Monday, May 19, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Monday, May 19, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's plans for a majority government fall by the wayside due to the inability of his State of Law to win enough seats in Parliament, allegations of fraud arise as the IHEC issues its (confusing) count, Nouri's War Crimes continue, talk of a confederation and not a nation may be growing, Iran wants Nouri to hand over the Ashraf community, and much more.

The April 30th election results are known. or are they?

Reuters reports, "Preliminary results on Monday showed Maliki won at least 94 seats, far more than his two main Shi'ite rivals, the movement of Muqtada Sadr, which picked up 28 seats, and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), which won 29 seats."  Press TV reports, "Results released by Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission on Monday showed that the premier’s State of Law alliance garnered 92 out of 328 parliamentary seats. Maliki’s bloc won 30 seats in the capital Baghdad alone and won the first spot in 10 out of 18 provinces overall, while his main rivals are said to have gained between 19 and 29 seats in total." Sinan Salaheddin and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports 92 as well and point out, "He will still need to approach other parties to piece together a broader majority coalition to get the first crack at forming a government as violence rages and instability grows."  Duraid Adnan and Tim Arango (New York Times) point out that these are "initial results -- still subject to challenges from various political parties" while stating Nouri won 93 seats.

They also note Saleh al-Mutlaq call for the United Nations and other international bodies to launch an investigation into election irregularities.  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

Spokesman for the Citizen Coalition, Baligh Abu Kalal confirmed on Monday that the coalition has recordings of fraud acts and breaking the locks of ballot boxes and what preceded that as the distribution of lands and the use of public money.

92 or 93 or 94 seats, it's not a winner.  Nor are Nouri's votes -- he ran for Parliament the same as everyone else -- particularly impressive.

The rush to praise him for basically standing still (State of Law got 89 seats in the 2010 elections) is rather surprising since the goal ahead of the elections for other Shi'ite parties was to break up into smaller groupings because it was felt that the 2010 elections benefited smaller political blocs.  He managed to prevent much of Anbar from voting.  Disqualifying cities such as Falluja from voting is preventing Anbar from voting.  This was not free and fair elections.  At one point, the US government was publicly insisting that if elections did not take place everywhere then the election would not be free and fair.  But that assertion disappeared as parts of Anbar were prevented from voting.  In many ways, Nouri's thuggish manner was on display in 2013 when he sought to punish Anbar Province and Nineveh Province by refusing to allow them to vote in March 2013 provincial elections.

The White House has privately claimed that it was only their efforts and those of the State Dept which allowed Anbar and Nineveh to finally vote in June 2013.

Apparently, the concern was never over the Iraqi people -- the US government's concern.  It was only over being embarrassed publicly by their proxy and puppet Nouri al-Maliki.  That's why the farce of letting sections of Anbar -- a highly populated and Sunni dominated province -- vote went over so well with hypocrites such as US President Barack Obama.

UNAMI issued the following today (yes, today -- they wrongly put "19 April" on it):

SRSG Welcomes the Announcement of the Preliminary Results of the Parliamentary Elections, Calls for Complaints to be Resolved through Legal Channels         

Baghdad, 19 April – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, welcomed the announcement by the Independent High Electoral Commission of the preliminary results of the Council of Representatives elections held on 30 April 2014.

“As the people of Iraq have now spoken, I call upon all elected representatives to work together for the future of Iraq”, he said.
He reiterated his appreciation of the work done by the Independent High Electoral Commission and recalled that all potential complaints and disputes should be addressed through the established legal mechanisms in a fair and transparent manner and without undue political pressure. 
Mr. Mladenov reaffirmed the United Nations’ readiness to continue working closely with the newly elected Members of Parliament in pursuing the necessary reforms aimed at further enhancing the democratic process and addressing the country’s priorities.

Ban Ki-moon is the United Nations Secretary-General.  His office issued the following:

The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement of the preliminary results of the Council of Representatives election in Iraq of 30 April 2014. He looks forward to the certification of the final results after all procedures have been completed, including the adjudication of possible appeals. The Secretary-General urges all political parties to engage constructively and in a timely manner in the process of government formation.
The Secretary-General is concerned about the security situation in Anbar province and urges the government of Iraq to ensure that military operations against terrorism are conducted in accordance with Iraq’s international and constitutional human rights obligations.

The Secretary-General condemns the deliberate flooding of the Abu Ghraib area and urges all sides to refrain from actions that result in displacement of populations or cause environmental disasters. He reiterates his appeal regarding the need to address the humanitarian needs of the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the ongoing fighting in Anbar Province.

Press liars are hailing Nouri as a winner.  This wasn't a win.  He stated his plan for an I-rule-alone government and not a power-sharing one.  By that goal, he lost.  He didn't get the votes necessary for that.  He doesn't even have enough MPs currently to be named prime minister-designate.

He barely improved on his 2010 standing -- despite all the fraud, the refusal to let some areas vote, the refusal on April 30th to open the polls in areas where he was expected to perform poorly -- instead his military sent people away.  And the polls there remained closed for half a day, only opening after noon.

He rigged the elections and he still came up short.  And that's not even factoring in that the results could change.  Or that one outlet says he got 92 seats in Parliament, another says 93 and another says 94 -- great job, 'Independent' High Electoral Commission in announcing the votes.

The custom now is to form a group -- the Constitution was tossed aside long ago -- so now the move will be to try to form groupings and blocs.  The one with the most seats in Parliament is supposed to have a member named prime minister-designate and then that person has 30 days to form a Cabinet.  That means nominating people and getting Parliament to vote for them.

Press liars love to lie for Nouri.  So when he fails to form a Cabinet, they lie and say the Constitution says nothing about a full Cabinet.  That's because it's obvious to any fool -- even those with press passes.  You move from prime minister-designate to prime minister solely by forming a Cabinet.  This is the sole test.  If you can do that, you're up to the leadership aspect.

If you can't do that, the President of Iraq names another person prime minister-designate.

A partial Cabinet is not meeting the requirement.

But that's the Constitution and the reality is that the United States picks Iraq's prime minister.

That's not written into the Iraqi Constitution.

But it's what they did in 2006 when the Bully Boy Bush administration refused to allow the Parliament to name Ibrahim al-Jafaari prime minister.  BBB insisted on Nouri al-Maliki.

In 2010, there was no way to give Nouri a second term.  Not constitutionally.

So Barack Obama's administration came up with a legal contract, The Erbil Agreement, to give Nouri a second term.

Barack spit on democracy and pissed on the Iraqi people with that one.

Despite voting in March 2010, the determination of who would be prime minister would come via a backroom contract -- brokered by the US -- that would give Nouri a second term.

It condemned Iraq.  Not just because it put Nouri in charge but also because Barack broke his word.  After his envoys insisted the contract had the full support and weight of the US government behind it (and Barack made that  promise to Ayad Allawi over the phone -- personally made it), the White House looked the other way as Nouri refused to honor his promises in the contract.

The contract didn't just say, "Nouri gets a second term as prime minister."

To get that, Nouri had to make promises to the various political blocs.  And he used the contract to get a second term and then refused to honor it, has his attorney declare it was illegal and the US government, Barack Obama, stabbed the Kurds in the back, stabbed Iraqiya in the back, stabbed the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq in the back, stabbed Iraqi Christians in the back . . .

You only believe Barack keeps his word if you're a partisan whore.

And it's disgusting to see those people lie about all the great things Barack's done in Iraq.

He's destroyed the country.

Not by pulling out.  (All US forces never left.)  But by backing a known thug who was known to run secret prison and torture chambers.  That's who Barack hopped into bed with in 2010.  Shame on him.

All of Iraq's current political crises stem from The Erbil Agreement and Nouri's refusal to honor the legal promises he made in that contract.

So maybe it's a good thing Jen Psaki didn't even mention Iraq in today's US State Dept press briefing.

But it's also difficult to talk about because the process has never been what it outlined in the Iraqi Constitution.

And few want to get honest about that.

A lot of hypocritical Americans want to point their fingers at the Iranian government and its influence on the proceedings but they're hypocrites and useless because they refuse to hold the US government accountable -- something which, by the way, is the expectation of citizenship in a democracy: Holding your own government accountable.

But there is little accountability for what this administration has done to Iraq.

Senator Robert Menendez was right to refuse to arm Nouri last year.  But the White House pressured and pressured and Menendez caved.

And now Nouri uses those weapons to terrorize the Iraqi people.

And why the hell would that be a surprise?

His first term was most noted for his running secret prisons and torture chambers.

Why would anyone be surprised that, given weapons, he would use them to attack the same Sunni population he was falsely imprisoning and torturing?

It's not a surprise at all.

The latest victims of Nouri's War Crimes?

National Iraqi News Agency reports 4 civilians were killed and five more injured from Nouri's bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods.

Those tolls aren't stagnant.  Every day they inch up a little more.  And while 10 or less of both the White House was willing to live with, this has now dragged on for over five months -- Nouri's assault on Anbar -- and the numbers have climbed with it which is why US Vice President Joe Biden raised the issue with Nouri on Friday.

Raising the issue doesn't wipe away the US government's complicity and participation in Nouri's ongoing War Crimes.  They are a partner in those War Crimes.  They continue to arm Nouri.  The US government is in violation of international law, of numerous treaties the US government has signed on to and in violation of the Leahy Amednment which prohibits pretty much all the actions the US government is currently engaged in with Nouri's government.  Prohibited actions include, but are not limited to, the training (in Jordan) that the US military is currently providing to Iraqi forces, the brigade of Special Ops who are providing intel and training to Iraqi forces (providing this from inside Iraq), the weapons the US government is sending Nouri and the drone information the CIA is providing Nouri with.

With Nouri killing civilians, those 'cooperations' and much more are outlawed by the Leahy Amendment.  By international law and the treaties the US government has signed off on, those 'cooperations' are aiding and abetting Nouri in War Crimes -- meaning the US government is legally a co-conspirator in the act of War Crimes within Iraq today.

Majeed Nizamaddin Gly (Rudaw) notes the ongoing assault on Anbar and offers:

Iraq has two choices: Keep fighting the Sunni insurgents in Anbar and hope it will not further edge the country toward a full-scale civil war; or respond to the Sunni grievances by allowing Sunnis self-rule and greater autonomy in the majority-Sunni province. Anbar is Iraq’s largest province, and a base for the largest insurgency movement since the withdrawal of US forces in 2011. 
 Iraqi government forces are already losing control over the Sunni areas, and the Shiite-led government forces are not likely to regain command anytime soon. So why not make it official and recognize the Sunni populated provinces as autonomous regions? 

That's not the only advocating today for  autonomy in Iraq's provinces.  The Kurdistan Regional Government is a semi-autonomous region made up of three provinces (according to Baghdad's central government but the KRG split one province up into two).  Daily Sabah reports:

A top Iraqi Kurdish lawmaker has urged the newly elected parliament to change the constitution to pave the way for the creation of an Iraq confederation.
"The House of Representatives needs to amend the constitution to allow a confederation because it is the ideal solution for Iraq's problems," Deputy Parliament Speaker Aref Tayfour said in a statement on Sunday.
"This [demand] is the right of the Kurdish people who have suffered for decades under successive totalitarian regimes," he added.

The move is one then-Senator Joe Biden advocated for up until early 2008.

Prior to the release of the voting results, Rudaw noted:

Iraq’s political groups appear headed for a showdown over whether Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki should stay for a third term, following the April 30 polls that his Shiite-led State of Law bloc says it swept.
In order to stay in his post, Maliki needs the support of the country’s powerful Sunnis and Kurds, as well as fellow Shiites that his party has alienated with its policies. But none appears ready to offer such support.
The Sunni al-Watania bloc said on Sunday it would not allow Maliki to stay in for a third term, the powerful Shiite Sadrist bloc said it was also opposed and the autonomous Kurds, who tried to engineer an unsuccessful “no confidence” bid against Maliki during his second term, have no love lost for the premier.
Iyad Allawi, head of the al-Watania bloc, said that a large part of the problems in Iraq could be resolved by replacing Maliki. Allawi said that Maliki staying in power was a “red line” for his bloc, which is not ready to allow it.

Notice how few outlets will note the above in their rush to declare a third term for Nouri a 'done deal.'  It may very well be a done deal but, if it is that, it's due to the fact that the US government is yet again insisting on Nouri for prime minister.  Abdul Rahhan al-Rashed (Arab News) offers this evaluation of Nouri's leadership, "Of course, the multitude of political powers, no matter how small they are, reflect the sorry state of Iraqi politics. The administration of Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki is to be blamed for the current situation. Although he stayed in power for eight years, he failed to help Iraqis reach reconciliation, particularly after the US pulled its troops out of Iraq. Instead of joining the Iraqis in broader and larger forces, it exercised the policy of exclusion and marginalization."  Duraid Adnan and Tim Arango (New York Times) offer a lengthy look at the results and note:

It was the United States government that gave crucial support to Mr. Maliki when he became prime minister in 2006, and again, though with greater reluctance, in 2010. Now, though, many argue that Mr. Maliki has divided the country, pursuing policies like the mass arrest of Sunnis in the name of fighting terrorism, that have heightened the country’s sectarian divisions and brought the country to the brink of another civil war.

The violence never ends in Nouri's Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Baghdad sticky bombing left 1 police member dead, a Ghazalliya bombing left five people injured, an Alsajlah bombing killed 4 people, an Ibn al-Atheer roadside bombing left three police members injured, an al-Rashidiya home invasion left 1 Lieutenant pilot officer dead, 2 Mosul roadside bombings left two Iraqi soldiers injured, and 5 corpses were discovered in Baghdad,

In other US government failures,  AFP reports, "Iran's judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani has called on his Iraqi counterpart to extradite exiled Iranian opposition members so that they could stand a "fair trial" in Tehran, media reported Sunday."  The exiled opposition refers to the Ashraf community.

As of September, Camp Ashraf in Iraq is empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty).  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9, 2013, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1, 2013.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.  In addition, 7 Ashraf residents were taken in the assault.  Last November, in response to questions from US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, the  State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Brett McGurk, stated, "The seven are not in Iraq."  McGurk's sworn testimony wasn't taken seriously.  Once a liar and a cheater . . .

The US government refuses to honor its legal obligation to protect the Ashraf community and Jonathan Winer, the person appointed to oversee resettlement  of the Ashraf community to places outside of Iraq, is either unable or unwilling to do the job.  While the foot dragging continues, the Ashraf community is at risk.  Maybe even more so when Nouri wants Iran to back him for a third term as prime minister?