Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, January 18, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, is Nouri going after the Camp Ashraf residents, the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad comes under attack, Reider Visser has no legal background and should learn to stop trying to offer legal analysis unless he just enjoys looking like an idiot, and more.
Nouri al-Maliki is a liar.  He cannot be trusted.  He proves that with each passing day.  The Tehran Times reports:
Arrest warrants have been issued for 120 members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced in a televised interview late on Tuesday. 
During his remarks, Maliki described the MKO as a "terrorist" group and said the it has committed terrorist acts in Iraq and Iran for many years. 
He also reiterated the Iraqi government's decision to expel the members of the group and to bring an end to the issue.
That refers to the Camp Ashraf residents.  If true, Nouri has now violated his promise to the United Nations and to the United States.  If true, Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Armed Services Committee, and Senator John McCain, Ranking Member, need to follow up on what they were discussing in an open session at the end of last year.
Adnkronos International English reports Turkey's embassy in Baghdad was attacked today. Reuters quotes an unnamed Iraqi security official who states, "There were two Katyusha rockets.  The first one hit the embassy blast wall, and the second one hit the second floor of an adjacent bank." An unnamed Turkish embassy employee states there were three rockets. Today's Zaman provides this context, "The attack comes amidst a deepening political crisis between Turkey and Iraq. On Monday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned Iraq's ambassador to Turkey, Abdulemir Kamil Abi-Tabikh, to its headquarters in Ankara to inform him of Turkey's unease over recent Iraqi criticism, just a day after Iraq made a similar move regarding Turkey through Turkey's ambassador to Baghdad. Abi-Tabikh was summoned to the Foreign Ministry by the ministry's undersecretary, Feridun Sinirlioğlu, regarding Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's verbal assault on Turkey for what he characterized as interference in Iraqi affairs."   Euronews offers a video repot here which includes, "In Turkey the AK party's vice president blamed Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki for caring more about making aggressive speeches about his country than in protecting Turkey's embassy in his capitol."  Nouri unleashed the crazy on Turkey last Friday and his thuggettes in State of Law joined in the following day.  And Al Mada reported earlier today that the National Alliance (Shi'ite coalition -- Moqtada al-Sadr's in this group but if he has something to say, he generally sends out his own spokesperson to say it) accused Turkey of 'being on the side of the Sunni.'  A common trait in the English language press and the Arabic press out of Iraq: No condemnation of the attack from Nouri.
No condemnation of the attack from Nouri.  The Turkish Embassy just joined other targeted groups in Iraq that Nouri's gotten away with looking the other way on in all the years he's been prime minister.  It took non-stop outcries from the Vatican for Nouri to finally start offering his meager words when Iraqi Christians were attacked -- and even then, it has to be a major attack (more then 20 dead and/or injured) to prompt a remark from Nouri.  Journalists, Iraq's LGBT community, Iraqi women, so many groups targeted under his 'leadership' -- under his orders? -- and he says nothing.  Making clear to his thuggettes what's allowed and what's not.  And so it's been for six years in April.
Now the world sees how it works.  Nouri's lashing out is the early roll out, days later his surrogates attack. And how 'comforting' Nouri's silence must be to countries with their own embassies in Baghdad.  Reuters notes that the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued the following statement:
We strongly condemn the atrocious attack on our embassy and we expect the Iraqi authorities to arrest the attackers and take them before the court, as well as to take every necessary measure to ensure such an attack does not take place again.
And the attack on the embassy does nothing to improve Iraq's political crisis.   AFP reports Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi has declared the Erbil Agreement must be respected. The leader of the political slate that came in first in the March 2010 elections stated today that if Nouri can't honor the agreement, he must go: "If Maliki was not prepared to abide by the deal, then either his National Alliance should name a replacement premier who was prepared to or a caretaker administration should be installed to organize fresh elections, Allawi said."  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "In a press conference in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, Allawi, also the head of Sunni-backed parliamentary bloc of Iraqia, stressed that his bloc supports holding a national conference for the Iraqi political blocs if there is goodwill to solve the problems."  AP quotes him declaring at today's news conference, "Iraq is at a crossroads and I say that Iraq needs forgiving leaders, who will raise above their personal hatred."  Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) offers:
The country is experiencing its first crisis after the US withdrawal. The paralysis that has inflicted the political process is due to the deep disagreements between the State of Law coalition and the Al Iraqiya List and, to a lesser degree, between the Kurdish coalition and State of Law.
