30 jul. 2008

New Danger Ahead in Iraq

It is not all going very well in Iraq, but we did not notice because we looked at the race for the Presidency of the USA to observe the effects of Barack Obama’s trip to the Near East and Europe. Renewed increase of violence caught our attention. What’s going wrong?
The Voice of Iraq – Aswat Alraq had some of the answers.
BAGHDAD, July 26 (VOI) – A parliamentarian from the Iraqi National List (INL) on Saturday said that the delay in passing the provincial council elections law does not serve the interests of the country or the political process.
"We, the Iraqi National List, will vote again for the law inside the parliament because we believe that it is not in the interest of the country or the political process to delay it," Izzat al-Shabandar told Aswat al-Iraq- Voices of Iraq- (VOI).
"If the law is passed against by the parliament, it will be a success for the political process. If not, the Iraqi people will have to take a stance on it," the parliamentarian noted.
The INL holds 20 seats in the 275-member parliament.
On Tuesday, the Iraqi parliament, with the approval of 127 deputies out of 140 who attended the session, passed the law on provincial council elections, which includes an article postponing the elections in the city of Kirkuk sine die.
Lawmakers from the Kurdistan Coalition (KC), the second largest bloc with 53 out of a total 275 seats, had withdrawn from the session in protest against Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani's decision to have a secret balloting over article 24 of the law, pertaining to the status of Kirkuk. Balloting over all the other paragraphs of the law, however, was open.
On Wednesday, the presidential board, with the unanimity of President Jalal Talabani and his two deputies Adel Abdelmahdi and Tareq al-Hashimi, rejected the law in a rapid reaction one day after the Iraqi parliament passed it during a session that raised hue and cry over its constitutionality.
The law drew angry reactions from the Kurds, who considered the way the law was passed as a "twisting of the constitution," threatening to use the right of veto, granted by the Iraqi constitution for the presidential board, headed by President Talabani, a Kurd, to reject the law and return it to the parliament for debate.
The local elections should be held by the end of this year. All political blocs agreed on a new law on elections, hoped by the Iraqi government and other political parties to help end violence in the country through containing a number of armed groups into the current political process.
The law on provincial council elections, seen as supplementary to the law on regions and non-regional provinces, specifies the system of government in Iraq, and if applied, a federal system may be established in the country with three separate regions, a call echoed by some Iraqi political parties.

It is not very strange with the Kirkuk question unsolved. The Kirkuk region is oil rich and original Kurdish territory. During the Baath regime Kurds were pressed to leave and Sunni and Baath Arabs came in their places. After the fall of the regime the Kurds came back demanding the ownership of their confiscated houses and properties again. Most Arabs refused and so the conflict came alive. The Kurds want all their territories back. Juan Cole, the astute observer, says: "The conflict between Kurds and Arabs over Kirkuk is a crisis waiting to happen." He also cites Al-Hayat, as claiming that not only do the Kurds want to control Kirkuk, an oil-rich province in Iraq's north, but they plan to annex three other provinces where Kurds live: Diyala, Salahuddin, and Ninewa. That's not likely, but they do want Kirkuk, and the vetoed election law would have limited the Kurds' ability to press their gains there.
Of course, that’s very likely, no doubt about that, but there is another question involved too. Like all the states in the Near East has Iraq a Wahabitisch kind of Islam too and this fanatic Arab Sunnis, a minority, are on the side of Al Qaeda in Iraq, most foreign combatants but not all, and the remains are under protection of some sheiks in the West and of course they were most active to take over Kirkuk during the Baath regime while Baath was dominant in their home regions. So, as far as Al Qaeda in Iraq still exists it is there, in the West and in Kirkuk and from there they attack pilgrims, occupiers and government’s institutes with suicide attacks.
SULAIMANIYA, July 30 (VOI) - Thousands of the Sulaimaniya residents on Wednesday staged a demonstration protesting the passage of the provincial council elections law.
"Thousands staged today a peaceful demonstration in separate areas in Sulaimaniya and they gathered in front of the Sulaimaniya province's building at the center of the city," Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq (VOI) correspondent in the city said.
Local police chief Brigadier Hassan Nouri had said Tuesday tight security measures have been put in place in preparation for a demonstration that is scheduled to take place in Sulaimaniya city condemning the passage of the provincial council elections law.
On Monday, a total of 22 civilians were killed and 150 others were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up among a crowd of demonstrators, who took to the streets in downtown Kirkuk, condemning the passage of the provincial council elections law, which includes an article postponing the city's elections.
Last July 22, the Iraqi Parliament, with the approval of 127 deputies out of 140 who attended the session, passed the law on provincial council elections.
Last Wednesday, the Presidential Board, with the unanimity of President Jalal Talabani and his two deputies Adel Abdelmahdi and Tareq al-Hashimi, rejected the law in a rapid reaction one day after the Iraqi Parliament passed it during a session that raised hue and cry over its constitutionality
Sulaimaniya, the capital city of Sulaimaniya province, lies 364 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

A statement from the Iraqi president office branded “passing the law for provincial councils as an unconstitutional violation and against the will of the main second Iraqi constituent (Kurds) and the principle of national accordance”.
The announcement added “president Talabani urged the presidency board not to pass the law”.
The Sadrist bloc holds 30 out of the parliament’s total 275 seats while Kurdish coalition has 53.
Tarzi branded “the walkout of Kurdish lawmakers as a legal right since it did unsettle the quorum”.
Kurds make up one of three main groups, and their boycott of the vote means the bill could be sent back to parliament through a president’s veto.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wants the election to take place on October 1, but the Electoral Commission says it will not have time to organize it by then, even with the law in place.
Earlier, Faraj al-Haidari,time was running out to hold polls this year, because the commission needed time to prepare, and decided to postpone them until December.
The law had been held up by a dispute over what to do about voting in multi-ethnic Kirkuk, where a dispute is simmering between Kurds who say the city should belong to the largely autonomous Kurdistan region and Arabs who want it to stay under central government authority.
Arabs and Turkmen believe Kurds have stacked the city with Kurds since the downfall of Saddam in 2003 to try to tip the demographic balance in their favor in any vote. Arabs encouraged to move there under Saddam Hussein's rule fear the vote will consolidate Kurdish power and they sought to postpone it, a proposal Kurdish politicians have rejected.
Parliament decided to postpone the vote and add another article that the Kurds found unacceptable: that each ethnic or sectarian group gets a set allocation of seats and voting is between individual candidates from those groups. Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen get 10 seats each. Minority Christians get two.
"We walked out because of the illegality of this article and because the speaker wanted a secret vote, which is not constitutional," said Fouad Massoum, head of the Kurdish bloc.
Washington has been urging a speedy provincial election, which it sees as a pillar of national reconciliation, but the poll is also proving a potential flashpoint for tensions.

It seems that orthodox muslims are used for the new surge of violence, happily to do it out of their feelings of revenge on the Awakening who defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq. A one-day round-up:
A roadside bomb planted outside the residence of Dawa Party member, Abdulrahman Mohammed Dawood in Zafaraniyah, southeastern Baghdad exploded injuring Dawood and two of his security detail at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Gunmen attacked a checkpoint manned by Awakening Council, a US backed militia, in Adhamiyah at 9 a.m. killing two members. The gunmen used silencers on their weapons, said Iraqi Police.

One unidentified body was found by Iraqi Police, Thursday. It was found in Nidhal Street, central Baghdad.

Nineveh: A suicide car bomber targeted a checkpoint manned by Iraqi Army in al-Intisar neighbourhood, eastern Mosul killing two soldiers, injuring two others.

Diyala: A female suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt targeted an Awakening Council Commander in Baquba, Naeem al-Dulaimi at 3 p.m. Thursday. The explosion, which took place in a car dealership while Dulaimi was checking a car killed him, his two security guards and four civilians, injuring at least twenty four others including women and children. '

The final crisis-to-be is the Sadr vs. Badr one. The Times today suggests that Sadr is weakening:
The militia that was once the biggest defender of poor Shiites in Iraq, the Mahdi Army, has been profoundly weakened in a number of neighborhoods across Baghdad, in an important, if tentative, milestone for stability in Iraq.
Don't believe it. Sadr's rivals, ISCI, don't have anything like the popular base that Sadr has. And underneath Sadr is a volatile mix of neighborhood, local and regional militias, mosques, and economic fiefdoms that won't yield easily to ISCI and Maliki. Perhaps in future fighting, when politics don't serve to gain the unity-state, Sadr's forces are dependent on Iran, however, for arms and cash, Iran may be in the driver's seat.
Just the other day, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps crowed that the United States has failed to establish install an anti-Iranian regime in Baghdad, and he's completely right.
So Iraq is still poised to explode, and Iran may be in control. McCain's solution: provoke a showdown with Iran. Obama's solution: try to make a deal with Iran to stabilize Iraq. I'm not sure either "plan" will work, but with support of Russia and the European Union Obama has the best papers. McCain is chance less, because what he says is always over strained by his desire to “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran…” That’s where Russia - most likely the EU too - is on the side of Iran to guarantee Iran’s safety against foreign threats which can urge Iran to go nuclear.
McCain will love the Iranian nuclear option, because he has by then a clear mandate to start WWIII, bur the Obama-USA, Asia, Russia and Europe are not admiring such a mass destruction of suicidal Republican America and the world.