Saturday, January 05, 2013

Hagel makes his itchy parts tingle







Weeks ago, Nouri threatened to call early elections.  Today someone called his bluff.  Alsumaria notes Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi has joined Nouri's call for early elections -- this is parliamentary elections, not provincial elections which are scheduled to take place in a few months.   KUNA quotes Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq stating, "The incumbent government has to step down."  Like Allawi,  al-Mutlaq is a member of Iraqiya.  Though Nouri's had no response as of yet.  Alsumaria reveals that MP Jabbar Kanani with Nouri's State of Law states that the answer to the current problems is to dissolve the Parliament and hold early elections.  Paul D. Shinkman (US News and World Reports) states they have been told by a source (unnamed) that "the fledgling Baghdad government may be on the brink of dissolving parliament within days" and that this may happen "as soon as 48 hours."
Allawi's not just calling for early elections, he's calling for an interim government to be set up.
In 2010, there was a push for just such a thing.  The United Nations and France were on board with the idea but the US government killed that proposal.  As reported in Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor's The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, had concerns that if Nouri's State of Law did not come in first in the March 2010 parliamentary elections, Nouri would refuse to stand down.  France, the UN and Odierno were right to be concerned.
Nouri's State of Law was supposed to run in a landslide -- that's what he said would happen.  But the voters had a different plan.  There was no landslide for Nouri and, in fact, State of Law didn't win.  Iraqiya came in first.  State of Law came in second.  Having won the elections, per the Constitution, it would be Iraqiya's job to form the government.  Someone from the slate would be named prime minister-designate.  That person would then have 30 days to create a Cabinet (that's a full Cabinet, the Iraqi Constitution does not recognize a partial Cabinet).  If the person can't form a Cabinet within 30 days, it's up to the President of Iraq to name another person prime minister-designate. 
None of that happened.  Nouri had the White House on his side.  And he refused to stop being prime minister.  He refused to let a new government be formed.  He basically threw a temper tantrum for over eight months holding Iraq hostage.   It was a political stalemate. 
Instead of reasoning with the loser (Nouri), the White House told the other political blocs that Nouri could continues this for months and, for the good of the country, to allow Iraq to move forward, it was time for the leaders of the political blocs to be the bigger person and let go of their objections to the loser remaining prime minister. 
The White House basically said to what they had termed a "democracy," 'Forget what the Iraqi people voted for, forget what the Constitution says, let Nouri have a second term as prime minister.  Now, for that to happen, what do you need in return?"
The extra-Constitutional contract that the US brokered is known as the Erbil Agreement.  Had an interim government been set up, Nouri would have had no edge, no place from which to toss a tantrum and bring the country to a standstill.
There were consequences for what the US did.  John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast) notes:

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."
There were other consequences as well.
What some called a 'democracy' would have been an 'emerging democracy' at best.  Barack Obama decided the lesson to teach Iraqis was (a) your vote doesn't matter and (b) your Constitution doesn't matter.  This does not make for building blocks to a strong democracy.  This was hugely damaging.  You puff out your chest and lie that you've brought people democracy -- when all you've really brough them was death and destruction -- and then the ones who were willing to hope that was true, the ones who were willing to believe in the process are given the message that your vote doesn't matter and it can be overturned in a backroom bargain, your Constitution doesn't matter and the US government can circumvent it on a whim. 
The White House, in an honest moment, would argue that they were comfortable with (US puppet) Nouri and felt he was a 'stabilizing' force.  In a really honest moment, which they are incapable of, they'd admit that Nouri swore now, finally, he could push through the oil and gas law the US has long wanted.  Now this is the same law that Nouri promised to push through years ago.  In fact, these are part of the Bush White House's benchmarks which Nouri agreed to in 2007.  He didn't accomplish it then or in all the years since.
A smart person looks at the record and says, "Uh, Nouri can't accomplish this.  If he could have, he would have done it yesterday."  However, an idiot says, "He just screwed Bush.  Nouri would never screw me over.  It will be different this time, Nouri will keep his word."  That's what an idiot said and that's why the US insisted Nouri get a second term.
Allawi wants a caretaker government because that's the only thing that can curb Nouri.  A temporary government can prevent him from hanging on to an office if he hasn't earned it.  Zaid Sabah and Khalid al-Ansary (Bloomberg News) has State of Law's MP Khalid al-Aadi stating, "The State of Law didn't ask to dissolve the parliament.  But when any party asks for dissolving the parliament and dissolve the government and call for early election, we will not stand against it."  They also say that the request is for Nouri to continue -- after the Parliament is dissolved -- "to govern as a caretaker."  That is completely false and it is not what Ayad Allawi stated.
As protests continued to spread in Iraq today, Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and thug of the occupation, had a message.  KUNA quotes him stating, "The recent calls by extremists to turn the protests into civil disobedience only serve external agendas and could undermine the entire political process in Iraq."  By Nouri's 'standards,' Martin Luther King Jr., Hendry David Thoreau, Mahatma Ghandi and other proponents of civil disobedience would be branded 'terrorists' as would the Muslim women in Pakistan in 1947.  Not only is that global tradition ignored, Sun Yunlong (Xinhua) reported March 25, 2008, "Iraq's radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr Tuesday called on Iraqis to hold sit-ins across Iraq if attacks by U.S. and Iraqi troops continue against his follwers, a Sadr statement said." 
Despite Nouri's attempts to demonize protests, Pakistan Today reports, "Thousands of Sunni Iraqis have continued to protest in Fallujah and other Iraq cities" and that they continue to insist upon "the release of prisoners and the end to allegedly sectarian policies."  And Nouri continues to refuse to allow Iraqis to exercise their rights freely.  AFP reports, "Demonstrators gathered at the Abu Hanifa mosque in the mostly-Sunni neighbourhood of Adhamiyah, but were barred by security forces from leaving the compound to rally on the street, an AFP correspondent said." The Voice of Russia adds, "The protests, which were attended by hundreds of thousands of people took place in other cities across the country as part of a declared 'Resistance Friday'."  SAPA Asian News Agency spoke with two protesters, one male, one female.  Abu Adbullah wondered, "How much longer will our children stay in prisons for no other reason than being Sunni."  Umm Mohammed states, "My three children were arrested four years ago for no reason and I ask Maliki -- release them."  Ahlul Bayt News Agency notes that "anit-government protests took place in several Iraqi cities, including Salahuddin, Diyala, Kirkuk, and Nineveh provinces, while demonstrators in western Anbar province continued to block off a highway linking Iraq to Syria and Jordan for a 12th succssive day."

All Iraq News notes that, following today's morning prayers, Arabs in Kirkuk took to the streets to protest and demand the release of the prisoners and the abolition of Article 4 which is seen as being used for political purposes against Sunnis.  October 31, 2010, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was assaulted.  Today, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr visited the Church to show solidarity with Iraqi Christians and underscore that the dream is one Iraq that is welcoming and home to all Iraqis regardless of faith.  Alsumaria notes he spoke of sending delegates to speak to the protesters in Anbar Province for that reason.  He repeated his statements from earlier this week noting that the protesters had a legitimate right to express their grievances.   All Iraq News notes that he stressed the importance of the Christian community to Iraq.  Alsumaria adds that Moqtada then went to Kilani Mosque in central Baghdad for morning prayers.  Emily Alpert (Los Angeles Times) offers, "Sadr is believed to be making gestures to the Sunni protesters and religious minorities in order to style himself as a unifying figure ahead of the provincial vote."  Adam Schreck (AP) echoes Alpert, "Al-Sadr [appears] to be trying to capitalize on the political turmoil by attempting to portray himself as a unifying figure ahead of provincial elections in the spring."
Maybe so.  But what is known is that Nouri's held onto the arrest warrant for Moqtada.  It's part of the reason Moqtada stayed out of Iraq (especially after Nouri's 2008 attacks on Basra and Baghdad's Sadr City).  Moqtada is taking a real chance going into Baghdad today.  Whether that's to see himself up as "a unifying figure," I have no idea.  Since 2010, we've talked about how he believes he will be Iraq's next prime minister.  But ambitions or no ambitions today, with that still outstanding arrest warrant (which dates back to the US occupation), Moqtada took a real chance going into Baghdad, speaking of the need for unity and decrying what is taking place.
While Moqtada was talking inclusion and one Iraq, Nouri continues his attempts to divide the country.  Al Mada reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has called out Nouri's attack on him (saying al-Nujaifi was unfit because he supported the protesters).  al-Nujaifi has responded that the right of protest is guaranteed in the Constitution and that the citizens have the right to exercise their freedoms and to reject tyranny and injustice.  Kitabat states that there was supposed to be a meeting of various political leaders today but the head of the National Alliance, Ibrahim Jafaari, postponed the meeting.  Nouri was busy today too.  Kitabat reports that he sent out forms to the local governments asking the identify the people leading the protests and to arrest them.
That's a fact US State Dept spokesperson Victorial Nuland worked hard to avoid at today's State Dept press briefing.
QUESTION: Just on Iraq.
QUESTION: More protests today. Have you guys had contacts with the Iraqi government about how they're going to respond to this, how they're going to reduce tensions?
MS. NULAND: We have had contacts with the Iraqi government. We've had contacts with all of the stakeholders in Iraq along the lines of the comments that I made yesterday calling for peaceful protesters to be allowed to protest peacefully, but that also for restraint on all sides, including on the part of protesters and on the part of security forces. Our understanding is that they were relatively big protests today but that they were somewhat more peaceful than they had been in previous days, which is a good thing.
QUESTION: Victoria, are you involved directly in mediating, like at the Embassy level or perhaps at the "someone from the building level" between the different parties in Iraq? Because Allawi, the Iraqiya – the head of the Iraqiya – today called on Maliki to resign. Are you mediating any kind of talks between the two?
MS. NULAND: Well, Said, I wouldn't use that word. We've talked about this before here. You know that on a weekly basis, sometimes on a daily basis, our Ambassador in Iraq has meetings with all of the key leaders, encouraging them to work with each other to settle issues that they have through dialogue, to protect and preserve the basic tenets of the Iraqi constitution. He regularly sees the Prime Minister, the deputy prime ministers, the Vice President, cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, parliamentarians. So we try to use our good offices with all of the groups to encourage them to participate actively in dialogue with each other.
QUESTION: Okay. And Muqtada al-Sadr, the fiery Shia leader who heads Jaish al-Mahdi – the Mahdi Army is also is threatening to sort of break away with Malaki. Do you see this as a good sign as breaking away from Iran's hold?
MS. NULAND: Again, what we want to see is the major stakeholders in Iraq, political leaders, work through their issues through dialogue in consultation with each other. I'm obviously not going to comment on specific political moves by one player or another, except to say that when there are grievances, we don't want them settled through violence. We don't want to see them settled through moves that will hurt innocents. We want to see conversation, we want to see dialogue, we want to see protection of the constitution.
Still on Iraq? No?
MS. NULAND: Yes on Iraq?
QUESTION: Yeah. One of the issues that the protesters are angry about is the prisoners. They say that up to 50,000 people are being imprisoned in Iraq just because of their – this sectarian reasons. And the government is denying that number, and they're saying there are 900 women, and they didn't provide the number of male prisoners. Between those numbers of the government and the protesters' numbers, from your people on the ground during those meetings, do they have an idea? I mean, can they – do they have anything solid regarding the number of prisoners? Because this is one of the main issues that the people are protesting against in Iraq.
MS. NULAND: I'm not prepared to address here our assessment of what the accurate numbers may or may not be. I will say that this is one of the issues that we have encouraged dialogue and transparency on. It's important in any democracy for the justice system to be transparent, for there to be fairness and a level playing field, and that's something that needs to be addressed, obviously.
It's cute how Nuland ignores topics that matter and how she continues to attack the Iraqi protesters.   Professor Gareth Stansfeld (Royal United Services Institute) provides a more concrete take on what's going on:
Fallujah, Ramadi, Tikrit, Mosul - all saw demonstrations against the Maliki government, with some, including Mosul, calling for the withdrawal of the Iraqi government and police forces. Never one to shirk from a challenge to his power, Maliki has responded with ominous language - including calling up protesters to 'end their strike before the state intervenes to end it'.
While Maliki has faced threats from the Sunni areas before, he has never faced them in isolation. This time, however, the Kurds are no longer his allies and instead have increasingly common cause with their Sunni neighbours. Following years of poor relations between Erbil and Baghdad, caused over disputes over oil and gas policy, budgetary allocations, the status of the disputed territories (including Kirkuk), and an overall disenchantment within Erbil towards the Maliki government, the relationship between the two capitals has, by the start of 2013, become appalling.
Following a military stand-off in the disputed territories at the end of 2012, the scene is set for 2013 to be one of the Kurds moving ahead with securing their autonomy by strengthening their relationship with Turkey and the Arab Gulf states, and by exporting oil and gas directly to their northern neighbour. In order to protect their region, it would make sense for them to do so from the disputed territories themselves, and so raise the spectre of increased military confrontation with Maliki in such volatile flashpoints as Kirkuk, Diyala, and Ninevah. This is a confrontation that the Kurds, with at least tacit Sunni support, may feel capable of winning. The Kurdistan War of 2013 may not be too unlikely, looking at the current pieces on the board.

