Sunday, February 09, 2014






Let's stay with Connolly and note this exchange.

US House Rep Gerry Connolly:  Elections in April?  Still on schedule?

Brett McGurk:  Uh, we, our team at the Embassy, is talking every day to the United Nations Assistance Mission-Mission in Iraq and the Iraqi High Electoral Commision which are planning the elections and the information I have received most recently is that we have tens of thousands of displaced families from Anbar Province.  We have been assured by those planning the elections that displaced people will still be able to vote and their vote will count as if they were in their home province.  So we are still confident the elections will be held on April 30th.  And our consistent position, our firm position, is that those elections have to be held on April 30th.  There should not be a delay.

Some fear a delay.  I'm fearful that Nouri's going to again prevent Anbar and Nineveh from voting -- as he did in the 2013 provincial elections.  Yes, after international pressure, they were allowed to vote in June.  The other provinces -- except for the KRG which votes on its own schedule in provincial elections and Kirkuk which Nouri prevented from voting -- voted in April.

Yesterday, we noted this from last month's "Will Nouri call off elections in provinces he's unpopular in?" (January 25th):

Duriad Salman and Ammar al-Ani (Alsumaria) report al-Nujaifi gave two interviews today, 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.
He penalized the two provinces he was most disliked in last year.  Those were provincial elections, citizens were voting on who to represent them in their provincial governments (think state governments if you're in the US and confused).  These parliamentary elections are like federal elections.  And if Utah wasn't allowed to vote to send people to the House and Senate, it wouldn't be a real election in the US.
In a later 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.

The idea is being floated.  Twice, Brett McGurk was asked about elections.  We noted one in yesterday's snapshot and another today.  Never once did McGurk inform Congress that this idea was being floated -- let alone that the IHEC declared that it could possibly happen.

There will not be free or fair elections unless everyone votes on the same day.

Today, All Iraq News reports that Iraqiya MP Salim Dali declared the attack on Anbar Province was Nouri's attempt to delay the parliamentary elections.  He tells All Iraq News:

The government is trying to disturb the situation such as the situation in Anbar starting from arresting MP, Ahmed al-Alwani, which will negatively affect holding the elections.

More than 200 thousand refugees have left Fallujah city which raises the question about the way of holding the elections in this city and the other cities of Anbar. 
Witnessing the same situation of the former elections where they were postponed in Nineveh and Anbar provinces.

Iraqiya, for those who don't know or forgot, defeated Nouri's State of Law in the 2010 elections which should have resulted in Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi being the prime minister.  But Nouri refused to step down after losing -- for eight months he refused to step down bringing the government to a halt (this is known as the "political stalemate" and set a record at the time for the longest period in any country between elections and the forming of a government) and he had Barack's backing so he got away with it.  Barack ordered US officials to negotiate a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement) that went around the Constitution and the Iraqi voters (and any notion of democracy) which decreed a second term for Nouri.

In this year's planned elections, it is the post of prime minister, Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports, that is the supreme prize:

The ultimate goal for almost all parties competing in the elections, due to be held at the end of April, is clear though:  the Prime Minister’s chair. After eight years of leadership from current prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki it is clear to most ordinary Iraqis, and therefore also to their politicians, that this is the most powerful position in the country. Over the past decade the executive branch of Iraq’s government has shown that it seems to have more power over what goes on in the country than Iraq’s parliament.

And how will the next Iraqi Prime Minister be chosen? Doubtless the person will be chosen by the members of political alliances that form after the upcoming federal elections. Right now the shape of those alliances are far from clear cut. Additionally the fact that Iraq’s current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is so deeply unpopular and that his mostly Shiite Muslim political alliance has been crumbling, alongside the differences in opinion among Iraq’s Sunni Muslim politicians, means that voters will definitely see some new alliances formed.

Analysts inside and outside the country are already coming up with a number of scenarios they believe may occur.

If Brett McGurk were honest, not only would he have informed the Congress on Wednesday about the IHEC stating it would be acceptable to deny a province the right to vote in the parliamentary elections, he would have also noted that in the two previous parliamentary elections, the desires and wishes of the Iraqis were ignored as the White House imposed Nouri as prime minister in 2006 and again in 2010.

