Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Get him a financial planner






How bad are things in Iraq right now? The editorial board of the Hindu Times insists, "It has also exposed the hollowness of Washington's claim that Iraqi democracy is now stable enough to justify the December 18 removal of the remaining U.S. combat troops."
Alsumaria TV reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has pronounced calls to dissolve Parliament as "untruthful and delusive." Calls to dissolve the Parliament? Yes, things got even wilder over the weekend. Mustafa Habib (Al Mada) observed Saturday that Nouri al-Maliki's targeting Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi with terrorism charges and calling for Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq to be stripped of his office have many noticing that both are members of Iraqiya (which came in first in the March 2010 elections; Nouri's State of Law came in second) and, therefore, political opponents of Nouri and that, while the political crisis has revealed a diminished role for the US, it has underscored that the Kurds remain the heart of the country's political process. Dar Addustour reported that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi announced the postponement of the scheduled meeting last Friday of the political blocs while Nouri's spokesperson floated the notion that there are other charges waiting in the wings. Reportedly this includes charging the Minister of Finance, Rafie al-Issawi, with terrorism, specifically with killings in Falluja back in 2006. Like Tareq al-Hashemi and Saleh al-Mutlaq, Rafie al-Issawi is a member of Iraqiya. al-Hashemi was meeting with Kurdish officials in the KRG when Nouri made his charges and al-Hashemi has remained in the KRG since the charges were made.
And opinions flew right and left. Dar Addustour zeroed in on Hoshyar Zebari, Foreign Minister, issued a statement declaring the matter should have been resolved by the political blocs but has instead played out in the press. Zebari is Kurdish and a member of the PDK political party -- KRG President Massoud Barzani is the head of the PDK. Al Mada added that Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani and US Ambassador James Jeffrey spoke Friday and were calling for a meeting among the political blocs. Rudaw has quoted the KRG President's chief of staff Fuad Hussein stating, "There's no way we would hand over Hashimi to Baghdad. He is our guest." Al Mada noted that State of Law was whining about the Friday meet-up, about having one and including Iraqiya because Iraqiya is boycotting Parliament and so Nouri's political slate does not feel that Iraqiya should be included in the dialogue. Aswat al-Iraq noted, "Iraqiya bloc leader Iyad Alawi described recent events in Iraq as 'liquidation of differences', warning an explosive era waiting Iraq in the coming days, according to an interview with Arabia TV late yesterday (Friday)." And throughout the weekend, as Aswat al-Iraq reported, Iraqiya floated that Parliament to withdraw trust from Nouri. On the topic of Iraqiya, the game Nouri's decided to play can play both ways. Journalist Hadi al-Mahdi was assassinated September 8th. Earlier in the year, he had a run in with Nouri's goons. February 26th, Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reported:

Four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit.
"It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists," said Hussam al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet, who was among a group and described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility. "Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq."

