Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Shahristani and Maliki in Federalism Crossfire

Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 6 September 2011 17:03

A recent statement by the governorate council of Wasit had an extraordinary tone: The council “rejected” the appointment of Vice Premier Hussein al-Shahristani as acting electricity minister (after Raad al-Ani “resigned” subsequent to being forced out), alleging that Shahristani had created problems for Wasit in the past through his opposition to several electricity schemes and his management of the disputed Ahdab oilfield, where a Chinese company is involved. The conflict between the local council and the oil ministry (previously headed by Shahristani) has been festering since 2009 and includes serious accusations by local politicians for example to the effect that Chinese prisoners are doing underpaid work at the oilfield.

The statement would seem like an unprecedented attempt by a provincial council to interfere in the workings of the central government. But it is very real, and reflects intense intra-Shiite disagreement ranging from the very personal to key political issues like the question of the basic structure of the Iraqi state. At the time the Wasit federalism project first emerged around June 2010, it was reportedly supported by ISCI and resisted by Sadrists and State of Law, with the rest of the council (the Shahristani bloc, the Iraqi constitutional party, Iraqiyya and independents) uncommitted.  Unfortunately, the few existing recent press reports on the subject are somewhat ambiguous in that they identify a key pro-federal leader as “Mahdi Husayn al-Musawi, deputy speaker of the Wasit governorate assembly”. This seems to be a mix-up of names since the governor is Mahdi Hussein al-Zubaydi (State of Law) whereas the deputy speaker is Mahdi Ali Jabbar al-Musawi (same bloc but previously the Tanzim al-Iraq faction and with a track record of conflict with Shahristani over Ahdab in the past). In any case, these developments clearly suggest that disagreement over federalism is creating challenges for Maliki as well as for Shahristani in Wasit. It is noteworthy that also in Wasit, ISCI is apparently playing a lead role in forcing the rest of the Shiites towards a remorseless approach in the de-Baathification question, in April this year even challenging a decision by the de-Baathification commission to reinstate former Baathists in the education sector.

Similar pro-federal noises have been coming intermittently from Maysan, Karbala, Najaf and Babel, but nowhere is the pro-federal tendency more evident and persistent than in Basra. In particular, Jawad al-Buzuni from Maliki’s own State of Law bloc has been going far in calling for the government to go ahead with a referendum on the question of creating a federal region as demanded by members of the provincial council, claiming it is the only way of solving the current political impasse and indeed of saving the current government. The new federalists of Basra and Wasit fraternise on Facebook with like-minded people as far north as in Nineveh; some of these new federalists even see uni-governorate federalism as an antidote to the dominance of the religious parties.

It is noteworthy, however, that despite all these challenges – on top of the fact that the Iraqi government is breaking Iraqi law by not making the legally mandated moves to hold referendums that have been called  for – even the most pointed attacks at Maliki still seem unable to gather the numerical momentum required to make them real. Symptomatically, perhaps, today, the independent deputy Sabah al-Saadi declared that he has been gathering signatures for a law proposal involving restricting the premier’s terms to two parliamentary cycles, along with special rules for a caretaker ministry in the event of withdrawal of confidence in the cabinet. The targeting of Maliki could not have been clearer, and yet the petition only managed to marshal the signatures of 115 deputies, far below the magical 163 threshold required for doing anything significant with regard to the status of the current government.

In Wasit itself, after an initial open rupture between Maliki and Shahristani over the governorship in February and March and the creation of a challenging bloc consisting of ISCI, the Sadrists, Iraqiyya and the Iraqi constitutional party in April, there have been reports since early August of a reconstituted bloc of 19 more centralist Shiites aggressively opposed to the ISCI-led speaker of the council, reportedly consisting of State of Law, the Shahristani bloc of independents and White Iraqiyya, the (often Shiite) breakaway faction of Iraqiyya. There is a certain geopolitical symbolism to the fact that it is an oilfield operated by a Chinese company that seems to serve as glue for this regrouped alliance of Shiite centralists!

