Wednesday, February 17, 2010






On the most recent Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera) which began airing Friday, Jasim al-Azawi addressed the tensions stemming from the election chaos (national elections are currently scheduled for March 7th) with guests Anas al-Tikriti and Saad al-Muttalibi.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Anas, let me ask you the last question in my intro. Is al-Malki upholding the law or is he playing with fire?

Anas al-Tikriti: Jasim, I think that most people recognize electioneering when they see it and while most people would recognize that we entered electioneering mode several weeks ago, practially, well we are in election mode. But several weeks ago, every single stance and every single statement feeds into the election campaign. But this, I fear, this risks to drag the entire country back to the brink. One thing that we were all looking forward to -- and you and your viewers will recognize that I'm an incredible, fierce critic to the entire political structure that was set up in 2003 -- but we were looking forward to this coming election as being some sort of landmark and turning point in the history of Iraq in terms of us transcending the sectarian lines that were drawn over the past six, seven years. Unfortunately, it seems there are elements -- and particularly al-Maliki, surprisingly -- who initiated the national reconcialition effort a couple of years ago and inisisted that that was his slogan, it seems that now he is hell bent on drawing the entire country back to where we were three, four years ago. There is nothing good that can come from this.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Not only that, Saad al-Muttalibi, but the appeal panel that was constituted and empowered by Iraqi Parliament to look into the banning of candidates has just given its verdict and that verdict is it's going to exclude many that's on the list, primarily Saleh al-Mutlaq and Dhafir al-Ani. How will that impact the political process? Many people feel that violence may come back with vengence.

Saad al-Muttalibi: No. Definitely no. No return to violence. The rulings have clearly indicated that em, uh, a political section or sector of people in Iraq will not be able to participate in the coming elections. And those are the Ba'athists. Those Ba'athists were initially -- under item seven of the Constitution -- were barred from entering politics and the political life in Iraq; therefore, we don't see -- I personally don't see any chance in what is happening. The hype, the excitement that took place, was directed because Mr. Saleh al-Mutlaq's name was mentioned on the list. Him as being an activist within the political process --

Anas al-Tikriti: But Saad --

Saad al-Muttalibi: -- within the last four years has proved.

Anas al-Tikriti: But Saad, if I may, if I may interrupt you. The ironice -- the actual hilarity of this situation is that Dhafir al-Ani andSaleh al-Mutlaq have both been members of the Parliament that drew up the Constitution that approved of Article 7, that you're talking about, over the past six, seven years. Why now? Why come up with this particular decision now if not to actually inflame tensions that we were hoping were left to lie this time around and then hopefully allow us to depart from violence? Why now? They were part of the Parliament that you sit in, al-Maliki sits in. They were part of approving the Constitution that now they're being vilified for. As well as that Article 7 you mention -- it also mentions besides the Ba'athists, it also mentions sectarian parties. Are you telling me that there are no sectarian parties who are going to fight this coming election?

Saad al-Muttalibi: All sectarian -- and as you clearly said, sectarian, Ba'athist, whatever, they are to be banned from the coming elections. The list? You mentioned only two names. But the list was mainly constituted of two-thirds Shia and one-third Sunni who were excluded from participating from the elections so there is no question that this is being pointed at a particular section of society -- sector of society. It's not --

Jasim al-Azzawi: How do you explain, Saad al-Muttalibi, that the Defense Minister is also excluded.

Saad al-Muttalibi: Because he was an ex-Ba'athist. [Chuckles at himself.] Nobody decides, there is a data base --

Anas al-Tikriti: Saad, Saad, how many --

Saad al-Muttalibi: -- with a red mark.

Anas al-Tikriti: How many, how many of your colleagues were ex-Ba'athists? How many of your colleagues? How many Iraqis do you know, do you work with today, who are leaders of parties that are going to fight the next elections are Ba'athists. More than 78% of the Iraqi people had to become Ba'athists in the past. All along, this law is a wrong, immoral law simply because it was inoperable and secondly because it would reach people who had to join the Ba'ath Party simply because of the brutal regime of the past.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Before he answers [cross talk] the question, Saad al-Muttalibi, the governor of Baghdad has threatened to dismiss all Ba'athists from office.

For those wondering, al-Muttalibi never answered the host's question. Nor did he ever answer the question of "why now?" That question was on the mind of Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) recently, "Maybe I can understand it if the commission was banning only newcomers, new names -- new faces that have not been part of the political scene before -- people whom it has just now investigated and decided to reject. But to suddenly, after years of silence, and in the critical period of time that precedes national elections, cross out names that have been part of Iraqi politics for years – How "un-political" a ruling can that be?" Saturday, Reuters noted seven people wounded in Baghdad bombings in what are seen as attacks on various political parties or politicians (including Saleh al-Mutlaq who is 'banned' from participation). That was only reported attack. Monday Xinhua reported a political party's office in Baghdad was hit by a bombing injuring a security guard and damaging the office Meanwhile Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) translated a bulletin from Iraq's south:
Title : Bulletin from the movement for the liberation of the South, condemning the statements of Ahamedinejad and his interference in Iraqi affairs.
" With all the arrogance, audacity and disrespect towards the feelings of the Iraqi government, the Iraqi people and the Iraqi soil, Ahmedinejad proclaims that he will not allow the return of the Baathists to Iraq. And here we are not debating whether the Baath party should return or not. We are however very surprised by the arrogance of this leader who stated his intentions, knowing full well that this public statement is an open admission of his country's involvement in Iraqi affairs. And by doing so, he (Ahmadinejad) is embarrassing his friends more than his opponents, but it seems that the game is now in the open, this time round. The Tehran government is clearly the winner out of this (American) Occupation of Iraq, otherwise Ahmedinejad would have not said what he said. But let Ahmadinejad and company know that there is a people in Iraq, who will never allow their occupation and let them know that their end as well as that of their (Persian) empire dream, will be made a reality through Iraqi hands, by the will of Allah.
And who is Ahmedinejad to speak on behalf of the Iraqis. Let him and those who follow him know that if a people want a thing, no one can stop them and if a people hate a thing, nothing will make them love it, even if that thing covers their hands with rings and rosaries.
We, in the movement for the liberation of the South, consider this statement by Ahmadinejad, a public admission that all the decisions taken by the Justice and Accountability committee were made in Tehran and by Iranian orders. We shall retain our right of reply.
So from today onwards, we do not want anyone to shy away from intervening in Iranian affairs, whoever that person is, in removing the rule of the mullahs. Had Iran not started and intervened in Iraqi affairs, we would have never contemplated interfering in its affairs. The one who started this is the real oppressor.
We are committed and adamant about the liberation of Iraq and her people first, and the Iranian people second, from this fascist tyrannical regime."

Saturday, the New York Times offered the editorial "Mr. Maliki's Dangerous Ambition" which included:

To resolve a dispute with the Tikrit provincial council this week, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq did what any good autocrat would do: He sent in the army. The problem is, Mr. Maliki isn't supposed to be an autocrat. And the United States didn't train Iraq's Army so it could be used for political coercion.This is just the most recent example of thuggery by Mr. Maliki, who is determined to do anything he can to win re-election next month. If he and his Shiite-led government continue this way, the vote will not be seen as legitimate and opposition groups may well return to violence. That would be a disaster for Iraqis and the United States, which is supposed to be on its way out of Iraq.

Today, the Toledo Blade offered the editoiral "Don't yield to Iraqi stunts" I which includes:

On the one hand, the occupation government's snub of U.S. pleas to open up the elections is evidence of some independence on its part, even if it is in defense of an unhelpful approach.On the other -- pointing toward a more-likely outcome -- excluding Sunni and nonsectarian candidates from the electoral process leaves the field clear to Mr. Maliki and the Shiite Iraqi National Congress of former U.S. favorite Ahmed Chalabi. That would invite a Sunni boycott, as occurred in 2005, and likely subsequent civil disorder.

Ahmed Chalabi? If Bush were the 'tough guy' his cheerleaders think he was, Chalabi would have been found with a bullet to his head long ago. If the US was the democracy it's supposed to be, Chalabi would be standing trial -- right alongside Bush and Cheney -- for War Crimes. Instead the coward and double and triple agent roams Iraq, his knuckles dragging against the ground. AFP reports Coward Chalabi has accused the United States of 'interference.' Interference? From Chalabi? The man who spent over a decade building lies and pressure to force an Iraq War -- a war he was too cowardly to attempt on his own. And now he wants to accuse foreign governments of interference?

He's even more vocal with Iran's Press TV:

Press TV: Why do think Washington has been behind a lot of pressure on the Iraqi government into allowing these individuals who have been affiliated with the Baath party to run for office?

Chalabi: It is unfortunate that the United States has put very narrow foreign policy interests in its relationship with Iraq over the will of Iraqi people. I believe that what the US is following in this regard is the continuing conflict towards Iran. They think that the presence of Baathists in the government and parliament of Iraq would be important card in their hands in stopping the so called spreading influence of Iran in Iraq.

It's unfortunate that a coward like Ahmed Chalabi who fled from Iraq shaking in his boots and pissing in his drawers and then hid out for years and years in other countries only to take his yellow tail back to Iraq AFTER the US invaded was ever installed into leadership. The Iraqi people deserve better, a lot better. Gordon Campbell (New Zealand's Scoop) noted, "Amazingly, there are signs that the shortlist of viable compromise figures includes the perinnial Shia opportunist Ahmad Chalabi, the former Jordanian fraudster who was the US neo-cons favourite candidate to lead the nation after the 2003 invasion -- at least until he turned out to be a double agent working for the Iranians." Speaking to DC's Institute For the Study of War today by video link, the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, declared that Chalabi and Ali al-Lami are strongly influenced by the government of Iran and that they meet with senior-level members of the Iranian government regularly. Lara Jakes and Anne Flaherty (AP) report, "Odierno told an audience in Washington at the Institute for the Study of War that al-Lami 'has been involved in various nefarious activities in Iraq for sometime' and called it 'disappointing' that he was put in charge of the commission."
Over the long weekend, Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reported
that Ahmed and his boy-pal Ali al-Lami run the extra-legal Justice and Accountability Commission which has banned various candidates including Saleh al-Mutlaq who states, "It is not possible to raise the white flag. The entire country and its people shall be threatened." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) added, "Mr. Mutlaq, a member of Parliament since 2006, held the No. 2 spot on the ballot of Iraqiya, a secular coalition of Sunnis and Shiites that has emerged as a strong rival of the election bloc led by Iraq's prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The No. 3 candidate on the Iraqiya list, Dhafir al-Ani, was also barred from running." Pure coincidence that Nouri's two biggest rivals got knocked out of the race, right? Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) explains that al-Mutlaq's Iraqi National Movement party has temporarily "suspended campaigning Saturday and hinted at a possible boycott of next month's elections to protest a decision to uphold a ban on candidates because of their alleged ties to the outlawed Baath Party. [. . .] The group called for an urgent meeting of top leaders, a review of the banning process and an emergency session of parliament." Monday, Naseer Al-lly (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) reports that now Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi is being accused of "supporting terrorism" by MP Asharq al-Awsat. This is what passes for 'campaigning.' Oliver August (Times of London) observed, "Politicians are engaged in crude power games meant to destroy rather than defeat opponents. Murder, blackmail, corruption and intimidation are a central part of the process used to choose the next government." Mohammed Abbas (Reuters) notes that "Maliki is likely aware of his dented popularity as he has reverted to proven vote-winning methods, like stirring up Shi'ite fears of a return of Saddam's Baath party, to win the ballot, analysts say." It's 'campaigning.' Of course, the last time 'campaigning' like this took place, ethnic cleansing (popularly known as "the civil war") took place for the following two years. Fanning those flames was Iraqi MP Baha al-Araji. AFP reports that that MP from Moqtada al-Sadr's political bloc declared "the majority denomination (the Shiites) was the victim of a plot since Abu Bakr [573-634] until Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr [1912-1982]." Nouri's mouthpiece, ali al-Dabbagh, insisted the statement was outragoues and a violation of Article 7. He then warned it should not happen again.

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