Friday, May 3, 2013

Wrong on Hagel

Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reports:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a Pentagon press conference Thursday that the US is “rethinking” policy on directly arming the so-called rebels in Syria.
Appearing with British Defense Minister Philip Hammond, Hagel became the first Obama administration official to acknowledge that Washington is considering a qualitative escalation of its proxy war in Syria.
“Arming the rebels; that’s an option,” Hagel said. Asked directly whether the administration was considering such a step, he replied: “Yes.”


I feel so stupid.

All those weeks I spent applauding Chuck Hagel's nomination, insisting he was anti-war, and a realist. 

I wrote column after column about that.  And I attacked those who did not agree with me.

I am so stupid.

Oh, wait.

That was not me.  That was Glenn Greenwald.  That was Justin Raimondo and others at  That was Cult of St. Barack members.


I pointed out that he was a War Hawk.

I pointed out that he was not going to make a good Defense Department Secretary.

If I had been wrong, I would be offering that now.

I notice, however, that Misters Greenwald and Raimondo have yet to offer any form of apology.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Friday, May 3, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the protests continue, Nouri continues to order the use of the 'magic' wands in Baghdad, calls emerge for Nouri to leave office, worshipers at a mosque face a bombing, and more.

Since December 21st, Fridays have meant protests in Iraq -- and harassment of protests by Nouri al-Maliki's forces.  Today, protests took place in many locations including Mosul, Samarra (where Nouri had aircraft providing surveillance), Tikrit (where Nouri's forces -- like Americans in Abu Ghraib prison -- used dogs to 'assist' them, where protesters called for a unified Iraq, and decried attempts by the government to suppress the media), and Jalawla (where Nouri's forces closed roads in an attempt to stop the protests and then closed entrances to the square).  All Iraq News notes that today the protesters elected Mohamed Taha al-Hamdoun to be the spokesperson for protesters in Anbar, Salahudden, Kirkuk, Baghdad, Diyala and Mosul.

National Iraqi News Agency notes that, in Falluja, Sheikh Ahmad al-Abadali spoke of the commitment to peaceful demonstrations and wondered why Nouri continues to use sectarian terms as it attempts to dismiss the protests?  NINA notes that in Falluja's morning prayers, Sheikh Mohamed Taha Hamdon declared that there were four options: replace Nouri, divide Iraq into three regions, "we rule ourselves in our provinces according to the constitution and in accordance with systems of more than 41 percent of the world's countries, stressing that who advocates to implement this option are seeking preserve the unity of Iraq and the fourth option is, confrontation and war, and this option is hated by the people."  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) adds, "In Samarra, Sunni cleric Mohammed Taha warned that the country is descending to civil war because of what he described as a-Maliki’s dictatorship."

Replace Nouri?  In today's New York Times, Nussaibah Younis makes the case for that with "Why Maliki must go" -- which we'll get to in a minute.  In yesterday's snapshot, we noted former US Ambassador Ryan Crocker had a column (Washington Post) which is mistaken beyond means.  I argued:

While the key moments of betrayal did not happen on his watch (it was under the dithering idiot Chris Hill), you cannot act, in 2013, as if talk will bring back the progress of 2010.  We'll address that at length tomorrow.  As with the issue of US forces in Iraq, it's one of those topics we have to keep going back to because so few will ever bother to cover it.  The shortest version is when you make a deal in 2010 and one party (Nouri) fails to honor it, you can't show three years later and say, "Well let's just talk and try to progress."  No, we don't reset the clock.  If there is to be progress in 2013, the first step is honoring the contract that was signed in 2010.

He proposes everyone just talk and:

Last week, the US Congressional Research Service published "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights."  The report was written by Kenneth Katzman.  We're noting the section on the 2010 elections and The Erbil Agreement:

Part of the difficulty forming a government after the election was the close result, and the dramatic implications of gaining or retaining power in Iraq, where politics is often seen as a "winner take all" proposition.  In accordance with timelines established in the Constitution, the newly elected COR [Council of Representatives, Parliament] convened on June 15, 2020, but the session ended after less than a half hour without electing a COR leadership team.  The various factions made little progress through August 2010, as Maliki insisted he remain prime minister for another term and remained in a caretaker role.  The United States stepped up its involvement in political talks, but it was Iraqi politics that led the factions out of an impasse.  On October 1, 2010, Maliki received the backing of most of the 40 COR Sadrist deputies.  The United States reportedly was concerned that Maliki might form a government with Sadrist support.  The Administration ultimately backed a second Maliki term, although continuing to demand that Maliki form a broad-based government inclusive of Sunni leaders.  Illustrating the degree to which the Kurds reclaimed their former role of "kingmakers," Maliki, Allawi, and other Iraqi leaders met in the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government-administered region in Irbil on November 8, 2010, to continue to negotiate on a new government.  (Sadr did not attend the meeting in Irbil, but ISCI/Iraq National Alliance slate leader Ammar Al Hakim did.) 
 On November 10, 2010, with reported direct intervention by President Obama, the "Irbil Agreement" was reached in which (1) Allawi agreed to support Maliki and Talabani to remain in their offices for another term; (2) Iraqiyya would be extensively represented in government -- one of its figures would become COR Speaker, another would be defense minister, and another (presumably Allawi himself) would chair an oversight body called the "National Council for Strategic Policies," and (3) amending the de-Baathification laws that had barred some Iraqis, such as Saleh al-Mutlaq, from holding political positions.  Observers praised the agreement because it included all major factions and was signed with KRG President Masoud Barzani and then U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey in attendance. The agreement did not specify concessions to the Sadr faction.

We've address The Erbil Agreement over and over.  Like US troops still in Iraq, it's one of those topics that results in drive-by readers e-mailing to insist (a) it never happened and (b) the US was in no way involved in it.

The Erbil Agreement ended the 8 month political stalemate that followed the 2010 elections.  It's the legal contract, brokered by the US, that allowed those not supporting Nouri to throw in their support in exchange for legally defined within the contract terms.  The KRG, for example, was supposed to get the census and referendum in Kirkuk (promised in Article 140 of the Constitution but that Nouri refused to move on in his first term).  Another promise was that an independent national security council would be created and Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi would head it. (Iraqiya won the 2010 elections; Nouri's State of Law came in second.  He refused to honor the election results and step down which created the political stalemate that lasted 8 months.)

Let's point out that this move by Nouri was not a surprise.  In the lead-up to the 2010 elections, US Gen Ray Odierno was warning this could happen but the White House elected not to listen to him.  They backed the idiot Chris Hill who was then US Ambassador to Iraq.  Hill didn't even want Odierno speaking to the media and the White House went along with that as well.  Odierno warned what could happen.  The idiot and unqualified Hill (and we noted he was an unqualified and an idiot when we reported on his confirmation hearing -- see the March 25, 2009 snapshot and the March 26th snapshot) and the White House that courted and coddled him are responsible for what went down in 2010.  And you can read more about that and how it took Odierno going to then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates after the 2010 parliamentary election and Gates bringing then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in on their conversation for Odierno to get the audience with the administration that he should have received automatically by reading Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor's The Endgame.

Barack was an idiot to have shut General Ray Odierno, the top-US commander in Iraq, out of the conversation.  To his credit, when approached by Gates and Clinton (and faced with ongoing political stalemate and Chris Hill's inability to answer basic questions about it), Barack did act quickly to replace the idiot.  Which is how you had James Jeffrey quickly nominated to be the new US Ambassador to Iraq with a confirmation hearing taking place July 20, 2010.  That said, in our reporting on Hill's confirmation, we noted he was unqualified, we noted he had no understanding of the issues.  The 15 or so months he was allowed to be ambassador to Iraq were a disaster whose repercussions are still felt today.

