Friday, April 13, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's power-grab
leads to more arrests, Nouri's 'promise' not to seek a third term is ignored as
a third term is pushed, pilgrims are attacked in Iraq, and more.
As a friend who covers Iraq (but isn't there currently) said of the big
news today, "You could say the s**t hit the fan but it seems to do that every
week now since US forces left." Since most US forces left. And that's not an
argument on my part for the US to send in more troops. It is noting that both
Bush and Barack bear responsibility for the problems in Iraq because both
administrations supported Nouri al-Maliki. Even after his secret prisons were
known, even after the torture was known, even after he consolidated control of
the security forces, even after he was rejected by the voters, the White House
backed him in 2010. The election results meant that Iraq could have been freed
of the US-installed tyrant. But Barack Obama decided to back Nouri. Despite
the will of the Iraqi voters as expressed in the March 2010 elections.
Martin Kobler: Madam President, it goes without saying that there
can be no democracy without free, fair and competative elections. This makes
UNAMI's work to provide election support all the more important for
consolidating democracy in Iraq. At the request of the Council of
Representatives [Parliament], UNAMI has been serving as advisor and observer in
the selection process of the board of commission of the Independent High
Electoral Commission before the expiration of the current board's term this
month. The participation of UNAMI and the NGOs in the selection process is a
clear sign to ensure transparency in the process. The final vote and selection
of the nine new commissioners -- which was expected by the end of this month --
is unlikely to take place. However, in order to avoid delays in the upcoming
elections in the Kurdistan region in September and the provincial elections in
early 2013, the Council of Representatives is encouraged to extend the mandate
of the current board of commissioners to enable it to initiate preparations for
the conduct of those polls.
Oh, what pretty little words. Oh, what pretty little fantasies. Dropping
back to yesterday's snapshot
In more dist[ur]bing power-grab news, Raheem Salman (ioL news) reports, "The head of Iraq's Independent High Electoral
Commission (IHEC) and one of its members were arrested by police on Thursday on
corruption charges, IHED officials said, in the latest apparent move for more
government control of independent bodies. Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
won a court ruling in January 2011 that put the IHED and other entities,
including the central bank, under cabinet supervision, raising concern over
attempts to consolidate power by the Shi'a premier."
Yes, two arrested. Two arrested who were supposed to oversee the upcoming
elections in the KRG and in the rest of Iraq. These are provincial elections.
The last ones were in 2009 (early 2009 for the bulk of Iraq, the summer for the
KRG). And there are no new commissioners in part because UNAMI couldn't get its
act together. And now Nouri's arrested two of the commissioners whose terms
were supposed to carry over for these upcoming elections.
that the two are Karim al-Tamimi and the commission's chief Faraj al-Haidari.
the chief of the commission. Kind of important role, kind of an important
person. He and Nouri have a history, of course. Nouri's angered pretty much
everyone -- even erstwhile ally Motada al-Sadr -- in his too-long reign. Reuters
, "Critics fear that the premier may be showing autocratic
tendencies in some of his actions and view Maliki's control over key security
ministries with suspicion." AFP does a service by explaining
the history behind
what went down, "There is bad blood between Haidari, a 64-year-old Shia Kurd,
and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri a-Maliki's State of Law list over his refusal to
carry out a national recount after 2010 parliamentary polls, in which the
premier's list came in second to rival Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya list."
For those who've forgotten the March 2010 parliamentary elections, they
played out like a little psy-ops operations -- in fact, you have to wonder if
the US government just provided support on that or if they actively devised the
Nouri is the head of Dawa. It is the political party he belongs to. They
are Shi'ites. They had all these plans for the 2010 elections but they hadn't
done well enough for Nouri in 2009 (provincial elections). Nouri misread the
2009 results. Dawa wasn't the big problem. The big problem was sectarianism.
Iraq's rejected it. That's why a number of sure-thing pre-election
announcements were revealed as empty gas baggery once the ballots were counted
and the tallies released.
