Sunday, July 28, 2013

Editorial: Another Iraq tipping point?

The first tipping point on Iraq was in the summer of 2005 when the public significantly turned against the Iraq War -- significantly and decisively.  We noted it in real time and we noted it again in the summer of 2006:

Long before the press recognized it, the country turned against the war. Some calcified opinion makers (well, they fancy themselves as that), have recently written that country has turned against the war. If they checked the actually polling, they'd find that turning happened some time ago. (We called it the tripping point and made that call in the summer of 2005.) Those types ride their desks really well, they just don't get out among the people. The running of the beltway bulls never really effects (or reflects) the people but it does throw down the gauntlet to the politicians.

It appears another Iraq tipping point is emerging.  This one is the tipping point involving despot Nouri al-Maliki.

Not Quite There

[Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Not Quite There."]

This weekend, the editorial board of The Washington Post pointed out:

But Iraq’s troubles are also due to the narrowly sectarian and quasi-authoritarian policies of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who prosecuted Sunni leaders in his own government and sent troops to attack a Sunni protest encampment.
[. . .]
The Obama administration has for too long offered nearly unqualified support to Mr. Maliki. 

Amnesty International has long noted Nouri's (at best) inability to provide basic human rights,  "Journalists and human rights activists have been harassed, beaten, detained and even killed. While Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has promised to protect their rights, including their freedom of speech, few killings have been investigated and a culture of impunity prevails."  Following the April 23rd massacre in Hawija, Human Rights Watch's Sarah Lee Whitson observed,  "The Maliki government’s repeated failure to bring anyone to justice has fueled the violence and failed the families of those killed."

Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister in 2006 only after the Bush White House nixed the Iraqi Parliament's choice (they wanted Ibrahim al-Jaafari to have a second term) and instead demanded Bully Boy Bush's choice Nouri al-Maliki.  He was ineffective and delivered neither safety nor public services.  Which is why the 2010 parliamentary elections saw Iraqiya beat Nouri's State of Law.  That should have meant -- per the Iraqi Constitution -- that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi was the new prime minister.  But the Obama White House backed Nouri.  Barack backed him over the Iraqi Constitution, over the will of the voters, over the concept of democracy.  So the US government staged a work-around on the Constitution, they brokered The Erbil Agreement which gave second place Nouri a second term as prime minister.

Nouri has repeatedly been caught running secret prisons in Iraq where people were tortured.

That didn't bother Barack.

As The Washington Post begins observing what human rights organizations like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have long been noting, maybe there's finally a tipping point on administration support for Nouri?

Maybe not.  From Friday's State Department press briefing:

QUESTION: Can you confirm, or have you seen the reports that Iran has expressed the desire for direct talks with the U.S. regarding its nuclear program? And if so, what kind of role will Iraq play in that, if any?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen reports. Of course, Iraq is a partner of the United States, and we’re in regular conversations with Iraqi officials about a full range of issues of mutual interest, including Iran. As we’ve said many times, we’re open to direct talks with Iran in order to resolve the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. And we work through, as you all know, the P-5+1 and Under Secretary Sherman just had a meeting, I believe a couple of weeks ago, with her counterparts. But it is – the ball is in Iran’s court to take the necessary steps to abide by their international obligations. And that has not changed.

QUESTION: Do you know --
QUESTION: What about --
QUESTION: Do you know if Prime Minister Maliki has offered himself up, or offered his services as an intermediary?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything on that for you.

Nouri needs to go.  Is the White House going to yet again make the Iraqi people suffer for some backdoor dealings?  It is possible especially when you consider how little the administration has done for human rights in Iraq -- or elsewhere.

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