Signs of collapse of the political process and moves towards an overt confrontation between different political blocs could have been seen even on April 9, 2003. They have taken different forms ever since.
After the blow received by Al Iraqiya, in the form of the arrest warrant against Vice-President Tarek Al Hashemi, it is expected that Al Maliki will target other leaders in the same political bloc in order to remove them from the political arena.
Al Mada reports that Iraqiya has been meeting with the National Alliance and the Sadr bloc (the Sadr bloc is part of the National Alliance) and that they are supposedly close to ending their boycott of Parliament. They are reportedly asking that the issue of Saleh al-Mutlaq be addressed. He is the Deputy Prime Minister that Nouri wants stripped of his post.  Parliament has refused Nouri's request so far.  He can not strip anyone of their office without the approval of Parliament.  Yesterday at the US State Dept, spokesperson Mark C. Toner was asked about Iraq's ongoing political crisis:

QUESTION: But these arrests notwithstanding, Mark, there has been a more belligerent policy by Maliki toward the United States. We have seen it almost in every aspect of the application of policy -- by not filling the cabinet seats, by -- Allawi came the other day on a program and basically said that Maliki's driving the country down the abyss of a civil war. And so what is your position on that? What kind of negotiations are you involved in?
MR. TONER: You mean us directly with --
QUESTION: Yes. The United States of America.
MR. TONER: -- the Iraqis?
QUESTION: It was there for nine years. It invested $800 billion and so on.
MR. TONER: Look, we are -- as of December 31st, we've embarked on a new relationship with the Iraqi Government. There are bureaucratic elements of this relationship that need to be refined and worked out and obviously coupled with a very changeable security environment, that these individuals, that -- rather the Iraqi officials are trying to maintain security but also make sure that they're following the letter of the law. So I wouldn't read too much into these detentions, if you will. In terms of the broader political situation in Iraq, we've continued to press on senior Iraqi politicians the importance of dialogue to work out their differences, and that continues to be our message to them.
QUESTION: But you --
MR. TONER: And we obviously are talking to them on a daily basis. But this is --
QUESTION: Okay. Are you --
MR. TONER: Sorry.
MR. TONER: This is -- no, that's okay. This is an internal political situation. Our concern is that as it -- as they work through this process that it be done in a clear and transparent way that makes sense to the Iraqi people.
QUESTION: Yeah. But are you more in contact with the president of the country, Jalal Talabani, or with the prime minister of the country, Nuri Maliki? Because Talabani has been in Iraq trying to organize some sort of reconciliation conference, but apparently his sort of suggestions have been sort of dismissed by Maliki.
MR. TONER: Well, again, I think that we've --  it's incumbent on us to remain in close contact with all elements of the political spectrum.
QUESTION: Mark, Iraqi prime minister has decided today suspend the Sunni ministers from the government after boycotting its sessions. And a government spokesman, Ali Dabbagh, has said that the ministers are no longer allowed to manage ministries and all decisions that will be signed by them are invalid. How do you view this step?
MR. TONER: Again, putting it in the broader context here, there's some very clear tensions underway in Iraq on the political scene. They're working through these tensions. It's important that they continue, all sides of the political spectrum talk to each other and work constructively together.
QUESTION: But does this step help?
MR. TONER: Again, I don't want to -- I'm trying to put it in a broader context. This is an internal Iraqi political process, so it's important that --  it's less important our comment or opining on what's going on there and more important that they roll up their sleeves, talk to each other, and work through it.
