Friday, January 20, 2012

The failure

"A Failure for the 'Progressive' Peace Movement: New Hampshire Primary" (John V. Walsh, Dissident Voice):

For the Left, the big news of the New Hampsire primary has been greeted with an embarrassed silence. For there the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, for example “Progressive” Democrats of America, failed completely to put forward a candidate for peace. This failure was not unexpected since the candidate of the progressives was and is Barack Obama who is out-Bushing Bush in the war and empire department. Nor did the wing of the progressive peace movement not formally associated with the Democratic Party raise its voice in any discernible way in New Hampshire. Here is a primary which is carefully watched in a state small enough so that a grassroots effort cam have a genuine effect and reverse the tide of war as happened in 1968 and 1952. Where were UFPJ, Veterans for Peace, Peace Action, Code Pink? Missing in action. What an abject failure, a profound indictment of what is called the “Peace and Justice” movement.
Lenin once remarked that each generation comes to socialism in its own way. It might also be said that each generation comes to oppose war and Empire in its own way. For the present generation of 20 and 30 somethings, libertarian philosophy is the vehicle to oppose war, as was evident in the New Hampshire primary. In part they chose Libertarianism, but in part Libertarianism chose them since the progressives have largely abandoned anti-interventionism, preferring instead Obama’s “humanitarian” imperialism. Many in fact are pro-war when you scratch the surface.


John V. Walsh has a powerful column.

It raises a number of important issues even in the excerpt above.  How the peace movement of the Bush administration was fake for the most part.  There are only a few of us today who feel that the same beliefs that mattered under Bush matter now and that, just as we protested Bush, we should be protesting Barack.

Instead, they're okay with the drone war and the Libyan War and what looks like the Syrian War.  The thought of an Iran War makes them a little nervous, just a little nervous.
 
They've got no ethics at all.  They've destroyed the left.  I agree with what Walsh says later on regarding support for Ron Paul, so be sure to check that out as well.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)>
Friday, January 20, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Grand Ayatollah Sistani is worried about an outbreak of civil war in Iraq, Nouri orders more Iraqiya members arrested, the political crisis continues, and more.
Iraq is a young nation. The years of war and sanctions have ensured that. If you never grasped how young it was, understand that it has a CIA estimate of roughly 26 million people currently and Aswat al-Iraq reports, "The Iraqi Education Ministry announced today that about 8 million students of primary, intermediate and secondary schools will have their mid year examinations tomorrow." A little less than a third of the population will be taking exams in Iraq tomorrow. The CIA figure for the country's median age is 20.9 years -- for Iraqi males it's 20.8 years and for Iraq females it's 21 years.

Which is why the hatred Nouri al-Maliki fosters is all the sadder. Unlike the exile the Americans put in charge, most Iraqis aren't carrying decades old grudges. They simply aren't old enough to have done so.

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear
You've got to be taught
From year to year
It's got to be drummed
In your deaf little ear
You've got to be carefully taught
-- "You've Got to be Carefully Taught," written by Rodgers & Hammerstein, first appears in their musical South Pacific

And though he's a failure as a prime minister, Nouri excells at teaching hate.

And teaching fear by constantly screaming about "Ba'athists" all around just waiting to overthrow the government. Referring to his rivals as "ants" that he must apparently crush.

Always with the melodrama, like last October when Nouri repeatedly commented on the "terrorists" and "Ba'athists" that he was 'forced' to arrest because they were plotting an overthrow of the government. His spokesperson insisted the information was solid and had come from the newly installed Libyan government. Dropping back to the October 27th snapshot:


But back to those eyes and ears al-Asadi was claiming,
Al Mada reveals that the government is stating their source for the 'tips' about the alleged Ba'athist plot to take over Iraq came from the Transitional Government of Libya. The so-called rebels. A number of whom were in Iraq killing both Iraqis and US troops and British troops, several years ago. And supposedly prepping to rule Libya currently so you'd assume they had their hands full.


Tim Arango (New York Times) maintains that "secret intelligence documents" were discovered by the so-called 'rebels' that provided a link between Libya's late president Muammar Gaddafi and Ba'ath Party members and that Mahmoud Jibril made a trip to Baghdad to turn over the info. Jibril was acting prime minister who stepped down October 23rd. (We're back to when puppet regimes meet!) One would have assumed he had other things to focus on. It's also curious that this 'rebel' would have 'learned' after the fall of Tripoli of a plot. Curious because, unlike a number of 'rebel' leaders in Libya, Langley didn't ship Jibril in from Virginia, he was Gaddafi's hand picked head of the National Economic Development Board (2007 to 2011). One would assume he would have been aware of any big plot long before the so-called rebels began the US war on Libya.



Yet January 5th, Al Mada reported that hundreds of those arrested were now being released. And that officials say the government is expected to release every one arrested. When the arrests started taking place weeks ago, the press estimate was over 500, with some noting over 700 but most going with the lower figure. Dar Addustour informed 820 Iraqis were arrested in that crackdown..


Critics of the arrests noted that it appeared Nouri was targeting Sunnis. Of those recent mass arrests, McClatchy Newspapers states "Western diplomats scoff at the idea that the arrests were aimed at thwarting a coup" and quotes one unnamed diplomat stating, "This is just paranoia." AP notes that a spokesperson for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani declared that the country "cannot bear further tensions among politicians."

The Bush administration was wrong to install him as prime minister in 2006 (the Iraqi Parliament wanted Ibrahim al-Jaafari) and Barack Obama's administration was deadly wrong when they chose to insist that he be given a second term in 2010.
He fled Iraq and Saddam Hussein and lived in exiles for years, decades. Nursing his hatred, telling himself that some day he had his vengeance. And when he got what he wanted, the death of Saddam Hussein, he still couldn't move forward. Fahad Abdullah tells Jasim Alsabawi (Rudaw), "Maliki should have used the opportunity after the withdrawal of the US forces to begin a new era for the rise of Iraq and embrace everyone under one Iraq." There is nothing left in him but the hatred as he chases ghosts.

It's just the ghost of what you really want
And it's the ghost of the past that you live in
And it's the ghost of the furture you're so frightented of
-- "Ghosts," written by Stevie Nicks and Mike Campbell, first appears on Stevie's The Other Side of the Mirror
All he has are the ghosts of the past. He goes after political rivals and threatens Iraq's internal safety. Already he's declared Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi a terrorist and demanded Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his title. al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq are both Sunni and members of Iraqiya. The Iraqiya aspect goes to the political rivalry (Iraqiya bested State of Law in the March 2010 elections -- Ayad Allawi heads Iraqiya, Nouri heads State of Law). The Sunni aspect could further the divisions between the sects and, some fear, return Iraq to the days of 2006 and 2007 when the sects were in an open war against one another.

Ali al-Tuwaijri (AFP) reports that Nouri's forces arrested Ghabdan al-Khazraji, the Deputy Governor of Investments Diyala Province, and attempted to arrest the Deputy Governor of Administrative Affairs Talal al-Juburi.but he's now in the Kurdsitan Regional Government. The two are Sunni and they are also members of Iraqiya. The arrest follows Wednesday's arrest. Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) explained, "Baghdad Provincial Council Vice President Riyadh al-Adhadh was arrested on terrorism charges and stands accused of financing a terrorist group in Abu Ghraib. Adhadh is a Sunni doctor who founded a free clinic in Adhamiya and is the focus of an English-language documentary on Iraq. The Iraqi Islamic Party condemned the action and called it an "unprecedented escalation" in the political arena."
As the political crisis continues, Roy Gutman, Sahar Issa and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) report:


Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's security services have locked up more than 1,000 members of other political parties over the past several months, detaining many of them in secret locations with no access to legal counsel and using "brutal torture" to extract confessions, his chief political rival has charged.
Ayad Allawi, the secular Shiite Muslim leader of the mainly Sunni Muslim Iraqiya bloc in parliament, who served as prime minister of the first Iraqi government after the Americans toppled Saddam Hussein, has laid out his allegations in written submissions to Iraq's supreme judicial council.


The reporters call the above "the second major broadside this week" and note: "London's Guardian newspaper reported Monday on an extortion racket involving Iraqi state security officials who systematically arrest people on trumped-up charges, torture them and then extort bribes from their families for their release." From the Guardian article by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad:


"Look," he added, "the system now is just like under Saddam: walk by the wall, don't go near politics and you can walk with your head high and not fear anything. But if you come close to the throne then the wrath of Allah will fall on you and we have eyes everywhere."
He described the arrest of the Sunni vice-president Tariq al-Hashimi's bodyguards who, it was claimed by the Shia-dominated government, had been paid by Hashimi to assassinate Shia officials. (Hashimi was on a plane heading to Kurdistan when government forces took over the airport, preventing him from leaving. After a standoff, he was allowed to fly but his men where detained.)
"Look what happened to the poor bodyguards of Hashimi, they were tortured for a week. They took them directly to our unit and they were interrogated severely. Even an old general was hanging from the ceiling. Do you know what I mean by hanging?"
In the constricted space of the car he pulled his arms up behind his back.
"They hang him like this. Sometimes they beat them with cables and sticks and sometimes they just leave them hanging from a metal fence for three days. They are torturing them trying to get them to confess to the bombing of the parliament."



Al Mada reported, yes, another secret prison run by Nouri. The Human Rights Committee in Parliament declared Wednesday that another secret prison ("Briagde 56") exists and it is run by Nouri (as were the others). They do not yet know the location of the prison.

Al Sabaah reports that the National Alliance is studying a list of requirements President Jalal Talabani has made for the national conference with the apparent intent of discussing them in Sunday's pre-national conference meet-up. Al Mada reports that the Sadr bloc is stating Moqtada al-Sadr might -- only might -- attend the national conference. Whether he does or not, the Sadr bloc stated Moqtada is following all the developments. Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq leader Ammar al-Hakim is calling for a return to political parternership and a return to Constitutional rule. Aswat al-Iraq quotes Kurdish Alliance MP Shwan Mohammed Taha stating, "If Iraqi politicians differ on the venue of the conference, how they will be able [to] find the solutions to the present crisis.[. . .] We, as the Kurdish Alliance, have no problem withwhere it shall be convened, but we welcomefor it to be held in Kurdistan." They also quote Kurdish Alliance MP Ashwaq al-Jaff stating there is a need to "finalize the agenda before entering the conference to avoid any surprises, which may lead certain bloc to withdraw."

al-Hakim and al-Sadr's groups are part of the National Alliance and Al Mada notes rumors that the National Alliance is calling for Mahmoud al-Mashhadani to become the new Deputy Prime Minister. He would replace Saleh al-Mutlaq whom Nouri has insisted since December must be stripped of his post. Ibrahim al-Jaafari heads the National Alliance and he states that they would be happy for Nouri and al-Mutlaq to resolve the matter themselves. If not, al-Jaafari expresses the opinion that al-Mutlaq should announce his resignation.

Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was Speaker of Parliament from 2006 until the end of 2008. After initially praising him, the Bush administration decided they did not care for the Sunni politician and launched a public relations war against him (which the New York Times enlisted in portraying him as depressed and hiding in his father's home when he was, in fact, in Jordan on a diplomatic trip). The US backed off somewhat after 2007 came to a close and they'd been unable to force him out as Speaker of Parliament. Considering the charges against some Sunni politicians, it's strange that he'd be accetable. Damien Cave and Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) wrote in June of 2007, "Iraq's leading political blocs agreed yesterday to remove the Sunni speaker of Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, from his position. The move came after accusations arose that his bodyguards assaulated a Shiite lawmaker yesterday as al-Mashhadani cursed him and then dragged him to the speaker's office." Despite that assertion, al-Mashhadani remained as Speaker of Parliament for the rest of 2007, through 2008 and only left in December 2008 by his own choice.

Elliott Woods (Businessweek) surveys the business prospects and, in doing so, notes recent violence, "The wave of violence that has rocked the country since the last U.S. troops rolled back across the border into Kuwait on Dec. 18 began with a dozen coordinated attacks in Baghdad on Dec. 22 that killed upwards of 60 people; then there were the Jan. 5 bombings in Kadhimiya and Sadr City and another attack on a bus full of Shiite pilgrims the same day, near the holy city of Karbala. All 30 passengers died. Fifty-three more pilgrims were killed near Basra on Jan. 14, and 10 died in attacks on a police station in Ramadi the next day. Add the victims of drive-by shootings and bombings at military and police checkpoints from Fallujah to Mosul, and the total number of dead in the month since the withdrawal tops 250." Today's violence? Reuters notes 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul, 1 person shot in front of his Mosul home and a Hawija roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives and left five people injured. Aswatl al-Iraq adds that 1 man was kidnapped in Kirkuk on Thursday and another today (the one today by assailants wearing Iraqi military uniforms), that the Kirkuk home of two brothers (who were members of Sahwa) was bombed (no one was hurt), and a Kirkuk bombing claimed 2 lives.

This week's violence included an attack on the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad Wednesday. Hasan Kanbolat (Today's Zaman) observes:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki keeps creating tension in the bilateral relations between Turkey and Iraq in a systematic way. By pointing to Turkey as a target, the Iraqi government ensured the issuance of an arrest warrant for Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi.
Maliki has been making offensive statements against Turkey. Most recently, the tension was escalated by a new attack on the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad on Jan. 18, 2012. In this way, we see there are attempts to ensure the artificial tension is replaced by a new crisis.
Turkey is the only country that did not close its embassy in Iraq after 2003. Even though there have been three attacks against the embassy in Baghdad. Turkey still remained committed to its work in the country. The Turkish Embassy in Baghdad is one of only a few diplomatic missions outside the Green Zone which is known for its heightened security and surrounded by tall walls in downtwon Baghdad. The protection of the Turkish Embassy, located in the al-Wazireya neighborhood, where high-level executives used to live in the city, is the responsibility of Iraqi security forces. The Turkish Embassy is visibly
connected to the neighborhood in which it is located; the embassy's relationship with nearby residents is such that the embassy supplies electricity to them. And the neighborhood also serves as the natural protector of the embassy. This is why it won't be too difficult to determine where and how the attack was staged.
McClatchy's Sahar Issa filed a very throrough report on the attack. KUNA notes today that Iraqi Foreign Minister "Hoshyar Zebari contacted his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu and strongly condemned the criminal act."

On the topic of the continued occupation of Iraq, Dar Addustour reports that Sadr bloc MP Ali al-Tamimi told Alsumaria that the position of Moqtada al-Sadr and the bloc is that the presence of the US Embassy on Iraqi soil as well as all the contractors staffing the US mission are as threatening and dangerous as the military and that these are "occupation forces." Drexel University's professor Robert Zaller explains (at The Triangle), "There will be residual forces in Iraq as trainers and advisers, but these will be private contractors and black-ops types. We are not leaving behind any potential hostages we cannot disavow if necessary. There will also be security for the mega-sized embassy -- the world's largest -- we leave behind in Baghdad's Green Zone. In addition, the U.S. retains a consulate of 1,320 people, which will remain in the port of Basra; a staging base should we ever return; and a tripwire for future hostilities with Iran. In short, the American occupation of Iraq is not over. As long as that is the case, we cannot say the war is over, either."

In the US new data on military suicides has been released. Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) reports, "Suicides among active-duty soldiers hit another record high in 2011, Army officials said on Thursday, although there was a slight decrease if nonmobilized Reserve and National Guard troops were included in the calculation." Bumiller notes, "Asked if he was frustrated by the jump last year in suicide by active-duty soldiers, General [Peter] Chiarelli said no." That resonse should tag Chiarelli and follow him around for the duration of his service. Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) covers the data and emphasizes what it found on self-medicating and the military's assertion that now they can deal with the problems (as opposed to looking the other way at other times). It'll be interesting to see in a year or so if, indeed, the military is helping service members get help or if, as has often been the case, they're just using self-medication as an excuse to drum them out of the service.

Also in the US, Feminist Majority Foundation issued the following today:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 20, 2010
Contact:
Francesca Tarant, 703.522.2214 media@feminist.org
Annie Shields, 310.556.2500, ashields@msmagazine.com
Statment of Eleanor Smeal On The Decision of Kathleen Sebelius and the Obama Administration Not to Broaden the Religious Exemption for Contraceptive Coverage
The Feminist Majority Foundation applauds the decision of Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, and the Obama Administration not to broaden the religious exemption for contraceptive coverage under the Preventive Care package of the Affordable Care Act. This request, primarily by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, would have denied millions of American women contraceptive coverage, including students, teachers, nurses, social workers, and other staff (and their families) at religiously-connected or associated schools, universities, and hospitals, as well as institutions, such as Catholic Charities.
At last -- concern for women's health trumps pressure from the Catholic Bishops. Millions of women who may have been denied access to birth control with no co-pays or deductibles will now have full access. I am especially pleased that college students at religiously affiliated institutions will now have coverage for birth control without co-pays or deductibles under their school health plans beginning in Auust 2012.
Birth control is the number one prescription drug for women ages 18 to 44 years. Right now, the average woman has to pay $50 per month for 30 years for birth control. No wonder many low-income women have had to forgo regular use of birth control and half of US pregnancies are unplanned. This decision will help millions of women and their families.
Insurance plans that cover employers and employees must cover contraception with no co-pays or deductibles starting August 2012, and non-profit religious institutions under this new rule that do not currently cover contraception must do so with no co-pays or deductibles beginning August 2013. Moreover, student insurance plans at religiously affiliated universites must cover contraception with no co-pays or deductibles beginning August 212. Only women who work directly for a house of worship, such as for a church, synagogue, or mosque itself, are exempted from this required coverage.
Women's rights and pro-choice groups, including Feminist Majority Foundation, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the National Women's Law Center, the National Council of Jewish Women, the National Organization for Women (NOW), and NARAL Pro-Choice America, urged the Obama Administration not to consider the broader religious exemption.
In August, the US Departmentof Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidelines, developed by the Institute of Medicine, that will require private insurance plans under the Preventive Care packageofthe Affordable Care Act beginningon or after August 1, 2012 to cover without co-pays or deductibles as a variety of services, such as an annual well-woman visit and cancer screenings, counseling, such as for domestic and interpersonal violence, and testing for HIV and STIs, as well as all FDA-approved contraceptives, breastfeeding support, lactation service, and supplies.
###

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Barack's bad decision to back Nouri

Yesterday, C.I. took on Ashley Smith's nonsense.  Sunny found an e-mail today where I was asked to elaborate and I'll do so, mainly because if I don't, I fear C.I. will have to make time and she has more important things to focus on.

"Isn't Ashley taking on Barack in his bad article?  He notes Barack's lying, after all."  That's from the e-mail.

No, Ashley's going after Barack on a minor thing.

Yes, Barack lied in his speech where he glorified the Iraq War.  That's a given.

But the question of the article is whether or not the US is responsible for Iraq's current condition (which may lead into a civil war).

To slam Bush and avoid calling out Barack?

The current situation was created by Barack.  The Iraqi people went to the polls in 2010.  They were threatened, they were bullied and still they voted

Barack overruled their votes, he overruled the Iraqi Constitution.  He wanted Nouri to have a second term as prime minister so none of it mattered, only Nouri.  The will of the voters, the law, it could all be trashed.

Add in that C.I. is aware of the promises that were made to the Kurds by the White House.  She's been very kind and only hinted at those.  But what the White House promised the Kurds to get them to go along with Nouri was tossed aside by the White House (the same way that Nouri tossed aside the Erbil Agreement).  At some point, C.I.'s going to get really pissed and she's going to go into the talks the US had with the KRG in great detail.

But Barack wanted Nouri.  This was after Nouri's attack on The Guardian newspaper.  This was after Human Rights Watch and the Los Angeles Times' Ned Parker had repeatedly exposed secret prisons Nouri was running.  This was after all the broken promises from Nouri (Sahwa, Camp Ashraf, you name it).

There was never any reason to back Nouri.

But the White House did.

Nouri started the current political crisis.

If you're writing about it -- as Ahsley pretends to -- then you write about the White House backing Nouri because that is a huge reason for the current state of affairs in Iraq.  Some would argue it is the sole reason.

When Ashley Smith can address that (instead of ignoring it), we might take him seriously.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, January 18, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, is Nouri going after the Camp Ashraf residents, the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad comes under attack, Reider Visser has no legal background and should learn to stop trying to offer legal analysis unless he just enjoys looking like an idiot, and more.
 
Nouri al-Maliki is a liar.  He cannot be trusted.  He proves that with each passing day.  The Tehran Times reports:
 
Arrest warrants have been issued for 120 members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced in a televised interview late on Tuesday. 
During his remarks, Maliki described the MKO as a "terrorist" group and said the it has committed terrorist acts in Iraq and Iran for many years. 
He also reiterated the Iraqi government's decision to expel the members of the group and to bring an end to the issue.
 
That refers to the Camp Ashraf residents.  If true, Nouri has now violated his promise to the United Nations and to the United States.  If true, Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Armed Services Committee, and Senator John McCain, Ranking Member, need to follow up on what they were discussing in an open session at the end of last year.
 
 
Adnkronos International English reports Turkey's embassy in Baghdad was attacked today. Reuters quotes an unnamed Iraqi security official who states, "There were two Katyusha rockets.  The first one hit the embassy blast wall, and the second one hit the second floor of an adjacent bank." An unnamed Turkish embassy employee states there were three rockets. Today's Zaman provides this context, "The attack comes amidst a deepening political crisis between Turkey and Iraq. On Monday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned Iraq's ambassador to Turkey, Abdulemir Kamil Abi-Tabikh, to its headquarters in Ankara to inform him of Turkey's unease over recent Iraqi criticism, just a day after Iraq made a similar move regarding Turkey through Turkey's ambassador to Baghdad. Abi-Tabikh was summoned to the Foreign Ministry by the ministry's undersecretary, Feridun Sinirlio─člu, regarding Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's verbal assault on Turkey for what he characterized as interference in Iraqi affairs."   Euronews offers a video repot here which includes, "In Turkey the AK party's vice president blamed Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki for caring more about making aggressive speeches about his country than in protecting Turkey's embassy in his capitol."  Nouri unleashed the crazy on Turkey last Friday and his thuggettes in State of Law joined in the following day.  And Al Mada reported earlier today that the National Alliance (Shi'ite coalition -- Moqtada al-Sadr's in this group but if he has something to say, he generally sends out his own spokesperson to say it) accused Turkey of 'being on the side of the Sunni.'  A common trait in the English language press and the Arabic press out of Iraq: No condemnation of the attack from Nouri.
 
No condemnation of the attack from Nouri.  The Turkish Embassy just joined other targeted groups in Iraq that Nouri's gotten away with looking the other way on in all the years he's been prime minister.  It took non-stop outcries from the Vatican for Nouri to finally start offering his meager words when Iraqi Christians were attacked -- and even then, it has to be a major attack (more then 20 dead and/or injured) to prompt a remark from Nouri.  Journalists, Iraq's LGBT community, Iraqi women, so many groups targeted under his 'leadership' -- under his orders? -- and he says nothing.  Making clear to his thuggettes what's allowed and what's not.  And so it's been for six years in April.
 
Now the world sees how it works.  Nouri's lashing out is the early roll out, days later his surrogates attack. And how 'comforting' Nouri's silence must be to countries with their own embassies in Baghdad.  Reuters notes that the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued the following statement:
 
We strongly condemn the atrocious attack on our embassy and we expect the Iraqi authorities to arrest the attackers and take them before the court, as well as to take every necessary measure to ensure such an attack does not take place again.
 
And the attack on the embassy does nothing to improve Iraq's political crisis.   AFP reports Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi has declared the Erbil Agreement must be respected. The leader of the political slate that came in first in the March 2010 elections stated today that if Nouri can't honor the agreement, he must go: "If Maliki was not prepared to abide by the deal, then either his National Alliance should name a replacement premier who was prepared to or a caretaker administration should be installed to organize fresh elections, Allawi said."  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "In a press conference in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, Allawi, also the head of Sunni-backed parliamentary bloc of Iraqia, stressed that his bloc supports holding a national conference for the Iraqi political blocs if there is goodwill to solve the problems."  AP quotes him declaring at today's news conference, "Iraq is at a crossroads and I say that Iraq needs forgiving leaders, who will raise above their personal hatred."  Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) offers:
 
The country is experiencing its first crisis after the US withdrawal. The paralysis that has inflicted the political process is due to the deep disagreements between the State of Law coalition and the Al Iraqiya List and, to a lesser degree, between the Kurdish coalition and State of Law.
Signs of collapse of the political process and moves towards an overt confrontation between different political blocs could have been seen even on April 9, 2003. They have taken different forms ever since.
After the blow received by Al Iraqiya, in the form of the arrest warrant against Vice-President Tarek Al Hashemi, it is expected that Al Maliki will target other leaders in the same political bloc in order to remove them from the political arena.
 
 
Al Mada reports that Iraqiya has been meeting with the National Alliance and the Sadr bloc (the Sadr bloc is part of the National Alliance) and that they are supposedly close to ending their boycott of Parliament. They are reportedly asking that the issue of Saleh al-Mutlaq be addressed. He is the Deputy Prime Minister that Nouri wants stripped of his post.  Parliament has refused Nouri's request so far.  He can not strip anyone of their office without the approval of Parliament.  Yesterday at the US State Dept, spokesperson Mark C. Toner was asked about Iraq's ongoing political crisis:
 

 
QUESTION: But these arrests notwithstanding, Mark, there has been a more belligerent policy by Maliki toward the United States. We have seen it almost in every aspect of the application of policy -- by not filling the cabinet seats, by -- Allawi came the other day on a program and basically said that Maliki's driving the country down the abyss of a civil war. And so what is your position on that? What kind of negotiations are you involved in?
 
MR. TONER: You mean us directly with --
 
QUESTION: Yes. The United States of America.
 
MR. TONER: -- the Iraqis?
 
QUESTION: It was there for nine years. It invested $800 billion and so on.
 
MR. TONER: Look, we are -- as of December 31st, we've embarked on a new relationship with the Iraqi Government. There are bureaucratic elements of this relationship that need to be refined and worked out and obviously coupled with a very changeable security environment, that these individuals, that -- rather the Iraqi officials are trying to maintain security but also make sure that they're following the letter of the law. So I wouldn't read too much into these detentions, if you will. In terms of the broader political situation in Iraq, we've continued to press on senior Iraqi politicians the importance of dialogue to work out their differences, and that continues to be our message to them.
 
QUESTION: But you --
 
MR. TONER: And we obviously are talking to them on a daily basis. But this is --
 
QUESTION: Okay. Are you --
 
MR. TONER: Sorry.
 
QUESTION: Sorry.
 
MR. TONER: This is -- no, that's okay. This is an internal political situation. Our concern is that as it -- as they work through this process that it be done in a clear and transparent way that makes sense to the Iraqi people.
 
QUESTION: Yeah. But are you more in contact with the president of the country, Jalal Talabani, or with the prime minister of the country, Nuri Maliki? Because Talabani has been in Iraq trying to organize some sort of reconciliation conference, but apparently his sort of suggestions have been sort of dismissed by Maliki.
 
MR. TONER: Well, again, I think that we've --  it's incumbent on us to remain in close contact with all elements of the political spectrum.
 
QUESTION: Mark, Iraqi prime minister has decided today suspend the Sunni ministers from the government after boycotting its sessions. And a government spokesman, Ali Dabbagh, has said that the ministers are no longer allowed to manage ministries and all decisions that will be signed by them are invalid. How do you view this step?
 
MR. TONER: Again, putting it in the broader context here, there's some very clear tensions underway in Iraq on the political scene. They're working through these tensions. It's important that they continue, all sides of the political spectrum talk to each other and work constructively together.
 
QUESTION: But does this step help?
 
MR. TONER: Again, I don't want to -- I'm trying to put it in a broader context. This is an internal Iraqi political process, so it's important that --  it's less important our comment or opining on what's going on there and more important that they roll up their sleeves, talk to each other, and work through it.
 
That's very interesting and we will return to it later this week but in terms of what Nouri did yesterday -- barring Cabinet members, that was Nouri 'creating' a new power for himself. KUNA reports, "The Iraqi government has decided to prevent Iraqiya List's cabinet ministers, who boycotted cabinet meetings, from doing their job at their ministries."  Mohammed Tawfeeq and CNN note, "Iraqiya spokeswoman Maysoun Damluji said the Iraqiya bloc is not surprised by the prime minister's move, calling it unconstitutional and illegal.  She said it has become obvious that al-Maliki is not interested in sharing power."
 
She is correct, the move is unconstitutional and illegal.
 
Each branch has powers.  The Constitution recognizes three branches and it invests each with unique powers -- unique powers, not absolute ones.
 
So the Prime Minister-Designate (or Prime Minister if it happens after the transition) has the power to nominate people to be in his or her Cabinet.  This is not a power to be taken lightly.  The use of that power will demonstarte a great deal about the prime minister-designate in the 30 days period before he or she is replaced with another prime minister-designate or before he or she is transitioned to prime minister.
 
What does that time period say about Nouri?
 
Despite the fact that this was his second time naming a Cabinet (the US installed him in April 2006 after Iraqis wanted Ibrahiam al-Jaafari to be prime minister and the US government said no), so he should have had experience at it and known what to do, despite the fact that for eight months, he refused to step down and let Allawi have first crack at organizing a ruling coalition (as the Constitution specified; but screw the Iraqi Constitution when Barack Obama decides Nouri is his man), he was named prime minister-designate in November 2010 and couldn't come up with a full Cabinet.  In part, this was due to the fact that he'd created so many more Minister and Deputy Minister posts- he had to in order to come close to keeping all the promises he made in horse trading over the eight month political stalemate.
 
Nouri only had the power to nominate.  The Parliament has to vote and approve each nominee.  In this case, Parliament approved everyone nominated. 
 
The only obstacle was Nouri himself.
 
And he still couldn't nominate enough people.  He never should have been moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  Hopefully, a lesson will be learned from this.  Follow the Constitution.  If he can't name a Cabinet in 30 days, you don't make him prime minister, you name someone else to be prime minister.
 
Is it any surprise that someone who couldn't name a full Cabinet -- as required to by the Constitution -- would turn out to be such a hapless leader?  One who can't even stick to the budget? (In the US, law makers regularly go over budget -- that's not allowed in countries like Iraq or Kenya, you are supposed to meet the budget, it's not a goal, it is how much you will spend and no more than that.)  Is it a surprise that everything's falling apart under Nouri when he couldn't get it together as prime minister-designate?
 
Selecting nominees and creating your Cabinet is a very serious role of the prime minister.  It requires input and approval of Parliament.  If you're not up to the task, you could very easily end up with a number of ministers that do not work out.
 
Guess who that falls on?  The prime minister.
 
He or she nominated them and, if they're a problem later on, that goes to the judgment of the prime minister.  He or she is not allowed to fire them.  The prime minister can recommend they be removed from their post -- but Parliament has to agree.
 
Nouri's created the power to suspend lately.  There is no such power.  If you, as prime minister, made a mistake in selecting your Cabinet, you are required to convince the Parliament of that or else you're stuck with the decisions you made -- however poor and misguided they may or may not have been.
 
There is no power for the prime minister to bar or suspend a minister.  Doing so is preventing the minister from doing his or her job.  The only way a prime minister can prevent a minister from doing his or her job is to ask Parliament to strip them of their post and for Parliament to agree.
 
Nouri made his choices.  He cannot strip, suspend, bar, remove, any Minister.  He can ask Parliament to remove the minister from the post and, if Parliament agrees, then it takes place.  Otherwise, that person is a minister unless they die or decide to resign.  Nouri, per the Constiution right now, could suffer a no confidence vote in the Parliament and be stripped of his post.  And the Cabinet members could remain.  The Parliament could choose to leave them alone.
 
Reidar Visser has an analysis at Gulf Anlaysis.  He's wrong that it's "exactly one month" since Iraqiya announced their boycott.  They did not announce on the18th of December it was the 16th.  More troubling, he insists that a caretaker government cannot take place.  Really? 
 
That's cute.  Before he attempts to offer legal analysis in the future, somebody tell him it takes more than watching a few episode Judge Judy to know the law.  In other words, he needs to stick to what he thinks he's good at and I'll explain to him right now, the law is not what he's good at.  And I'll add that I'll be nice once and only once on this issue.
 
It is nothing for me to say "I am wrong."  It doesn't bother me too.  I walk into a room and expect everyone to know way more than me (most of my harshest press critiques are rooted in the fact that they know so much less than what their job requires).  But that's not true when it comes to the law.  I never had any modesty there. 
 
In terms of Iraq's Constitution, for some reason, in 2007, I felt the need to study it.  And have continued to -- that includes four hours with legal experts in London last week where we poured over the Iraqi Constitution, that includes lengthy conversations on a regular basis with friends in the French and British government, that includes conversations with friends in the State Dept.
 
I'm going to say it nicely once, "Find something you're good at and focus on that.  You're not good at the law.  Your lack of training and questionable logic skils are on full display when you try to handle the law."
 
Visser's argument is that a caretaker government can not be put in place in Iraq because it's not in the Constitution.  The Constitution was written while Iraq was obviously occupied.  Iraq's still not sovereign.  It won't be unless and until it's out of Chapter VII with the United Nations.  The IMF can impose practices and policies on countries and an argument can be made that nation-states under the IMF's control have lost their sovereignty.  That can be argued in court and it can go either way (in the court of public opinion, that opinion will always win). But we're not talking about the IMF, we're talking about the United Nations.  This isn't an austerity program that's been put in place because the country's government is thought to have spent too freely, this is a sanction that's been brought against the country and until it's resolved (either with Kuwait repaid in full or -- as Iraq wants -- with the UN letting them off the hook), Iraq doesn't have full sovereignty.  Any country with sanctions against them -- enforced sanctions -- is not really fully sovereign.   May 27, 1993, the UN Security Council passed resolution 833.  It remains in effect.  It has never been lifted.  For what the United Nations can do with regards to that, you're going to need to do a little more than watch Judge Joe Brown.
 
In addition, the Constitution does not exist to allow anyone person to assume the post of prime minster for life.  By Visser's illogical and wrong-headed reading of the law, that's what the Iraqi Constitution states.  He doesn't make that claim because he's not smart enough to walk it through.  Again, if you don't have a legal mind, you should not be making legal arguments.
 
By Visser's 'analysis,' Noui is currently governed by nothing.  Nouri can remain prime minister for all time if he's willing to dissolve the Parliament -- by Visser's argument that Visser didn't have the brains or tools to carry it out to the end point.  Visser makes that argument by reducing the two posts Nouri holds to one post.  Were Nouri stripped of his prime minister post tomorrow, Nouri would still retain a post -- he was elected to the Parliament.  He is an MP.  That does carry with it perks and obligations.   When you ignore those and when you have the post exist in isolation (which it does not), then you end up with a new Saddam.  A new Saddam can dissolve the Parliament.  A new Saddam can declare that elections will take place at some time in the future, when new Saddam decides it's safe but, in the meantime, new Saddam will appoint MPs to serve. And that's how Iraq never again has elections or needs elections.  The 'MPs' picked by the new Saddam name a president, etc. and nothing ever changes for the prime minister for life.
 
That's where Visser's 'legal' 'argument' leads.  He couldn't follow it through because he lacks the tools.  But that's where the argument he makes pulls to a stop. 
 
And that's another reason why his legal argument is not just 'interesting' but wrong.  Again, if you don't have the background, don't offer legal analysis.  I don't have a legal background in tax law which is why we rarely note tax resistance (Cindy Sheehan's discussing her tax resistance here).  It isn't one of my strengths by any means so I would never attempt to offer a legal opinion on it.  I wouldn't even talk about it from a legal perspective because I am so ignorant on tax law. 
 
It would be great if those untrained in Constitutional Law learned to stop presenting as "fact" their ill-thought out and ill-conceived fantasies.  This is me being nice with regards to the law. 
 
 
Law For Dummies, Visser, your first point is wrong.  And you might mean "extra-Constitutional" but a caretaker government is not unconstitutional.  For it to be unconstitutional it would either have to be forbidden by the Constitution -- in writing -- or it would have to go against a written law within the Constitution that would oppose it.  There is no such law opposing a caretaker government and there is nothing in writing outlawing a caretaker government.  Your second point is is idiotic as well as wrong.  (Did you miss the powers of the president -- who would name a replacement per the Constitution -- or the issue of not to exceed 30 days?) Your third point reminds me that you're tight with Nir Rosen.  Filth begat filth.  For those who've forgotten, Nir not only verbally attacked Lara Logan, he shared at Foreign Policy that Nouri should remain prime minister because Iraq needed an authoritarian hand.  And now I'm really wondering why I wasted my time on this idiotic 'legal' 'analysis' by the untrained and uninformed.
 
The Erbil Agreement is not unconstitutional.  That's a flat out lie and the kind of "logic" that someone untrained in the law would make.  Someone trained might argue that portions were this or that, they would not declare the entire thing unconstitutional.   One of its primary parts (and the most important to the KRG)  is that Article 140 of the Constitution be implemented -- the thing Nouri was supposed to have done in his first term but refused to.  Visser's refusal to recognize that or and his habit of only tossing out "unconstitutional!" when it benefits Nouri is especially telling.  
 
Visser reveals himself to be a fake further when he 'advises' Iraqiya should focus on the three empty security ministries because Nouri "would be infor severe international criticism if he should opt to continue with acting ministers indefinitely."  If he should?  How long does the Idiot Visser think a prime minister term is?  Nouri's already gone over year without filling those posts. 
 
We're done with Reidar Visser.  I'm no longer interested in his opinions.  He was a fool to try to offer legal but as I go back over these half-baked and idiotic 'conclusions' Visser presents, I'm left with either he's the most stupid person in the world or he's less than honest.  I'll go with the latter. 
 
He's friend Nir Rosen and that says it all.   I'm not interested in his hidden agenda or any more of his crap.  Sadly some idiots will link to him even idiots who don't realize that what's he's saying in this post goes completely against what they Tweeted about the Constitution and the process the day before.  I can't believe I wasted all that time reading through his garbage repeatedly.  Again, we're done with him.  And shame on anyone who links to the lunatic's 'legal analysis' in the future.  He's trained in history, somewhat in philosophy.  He doesn't know a damn thing about the law and, oh, does it show. 
 
 
Nouri al-Maliki has a second term as prime minister despite his State of Law coming in second in the March 2010 elections. He only has a second term because the US government strong-armed the KRG and others to back Nouri. The US promised that, in exchange for Nouri remaining prime minister, the other parties would receive certain things. These were outlined in the November 2010 Erbil Agreement (an agreement some parties have threatened to publish).  When this agreement was agreed to by all parties, it became a legal agreement and a binding one.  That's why there are signatures on it.
 
The Erbil Agreement ended 8 months-plus of Political Stalemate I which followed the elections. Though Nouri gladly abided by the prime minister aspect, once he got his post, he trashed the agreement. 
 
AyadAllawi Ayad Allawi
This is not the Iraq we were dreaming of when we fought dictatorship with tears, blood and sacrificies http://www.wifaq.com/more.asp?NewsID=3001&CatID=17&lang=arb
 
 
Since last month, President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for a national conference to resolve the political issues. Iraqia TV reports Kurish Alliance MP Mahmoud Othman is stating that there will be a meet-up Sunday to make final arrangements for the national conference.
 
Tomorrow, Dar Addustour notes, Parliament is set to vote on seven bills. Those may not be final votes. (The Parliament engages in a series of readings and votes on bills.) This morning, Al Rafidayn quoted an unnamed source with Parliament's Integrity Commission saying that the Under Secretariat of Baghdad and the Contracts Manager will be arrested and charged with financial and administrative corruption based upon investigations the commission has carried out.  Alsumaria TV reports Riyad al-Adad, Vice President of Baghdad Provincial Council, was arrested today.
 
