WITH 51% OF AMERICANS DISAPPROVING OF HIS JOB PERFORMANCE, FADED CELEBRITY BARRY O IS LUCKY TO BE IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND NOT ON DANCING WITH THE STARS WHERE HE WOULD HAVE LONG AGO BEEN VOTED OFF.
TONIGHT, HE PLANS TO EITHER HYPNOTIZE AMERICANS OR SEND THEM TO SLEEP WITH NON-STOP TELEVISED YAMMERING.
ASKED WHAT THE DALI BAMA WILL SAY TONIGHT IN THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS, WHITE HOUSE PLUS-SIZE SPOKESMODEL JAY CARNEY RESPONDED, "WHO KNOWS? WHO CARES? DOES ANYONE REMEMBER WHAT HE SAID LAST YEAR?"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
US Senator Bob Menendez has ended his block on selling Iraq Apache helicopters. Missy Ryan (Reuters) euters reports the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Menendez chairs, has agreed to lease and sale Nouri's government approximately 4.8 billion dollars in weapons. John Hudson (Foreign Policy) offers a higher price tag, "The move clears the way for Baghdad to lease six Apache attack helicopters and buy 24 more, and includes training, logistical support and equipment. The total price tag is estimated at more than $6.2 billion." Kitabat observes that many Iraqi MPs have also objected to the proposed deal. Kitabat also notes that Iraq's Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, when he met with US President Barack Obama in DC last week, expressed the need for conditions on the weapons to ensure they were not used against the Iraqi people.
The biggest cost will be in blood should illegitimate leader Nouri al-Maliki manage to hold onto the post of prime minister. While it's true that he is hugely unpopular and, as the 2013 provincial elections demonstrate, so is his State of Law coalition, it's also true that Nouri's never gotten the post of prime minister due to popular support.
In 2006, the US government nixed the Iraqi Parliament's decision to name Ibrahim al-Jaafari to a second term and insisted instead on their puppet Nouri. In the 2010 parliamentary elections, Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya beat Nouri's State of Law meaning that Ayad Allawi should have been named prime minister-designate. But those March election results were not honored by Nouri who refused to step down and his refusal brought the country to an eight month stand still (the political stalemate). He was only able to accomplish that via the support of the US White House. Ned Parker (POLITICO) explained earlier this month:
It was the April 2010 national election and its tortured aftermath that sewed the seeds of today’s crisis in Iraq. Beforehand, U.S. state and military officials had prepared for any scenario, including the possibility that Maliki might refuse to leave office for another Shiite Islamist candidate. No one imagined that the secular Iraqiya list, backed by Sunni Arabs, would win the largest number of seats in parliament. Suddenly the Sunnis’ candidate, secular Shiite Ayad Allawi, was poised to be prime minister. But Maliki refused and dug in.
And it is here where America found its standing wounded. Anxious about midterm elections in November and worried about the status of U.S. forces slated to be drawn down to 50,000 by August, the White House decided to pick winners. According to multiple officials in Baghdad at time, Vice President Joseph Biden and then-Ambassador Chris Hill decided in July 2010 to support Maliki for prime minister, but Maliki had to bring the Sunnis and Allawi onboard. Hill and his staff then made America’s support for Maliki clear in meetings with Iraqi political figures.
The stalemate would drag on for months, and in the end both the United States and its arch-foe Iran proved would take credit for forming the government. But Washington would be damaged in the process. It would be forever linked with endorsing Maliki. One U.S. Embassy official I spoke with just months before the government was formed privately expressed regret at how the Americans had played kingmaker.
The US-brokered Erbil Agreement was a legal contract. To get the heads of the various political blocs to sign the contract, it had to offer them something. In exchange for giving Nouri the second term he didn't earn, the contract called for him to do certain things (name Ayad Allawi to head an independent national security council, implement Article 140 of the Constitution -- census and referendum on Kirkuk, etc.). The White House swore the contract had the full backing and support of the US government. But Nouri used it to get his second term and then refused to honor any of the promises he had made in the contract. Michael Brenner (Huffington Post) observes, "In the end, al-Maliki's reneging on those pledges to the sunnis generated growing disaffection."
