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FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Iraqis in Samarra on March 15th with a message for the world (photo via Iraqi Spring MC).
If you Cannot Hear Us
Can you Not See Us?
The Iraqi people show more courage than the leaders of the DC faux-test.
They've been calling since December 21st for the world's attention.
With Nouri al-Maliki, chief thug in and prime minister of Iraq, scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama on November 1st. Nouri's a thug, he's a despot, he's had his forces kill peaceful protesters. January 7th, Nouri's forces assaulted four protesters in Mosul, January 24th, Nouri's forces sent two protesters (and one reporter) to the hospital, and March 8th, Nouri's force fired on protesters in Mosul killing three. All of that and more appeared to be a trial run for what was coming, the April 23rd massacre of a peaceful sit-in in Hawija which resulted from Nouri's federal forces storming in. Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk) announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault. AFP reported the death toll rose to 53 dead. UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).
In addition to ordering the deaths of protesters, he's paying, arming and outfitting Shi'ite militias to kill Sunnis in Iraq. Last month, Tim Arango (New York Times) broke the news that Nouri was funding, arming and outfitting Shi'ite militias. Arango observed:
In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.
Yesterday, aleppoinmyheart Tweeted a question, "Will american help maliki and shia militias doing more blatant ethnic cleansing?"
It's a question more should be asking.
That's the background, the ugly reality, that too many in America just don't want to deal with. They're aided by a lazy and compliant media that runs interference for the White House (which really doesn't want Iraq on the radar). Life just got a little harder for the White House and Nouri. The New York Times just published online (in print tomorrow) Ramzy Mardini and Emma Sky's "Maliki's Democratic Farce:" Mardini is with the Institute for the Study of War. Sky is with Yale's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and she was also a political advisor to US Gen Ray Odierno from 2007 to 2010.
The political crisis Mr. Maliki triggered has endured, undermining years of American efforts to integrate Sunni Arabs into the Iraqi political process. Tensions have worsened as the civil war in neighboring Syria has turned into a sectarian, regional proxy war. The instability has breathed new life into Iraq’s Sunni insurgency, rejuvenating the coffers and confidence of militants, and eroding the cooperation of tribal leaders, which was crucial during the American “surge” of 2007.
Violence in Iraq has risen to levels not seen since 2008, now approaching 1,000 fatalities a month; Al Qaeda in Iraq has gained strength; the threat of a Shiite militia comeback has increased; and fear of a return to cycles of sectarian retribution is high.
In the midst of this storm, Mr. Maliki is scheduled to return to the White House this week, seeking security assistance from the United States. Combating terrorism is a mutual interest. But as Mr. Maliki prepares to seek a third term in 2014, Mr. Obama should insist that he adhere to democratic norms as a condition of American aid.
The White House likes to pretend that Nouri -- like the Iraq War -- is Bully Boy Bush's issues. Hell no. It is true that Nouri was the puppet the Bush administration installed in 2006. (The Iraqi Parliament wanted Ibrahim al-Jafaari.)
But then came a little thing called the 2010 parliament elections.
Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi, won those elections but the White House refused to honor democracy or respect the process or Iraqi voters.
Sunday, Allawi was on BBC Radio 4 speaking with James Naughtie. Excerpt.
Ayad Allawi: They are advocating sectarianism and they are supported by Iran. Unfortunately, there was a missed chance when the last elections were won by Iraqiya . Iraqiya was denied both by the Iranians and the United States the chance to form a government. [. . .] Iraqiya then had a lot of Sunni members -- Shias, Sunnis and Christians. We are secular, nonsectarian groups. Unfortunately this has also contributed to the ill feelings of a lot of Sunni constituents. And this is where the government sticking to the chair and Mr. Maliki sticking to his position, he does not accept the Constitution. He is the commander in chief of armed forces, he is the Minister of Interior and the chief of security as prime minister, he is the head of national security so-called agency. So he runs all security. He runs them on a party basis.
James Naughtie: You're describing something which sounds, in your description, rather like one-man rule.
Ayad Allawi: It is, it is. The explosions in Baghdad today are a catolog of failures and, God forbid, what happens in Syria is going to have an impact on Iraq -- let alone what's happening in the region.
[. . .]
James Naughtie: Do you believe Iraq in its current form can survive this violence?
Ayad Allawi: No, it can't. It can't. And the violence will increase, I'm sure of this. The problems will increase and I don't think the elections are going to solve the issue.
James Naughtie: You're saying that you think and this is a terribly depressing conclusion for you to reach, that there's no way back.
Ayad Allawi: We'll try. We'll continue to try to resolve the situation as peaceful as possible but I cannot see this existing now, I cannot see the scope of this. I can see only violence on the increase because of the loss of the [foundation] that security relies upon. And that's why I believe frankly speaking I don't have a very nice picture for the future.
I've added "[foundation]" -- I can't make out the word he's saying. It's a bad connection (you have six days to stream and then it's gone).
The White House can't pin 2010 on Bully Boy Bush. He was long gone. This was Barack. From 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."
The White House did much more than acquiesce. Acquiesce would be their being silent when Nouri refused to step down as prime minister -- just being silent. Instead, they backed him. For over eight months, the White House backed Nouri in his petty tantrum.
And as Barack prepares to meet with the despot the Iraqi people rejected but that Barack kept in office, America needs to be paying attention.
The US government overturned the votes of the Iraqi people in 2010.
It is why the violence increased.
So this visit matters for that reason alone.
But grasp, they didn't just back him. Barack authorized Americans in Iraq to broker a contract that would give Nouri a second term. The contract was The Erbil Agreement. Nouri got in writing that he would get a second term and the leaders of the other political blocs got promises in writing from Nouri.
But when it was signed and Parliament finally met on November 11, 2010, Nouri refused to implement. He gave a song and dance about how he'd do it but it couldn't be done now. So Ayad Allawi walked out. And the President of the United States, Barack Obama, phoned him. From that day's snapshot:
Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call."
This is not a minor issue. Barack destroyed democracy in Iraq by refusing to back the winner in the election. In addition, he set in place the cycle of violence by failing to demand that Nouri honor the US-brokered contract.
Nouri is a a beast, a rabid dog. Barack took him off the chain the Bush administration kept him on and let Nouri run wild. No one died at Camp Ashraf while Bush had Nouri on a tight leash. Those deaths happen after Barack becomes president.
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