Saturday, January 07, 2012

Nouri's insane, Moqtada's playing statesman and more

Nouri al-Maliki, if the US press didn't work so hard to shelter him, he'd be the laugh of all of America. In his latest bit of spin, Al Mada reports, Nouri took to the TV airwaves to proclaim he didn't want Tareq al-Hashemi to be arrested. But the Iraqi judiciary threatened him (Nouri) with arrest! This fantasy ignores the fact that Nouri was publicly attacking Tareq al-Hashemi (and Saleh al-Mutlaq) starting on Friday, December 16th (after his DC trip) and having their homes surrounded by tanks. It ignores that on Saturday the 17th, he took the airwaves of his attacks. It ignores that he ordered the plane they were flying to the KRG on, Sunday the 18th, stopped from taking off and the two men and the Minister of Finance pulled off the plane with all their bodyguards. It also ignores that on Monday, March 19th, the warrant was finally issued by the court.

Nouri's such a bad liar. He kicked off the political crisis with those actions. The political crisis finally got the US government to sort-of acknowledge Political Stalemate II which had gripped Iraq since December 2010.

The winner of the political crisis thus far is Moqtada al-Sadr who has used the crisis very well. He's struck poses of maturity and leadership. He's made comments that Nouri should have but wouldn't. He's publicly maintained the Constitution is the law of the land. He's publicly maintained that it is in the interest of the country for all parties to be part of the solution. He's distanced himself further from the League of Righteous. I'll leave it to others to determine the sincerity of his moves but it's a different Moqtada he's been presenting to Iraq. He really wanted to be prime minister in 2010. In 2011, he's acting like he is.

His latest move? Aswat al-Iraq notes that he's calling for Iraq to open an embassy in DC.

While Moqtada distances himself from the League of Righteous, Nouri al-Maliki flirts with them. Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) reports:

The group says it wishes to run in local and parliamentary elections and is willing to hand over its weapons. “They want to join the political process,” said Amer al-Khuzaie, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's adviser for reconciliation. “The government will not buy up the group's weapons, but we are ready to take them if they want us to.”
The group carried out lethal attacks on the remaining US bases in Iraq last June. Mr Sadr, who has denounced the sectarian killings carried out by Shia militiamen acting in his name, says that Asaib Ahl al-Haq still has Iraqi blood on their hands. Mr Maliki may wish to split the Shia militia movement that only grudgingly gave him the support he needed to remain prime minister in 2010.

Jack Healy (New York Times) discovers Iraq's Constitution via an unnamed Western official. Perhaps the official could have quoted it to him so that Healy's article could be stronger. Nouri continues the broadcast of show confessions on TV. This started becoming especially popular on Iraqi TV when Nouri became prime minister (2006). Healy observes:

But to many Westerners, the rituals are inflammatory and even illegal, symptoms of a politically tainted justice system that still relies on confessions, many coerced, as much as physical evidence despite millions in American aid and legal training programs.
The prisoner displays are also sharpening the political and sectarian tensions that plunged Iraq's government into disarray immediately after the American military withdrawal in December. When officials from the country's Shiite-led government announced an arrest warrant against the Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, they played videotaped confessions from three bodyguards who accused Mr. Hashimi of personally running a death squad against police officers and political rivals.

It's a better article than I'm giving it credit for but I'm so tired of this nonsense. Why does a country have laws if they're not applied? Or worse, if they're only applied to the poor? Nouri takes an oath to follow the Iraqi Constitution. When he violates that oath, it should be news and it should be called out.

However, it's Al Mada that's carrying the story about Nouri breaking the Constitution re: the Cabinet.

Adel Berwari is an advisor to Nouri. Al Mada quotes him explaining that Nouri doesn't have the power to replace ministers of the Cabinet. No, he doesn't and we pointed that out this week while others played dumb. The New York Times is still playing dumb even when Nouri's own advisor goes on the record stating Nouri doesn't have that power, that the Constitution does not grant him that power. Goodness. Where have we heard that before? Oh, yeah, the snapshot Wednesday:

