Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Failure is a factory option







Abdul Aziz al-Hakim passed away from lung cancer today. He was fifty-nine-years-old. Liz Sly and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) hail him as "a towering figure in the post-U.S.-invasion political landscape." His stature was such that even Iraq's prime minister paid homage to al-Hakim in recent months. As noted June 3rd on Nouri's trip to Iran:Iran's Press TV reported he flew to "Hakim's bedside in Tehran" this weekend because Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is receiving treatments for cancer. al-Hakim, like Nouri, is an Iraqi chicken who ran to exile, stayed in exile for decades and then, after the US invasion, was a 'respected' Iraqi . . . in the eyes of the US. al-Hakim grew up in Najaf and left Iraq in 1980 for Iran. Robin Wright (Washington Post) reported May 19, 2007 that al-Hakim had gone to Houston due to lung cancer: "Vice President Cheney played a role in arranging for Hakim to see U.S. military doctors in Baghdad, who made the original diagnosis, and for the current medical treatment in Houston, the sources said."The Tehran Times reports, "Mourners will hold a funeral procession in Tehran on Thursday which will start in front of the Iraqi Embassy. Later his body will be transferred to Najaf for burial." CNN notes, "Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim spent years in Iran as an exile, but returned to Iraq in 2003 following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. He had been an ally of both the United States and Iran." BBC observes of his political party Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC and ISCI), "The party has several senior cabinet members, and its militia - the Badr Brigade - wields considerable influence in Iraq's security establishment." Marc Santora (New York Times) notes that "Supreme Council Members hold positions atop important ministries and in Parliament. The group runs charitable organizations, libraries and schools and has a large network of support that stretches back to when Mr. Hakim's father, Grand Ayatollah Mohsen al-Hakim, was one of the top Shiite spiritual leaders in the world." Iran's Press TV calls SIIC "Iraq's most powerful party" and adds, "The death of Hakim will add to political uncertainty ahead of national polls in January and after a series of devastating bombings. " China's People's Daily Online (link has text and audio -- audio is in English) notes al-Hakim "became a member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council and served as its rotating presidency in December 2003." Iran's Fars News Agency adds, "Mohsen Hakim announced that the body of his father will be transferred to the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq for funeral processions, reminding that the time and location of the ceremony for the Iraqi leader will be announced later. " The Iranian Students News Agency explains, "Since his hospitalization in Tehran, his elder son Ammar Hakim has taken control of the SIIC." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters)reports that Ammar al-Hakim is expected to be his "likely successor as party leader" and adds:Although ISCI lost ground to Maliki's Dawa in provincial elections last January, the well-organized and well-funded party has major clout and will be a formidable competitor in January.ISCI has several members in top ministerial posts, and has influence in Iraq's security forces, which include members of ISCI's armed affiliate, the Badr Organization.ISCI derives much of its support from the Hakim family name, revered among Shi'ites for its lineage of scholars and sacrifice in the face of assaults by Saddam and later by Sunni insurgents during the bloodshed that raged after the U.S. invasion.Hakim's son Ammar appears to have been groomed for succession, given his regular appearances on behalf of and next to his father, but there are other key figures in the party.The death will leave ripples throughout the political community in Iraq and raises many issues. Yesterday's snapshot covered the new Shi'ite coalition and noted Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report on the new political coalition: "The 10-party Iraqi National Alliance includes two groups whose leaders are both in Iran -- the country's largest Shiite party, cleric Abdul Azis al-Hakim's Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, and the bloc of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr." Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) was also noted in yesterday's snapshot and we'll note the opening paragraph to his "'Iraq Will Be A Colony of Iran':"Iraq's Shiite religious parties, most with ties to Iran, have reestablished a political bloc called the Iraqi National Alliance. Among its founders are Ahmad Chalabi, the revered darling of US neoconservatives such as Richard Perle and Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute; Muqtada al-Sadr, the brooding, mercurial mullah who has mysteriously retreated to Qom, Iran's religious capital, for quick-study lessons on how to become an ayatollah; and, of course, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, one of the founders of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which has changed its name but not its spots. SCIRI, the anchor of the new coalition, is now called the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), but it still acts as an arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which founded it in 1982, and its paramilitary Badr Brigade -- also a part of the new Iraqi alliance -- is a terrorist unit that operates pro-Iran death squads in Iraq.

The Angola Press observes, "Correspondents say the death of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) leader adds further uncertainty ahead of national elections next January." Chip Cummins (Wall St. Journal) offers that his death threatens "more tumult among Shiite politicians attempting to unite ahead of January elections" and quotes the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs' Reider Vissar who states, "It's potentially a destabilizing factor (for ISCI) because the succession issue is very much open at the moment." Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) quotes Nouri stating, "Sayed al Hakim was a bigger brother and a strong support during the period of fighting the former regime and a fundamental corner in the process of building the new Iraq. His departure at this sensitive phase that we are going through is considered a great loss for Iraq." Marc Santora adds, "The American ambassador, Christopher R. Hill, and the Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of American forces in Iraq, issued a joint statement praising his 'courage and fortitude' in 'building a new Iraq'." Ali Sheikholeslami and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) call him "a power broker who insisted on Iraq's sovereignty and said it must end the country's conflict independently. Al-Hakim had close ties to neighboring Iran, while working to enhance relations between his native Iraq and the U.S. He met with then-president George W. Bush in Washington in October." Liz Sly and Raheem Salman notes his close ties to the Bush administration and point out, "A theologian who always wore the black turban and flowing robes of a senior Shiite cleric, he was seen as a divisive figure by many Sunnis. Many associated him with the killings of Sunnis by the Supreme Council's military wing, the Badr Organization, in the aftermath of the fall of Hussein and with the ascendant influence of Iran in Iraqi politics." On the news of the new alliance, Oliver August (Times of London) noted that with Nouri (currently) out of the running for prime minister if the alliance secures a majority, his "potential successors are Adel Abdul Mehdi, the Vice-president and a senior leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Iraq's first elected prime minister. Also on the slate is Ahmed Chalabi, the enigmatic former ally of the American neocons. Mr Chalabi helped to build the case for the American invasion but is now a Shia nationalist. Further in the shadows, but no less plausible as prime minister, stand Jawad al-Bolani, the Interior Minister, and Qassim Daoud, the former national security adviser."

The death will have implactions for the future of Iraq including the prolonged and no-time-soon ending US coccupation. In the US Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan is demonstrating on Martha's Vineyard through August 29th since War Hawk in Chief Barack Obama has decided it's the perfect spot for a vacation. (See Trina last night and she's correct to wonder. My place was booked up for this summer before 2008 ended and that's with friends and family and I don't charge rent. To squeeze in at the last minute does mean the White House pulled strings and that does raise the issue of favors owed. And last minute to get a place -- if you don't own one -- on the Vineyard for summer 2009 was anytime after Labor Day in 2008.) John V. Walsh has a must read at CounterPunch and here's a lenghty excerpt that still doesn't do justice to the passion and honesty of his column:

A funny thing has happened on Cindy Sheehan's long road from Crawford, Texas, to Martha's Vineyard. Many of those who claim to lead the peace movement and who so volubly praised her actions in Crawford, TX, are not to be seen. Nor heard. The silence in fact is deafening, or as Cindy put it in an email to this writer, "crashingly deafening." Where are the email appeals to join Cindy from The Nation or from AFSC or Peace Action or "Progressive" Democrats of America (PDA) or even Code Pink? Or United for Peace and Justice. (No wonder UFPJ is essentially closing shop, bereft of most of their contributions and shriveling up following the thinly veiled protest behind the "retirement" of Leslie Cagan.) And what about MoveOn although it was long ago thoroughly discredited as principled opponents of war or principled in any way shape or form except slavish loyalty to the "other" War Party. And of course sundry "socialist" organizations are also missing in action since their particular dogma will not be front and center. These worthies and many others have vanished into the fog of Obama's wars.
Just to be sure, this writer contacted several of the "leaders" of the "official" peace movement in the Boston area -- AFSC, Peace Action, Green Party of MA (aka Green Rainbow Party) and some others. Not so much as the courtesy of a reply resulted from this effort - although the GRP at least posted a notice of the action. (It is entirely possible that some of these organizations might mention Cindy's action late enough and quickly enough so as to cover their derrieres while ensuring that Obama will not be embarrassed by protesting crowds.) We here in the vicinity of Beantown are but a hop, skip and cheap ferry ride from Martha's Vineyard. Same for NYC. So we have a special obligation to respond to Cindy's call.
However, not everyone has failed to publicize the event. The Libertarians at are on the job, and its editor in chief Justin Raimondo wrote a superb column Monday on the hypocritical treatment of Sheehan by the "liberal" establishment. (1) As Raimondo pointed out, Rush Limbaugh captured the hypocrisy of the liberal left in his commentary, thus:
"Now that she's headed to Martha's Vineyard, the State-Controlled Media, Charlie Gibson, State-Controlled Anchor, ABC: 'Enough already.' Cindy, leave it alone, get out, we're not interested, we're not going to cover you going to Martha's Vineyard because our guy is president now and you're just a hassle. You're just a problem. To these people, they never had any true, genuine emotional interest in her. She was just a pawn. She was just a woman to be used and then thrown overboard once they're through with her and they're through with her. They don't want any part of Cindy Sheehan protesting against any war when Obama happens to be president."
The Green Party isn't promoting her demonstration? The same Green Party that needed her to turn out a crowd for their 2008 presidential debate? And now they can't promote a demonstration against the ongoing wars? (In fairness to them, they just needed her to bring out a crowd. The Nation profitted off of Cindy back in the day.) Mattt Viser (Boston Globe) reports, "High-profile protester Cindy Sheehan arrived last night and was whisked to a 34-foot wooden sloop on Lake Tashmoo, kicking off a four-day visit that will include a series of peace activities. She will be staying in homes of her supporters, some not far from Obama's 28-acre retreat in Chilmark." Julia Rappaport (Boston Herald) quotes Cindy stating, "No matter who's president, we still have to keep our end of our democracy going. Even though Bush is no longer in office, these policies are still continuing. In many areas, they're escalating -- the occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and now the horrible fightings in tribal regions. The killing of innocent people in the name of corporate welfare, or whatever this war is for, is certainly not about freedom or democracy or keeping us safe here at home."

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Abdul Aziz al-Hakim has passed away . . . and, oh yeah, the death the media's
glomming on as well"
"Refugees and CIA issues in Iraq"
"To Dennis with Loo from Ava and C.I."
"Pinocchio Obama"
"His fifth vacation, FIFTH"
"Bob Somerby, Ralph Nader"
"things i skip, things i pass on"
"Ian Kelly takes question on human rights abuse"
"The visionary Kucinich and other topics"
"Glenn Beck II"
"Proud of my vote"
"Bank fraud"
"Lila Garrett, you are the missing link"
"Barack puts a price on it"

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