THE INCREASINGLY USELESS A.P. WANTS TO TREAT AS 'NEWS' THAT CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O HAS RISEN 5% IN APPROVAL RATINGS SINCE THE ELECTION.
AN INCREASE IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE ELECTION AND THROUGH THE INAUGURATION IS TO BE EXPECTED AND ALWAYS HAPPENS FOR THE INCUMBENT.
NEWS WILL BE HOW QUICKLY BARRY O WILL SQUANDER THAT GOOD WILL. NEWS IS ALSO HOW LOW THE APPROVAL RATING IS. EVEN THE BUMP DIDN'T CARRY HIM TO 60% AND HE'S A SITTING PRESIDENT.
AS BARRY O GEARS UP FOR A SERIES OF BALLS DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE GREAT RECESSION CONTINUES AS DOES WAR, LET'S SEE HOW QUICKLY THE POLLS DROP.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
The press is supposed to want to report. If they can be accused -- collectively -- of a bias its having a desire for conflict because conflict makes news. So explain Qassim Abdul-Zahra's AP story this morning which has only been teased out to a longer story by this afternoon despite it grossly misunderstanding what was stated by Nouri al-Maliki about the country's most recent crisis which Nouri sparked when he sent forces into the disputed regions of northern Iraq. Let's deal first with what actually happened today. All Iraq News notes Nouri held a news conference with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today and Nouri declared that there were proposals (plural) to resolve the current standoff between Baghdad and Erbil. Alsumaria reports Nouri said there were two proposals for ending the military standoff in disputed areas between Nouri's Tigris Operation Command and the Kurdish Peshmerga. One proposal is locals are in charge of security while another proposal is a joint patrol by Nouri's Tigris forces and the Peshmerga. The key on the second proposal would be whether or not the Peshmerga remains under Kurdish control.
Also today All Iraq News reports Iraqi President Jalal Talabani gave a speech about how this crisis is threatening the security and the peace. Al Mada adds that Talabani declared that threatening language -- a reference to Nouri's speech on Saturday -- has no place in this discussion. And as Thursday ended in Iraq, Alsumaria reported that Talabani met with Ahmed Chalabi who gave his support to Talabani and his efforts to peacefully resolve the crisis. All Iraq News notes that Talabani also met with US Ambassador to Iraq Robert S. Beecroft today and they agreed on the need for a peaceful solution to this ongoing dispute.
That's all really basic. Yet this morning, AP wanted to report that Nouri stated an agreement had been reached on how to resolve the crisis. That's not what's reported by Arabic outlets. They report Nouri held a press conferences and talked about proposal(s). They continued to insist an agreement had been reached as the day went along. No agreement's been reached. Jalal Talabani wouldn't have given the speech he did today or met with Chalabi to discuss the crisis if it was resolved.
Let's drop back to the November 26th snapshot:
In a development everyone is trumpeting, representatives from the KRG and the central Iraqi government met in Baghdad today. KUNA notes, "Iraq's federal government and provincial government of Iraq's Kurdistan region reached an agreement in principle stipulating return of all military foces to their previous locations." In principal? And that's the more upbeat version. Isabel Coles and Alison Williams (Reuters) lead with, "Iraqi military leaders agreed on Monday with commanders from the Kurdistan region to defuse tension and discuss pulling their troops back from an area over which they both claim jurisdiction." That's not quite the same thing and when you include a quote from Iraq's "commander in chief of the Iraqi armed forces" (that would be Nouri) that states the two sides will "discuss a mechanism to return the forces which were deployed after the crisis to their previous positions." So they're going to discuss that. And even less has been accomplished according to Almanar, "Top federal and Kurdish security officials agreed in Baghdad on Monday to 'activate' coordinating committees between their forces and work to calm the situation in northern Iraq, a statement said." Almanar also notes that those attending the meeting including US Lt Gen Robert Caslen.
As we noted the next morning, that story fell apart. AP was one of the outlets that got that story grossly wrong. You'd think they'd have learned and you think the fact that the press feeds on conflict would mean that the same reporters wouldn't repeatedly fall for the same "Everything solved! Nothing here to see!" This morning, we pointed out that if an agreement had been reached, KRG President Massoud Barzani and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani would probably be making announcements. That didn't strike AP as strange? That the person who initiated the conflict would be the one to announce it was over?
