With a lot of news out of Iraq, the item that might have the biggest impact is regarding Tareq al-Hashemi. Karzan Sabah Hawrami (Bas News) reports the Sunni politician is said to be planning "a new political party headquartered in the Kurdistan Region." This, Bas News states, would set him up as the voice of the Sunnis in Iraq because he believes that brothers Osama al-Nujaifi and Atheel al-Nujaifi have lost the support of Sunnis. Atheel is the Governor of Nineveh Province (whose capital Mosul remains under the control of the Islamic State) and Osama is the former Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament who is currently one of Iraq's three vice presidents.
Tareq al-Hasehmi served two terms as vice president of Iraq. During his first term, he incurred the wrath of thug and then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a number of reasons including noting the living conditions in Iraqi prisons and the fact that those in prison either had long waits before they appeared in court or had never appeared in a court before. And he didn't just speak out about this, he toured the prisons, inviting the press to accompany him.
He also spoke out about the torture and abuse taking place under Nouri al-Maliki.
And he noted that the Iraqi government had a financial responsibility to help neighboring countries -- Jordan, Lebanon and Syria -- who were taking in the bulk of Iraqi refugees.
Nouri's first term was followed by a political stalemate which lasted over eight months. The 2010 elections saw Nouri's State of Law lose to Iraqiya -- which was led by Shi'ite Ayad Allawi and which Tareq was apart of (as were the al-Nujaifi brothers, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq and many more). Nouri refused to step down. For over eight months.
And during this period, he had the nerve to accuse Tareq of acting illegally.
Tareq was carrying out plans from 2009 to visit neighboring countries.
Nouri declared these visits were illegal and that Tareq was not a vice president (which would mean Jalal Talabani wasn't president either nor was Iraq's other vice president -- we'll get to him in a moment). Nouri made this claim as his own term was over -- expired, yes, but also over due to the election results.
The western press chose to deal with this drama by ignoring it.
So they also missed out on Adil Abdul-Mahdi declaring Nouri's remarks ridiculous. Adil Abdul-Mahdi had served as Iraq's other vice president since 2006 along with Tareq (Adil is a Shi'ite). It was left to Adil to point out (without naming Nouri) that, due to the political stalemate, the Parliament was not meeting and therefore could not name a new president or new vice presidents and that, for stability purposes, he, Tareq and Jalal would have to continue in their roles until the Parliament named successors.
Iraqiya itself spoke to the illegitimacy of Nouri's second term.
Its very existence was a reminder that the voters had not chosen Nouri. Nouri got a second term via a contract the US government brokered which was The Erbil Agreement -- it went around the voters and the Iraqi constitution to deliver Nouri a second term.
When Nouri used the contract to get his second term but refused to honor the promises he made in that same contract, Tareq was one of the first to call Nouri out and demand that contract be honored. He was joined by Ayad Allawi, Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, KRG President Massoud Barzani, and many others.
As summer (2011) turned to fall, the demands grew louder.
December 2011, saw a drawdown where most US troops left Iraq (many -- over 15,000 -- to go to Kuwait). The drawdown was completed December 15th and Nouri began going after his political rivals. Two days later, December 17th, Liz Sly (Washington Post) was reporting that Iraq was "unraveling faster than had been anticipated Saturday." Adding, "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders."
Tareq al-Hashemi, many outlets wrongly reported, fled Iraq and fled because he was going to be arrested.
That's what happens when you drop in on Iraq and drop out.
You miss the time line because you weren't paying attention.
Sunday December 18, 2011, Tareq al-Hashemi and Saleh al-Mutlaq, along with bodyguards, attempted to leave out of Baghdad International Airport for the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government -- three semi-autonomous provinces in Iraq). Nouri's forces pulled all off the plane and detained them for approximately an hour before allowing some bodyguards and al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq to reboard.
From that day's "And the war drags on . . .:"
AFP reports, "Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and several of his bodyguards were escorted off a plane at Baghdad airport on Sunday because two of the guards were wanted on 'terrorism charges,' officials said, the latest step in a deepening political crisis." Also on the plane was Saleh al-Mutlaq, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister whom Nouri has asked Parliament to strip the powers of. al-Mutlaq was also forced off the plane.
After being detained, the two were allowed to re-board the plane and travel to the KRG.
The next day, December 19th, Nouri issued an arrest warrant for al-Hashemi whom he charged with 'terrorism.' From that day's snapshot:
CNN reported this afternoon that an arrest warrant had been issued for Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi by the Judicial Commitee with the charge of terrorism. Omar al-Saleh (Al Jazeera) terms it a "poltical crisis" and states, "The government says this has nothing to do with the US withdrawal, that this has nothing to do with the prime minister consolidating his grip on power. However, members of al-Iraqiya bloc, which Hashimis is a member of, say 'No, [Maliki] is trying to be a dictator." Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) observes, "The arrest warrant puts Mr. Maliki on a possible collision course with the Kurds, who run their own semiautonomous region in the north and participate in the central government but have longstanding disputes with Baghdad over oil and land; and with Sunni Arabs in provinces like Anbar, Diyala, Nineveh and Salahuddin who have pressed in recent weeks for more autonomy from Baghdad with the backing of the Kurds."
Tareq was already in the KRG when the arrest warrant was issued.
al-Hashemi did not 'flee' to the KRG. He went there on business and could have been stopped if Nouri wanted tos top him. A day after he arrived, an arrest warrant was issued and he elected to remain in the KRG. He was the guest of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and KRG President Massoud Barzani.
Because Jalal is spineless, Talabani quickly caved and withdrew his support. Massoud Barzani has a spine and he never caved and stated that the KRG would host Tareq and would not turn him over to Baghdad.
For all the lazy and useless who weren't paying attention, we'll drop back to December 24, 2011 for this:
Mustafa Habib (Al Mada) notes that Nouri al-Maliki's targeting Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi with terrorism charges and calling for Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq [to be stripped of his office] have many noticing that both are members of Iraqiya and political opponents of Nouri and that while the political crisis has revealed a diminished role for the US it has underscored that the Kurds remain the heart of the country's political process. Dar Addustour reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi announced the postponement of the scheduled meeting yesterday of the political blocs while Nouri's spokesperson floated the notion that there are other charges waiting in the wings. Reportedly this includes charging the Minister of Finance, Rafie al-Issawi, with terrorism, specifically with killings in Falluja back in 2006. Like Tareq al-Hashemi and Saleh al-Mutlaq, Rafie al-Issawi is a member of Iraqiya. Dar Addustour also notes Hoshyar Zebari, Foreign Minister, issued a statement declaring the matter should have been resolved by the political blocs but has instead played out in the press. Al Mada adds that Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani and US Ambassador James Jeffrey spoke yesterday and are calling for a meeting among the political blocs and that State of Law was whining about the Friday meet-up, whining that Iraqiya is boycotting Parliament but they want to attend the meet-up. Aswat al-Iraq notes, "Iraqiya bloc leader Iyad Alawi described recent events in Iraq as 'liquidation of differences', warning an explosive era waiting Iraq in the coming days, according to an interview with Arabia TV late yesterday (Friday)."
So the liars, whores and idiots, please stop your nonsense about today's issues in Iraq all being the fault of Bully Boy Bush. BBB is a War Criminal. He is responsible for an illegal war being started. He is not, however, responsible for the current crises in Iraq -- all of which were public for years and festered while Barack chose to look the other way (and to continue to arm Nouri al-Maliki -- against international law as well as US law).
Thursday, February 16th 2012, an incredible act of judicial abuse took place as the 'independent' Supreme Court in Baghdad issued a finding of guilt against Tareq al-Hashemi. Was a trial held? Because Article 19 of Iraq's Constitution is very clear that the accused will not be guilty until convicted in a court of law. No. There was no trial held. But members of the judiciary -- who should damn well know the Constitution -- took it upon themselves not only to form an investigative panel -- extra-judicial -- but also to hold a press conference and issue their findings. At the press conference, a judge who is a well known Sunni hater, one with prominent family members who have demonized all Sunnis as Ba'athists, one who is currently demanding that a member of Iraqiya in Parliament be stripped of his immunity so that the judge can sue him, felt the need to go to the microphone and insist he was receiving threats and this was because of Tareq al-Hashemi, that al-Hashemi was a threat to his family.
Having already demonstrated that they will NOT obey the Constitution, the judiciary then indicated -- via the judge's statement -- a personal dislike of Tareq al-Hashemi. What they did that Thursday was demonstrate that Tareq al-Hashemi had always been correct in his fear that he would not receive a fair trial in Baghdad.
Nouri's regime kidnapped Tareq al-Hashemi bodyguards as well as at least two other employees. In February 2012, Tareq noted that his bodyguards had been tortured and that he was in possession of photos demonstrating the torture. Al Jazeera quoted him stating, "We have pictures of bruises on their faces and bodies." AFP quoted him in full, "All the arrested people from my bodyguards and the employees of my office are being held in secret prisons over which the ministry of justice has no authority, and confessions are being taken from them through torture. We have pictures and evidence proving that the bodyguards were tortured, physically and psychologically." CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq reported:
Al-Hashimi criticized the investigation, saying, "How come they finished investigating 150 cases against me and my bodyguards within a few days?
"Where did my bodyguards plan for these 150 attacks? On the surface of the moon?" he asked.
Only AFP noted that employees of Tareq al-Hashemi, besides bodyguards, are also being held. January 30th, Amnesty International issued a call for "Iraqi authorities to reveal the whereabouts of two women arrested earlier this month, apparently for their connection to the country's vice-president. Rasha Nameer Jaafer al-Hussain and Bassima Saleem Kiryakos were arrested by security forces at their homes on 1 January. Both women work in the media team of Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi" and quoted Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, declaring, "The Iraqi authorities must immediately disclose the whereabouts of Rasha al-Hussain and Bassima Kiryakos. At the very minimum they should have immediate access to their family and a lawyer." The alert noted that, in the middle of the month, Bassima Saleem Kiryakos phoned her husband to say she was being released, but she was not heard from again and that, in December, she was also taken by Iraqi security forces and beaten.
Moving on to the March 22, 2012 snapshot:
Tareq never should have been tried. Any trial was illegal. Until 2014, he remained one of Iraq's vice presidents. Nouri tried to get the Parliament to strip him of his role but they refused. He could not legally been put on trial while in office unless he was stripped of his office per the Iraqi Constitution. He was tried in absentia. His attorneys request that Jalal Talabani testify (and Talabani agreed to testify) was refused by the prejudiced judiciary which had already announced his guilt months before the trial began.
Tareq may very well become the Sunni leader of Iraqi Sunnis. And he could do so with or without stepping into Iraq proper.
The two most prominent Sunnis today are Osama and Atheel -- the brothers power is symbiotic -- feeding off one another.
Atheel's power was slipping when he had the fortune of Nouri al-Maliki calling for him to step down as governor of Nineveh Province. When Nouri made that demand the Sunni response was to close ranks around Atheel and this solidified not only Atheel but also Osama (who was Speaker of Parliament at the time). Saleh al-Mutlaq is a Sunni leader in disgrace with repeated calls for him to appear before Parliament on corruption charges. The only real Sunni leader in Iraq today is the combination of the al-Nujaifi brothers.
Tareq's trial means guilt and innocence aren't even an issue. The trial itself should not have happened. Sunnis are aware of that. The smartest thing 'new' prime minister Haider al-Abadi could have done was asked the judiciary to toss aside the verdict (actually verdicts -- the court got a bit excessive and sentenced Tareq to death -- sentenced him to death several times -- at last count, he was sentenced to death five times by the court) or else issue a pardon.
He did neither.
He failed to address the issue.
And now Tareq is taking his own steps.
Hawrami notes, "Al-Hashemi recently criticized PM al-Abadi for taking the Shiite militia groups under his authority as he believes that they cannot protect all the Iraqis, indicating the necessity of forming a Sunni force in Iraq to protect the Sunnis."
And that sort of criticism will resonate with the Sunni community.
From Iraq's former vice president to the United States' current one Joe Biden. Joe gave a speech on Thursday -- here for the full text, here for our criticism of some of it.
Yasmeen Sami Alamiri (Al Arabiya News) weighs in on the speech:
Last week, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said that while facing the ongoing threats of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the only way forward is with a strong, united Iraqi government, free of factions and sectarian divisions. The sentiment is not a new one—in fact, it is the cornerstone of the administration’s policy on Iraq—keep Iraq united to keep Iraq strong. However, for Biden personally, the policy which he now champions is a far cry from his push for the federalization of an Iraq broken into Sunni, Shia and Kurdish zones.
Biden’s speech Thursday at National Defense University in Washington DC, framed itself as almost a parting address on the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama’s policies on Iraq, as the administration enters the final phase of its term. The farewell speech on Iraq is likely not nearly as romantic or optimistic as either Obama or Biden would have hoped—both now say they opposed the initial war in Iraq and both were eager to see it end.
The unfortunate reality, however, is that nearly 13 years into the conflict; the United States is still needed in Iraq—now more than ever because of the grave threat that ISIS poses in the oil-rich country. In his remarks, Biden assures “for all the years I spent in dealing with Iraqi public officials in the Iraqi Government, we knew for certain without a united Iraqi Government, there was no possibility, none, of defeating ISIL [another abbreviation for ISIS].”
The rave endorsement for a united Iraqi government came just days before Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi makes his first visit to the White House in his current capacity.
Yerevan Saeed (Rudaw) notes Kurdish reaction has been mixed between ridiculing Biden over his comments regarding one-united Iraq and bemoaning Joe walking away from his 2006 plan for a federation in Iraq composes of three regions:
“Shia don't want to be ruled by Sunnis, Sunnis don't want to be ruled by Shia, Kurds don't want to be ruled by Arabs. Iraq unity is a joke,” was the online response Biden received from one Kurd.
“We want what Iraqis want: a united, federal and democratic Iraq that is defined by its own constitution, where power is shared among all Iraqi communities, where a sovereign government exercises command and control over the forces in the field,” Biden said in his remarks at the National Defense University in Washington.
In 2006 when he was Senator, Biden proposed a bill asking for the creation of three regions in Iraq, divided along ethnic and sectarian lines, as solution for the continued bloodshed in the country. The plan called for three Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions.
[. . .]
Another twitter user named Andrew Thiel reminded Biden of his 2006 plan: “When Joe Biden said we should split Iraq into 3 countries, sunni, shiite, and kurd, I said it was an idea worth exploring.”
Of Joe's Thursday speech, Xinhau reports:
Vice President Joseph Biden said on Thursday that U.S.-led airstrikes have helped Iraqi forces halt the offensive by the extremist Islamic State (IS) group in the Arab country, with its "aura of invincibility" pierced.
"The jury's still out," Biden said at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. "It's not over yet, but the momentum is in the right direction."
The right direction?
IANS reports the Islamic State executed 33 people in Ramadi. and that:
ANI adds, "An Iraqi provincial officer has claimed that the Islamic State (IS) has captured several districts in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, in a recent hour-long attack, killing 10 Iraqi troops and wounding Genneral Qassim al-Muhammadi, the head of the Iraqi military operation in Anbar province." Anadolu Agency reports the Islamic State has blown up Albu Farraj Bridge which "connects Ramadi city with the international highway."
It was all supposed to be so different. Erin Cunningham and Mustafa Salim (Washington Post via Stars and Stripes) report:
In a visit to Habbaniyah air base in Anbar on Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had vowed to defeat Islamic State militants in the province. Pro-government forces claimed victory over the jihadists in the northern city of Tikrit last month. It marked a serious blow to the group, which seeks to capture and hold territory to build its version of an Islamic caliphate.
But in Ramadi, the battle raged on at least two fronts on Friday — and the government was losing ground, officials said. The militants already control most of the province.
The battle over whether or not Ramadi and Anbar Province should have been the next target continues despite the start of operations in Anbar, Nancy A. Youssef (Daily Beast) notes:
U.S. officials are urging Iraqi forces to keeping fighting north along the Tigris River and while Iraqis want to shift toward the Euphrates, two military officials told the Daily Beast. At issue is what is more important—going after a major Islamic State stronghold or expanding the security buffer around the capital, the nation’s economic and political keystone.
The decision over which target to attack has deep implications in Washington and Baghdad. Attacking to the north, towards oil-rich Baiji, could keep the hard-won momentum against ISIS rolling, but any setback could be crushing for the still weak Iraqi forces. It would also leave Baghdad’s western flank exposed. Attacking Anbar instead would secure that flank, but could also stall the larger campaign, leave Kurdish troops and American fighter jets battling ISIS practically alone, while strengthening Iranian-backed militias’ influence in Baghdad.
From Biden to Barack, Tariq Alhomayed (Asharq al-Awsat) offers:
The reality is that Obama has an incorrect view of the region, and this is something that has become increasingly clear since he took office. He is always wrong on our region, and has made the biggest mistakes here, and these mistakes have had major consequences.
Obama rushed to withdraw from Iraq, and now here we see him returning once again. He played down the Syrian revolution and Assad’s crimes. He talked about “red lines” but Assad has crossed each and every one of these, while Obama has done nothing. He played down the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) only to subsequently be forced to acknowledge the reality of the situation, although he still had enough time to blame his country’s intelligence services for failing to realize this earlier.
