Tuesday, March 08, 2011

It's not like he has any real responsibilities







There has been the Day of Rage, the Day of Dignity and, today, the Day of Regret.
Alsumaria TV reports that Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad today on the one-year-anniversary of the March 7, 2010 elections which were supposed to bring about a new government but somehow allowed Nouri to remain as prime minister and Jalal Talabani
to remain as president -- no changes and, one year after the election, Nouri still hasn't
formed a full Cabinet and the Ministers of Interior, Defense and National Security remain filled 'temporarily' by Nouri himself. AFP reports that people had ink stained fingers -- the photo shows red ink -- and that there were approximately 500 shouting "Yes, yes to democracy!" and "Maliki, liar!" Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) explains that the the red fingers were "a parody of the purple-stained fingers they proudly displayed last year as proof that they had voted on election day." DPA counts 200 demonstrators in Baghdad and "hundreds" in Falluja where chants included "WE WILL NOT VOTE AGAIN, THEY STOLE OUR VOICES" and 'BROTHERS, SUNNIS AND SHIITES, WE WILL NOT SELL OUR COUNTRY." AGI notes Falluja protesters included "intellectuals, tribal leaders and unemployed people". Alsumaria TV also reports, "Iraqi security forces banned media from covering manifestations live on air." This continues the long pattern of attacking journalism that we saw most recently, yesterday, with the military and police forcing the Communist Party to leave their Baghad headquarters where they publish the Party's newspaper and, on Friday, the physical attack on five journalists (attacked by Iraqi security forces) who were attempting to cover a demonstration.
Ayad Allawi told Al Jazeera that Iraq doesn't have a democracy and used as one example "what happened to the Communist Party yesterday." What did happen yesterday?
Aswat al-Iraq notes the claims by Nouri that the government owns the building the Communist Party is in and that is why they were targeted. No, that's not believable.
As noted before, among those organizing protests in Iraq has been the Communist Party. On Friday (The Day of Dignity), Iraq saw more protests. Many efforts were made to try to cut down on the protests. The Worker-Communist Party of Iraq issued a press release (it's in Arabic) Friday noting that you couldn't enter Baghdad from the north on Friday, the main gate had been shut. In addition, early Thursday, hotels on Batwaiyyin Street were ordered not to provide rooms to young people because they might be protesters. It noted that Iraqi forces in "heavy" combat gear stormed Tahrir Square Tuesday night at 9:20 Baghdad time and that on Friday, Hummers and other security vehicles surrounded Tahrir Square. These efforts to cut down on the protests were made by Nouri al-Maliki. (Note, you can click here for the English lanaguage version of the site; however, it is not up to date and you won't find any of the many press released issued in the last few weeks.)
The Communist Party's efforts to organize protests have not gone unnoticed. And in "free" Iraq, that means you make Nouri's hit list. Dar Addustour reports that the Communist Party headquarters in Baghdad -- where the party produces their newspaper, among other things -- were forcibly evacuated early Sunday morning with Iraqi troops surrounded the bulding and insisting they required no judicial orders to do what they were doing. The Communist Party's Jassim Hilfi states that Iraqi police and Iraqi military took part in the operation. Hilfi notes that they have paperwork demonstrating they have the right to be there -- real estate documents. Al Mada reports on the forced evacuation and notes the Communist Party was provided with no reasons as to why they were being thrown out or why the Iraqi military was involved in the operation. Again, the Communist Party produces their newspaper there. On Friday, at least five journalists were attacked in Basra by security forces. There are ongoing attacks on the press. With what's known at present, it would appear likely that the Communist Party is being punished both for their role in organizing the (legitimate) protest and for attempting to exercise their free press rights via their newspaper. Alqanat notes Nouri issued the order in his role of Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and that the Communist Party had a written agreement with the Ministry of Finance with regards to the building. It's also pointed out that Dawa (Nouri's political party) occupies many buildings illegally and that the Green Zone is nothing but an illegal occupation of buildings by Nouri and the ruling elite. The article also notes that the Communist Party saw much of their own property confiscated under Saddam Hussein's rule and that property -- even though Hussein's dead and gone -- has still not been returned. Shakir Noori (Gulf News) observes, "The Iraqi police surrounded the headquarters of the Communist party because some of its members were active participants in these protests and also coordinated with left wing parties. They demanded that the communist party should evacuate the area which they control during the American occupation." Michael S. Schmidt and Jack Healy (New York Times) add that the Iraqi Nation Party was also ordered to leave their headquarters on Sunday per Nouri and while "the Communists were told their builidngs were being requisitioned for government use, Mr. Alusi said he had received no explanation why he was being evicted." But he tells the reporters that members of the Dawa Party (again, Nouri's party) showed up last week attempting to get "him to align with them" and against the protesters. On the journalism aspect, Suha Sheikhly (Al Mada) adds that the Friday protests are leading people to ask if Iraq needs a national stop the violence campaign in order to protect journalists from Iraq's security forces? Ahmed al-Khafaji, Undersecretary for the Ministry of the Interior, issued a statement declaring that Iraq cannot succeed without a strong fourth estate (press) and that a free press is necessary and must be protected if Iraq is going to be a democracy and leave the era of dictatorships in the past. He called for the development of a "culture of human rights" among the people. Academic Dr. Kazem Mikdadi is quoted calling for a national campaign and stating that Article 38 of the country's Constitution must be respected (their free press clause) and he said that, too often, Iraqi police and Iraqi military do not see their job as protecting the protesters -- or their role as protectors of the people -- but instead they see themselves as protectors of those in power. And that is "free" Iraq via the illegal war, the US government and their installed puppets.
