Signs of collapse of the political process and moves towards an
overt confrontation between different political blocs could have been seen even
on April 9, 2003. They have taken different forms ever since.
After the blow received by Al Iraqiya, in the form of the arrest
warrant against Vice-President Tarek Al Hashemi, it is expected that Al Maliki
will target other leaders in the same political bloc in order to remove them
from the political arena.
Al Mada reports
that Iraqiya has
been meeting with the National Alliance and the Sadr bloc (the Sadr bloc is part
of the National Alliance) and that they are supposedly close to ending their
boycott of Parliament. They are reportedly asking that the issue of Saleh
al-Mutlaq be addressed. He is the Deputy Prime Minister that Nouri wants
stripped of his post. Parliament has refused Nouri's request so far. He can
not strip anyone of their office without the approval of Parliament. Yesterday at the US State Dept, spokesperson Mark C. Toner was
about Iraq's ongoing political crisis:
QUESTION: But these arrests notwithstanding, Mark, there has been a
more belligerent policy by Maliki toward the United States. We have seen it
almost in every aspect of the application of policy -- by not filling the
cabinet seats, by -- Allawi came the other day on a program and basically said
that Maliki's driving the country down the abyss of a civil war. And so what is
your position on that? What kind of negotiations are you involved
MR. TONER: You mean us directly with --
QUESTION: Yes. The United States of America.
MR. TONER: -- the Iraqis?
QUESTION: It was there for nine years. It invested $800 billion and
MR. TONER: Look, we are -- as of December 31st, we've embarked on a
new relationship with the Iraqi Government. There are bureaucratic elements of
this relationship that need to be refined and worked out and obviously coupled
with a very changeable security environment, that these individuals, that --
rather the Iraqi officials are trying to maintain security but also make sure
that they're following the letter of the law. So I wouldn't read too much into
these detentions, if you will. In terms of the broader political situation in
Iraq, we've continued to press on senior Iraqi politicians the importance of
dialogue to work out their differences, and that continues to be our message to
QUESTION: But you --
MR. TONER: And we obviously are talking to them on a daily basis.
But this is --
QUESTION: Okay. Are you --
MR. TONER: Sorry.
MR. TONER: This is -- no, that's okay. This is an internal
political situation. Our concern is that as it -- as they work through this
process that it be done in a clear and transparent way that makes sense to the
QUESTION: Yeah. But are you more in contact with the president of
the country, Jalal Talabani, or with the prime minister of the country, Nuri
Maliki? Because Talabani has been in Iraq trying to organize some sort of
reconciliation conference, but apparently his sort of suggestions have been sort
of dismissed by Maliki.
MR. TONER: Well, again, I think that we've -- it's incumbent on us
to remain in close contact with all elements of the political
QUESTION: Mark, Iraqi prime minister has decided today suspend the
Sunni ministers from the government after boycotting its sessions. And a
government spokesman, Ali Dabbagh, has said that the ministers are no longer
allowed to manage ministries and all decisions that will be signed by them are
invalid. How do you view this step?
MR. TONER: Again, putting it in the broader context here, there's
some very clear tensions underway in Iraq on the political scene. They're
working through these tensions. It's important that they continue, all sides of
the political spectrum talk to each other and work constructively
QUESTION: But does this step help?
MR. TONER: Again, I don't want to -- I'm trying to put it in a
broader context. This is an internal Iraqi political process, so it's important
that -- it's less important our comment or opining on what's going on there and
more important that they roll up their sleeves, talk to each other, and work
That's very interesting and we will return to it later this week but in
terms of what Nouri did yesterday -- barring Cabinet members, that was Nouri
'creating' a new power for himself. KUNA reports
Iraqi government has decided to prevent Iraqiya List's cabinet ministers, who
boycotted cabinet meetings, from doing their job at their ministries." Mohammed Tawfeeq and CNN note
spokeswoman Maysoun Damluji said the Iraqiya bloc is not surprised by the prime
minister's move, calling it unconstitutional and illegal. She said it has
become obvious that al-Maliki is not interested in sharing power."
