IN A CORRECTION TO YESTERDAY'S REPORT (SEE "THIS JUST IN! JOBS FOR SALE!" AND "The White House provides jobs"), THESE REPORTERS NOTE THAT THIS PASSAGE WAS NOT QUITE TRUE: "FOR $6,000 YOU WILL NOT BE HIRED TO FOLLOW BARRY O AROUND AND FLUSH THE TOILET FOR HIM WHEN HE LEAVES A BATHROOM. THAT JOB DOES IT EXIST BUT RIGHT NOW JAY CARNEY HOLDS THE POSITION."
THESE REPORTERS WERE CONTACTED BY INCREASINGLY EMBARRASSING JAY CARNEY WHO EXPLAINED HE DOES NOT WAIT OUTSIDE THE BATHROOM DOOR WAITING FOR CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O TO DO HIS BUSINESS AND THEN RUSH IN TO FLUSH THE TOILET FOR AMERICA'S PRINCESS.
NO, CARNEY EXPLAINS HE RUSHES IN AND "I EITHER DRINK OR EAT. BUT I DO ONE OR THE OTHER BECAUSE WE ARE A GREEN WHITE HOUSE AND WE DO NOT WASTE WATER WITH UNNECESSARY FLUSHES."
THESE REPORTERS GREATLY REGRET OUR MISREPORTING YESTERDAY AND THANK CARNEY FOR CLARIFYING HIS JOB ON THE RECORD.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Today Aaron Smith (CNNMoney) reports the International Energy Agency has issued a new report which finds that demand for oil will be more than the supply available. The report is entitled "Medium-Team Oil and Gas Markets 2011" and IEA's Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka says, "This report shows that oil's twilgiht as an industrial fuel continues, and it becomes ever more concentrated in the transport and petrochemical sectors. Gas on the other hand continues to increase in power generation as well as industry and space heating. In terms of market structure and pricing, oil is a genuinely global commodity, while gas markets, although globalising, remain bound by some key regional constrations, not least in terms of transportation." The report notes, "Growth in oil supply capacity through 2016 averages 1.1 mb/d [million barrels a day] annually, as higher prices unlock new supplies. Iraq, UAE and Angola lead growth prospects from OPEC, while Brazil, Canada, Kazakhstan and Columbia drive non-OPEC increases." This evening, Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reveals that although US companies didn't do so well in those public options, they will enrich their own coffers, "In fact, American drilling companies stand to make tens of billions of dollars from the new petroleum activity in Iraq long before any of the oil producers start seeing any returns on their investments." Yesterday afternoon, Kadhim Ajrash and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) reported, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the army to boost protection of the country's pipelines and refineries from sabotage." Nouri first became prime minister in 2006 and throughout his first term and his just begun second term he's never shown much interest in or desire to protect the Iraqi people but he'll make sure the oil is safe. For example, Al Rafidayn reports today on some Iraqis who fled their homes during the ethnic cleansing of 2006 and 2007 and relocated elsewhere in Iraq and they continue to live in fear, some "in houses built out of stones and reeds" and Jassim Jubayr Ugaili states he does not want to go back into Baghdad because he was threatened and three of his brothers and one of his nephews were killed. His 18-year-old son Mohammad adds that it would not make any difference for the family to move back because they would just be one or two returning since most families will not return due to the continued violence.
Then again, maybe being spared Nouri's efforts at protection is actually a blessing for the Iraqi people. No, we're not implying Nouri is the "huge snake" Dar Addustour reports hid under rubble and allegedly ate two children and four cats in a Nasiriyah neighborhood. We're referring to Roy Gutman and Laith Hammoudi's (McClatchy Newspapers) report that Nouri al-Maliki declared on "live television broadcast late Tuesday" that assassinations on government security officials were being carried out by a "militia" which has infiltrated the ministries -- he names Interior and Defense specifically.
Gutman and Hammoudi have a strong article that's sketches out what happened. Let's explore why. Human Rights Watch, more than any other organization, is getting under Nouri's thin skin. And primarily because they observe the reality of what an assailant was wearing -- often official security uniforms (such as a police uniform). In 2008, the press was very good about identifying what assailants were wearing when they were in official clothing. And then some of that got dropped. HRW continues to note it and it's becoming harder and harder for Nouri to fall back on his 2006 excuses of 'they're fake uniforms!' and 'a warehouse in southern Iraq housing uniforms was broken into!'
Going public with the fact that a lot of these officially garbed assailants are working for the government, Nouri gets to be seen as more honest and, he hopes, gets to inject a falsehood into the narrative the press will then repeat.
The narrative? Nouri declared on "live TV" that this infiltration has taken place and: "Those who have destroyed the Ministries of the Interior and Defense are we, the (political) parties, who come with a list and tell the officials, 'Employ these people'."
That little statement's not innocuous or an aside. It's Nouri's main point. And part of his efforts to convince the Iraqi people that not only is he the only thing keeping them 'safe' but that he needs more power and the ability to rework the current government.
