Friday, December 02, 2011

Turning over a billion US dollars when security ministries remain vacant

Al Mada declares that the "white flag" is being waived on the issue of the security ministries and, by white flag, they only mean surrender, not compromise. The political blocs do not think the posts heading any of the three securities ministries will be filled in the current session of Parliament. Even scarier, some are saying the posts may remain empty until after the next parliamentary elections.

If you don't get why that's scary, there are two basic reasons. First, violence is on the increase in Iraq so having no Minister of Interior, no Minister of Defense and no Minister of National Security right now isn't a good thing. The Minister of the Interior, in fact, should be coordinating with the US State Dept on police training -- see yesterday's snapshot -- something the US tax payer is going to fork over $1 billion dollars for but the State Dept is coordinating with a deputy at the Minister of the Interior because the ministry has no one in charge. $1 billion dollars of tax payer money and the State Dept is basically making plans on how to spend that with the night manager of the drive thru at Wendy's.

Second, the Constitutional issues. The prime minister is not elected by the people. The person getting the most votes (this is how it is supposed to work -- the Constitution was ignored in 2010) has the right to attempt to put together a Cabinet. How long does the person have? 30 days after they are named prime minister-designate by the president of Iraq.

If they are unable to nominate a full Cabinet and get it all those positions passed by the Parliament within 30 days, a new person is supposed to be named prime minister-designate per the Constitution. You cannot move from prime minister-designate to prime minister without creating your Cabinet. That's the only criteria by which you are supposed to declared prime minister.

Of course it got ignored for Nouri. The US government wanted him. So the US press whored themselves out in that way that they've whored themselves throughout the Iraq War. They insisted at the time that it was no big deal -- ignoring the Constitution was no big deal, what a lesson for Iraqis attempting to embrace some form of self-rule -- and that, of course, Nouri would fill the three security ministries in a matter of weeks.

They were making those assurances in December.

I'm sorry, they were making those assurances in December of 2010.

That's a year ago.

The ministries remain headless.

While the US press was giving assurances -- when they should have been offering skepticism -- a few people in the political blocs were sounding alarms, were saying that these positions would not be filled, that Nouri would keep them empty as part of a power-grab. That's exactly how it's turned out to be.

And now Al Mada's reporting that some are saying the positions may not be filled until after the next round of parliamentary elections? Well good thing that, the US press told us, Nouri would never seek a third term, right? Oh, wait. That bit of whoring bites 'em in the ass today as a trial balloon gets floated, doesn't it?

Al Mada makes clear that the problem remains Nouri. The political blocs have offered up multiple names to be candidates for the three posts.

The idea that the US government is about to waste $1 billion over the next five years on training a force that has no supervision (that would be a Minister of the Interior) is outrageous and the Congress should refuse to fund the State Dept's request for that reason alone. There are many other reasons to refuse it. There are even a few arguments for supporting the request. But if the head of the police, the Minister of the Interior, can't be named by Nouri, over a year after he was supposed to do that, the American tax payer should not be on the hook for one billion dollars that will surely be wasted.

Al Sabaah notes that Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, declared yesterday that the US government has moved to "state building" in Iraq. Actually, there can be no state building when Nouri can't even do what the Constitution calls for him to. When, a year after being declared prime minister, he still can't put together a full Cabinet, there's no state there to build. It's a vanity colony, it's not a nation-state. And US dollars should not be wated in building up Nouri's little colony. The 'governor' should be informed that until he lives up to his Constitutional duties, there will be no US dollars.

The United Nations New Center notes:

The United Nations mission in Iraq said today it will, at the request of the country's Council of Representatives, play the role of adviser and observer in the ongoing selection of the board of the electoral commission, in an effort to enhance the transparency and credibility of the process.
The request that the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) play an advisory and observation role in the selection of the Board of Commissioners of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) was made by the Council of Representatives, through its Committee of Experts.

That's such an interesting way of putting it. Yes, the Parliament did make the request. They also had a reason for making the request: Nouri.

Back in January, he began declaring that the Independent High Electoral Commission answered to him and was not an independent body. Parliament disagreed. Nouri went ahead with his plans to force people out and to nominate new members. That's why the Parliament has requested the UN to step in. That's not as pretty as the UN press release paints it but that is what happened.

