Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Spirit of Barack

the spirit of barack

December 13, 2009, that's "The Spirit of Barack." I think I need to do a Hemlock Grove spoof where Michelle's Shelley.  Shelley! OMG, I wonder if that's why she looks the way she does.  :D

This was a good drawing of Barack's face that fell apart when I tried to note the lines.  He has a lot of lines.  You'll notice that I immediately did not try that again for a very long time (over three years).  I'm also not good about applying the splotch by his nose because if I go to heavy it looks like something else.  So I generally don't draw it in.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, April 25, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, curfews and vehicle bans are imposed, armed clashes between rebels and federal forces break out, the press is s skittish about explaining how this whole situation arrived, Kevin Drum shows his tacky side (again) by using the dead and the wounded of Hawija to try to score cheap political points, and so much more.

Iraq is in crisis mode.  No one's helped by false 'facts.'  This, from World Bulletin, is wrong, "Thousands of Sunnis have been protesting since December, venting frustrations building up since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the empowerment of Iraq's Shi'ite majority through the ballot box."  Protests have been going on since December.  If you leave out Moqtada's followers who have participated from time to time, you can paint it as just Sunni.  But that's not the problem. You can't pin down a problem if you can't be honest.

"The empowerment of Iraq's Shi'ite majority through the ballot box"?  What have you been smoking? Quil Lawrence and all the other liars told us about that, remember?  Told us about it before the ballots were counted.  But, the ballots did get counted.  And the 2010 election didn't support the premise one bit.

Who came in first?  Not Nouri's State of Law -- a Shi'ite collection.  Iraqiya came in first.  It's often wrongly identified as Sunni by the press.  Ayad Allawi, the head of Iraqiya, is Shi'ite.  Iraqiya surprised the know-nothing press by besting Nouri's State of Law.

They misread 2009 elections and were sure they knew what was going to happen in 2010.  Which is how you got, the day after the election, Quil Lawrence on NPR raving about how Nouri's State of Law won by a large measure.  Didn't happen.

In 2009, one of the elements in the data appeared to be that voters were rejecting the sectarian identity.  That wouldn't have been a surprise.  The sectarian identity was seen by many as something imposed on Iraqis by the US after the start of the war.  Even those who want to quibble over that can generally agree that the US fostered that sectarian identity and encouraged it.

The 2010 elections repeated the pattern.  Iraqis were seeking a national identity (as they had prior to the start of the illegal war).  There are numerous reasons for this -- most of which we've repeatedly gone into while the know-nothing press has refused to do their job -- but the point is that Iraqiya won.
SOme in the press want to knock the win by insisting it wasn't big enough.  If you win a track race by a-half-a-second, you won that race.  If you win a US Senate race by one vote, you won that race.

If the vote was close, you might ask for a recount.  Which Nouri did, stomping his feet and whining as is usually the case for the overgrown baby.

But even after the recounts, Iraqiya won.  It was a new Iraq, that's what it presented.  Not an occupied Iraq, not an Iraq controlled by the fundamentalist thugs.  It was an Iraq made up of Sunnis and Shi'ites and anyone else who wanted to join, it was men and women and the women weren't decoration. It's slogan could have been "We are today's Iraq."  And that's what the voters embraced.

So, no, 2010 was not about "the empowerment of Iraq's Shi'ite majority through the ballot box."

The votes went with Iraqiya. Here's what happened -- and it matters and the people have said so, they said so this year, they said so in 2012 and they said so in 2011.  At some damn point, you either admit you don't care about what you're writing or you start listening to what the people are actually saying.

Per the Constitution, Iraqiya had first shot at the post of Prime Minister.  How it works in Iraq, confusing to many Americans, the prime minister-designate is decided by who has the most seats in the Parliament.  The prime minister-designate is a post that lasts no longer than 30 days.

During those 30 days, the designate has to be able to form a Cabinet.  Failure to do so within thirty days means someone else is named prime minister-designate by the president of Iraq. This is a full Cabinet -- another element that's too hard for the press to grasp.  If it was a partial or almost Cabinet there wouldn't be a 30 day deadline.  The 30 day deadline is to prove, as one of the writers of the Constitution now in the US explained to me, that you can govern by consensus, you can build consensus.  So you nominate people for your Cabinet and the Parliament approves of these people.  And then you move from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  Or, if you fail to build consensus, if Parliament shoots down a nominee and you don't manage to pull together the Cabinet in 30 days, someone else is named prime minister-designate.

Now Barack Obama couldn't support democracy.  That's bad enough but he and his staff were so stupid that they didn't even realize how to rig the process.

Bully Boy Bush wanted Nouri in 2006 (he rejected Ibrahim al-Jaffari -- some pin that decision on Condi Rice, doesn't matter Bush was the ultimate vote on that).  In 2010, A Problem From Hell Samantha Power insisted that the US had to stay with Nouri.  This was based in part on the fact that the idiot is f**ked-up beyond repair and also because she's a liar who believes in manipulation and not honesty.  (Is it any wonder that she'd end up with Cass I-Love-Propaganda Sunstein?) Her failings aren't the issue once Barack adopts her position.  Like Bush, he's ultimately responsible.

I'm not endorsing ignoring the will of the people, but if you're brazen enough to do that, have the damn sense to do it in a way that doesn't make the people feel cheated.

What does that mean?  After 2010 elections, the US government spread a lot of cash around Iraq and made a lot of verbal promises to get The Erbil Agreement.

That was always unnecessary.  They still could have rigged it and could have done so in a way that still followed the country's Constitution.  Have President Jalal Talabani name Ayad Allawi prime minister-designate.  Use the same cash and the same verbal promises to ensure that he didn't get a full Cabinet.  Parliament rejected one or two nominees and the 30 days had expired.  Then Jalal could have named Nouri al-Maliki to be prime minister-designate.

That would have followed the Constitution, it would have appeared to honor the will of the people.  It certainly wouldn't have created the hostilities that Barack's 'three-dimensional chess' did.

They wanted to rig the process and, suffering from the Freudian compulsion of a crook to confess, apparently they wanted it known.

So when Nouri refused to allow the process to move forward -- let's explain that.  In January 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as US President.  Following the end of the recounts, April 2010, it was time for a prime minister-designate to be named, for members of Parliament to be sworn in and hold sessions.  Nouri refused.  It was as if Bully Boy Bush announced January 1, 2009, "I'm not leaving the White House."  And Barack's White House backed up Nouri.

They begged the press -- which was eager to go along -- to downplay what was happening.  Some in the press were appealed to under the pretense of, "This is such a thorny issue, we really need to think about how explosive this could be."  So reality was downplayed.  Explosive?  Maybe it would have been.  But you can't downplay an explosion.  You may be able to push it back but it will go off.

We called it a "political stalemate" here and were the first.  After three months it began to be a popular term.  For over eight months, Nouri refused to step down.  That takes us to November.  The US has been bribing and promising the political blocs all along.  Nouri is the White House's choice.  That's become obvious to everyone involved in Iraq. 

It was also obvious to many in the press leading to humiliating moments for Barack like in  when the Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality."

While he was taking his licks on the international stage, he had US officials telling the leaders of the Iraqi political blocs, as the US brokered a contract known as The Eribl Agreement, "This has lasted eight months already, Nouri could hold out for another eight months.  Do the right thing here, be the bigger person, put Iraq first.  It really doesn't matter who has 'prime minister.' It's going to have to be a power-sharing government because State of Law didn't win.  So just give him the post of prime minister and we'll write up in this contract and we'll put what you want in the contract to and it will be a legally binding contract with the full backing of the US government."

Before it was signed, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Australia November 8, 2010 and stated:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Probably over the course of the last eight months, we've had many indications that they were close to an agreement, they were on the brink of government formation, they had worked out their power-sharing arrangements only not to see that come to fruition. But it is fair to say that we have been consistently urging the Iraqis to have an inclusive government that reflects the interests and needs of the various segments of the population, the there had to be legitimate power-sharing amongst different groups and individuals. And that is what we hope at the end of this process [. . .] will be the result of all of their negotiation.

That same day, Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) reported Nouri's spokesperson "claimed an agreement has been struck for him to remain in office."  November 9th talks went on:

Today, meetings continued. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reminds, "Leading up to Monday's meeting, officials had said they were close to completing an agreement, but remarks made by a number of the leaders indicated that they have yet to address key sticking points that remain unresolved ahead of this week's parliament session." And Raheem Salman and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) point out, "If they fail to strike a deal, the stalemate could drag on for months. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports the US is pressuring Kurds to step aside regarding the presidency so that someone from Iraqiya can be president -- Fadel names US Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain (in person in Baghdad) and US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden -- and that Nouri "is trying to garner the backing he needs [from Iraqi politicians] to keep his post without ceding any of his power.  Maliki emerged as the likeliest candidate for the top job in the new government when he secured the support of the Sadrists, a populist Shiite political movement opposed to the U.S. presence here." BBC News reports that Allawi and Tareq al-Hashemi did not show for today's meet up (al-Hashemi is also a member of Iraqiya as well as Iraq's Sunni Vice President) and that "[a]nother issue still to be resolved is whether parliament will meet on Thursday as previously announced." Sammy Ketz (AFP) reports that Iraq's Shi'ite Vice President, Adel Abdel Mehdi, walked out of today's meeting. Alsumaria TV reports that MP Saifya Al Suhail spoke out about the absence of women present in the deal making and that she stated, "A democratic Iraq cannot be built without women contribution to the political decision." Mazin Yahya (AP) adds, "Producing a deal by Thursday's scheduled parliamentary session will be difficult and while legislators have watched other deadlines come and go, there is a marked sense of urgency about meeting this court-appointed deadline to hold the session."  So, reports indicate, day two was actually less productive than day one since all players were not present and no big announcement was made.  When this was originally planned, it was thought it would be three days with main principles participating for the first two days only -- during which time, it was promoted, all the big points would be ironed out.  That does not appear to have happened.  Especially when Alsumaria TV is reporting that Iraqiya stated today "that the possibility of withdrawing is still open".

I believe  Leila Fadel (Washington Post) was the first to report what the rumors said the make up of the government would be: "Under the deal reached Wednesday, the parliament is expected to appoint a speaker from Iraqiya, then name the current Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, as president. He, in turn, will name Maliki as prime minister. Maliki will then have to put together a cabinet that a simple majority in Iraq's parliament will have to approve."  November 11, 2010, Parliament met:

Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call."  So all is well and good and . . . Ooops!!!! Lando, Dagher and Coker file an update, Iraqiya wasn't happy and walked out of the session.  Prashant Rao (AFP) reports that "a dispute erupted in the Council of Representatives chamber when the mostly Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc argued that the agreement they had signed on to was not being honoured, prompting the bloc's MPs to storm out. [. . .] Specifically, Iraqiya had called for three of their lawmakers, barred for their alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath party, to be reinstated before voting for a president." 

 Barack was deeply involved.  Don't pretend otherwise now.  And don't pretend that Sunnis are frustrated by "the empowerment of Iraq's Shi'ite majority through the ballot box." That is an utter lie.  And it does not one damn thing to explain what's happening on the ground today.  

Now we're going to move a lot quicker and if you need remedial, the links to the archives are to the right, scroll down.  We don't have the time or space to be pulling each day to explain with citations to everyone who forgot, or never paid attention, what happened.

