Thursday, June 09, 2022

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, June 9, 2022.   We look at a local election in the US and a consensus appears to be building in Iraq on how to end the political stalemate that hits the 8 month mark tomorrow.

Patrick Martin (WSWS) writes:

The most significant results Tuesday were in two municipal contests in California. San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was recalled in a special election, by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent. In Los Angeles, real estate mogul Rick Caruso and Congresswoman Karen Bass finished as the top two candidates in the mayoral primary and will face each other in the November runoff.

Boudin, a left liberal backed by the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party along with its pseudo-left supporters, was first elected in 2019 campaigning against police brutality and excessively long jail terms. He clashed repeatedly with the police unions and real estate and other business groups and became a focal point for a right-wing law-and-order campaign, aimed particularly at whipping up fears in the Asian community over a sharp rise in anti-Asian violence.

Once enough signatures had been gathered to force a recall, with support from both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party establishment, business interests, including hedge funds and venture capitalists poured in more than $4 million to promote the vote to remove Boudin.

Like the recall of three members of the San Francisco school board earlier this year, right-wing forces took advantage of the political bankruptcy of identity politics with its incessant emphasis on racial divisions. Boudin and his supporters presented police violence as the product solely of racism, concealing the class role of the police as the defenders of capitalist property against the working class.

The complete failure of the Biden administration to improve the conditions of life for working people, to say nothing of the Democratic Party-run state government in Sacramento and the administration of Democratic Mayor London Breed, created widespread popular anger and disgust and indifference to the fate of Boudin. 

The result was an election in which there was a sizeable turnout only in the wealthiest areas of the city. Overall voter turnout plunged: from the huge 449,866 anti-Trump vote in 2020, to only 123,926 votes in the recall. Tuesday’s vote was only half as large as the 251,032 votes cast in the special election for mayor in 2018 which put London Breed in office.

The vote will be seized on by Democratic politicians to use as a shield against Republican attacks seeking to link the Democrats to the calls to “defund the police” that arose after the 2020 police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which led to massive worldwide protests against police violence.

I agree with Patrik that the establishment Dems will use this to justify further sell outs.  But on the race . . . The race could have been closer and could have gone Chesa's way -- see Elaine's "Chesa defeated Chesa" for her thoughts.  

I love Roseanne Barr.  That doesn't mean I agree with her on everything.  We disagree regarding Palestinians, obviously.  But Roseanne described San Francisco a few years back.  Two?  Maybe three?  It was an ugly description of a place I've made my home.  

But it was also a valid description.  It predated Chesa.  Chesa was supposed to bring in a new approach.  That's why he was elected.

But he refused to sell his approach.  He should have been on all the public affairs programs talking about what was happening, what he was doing to address things and assured people that things were changing.


It's also true that crimes against Asian-Americans have increased in the city -- hugely.  Some would argue this is a result of communities competing -- or feeling they are -- aginst one another for limited resources.  Chesa's programs were supported by a greater percentage of African-Americans than by Asian-Americans.  And a lot of high profile cases that the media covered were African-American attacks on Asian-Americans.  Chesa needed to communicate with the Asian-American communities and he failed at that.  Let's not pretend that the opposition invented a division and used that successfully.

They took a very real division and they amplified it.  

Chesa should have long ago addressed that division.  His faltering support in the Asian-American community was clear as far back as 2020 and he failed to seriously address that issue.  You were left with a community that felt targeted (and statistics would bear out that they were) and felt the district attorney was blowing this off and ignoring them.  They may not have supported his policies if he'd done any real outreach but they would have known he was at least aware of them.  I don't think Chesa ever got the make up of this city.  I think he came in with some interesting ideas about ways to make things better but I don't think he knew this city.

There are serious issues and a new approach was needed.  But Chesa didn't sell the approach.  He didn't explain how we might take a temporary hit due to X program but there is a long range benefit.  He believed in his programs but he wouldn't sell them.   A friend said he acted as though we were a collective and would just support him.  No, because a collective works together and everyone is informed of what's taking place.

Was he afraid he'd be giving people ammo to use against him?

I don't know.  But he didn't make a case for what he was doing.

Before he assumed office, we already had huge problems and his new tactics did not stop those problems -- they might have if given more time and we might have been willing to stand with him (I voted to keep him) but we needed to be on the same page.  

Like every other major city, we need to be addressing the homeless problem.  Like every other major city, we need to be addressing crime.  And it's not right to dismiss some store owners' concern.  Those owners include Asian-Americans, they include everyone.  And people were struggling before the pandemic and it only got worse after the pandemic started.  

Chesa can speak very movingly but he didn't find his voice once elected.  He refused to use it.  

So we were left with the results of life post-Chesa winning office and it wasn't what people wanted.  The results.  If Chesa believed in his program  and had spoken of how they were and would be addressing these issues, he would have done better and possibly might have held on to his offic

And he should have been speaking all along.  He should have people sharing their own stories of how this or that change did help them personally.  He didn't want to sell his policies.  Hopefully, he'll learn from this.  40% of the vote was amazing.  San Francisco needs massive improvement and that does include people feeling safe.  When Rosanne made her statements in an interview some years back, they weren't kind.  But they also weren't false.  And they weren't of one class the way some are trying to portray it.  The shoplifting is not just a business owner's issue.  The shop lifting effected a lot of people including those struggling who would say they felt like idiots because they were paying for things in a city that some didn't have to.  They wanted a level playing field.  This is a transitional time for San Francisco and we did need someone like Chesa who cared about more than Big Business.  

The opposition to Chesa were on message.  And they also had reality on their side as well because this is not the San Francisco that the city needs to be.  But if Chesa had sold his programs, had spoken out about where we were headed with these programs, I do think the vote would have been closer.

I don't know where our city goes now, but I hope that Chesa learns from this because he still has a lot to offer.  And I would argue against simplistic readings of thie results -- especially, if you haven't been in San Francisco and you don't know our issues.


Elections.  Iraq held elections October 10th.  Still no prime minister.  Still no president.  The llatest development?

Iraqi influential Shia cleric and the leader of Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, has asked the members of the Iraqi parliament from his bloc to “write their resignations” and wait for his instruction. #Iraq | #Baghdad

So if he carries this out, he's attempting to dissolve the Parliament and trigger new elections?

If so, that's not that far from what Ayad Allawi proposed over the weekend.  Shafaq News explains,  "The National Iraqiya coalition led by Iyad Allawi called on Sunday to form an interim government to run the country’s affairs and rerun the parliamentary elections."  INA reported:

Allawi said in a statement received by the Iraqi News Agency (INA), "After the political process has reached a state of stagnation and halt, which portends dire consequences, and after numerous appeals from national political and social figures, our national and moral duty prompts us to put forward an initiative and develop an appropriate solution for the country's current crisis."

He indicated that "in order to preserve the unified homeland, achieve the people's hopes and aspirations for growth and prosperity and ensure a decent life for their them, and in order to restore part of the confidence in the political process after the great upheavals, getting out of the crisis requires taking a number of steps and in a period to be determined during an unconditional patriotic meeting for national political leaders, the date of which will be determined at a later time.

He explained, "The steps will contribute to stopping violations of constitutional timings, and is represented in choosing an interim government that works to achieve security and stability in Iraq, that takes upon itself the holding of fair elections, and the selection of a new commission to organize the upcoming elections that enjoys the confidence of the Iraqi people and works with transparency and high integrity, as well as achieving  a new electoral law that fulfills the requirements of the decisions of the Federal Supreme Court in a manner that guarantees a fair representation of the Iraqi people.

He noted, "The position of the Prime Minister is the actual conflict, and therefore the Prime Minister-designate in the interim government must be given the freedom to choose his ministerial (cabinet) provided that its standard is efficiency and integrity, and he manages the affairs of the country and implements a government program that works to meet the needs of the people and provide what is needed. ,” noting that the initiative also included “strengthening the state, the government, and the three presidencies and supporting them in facing external and internal challenges and pressures, in addition to discussing during the meeting (the conference) other important issues that are included in the conference’s agenda, and that the forces, national political figures and parties that  It has seats in the parliament , as well as representatives of federations and trade unions, and an open meeting to approve the proposal’s formula and choose the figures for the three presidencies in the interim government.


Allawi calls for forming a temporary government and holding a new election Former Iraqi PM Ayad Allawi during a meeting with the Iraqi Nationalism bloc, called for forming a temporary government to run the country and hold a new election

If a consensus is emerging, it appears to be that new elections are required.

In other news, AFP reports:

Three people were wounded Wednesday evening after an armed drone struck a road in the suburbs of Iraqi Kurdistan’s Irbil, security services said.
“Several vehicles were damaged” in the attack, the Kurdistan Autonomous Counter-Terrorism Agency said in a statement, which took place on the road that connects Irbil to Pirmam to its northeast.
The attack, which was not immediately claimed, took place three kilometers from the construction site of the new US consulate on the outskirts of central Irbil.

Julian Bechocha (RUDAW) adds:                                                                             

Iraqi President Barham Salih also voiced his condemnation of the attack, calling it "criminal" and saying it is a violation of the country's safety.

"The attack on the city of Erbil is a condemned and reprehensible criminal act targeting national efforts....We must stand firmly against attempts to plunge the country into chaos and undermine security and stability," the president tweeted, urging for a strengthening of security services against "outlaws."

Reber Ahmed, the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) interior minister, told reporters at the hospital that one of the three injured civilians is in critical condition due to the explosion.

The UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) described the attack as "reckless" and said "Iraq does not need self-proclaimed armed arbiters," calling on the state to solidify its stance and hold those responsible accountable.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but such attacks are often attributed to Iran-backed militias who have launched a spate of attacks against Kurdish land in recent months.

Hossein Dalirian, affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was one of the first individuals who described the attack as a drone strike, at a time when the Kurdistan Region's authorities had not specified the means of the attack.

The following sites updated: