Friday, June 28, 2013

The drip, drip of Barry O






Today in New York, at the United Nations Security Council, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari spoke at length about Iraq and leaving Chapter VII.  Excerpt.

Minister Hoshyar Zebari:  Mr. President, at the outset, allow me to thank you for holding this important meeting.  I should also like to express my thanks and my appreciation to the countries that sponsored this resolution and contributed to its enrichment as well as to our friends, the member of the Security Council, that voted to adopt it.  I cannot fail to express my country's gratitude to the Secretary General for his report and document S/2013/357 which contains important proposals and analyses as well as the efforts of the United Nations Mission for Assistance in Iraq -- UNAMI -- led by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mr. [Martin] Kolber for its efforts in fulfilling the requirements of its mandate in Iraq, as well as to the state and government of  Kuwait for it's support and assistance to Iraq to emerge from the provisions of Chapter VII.  [. . .] Mr. President, your august council is meeting today to adopt a resolution which falls within the context of a number of resolutions and measures taken by the Security Council to remove Iraq from under the provisions of Chapter VII of the United Nations' charter.  In carefully looking at the past few years, we can see how far Iraq has come along the path of constructive cooperation with the objective of enabling it to finally fulfill all of its obligations under Security Council resolutions.  Our foreign policy and international relations have mainly focused on the means of ridding the people and the country of Iraq of the burden placed by those resolutions.  Such burdens would never have been imposed on Iraq had it not been for the aggressive policies of the former regime, policies of waging wars against its neighbors and internally repressing its own people.  Those resolutions have been an obstacle on Iraq's road toward progress, prosperity and regional and international integration.  In looking back at our achievements over the past few years and Iraq regaining its international standing, as it was prior to the adoption of Resolution 661 of 1990, we take note of a crucial resolution: Resolution 1762 of 2007 which ended the mandate of the United Nations condition on Monitoring, Verification and Inspection  Commission -- UNMOVIC.  That resolution strengthened the sovereignty of Iraq and lifted the weight of political constraints from the country.  It was a resolution that paved the way for Iraq's return to the regional and international communities and contributed to the stability of our region.  That resolution represented the international community's recognition of the correct approach taken by Iraq in fulfilling its obligations in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.  It is with great pride that Iraq currently chairs the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.  This confirms the validity of the path that Iraq has taken -- particularly following the ratification of the Additional Protocol to the Safeguard Agreements for the International Atomic Energy Agency -- IAEA -- and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.  Mr. President, your esteemed council further decided in its Resolution 1859 of 2008 to review those resolutions pertaining to the situation between Iraq and Kuwait and the situation in Iraq in order to identify together  the mutual obligations corresponding to the international community as represented by your esteemed council and those of Iraq.  As result the Security Council adopted three important resolutions on the 15th of December 2010: Resolutions 1956, 1957 and 1958.  According to which, all of Iraq's obligations were ended with the exception of three issues relating to the situation between Iraq and Kuwait.  Namely, one, the issue of missing Kuwaitis and property; two, the maintenance of border markers; and, thirdly, that of compensation.  With regard to the first issue, significant progress has been achieved within bilateral cooperation between the two countries.  None of that cooperation would have been achieved without serious cooperation by the Iraqi authorities.  We shall continue to do so, we shall continue that endeavor.  And we will increase the pace of that cooperation in the coming period.  Now that the issue has been moved to the provisions of Chapter VI of the charter by your latest resolution.  In regards to the second issue, the maintenance of border pillars, markers, Iraq and Kuwait have reached a mechanism through the establishment of the joint-ministerial committees and put in place the necessary measures as indicated in security Resolution 833 of 1993.  In this regards, may I refer to the letter of the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council of 6-12-2013 referring to the end of the mission entrusted to him under Resolution 833 of 1993, "Therefore, on that basis, Iraq has now fulfilled all of its obligations under that resolution."  As for the issue of compensation, Iraq is committed to pay the percentage decided by the Security Council based on the mechanism as set by the United Nations Commission on Compensation and this has been included in United Nations Security Council resolution 1956 of 2010 under the mechanism of the successor arrangement for the Iraq development fund. We, therefore, believe, Mr. President, that Iraq -- by the Security Council's adoption of this latest resolution -- Iraq has fulfilled all of its obligations as provided by Security Council's resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.  We believe that today's date, June 27 of 2013, will be a landmark, a milestone, in the history of relationship between Iraq and the international community.