That's very interesting and we will return to it later this week but in terms of what Nouri did yesterday -- barring Cabinet members, that was Nouri 'creating' a new power for himself. KUNA reports, "The Iraqi government has decided to prevent Iraqiya List's cabinet ministers, who boycotted cabinet meetings, from doing their job at their ministries."  Mohammed Tawfeeq and CNN note, "Iraqiya spokeswoman Maysoun Damluji said the Iraqiya bloc is not surprised by the prime minister's move, calling it unconstitutional and illegal.  She said it has become obvious that al-Maliki is not interested in sharing power."
She is correct, the move is unconstitutional and illegal.
Each branch has powers.  The Constitution recognizes three branches and it invests each with unique powers -- unique powers, not absolute ones.
So the Prime Minister-Designate (or Prime Minister if it happens after the transition) has the power to nominate people to be in his or her Cabinet.  This is not a power to be taken lightly.  The use of that power will demonstarte a great deal about the prime minister-designate in the 30 days period before he or she is replaced with another prime minister-designate or before he or she is transitioned to prime minister.
What does that time period say about Nouri?
Despite the fact that this was his second time naming a Cabinet (the US installed him in April 2006 after Iraqis wanted Ibrahiam al-Jaafari to be prime minister and the US government said no), so he should have had experience at it and known what to do, despite the fact that for eight months, he refused to step down and let Allawi have first crack at organizing a ruling coalition (as the Constitution specified; but screw the Iraqi Constitution when Barack Obama decides Nouri is his man), he was named prime minister-designate in November 2010 and couldn't come up with a full Cabinet.  In part, this was due to the fact that he'd created so many more Minister and Deputy Minister posts- he had to in order to come close to keeping all the promises he made in horse trading over the eight month political stalemate.
Nouri only had the power to nominate.  The Parliament has to vote and approve each nominee.  In this case, Parliament approved everyone nominated. 
The only obstacle was Nouri himself.
And he still couldn't nominate enough people.  He never should have been moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  Hopefully, a lesson will be learned from this.  Follow the Constitution.  If he can't name a Cabinet in 30 days, you don't make him prime minister, you name someone else to be prime minister.
Is it any surprise that someone who couldn't name a full Cabinet -- as required to by the Constitution -- would turn out to be such a hapless leader?  One who can't even stick to the budget? (In the US, law makers regularly go over budget -- that's not allowed in countries like Iraq or Kenya, you are supposed to meet the budget, it's not a goal, it is how much you will spend and no more than that.)  Is it a surprise that everything's falling apart under Nouri when he couldn't get it together as prime minister-designate?
Selecting nominees and creating your Cabinet is a very serious role of the prime minister.  It requires input and approval of Parliament.  If you're not up to the task, you could very easily end up with a number of ministers that do not work out.
Guess who that falls on?  The prime minister.
He or she nominated them and, if they're a problem later on, that goes to the judgment of the prime minister.  He or she is not allowed to fire them.  The prime minister can recommend they be removed from their post -- but Parliament has to agree.
Nouri's created the power to suspend lately.  There is no such power.  If you, as prime minister, made a mistake in selecting your Cabinet, you are required to convince the Parliament of that or else you're stuck with the decisions you made -- however poor and misguided they may or may not have been.
There is no power for the prime minister to bar or suspend a minister.  Doing so is preventing the minister from doing his or her job.  The only way a prime minister can prevent a minister from doing his or her job is to ask Parliament to strip them of their post and for Parliament to agree.
Nouri made his choices.  He cannot strip, suspend, bar, remove, any Minister.  He can ask Parliament to remove the minister from the post and, if Parliament agrees, then it takes place.  Otherwise, that person is a minister unless they die or decide to resign.  Nouri, per the Constiution right now, could suffer a no confidence vote in the Parliament and be stripped of his post.  And the Cabinet members could remain.  The Parliament could choose to leave them alone.
Reidar Visser has an analysis at Gulf Anlaysis.  He's wrong that it's "exactly one month" since Iraqiya announced their boycott.  They did not announce on the18th of December it was the 16th.  More troubling, he insists that a caretaker government cannot take place.  Really? 
That's cute.  Before he attempts to offer legal analysis in the future, somebody tell him it takes more than watching a few episode Judge Judy to know the law.  In other words, he needs to stick to what he thinks he's good at and I'll explain to him right now, the law is not what he's good at.  And I'll add that I'll be nice once and only once on this issue.
