Monday, March 01, 2010

Sweets for the Sweetie!





On the latest installment of Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera), which began airing Friday, Jasim al-Azawi spoke with one-time CIA asset Ahmed Chalabi who is also a convicted felon in Jordan, a very close and personal friend of boypal Ali al-Lani and, it turns out, a non-stop, yelling and shouting diva.
Jasim al-Azawi: And now I'm delighted to welcome from Baghdad, Ahmed Chalabi, chairman of the Accountability and Justice Commission and a candidate of the Iraqi National Alliance for Parliament. Ahmed Chalabi, welcome to Inside Iraq. And let me start from the beginning and that is Prime Minister [Nouri] al-Malliki has decided to rescind a recent act issued by your commission. Lately you have submitted a list of 376 members of the army, the police and the intelligence. They are supposed to be Ba'athists and you are going to remove them. al-Maliki is saying, "Stop it, Ahmed Chalabi. You have no idea the damage you are cuasing."
Ahmed Chalabi: The prime minister has no authority on his own to exempt anyone from the decisions of the Justice and Accountability Commission. Article 12 of Law Number 10 from 2008 specifies that the Council of Ministers has the authority to request exemption for anybody who is uh subject to the Justice and Accountability law provided he gets the approval of the Parliament.
Jasim al-Azawi: What makes you think that he cannot get the ministers to sanction his authority and more significantly --
Ahmed Chalabi: He may get the ministers to sanction his authority but he needs to get Parliament to approve what he does.
Jasim al-Azawi: Well since you mentioned Parliament, in that case let me turn the table on you. Parliament has never sanctioned your commission -- the Justice and Accountability -- that bill never went to Parliament and more importantly you and your executive director Mr. Ali al-Lami were never appointed by Parliament so on what authority you are expunging people and banning people?
Ahmed Chalabi: On the authority of Law Number 10, Justice and Accountability Law of 2008. This argument has been settled by the uh Appeals Commission of the uhm uh Justice and Accountability that was appointed by Parliament a few weeks ago. In their ruling on the case of Mr. Saleh al-Mutlaq, they said that the Justice and Accountability Commission is valid and is active and is authorized by the law --
Jasim al-Azawi: Ahmed Chalabi, you know very well, you know very well,
Ahmed Chalabi: -- so therefore this argument does not hold water anymore because the highest court in Iraq has approved the legality of the current commission.
Jasim al-Azawi: Ahmed Chalabi, that is -- that is absolutely not right, not true. Parliament has --
Ahmed Chalabi: How do you know that!
Jasim al-Azawi: Because --
Ahmed Chalabi: I read you -- I read you the statement!
Jasim al-Azawi: Before you read me that statement, Parliament has never voted on the Accountability and Justice Commission --
Ahmed Chalabi: I will tell you! I will read the statement!
Jasim al-Azawi: -- and --
Ahmed Chalabi: I will readyyou the statement! It doesn't matter what you say. It's just an argument to detract from the legality of the commission. It says here that the law, Law Number 10 will only specify that they rename the de-Ba'athification Comission into the Justice and Accountability Commission -- rename. Therefore, this commission is working according to the law and has the legality for the reasons specified above.' That's the decision of the court.
Jasim al-Azawi: At any rate, we don't want to get into the legal aspect, we will let the viewers to judge -- We will let the viewers and the Iraqis --
Ahmed Chalibi: It's not the viewers! It's the Iraqi court!
[too much cross talk and too much shouting by Ahmed]
Jasim al-Azawi: -- by Parliament, but the federal government has not given it's final verdict yet.
[too much cross talk and too much shouting by Ahmed, we'll skip ahead]
Jasim al-Azawi: Fine. Let us go to the second gentleman in this commission. I am talking to you but there is somebody behind you, your executive director, Mr. Ali al-Lami. Just for the viewers to know who Mr. al-Lami is, correct me if the statement and the story I'm going to tell is wrong. This gentleman was released by US forces back in August of 2009 [Ahmed giggles -- giggles is the term, watch and see] under the charges of terrorism. He was --
Ahmed Chalabi: [Waving finger] No charges!
Jasim al-Azawi: He was -- he was released from prison --
Ahmed Chalabi: No charges!
Jasim al-Azawi: I will come to the story completely, but now let's just say, now he finds --
Ahmed Chalabi: He was kidnapped!
