday when Parliament is scheduled to next meet.

    The world waits to see what happens next.

    Meanwhile, yesterday the US Defense Dept announced more bombs dropped on Iraq:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, ground-attack and fighter aircraft conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Hit, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units, destroying four ISIL machine gun positions, an ISIL boat, an ISIL boat dock, seven ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL command and control node and denying ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Kisik, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL bunker.

    -- Near Mosul, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL assembly areas, an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb, and an ISIL storage facility.

    -- Near Qayyarah, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, an ISIL headquarters and an ISIL financial headquarters and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.

    -- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL assembly areas.
    Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes destroyed seven ISIL boats and an ISIL mortar position and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Tal Afar, a strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley -- updated: