Friday, December 27, 2019. Iraq's president offers to resign, COMMON
DREAMS doesn't know the law and should really stop doing damage, the
myth of Joe Biden Winner cannot be kept afloat as Iowa approaches, and
In Iraq, the protests continue. Why? For a better way of life, a government that represents you, not one that rips you off. Dirk Adriaensens explains at GLOBAL RESEARCH
Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the Arab world,
according to Transparency International reports. The country occupies
the 168th of the 180 countries in the corruption index. Deep-rooted
corruption in Iraq is one of the factors that has been hampering
reconstruction efforts for more than a decade. Former Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki has “lost” $ 500 billion during his term of office
(2006-2014), according to the Iraqi Integrity Committee (CPI). “Nearly
half of the government’s revenues during the eight-year period were
“stolen” or “disappeared”, said Adil Nouri, spokesperson for the CPl in
October 2015. He called this “the biggest political corruption scandal
in the history”. Iraq’s oil revenues amounted to 800 billion dollars
between 2006 and 2014, and the Maliki government also received support
of 250 billion dollars from various countries, including the US, during
The World Bank ranks Iraq as one of the worst-governed states in the
world, and the Iraqi government remains one of the most corrupt regimes
in the world. The Iraqi government has so far made little effort to
restoring the destroyed cities of its largely Sunni population after the
fight against ISIS. It has done little to establish any form of ethnic
or sectarian conciliation, and far too much of the ‘oil wealth’ is
consumed by its politicians, officials and a government sector that is
one of the best paid and least productive in developing countries.
Corruption, waste of government resources and the purchase of
military equipment have increased Iraq’s budget deficit from $ 16.7
billion in 2013, $ 20 billion in 2016 to $ 23 billion for fiscal year
2019. MiddleEastMonitor quoted the head of the parliamentary finance
committee Haitham Al-Jubouri on 18 December: “Iraq’s foreign debt
amounted to more than $50 billion. More than $20 billion was paid back
over the last period”. According to the official, Iraq still owes $27
billion to foreign countries, in addition to $41 billion to Saudi Arabia
given as a grant to the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Iraqi
lawmaker Majida Al-Tamimi confirmed that Iraq borrowed $1.2 billion in
2005 and $1.4 billion in 2006 from the World Bank and external parties
to support investment and bridge the budget deficit. Also the IMF came
to the rescue with billion dollar loans that make the country even more
dependent on the US and other foreign creditors. It’s not surprising
that 78% of the Iraqi people consider the Iraqi economy as “bad” or
“very bad”, according to IIACSS polling firm.
The constitution allows Iraqis to have two nationalities, but
stipulates that the person appointed to a higher or security position
must renounce the other nationality (Article 18, 4). However, no Iraqi
official has complied with this Regulation.
Many senior Iraqi officials have dual nationality, including Prime
Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (France), former Prime Minister Haider
al-Abadi and former Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (UK) and
Parliament President Saleem al-Jibouri (Qatar). Of the 66 Iraqi
ambassadors, 32 have dual nationality, as well as an estimated 70 to 100
Then there are the ministers in the current Iraqi government with a
Western background: Mohamed Ali Al hakim – Minister of Foreign Affairs
(UK and US), Fuad Hussein – Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime
Minister (the Netherlands and France), Thamir Ghadhban – Minister of Oil
and Deputy Prime Minister (UK).
Many officials accused of corruption by the Iraqi authorities have
fled the country to escape persecution thanks to their foreign passport,
including former ministers Abdul Falah al-Sudani (trade), Hazim Shaalan
(national defense) and Ayham al-Samarrai (electricity).
Najah al-Shammari serves as the current defense minister from 2019
onwards in the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi. He is a Swedish citizen
who is part of the Mahdi cabinet. The minister is under investigation
for benefit fraud for claiming housing and child benefits from Sweden,
according to the online news site Nyheter Idag and the Swedish newspaper
Expressen. He is charged with “crimes against humanity” in Sweden.