 
Returning to violence, Reuters notes 2 Kurds shot dead in Mandili, a Haswa sticky bombing last night which left a police officer and his wife injured, and, also last night, a Latifiya home invasion of a Sahwa member in which he and 3 of his sons were killed (three more were left injured).  BBC News identifies the Sahwa ("Awakeing," "Sons Of Iraq") as Mohammed Dwaiyeh.  Both BBC and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) report that the man's wife was also injured.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chris Hedges says "NO"

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Newsweak"  went up this morning.




newsweak


As if that great comic wasn't enough, the weekend also saw Kat's "Kat's Korner: Ani DiFranco's embarrassing odor" and "Kat's Korner: Adam Levine itches for one on the flip side."

Journalist Chris Hedges is suing the US government over the National Defense Authorization Act which, among other things, allows the military to police the US and allows for indefinite detentions of American citizens.

"Why I'm Suing Barack Obama" (Chris Hedges, ICH):
Section 1031 of the bill defines a “covered person”—one subject to detention—as “a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”
The bill, however, does not define the terms “substantially supported,” “directly supported” or “associated forces.”
I met regularly with leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. I used to visit Palestine Liberation Organization leaders, including Yasser Arafat and Abu Jihad, in Tunis when they were branded international terrorists. I have spent time with the Revolutionary Guard in Iran and was in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey with fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. All these entities were or are labeled as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government. What would this bill have meant if it had been in place when I and other Americans traveled in the 1980s with armed units of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua or the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front guerrillas in El Salvador? What would it have meant for those of us who were with the southern insurgents during the civil war in Yemen or the rebels in the southern Sudan? I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists. But that does not make me one. 
Once a group is deemed to be a terrorist organization, whether it is a Palestinian charity or an element of the Uighur independence movement, the military can under this bill pick up a U.S. citizen who supported charities associated with the group or unwittingly sent money or medical supplies to front groups. We have already seen the persecution and closure of Islamic charity organizations in the United States that supported the Palestinians. Now the members of these organizations can be treated like card-carrying “terrorists” and sent to Guantanamo.
But I suspect the real purpose of this bill is to thwart internal, domestic movements that threaten the corporate state. The definition of a terrorist is already so amorphous under the Patriot Act that there are probably a few million Americans who qualify to be investigated if not locked up. Consider the arcane criteria that can make you a suspect in our new military-corporate state. The Department of Justice considers you worth investigating if you are missing a few fingers, if you have weatherproof ammunition, if you own guns or if you have hoarded more than seven days of food in your house. Adding a few of the obstructionist tactics of the Occupy movement to this list would be a seamless process. On the whim of the military, a suspected “terrorist” who also happens to be a U.S. citizen can suffer extraordinary rendition—being kidnapped and then left to rot in one of our black sites “until the end of hostilities.” Since this is an endless war that will be a very long stay.

It's a shame that the Cult of St. Barack can't call out the NDAA.  But that's how it is when you allow yourself to be a partisan whore, you lose your ethics and your spine.  

"TV: The head scratchers" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Over four hours, we heard 21 voices and only six of those were women?

Yeah, that's an improvement from 3. But we do get that 15 of the voices were men? While it's good that we learned NPR does have women covering individual campaigns (in Iowa, they had to use an Iowa public radio person because NPR had no one assigned to Michelle Bachmann's campaign), we noted, yet again, that opinion columnists sharing 'analysis' were all men.

We noted that, also yet again, every Republican politician was a man. Where was Nikki Haley? Her office told us NPR didn't contact her. But, you insist, Haley is the Governor of South Carolina. This was the New Hampshire primary. Ben Philpott was on to discuss South Carolina (specifically how it was make it or break it time for Rick Perry with that primary). Tim Scott is a politician from South Carolina. Why wasn't Nikki Haley even sought as a guest? She's weighed in. She endorsed Mitt Romney some time ago.

After last week's piece went up, we heard from a Republican consultant. We know her. She e-mailed us via this site and said, "Call me to discuss the coverage." We did. Though she's often on TV commenting, she wasn't asked to appear on NPR and she's noticed that other Republican women aren't. Her argument is that NPR is purposely leaving women out of the coverage and attempting to subliminally suggest that women do not vote Republican.

We've often noted NPR's sexism on air (such as, with Ann, that women made up only 18% of Terry Gross' guest list for 2010 on Fresh Air). So, to us, it doesn't seem that NPR needs much prompting to go sexist and under represent women.

But she asked us if we'd talk to other Republican women? She arranged for us to talk to ten other Republican women -- including two office holders. They're not joking. They honestly feel this way. They honestly feel that NPR is slanting the coverage, purposely presenting an abundance of men to ensure that their largely female audience is left with the impression that GOP equals male party (and that women in the audience, therefore, will not be tempted to vote Republican in November).

Again, our own opinion is that NPR needs no excuse to go sexist. For example, we weren't at all surprised that with Renee Montagne on leave (her father passed away at the end of last year, our condolences and sympathies), NPR has decided to team Steve Inskeep up with David Greene. The last thing NPR needs is two male hosts in the morning and the last thing the increasingly 'jovial' Inskeep needs is an on air roll dog. But that's NPR which is sexist every damn day, on every damn program. If it ever had a functioning ombudsperson, this issue would be loudly called out. (A woman who lies that she can't call out Fresh Air because it is not produced by NPR is not a functioning ombudsperson. Especially when NPR ombudspersons have always been happy to rush to defend Terry Gross in their ombudsperson space, such as when Terry used the n-word on her show repeatedly.)

But that's our opinion. Our opinion is not the only opinion or the supreme opinion or the ruling opinion. It is one of many competing to be heard.

The Republican women we spoke to have an opinion. It deserves to be heard and evaluated as well. And they're seeing conflict of interest.

NPR's guidelines don't just require that NPR avoid conflict of interest, the guidelines require that they avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

They've got the appearance right now with several Republican women. They need to address this issue. Out of 21 speakers on your live coverage, ten of -- at least ten -- should have been women. Their failure to ensure that was the case creates not only the appearance of a conflict of interest but also confusion.

The Republican consultant who asked us to call her and then set us up with ten other women was worried we might drop the issue because "you're Democrats." Yes, but let there be no confusion on this point, we are feminists and we do not support sidelining women, not because of their political beliefs, not for any reason.

That's Ava and C.I. covering NPR's lousy live coverage of the New Hampshire primary.  They critiqued 2 Sundays ago and it resulted in a woman anchoring New Hampshire.  Maybe this critique will result in NPR booking an equal number of men and women as guests for the live coverage of the South Carolina primary? We can hope.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, January 17, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraqiya talks withdrawing support for the current government, Nouri gears up to air a second series of 'confessions' about Tareq al-Hashemi on TV, the Turkish government is not please with Nouri's attacks on their leadership, and more.
 
If you see someone shot dead in front of you on a city block and you turn that into "Person falls," you're stupid, you're useless and you should probably limit your social contacts because you have nothing to offer to anyone.  Meet Reuters and AFP.  They're wire services, supposely reporting news.  But you wouldn't know that when they fail to cover what happens accurately. 
 
Nouri al-Maliki has yet again claimed power he doesn't have.  That's the story unless you're being willfully stupid.  If you're being willfully stupid -- like Reuters and AFP -- you instead 'report' that the Cabinet has decided to bar three Iraqiya ministers.
 
 
There is no such power in the Constitution.  If you want to get rid of minister, you have to go through Parliament.  There is no power to put a minister on suspension or to block them or to penalize them.  They are a minister or they are not one.
 
Saddam Hussein wouldn't have risen to power if the press had done their watchdog role.  But they don't do it.  And they waste everyone's time with nonsense and garbage while at the same time allowing Nouri to break the laws.  Again. 
 
Nouri's position allows him to nominate people to head ministries and they become ministers if Parliament then agrees with the nomination and votes in favor of it.  Then they are ministers and remain ministers unless/until (a) they die while serving, (b) they choose to resign or (c) the prime minister asks Parliament to remove them and Parliament agrees to.  That process was not followed.  Nouri has yet again refused to follow the law.
 
