Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Iraq: Vice presidents, violence, discussions

In 2011, Iraq slowly went from having three vice presidents to having only one in country.  Adil Abdul al-Mahdi and Tareq al-Hashemi were in their second terms (second terms started in November 2010). In the middle of May, the controversial decision was made to make Khodair al-Khozaei a vice president bringing the number to three.


Why did they need three?  Earlier, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had advocated for three.  And a third person was openly discussed, a Turkman.  Turkman are one of Iraq's minority populations.  The Shi'ites and the Kurd want to woo the Turkman in case the disputed Kirkuk Province ever comes to vote (as the Constitution's Article 140 said it should) to determine whether the Kurds (and the KRG) get the province -- the oil-rich province -- or whether it goes to the central government in Baghdad.

Article 140 calls for a census and a referendum.  The last census was 1997 and at that time Turkmen made up 17% of the population of the province.  That number could have increased or could have decreased but they are a significant minority in the province that could swing the vote on who gets control of Kirkuk -- if such a vote ever happened.  (Nouri was supposed to implement Article 140 in his first term but refused.  In the legal contract that gave him a second term, The Erbil Agreement, he also swore he would implement it.)

So the Kurds and the Shi'ites were wooing the Turkman.

Did the Sunnis kill the chances for the candidate.


They had Tareq representing them and weren't concerned about the issue.  The Kurds were supportive of the Turkman with Jalal being publicly supportive.

So what killed the candidate's chances?

Well the first name floated was a woman and Shi'ites (largely Nouri's State of Law) rejected the idea that a woman could hold the office.  Jalal had been publicly supportive but the Shi'ites said "no."  (The Talabani family is not new to the concept of female politicians and Jalal had female relatives in Iraq's last Parliament.)

Clearly the Turkmen believed the issue was sexism because they next pushed for a man (Aydan Aqso) and Jalal seemed on board.

But then, in April of 2011, Jalal suddenly rejected the idea.  He was reported under pressure from State of Law and the Iranian government.

Two Turkmen had been rejected -- one an informal nominee, the other a formal nominee.

After the formal nominee was rejected, 27 days after, Khudayr al-Khuzaie was named Iraq's third vice president.

He was not a Turkmen.  He was a Shi'ite, like Adel Abd al-Mahdi.  While al-Mahdi was from Iraq's Supreme Islamic Council, al-Khuazie was from Nouri's State of Law.

All of this served to make al-Khuazie a controversial nominee from the start.  Events only made him more controversial.  18 days after al-Khuazie was named a vice president, Adil Abdul al-Mahdi resigned his post.  Nouri had lied to get protesters off the street.  Nouri al-Maliki said if they would stop protesting and give 100 days, he would end the corruption.

He was never even going to try.

Nouri is a liar who stalls and stalls and hopes to exhaust his opponents.

With no end to corruption, Adel Abd al-Mahdi noted the government was not ending corruption or representing the people and he resigned as Vice President.

Which left Iraq with two.  As soon as the bulk of US troops were out of the country, Nouri went after Tareq al-Hashami.  He had Tareq's home surrounded by military trucks.  When Tareq (and Saleh al-Mutlaq, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister) attempted to go the KRG for scheduled meetings, Nouri's goons showed up, pulled both men off the plane, detained the two men for hours and then finally let them go and let the fly to the KRG.

The next day, Nouri's arrest warrant was issued for Tareq.

He was accused of terrorism.

Tareq never returned to central Iraq.  Though Jalal spoke big about Tareq having his support, under pressure from Nouri, Jalal's support vanished.  Fine, KRG President was (and still is) Massoud Barazani and he doesn't shriek or pass out (or suffer a stroke) when Nouri threatens and blusters.

So Tareq stayed in the KRG until going on to regional neighbors with a permanent home base in Turkey (though he's also welcome in other neighboring countries -- all except Iran).

A kangaroo court convicted Tareq using evidence obtained through torture and judges who'd held a press conference before any hearing took place to declare that they believed Tareq was guilty.

That's not how it works in Iraq according to the country's Constitution.

But according to the country's Constitution, while Tareq is vice president, he can't be tried anyway.  So you either wait until his term ends or you ask Parliament to strip him of his post.  Nouri asked them to repeatedly but Nouri couldn't get the votes needed which you can read as the MPs not believing Tareq was guilty.

That made al-Khuzaie all the more controversial.  Especially when Jalal had his stroke and left the country and al-Khuzaie assumed the role -- something he's only allowed to do for 30 days per the Constitution but, per Nouri, he's done it since December 2012.

Is al-Khuzaie still vice president?

By custom he is, if not by law.  al-Mahdi and al-Hashemi's first term did not end per the Constitution but when the new v.p.'s were finally named in November of 2010 (following the March 2010 elections) -- and the two were renamed to their posts.

