Iraq and Gulf Analysis

The Hashemi Trial Begins amid Signs the Iraqi Constitution Is Dying

Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 18:30

It was perhaps inevitable. An Iraqi politician would eventually declare the Interpol red flag notice for Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi “unconstitutional”.

There are many good reasons for being critical about the reasons that led to the original prosecution of Hashemi. In particular, the timing of the original Iraqi arrest warrant – just hours after the departure of the last US forces from Iraq in December 2011 – smacked of political opportunism. Subsequent allegations about mistreatment of the imprisoned guards of the Iraqi vice president have been met with unsatisfactory replies from the Iraqi judiciary that have prompted suspicion of  whitewash on more than one occasion.

However, the Interpol red flag notice is in itself not “unconstitutional”. Iraq is an Interpol member and the government has the option of turning to Interpol to request international assistance for bringing suspects to court. The built-in checks and balances in the system in this case have nothing to do with the Iraqi constitution as such but with the ability of other Interpol member countries – including Turkey, where Hashemi is currently staying – to ignore the warrant or deny extradition if they judge its basis to be unsound or the prospects of a fair trial unlikely. This is precisely what Turkey is doing.

Alas, as the trial of Hashemi finally went ahead in absentia in Baghdad today, the meaningless declaration of the Interpol red flag notice as  “unconstitutional” serves as a reminder about much deeper problems in the “new” Iraq. It doesn’t really matter who said it, Sunni, Shiite or Kurd: Today, the Iraqi constitution is merrily being violated by all sides. The term  “unconstitutional” (ghayr al-dusturi) has no real meaning anymore in Iraqi Arabic. It is simply shorthand for  “I wholeheartedly disagree with you (and, besides, I despise you)”.

There are of course numerous indications that the Iraqi judiciary is under severe political pressure from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Over the past year or so it has produced a string of quixotic rulings and constitutional interpretations that leave doubts about its impartiality. Perhaps most noteworthy are the ruling on the independent commissions from January 2011 and the recent ruling on the right of parliament to question ministers (which, symptomatically perhaps, has yet to receive the mainstream media scrutiny it so badly deserves). Maliki’s own refusal to deal in a legal fashion with the various request for federalism referendums over the past year or so is in itself a flagrant constitutional violation – as is his consistent failure to present senior security officials for parliamentary approval.

But the critics of Maliki are not an inch better in terms of adhering to supposed constitutional ideals. With a series of extra-constitutional inventions in the Arbil agreement of 2010 – the centrepiece of their current campaign to unseat Maliki – they, too, are showing scant respect for the Iraqi constitution. In fact, their frequent assertion that they demand adherence to the Arbil agreement and the Iraqi constitution is a contradiction in terms since so much of Arbil involves upsetting the basic balance of power outlined in the constitution and as such should require a popular referendum before being implemented.

It should be added that the international contribution to this anti-constitutional trend in Iraq is generally shameful. The frantic attempts by the United States to get a government seated in 2010 brought about the unhelpful marriage between Iraqiyya and the extra-constitutional strategic policy council scheme, a key ingredient of the Arbil agreement. Similarly, the United Nations agency in Iraq recently issued an unhelpful and naive message of optimism in Iraq, narrowly focusing on security indicators while conveniently brushing obvious political problems under the carpet. Of course, the leverage of both the US and the UN is declining in Iraq as regional players are strongarming their way to fill the vacuum, but the very least they should do after having played such a dominant role since 2003 is to try to emphasize constitutional consistency as a guiding principle for handling political conflict in the country.

Finally, with respect to the green light for the Hashemi trial to go ahead today (it will continue on 20 May), a few comments are in order. Hashemi lawyers had argued that article 93-6 of the constitution gives jurisdiction to the supreme court, rather than to the criminal court, in all cases involving the presidential deputies. On this isolated issue it is possible to agree with the prosecution since said article in fact only mentions the president of the republic (rais) rather than the presidency (riyasa). Another potentially mitigating factor is that Hashemi can appeal the case until it reaches the cassation court, which was recently appointed with at least some new members who were disliked by the Maliki bloc in parliament.

Perhaps the best thing Hashemi’s allies can do going forward is to make sure their own discourse is as loyal to the Iraqi constitution as possible. This, in turn, should make it easier to win international solidarity whenever constitutional infractions become part of the political struggle in Iraq.

77 Responses to “The Hashemi Trial Begins amid Signs the Iraqi Constitution Is Dying”

  1. bb said

    Is the Hashemi trial being telecast?

  2. Mohammed said


    Can you clarify your critique of Iraqiya that you listed in this post regarding their deviation from the constitutional path?

    According to Observer, the national policy council is no longer being pursued (“it is dead” to quote him precisely). Once you remove the national council out of the picture, what is so unconstitutional about the latest letter that comes from Erbil? The demand that Maliki not run for another term need not be a law, but at least some kind of clear and unambiguous “gentlemen’s agreement” where he unconditionally renounces plans for running for PM again? After all, in his interview last week, he seemed to keep the door open for another term by using the cliché (if others force me to serve).

    The rest of Erbil agreement seems to have some admirable, although intractable goals.

    Frankly, I highly doubt that Iraqiya really wants Maliki to implement all of the Erbil agreement anyways. After all, the sunni arabs would abandon Iraqiya in droves if article 140 was enacted a referendum in Kirkuk was held.


  3. Reidar Visser said

    Bb, no it is not being televised. In fact, most of it was closed to the public and journalists yesterday.

    Mohammed, I have not seen any clear indication that Iraqiyya have ceased pushing for the strategic council. Other problematic aspects of Arbil include the idea of strenghtening quota-sharing everywhere (formerly known as the repugnant muhasasa, now reintroduced as the lovely tawazun).

    The only aspects of Arbil that I think are implementable and good for Iraq are the cabinet bylaws and the distribution of security portfolios so they get parliamentary approval:

  4. Ali Aboud said

    Reidar, do you agree that extra-constitutional does not have to mean unconstitutional in general terms?

    By the way, Article 9(1) of the Constitution requires “tawazun” for armed forces at least.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    In principle, yes. But if you insert significant veto powers onto existing constitutional institutions without following due procedure for constitutional changes, I think it may well amount to an unconstitutional arrangement in practice.

    And with respect to tawazun, yes that is precisely my point. The constitution stipulates balance for armed forces (and security forces) as well as the constitutional review committee. But not for everything, as the Arbil agreement seems to prescribe.

  6. observer said

    rv – pray tell how many times does allawi have to announce that he is not interested in the strategic council for you to believe him? If you think that Allawi is just acting on this then you really have no idea who or what Allawi is.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, whether he is personally interested or not is one thing. But why doesn’t he say publicly that Iraqiyya now thinks it was a bad idea, if that is indeed the case?

  8. observer said

    dude – you have no idea what kind of frank discussions that take place between Barzani and Allawi on any and all subjects, including, but not limited to, Kirkuk, So please spare me the “hypotheticals” of what Iraqia dares to do or dares not do. Just concentrate on defending Maliki through actual defense of his concrete deeds not through attacking Iraqia on what they might or might not do.

    on an off tangent. Why should anybody respect those who do not have respect for themselves?

    If it is true that Mutleg has stated what he is reported to be saying in this, then I have to leave the room the next time he walks in, not just refused to have dinner at the same table

    RV- what has to be done is to pressure and pressure and pressure just to get Maliki and his company to give in on the other stuff. We have bigger fish to fry than this. You may not believe it or even the Obama team, but we are on a fast slide to dictatorship and this time it is God inspired.

    oh and by the way, the stratigic council was NOT a bad idea as you would like to think. It is precisely what is needed in Iraq where there is not a tradition of democracy nor a tradition of allowing for “other way of thinking” in decision making

  9. observer said

    Here is the type of concrete actions by Maliki and company that need to be addressed to assure us all that we are not slip sliding to dictatorship. Please do not worry about Iraqia’s demands for “extra constitutional actions” , instead please address the concret UNCONSTITUTIONAL methods of the “not so harmless” Maliki and company

  10. Reidar Visser said

    The English original is here:
    A lot to answer for Maliki there, for sure. I’m just saying his critics would sound a lot more convincing if they, too, could clean up their act and show greater consistency.

  11. observer said

    RV – is it only “there” that Maliki needs to answer?
    How about the pressure on the courts and getting not only expeditious rulings but those that give him the advantage – no?
    How about the control of the security ministries?
    How about the unconstitutional “Baghdad Brigade”?
    How about the use of government coffers to support his party?
    Do I need to go on listing examples, or is the point made clear?

    I have yet to see a post on your blog that puts the blame securely on the shoulders of Maliki, rather you have always tried to bring in the culpability of others in the discussion. Is this what is needed to be “academically neutral”? Even in your answer to my question, you bring in the “others”. What have the others got to do with the secrete jails, besides providing the “residents” that is? Gimme a break man. There has to be a limit and you have to call a spade by its name once in a while.

    We are coming to a very critical point in a few days. I am not going to hold my breath as I am sure that the Iranians, and probably the Americans as well, are doing their best to keep Maliki in place. God forbid that problems happen in Iraq in the middle of an elections season in the US…..

  12. placebo12 said

    Observer – this is exactly the point I was attempting to make to Reidar in the previous post. It is not the fact that he doesn’t criticise Maliki at all, it is this unhealthy obsession with attempting to appear academically balanced when opposition “abuses” can never be seen to be akin to those of the government.

    Reidar – with all due respect, this blog is starting to become an apologist’s playground considering the extent of HR (and other) abuses coming to light in Iraq recently.

  13. Reidar Visser said


    Apologist (noun) one who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something.

    Just quoting from the supposedly pro-Maliki, apologetic post above:

    There are of course numerous indications that the Iraqi judiciary is under severe political pressure from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Over the past year or so it has produced a string of quixotic rulings and constitutional interpretations that leave doubts about its impartiality. Perhaps most noteworthy are the ruling on the independent commissions from January 2011 and the recent ruling on the right of parliament to question ministers (which, symptomatically perhaps, has yet to receive the mainstream media scrutiny it so badly deserves). Maliki’s own refusal to deal in a legal fashion with the various request for federalism referendums over the past year or so is in itself a flagrant constitutional violation – as is his consistent failure to present senior security officials for parliamentary approval.

  14. Mohammed said


    You said: “you have no idea what kind of frank discussions that take place between Barzani and Allawi on any and all subjects, including, but not limited to, Kirkuk, So please spare me the “hypotheticals” of what Iraqia dares to do or dares not do.”

    Frankly, I could care less what Allawi and Barzani say or do in private. Barzani’s PUBLIC statements are enough cause for concern for me and most Iraqis who reject Barzani’s attempts to keep the central government in a state of perpetual weakness and paralysis. Furthermore, the latest manifestos coming from Erbil continue to call for the Kirkuk referendum and I do not believe that this is the right time for such a measure. It is clear that Barzani wants Iraq to be a weak country with a central government that exists in name only so the KRG is free to run its own affairs as a defacto independent state. If the Kurds want to have their own independent state, go ahead (and good luck convincing Iran and Turkey on that front), but don’t ask the rest of us Iraqis to restructure the government to please the kurds and start a civil war over Kirkuk in the process. If Barzani was such an honorable man who “respects himself” then he wouldn’t be caught dead taking that picture in 1996 hugging Saddam after inviting Saddam’s forces into the north to help him in his war against Talibani. In his thirst for power, Barzani also sacrificed many Iraqi opposition members in the north who were caught by Saddam’s goons. So, please spare me about the moral superiority of Barzani. He is a first class opportunist. The scare tactics he was using with the F16s is just the latest example of his nonsense.

    Regarding the rest of the list of complaints you posted, I consider many of them to be quite legitimate. There is no point of me defending policies or actions that are blatantly unjust.

    What really baffles me is that you seem to pinpoint all the unjust policies, but your solutions have nothing to do with them. Barzani is worried about Kirkuk/disputed territories and the oil/gas law and that’s about it (he doesn’t give a hoot about human rights in Baghdad—and if he did, he wouldn’t have his forces shooting unarmed Kurdish protestors like they did in 2011). With respect to the rest of the Erbil letter, how does it prevent the supreme court from acting like the Kangaroo court that continues to serve Maliki with such recent comical rulings? What mechanisms are in place in the Erbil letter to prevent secret torture prisons? Didn’t Iraqiya submit a list of names of people for the defense minister (including Bolani) a while back? When Bolani was head of the interior ministry, weren’t all sorts of human rights abuses occurring then under his leadership?

    Observer, I am not trying to be stubborn here. Admittedly, I agree with you that Maliki has increasingly moved towards more authoritarian policies with time as you predicted. Where I am disagreeing with you is that I view Iraqiya’s responses have been complete and predictable failures as RV has eloquently explained many times.

    I need not pick Iraqiya over Maliki, or Maliki over Iraqiya. Like I said before, I would not vote for Maliki and believe that he should be forced to renounce a third term unconditionally. Your grievances with respect to human rights abuses, politicized armed forces, etc are legitimate and I think you should focus on them one-by-one. With respect to Barzani, I am sorry, but I—and I suspect most Iraqis—are not sympathetic to his whining.


  15. placebo12 said

    Reidar – you did not understand the nuances of my post. What you’ve just pointed out falls under the “other” abuses of Maliki’s government that I mentioned. Indeed, these are issues that you’ve discussed before. But with the exception of the odd passing comment you focus far too much on the politics and far too little on the outcome of this political game – namely the abuses being committed against innocent Iraqis on a daily basis.

    I perceive the blog to have become an apologist’s playground not because it defends Maliki and co directly. Instead, by giving equal space to both opposition and government you are implicitly ignoring what the government is doing outside the political space. Looking the other way warrants the same definition. This has been my worry and I’ve said that from the very beginning.

    And btw, just to be clear on my stance here, I am NOT trying to defend the opposition. Frankly, my wish is for Iraqi politics to start all over again and wipe the slate clean – but the likelihood of that happening is next to nil. However, there is one group that is clearly holding the reigns of power here and the blood is on their hands – challenge that statement at your will.

  16. observer said

    a quote from your own post that shows how you insert the “others” in when they have nothing to do with the issue at hand and in fact are victims…

    “But the critics of Maliki are not an inch better in terms of adhering to supposed constitutional ideals. With a series of extra-constitutional inventions in the Arbil agreement of 2010 – the centrepiece of their current campaign to unseat Maliki – they, too, are showing scant respect for the Iraqi constitution. In fact, their frequent assertion that they demand adherence to the Arbil agreement and the Iraqi constitution is a contradiction in terms since so much of Arbil involves upsetting the basic balance of power outlined in the constitution and as such should require a popular referendum before being implemented.”

    Are the charges even equal? You bring them into your post giving them moral equivalency which is what passes for “academically balanced” when in fact it is not even morally equal.

    I am not going to go in circles with you. Defend Maliki and the central government until you are blue in the face – be my guest. Equating the crimes of Maliki with “extra-constitutional” demands by Iraqia is weak and passes over the heads of many as morally equivalent, but they are not. See my response to RV above.

    On the other stuff – The solution to Kirkuk is a special solution and has nothing to do with 140, census, or any other host of a 100 things that need to be done before Kirkuk is even dealt with… I am not going to tell you details of discussion nor what is on the table, but first things first. Once the hydrocarbon law is set in place, all things are easy – if there is will and good trust.

    Where is your Mailiki in that? He has wasted 8 years and Iraq’s production has yet to go above what Saddam has done. He is really defending the interests of Iraq isn’t he? Oh I forgot that is not Maliki’s problem that is Sheristani. Poor Maliki. He is surrounded by incompetent people or better yet, iraqia ministers who do not want to do a good job – right (isn’t’ that your position from previous posts).

    As for the federal government’s strength. You want it strong – good for you. Come live under its influence. Do not sit in DC and tell me how great it is to be living under the thumb of a strong government. The federal government should get its nose out of everything except DEFENSE (against outsiders, not the Iraqi people) and FOREIGN policy. I would rather have each state//governorate/iqleem whatever have its own police force. just like each city in the US has its own police force, fire fighting and municipality. I want Baghdad to shrink to be about a tenth of its current size. Why does the central government have to be strong and in control? Why does Baghdad have to have 30% of the population of the country? Why is it easy for you outsiders to decide how we should live? I wonder……

    As for the Kurds – keep it up with your superior attitude and see where the Kurds will do. Your attitude about the legitimate demands of the Kurds is no different than that of the majority of the rabble in Iraq. I invite to do a deep read of the history of modern Iraq and how the Kurdish problem has always resulted in keeping Iraq weak precisely because your central government decided that they can not deal with the legitimate demands of these unique people who got screwed along with the Palestinians by the “democratic world”. If you only understand history, then you will not be a principal in repeating it.

    As for all your BS about Barazani – I will let it be but just to remind you, your erstwhile Da3wa met with Saddam just before the war. Reports are just coming out on that. Oh how embarrassing to those god fearing friends of yours.


    Just got information from sources inside the oil industry that despite Sheristani’s claim that oil production is going up – it is actually going down. These “god fearing” politicians lie so easily. Maybe it is because the Mahdi is coming in 2012 and there is no need to worry about the future 🙂

  17. observer said

    oh how i wish for the slate to be wiped clean. How I wish the constitution was written at leisure and by experts in the filed instead of people who have an inherent conflict of interest or even worse – adhering to election politics in the US!! Oh how I wish that no degrees from Hawza 3lmia is recognized. Oh how I wish, and i wish and I wish.. but alas this is ground zero and we have to deal with not only the last 10 years of mistakes, but a century full and in some cases a 1400 year legacy of victimhood.

  18. Mohammed said

    So to summarize (just to make sure I understand your real points that lie somewhere between the insults), you think the Erbil process (that officially still includes the strategic policy council and the call for implementation of Kirkuk/140 as major parts of the agreement) is the solution for Iraq’s woes but:

    1) Hint, hint, wink, wink…Iraqiya doesn’t really expect a Kirkuk referendum (to quote you: “The solution to Kirkuk is a special solution and has nothing to do with 140, census”
    2) Strategic policy council is dead, wink wink…

    Are you friggin’ kidding me? I am sorry, but no wonder the USA govt doesn’t take you guys seriously.

    If you and Placebo pay attention to Reidar, you will see that he is trying to help you guys out by pointing out that Iraqiya’s strategy is obviously a failure on not only constitutional basis, but based on pure political realities as well.

    Regarding the Kurds, I am well aware of Kurdish history. Yes, they got screwed , and have suffered abuses at the hands of successive Iraqi govts since. If I were in charge, I would encourage every Iraqi student to learn the Kurdish language in school (and obviously kurds should teach Arabic in KRG schools as well but of course they don’t) and Kurdish history, anfal campaign, and culture should be taught as part of the curriculum in ALL Iraqi public schools. Kurdish holidays should be given equal weight, etc. Your idea of making Kirkuk the summer capital of Iraq was a great idea. But in the end, I am not a believer in ethnic-based nationalism or creation of such states. Such policies are part of the tribalism of centuries ago. Everybody should have the rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness irrespective of ethnicity, religion, or sect. If I as an Arab want to purchase a house in Arbil, I should be able to do so, and if a Kurd wants to buy a house in Najaf, ditto. People who suffered at the hands of Saddam, be they kurd or arab (in terms of loss of property or loved ones) should be recompensed, the crimes should be acknowledged, and we have to move on and stop living in the past. But, in my dealings with most kurds including questions I have posed to Mahmoud Othman (a man I very much respect), I suspect that the best way to summarize the Kurdish-Arab marriage is like this: “Honey, reality and history has forced us to be married, and I will try to make it work for now, but I am afraid that no matter what you do for me, I will always dream of the day we can be divorced.” That is not a recipe for a successful marriage.

    With respect to central govt responsibilities, I agree that it should be in matters of defense and foreign policy. But I would also add to that natural resources and internal security. You stated: “I would rather have each state//governorate/iqleem whatever have its own police force. just like each city in the US has its own police force, fire fighting and municipality.” That’s all good and well, but even in the USA, there is an over-riding federal component of internal security (FBI, DEA, etc). So, if Baqouba wants to have its own police force, God bless them, but as soon as they start becoming a den for al-qaeda terrorists, it starts becoming my problem..yes, and I mean MY problem, because I have had loved ones die at the hands of such terrorist suicide bombers who likely originate from such places. With respect to natural resources, as soon as the Kurds start building damns and depriving people in the south of water (like Allawi’s buddies the Turks are doing), it becomes a problem for the rest of Iraq. And yes, oil is a natural resource that belongs to ALL of Iraq’s people. Get the picture? So, it is far more complex than what you stated, and I am sure you know that.

    Dig up all the dirt you want on Da3wa—fortunately, I don’t give a damn about them, and nothing you will find will change my view of them. Da3wa is a corrupt group of politicians who have cleaned Iraqiya’s clocks because of Iraqiya’s incompetence and own foolish political tendencies—like being aligned with the GCC countries who mean to deprive shia of all their rights and dignities. Look up wikileaks my friend, and see how your great leader Tareq al-Hashemi and/or his advisor/rep was scheming with Saudi Intelligence to garner their support for Iraqiya in 2010 (according to US govt “secret cables”). Wrong move.

    Placebo..Reidar doesn’t “give” or “take” a forum to any particular group. In fact, I would say that there are more anti-Maliki voices on this forum (observer, Faisal, Santana (who is probably busy lobbying on behalf of Iraqiya in DC)…I am pretty much lone Maliki “apologist.” What do you propose? Reidar should not let me post anymore and nobody is allowed to question the wisdom of Iraqiya tactics? Hmm..such sentiment sounds strangely familiar to an ideology that once dominated Iraq…I just can’t put my finger on it..

  19. faisalkadri said

    “(Reidar) is trying to help you guys out by pointing out that Iraqiya’s strategy is obviously a failure on not only constitutional basis, but based on pure political realities as well.”
    Pure political realities as you see them is not the same, each one of us has his own sense of reality, you are assuming (wrongly) that you and Reidar have the same sense of reality.

    From behind your hints and winks you come across as an idealist but I think you are becoming more realist, which I admire.

    Regarding the reality of Karkuk and the independence of Kudistan, I think the strongest factor is Turkey, not Iraq or the express collective will of the Kurdish people.

  20. placebo12 said

    Mohamed, thankfully my posts are a lot more succinct than yours and therefore it should be a lot easier for you to revise the points I have made on this forum. For your benefit, I’ll outline them below:

    a) Reidar, as I mentioned on the previous blog entry, is totally within his right to comment on anything he wants – and I cannot “force” him to “give” or “take” a forum to any particular group.

    b) In the same way, we’re all within our rights on this forum to point out where we believe his commentary (or those of others) are falling by the wayside.

    c) I mentioned above and beforehand (over and over again, mind you – seriously Mohamed how do you expect us to pay attention to your essays if you don’t read our sentences?!) that criticism should go to all those who perpetrate crimes / abuses of power / abuses of position etc etc etc.

    d) However, my concern is that individuals like yourself are overly enthusiastic when it comes to discussing spineless agreements and security arrangements at the expense of the Iraqi citizens who are suffering on the ground.

    e) Question Iraqiya tactics all day long if you prefer. Spend hours and hours typing away on the issue if you like. But do you really think that this matters as much as the blood being spilled by Maliki’s security forces, the imprisonments without judicial process, the murder of journalists and the squeezing of press freedoms, the corruption – do I really have to spell it out to you? And I haven’t even gotten onto the political abuses yet.

    f) It comes down to this: you’re giving equal space, criticism and importance to a group who “intend” to do certain things and are no where near obtaining the power to do it and another group who are actually “doing” those things and much much worse. Where is the logic there?


    The ideology that once dominated Iraq continues…it’s just different faces this time. I certainly do not intend to keep quiet whilst any authoritarian ruler & ideology attempts to control Iraq and its aspirations – regardless of their backgrounds.

  21. observer said

    so Mo, (to put your position in summary)
    you do not give a damn about Da3wa or Maliki yet you spend all your time here pointing fingers at Hashimi and Mutleg and just giving a shrug of your shoulders to actual crimes by Maliki. Fair? Or not Fair?

    Do you see where you deserve the “apologist” badge?

    Hashimi is not my leader – my moral campus is 😉

  22. Reidar Visser said

    Everyone, I cannot write about everything. I prefer writing about things that aren’t repeated ad nauseam elsewhere. The Maliki-is-becoming-a-dictator theme is probably the most repeated message in English-language forums dealing with Iraq over the past two years so there are plenty of alternative blogs to turn to if this is your preferred fare. I don’t write much about torture, intimidation etc. because these subjects are simply impossible to report reliably from a distance. If I were a Maliki apologist, though, I probably wouldn’t have provided the link to the scathing HRW report above. Similarly, I think Mohammed recently criticised the attack by Maliki on IHEC as well as his failure to obtain parliamentary approval of security officials.

    I have recently tried to highlight obvious political bias in the latest supreme court ruling.

    So far Iraqiyya (or others) have yet to include this issue in their repertoire. In fact, they seem to be saying exactly the same things today that they said last year!

    Meanwhile, with the ultimatum to Maliki expiring, the only thing that seems to have happened today is that Mutlak is returning to government.

  23. Mohammed said


    Your points regarding the abuses of Maliki and Da3wa are quite valid and concerning to me also.

    Now, the question is what is your remedy?

    If you want to focus the discussions on the short-comings and authoritarian policies of Maliki, that frankly is not value-added (no serious person on this forum doubts them). Obviously, you and Observer are intelligent people. The question is what policies are needed to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people?


  24. observer said

    Really – you are asking what the remedy is? ahm.. Get the rascals out. Have you been reading the news?

    I will repeat what I stated in my post above to you. There simply is no equivalency between what Maliki is perpetuating and the others, no matter how it is finessed. I will remind you that about 6 months ago, you stated on these pages that you no longer believed in the “narrative” of Maliki-is-becoming-a-dictator (i can go look for it, but really I do not have the time). I have asked you several times sines then if the cumulative weight of evidence has changed your mind and that it is no longer a narrative… You ignore my questions. Let me ask it again please. Have you changed your mind in regards to the intentions (or malintentions) of Maliki and Da3wa or is it still a “narrative”? Thanks

  25. Mohammed said


    You said: “you do not give a damn about Da3wa or Maliki yet you spend all your time here pointing fingers at Hashimi and Mutleg and just giving a shrug of your shoulders to actual crimes by Maliki. Fair? Or not Fair?”

    Look at my post and see what portion is about Hashemi or Mutleq. If you read the actual posts, the majority of my criticism is regarding tactics and policies. I don’t “shrug” my shoulders about Maliki’s abuses. Maliki and Da3wa need to be reigned in. We disagree on the solution. It’s that simple.

    What I am pointint out to you is that Iraqiya’s policies are not only failing, they are in fact empowering Maliki to do even worse. If there was a real Da3wa guy on this forum, I would give him a piece of my mind too, but they are too cowardly to show themselves.

    Look, you think me to be a fanatic shiite sectarian each his own…But I am sure you believe me when I tell you that I am also against the al-Khalifah regime of Bahrain for what they do to the Shia there. But, if a bahraini shiite opposition leader were to come to me and say, “we need to go to Iran and get more support and apply pressure on al-Khalifah regime,” I would tell them “ARE YOU CRAZY!!” You will be seen as traitors and Iran will use you and abuse you in the end.

    Well Obsever, buddy, Saudi and company are seen as the enemy by a good portion of the population of Iraq. Your tactics of applying pressure on Maliki by coddling up to the GCC and Turkey and Barzani haven’t worked, and these tactics are backfiring on Iraqiya.

    Faisal: completeley agree with your point about Turkey. If Turkey would allow for independent Kurdistan, the Kurds would be out of here in a hurry. Your point about each person having his own reality is also valid.


  26. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, I have done manual searches in the comments and found you made a similar complaint on 25 December 2011 and again on 18 December. But i checked back to October without being able to find the original offending paragraph by me so would be grateful if you could try to locate it – this takes a lot of time! Would be happy to stand corrected if indeed I said I didn’t “believe” in it.

  27. Mohammed said


    Observer, missed your last post.

    “Get the rascals out!” you said..

    ok fair enough.

    I am sure you are giving it the good college try..but as RV has pointed out, it is likely that such an attempt will fail, if it already hasn’t.

    So barring some miracle, shouldn’t there be a plan B? And for many reasons RV has already explained, Arbil Agreement is not a viable plan B.

    I know…I can’t tell me….


    p.s. I so wish I was a fly on the wall when you and Allawi meet..

  28. observer said

    You made the comment in a response to a post by Santana.

    we will not stop until we are all in jail for one made up charge or another 😉
    I will leave the circular debate as I really do not have the time to go into the minutia. You keep on making fun of Iraqia and our futile childish amateurish attempts at dealign with your god fearing friends.

  29. faisalkadri said

    “Get the rascals out”
    By foreign will power? No, I don’t think this is a good idea for Iraqis. Nobody stays forever and Maliki’s record will do damage to his chances of re-election and his party’s. I think the most Iraq should expect from the US and the international community is to insure fair elections.

  30. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, I have searched as best as I could back to August 2011 and found the following item:

    Reidar Visser said
    Friday, 12 August 2011 0:35 at 00:35 e
    I think Iraqiyya are doing an unneccessary detour with the council. It would have been far easier to go directly to Maliki and make a deal on the defence ministry and maybe sack some of the Sadrist and ISCI ministers to get a smaller government. Instead of doing this Iraqiyya leaders keep getting back to 1) what I see as the myth about the betrayal of the supreme court (Sorry, Observer, and Faisal as well: In autumn 2010 Many Iraqiyya leaders were talking about doing the same thing i.e. create a post-election super-alliance with the Kurds and ISCI to take the premiership if State of Law emerged with most votes) and 2) the carefully constructed narrative that Maliki is the new Saddam and that his mentality can never change. I think it could, if he were given the right offer by Iraqiyya.

    It is the only narrative reference I could find, though please note that it is quite different from what you alleged. I was basically saying it could still be possible to change Maliki’s mind. To avoid lots of extra work, I would encourage you to back up any similar references with hyperlinks in the future, whether they refer to me, Mohammed or anyone else!

  31. observer said

    where r the foreign powers? were they at the meeting in Irbil last month? what are you talking about? If anything, there is an american and Iranian will to keep Maliki in place.

    RV – i can nto do a search of your entire blog. You used the word “narrative” in your description of Santana’s whining about Maliki increasing tendency to take reigns of power. I will try to find it.

  32. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, honestly, do you think the Iranians would let Muqtada travel freely in and out of Iran (as he continues to do) in case he was in the middle of plotting something seen as deeply subversive to Iranian interests?

  33. Observer said

    Rv. I tried doing a search but it is hard to do on your blog from my side. If you can access tools you can do a search for “santana” & “narrative” and reduce the number of posts or pages to read through.

    At any rate, the point is: do you agree now or do you not agree that maliki and dawa are in fact trying to control all reigns of power? Do you see a legitimate concern on our part, or is it just sour grapes?

    On iran. Are you suggesting that iran wants maliki out? And thus giving sader a wide berth in action? Oh hold on.. I think you belong to the school that believes that maliki is an iraqi nationalist intent on building a strong iraq but was forced to the arms of iran by iraqias refusal to cut a deal with him. Fair? Or no fair?

    regardless of irans intentions on maliki, i think i would rather see a weak iraq rather than an iraq in the hands of dawa and maliki. That covers the kurds as well. As for allawi and the rest of iraqia, i will let them decide what they want to decide. I have talked on that subject with high level people and i can tell you that the example of baath circa 68 to 75 came up in the discussion. I.e. had we stood up to the baath attempts to consolidate power then, saddam would not have been able to drive iraq into the abyss.

    You all shrug your shoulders when you see concrete signs of malikis UNCONSTITUTIONAL actions and in fact try to equate Malikis actions with supposed extra constitutional suggestions of his opposition…. Where is fair in that?

  34. Reidar Visser said

    The technical problem with searching is the word “narrative” occurs on every single page of the blog due to it being part of the keyword “sectarian master narrative”…

    With respect to Iran, my hypothesis is that if Iran was truly terrified of what Muqtada is doing, they would have stopped him travelling freely across the border. Presumably they think it is a good idea to put some pressure on Maliki at least. I sense that we disagree on priorities here: You are saying Maliki is bad no matter what, I’m saying a PM who owes his position solely to Iran is bad no matter what.

    Just to reiterate my list of recent posts critical of Maliki:

    On one of those occasions even you were so impressed by my anti-Malikism that you wrote, “glad to see that you are finally yielding to the weight of accumulated evidence.”

    That was in December, almost half a year ago. I replied,

    “Observer, I am not “finally yielding” to anything. You will see from the link above that it is datelined January 2011. I was outspoken in my criticism of how the Iraqi judiciary handled de-Baathification in the run-up to the March 2010 elections, e.g. here:
    Ever since I started this blog, when I found that criticism was due, I have been unsparing in my commentary on the judiciary as well as other supposedly “independent” institutions like IHEC and UNAMI. However, I do disagree with many Iraqiyya supporters that the court ruling in 2010 on article 76 of the constitution on government formation and the definition of the biggest bloc was biased. I find the constitution to be genuinely ambiguous on this point, but some in Iraqiyya think I am pro-Maliki just for holding that view.”

  35. observer said

    sorry to be putting you through all that research. I spent an hour yesterday looking for the post in a thread and i got too tired to continue.

    Regardless, I will continue to harp on the issue of increasing evidence until it become clear to you all that we are facing a major disaster – a repeat of the past. By the way, I was not impressed, I only stated that you are yielding to the weight of evidence. How can you not? But the same statement implies that you were blind to the tendencies of Maliki and Da3wa – no? At any rate, let us not go into an endless debate. Maliki and Dawa is a bigger danger from my prospective. iran can be dealt with by others – not by us (interesting news from Israel last week on government reformation instead of elections, and the impending fall of Asad).

    Back to who is worse, Maliki or Iran?
    Blaming the judiciary or the rank and file for policies set at the highest level of government is naive at best RV. You know very well what is happening in the jails of Iraq. Do you not think that can be stopped with a single call from the PM to his minions? Why would anybody spend ink on critiquing the rank and file (say Tarik Harb for example), when you know that the rank and file did for Saddam what they now is doing for Maliki? Is it Tarik Harib (just as a small example) that is at fault or is it Maliki? If it is Tarik, then we should not have put Saddam on trial, we should have put the entire leadership of Iraq, some 200,000 persons on trial.

    On the “election” of Maliki – While on the face of it the ruling deprived Iraqia of a rightful win, it has made it possible for anybody to become PM in the future. Little did Maliki know (maybe he did not even think that far) what will happen in the future. There is no need to have a large election coalition any longer. Since anybody that can gather 183 seats can get his/her turn. Maliki negated the need to have a super She3a pre election alliance. This will lead to a wide open future, unless of course the elections commission is rigged or elections stopped, or better yet go back to the Court and get a different ruling 😉


    where is santana? There is hardly anything to do in DC these days?

  36. Mohammed said

    If I have to choose between Maliki and Jafary, I would choose Maliki any day of the week.
    I am not going to hold anything back here so I will call it as I see it.

    While I do not live in Iraq, I do visit, and my multi-sectarian family lives there. First and foremost on their mind (and my mind) is:
    1) Security
    2) Infrastructure
    3) Jobs-wealth creation
    4) Corruption
    5) Freedom

    In the end, government is not about making Allawi, Observer, or me happy. We can always go live in comfortable places outside of Iraq (as I am doing) and do quite well.

    On the litany of complaints against al-Maliki, I simply do not see how any one of them would improve under a weak leader like Jafary.

    1) Security – Jafary….pleeze. He was an absolute disaster. You can blast Maliki all you want, but under his govt, the average Iraqi is far more secure than at any time since 2003. The last 5-6 months without American troops has seen violence steadily coming down in Baghdad and the south. There are still sections of the country that have problems, but things are moving in the right direction even in the middle of the upheaval in Syria. No Iraqi I know wants to go back to the days of Jafary and his flowery speeches in the midst of horrific violence. In fact, it saddens me to see people that yearn for the days of security and stability under Saddam. It only demonstrates the primacy of security to the life of a human being.

    2) Infrastructure – Problematic on many fronts. We have discussed this before, but a weak govt is not the solution, and will only make problems worse. It seems that Maliki/Shehrestani have finally got their acts together, and I suspect by 2014 there will be noticeable increases in electricity supply for the country. Major drivers for this will be the improved security (as long as things remain stable that it) and significant contracts signed with shell/Mitsubishi regarding natural gas to power electricity plants.

    3) Jobs, wealth creation — Yes, Maliki and his administration have been doing poorly in this area, but having Jafary and a weak govt is hardly a panacea for that. The bottom line is Iraq’s oil output has steadily gone up, the floating terminals has significantly increased export capacity, and the next couple of years should witness continued steady growth. There is plenty of money. My uncle who is a university of professor (and has NOTHING to do with Da3wa (he hates them)) is earning quite a comfortable living. My Sunni brother in law with a high school education works for a telecom in Baghadad and is pulling in 1500-2000/month. High school teachers have quite reasonable salaries as well. The problem as Observer correctly points out is that there is not enough private job growth. I whole-heartedly agree with Observer on limited govt.

    4) Corruption
    There was no tangible difference in the level of corruption when Jafary was head (or for that matter Allawi). As Toby Dodge (a vocal IISS anti-Maliki think-tanker) pointed out, he would not accuse Maliki of personally hoarding wealth for his own gain, but Maliki has been lax on his Da3wa core supporters. Jafary would do no better, and probably even worse. I might add that Allawi also seemed to have a soft spot for people like Hazam al-Shaalan.

    5) Freedom/Persecution of political opponents/Going back to the Baath days
    Everybody is bringing up the Hashemi issue. Certainly there are extra-judicial irregularities, but that alone is not enough to convince me and many other people that Hashemi is really innocent in all these matters. Yes, Maliki may be selective in who he is going after (Muqtada Sadr for example has plenty of blood on his hands including Sayyad al-Khoie), but that is a matter of expediency and reality of power politics.
    What worries me are the jails full of people who are average individuals have not been charged of a crime, with no access lawyers, and maybe subjected to torture. Observer, I would be curious to know what Allawi has to say about his time as PM. Was there torture going on in Iraqi jails then?
    Since we are using human rights watch, it is only fair that I give you a reference also:
    January 25, 2005
    “Human Rights Watch investigations in Iraq found the systematic use of arbitrary arrest, prolonged pre-trial detention without judicial review, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, denial of access by families and lawyers to detainees, improper treatment of detained children, and abysmal conditions in pre-trial detention facilities. Trials are marred by inadequate legal representation and the acceptance of coerced confessions asevidence.Persons tortured or mistreated have inadequate access to health care and no realistic avenue for legal redress.With rare exception, Iraqi authorities have failedto investigateand punish officials responsible for violations.International police advisers, primarily U.S. citizens funded through the United States, have turned a blind eye to these rampant abuses.
    The Iraqi Interim Government, led by Prime Minister Ayad ‘Allawi and presented to the international community as a sign that the violence and abuses of the Saddam Hussein government are a thing of the past, appears to be actively taking part, or is at least complicit, in these grave violations of fundamental human rights. Nor has the United States, the United Kingdom or other involved governments publicly taken up these issues as a matter of concern.”

    Now does that excuse al-Maliki for not cleaning up this rotten system? doesn’t. But it does show that this is a very difficult, disgusting, and complex problem. Why couldn’t he just snap his finger and stop it like you expect Maliki to?

    I suspect that the reason Allawi was unable to stop this was Iraq was in the midst of carnage on the streets and state security had to trump human rights.

    Parliament needs to do its job and the recent passage of the human rights committee was a step in the right direction. Maliki needs to do his job and clean up the interior ministry and not throw road blocks. But I suspect Maliki is also concerned with state security. Are all those people locked up in secret prisons innocent? I doubt it.

    Fundamentally, we need to protect the electoral process to protect our freedoms. I agree with Faisal. I am all for UN monitored elections in Iraq (or perhaps the Jimmy Carter center).

    Just when I thought that freedom was dead in Iraq, I wake up this morning to facebook and see my Baghdadi sister-in-law with a picture of Saddam posted on her facebook page and praising his lovely smile and yearning for the days. Yes, all my sunni relatives (mostly college educated) gave it a thumbs up “like.” Yes, and she has her full name on her facebook page.

    So while things are bad in Iraq—we have a kangaroo court, a PM who has gone pretty lax in defending certain parts of the constitution and missing-in-action with respect to stopping corruption, and yes, and clueless Iraqiya/KRG opposition who only agree on one thing—they hate al-Maliki. But, in the end I suspect much of what Iraqia/KRG are attempting to do is mere theatrics to fool the rest of the world about the “impending disaster” that is about to befall Iraq. I won’t hold my breath. Reminds me of 2008-2009.

    Yes, Jafary will be our savior. Please…


  37. observer said

    M- I did not bother reading your post in total because you have chosen the wrong pairing.
    Jaafary is not in the mix the last time the issue was discussed in my presence. I need not answer you point for point.

  38. observer said

    Ahm. You have transformed from a Maliki apologist to an out right Maliki supporter. Good on you. Finally showing the courage of your convictions… LOL

  39. Reidar Visser said

    Well Chalabi certainly is, and some of those points relate to him as well. For his part, Jaafari certainly keeps behaving as if he were a candidate. I certainly find it unrealistic to assume that Adel Abd al-Mahdi has all of a sudden become the frontrunner.

  40. observer said

    RV – i have been out of circulation for a while. Things may have changed, but the last time the issue of replacement (if necessary) was discussed in my presence, the names mentioned were all 2nd tear, not front tear. Again, things could have changed. Another thing is that nobody wants to be ina stalemate situation with Malik running government while a replacement candidate is decided.. the last time that happened was between the elections and the formation of the government where Maliki was doing pretty much what he pleased.

  41. Mohammed said


    This world is about choices, it is not about living in fantas-land. You want to replace Maliki, find me a better choice. It seems the current Iraqiya answer is: Anybody but Maliki. Sorry not good enough.

    You want to replace Maliki with Chalabi? At least Chalabi has brains and understands the western world. He would be an infinitely better choice than Jafary. The factor that keeps him weak is that he doesn’t have his own political base and thus will be more beholden to Iran/Sadrists/ISCI..etc. Watch out if Chalabi attains the PM position and then is able to build his own political base (unlikely given how secular he is viewed by the shia rabble). Chalabi with a political base will be Maliki with more brains and more cunning. As the Chinese say: “Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true.”

    Adel Abdul Mahdi on the hand seems to be loved by everybody. Basically that means he is a do-nothing weak man with no character. Iraqiya may want a weak leader, but I certainly don’t want a spineless jellyfish who grovels to the likes of Barzani when tough decisions need to be made.

    I whole-heartedly disagree with Observer about picking a weak Iranian puppet over Maliki. I have stated that before, and I will state that again. Maliki’s authoritarian tendencies can be modulated if the right offer is made to him. I have said this before, and I will say this again. Maliki is no Jeffersonian democrat, but he is also no Saddam. Just imagine Saddam working with a guy who insulted him (like Saleh Mutlaq insulted Maliki, yet Maliki changed course and kissed and made up with Mutlaq).

    RV, you once said:
    1. Reidar Visser said
    Saturday, 25 June 2011 22:14 at 22:14
    Faisal, to be honest, I don’t think Maliki is that much worse than everybody else. If Iraqiyya leaders truly see no hope in working with him then I think they should pull out of the government and act as an honest opposition. As outlined above, I think they would do better by scrapping the whole strategic policy council idea and instead offering Maliki help in reshaping the existing government by making it smaller (i.e. ditching Wasat, ISCI, Fadila and the Sadrists who are no longer needed for Maliki after they king-made him.)

    Do you still hold that Maliki is not much worse than everybody else?


    p.s. Observer, you can call me a Maliki supporter, apologist, or whatever you fancy. I don’t succumb to emotional outbursts or theatrics. I have stated before in reponses to you that I agree more with Maliki’s policies than Allawi’s. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything Maliki does, and I have made that amply clear on this forum. I don’t believe politicians walk on water like Allawi apparently does. They have flaws, and we have to take the good with the bad. In the end, you have to make a choice based on reality.

  42. observer said

    what you want is not as important as what the people in the game want. I say keep on digging for names to compare. You want Maliki above everybody else, that is your opinion and you are welcomed to it. Shoving down our throats is not an option you have. maybe Iran and the US does, but certainly not your good self. Your dying defense of Maliki reminds me of the opposition days when we had to deal with those who condemned saddam in one breath and then came back with the second breath and said but he is the devil we know and he is better than the alternatives.

  43. Reidar Visser said

    I tend to agree with Mohammed, i.e. the alternatives to Maliki will be chosen mainly for their weakness, which is not good for Iraq. Maliki’s track record shows he developed in a nationalist direction between 2006 and 2008 (at the time lots of Iraqiyya guys were genuinely enthusiastic about this) and he could do so again under the right circumstances. Note how Iraqiyya’s grassroots are responding positively to Maliki’s recent Kirkuk moves, coupled with criticism of Allawi. These are real reactions reported from local Kirkuk politicians, not the pontifications of Western analysts on the internet. So I think Iraq is better off with a concerted but realistic attempt to influence Maliki (i.e. not the Arbil agreement but security minsitries, cabinet bylaws etc) than it is with a new, weak PM who will be installed at the behest of parliamentary votes largely controlled by Iran.

  44. observer said

    yup RV. Maliki is an Iraqi Nationalist and he is only being pushed into the arms of Iran by Iraqia. That is a narrative that you have stuck to despite the facts on the ground.

    You have the right to your opinion of course, but the same grass roots you talk about know better than you how the jails are run and the torture and all the rest of the stuff that has nothing to do with Maliki owing his seat to Iran (or the US for that matter), rather it supposedly is evidence of Maliki wanting to build a strong Iraq .

    I have no idea how you reconcile the FACTS with your narrative, but it is a free world. Here is how we see it – If Maliki (who owes his seat to Iran just like any other PM that would come from a shuffle – if it happens) is capable of getting away with the atrocities and using the power of the state, how much more can a “strong Maliki” do?.

    Oh wait, a strong Maliki would be supported by Iraqia to maintain his seat – AHA. That is the ticket. Screw the Kurds and build a strong Da3wa based new Iraq. Then when everything is set, he can also screw Iraqia (talk about the repeat of 68-75). Really RV, I just do not see how you can ignore so many facts in favor or your narrative. If your criteria is standing up to Iran, then any character from Iraqia would suffice!!!! But to each his own I suppose.

  45. faisalkadri said

    I think your statement of the choice “mainly for their weakness” doesn’t show the reality. The choice is probably for the candidate who will uphold the constitution. Your description of weakness describes all good politicians under democracy!
    In any case, even when a majority of opposition will reach consensus on their choice of PM replacement, the decision will depend on timing. As they say timing is everything. Talbani will never oppose Iran in timing.

  46. Santana said

    Hi Observer-

    Thanks for asking about me in post #35….sorry for not jumping in – I have been very busy in DC but also reading the interesting debate on here. Guys- for what it’s worth there are plans to unseat Maliki ahead of the next General elections in Iraq and the wheels are in motion – I cannot divulge all the details but I can tell you that Iraq will become a U.S election issue whether the administration likes it or not….infact once it does become an election issue, this may be the ONLY hope for Iraqis that the U.S will start taking action against Maliki. The talks right now and pressure by several groups are not about Erbil, or Hashimi …etc….the focus now is on a much bigger picture/Problem which is to save Iraq from the clutches of Iran and prevent this new ” Iraq/Iran Alliance” that Maliki discussed in Tehran ………the coming action is not really for the sake of Iraqis per se but for a host of strategic reasons-… protect U.S interests in the area, protect the GCC countries ,protecting Israel, making sure Oil prices do not skyrocket (which directly impact the U.S citizens and thus ding, ding, ding can affect Obama’s RE-ELECTION !,it is also about Protecting the Kurds , keeping a potential 5-8 million barrels/day of future Iraqi Oil income from going to Iran’s coffers to finance evil activities worldwide and Iran’s nuclear program….and I can go on and on… guys…this is no longer about Erbil or Hashimi..those or just symptoms of a much bigger disease which Iran and Maliki are working on…this is a play to create a a major superpower that can totally disrupt the region…..the Iraqi issue will be a hot topic this summer and the scumbag Sectarian dictator Maliki will pay dearly for trying to hand Iraq over to Iran….and again what the U.S and it’s allies will do is not for “sawad 3eyoon al-Iraqeyoon” as the Iraqi saying goes…this is a MUCH bigger problem that is grabbing major attention in the back corridors……and I think Obama wants re-election desperatly enough to where something will be done !! again it is not a re-election issue yet….but trust me …it will be in a few weeks time- Romney has already started criticizing Obam for being too lax on Iran and for mucking up by leaving too soon.

  47. Mohammed said


    welcome back! this forum is not the same without your input. Yes, I saw in the news that Iraqiya has hired Sanitas to help them lobby against Maliki.

    of course Maliki is also going on his own charm offensive with DC think-tanks, but I am sure you know that too. I am a bit saddened that he did not invite RV given what a “Maliki apologist” RV is ;-). To protest, I am resigning my post as Maliki’s “Chief Lackey.”

    anyways, this would all be comical if it were not the fact that the people who really are paying dearly in terms of blood, stagnant progress, and misery are the iraqi people. Santana, you know I love you man, but how many times are we going to go through this before you realize that these actions are futile and worse, counter-productive? I do love your tenacity though…

    it is amusing how two Iraqiya guys seem to have different priorities. Santana on the one hand says that this is really about going after Iran, whereas Observer says that Maliki and Da3wa are the larger threat to Iraq independent of Iran.

    and just to mix things up a bit…

    have you seen this from one of the most anti-Iran neocons (Michael Rubin) out there from the AEI, and before you read it..see my own two points that come first..
    1: I don’t agree with everything in the article and Rubin overlooks Maliki’s moves against the indepedent bodies, and violations of Iraq’s constitution as RV has pointed out, but I do agree with the overall message ..
    2: As a physician, I would advise pro-Iraqiya folks with heart problems to take their blood pressure medications before they read it….


  48. Mohammed said

    and also this one from Rubin:

    Max Boot on the other hand seems to be unconvinced of Rubin’s arguments..

  49. Observer said

    I see you expertly sidestepped the faulty argument that i pointed out inmy last post. Oh and mo, the differences in my position and santana are minimalbut it prooves that we do not report to a dictator is your dawa people claim allawi is!

    Santana,i am meeting withfriends in a couple of days to see what is the latestand greatest. Interesting stuff you bring out but. Dobe careful what yousayin this place. Apparently mo’s friendsare following these pages!

  50. Observer said

    On rubin,, i see that healso side stepped the torture andcontrol of judiciary with a shrug…. Again, thank you armchair quarter backs for your invaluable insights…

  51. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, I don’t have time to go in and edit individual comments right now but I need to say that however much I always appreciate your arguments and insights, your repeated mischaracterisation of Mohammed as an avid supporter of Maliki and Daawa will, in the eyes of a large part of the blog readership, likely detract from your otherwise very interesting arguments.

  52. bb said

    On that HRW link – I saw a lengthy report on “Camp Honor” on Australian TV Friday night. Apparently,in response to HRW allegations, the Iraqi army immediately threw open “camp honor” and conducted media and TV crews through the prison. Was obvious that the prison had not been used for months. I was interested that the Iraqi army had moved so quickly to answer the allegations.

    It is truly bizarre to read here from commenters that Dawa are the Iranian lackeys but ISCI and the Sadrists are apparently not! Still, Reidar, you have to remember back to 2006/07 when the sunni arab parties joined up with the sadrists to bring down Maliki barely six months after he had become prime minister – at the very time the Sadrist militias were taking sunni youths off the streets of Baghdad and killing them with electric drills.

    Rubin’s accounts of Anbar politicians pushing the coup line but unable to nominate the “right general” except from their own tribe, illustrates how much of this is that old horse, self interest.

    Future of Iraq (and all arab fledgingling democracies) lies in the development of a professional political class which will cross the sunni/shia divide. Signs that is is happening were the departure of sections of Iraqiyya to support the govt earlier this year and the subsequent passing of the budget.

    Now the commenters are banging on about yet another Iraqiyya/Isci/Sadrist hook up to bring down govt. I wonder if they have considered that the Iranian regime might be using their immaturity to install their favoured parties to control of Iraq as they did in 2007?


  53. Mohammed said

    RV and Observer:

    RV thanks for your kind words, but really, it’s fine. I take no offense at Observer or others. I truly mean it when I say I admire him for many reasons. He is there, and I am not. It’s that simple, so I give him all the latitude in the world (I can imagine the situation he faces is frustrating enough without having to deal with the likes of me). If all of Iraq’s politicians were like Observer, Iraq would be the better for it. And given that he is willing to take time to engage me in discussion, I am grateful. I have been following this blog for a couple of years now, and I have learnt a great deal from RV, Observer, Santana, Faisal, and others. I actually can have access to some Da3wa local party bosses here in the USA if I choose to, but they would never give me the time of day to talk with them in the manner that Observer would. Admittedly I was probably more of a Maliki “supporter” two years ago, than I am today, and that is in no small part due to discussions with RV and Observer.

    Observer, you are right, I am not in “the game” like you and others. But believe me when I tell you that if I wanted to be in “the game,” I could be doing the same kind of activities for Maliki’s side that Santana does for Iraqiya—and I am sure they would welcome me with open arms, because I bring a not-too-shabby academic background, as well as an ability to communicate with Americans and knowledge of their culture—a set of attributes that are sorely lacking on Maliki’s side. The only problem would be that it would require that I stick to the party line on everything and stay silent when I see policies and actions that I disagree with. Hence, I will hang on to my career as a physician-scientist for now, and “armchair quarterbacking” in my spare time. And in the meantime, Maliki will have to make due with an ambassador to DC who may be capable, but can’t speak English, and a UN ambassador (who I have met before) who leaves much to be desired.

    Observer, regarding your last post, I didn’t mean to ignore it as I thought it was directed at RV. But, sure I’ll bite. Your argument boils down to: 1) The human rights violations (secret jails/torture/killing political opponents) have nothing to do with Maliki owing his seat to Iran, but really is a sign of a malevolent dictator in the making, and the more powerful he becomes, the more he will oppress the people of Iraq, and 2) If all RV and I are looking for is somebody who will keep Iran at arm’s length, then anybody from Iraqiya would do. Fair?

    I think I already addressed the human rights’, silencing of political opponents, etc before (and I know how loathe you are to keep going in circles). My response is in two parts: a) Human rights violations and secret prisons torture do occur, but it is a systemic problem, not easily fixed, and b) I see no difference between Maliki and his opponents when it comes to this issue and this is further proof to this being a systemic problem.

    Speaking of ignoring my remarks, your only response the HRW report documenting the same problems circa 2005 when Allawi was PM was to call me a “Maliki supporter.” Is that a “shoulder shrug?” You and I both know that Iraq was smack dab in the middle of HELL in 2004-2007. You put any country through that, and building draconian state security at the costs of freedom is the natural response. Allawi was part of it, Jafary, and Maliki has continued it. What did the Americans do during World War II? All the Japanese were put into camps wholesale. Innocent people get caught up in this and languish in jails, and that is a tragedy. It also becomes abused by the distributed components of the security apparatus for personal gain. It is a systemic problem that needs years to fix, wholesale replacements of people running jails and police stations, and meticulous oversight, and a courageous leader willing to implement ideas like Faisal’s regarding UN/NGO oversight, etc. Maliki is barely stronger today than he was in 2010, but what evidence do you have that he is torturing more people than 2010 or 2008 (as this problem was there in 2005 according HRW)?

    In the mean-time, Maliki has indeed improved safety for the average Iraqi citizen, and all the statistics back that claim up. My sunni and shia relatives in Baghdad (who lost loved ones during the civil war) all agree on that. Bombings and assassinations still do happen, and hence there will be heightened security until things settle down even more. Personal freedoms are relatively preserved (unless you’re an Emo). The example I gave you of my sister in law posting “I love Saddam” pictures on her facebook page shows is anecdotal evidence that there is no dramatic change in the personal political freedoms of the average citizen since Maliki has been in charge. In fact, many Sunnis were far more scared of Jaysh al Mahdi scum in 2007 and avoided going to their Sunni mosque.

    Now, regarding the oppression of Maliki’s political opponents…Like I said before, if Maliki really did make up all this case against Hashemi and there is no real substance to any of it, then my entire argument crumbles, and you are 100% right. However, the more time goes on, the more it seems that many people are beginning to suspect that there really was more than meets the eye with good old Hashemi. Time will tell.

    I might point out that on this very day, Maliki’s political opponents are meeting in Najaf presumably plotting his overthrow. What kind of pathetic dictator just sits there and let’s that happen? Mutlaq called Maliki a dictator, and he is back at his job. Eisawi co-signed the letter against Maliki, and nothing happened to him. By any metric that you measure the strength of a leader, Maliki is by far the weakest leader in the region.

    Finally, what I have never understood about you, Observer, is how you are in a position to make such sweeping judgments about Maliki’s flaws but forget that Maliki’s latest accuser, Barzani, is really no better. Weren’t unarmed protesters shot in KRG last year? What about Sardasht Osman’s murder for being critical of Barzani.

    How is that different from Hadi al-Mahdi who was also murdered in Baghdad? I assure you that Barzani has much better control over his territory and men in KRG, than does Maliki over Baghdad, and any serious analyst would agree. Regarding power-sharing, Barzani/Talibani run the KRG as their own little fiefdom. Barzani can be implicated in pretty much everything that Maliki is accused of, except he is much better when it comes to public relations. Yet, he is a close ally and friend of Allawi. Care to explain that paradox?

    My point in all this is that corruption, human rights’ violations, etc is a systemic problem and will take time to fix (KRG has been at it for 10+ more years than Maliki). To fix this SYSTEMIC problem requires a strong leader with an active parliament with oversight that can take on this system (many stake holders who probably benefit from the status quo). A weak leader after Maliki will not improve it in my estimation, and it will likely only worsen. You want to replace Maliki, pick a strong well-intentioned leader instead of an Iranian lackey. Otherwise, I see no other option.

    2) Your other point about picking an Iraqiya person to be the PM since we are looking for somebody who will stand up to Iran is not realistic at this time. You know it. I know it. No point in arguing that.

    Regarding Da3wa taking over all of Iraq, again we argued this point before, and I respectfully disagree. Da3wa is a sectarian organization that can never have wide-spread appeal over all of Iraq. I do believe Da3wa can dominate most of Baghdad and all the south using NON-AUTHORITARIAN means (much like conservative Christians dominate the US south by wide margins), but that is about it. The rest of Iraq is a no-go zone for Da3wa. While many were surprised on how well Iraqiya did in the last elections, I was not (sunnis don’t vote for Maliki, and even if they do, it will be too few in number to matter). The biggest surprise really in my mind is how well the Sadrists did. Sadrist voters are prime Maliki targets. If I was Maliki those are the groups I would target in terms of their voter support-base, and perhaps that is why they are so rattled by Maliki. If Maliki had taken 20 more seats away from Sadrists in the last election and a few more from ISCI/Badr/Fadhila, you and I would not be having this conversation, and yes—I believe, Iran would have much less control over Iraq than it presently does, because Maliki wouldn’t need them. The weaker the PM is, the MORE dependent he will be on Iran. No different than Obama scared out of his pants by Israel in a tough election season.

    Finally, to prevent “tyranny of the majority,” the solution is not in Arbil. It involves ideas that RV has outlined, as well as reform to the judicial system, amendments to the constitution, and wholesale change of those monkeys running Iraq’s Supreme Court.

    Yes, easier said than done. I’ll stick to curing heart disease thank you.

    Respectfully yours,

  54. Santana said

    Thanks Mohamed – I really appreciate the kind words inspite of all the things we disagree on !!…it shows your true and solid character…..however I must analyze your input in a slightly different way than Observer….my opinion is that you are a true Iraqi who wants Iraq’s best interest but I believe “Maliki naseb 3laik” BIGTIME….(or Maliki has pulled the wool over your face)….and that if you REALLY knew the truth about this guy and what a liar, sectarian, Iranian lackey,power hungry and traitor he really is , then you would not be sparring with Observer….I consider what Observer states on here as the closest to reality than what ANYONE else posts on this blog !!!!…..Mohamed- there is NO hope whatsoever in Maliki bud………he will drive Iraq down the mazreeb (the sewage) with the help of Iran and by the time everyone wakes up and smells the coffee it will be too late and military action is needed.

    Observer- I noted your comments and I will be careful about what I divulge on here but it won’t matter…The truth is coming out and Maliki’s deck of cards will collapse soon…

    What amazes me though is the reliance on the Sadrists to come save the day !!! I cannot figure this out at all…I would not only walk away from ANYTHING to do with Moqtada…I would burn rubber getting the hell away from him and his terrorist organization. Iraqiya might as well sit and talk to Qassem Sulaimani…..same crap !!

  55. @Mohammad @Observer What are you guys talking about when you say Iraq’s Ambassadors to the USA and the UN can’t speak English?

    The Ambassador to the UN, Hamid Al-Bayati, apparently has a PhD from Manchester University:
    And here he is on BBC Hardtalk, where he appeared a few weeks ago on early April 2012:
    He may not be as great an orator and linguist as Winston Churchill, and not as natural as Dr. Salah Al-Shaikhly (Iraq’s previous ambassador to the UK, a former member ally of Allawi in the Iraqi National Accord), but he more than manages.

    And the Iraqi Ambassador to the USA, Dr. Jabir Habeb Jabir, has a PhD from Dundee University:

  56. @Mohammad You don’t need to go back to World War II to find examples of civil liberties being curtailed; look to 2001, post 9/11 USA. The Patriot Act and the other laws, some of the Obama signed, and he’s a constitutional lawyer! He signed a law disregarding habeas corpus, allowing the US govt to assassinate a US citizen without trial i.e. Anwar Awlaki.
    Almost needless to mention, Guantanamo.

    And yet, the reality of the dangers the US was facing was absolutely irrelevant compared to what Iraq was going through.

  57. @Mohammad @Observer What are you guys talking about when you say the Iraqi Ambassadors to the USA and the UN can’t speak English?

    Iraq’s Ambassador to the UN, Hamid Al Bayati, has a PhD from Manchester University and here he is on Hardtalk in early April 2012:

    Iraq’s Ambassador to the USA has a PhD from Dundee University:

    They may not be orators in English on the level of Winston Churchill, but Al Bayati at least manages satisfactorily.

  58. Mohammed said


    I never said that Hamid Bayati can’t speak English. I have had dinner with man. I know he can speak English and has a PhD. But just listen to him talk. Compare that with Israel’s ambassador to the USA. It’s not even close. These things matter not only for when people are on TV, but when you sit down in state dept or congressional members’ offices and try to connect with them at a personal level. Iraqiya has people like Observer and Santana. Santana not only knows English, you can tell from his writings that he easily understands American grassroots culture (whether it is sports, history, entertainment, etc) and probably connects better than Maliki’s guys. An American would see Hamid Bayati speak, and they will think “Fresh off the Boat.”

    As for Jaber Habib Jaber, I have never heard the man speak English, but I recall Santana on this forum stating that speaking English is a problem for Jaber. Even if somebody has read or studied in the English language, it doesn’t mean they are comfortable in it. Ibrahim Jaffary apparently knows English since much of medicine in Iraq is/was taught in English, and he lived in London. But when he visited the US to meet Bush and co., he barely spoke two words in English, and made most if not all of his speeches to the American public or press conferences in Arabic.

    Regarding American violations of human rights, secret prisons (hundreds of secret black-op CIA prisons in foreign countries), I am sure Observer knows that too. But it would be wrong to accept that as an excuse. I imagine if my loved one was innocent and scooped up in a Baghdad “security” operation and is now being tortured in some dilapidated prison, I would be seething with hatred of Maliki, and justifiably so. Shoulder shrugs are not good enough, the problems need to be studied, and solutions are needed to protect the most vulnerable segments of society. Barzani and company politicizing such challenges reeks of political opportunism especially when they are doing hardly any better in the KRG.


  59. observer said

    sorry – i have no time to answer but truly there is no loss of respect here. I am blunt and rather cynical, but I would not have spent time responding to you if I thought that it is a waste of my time. I aim, though my counter arguments to make you all see the picture from the inside of Iraq. You have a chance of becoming a positive contributor if only you move away from idealistic notions. ENough said. I am not going to call you a Maliki apologist but I will call you a sympathizer with Maliki’s cause because you have nto dealt with him or his likes and like Santana, i think you will change your tune if (or shall I say when) you come back. I have much more to say about Maliki and company but I can not share with you all much of what I know.

    On things that can be said in public… now it is out in public pronouncements – Jaafari left Iraq after having a fight with Maliki — I wonder what is the next step..

    Exciting times

  60. Santana said


    Do you know where Jaafari went after his spat with Maliki? please don’t tell me to Tehran? which wouldn’t surprise me one bit…….Mohamed- thanks for complimenting my “english skills and my understanding of the American culture”…maybe it’s because I was born and raised in the U.S…LOL……


  61. bb said

    “Born in Baghdad in 1955, Dr. Jabir obtained his Bachelor Degree in Political Science from Baghdad University in 1980 and his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from Dundee University in United Kingdom in 1991.

    After completing his PhD Degree and returning to Iraq, Dr. Jabir was appointed as a lecturer at the Faculty of Law and Political Science at Baghdad University for the period 1991-2005. In addition, Dr. Jabir was an associate senior lecturer at the Iraqi Justice Institution from 1998 to 1999.

    Dr. Jabir has an extensive and unique academic background with over 20 year experience in Political Science. He has many distinguished academic publications in International Relations and Politics and has supervised many postgraduate Masters and PhD thesis at Baghdad University. In addition, Dr. Jabir has numerous publications in most respected international media and tabloids such as “The Middle East” which is published in London, UK.

    In 2005, Dr. Jabir was elected as a member to the Iraqi Parliament and due to his distinguished and renowned background in Constitutional Law and Political Science he was elected as a member for the Constitution Review Committee and the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee. Dr. Jabir was responsible for managing the “Arabic Region” Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before being appointed as the Ambassador to the United States.

    Dr. Jabir is a distinguished member at many professional and international associations such as the Iraqi Political Science Association, which incorporates the best and elite of Iraqi professors and academic graduates. Dr. Jabir is married and has three sons.”

    Gadzooks – is there no end to these evil Persian lackeys posing as distinguished, western educated Iraqi academics of experience and qualification in Washington and New York ? And Canberra, I mighty add.
    Ahah, but they are betrayed by the absence of excitable hyperbole. The truth is out there.

  62. Santana said


    Nice of you to highlight all the bio of Amb Jaber Habib Jaber…pretty impressive stuff on paper and to the readers that don’t know any better….let me give you a real live example of why everything you stated about Jaber’s wonderful credentials means NOTHING ! When Amb Samir Al-Sumaidaee was in DC all the prominent Iraqi analysts, Lobbyists and thinktankers were invited to attend the Embassy’s events in DC….reception dinners for visiting VIPs, Nowrooz, Liberation annaversary, speaking events….etc…all Iraqis with no exception….then that Sectarian Maliki decides he wants people loyal to Daawa only as Ambassadors so Samir Al-Sumadaiee is history and replaced with Jaber….the “Dundee” graduate….well…first thing the embassy does is remove ALL Sunnis from their “Invitee” list…..and now next on the list is to take out all the prominent DC kurds too….if this keeps going -as a reflection of what Maliki does in Iraq- then these events wil end up being Daawa, acceptable and pre-approved Shiites and Americans only….all other “undesirables” are out….because they may speak their minds at these events and expose Maliki for what he is ! So I don’t really care if Jaber is a Dundee graduate or from a theology school in Qum, or a Nuclear physicist with a M.I.T honorary PHD………it works out the same…no amount of Western education has any influence on how they think in the “”New Iraq”…and don’t even get me started on the Bayati guy….he is 10 times worse than Jaber ….Dundee….yeah right- that really makes a difference !!

  63. Observer said

    Santana. I was told that he went to london

  64. Mohammed said


    You’re born in the good ole USA, eh? Well, I figured it was something like that given your writing style. Hey, at least you are still in the running for Romney’s VP selection! I, on the other hand can never become pres or VP since I was born in Iraq…sigh..

    But in all seriousness, regarding your prior posts about how Maliki (qashmarni-tricked me that is), I have never interacted with the man….All I know is from what I see in the news, and people I talk to, and my own personal experiences when I visit. My judgments about Iraq today can only be based on reliable reports that can be reasonably verified. Observer may know more about “facts on the ground,” but since he is unable to share them, then you have me at a disadvantage. I think the same can be said for RV. A quality I most admire about RV is he is basing his analysis on accurate info instead of pure speculatoin and rumor like many other analysts do.

    To me, the Hashemi case is a small microcosm of Iraqi politics. Like I told Observer, if it turns out that Maliki made all this up against Hashemi, then most of my arguments are invalidated about Maliki and you are justified in trying to replace him. But if Hashemi really did have dirty hands in all these alleged crimes, the ramifications are huge, and frankly, I would be far harsher on Iraqiya’s stance than I am today. Time will tell.

    BB: You go too far. I have said nothing about Jaber Habib Jaber to attack his competence. My only point is that when people communicate, it would be far better in one common language that both are comfortable in. When I communicate with my patients in clinic visits, it is certainly far more challenging to understand a patient’s symptoms when he/she is talking with me in Russian and I have to rely on an intrepreter. Jaber knows english. How comfortable he speaks in it, how heavy an accent he has, and his understanding of American culture may be another matter altogether. I actually applaud Maliki’s appointment of Jaber since the prior ambassador (Sumaidi) did not really see eye to eye with Maliki, and thus could not represent Maliki’s interests in DC. Iraqiya seems to do a better job with PR than Maliki’s side. If I was Maliki, I would want people like Santana or Observer’s skill sets on my team, and I don’t see evidence that Maliki has many such people. And yes, Maliki certainly needs more Jaber’s too instead of the usual dolts put in place running important offices—when they really have no business running a kabob/tikka stand much less major political office.


  65. Mohammed said


    Interesting points you bring up about Jaber. I follow Sumaidi on Twitter and have been present for a couple of his talks, but, you have to remember that the job of the DC ambassador is to represent the PM’s office (it is a political appointment).

    For example, you might be a great choice for being Iraqi ambassador to DC if Allawi was the PM, but I would not pick you if I was Maliki.

    Unfortunately for Maliki, I don’t think he has a wide selection pool. If Sumaidi was politically aligned with Maliki, I would hands down take Sumaidi over Jaber. Jaber is probably better than most people Maliki could find. However political the ambassador is, it does not excuse sectarianism in interacting with the Iraqi community. By the way, I thought Jaber was supposed to be very secular (even drinks alcohol, no?)

    forgot to mention..
    given Santana is an american citizen, he would not be eligible to be Iraqi ambassador to USA even if Allawi was PM…LOL.


  66. placebo12 said


    I certainly do wish to focus the discussions on the short-comings and authoritarian policies of Maliki and co because too many Iraqi expats continue to believe that Iraq has somehow transformed itself into a free, fair and just state when this could not be further from the truth. Ironically, the logic behind the arguments demonstrating Da’was grip on Iraq is clear – yet it even took you a while to switch from “opposition-focus” mode to stating the all-important “yes, da’wa and Maliki are very bad for Iraq, how do we improve things?” (Although in the time that I’ve been away from this blog you’ve dabbled in a great deal of Maliki-appeasement that even Chamberlain would be proud of…) I do not doubt your wish to see things improve there, you have demonstrated this enough times. But the “value-add” is for individuals like yourself to realise that the more time you spend discussing and debating a valueless topic like Iraqiya’s “unconstitutional” intentions and continue to portray Maliki and Da’wa as rational actors who would ultimately have the best interests of Iraq at heart if it wasn’t for the rest, the sooner we’ll reach the point of no return.

    It is only once you agree on the root cause that you can then search for a solution – as a medic I’m sure you can agree on that. I’ve noticed in the past that one of your favoured solutions is to keep Maliki happy by maintaining his premiership and grip on the interior security forces and thus weaning him off groups that are perceived to be closer to Iran. This is exactly why I’m so adamant that Reidar, yourself and others haven’t gotten the point – the moment a leader and his party taste wide-scale corruption, authoritarianism and realise that they can disregard the law as they please, becomes the moment at which they will no longer accept anything less.

    For the sake of other readers, lets keep it simple – do you or don’t you accept that Maliki as Prime Minister of Iraq since 2006 holds ultimate responsibility for the murders, disappearances, extra-judicial killings and lack of due process for thousands of Iraqis in that time and even more so now that he has also been Minister of Interior and Defence for the past 2 years? If you can agree with me on this point, or even if you only partly agree, then I would ask you to then establish whether any group with a similar governmental record has ever left power peacefully and I would welcome any suggestions you may have.

    IMHO Maliki and Da’wa will not let go peacefully as Iraqi and extra-Iraqi history suggests. I don’t believe in coups nor violent revolutions. The solution must therefore involve a bottom-up approach. The media is vital as is the support of the street. Despite all the organised violence directed against the protesters in the short-lived Iraqi “spring”, the government was forced into certain concessions that would have been unthinkable before. This pressure needs to be maintained if more important concessions are to be made in future. However, I simply cannot see how we can expect tired Iraqis in Iraq to make a difference when so many expat Iraqis living their comfortable lives in the West continue to lend moral and financial support to the current regime…

  67. Observer said

    I have no idea who santan is,but for the record there is nothing that stops him from being an ambasador for iraq in dc. He must give up the diplomatic immunity that comes with the passport.

    Wow. That is quite a post and i found myself agreeing with you sentence by sentence. There are thousands like Mo all over the globe, not to mention analysts and other stripes of people including DOS people who would probably like to deal with a saddam lite than the messy politics of iraq while the arab world is going up in flames.

  68. placebo12 said

    Observer, appreciate your comments. You already know which Iraqi community I come from and I simply cannot come to explain to myself why the vast majority of them insist on the destruction of their own country – perhaps because they’re not in it? That, coupled with blindness or insanity…although that’s another topic entirely.

  69. Mohammed said


    Re: Santana’s elibility for becoming Iraqi ambassador to point is that as long as he is a US citizen, he cannot practically have such an appointment because he would be breaking his oath of USA citizenship/allegiance. The US govt does not recognize dual citizenship as far as I know, and he would be asked to recounce it. Practically speaking, if I was Iraqi PM (a scary thought indeed), I would not appoint somebody whose first loyalty was to the USA rather than Iraq.

    I thoughtful response. I will reply to you in the comments section of the new post RV just placed. But, it won’t be for sometime (these darn patients come first today)..


  70. I recall reading the comments on this blog recently when Jabir was appointed Ambassador and there was a discussion about him between a poster called Salah (a fellow with generally similar opinions to Observer and Santana if I read all three correctly), Santana and Dr. Visser:

    Salah appears to take a largely neutral view of Jabir, Santana is slightly negative as he views Jabir from the beginning as Maliki’s man, while Dr. Visser is also neutral.
    However, Salah and Dr. Visser approved of and liked Jabir’s views on Iraqi politics in his Arabic articles, while Santana was far more apprehensive ignoring Jabir’s “talk” waiting to see how Jabir “walks” before passing judgement.

    Santana providing alleged examples of Jabir’s sectarian actions in DC seems to show what sort of fellow Jabir is (Santana Sir, please do not be upset, I mean absolutely no disrespect when I say *alleged*, its simply that accusations, gossip and rumors among Arabs and Iraqis abound over people they dislike. Unless it comes from a relatively indisputable source, I am apprehensive of anything I hear, though I can vouch that a recent Iraqi Ambassador to the UAE has conducted similar actions you say Jabir has done, though I can’t recall if it was a Shia or Sunni ambassador who was being sectarian [until 7 months ago I lived in the UAE] ).

    Gentlemen, a habit of Arab autocrats is to appoint people that might possibly rival them as Ambassadors and to ship them off to other external organizations. Hosni Mubarak is known to have done this with Amr Moussa, for example.

    is it possible Maliki is doing this with men such as Jabir Jabir and Hamid Al-Bayati? They may not be as committed to democracy, human rights, etc. as Nelson Mandela but at least Jabir seemed in his articles to be more respectful of democratic principles than we’re experiencing Maliki to be.

  71. bb said

    Depends Santana – if the Sunni Iraqis go around Washington saying the things you do here about the Iraqi prime minister its maybe not surprising their off been the cocktail party list.

    Dr Jabir is apparently a gifted linguist if he can speak Scots.

  72. bb said

    M: You seem to be setting your standards very high. I looked at that Hardtalk segment – a difficult show for anyone – and Dr Bayati expressed himself very clearly in English, but even more importantly, what he was saying was very good. Very. I like it when I see Iraqi representatives in the West expressing themselves in honest, measured, sensible, reconciliatory language when up against cynical, ill informed up themselves, know it all western interviewers, analysts and puffed up so called middle eastern foreign policy experts.
    I rermember the hyperbole and guff that Iraqi diplomats had to mouth off in service of the Baath, and this makes a welcome change. Iraqis should be relieved and proud, imo.
    I also remember the disgraceful way Democrats in congress treated prime minister Maliki on his first visit there – 2007, I think. Mr Maliki conducted himself with great dignity at the time.

    regards bb

  73. observer said

    The US allowed duel citizenship back in the early 80’s (i need not go into the reasons why). A former Prime Minister of one of the easter european countries (i think Yugoslavia after milosovich) was a naturalized american citizen. Obama’s first cheif of staff served in teh Isreali armed forces in 90/91) he is now a senator from Illinois. Ms. Rend Rahim, who has an American citizenship was Iraq;s first ambassador to the US etc. etc.

    So please, give me at least a credit that I do not opine if I do not know what I am talking about (i know you are used to Iraqis BSing and talking nonsense about stuff they know nothing about, but I am not one of those). If you need a number in the DOS to check on the voracity of this particular claim, will be happy to provide you win one. 😉


  74. Mohammed said



    Click to access 120540.pdf

    (CT:CON-285; 03-06-2009)
    a. The United States does not accept U.S. citizens or U.S. noncitizen nationals as diplomats (including ambassadors) of foreign states. U.S. nationals may serve as diplomats in a foreign mission to the United Nations, if the Department concurs, but not as bilateral diplomats. This is based on longstanding policy founded on Article 8 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR) regarding nationality of members of the diplomatic mission. These individuals are not eligible for U.S. visas and must enter the United States on a U.S. passport.

    Not sure how Rend Rahim got away with it. I am a physician, engineer, but not a lawyer!


    ps so I guess what this means is Santana can be iraq’s ambassador to Iran, but not to the USA and still retain his American citizenship. 😉

  75. Observer said

    They have to loose diplomatic immunity to become ambassadors. That was what took place in 2004 for Rend Rahim (at least this is how it was explained to me back then). If Santana is willing to pay his parking tickets, then he should be ok, but I doubt that his services will be needed any time soon 😉

  76. Santana said

    Hi Guys-

    I just saw all this and I choked laughing…!! I have no intentions of becoming a public figure anywhere…U.S nor Iraqi side…so, whether I legally or professionally qualify it wouldn’t matter my friends………I loved Mohamed’s suggestion of me becoming thethe IIraqi Amb to Iran !! hahahahaha…’s called DOA (Death on arrival)…I think I will stick to lobbying for now…..and to be honest …if I see it becoming hopeless then I will give up the political side of my lobbying and go back to lobbying Oil and Gas like pre-2003- it’s twice the money and 1/2 the headaches of political lobbying.


  77. Observer said

    Santana. Careful. You are giving hints…

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