Monday, December 09, 2013

Tiny Nouri just gets smaller

Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission issued the following release last week:


        The Board of Commissioners (BoC) Member, Ms. Gulshan Kamal called on all international and local observation networks wishing to monitor the elections to submit their applications to register and accredit as  observers teams.

        Ms. Kamal said that all non governmental organizations (NGOs), including (organizations, networks and associations), as well as registered and licensed academic unions under the Iraqi law would be concerned to register and accredit at the IHEC as observes teams.

       She urged all observers to be neutral and non- partisan and enjoy objectivity and accuracy in reporting to add more credibility and transparency to the elections.

      The International and local monitoring teams participated extensively in the previous electoral processes which took place in Iraq. 

Correction: ***Today*** is the deadline for updating voter registration ahead of the (planned) April 30th parliamentary elections.  These will be the first parliamentary elections since 2010.  Sunni participation is expected to be down according to media outlets.  (This paragraph originally stated that the deadline was tomorrow.  Wrong.  It's today.  My apologies for my error. Alsumaria reports the deadline is today.)


Iraqi outlets can tell you, western ones play dumb.

In 2010, Sunnis turned out in huge numbers compared to their Shi'ite counterparts (Kurdish participation was similar to 2005's parliamentary elections).  Sunnis largely backed Iraqiya -- a non-sectarian slate, headed by Ayad Allawi.  (Shi'ites and others also voted for Iraqiya.)  It was a move towards a national identity and there was much excitement.

Until Nouri refused to step down as prime minister (his State of Law came in second to Iraqiya) and US President Barack Obama ordered that Nouri would remain prime minister and had US official in Iraq broker the extra-constitutional contract (The Erbil Agreement) that gave Nouri a second term.

Having had their votes dismissed, Sunnis are thought to be less likely to vote this go round.  (Shi'ite voting was down in 2010 due to a number of reasons including a rejection of leaders who had only offered sectarianism.)

It would be understandable for Sunnis to be disenchanted with a voting process that the US government can nullify at will; however, the media seems to be missing growing outrage expressed in Arabic social media by Sunnis.   An attitude's been emerging since Thursday that they will not be silenced or run from the polls and that they'd like to see their candidates win and force the White House to try to strip them of their votes again thereby exposing the continuing occupation.

If this continues, various political leaders -- Shi'ite and Sunnis -- won't have to keep urging participation because this will be a drive, an event, all its own.

Let's move to the topic of Nelson Mandela who passed away Thursday.  The Prime Minister of the KRG, Nechirvan Barzani, issued the following statement on Friday:

Today the world lost a great political leader who valued democracy and peace more than his own lost life in prison.
It is with the greatest sorrow we learned of the passing of Nelson Mandela, a man who personified the struggle for human dignity, equality and sense of justice.
Although he did not have a chance to visit Kurdistan, he felt strongly for the Kurdish cause and made it clear on several occasions that our struggle to survive and achieve justice was a universal call.
We also felt that we had many things in common with Mandela’s vision for his country. We admired his call for forgiveness, tolerance, non-violent political solutions, and truth and reconciliation.
For us, Mandela was a great reminder that years of imprisonment and suffering can be turned into tremendous strength for the greater good of the society, human dignity and a new source of inspiration.
The most important lesson I personally learned from Mandela’s life was to recognize past injustice and focus on future improvement of human conditions.
Mandela taught us that we can transform ourselves and our societies by doing what we humanly can to avoid revenge. By doing so he changed his his own country and most political leaders’ expectations. He taught the entire world that humility combined with determination can change the course of history in a constructive way.
Although we will be missing a great unifier, Mandela's words and deeds will remain with us for generations in the human struggle to provide a better prospect for humanity.

  We will miss a great advocate of democracy, tolerance and non-violence.

The KRG is the Kurdistan Regional Government -- three semi-autonomous provinces in northern Iraq.
Al Mada reports today on KRG President Massoud Barzani's remarks on Mandela.  Barzani hailed him as a significant figure in history who was a symbol of the struggle for justice, equality and human dignity.  He stated that Nelson Mandela taught everyone that we have the power to change both our society and ourselves.

Despite being prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki has still NOT issued a statement or remark upon Nelson Mandela's passing leading to multiple accusations in Arabic social media of racism on Nouri's part and tying that to the very poor treatment of Black Iraqis in the country today.

To be clear, his office is issuing statements every day, Nouri just doesn't seem to feel the need to note the passing of Nelson Mandela. His silence speaks volumes.

And he wonders why he looks so small and tiny, so very insignificant on the world stage?

Maybe spending $150 billion in US dollars to build stadiums across Iraq when you still haven't provided potable water (safe drinking water) or a working sewage system goes a long way towards explaining why you look so small?

Maybe it's not fair to complain?  Those stadiums will come in handy as the crumbling infrastructure means heavy rains turn into standing water and then flood waters.  When that happens, Iraqis won't have to run to public schools to seek shelter, they can go the stadiums.

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