[. . .]
So, Obama thinks that the threat to the region is not Iran, but rather an absence of internal reform. This is simply wrong, and demonstrates worrying double standards.
In 2009, when Obama was already in office, the “Green Movement” broke out in Iran. The Iranian authorities violently suppressed the protests, including through the force of arms. Many protesters were killed, and many more arrested. All the while, Obama looked on and did nothing. Indeed, some leading members of this revolt remain behind bars until today. Since then, Iran has not carried out any significant internal reform. During the same period, Gulf states—and particularly Saudi Arabia—have moved forward with the internal reform process.
There is no deal with Iran yet. There is a framework for a possible deal which might (or might not) be reached in June.
Supposed 'internationalists' like Medea I Need Attention Benjamin have, in the past, called out US dominance in the region but today these same Medea Benjamins rush to applaud US dominance and ignore the Arabic reaction.
See people like Medea, they don't really oppose imperialism.
They want it.
They want to harness it.
They applaud it when it's done their way.
They aren't really for democracy, they just want their way.
They're spoiled brats who could care less about the wants or desires of others.
Noah Browning (Reuters) notes the discontent with Barack in the region and that even Arab Spring activists are criticizing Barack. From his report:
The tentative rapprochement between Tehran and Washington has convinced many Gulf Arabs that a new regional axis is taking shape that will make them vulnerable to Iranian intrigue.
Saudi Arabia's leadership and many of its people have taken heart from its military campaign in neighbouring Yemen. Its air strikes, mounted with Arab allies, has targeted the Iran-allied Houthi militia which controls most of Yemen - and received U.S. approval.
"The public demand in Saudi Arabia right now is not for more democracy, but to handle the external threats," Saudi commentator Jamal Khashoggi said.
"The Saudis feel more assured since they took matters into their own hands. The issue that was bothering Saudi Arabia linked to the (nuclear) deal was that it was going to leave the Iranians unchecked in the region - that part is being handled today, not by the Americans, but by the Saudis."
As Barack fumbles and tumbles in the Arab region, the battle for who will replace him in January 2017 moves forward. Reportedly, Hillary Clinton will announce she is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination on Sunday. Hillary thinks she's the answer but there are those who disagree. Philip Rucker (Washington Post) reports:
On the eve of her presidential campaign launch, Lincoln Chafee, a former U.S. senator and governor from Rhode Island, announced Thursday that he is exploring a run for the Democratic presidential nomination. And unlike other potential Clinton challengers, Chafee appears to be spoiling for a fight.
In an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday, Chafee did not mince words when he said Clinton's 2002 Senate vote to authorize military action in Iraq should disqualify her from becoming commander in chief.
"I don't think anybody should be president of the United States that made that mistake," Chafee said. "It's a huge mistake and we live with broad, broad ramifications today — of instability not only in the Middle East but far beyond and the loss of American credibility. There were no weapons of mass destruction."
Hillary's vote for the war cost her in the nomination in 2008. But she honestly thinks, eight years later, she deserves it?
Based on what?
What amazing accomplishment -- or even realization -- can tired, Cranky Clinton (as Cedric and Wally have dubbed her) point to?
She can point to increased secrecy as Secretary of State -- refusing accountability via an IG, refusing to provide Congress with answers regarding the State Dept's plans for Iraq and of course her infamous (and ongoing) e-mail scandal.
Dan Merica (CNN) reports:
"Considering the premise for invading Iraq was based on falsehoods and considering the ramifications we live with now from that mistake, I would argue that anybody who voted for the Iraq War should not be president and certainly should not be leading the Democratic Party," Chafee said in a phone interview with CNN.
"Yes," Chafee said when asked if he plans on making the Iraq War central to his campaign against Clinton. "That's one of our big differences."
Clinton voted to authorize the Iraq War in 2002, a vote that haunted and helped sink her 2008 presidential campaign against President Barack Obama. At the time a Republican senator, Chafee was the only member of his party to vote against the Iraq War in 2002.
What has Cranky done to wipe that away or to wipe away her support, as a US Senator for the PATRIOT Act?
She spent four years as Secretary of State traveling from one photo op to another, she just didn't accomplish anything to be proud of.
Hell, she didn't even lead on marriage equality.
But she's supposed to announce her presidential run tomorrow.
Eight years after she was denied the nomination, she has nothing to show for those eight years, but somehow she's supposed to be our choice for top of the ticket?
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