NPR's Kelly McEvers interviewed Hadi for Morning Edition after he had been released and she noted he had been "beaten in the leg, eyes, and head." He explained that he was accused of attempting to "topple" Nouri al-Maliki's government -- accused by the soldiers under Nouri al-Maliki, the soldiers who beat him. Excerpt:
Hadi al-Mahdi: I replied, I told the guy who was investigating me, I'm pretty sure that your brother is unemployed and the street in your area is unpaved and you know that this political regime is a very corrupt one.
Kelly McEvers: Mahdi was later put in a room with what he says were about 200 detainees, some of them journalists and intellectuals, many of them young protesters.
Hadi al-Mahdi: I started hearing voices of other people. So, for instance, one guy was crying, another was saying, "Where's my brother?" And a third one was saying, "For the sake of God, help me."
Kelly McEvers: Mahdi was shown lists of names and asked to reveal people's addresses. He was forced to sign documents while blindfolded. Eventually he was released. Mahdi says the experience was worse than the times he was detained under Saddam Hussein. He says the regime that's taken Sadam's place is no improvement on the past. This, he says, should serve as a cautionary tale for other Arab countries trying to oust dictators.
Hadi al-Mahdi: They toppled the regime, but they brought the worst -- they brought a bunch of thieves, thugs, killers and corrupt people, stealers.
And then Hadi ended up killed in his own home and many felt Nouri was responsible. Al Mada reports that Maysson al-Damalouji, Iraqiya spokesperson, held a press conference in which she stated that they have files showing the involvement of someone close to Nouri in the assassination. Dar Addustour adds that the official minutes of the investigation into Hadi's assassination features witnesses stating they had been sent threatening letters from a close associate of Nouri's but that the investigation did not follow up on that.
That covers many of the political blocs weighing in over the weekend but not all. In the midst of the political crisis, radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr strode in striking a pose of leadership (genuine or not, I'll leave for others to decide). It started, as Sinan Salaheddin and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reported, with Moqtada proposing a "14-point 'peace code'."
No one in Iraqi or US media seemed to interested in going over the 14 points (or any of them actually) but they became less important as Moqtada and his bloc made more proposals. Monday Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) reported cleric Moqtada al-Sadr declared that new elections are needed. Dan Morse (Washington Post) adds that Moqtada wants elections "within six months" That's not all Sadr's calling for. Aswat al-Iraq notes:

The Leader of the Shiite Trend, Muqtada al-Sadr, has called Sunday for the trial of Iraq's Vice-President, Tareq al-Hashimy, under the auspices of the Parliament, warning at the same time from the single-party power on the political process in the country.
Answering a question by one of his followers in Baghdad, about the fate of Tareq al-Hashimy, Sadr said: "The issue of Hashimy's trial should take place under
the auspices of the Parliament and the people," adding that "even the sacking of politicians from their posts must take place in a legal manner."
"The issue of confessions against Vice-President, Tareq al-Hashimy and the raising of this issue at the current period may harm the country, its unity and security, including the downfall of the current political process and the security situation, along with harming the political process as well," Sadr said.

What's going on? Moqtada only supported Nouri for prime minister when Tehran told him to. Early on, he'd declared he'd abide by the wishes of his followers and they voted in their own poll in the spring of 2010. They rejected Nouri. Dropping back to the April 7, 2010 snapshot for the results of the referendum Moqtada called:

Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc won 40 seats in the Parliament. Kadhim Ajrash and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report that Ibrahim al-Jaafari "won 24 percent of the 428,000 ballots cast in the internal referendum, ahead of al-Sadr's second cousin, Jafar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, who obtained 23 percent, Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi said today in the southern city of Najaf." Al Jazeera notes that Nouri al-Maliki received 10% of the vote and Ayad Allawi 9%. The US military invaded Iraq in March 2003 (and still hasn't left).

Following the results, Moqtada kept his anti-Nouri stance for months. Has he broken with Nouri? Earlier, he was among those calling for the Erbil Agreement to be followed. After coming in second in the March 2010 elections, Iraq went into eight or so months of Political Stalemate I in which Nouri refused to allow the Constitution to be followed because he was not willing to give up the post of prime minister. Iraq's current crisis didn't just emerge this month, they have deep roots. Today AP observes, "In the week since the last American troops left Iraq, Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered an arrest warrant for the country's highest-ranking Sunni official, threatened to exclude the rival sect's main political party from his governmt and warned that 'rivers of blood' would flow if Sunnis seek an autonomous region." Going back to the roots of the current problems . . .

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Political crisis leads to?"
"Iraq and its neighbors"
"Moqtada tries to solve the political crisis?"
"Iraqi Christians"
"And the war drags on . . ."
"Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I See Ba'athis..."
"Moqtada wades into the political crisis"
"The ahistorical and the insulting"

"Merry Christmas"
"Joy to the world"
"Christmas day flying"
"He should be on his knees begging forgiveness"

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