With that history, the notion that votes matter is a quaint one in Iraq and the highly unpopular Nouri al-Maliki may be able to steal a third term. In 2013, he called off provincial elections in Anbar and Nineveh. Only US government pressure forced him to allow the two provinces to vote (months later in June).
ic of elections, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi was in DC this week meeting with various officials, doing interviews and speaking. Thursday's snapshot contained his speech at the Brookings Institution and he noted elections in his speech including in this section:
So the political components in Iraq were not able to build the Iraqi political system or to implement the Constitution and to reach a genuine partnership and a genuine reconciliation. They were not able to implement the laws as it should be and get rid of corruption and abuses and they did not respect all the Iraqi components as to represent them in a fair manner in the armed forces. According to the Constitution, they did not provide the provinces with enough funds. Also we did not adopt the law on hydrocarbons oil and gas which is very important to set a balanced relation between the provinces and the center for the production and exportation of oil.
So some parties are implementing the Constitution based on their own perspective and this is hindering the building of the state, the national cohesion and is leading to more division. And more and more people are being disappointed and do not trust the political process at this point as we have seen by the very low turnout in the last general elections [2013 provincial elections] and the ones before [2010 parliamentary elections]. We believe that Iraq is, at this point, at a crossroad. The key to situation is clear and we can find a solution. What we need though is a strong determination and the political will for everyone to agree on the Constitution and to forget the past, to move beyond the fears and to stop punishing the Iraqi people and move to reconciliation and prevent Iraq from sliding into even greater troubles.
Friday, Missy Ryan (Reuters) reported:
Usama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, said in an interview during a visit to Washington that he feared attempts to discourage voting or "provoke the situation" in Sunni areas, or to sideline certain would-be candidates, were designed "to weaken Sunni representation in parliament."
He also warned that poor security could pose problems for the parliamentary polls, scheduled for April 30.
"If the security conditions worsen, the elections could be postponed (or) if they are held, they will take place under inappropriate conditions," he said.
There have been charges that Nouri launched the attack on Anbar in order to improve his low polling. There have been charges that he launched the attack to stop the parliamentary elections planned for April 30th.
Duriad Salman and Ammar al-Ani (Alsumaria) report al-Nujaifi gave two interviews Saturday, the first to Sky News and the second to Alsumaria. Osama al-Nujaifi noted Nouri cannot continue to act unilaterally, that there are checks and balances in the system and he was concerned that Nouri thinks he's "singular" when it comes to decision making and that this could lead Nouri to attempt to postpone the upcoming election citing "poor security." Nouri did just that last year. And he wasn't supposed to. He ruled that Anbar and Nineveh could not vote. Under pressure from the US, specifically Secretary of State John Kerry, Nouri relented and, months later, allowed the two provinces to vote.
He never should have been allowed to postpone them. He doesn't have that power. The Independent High Electoral Commission is the only one that does and, as their name notes, they are supposed to be "independent."
If Nouri tries to keep provinces from voting, it will be worse than last time and it will be worse then cancelling the election all out. It will be corrupt.
In another report, Duriad Salman and Ammar al-Ani report that the 'independent' commission is now saying that one or more provinces could be prevented from voting in the parliamentary elections.
Again, this would make any elections illegitimate.
This is a way to manipulate the vote and it should not be allowed to happen.
During the US Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln didn't stop the federal elections. People voted across the country. That was during the deadly Civil War, 1864. He was the sitting president (having been election in the 1860 elections). The country was ripped in two and violently fighting. Lincoln didn't say, "Stop! We must stop these elections!"
And a cheap thug like Nouri shouldn't be allowed to stop any area from voting either.
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