Monday, August 25, 2008

News ?

Azzaman did a cut-and-paste from an AFP feature on the shortage of drinking water and lack of proper sewage in Baghdad, and AlHayat went one better and put the whole AFP feature into Arabic and printed it under its byline "Baghdad--AlHayat", without any attribution. Just in case you thought any of those papers were putting any actual effort into the story.

Meanwhile, AlHayat printed a short note to the effect that AMSI denied making the statement the paper attributed to it on boycotting the provincial election. But the paper left it at that: It repeated the contested statement, and said AMSI said it didn't make such a statement, without answering the obvious question: Well, in that case where did you get the story and do you stand by it for any reason or not ?

In the big news, people reading another AlHayat story probably think the American ambassador Crocker expressed confidence a bilateral agreement will be signed before year-end, but he added this: "The lack of a signing of the treaty would require the Iraqi government to return to the United Nations to renew a request for the American forces, because that would be the only solution on a legal basis for their remaining. The Iraqi government is sticking to not making such a request, and the American side is in agreement with them on that issue, and that is what makes it necessary that there be a signing of the agreement before the end of the current year."

The ambassador made a point of saying there has to be agreement on all of the pending issues before their is final agreement, perhaps suggesting the American side is rejecting suggestions for some kind of an interim agreement that would somehow avoid a final decision on sovereignty-related issues like legal liability and so on.

Meanwhile, the Washington spin machine seems to have gone into neutral, with the Ambassador continuing to tout security improvements, while the news reports nothing but renewed violence. The uncertain direction of the spin is leading to signs of unusual disunity in the Washington "policy community": Stephen, it seems, is breaking with Michael and the other guy over some aspect of Iraq policy. And the hottest question of all: Was Colin Kahl too optimistic?

On the underlying question of the Awakenings, the funny thing is that the "policy community" isn't drawing any connection between the Maliki crackdown on the one hand, and American attempts to get him to sign a bilateral security agreement on the other--involving, for instance, possibly giving Maliki the green light for a purge, on the idea that this will not only please Maliki as part of the bargaining, but will also generate feelings that perhaps the American troops are in fact needed for just a little longer, depending on circumstances of course...


Blogger Joel Wing said...

I don't see a connection between the crackdown on the SOI and the U.S. pushing for a SOFA with Maliki. What I do see as a connection is Maliki asking for a withdrawal "horizon" and a crackdown. Maliki feels that after the military operations he can get the U.S. combat troops to leave and get rid of the SOI because he doesn't feel like he needs either one. One boosts his nationalist standings, the other gets rid of an existential/political/military threat to his government.

The reports on the American response to the crackdown on the SOI have been mixed. Some don't metnion the U.S. at all, or say they haven't done anything. Over on Roads to Iraq I think, they had a report from an Arab paperthat said the U.S. was letting a lot of the arrested SOI go and telling the Iraqi forces not to do it again.

12:26 PM  
Blogger badger said...

That's of course the Washington line, they don't like it, nothing they can do about it, no connection to any American position in the negotiations. You're starting to sound a little like another mouthpiece.

LATimes the other day: "Our goal is that by June 2009, the Sons of Iraq are out of business," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Kulmayer, who is charged with the Sunni paramilitary file.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're starting to sound a little like another mouthpiece.

you finally noticed? jeez badger, get w/the program! lol

I don't see a connection between the crackdown on the SOI and the U.S. pushing for a SOFA......What I do see as a connection is......... after the military operations he can get the U.S. combat troops to leave and get rid of the SOI

ok, we 'see' the US participating in the same kind of activity you allege maliki wants to accomplish after the US leaves and you 'choose' to not see the actions of the US as connected to their upmost priority in iraq at present. why?

in what way might you think the actions of the US militarily at present in iraq may coincide with their (US) objectives? anyway at all? if not sofa then what is the logic behind the US supporting maliki's push to rid iraq of SOI at this time? or at anytime at all for that matter.

Maliki asking for a withdrawal "horizon" and a crackdown.

let's all pluck the intentions of the invader out of the frame shall we?

Maliki asking the US for a withdrawal "horizon" and military operations w/US participation intended to crackdown on soi (coincidently) prior to signing sofa?

US pushing for sofa + crackdown on SOI = nothing.

it's all maliki. gotcha

2:02 PM  
Blogger badger said...