For its part, State of Law has indicated a willingness to pursue a project that would obligate the Iraqi presidency to sign execution orders within 15 days, which would constitute an unusually blunt attack on the Kurdish president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, usually a Maliki ally but also a staunch opponent of the death penalty. Which in turn just seems to emphasise the status quo as the most likely scenario going forward, not least since the Kurds have now made clear that the recently-reported agreement in the Iraqi government on an oil and gas law in fact did not enjoy their support, thereby underlining the persistence of a problem in relations between themselves and Maliki that goes back to 2007.

In other news, the Iraqi parliament is back on the job after the long Eid recess and has adopted an ambitious agenda for Thursday: The second reading of the contentious national council for high policies bill, and a vote, no less, on the equally disputed new parliamentary bylaws . We’ll see.

25 Responses to “Shahristani and Maliki in Federalism Crossfire”

  1. observer said

    Maybe this is off topic a bit… I find that the people in the south do complain of the fact that Baghdad is busy looking at its belly button and forgets that there are concerns outside. Basra specifically complains that they have the majority of the oil but get very little of the benefits and look at Kurdistan with envy. However, as I have shared with you recently, part of the calls for federalism are really a way of looking for more positions to fill at the cost of the public budget and to look for more power as opposed to improving services in the provinces. The local politicians are fearing the wrath of the voters in the coming elections as they will be held to account for the lack of progress and they (rightfully) are trying to set the stage by converting the discussion and pushing the blame where it belongs (again rightfully) at the feet of PM Maliki.

    While I agree with you that the federation law is very weak and is full of ambiguities – but the whole problem can be easily resolved by decentralization and actually empowering the governing councils to do what they need to do. Of course one has to work on the corruption issue, but when you see that the corruption is rampant in Baghdad – what the heck, let the local politicians benefit and not Baghdad based politicians benefit.

    By the way, a friend of mine passed me a comment the other day … It is especially poignant in Iraqi terms. He said to me – did you notice that instead of Tikrit rooted officials we now have Karbala rooted officials all over the place. Those who know the history of Saddam’s Iraq know very well what that means.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, I think the Basra movement has been sufficiently persistent since December 2003 to have some substance to it, despite the spectacular failure of Wail Abd al-Latif in 2009.

    Anyway, I sometimes wish Iraqiyya politicians had been clearer on the points you raise about the potential of decentralisation within the existing framework. This is where I think they need to be more frank despite their tactical alliance with the Kurds and ISCI. At times, when it comes to these fundamental questions of state structure, it is sometimes only Maliki that sounds sensible, I find.

  3. observer said

    On Basra – the claims against baghdad go back into the 60’s and 70’s. People in Basra say that Baghdad purposefully moved services to Baghdad away from Basra in the effort to centralize power. I recall discussions from the time about planes that used to refuel in Basra airport in Ma3qal on their way to the far east and Baghdad then demanded that planes be refueled in Baghdad which sent the refueling business to Kuwait (this was before the jet travel age). the feelings of being a step child or a second child are fairly well rooted in the psyche of the people of Basrah. Basrah’s economy historically was based on trade and obviously when Iraq became a socialist country, trade was the first victim.

    As for decentralization. I have had a few discussiosn with Abd AL Mahdi (but not Hakim) and his view on the issue is like mine. Federation is not intended to be political (at least in the mind of Abd AL Mahdi) – as for the power struggle – well it is what it is. Even people in Basrah understand that the people calling for “regional” recognition understand that it is intended ot creat yet another layer of political control – but as more and more people visit Kurdistan form the south and see the improvements happening in Irbil and Suli, well can you blame them for wanting the same?

    It seems that Maliki is too shy about calling for keeping the US troops – so Barazani is standing up and making the Clarion Call for the extension of US troops presence. I doubt very much that it is in coordination with Maliki. Simply put, Barzani does not give a damn what Iran says, while Talabani and Maliki need a green light from Iran….