She is correct, the move is unconstitutional and illegal.
Each branch has powers. The Constitution recognizes three branches and it
invests each with unique powers -- unique powers, not absolute ones.
So the Prime Minister-Designate (or Prime Minister if it happens after the
transition) has the power to nominate people to be in his or her Cabinet. This
is not a power to be taken lightly. The use of that power will demonstarte a
great deal about the prime minister-designate in the 30 days period before he or
she is replaced with another prime minister-designate or before he or she is
transitioned to prime minister.
What does that time period say about Nouri?
Despite the fact that this was his second time naming a Cabinet (the US
installed him in April 2006 after Iraqis wanted Ibrahiam al-Jaafari to be prime
minister and the US government said no), so he should have had experience at it
and known what to do, despite the fact that for eight months, he refused to step
down and let Allawi have first crack at organizing a ruling coalition (as the
Constitution specified; but screw the Iraqi Constitution when Barack Obama
decides Nouri is his man), he was named prime minister-designate in November
2010 and couldn't come up with a full Cabinet. In part, this was due to the
fact that he'd created so many more Minister and Deputy Minister posts- he had
to in order to come close to keeping all the promises he made in horse trading
over the eight month political stalemate.
Nouri only had the power to nominate. The Parliament has to vote and
approve each nominee. In this case, Parliament approved everyone nominated.
The only obstacle was Nouri himself.
And he still couldn't nominate enough people. He never should have been
moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister. Hopefully, a lesson will
be learned from this. Follow the Constitution. If he can't name a Cabinet in
30 days, you don't make him prime minister, you name someone else to be prime
Is it any surprise that someone who couldn't name a full Cabinet -- as
required to by the Constitution -- would turn out to be such a hapless leader?
One who can't even stick to the budget? (In the US, law makers regularly go over
budget -- that's not allowed in countries like Iraq or Kenya, you are supposed
to meet the budget, it's not a goal, it is how much you will spend and no more
than that.) Is it a surprise that everything's falling apart under Nouri
when he couldn't get it together as prime minister-designate?
Selecting nominees and creating your Cabinet is a very serious role of the
prime minister. It requires input and approval of Parliament. If you're not up
to the task, you could very easily end up with a number of ministers that do not
Guess who that falls on? The prime minister.
He or she nominated them and, if they're a problem later on, that goes to
the judgment of the prime minister. He or she is not allowed to fire them. The
prime minister can recommend they be removed from their post -- but Parliament
has to agree.
Nouri's created the power to suspend lately. There is no such power. If
you, as prime minister, made a mistake in selecting your Cabinet, you are
required to convince the Parliament of that or else you're stuck with the
decisions you made -- however poor and misguided they may or may not have
There is no power for the prime minister to bar or suspend a minister.
Doing so is preventing the minister from doing his or her job. The only way a
prime minister can prevent a minister from doing his or her job is to ask
Parliament to strip them of their post and for Parliament to agree.
Nouri made his choices. He cannot strip, suspend, bar, remove, any
Minister. He can ask Parliament to remove the minister from the post and, if
Parliament agrees, then it takes place. Otherwise, that person is a minister
unless they die or decide to resign. Nouri, per the Constiution right now,
could suffer a no confidence vote in the Parliament and be stripped of his
post. And the Cabinet members could remain. The Parliament could choose to
leave them alone.
Reidar Visser has an analysis at Gulf
. He's wrong that it's "exactly one month" since Iraqiya
announced their boycott. They did not announce on the18th of December it was
the 16th. More troubling, he insists that a caretaker government cannot take
That's cute. Before he attempts to offer legal analysis in the future,
somebody tell him it takes more than watching a few episode Judge Judy
to know the law. In other words, he needs to stick to what he thinks he's good
at and I'll explain to him right now, the law is not what he's good at. And
I'll add that I'll be nice once and only once on this issue.
It is nothing for me to say "I am wrong." It doesn't bother me too. I
walk into a room and expect everyone to know way more than me (most of my
harshest press critiques are rooted in the fact that they know so much less than
what their job requires). But that's not true when it comes to the law. I
never had any modesty there.
In terms of Iraq's Constitution, for some reason, in 2007, I felt the need
to study it. And have continued to -- that includes four hours with legal
experts in London last week where we poured over the Iraqi Constitution, that
includes lengthy conversations on a regular basis with friends in the French and
British government, that includes conversations with friends in the State
I'm going to say it nicely once, "Find something you're good at and focus
on that. You're not good at the law. Your lack of training and questionable
logic skils are on full display when you try to handle the law."
Visser's argument is that a caretaker government can not be put in place in
Iraq because it's not in the Constitution. The Constitution was written while
Iraq was obviously occupied. Iraq's still not sovereign. It won't be unless
and until it's out of Chapter VII with the United Nations. The IMF can impose
practices and policies on countries and an argument can be made that
nation-states under the IMF's control have lost their sovereignty. That can be
argued in court and it can go either way (in the court of public opinion, that
opinion will always win). But we're not talking about the IMF, we're talking
about the United Nations. This isn't an austerity program that's been put in
place because the country's government is thought to have spent too freely, this
is a sanction that's been brought against the country and until it's resolved
(either with Kuwait repaid in full or -- as Iraq wants -- with the UN letting
them off the hook), Iraq doesn't have full sovereignty. Any country with
sanctions against them -- enforced sanctions -- is not really fully sovereign.
May 27, 1993, the UN Security Council passed resolution 833. It remains in
effect. It has never been lifted. For what the United Nations can do with
regards to that, you're going to need to do a little more than watch Judge
In addition, the Constitution does not exist to allow anyone person to
assume the post of prime minster for life. By Visser's illogical and
wrong-headed reading of the law, that's what the Iraqi Constitution states. He
doesn't make that claim because he's not smart enough to walk it through.
Again, if you don't have a legal mind, you should not be making legal
By Visser's 'analysis,' Noui is currently governed by nothing. Nouri can
remain prime minister for all time if he's willing to dissolve the Parliament --
by Visser's argument that Visser didn't have the brains or tools to carry it out
to the end point. Visser makes that argument by reducing the two posts Nouri
holds to one post. Were Nouri stripped of his prime minister post tomorrow,
Nouri would still retain a post -- he was elected to the Parliament. He is an
MP. That does carry with it perks and obligations. When you ignore those and
when you have the post exist in isolation (which it does not), then you end up
with a new Saddam. A new Saddam can dissolve the Parliament. A new Saddam can
declare that elections will take place at some time in the future, when new
Saddam decides it's safe but, in the meantime, new Saddam will appoint MPs to
serve. And that's how Iraq never again has elections or needs elections. The
'MPs' picked by the new Saddam name a president, etc. and nothing ever changes
for the prime minister for life.
That's where Visser's 'legal' 'argument' leads. He couldn't follow it
through because he lacks the tools. But that's where the argument he makes
pulls to a stop.
And that's another reason why his legal argument is not just 'interesting'
but wrong. Again, if you don't have the background, don't offer legal
analysis. I don't have a legal background in tax law which is why we rarely
note tax resistance (Cindy
Sheehan's discussing her tax resistance here
). It isn't one of my strengths
by any means so I would never attempt to offer a legal opinion on it. I
wouldn't even talk about it from a legal perspective because I am so ignorant on
It would be great if those untrained in Constitutional Law learned to stop
presenting as "fact" their ill-thought out and ill-conceived fantasies. This is
me being nice with regards to the law.
