Thursday, October 03, 2013

Where is the leadership?







Is there a reason for Joel Wing (Musings on Iraq) to exist?  The analyst offers today a piece entitled "Iraq’s Oil Profits Bounce Back In August 2013 With Higher Exports And Rising Prices Due To Fears Over Syria" and if you're not getting house useless it is, in October, to be writing that August exports were up, check out Iraq Oil Report today where Ben Lando's latest article is entitled "September exports down by 500K bpd."

Don't fret.  Come December, Joel Wing will be 'reporting' on September's oil exports.

He's always just a little bit slower than the other kids.

Most journalists make fun of him, I try to ignore him.  That's why Jim tried to bait me two Sundays ago (knowing I was an after party and had consumed more then a few drinks already) by bringing up Joel.  But he's so pathetic, I stepped over Jim's inclusion of Joel into our conversation ("The KRG elections").  Joel's become a huge joke in real journalism circles which was why Jim brought him up.   I know from my friends in the press how pathetic Joel is seen as being (in part because he's so linked to his crackpot buddy) and Jim does too.  Jim also has his own journalism friends and Jim's father (who retired recently) was a real and respected reporter and he heard all the laughter at Joel from his dad and his dad's colleagues.  Jim knew if we could make the conversation about Joel, we'd get a lot more links.

I tried to be nice. Try to do someone a _____ favor.  (That's an infamous phrase of mine.) 

You can't do Joel Wing any favors because he won't let you.  Jim called him and many others out, I ignored it and redirected the conversation (it was a transcript piece).  Cry baby Joel couldn't leave well enough alone.  He had to whine in an e-mail allowing Jim to cover the whole thing in "Jim's World" -- which has 75,000 hits and counting.  I'm sure some of that comes from Mike's post steering traffic.  I'm also sure that a lot of that is Jim's father (and a friend of mine at ABC News who can't stand Joel Wing's stupidity) passing it around.

I tried to spare Joel Wing embarrassment but you can't because he's so damn determined to embarrass himself. 

First off, Joel Wing, you stupid idiot.  Stop posting Voice of America.

Were the internet to work like radio does, you wouldn't be allowed to.  VoA is banned from broadcasting in the US (some listen, in the US, to it via short-wave radio or over the internet).  Why?

Because Voice of America is propaganda.

Do you get that?

I know you're an idiot, Joel Wing, but can even you grasp that and that that is why Congress -- the United States of America's legislature -- banned VoA from airing in the US.

If you're an alleged academic and an alleged analyst, why would you post government propaganda at your site?  And you don't even call it out.  You just serve it up like it is news which it is so not.

I wouldn't have noted any of this is an AP friend (who covered Iraq, does not cover it now) had not called me up to ask if I read your latest crazy?

No, I'd missed "Eplaining The Political Factors Behind The Increasing Violence In Iraq, An Interview With Maria Fantappie, Iraq Researcher At The International Crisis Group "

In a perfect world, I wouldn't note ICG.  I didn't when this site started, they used to mail all the time.  Then the father of a friend who's part of ICG started asking for links (leading me to tell his daughter, "Stop telling people I'm C.I.!").  I still didn't use them.  Now days, I have to.  There is so little Iraq coverage that we have to.  I'll even cite right wingers these days (but identify them as such).  Sometimes to disagree with them, sometimes to note they are right.

I don't get to have purity when it comes to news sources and organizations.  (Though I do draw the line at government propaganda still -- VoA.)

But Maria Fantappie?  Has any woman weighing in on Iraq got mentioned less here?  And I you take away her co-written pieces (which reign her nonsense in somewhat), she's shown up even fewer times.  That's because she's got an agenda and she also doesn't know her facts.  An interview on Australian radio this summer remains infamous to those of us who follow coverage of Iraq.

But here's Joel chatting her up. 

And why is that a bad thing?

Let's go to the opening:

[Joel Wing] 1. In 2009, Sunnis went to the polls after largely boycotting the 2005 provincial vote, and helped put a slew of parties into power. In 2010, many of those same voters came out for Iyad Allawi and Iraqiya, the Iraqi National Movement (INM) which won a plurality of seats in the new parliament. How did Allawi and the other members of the INM turn out to be as national leaders, and how did their performance affect their followers’ opinion of participating in politics?

[Maria Freak]:  The key for political success in Iraq is to branch out power from Baghdad into the provinces. Iraqyia leaders focused all efforts on the assignment of government positions in Baghdad, neglecting local officials and constituents in the provinces. This was fatal to the future of the list. Starting from early 2011, while Iyad Allawi persisted in claiming the premiership for himself and the implementation of the Irbil agreement in Baghdad, Maliki ingrained power in the provinces: governors were replaced, police chiefs sacked and Sahwa tribal militias deprived of their salaries. Sunni constituents felt disappointed by their national leader and left under the grip of the government security agencies. Their disappointment evolved into distrust towards the political process altogether. In their eyes, Iraqyia leaders appeared not dissimilar from others of different political colors: locked within Baghdad Green Zone walls and far from people’s concerns.

