Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Words are like Casper, they haunt





Nouri al-Maliki's War Crimes never end.  Since January, he's been bombing residential areas in Falluja and killing and wounding civilians.  National Iraqi News Agency reports Nouri's bombing of Falluja's resedential neighborhoods left 6 people dead and twenty injured.

That was not the only violence today.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) counts 40 dead from violence today.

National Iraqi News Agency reports a Nasiriyah roadside bombing left six people injured, an Arsriah Village bombing killed 2 people and injured four more, a Najaf car bombing killed 13 people and left seventy injured,  a Mishahda suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 2 police members with five more left injured, 1 person was shot dead in Falluja (three more wounded), the Ministry of the Interior announced that bombings in Babil, Dhi Qar and Najaf left 2 people dead and 21 injured (the Najaf bombing they're counting was a roadside bombing that injured 8, not the car bombing we already noted), 1 police member was shot dead in Baghdad, the Island and the Desert Operations Command announced they killed 7 suspects in Wady Soub, Joint Operations Command announced they killed 5 suspects, a Mosul battle left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and another injured, 1 person was shot dead in al-Khalis, 1 little girl was shot dead in an attack on her al-Wajeehiya home and her father was left injured, 1 person was shot dead just outside Baquba, 1 person was shot dead in Al-Muqdadiya (another injured), a Mousl roadside bombing killed 3 police members, a battle near Ramadi left 7 rebels dead (twenty-one more injured),  a Yarmouk roadside bombing left 2 people dead, Ahmed Nabil (a member of Nineveh Governor Ethyl al-Nujaifi's protection service) was shot dead outside his al-Aarabi home,  and 1 corpse was discovered in Baghdad ("signs of strangulation and stabbing by sharpen tool").

Over the weekend, the month of May concluded and the monthly death toll was noted.  UNAMI issued the following:

Baghdad, 1 June 2014 – According to casualty figures released today by UNAMI, a total of at least 799 Iraqis were killed and another 1,409 were injured in acts of terrorism and violence in May*.

The number of civilians killed was 603 (including 144 civilian police), while the number of civilians injured was 1108 (including 218 civilian police). A further 196 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed, and 301 were injured (not including casualties from Anbar operation).
“I strongly deplore the sustained level of violence and terrorist acts that continues rocking the country. I urge the political leaders to work swiftly for the formation of an inclusive government within the constitutionally mandated time frame and focus on a substantive solution to the situation in Anbar”, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG), Mr. Mladenov said.
Anbar excluded, Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate with 932 civilian casualties (315 killed, 617 injured), followed by Ninewa (113 killed 248 injured), Salahuddin (94 killed 146 injured), Kirkuk (22 Killed, 60 injured), Diyala (38 killed 28 injured). 
*CAVEATS: Data do not take into account casualties of the current IA operation in Anbar, for which we report at the bottom the figures received by our sources.

Operations in Anbar
According to information obtained by UNAMI from the Health Directorate in Anbar, the total civilian casualties in Anbar up to 30 May were 195 killed and 499 injured, with 95 killed and 222 injured in Ramadi and 100 killed and 277 injured in Fallujah.

Other counts were compiled as well.  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) notes, "Antiwar.com compiled 2,249 fatalities, of which 1,075 were civilian and security member deaths. Another 1,953 people were wounded, including 87 militants."   Iraq Body Count notes 1027 civilians killed for the month.  AFP's count is 900.

We're getting closer to the half-way mark for 2014.  AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted the following:

Today, the Economist offers, "Most Iraqis here appear to support the end of Saddam’s regime, but criticise the American government and military officials for inadequate post-war planning that has left Baghdad and much of the country in chaos. In 2013 over 7,800 civilians were killed, surpassing the total of 6,787 in 2008, during the conflict. This year is looking just as deadly, although many Iraqis hope against the odds that the recent elections will bring progress and stability."

Thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki wants a third term.  His office issued the following today:

His Excellency Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki said in an interview with Al-Iraqiya TV which will be aired at a later time we now have 175 guaranteed votes, but we want more partners who agree with us in the program and principles to be adopted in the next government , and he called on all political blocs to adopt understanding and dialogue in order to form the government as soon as possible and move towards construction and development.
With regards to the adherence of some political blocks and some politicians to what they call red lines against this or that party , Mr. Prime Minister said: I recommend that everyone read the developments well , there has been so many developments during the past four years and none can holds the neck of the political process anymore .
On the goal of the conference, which the Prime Minister called for in Anbar , his Excellency said it is intended to isolate the terrorists and strengthen national unity in Anbar and address reconstruction efforts .
On the issue of exporting oil from the Kurdistan region and its consequent effects , the Prime Minister said, that this act is in violation of the Iraq's sovereignty and Iraq's constitution , it cannot be accepted under any conditions. He stressed that there is no such thing as cutting the salaries of the Kurdistan region, but this is a banner raised for mobilization and incitement.

Nouri may or may not have the votes his office states.  He's prone to making claims that aren't true.  All Iraq News notes, "The Ahrar bloc within the Sadr Trend and the Kurdistani Democratic Party announced rejecting the nomination of the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, for the third term of the Prime Minister Post."