But Nouri lives in a bubble where he convinces himself that he's the
fairests of them all and that his enemies are evil Snow Whites. He convinced
himself that Dawa was being rejected because, unlike himself, they weren't
'strong.' He was the Iraqi strong-man who had restored order and surely the
people loved him for it right? No, he's never been popular with the Iraqi
people. In 2006, the US imposed him on Iraq to prevent the popular choice from
becoming prime minister.
Convinced that he and he alone knew the right thing to do, he refused to
run with Dawa and instead invented State of Law, a political slate headed by
him, a slate whose very name would trumpet his 'accomplishment' of ruling Iraq
with an iron fist.
A new slate emerged to rival him: Iraqiya. Ayad Allawi is the head. He
might not have been the original head. That's not meant as an insult to him,
that's just noting that a number of members of Iraqiya were forbidden by Nouri
al-Maliki's Justice and Accountability Commission from running. They were
(prepare to shudder) terrorists!
Or that's what Nouri and his cronies insisted. Strange, some of them were
members of Parliament but now were accused of being unrepetant Ba'athists
plotting the return of the Ba'ath Party. Were that true (it wasn't), why not
make your allegation and let the people decide?
Probably because Nouri grasped that even the Ba'ath Party was more popular
in Iraq than Nouri was. Al Jazeera did their last good reporting on the
political issues and divisions with regards to the February and March 2010. They
probably had to. The bulk of their viewers are Arabs. Arabs around the world
have been outraged by Nouri's actions -- a fact that the US press doesn't like
to inform you of. Which is how you get garbage like, most recently, "The Arab
League Summit in Baghdad was a huge success!" followed by the whisper of,
"Except none of the leaders of major Arab states attended."
The Arab world has seen a very different war than the US has and that
includes not just who gought and who died but also the political policies and
witch hunts that the US press has largely ignored. The US press pretends that
Arab fighters cross over into Iraq to be part of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and
they site the anti-Arab SITE (run by the discredited Ritz Katz) as 'proof' for
whatever false claims they make. Soemtimes they get honest enough that a few US
outlets will say "al Qaeda linked" as opposed to declaring them "al Qaeda." It's
all b.s. and nonsense. Arab fighters enter Iraq, throughout the long war and
ongoing occupation, for one reason only: They preceive their Arab brothers and
sisters to be victimized in the 'new' Iraq.
And they have that perception because that is what has taken place and what
is taking place. The US press deludes Americans into thinking something
puzzling took place when what happened is the most natural and obivous reaction
and, if you remove the heightened term 'al Qaeda,' you have the story of every
invasion and every response to it throughout history. But they want to play
dumb and pretend that something puzzling and new and never-before-seen is taking
No such thing is or has happened.
In fairness to Shi'ites in Iraq, they lived as an oppressed people for
years. It's very rare that an oppressed people learns from the experience. (A
modern exception is South Africa where, after apartheid was finally overturned,
the people sought justice and not vengence, equality and not oppression.)
Equally true, most Shi'ites aren't taking part in oppressing anyone. Most
Shi'ites are trying to go about their daily lives without getting killed the
same as the Sunnis and other groupings.
Iraq is a country of widows and orphans. The current war, the sanctions
before that and the Gulf War ensured that Iraq would remain a young country
because so few people would live to an old age. The median age in Iraq is
approximately 20.9 years. Again, it's a very young country age wise.
So all of the past oppressions could be distant enough that the Iraqi
people could work together. The thing that prevents that, the thing always
prevented that, has been the exiles the US placed in charge of the country.
Too damn scared to fight Saddam Hussein, they fled the country decades
ago. Lived in Iran, Syria, England, etc. while they plotted to get other
countries to over throw Iraq's president Saddam Hussein.
"Saddam tried to kill me!" Nouri has whimpered when telling his life story
to a few members of the press. Yeah, maybe so. But your response was to run
like a coward (he'd spend 8 years in Iran alone). Your response wasn't to stand
up and fight. You're response wasn't to leave with dignity by making a life
another country. You fled like a coward and spent years nursing your hatred.
That's what you brought back with you to Iraq. that's all Nouri brought back, a
grudge he's picked and nursed for decades. What kind of idiots would ever think
someone like that should run a country?