Heaven help us all.

Joel, why don't you and Maria just go to some slash fiction website and type up your fantasies.  They'd read something like, "The thing about Nouri was, his stink wasn't a stink, it was a manly, musky smell that overwhelmed my senses the same way he grabbed my body and threw me back on the bed as we both squealed with joy . . . "

It would certainly be more productive than the crap you and Maria are offering currently.

Maria Freak may define success at the provincial level but that's her definition and it's grossly stupid when it comes to Iraqiya.

You both (wrongly in my opinion) see Iraqiya as Sunni-supported only.  But let's run with your concept.  Only Sunnis will support Iraqiya?  So why would they focus on the provinces?  It's not like even half of Iraq's 18 provinces are Sunni dominated.

Not only is Maria's nonsense (and your own) stupid, it reveals a level of lying that we rarely see in public.

Iraqiya has largely imploded.  It may be able to pull it together for the 2014 parliamentary elections (if they're held).  If Iraqiya pulls it together, it could win those elections -- as they did in 2010.  In part due to a Nouri backlash as well as an American backlash.

Blaming Ayad Allawi is like blaming Al Gore.  Both persons should have been their countries leaders.  Al should have been sworn in as President of the United States in January 2001 -- he won the 2000 election.  Ayad Allawi should have been named prime minister-designate in April 2010, Iraqiya won the March 2010 elections.

Allawi did not become prime minister.  He was denied that post.  We can talk about the whys of that (though goodness knows, Wing never does and Maria's a tacky 'novelist' when it comes to Iraq) but the reality of Allawi not becoming prime minister was that you quickly had factions (such as White Iraqiya) breaking off.  You also had Saleh al-Mutlaq stabbing Iraqiya in the back.

(Like so many, Maria missed that and could never understand why Saleh would be booed and have rocks tossed at him.  We explained why in real time and it was mere weeks later that Iraqi protesters were carrying banners with Saleh's face on it -- with a large red line across it.)

In the US, as 2004 approached, many hoped/wanted Al Gore to run.  He didn't.  That was his call and he had his reasons.  But if you were a Gore supporter, you may remember how you felt when Gore's was sometimes floated in 2003 and 2004.

That same feeling will be present for many Iraqis with regards to Allawi.  He could tap into that.

The provinces don't mean a damn thing for Iraqiya. The political slate has been targeted -- Tareq al-Hashemi is only one example -- they have been weakened.  And the reason they won in 2010 is the reason, if they get their act together, they could win again.

What do I know?  I'm just the one who said Iraqis in 2009 and 2010 demonstrated a move towards a national identity.  And, check, I said it in2010 here repeatedly.  It's now accepted wisdom among analysts.   I'm not Joel Wing processing something months after the fact and coming to a conclusion.  I've note before that campaign politics was one of my fields of emphasis.  Raw data gets dumped on me all the time by DNC friends wanting me to interpret it.  Not summarize it.  Any fool can do that. 

The talent is to look at the data and see what's trending and why.

The best chance for Nouri to get a third term by votes (as opposed to it being given to him by the US government -- as it has been twice now) or for  a Nouri like figure to become prime minister is a full on civil war.

That will silence a lot of the criticism -- it'll be replaced with cries of 'help us!'

Barring that, the Iraqi people are tired of Nouri.  They were tired of him in 2009.  They were tired of him in 2010.  He was the incumbent, he bribed, he had opponents disqualified from running, he controlled the press (am I the only one who read Deborah Amos' paper on the campaigning on TV in Iraq?) and yet he still couldn't pull out a win.

State of Law, his slate, came in second.  That was a rebuke.

The rebuke was even more obvious when Moqtada al-Sadr held his spring 2010 elections asking those who voted (primarily his supporters -- but he did open it up to any Iraqi who wanted to vote) who he should back for prime minister and Nouri wasn't the first choice, or the second, or the third . . .

Those were Shi'ites, where Nouri's strength of support is supposed to come from.  (Yes, 2008's attacks on Sadr City and Basra are not forgotten by Moqtada's followers.  So what's your point?  They don't like Nouri.  Those attacks only hardened their dislike. The 2008 attacks can't be taken back, they are the mark against Nouri for many Shi'ites -- and not just Moqtada's followers -- a large number of Shi'ites in Iraq were appalled to see Nouri doing, they considered, the bidding of the Americans and attacking fellow Shi'ites.)

If elections are held next year, Nouri will have spent eight years as prime minister.

He has much to show for it -- I understand from friends in the US government that his bank accounts are overflowing.  However, the Iraqi people have nothing to show for it.

