FADED CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O IS NOT JUST GETTING KNOCKED AROUND ON THE WORLD STAGE BY RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN.
"MONSTER MICHELLE," IT APPEARS, DELIVERS HER OWN KNOCK OUT BLOWS, FIRING EMPLOYEES, REDUCING THEM TO TEARS, AND LEAVING A TREMBLING BARRY O COWERING.
REACHED FOR COMMENT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPEAKER AND FOREVER FATTY ROBERT GIBBS TOLD THESE REPORTERS, "HE'S OUT MATCHED. LOOK, IT WAS A LAVENDER MARRIAGE AND THEN THEY GOT TO THE WHITE HOUSE AND SUDDENLY SHE GOES ALL PHYLLIS GATES ON HIM WITH DEMAND AFTER DEMAND. WHAT'S HE TO DO? IF HE TELLS HER NO, SHE OUTS HIS ASS AND THEN THERE'S NO VERMONT FOR HIM REGGIE LOVE."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Duraid Salman and Tarek Ammar (Alsumaria) report that the Independent High Electoral Commission notes that 85% of the new electronic cards that will be required for voting have been distributed. 85% and the elections are nine days away? That doesn't impress. And that's before we factor in Duraid Salman's report for Alsumaria about allegations that Nouri's SWAT forces are forcing voters in Diyala Province to hand over their election cards. Meanwhile, the PUK stands accused of misleading voters. Kirkuk Now reports, "The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the head of their list gave false information to the voters. The other parties reacted by claiming that the PUK is only trying to collect votes even under false pretenses."
PUK? That's a political party. If it were last August, we'd be saying it's one of the two main political parties in the Kurdistan Region -- the way, in the US, you have the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. September 30th, that all changed with provincial elections:
In other news, the KRG held provincial elections Saturday, September 21st. Iraq has 18 provinces. Three of them are in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government. As of last week 17 of the provinces had voted. Only disputed Kirkuk was prevented from voting. The exit polling for last week's elections predicted an upset for second place. Early counts indicate that is correct. Kamal Chomani (Foreign Policy) notes:
On September 21, Iraqi Kurdistan held [provincial] elections, which for the first time in 22 years, have fundamentally altered the region's political landscape. Almost 3 million voters participated in the elections, with a total of 1,129 candidates competing for 111 parliamentary seats. While official results have been delayed by allegations of fraud, what the elections have made abundantly clear is the sweeping dissatisfaction with the Kurdistan Regional Government.
From its emergence in 1991, the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq has been ruled by an alliance of two parties: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by Iraq's ailing President Jalal Talabani. This duopoly was broken on September 21, when Talabani's party appeared to hemmorage votes to the Gorran (Change) Movement, which split from the PUK in 2009. Preliminary results announced by the Independent High Electoral Commission on Sunday in which the KDP got 71,9004 votes, Gorran 44,6095 votes, PUK 33,2386 votes, Islamic Union 17,8681 votes, and Islamic Group 11,3260 votes. Eleven seats are reserved for minorities and religious sects. Gorran's jump to the second-biggest party in the parliament marks a new era in Kurdish politics.
Isabel Coles and Sonya Hepinstall (Reuters) observed Saturday, "With 95 percent of the votes from the September 21 election counted, the KDP had 719,004 votes, Gorran had 446,095 and the PUK was in third place with 323,827. Two Islamic parties placed fourth and fifth, with nearly 300,000 votes between them, followed by more than a dozen smaller groups."
That was apparently shocking. Use the September 30th link and go through the snapshot for some of the shocked reaction.
Not everyone was shocked to see the PUK go down in flames. The day before the elections, in the September 20th snapshot, we noted:
If the PUK does less well than in 2009, there will be complaining. If the PUK does really bad, there will be outrage. The one who will face the most criticism may be First Lady of Iraq Hero Ibrahim Ahmed who has been reluctant to heed the advice of PUK leaders and assume the presidency in her husband's absence. Could she? Yes. In the plan they outlined, Hero would not be "President Hero," she would be carrying out the will of her husband while he remains in Germany. She would be voting by proxy. She has refused that (just as she refused to take over the position outright) arguing that to do so would leave the impression that Jalal was unable to do his job.
She's correct people would assume that. But Jalal has now been out of the country for nine months. Iraq's been without a president for nine months. Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's recent revelation that he was refused when he attempted to visit Jalal in the hospital last April does not bode well for Jalal's health or his stature. And it really makes the point for the posters in Arabic social media who compared the May 18th photos of 'healthy' Jalal to Weekend At Bernies. (In Weekend At Bernies, two men use Bernie's corpse to pretend Bernie's still alive.)
If Hero has the most to lose in tomorrow's vote, the one with the most to gain from the PUK suffering a big loss is Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari who has wanted to grab the Iraqi presidency for some time and attempted a move right after Jalal's stroke but was rebuffed by those in party leadership loyal to Jalal and Hero.
Credit to Prashant Rao for covering the fact that Jalal's absence may negatively impact the PUK vote tomorrow but is no one going to run through what that means? Probably not. It appears AFP is the only western media outlet that's going to report on the KRG elections from inside the Kurdistan Region.
And as we expected, it was Hero who paid the price. She was the one who was criticized, she was the one who was forced to resign.
They should have ousted her husband. But he'd avoided them the entire year. Why?
December 2012, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke. The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot). Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital. Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany. He remains in Germany currently.
He was the head of the PUK (he still is) and they had provincial elections and needed to meet with him for strategy but they were prevented from visiting him, they were refused. His family ordered his image be used in campaign material. That apparently didn't go over well with voters.
Having suffered that humiliating defeat just months ago, being sidelined by Goran, how will they do in parliamentary elections?
Last week were the rumors of mass defections from the PUK.
They were true, the rumors. Ghassan Hamid and Mohammed Shafiq (Alsumaria) report that the Governor of Kirkuk (he's been very busy today) acknowledged there have been defections but lower-level ones, no one in leadership, the governor states, has withdrawn. And, he offers, Jalal remains the leader of the party.
So don't expect PUK to get the most votes of the Kurdish parties running in the parliamentary elections nine days from now.
Tarek Ammar (Alsumaria) reports that Kirkuk Governor Najmiddin Karim notes that he is in contact with Jalal's medical team and Jalal is recovering and will be home soon. Soon? They've been making this claim since December 2012. However, if they could Jalal into the country on April 29th, it might give them a little bump at the polls. (If Jalal could actually speak -- many don't believe he can due to the stroke -- and could do so on camera, they might get a sizable bump.)
What is known is that Alsumaria reports Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi met today with the US Ambassador to Iraq Robert Beecroft and the two discussed the need for transparency in the upcoming elections and the need for international observers."
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