President Barham Salih is a British citizen. A complaint was made
against him by “Defending Christian Arabs”, who asked the Advocate
General in Scotland to open an investigation against him for “crimes
against humanity by giving permission or being complicit in the
widespread attack on civilian demonstrations in Iraq that resulted in
mass killings, injuries, illegal arrests and kidnapping of people. ”
Civil servants are known to demand bribes up to tens of thousands of
dollars to give government contracts or even only to put a signature on a
public document; also to arrange a lucrative function for a friend or
family member. “Political parties are refusing to leave the cabinet
because they will no longer be able to grab hold of the treasury”, a
senior member of the ruling coalition told AFP.
Many appointments in the Cabinet, Directors General in Ministries and
embassy staff are family members of Moqtada Sadr and Hadi Al-Ameri, the
head of the Badr organization, the military wing of the Supreme Islamic
Iraqi Council, the two largest parties in the Iraqi Parliament.
Amid the expected rescheduling of the cabinet, positions are already
‘bought’, according to a senior Iraqi official. “A political party is
assigned a certain ministry and then sells that ministerial position to
the highest bidder”. He described a transaction worth $ 20 million. It
is a well-known script: the candidate pays the party for the position
and then tries to appropriate as much public money as possible, with
which the debt can be paid off. The system is so deeply rooted,
observers say, that there is little that Abdel Mahdi can do to stop it.
Dirk's "Iraq: The October Revolution of 2019 and the Iran-US Conflict
" is the best long-form report on Iraq. In fact, it's the best report on journalism regardless.
Last night on THE NEWSHOUR (PBS), the protests were addressed
A lot of faces in that story just now.
obviously, this is the third time in a month that Iraq has been unable
to name a prime minister. Why is this so difficult and how far out of
the norm is this?
Indeed, there are so many candidates, and all of them come from the same pool that is rejected by the protesters.
protesters are not protesting against a government or a party or a
bloc. They are protesting against the entire political elite that has
been in charge of Iraq since 2003 until now.
The problems that
have been accumulating in Iraq are the accumulation of 15, 16 years of
failures. And people are fed up with everyone who was involved. So they
are asking for faces that have not been involved in any stage of the
past 15 years, and people whose hands have been — have not been polluted
by Iraqi money or blood or dignity of the Iraqi people.
And that's why it is very hard to convince the parties to bring an outsider.
And that leads to another question too.
The protesters, much like Iraq's population itself, are generally young.
You know, 60 percent, I think, of Iraq is 24 years old or younger.
clearly, as you say, don't — know what they do not want. But do these
protesters know what they do want? Is there anything that will be
acceptable to them?
That is the problem.
So far, they have been only
practicing their veto power. The parties are presenting names or the
media and others who are floating out names, and they're saying, no, we
don't want this person.
Because the protesters do not have an
organizing committee or a central nerve that will coordinate every
activity they have, they are dispersed all over the south and Central
Iraq. So it is very hard to speak to any group, or it is very hard also
to find a — again, a spokesperson or a spokes — an entity that will
speak on their behalf.
And it is very hard to see them presenting
what they want. And it is easier to see that they will wait for the
political elite to present the name or the process to bring up a name,
and then the action is normally automatic, no, we don't want this one,
even though, in the last couple of days, we have seen some kind of signs
that they might be entertaining some of the names that are — been
floating around, like Faig Al-Sheikh Ali maybe, who is an M.P. and…
A member of Parliament.
A member of Parliament. And he is a secular member of Parliament.
that is somehow in his favor, because most of the parties that are
blamed are the Islamist parties or the traditional parties. He is kind
of a new slant of a politician.
Do the average Iraqi agree with the protesters?
The average Iraqi, do they side with the protesters? Is this sort of a general sentiment?
The protesters are speaking on behalf of all Iraqis.
When they spoke, the big topic was how to replace a prime minister.
But that's not the only replacement issue right now. DEUTSCHE WELLE reports
Iraq's president offered to resign on Thursday after he refused to
designate the prime minister candidate put forward by a pro-Iran
Barham Salih's announcement plunges the country deeper
into political crisis and uncertainty amid three months of
In a letter to parliament, he said that
in order "to avoid more bloodshed and maintain peace" he refused to
nominate Asaad al-Eidani to the premiership.
Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) adds
Salih said he was prepared to submit his resignation to Parliament, as
his refusal to designate al-Eidani could be construed as a violation of
the constitution. He stopped short of actually stepping down, however,
saying in a statement addressed to the Parliament speaker that he would
leave it up to lawmakers to decide “as they see fit.” Shortly after
issuing the statement, the president left Baghdad for his hometown in
the northern city of Sulaimaniyah.
Under the constitution, parliament has seven days to accept or reject a
president's resignation before it automatically goes into effect. It
was unclear how lawmakers would react, as Salih did not officially
Signaling a hardline stance, the Fatah bloc slammed Salih's decision to
not name al-Eidani and called for his impeachment. “We call on
parliament to take legal measures against the president for shirking his
constitutional oath and breaching the constitution,” it said in a
In Baghdad's Tahrir Square, which has emerged as a focal point of their
demonstrations, protesters gathered to celebrate the president's
"Reporting from Baghdad, Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari said
Salih's statement could be seen as an attempt by the president to
pressure other groups within Parliament to try to come up with an
alternative candidate to al-Eidani." On BLOOMBERG TV yesterday, David
Westin spoke about the possible resignation with Douglas Ollivant as
well as the protests.
Ollivant notes the attacks on the protesters and points out, "Last time I
checked, the death count is approaching 500 officially and it's
probably higher than that."
While Iraqis fight for a better future, Americans in the US show a lot of stupidity. I don't know how to put that nicely.
Jake Johnson winds down the year on a high note of stupidity as he plays
high drama that Donald Trump Tweeted a link to the article that names
First off, he's a leaker, he's not a whistle-blower. As a member of the
CIA, he would only be a whistle-blower if he was blowing the whistle on
He is leaking. That's what he's done since Donald Trump was elected.
Secondly, he has no legal protection from the press which should be
naming him. This month alone, THE NEW YORK POST has named him (finally)
as has JACOBIN in an article by economist Doug Henwood.
That's the name.
We've noted it here before.
There is no legal protection of your anonymity when your statements lead
to impeachment. The American people have the right to determine
everything -- this is a democracy, grow the F**K up -- and everything
includes the accuser. In addition, in the US, our legal system is built
around the premise that there are no secret accusers. You make an
accusation in court -- or to the House -- you don't get to hide in the
Your accusation is your claim and We The People have every right to
judge that claim based on you and what we can determine about your
We've been nice and we've highlighting COMMON DREAMS again and
pretending that they didn't waste 8 f**king years while Barack was
But they did.
They didn't lead on issues, they didn't defend the American people, they
instead ran interference for Barack Obama. I'm not a whore and I'm not
a slut. If someone has the Secret Service, seems to me they have
enough protection. I don't have to baby them, I don't have to coddle
We spent those eight years telling the truth about the Iraq War. COMMON DREAMS the same eight years ignoring the Iraq War.
So if Jake Johnson wants to offer that bulls**t, we can walk away from
that website with no problems at all. It's not like it's doing
groundbreaking work. I've just been tossing them a line. I don't have
to do that.
And, point of fact, I won't do that if they're pushing bulls**t like this to begin with.
Eric Ciaramella. Jake Johnson and COMMON DREAMS, there are two choices
here: Grow up or shut the f**k up. This is a democracy and you're not
helping anyone at present with your bulls**t pretense that naming a
leaker is against the law.
We should all have the facts on him and we should able to determine his character based upon those facts.
His attacking Trump -- and that's what gossip Eric supplied was -- does
not make that s**thole a friend of the left and shame on anyone who
tries to pretend otherwise.
Grow the hell up or just sit out the election because you're not playing
by the rules of democracy, you're playing by the rules of the deep
And on that note, Michael Winship stop sending your crap to the public
account of this site. I haven't highlighted you in years. You're a
Now you could have redeemed yourself. How? You could have written
about the deep state. Remember when Bill Moyers -- your boss -- had a
program on PBS? Bill often addressed the deep state and that goes all
the way back to the eighties.
Just because Donald invokes it today does not mean we should look away or give it a pass.
Bill Moyers is a homophobic bigot -- he even put that homophobia on the
airwaves in 2008 -- we called him out on it but it sailed over the heads
of many. Just like his past in LBJ's administration where Bill
couldn't keep his nose out of other men's beds and constantly told LBJ
to drop this person or that person because the man was gay.
That's all Bill is now, a homophobic bigot. And he's only that because
he's turned away from the one legitimate contribution he made to a
discussion -- his research and work on the deep state. By failing to
enter into the current conversation, he demonstrates yet again that he
has never been a journalist, he has only been a partisan in front of
We don't have time for this crap. We have real issues in the world.
And we can walk away from garbage like promoting anti-Muslim, anti-woman
Michael Moore which COMMON DREAMS is also doing today. This is
garbage. There are real life issues to cover. I am appalled by what
passes for the left in this country right now.
In the real world, many things might trip up War Hawk Joe Biden as he
attempts to win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Eliza Relman and
Walt Hickey (BUSINESS INSIDER) report on one hurdle:
Former Vice President Joe Biden is struggling with Latino voters, according to recent Insider polling.
with Biden among Latinos who say they'll vote in their state's
Democratic primary is about 40% — 15% below his support among white
voters, 14% below his support among Asian voters, and a whopping 26%
short of his support among black voters.
The top two candidates
running to Biden's left — Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren —
both perform significantly better among Latinos. While Sanders' approval
is at 57%, Warren's approval is at 54%.
While reality crashes into Joe's heavily botoxed face, Bernie Sanders is doing better and better. Holly Otterbein and David Siders (POLITICO) report:
Suddenly, Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is being taken seriously.
For months, the Vermont senator was
written off by Democratic Party insiders as a candidate with a committed
but narrow base who was too far left to win the primary. Elizabeth
Warren had skyrocketed in the polls and seemed to be leaving him behind
in the race to be progressive voters’ standard-bearer in 2020.
But in the past few weeks, something has changed. In private
conversations and on social media, Democratic officials, political
operatives and pundits are reconsidering Sanders’ chances.
They have to reconsider him because they can't afford more egg on their
face. They are distrusted, the corporate press, and they are distrusted
for a reason. It's a point even Jake Johnson can't wrap his shrinking
In a matter of weeks, the American people will see who Iowa really backs.
Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders should do well there -- despite the
repeated press attacks. Now how is that going to look for CNN, MSNBC
and assorted others who have insisted that they are non-candidates with
not enough support to win?
Bernie especially freaks them out regarding Iowa. I guess Jake Johnson
just knows how to repeat what he reads at other periodicals? I talk to
the corporate press, I have friends there. I have friends in the
campaigns of every Democrat that made the debate stage earlier this
Bernie has everyone in a panic. The great lie, the noble lie, call it what you want, stands a good chance of being exposed.
Bernie stands a good chance of winning Iowa.
Iowa is not a primary. It is a caucus.
It's about endurance and it's about support and Bernie has both.
He also has knowledge. He's done Iowa before. In 2016. He got 49.6% to Hillary's 49.9%.
Joe's done Iowa before as well. In 2008, he got 0.9%. You read that
correctly. The candidate that the corporate press has pimped so hard
for, lied so much for, shielded repeatedly?
He's going into Iowa with a record of getting less than 1% the last time he tried to compete there.
By the way, that year Barack got 37% -- again, in 2016, Bernie got 49.6%.
These are facts and they worry the hell out of the corporate media right
now because how do they build trust if Bernie wins Iowa?
What you're seeing is the press finally trying to do their job -- but
because they have to. If Iowa was two months out, they'd still be lying
about Bernie and insisting Joe was a sure thing.
Liza Featherstone has an interesting article at JACOBIN
where she examines donations by academics:
Some intellectuals’ political contributions are even weirder. Martha
Nussbaum is a giant in the field of ethical philosophy who has written
that mainstream feminists should think more globally and be more
centered on the problems faced by women in poor countries. She’s a
liberal who has sometimes been critical of the Marxist tradition.
So, Liz Warren, right? Wrong! Nussbaum has given thousands of dollars
to John Hickenlooper — both his gubernatorial races and his brief 2020
primary bid. In the face of such news, so many questions go through
one’s mind. The main one is probably, “Who is John Hickenlooper again?”
Hickenlooper is the pro-fracking former Governor of Colorado who
describes himself as a “fiscal conservative.”
What’s equally striking, however, is that some intellectuals’
political contributions are absolutely consistent with the ideas in
their writings. Noam Chomsky has written checks to only a handful of
political candidates: Bernie Sanders and Ralph Nader, most prominently.
