Friday, June 22, 2012

Uniting! At last!





Alsumaria reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani states Nouri al-Maliki -- prime minister of Iraq and chief thug of the operation -- is sewing sedition in several ways and that his supporters are pushing a false rumor: That a Barzani, in exchange for Nouri's consent on an oil deal [the ExxonMobil deal], Barzani will bury his complaints and grievances over Nouri's pattern of rule.  Barzani calls the rumor a lie.
Many feel Nouri's charges against Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi are a lie as well.  To review, let's fall back to drop back to the April 30th snapshot:

The political crisis was already well in effect when December 2011 rolled around.  The press rarely gets that fact correct.  When December 2011 rolls around you see Iraqiya announce a  boycott of the council and the Parliament, that's in the December 16th snapshot and again in a December 17th entry .  Tareq al-Hashemi is a member of Iraqiya but he's not in the news at that point.  Later, we'll learn that Nouri -- just returned from DC where he met with Barack Obama -- has ordered tanks to surround the homes of high ranking members of Iraqiya.  December 18th is when al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq are pulled from a Baghdad flight to the KRG but then allowed to reboard the plane. December 19th is when the arrest warrant is issued for Tareq al-Hashemi by Nouri al-Maliki who claims the vice president is a 'terrorist.' .
And al-Hashemi has been in Turkey while a Baghdad court, controlled by Nouri, pretends to be offering an impartial trial.  This despite the Baghdad judges declared him guilty in February at their press conference and while one judge was stating that he had been threatened by al-Hashemi, before the trial even started, they declared al-Hashemi guilty.  That press conference demonstrated that al-Hashemi was correct, he would not get a fiar trial in the Baghdad courts (he had asked that the trial be moved to the KRG or to Kirkuk).  In May, the trial began.  His attorneys have walked out at least once in protest of the judges' behavior.  The judges have also refused to allow Vice President al-Hashemi to call President Jalal Talabani to the stand as a character witness. 
Tareq al-Hashemi remains Vice President.  That should mean the trial shouldn't even be taking place.  His term would need to have expired or he would need to resign or he would need to be voted out of office to stand trial.  As Vice President of Iraq, Tareq al-Hashemi is now in Saudi Arabi where, Alsumaria reports, he is conveying condolences over Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz's death.  That's a trip that Nouri couldn't make successfully.  Tariq al-Hashemi is Sunni Arab.  Nouri's not and Nouri's constant verbal attacks on Saudi Arabia -- as well as Saudi Arabia's snub of his Arab League Summit in March -- go to the fact that they don't trust him.  For good reason.  Last Friday,  Alsumaria reported he was publicly accusing Saudi Arabi and Qatar of trying to destroy Iraq and Syria.  President Jalal Talabani probably could have handled the trip and the diplomacy aspect but he's fled Iraq for Germany.
Commenting on al-Hashemi's trial, Press TV gloms on Alia Nsayef of White Iraqiya -- a splinter group that broke off from the larger Iraqiya and has carried water for Nouri repeatedly since doing so.  Nsayef insists to Press TV that the trial is fair.  We'll be kind and assume the next section contains an editing error which leads to confusion and appears to indicate Iraqiya's Hamed al-Mutlaq was vouching for the court.  He was doing no such thing.   Mohamad Ali Harissi (AFP) quotes al-Mutlaq stating, "All evidence during the past months indicate that the judiciary was not successful in many things, and the effect on it of politicisation is clear.  We need a separation of powers and to define responsibilities and stop the interference in the work of the judiciary, which is not up to the standard of the Iraqis, though Iraqis were one of the first people to adopt laws."
A large number of Iraqis took to Baghdad's Firdous Square this week to protest Nouri.  Dar Addustour (check out the photo of the turnout, this was a huge turnout) reports Moqtada al-Sadr supporters showed up demanding that the media be free, that people speak freely and that no one muzzle the voice of democracy.  Kitabat notes that Nouri's effort to shut down satellite chanel Baghdadi resulted in the large turnout and that the crowd chanted Moqtada's name.  Dar Addustour reports that Nouri attempted to limit -- if not halt -- the protests by butting off raods to the square, stationing security guards throughout and more.  Nouri dismissed the protest and their objections to him while insisting that his critics can say anything about him but he's gagged/prevented from speaking about them.  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had no comment because he's fled to Germany.
He don't show much these days
It gets so f**king cold
I loved his secret places
But I can't go anymore
"You change like sugar cane"
Says my northern lad
I guess you go too far
When pianos try to be guitars
I feel the west in you
And I feel it falling apart too
-- "Northern Lad," written by Tori Amos, first appears on her From The Choirgirl Hotel
It hasn't been a good time for Northern Lad Jalal.  For awhile there, he could hang with Moqtada, Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi and KRG President Massoud Barzani.  Then he refused to follow the Constitution and forward a petition to Parliament.  Jalal decided he had a 'right' to verify signatures and verify meant something other than: Did you sign this?  "I signed it two weeks ago but I've changed my mind" meant Jalal struck your name and he then turned around and insisted that the petition didn't have enough signatures.  He was gripping any excuse he could as quickly became obvious.  And now he finds himself alone hence the trip to Germany.