Jasim al-Azawi: He was captured by the Americans because they think --
Ahmed Chalabi: He was kidnapped!
Jasim al-Azawi: Hold on --
Ahmed Chalabi: By contractors at the airpot.
Jasim al-Azawi: Hold on, Mr. Chalabi. He was -- he was not charged directly --
Ahmed Chalabi: He was not charged.
Jasim al-Azawi: I am the first one to say that. Mr. Odierno --
Ahmed Chalabi: He was not charged!
Jasim al-Azawi: I said that. I said that. Let me finish the story. He was believed to be the mastermind of a terrorist act that happened in al-Sadr City where American forces and civilian administrations along with Iraqi officials, they were meeting with some council members in Sadr City the American officials they were on the way out there was an IED and there was an explosion and many people killed. Odierno believes that Mr. al-Lami is directly responsible for that.
Ahmed Chalabi: This is patent nonsense. There is no charge. They have no evidence. And it is based on an intelligence report of one unreliable informer for the American tactical units in the area. They -- Mr. Lami was not arrested. He was kidnapped at the airport by US contractors, taken to a US prison, put under pressure and almost tortured for 38 days and they could get nothing from him on this issue. They have no evidence. He stayed 351 days in jail. And the Iraqi government has no case, n-n-n-n-n-o authority, no legal entity and no intelligence entity of the Iraqi government, there is any charge against Mr. Ali --- Ali al-Lami. And the US has not charged him and he was released without charges. Therefore, legally, he was kidnapped. And as for this issue of the uh-buh-uh-uh people who were killed by-by the IED, he had nothing to do with it. I am certain he had nothing to do with it. And this charge has not been proven.
For those who cannot stream or would not benefit from streaming, Ahmed Chalabi has a a wide grin on his face when Jasim al-Azawi is saying, "He was believed to be the mastermind of a terrorist act that happened in al-Sadr City where American forces and civilian administrations along with Iraqi officials, they were meeting with some council members in Sadr City the American officials they were on the way out there was an IED and there was an explosion and many people killed. Odierno believes that Mr. al-Lami is directly responsible for that." He finds that very humerous for some reason. Others will find it humor in Chalabi whining that "it is based on an intelligence report of one unreliable informer" -- Chalabi, the original unreliable informer.
Over the weekend, Ernesto Londono and Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported on Chalabi and noted his tarring people as "Ba'athists" "is reprising a role he played after the U.S.-led invasion -- which many critics believe he helped facilitate with faulty intelligence -- and, in the process, is infuriating American officials and some Iraqis, who suspect his motive is to bolster his own political bloc." While Hannah Allam (Miami Herald) reported, "Cheeky opponents of Ahmad Chalabi, the onetime U.S. ally and perennially controversial Shiite Muslim politician, are sending out e-mails of a faux poster with Chalabi's face superimposed on an ad for the classic 1940 film, 'The Thief of Baghdad'." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) observes, "As chief architect of the move to disqualify hundreds of candidates accused of ties to the outlawed Baath Party, Chalabi has defined the agenda for the upcoming Iraqi national elections. In doing so, he has thwarted five years of U.S. policy in Iraq aimed at reconciling the Sunni and Shiite Mulsim sects and gotten his revenge against America for dumping him as its favorite back in 2004."
Chalabi is only one candidate in the elections. Another is Ayad Jamal Aldin of the Ahrar Party and they issued the following today:
At the start of a week that has been dominated by news of the continuing and expanding 'de-Baathification' programme, Ahrar 374 Leader Ayad Jamal Aldin noted that the issue continues to distract voters' attention from the Maliki government's failure to deliver on jobs, public services and security. He urged voters to send the government a message and participate in Sunday's election.
De-Baathification is intensifying. Over the past five days, professors at the University of Karbala and Iraq's Southern Oil Company have been targeted. The level of fear-mongering has reached such a fever pitch that large numbers of highly competent professionals that Iraq desperately needs to run government and industry, are afraid for their lives and livelihoods. Just yesterday, it emerged that that violence had surged by 80 percent last month, when compared to January.
Ayad Jamal Aldin - leader of Ahrar 374 - said today, "It is clear what is happening here; the government is attempting to bully the people away from the ballot box. We should not accept it. Where we see these bullying tactics, we must see them for what they really are: an attempt to divert the Iraqi people's focus from the government's chronic failure to deliver jobs, running water and real security."