Marxist feminist Nancy Fraser has been donating to Bernie. Adolph Reed,
Jr. gives so often to Bernie that it’s practically a tithe. Reed has
given to other left candidates like Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, progressives
like Paul Wellstone, and liberal Democrats like Jan Schakowsky and Alan
Grayson, all of which is completely consistent with his lifelong body of
writing arguing that the left should support strong social democratic
organizing and also work with the Democratic Party when necessary.
It’s vulgar to say this, but it’s may be true that we learn less
about the materialist politics of academic writing by reading it — and
some of it can be famously obscure; Butler was the winner of a Bad Writing contest in 1998 — than by looking up the author in the Federal Elections Commission records.
Also looking at the money? Patrick Martin (WSWS) who examines
the self-funded runs of two 1%ers:
The two billionaire candidates seeking the presidential nomination of
the Democratic Party have already spent more than $200 million,
accorded to figures reported by Politico this week, at least three times the combined spending of all other Democratic candidates.
Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is the ninth
richest person in the United States, with a $58 billion fortune derived
from his media and information technology empire. Tom Steyer, a former
hedge fund operator, is reportedly worth about $2 billion.
Steyer has spent $83 million on advertising since he entered the race
in July. Bloomberg has easily surpassed that total, pumping more than
$120 million into media buys since he announced his candidacy last
The two candidates are pursuing opposite tactics in their
vote-buying. Steyer has run a conventional campaign targeting the four
early-voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. All
four hold caucuses or primaries in February.
Bloomberg is skipping the four early states and focusing instead on
the two-thirds of Democratic convention delegates who will be selected
between March 3 and March 17. Given the scale of the voting, television
and internet advertising will be the principal means of reaching voters.
Bloomberg has already spent $13 million per state on advertising in
California, Texas and Florida, the three biggest states among the March
Nearly a year before the 2020 election, Bloomberg is advertising at a saturation level.
We may (again) address Tom Steyer's commercials at THIRD (Ava and I may). In the meantime, Dave Lindorff (COUNTERPUNCH) zooms in
on Michael Bloomberg:
Michael Bloomberg, America’s 8th richest billionaire according to the
latest annual survey by Forbes Magazine, owns one of this country’s
biggest media empires, and is personally currently worth $56.1 billion.
That makes him an oligarch, exactly like those oligarchs that the US
media and US politicians love to accuse of polluting Russia’s political
Yet American oligarch Bloomberg is seeking to be the Democratic
candidate for president. He wants to be president so bad that before
even making a single campaign appearance, he has already spent an
astonishing $120 million of his own money on a nationwide TV ad
campaign. That’s more than any other candidate for the nomination has
spent in the first ten months of the campaign season and half the total
spent by all the rest of the candidates who have been competing for the
nomination. According to a Newsweek report, if Bloomberg continues at
this burn rate he could end up blowing an astonishing $6.5 billion on
his campaign before he’s through! Of course that’s peanuts to a guy for
whom such a figure represents just 11.9% of his total wealth (which is
always growing, sometimes by that much in a year).
This report on RT-TV (in which yours truly offers my own comments
toward the end), torches Bloomberg’s scandalous and hypocritical use of
forced convict labor by women incarcerated in two prisons in Oklahoma.
The story of the Bloomberg campaign’s unconscionabld use of prison
labor in which prisoners earn less than $1.75/hour and possibly as
little as $20/month for making campaign calls to potential California
voters was initially exposed by the Intercept.
Bloomberg’s ad campaign for the nomination is all about how he wants
people to be able to earn a living wage on their jobs. His sorry excuse
after being caught, is that he simply “didn’t know” his campaign had
hired a call center firm that was employing forced prison labor doubly
pathetic. This from a guy who hasn’t gotten his hands or fingernails
dirty with the details of running a business for most of his adult life,
preferring to pay other people to do everything for him. It’s the same
way he approached “reforming” the New York City school system, and why
he failed so abysmally at that, dumping his first schools chancellor
after three months under intense criticism that she (like Trump’s
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos) had no experience in education, and
replacing her with a chancellor who then joined him in promoting charter