Sunday, May 27, 2018

They guessed wrong ahead of the elections and they're still wrong after the elections

Egg on their face, the western press now obsesses over Moqtada al-Sadr.  If you go back and look at the election coverage we did for weeks leading up the elections -- did we start at the end of March? -- you'll see Moqtada al-Sadr mentioned over and over.  Because it was clear he was going to be a major player.  We repeatedly shot down the western press build up of Hayder al-Abadi because it was equally clear that he wasn't going to come in first despite the propaganda of the US government.

They stand, the western press, for what they are, megaphones for governments, not reporters, not conduits of news and information.

(Include MUSINGS ON IRAQ here as well -- even a day after the voting, when it was clear the lies were not going to hold, Joel Wing was still saying that Hayder al-Abadi would have the most seats in Parliament.  What did we run with that same day?  Oh, yeah, "The Moqtada Also Rises."  It must be really hard for Joel Wing being so wrong so very often.  Wrong about the Kurds throughout Nouri al-Maliki's second term, wrong about Barzani and the non-binding resolution, wrong about Moqtada, wrong about Hayder, wrong, wrong, wrong.  But he does delight in noting how often the western media covers him.  He is the online Thomas Friedman, forever wrong and forever quoted as an expert.)

So that's probably why they are still obsessing over Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr's victory from weeks ago and can't even include the efforts to overturn it.

Because whiners have tried to overturn it.  Moqtada had to declare last week that Parliament did not have the power to overturn the results.

Other efforts have failed as well.

AL ARABIYA reports today, "Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court has rejected a request to cancel the country's recent parliamentary election results over allegations of voting irregularities. This comes after to an absence of a quorum led the Iraqi Council of Representatives to fail on Sunday for the third time to hold a scheduled meeting to pressure the Electoral Commission to reverse the results of the recent elections."

Mustafa Habib and his outlet NIQASH have done an excellent job covering the elections for months now.  Here is Habib's most recent report noting the Sunni losses:

The recent Iraqi elections have resulted in a miserable outcome for the country’s Sunni Muslim politicians. Areas in Iraq that traditionally voted for Sunni parties have lost parliamentary seats they would have been assured of getting just a few years ago. There are various immediate reasons for this but it is also part of an ongoing trend, where Sunni Muslim parties and politicians are seeing diminished support.
The Sunni Muslim groups that participated in the Iraqi federal elections on May 12 managed to get a total of 47 seats. In 2014, they had 64.  
Part of this must be due to the fact that Sunni Muslim politicians have been unable to convince voters who traditionally chose them, that they should do so again. For example, one of Iraq’s best known and most senior Sunni Muslim politicians, Salim al-Jibouri joined up with the movement led by Ayad Allawi, a Shiite Muslim popular with Sunni voters because his party has a secular and civil platform. It didn’t help.

I would add a few things.

Anbar Province, a Sunni based province, was not a 'free' area in the minds of some.  I have no idea how many but a number of community members in Anbar were e-mailing about the Iraqi security presence and how it did not make them feel secure.  No surprise there though the outlets have ignored that reality. (I'm not referring to NIQASH there and Mustafa does note in his report that feeling but in Ninawa Province.) In addition, there was the 2010 election.  Why vote for Allawi's bloc now?

Allawi's bloc won in 2010.  And the US government overturned those results (after Nouri al-Maliki refused to step down for eight months).  The spokesperson for Allawi's Iraqiya in 2010 was Maysoun Damluji and she was among the candidates who lost this go round.  Especially harmful to Sunni candidates were associations with Saleh al-Mutlaq who retains a local popularity in the immediate area he hails from but who has been widely and publicly unpopular since 2011 (he tried to show up at protests and act as though he wasn't part of the problem -- hurled bottles and rocks quickly corrected that notion and he fled, never again to return to the protests).  Haider al-Mulla was one of the many candidates who was supposed to be a shoo-in but who was linked too closely with Saleh and did not win re-election.

In fact, you could argue that Saleh al-Mutlaq cost just as many Sunni candidates votes as Nouri al-Maliki cost votes for Shi'ite candidates.  Both men were the political kiss of death this election cycle. Links to Saleh are also blamed for Salim al-Jubouri's loss.  This is the person who remains Speaker of Parliament until the next government is formed but who lost his re-election bid.

Saleh al-Mutlaq has long been the kiss of death for Sunni politicians -- and that's one of the things that the media's ignoring.