Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Snarly Rice steamed





This evening Hurriyet news reported that Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani is "accusing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of continually suspecting conspiracies against him" and quotes Barzani stating, "We want to solve issues through dialogue, not through tanks or F-16s. The problems with al-Maliki are not personal.  Most Iraqi factions support us."  What is Barzani talking about?  Nouri has created so many crises in Iraq that it can get confusing.  This one stems from Iraq's law of the land.
Iraq's Constitution was written in 2005.  At the time of the writing -- and still today -- there were areas in dispute.  Three provinces are part of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.  In addition, Kurds feel they have a right to other areas including oil-rich Kirkuk.  The central government out of Baghdad also feels it has a claim to Kirkuk.  What you have is two sides attempting to make historical claims to one piece of land.  That will never resolve the issue, as the writers of the Constitution knew.  So they created Article 140.  It calls for a census and a referdum to resolve disputed areas.  Nouri al-Maliki is installed by the US government as prime minister of Iraq in the spring of 2006.  Article 140 is supposed to be implemented no later than the end of 2007.

Despite having had six years to implement Article 140 (and despite forever promising he was just about to), Nouri has refused to implement it.  The climate was not just one of mistrust on this issue, it was one of Nouri refusing to follow the law.  And he made it worse a few months ago by sending Iraqi forces (Tigris Operation Command) into these disputed areas.  The Kurds fear that he is doing that to 'resolve' the dispute by force.
The dispute could have ended last week and it stood a serious chance.  Dropping back to Thursday's snapshot:

Tensions continue between the KRG and the Baghdad-based central government over Nouri sending in the Tigris Operation Command forces into disputed regions, as Martin Kobler noted today when addressing the UN Security Council.  In an interesting development, Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports Nouri is said to be angry because his generals are not providing him with details and summeries of the ongoing negotiations with the Kurdish Peshmerga officials.  If Nouri is really being kept out of the loop, that says a great deal about how much his power has faded in the last weeks.  Even more surprising since the Peshmerga has published the main points the two sides agreed upon:
1. Forming an operational mechanism, principles of cooperation and joint committees in the disputed regions. The joint operations in the disputed regions of Kurdistan will remain unchanged but the mechanism of operation will be revitalized between the federal forces and the forces of the Kurdistan Region.
2. The meetings of all the joint operations committees will be rescheduled to once a month. This will be increased if deemed necessary, especially for meetings of the SAC.
3. The location of the meetings and coordination for the meetings will be organized by the command of the Iraqi Armed Forces who will work as a coordinator for the work of the committees, especially the SAC.
4. A follow-up procedure will be conducted for the work and the decisions of the joint committees and punitive measures will be taken against any defaulting party or individual.
5. Any party or individual will be punished in case of reporting misleading information to their superiors in order to create problems and crisis at any level.
6. The SAC must be immediately informed about any problems that arise in the disputed areas in order to immediately work on solving them.
7. The agreements must be honored and the commanders, officials and individuals who violate the terms of the agreements will be punished.
8. Forming a quick mechanism to pull out all the forces of both sides that were mobilized to the region after Nov. 16, 2012. Pulling out these forces must be transparent, truthful and supervised by the supreme committee members after the consent of the SMC.
9. Reconsidering the decision of forming operations command in the region, especially the Tigris Operations Command, and giving back the authority of security in Kirkuk to the police, Asayish and internal forces.

This could have been the first step in resolving that crisis.  Instead, Nouri nixed the deal and uncorked the crazy.  And he was spewing it on Saturday.  Al Mada reported the prime minister made a public statement in which he attacked Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds, stated that those attempting to withdraw confidence for him should be warned and floated "arrests" as part of his threats.  It was a very disturbing speech.  In the speech he made a demand that everyone attend a meet-up.  All Iraq News notes that the Kurdistan Alliance has already: They won't be attending.  They issued a statement explaining Nouri has refused to be practical and resolve the crisis (he created).  While the Kurds willingly met with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi in good faith, Nouri blew off the exchange.  When the Iraqi military and the Peshmerga came up with a 14-point plan to resolve the latest crisis (created by Nouri), Nouri said it would not be allowed.

Dar Addustour added that Nouri declared in his speech that the Kurds don't believe in the Constitution and that efforts at a no-confidence vote in him will be met by actions that have never been taken before.  In addition, he announced he wants to arrest members of Parliament who raised the torture of Iraqi women in prisons.  He also made a number of statements involving President Jalal Talabani which appear to be that the same people who put him (Nouri) in power put Jalal in power and if Nouri goes down so does Jalal.  Al Rafidayn emphasized the attacks on Jalal Talabani in Nouri's remarks.  Today the Iraq Times reports MP Amir al-Kanani, with Moqtada al-Sadr's political bloc, states that Nouri's speech was in response to the loss of popularity for his political party Dawa as a result of his attempts to end the food ration card system and as a result of the Russian arms deal that fell apart.  Dawa is Nouri's political party.  His political slate that he ran with in 2010 is State of Law.  Provincial elections are supposed to take place in April which could be behind any concern about the popularity of Dawa.   All Iraq News notes that State of Law was supposed to meet this evening in Nouri's offices to prepare their strategies for the upcoming elections.
Al Mada notes that the religious authorities in Najaf are said to be troubled by the escalation of the conflict.  They're not the only ones troubled.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) notes that the actions are troublinging investors and would-be investors dismaying the business community in Iraq.  Also watching the situation closely is the government of Turkey.  Rudaw reports, "Turkish officials say they are following recent tensions between the Kurdistan Region and the Iraqi government with concern."  Alsumaria reports Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi declared today that Nouri al-Maliki's actions have been an assault on the Kurdish region.  It's noted that Allawi has spoken via telephone with both Barzani and Talabani about the issue already today.  The Iraq Times notes that Allawi is scheduled to visit Erbil on Wednesday.  Iraqiya is the political slate that came in first in the 2010 parliamentary elections.

