Friday, January 20, 2006

Iraqi elections released.

Here are the election results from Iraq's December 15th election.

Naturally everyone has fewer votes this time round due to the sunni vote diluting everyone elses.

The only thing I fail to see is how Allawi won 25 seats, when all the preliminary results pointed to him only getting 21.

Internal politics of the UIA.

Reidar Visser writes an excellent piece about the Internal divisions within the UIA, and breaks down the actual make up of the co-alition. He cites the Sadrists as the largest bloc, with the main sadrists and fadila combining to make up 36% of the 109 seats already apportioned. Dawa unites with its off-shoots to make up 24% while SCIRI is last with around 19% of the seats.

This is important on many fronts. Firstly it almost guarantees that Ibrahim Jafari, the head of the Dawa Party, will continue as Prime Minister, as the sadrists have already announced that they will support his nomination.

Secondly, as Helena Cobban points out at Just world news, it disspells the myth that many western media outlets have spread that somehow Abdel Aziz Al-Hakim, the head of SCIRI, is Iraq's most powerful man. It's fair to say that should Jafari become PM once more, he will be the most powerful man in Iraq, perhaps more powerful than he has been this last year.

Thirdly, it puts into serious doubt, Hakim's efforts to be 'political overseer' of the UIA. This position that he wanted to award himself, which is not enshrined in any way by the constitution, would have given him the power to dictate much policy of the entire gov't aswel as the UIA. On what basis would he claim his right to take up this role? SCIRI are no longer the biggest party in the UIA, according to the article, and Hakim can do little to challenge Jafari's nomination for PM so his hand is extremely weak. Moqtada Al Sadr has more legitimacy to take up this role, similar to the Chief Whip position in UK politics, and I've argued before that he is more suited to reach across the political spectrum than Hakim could ever wish to be. He has recently declared that he doesn't want to play too dominant a role in Politics and so would probably turn down the position.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the Dawa and Sadr blocs can progress with their attempts to form good relations with the Sunni Islamists, like Adnan Dulaimi and Tariq Al Hashimi. The 2 groups also declared recently that they are against any move towards a break up of the country and could form a strong enough bloc to oppose the proposed plans for federalism, as envisioned by Hakim. Hakim has set about antagonising the Sunni's recently with his comments about pushing ahead with the formation of shia mini states in the south, and he has done so just as progress is being made between the Dulaim tribe in Ramadi and the Jafari Govt. He has also tried to claim that these attempts to form alliances with the sunnis will be fruitless, and will not effect the insurgency. It sounds like he is extremely annoyed at the way things are unfolding and is trying his best to disrupt the course of events which will inevitably lead to him being sidelined.

PS. The religious Kurdish groups have also won 5 seats and this could strengthen any Pan-Islamic bloc, wishing to implement elements of Islamic Laws.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Update on Sunni-Shia links.

As has been reported recently, members of the largest Shia coalition in Iraq, the United Iraqi Alliance, have begun talks with Adnan Dulaimi of the Iraqi Accord Front, the Sunni Islamist party, with regards to forming a government of national unity. Today, however, Al-Hayat reports that there is an attempt underway by certain Sunni groups to form a broad based Sunni coalition which brings Salih Mutlaq and his secular National Dialogue Council into the fold. These attempts are most probably the work of the Neo-Baathists who are terrified of being left behind, and are trying to attach themselves to the religious Sunni movement.

The Shia leaders must make it very clear to Adnan Dulaimi that the involvement of the Baathists really is a red-line that will not be crossed, in order for such a threat to pass. Otherwise there is a chance that the Shia will pull away from Dulaimi, and that will put paid to any hopes of a national government being formed.

Deal between Iraqi Govt and Sunni leaders?

Juan Cole has today reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari has struck a deal with Sunni leaders of the Dulaim tribe in Ramadi, which is concerned with security arrangements in that area of Anbar province. According to Cole's translation of the Al-Hayat article, the agreement is based on US troops withdrawing and being replaced by Iraqi troops from Anbar itself. In return the tribal leaders will put pressure on the foreign fighters who are loyal to Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. This is indeed a good sign and shows the religious shia and sunni are prepared to work together and make compromises for a better future.

Cole compares it to a similar attempt to withdraw US troops in Fallujah back in the spring of 2004. Once the US had left, the guerillas took control of the city. However, this time around there are important factors which are a cause for hope. Back in 2004 Paul Bremer ruled Iraq and his ability to ensure his plan worked was limited by the fact that he was very simply an outsider, ruling the country with no mandate from the Iraqi people. Jafari, on the other hand, is Iraq's first elected leader since Saddam's fall and has shown a strong willingness to work with the Sunni Arabs, providing they aren't Baathists, something he and other shia leaders have described as a 'red line' they are not willing to cross. Indeed his advisers have already held talks with Adnan Dulaimi, the leader of the Sunni Arab block which did the best in the December 15th elections and the two sides are reported to agree on many key points with regard to the path they want the nation to take in the future.

Also, Ramadi's Sunnis have come to the rescue of their Shia brethren in the past, when the latter were being targetted by the fanatical Wahabi followers of Zarqawi. The Sunnis set up groups to protect the shia inhabitants from the Wahabis. This shows that they are willing to work with the shia and would work hard to ensure the agreement remained in place. As the article states,

The only sticking point is the agreement to work against the foreign fighters. The majority of fighters in Iraq are Iraqis themselves, and it is uncertain how much difference any crackdown on the foreign fighters will make. The main group to target should be the secular Baathist fighters, who are attacking Shias in the hope of provoking a civil war that will give them the chance to come back to power. They are separate from the resistance, who have limited themselves to only attacking the US troops in the country, and the agreement between Jafari and the Dulaim will not affect the 'rejectionists'. The Baathists, however, need to be dealt with in no uncertain terms.

Those who continue to work against the Iraqi nation will no doubt be devastated by this development, and it is important that this agreement works, in order that both sides learn to trust each other and work together for the long term benefit of Iraq.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Still no results.

More than a month after the december 15th elections in Iraq, the results are estimated to still be about a week away from being announced. This is probably a deliberate attempt by the powers that be to delay the announcement until the governments formation is ready and to give the impression of a swift settlement, unlike last time when it took around 3 months after the results had been announced for the government to form itself. This was mainly down to the kurds making ridiculous demands during the negotiations, thus drawing the entire process out. That course of events led to the hope of the January 30th elections being turned to despair and frustration on the part of the Iraqi people.

The next government has a gigantic task on its hands, including rebuilding the shattered economy and healing a nation being crushed by some of the world's highest cancer rates, caused in no small part by the barbaric and evil use of depleted Uranium by the US in the first gulf war.

And the task is not made any easier by the savage and criminal nature of the terrorist war on Iraq, waged by both the Baathists and the US. The Iraqi people are facing a war on two fronts and against two ruthless and evil enemies. Firstly, let us consider the US as an enemy to Iraq. As Juan Cole puts it on Informed Comment today

"The US has increased the number of its bombing raids in Iraq from 25 a month last summer to 150 in December."
He goes on to correctly point out that this tactic is not useful in terms of counter-insurgent strategy. Especially when more civilians are killed by these bombs than insurgents are. Just recently the media has been alive with reports that the US launched an airstrike within Pakistan in an attempt to get Al-Qaeda's number 2, Ayman Al Zawahiri. They failed to get him and killed 18 innocent people instead. This is happening EVERY DAY in Iraq, and will continue to happen as long as the US remains in Iraq. These acts are morally reprehensible not to mention the fact that all it is doing is feeding resentment for the US and in turn the elected shia-led government on the part of the sunni arabs. It means that the US is creating the ripe conditions needed for an all out civil war, which may well be sparked by a military withdrawal.
The other enemy, the baath party, are also trying to drag Iraq into a civil war, in order for them to make an attempt at regaining power. It is clear from the election results that they DO NOT enjoy popular support amongst the sunni arabs, as the Neo-Baathist Salih Mutlaq, and his list are predicted to have only won 11 seats, whilst the religious sunni list is predicted to have won around 42 seats in the parliament. The Baath know that if Iraq falls into a civil war then everyone will be forced to choose their sides, the fences will go up and each of Iraq's ethnic communities will put their internal differences aside and will concentrate instead on trying to annihilate the other groups. The baath, already hiding behind the cloak of Iraq's real resistance, will then be able to draw on a significantly higher level of resources with which to make its bid for power, and it will do so in the name of the sunni arabs that they will claim to represent.
It is clear that the real sunnis do not support the baath in significant enough numbers, and so the shia and kurds must ensure that they create a strong enough alliance with Adnan Dulaimi and the others like him to further isolate the baathists.
The emphasis will then be on the sunnis to stop harbouring the people who are destroying Iraq's oil refining capabilities and other infratructure and who are depriving the people of their nations wealth. Once they give this criminal element up, Iraq will have overcome a huge hurdle in its path to development. It is important to distinguish between the baathists and the resistance. The resistance are those who attack the US troops only, in an attempt to free their nation from an illegal foreign occupation and it is their absolute right to do so. The baathists are the ones who attack the shia in their mosques and their homes purely on a sectarian basis and the shia must continue with their incredible tolerance and patience to ensure that the baathists will fail.
The baathists would rather see Iraq destroyed than let anyone other than themselves rule. The Iraqi government needs to make sure that the people of Iraq understand the choice that they have. Either they stay the democratic course, which has already borne much fruit, in the midst of all the decay or they go back to the barbaric old regime, whose crimes need no mentioning. The Iraqi people cannot be allowed to lose confidence in the current order due to the hardship they are facing, because the alternative is much worse. It is upto every Iraqi, especially those living abroad to do all they can to ensure that this great nation can rise again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Iraq-Iran-China axis?

This is the latest article by Noam Chomsky.

The chances that this will turn out to be true seem quite high. If so it would be a nightmare for washington, as it is seriously doubtful that they spent all that time and money to deliberately strengthen the hand of China and Iran.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The arrest of Ali Fadhil & the threat of civil war.

The Guardian of London runs with a story about US troops arresting a prize winning journalist, Dr Ali Fadhil, in Baghdad. Dr Fadhil was investigating a story about millions of dollars worth of Iraqi money which had gone missing in the hands of US and British authorities. The troops burst into his house, firing bullets into the bedroom where he slept with his wife and children. The article mentions the fact that only a few days earlier, Dr Fadhil's team had approached the Americans for an interview, regarding the findings of his investigation. The troops seized several tapes which haven't yet been released, and the likelihood is that they never will be either.

It is the seemingly small stories like this, which take place each and every day, which have led to even the top US General in Iraq admitting that most Iraqis want the troops out. The constant humiliation as a result of the occupation has taken its toll on the Iraqi people. And the US isn't the only country to come under fire. The prison break incident in Basra back in september 2005 involved UK troops, and highlighted the lack of respect that the occupation holds towards Iraq's sovereignty. In that incident, two british SAS men, dressed in Arab clothing and wearing wigs were arrested by Iraqi police after they killed one policeman. The British army then went charging in and knocked down the prison walls with their tanks and set the two men free. Around 50 other criminals escaped as a result, and the British press set about painting the freed men as heroes, despite the extremely suspicious circumstances surrounding the whole affair. It is inevitable that eventually, the Iraqi people will get sick and tired of the current state of affairs and will drive the occupation out by force. The Iraqi political and religious elite are also running out of patience and it may not be long before a call is made for the US and her allies to leave. Should this happen, the US may have no other option but to comlpy.

The one thing stopping Iraq's government from asking the US to leave now is the fear of falling into civil war. For the past year, leading Iraq observers, such as Juan Cole, who runs an incredibly informative blog, have constantly claimed that Iraq is on the verge of an all out civil war, and for the past year they have been proven wrong. The threat is very real, but to the great credit of the Iraqi people, they haven't allowed themselves to be dragged into a mutually destructive battle just yet. The Shia community in particular have maintained an incredible level of restraint, in the face of huge provocation. At the same time, the sunni arabs are producing leaders of immense courage, such as Tariq Al Hashimi and Adnan Al Dulaimi, who have entered into negotiations for a 'national unity' government.

In order for the threat to be lifted forever, the shia leadership must continue to restrain their constituents, as they have been doing to great success so far. This includes telling the SCIRI leadership to keep their militia, the Badr brigades under control. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, being the most authoritative voice for the Shia, deserves the most credit for keeping his followers restrained. Had it not been for the tradition of the Shia to follow the rulings of their most senior clerics, Iraq would already have been in the middle of one of the worst human tragedies in history.

The Shia political leadership also have a role to play. They must make the sunni arab representation in the 'national unity' government as strong as possible in order to make the coalition solid. If the Sunni's are firmly onside, then there is every chance the Baathist and Salafi forces driving the insurgency will be isolated and defeated. At the moment, the baathists in particular, enjoy a reasonable amount of support from the sunni arab populace, and if Dulaimi and Hashimi can draw that support away from them, then it will only be a matter of time before they are defeated. A lot rests on these two men making a sincere and whole-hearted commitment to Islam, Iraq and peace. Only they can convince the Sunni people that the Baathists do not have their best interests at heart and only they can offer a realistic alternative.

An unbreakable bond between the leaders of Iraq's ethnic groups is the only way in which the Baathist reign of terror will come to an end. They feed on the divisions which have grown in the last few years, and a unified Iraq, determined and steadfast in the face of their aggression, is their worse nightmare. It is the duty of every Iraqi to strive to ensure that this nightmare becomes a reality for them.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Yet another "mistake" by the US.

If you look down at the post named "US Army keeps killing Iraqis. Bush betrays Iraq", you'll see that i wrote about the US killing members of the same family in Baiji, in Northern Iraq, in an airstrike. I also suggested that they should have gone in with ground troops.

Well guess what? They hit the wrong house. It was bad enough when i thought a whole family had been needlessly killed for the 'crimes' of a few of its members. Imagine how angry I am now that i realise the ENTIRE family was innocent.
Had they gone in with ground troops, like i suggested (and i'm no general), they would've A) realised they were wrong and B) would've then diverted their attention to finding the people they were actually looking for. Just say a prayer for this poor family who died at the hands of the worlds 'best-trained military'.

The sooner they leave the better.

The REAL Sunni voice speaks out!

This is from Juan Cole's Blog:

"The Association of Muslim Scholars and the Iraqi Islamic Party, both Sunni fundamentalist groups, condemned the attacks on Shiites. The AMS said in a communique, "Dozens of innocent Iraqi victims fell in the city of Karbala as a result of a suspicious, criminal operation." It added, "The AMS decries these terrorist crimes and condemns the party behind them, whoever it may be.""

This confirms what i wrote a few days ago about the Sunni Islamic parties throwing in with the political process, and they have also answered my calls (not to mention the calls of millions of iraqis) to condemn the barbaric nature of the Baathist war. The sectarian tone of these attacks are aimed at getting Iraq drawn into a civil war, but with the real sunnis on board, theres a chance the baathists could be isolated and will fail in their endeavours.

I now have a brighter hope for the future of our great nation!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Brave "Mujahideen" fights on.

Yes people, those courageous "Holy Warriors" are back, bravely going where no one has gone before! Firstly a suicide bomber blows himself up at a funeral, on Wednesday. Around 32 people were killed according to the report, but that number is bound to rise. Oh yeah and they were all Shia, but I'm sure you all guessed that anyway. Then earlier today, on Thursday the 5th January, a suicide bomber blew himself up near the Holy shrine dedicated to Imam Hussein, the martyr of Kerbala. Around 60 people are reported to have died so far, with the figure again expected to rise. Again, all the victims were Shia Muslims whose only crimes were their faith, their devotion to one of Islam's holiest warriors and their mourning of his martyrdom at the hands of one of Islam's most reviled figures, Yazid (although Sunni's are more reserved in their criticism of him).

How brave are these "Holy Warriors" who kill innocent men and women without remorse!

And in an act of sabotage, almost definitely planned by the Baathists, around 60 more people were killed at a recruiting station for the Iraqi Police and Army. The terrorists can keep on with their campaign of terror but it just makes the Iraqi people stronger, and makes them firmer in their stand against evil. But now is the time for the REAL Sunni arabs to stand up and condemn these cowardly and sectarian attacks. If indeed this is the CIA or MOSSAD trying to incite a civil war, then the Sunni's need to stand up and show that they are on the side of the righteous and that they condemn this poison.

look at these pictures.

I chose to go to the BBC because the other pictures I've seen online are too disturbing. (Not that these aren't).

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

US Army keeps killing Iraqis. Bush betrays Iraq.

According to Reuters 14 Iraqis were killed in a US Army airstrike on Tuesday If these people were indeed insurgents then why not go in with ground troops? This way they ensured the deaths of children and women and gave more fire to the insurgency! This Indiscriminate murder of people just shows that america doesnt give a damn about ordinary Iraqis. all they are interested in is their own pockets. the more bombs they drop, the more demand there is for the big defense corporations to keep making more weapons, thus keeping the american oligarchs rich. The US taxpayer pays with his money, and the Iraqi citizen pays with his blood.

And Bush's announcement that Iraq is to receive no more money for reconstruction (AFTER THEIR OFFICIALS STOLE MOST OF IT!) just highlights my point.

The sooner these murderers get their troops out of Iraq, the better.

Will Iraq's next President be Arab again?

There is much talk in Iraq these days about the possible make up of the next Iraqi Government, and one issue which has been given very little attention until now is the identity of Iraq's new President. More talk has been about who will fill the more important position of Prime Minister, as that is the office where the real power lies within post-Saddam Iraq. Now that Ibrahim Jafari seems certain to remain in that position, people are asking whether Jalal Talabani, Iraq's first kurdish President will stay on in the largely symbolic position.

After the meeting earlier this week between Talabani and Abdel Aziz Al-Hakim, the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) one of the large Shia parties, it emerged that Hakim endorsed Talabani to remain as President, without consulting first with his counterparts at the UIA, the Shia alliance. It seems that in the next few weeks of wrangling the UIA, as a matter of policy, will seek to have an arab as Iraq's President once more. This is a move aimed at re-affirming Iraq's 'arabness', and more importantly is seen as a way of building bridges with the Arab League. The fact that Iraq's President was a kurd coupled with the fact that many view Iran as dominating Iraqi politics, has left many Iraqis arabs, particularly sunni's, feeling quite threatened. This move will go a long way to addressing those fears and this time around the kurds do not hold the voting power to do much about it. It will also probably lead to a certain degree of trouble in the kurdish controlled north as Talabani will return home to find rival kurdish leader Massoud Barzani sitting comfortably in his seat as the president of Kurdistan. He has had time to consolidate his position while Talabani has been in Baghdad and if Talabani comes home trying to assert himself once more it could cause severe friction between the two.

As far as the Iraq Presidency is concerned, it will almost certainly go to a sunni and Adnan al Dulaimi is one possible choice although perhaps he lacks the statesman-like qualities of someone secular like Adnan Pachachi or even former President Ghazi al Yawer. However these last two have almost completely disappeared off the radar, and if the Iraqis want to use this move to dampen the insugency, then Dulaimi is the favourite choice. He heads one of Iraq's biggest clans, the Dulaim, and has the respect of some sections of the insugency. Should he become President, he could bring many of the legitimate resistors onside, and this could lead to the isolation of the salafi and baathist element of the insurgency.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Corruption Charges for Allawi?

Firstly, I must correct myself (again!) on the status of Ibrahim Bahr Uloom. It seems I got it right (the first time!), and the Iraqi Oil Minister has now indeed been sacked. It seems that after I wrote 'the growing pains of Iraqi democracy', he had returned from his son's wedding and was given a compulsory 30 day holiday by Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari. So apologies for that!

Secondly, it gives me immense pleasure to report to you that former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi may become the subject of an investigation into the corruption which took place under his short term in office, according to a well placed Iraqi source. The High Commission of Public Integrity will launch a thorough inquiry into the disappearance of around $2 Billion of public money, $1 Billion of which is alleged to have been taken from the Ministry of Defence by Hazem Shallan, Allawi's Defence Minister. The investigation will examine whether Allawi himself knew about the thefts and whether he personally profited as a result.

The source added that the political elite in Baghdad are accelerating Allawi's demise by drawing his own political support away from him, as it seems certain that some of those who ran on his list will be granted cabinet positions in the new Iraqi Government. And Moqtada Sadr's faction have refused to enter into any alliance with Allawi, which means that there is absoutely no way back for him. Even if the US attempts to perform a coup, Allawi enjoys almost no popular support and now that his own allies are deserting him, he his rule would last abut 30 seconds.

The source also said that there have been some other very positive development coming out of the negotiations for a 'National Unity' government, one of which is an initial agreement between the Sadr faction and the Iraqi Islamic Party, led by Tariq Al-Hashimi. Also, some of Ibrahim Jafari's advisors met with Adnan Dulaimi, leader of the Iraqi Accord Front, on the day of the elections and reported a very positive dialogue took place. It seems that the Iraqi authorities will deal with the Islamist sunni's who they view as seperate from the Neo-Baathist elements of the sunni population, such as Salih Mutlaq, a former baathist, who has categorically been rejected as a possible partner in the next government. This may lay the foundations for a Pan-Islamic coalition, which will lead to a growing prominence of Islamic law in Iraqi legislation.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Jafari's path cleared for role of PM?

Happy new year everyone!

The following is from

"The leadership of SCIRI has concluded, according to al-Hayat's source, that the United Iraqi Alliance will direct the Iraqi government for the next four years. This prospect requires a "Political Overseer" to ride herd on all factions, within the UIA as well as without, and to resolve the big issues. SCIRI believes that its leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, is best suited to head the bloc and to play this role, such that he would be considered the one to take on the "political" process. If al-Hakim were to be given this role, he would drop the candidacy of SCIRI figure Adel Abdul Mahdi for the post of prime minister, allowing it to go to Jaafari of the Dawa Party."

^^^If this turns out to be true, it would confirm what i have been predicting for months, which is that Jafari would remain as PM. He was chosen to be PM after the January 30th elections of last year as he was simply the only one qualified enough, not to mention clean enough, to be the Prime Minister. 2005 didn't see anyone new emerging as a significant force, and so I didn't envisage the UIA changing course. Jafari has had an interesting 9 months or so in the job, and now he can go into his 4 year stint as PM that much more confident of what is to be expected. Call it 'work experience'!

"The language used here, "marja`iyyah siyasiyyah," makes an analogy from the political role of the Overseer to the role of Sistani as the spiritual overseer of the Shiites. I'm not sure what is being envisaged. Is it a role similar to the Chief Whip of the ruling party in the British lower house of parliament? Or, more ominously, is it patterned more on the part played by Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei in the Iranian system? Significantly, many Shiites in Pakistan, e.g., say that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is their spiritual authority (marja`), but that Khamenei is their political marja`. It is an extra-constitutional office that is being proposed, but then I suppose that so is that of Chief Whip in Britain."

^^ I would imagine that if Hakim was to "ride herd" over other political factions, then this would strike me as similar to the Chief Whip in the UK Parliament, who is almost literally meant to whip dissenting MP's into line. In fact I wouldn't mind seeing Moqtada Sadr in this role, as i think he is able to reach across the political spectrum more effectively than Hakim.