Oh, that's right. The US
And not by accident. We commented on Nouri's paraonia months after he
became prime minister in 2006. It was obivous to the naked eye. Thanks to
WikiLeaks, we now know that as early as 2007, State Dept cables were noting
Nouri's paranoia. Nouri was put in charge because he was paranoid. When you
install a puppet, you don't want someone with a strong, positive self-image.
They're harder to control. Hugo Chavez has a healthy ego. He was not installed
by the US and cannot be co-opted by the US government because he doesn't have
those inner demons. Nouri does.
With Nouri, the US always knew how to appeal to his vanity, how to prey on
his fears. Want something done, tell Nouri that he looks weak, tell him that
the Kurds are disrespecting him, feed his inner doubts and he will act.
He haas no core strength and he no ethics or beliefs he stands by. He is
nothing but id and he responds not only instinctually but also instantly.
That's why he became prime minister and that's why, in 2010, the White House
backed him to continue as prime minister. A psychological dossier exits on
Nouri and made him the best (meaning most pliable) choice for US interests. (I
dispute that conclusion/finding. He accomplishes nothing. If the US government
has certain goals that they want achieved via a puppet, they need a puppet who
can accomplish something. Instead Nouri's technique of stalling leads to
paralysis which is why the US puppet has still not been able to deliver and oil
& gas law all these years later.)
The Iraqi people were supposed to be scared of Iraqiya. Members were being
purged from the election. (If you were labeled a 'terrorist,' your name was
pulled from the ballots.) The political slate was scrambling to find people to
run. Nouri controlled state-TV and controlled the message. It should have been
a landslide victory for Nouri -- as he was insisting it would be. As Quil
Lawrence (NPR) reported the Monday after the Saturday elections (when no ballot
totals existed) it was.
It wasn't. The Iraqi people continued the trend of 2009. The
parliamentary elections reflected the provincial elections. In most cases,
Iraqis didn't want sectarian rule. They were exhausted by it, they were tired
of it and they were tired of living in fear (fear being the only thing Nouri had
to campaign on).. They rejected it. And they rejected Nouri's State of
Which is why it came in second to Iraqiya. For some reason -- attempts to
whore for the US government? -- a number of reporters feel the need to insist
that Iraqiya only won a few seats more than State of Law!
So what? It had many, many more votes. Since when do we refer to the
voters desires by noting seats and not vote totals?
By votes, which is how the Iraqi people expressed themselves, Iraqiya was
the clear winner and the direction the country to go in. Iraqiya, headed by
Shi'ite Ayad Allawi, was a mixture of various sects. It was a party that spoke
to national identity. They did this by the candidates they put forward, they
did it by the spokespeople they put forward. Even now, the most prominent woman
in Iraqi politics is the spokesperson for Iraqiya: Maysoon al-Damluji.
State of Law is the past, always refighting old battles, always seeking
revenge. Iraqiya was a way forward for the country, representing a national
identity ("We are Iraqis") and representing that all were taking part,
regardless of sect, regardless of belief or religion, regardless of gender.
Iraqiya's message was: "We are Iraq. We are the party of all Iraqis."
And then there was Nouri with his announcements that a terrorist attack
would be taking place any second -- trying to use fear the way Bully Boy Bush
did in the 2004 US elections.
That's why Iraqiya won despite all the problems they faced -- losing
candidates (and that includes their candidates that were murdered in February --
no one killed State of Law candidates), losing the media wars, being outspent
(Nouri bribes with potable water at election time, suddenly your village has
water when Nouri shows up and he tells you that you will have water after the
elections -- of course that doesn't come to be but he's all about the election
cycle and not the future).
Iraqiya's victory was a huge victory and the press belittled it with "they
only won a few seats more." THe press belittled because the US government was
backing Nouri al-Maliki. Imagine if Iraqiya had run against Saddam Hussein and
had the same outcome as they did in 2010? You don't think the world press would
have been all over the surprise upset? Of course, it would have. But in 2010,
the press curbed itself and took a surprise out-of-no-where win and demoted it
to "no big deal."
Doing that allowed Nouri to steal the election. He first dug in his
heels. He then announced the results of the Supreme Court he controls.