Earlier today Alsumaria reported that a large number of Peshmerga are moving towards Kirkuk.  The Iraq Times reports that they arrived with tanks by afternoon.  Nouri called the move "irresponsible escalation."  Meanwhile Alsumaria notes Talabani was returning to Baghdad today in an attempt to re-start a dialogue on the issues.
How serious is the above?  Not at all serious to the reporters covering the US State Dept.  Despite the fact that a press conference was held today, no one asked spokesperson Mark Toner one question about Iraq. 

In violence, Alsumaria reports a Kirkuk mortar attack injured a police officer.  Also in Kirkuk, Alsumaria reports a 20-year-old man shot dead his 2 brothers and 1 sister behind the Dawa Party's offices and he shot his parents as well but they were left injured, not dead.  All Iraq  News notes 1 person was shot dead in Mousl.  Friday ended the month of November.  Iraq Body Count counted 244 deaths from violence in the month.  AFP reports the government ministries (under)count 166 deaths.  The outlets notes this is an increase from the government's claims of only 144 deaths in October.
As noted above, Nouri's threatening to arrest members of Parliament who spoke publicly about the abuse Iraqi women are suffering in prisons.  The BRussels Tribunal has a very important article on this torture.  We're going to highlight a little from their report each snapshot this week and hopefully include the entire thing that way.  Here they are on the starting point:
The torture journey starts when security forces raid and search the houses, through random raids or ordered raids. The Fourth Commander of the Second Brigade – Team 6, Major Jumaa Al-Musawi, has confirmed this information. This man has a criminal record, and he was assigned to this position by the American Forces during their first training courses in intelligence gathering. He used to live in Al-Thawra (now called Sadr City) / Sector 87.  In his own words:
"When we receive the raid and search orders from the Brigade Intelligence, we usually start with a little party and drink alcohol, or take some drugs. We choose the most cruel soldiers to carry out such operations. The first thing we do is to lock the men and youngsters in a room, and the women and children in another room. We start to steal what can be taken fast, like jewelry, and we mess up the house, like throwing the women's underwear here and there; some soldiers even steal some of this underwear. After that, we start to do a body search on the women, and having fun touching their private parts or breasts. We threaten them to arrest the men in the house when they refuse to be touched. If those women are pretty, we usually rape them immediately, and leave the house when we find no weapons or incriminating material. In case we find some weapons, every man and youngster in the house will be arrested, and if there are no men at home, we arrest all the women instead. This is totally according to the orders we receive."
What follows is one of many stories about the crimes committed by these corrupt creatures, who shamelessly brag about their misdeeds to each other. Al-Musawi and his assistant Lt. Rafid Al-Darraji (another criminal who was imprisoned in Abu-Ghraib and sentenced to death, but was released by the Americans, using him as a guardian, along with their own guard dogs, giving him the Lt. rank. He used to live in Al-Nuariyah District. Here is what they state:
"In July 2006, we received an order to raid and search the house of one of the fabric merchants in Karradah (his name is not mentioned). When we reached his house at 1:00 a.m., we didn't find the man, we only found his wife and his 17 year old son. During the search we found a rifle, which – according to our law – is permitted for the personal protection of civilians. But we threatened the woman that we would arrest her son if she didn't let us rape her. So, we handcuffed the son and locked him in a room, and one soldier after the other raped the lady in the other room. The other soldiers stole what they could find, then we headed to a well-known brothel in Al-Doura District in Um Alaa's house to enjoy the rest of the night there."
They continue: "The first thing we do when an arrested woman is being transported to the detention location, is that every part of her body is touched by all the soldiers in the vehicle, while using dirty language. When we reach the detention facility, we leave her in the investigation room, supervised by the intelligence officer and his assistants. They directly take all her clothes off, blindfold her, handcuff her, then the intelligence officer starts to rape her with his assistant. And later they ask her some questions: if she's guilty or innocent and so on. Then they blackmail her, saying that she should be cooperative and give important information about the District where she lives, otherwise they would distribute photos of her while she was naked and being raped. They would accuse her of false charges if she would file a complaint about harrassment and torture. If she receives a "guilty" verdict, she usually stays in the same location for a period of one to three months, in order to finish the procedures of her "case", to be sent to the headquarters. During these months, every single intelligence officer and soldier in the Brigade will rape her. After that, she will be sent to Al Tasfeerat Prison in Shaab Stadium, or to Al-Muthanna Airport Prison. Sometimes the prisoner is transferred to the facility of the Chief Commander's Office in the Green Zone, which is a cellar under the building of the Baghdad Operations Headquarter, supervised by Major General Adnan Al-Musawi. This place is one of the most dangerous, dirtiest prisons of Al-Maliki.