 That was a lengthy excerpt.  But it's a major step, the lifting of Chapter VII, and it also gives you an overview of the narrative the Iraqi government wants out there.  Iraq was placed under Chapter VII as a result of its invasion of Kuwait in 1990.  Today there was a unanimous vote.

All Iraq News reports the news was greeted in Baghdad with celebrations: "launching fireworks and raising the Iraqi flags in addition to organizing motorcades that spread flowers and sweets [to] citizens in Baghdad," according to a statement from Acting Mayor of Baghdad Abdul Hussein al-Murshidi.  Press TV quotes Nouri al-Maliki declaring, "Iraq is now free from the constraints imposed by the follies of the dictatorial regime."  I don't think that statement helps a great deal.  "Follies"?  Seriously, that's what you're going to call the attack on Kuwait?

And it's supposed to be a wonderful day for Iraq but, if you're honest, it's just a slightly better day.  Chapter VII did not go 'poof' and disappear.  It's been replaced with a new resolution which, as the United Nations notes, "called on the Iraqi Government to continue searching for Kuwaiti nationals and property missing since Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion, but terminated provisions in earlier texts that allowed the military enforcement of the measures under Charter VII of the UN Charter. "  It's been moved from Chapter VII to Chapter VI.

After the session, Hoshyar Zebari addressed the press (and spoke in English).  "Today there was a very, very important Security Council resolution on Iraq - Kuwait relations.  And this resolution is a historical resolution for Iraq and it's a success for the United Nations and for the two countries.  In fact, Chapter VII and the sanctions on Iraq have become something of the past.  And, as I said in my statement, we are concentrating more on the present and the future in Iraq - Kuwaiti relationship."

He hailed it as "an example for other countries to resolve their disputes between peaceful means."

He hailed many things.  Not at the press conference, but in his remarks to the Security Council, he hailed provincial elections -- 2009 and the ones that have taken place so far this year.  He spoke of how provincial elections allowed the people to pick their government.  He didn't speak of the 2010 parliamentary elections.  But he did mention the planned 2014 parliamentary elections.  That was interesting.

I don't blame him for not sighting the problem plagued 2010 elections which were only resolved with a legal contract, The Erbil Agreement, which was then broken (by Nouri al-Maliki) and created the ongoing political crisis in Iraq.  One of so many crises in the country.

 Iraqiya won the 2010 elections (so one of their members should have been made prime minister if the country's Constitution had been followed and US President Barack Obama hadn't insisted Nouri al-Maliki get a second term).  The leader of Iraqiya is Ayad Allawi.  He Tweeted today:


The started and continued with disorder leading through waves of crises.

But it was a Tweet yesterday that got some attention from the Iraqi press.

The absence of cabinet bylaws and power-sharing is a couple of many abuses of the by the Iraqi PM.

Among the outlets reporting on that Wednesday Tweet Thursday afternoon were All Iraq NewsRudaw reports:

Ayad Allawi, the man who is not Iraq’s prime minister despite winning at the 2010 polls, blames the country’s violence and instability on an incompetent government, badly trained forces and a constitution that he says was forced on Iraqis by American invaders.
“All the killings and bombings are happening and the security forces aren’t able to cope, because they are unprofessional and there is no proper military hierarchy,” Allawi said in a Facebook Q&A with fans.
“The the security forces are built and run by certain political groups and the government itself admits that these forces have been infiltrated and are incapable of doing their job,” says Allawi, insisting that an army should be trained for protection of all Iraqis, not just those with certain religious or ethnic backgrounds.
Allawi, Iraq’s first prime minister after the invasion and once seen as the “strongman” who would put the country back together, has been sidelined ever since he was swindled out of his victory at the 2010 polls.
I read an incredibly stupid post at a website today.  I'm being kind and not naming it (it's not a blog, it's a website of a magazine that's been around for decades).  The post insisted that Americans all needed to focus on ____ (foreign country) and that Americans "owed it" to _____ focus on it.  Really, because US forces didn't get sent there.  They were sent to Iraq, or did the idiot forget that?  (If I named the idiot -- we have a lot of Arabic readers -- the idiot would be targeted as a Zionist because of their organization which is another reason not to name or link to the post.)   There are numerous ways to respond to that would-be Joan of Arc.  I'll offer three quickly.