"The only answer can be to stand up to bullies. And this week, we have the best possible response to them - to take part in this election and vote for change."
For further information, contact:
Ahrar Media Bureau
Tel: +964 (0)790 157 4478 / +964 (0)790 157 4479 / +964 (0)771 275 2942
About Ayad Jamal Aldin:
Ayad Jamal Aldin is a cleric, best known for his consistent campaigning for a new, secular Iraq. He first rose to prominence at the Nasiriyah conference in March 2003, shortly before the fall of Saddam, where he called for a state free of religion, the turban and other theological symbols. In 2005, he was elected as one of the 25 MPs on the Iraqi National List, but withdrew in 2009 after becoming disenchanted with Iyad Allawi's overtures to Iran. He wants complete independence from Iranian interference in Iraq. He now leads the Ahrar party for the 2010 election to the Council of Representatives, to clean up corruption and create a strong, secure and liberated Iraq for the future.
Another running in the elections in Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minsiter. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) notes Nouri's many problems including that he "appears isolated, imperious and impetuous" He adds that Nouri "is neither a charismatic leader nor a polished campaigner" but he may be short changing Nouri on the latter. Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports that Saad al-Alusi, formerly of Iraq's National Intelligence Service, has accused Nouri of giving southern tribal leaders huge numbers of guns (apparently 10,000) in order to buy their votes. Chulov reports it as an accusation but it's reality and that's confirmed in his own story. Nouri's mouthpiece Ali al-Dabbagh insists that, yes, the guns were given, but it was long planned for them to be given so this wasn't a bribe and had nothing to do with the elections. He's handing out the guns days before the election (and again, his own spokesperson confirms he is)? It's a bribe -- and it's not just Nouri. For example, an Iraqi tells War News Radio, "Many are doing this like the Iraqi National Alliance. They distributed blankets, clothes and even shoes. They distributed these in poor neighborhoods. I saw them doing it in front of me." Back to Nouri, Hannah Allam (Miami Herald) reported that Nouri's campaign posters are a popular target in Baghdad: "One of al-Maliki's campaign posters shows him standing shoulder to shoulder with the education minister. The men are wearing matching gray suits. The joke on the street: 'Which one's the groom?'" Of the candidates in general, Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers' Inside Iraq) observes:

Suddenly, our politicians talk only about the people suffering. They all talk about the lack of services, lack of electricity, the housing crisis, the unemployment crisis and the security issues. Suddenly, most of them who were gaining millions during the last four years started thinking about the financial situation of the poor families who never dreamed of earning even one million Iraqi Dinars ($850). Suddenly, many politicians started visting the rural areas and meeting the innocent poor who were begging for a visit by one of the officials to listen to them or to tell him about a sewage problem or lack of drinking water or the absence of any medical services.
On the most recent episode of Swarthmore College's War News Radio, Gabriel Ramierz spoke to Iraqis about what they're hoping for in the elections.
Saif Adnan, college student in Mosul: We hope the upcoming elections can change the bad conditions in Iraq but the problem is past elections have been one failure after another. This has a negative impact on people's view of the elections. In spite of this we hope that there will be good and fair elections that can take the country to a better level.
Kadeem Hussein, 24-year-old college graduate looking for work: I'd like to see more jobs provided and an improvement in security.
Today AFP interviews Iraq's National Security Adviser, Safa Hussein, who shares some post-election day concerns: "If it takes a long time, we will have some difficulties." If what takes a long time? Creating a new ruling government. Elections are held March 5th through 7th. Then the counting beings. Expect a minimum of one week before results are announced (and those probably won't be certified results). The elections are not to elect a prime minister, they are to elect members of Parliament. MPs -- members of Parliament -- will then elect a prime minister. This can be done quickly if one political party sweeps the elections or it can take awhile if one political party that sweeps has several people who want to be prime minister or if the results spread the votes out amongst many parties. If it's the latter, the MPs of various parties begin working on coalition sharing argreements. This is what concerns Safa Hussein who states, "I would begin to be concerned if it was not established by July." It? We're not even to it yet in the description. After a prime minister is agreed upon, the prime minister then needs to appoint a cabinet. That becomes the central government out of Baghdad. Nouri missed both his own announced deadline in 2006 for appointing a cabinet as well as the Constitutionally mandated deadline. And those wondering about July should remember that the Parliamentary elections were held in December 2005 and Nouri was announced prime minister in April 2006.

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