And if that doesn't seem plausible how about the fact that there's nothing on the KRG website about an agreement being reached? There is this article in Arabic (probably there in Kurdish as well but I can't read Kurdish). It's about today's meeting of Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and his Cabinet and among the topics discussed was the conflict and the Tigris Operation Command and how the General Command of the Peshmerga states that they are prepared to defend and protect if violence breaks out. Barzani noted that he was speaking with all Kurdish leaders including KRG President Massoud Barzani.
Seems to me if a deal was reached, KRG President Massoud Barzani would know and I don't see why he'd keep it from the Prime Minister (who is also his nephew). Again, it's just not plausible. Last time when AP and others pulled this nonsense, I didn't name them, I just said outlets. Well I'm sorry this is the second time you're claiming events happened when they didn't, the second time that your 'solution' story tells the world "Look away, nothing to see here." It's a bit hard to excuse it. It goes against what Iraqi outlets are reporting happened, it goes against what's plausible and it goes against the nature of journalism.
On the standoff, let's note two views of what's unfolding. First, David Romano (Rudaw) offers this take:
From my perch in the West, far outside the halls of power in Baghdad or Erbil, it's hard for me to know how serious the threat of outright conflict between the Kurds and Maliki has become. As a political scientist, however, I know of too many historical cases where such tensions led to wars that none of the parties intended or really wanted. In other cases, some of those who chose or desired war expected a quick victory, only to become mired in terrible, grinding and long lasting fighting. The region remembers when Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1967 famously took provocative action after action, from threats and blockades against Israeli shipping to demanding the withdrawal of United Nations observer forces from the Sinai. Finally the Israelis attacked, and somehow took him by surprise and then proceeded to defeat the combined forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria in 6 days. Several years later, Saddam Hussein thought to launch a similar surprise attack on Iran, after its new religious leaders began inciting Iraqi shiites to revolt. Expecting quick victory similar to Israel's lightning war of 1967, he instead condemned Iraq and Iraq to eight years of war, poverty and over a million war dead. The point is that when you overturn the cart, or even threaten to turn it over, no one really knows where its contents will fall.
If serious armed conflict between Maliki and the Kurds does erupt, intentionally or not, the media war of interpretation will undoubtedly rage as well. How such conflict gets framed will likely play a crucial war in determining the winner, in fact. If Mr. Maliki manages to cast the issue as a war between Kurds and Arabs (or "an ethnic war," as he recently referred to a possible conflict), the advantage will go to him. Given how seriously Arabs outnumber Kurds in Iraq, the medium and long-term consequences of such a framing of the conflict would prove extremely disadvantageous to Kurdistan. Mr. Maliki and his "State of Law" Party will tell Iraqis that Barzani is trying to expand Kurdistan's borders at Arab expense. Under such circumstances, it would be hard even for Arabs who oppose Maliki not to rally to his cause of protecting Arabs against Kurdish maximalism. As long as leaders in Kurdistan insist that Article 140 be implemented and the disputed territories be given a chance to join Kurdistan, it will prove extremely difficult to oppose Maliki's framing of the issue as one of "Arab vs. Kurd."
And for another view, Qassim Khidhir Hamad (Niqash) speaks with the Islamic Supreme Council's Bashir Adel Gli
NIQASH: Despite all this though, it seems that both sides are sending more military into the disputed areas every day. People here in Iraqi Kurdistan are frightened, they think that war is inevitable.
Bashir Adel Gli: I have no fear. There won't be a war.
NIQASH: And what makes you so sure of that?
Bashir Adel Gli: Because al-Maliki has a lot of opponents in Baghdad – such as the Islamic Virtue Party [the Fadhila party], the Islamic Supreme Council, the Sadrists [Editor's note: the latter three are all Shiite-Muslim dominated] and the Iraqiya party. All of his opponents simply won't let this happen. And the Kurdish won't allow the Kurdish military [the peshmerga] to attack the Iraqi army either.
NIQASH: So what do you think will happen in Iraqi politics in 2013?
Bashir Adel Gli: I can't really predict that. But I do think it will be the end of al-Maliki. I think if al-Maliki tries to run for the third term, he will find that those opposed to him will multiply.
On a related note, Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that the National Alliance (Shi'ite political body headed by Ibrahim al-Jafaari) declared that they believe Nouri is attempting to isolate them politically. Dar Addustour notes the talks going on between KRG President Massoud Barzani, Moqtada al-Sadr (cleric and leader of the Sadr movement) and Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi over the current crisis and the belief that Nouri has escalated this.
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