The KDP is the most popular  political party in the Kurdistan Regional Government.  KRG President Massoud Barzani is the head of the KDP.  (Most popular assertion is based on the KDP coming in first in the KRG provincial elections and first in the April 30th parliamentary elections.)  On the subject of the Kurds, Hiwa Barznjy (Niqash) explores where the Kurds stand on the issue of Iraq's next prime minister:

The two most popular political parties originating in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan are the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or PUK, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, or KDP. The KDP appears to have 25 seats in Baghdad while the PUK has 21 – the next largest Iraqi Kurdish party, the Change movement, has nine seats.

And the PUK and KDP feel differently about working with al-Maliki for another term. The KDP are presently totally committed to getting rid of him while the PUK isn’t quite as sure about that. The PUK’s ailing leader, Jalal Talabani, who has been in hospital in Germany for over a year, is actually the President of Iraq and it is well known that the PUK has a better relationship with al-Maliki than the KDP. The question of whether the PUK would cut a separate deal with al-Maliki to become part of his coalition government has already been mooted.

The other question is whether the KDP would drop out of the united Kurdish group to support Ammar al-Hakim, who they are allegedly closer to. Al-Hakim is the leader of one of the other major Shiite Muslim parties in Baghdad, the Ahrar bloc, which represents the interests of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq in politics.

Parliamentary elections were held April 30th.  May is ending but there's no one named prime minister yet.

In 2010, Iraq set the record for the longest time between elections and the formation of a government. They've since been bested and Nouri may be hoping they can reclaim their title.  It certainly seems like a possibility based upon the remarks of MP Abbas al-Bayati.  All Iraq News reports the State of Law MP insists that "the next government" will be formed "before the end of 2014."  Way to shoot for the stars.  If the government was formed on December 30th, that would be eight months to form the government.

The April 30th elections were a farce.  Nouri and the IHEC did not allow Falluja and Ramadi to vote.  Nouri's forces showed up in Sunni dominant areas and kept the polls closed for half-a-day before allowing them to open.  It was one stunt after another guaranteed to decrease turnout.

Reuters' Ned Parker Tweeted the day of those elections:

More than 200 journalists waiting to vote got kicked out of a polling center at 6 pm deadline by SWAT who said leave or else.

Nouri wants a third term but he's unwanted by so many political blocs and Iraqi citizens.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) notes:

The Iraqi Kurdish are not the only ones to have made this kind of announcement. The Sadrist movement, led by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and represented in Parliament by the Ahrar bloc, has also said they don’t want to see their former ally, al-Maliki, given a third term as Prime Minister.

Another of al-Maliki’s most important former allies, the Muwatin, or Citizen, coalition which represents the interests of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, led by another cleric Ammar al-Hakim, has expressed similar sentiments.

Both of the latter are mostly composed of Shiite Muslims, the same sect as al-Maliki. Meanwhile al-Maliki’s long time opponents – mostly Sunni Muslim blocs and parties as well as some secular blocs – have also said they won’t contemplate a third term for al-Maliki.  

Al-Maliki’s bloc has won around 94 seats and it’s highly likely this share will increase to over 100 – anything from 102 to 110, analysts suggest - as the big bloc attracts smaller parties to its ranks to try and form a coalition big enough to be allowed to form the next government.

Meanwhile all of those who oppose a third term for al-Maliki number more than enough to form a government – they have around 180 seats out of Iraq’s 328 seat Parliament. And some have suggested, perhaps rather optimistically, that these groups could form a kind of grand coalition because they all have the same focus: keeping al-Maliki out. Such a coalition could be described as grand because it would cross most of Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian boundaries, uniting all those who usually jostle for political power for their own sector of Iraqi society; it would herald a true post-sectarian age for Iraqi politics. 

If the PUK has thrown in with Nouri, it will further sideline the PUK.

In the provincial elections, Gorran (Change) destroyed the PUK.  Months later in the parliamentary elections, the PUK increased their turnout via Jalal Talabani.

December 2012,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot).  Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.

A video showing Jalal -- the first since he went to Germany -- was distributed ahead of the parliamentary elections and rallied the PUK (Jalal is the head of the PUK) bumping up their turnout.

That's a one time stunt.

Video of Jalal won't do a damn thing again.

Jalal in the flesh might.

But if the PUK is partnering with Nouri, they will be sidelined in the KRG and Gorran will be the second most popular party.  Nouri has refused to implement Article 140 (which would determine Kirkuk's status) and he's refused to hand over to the KRG their slice of the 2014 federal budget.  These are two big reasons he's disliked, they are not the only ones.  With the KDP standing up, if Jalal's PUK cowers at the feet of Nouri, they will be revealed as spineless and craven.  Gorran will easily replace them.

In the KRG, the longing for a Kurdish nation-state has never gone away.  It's also become a more visible dream with KDP members and others floating that the KRG might break away from Iraq.  If the PUK can't lead the vision, the Kurdish people have no need to support the PUK.

And with Jalal on a deathbed or a never recovery, the PUK will look even more out of touch.

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