Saturday, December 15, 2012

Nouri attacks the press

With Iraq, the question more and more is: What story will the US media ignore today?

Nouri al-Maliki's closed down a TV station in Baghdad.  You might think that would garner some attention from the US media.  Wrong.

The Iraq Times reports that cable channel Baghdadi was surrounded by the Iraqi military on Friday and they forced everyone out and then shut the station down.  They also note that Nouri ordered the closure.  The Iraq Times reports that Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoon al-Damalouji declared today that Nouri is attempting to rebuild the Republic of Fear (a reference to the days of Saddam Hussein) and decried the closing of Baghdadiya TV.

That's very disturbing but the American media appears to think, "Ignore it and it will go away."  They thought that with Saddam Hussein's early days too.  Because the US government would never back a despot and a tyrant, right?  The reality is that a despot and a tyrant is more likely to be backed by the US government than anything else.  A Pinochet they will warmly embrace but an Allende they will actively work to destroy.  Nouri's already gone after the newspaper Al Mada. Fakhri Karim is being targeted by Nouri -- Nouri's office issued a statement this week attacking the Al Mada editor -- because Karim believes Iraq can be and should be everything outlined in the country's Constitution.  For that, for faith in Iraq's future, Karim is being publicly attacked by Nouri al-Maliki.

People leaving comments at the Iraq Times about the closure note Sabah al-Saadi had revelations about Nouri to make and they see the closure as a way to silence him.  As the week drew to a close, MP Sabah al-Saadi found himself suspended by Nouri's State of Law. That has not silenced him.   Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that today he accused Nouri and his staff of stealing public money and abusing power.  Citing documents noted in an Office of Financial Supervision report, al-Saadi says that, in the last six years, Nouri has managed to steal $42 million.  Kitabat notes that the accusations were made at a press conference held in front of Parliament.

Though Nouri may dismiss the accusations, it's worth recalling that the week started with accusations against Nouri.  Monday the Iraq Times reported Ahmed Chalabi was calling out Nouri's budget noting that Nouri's office alone has a budget eleven times greater than the budget for the Ministry of Planning. 

Tensions continue between Baghdad and Erbil over the disputed areas.  Nouri sent Tigris Operation Command forces into the areas and that kicked off a new crisis which lead to them engaging in a military stand-off with the Peshmerga (elite Kurdish military force under the command of the Kurdish Regional Government).  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani announced Thursday that a deal had been agreed to.  AP offers a strong analysis today of the disputes, the history and where things stand now.  You might want to even bookmark it because, as they note, distrust continues.  This is most likely not the end of it.

All Iraq News reports Nouri is verbally attacking the KRG President Massoud Barzani while Alsumaria reports Barzani states that Nouri has committed constitutional violations including by introducing the Tigris Operation Command into northern Iraq.  Barzani most likely refers to Nouri failing to get Parliamentary approval on command of the forces -- the Constitution requires that.  He may also be referring to the powers the Constitution left to the provinces, Nouri also violated that as well. But mainly, he refers to Article 140.  Nouri became prime minister in 2006.  The Constitution calls for Article 140 to be implemented to resolve the disputed areas (by census and referendum).  For six years now, Nouri has refused to follow the Constitution and implement Article 140. As the two exchange statements, you may be reminded that Jalal said on Thursday this was over.  It's back on (using the media to trade barbs) so that may call into question Jalal's confidence over the agreement supposedly reached as well. Even more so when you grasp that Barzani is stating Nouri is pushing a Kurdish-Arab war.

Al Mada explains this row is over Barzani's declaring the disputed areas are Kurdish, belonging to Kurdistan. If Nouri disagrees with that, you put it to rest by implementing Article 140.  Until you do that, you're just a whiner.  Al Mada's "Picture of the day" today is of a smiling Barzani and a smiling Moqtada al-Sadr (cleric and movement leader) shaking hands.  Meanwhile, Nouri's State of Law staged a walk-out during today's session of Parliament with Alsumaria explaining it was over a law on judges.

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Pacifica Evening News, Chocolate City, Iraq Veterans Against the War and NPR's Music page -- updated yesterday and today:

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