Saturday, March 12, 2005

Arabic News: Adnan Ali, one of the aides for Ibrahim al-Jaffari, the candidate for the next Iraqi prime minister, from the United Iraqi Coalition supported by the Shiite clergy Ayatullah Ali al-Seistani, announced reaching a common understanding agreement with the Kurds that will be signed tomorrow, Sunday. The Shiite and Kurdish lists on Friday announced that they eliminated the obstacle of the city of Karkouk which used to impede the formation of the new interim government and the convening of the national assembly ( parliament). The presidency of the Turkman council in Iraq, in Karkouk city, announced rejection to any bilateral agreement that the Turkmans are not a side to. [...] On the other hand, the leading figure in the Shiite list, Ali al-Dabbagh, said that the Kurds agreed to support the nomination of al-Jaafari to preside over the Cabinet, for the Shiite consent that the Kurdish Jalal al-Talibani will be the president of the Republic and another Kurdish figure to assume one of the political posts. [...]

A local [Warren, Mich., USA] man may have failed to get a seat in Iraq's new National Assembly, but he says the fact the election happened is a victory in itself. Hikmat Hakeem, of Warren, ran in Iraq's elections, but his party didn't perform well enough for him to be part of the 275-member assembly. Still, the 6-year-old former law professor could be chosen for Iraq's constitutional committee, which will help write the country's laws under the assembly's supervision, the Detroit Free Press reported Saturday. (AP via San Jose Mercury News)

Ghali Hassan: Iraq Elections And The Liberal Elites: A Response To Noam Chomsky. In a recent opinion piece, Naom Chomsky writes, "In Iraq, the January elections were successful and praiseworthy. However, the main success is being reported only marginally: The United States was compelled to allow them to take place. That is a real triumph, not of the bomb-throwers, but of non-violent resistance by the people, secular as well as Islamist, for whom Grand Ayatollah Al Sistani is a symbol" (Khaleej Times Online, 4 March 2005). Mr. Chomsky is either completely out of touch with reality in Iraq, or simply ignorant of the legitimate rights of the Iraqi people to self-determination. Firstly, the elections were a farce. The majority of the 14 million eligible Iraqis to vote have boycotted the elections. Since the invasion and Occupation of Iraq, Iraqis have protested and requested immediate free and fair elections, however, the Bush administration 'stifled, delayed, manipulated and otherwise thwarted the democratic aspiration of the Iraqi people'. The US administration turned down the idea of elections, claiming that technical problems would permit elections in two years at the earliest. Prominent Iraqi politicians and patriots, and UN officials who are familiar with the conditions there immediately refuted this argument. (See note [1] for detail). According to Joachim Guilliard of German Campaign against the Embargo on Iraq, "Another important element of the US strategy was that the elections took place under the 'Transitional Administrative Law (TAL)'" drawn up by pro-Israel US jurists, such as the 32-year old pro-Israel Noah Feldman of New York University. [...] (

Friday, March 11, 2005

Charles Krauthammer: Three Cheers for the Bush Doctrine. History has begun to speak, and it says that America made the right decision to invade Iraq. on Stewart, the sage of Comedy Central, is one of the few to be honest about it. "What if Bush ... has been right about this all along? I feel like my world view will not sustain itself and I may ... implode." Daniel Schorr, another critic of the Bush foreign policy, ventured, a bit more grudgingly, that Bush "may have had it right." Right on what? That America, using power harnessed to democratic ideals, could begin a transformation of the Arab world from endless tyranny and intolerance to decent governance and democratization. Two years ago, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, I argued in these pages that forcefully deposing Saddam Hussein was, more than anything, about America "coming ashore" to effect a "pan-Arab reformation"--a dangerous, "risky and, yes, arrogant" but necessary attempt to change the very culture of the Middle East, to open its doors to democracy and modernity. [...] (Time Magazine)

M. A. Muqtedar Khan: The Bush administration is under the false impression that the elections in Iraq herald the era of democracy in Iraq and thus justify the Bush preemption doctrine. What they cannot see is that the US has just facilitated a major transfer of power in the Arab World - from Sunnis to Shiites. Thanks to the US the Arab Shites will now control Baghdad - the jewel in the Islamic crown - after a millennium. They did not rule over Baghdad even under the glorious Fatimid Dynasty (909-1171), a Shiite dynasty that ruled over Egypt, North Africa and Syria nearly a thousand years ago but had a tenuous hold briefly under the Buwayhid tribal confederation from 945-1055 when the Turkic Seljuks invaded and captured Baghdad with the help of the Abbasids. (Pakistan Link via Pacific News Service)

United States President George W. Bush is this week claiming that his foreign policy is working to drive democracy in the Middle East, citing changes in Lebanon, Egypt and of course Iraq. But a prominent Australian Middle East expert at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, who has just returned from the region, is warning that the West is in danger of missing the point if it sees the democratisation of the Middle East through a US foreign policy prism. In a research paper to be released next week, Anthony Bubalo argues that Islamism, so much feared by the west as the source of international terrorism and opposed by key Bush administration advisers, can itself be a democratising force. (ABC News Online)

Iraq’s Jan. 30 elections gave a huge boost to the confidence and reputation of the country’s new security forces, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress March 10. “Security for Iraqi elections was done primarily by Iraqi security forces, both inner and outer cordons,” Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers told the House Armed Services Committee. “There were, I think, 11 suicide bombers that attempted to penetrate. None of them did.” Iraqi security forces -- the Iraqi police, special police units and the Iraqi army -- provided the bulk of security around more than 5,000 polling places. Coalition forces only become involved in the security picture in a few areas of Anbar province, most notably Fallujah. (US Dept. of Defense)

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Iraq's dominant Shiite-led alliance set a mid-March deadline to form a government, prodded to action yesterday by spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, who demanded progress after more than a month of postelection haggling. Members of the United Iraqi Alliance, the big winner in the Jan. 30 legislative elections, met in central Baghdad and agreed to try to form a government and convene the 275-member National Assembly by March 15 - after Sistani demanded that they stop bickering. (AP via Philadelphia Inquirer)

Iraq's newly elected National Assembly will convene for the first time on March 16 even if complete agreement on a new government has not been reached, political leaders said Sunday. "They decided together that the assembly will be held on the 16th of this month," said Jawad Taki, spokesman for a leading Islamist party that met Saturday with other political groups and selected the date. Barham Salih, a Kurdish politician and interim deputy prime minister, told Reuters news agency that the assembly would hold its first meeting on that day whether or not total agreement had been reached on a government. The parties "hope to reach an agreement by then," he said. "If we don't . . . the National Assembly will begin its work and discussions will continue inside the assembly." (Washington Post)

Leadership stalemate grips Iraq. Iraq will hold a meeting of its newly elected National Assembly in 10 days with or without a new government, the deputy prime minister said, hoping to instill a sense of order amid the daily violence. Five weeks after elections, the lack of agreement between leading parties over who will lead the new government has fanned fears insurgent activity will spiral unchecked. Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih Sunday said he hoped politicians would end horse-trading over top posts before the meeting. (The Standard [China])