By custom, al-Khuazie remains vice president until the next set of v.p.s are named by Parliament.  By custom, Tareq al-Hashemi remains v.p. until the next set is named.

With all that background (the history of modern Iraq is always complex), Josh Rogin (Daily Beast) speaks with Tareq al-Hashemi:

ISIS is only one small part of a larger Sunni revolt in Iraq that sectarian groups have been preparing for years, according to Iraq’s exiled Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi. And defeating ISIS won’t stop the greater battle.
“We shouldn’t look at this development of ISIS as apart from the uprising of the Arab Sunni provinces over two years,” Hashimi told The Daily Beast in an interview from Turkey, where he has been living since the government of Nouri al-Maliki purged him in 2012 by indicting him on murder charges, then convicting him in abstentia.
“The provinces have done a peaceful Sunni revolt against the oppression, the injustice, the inhuman conditions the Arab Sunnis have been suffering for years,” he said.

On the topic of ISIS, Yuka Tachibana (NBC News) takes a look at the group from the viewpoint of Sunnis in territory that ISIS or 'ISIS' controls:

When Sunni extremists seized control of Iraq’s second-largest city, many feared the militants would brutally brandish their new-found power and exert a reign of horror on the residents of Mosul.
One month later, it appears that most in the city are far from terrified, their biggest complaint a lack of electricity rather than explosive violence.
“We all thought ISIS fighters will hurt people, but they did not do so,” said shop owner Fahad, referring to militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). “It is 100 percent safe here. The only thing we suffer from is the lack of public services.”         

ISIS or 'ISIS'?  I don't believe that ISIS is in control of Mosul.  I believe Sunnis are. I believe ISIS fighters have already moved on to other areas (and done so with support of regional Sunnis).  That's my take and I could be wrong.  On that topic, I don't watch Bill Maher.

I'm not a self-loathing woman.

And you have to be to put up with his crap which he tries to pass off as 'jokes.'  They're not, he's a sexist pig.

As part of broad vista of Iraq coverage in June, Ava and I caught Maher's nonsense and noted it in "The media rediscovers Iraq (Ava and C.I.)" -- a piece Jim says notes coverage from over 70 outlets -- radio and TV, news and talk shows, etc -- that had covered Iraq in the week before Ava and I wrote the piece.  We were trying to give everyone a fair chance (Bill Maher, of course, failed -- he didn't even know Nouri was prime minister of Iraq and repeatedly referred to him as "president" -- and that wasn't apparently a one time thing, Ruth caught an episode this week and wrote "How stupid is Bill Maher?" about Maher calling Nouri -- still calling Nouri -- "president of Iraq.")

I loathe Bill Maher and that's the first time I've seen his show in years -- the first time I've ever seen his HBO show ever and you have to go back to the 90s for when I caught his show on ABC.  (I watched only due to being invited and I'd heard bad things about it so I watched to decide whether to do it or not.  I felt it reduced serious issues to punchlines, distorted the issues to get the cheap laugh.  I didn't do the show and I've never watched it since until last month.)

(For any Bill Maher fans who are heartbroken by my remarks, you can write them off by knowing that I think we need to take ourselves a little more seriously.  For example, I cringed at Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda's embarrassing performance on Stephen Colbert's show.  I really think the two made asses out of themselves and were very lucky that so many feminists looked the other way.  I don't think it was funny or cute nor do I think we -- women -- have come far enough to where so-called leaders of our movement can participate in that kind of garbage.  And I like Stephen as an actor in film and as a person -- I've only seen his current show when Jane and Gloria went on.  I'm sure I'll watch his talk show when he replaces David Letterman if he's doing it as Stephen and not as a character.)

I hear about the pig all the time and how awful he is to women on each episode.  But notice,  for example, Bob Somerby's on a kick about 'bad' reporters and talk show hosts -- he's really slamming Krystal Ball the hardest -- who dare to question Hillary Clinton's financials.  But I know for a fact that Bill Maher did it and mocked it.  So did Jon Stewart -- I saw Jon do it and it was funny and it was also non-sexist.  Bill's was sexist and Bob will never ever call out Bill Maher.  He will praise him over and over at The Daily Howler and then Bob's corrupt ass will look the other way and refuse to call out Bill Maher while trashing women like Krystal Ball who were just doing their jobs and exploring Hillary in a non-sexist way.

Bob's a pig.

Anyway, e-mails note Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's Paul Rieckhoff and journalist Glenn Greenwald were on Bill Maher's show and got into it.

Apparently, I'm supposed to weigh in.

What does that have to do with me?

On the Iraq section, the only one I'll comment on, as the e-mails have explained the responses, I clearly agree with Glenn that this is taking sides -- Barack's 'plan' is taking sides -- by supporting Nouri with weapons and troops.  Like Glenn, I believe a large part of what's taking place is not 'terrorism' but Sunni's rebelling against the occupation government.

