Sunday, November 21, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

A US soldier is killed, a journalist is killed and Iraq's puppets can't even pull together a government. Jack Healy and Yasir Ghazi (New York Times) report that the Parliament met today ("for only the fourth time") and they apparently 'accomplished' the feat of grasping that Iraqi widows, unemployed, etc. will just have to do without money because it long ago ran out and no new budget has been passed despite Iraq holding elections over eight months ago.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "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. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a Natioanl Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now eight months, thirteen days and counting.

So Healy and Ghazi inform that nothing was accomplished and add that even the expected event, Nouri being named prime-minister designate -- did not take place: "Mr. Talabani appeared to have all but done so more than a week ago, naming Mr. Maliki to a second term a day after the power-sharing deal was announced." What's going on? We already noted it long ago. To build his support, Nouri promised several of the same ministries to several different people. Now he's having difficulty with regards to building his cabinet. So Jalal Talabani keeps hitting the snooze button with the hopes that Nouri can pull it together. Mo Honge (Xinhua) explains, "Talabani's delay was aimed at giving the prime minister- designate more time to negotiate ministerial portfolios with parliamentary blocs, as Maliki will have 30 days to form his cabinet from the date of receiving Talabani's letter, [Nouri's spokesperson Yassin] Majid said."

They're playing games while US soldiers and Iraqis are dying. They're collecting salaries while Iraqi widows and their children are doing without benefits. They're doing quite a lot for themselves and very little for the country they allegedly represent. Today another US soldier lost their life because the White House considers American lives less important than keeping their puppets propped up in Iraq.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4430. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4430. However, the US military announced today: "BAGHDAD – A United States Forces – Iraq Soldier died of wounds sustained from enemy small arms fire Sunday during advisory operations in Northern Iraq. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation."

Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports
Iraqi journalist Mazin al-Baghdadi was shot dead in front of his Mosul home this evening. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reports, "Gunmen in civilian clothing showed up at his home around 6 p.m. and identified themselves to his father as intelligence officers, the ministry official said. When al-Baghdadi exited to his house to speak with the men, they shot him. His family was looking on when the shooting occurred, according to the official, who described the journalist as young." In other violence, Reuters adds 1 woman was shot dead in Mosul and 1 woman's corpse was discovered in Bashiqa.

New content at Third:

Pru notes Great Britain's "The student revolt shows how to fight:"

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The student protest last week was the start of the unity we need to go forward—now we need mass action against the government, says Mark Bergfeld, NUS executive (pc)

I am proud of the student protest last week—and students across Britain have received enthusiastic messages of solidarity from workers.

This is the start of the unity we need to go forward. The occupation of the Tory headquarters at Millbank was excellent. Now we need mass action against the government.

Students and workers have to act together. We need meetings, demonstrations and stunts.

But what the government really fears is walkouts from workplaces, schools, colleges and universities.

It has no mandate for these cuts—and the Lib Dems lied when they said they wouldn’t raise tuition fees.

Coordinated action—and building for a general strike against cuts across the working class—can see the Tory toffs and their smug Lib Dem friends hounded from office.

The following should be read alongside this article:

Student protest: Tories are the real vandals

Make student protest a turning point in battle against Tories

Students inspire the anti-cuts movement

Wave of solidarity with the Millbank student protesters

Huge anger among students at fees betrayal

Hypocrisy of crackdown on Millbank student protesters

Sussex University students occupy–you can too!

‘Education protests are a ray of hope for us all’

Where next? Nov 24 is Day X for Lib Dems

Key dates for the student movement

You should join the socialists

24 Nov: Everyone to Downing Street to back students’ ‘Day X’

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