It is nothing for me to say "I am wrong."  It doesn't bother me too.  I walk into a room and expect everyone to know way more than me (most of my harshest press critiques are rooted in the fact that they know so much less than what their job requires).  But that's not true when it comes to the law.  I never had any modesty there. 
In terms of Iraq's Constitution, for some reason, in 2007, I felt the need to study it.  And have continued to -- that includes four hours with legal experts in London last week where we poured over the Iraqi Constitution, that includes lengthy conversations on a regular basis with friends in the French and British government, that includes conversations with friends in the State Dept.
I'm going to say it nicely once, "Find something you're good at and focus on that.  You're not good at the law.  Your lack of training and questionable logic skils are on full display when you try to handle the law."
Visser's argument is that a caretaker government can not be put in place in Iraq because it's not in the Constitution.  The Constitution was written while Iraq was obviously occupied.  Iraq's still not sovereign.  It won't be unless and until it's out of Chapter VII with the United Nations.  The IMF can impose practices and policies on countries and an argument can be made that nation-states under the IMF's control have lost their sovereignty.  That can be argued in court and it can go either way (in the court of public opinion, that opinion will always win). But we're not talking about the IMF, we're talking about the United Nations.  This isn't an austerity program that's been put in place because the country's government is thought to have spent too freely, this is a sanction that's been brought against the country and until it's resolved (either with Kuwait repaid in full or -- as Iraq wants -- with the UN letting them off the hook), Iraq doesn't have full sovereignty.  Any country with sanctions against them -- enforced sanctions -- is not really fully sovereign.   May 27, 1993, the UN Security Council passed resolution 833.  It remains in effect.  It has never been lifted.  For what the United Nations can do with regards to that, you're going to need to do a little more than watch Judge Joe Brown.
In addition, the Constitution does not exist to allow anyone person to assume the post of prime minster for life.  By Visser's illogical and wrong-headed reading of the law, that's what the Iraqi Constitution states.  He doesn't make that claim because he's not smart enough to walk it through.  Again, if you don't have a legal mind, you should not be making legal arguments.
By Visser's 'analysis,' Noui is currently governed by nothing.  Nouri can remain prime minister for all time if he's willing to dissolve the Parliament -- by Visser's argument that Visser didn't have the brains or tools to carry it out to the end point.  Visser makes that argument by reducing the two posts Nouri holds to one post.  Were Nouri stripped of his prime minister post tomorrow, Nouri would still retain a post -- he was elected to the Parliament.  He is an MP.  That does carry with it perks and obligations.   When you ignore those and when you have the post exist in isolation (which it does not), then you end up with a new Saddam.  A new Saddam can dissolve the Parliament.  A new Saddam can declare that elections will take place at some time in the future, when new Saddam decides it's safe but, in the meantime, new Saddam will appoint MPs to serve. And that's how Iraq never again has elections or needs elections.  The 'MPs' picked by the new Saddam name a president, etc. and nothing ever changes for the prime minister for life.
That's where Visser's 'legal' 'argument' leads.  He couldn't follow it through because he lacks the tools.  But that's where the argument he makes pulls to a stop. 
And that's another reason why his legal argument is not just 'interesting' but wrong.  Again, if you don't have the background, don't offer legal analysis.  I don't have a legal background in tax law which is why we rarely note tax resistance (Cindy Sheehan's discussing her tax resistance here).  It isn't one of my strengths by any means so I would never attempt to offer a legal opinion on it.  I wouldn't even talk about it from a legal perspective because I am so ignorant on tax law. 
It would be great if those untrained in Constitutional Law learned to stop presenting as "fact" their ill-thought out and ill-conceived fantasies.  This is me being nice with regards to the law. 
