Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Little Nouri, right at home in Saddam Hussein's old palace

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki sat in a gilded chair Tuesday at the start of the three-day Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice.
He rose to greet his guests in a newly furbished palace, built under the late dictator Saddam Hussein.
Politicians came in their elegant dark suits; sheiks approached in their brown robes; generals marched in crisp uniforms, emblazoned with swords and epaulets. All kissed him twice on both cheeks. And Maliki smiled and whispered into their ears, or chuckled.

The above is from Ned Parker's "Iraqi prime minister celebrates Eid holiday in palatial setting" (Los Angeles Times) and, barring a real or just political assassination, years from now, people may read the above and marvel over how obvious it was that Little Nouri was the "new Saddam." Should that day arrive, remember that there weren't mere clues indicating what was unfolding, there was actual evidence. And remember that, Bush or Barack, the needs of the Iraqi people were never high on the list of the 'liberating' US government. Nouri and his crowd traffic in lies and, should you doubt that, Alusmaria TV reports, "National Alliance MP Hadi Al Amiri held the media responsible for creating tension over the government formation talks. The eight-month political debate in Iraq was normal and recurrent around the world, Al Amiri told Alsumaria News." It has set a new world record for longest time between an election and sitting a government -- but Amiri thinks he can lie and get away with it, he thinks can call it "normal" and it will be accepted as such -- probably accepted as such out of fear.

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 via "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, ten days and counting.

Named last week as designate to the post he broke every law to keep, Nouri's now to busy strutting around Saddam Hussein's old palace to work on forming a government. Don't expect a lot of outrage over that reality due to the fact that the press is either willfully stupid or just eager little liars. The editorial board of the Toledo Blade today offers, "Even though a government has been formed, no one in Iraq has left his guns at the door." Oh, I'm sorry, did I awaken from weeks and weeks of sleep and miss the formation of a government?

What's that? No.

It's just that the world's facts are interfering with the paper's spin.

There is no government formed -- what a stupid and deceitful thing to print. As the editorial board admist, the presidential post is just ceremonial. The prime minister runs the country. There is no prime minister -- is this too hard for the 'geniuses' running the Toledo Blade? -- there is a prime minister-designate who must nominate cabinet ministers -- and have each one voted on individually -- within 30 days or lose the chance at forming a government. Is it too hard to understand another country's political system? If it is, maybe the Toledo Blade shouldn't be weighing in on it.

In other news, Robert Stevens (WSWS) reports:

Further allegations of war crimes committed by British troops in Iraq emerged in the High Court in London last week.

According to information given by legal representatives of the Ministry of Defence, three British soldiers are being investigated over the alleged abuse of an Iraqi detainee. The three served as interrogators at a secret prison near Basra in southern Iraq, during the British occupation of the city.

The information was made public in a High Court appeal case brought by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL). PIL are asking the High Court to order a public inquiry into claims by more than 200 Iraqi civilians that they were systematically abused and mistreated in UK-controlled detention camps between March 2003 and December 2008.

And we'll close with this from Kenneth J. Theisen's "Obama’s Afghan Policy: War Without End, Amen" (World Can't Wait):

In October 2001, then Vice President Dick Cheney said that the just launched U.S. “war on terror” was “different” than other wars: "in the sense that it may never end. At least, not in our lifetime’’. President Obama picked up the baton passed to him by Cheney’s boss, and has expanded and extended the wars started in the Bush-Cheney era, continued the policies of torture and extended the life of the dungeons where this torture is done.

Immediately after taking office President Obama announced that he was ordering the closing of the hellhole prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by January 2010. That atrocity is still open.

Now the Obama administration has announced that its much trumpeted deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan will be extended three years, to 2014.

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