In January of 2011, Nouri's Cabinet was still not complete.  The Erbil Agreement was extra-Constitutional.  It went around the Constitution.  Suddenly, the Constitution was trashed.  It no longer mattered if a Nouri had a full Cabinet or not.  Nouri's whores in the press, there are so many, assured you that this was temporary and that Nouri would soon nominate people to be the Minister of Interior (over the federal police), the Minister of Defense (over the military) and the Minister of National Security.  That never happened.  Ayad Allawi called it a power-grab back then and he was right and the press whores were wrong.

Last 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."  That remains true to this day.  Those posts are empty.

In 2011, the people do not believe that the government is working.  By the end of Februrary 2011, there are mass protests.  The Arab Spring or 'Arab Spring' (a media fascination with Cairo that never really translated into support or even interest in protesters in other areas) was sweeping the region and tossing out politicians.  Nouri feared he might lose the post the US government had given him twice now.  Jobs, he'd create them.  Public services, he'd improve them.  Abuse and corruption?  He would address it.  Give him 100 days.

Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr appears to have matured over the years and today plays it very wisely in public.  That was not true in February 2011 when Nouri begged and pleaded with Moqtada to call off the protests.  Moqtada called on his people to go home and give Nouri 100 days.  Other Iraqis continued protesting.  No surpries -- we said it would happen repeatedly before it did -- 100 days came and went and Nouri didn't do a damn thing.  Nouri makes empty promises -- over and over -- and then doesn't keep them.  Apparently the February 2011 promise in an AFP interview that he wouldn't seek a third term as prime minister is one of those as well.  He had to make that promise then because protests were rolling Iraq.

By the time the 100 days ends, we're in the summer of 2011.  This is when Moqtada, the KRG (that's President Jalal Talabani, KRG President Massoud Barzani and others) and Iraqiya go public demanding that The Erbil Agreement be implemented.  All that happened was Nouri got to be prime minister.  Nouri refused to honor it.  That was obvious when the December 2010 census in Kirkuk was immediately called off by the end of November.  He lied the way he always does.

And Ayad Allawi never got the post he was promised.  This is the promise not just in The Erbil Agreement but that US President Barack Obama told him on the phone he would be getting.  Do you not get why the US image is yet again mud in Iraq?  Iraqis were hoping for a change with the exit of Bush and the arrival of Barack.  They just found another liar and another manipulator.

Let's leap ahead to 2012 when the press decided to whore big time for Nouri.  As the latter half of the year rolled around, Nouri began declaring that the government wasn't working.  Therefore, he stated, it was time to end the power-sharing.  And all the little whores and all their whore friends pretended to discuss this.  But their starting point was that day.

There whores who deliberately and repeatedly lie for Nouri.  It doesn't matter what he wants, he signed a contract agreeing to a power-sharing government.  That's a detail the bulk of the press just never find time to include in their reports.  

These are not minor points.  This is exactly why Iraqis are protesting.  

 And it's not that difficult to understand.  It can also be done a lot quicker.  If I had done it quicker, we'd have 1000 e-mails tomorrow insisting, for example, that Barack wasn't involved.  That's why we've included the excerpts from real time. 

We do need to again note 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."

Yeah, Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor wrote a whole book about how Iraq ended up where it is.  And what was the response to that?  As Ava and I pointed out last year in "TV: Media continued fail:"

Equally curious is who you don't see.  Gwen Ifill doesn't know a damn thing about foreign policy so asking her to moderate the segment was laughable.  Equally laughable was not going with a NewsHour foreign policy guest for the segment. In fact, we're thinking of one in particular: Michael R. Gordon of The New York Times. Gordon's appeared multiple times on The NewsHour.  Strangely, he wasn't booked for the segment on foreign policy last week. Why would that be? If you're wondering, he's not suddenly press shy.  To the contrary, he has a new book to sell, one he co-wrote with Bernard E. Trainor, The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. The book came out Tuesday. Generally, that means you can expect to see and hear Gordon all over PBS and NPR. Strangely, that has not been the case.  No NPR coverage last week of the book.  No come on The NewsHour for a discussion.  Frontline loved to have him on in the past but now now.  Charlie Rose?  He has appeared 12 times in the last ten years on Rose's PBS and Coca Cola program.  But he was no where to be found last week. Did Gordon show up at the PBS office party loaded on booze with little Gordon hanging out of his fly? No, he did something far worse than that. He dared to criticize Barack -- the ultimate media faux pas.

I'm not a Michael Gordon groupie.  Most of the time when his name pops up here -- check the archives -- I'm calling him out.  He co-wrote an important book worth noting (The Endgame) but it was too uncomfortable for NPR and PBS.  Now they were fine -- and probably still are -- booking him to promote war on Iran.  But telling some truth about Iraq?  They didn't want to know him. Before that book, you couldn't escape him on NPR and PBS -- and I groaned through every one of those appearances.  But when he finally had something to say that really mattered?  Public television and public radio suddenly lost his number.

It's not unlike, for example, if you lie to try to start a war in Syria, getting a promotion at NPR -- but that's a tale Ava and I'll share on Sunday at Third.  Reporters whore not out of the love of whoring but because they make money by whoring.

You need to grasp that because a pattern emerges.  It's not by accident that the western media keeps getting the story wrong and keeps failing to inform.  At all levels, over and over, we see a refusal to honestly discuss or report on Iraq. 

I don't care for Colin Freeman (Telegraph of London) but a friend at his paper called and pointed out "gunmen" or "assailants" wasn't used in Colin's latest.  He called the people who 'seized' their own town "Sunni guerrillas."  Yes, that is an improvement.  So we'll link and we'll even note his first paragraph:

With civil war now raging in Syria, and post-Arab Spring governments taking their first unsteady steps in Egypt and Libya, it’s all too easy to forget the unfinished business that is Iraq. The tenth anniversary of the operation to unseat Saddam Hussein went barely noticed in the West last month, where neither the pro-war or anti-war camps seem particularly keen on to dwell on it. For some, it's a fiasco best forgotten altogether, while for others, it's time to move on now that the basics have been achieved: a dictator toppled, American and British troops withdrawn, and the trappings of a democratic government in place, even if it still suffers from corruption and authoritarianism.

Now, wait a second, you say, there were all those pieces.  No.  As we noted in real time those pieces weren't about Iraq.  They had nothing to do with the suffering children, with the poverty, with the ongoing protests.  They were "I paid attention in 2003 so let me pretend like these old observations are fresh and new."  It was about their grudge f**k against Bully Boy Bush passed off as Iraq commentary.  If you ever doubted it, check out the over-praised Kevin Drum at Mother Jones.  Drum links to the Los Angeles Times on the slaughter or Hawija Tuesday and then, after a lengthy excerpt, this is what Drum actually writes:

This is all Obama's fault, amiright? George Bush—currently enjoying a sudden resurgence of love from conservatives this week—was right on the verge of working everything out and bringing peace and harmony to Iraq when Obama was elected and ruined everything. That's the story I've been hearing for the past couple of years from the neocon rump, anyway.

You stupid piece of s**t.  I hope that's clear enough for Kevin Drum. Over 50 protesters died.  And what you have to offer is partisan bulls**t?  You should be ashamed to show your face in public. 
Alsumaria noted yesterday that Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk) has announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.  50 people are dead, 110 are injured and you don't say one damn word about them?  You are disgusting and inhumane.

Oh, I forget, Kevin Drum supported the illegal war.  Today he's at Mother Jones and whines about neocons.  But in 2003, Kevin Drum was a War Cheerleader.  He didn't give a damn about Iraqis then and he doesn't now.  So, yes, Colin Freeman's right about the lack of explorations on Iraq last month.

Kristin Deasy (Global Post) should slice of a piece of the shame pie before Drum finishes it all.  Her nonsense is mismash of half-facts and a lousy timeline.  This gets to what we were talking about this morning.  The press re-sets the clock for Nouri.  Doesn't matter that the alarm went off, for example, with the slaughter of Hawija -- the Nouri al-Maliki ordered slaughter, he commands those forces and he sent them there.  Doesn't matter that he spent last week verbally attacking the protesters in speeches around Iraq (until he was greeted with cries of "Liar! Liar!" and forced to retreat to Baghdad).  She has the nerve to say that Nouri's calling for peace (the headline, in fact screams it).  So after he set fire to the village, he hollered "Someone call 9-11?"  Is that it, Kristin?

This is what the bulk of the press does repeatedly with Nouri.  They strip away the background for whatever happens in Iraq so he is never responsible.  That's why the fact that violence has increased since 2011 isn't ever connected by the press to Iraq not having a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior or a Minister of National Security.  These are posts that Nouri is supposed to nominate people for.   He has refused to do so in order to have control over those posts and the federal police and the military. (Why?  Because his paranoia always sees a coup.)  Over 400 dead last month, it may reach 500 this month.  Violent deaths.  World Bulletin reports 92 deaths on Tuesday and Wednesday. And these positions aren't filled so Nouri's in charge of them.  At what point is he held accountable by the press for that?  Apparently never.  This was on display today at the US State Dept press briefing.  With all the violence rolling Iraq right now, you'll be happy to know Iraq came up.  At the very end.  With a question about oil.  That's where the press is at, never forget it.

The western press.  If you go to Lebanon, for example, you'll find the editorial board of The Daily Star hasn't been cowed:

Maliki’s government has done little to resolve long-standing disputes over the relationship of the Kurdish areas of the country to the central government in Baghdad; the Iraqi authorities also have a long-festering relationship with the Sunni political community. A vice president from that community, Tareq Hashemi, was officially charged in late 2011 with involvement in terror attacks, and was obliged to flee to Kurdistan, which highlights the dismal state of national affairs.
But the horrific violence that has erupted over the past few days in several Iraqi cities should serve as a reminder that the Arab world isn’t the same place as it was at the beginning of 2011. The sectarian and other fault lines were there before, but when Iraqi government forces respond to public protests by using bullets and helicopters, they have acted in the same, inflexible and violent way that has been used by authoritarian Arab regimes.

Alsumaria adds that former Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi declared today that the government has failed with regards to politics, security and public service and that the people are hostages of revenge and violence stemming from this failure. He decried the assault on the protesters in Hawija and said the country is in grave danger.  Adel Abdul-Mahdi was vice president for two terms.  He resigned, summer 2011, in the middle of his second term. The Shi'ite politician announced his disgust with Nouri's failure to keep his 100 day promise to end corruption and gave that as his reason for resigning.

Thank goodness for the Middle East press which shows more bravery and truth than the alleged free press of western society.  It is because of this kind of push back, especially in Arabic media, that Nouri's had to back down.  As Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports today, Nouri's had to drop his attacks on the dead in Hawija and stop calling them "terrorists." 

Hou Qiang (Xinhua) 'reports,' "The Iraqi cabinet decided Tuesday to hold the provincial elections in the Sunni provinces of Anbar and Nineveh on July 4, after they were delayed for security reasons, state-run television reported Tuesday."  Did they?  Reporting would require noting that it's the responsibility of the IHEC to set the dates.  Reporting would require so much more than Xinhua -- or other outlets -- have offered.  The United Nations issued a statement today which includes:

24 April 2013 – The top United Nations official in Iraq today expressed his disappointment at the Government’s decision to postpone until early July Governorate Council elections in two western provinces, reportedly due to security concerns.
Polls in Anbar and Ninewa, set to have taken place along with other provincial elections on 20 April, were pushed back until 4 July.

The Economist notes today:

In the provinces of al-Anbar and Nineveh, where Sunnis predominate and where anti-government protests have raged since December, the postponement of voting may help keep unpopular local politicians allied with Mr Maliki in power. But the government in Baghdad has become increasingly cut off from Iraq's restless provinces, literally as well as politically. Army roadblocks on the road from Fallujah, west of the capital, routinely prevent its residents from leaving their city.

The slaughter in Hawija continues to dominate events in Iraq.  NINA quotes Iraqiya MP Falah al-Naqib stating, "Since Iraq is still under Chapter VII that means the UN should play a bigger role, especially after what happened in Hawija."  All Iraq News reports Kurdish MP Latif Mustafa held a press conference today and declared, "The recent events in Hawija approved that the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, represents a danger on Iraq."  He outlined Hawija events, "What happened in Hawija exceed the red limits of the government where Maliki announced the emergency condition and this a constitutional breach and the second breach is deploying the army inside the cities without the approval of the parliament.  The third breach is using the army for attacking the citizens since the demonstrations represent an internal issue and the police can deal with them."  Don't hold your breath waiting for AFP or Jane Arraf to ever note those basics.  Things like the law, they don't interest AFP and Arraf and make it harder to spin for Nouri.   MP Mustafa summed up, "Maliki became a danger on Iraq and we should investigate him at the parliament."

RT speaks with Westchester University Professor Lawrence Davidson who pins the violence on the the illegal war ["Since 2003, thousands, tens of thousands people have died as a part of this sectarian violence. We (US) opened Pandora’s box and we could not close it even when we were there."] and  he notes, "Maliki government's reputation has already hit bottom.  What we got is a government that is determined to maintain its position and crush opposition, particularly Sunni politicians."

The BRussells Tribunal carries this statement of solidarity with the people of Hawija and the rebels:

The government of Iraq, installed under occupation and maintained after the US retreat, has committed a new massacre against peaceful protesters in the town of Hawija. The forces used and the way it was achieved reminds us of the Fallujah massacre at the beginning of the occupation.
Although towns in six departments are protesting in the same way, the government chose to attack this town, to make it an example for other larger cities. They attack it because the peaceful protests are a success.
At dawn, protesters in Hawija were encircled by forces in great number, ground and air, their tents burnt while they were unarmed inside. Those who tried to escape were fired at or crushed by military vehicles. There is news that even the wounded are being killed. A wave of solidarity is mounting in reaction while armed resistance movements, in support of the peaceful protests until now, are moving to block a government escalation of violence. 
The reasons of the protest are well known: 10 years of targeted discrimination and oppression of every kind. Their peaceful protest has been ongoing since four months without an answer to their human rights demands. The government chose the second day after local elections to punish in cold blood the protesters, announcing it will continue its policies whatever the result of the election would be.
This massacre is not only a crime against humanity; it is genocide. It is neither a civil conflict nor a sectarian one. It is a crime of a government against a national group, the Sunnis, who would vote against its politicsand who demand to stop hangings, campaigns of mass arrests, systematic torture, unfair justice and false accusations, to stop the discrimination in jobs, in education, in services, making their regions and cities large prisons encircled by military checkpoints and towering walls.
We are in solidarity with the peaceful protesters and their just demands. We call on all governments and human rights organisations to condemn this massacre and to unite efforts to bring Nouri Al-Maliki and all those responsible before international justice, not only to punish individually, but to stop the state terrorism and to prevent a larger violence — like that used in Syria — that would endanger peace in the whole region and entail very heavy civilian losses.
We join calls for the end of the fascist Maliki regime; the immediate departure of the head of the army command, the minister of interior, Maliki, his government, and the fascist ruling party. The international community, the UN and relevant bodies, should endorse the same end.
We express our support for the Iraqi people struggling against state terror and salute the solidarity of Iraqis with Hawija.
Abdul Ilah Albayaty
Hana Al Bayaty
Ian Douglas

Abdul Ilah Albayaty is an Iraqi political analyst. Hana Al Bayaty is an author and political activist. IanDouglas is a specialist in the geopolitics of the Arab region and has taught at universities in the US, UK, Egypt and Palestine.

 On violence, through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 444 people dead from violence so far this month.  NINA notes that overnight in Mosul, armed clashes left 2 police officers and 1 military officer dead (and six more police injured) and ten people were killed in Mosul,  while today a Falluja home invasion left 2 Sahwa leaders dead, a Falluja drive-by left three of Nouri's federal forces injured, an Abid-Weis (north of Hilla) roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police and left two more injured, a sniper injured a police officer in Falluja, a Najaf bombing claimed 1 life and left twenty-five people injured, rebels stormed a Mosul military checkpoint and took weapons and military vehicles, rebels and the military clashed in Diayala Province, rebels and federal forces clashed in Falluja, rebels and federal forces clashed in Samarra and Dour, and  2 federal forces and 2 rebels were killed in another Samarra clash (with four forces left injured).

And the response to the above?  Ramdia and Falluja have a vehicle ban, there are curfews (Salahuddin and Diyala) and none of that's going to do a damn bit of good.

Calls for talks aren't either. There's is an incredible failure to understand the Iraqi people.  This is not occupied Palestine where, for decades, generations have grown up under an occupation.  This the Iraqi people who took the attitude of wait-out the occupiers (US forces).  They're not waiting now.  More than that, there's been a bodily reaction.  They're primed to fight now.  The fear-or-flight response has been engaged for days now.  Simple talk isn't going to change a damn thing.  In their chests is tightness, a strong physical reaction.  It can come out in violence, at it has so far.  It can come out in sobs.  What took place in Hawija shouldn't take place anywhere.  And the lies that get told do not help. This morning federal forces were claiming they had released all the protesters they rounded up that day in Hawija -- all 42.  Oops, they had some more. Okay, now they've released all 93.  These lies only add to the tension.  The failure of the world leaders, of all of them, to condemn what happened cannot be minimized.  One leader speaking up.  That's all it would have taken.  And those grieving would have felt recognized.  Instead, the world's told them they're on their own.  They're grieving, they're angry and they were wronged.  This is explosive and Nouri's going to have to make real concessions.  The world press should be preparing him for that or preparing for a blood bath.  It is as though a body memory is being created.  Nonsense about 'both sides were wrong . . .'  No.  One side had tanks and fired from helicopters.  The other side was engaged in a sit-in.  That's obvious to the Iraqis who are outraged now and the failure of so many outsiders to grasp that only increases the outrage.

In related news, Iraqi Spring MC reports that defections from the military are taking place in Hawija.  After the events, that's hardly a surprise and that's before you factor in what happened in Basra in 2008 when Nouri sent his forces there to attack.

 Last year, Iraq made it into the top five for executions as a result of at least 129 executions in 2012.  (The US was shamefully in the top five as well.)  Today Human Rights Watch issued a statement on the death penalty which includes:

 (Baghdad) – A striking increase in executions in Iraq points out the failure of Iraq’s justice system to meet international fair trial standards. The surge in judicial killings came shortly after the government conceded that justice system reforms are desperately needed.

 Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani has announced a series of reforms since January 2013, in response to widespread protests in which demonstrators demanded reforms to the ailing justice system, but it is unclear whether any of the promises have been carried out. Instead of any action on these reforms, Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimmari announced in mid-March that the ministry would execute 150 people in the coming days. At least 50 people have been executed in the last month.
“The government seems to think that the best way to combat the increase in violence and terror that Iraq has suffered since the beginning of the year is with yet more state killing and injustice,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The concurrent escalation in attacks and in executions makes clear that its brutal tactics are not working.”


the telegraph of london
richard spencer

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

It takes a starlet

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