Law For Dummies, Visser, your first point is wrong. And you might mean
"extra-Constitutional" but a caretaker government is not unconstitutional. For
it to be unconstitutional it would either have to be forbidden by the
Constitution -- in writing -- or it would have to go against a written law
within the Constitution that would oppose it. There is no such law opposing a
caretaker government and there is nothing in writing outlawing a caretaker
government. Your second point is is idiotic as well as wrong. (Did you miss
the powers of the president -- who would name a replacement per the Constitution
-- or the issue of not to exceed 30 days?) Your third point reminds me that
you're tight with Nir Rosen. Filth begat filth. For those who've forgotten,
Nir not only verbally attacked Lara Logan, he shared at Foreign Policy
that Nouri should remain prime minister because Iraq needed an authoritarian
hand. And now I'm really wondering why I wasted my time on this idiotic 'legal'
'analysis' by the untrained and uninformed.
The Erbil Agreement is not unconstitutional. That's a flat out lie and the
kind of "logic" that someone untrained in the law would make. Someone trained
might argue that portions were this or that, they would not declare the entire
thing unconstitutional. One of its primary parts (and the most important to
the KRG) is that Article 140 of the Constitution be implemented -- the thing
Nouri was supposed to have done in his first term but refused to. Visser's
refusal to recognize that or and his habit of only tossing out
"unconstitutional!" when it benefits Nouri is especially telling.
Visser reveals himself to be a fake further when he 'advises' Iraqiya
should focus on the three empty security ministries because Nouri "would be
infor severe international criticism if he should opt to continue with acting
ministers indefinitely." If he should? How long does the Idiot Visser think a
prime minister term is? Nouri's already gone over year without filling those
We're done with Reidar Visser. I'm no longer interested in his opinions.
He was a fool to try to offer legal but as I go back over these half-baked and
idiotic 'conclusions' Visser presents, I'm left with either he's the most stupid
person in the world or he's less than honest. I'll go with the latter.
He's friend Nir Rosen and that says it all. I'm not interested in his
hidden agenda or any more of his crap. Sadly some idiots will link to him even
idiots who don't realize that what's he's saying in this post goes completely
against what they Tweeted about the Constitution and the process the day
before. I can't believe I wasted all that time reading through his garbage
repeatedly. Again, we're done with him. And shame on anyone who links to the
lunatic's 'legal analysis' in the future. He's trained in history, somewhat in
philosophy. He doesn't know a damn thing about the law and, oh, does it show.
Nouri al-Maliki has a second term as prime minister despite his State of
Law coming in second in the March 2010 elections. He only has a second term
because the US government strong-armed the KRG and others to back Nouri. The US
promised that, in exchange for Nouri remaining prime minister, the other parties
would receive certain things. These were outlined in the November 2010 Erbil
Agreement (an agreement some parties have threatened to publish). When this
agreement was agreed to by all parties, it became a legal agreement and a
binding one. That's why there are signatures on it.
The Erbil Agreement ended 8 months-plus of Political Stalemate I which
followed the elections. Though Nouri gladly abided by the prime minister aspect,
once he got his post, he trashed the agreement.
Since last month, President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama
al-Nujaifi have been calling for a national conference to resolve the political
issues. Iraqia TV reports
MP Mahmoud Othman is stating that there will be a meet-up Sunday to make final
arrangements for the national conference.
Tomorrow, Dar Addustour notes
, Parliament is
set to vote on seven bills. Those may not be final votes. (The Parliament
engages in a series of readings and votes on bills.) This morning, Al Rafidayn quoted
source with Parliament's Integrity Commission saying that the Under Secretariat
of Baghdad and the Contracts Manager will be arrested and charged with financial
and administrative corruption based upon investigations the commission has
carried out. Alsumaria TV reports
Riyad al-Adad, Vice
President of Baghdad Provincial Council, was arrested today.
Returning to violence, Reuters notes
2 Kurds shot dead in
Mandili, a Haswa sticky bombing last night which left a police officer and his
wife injured, and, also last night, a Latifiya home invasion of a Sahwa member
in which he and 3 of his sons were killed (three more were left injured). BBC News identifies
the Sahwa ("Awakeing," "Sons Of Iraq") as
Mohammed Dwaiyeh. Both BBC and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) report
that the man's wife
was also injured.