Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tony Blair and Radical Islam: A dialogue





Ammar al-Hakim is the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council.  Alsumaria reports that he declared today that Iraq has reached a turning point.  He was speaking in Babylon Province about the planned April 30th parliamentary elections.  He noted the coalition he'd joined with, the Citizens Coalition, wanted to build university to continue the production of knowledge and culture and to improve the quality of life for Iraqis in the streets and in their homes.  They are on the cusp, al-Hakeem declared, and they can proceed to a fair state with confidence in the judiciary, the government institutions and an equitable distribution of the walth.  Or they can remain with "red tape," with neglected cities, with expanding violence and the continual shedding of blood.

The status quo is Nouri.  That's what al-Hakim's speech is rejecting.

The status quo is Nouri and, whether it's out of personal elections hopes or not, politicians are rejecting him.

Sunday, Aswat al-Iraq quoted the country's Shi'ite Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi declaring, "Maliki does not regard himself responsible for the deterioration in the country, but he shoulders the greatest responsibility."  He also criticized Nouri's campaign stops this month saying that Nouri's main focus should be to "create a secured stability."  Osama al-Nujaifi is the Speaker of Parliament in Iraq and the head of the Mottahiddon list. NINA quotes him declaring today:

Our former attitude of patience that we committed to,was motivated to the preservation and unity of the nation and the people for fear of plans of sectarians who carry out a well-known regional and international schema .  But today we will firmly repeal and strongly deter the hand that turn the executive power to merely sentences of mass executions of innocent citizens , as well as the hand that transform army’s sacred tasks of defending people and nation’s boarders to a force to crush the people , to dispersion and humiliate citizens , violate the sanctity of the Iraqi family and imprison innocent women in detention and rape them stressing the necessity to detain such a hand in accordance with the will of the whole people,the will of the constitution and the will of the right.

Osama al-Nujaifi is the brother of Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi (one of the many politicians Nouri al-Maliki loathes and has attempted to have removed).  With Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi in exile, Osama al-Nujaifi is the highest ranking Sunni politician in the Iraqi government.

Myriam Benraad (World Politics Review) examines the campaign field in Iraq and notes:

Three main forces are thus left competing within the Shiite political arena: Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, the Sadrist current and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), run by Ammar al-Hakim. These forces follow quite opposed ideological and political agendas and are themselves riddled with internal rivalries and disagreements.
Since Muqtada al-Sadr’s decision to withdraw from politics in February, debates have been ongoing as to the future of his movement. While some argue that Sadr’s abrupt move put an end to Sadrism, others believe that it is only a tactic for the popular Shiite leader to reposition himself ahead of the polls, both on the national scene and among his supporters. Lending credibility to the latter hypothesis, Sadr has remained politically active in spite of his announcement and is still the sharpest critic of Maliki, whom Sadr has called both a dictator and a tyrant. Sadr has also dissociated himself from other figures within his movement allegedly involved in cases of political and financial corruption.
[. . .]
The ISCI-dominated Citizen Coalition, which unites 18 other parties, ranked second in the 2013 provincial elections and today seeks to regain the standing it lost after its electoral failure in 2010. The list comprises a number of influential candidates, including Ahmed al-Chalabi. It primarily focuses its program on state reform, and has preferred a more moderate and conciliatory outlook in order to appeal to broader sectors of the Shiite population. It presents itself as a reliable successor to Maliki, but one that will not repeat the latter’s political mistakes. Contrary to Baghdad’s policy of recentralization of national political power, the ISCI favors more decentralization and hopes to garner greater support from Iran.

Benraad's take is that Nouri will win a third term (and that this will be bad for Iraq).  That is a prediction and many events on the ground argue against Nouri winning or even currently being in the lead.

We'll note this Tweet.

  • "This country has not faced up to what we did to Iraq and Afghanistan, any more than we have faced up to slavery." -Daniel Ellsberg

  • We?

    Daniel Ellsberg has never, ever, called out the current administration for demanding that Nouri get a second term as prime minister despite losing the 2010 elections to Ayad Allawi and Iraqiya.

    Daniel Ellsberg has never called The Erbil Agreement -- which went around the people of Iraq and gave Nouri a second term.  Daniel doesn't have that kind of guts.

    He's a fat, overweight and declawed cat barely able to make it to the litter box.  And if that's harsh, so is Daniel's embarrassing refusal to speak out for the Iraqi people and what they have endured since 2010.

    In other words, he should probably just roll over on his back and enjoy the sun because he has nothing to left to share.

    Dexter Filkins, infamous for his propaganda regarding the attack on Falluja in November 2004, has a long article at The New Yorker.  Like Ellsberg, he can't bring himself to mention The Erbil Agreement.  This excerpt covers that time period:

    In parliamentary elections the previous March, Maliki’s Shiite Islamist alliance, the State of Law, had suffered an embarrassing loss. The greatest share of votes went to a secular, pro-Western coalition called Iraqiya, led by Ayad Allawi, a persistent enemy of the Iranians. “These were election results we could only have dreamed of,” a former American diplomat told me. “The surge had worked. The war was winding down. And, for the first time in the history of the Arab world, a secular, Western-leaning alliance won a free and fair election.”
    But even though Allawi’s group had won the most votes, it had not captured a majority, leaving both him and Maliki scrambling for coalition partners. And despite the gratifying election results, American officials said, the Obama Administration concluded that backing Allawi would be too difficult if he was opposed by Shiites and by their supporters in Iran. “There was no way that the Shia were not going to provide the next Prime Minister,” James Jeffrey, the American Ambassador at the time, told me. “Iraq will not work if they don’t. Allawi was a goner.”
    Shortly after the elections, an Iraqi judge, under pressure from the Prime Minister, awarded Maliki the first chance to form a government. The ruling directly contradicted the Iraqi constitution, but American officials did not contest it. “The intent of the constitution was clear, and we had the notes of the people who drafted it,” [Emma] Sky, the civilian adviser, said. “The Americans had already weighed in for Maliki.”
    But it was the meeting with Suleimani that was ultimately decisive. According to American officials, he broke the Iraqi deadlock by leaning on Sadr to support Maliki, in exchange for control of several government ministries. Suleimani’s conditions for the new government were sweeping. Maliki agreed to make Jalal Talabani, the pro-Iranian Kurdish leader, the new President, and to neutralize the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, which was backed by the C.I.A. Most dramatic, he agreed to expel all American forces from the country by the end of 2011.
    The U.S. obtained a transcript of the meeting, and knew the exact terms of the agreement. Yet it decided not to contest Iran’s interference. At a meeting of the National Security Council a month later, the White House signed off on the new regime. Officials who had spent much of the previous decade trying to secure American interests in the country were outraged. “We lost four thousand five hundred Americans only to let the Iranians dictate the outcome of the war? To result in strategic defeat?” the former American diplomat told me. “F**k that.” At least one U.S. diplomat in Baghdad resigned in protest. And Ayad Allawi, the secular Iraqi leader who captured the most votes, was deeply embittered. “I needed American support,” he told me last summer. “But they wanted to leave, and they handed the country to the Iranians. Iraq is a failed state now, an Iranian colony.”

    Regarding the theft of the 2010 election?  Some of us called it out in real time.  I, for example, don't give a damn about Iran or its interference or 'interference.'  I do, however, give a damn about free and fair elections.  The Iraqis risked so much to vote and the chose Allawi.  But the US government refused to back the democratic process.  This sent a message -- an alarming message in a country supposedly moving towards democracy, or in the early stages of democracy, or gifted with democracy or whatever damn lie the US government told that you want to hold onto.

    In the end, the White House didn't give a damn about democracy and this is 2010 so I'm talking about Barack.

    I have no use for Daniel Ellsberg.  I don't give a ___ that he did something four-hundred-and-fifty years ago. I'm living in today.  Dying is taking place today. And if he wants to talk about Iraq, he better find a spine. Otherwise, he needs to crawl back under his rock.

    Not everyone's so afraid to note The Erbil Agreement.  For example,  Anthony H. Cordesman and Sam Khazai pointed out earlier this year in [PDF format warning] "Iraq in Crisis:"

    US officials applauded the 2010 Erbil agreement, and said they were hopeful that such cooperative arrangement would provide a political breakthrough among Iraq’s leadership, and allow them to address the country’s problems. They pointed to the influence the US had in pushing for the outcome, including the adoption of an American suggestion that Allawi head a new, “National Council for Security Policy”.

    And  Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) even reported on it in real time:

    Vice President Biden made numerous calls to senior Iraqi leaders over the past several months and U.S. officials directly participated in top-level negotiating sessions that lasted until just moments before the Iraqi parliament finally convened to approve a new power-sharing government Thursday, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. 