Ryan Crocker was the US Ambassador to Iraq immediately before Chris Hill.  He was nominated by Bully Boy Bush and, after Barack was elected in 2008, Crocker offered to stay on until a replacement could be found.

As Betty noted last night, Iraq got coverage (finally) on The NewsHour (PBS -- all links to the program that follow are text, audio and video).  Betty covered the segment on the violence.  The other segment was Ray Suarez moderating a discussion about the state of Iraq featuring Ryan Crocker and former Iraqi Deputy Ambassadot to the UN (2004 to 2007) Feisal Istrabadi.

Istrabadi starts out noting the basic problem ("Nouri al-Maliki himself has been asserting greater and greater control over the instrumentalities of the state, and I -- and has been unable or unwilling to enter or execute the compromises") to which Crocker quickly agrees ("I think Feisal is right, Ray.").  Crocker mentions the slaughter in Hawija (last week, a peaceful sit-in was attacked by Nouri's forces leaving 50 dead and 110 injured) but feels this is a "signal for Iraqis of all sects and ethnicities to take a very deep breath" -- no, that's not how it works in a functioning society.  A despot does not launch a massacre  and the response is, "Let's take a deep breath."  While you're taking that deep breath, you're likely to be stormed the same way the sit-in in Hawija was.

As Betty did on Wednesday, Feisal Istrabadi noted some contents of the US diplomatic tookbox that the US could be using to influence events.  Crocker wants US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to act as mediators.  But for what purpose?

I agree they should be mediating.  But Crocker's column in the Post offers this notion that things can be healed with talking.

No.  The Erbil Agreement was a legally binding contract (that the White House swore had its full support and backing).  Nouri used it to become prime minister and then tossed it aside refusing to honor it.  Since 2011, the Kurds, Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr have been calling for Nouri to implement The Erbil Agreement and he has refused.

You can't trust someone like that.  Forget for the moment that The Erbil Agreement is like every other promise Nouri makes (including the "100 Days To End Corruption" promise to the Iraqi people of February 2011) in that he gets attention and praise for a proposal but never follows up on it.

The Erbil Agreement ended up a political stalemate.  It was a legal contract.  Nouri used just enough of it to get what he wanted (a second term as prime minister) and then trashed it.  And has refused to implement even when called on to do so.

How do you trust someone who refuses to honor a contract?

You can not hit the re-set button and start all over on this.  It doesn't work that way.

It is not as if 2010, the political leaders in Iraq said, "Nouri, grab the post of prime minister -- that you didn't win -- and we'll work out what we want in exchange and get back to you."

Everything was drawn up in the contract.  Everything was stated clearly.  Everything was agreed to.  And Nouri started implementing the contract and kept it moving long enough to get his second term and then refused to follow it and implement the other provisions.

Nouri owns a home and you give him $125,000 for it and he signs it over to you but he refuses to move out of it.  You keep calling, "Hey, Nouri when are you going to vacate the premises?  You know there's a date for that in the contract but you've exceeded it."  You wait for over two years for him to turn over the house you paid for.  He refuses.  You're looking for a new house and find the perfect one.  You love it but turns out Nouri owns this one too.  Are you really going to trust him again?

Only if you're crazy.

There's not a re-set button after he refused to honor the contract.  Not only did he refuse to honor it, but the contract outlined a power-sharing government and Nouri has spent the last months insulting such a government, saying it is not functional and insisting that he will have a majority government.  (Him having a majority government is difficult when he came in second place.)

So there's no reason to trust him.  He doesn't honor a contract, he doesn't support a power-sharing government.

Noting the possibility that Iraq could split up into three independent governing bodies under some loose system of federalism, Jim Muir (BBC News) reminds:

The government led by Nouri Maliki was supposed to be one of national partnership.
Under a power-sharing deal brokered by Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, the man whose Iraqiyya coalition actually came out ahead of Mr Maliki in the polls, Iyyad Allawi (a secular Shia who garnered most of the Sunni vote), was supposed to head a "Higher National Strategy Council" with considerable powers.
None of that happened. Instead of being seen as a partner, Mr Maliki has been accused increasingly of going it alone with autocratic powers stemming from his control of the entire security apparatus, including the defence and interior ministries.
Sunni participation has been increasingly marginalised and opinion alienated by Mr Maliki's failure to address key Sunni demands and complaints, especially relating to the release of detainees, counter-terrorism laws, job opportunities etc.

You'd have to be the stupidest person in the world to say, "Okay, let's all start over."  There is no starting over.  His record is firmly established so that at this point, if you go into an agreement with him, you better know that when he (again) breaks it, no one wants to hear you whine.

Bernard Gwertzman (Council on Foreign Relations) speaks with Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) about what's going on in Iraq.  Excerpt.

[Bernard Gwertzman:] Why can't Maliki make peace with the Sunni political leadership so that things can calm down?
[Ned Parker:] Well, that's the issue: Today, you can make the argument that you have troops now surrounding two cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, which were a hotbed for the insurgency against the Americans and later a base for al-Qaeda. So there is a tense standoff there, and I suppose you can attribute or credit to local leaders; they have worked out an initial understanding with the Iraqi military to try to ease the situation where there are some people inside of Ramadi who killed five Iraqi soldiers last Saturday. But the problem is, whether on the local level or on the national level, there is no real consensus or trust between the sides to bring the situation under control. So politics exist in the vacuum of mistrust, and if harsh decisions are made, very quickly you go from calm into a crisis. And each crisis is worse than the last. So tentative channels can be established for communications, but without bold action, inevitably things will boil over.

After The Erbil Agreement gave Nouri everything he wanted and he refused to honor his side of the contract, it's not at all surprising that there is no trust.

Again, Nussaibah Younis makes the case "Why Maliki must go" and this includes:

But if Mr. Maliki, who took office in 2006, had a successful first term, he has squandered the opportunity to heal the nation in his second term, which began in 2010. He has taken a hard sectarian line on security and political challenges. He has resisted integrating Sunnis into the army. He has accused senior Sunni politicians of being terrorists, hounded them from power and lost the cooperation of the Sunni community. The result: the political bargain that had sustained the fragile Iraqi state broke down.
Today, resurgent terrorist groups have killed hundreds of moderate Sunnis who once fought them, and are offering others a grim chance to save their lives — by “repenting” and joining the extremists.
Meanwhile, Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, remains in exile, having fled and then been given a death sentence in absentia on charges of terrorism. Similar moves to charge Finance Minister Rafe al-Essawi, a moderate Sunni, led to the protests that have now engulfed Iraq’s Sunni heartland and alienated other communities. An army attack on a protest encampment last week brought only wider violence.

The last sentence refers to Hawija.  Tuesday, April 23rd, Nouri al-Maliki's federal forces stormed a sit-in in Hawija, Kirkuk. Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.  Last night, Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reported, "Iraqi security used disproportionate force, including shooting unarmed civilians, during a raid on an encampment of Sunni Arab protesters last week that left 45 people dead, according to two government investigations and foreign diplomats."  Parker quotes an unnamed "foreign official" who states, "It became a vendetta out of all proportions.… This was carnage."  And this is on Nouri.  Parker quotes 'acting minister of defense' stating the people were "terrorists."  There is no acting minister of defense.

The Constitution of Iraq does not recognize "acting" minister. You're a minister or you're not.  How do you head a ministry?  The Prime Minister (or prime minister-designate) nominates you to the Parliament and you win enough votes for confirmation from the Parliament.  Once that happens, you're in unless you want to go because the Prime Minister can't fire you, only the Parliament can and that's by a vote.  (Nouri's repeatedly asked the Parliment to strip Tareq al-Hashemi of the title of Vice President.  The Parliament's refused to do so.)

Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."  Again, let's pull from Kenneth Katzman's latest report to the US Congress, "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights" (Congressional Research Service) on what happened after The Erbil Agreement, "As for the State of Law list, Maliki remained prime minister, and retained for himself the Defense, Interior, and National Security (minister of state) posts pending permanent nominees for those positions."  To be clear, Parliament has not rejected any nominee.  Nouri has never nominated people for these posts in his second term.    Struan Stevenson heads the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq and notes in a column for UPI today: "In a subsequent agreement signed in the presence of the U.S. ambassador to Iraq (The Erbil Agreement), Maliki agreed to appoint representatives from Allawi's faction into key government posts as ministers of defense, interior and security. In fact he has never done so and his office maintains full authority over the army, police and intelligence services, giving him virtual dictatorial powers." 

Yes, it all comes back to that.  The Erbil Agreement was not a minor document.  There is no 'acting' minister of defense.  Why would Nouri have 'acting'?  Because he has no respect for the Constitution or for legal contracts.  But also because it's a power-grab (as Iraqiya rightly labeled it back in January of 2011).

Nouri puts you in as "acting" Minister of Defense.  You do what he tells you.  If you fail to or if you disagree or if decides you're not loyal, he kicks you out.  And there's nothing you can do because you don't have a position that's defined in the Constitution.  By contrast, if he nominates you to be the Minister of Defense and the Parliament votes you into office, you then control your ministry unless Parliament votes to remove you.

So the flunky who pretends to be in charge of the Minister of Defense does what Nouri tells him too.  Which means Nouri is responsible for the slaughter in Hawija.

Equally true, the 'acting' moron who declared the people taking part in the sit-in to be all 'terrorists'?  He was using the same terminology that Nouri had used the week prior.

From the April 18th snapshot:

  Kitabat reports that tribal leaders in Dhi Qar have signed a letter apologizing to activists.  For what?  For Nouri's "abusive verbal attack" on them.  Nouri gave a little speech where he called the peaceful activists lawless rebels and threatened to use force against them.  Peaceful protests have been going on across Iraq, peaceful protests against Nouri, since December.
They aren't the only ones condemning Nouri for those remarks.  NINA notes that Osama al-Nujaifi's party has condemned the remarks and called for Nouri to stop verbally attacking demonstrators and return to Baghdad to oversea security issues.  Osama al-Nujaifi is part of the Iraqiya political slate but this was his Motahedoon Coalition issuing the condemnation.  Iraqiya also condemned the remarks.  Maysoun al-Damlouji, Iraqiya spokesperson, is quoted by NINA stating, "Describing our honorable people who peacefully demonstrate across Iraq demanding their legitimate rights as conspirators is the ugliest words you can use against the oppressed people." Iraqiya MP Ahmed al-Alwani added that Nouri's attacks on demonstrators "incite sectarian strife."

Even Nouri's new bride Saleh al-Mutlaq is calling out the remarks leading Kitabat to wonder if the honeymoon is over for Nouri and Saleh or if this is just more propaganda from Saleh in an attempt to boost the votes for the National Dialogue Front?

The slaughter is on Nouri.  Dr. Bashir Musa Nafi explains at Middle East Monitor:

 Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have gathered in the squares of six Iraqi cities since the last week of December. During 120 days of public protest against sectarian discrimination and persecution carried out by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's regime, the demonstrators, along with their supporting scholars, dignitaries and tribal leaders, were keen on keeping the protests peaceful. Despite the hardships faced by the protesters, with the regime ignoring their demands, not one government institution has been attacked and no officials have been harmed. However, the Prime Minister, known for his fascist ideas and obsession with domination, power and direct control over the security agencies, especially the army, had different ideas.
From the very beginning, Al-Maliki mocked the Popular Movement and the crowd in the streets of Fallujah, Ramadi, Samarra, Mosul and other cities. He described the protesters as sectarian, Ba'athists and terrorists, and threatened them. In Fallujah, Al-Maliki instructed his forces to tackle the protestors, causing a number of deaths and injuries.
However, the clarity of purpose and awareness of what the Prime Minister had sought to do drove the people of Fallujah to lick their wounds and underline the peacefulness of the c. Even so, the harassment of demonstrators by security forces and the army did not stop; in Samarra, the prime minister's forces used violence and weapons against protesters.
However, what was witnessed in the “freedom” square in the city of Hawija in the early hours of Tuesday, April 23 was something different. Without warning, while most of the people of the city and the protesters were still asleep, the army and security forces associated with the prime minister's office stormed the square with armoured vehicles, heavy machine guns and helicopters. Within moments, the protest camp was a war zone. More than hundred protesters were wounded and dozens were killed of people; some, claimed eyewitnesses, were executed in the field. In the days after the sneak attack by Al-Maliki's forces tensions remained high.

Nouri's got a lot of blood on his hands.   Ammar Karim (AFP) reported this morning that the 'magic'  wands to 'detect' bombs (and drugs and, no doubt, spirits from the other world) are still being used in Iraq.  He speaks with a police officer in Baghdad who admits that everyone knows that they don't work but that the police are under orders to use the wands.

At the start of November 2009, Rod Nordland (New York Times) reported on these 'bomb detectors' in use in Iraq: "The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works 'on the same principle as a Ouija board' -- the power of suggestion -- said a retired United States Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, who described the wand as nothing more than an explosive divining rod."  That's when the wands should have ceased being used in Iraq.  But that didn't happen.  Dropping back to January 25, 2010:

Riyad Mohammed and Rod Norldand (New York Times) reported on Saturday that the reaction in Iraq was outrage from officials and they quote MP Ammar Tuma stating, "This company not only caused grave and massive losses of funds, but it has caused grave and massive losses of the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians, by the hundreds and thousands, from attacks that we thought we were immune to because we have this device."  Despite the turn of events, the machines continue to be used in Iraq but 'now' an investigation into them will take place orded by Nouri. As opposed to months ago when they were first called into question. Muhanad Mohammed (Reuters) adds that members of Parliament were calling for an end to use of the machines on Saturday.  Martin Chulov (Guardian) notes the US military has long -- and publicly -- decried the use of the machines,  "The US military has been scathing, claiming the wands contained only a chip to detect theft from stores. The claim was based on a study released in June by US military scientists, using x-ray and laboratory analysis, which was passed on to Iraqi officials."

And still the wands were used.  April 23rd (see the  April 24, 2013 snapshot), the man who made and sold the wands, who was on trial for those wands, was pronounced guilty on three counts of fraud.  And still Nouri has allowed -- no, insisted that the wands be used.

Yesterday, McCormick was sentenced to a maxium of 10 years.  Jake Ryan (Sun) quoted Judge Richard Hone stating, "The device was useless, the profit outrageous and your culpability as a fraudster has to be placed in the highest category.  Your profits were obscene.  You have neither insight, shame or any sense of remorse."

Guess who else has neither insight, shame or any sense of remorse?

Nouri al-Maliki.

Robert Booth (Guardian) noted yesterday that Saad al-Muttalibi ("adviser to Nouri al-Maliki) is insisting Nouri's considering suing on behalf of the victims.  We noted, "Actually, the families of the victims should be suing Nouri for allowing those things to be used for the last years, even after the wands were globally revealed to be a joke."

After the wands have been ruled a fraud and the maker and seller of them has been sentenced, Nouri's still making police officers use these devices that do nothing?

This is grounds for removal from office.  This is incompetence at the highest level.

It also means the Iraqi government just lost the ability to sue for James McCormick or his company for any damages.  By using them today, this is no longer, "We were defrauded!  We didn't know!"  Now you're into the "buyer beware" category.  (The Parliament might have standing and groups representing Iraqis who lost loved ones should have standing but Nouri, the Council of Ministers -- which he heads -- and the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry Defense -- ibid -- should have just lost standing to sue.)

