The rise of Iraq's maverick Shiite cleric could threaten Iran's claim to speak for Iraq's Shiite majority.
One minute, the western press is whining that Moqtada al-Sadr's win is a defeat for the US, the next it's a defeat for Iran.
Ted Galen Carpenter (THE NATIONAL INTEREST) offers:
The results of Iraq’s parliamentary elections confirm that U.S. leaders and the American news media still don’t have a clue about the complex political dynamics in that country. Experts and pundits expected U.S.-backed incumbent Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s party to prevail. Instead the party headed by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr won a plurality of the votes. Sadr is a long-time U.S. nemesis who opposes Washington’s Middle East policy agenda and especially the presence of American troops in Iraq. Indeed, during the years immediately following Washington’s war to depose Saddam Hussein, Sadr’s armed followers frequently clashed with U.S. occupation forces.
His resurgent political prominence is more than a little worrisome to Trump administration officials. But from their standpoint, Sadr does have one virtue: he dislikes Iranian influence in his country almost as much as he does U.S. influence. His stance is solid evidence that Shiite solidarity goes only so far. Despite the mutual religious identity, there still is a significant, historical tension between Arabs and Persians that surfaces from time to time. Sadr epitomizes that ethnic distrust.
1) No, the US leaders and news media don't have a clue.
2) Yes, they were wrong about Hayder al-Abadi's big victory that never happened.
3) The Shi'ite cleric and movement leader is an 'enemy' of any foreign interference in Iraq.
That's why the governments of Iran and the United States are both upset with the results.
Moqtada al-Sadr, if he has his way, will put Iraq first. That's apparently threatening to the governments of the US and Iran. It's a threat even though it's what's expected of any leader: to protect their own country and its people.
Former US Air Force intelligence officer and CNN contributor, Rick Francona, lamented on Twitter that al-Sadr's victory "will be a major setback for American foreign policy in Iraq and by extension, Syria," adding that with al-Sadr's bloc at the helm, Iraq will now likely "demand the withdrawal of American/coalition forces from the country."
"Americans died fighting this man's militia. Now he's a kingmaker in an Iraq dominated by Iran," echoed intelligence and national security reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit, Ken Dilanian. "The US spent $1 trillion on this war. What folly. What waste."
The waste is that US forces might have to leave Iraq? Wow. CNN and NBC make clear that they exist to sell war, don't they? They did it right before the start of the Iraq War and they do it now. The Iraq War was long ago lost by the US government. Troops should have been pulled out long ago. But War Hawks can't admit defeat -- for all their claims of being realists.
The news media in the US does not exist to inform the American people, the news media exists to herd and manipulate the American people. That is at the heart of the nonsense called 'fake news.' 'Fake news' had no effect on the 2016 election. But the popularization of the term and the rush to fix the non-problem are about stifling dissent and controlling the internet. FACEBOOK is not your friend. It's not in place to help you. It has always been a means of profit and a means of control. That is why it exists now, it's why it has always existed.
Last week, some of these issues were discussed when Nellie Bailey and Glen Ford (BLACK AGENDA RADIO) spoke with Ajamu Baraka.
Today BLACK AGENDA REPORT, WSWS and other outlets that attempt to tell the truth are under attack. It's no different than it's always been in the US though we pretend those days are over -- the days when a Paul Robeson, for example, or a Jane Fonda protesting the Vietnam War are demonized with lies and attacks from the press and the government -- which always seem to operate as one, don't they? Because for all intents and purposes, that's what they are.
They work arm in arm to defeat and destroy any who speak out.
Under the Christ-child Barack Obama, for example, where was the objection as David Remnick all but banned noted investigative reporter Seymour Hersh from THE NEW YORKER? It wasn't a good business decision -- subscriptions dropped (not a surprise, Hersh's scoops had helped draw attention to a weekly that offered very little). It also wasn't good for the press. Hersh didn't find a US corporate outlet and had to publish his investigative reports in THE LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS. David Remnick should be ashamed of himself -- so should the US press for tolerating that. Instead, many of them engaged in attacks on Hersh because, under Barack Walks On Water, Hersh continued to apply journalistic standards.
No president will ever again have it as easy as Barack -- for a number of reasons. But if you didn't object when Hersh, one of our most noted investigative reporters, was forced to publish solely in foreign outlets, you are part of the problem.
David Remnick is not a journalist and should not be treated as such. He is a censor. He is an opponent of a free press. If you're a bra-less idiot married to a gay man while you pass yourself off as straight (when you're bi), then embrace Remnick -- as you know who has. The only thing sadder then her failed film career? Her very low i.q.
The corporate media in the US exists to obscure.
Take the news that the US government (FBI and CIA -- apparently under Barack's authority) planted a spy in Donald Trump's presidential campaign. This has led Donald to note that, if true, this would be worse than Watergate. He is correct on that. This would be a major abuse of power. Barry Grey (WSWS) notes:
The latest developments in the political warfare in Washington underscore the reactionary and anti-democratic character of both factions within the ruling class and the state. For the working class, there is absolutely nothing to choose from in the struggle between the ultra-nationalist, anti-immigrant and pro-corporate forces fronted by the billionaire real estate and gambling mogul and the no less pro-corporate allies of the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency who are represented by the Democratic Party and most of the corporate media.
The Democrats are doing nothing to oppose Trump’s attacks on Medicaid, food stamps and a host of other social programs, or his tax handouts for the rich. They fully support his massive increase in military spending. They instead oppose Trump from the reactionary standpoint that he is “too soft” on Russia and too reluctant to escalate the US military intervention in Syria. This is combined with concerns that he is not up to confronting the threat to the entire political and economic system posed by the growing resistance of the working class to capitalist austerity and inequality.
Minority Leader Charles Schumer (Democrat from New York) responded to Trump’s tweets in a speech delivered Thursday from the floor of the Senate. Schumer declared: “I would say to the president, it’s not a ‘witch-hunt’ when 17 Russians have been indicted. It’s not a witch-hunt when some of the most senior members of the Trump campaign have been indicted. It’s not a witch-hunt when Democrats and Republicans agree with the intelligence community that Russia interfered in our election to aid President Trump.”
In other words, it’s not a witch-hunt if the intelligence and police agencies of the capitalist state—responsible for countless crimes, assassinations, wars, frame-ups and coups, all based on lies—say it’s not a witch-hunt.
Friday’s Washington Post carried an op-ed piece by Democratic columnist Ruth Marcus headlined “The witches are real.” She wrote: “Our system—in particular, a Justice Department that is part of the executive branch but that maintains necessary independence from political meddling; prosecutors who operate in appropriate secrecy but within guidelines and with judicial oversight—is working as intended…
“Nothing in the conduct of the Mueller probe suggests anything other than the diligent professionalism that he is known for.”
No evidence has been presented to substantiate the allegations of Russian government “meddling” in the US elections or the claim that Vladimir Putin was instrumental in tipping the electoral vote to Trump. The widely cited “proof” of Russian efforts on social media to “sow discord,” discredit American “democracy” and boost Trump actually points to the concocted character of the entire anti-Russian narrative. The alleged purchase by unidentified Russians of $100,000 worth of Facebook ads, even if true, would be less than a footnote in a $4 billion presidential campaign.
Ruth Marcus exists to be a voice for the CIA. THE WASHINGTON POST, apparently, feels they are not represented without Ruth's presence on their op-ed pages. Bill Van Auken (WSWS) observes:
The naming of Stefan Halper as the individual sent by the FBI to spy on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election campaign has further inflamed the political warfare raging within the US state apparatus and political establishment. Halper is a long-time CIA asset with deep ties to US and British intelligence.
Published reports that the FBI had used a confidential informant to gather information on the Trump campaign led US President Donald Trump to announce via Twitter on Sunday, “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes, and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”
Repeating his denunciation of the year-old probe by Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign, as a “witch hunt,” Trump declared last week that the report of FBI spying on his campaign was a political scandal “bigger than Watergate.”
A few hours after Trump’s latest tweet, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued a statement saying that the Department of Justice had referred the matter to its inspector general, who is already reviewing applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Rosenstein said the inspector general would determine “whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election.”
The identification of Halper—who was implicated as the leading figure in a conspiracy by intelligence agents to subvert then-President Jimmy Carter’s re-election campaign in 1980—as the covert FBI spy has been the subject of a heated debate in Washington and the media.
Both the New York Times and the Washington Post, the two papers of record for the US political establishment, have studiously observed the demands of the FBI to conceal Halper’s identity.
The Post reported that it was concealing the identity of the spy from the American people because of “warnings from US intelligence officials that exposing him could endanger him or his contacts.” For its part, the Times merely indicated that it was following standard operating procedure, stating that it “has learned the source’s identity but typically does not name informants to preserve their safety.” Nothing could more nakedly expose the US media as a propaganda extension of the American intelligence agencies.
The White House has backed the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, who issued congressional subpoenas demanding that the Justice Department turn over documents on the origins of the investigation into the Trump campaign and the role of FBI spies. Nunes has demanded that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the documents.
Democrats have rallied behind the FBI’s defiance of congressional oversight. Leading Democrats have rushed to the defense of the intelligence agencies, denouncing Trump and Nunes for allegedly placing US security at risk.
Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel, appeared on the CBS News program “Face the Nation” Sunday—well after Halper’s identity as the FBI covert agent had already been revealed by a number of publications—to threaten that “when individuals want to try to reveal classified information about the identity of an FBI or CIA source, that is against the law.”
Mark Warner is worried about the law?
Strange he wasn't worried last week when he voted Gina the Torture Queen to be the director of the CIA. Strange that he seems to believe only the CIA knows secrets that could embarrass him. Mark, we pretty much all know those secrets.
Back to Iraq, Abdulrahman Al-Rashed (ASHARQ AL-AWSAT) notes:
The current phase is more important for Iraq than the previous stages we’ve witnessed ever since Saddam was toppled. If the Iraqis succeed in reaching an agreement to form a cabinet that enjoys the parliament’s approval and adopts a national agenda, then the coming years will settle sensitive issues pertaining to Iraq’s unity, strengthening the central authority, disbanding militias or integrating them in the armed forces, cutting ties with foreign parties and launching a development project that will be the first since the Iraqi-Iranian war in 1980. This is why selecting a strong prime minister is a popular request and a significant event. However, is this possible given the difficulty in forming a cabinet that must be composed of several political powers?
The consultations are mostly happening with leader of the Sairoon Alliance al-Sadr, who is now leading the political process, which he was one of its critics in the past. Sadr had criticized the spread of corruption among the political class and lack of patriotism. He had also stood against sectarianism. No matter how perfect he is, the formation of any government coalition requires concessions.
Some outlets are reporting that Moqtada has 90 days to form a government.
Moqtada will not be forming a government. He does not want to be prime minister so he did not run for Parliament. Only an MP can be prime minister.
The 90 day rule applies once the Parliament recognizes someone as prime minister-designate. Once recognized, they have 90 days to form a government.
If they can't?
What's legally supposed to happen is that the Parliament has to re-name them or name someone else.
In practice, this has not happened.
If it is followed this go round -- the Iraqi Constitution, then the person will have 90 days to form a government. That means 90 days to put together a Cabinet which must be approved by Parliament. Again, this has not been followed. It may be this go round.