Brett's not an honest man.  As his ex-wife can probably attest, he struggles with the truth.  But turns out, he's got a sense of humor.  Warped, yes, but a sense of humor.  We'll note this long exchange but, believe me, the set up pays off, you will howl.

US House Rep Juan Vargas: I personally am very concerned about the Christian community.  The Christian community has been slaughtered.  I mean the Christians that we saw killed on Christmas. You know, very unified attacks on Christians, 37 murdered.  The Chaldean community  before the war was about a million Chaldean Christians.  Now I think there's less than half, maybe a third of that,.  We're very thankful in San Diego that many Chaldeans have been able to come to San Diego and a great community is forming there and continues to form. I'd like to hear from you what we can do and what we should do and what we're not doing to help not only the Christian community, but especially the Christian community, but other communities as well.  I mean, what-what else should we be doing?

Brett McGurk: Uh, Congressman, thank you.  I-I've visted the Chaldean community in Michigan.  I would welcome the opportunity to come to your district to visit the community there.  Uhm --

US House Rep Juan Vargas: You're invited then.

Brett McGurk: Uh, extremist groups, as I've mentioned, are threatening Christians, Muslims, everybody in the region.  It is a phenomenon throughout the region, this is a regional problem. And one thing we're trying to do is work with the Christian leaders in Iraq is make sure that they have the resources they need from the central government and also the Kurdish Regional Government and making sure that there areas are as secure as possible.  In Iraq, the Chaldeans and other Christian minority groups are located in the Ninewah Plains.  Uhm, there is an al Qaeda extremist presence south of there.  We are working to try to make sure that local people, Christians in that community, have the resources they need to protect themselves and to police their own communities.  And we've made some progress there in that area over the last six months.  In the north, in Erbil and the Kurdish Region, uhm, when I was in Iraq a few months ago, I spoke to, as I mentioned earlier, with Archbishop [Bashar] Warda of the community there and linked him up with the Prime Minister so that they could talk about schools for the community and making sure that they're getting the resources that they need from the Kurdish Regional Government.  What we can do is a neutral group in Iraq with relationships between everybody because we've been there for ten years and are seen as a neutral player, one of the very few, is try to make sure that the connections are made between the governments provincial, regional and national. so that the Christian and minority communities have the resources they need to protect themselves but also for schools and for children and for everything else.

US House Juan Vargas:  Now I do have to say that I've heard from many that the central government, they claim that the central government is not doing much of anything at all to help the Christians.  In fact, just the opposite, that they leave them exposed, that their churches are exposed, that the schools are exposed.  I mean could you comment on that?  That they haven't been doing enough, not nearly enough, to protect the Christian community and especially the churches?

Brett McGurk:  Uhm, since a series of church bombings if I recall correctly in 2009 or 2010, uh, the Iraqis have really buttressed the Christian sites in Iraq.  Uhm, but as you mentioned, there are still attacks --

US House Rep Juan Vargas:  The Christian attacks, I believe, killed 37 --

Brett McGurk:  That's right

US House Rep Juan Vargas:  Christians.

Brett McGurk:  I have found the prime minister, when you discuss this issue with him, fairly emotional about wanting to protect Christians just like everyone else in his country.

Just like everyone else in his country?

Oh, that Funny Man Brett McGurk.

The killers of journalists go unpunished.  I will assume Congress is noting their own disdain for the press by refusing to cover that reality in any of the last five Congressional hearings on Iraq.

Yesterday, Human Rights Watch issued their 105-page report (PDF format warning) "‘No One Is Safe’: Abuses of Women in Iraq’s Criminal Justice System,"  Does Brett want tell us how much Nouri cares about women in Iraq?

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Nouri bombs own soldiers"
"Activism or just masturbating to old hate fantasie..."
"An olympic struggle between oligarchs of West and ..."
"Fannie Lou Hamer remains a symbol 50 years after F..."
"ACLU and Planned Parenthood Argue in Court Against..."
"Barack the power bottom"
"The racism of Nicholas Kirstof and his Band of White Women"
"some talk about abc's revenge"
"My favorite nachos in the Kitchen"
"The Kennedy Brothers"
"Sorcery and the Farrow mob"
"Iraq and Woody Allen"
"The Olympics and Woody responds to crazy Mia"
"Trashy Victoria Nuland"
"Gutting food stamps"