Today Nouri manages to break the Constitution again. Khalid Al Ansary and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) report that he placed "all eight government ministers from the Sunni Muslim-backed al-Iraqiya alliance on leave" according to his spokesperon Ali al-Musawi. Where in the country's constitution does that power exist?
Oh, right, it doesn't. Those eight ministers were confirmed in their posts by Parliament (in other words they're not 'acting' anything, they are the ministers, per the Constitution). His only power after a minister is confirmed by Parliament? Outlined in Article 75:
The Prime Minister is the direct executive authority responsible for the general policy of the State and the commander in chief of the armed forces. He directs the Council of Ministers, and presides over its meetings and has the right to dismiss the Ministers on the consent of the Council of Representatives.
He is not allowed to strip a minister of their post without the consent of Parliament. Iraqiya has been boycotting the Cabinet and Parliament -- this started last month over the failure of Nouri to live up to the Erbil Agreement that ended the eight month political stalemate following the March 2010 elections. If Nouri now wants the ministers dismissed -- for any reason -- he needs to go to Parliament.
He has no right to put them on "leave." There is nothing in the Constitution that gives him this right. Per the Constitution, a Minister can only be stripped of their post (which would include their duties) if the Parliament agrees to it. The Parliament still hasn't set a date on hearing Nouri's demand from last month (December 17th) that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post. They certainly haven't agreed to strip eight ministers of their post.

He can't fire them, he can't put them on leave, he can't even appoint an 'acting' legally. Read the Constitution. Why was it written if no one's going to follow it and no one's going to read it? What was the purpose of all that time spend on producing the document if it's nothing but something to be placed in a glass case now?

Let's go through it one more time. The prime minister-designate puts together a Cabinet. That's a serious obligation on the office. Nominees to be carefully chosen. Once chose, they are presented to the Parliament which votes on each nomination. After that, the only way they leave is they resign (or die) or the prime minister and the Parliament agree the minister needs to go. That's it. There are no other options. That's why it's important that a prime minister-designate (or a prime minister if he or she is picking a replacement later in his or her term) carefully consider who they nominate. Barring death, resignation or being stripped of office, that minister is on the Cabinet for the duration of the government. There is no "I put you on leave." There is no "I'm handing your folio over to him/her."

If the person is not qualified -- if the Parliament and the prime minister agree on that -- then the person is stripped of their position. Otherwise, they continue in their role until the next government is formed.

Nouri wants to create powers that he doesn't have and the US press wants to treat that as normal. I remember in 1979 when Saddam Hussein started ignoring the Constitution to attack the country's Communist Party. And I remember the US press having no interest in that. That's how thugs become despots. They take, they steal, they circumvent the law and yet all the watchdogs that are supposed to provide oversight -- including the press -- choose to treat the actions as normal.

We're going to note the violence and that's it. There's a lot more and I planned to cover it. But I'm just not in the mood. We refuse to learn. We refuse to because we waste all of our time propping up whatever suck-ass, pathetic politican we've lined up behind (like David Shorr enlisting in the Propaganda War on behalf of Barack). And we're so busy with that bulls**t that we're unable to focus on what really matters. The Iraqi people really matter. What did protesters tell CNN last month? They begged CNN not to leave Baghdad's Tahrir Square. Why? Because when the press left, Nouri's forces would attack the protesters. (And did.) Across the world, we all have the power to shine a light on what's going in Iraq. And shining that light might mean one or two people live this month or next. It might mean that people in a country the US destroyed get half-a-chance at rebuilding their lives. But instead of doing the right thing, instead of owning what our government did, we rush to deny it and we refuse to pay attention. And as we rush out with insulting remarks of 'someone turn off the lights' (as though Iraq is now empty?), we shine no light on what the Iraqis are going through and Nouri -- like Saddam before him -- can do whatever he wants and know that the world isn't watching and, most importantly, that the world just doesn't care.

But don't worry, the David Shorrs made sure to defend Barack today. They failed to protect the people who really need help, the people whose lives were destroyed by this country, but hey, they whored for Barack so doesn't that count for . . . nothing.

Reuters notes 1 corpse (woman) was discovered in Muqdadiya, a mosque in Mosul was invaded (that is so disgusting and so disrespectful) and 1 person was shot dead in the process ("an off-duty policeman"), a Mahmudiya roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left twenty people injured, a Baquba car bombing claimed 1 life and left three people injured, and, dropping back to Friday for the last two, a Balad attack left two Iraqi soldiers injured and a Tarmiya bombing claimed 2 lives.

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