  4. Reidar Visser said

    On Basra… Or even longer back! I did my thesis work on an autonomist movement in Basra in the 1920s (published in 2005 as “Basra, the Failed Gulf State”) but was struck by the overwhelming power of Iraqi nationalism even at that early stage. The separatists at the time were rich merchants and owners of date groves (mostly Sunnis including Zubayris originally from Arabia, plus some Christians, Persians and Jews), whereas the Iraqi nationalists were both Sunnis and Shiites with a past in the Ottoman bureaucracy.

    As for the current situation, in 2005-2008 I used to think that uni-governorate federalism was the lesser evil compared to the tripartite schemes that were in vogue back then. If it is impossible to abolish it altogether outside Kurdistan I think federalism could be kept in the constitution for all of Iraq provided there are changes to make the rules for calling a referendum on federalism far stricter, as well as size limitations: The threshold for demanding a referendum should be increased from 10% to maybe 25 to 30% of the electorate and the option for the corrupt and opportunistic governorate councils to demand a referendum should be scrapped altogether. With a size limit on 1-2 governorates and a 5-year moratorium for repeated efforts, the whole federalism question could be contained at a manageable level.

    I guess I just had preferred to see far greater specificity from Iraqiyya on these questions, both in terms of constitutional revision and in their dialogue with Barzani. I agree that his position on Iran is impressive, but he routinely calls for a tripartite federation in Iraq and Iraqiyya needs to confront him in an honest way when he does that.

  5. observer said

    I know that between allawi and barazani there is frank talk not for publication. I have not been present but I know second hand that there is extremely frank discussions but with extreme respect between the two. Adults can agree to disagree – no? As for taking the issue to public levels? I am sure that you have noted that Allawi rarely responds to his detractors, let alone people like Barzani. Allawi’s speech essentially declaring war on Maliki (about three months ago after the demonstrations of the so called “independent tribes”) was a rare exception to the rule. I suspect that Allawi is not talking about the issue of federation right now because it is not a priority. He is letting Maliki stew in his own juices.

    By the way, it appears that instructions from Iran have already come through. No way a confidence motion is going to be allowed. All the she3a block heads are talking the same today. They have their talking points synchronized ;). So that means that Sofa extension is also out of the question. Hmmmmm – what is the US going to do? Sorry to say that it is now time to saw what you seed.
    Peace –

    I now understand why Barzani stated his position now… Sofa maybe coming to a head and if Maliki decides that he is better off pairing with Iran then the US options are limited indeed given that the She3a block is under orders to stick together. Oh who could have guessed that Maliki is that stupid? Which maybe is a good new topic Reidar – what are the options of the US if SOFA is not extended?

    I agree with your suggestions on the modifications for the regional deceleration laws

  6. Mohammed said


    You seem to lament the fact that the shia groups are being influenced by Iran, and at the same time support the scenario that leads to such weakness.

    I appreciate your insight but the more I read your opinions, it seems that you really are not as worried about Iran as you are about Dawaa/Maliki. I have asked you this questions before but I never recall that you answered it. You (Iraqiya) has a choice: A) if state of law consolidated their power over the shia street, they would not be dependent on ISCI and Sadrists for political support, and hence would not give a damn about Iran (effectively negating Iran’s influence in Iraq), or B) the three shia groups remain divided and Iran exploits that weakness to influence events in Iran’s favor. From everything you write, you seem to prefer option B for now, no?

    I can understand why Iraqiya does not like option A—namely, because a unified State of Law with huge support is easily much more powerful than Iraqiya. Allawi’s only saving grace was that Iraqiya as a political block had a couple seats more than State of Law (had SOL won the seats from ISCI and Sadrists,then it would not be close, and I suspect that most people who support ISCI or Sadrists—if given a choice for second preference—would chose SOL over Iraqiya).

    With respect to Maliki being stupid, I wouldnt count him out just yet. Maliki I am sure understands that removal of all US forces from iraq by SOFA deadline is NOT an option. Based on stories appearing in the NY times yesterday/today, it looks like the Obama administration is angling for keeping an official “3000” trainers in Iraq. That is a small official US footprint, but we all know that under the table there will be “non-military” support, private guards, and US embassy personnel (and God knows how many people the unofficial total will really be). In the end, he will have to accept this no matter what Iran wants. If he is clever, he will likely play Iran and America off one another. My guess is that in the end: the official footprint in Baghdad will be small, and perhaps most official trainers will be based in remote locations, and unofficial personnel will continue to do what they are doing under the shield of “diplomatic immunity.”

    What I think you and many secular people fail to understand is that “religious” people are really no different than secular people in their single-minded pursuit of political power. I have never met an Iraqi shiite who will say: “Hi my name is Abbas and I strive to become an Iranian lackey.” In the end, being a lackey is not a goal….achieving power to influence matters to one’s vision is (not Iran’s vision) is the goal.

    You somehow seem impressed with how principled Allawi is, but avoid mentioning the fact that he is chummy with the Saudis. Now, the Saudis treat shia as sub-humans. You would think a principled shia politician (secular or religous) would feel nauseated dining with people with such a crude mentality as the Saudi clan. But, I understand where Allawi is coming from, he is looking for backers to help him achieve power, and looks over their nefarious intentions. Guess who that should remind you of?


  7. We talk and speculate how will a change of Syria’s regime affect Iraq? We should also discuss how could a change of Iraqi regime affect Syria?
    I think the stage is set for a motion of confidence whatever the outcome. If Iraqiya and the Kurds agree then the test will show the strength of Iranian hold over the rest, my sense is we will get a vote of no confidence.

  8. Santana said


    Iran is the root of all evil in Iraq- Saudi meddling in Iraq is almost unheard of !!..when was the last time we saw a report of IED’s and weapons caught on the border with Saudi or advisors from Saudi arrested in Iraq ??….money to Iraqiya ? I have heard about it- I have no evidence but it is probably true- big deal…everyone has his “Sugar-Daddy”.
    Iran is pushing Iraq into a Civil war – we are closer to that than ANY other time since 2007.

    Once the Shiites of Iraq start caring more about Iraq and less about the Marjaieeya or keeping Qom happy then we will be in good shape.If the Shiites of Iraq all thought like Observer or Allawi then who needs Sunnis in the government at all? I am so worried right now- I wish the U.S would actually increase the current troop presence not reduce it. Dumb move by Obama- trying to increase his dwindling approval polls (now at an alltime low) by pulling out of Iraq- like the American public really cares when the pullout date is …economy baby- economy ! If Obama wants any chance of re-election then he should concentrate on jobs and paychecks and stay the hell out of Foreign Policy which he knows NOTHING about.

  9. observer said

    Dear Muhammad,

    I answered your question before. I will repeat it here for your convenience.

    Da3wa is another face of Baath methodology. Do you want Iraqia to repeat the mistake of the Communist party in the early days of Baath by declaring Jabha Watania (National Front) which allowed the Baath to get rooted in government and military (after having settled temporarily the Kurdish rebellion with the March 71 agreement which postponed the Kirkuk issue to 1973). Do you recall what happened to the communists. Again – why do you expect Iraqia to give in to SOL the PM when it has more seats? What is the basis for that? Because Iraqia is afraid of Iran? No sir, the people who should fear Iran are the Islamic parties! But they are too blind by their sectarian thinking to even know that they are being used.

    Maliki and Da3wa are proving day in and day out their incompetence. If we believe in democracy their day of reckoning will come sooner or later. As long as the playing field is not tilted by abuse, cheating, etc., the secular movement will have its turn…..The people of Iraq have had it but I am sure that next elections cycle the Islamic parties will be using “the Baath is coming” once more, but by then they would have cried wolf once to many times. Without improved services, they have no chance….

    And for your statement of only 2 seats more – let me tell you it matters not how many seats. Principals are principals. And further let me remind you of the 400,000 votes that were converted from Iraqia to SOL (the reason why Hassani was forced to resign from the election commission – and her resignation is why Maliki wants the commission “removed”).

    By the way, Allawi is not only chummy with Saudis, but also Gulfies, Turkey, UK and US (some sides in the US). Let me ask you this, however, have you ever asked yourslef how come Allawi does nto have a TV station when ISCI has one, Jaffari has one, and now even Chalabi. If his supporters in Saudia arabia are so strong supporters, pray tell can they not give him the money to have his own TV station?

    On the 3000 trainers – really? Do you expect the US to keep pre-positioned equipment for an army of 100k in three basis for rapid deployment with only 3000 “trainers” guarding the equipment and maintaining them? Dude, I would not want to have the Iranians have a Bradley for reverse engineering or worse experiments on armor piercing primitive weapons. Or how about an F16 navigation computer to take apart. I am sure that the Pentagon will refuse and pull out all the sensitive equipment and leave Iraq to the mercy of Iranians. Do you think Barzani would call for the extension just because he is a friend of the US and is afraid of Iran?

    Come on muhammad. You have to think more deeply not just blindly defending Maliki and the Islamic parties simply because you do not like Allawi’s past, or have an irrational fear of the Baath party which will never never come back. No body in Iraq will allow it. Do you know what will happen in the south if the Baathis came? Talk about calls for a super federation of 9 governorates. Hell, the south would call for independence and they would be justified honestly.

  10. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, just as we were calling for some straight talk from Allawi on state structure issues, it seems it has materialised:

    وأوضح البيان أن علاوي يدعو إلى ” خضوع كل الاتفاقيات والتعاقدات مع الشركات العالمية، التي حصلت والتي ستحصل، تحت سلطة مجلس النواب للاطلاع على تفاصيلها وبقصد الموافقة عليها أو تعديلها أو رفضه”، محملاً ” القائمين على هذا الملف الاقتصادي كامل المسؤولية”.

    Allawi is calling for all oil contracts, whether previous or new ones, to be submitted to parliament for approval. This of course reflects what Jannabi has been saying in the oil and gas committee for some time, but I haven’t heard it in such a pitched way from Allawi before and I suspect Barzani may not be terribly happy about it: It does of course involve strengthening parliamentary oversight vis-a-vis the executive, but it also means strengthening Baghdad versus the provincial entities.

  11. observer said

    I know from personal discussions with Allawi that he wants to close the file of the previous contracts and adjust the payments to Kurdistan to compensate for the monies being paid to the companies doing the developments. I think what is meant by the statement quoted above is future contracts or maybe Allawi will have a selective way of review. One for the central government and one for Kurdistan? Under what justification – I do not know. Maybe as part of the compromise to solve Kirkuk… Not sure though and I am just speculating. Though here is where the value of personal trust comes in. When Allawi promises Barzani with anything, Barzani KNOWS that Allawi will do what he promises to do. When Allawi knows that he can not deliver, he will not promise (not like Maliki and others).

  12. Reidar Visser said

    Well, the “past and future” element is pretty unequivocal if you ask me, viz.

    التي حصلت والتي ستحصل

  13. observer said

    yup – i agree. But again – based on past discussions – I know that Allawi views Kurdistan with special lenses. He wants to settle Kirkuk once and for all by making sure that it will never again be a point of contention (if you think about it, kirkuk has been the reason for difficulties between Arabs and Kurds, and has been the focus of international interest – i.e. turks). So I am rather sure that he would not do something that Barzani and he do not have an agreement on. Allawi is too shrewd for this kind of “slip of the tong”. I will bet you, however, that if a reporter asks him specifically about the contracts signed by Kurdistan vs. SHehristani/Maliki, you will get a straight answer.

  14. Reidar Visser said

    Today’s parliamentary session is underway now. There are reports that the second reading of the NCHP bill has been postponed until Monday. Note the funny choice of words by this newswire which calls it “the law for Allawi’s assembly”:

    البرلمان يؤجل القراءة الثانية لقانون مجلس علاوي إلى الاثنين المقبل

  15. observer said

    Freudian slip. The thing that puzzles me is why they are afraid of it when in fact they have an 80% threshold for decisions that they can ignore anyway at the PM office? Are they that afraid of Allawi showing them that they know nothing about macro planning? Or are they afraid of giving him access to media (which he has anyway?). I mean I can understand their fear if the threshold is 50% – but 80%? Or are they afraid that Sadris and ISCI and Fadhila will side with Kurds and Iraqia and suddenly Da3wa is a minority?

    Suddenly Maliki is the greatest defender of “constitutionality”. Who does he think he is fooling?

  16. Why are they afraid of Allawi when they victimized him so much? They are jealous because they need to feel victimized themselves in order to justify their corruption.

  17. Reidar Visser said

    With all respect to those of you who advocate the establishment of the council, it is possible to argue against it simply because, frankly, quite regardless of who will chair it, it looks somewhat ridiculous and baroque from the point of view of political science. Of course, State of Law is also on thin ice here because they are riding two horses at once, sometimes trying to argue against the council altogether, and sometimes trying to improve their number of seats on the council! In that way, what they are doing is reminiscent of the debate on the presidential deputies and their insistence on having Khuzaie as the third deputy.

  18. observer said

    I have stated here before that the council will not be useful unless it is really used by the leaders to agree on general policies to run Iraq. That was the original concept and it really could have been done in parliament if Maliki/Da3wa intended to treat the rest as partners as opposed to competitors. As it stands, they are putting all the decisions at the higher level of Da3wa/PM offices and the parliament is used to rubber stamp laws written by the PM office. Where else in the world is parliament prevented from suggesting laws as Maliki is insisting? I am not an advocate of the council per se, but rather the idea of having a partnership that runs Iraq is a must in a place as complicated as this. There can not be a tyranny of the majority.

  19. Santana said


    For what it’s worth-I spoke to several Iraqiya Parliament members recently to get an overall feel on the NCHP and they confirmed that there is no way Iraqiya will give up on it…Maliki is very aware of this and his ploy of using the MOD issue as a bargaining chip will not hold water….the MOD appointment belongs to Iraqiya anyway so Maliki should accept that-and even if Maliki was crazy enough to allow someone like Sultan Hashim as MOD (as a crazy example to make a point here) it will not sway Iraqiya to give up on the Council. I also think the fact that Allawi sees the other options to get Maliki to play ball are even more far fetched -given Iran’s sway over ISCI and Ahrar and Talabani-prompting Iraqiya to hang on even more to the Council.

  20. Reidar Visser said

    I find the following criticism of Barzani by State of Law member Shakir al-Darraji quite interesting, since usually it is Turkmens, Shahristani or Abd al-Hadi al-Hasani that tend to produce criticism of the Kurds within the State of Law bloc. It involves critical remarks on authoritarianism within the KRG, oil policy and disputed territories:

  21. observer said

    Hadi al mahdi, one of the leaders of the demonstrations was killed today.

  22. Reidar Visser said

    Also, Shahristani strikes back against his detractors in Wasit:

    He basically asks the local government there to stay focused on providing services instead of getting involved with oil contracts, or, as he puts it, “worry about the human rights situation in China”.

    On Hadi al-Mahdi, for what it may be worth, a member of the Baghdad provincial council says initial evidence suggests his killer was someone he knew personally. And that he had intended to participate in the demonstrations tomorrow.

  23. Kermanshahi said

    Anyone which says Barzani has become to authoritarian is right, however, coming from Maliki loyalists such statements are a bit ironic, since al-Maliki is even more authoritarian.

  24. Salah said

    for what it may be worth, a member of the Baghdad provincial council says initial evidence suggests his killer was someone he knew personally.

    Iraqi reporter who criticized government shot dead

    BAGHDAD (AP) — An Iraqi journalist who criticized the country’s government and was claimed he was abused by the Iraqi army for protesting shoddy services was shot to death Thursday, police said.

    Hadi al-Mehdi, 30, had a weekly program on a Baghdad radio channel on which he called on the government to provide better water, electricity and other public services. He also used Facebook to organize demonstrations every Friday in Baghdad.

    A city police officer says al-Mehdi was shot Thursday evening by gunmen using silenced pistols in the capital’s mostly Shiite neighborhood of al-Jidida. His death was confirmed by a medic at Ibn al-Nafis hospital.

    Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

    Al-Mehdi was one of four Iraqi journalists who said they were abducted by Iraqi Army soldiers after an anti-government demonstration as part of protests across Iraq on Feb. 25, billed as the “Day of Rage.

    “Hadi al mahdi, one of the leaders of the demonstrations was killed today.

    It’s so naive in ME today, US and other western power lead the Arab Spring with help of all the internet social tools (Face Book/Tweeter…Western Media) to loud their voices for regime change those regimes who lost their direction kept their citizens down, while the regime in Iraq (as some like to call it “Elected Regime) brought on Humvee put in power with hasty constitution rush running election under bloody chaotic environment for ballot boxes pricing the democracy (Iraqi purple fingers) all that leads and ended to most corrupted dysfunctional ethnic /Sec regime on earth who lost direction bringing down the citizen for more eight years.

    The soundless gun, disappearances is the real live in Iraq for Iraqi voices by those who telling they fled the same land because of old tyrant republic of fears, now these Iraq have no chose to felled Iraq, they hunts down by anonymously as if in country there is no regime in power.

  25. observer said

    Well Sheshristani is right when he says people talk without real deep knowledge. His guys do the same in Baghdad as do the people in Basrah, Kut, Nassrya, etc. Talk of conspiracies and personal vendettas is standard of practice in Iraq. That said, I know from talking to local government officials in the south that there is a need for jobs and they are looking for jobs in the oil sector preferably with the international oil companies. Some local tribes have began stopping the work of the foreign companies by mobilizing demonstrations and getting promises of future jobs for their clans. The Chinese oil companies are bringing in all sort of workers, not just technical people, but manual laborers. This maybe the real reason for the friction. The politicians are tryign to appear to be concerned about the local people’s job prospects. Shehristani should be sensitive to that issue as it will effect the performance of all Islamic she3a parties in the next elections. As to why he isn’t? Beats me.

    On hadi – iraqia is holding government responsible. The killer was invited in and hadi was killed in his kitchen with bullets to the back of the head. Who the guest is? No witnesses. It could be a policeman that was invited in under the guise of talking about today’s demonstration (you have to know the hospitality rules in Iraq!), or it could be a personal friend who had a vendetta. With no witnesses it is hard, but since there was no noise reported, one can fairly assume it was a silenced weapon – and guess where that leads? The timing is awfully suspicious!

    an excerpt from a report:

    His Facebook profile picture was an announcement for the demonstration, and he posted the following message describing threats against him in the hours before his death:

    Enough … I have lived the last three days in a state of terror. There are some who call me and warn me of raids and arrests of protesters. There is someone saying that the government will do this and that. There is someone with a fake name coming on to Facebook to threaten me. I will take part in the demonstrations, for I am one of its supporters. I firmly believe that the political process embodies a national, economic, and political failure. It deserves to change, and we deserve a better government. In short, I do not represent any political party or any other side, but rather the miserable reality in which we live. … I am sick of seeing our mothers beg in the streets and I am sick of news of politicians’ gluttony and of their looting of Iraq’s riches

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