Thursday, January 19, 2012

Andrew, we don't need to see it





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.
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.

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