The Minister of Finance Rafie al-Esawi, the Minister of Science and Technology Abdul Karim Ali Yasin al-Samarrai and  the Minister of Education Dr. Mohammed Ali Mohammed Tamim Jubouri.  Reuters identifies al-Esawi but fails to identify the other two.  Were the posts barred?  No, the people were.  So your job, pay attention, requires that you name the three.  Those are the three (if Reuters identified the offices correctly -- big if judging by their other work today).  [Reuters is capable of much stronger reporting -- see this piece on the drone war by former New York Times correspondent David Rohde.]
 
When Nouri breaks the law and/or circumvents the Constitution, if the press doesn't call him out, a message is sent.  And it's the same little pieces of encouragement that helped create Saddam Hussein.  That's not to let the US government off the hook (Saddam Hussein was a US ally for years) but it is noting that the press has tremendous power -- or rather the potential for tremendous power -- which is repeatedly fails to use.   There's a reason for the current crawl across al-Samarrai's website but the press can't tell you that because the press can't even tell you his name.
 
We explained how this works (or doesn't) January 4th:
 
Today Nouri manages to break the Constitution again. Khalid Al Ansary and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) report that he placed "all eight government ministers from the Sunni Muslim-backed al-Iraqiya alliance on leave" according to his spokesperon Ali al-Musawi. Where in the country's constitution does that power exist?
Oh, right, it doesn't. Those eight ministers were confirmed in their posts by Parliament (in other words they're not 'acting' anything, they are the ministers, per the Constitution). His only power after a minister is confirmed by Parliament? Outlined in Article 75:
The Prime Minister is the direct executive authority responsible for the general policy of the State and the commander in chief of the armed forces. He directs the Council of Ministers, and presides over its meetings and has the right to dismiss the Ministers on the consent of the Council of Representatives.
He is not allowed to strip a minister of their post without the consent of Parliament. Iraqiya has been boycotting the Cabinet and Parliament -- this started last month over the failure of Nouri to live up to the Erbil Agreement that ended the eight month political stalemate following the March 2010 elections. If Nouri now wants the ministers dismissed -- for any reason -- he needs to go to Parliament.
He has no right to put them on "leave." There is nothing in the Constitution that gives him this right. Per the Constitution, a Minister can only be stripped of their post (which would include their duties) if the Parliament agrees to it. The Parliament still hasn't set a date on hearing Nouri's demand from last month (December 17th) that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post. They certainly haven't agreed to strip eight ministers of their post.

 
Since then, Al Mada has quoted Nouri's advisor Adel Berwari admitting that Nouri doesn't have the power to replace ministers.  Nor does he have the power to suspend or bar them.  If Baghdad had a functioning and independent court, the smartest thing for any of the three would be to file charges against Nouri on this issue and a real court would rule that "barring" a minister is the same as "firing" one, that the Constitution outlines how you  remove a minister and that the process has not been followed.  Martin Chulov (Guardian) offers this analysis of the political crisis:

The move by the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, in mid-December against the country's Sunni vice-president, Tariq al-Hashemi, was always going to be provocative. Maliki, who in a recent interview said his primary identity was Shia, insists Hashemi was directing hit squads. He said he had known about the vice-president's "terror activities" for years, but had waited for the right time to go after him. The moment he chose could not have been more potent – the US army had hardly shut the gate into Kuwait behind them. The remaining strongman in town was marking his patch. The rest of Iraq would  have to live with it.
Maliki would surely have expected a backlash. He has never been popular with the country's disenfranchised Sunnis and has had a workable, though strained, relationship with the increasingly disengaged Kurds. Yet he doesn't seem to have factored in the strength of the resentment -- and its capacity to seriously undermine the power base he seems intent on building for himself.
Iraq now finds itself at a juncture that in many ways is more dangerous and instructive than the darkest days of 2006, when all remnants of state control crumbled as sectarian war took hold. Back then there was no expectation the state could lead Iraq to a better place. Six years on, and with violence much lower, Iraqis have even less faith in the state, despite it being much better placed -- at face value -- to provide for its citizens.
 
A political crisis is a serious issue and it does matter whether or not the law is followed.  Reporters do no one any favors by refusing to note when someone attempts a power-grab. 
AP doesn't give a number of ministers 'suspended' but their report indicates it was more than three and they quote Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoun Damluji stating, "It's an escalation by al-Maliki to push Iraqiya away."
 
Nouri kicked off the political crisis last month by demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post and that al-Hashemi be charged with terrorism. Both al-Mutlaq and al-Hashemi are members of Iraqiya, Nouri's political rivals and the political slate that came in first place in the March 2010 elections.  Gavriel Queenann (Israel National News) reports that Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq is calling for Nouri to step down and quotes him stating, "The longer Al Maliki stays in power, the higher the possibility of a divided Iraq."
 
 
Al Mannarah's Talk interviews Iraqi Vice President Tareqq al-Hashemi and the first question is, if you're innocent why did you flee arrest? al-Hashemi explains he did not run away (he went to the KRG for meetings, after he was in the KRG, the arrest warrant was issued, he's remained in the KRG since). On holding a trial in Baghdad, he states he doesn't trust the Baghdad judiciary. He is asked why the call for transferring the hearing to Erbil switched to Kirkuk and he explains that Baghdad and Kirkuk are part of the same legal system while the KRG is an independent judiciary (apparently meaning, Kirkuk would just require a transfer of locations; whereas Erbil couldn't execute a trial based on charges from Baghdad). But if Baghdad and Kirkuk are under the same umbrella, why not the same concerns about Kirkuk that he has regarding Baghdad? He replies that Kirkuk (and the judiciary in Kirkuk) has its own security operations and is not dependent upon Nouri for security. He states he doesn't trust the government, meaning Nouri al-Maliki, and that Nouri cannot tolerate opposition voices, Nouri can't stomach criticism of his failed administration. He notes the human rights violations that take place in Iraq under Nouri's leadership. He does not call Nouri a dictator when asked, saying that they would have to agree on the definition first.
 
Aswat al-Iraq notes that some of al-Hashemi's bodyguards are supposed to testify (on TV) against him. If that happens, Nouri will again be in violation of the Constitution. Though US outlets ignored it, Nouri tried to lie and claim that he never wanted Tareq charged with terrorism and that he (Nouri) was at the mercy of the Iraqi courts. As he made the rounds with that lie, Nouri was confronted with a number of issues including the airing of 'confessions' and how that did not jibe with the Constiutiton's presumption of innocence clause. Nouri played dumb. Is he now going to try to pretend yet again that he had no idea confessions were airing?  This Alsumaria TV report on the same rumors (televised confessions) is of interest solely for establishing a timeline.  (As we have repeatedly noted, there was no arrest warrant issued when Tareq al-Hashemi went to the KRG.  This has the warrant issued on December 19th -- same as past timelines -- but adds that the first 'confessions' were made on the 19th -- that's new to the story -- and it was based upon these confessions that an arrest warrant was issued that day.  Alsumaria TV's source is Baghdad Operations Command Brig Gen Qassim Atta.)  Among other questions this should raise is why these 'unforced' confessions backed up claims being made by Nouri and others before the 'confessions' were made?  Why was Tareq al-Hashemi's home surrounded by tanks starting December 16th?
 
Not content with starting a political crisis in Iraq, Nouri apparently wants to spread it throughout the region.  As noted Friday, step one was unleashing the crazy on Turkey.  Saturday  Al Mada noted that Nouri was declaring that the remarks of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would cause a catastrophe. Hyperbole's always been a part of Nouri's make up. Kitabat also noted Nouri's attack on Erdogan and how he accuses Erdogan's call for Iraq to resolve the political crisis as Turkey interfering in Iraq's domestic affairs. You've heard of a pep squad? Well Nouri has a thug squad. And Al Mada reported various State of Law MPs, on Saturday, joined Nouri in attacking Edrogan and the country of Turkey.  Today's Zaman observed Sunday, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's harsh criticism of Turkey for what he considered interference in the domestic realm of Iraq is sure to draw the ire of Turkey, as observers have already labeled Maliki's reaction 'a regrettable move' that will undermine his capacity to cooperate with neighbors that are hoping for stability in Iraq."  Today Joe Parkinson and Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) offer that "analysts say the rapid deterioration of relations between Ankara and Baghdad also reflects the wider conflicting interests of Sunni Turkey and Shiite Iran in the wake of the U.S. drawdown from Iraq and of the Arab Spring, now lapping at the borders of both Iraq and Turkey, in Syria."   But do analysts point out why Nouri should real it in?
 
