Friday, March 30, 2012

He still does his computer searches on Alta Vista!





The Arab League Summit was held today in Baghdad. It didn't change a thing because Nouri never learned how to charm. So instead of starting with it, let's start with the ongoing political crisis in Iraq. Nouri al-Maliki created Political Stalemate I after the March 2010 elections when, for over eight months, he refused to allow the government to move forward because he refused to honor the votes or the Constitution (and with White House backing, he was able to get away with that). His State of Law political slate came in second to Iraqiya (led by Ayad Allawi) in the elections. In November of 2010, to end the political stalemate, the various political actors agreed to the US-brokered Erbil Agreement. Nouri agreed because it would allow him to continue as prime minister. But the things in the agreement that got Iraqiya, the Kurds and others to sign off on? Nouri trashed all of that. Immediately, what was supposed to take place was that the Parliament would name Jalal Talabani president (for a second term) and Talabani would name Nouri prime minister-designate while Nouri get his people to drop the false charges and smears against Iraqiya members and Nouri would name Ayad Allawi as head of a new national security committee (an independent committee). Nouri got what he wanted and then had excuses for everything else in the agreement, it would take time, now wasn't good, blah, blah, blah. His apologists (in Iraq as well as in the US) would later begin to insist that the Erbil Agreement was unconstitutional. If that were true (it's not -- it may be extra-constitutional -- and if you don't know the difference between the terms, don't gas bag on the topic), that would mean the entire agreement was illegal and that would mean Nouri was an illegitimate prime minister because Nouri remains prime minister for a second term not by the outlined process in the Constitution and not by the voting results of 2010. He gets his second term solely because of the Erbil Agreement.
Nouri is best seen as the pouty child who refuses to get off the floor of the grocery store until he's told he can't get a piece of candy. He is more than willing to wait and wait forever. This is imporant to understanding both him and how Iraq has 'worked' and will continue to. Nouri has got to be challenged. And if you're going to blink, there's no point in taking a stand. He is a willful child who needs clear boundaries and knows that there will be consequences. If you take a stand and back down, you're encouraging him.
Jasim Alsabawi (Rudaw) notes attacks on Barzani from various members of Nouri's circle. The article also includes advice beyond stupid but I'm biting my tongue because Ava and I already told Jim we'd cover the same stupidity (but from American politician) at Third this weekend. Alsumaria TV notes that the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq is calling for a dialogue and blah blah. Now they're concerned. Massoud Barzani wasn't covering new terrain. He was responding to what's been going on for months and it is a false narrative to act as if Barzani's now 'started' something. This is the political crisis. It's cute the way so many are eager to be Nouri's lackeys and play dumb when anyone Nouri's tried to oppress or eliminate bothers to respond publicly.
The piece Ava and I were going to write was "The Great Compromiser Olympia Snowe (Ava and C.I.)" and the similar point? In US politics, the "center" is not the center. The "center" is based not on the people but on the politicians and, since 1970, the right wing in the US has stayed firm in their beliefs. Good for them. The left has repeatedly compromised and the result is that the "center" has moved ever rightward. And Iraq? From the Rudaw article:

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Ayad Alawi's Iraqiya bloc threatened to walk out of parliament in opposition to PM Maliki's dominance. But Sultan believes these threats only prove the Iraqiya bloc's failure in its politics.

"I think that Iraqiya bloc lacks unity in the political discourse in dealing with crisis," he said. "It withdrew its ministers from the government after the issue of al-Hashimi, and later sent them back. Now it wants to withdraw them again. What will they get from all this?"