1) If you want to burn at the stake, step on up, honey, but don't try to pull me with you.

2) You don't go for seconds until you've cleaned your plate.

3) Have you looked at Iraq?  If the US owes anything to another country right now, I'd argue the biggest debt -- certainly debt of attention -- is to Iraq.

I'm so tired of these people selling their new wars while refusing to even acknowledge the mess their War Hawk ways have created in Iraq.

The person has no idea what's going on in Iraq.

Others who have a slight idea argue The Erbil Agreement isn't important.

If you don't think that's important, you're suffering English press damage.  The Arabic press has never fogotten it.  Rudaw, by the way, isn't Arabic.  It's a Kurdish press. And even they are talking about it.

Most Americans have no idea about the agreement or that it exists.  Of those who do know, too many think it's unimportant.

More than anything else, The Erbil Agreement is why the US standing in Iraq is so low today.

Iraqis were even more thrilled by candidate Barack Obama than Germany or other countries.  They thought Iraq would have a friend.  This man who was opposed to the Iraq War (not quite true -- he gave a 2002 anti 'dumb war' speech but by 2004 was telling the New York Times that, had he been in the Senate in 2002, he might have voted for the resolution to go to war with Iraq). And he charmed Nouri al-Maliki in their face-to-face.

But then came the lead up to the 2010 elections.  Gen Ray Odierno was sounding warnings (he was the then-top US commander in Iraq).  He could see Nouri's State of Law potentially losing and, he worried, if that happened what happens if Nouri refuses to step down.

The White House had the ear of then-US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill who was a disaster and would be asked to step down from his post as a result of the 2010 election aftermath.  Chris Hill was fired, let's be really clear on that because Hill keeps popping up as an Iraq 'expert' in the media.  He was fired.  He was fired for the job he did.

Chris was whining about Odierno doing this or that.  Chris felt that Odierno got media attention and the media liked Ray better and if someone would tell mean ol' Ray Odierno to stop talking to the media, they might listen to him.

Instead of telling Chris to take the thumb out of his mouth and stop whining, Barack went along with all of Chris' demands.  And probably because Odierno's reports weren't good.

They were truthful, they were reality-based.  But they didn't make you want to smile the way Chris Hill's eternal progress reports did.  There was no reality to the report Hill passed on.

And sure enough, Nouri was a thug.  In March the elections were held and second place Nouri refused to step down.  Not for a day, not for a week.  For over eight months.  Setting the record for that time.

Though he'd lost, Nouri wasn't going to step down.  And as the stalemate continued, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Barack and told him it was time to stop listening to Chris Hill and that he really needed to listen to Ray Odierno.

This stalemate?  That's why Iraqiya wants a caretaker government in place when the 2014 elections (which could become 2013 ones if they're moved up) are held.  They don't believe Nouri will step down if he loses again.  Why would they?  He's already demonstrated once that he wouldn't.

For a little over eight months, things were at a stand still.  But Barack was still backing Nouri (Samantha Power swore Nouri was the best shot at stability in Iraq -- proving that she's not only dumb, she's deadly).  So Barack has US officials pressure the other Iraqi leaders into giving Nouri a second term.  How?  The Constitution is clear, Nouri's out.

The Erbil Agreement went around the Constitution.  It was a contract between the leaders of the political blocs.  The US officials were saying, 'Look, there's no prime minister.  Nothing's going forward, your Parliament has only had a roll call in 8 months, there are no meetings, there is no Cabinet.  Nouri has refused to budge for 8 months.  It's up to you to be the mature ones and show leadership and allow Iraq to move forward by letting Nouri have a second term.  But, in exchange for giving him this second term, you can ask for things your constituents want.  And we'll write it up and it'll be a legally binding contract with the full backing of the US government."  So the political leaders signed on.

And Nouri ran with the agreement long enough to be named prime minister and then shredded it and refused to honor any of the promises he had made in it.

This is why Iraqis lost faith with Barack.  The US government played dumb and didn't say a word.  And ever since then the political crisis has been about The Erbil Agreement and Nouri's refusal to implement this power-sharing agreement.

Last week, Sarah Montague (BBC Hardtalk) did one of her hard hitting interviews where she takes an adversarial position.  This interview was with Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya.  And what seemed to frustrate her the most was how he kept talking about "international community" when clearly he meant the US government but he repeatedly avoided naming it.

Sarah Montague:  But you were voted, your party got the most seats.

Ayad Allawi: Yes.

He went on to blame Iran and she went on to get very frustrated.  (Iran is a part of the story.)

Sarah Montague:  You chose to go into that government [Nouri's government].

Ayad Allawi:  No, we chose because the alternative, after seven months of not forming a government, we thought Iraq needs a government.  And the alternative was a power-sharing agreement between us and Mr. Maliki and the Dawa Party.  So we signed the power-sharing agreement [The Erbil Agreement] --

Sarah Montague:  Was that a mistake?

Ayad Allawi:  It was not honored, unfortunately -- neither by the Islamists, Mr. Maliki and his  nor by the international community who supported the power-sharing agreement.  But this was not honored, unfortunately.  We stayed in the Cabinet for a period of time until we saw that there were no intentions at all to implement the agreement and by then the demonstrations started in Iraq in 2011 ---

Sarah Montague:  But do you accept -- do you accept that part of the problem is that you couldn't control your own party? That, if actually, Iraqiya formed a bloc that  was together and which you could control then you could have had more influence than you chose to?

Ayad Allawi:  No, because there were some interferences from outside powers to prevent this from happening.

Sarah Montague:  You say you picked up a lot of votes -- Sunni votes -- do you recognize that they may feel let down by you now?

Ayad Allawi:  I don't think so.  We -- We tried and this was really an opportunity that the Sunnis elected a Shi'ite and this shows that they are not sectarian.

Sarah Montague:  They elected you.  And you're a secular Shia, you brought Sunnis along and you tried to reach across these sectarian divides?

Ayad Allawi:  -- know what happened and what happened was very, very clear, that there was Iranian influence on certain parties in Iraq, they were objecting to the Iraqiya taking over. They were to the extent of threatening.  And that's why I'm saying that lots of leaders tried to intervene [. . .] by explaining to Iran that this is not the way to interfere in Iraq.  But the Iranians never budged really.  And unfortunately, what went with this was the international scene, international community, agreed to Iran and we then had to agree because we can't leave the country without a prime minister --

Sarah Montague:  You say the international community, the Americans?  Are you saying the Americans should have stood up to Iran?

Ayad Allawi:  Yes, democracy. The Americans.

Sarah Montague:  Do you feel let down by the Americans?

Ayad Allawi:  They let down the political process, they let down the democratic process in doing so, the Americans.

Sarah Montague:  Realistically, what could they have done?

Ayad Allawi:  They could have used their office to not keep on pressuring us and others and the Kurds to accept Nouri al-Maliki as a prime minister.

Sarah Montague:  They should have said 'no' even though the majority of the Shi'ites --

Ayad Allawi:   They should have said that we respect the Constitution.  Iraq was still under Chapter VII.  The [UN] Security Council supported the elections and supported the results of the elections.  And then they changed their minds once Iran started to behave in a very aggressive way against Iraqiya.

Sarah Montague:  . . . [stumbles for words] It sounds as if you're saying, "Look I didn't get my way! The Americans should have put me in! And --"

Ayad Allawi:  No, no, no, no.  The Iraqi people voted me in, not the Americans.  And the Americans, unfortunately, I don't know why, they agreed to what Iran was saying, they blocked the way of Iraqiya to take over.  So this is really very simple. This is what happened.

Let's again note John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

Just because most US outlets refused and refuse to cover what happened doesn't change the fact that Iraqis, that the Arabic region, knows exactly what happened and it's not a good view of the United States that they've been left with.

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