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Friday, January 04, 2013

Yes, White boy, tell us all about racism














A major bombing in Iraq today has again underscored how there is no peace or end of war for the country the US invaded in 2003 and now controls via the puppet Nouri al-Maliki who was first installed in 2006.   Today was the culmination of the Arbaeen rituals which AFP estimated resulted in 15 million pilgrims going to Karbala over the last tend days.  They explain, "Arbaeen marks 40 days after the Ashura anniversary commemorating the slaying of Imam Hussein, one of Shiite Islam's most revered figures, by the armies of the caliph Yazid in 680 AD.  Sad songs blared from loudspeakers throughout the city and black flags fluttered alongside pictures of Hussein and his half-brother Imam Abbas, both of whom are buried in the city."  A pilgrim from Basra explained how long it had taken him to get to Karbala on foot and how he was taking part to defy terrorism.  That was before the bomb struck.   CNN reports it was a car bomb in nearby Musayyib. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) adds, "A police source in Babil province told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the blast took place at a car park when pilgrims returned from the Shiite holy city of Karbala in southern Iraq."  BBC News cites a police source for their news that "the bomb went off close to a bus stop where coaches that carry pilgrims from Karbala to other Iraqi cities drop and collect them."  Reuters quotes eye witness Ali Sabbar, "I was getting a sandwich when a very strong explosion rocked the place and the blast threw me away.  When i regained my senses and stood up, I saw dozens of bodies. Many cars were set on fire.  I just left the place and didn't even participate in the evacuation of the victims."   NBC News Wire Services quotes teacher Ibrahim Mohammed stating, "The explosion shook the whole block and smashed the windows of my house.  I ran to the scene of the explosion only to find charred bodies and burning cars.  There were women screaming and searching for their missing children." 
Michael Peel and Abeer Allam (Financial Times of London) count 27 dead.  Reuters notes at least sixty people were injured.  KUNA points out, "Over the past few days, Iraqi authorities have carried out tight security measures in the areas, including air surveillance."  Deutsche Welle points out that today's "violence hit despite" those security measures.  Omar Al Saleh (Al Jazeera) observes, "We understand that security is very tight, and it's obvious that this is a breach of security, this is a setback for the security of this country."
Let's move from real violence to pretense and also to money -- the US taxpayer money. 
First up, Victoria Nuland.  We've covered Icky Vicky repeatedly.  For those late to the party, she was the Deputy National Security Advisor to Dick Cheney during Bully Boy Bush's first term which allowed her to take Dick's plans for world domination and help make them happen.  She is not a neocon just because she worked for Dick Cheney on 'national security.'  She is also a neocon because she married into the Kagan family which is the neocon family. 
In the 60s, the US government's war on Vietnam allowed some Communists in the US to take stands on peace and on fairness.  It allowed other Communists to go running for a Daddy to comfort them from their night terrors.  Donald Kagan is one of those former lefties who ended up a conservative -- although this transformation was also said to be in part as a result of Cornell creating a Black Studies program.  He is one of the leading lights (or dimmest bulbs) in what is the neoconservative movement.  With the Project for the New American Century in 1997, they began publicly calling for war on Iraq.  Donald Kagan is Victoria's father-in-law.  She's married to Robert Kagan (who is a neocon -- and probably their strongest theorist -- but he rejects the label).  Her brother-in-law is Fred Kagan and her sister-in-law is Kimberly Kagan.  Donald, Fred and Robert all signed the Project for the New American Century screed entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses."  Fred has a wide ranging background with a variety of fields and expertises.   Most recently, as Rajiv Chandrasekaran (Washington Post) exposed, it was learned that he and Kimbergly Kagan were advising then Gen David Petraeus while he was heading up the US mission in Afghanistan.  Kimberly Kagan is seen as the most personable of the Kagans.  She married Fred and is liked by the press because she's seen as less intense as the others (including Nuland).  She's in charge of the Institute for the Study of War.  Victoria and her family all wanted war on Iraq. 
Somehow it was decided, after Barack Obama was elected president based on his pretense of being against the Iraq War, that Victoria Nuland was the perfect face for the State Dept -- begging the question of had anyone seen that face?
At the State Dept, Victoria Nuland usually handles the daily press briefing which allows her to ignore Iraq.  Yesterday was one of those rare times she bothered to mention Iraq.
QUESTION: On Iraq, what do you make of the protest in Iraq? I mean, obviously, there are more – they're now in Anbar, in Mosul, and they're even – they've moved to the – blocking the highway that connects Iraq into Syria and Jordan, the international highway, and they're protesting against the – Maliki's regime, their government, they're against what they call sectarian practices, arresting women and torturing them. That's – these are their claims. What do you make of these protests?

MS. NULAND: Well, first, let me just make the general statement that we always make, which is that we support the right of peaceful protest around the world. That said, we have been concerned by violence by parties during these protests, and we call on all those involved to exercise restraint, to respect that right of peaceful expression, and to apply that right responsibly without inciting further tensions. And any actions by any party to subvert the rule of law or provoke ethnic and sectarian tensions risks undermining the significant progress that Iraq has made towards peace and stability, and the important work that the U.S. and Iraq have been doing together.

So we want to see these difficult issues settled through consultation among Iraqi leaders, and we want to see them reach an agreement on the path forward for Iraq.
The Iraqi protests have not been violent.  They've been taking place since December 21st and only one has had any violence -- when an unpopular politician showed up, refused to take the stage and his guards fired on protesters.  I filled in for Rebecca last night and noted that Nuland was deliberately distorting reality in order to play the protesters as 'wrong doers.'  Sure enough, the Albany Times, reporting on her remarks at the press conference, headlines their piece The Albany Tribune headlines this 'news,' "U.S. Concerned Over Violent Protests in Iraq."
She knew exactly what she was doing.
It's interesting, isn't it, that she didn't rush to talk about the need to allow the press to do their work?  As noted in Friday's snapshot, Nouri used the military to keep reporters away from protests so that they couldn't cover them. 
In today's press briefing, Nuland experienced a little push back on the topic of Pakistan and on the topic of Iraq.  Here she is taking offense to a pretty fair characterization of her lackadaisical, flat affect when it comes to Iraq.
QUESTION: The country is teetering nearly on the verge of explosion yet we are – I am struck by your position towards what's going on in Iraq. I mean, there is a threat that Kurdistan may break away. There are elements of – there is heightened sectarian tension, there is violence going on every day, and so on. And your reaction is like that of Switzerland. I mean, the United States has invested blood and treasure, to repeat the common term, in Iraq. Yet, share with us what are you doing behind the scene to basically mitigate this explosive situation?
MS. NULAND: Well, I would completely reject your characterization of our dialogue and our interaction with Iraq and Iraqis. We have been extraordinarily active for many, many months now with Iraqis of all stripes and all groups, and maintaining the highest level contact with leaders across the country in support of political dialogue among them to protect and preserve the gains that they have made, and the constitutional structure of the country that provides for human rights protections and power sharing among the various different Iraqi groups.
So you know that we want to see Iraq continue on a stable, peaceful, democratic trajectory. That's going to – that takes work. It takes commitment by all forces in Iraq. And we've been making the general point about issues of concern between communities being settled by dialogue. But we've also been quite active when individual issues have cropped up, including recently with regard to Iraqi forces in the Peshmerga, et cetera. So we are continuing to be enormously vigilant. We have an enduring commitment and agreement to support Iraq, but it is undergirded by our desire to see Iraqi democracy protected in all of its forms.
QUESTION: On that very point, on the constitution, and it was shepherded by the United States of America, there are some major things that have not been followed through on despite commitment to the contrary, like the hydrocarbon law.
MS. NULAND: Right.
QUESTION: Like the power sharing. Like many, many, other things, Article 140 that regulates whatever between Kurdistan and the central government. Could you share with us how much progress have you made in the last two, three years?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, I don't think anybody's satisfied by how difficult it's been to resolve some of these issues that have never gotten settled, including the question of the hydrocarbon law and energy sharing, et cetera, inside Iraq. I think Iraqis, among all of us, are the most frustrated by that. But, again, these issues can only be solved politically, they can only be solved democratically, they can only be solved through dialogue. That's the course that we continue to urge, and we continue to use our influence to try to encourage Iraqis to talk to each other and work through these issues.
The point of the neocons was war with Iraq and they latched onto Nouri al-Maliki as the answer to stealing Iraq's oil.  That's why the Bush administration installed him in 2006 and why Barack Obama refused to let Iraqiya have the prime minister post in 2010 despite the fact that Iraqiya beat Nouri's State of Law in the parliamentary elections.  (Doubt Barack's neocon connections.  Listen to the 2012 State of the Union address again -- that's Robert Kagan's The World America Made that he's riffing on, as even Random House noted.)  Michael Rubin's a neocon as well (you don't post pieces like this one unless you're a neocon).  Rubin's not an idiot.  So at Commentary today, he really isn't as stupid as he comes off.  He's lying the way neocons always lie.  Protests are taking place in Iraq against Nouri.  Against Nouri.  Rubin knows that.  Rubin knows Nouri's a joke on the international stage.  Rubin knows the best way to distort the protests and improve Nouri's image is to pretend that the protests are "anti-Shi'ite."  Here are facts that Rubin hopes you don't know Ayad Allawi, head of Iraqiya, is Shi'ite.  Allawi has endorsed the protesters.  Moqtada al-Sadr, Shi'ite cleric and movement leader, has endorsed the protests.  Today another Shi'ite group endorsed the protesters.
These are not anti-Shi'ite protests.  But Rubin hopes if he lies about it, it'll take some of the pressure off Nouri, the neocon pet.  Getting rid of Bush did not end the neocons.  In fact, Rubin still is the adviser to US military officers when they're about to be shipped off to the Middle East.  Do you get how offensive that is?  This is under Barack's administration. 
Please grasp that the US government has spent and wasted billions of tax payer dollars on Iraq -- on the illegal war, on propping up puppet Nouri and so much more.  When Bully Boy Bush was in the White House, the State Dept was required to publish a weekly report on Iraq -- and they did.  Back then, the Defense Dept was in charge of the billions.  Now it's the State Dept in charge and in charge of billions of dollars.  In Fiscal Year 2013 (which started October 1, 2012), the State Dept plans to spend $4.8 billion in Iraq.  How?  Don't you know the State Dept is not accountable to you the taxpayer.  Apparently, the State Dept is like the Bell Telephone Company before the break up. "We are not subject to city, state or federal legislation.  We are ominpotent," Lily Tomlin's Ernestine used to say.
They won't answer the Congress, they won't answer the Special Inspector General on Iraq Reconstruction.  No one can get a straight answer out of them.  In a functioning democracy, they would be denied all Iraq funding as a result.  And asked today, "Could you share with us how much progress have you made in the last two, three years," Nuland had nothing to offer.  How telling.  $4.8 billion wasted this year that could have been better spent.
Instead, they get the bulk of Iraq funding.  The bulk.  Not the only.
The US Defense Dept is still in Iraq, still spending money despite claims that all US troops are out.  Look at the DoD's budget request for FY2013 [PDF format warning, click here].  It is in this Feburary 2012 document that you'll find all sorts of interesting information including this:
Years of effort have helpd enable the Iraqi government to take the lead in protecting its people and providing essential services.  While U.S. forces will continue to play important roles in providing force protection and targeted counterterrorism operations, there are no performance goals included in the Department's Annual Performance Plans (Exhibit B) in FY 2012 and FY 2013 for this objective area.
That's chapter seven's page thirty-seven, by the way.  (Each chapter in the request starts numbering their pages with page one, FYI.)  On chapter six's page five, you'll find this:
OSC-I: $508 million for the operation of the Office of Security Cooperation - Iraq (OSC-I), which is a cornerstone for achieving the long-term U.S. goal of building parternship capacity in the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).  The OSC-I will conduct the full range of traditional security cooperation activities such as joint exercise planning, combined arms training, conflict resolution, multilateral peace opeartions, senior level visits and other forms of bilateral engagement.  Additionally, the OSC-I will conduct security cooperation activities in support of the ISF to include providing: Academy instructors; Ministerial and Service level advisors; logistic and operations capacity building; intelligence integration; and interagency collabortion.  The OSC-I is the critical Defense component of the U.S. Mission Iraq and a foundational element of our long-term strategic partnership with Iraq.
$508 million.   That's a pretty big figure when Barack kept saying in the debates that he brought all US troops home. 
Let's move over to the protests that the US administration refuses to support.  Alsumaria reports Nineveh Province Governor Ethel al-Nujaifi (also spelled Atheel) noted today that the protests against Nouri al-Maliki and his oppressive government continue.  He states that the demonstrations will continue until the protesters demands are met.  The Governor is the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and yesterday their family suffered a loss when the son of their cousin Abdul-Rahman Khalid al-Nujaifi was shot dead in Mosul.  AFP reports today that the son killed, Abdulrahman al-Nujaifi, was only ten-years-old and that Governor al-Nujaifi states Nouri's anti-terror brigade killed the child, "This anti-terrorist brigade, we call it the golden brigade, in Mosul, opened fire on the car and killed the young boy in public, in front of everyone. They followed the car, and they opened fire with no regard.  The young boy was in the car with his brothers and the driver, returning from school."

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Thursday, January 03, 2013

4 years but finally a little criticism



Obama and his allies like to deride lefties as a group of softheads who don't understand that negotiation is essential to government. But they don't like to deal with a more stinging left-wing critique: Negotiation is a part of democracy and Barack Obama, whatever his many, many talents, is not very good at it.




At the right-wing National Review, Victor Davis Hanson notes that Bully Boy Bush left office at the start of 2009 with an approval rating of 34% but it's now up to 46%.  He calls out the way Bush was demonized and notes how Barack Obama can do the same thing or more and get away with it.  That is correct.  But he wants to 'explain' how people were wrong about Bush on the Iraq War.  He backs up his opinions with facts and makes a solid argument from the right.  That's what he's supposed to do.  He hasn't done anything 'wrong.'  And this is how the right hopes to win the argument and has had some success in the past.
There are a ton of reasons to continue focusing on Iraq here in the US.  But if people only care about themselves then maybe now some on the left who've argued it doesn't matter (including two friends with The Nation magazine) will wake up?  We've gone over what could happen repeatedly in the last years.  We did so at length August 20, 2010 in "The war continues (and watch for the revisionary tactics."
If you're old enough, you saw it with Vietnam.  That illegal war ended with the government called out for its actions.  And some people -- a lot in fact -- just moved on.  The weakest of the left moved on because it wasn't 'polite' to talk about it or it wasn't 'nice' or 'can't we all just get along' and other nonsense.  Others talked about things because they didn't care about Vietnam, the Vietnamese or the US service members.  And, after all, they had a peanut farmer from Georgia to elect, right?  And bit by bit, year by year, all these lies about Vietnam took root.  The press turned the people against it!  The US could have won if the military's hands hadn't been tied!  All this nonsense that, back when the public was paying attention in the early to mid-seventies, would have been rejected outright by the majority of Americans.
Jane Fonda explains in the amazing documentary Sir! No Sir!, "You know, people say, 'Well you keep going back, why are you going back to Vietnam?' We keep going back to Vietnam because, I'll tell you what, the other side does. They're always going back. And they have to go back -- the Hawks, you know, the patriarchs. They have to go back because, and they have to revise the going back, because they can't allow us to know what the back there really was."
And if you silence yourself while your opponent digs in on the topic, a large number of Americans -- including people too young to remember what actually happened -- here nothing but the revisionary arguments.  Jane's correct, the right-wing always went back to Vietnam. They're at fork in the road probably because, do they continue to emphasize Vietnam as much as they have, or do they move on to Iraq.  Victor Davis Hanson's ready to move on to Iraq.  He's not the only one on the right.
And on the left we have silence. 
And that is why revisionary tactics work.  It's not because revisions are stronger than facts.  It's because one side gives up.  And the left -- check The ProgressiveThe Nation, etc.* -- has long ago given up on even pretending to care about Iraq -- about the Iraq War, about the Iraqis, about the US service members.  [*But not In These Times -- they've continued to feature Iraq about every six months.  Give them credit for that.]
I'm sure they'll work really hard at electing some center-right Democrats to Congress in the 2014 elections.  I'm sure that will be the focus of their efforts.  But if they'd focus on things that really matter, it would force the candidates to be stronger.  We'd have a better informed and educated electorate and the candidates would have to rise to that to get votes.  These periodicals (and toss in the Pacifica Radio shows as well) love to whine about how Democrats used to stand for something and how they've been watered down and watered down.  Yet these same outlets do an awful job of informing about real issues because they instead focus on electing Democrats and the occassional cause celebre.   When that's what you do, you automatically cede ground to the other side. 
Another reason to pay attention is because Iraq was a defining moment.  And a number of people have exposed themselves as utter frauds.  For example, many years ago a number of us who are feminists applauded Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer for their work that culminated with the book Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas.  But maybe we were too kind in our praise.  In America, we are likely to treat someone simply doing the job they're supposed to be doing as if they're a hero.  Time has proven that Jane Mayer is an attack dog for the Democratic Party and not actually a journalist.  (A journalist doesn't stop doing expose pieces because a Democrat is in the White House.)  And Jill?   The current Executive Editor of the New York Times appeared at the Commonwealth Club December 6th and, wouldn't you know it, she wanted to talk Iraq.
Jill Abramson:  If there's any one thing I could change it would be, as Washington bureau chief, not all of the reporters who were covering the WMD issues and Iraq were part of the Washington bureau.  And I just wish -- You know -- I  -- many of those stories didn't come through me but certainly I was aware of them.  And, you know, I wish that I had been paying more attention because the Times really did brandish on the front page some very questionable stories that were based on, you know, Iraqi defectors who had an interest in promoting the toppling of Saddam Hussein, who were going around to various reporters including reporters at the Times, peddling the story of this ramped up WMD program which, of course, didn't exist.  That is number one.  I wish I had paid more attention.  And journalism isn't a game that you play with 20/20 hindsight vision unfortunately. I'm sure that many people at the BBC wish -- you know -- 'Gee I wish, you know, I had been paying more attention to the documentary and what not.'  So, number one, I wish I was paying more attention to the totality of the coverage and some of the stories that were faulty including the one about the tubes that suggested -- When the Times published that story on the front page and was kind of a welcome sign for Dick Cheney and Condi Rice to go on the Sunday show -- shows -- to talk about mushroom clouds that, of course, were a fantasy.  And there, I think -- and I've done a lot of thinking about this -- I wish that I had been more tuned in to the reporters in Washington, a few in the Times bureau, but especially Knight-Ridder which had -- at the time -- a very, very good Washington bureau and their major sources on this were skeptics within the CIA -- CIA analysts who were like, 'Be careful with this WMD evidence.' They were very skeptical about it.
What a load of crap.  Let me start first by saying, Jill, I don't think you can be a witness in a perjury trial and then perjure yourself.  Jill was Scooter Libby's witness against Judith Miller, for those who don't know.  Judith Miller wrote some very bad articles for the New York Times (and co-wrote some as well) in the lead up to the war.  We've called her out repeatedly.  We've also noted it was bad reporting and not lying as evidenced by her actions after the start of the war when she basically took over a US military squad and had them looking for WMD that she desparately wanted to find.  She based her career on that WMD.  There was none. 
Judith Miller stayed in jail until her source on Valerie Plame (she never wrote about Plame) gave her permission to name him.  Plame-Gate was when the Bush administration outed a CIA agent to get back at former Ambassdor Joe Wilson for his column in the New York Times about how there was no yellow cake in Niger (in response to Bully Boy Bush's claim that Saddam Hussein had recently sought uranium there).  Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent and she was married to Joe Wilson.  She was outed by Scooter Libby (Dick Cheney's chief of staff) as the administration sought to get back at Joe Wilson.
Once Judith Miller came forward about her source, that's when Jill enters the picture and Jill presented herself on the witness stand as completely involved and an expert on 'bad' Judith Miller.  Because of Miller's lousy reporting on Iraq, some will cheer that.  But let's grasp that what Jill was doing was providing cover for Scooter Libby.   That's what she did in her testimony.
Yet after the courtroom performance on Scooter Libby's behalf, where Jill was an expert on what was taking place and who was writing what and who was talking to whom, Jill now wants to play like she wasn't involved?
She also wants to ignore that James Risen took stories, skeptical stories, to her and she shot them down repeatedly.  Risen's even spoken publicly about some of this.  Jill knows he has and she wants to lie to everyone all these years later?  For example, from Joe Hagan's "The United States of America vs. Bill Keller" (New York magazine, September 10, 2006):
In addition, Risen harbored lingering resentment of Abramson over the paper's WMD coverage.  When she was Washington bureau chief under [Howell] Raines, Risen has claimed to at least two people, he offered her reporting that cast doubt on the Bush administration's evidence about Iraq's WMD program.  At the time, Miller's reporting was how the Times, as an extension of Raines, saw the subject.  And Abramson felt powerless to fight Raines over this and other things.  When Risen press his case, she finally told him to "get with the program," these people say.
It only gets worse.
She wishes she had followed the other coverage, she says, because if she'd followed Knight-Ridder, she might have been skeptical too.  First, it's rather pissy of her not to have named the reporters or noted that it's now McClatchy.  The three primary reporters on Iraq in the lead up to the war were Warren P. Strobel, Jonathan S. Landay and Margaret Talev.   Second, she needed to see other people being skeptical of government officials?  Journalists are supposed to be skeptical.  It's a basic of journalism. 
And when you have a source with an aim (let alone grudge), you are supposed to be very skeptical of their claims.  That's why, for example, when a whistleblower comes forward, an employer will always try to make it seem like a case of sour grapes because if they can make the employee look like they've got an axe to grind, it will make the press take the employee less seriously. 
What I'm talking about here, Jill Abramson knows all that.  She's not stupid.  She gave a for-show performance.  She never mentioned the Iraqis that died or the Americans that died.  She gave a little performance taking as little accountability as she thought she could get away with.
She makes a lot of excuses for herself but she doesn't appear to have learned a damn thing.  In September 2008, she got praise for 'taking responsibility' on Iraq.  She didn't.  It was an aside in a book review.  She's still not taking accountability.  People are dead, people are wounded and her, "I wish I had been more skeptical"?  It just doesn't cut it.
You should pay attention if only to see who, like Jill, changes their story.  Again, it's not just her fault.  It's the fault of people like me, my fault absolutely, for treating her work in the 90s as something wonderful.  She did her job.  Nothing more, nothing less.  She didn't earn the praise.  And then people rushed to praise her in 2008 for her aside in the book review (I didn't praise her for that -- at least I had enough sense then to know better).  So now she thinks she can offer this simplistic revisionary nonsense and get more praise.  And she's probably right because most people don't pay attention.
ICYMI - Attacks are down, but #Iraq is still in a 'low-level war':  @AFP
That's Prashant Rao with AFP.  "Low-level war" is another reason you'd think the world would be paying attention to what's going on in Iraq.
Iraq Body Count reports 272 people were killed from violence in Iraq for the month of December and they count 4,557 deaths from violence in Iraq for 2012.  In a report entitled "Iraqi  deaths from violence in 2012," Iraq Body Count explains:

2012 marks the first year since 2009 where the death toll for the year has increased (up from 4,136 in 2011), but 2012 itself has been marked by contrasts. While it seems December will be the least violent month in the last two years, June was the most violent in three years, so the improvements in the second half of the year are from that higher level of violence. It is premature to predict whether the record low levels of violence in the last quarter of the year will be sustained. Overall, 2012 has been more consistent with an entrenched conflict than with any transformation in the security situation for Iraqis in the first year since the formal withdrawal of US troops.
In sum the latest evidence suggests that the country remains in a state of low-level war little changed since early 2009, with a "background" level of everyday armed violence punctuated by occasional larger-scale attacks designed to kill many people at once.

Iraq Body Count also notes that March 2013 will mark ten years since the start of the Iraq War and that they "will provide an overview of the known death toll covering the invasion and the first full decade of its aftermath."

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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Not very fiscal









Then came the official end of the war. On December 31, 2011, the country celebrated "Iraq Day" and the departure of U.S. troops. As Iraq prepares to mark the anniversary, also known as the "Day of Sovereignty," last year's celebratory tone has been replaced by a more somber one.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's political bloc, the Islamic Dawa Party, called on Iraqis not to become divided along sectarian or ethnic lines by "malicious schemes." The country has struggled to define itself, as its government stumbles from one political crisis to another.
Just as the last U.S. troops withdrew, al-Maliki, a Shiite, moved to arrest Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, who al-Maliki accused of using his security detail as a hit squad.
More recently, a few days before the first Iraq Day anniversary, thousands of Sunnis took to the streets in Anbar province, a major trade thoroughfare to Jordan and Syria, to protest al-Maliki's order to arrest the bodyguards of Finance Minister Rafaie Esawi, a Sunni. The arrest of Esawi's bodyguards came just hours after President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd who is widely viewed as a stabilizing political force in Iraq, left the country to undergo treatment for cancer in Germany.
2012 saw another cholera outbreak in Iraq thanks to Nouri al-Maliki's refusal to spend any of the billions made off of oil on the Iraqi people.  They lack potable water in most areas.  If you don't have potable water -- safe water -- to drink, you have to boil it before using it (or add purification tablets) and you better hope you didn't rush the boil and that the tablets still work.  This wouldn't be a problem if Nouri would fix the public services.  He's been prime minister since 2006, that's six years so the resposibility and the failure is all on him.
In addition to a lack of potable water, Nouri's also failed to provide dependable electricity.  All this time later, it's still apparently too much to expect to have electricity for more than a few hours.  Strange because, before the start of the Iraq War, these electricity shortages weren't so common.  Even something as basic as santiation is beyond Nouri's capabilities so children -- risking infection and disease -- can be found playing in the piled up sewage so common on many Iraqi streets.  Nouri's also refused to spend money on the crumbling infrastructure.  This winter, Iraqis saw what Nouri's cheapness has resulted in: Flooding throughout Iraq, homes falling down from the flooding, people dying in the homes, people dying from drowning, people dying from electrocution, people trudging through parts of Baghdad in knee-high water.  When you let the infrastructure fall apart, drainage becomes problematic.  The Iraqi Red Crescent Society had to evacuate at least one village this month as a result of homes collapsing from the flooding
Surely Nouri's done better somewhere, right?  Nope.  Iraq is still among the most corrupt countries as ranked by Transparency International. 176 countries were ranked this year on transparency and Iraq came in as the 169th most transparent country.  Only seven countries were ranked as less transparent.  Nouri's long been accused of skimming off Iraq's funds and his family lives high on the hog.  He also employs his son who is said to be as much of a terror as Uday Hussein was said to be.  Nouri's son is part of current corruption scandal.

October 9th, with much fanfare, Nouri signed a $4.2 billion dollar weapons deal with Russia.  He strutted and preened and was so proud of himself.  Yet shortly after taking his bows on the world stage and with Parliament and others raising objections, Nouri quickly announced the deal was off.  The scandal, however, refuses to go away. The Iraq Times stated Nouri was offering up his former spokesperson  Ali al-Dabbagh and others to protect the truly corrupt -- the truly corrupt -- according to members of Parliament -- including Nouri's son who got a nice little slice off the deal.  These charges came from Shi'ite MPs as well as Sunnis and Kurds.  Even the Shi'ite National Alliance has spoken out.  All Iraq News noted National Alliance member and one-time MP Wael Abdul Latif is calling for Nouri to quickly bring charges against those involved in the corruption.  (The arms deal is now treated by the Iraqi press as corrupt and not allegedly corrupt, FYI.)   Latif remains a major player in the National Alliance and the National Alliance has backed Nouri during his second term.  With his current hold on power reportedly tenous and having already lost the support of Moqtada al-Sadr, Nouri really can't afford to tick off the National Alliance as well.  Kitabat reported MP Maha al-Douri, of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc in Parliament, is saying Nouri's on a list of officials bribed by Russia for the deal. 
Then there's the other big news this year, bomb sniffing dogs and explosive detectors.  Iraq's finally getting them.  This might be seen as 'good news' except for one thing: They've needed them for years and Nouri's pride prevented that.
The magic wands.  It's a story so old even David Petraeus weighed in at one point.  Nouri's government spent a small fortune purchasing these magic wands from a British company that apparently didn't also sell magic beans.  You held the magic wand by a car and you 'jogged' in place, pumping your legs up and down and the magic wand, activated by your movement, would then detect a bomb if one was present.  If you're not believing it, October, 9, 2009,  an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy was exploring the subject at Inside Iraq:

Before starting telling you what happens in most of the checkpoints you should know about the "explosives detectors". The device is carried by security man who stops your car and walk beside it carrying the device. The device's pointer changes its direction when passed by a car that supposedly carries explosives.
In November of 2009, Rod Nordland (New York Times) reported:

The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works "on the same principle as a Ouija board" -- the power of suggestion -- said a retired United States Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, who described the wand as nothing more than an explosives divining rod.
Still, the Iraqi government has purchased more than 1,500 of the devices, known as the ADE 651, at costs from $16,500 to $60,000 each. Nearly every police checkpoint, and many Iraqi military checkpoints, have one of the devices, which are now normally used in place of physical inspections of vehicles.
With violence dropping in the past two years, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has taken down blast walls along dozens of streets, and he contends that Iraqis will safeguard the nation as American troops leave.
It wasn't just that US generals laughed at the magic wands, by 2010 even the British government was disturbed, demanding the devices no longer be manufactured and suing the company.  But Nouri refused to join in the lawsuit (he apparently only likes to sue the press and politicians) and insisted that the magic wands continued to be used.  Instead of admitting that he had wasted over one million dollars on magic wands that didn't work, Nouri put his vanity ahead of the safety of the Iraqi people.  Last November, years after the problem was first discovered, it was quietly announced that Iraq would finally be getting bomb sniffing dogs and explosive sensors.
Did he not sue because he got a kickback on the deal?  Who knows?
Iraqis continue to live in poverty and it is a nation of widows and orphans -- over a million orphans we learned as the year wound down.  Nouri's 'answer' to that?  End the food-ration card system.  This system was put in place in the 90s and provided the Iraqi people with basic staples.  After the start of the Iraq War in 2003, the US government targeted the food-ration card system.  Paul Bremer was only the first US official to attempt to end it.  Ending it would not be easy so they instead worked on cutting it each year so that it offered less and less.  In 2006, when Nouri became prime minister, he continued the cuts.
This fall, he decided, with record poverty and unemployment close to 40% in Iraq, that now was the time to end this program.  Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr was the first to call him out and insist this wasn't happening.  Iraqiya and others quickly backed Moqtada and Nouri was forced to back down (and even tried to claim that it wasn't his idea -- his Cabinet had planned it out without him).  Iraq takes in billions on oil sales each year.  Yet Nouri claimed there was no profit to share with the Iraqi people.  Moqtada also pushed back on that and has been meeting regularly with the ministries to find out where the money is going.
It's not going to the Iraqi people.  Well what about justice?  Is Nouri providing justice?  Early 2012 saw the Ministry of the Interior visit schools and tell Iraqi students that Emo and LGBT youth were devil worshippers, were vampires, were perverts and that they must die.  That's appallling and that's Nouri.  Nouri is the Minister of the Interior.  How can he be the Minister of the Interior and the Prime Minister.  Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."   See, according to the Iraqi Constitution, if you can't appoint a full Cabinet, you can't become prime minister (someone else is named prime minister designate and given 30 days to build a Cabinet).  But US President Barack Obama wanted Nouri to have a second term so no rules applied then (or apply now).
So Nouri had his Ministry go into schools and egg on violence against Emo and LGBT Iraqis -- and Iraqis who might be mistaken for Emo or LGBT.  There was worldwide outrage.  The story got covered by outlets that normally didn't even cover Iraq -- such as England's NME and the US' Rolling Stone magazine.  Nouri called off his dogs and tried to lie that the Ministry of Interior was not involved; however, the Iraqi press quickly printed the handout the Ministry of the Interior had circulated on its school visits.  Nouri's such a damn liar.
Dropping back to the November 12th snapshot:
Staying with violence, as noted in the October 15th snapshot, Iraq had already executed 119 people in 2012.  Time to add more to that total.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported last night that 10 more people were executed on Sunday ("nine Iraqis and one Egyptian").  Tawfeeq notes the Ministry of Justice's statement on the executions includes, "The Iraqi Justice Ministry carried out the executions by hanging 10 inmates after it was approved by the presidential council."  And, not noted in the report, that number's only going to climb.  A number of Saudi prisoners have been moved into Baghdad over the last weeks in anticipation of the prisoners being executed.  Hou Qiang (Xinhua) observes, "Increasing executions in Iraq sparked calls by the UN mission in the country, the European Union and human rights groups on Baghdad to abolish the capital punishment, criticizing the lack of transparency in the proceedings of the country's courts."
Amnesty International was among those condemning the mass executions.  Though all the executions for 2012 have yet to be tabulated, Iraq is expected to be at the top of the list of most people put to death. 
Nouri's also targeted the press.  5 journalists were killed in 2012 (we'll have more on that near the end of the snapshot). Outlets that report realities Nouri doesn't like are repeatedly attacked.  Both Al Mada and Kitabat were hacked in 2012 following their hard hitting reporting on corruption.  Dropping back to Saturday, December 15th:

The Iraq Times reports that cable channel Baghdadi was surrounded by the Iraqi military on Friday and they forced everyone out and then shut the station down.  They also note that Nouri ordered the closure.  The Iraq Times reports that Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoon al-Damalouji declared today that Nouri is attempting to rebuild the Republic of Fear (a reference to the days of Saddam Hussein) and decried the closing of Baghdadiya TV.
The satellite channel's crime?  Reporting on the corruption in the Russian oil deal. This month, he also began targeting Fakhri Karim who is the editor and chair of Al Mada newspaper -- he's had Karim's home surrounded by the US military.  Isn't it strange how in 'free' Iraq, Nouri's always sending in the military to attack the press.  And isn't it strange how the US government -- even most of the US media -- refuse to call that out?  (Friday, he used the military to keep reporters away from the protests in an attempt to ensure that they did not get coverage.)
The White House backs thug Nouri.  Elaine pointed out Friday:

Nouri is a threat and danger to the Iraqi people.
They voted for change and Barack went around their votes, the democracy, the Constitution to devise a contract (Erbil Agreement) to give Nouri a second term.
Again, gays are targeted, Sunnis are targeted, Nouri refused to even have one woman in his Cabinet until there was international outcry -- and this is who the US government backs.
Remember that the next time Barack wants to pretend to give a damn about human rights.
Nouri is in his second term as prime minister.  Why?  Barack Obama.  In March 2010, Iraqis voted in parliamentary elections.  Nouri's State of Law was expected to win by a wide margin.  The Iraqi people had other ideas.  Nouri's State of Law came in second to the Ayad Allawi headed Iraqiya slate.  Per the Constitution, per democracy, per vote counting, that made Iraqiya the winner and, as such, they were supposed to be immediately named prime minister-designate (one person from their slate, most likely Allawi) and then given 30 days to form a Cabinet.  Failure to do so would result in someone else being named prime minister-designate.  This is clearly outlined in the Constitution.  But Nouri didn't want to lose his post.  So he threw a public tantrum for eight months basically refusing to vacate the palace.  And he was able to get away with that because he had the support of Barack Obama.  During this time, the US government didn't argue for fairness or democracy or rule of law or the Constitution.  They went to the political blocs and told them that they were in the wrong.  They told them they needed to be mature and give.  They need to give to the loser.  Grasp that, the US government started a propaganda campaign at political leaders to get them to give up what they'd won to the loser Nouri.  A few asked questions.  Supposedly Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (currently in Germany receiving medical treatment) got very short with US Vice President Joe Biden in one phone call (no, not the one where Joe asked him to let Allawi be president).  Talbani finally, supposedly, had the brains to ask, "What's in it for us?"
Like a lightening bolt, the US government decided they could give Nouri a second term by going around the Constitution, by drawing a contract between the political blocs.  This 'inspiration' resulted in the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.  Leaders of political blocs agreed to give Nouri a second term (and end the eight-month plus stalemate) in exchange for Nouri agreeing to give them certain things.  The primary demand by the Kurds was that Article 140 of the Constitution be implemented (finally).  Iraqiya's primary demand was that an independent national security council be created and headed by a member of Iraqiya.  Nouri used this contract to get his second term.  Then he trashed the contract.  The White House had given their word that not only was the contract legally binding but that they would stand by it.  They did nothing.
In the summer of 2011, the Kurds, Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya began publicly calling for Nouri to honor the contract.  He blew them off creating the current stalemate on which numerous political crises have been stacked.  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."

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