Suddenly it was learned that Nouri had brought lawsuits regarding the process
oof selecting a prime minister. No one knew about those lawsuits before hand.
Damned the court he controlled didn't find in his favor.
There was the issue fo the Constitution but Nouri just ignored it. And dug
his heels in creating Political Stalemate I which lasted eight months. During
that time, the US and Iranian governments worked together to press everyone to
give Nouri a second term as prime minister. The US held no sway over Moqtada
al-Sadr but Iran did. So Moqtada's announcement that he would not back Nouri
was set aside. The vote Moqtada held in April 2010, where he asked his
followers to pick who he should back for prime minister also got set aside.
While Iran worked on a number of Shi'ites (and Iran and the US worked on Amar
al-Hakim, the head of ISCI), the US worked on the Kurds and Iraqiya. It was
time to move forward was the message repeated over and over.
'Look, it's just a four year term. And if you give on this, if you show
you're the better person, we will make sure that you receive concessions. In
fact, we'll even make sure it's put in writing.'
Hence the Erbil Agreement which ended Political Stalemate I. A document
with many concessions that allowed Nouri a second term. He honored the
agreement . . . long enough to be established as prime minister for a second
term. Then he trashed it and refused to deliver on what had been promised to
the other political blocs.
President Massoud Barzani: Article 140 is a Constitutional Article
and it needed a lot of discussions and talks until we have reached this. This
is the best way to solve this problem. It's regarding solving the problems of
the territories that have been detached from Kurdistan Region. In fact, I do
not want to call it "disputed areas" because we do not have any disputes on
that. For us it is very clear for that. But we have shown upmost flexibility in
order to find the legal and the Constitutional solution for this problem. And
in order to pave the way for the return of these areas, according to the
Constitution and the basis of law and legally to the Kurdistan Region. And we
have found out that there is an effort to evade and run away from this
responsibility for the last six years in implementing this Constitutional
Article. And I want to assure you that implementing this Constitutional Article
is in the interest of Iraq and in the interest of stability. There are people
who think that time would make us forget about this. They are wrong. Time
would not help forget or solve the problem. These are Kurdish countries, part of
Kurdistan and it has to return to Kurdistan based on the mechanism that has been
stipulated in the Constitution. And at the end of the day, as the Constitution
stipulates, it's going back to what the people want to determine. So there is a
referendum for the people of these areas and they will decide. If the people
decide to join Kurdistan Region, they're welcome and if the people decide not
to, at that time, we will look at any responsibility on our shoulders so people
would be held responsible for their own decisions. As far as
the second part of your question, the Erbil Agreement. In fact, the agreement
was not only for the sake of forming the government and forming the three
presidencies -- the presidency, the Speakership of Parliament and premier. In
fact, it was a package -- a package that included a number of essential items.
First, to put in place a general partnership in the country. Second, commitment
to the Constitution and its implementation, the issue of fedarlism, the return
of balance of power and especially in all the state institutions,the
establishment in [. . .] mainly in the armed forces and the security forces, the
hydrocarbons law, the Article 140 of the Constitution, the status of the pesh
merga. These were all part of the package that had been there. Had this Erbil
Agreement been implemented, we would not have faced the situation that we are in
today. Therefore, if we do not implement the Erbil Agreement then there would
certainly be problems in Iraq.
The Kurds have been the US government's biggest supporter in Iraq -- that's
before the invasion, during the invasion and all the time that's followed. They
wrongly thought that meant the US would look out for them and ensure that the
Constitution and the Erbil Agreement were honored. They were wrong and they've
slowly realized that. They've grasped that the US forever bends to Nouri and
that, at present, it has no desire to stop.
That realization -- one that Iraqiya appears to have reached as well --
makes the ongoing political crisis all the more dangerous. And with Nouri now
going after the independent commission overseeing elections, things are going to
get a lot more dangerous.