Forget the destrucitve nature his attacks cause within the region, he should at least be interested in the fact that the US sold Turkey drones that were intended to be used for spying on northern Iraq.  That's not a secret.  It was reported in December, widely reported.  Is it really in your interest to launch an attack on leaders of a country that have the equipment to spy on you?  In addition, Turkey's been bombing northern Iraq for years.  It is really in  Nouri or Iraq's interest to try to tick off the leadership in Turkey right now?
When Nouri pulls out the crazy, he apparently doesn't think too well. Monday Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following:


Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Muhammad Jawad al Dorki Summoned the Turkish Ambassador in Baghdad, Younis Demirar .
Mr. al Dorki transferred the Iraqi government's concern of the recent statements made by the Turks officials related to the internal affairs of Iraq which would impact negatively on relations between the two countries, and requested him to convey that to his government and the need to avoid anything that might disturb the good bilateral relations.
For his part, the Turkish Ambassador stressed that the Turks officials' statements were in good intention, adding that he will inform his government in Ankara with the Iraqi side position.
The two sides confirmed their countries' keenness to sustain their relationship .
The meeting was attended by Dr. Walid Sheltagh, Head of the Neighboring Countries Department .

Reuters noted, "Iraqi officials did not specify what Turkish remarks they were angry about, but the complaint appeared to stem from comments earlier this month by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who said a Sunni-Shi'ite conflict in Iraq, if unleashed, could engulf the entire Islamic world." Yes, it seems Nouri is determined to expand the political crisis beyond Iraq. Aswat al-Iraq added Iraqiya MP Hamid al-Mutlaq states that "Nouri al-Maliki [has] the responsibility for security deterioration in his capacity as Commander in Chief of the armed forces and the first responsible authority for the security ministries."
Today Sevil Kucukkosum (Hurriyet Daily News) notes the reactions of some Turkish officials including this:

In a separate reaction, Omer Celik, deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), slammed al-Maliki through his Twitter account. 
Describing al-Maliki as the leader of an organization rather than a state and his statements as imprudent, Celik said, "Words targeting Turkey are not compatible with the responsibility of the 'Iraqi Prime Minister.' He is fulfilling 'other responsibilities.'"
Accusing al-Maliki of aiming to run a Shiite-dominated country, Celik warned that Iraq might be a satellite country in the future under his rule. 
"From now on Iraq has a serious al-Maliki problem. Turkey has no problem with Iraq and fully supports Iraq's unity," Celik said.

And Daniel Dombey (Financial Times of London) quotes an unnamed Turkish official stating, "What they [Iraq] need is a sense of national unity rather than political factionalism. . . . The Iraqis will have to work together on this but of course those who are in a position of power have a greater responsibility."   Idrees Mohammed (Middle East Online) notes:

The rift rises between Iraq and Turkey as Iraq summons Turkish ambassador to call on his government to consider the "necessity of avoiding anything that might disturb" the ties. The move comes amid the already chilly atmosphere between Ankara and Baghdad due to the former's attitude to the latter's Shiite-led government's action to arrest Iraq's Vice President. Turkish Prime Minister warned his Iraqi counterpart over the action, warning that his action will hurt the country's democracy and urging him to reduce the tension. His calls were harshly slammed by Iraqi Prime Minister who expressed surprise of Turkey's "interference" in his country's internal affairs, declaring his determination not to "allow that  absolutely."
Iraq passes through a dangerous period as the "big mosaic rock" between Shiite and Sunni ultimately  exploded, causing an unprecedented political turmoil and uproar in "new Iraq." The Kurds found themselves automatically involved in the game which as well attracted several countries including the United States, Turkey and Iran primarily. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Syria are reckoned sides to the turmoil. Unless a compromise is reached, the domestic, regional and even international risks are high. 
 
 
 
In Iraq, Aswat al-Iraq reports that MP Khalid al-Alwani states that Iraqiya is prepared to call for a withdrawal of confidence in Nouri al-Maliki if a national conference fails to solve the current crisis and issues.
 
Such an action should take place for a number of reasons.  Politically, there's Nouri's failure to honor the Erbil Agreement (other than honoring that it made him prime minister-designate).  There's also the security issues.  First and foremost, over a year after he became prime minister, he's still been unable/unwilling to name a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior or a Minister of National Security.  Those are the three security posts.  Iraq's seeing horrific violence of late and some of that may be a result of having no one to head those ministries for over a full year.  Security also includes inadequate planning.  From Friday's snapshot:
 
And Press TV reports this morning that 35,000 security forces are now being deployed to protect the pilgrims. The question is, since Arbaeen ends tomorrow, and since the pilgrims have been attacked since last weekend, why, only now, are these 35,000 being deployed?  Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall St. Journal) report, "Iraq's Shiite-led government took unprecedented security measures Friday to protect Shiite Muslim pilgrims observing the high point of a religious occasion from attacks by extremists. Meanwhile, car bombs targeted officials in the polarized and volatile northern city of Kirkuk."
 
Why only then?  A question that became more pertinent Saturday when southern Iraq was slammed with a major bombing on the last day of Arbaeen. Anne Barker (Australia's ABC News) reported it was a suicide bomber, in a police uniform, who detonated in Basra, taking his own life and over fifty others with over one hundred people left injured. The Telegraph of London noted, "The attack happened on the last of the 40 days of Arbain, when hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims from Iraq and abroad visit the Iraqi city of Kerbala, as well as other holy sites. Saturday's blast occurred near the town of Zubeir as pilgrims marched toward the Shi'ite Imam Ali shrine on the outskirts of the town, said Ayad al-Emarah, a spokesman for the governor of Basra province." Alsumaria TV explained, "Al Khotwa Mosque, situated near Al Basra city on the eastern entrance of Al Zubair District center, was the second mosque built following Al Masjid Al Nabawi in the city of Medina, and the first one to be built outside KSA. Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb prayed, during Al Jamal battle in 36 AH, at Al Khotwa mosque which bears a significant importance for Shiites who mass up by thousands in the mosque on religious occasions."
Michael S. Schmidt and Duraid  (New York Times) reported 64 dead from the attack.
 
And the violence continues.  Today Reuters reports 1 person was shot dead in front of his Tuz Khurmato home, a Mosul bombing which claimed the lives of 3 police officers (three more were injured), a Baquba sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 Sahwa, a Falluja roadside bombing which left two Iraqi soldiers injured and an attack on a Rutba police checkpoint which left 5 police officers dead.
 
Another reason Nouri should be challenged is his inability to stick to the budget he proposes.  Abbas Zaidi (Al Mada) reports that, in 2011, the government spent $7 billion more than they budgeted for -- in Iraq this is illegal.
 
In the United States, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and her Committee has just announced their winter hearings schedule:
 
Committee on Veterans' Affairs
United States Senate
112th Congress, Second Session
Hearing Schedule
Update: January 17, 2012
 
Wednesday, February 8th, 2012     10 am    SR-418
Hearing: The Fiscaly Year 2012 Budget for Veterans' Programs
 
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012          2:30 pm 345 Cannon HOB
Joint Hearing: Legislative Presentation of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
 
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012    10 am    SR-418
Hearing: Ending Homelessness Among Veternas: VA's Progress on its 5 Year Plan
 
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012          10 am   SDG-50
Joint Hearing: Legislative Presentation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
 
Wednesday, March 21st, 2012         10 am  SDG-50
Joint Hearing: Legislative Presentation of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, IAVA, Non Commissioned Officers Association, American Ex-Prisoners of War, VietnamVeterans of America, Wounded Warrior Project, National Association of State Directors of Veternas Affairs, and the Retired Enlisted Association
 
Thursday, March 22nd, 2012       10 am       345 Cannon HOB
Joint Hearing: Legislative Presenation of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Air Force Sergeants Association, Blinded Veterans Association, AMVETS, Gold Star Wives, Fleet Reserve Association, Miltiary Officers Association of America and the Jewish War Veterans. 
 
Matthew T. Lawrence
Chief Clerk/System Administrator
Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
202-224-9126