Am I surprised Paul disagrees?

Not at all.

Am I surprised he would strongly disagree when Glenn made the statement about foreigners being the terrorists?

Not at all.

Paul's the founder of IAVA.  He's going to reject any suggestion that US forces were terrorists.

In terms of the Sunni resistance, I have been arguing what Glenn did for months now.

Why do I owe Glenn a damn thing?

I've gone up against Paul before. I'm not scared of calling him out -- check the archives.  But I actually have seen maturity in him (he's addressed issues that I felt came off sexist and he's shown real growth on that and I wouldn't accuse him of sexism today) and Paul tries to represent veterans of all stripes.  I am glad that we're able to note him positively these days.

If he again trashed Ehren Watada, I'd probably weigh in and it wouldn't be kind.

But why is it my job to defend Glenn Greenwald?

I've praised his earth shattering journalistic scoop.

I've defended him here when government officials have attacked him.

But people are going to disagree and I've already stated my opinion here for months.

If Glenn Greenwald needed 'someone to have his back,' as more than a few e-mails on this topic have suggested, I would do so.  But I don't know Glenn and he certainly does nothing to help Iraq or, for that matter, this site.

It's one thing if the government's attacking him but I don't owe it to Glenn to kiss his boo-boos every time he goes on a talk show and another guest disagrees with him.

Had Iraq not gone up in flames, we would have been noting Ed Snowden all last month -- the anniversary of his whistle-blowing.

But Iraq is our main focus.

In terms of Iraq on Maher's show, Glenn made a statement that Paul was going to reject.  If Glenn didn't know that, didn't grasp that Paul would not go along with the idea that US troops were terrorists, Glenn's not very smart.

I believe Glenn knew and was trying to be provocative.

And I do believe, honestly, that you can make the case that US troops committed terrorism in Iraq.  Clearly Steven D. Green -- plotting the gang-rape and killing of Abeer -- was terrorism.  Outside similar events, were US troops terrorists?

I think a case can be made for, for example, the assault on Falluja in November 2004 being terrorism.  But I wouldn't say the ground forces were terrorists.  I would say that the government officials overseeing the illegal war were terrorists.

Ignorance is no excuse under the law, I'm aware of that.

I'm also aware that people on the ground following orders do not have the same access to information that others may (I believe that was one of the points of the really bad movie Green Zone).

I also applaud anyone who looked the Iraq War and said "no" and became a war resister.

I do not condemn those who didn't.  Nor do I go around screaming "War Criminal!" at US troops.  (Steven D. Green and his crew committed War Crimes.)

Allowing enlisted people the right to say, "I will not participate in this illegal war?"  That means I also have to support someone else enlisted determining that they will participate and that they don't see it as illegal.

Everyone doesn't have to agree on everything.  I know people who served in the slaughter of Falluja and regret it and I know people who served in it and don't. I don't judge either of them harshly.  I do judge the people who planned it, the civilian leadership, harshly.  They are war criminals.

The US troops were misused, they were abused and that's still going on and always will.  The US government has a nasty history of turning their backs on the people they send to fight wars.

Glenn made a controversial statement, Paul disagreed with him.  I understand where Glenn is coming from.  I think Glenn needs to learn to aim a little higher.  The troops did not declare war.  They followed what they believed was right.  I'm not going to condemn anyone for that.

Some troops refused and I support their right as well and I defend them.

If Glenn were someone covering the Iraq War, I might have felt a need to weigh in.  Iraq's not his issue.  He condemned US forces who went to Iraq -- that is what he did and that is what Paul pushed back on -- and yet he didn't have the time or energy to even take a moment to praise a Jeremy Hinzman or Robin Long or Joshua Key or Darrell Anderson or Lt. Ehren Watada or Kim Rivera or Ivan Brobeck or Kyle Snyder or . . .

So his fight really isn't my fight.

Violence continues in Iraq.

National Iraqi News Agency reports Peshmerga "killed Mufti of Daash in Jalawla," a Saidiya sticky bombing left one police member injured, 2 Babil car bombings left 4 people dead and eight more injured, 50 corpses were found dumped north of Babylon, a Tuz Khurmato shooting left four "Turkmen youths" injured, 2 Kirkuk roadside bombings left three people injured,  and 1 corpse was discovered dumped to the "north east of Baghdad," and, dropping back to late last night, 1 military officer was shot dead in Jurf al-Sakar.  All Iraq News notes 2 corpses were discovered dumped "to the east of Baquba," 1 corpse was found dumped in Saydiya ("southwestern Baghdad") a Baquba sniper shot dead 1 police member and left another injured, and 2 bombings in "southwestern Baghdad" left five people injured.

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