They still don't have the basic public services, they still don't have safety, they still don't have jobs.

The editorial board of the Gulf News notes today:

Political vendettas and ministerial infighting have paralysed Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s government in Iraq and he should start to consider stepping down to trigger new elections so that a more forceful coalition can try to stem Iraq’s sad slide into the abyss of continual violence.
[. . ]
Al Maliki needs to take responsibility for not doing more to stop the violence. It is true that Iraq’s civil war was triggered by the America-led invasion more than 10 years ago and the disastrous failure of the consequent administration. However, Al Maliki has been the Prime Minister since 2006. He won a second term after complex coalition talks. In these seven years, his Shiite-dominated government should have done more and his recent announcements are not expected to achieve much.

Nouri didn't win a second term in 2010.

Nouri came in second and refused to step down.  Freak Maria can check her own writing if she's really forgotten that (as opposed to if she's just flat out lying).  For eight months, he refused to step down.

For eight months, he brought government to a standstill in Iraq.

The US babied him and backed him (Samantha Power led the fight -- within the administration -- for his second term).  The White House didn't give a damn that backing him meant spitting on the votes of the Iraqi people -- or the violence they risked encountering just to vote.

Since the Iraqi Constitution didn't allow Nouri -- or anyone else who came in other than first -- a crack at prime minister-designate, the US government went around the Constitution, they circumvented it.

They brokered a contract known as The Erbil Agreement.

This was the US pitch (we've noted it repeatedly over the years), "Look, Nouri's dug in and refused to back down for eight months.  He could go eight months more.  As long as he does this, Iraq has no Parliament and nothing is being accomplished.  You love your country, you want the best for it.  So be the bigger person and let Nouri have that second term.  Then Iraq can get back to business. And we can do this with a legal contract that will have the full backing and support of the US government.  He wants a second term.  What does your bloc want?  We can put it in the contract and you can get it."

And people signed up with it and entered into a contract with Nouri.  For example, the Kurds signed on after it was put in writing that Nouri would implement Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution (hold a census and referendum on oil-rich and disputed Kirkuk which is claimed by the KRG and by the central government of Baghdad).  Nouri signed the legal contract.

He used it to become prime minister but he refused to honor his written -- and legally binding -- promises. 

That is what caused the ongoing political crisis.

For the US government to fail to keep their promises?  You want to blame Iraqiya and Ayad Allawi for that?

You aren't analysts, your porn writers.

For those who care about reality, let's drop back to the November 11, 2010 snapshot:

An Iraqi journalist tells the BBC today, "I think a lot of people who voted this time round will have hoped for a change, and will be disappointed to see the same people in charge." John Leland, Jack Healy and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) add, "Iraq's lawmakers took a small step toward forming a government of Thursday evening, hammering out the details of a deal struck one day earlier to end an eight-months political impasse."


March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's eight months and three days and still counting.

Today the KRG website announces:Baghdad, Iraq ( - Iraq's political leaders yesterday agreed to hold the parliamentary session as scheduled on Thursday and to name an individual for the post of Speaker of the the parliament (Council of Representatives). The Speaker post will go to the Al-Iraqiya bloc, which is headed by former prime minister Ayad Allawi.
During the meeting, which was attended by the leaders of all the winning blocs at President Masoud Barzani's Baghdad headquarters, agreement was reached on two other points: to create a council for strategic policy and to address issues regarding national reconciliation.
President Barzani, who sponsored the three days' round of meetings, stated that today's agreement was a big achievement for Iraqis. He expressed optimism that the next government will be formed soon and that it will be inclusive and representative of all of Iraq's communities.


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."

Get it, yet?

The power sharing agreement is The Erbil Agreement.  Barack gave his personal backing of it to Ayad Allawi and yet somehow what went down is Allawi's fault.

Freak Maria and Joel Wing are idiots.

Allawi was robbed. That's not a campaign slogan.

We were robbed.

That's a campaign slogan.

It can be a winning one.  'The imperialist Americans stole our election last time, we won't let them this time.'

I keep saying 'if they happen' of the parliamentary elections. Not only is Nouri attempting to insist he needs 8 additional months added onto the term, his State of Law continues to attempt to block the election law which needs to be passed for the elections to be held.  All Iraq News reports that Parliament again discussed the bill but did not vote for it today.

Provincial elections are local.  We said that before 12 provinces voted this year.  'Analysts' insisted that 'Nouri' would be the big winner.  He wasn't even on the ballot.  His State of Law did very poorly.  I haven't blamed it on Nouri.  It's not a reflection of Nouri. They are local races (like a statewide race for statewide office in the US).  There may be a pattern in the elections -- probably not thought.  The elections were too spread out.  12 in April, 2 months later then the KRG in September.

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