An interesting development this week, Al Mada reports
the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq is accusing State of Law of making the
National Alliance less popular with the Iraqi people as a result of the war with
the Kurds and Iraqiya. If someone were trying to figure out the reason for this
public declaration, two spring quickly to mind. One, ISCI is speaking for others
within the National Alliance and attempting to send Nouri a message that he
needs to dial it back. Two, ISCI has already made a decision to replace Nouri
and these statements are to prepare the public for that soon-to-emerge event.
There are other possibilites, we're focusing on those two.
Why might they be concerned enough to be acting out either of the two
scenarios? As Al Mada points out
, Nouri sent to an independent MP
with the National alliance (Ablzona al-Jawad) to the press yesterday to declare
that Nouri is the only one who can lead. This is about a thrid term, as the MP
makes clear. The third term's not that far away. Elections are now supposed to
take place in 2014 -- though it may be 2015 or maybe Nouri will just call them
Nouri wants a third term. Nouri wants to be the New Saddam, actually. He
hopes to go on and on and on in office. How else to keep his corrupts sons and
cousins on the payroll? How else to fleece so much from the people of Iraq who
live in poverty in an oil rich country while Nouri's own life is "palatial."
Nouri can't just run for a third term. There has to be a roll out.
Because as Iraqis began protesting in January against him, against his fabeled
"law and order" (they demanded to see their loved ones who'd been disappeared
into the 'legal' system), against his corruption, and this took place while
other leaders in the region were being challenged and overthrown. The protests
in Iraq only grew in size and number. And what did Nouri do?
Instead of taking responsibility, Mr. Maliki charged
that the protests were organized by "terrorists." He ordered the closing of the
offices of two political parties that helped lead the demonstrations.
His only concessions were vows not to
seek a third term in 2014 and to cut his pay in half. That was not persuasive,
especially given his many recent power grabs.
The press never followed up on the pay cut but how could they? No one
knew then and no one knows now how much Nouri legally takes from the Iraqi
treasury. But, as the editorial board noted, he did make a laughable claim that
he wouldn't seek a third term. He made that claim to Sammy
Ketz of AFP which quickly reported it
. And other outlets quickly followed
suit. But the day after he made that announcement, Ben Lando and Munaf Ammar (Wall St. Journal) reported
spokesperson, Ali al-Mousawi, was declaring, "We would like to correct this
article. Maliki said, 'I think that the period of eight years is adequate for
the application of a successful program to the prime minister, and if he is not
successful, he must vacate his place'."
From the February 7, 2011 snapshot
course no one does easy, meaningless words like Nouri. Saturday, his words
included the announcement that he wouldn't seek a third term. His spokesperson
discussed the 'decision' and Nouri himself announced the decision to Sammy Ketz
of AFP in an interview. Ketz reported
him stating he won't seek a third term, that 8 years is enough and that he
supports a measure to the Constitution limiting prime ministers to two
Well Jalal Talabani declared he wouldn't seek a second term as
President of Iraq in an interview and then . . . took a second term. Point, if
you're speaking to a single journalist, it really doesn't seem to matter what
you say. Did Nouri announce his decision to the people? No, Iraqhurr.org is quite
clear that an advisor made an announcement and that
Malliki made no "public statement" today.
In other words, a statement
in an interview is the US political equivalent of "I have no plans to run for
the presidency" uttered more than two years before a presidential election.
That's Iraqi politicians in general. Nouri? This is the man who's never kept a
promise and who is still denying the existence of secret prisons in Iraq.
notes the Human Rights Watch report on the secret
prisons and that they are run by forces Nouri commands.
And Nouri couldn't even make it 24 hours with his
latest 'big promise.' Sunday, Ben Lando and
Munaf Ammar (Wall St. Journal)
that Nouri's spokesperson, Ali al-Mousawi, declared today,
"We would like to correct this article. Maliki said, 'I think that the period of
eight years is adequate for the application of a successful program to the prime
minister, and if he is not successful, he must vacate his place'." Of course
he's not announcing that. He's a thug. His previous four year term was an utter
That's not speculation, that's not opinion. He agreed to the
benchmarks that the White House set. He was supposed to achieve those in 2007.