I can be a little slow, anon., you have to bear with me sometimes...

Btw, there's an interesting version of the "American-helpless-bystander" story at the AA blog today...

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Badger, may I shamelessly plug our sections on the Water Crisis in Irak and the drought. (The postings are a mix of English and Arabic language sources), there are other water crisis related tags as well and there is considerable overlap in content but either of those two are good starting points.

The drought is only now coming to the attention of the media in the west although it's probably one of the biggest if not the biggest economic and social problem that Irak has right now. It's a problem with all sorts of ramifications apart from the obvious ones for health and agriculture - for example the massive increase of salinity in the Shatt al-Arab is causing massive problems for electricity generation.

It's well worth your while keeping your eyes peeled for drought/water related stories as people can live without oil but not without water.

3:45 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Yes, and for instance what the Diyala water director said (in the Iraqalaan piece that is part of the GG link) that agriculture in Diyala is at a complete standstill, with only 37% of needed water being supplied, and the orchard trees at risk of dying off, threatening the livelihood of the whole region... Problems with electricity and the pumping stations, problems with Iran... and none of it likely to be properly addressed until the occupation ends...I'll pay better attention

11:35 AM  
Blogger Joel Wing said...

The U.S. wants the SOI handed over to Iraqi control by June 09, so the government can run them. Baghdad wants them closed down by the end of this year. The U.S. wants the SOI integrated into the security forces or given government jobs. Maliki wants them thrown in jail or disbanded. Those are not similar policies.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Joel Wing said...

I have two pieces about the drought on my blog if anyone is interested. It's not just Diyala either, but Kyrgisyan and a few other provinces as well. It's causing population displacement as farmers leave looking for jobs, livestock is being killed off, and it'll increase the need for food imports.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Joel Wing said...

typo, that should say Kurdistan is also being affected by the drought.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BAGHDAD — Iraq is on the verge of reviving an 11-year-old contract with China worth $1.2 billion, its largest oil deal since the invasion in 2003, an Oil Ministry official said Tuesday.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Joel Wing said...

Badger wrote:

"LATimes the other day: "Our goal is that by June 2009, the Sons of Iraq are out of business," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Kulmayer, who is charged with the Sunni paramilitary file."

The Iraqis have not signed off on that plan:

From the July 08 Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Quarterly Report:

"The current U.S-proposed transition plan,which has been presented to Iraq ’s Prime Minister,calls for a reduction of 43,000 SOI members, of which 17,000 will transition to the ISF,and 26,000 will pursue civilian employment by the
end of 2008. The plan also calls for remaining
contracts to be transferred to the GOI by June 2009. The Prime Minister,GOI leaders,and
the Ministry of Interior have yet to approve the

I've read nothing that the SOI are included in the SOFA agreement. In Dec. 07 Gen. Ordierno, Petraeus' no. 2 had a meeting with Maliki and his national security council. He got Maliki to agree to integrate 20% of the SOI into the security forces and give the rest government jobs if the U.S. would stop organizing Shiites in the south into SOI. That's the agreement the U.S. has been pushing Baghdad about ever since. Petraeus was just quoted in McClatchy saying that Baghdad has all but stopped the integration of the SOI. Again, the U.S. and Baghdad do not have the same plan for their fate.


The China deal is for a Technical Services Agreement. The Oil Ministry had originally planned on setting up 6 TSAs with major oil companies. These are for consulting contracts. The oil companies would have no part in actual oil production or get oil profits. They would be paid a flat fee for their advice. Those deals fell through and it appears that the Oil Ministry tried to save face and pull something out of the hat so they started re-working a Saddam era contract with a Chinese oil company to turn it into a TSA deal.

4:40 PM  
Blogger badger said...

(1) That's what the Americans are saying, yes.

(2) That's the gist of the NYT story, yes.

Someone paying you by the word?

5:08 PM  
Blogger Joel Wing said...

So let me get this straight. I sound like a spokesman, and am repeating the American line, and as a retort you use a quote from the LA Times of a U.S. military officer? Okay.

And I wish I was being paid, it would suppliment my teacher's salary.

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are unfairly dismissing motown as a mouthpiece, he seems fairly open-minded. Leastways I've seen him defend you and recommend your blog as a source over at Abu M in the past.

1:02 PM  

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