Friday, November 18, 2011

A Parliamentary session exploring the alleged coup?

Is it the end for Iraqi fish? Al Sabaah reports that the country's fish are at risk due to a scarcity of water (as a result of, among other things, the damns Turkey's built), salinity (as a result of Iran) and overfishing. With proper care -- which would include addressing the drying of Iraq's marshes -- it's thought that Iraq could be harvesting 300,000 tons of fish per year.

We open with that because the obsession with Iraq's oil means many other important things get drowned out. True, oil is one of the main reasons for the illegal war; however, you can't eat it, you can't drink it.

But, again, it is the obsession. Javier Blas (Financial Times of London) reviews the companies interested in oil exploration in the Kurdistan Regional Government. Blas notes in addition to oil, Turkey's eyeing the KRG's natural gas reserves and that Erbil is becoming a boom town. This follows on the deal that the KRG says is a done deal and that the government out of Baghdad is still making noises about. Pierre Bertrand (International Business Times) reports, "After several days of loaded proclamations, a deal may be in the offering between ExxonMobil, the Kurdish regional government, and Iraq's central government, in relation to an oil exploration contract the company signed with Kurdistan that the central government calls illegal ."

Meanwhile Aswat al-Iraq notes "Tahreer Square in Baghdad witnesses since last February different types of demonstrators, including terminating political differences and ending corruption dossiers." And they note today's protest included a call for provinces not to move towards being semi-autonomous. Along with today's protesters, the move is opposed by Nouri al-Maliki and Moqtada al-Sadr. Nouri is especially ticked off at the Speaker of Parliament, Osama al-Nujaifi, because he continues to cite what the Constitution states on this issue while Nouri and his lackeys on the 'independent' electoral commission repeatedly attempt to pretend that the Constitution gave the Council of Ministers the right to make these decisions. (Article 119, as McClatchy Newspapers' Laith Hammoudi has reported, notes the process for a province to move to semi-autonomy.) Apparently having difficulty maintaining all of his many grudges, Nouri's focusing on al-Nujaifi but, Al Rafidayn reports, he's decided that Ayad Allawi is a-okay. The Iraqiya leader pissed off Nouri weeks ago when he offered a strong critique to a London paper about the current state of Iraq. Salah Nasrawi (Al-Ahram Weekly) covers the province issue and other developments:

On 2 November, a Sunni-dominated province of Iraq created uproar when its local council voted to establish itself as an "independent region within a unified Iraq."
The provincial council of Salaheddin, which hosts Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, voted by 20 votes out of 28 to set up the new federal region, sparking speculation that other Sunni provinces may now follow suit.
In trying to explain the shift, the council's leaders said that the establishment of an autonomous region was a reaction to the Iraqi government's negligence, exclusion and marginalisation of Sunnis.
They said that the request to set up an autonomous region had been intended to boost the province's share of federal revenues and to protest against the domination of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki's Shia-led government.
Coming in the aftermath of a nationwide crackdown on former Saddam loyalists, the timing of the vote seemed to have been spurred by the firing of more than 100 lecturers at Tikrit University for alleged Baath Party connections and a roundup of suspected Baathists in the province.
Hundreds of former Baathists have been arrested in recent weeks following government reports that they were conspiring to overthrow Al-Maliki's government.

And to clarify on the Salahuddin vote, there are 28 members of the provincial council. Twenty of them voted on the measure. All voting on the measure voted "yes." On the alleged conspiracy, Al Mada reports Iraqiya's Salman Jumaili has declared Iraqiya intends to host a session in the Parliament over the claims of the existence of a conspiracy. With several dents already in Nouri's public claims, the prime minister may be sweating that possible session.

Rand Paul is a US Senator from Kentucky. His father is US House Rep Ron Paul who is currently in a race for the GOP's presidential nomination. Senator Paul's office notes:

Sen. Paul Introduces Resolution to End War in Iraq

Nov 17, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Rand Paul introduced an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill to formally end the war in Iraq.

The war in Iraq cannot be considered definitively concluded if Congress does not reclaim its constitutional power to declare war by repealing the underlying authorization. Until Congress takes this action, the President would still possess the legal authority to move troops into Iraq or to conduct kinetic operations within its borders, agreements with the Iraqi government notwithstanding.

"On several occasions this year, Congress has been ignored or remained silent while the President committed our forces to combat. It is my intention to urge Congress to reclaim its constitutional authority over the decision to go to war, or to end a war - it is one of the body's most important powers," Sen. Paul said. "It is right that we wrest it back from a President who has shown he cannot be trusted to obey the Constitution or powers prescribed to Congress in it."

The President has ordered withdrawal of most forces by the end of the year, and Sen. Paul's amendment continues the spirit of that decision by formally ending the war. Sen. Paul will push for a vote on this measure during consideration of the Defense bill. Under existing laws, necessary actions to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq (such as at the embassy) will still be allowed.

"Americans should celebrate the safe return of our soldiers, thank those who served, and mourn those we lost. We should honor them by committing to a return to a more rational and constitutional foreign policy," Sen. Paul added.


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