Grasp that, over the summer, the Kurds began calling for a return to the Erbil Agreement. Iraqiya joined them in that call. When Iraqiya walked, it was over the Erbil Agreement -- no warrant had been sworn out for Tareq al-Hashemi, that's not the political crisis. The crisis is the failure to follow the Erbil Agreement. But Iraqiya walks out. They were wrong to end their boycott. They were wrong because with a bully child like Nouri, you have to set boundaries and make clear that there are consquences or the spoiled baby will continue to refuse to share his toys and play nice.
But why did Iraqiya end the boycott? Due to pressure. Internally, which was minimal, and externally, which was international. And they were told by the White House, among others, that they would look mature and, come on, do the right thing for the good of Iraq.
That little pep talk is exactly why the US is so screwed up politically. Democrats fell for it over and over (some wanted to fall). Republicans stuck to their beliefs. But Dems were seduced -- and still are -- by the thought that they'd look mature and grown up. That's still used today in the efforts to gut Social Security. Dems are told they'll look so mature and it's not, "Hey, Republican law maker, you're acting crazy and we're not funding your project." (I'm not calling all Republicans crazy. I'm also not trying to insult them. I'm a Democrat and I'm more than happy to call out my own party for its failures.)
By the same token all Allawi and company got was a brief moment of "Oh, they were mature and ended their boycott." They're threatening a new one. They don't need to go on it if they're not going to stick it out. And if they go on it, they better know the US government will be pressuring them, that they will hear appeals of, "Come on, Ayad, you and me, we know you're more mature, you're a real leader, do the right thing and end your boycott." The answer has to be: NO. If it's not "no," don't start a boycott. You either are willng to see it through or you're not. If you go on a boycott and then cave before demands are met, Nouri's not going to take you seriously. He's going to know you'll cave every time.
Baby, you could never look me in the eye
Yeah you buckle with the weight of the words
Stop draggin' my . . .
Stop draggin' my . . .
Stop draggin' my heart around.
-- "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell, performed by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, first appears on Stevie's Bella Donna
Each time you cave, each time you buckle with Nouri, you give him more power and more control. Nouri al-Maliki has refused to follow the Erbil Agreement.
Is he criticized by the international press for it?
Very rarely. That's what starts the political crisis and Nouri's apologists show up and treat a crisis like it just started weeks ago. Like the false "center" in American politics, there's a fale "starting point" for the current political crisis in Iraq. It didn't start in December or January. It goes back to the signed document that allowed him to be prime minister for a second term. He took the concessions that other political parties made. He just refused to follow through on the concessions he agreed to. That is what started the political crisis and it goes back to 2010.
There are various actions that have made the political crisis flare (and the press briefly take notice). When he demanded Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be charged with terrorism (al-Hashemi is a member of Iraqiya), that caused the world to pay some attention to the political crisis. Al Mada reports today that Ayad Allawi has called for Iraq to fight the "emerging dictatorship" in Iraq today. Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoon al-Damalouji read the statement which called out a return to a culture of suppression and denounced the raid on the Communist Party. The Iraqi Communist Party should have been in the news yesterday and should be in the news today. It's not. From yesterday's snapshot:

We'll close by noting the disturbing news of the day and news that wasn't picked up and front paged but should have been. Nouri al-Maliki is now going after Iraq's Communist Party. Al Mada reports that Nouri's security forces stormed the political party's headquarters and arrested 12 people who were arrested and questioned about protests. Ali Hussein (Al Mada) notes the Communist Party has a long history of fighting for Iraq, not against it. Hussein reports that Nouri's tanks have been sent to surround the homes of Communist Party members in Baghdad. Those who paid attention in December will remember that Nouri ordered tanks to circle the homes of Iraqiya members right before he demanded that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his posts and ordered the arrest of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on charges of terrorism. Both al-Mutlaq and al-Hashemi are members of Iraqiya as well as Sunnis. Ali Hussein notes that Nouri also ordered tanks to circle the homes of Communist Party members last year.

The Iraq Communist Party Tweeted yesterday, "Iraqi Communist Party condemns raid of its newspaper headquarters by security forces." They state that the raid took place late in the evening Monday and that their headquarters were ransacked by federal police who entered claiming that they were doing a sweep of the area for the Arab League Summit. An old weapon ("piece of junk") was on the roof and they used this as a pretext to arrest 12 of the people who were held overnight and only released after they signed documents -- documents they were forced to sign while blindfolded. While they were held, the federal police returned to the now empty headquarters and ransacked the place. The Community Party condemns the attack and notes that the 78th anniversary of the Iraq Communist Party is approaching.
The only English language outlet to report on the attack is People's World which notes of Iraq's Communist Party:
The party, which has a long history of fighting for a secular Iraq, in which the rights of all groups would be respected, has expressed its outrage and has openly condemned the raid.
The party asks that those responsibile for the attack be brought to justice, and said, in a statement, that "the police will not stop Tareeq Al-Shaab from defending the rights of the Iraqi people and workers, nor will it stop those people from fighting for a free, democratic Iraq."
This is not the first time the Iraqi Communist Party has been targeted by the U.S.-backed government that replaced the old dictatorship. In 2007, Najim Abed Jassem, the party workers' trade union leader and member of the executive committee of the Mechanics Union, was abducted and tortured by militias in Baghdad, and subsequently murdered.
That the raid took place ahead of the Arab League Summit is disturbing, that it took place in Baghdad with the international press ignoring it is very telling.

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