So, to be clear, not only has he wasted a fortune on 'magic' wands but he's made Iraq unsafer.  If you're the police or whatever force and you're using the 'magic' wand to detect a bomb and it comes back 'negative,' I believe you then move on to the next car.  You've done your 'test.'  You've stood beside or behind the car and jogged in place (how, supposedly, the 'magic' wand is activated) and nothing happened so you waive the car on.

Without the 'magic' wands, that time would be spent searching a car.  A search might or might not discover a bomb but it would have a better chance of finding one.  (As would bomb sniffing dogs.)  Back in October, Al Mada noted that Parliament's Security and Defense Commission was budgeting for explosive detectors and bomb sniffing dogs.  It's a shame Nouri couldn't have led on the issue.

But he never leads.

I'm sorry, that's just not true.  Nouri has led.  Take this example from the December 31, 2012 snapshot:

Iraq is still among the most corrupt countries as ranked by Transparency International. 176 countries were ranked this year on transparency and Iraq came in as the 169th most transparent country.  Only seven countries were ranked as less transparent.  Nouri's long been accused of skimming off Iraq's funds and his family lives high on the hog.  He also employs his son who is said to be as much of a terror as Uday Hussein was said to be.  Nouri's son is part of current corruption scandal.
October 9th, with much fanfare, Nouri signed a $4.2 billion dollar weapons deal with Russia.  He strutted and preened and was so proud of himself.  Yet shortly after taking his bows on the world stage and with Parliament and others raising objections, Nouri quickly announced the deal was off.  The scandal, however, refuses to go away. The Iraq Times stated Nouri was offering up his former spokesperson  Ali al-Dabbagh and others to protect the truly corrupt -- the truly corrupt -- according to members of Parliament -- including Nouri's son who got a nice little slice off the deal.  These charges came from Shi'ite MPs as well as Sunnis and Kurds.  Even the Shi'ite National Alliance has spoken out.  All Iraq News noted National Alliance member and one-time MP Wael Abdul Latif is calling for Nouri to quickly bring charges against those involved in the corruption.  (The arms deal is now treated by the Iraqi press as corrupt and not allegedly corrupt, FYI.)   Latif remains a major player in the National Alliance and the National Alliance has backed Nouri during his second term.  With his current hold on power reportedly tenous and having already lost the support of Moqtada al-Sadr, Nouri really can't afford to tick off the National Alliance as well.  Kitabat reported MP Maha al-Douri, of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc in Parliament, is saying Nouri's on a list of officials bribed by Russia for the deal. 

So, see there, he's led Iraq to topping the corruption index.  And, as we noted yesterday, Iraq just topped Committee to Protect Journalists' 2013 Impunity Index -- kill any journalist in Nouri's Iraq and never fear that you might be arrested.

He's also 'led' on increasing violence in Iraq.  Yesterday, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported the United Nations have released their figures for the month of April: 712 people killed in violence and 1,633 left injured.  Basing it on their own figures, the UN declares last month to have been the most deadly in Iraq in five years.  Vivienne Nunis (Voice of Russia) notes the UN figures and speaks with AFP's Mohamad Ali Harissi who states:

To be honest, you have to be lucky to stay alive here.  People, the Iraqis, they open their door and just before they go out to work they pray so they come back safe because you can be in the street and suddenly there will be a car bomb next to you and you will be killed.

People here they live by chance you know. The one who stays alive is lucky.  It's really a mess and it's really sad because people die every day.  And for what, for nothing you know?

France 24 has posted images and video of some of the recent violence.

Prensa Latina sees Iraq today "plunged into violence."  Alsumaria notes a Baghdad grenade attack on an alcoholic store in which 3 people died and two more were left injured and a bombing inside a northern Baghdad mosque has claimed 3 lives and left twenty-eight injuredAll Iraq News reports it was near the mosque and that the death toll has risen to five and there are thirty injured.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) offers that the bombing was outside and "The blast took place as worshippers were leaving the mosque in the al-Rashidiya neighborhood following Friday prayers, police said."  Deutsche Welle identifies the mosque as al-Ghofran mosque.   Xinhua adds, "Meanwhile, a total of nine policemen were killed and six others wounded in clashes between armed men and police in Mosul, some 400 km northwest of Baghdad, a local police source told Xinhua."

We're wrapping up.  But Elaine pointed out Wednesday night that Policy Mic, writing about the protests in Iraq, was unable (like so many others) to note that one thing fueling them has been the rape and torture of females in Iraqi prisons.  This has happened with so many outlets.  So it's worth noting that Struan Stevenson was able to note it in his column for UPI: "Arbitrary arrests, constant executions and torture of prisoners -- particularly the torture and rape of female detainees, have increased to such an extent that Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and even the European Parliament have formally objected."  We'll close with this from ETAN:

Groups Call on U.S. to Condemn Indonesian Attacks on Peaceful Demonstrations in West PapuaContact: Ed McWilliams, West Papua Advocacy Team, +1-575-648-2078,
John M. Miller, National Coordinator, ETAN, +1-917-690-4391,

May 3, 2013 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) strongly urge the U.S. government to condemn the unwarranted assault by Indonesian government security forces on peaceful May 1 demonstrations in West Papua. They called for U.S. security assistance to be curtailed, absent an end to such egregious human rights violations and credible prosecution and sentencing of the perpetrators of these crimes among Indonesia's military, police, and "anti-terror" forces.
  Widespread nonviolent Papuan protests commemorating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations 1963 handover of West Papua to Indonesian control were met with security force brutality. At least two West Papuans were killed; many more were wounded and/or detained.

On May 2, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay “expressed serious concerns over the crackdown on mass demonstrations across Papua." Her statement said "These latest incidents are unfortunate examples of the ongoing suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force in Papua. I urge the Government of Indonesia to allow peaceful protest and hold accountable those involved in abuses.

ETAN and WPAT, noting the close relations and expanding security relationship between Washington and Jakarta, call on President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to press the Indonesian government to end its suppression of freedom of expression in West Papua and to hold those responsible for violence against civilian demonstrators accountable before civilian courts.

The U.S. should also urge Indonesia to allow visits by UN Human Rights Special Rapporteurs, as the Indonesian Government agreed to do in late 2012, and more generally end restrictions on travel there by international observers. The planned visit by Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, remains stalled over Indonesian government restrictions that would prevent him from visiting political prisoners in West Papua and elsewhere.

ETAN and WPAT also urge the appropriate committees and subcommittees of the U.S. Congress to hold hearings examining the impact of expanding security ties between the U.S. and Indonesia and possible violations of the Leahy law. This is especially urgent given the continuing and even worsening violations of human rights by the Indonesian military and other security forces targeting Papuans seeking to exercise rights guaranteed them by international treaties and covenants. Legislation to curtail or fully suspend this assistance should be on the agenda for such hearings.

The latest attacks are the latest human rights violations that have continued unabated since Indonesia took control of the territory 50 years. These crimes are part of a larger pattern of repression and impunity perpetrated by troops and police armed and trained by the U.S.

This statement is also supported by the West Papua Action Network.

ETAN was formed in 1991. The U.S.-based organization advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste, West Papua and Indonesia. ETAN on the web: Twitter: etan009. The West Papua Advocacy Team is a U.S.-based NGO composed of academics, human rights defenders and a retired U.S. diplomat. Both organizations co-publish the monthly West Papua Report.


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John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
Phone: +1-718-596-7668   Mobile phone: +1-917-690-4391 
Email: Skype: john.m.miller Twitter: @etan009






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martin chulov