Monday, December 26, 2011

Moqtada tries to solve the political crisis?

Iraq is in the midst of a political crisis. Background on the crisis via Omer Taspinar (Today's Zaman):

Prime Minister Nur al-Maliki, the Shiite leader of the government, issued an arrest warrant for Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a leading Sunni politician, accusing him of running a death squad. After denying these charges, Hashimi fled to the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan to avoid arrest. The day after his departure, multiple suicide attacks and bombs killed more than 67 people in Baghdad. What is happening on the ground in Iraq looks like a return to the dark years of sectarian war, for which the American invasion is largely to blame. Turkey should pay much more attention to Iraq. It is with some chutzpah that a New York Times editorial advised the Obama administration that “regional allies like Turkey and Saudi Arabia must be enlisted to help send an unmistakable message to Iraqi political leaders that political turmoil or the disintegration of Iraq into sectarian fiefdoms would be disastrous for the country and its neighbors.” As if such a message would change anything!

Nouri is also demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his office. Both Tareq al-Hashemi and Saleh al-Mutlaq are members of Iraqiya, the political slate that came in first in the 2010 elections (Nouri's State of Law came in second) and are political opponents of Nouri's. Many see this as yet another power grab on the part of Nouri. Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) reports cleric Moqtada al-Sadr declared today that new elections are needed. Dan Morse (Washington Post) adds that Moqtada wants elections "within six months" That's not all Sadr's calling for. Aswat al-Iraq notes:

The Leader of the Shiite Trend, Muqtada al-Sadr, has called Sunday for the trial of Iraq's Vice-President, Tareq al-Hashimy, under the auspices of the Parliament, warning at the same time from the single-party power on the political process in the country.
Answering a question by one of his followers in Baghdad, about the fate of Tareq al-Hashimy, Sadr said: "The issue of Hashimy's trial should take place under
the auspices of the Parliament and the people," adding that "even the sacking of politicians from their posts must take place in a legal manner."
"The issue of confessions against Vice-President, Tareq al-Hashimy and the raising of this issue at the current period may harm the country, its unity and security, including the downfall of the current political process and the security situation, along with harming the political process as well," Sadr said.

What's going on? Moqtada only supported Nouri for prime minister when Tehran told him to. Early on, he'd declared he'd abide by the wishes of his followers and they voted in their own poll in the spring of 2010. They rejected Nouri. As did Moqtada. He kept that stance for months. He may now feel it is time for him to become prime minister -- allegedly, for backing Nouri in 2010, Tehran promised to back him (Moqtada) the next go round. Printing ballots and other issues would take at least six weeks. While most would be scrambling during such a short period, Moqtada's group wouldn't be. They demonstrated that when they had millions vote -- they allowed non Sadrists to vote as well if they wanted -- on whether or not Moqtada should back Nouri. They were able to print ballots, count ballots and release a total in an orderly fashion that really drove home the foot dragging of Nouri and company. To have a strong say in Parliament, they'd also have to expand outside of their traditional areas (focusing just on the areas they dominate population wise would result in no more than 40 seats (there are 325 seats in the Parliament).

Meanwhile Aswat al-Iraq reports that Iraqiya is floating that Parliament to withdraw trust from Nouri. Baha' al-Araji is a member of the Sadr bloc (not Iraqiya) and he is not floating it, he is calling for Parliament to be dissolved and for new elections to be held. In one of the more laughable moments of the back and forth, a State of Law MP, Abbas al-Bayati, has declared that "the minority [Iraqiya] can't impose its will on the majority". Al Mada quotes the idiot al-Bayati making this statement. He is referring to the withdrawal of confidence. Like most State of Law-ers, he seems unfamiliar with the Iraqi Constitution. A withdrawal of Congress is legal and legitimate. The process is outlined in the Constitution. So is the process for becoming prime minister and that's what causes the chuckles. Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi, got more votes than State of Law and should have, per the Constitution, been given first crack at forming a government. State of Law was the "minority" at that point and they had no qualms about imposing their will on others.

Violence continues, Reuters notes a Baghdad suicide car bombing claimed 7 lives and left thirty-four people injured, the corpse of 1 Sahwa was discovered in Baiji and a Dujail roadside bombing injured three Iranian pilgrims.

The PUK is the political party of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. They note:

Under the motto "no violence against women" the second short film festival begun on Sunday in Erbil, the capital city of Kurdistan region.
15 short films have participated in the festival, the Kurdistan Region's cinema director Nasr Hassan said.
He also said that four women directors took part in the festival, adding that the festival will continue for four days.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I See Ba'athists" went up yesterday morning. On this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) -- topics explored include Bradley Manning's Article 32 hearing, Mumia, and Lynne Stewart.

Lynne Stewart is an attorney, grandmother and political prisoner in the United States. There is no law on the books that Lynne broke but she is in prison. Her 'crime'? Allegedly breaking an order -- not a law -- by issuing a press release for a client in the 90s. The Clinton administration reviewed the actions and saw there was no point in prosecuting. Lynne's the people's lawyer, a radical who stands up for the oppressed. You just knew Bully Boy Bush was going to dig back in and they did. A hearing took place. Lynne was sentenced to twenty-eight months. The government -- by this time the Barack administration (July 2010), not the Bush administration -- wasn't pleased and had a higher court order the judge to resentence Lynne. She was sentenced to ten years. The 72-year-old political prisoner has now been in prison for two years -- with many medical conditions. Among other things, Lynne has suffered from breast cancer. Excerpt from the broadcast:

Michael Ratner: We had Lynn in the seat you're sitting in, I don't know, when was it, two years ago?

Ralph Poynter: She has served two years in November.

Michael Ratner: Oh my gosh.

Ralph Poynter: And she is looking forward to her attorney Herald Fahringer presenting to the court once again testing the law in February, that will be February 29th at Federal Court and we are planning a Occupy the Courtroom -- and Occupy the Park the night before, the 28th through the 29th, the date of her -- not her appearance, the day that there will be a hearing of her case. And she says you take each struggle as it comes. And she has a way of being funny, her spirits are good. She said to me, "Little did I ever think that I would be putting my hopes in the hands of Clarence Thomas." And I say, "Lynne, that is funny, but not in your circumstance."

Heidi Boghosian: Right. Ralph, tell us exactly what the lawyer will be asking for.

Ralph Poynter: He will be talking about the sentencing. The change from the 28 months to the 120 months. Nothing changed [there was no new hearing on new charges, the jury had already rendered their verdict years prior] and the laws that Judge [John G.] Koeltl used to extend his rationale for extending it was as ridiculous, you might say, as the Weapons of Mass Destruction but they got over with that, so they might get over with these two ridiculous cases that he used. One where they didn't know about a sex offender putting on video of a 10-year-old that he was offending sexually and another one where the government, when the sentence was given, did not know that the person being sentenced had stolen far more money, federal money, than they had imagined. So they used that as an example of being able to extend sentences.

Heidi Boghosian: So you're saying those examples don't work at all?

Ralph Poynter: They don't work whatsoever.

We'll be noting more from the segment this week. More information on Lynne can be found at Justice For Lynne Stewart.

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