Law For Dummies, Visser, your first point is wrong.  And you might mean "extra-Constitutional" but a caretaker government is not unconstitutional.  For it to be unconstitutional it would either have to be forbidden by the Constitution -- in writing -- or it would have to go against a written law within the Constitution that would oppose it.  There is no such law opposing a caretaker government and there is nothing in writing outlawing a caretaker government.  Your second point is is idiotic as well as wrong.  (Did you miss the powers of the president -- who would name a replacement per the Constitution -- or the issue of not to exceed 30 days?) Your third point reminds me that you're tight with Nir Rosen.  Filth begat filth.  For those who've forgotten, Nir not only verbally attacked Lara Logan, he shared at Foreign Policy that Nouri should remain prime minister because Iraq needed an authoritarian hand.  And now I'm really wondering why I wasted my time on this idiotic 'legal' 'analysis' by the untrained and uninformed.
The Erbil Agreement is not unconstitutional.  That's a flat out lie and the kind of "logic" that someone untrained in the law would make.  Someone trained might argue that portions were this or that, they would not declare the entire thing unconstitutional.   One of its primary parts (and the most important to the KRG)  is that Article 140 of the Constitution be implemented -- the thing Nouri was supposed to have done in his first term but refused to.  Visser's refusal to recognize that or and his habit of only tossing out "unconstitutional!" when it benefits Nouri is especially telling.  
Visser reveals himself to be a fake further when he 'advises' Iraqiya should focus on the three empty security ministries because Nouri "would be infor severe international criticism if he should opt to continue with acting ministers indefinitely."  If he should?  How long does the Idiot Visser think a prime minister term is?  Nouri's already gone over year without filling those posts. 
We're done with Reidar Visser.  I'm no longer interested in his opinions.  He was a fool to try to offer legal but as I go back over these half-baked and idiotic 'conclusions' Visser presents, I'm left with either he's the most stupid person in the world or he's less than honest.  I'll go with the latter. 
He's friend Nir Rosen and that says it all.   I'm not interested in his hidden agenda or any more of his crap.  Sadly some idiots will link to him even idiots who don't realize that what's he's saying in this post goes completely against what they Tweeted about the Constitution and the process the day before.  I can't believe I wasted all that time reading through his garbage repeatedly.  Again, we're done with him.  And shame on anyone who links to the lunatic's 'legal analysis' in the future.  He's trained in history, somewhat in philosophy.  He doesn't know a damn thing about the law and, oh, does it show. 
Nouri al-Maliki has a second term as prime minister despite his State of Law coming in second in the March 2010 elections. He only has a second term because the US government strong-armed the KRG and others to back Nouri. The US promised that, in exchange for Nouri remaining prime minister, the other parties would receive certain things. These were outlined in the November 2010 Erbil Agreement (an agreement some parties have threatened to publish).  When this agreement was agreed to by all parties, it became a legal agreement and a binding one.  That's why there are signatures on it.
The Erbil Agreement ended 8 months-plus of Political Stalemate I which followed the elections. Though Nouri gladly abided by the prime minister aspect, once he got his post, he trashed the agreement. 
AyadAllawi Ayad Allawi
This is not the Iraq we were dreaming of when we fought dictatorship with tears, blood and sacrificies
Since last month, President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for a national conference to resolve the political issues. Iraqia TV reports Kurish Alliance MP Mahmoud Othman is stating that there will be a meet-up Sunday to make final arrangements for the national conference.
Tomorrow, Dar Addustour notes, Parliament is set to vote on seven bills. Those may not be final votes. (The Parliament engages in a series of readings and votes on bills.) This morning, Al Rafidayn quoted an unnamed source with Parliament's Integrity Commission saying that the Under Secretariat of Baghdad and the Contracts Manager will be arrested and charged with financial and administrative corruption based upon investigations the commission has carried out.  Alsumaria TV reports Riyad al-Adad, Vice President of Baghdad Provincial Council, was arrested today.
Returning to violence, Reuters notes 2 Kurds shot dead in Mandili, a Haswa sticky bombing last night which left a police officer and his wife injured, and, also last night, a Latifiya home invasion of a Sahwa member in which he and 3 of his sons were killed (three more were left injured).  BBC News identifies the Sahwa ("Awakeing," "Sons Of Iraq") as Mohammed Dwaiyeh.  Both BBC and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) report that the man's wife was also injured.