The only real flaw in Gutman and Hammoudi's article is that they repeat Nouri's assertion and fail to provide perspective. The two reporters go on to say that some feel the tensions between Nouri and Ayad Allawi are harming the country but that's not the main issue. Here's the point they should have made, one that would have made their article much stronger: 'Today Nouri al-Maliki accused other political parties of destroying the Ministries of Interior and Defense by demanding that their people staff the agencies; however, if the two ministries are in disarray that blame would be shared by Nouri who refused to appoint a Minister to head either of those ministries and has instead declared himself the temporary head of those two ministries as well as the Ministry of National Security.'
Those are the facts. If the two ministries have been infiltrated, then that goes to the
fact that they have no permanent head. If the two ministries are in trouble or struggling, that goes to Nouri who's decided he can be prime minister and head three ministries. Of Nouri's lousy job performance, Francis Matthew (Gulf News) offers:
He promised that officials at any level would be sacked if their performance did not match standards, and he spelt out that "the performance of the government and the ministries will be evaluated separately in order to know the extent of success or failure in carrying out the duties given to them". He also made it clear that each minister would have to be responsible for stopping corruption in their ministries.
Despite the drama of his announcement, nothing happened. This week, at the end of his 100-day deadline, Al Maliki met his cabinet (no one had been sacked). He later claimed to the public that each ministry now has a four-year plan, and he seems to be insisting that he has achieved all his goals, and he claims "massive progress" in the 100 days.
It seems unlikely that all Iraq's ministries have just become models of efficiency, and that its famously corrupt officials have all stopped taking bribes. The opposition does not agree with Al Maliki's rosy view of what has happened, and its leaders have called for renewed protests to start this weekend.
It remains to be seen if they can get the people back onto the streets, and also if Al Maliki's large and very tough security forces will let them march again. The events this weekend will indicate how political life in Iraq might run for the next few months.
Nouri took 100 Days, he reset the clock and he accomplished nothing. Repeatedly. Of course, he had help in his incompetence. The 100 Days was a device which attempted to derail the protest movement in Iraq. Aiding him at that time was Moqtada al-Sadr who occasionally breezes through Iraq but prefers to reside in Iran. He fled Iraq when he feared Nouri would use the arrest warrant to put al-Sadr behind bars (the arrest warrant is for murder -- that's a warrant, not a conviction and even were it a conviction we don't mistake Iraqi 'justice' in the puppet, US-imposed system for actual justice). He did a few pop-over visits recently and, as a result, his influence has waned. His big 'protest' in May? We focused on the absurdity of calling observers participants -- he had his militia march through Sadr City and he and many in the press counted as 'participants' people who stepped out of their homes to watch the march go by. But equally ridiculous was the fact that the 100,000 present in Baghdad number was coming from . . . a telephone interview . . . with a Sadr loyalist not in Baghdad but in Najaf -- in Najaf, where he could survey all in Baghdad with the naked eye, apparently. But the most ridiculous thing about that 'protest' was the efforts to make it appear Moqtada was present. Oh! Look! It's his car! Everybody run to it! Oh! Look! It's pulling away!!! Oh, Moqtada . . . No, he wasn't present. (The same Najaf spokesperson insisted to the press that Moqtada was present but his followers were just too enthusiastic to allow Moqtada to safely exit his car. Yeah, right.) If you missed any of that crazy, read Mohamad Ali's report for AFP, they were the most grounded of the outlets reporting on the 'protest.' As we've long noted, US intelligence and that of England's, France's and two countries neighboring Iraq's all say Moqtada's influence has waned. Today Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) speaks to Mehdi militia members and finds that's the case. What if Moqtada declares war -- as he says he will if the US military stays beyond 2011? One member explains that he's focused on college and becoming an attorney, he needs three years without "any trouble" and he's got the life he wants. Oops, Moqtada can't count on that one. Abu Sadiq (whom al-Salhy describes as a "senior Mehdi Army leader in Sadr City") maintains, "Despite his huge number of supporters, if Moqtada decided to fight now, only a few would fight. The only ones who will fight are those who have not become contractors, or parliament members or gained salaries, cars, homes or government posts." And what about the assertion we've repeatedly noted, that there's real competition among those still dedicated to the cause and they aren't likely to see the Iran-bound Moqtada as 'representative' of their needs and interests? Abu Moqtada ("former Mehdi fighter") tells al-Salhy, "The danger that Moqtada faces is from his leaders who are competing with each other for wealth and positions." al-Salhy adds, "The biggest splinter group, Asaib al-Haq, is already challenging Sadr, eroding his militia from within by infiltrating the top echelons of his organization, Sadrist sources say." (To be clear, this is not, "I was right!!!!" I am not intelligence for any country -- and there are those who know me who would never connect my name and intelligence or intelligent together in the same sentence. But we did note what people were saying -- especially from diplomatic circles -- that their countries' intelligence was saying regarding Moqtada's influence. And if I'm hearing it -- from several sets of people -- I really didn't understand why the press wasn't aware of it even if they weren't reporting on it. And in fairness to reporters in Iraq, any such reports would more likely have been expected to come from reporters in DC or in the capitals of other countries.)
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