And years from now if Little Nouri is the New Saddam, people will wonder, "Geez, were theere any signs? How could people have not seen this?" There were plenty of signs, there were warnings galore. But he remained in power because the US government backed him. Even when he was overseeing the ethnic cleansing, even when he was destroying women's rights, even when was using the military, police and other bodies to take out his opponents, even when he was attacking protesters and journalists. It didn't matter. He was the guy the US picked in 2006 and they backed him.

Stuart Bowen is the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. A post he's held since 2004 and one that's already see him make, as he explained to Congress this week, 31 trips to Iraq. Sara Sorcher (National Journal) interviews him about a number of topics including the State Dept's plan for police training in Iraq:

NJ Is there one project that, to you, symbolized the reconstruction challenges?

BOWEN Falluja in 2004 was the center of the Sunni insurgency, and it was also the site of the most serious bloodshed in battles in the entire Iraq war. In the midst of that conflict, the reconstruction managers decided to build a $30 million wastewater treatment plant. I understand that part of a counterinsurgency operation’s mission is to win hearts and minds through economic support. The lesson is: Don’t begin with the very biggest projects. We launched, virtually on the battlefield, the biggest project this province has ever seen. It ended up costing over $100 million and taking seven years to finish; it was supposed to be done in two and a half. It only serves one-third of the people it was supposed to serve.

It captures a lot of the challenges in Iraq: trying to do too much too quickly in an unstable setting and, as a result, paying the price both in waste and bloodshed. The Iraqis were supposed to carry out the last-mile piece. When it finally came time for that, they weren’t ready to do it. We had this nice system mostly complete but serving nobody because the Iraqis hadn’t connected it to a single house. So we had to come in with U.S. money and start connecting houses, and finally the Iraqis provided some support. That disconnect with the Iraqis happened over and over again, at every stage of the reconstruction program.

NJ Do you see parallels with the police-development program, in terms of figuring out if Iraq needs or wants the roughly $1 billion for that program next year?

BOWEN The failure to get sufficient Iraqi buy-in, literally and figuratively, for the police-development program … [is] occurring even this year. They have to say this is what they really want. The senior official in the Ministry of Interior told us that as the program was structured and being presented to him, it really wasn’t something that he needed.

Al Rafidayn reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani stated Wednesday that the US reposturing in Iraq may mean that the unresolved issue of Kirkuk remains undecided for a longer length of time. He vowed that the KRG will continue to call for a vote on the issue of Kirkuk. Per the Constitution (Article 140), the issue was supposed to have already been resolved. The 2005 Constitution explained that a census would be taken and then a referendum would be held. It was expected that the next prime minister (selected after the December 2005 elections) would oversee this since Article 140 mandated that these steps be taken no later than the end oof 2007. Nouri al-Maliki was installed in the spring of 2006 after the US rejected the Iraqi poltiical blocs' choice. Throughout his first term, Nouri ignored the Constitution. In 2010, during the long political stalemate, a desperate to hold onto the position of prime minister Nouri, swore the census would take place in December. In November he was named prime minister-designate. Weeks later, he called off the census.

Last night, we were noting how the US press is pissing off the families of service members who are being stationed in countries around Iraq and those who will remain in Iraq after December 31st by refusing to acknowledge these service members (or the risks families fear their loved ones will be facing). It's not difficult to set aside the lie that ALL troops are coming HOME. Unless you're just someone who loves to lie. Real reporters should be able to accurately capture the US military's resposturing. Doubt it? Here's veteran journalist Helen Thomas showing how it's done in the opening of her latest column "Why Iraq?" (Falls Church News-Press):

The U.S. is pulling its troops out of Iraq by the end of the year. Well, not quite.There will still be a large group of soldiers left behind to train Iraqis and to repair the war-damaged sites.
Now, will someone from the White House hierarchy, past or present, please tell the American people why we invaded Iraq in March 2003?
The truth and nothing but the truth - that will be the day. Why are we still speculating on the reasons we went to war in the first place, other than to hunt down and kill Saddam Hussein, the brutal Iraqi dictator, who was at one time a friend of the U.S.?

And we'll close with this from the Great Iraqi Revolution:

Iraqi community in America have organized a demonstration on the day of the visit of the Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki to the U.S. .
The demonstration will be held in December 12th 2011 at 10 am in front of the White House..
Please support us in this demonstration against the crimes of Al-Maliki regime in Iraq..

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