    And back in January,  Ned Parker (POLITICO) wrote an amazing must read on Iraq which included:

    It was the April 2010 national election and its tortured aftermath that sewed the seeds of today’s crisis in Iraq. Beforehand, U.S. state and military officials had prepared for any scenario, including the possibility that Maliki might refuse to leave office for another Shiite Islamist candidate. No one imagined that the secular Iraqiya list, backed by Sunni Arabs, would win the largest number of seats in parliament. Suddenly the Sunnis’ candidate, secular Shiite Ayad Allawi, was poised to be prime minister. But Maliki refused and dug in. 
    And it is here where America found its standing wounded. Anxious about midterm elections in November and worried about the status of U.S. forces slated to be drawn down to 50,000 by August, the White House decided to pick winners. According to multiple officials in Baghdad at time, Vice President Joseph Biden and then-Ambassador Chris Hill decided in July 2010 to support Maliki for prime minister, but Maliki had to bring the Sunnis and Allawi onboard. Hill and his staff then made America’s support for Maliki clear in meetings with Iraqi political figures. 
    The stalemate would drag on for months, and in the end both the United States and its arch-foe Iran proved would take credit for forming the government. But Washington would be damaged in the process. It would be forever linked with endorsing Maliki. One U.S. Embassy official I spoke with just months before the government was formed privately expressed regret at how the Americans had played kingmaker.   

    Four years ago and Americans don't want to own up to what the White House did?  That action set in motion everything that followed -- as surely Bully Boy Bush's illegal invasion destroyed Iraq.

    And Myriam Benraad (World Politics Review) isn't the only one who fears a third term of Nouri al-Maliki will send Iraq into even rockier waters.  NINA reports:

    The spokeswoman of the Watania (National Coalition), Maysoon al-Damalochi confirmed that "if the current Prime, Minister Nuri al-Maliki won a third term, the National Coalition would withdraw entirely from the political process ." 
     Damalochi said in an interview with the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / its details will be published tomorrow, " al-Maliki will not be the head for the next government , because he will not get the full support in this election , as happened in the previous two terms ."

    Two things are worth noting here.

    First, Nouri told AFP in early 2011 that he would not seek a third term.  This was when protests were rocking the region and leaders were facing the threat of being toppled.  Protests were taking place in Iraq as well and there was an attempt to pass a law limiting a prime minister to two terms (a law Nouri publicly stated he favored).  Nouri was fearful of losing his hold on power so he made public statements.  Like so many other promises from Nouri, they were meaningless.  Today, no journalist appears willing to ask Nouri what happened to his promise?

    Second, Nouri may already be barred from a third term by the Constitution.  It prohibits the presidency and it may in fact prohibit those holding the offices of prime minister and  the presidency from third terms.

    We've gone over this before but let's go over it slowly.

    How does one qualify for prime minister?  Not the vote, how does the person whom the president will name qualify?

    Article 77 of the Iraqi Constitution explains that:

    The conditions for assuming the post of the Prime Minister shall be the same as those for the President of the Republic, provided that he has a college degree or its equivalent and is over thirty-five years of age.

    So what are the conditions the presidency?

    All agree this outline in Article 68:

    A nominee to the Presidency of the Republic must be:
    First: An Iraqi by birth, born to Iraqi parents.
    Second: Fully qualified and must be over forty years of age.
    Third: Of good reputation and political experience, known for his integrity, uprightness, fairness, and loyalty to the homeland. 
    Fourth: Free of any conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude.

    That's the Constitution, everyone agrees.

    So clearly the prime minister isn't limited to two terms?

    Not so fast.

    Article 72:
    First: The President of the Republic's term in office shall be limited to four years.  He may be re-elected for a second time only.


    That sounds like a condition.

    Because, for example, Jalal Talabani's been president for two terms now.  If he wanted to go for a third one, he couldn't.


    Because he's had two terms but what is the word for that?

    Why?  Because he's not qualified for the office as a result of having served two terms.

    What does Article 77 say:

    The conditions for assuming the post of the Prime Minister shall be the same as those for the President of the Republic, provided that he has a college degree or its equivalent and is over thirty-five years of age.

    One of the conditions to be President of the Republic is that you've not already served two terms in the office.

    Article 77 says the same conditions apply to the office of Prime Minister.

    Repeating, one of the conditions to be President of the Republic is that you've not already served two terms in the office.

    Can Jalal have a third term as president?  No.  He fails one of the conditions for the post because he's served two terms already.

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