Kitabat reported last week on Talabani's June 9th declaration that he wouldn't forward the signatures for a no-confidence vote, thereby ending that process for the Parliament to vote Nouri al-Maliki out as prime minister.  Of Jalal's change of heart, Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) noted, "Talabani has close ties to Iran, which has been using its leverage in Iraq to keep al-Maliki in place. Divisions among the prime minister's opponents may also be undercutting the no confidence push."  Dar Addustour also focused on the messages that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been sending Jalal Talabani.  And it wasn't just Iran putting the pressure on Jalal.  By mid-week,  Dar Addustor was reporting that eye witnesses claim Jalal was visited by a convoy of US officials (ten vehicles) who explained to him what he was going to do.  (Both the US White House and the Iranian government backed Nouri al-Maliki in 2010.)  While Jalal danced for his masters, Alsumaria reported Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi stated that he refused US Vice President Joe Biden's request that he meet with Nouri al-Maliki.  He states that Tony Blinken (Biden's National Security Advisor) made the request on Biden's behalf and urged that the opposition to Nouri back down.  Kitabat noted that the US publicly insists it is not biased towards either side of the debate but that it worked repeatedly to undercut the opposition and to save Nouri from a no-confidence vote.
His former allied pals didn't just roll over the way Jalal so often does.  Instead, Alsumaria reported they met-up in Erbil on June 10th and discussed how to mobilize Parliament to take on the issue of the power grab and Nouri's monopoly of power.  Moqtada al-Sadr would insist after the meeting that the process continues.  Later in the week,  Al Rafidayn reported that Massoud Barzani also declared that efforts continue to replace Nouri and to "repel the dictatorship" as the Iraqi people want to happen.
And then Alsumaria reported Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi explained that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was the one reassuring everyone April 28th that a withdrawal of confidence could be done and Nouri al-Maliki easily replaced.  Allawi states that Talabani stated no Constitutional mechanism was required, Talabani merely had to withdraw confidence.  The next day Alsumaria reported that the Kurdistan Alliance has declared they do not support the Iraqi president traveling out of the country (he had planned a trip to the US for health issues caused by his gross obesity) and that the Kurdistan Alliance was calling on him to respect the no-confidence petition which has 176 signatures (and which they expect to gather more signatures -- the figure they give is 190).  Alliance MP Mahma Khalil  repeated that in April in Erbil (that would be the April 28th meet-up), Jalal stated he could replace Nouri with a no-confidence vote that would leave the rest of the elements of government in place.  Yes, the exact charge that Allawi had made the day before.  The next day it was time for Jalal to talk to Alsumaria and he insisted that Ayad Allawi was wrong (he avoided calling out or mentioning Mahma Khalil who'd made the same charges).
The waters were simmering and looked likely to boil.   Al Rafidayn noted so many were upset with Jalal that he's had to prepare a public letter for the PUK to distribute to its members.  But the big drama would wait for Saturday.  With less than 24 hours before a meet-up of Iraqiya's Allawi, KRG President Barzani and Moqtada al-Sadr, news emerged via Alsumaria that Jalal had resorted to a strongly worded letter  to Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi and KRG President Massoud Barazni in which he belittled Moqtada al-Sadr and in which he insisted he'd rather resign than change his opinion and forward the petition with 176 signatures to Parliament.  A strongly worded letter left him so weakened that he had to immediately flee Iraq and head to Germany.
From his hospital sick bed, Jalal's issued near daily thoughts and affirmations via the press.  Yesterday, he resorted to a spokesperson.  Dar Addustour reports that the spokesperson declared Jalal had surgery but would not disclose what type of surgery or even a general reason for the surgery.  There was time, however, to float a rumor that, as soon as he returned to Iraq, Jalal planned to announce his resignation as president.
If that was meant to lead to cries of "Heavens no!," poor Jalal, no one appears to care.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"

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