Monday, November 24, 2008

al-Maliki's consolidation

An increasingly bold Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has sanctioned politically charged arrests of prominent Sunnis, personally supervised military operations and moved to sideline rivals in recent months, actions that have evoked memories of the country's authoritarian past.
Now the Shiite leader, once considered weak and ineffectual, is on the cusp of greater powers with the likely approval this week of a security agreement with the U.S. that would anoint him as the man who brought an end to the American troop presence in Iraq.

The above is from Ned Parker's "Iraq's Nouri Maliki may gain power with U.S. security agreement" (Los Angeles Times) and it's good that Parker's addressing it but it's also not at all surprising. Dropping back to the April 10th snapshot covering that day's US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations hearing:

Biden noted the "internal threat" aspect being proposed and how these requires the US "to support the Iraqi government in its battle with all 'outlaw groups' -- that's a pretty expansive commitment." He noted that it requires the US "to take sides in Iraq's civil war" and that "there is no Iraqi government that we know of that will be in place a year from now -- half the government has walked out."
"Just understand my frustration," Biden explained. "We want to normalize a government that really doesn't exist."

Biden is Joe Biden, the chair of that committee then, the vice president-elect now.

In Iraq, Reuters reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left five people injured, another that claimed 13 lives ("female employees of Trade Ministry") and left seven more people injured, a Baghdad "female suicide" bombing that claimed at least 5 lives and left twelve people injured at an "entrance to the heavily-fortified Green Zone" and 1 person shot dead in Kirkuk. The New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Alan Cowell observe:

The timing of the attacks -- which followed a recent increase in violence -- suggested that insurgents wanted to demonstrate that they were still able to disrupt the city and penetrate well-guarded areas even as the government seeks Parliament's approval of the security agreement.
That vote, initially scheduled for Monday, may come this week, and government officials said they were hoping to win final approval on Wednesday. Last Friday, more than 10,000 supporters of the radical anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr gathered in central Baghdad to display opposition to the security accord.
As the government prepares for the vote, Iraqi lawmakers opposed to the deal have seized on a new argument that the accord does not explicitly protect Iraq's vast oil wealth and other assets from seizure to satisfy billions of dollars in legal claims against the former government of Saddam Hussein.
Supporters of the agreement maintain that it will still pass by a significant margin.

Yesterday was a big meet-up in Damascus to discuss Iraq's security with its neighbors and 'interested parties.' Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes:

Security coordination and cooperation conference of Iraq's neighboring countries was opened today 23 November,2008, with the presence of Arab League , United Nations, Security Council, Eight major states, Islamic Organization conference and European Union as well as the neighboring countries of Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain.
General Bassam Abdul Majeed, Syrian Interior Minister, opened the conference by giving a speech welcoming the presence and stated that strengthening of cooperation and security coordination, implementing the bilateral agreements and controlling the joint borders is a joint responsibility for all the participants in the conference. Mr. Labeed Abbawi, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for Policy Planning and Bilateral Relations, stressed in his speech the improvement of economical, political, security situations in Iraq, pointing out that this improvement have been achieved by the Iraqi government's efforts and the support of neighboring countries, regional and international organizations.
The Heads of participating delegations exchanged views and interventions in the first working session and it will continue until today.

Iran's Press TV notes that along with Syria and Iraq, particpants included "the Arab League, the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and permanent members of the UN Security Council and the Group of Eight". This is from China's Xinhau's "Syria says Iraq's border control is neighbors' joint responsibility:"

Syrian Interior Minister Bassam Abdel Majid said here on Sunday that Iraq's border control was a joint responsibility for its neighbors which should boost security cooperation and coordination.
Abdul Majid made the remarks in an opening speech at the third meeting of the Security Cooperation and Coordination Committee for Iraq's Neighboring Countries.
He urged the participants to issue a recommendation that "Iraq will not be used as a launch pad for any acts of aggression against neighboring states under any circumstance," referring to are cent U.S. cross-border raid in Syria which killed eight Syrian civilians.
The Syrian official reiterated his country's condemnation of this "stark violation" of Syrian sovereignty and international laws.

UPI adds:

The Kuwait news agency, KUNA, said Abdulmajid called for the group to issue a formal policy stating, "Iraq is not to be used as a launch pad for any acts of aggression against neighboring states under any circumstance."
The group was formed in 2006 by the interior ministers of Iraq's neighbors in an attempt to assert control over their borders with Iraq and to stop the infiltration of arms and fighters into the country.

Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Reuters) notes that Maura Connelly, US Charge d'Affaires (and a woman, despite some recent press releases from the Syrian government), represented the US at the meet-up by "accusing host Syria of sheltering militants attacking Iraq" but "other countries adopted a more conciliatory tone, delegates said."

In addition, a meet-up on Iraqi refugees took place *Tuesday* and Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued "Iraq Participate in Amman Third Meeting of Iraqi Refugees and Displaced" on the meet-up:

Iraqi delegation participated in Amman Third meeting of Iraqi refugees and displaced on Tuesday 20 Nov, 2008. Dr. Mohammed Al Hajj Himoud, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for Legal Affairs and Multilateral Relations represented Iraq in this meeting, with his accompanying delegation from Human Right Ministry and Education Ministry.
The meeting was attended by representatives of Iraq's neighboring countries, permanent members of Security Council, Eight states group, United Nations, Arab League, Islamic Conference Organization, Red Cross, and Red Crescent Societies. The meeting was headed by Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with Iraq.
The host countries reviewed the developments and achievements that have been achieved since Amman Second Meeting 2008 of hosting countries generally, specifically in fields of health, education, energy, transport, infrastructure and water.
The international organizations reviewed their works and the achievements which have been fulfilled, since Amman meeting 2008 and made a presentation of the steps that are going to take them in the future.
At the end of the session, participants expressed their gratitude to the donor countries, parties, regional concerned countries and UNAMI; also it urged everyone to provide more support to assist the host countries to cover the needs of Iraqis residents.
The participants also expressed their gratitude to the government of Jordan for hosting the host countries's meeting of Iraqis.

Meanwhile another member of the Cult of St. Barack tries to leave their hazy fog (but fails) and this comment to the piece says it all:

So, Heather, with all your foreknowledge, why did you go ahead and vote for Obama? There WERE other choices. Nader/Gonzalez was on most ballots, or you could have written in McKinney/Clemente. Oh, I forgot, all you great thinkers didn’t want to "waste" your vote or else were more afraid of McCain than Obama, although their policies are practically the same, judging from their voting records. I am so sick of people who know better choosing to go along with the conventional wisdom that says third parties do not have a chance (which is true when people fail to vote for them). That outlook is why change never comes, and never will. And now, the rest of us must suffer through buyer's remorse articles like this, articles that tell us nothing new, but apparently help you and other writers deal with your guilty consciences.

That comment was made by HR and Martha e-mailed to note it.

Bonnie reminds Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Tina Fey: America's Sour-Heart" went up yesterday.

The e-mail address for this site is