Ayad Allawi has given a lengthy interview to Al Jazeera today where he repeatedly stated, "There is no power sharing" in the Iraqi government. Allawi's political slate was the winner of the March 7, 2010 elections; however, Nouri used his position as sitting prime minister to ensure he continued in that role. The United Nations should have installed a caretaker government. This was called for by many -- we called for it here -- because it was obvious Nouri was going to 'wait it out' until he got his way. The only thing that would have stopped his (abuse of) power to do that would be removing him from office. For over nine months, there was absolutely no progress. Then a power sharing agreement was brokered. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) rightly observes today that this power sharing agreement "was brokered by US Vice President Joe Biden and backed up by Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani" and Arraf notes this interview Allawi gave Alsumaria TV yesterday where he states that Joe Biden personally asked him to step away from the "his claim to be prime minister" and to instead lead the National Security Council. Allawi told Al Jazeera today that there is no power sharing agreement any more "because our agreements have not been fulfilled including the National Council." He says it's "a big lie" and "a joke" to say Iraq has a democracy. While he says that, Michael S. Schmidt and Jack Healy (New York Times) note that "a year after the elections and three months after Iraq's leaders ended a long political standoff and formed a government, Mr. Maliki has not finalized his government and is still personally overseeing the powerful army and police forces."
Okay, let's note the reality that throughout the nine months-plus, Nouri was deal making and horse trading. As we noted in real time, he was promising more positions in his Cabinet than he had. Which is why, when he became prime minister-designate in early November (officially on November 25th), it wasn't a surprise to discover he was creating new positions in an attempt to keep as many promises as he could. But the point in bringing that up today is no one had more chances than Nouri.
Ayad Allawi was a prime minister in Iraq after the US invaded. So was Ibrahim al-Jaafari. But Nouri was the first prime minister of Iraq after the 2005 Constitution was law of the land (Nouri became prime minister-designate in April 2006; prime minister in May 2006). Meaning he knew all about the Cabinet, all about the deadlines, etc. He knew it not just in some read it and comprehend it way, he knew it from actually having to do it. And yet in November 2010, after months of deal making, he can't create a Cabinet? When he's the only one with experience in doing that?
He can't create a Cabinet or he won't create a Cabinet? Because there is a difference. And as we've learned that he was lobbying the Supreme Court in December to turn over the independent bodies (Central Bank, Electoral Commission, committee that investigates corruption) to him and his control, as we've now learned that he's altered the rules so that now he claims only he has the right to introduce legislation to Parliament -- he's claiming that Parliament cannot write their own bill and pass it -- is it still looking like he just wasn't able to fill those posts?
Or is it looking more and more like he may end up claiming those posts belong to the prime minister? While everyone was riding waves of Operation Happy Talk, we were calling out his inability to fill his Cabinet (and noting that his inability should have prevented him from moving from prime minister-designate to prime minister). But so many wanted to happy talk it and pretend that everything was wonderful. It's not looking so wonderful now.
Omar (Iraq The Model) notes the apparent end of the power sharing agreement and observes, "Now Allawi is not naive. He knows very well that a) the Kurds will stick with Maliki with whom they have a strategic deal. He has so far given them what they wanted, including the right to resume oil exports, and b) the Sadrists and ISCI -- even if they ally with him -- will not allow him to become Prime Minister, as we saw druing 9 months of negotiations." Younis Omaima (Al-Alem) quotes an unnamed 'insider' who states that Allawi, seeing the spirit of protest spread across Iraq, has decided it is better at present to not be part of the government so many are condemning. Moh Hong'e (Xinhua) adds that 8 members of Iraqiya who serve in the Parliament have walked away from Iraqiya.
Al Sabaah notes that Nouri al-Maliki met yesterday with a delegation of tribal leaders and officials from Nineveh and that Nouri insists issues with the ration cards program are being dealt with, that the government is listening to the demands of the people and that meeting these demands are everyone's job. Of course, he's also given lip service in recent days to the need for a free press -- while cracking down on the press. And he held his meeting and made his announcement about the ration card system at the same time that, Al Mada reports, MP Mona Amiri (National Alliance) held a press conference explaining that many of the trations in Diyala Province have been allowed to sit -- instead of being distributed -- and have now one bad. Amiri stated that 124 tons of fat were discovered, 400 tons of tea and an unspecified number of tons of beans. If they'd been distributed, the items would have helped the people. Now they've gone bad. Al Sabbah notes that Nouri a session of Parliament on Thursday about "achieving" reforms. Meanwhile the Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi is itemizing the demands according to the most pressing.

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