Saturday, September 25, 2010

Iraqiya spurns Nouri

"Iraqiya believes the current type of government headed by Maliki cannot be repeated, so Iraqiya will not take part in any government headed by him," the statement said.
It continues by saying that "the political scene has been marred by constitutional violations and deliberate complications by the executive power, with the intent to steal the democratic and constitutional right of the Iraqiya list and sideline it from the political scene."
Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, said "this is not the first time that we hear Iraqiya voicing complaints, but these were certainly the strongest words yet, since the March 7 elections. These are some very serious threats."

The above is from Al Jazeera's "Allawi again rejects Maliki as PM." CNN observes, "The pronouncement highlights a failure to form an Iraqi government, and Iraqi officials fear that insurgents would take advantage of the political vacuum by trying to reignite the Sunni-Shiite sectarian bloodshed that gripped Iraq for years." AFP adds, "Iraqiya also said on Saturday it regarded the newly formed National Alliance as 'a desperate attempt to strengthen political sectarianism'."

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's six months and eighteen days with no government formed.

Xinhua reports that State Of Law has a response to Iraqiya's announcement:

However, in response to Iraqia's statement, Maliki's media office said "the talks with Iraqia bloc will continue and what they said (in Iraqia statement) is only representing the opinion of the extremist members in their bloc."
Maliki who is fighting for another term as prime minister is facing a rejection from rival Shiite parties, including the INA which consists of Sadr followers and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council headed by Ammar al-Hakim.
In addition, the Shiite National Alliance has proved that it is far from being unified over who will be the head of the broad Shiite coalition and the candidate for prime minister, as the INA has vehemently opposed giving Maliki a second term and previously nominated its leading figure Adel Abdul Mehdi as its candidate to compete with Maliki.

Meanwhile Janine Zacharia (Washington Post) reports on the camera obscura that is the current Iraq War:

Since the launch of New Dawn, as the military mission was re-branded on Sept. 1, the United States has entered a gray zone that has left many Iraqis - and Americans - puzzled about the U.S. role.
With 50,000 American troops left in the country, combat is now officially over. But American F-16s are still dropping bombs, and troops engage as "advisers'' alongside Iraqi special forces on dangerous counterterrorism missions. On the civilian side, U.S. officials are looking to the Iraqi government to take the lead, but squabbling has left Iraq without a functioning parliament since a March election.
U.S. officials say it is difficult for them to get clear answers from their Iraqi counterparts, including how much money the Iraqi government has in its banks. That's a key question for Congress as it considers new funding requests for Iraq.

Grandmothers Against the War's .Joan Wile is the author of Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace. This is her latest column, "GRAY PANTHERS URGE AN END TO TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH:"

The Panthers are dedicated to creating a humane society where the needs of people are put over profit.

As the tax-cut debate rages through the Senate, the House, and among the prospective candidates for public office, the Gray Panthers are firmly committed to their stance that tax cuts for the wealthy must end.

Bucking the Tea Party and Right Winger presidential wannabes Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and other advocates for the super rich at the expense of all the rest of us, the Panthers have issued a proclamation outlining their proposals regarding tax cuts. Among their many resolutions is one demanding that the progressive taxation system practiced in many other developed democratic countries be adopted here.

Progressive taxation, as I'm sure my well-informed readers know, is a tax system in which those who earn higher incomes pay a higher percentage of their income than those with lower incomes. A graduated tax is one example. Seems very logical, doesn't it? If such were the case, then the current system of granting tax cuts to those earning $250,000 or more annually would be obviated.

Susan Murany, Executive Director of the National Gray Panthers, wants to know, “We do have to ask ourselves - as Americans- Is it fair that the rich continue to benefit from our financial policies while the people who are poor, the working poor and the middle class continue to suffer? Because as most of us continue to experience the recession, the number of millionaires continues to increase. “

The gap between the wealthiest Americans and middle- and working-class Americans has more than tripled in the past three decades, according to a June 25 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities." Murany says, “It’s no surprise that over 60 percent of all income growth since 1979 has gone to the top 10 percent.”

According to this information, it would certainly seem that eliminating their tax cuts would hurt the pocketbooks of the rich a lot less than eliminating cuts for ordinary folks, doesn't it?

In addition to recommending a progressive taxation policy, the Panthers offer a number of other suggestions to reform the tax system. Among them, they advise the elimination of tax loopholes which support consumption and accumulation of wealth by corporations and wealthy individuals at the expense of ordinary wage earners. They also call for laws and policies which hold corporations accountable for delivering social benefits (living wage jobs, pollution controls, environmental protection, workplace safety and more) to states and localities which compete for corporate investments in their jurisdictions.

The Panthers further state that they oppose war, and believe it would be less likely if it were not funded with debt but with current taxes, and therefore counsel Congress to enact a separate, dedicated and progressive tax sufficient to cover the costs of war in Afghanistan and each and every future war.

The Gray Panthers are tired of such statements as that of, for example, Newt Gingrich, "I think to raise taxes on people who create jobs in the middle of a 9.5 percent unemployment rate is, frankly, crazy." Inasmuch as more and more corporations are transplanting jobs to low-wage workers in other countries, that comment seems a bit disingenuous. Our history has shown more than once that expanded wealth at the top does not trickle down into the pockets of the less fortunate. Such pronouncements are simply not true and it is sort of mind-boggling to imagine that ordinary people would swallow them.

The Gray Panthers have committed themselves to working for social and economic justice and as such, see the extension of tax cuts for the rich as a justice issue. The well-to-do have been getting richer for decades. They now have the responsibility like all of us to contribute their fair share for the benefit of all.

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