Those benchmarks, supposedly, were what would determine whether or not the US
tax payer continued to foot the bill for the illegal war. But he didn't meet
those benchmarks and apologists rushed forward to pretend like they weren't a
year long thing and that, in fact, he had 2008 as well. Well 2008 came and went
and the benchmarks were still not met. Nor were they in 2009. Nor were they in
his last year in 2010.
That's failure. When you agree you will meet
certain things -- such as resolving the Kirkuk issue -- and you do not, you are
a failure. Not only did he fail at the benchmarks, he failed in providing Iraqis
with basic services. He failed in providing them with security.
no grading system by which Nouri can be seen as a success.
But just as he
will not admit to or own his failures from his first term as prime minister, do
not expect to own or admit to his failures in his second term. In other words,
Little Saddam wants to be around, and heading the Iraqi government, for a long,
And, as 2011 entered its final month, Al Mada reported
al-Maliki's legal advisor Fadhil Mohammad Jawad had stressed to the press that
there is no law barring Nouri from a third term as prime minister. And at that
moment, the trial balloon was officially floated.
Now we have it advanced even further by a Member of Parliament. And
Nouri's arresting members of the electoral commission. And not a word, not a
peep from the State Dept or from UANMI or from the United Nations.
It really is something how the world has destroyed Iraq.
We noted a friend at the top explaining how bad things had gotten since the
bulk of US forces left Iraq. (Special Ops, 'trainers,' Marines to protect the
embassy, the CIA and the FBI remain in Iraq as do thousands of contractors
working for the State Dept.)
That was always going to happen, violence and power-grabs were always going
to take place after most US forces left. We've argued and advocated for US
forces to leave and to leave immediately. Most US forces leaving Iraq is not
why you have the problems you have today. The problems you have right now go to
Nouri al-Maliki and no one else in Iraq. Nouri is the cause of the problems.
And the cause of Nouri is the US government.
The Bush administration demanded he be named prime minister in 2006. The
Barack administration demanded he remain prime minister in 2010.
With US forces gone, Nouri no longer has to deal with the US military
command. Nouri faced more calls for equality and fairness from US General Ray
Odierno than he ever did from US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill. Odierno put
pressure on him. And, yes, he could do that in part because he had forces Nouri
needed the influence of. So those who want to say Iraq might be better off with
a larger number of US forces on the ground may be right in the short term -- but
that would also require having DoD in charge of them. Because Odierno did not
represent the State Dept. And Barack has put the State Dept in charge of all
operations in Iraq.
But possibly, for the short term, Iraq would be more peaceful right now --
at least in terms of the political process -- if a larger number of US forces
were on the ground in Iraq and under DoD command. However, the struggle taking
place currently would still take place at some point because US forces would
have to leave at some point.
The mistake the US made after the initial mistake of starting an illegal
war was to then go on and back Nouri al-Maliki whom the US government knew was
deranged but thought they could control. "Control" not to protect the Iraqis,
especially with regards to energy. That selfish choice (and idiotic one because
Nouri can't influence anything, that was evident by 2007 if you paid attention)
has doomed the Iraq people in the current situation that they're in. Barring a
no-confidence vote the only hope Iraq has is the 2014 elections (if they take
place) and, even then, you're asking Iraqis to risk violence to vote four years
after they did just that and the US refused to respect their vote, the US
refused to recognize their vote and the US government instead insisted that the
losing political slate get to hold onto the post of prime minister.
Iraq today is a story of violence inflicted upon the average Iraqi by the
US government and by puppets of the US govenrment. Reuters
an armed attack on a bush of pilgrims headed to Samarra which left 5
dead and six injured and an armed attack on pilgrims headed to Kerbala which
left 2 of them dead and six more injured. Alsumaria reports
that 1 soldier was shot dead
today in Mosul.
In the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs
Committee. The Committee notes:
Committee on Veterans' Affairs
United States Senate
112th Congress, Second Session
Update: April 12, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
10:30 am MST
2465 Grant Road
Field Hearing: Improving Access to Quality Health Care for Rural
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
10 am EST
Senate Dirksen Office Building Room 138
VA Mental Health Care: Evaluating Access and Accessing
Matthew T. Lawrence
Chief Clerk/System Administrator
Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs