Iraq’s Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 21
Iraq’s Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 21 May 4, 2012-May 11, 2012
By Ramzy Mardini & Stephen Wicken
Daqduq Case Dismissed
The legal case against senior Hizballah operative Ali Mussa Daqduq was dismissed earlier this week by an Iraqi court, citing lack of evidence to convict him and ordered his release from prison, pending an appeal. A Lebanese native, Daqduq was the mastermind behind a 2007 ambush in Karbala that led to the kidnapping and killing of five U.S. soldiers. The U.S. military captured him and two leading figures of the Iranian-backed Shi’a militant group Asaib Ahl al-Haq later that year. According to The Cable blog, a memo approved by Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough read: “Daqduq should be held accountable for his crimes. Period. While we strongly oppose his acquittal, protections for the accused are built into all judicial systems, including our own. We transferred Daqduq to Iraqi custody out of respect for, and obligation to, the rule of law in Iraq, and while we disagree with this decision, we respect the independence of the Iraqi judiciary. We will continue to work closely with the Iraqi government to explore all legal options to pursue justice in this case.” While he was in U.S. custody, Daqduq admitted to orchestrating the raid and provided detailed testimony. With the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops in December 2011, Daqduq was handed over to Iraqi custody following the Iraqi government’s assurances that he would be tried for his crimes in an Iraqi court.
Nine-Point Arbil Letter Published
The nine demands opponents of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued following an April 28 meeting in Arbil were made public last Saturday. Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Iraqiyya leader Ayad Allawi, Shi’a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, gave Maliki 15 days to adhere to the demands or face the prospect of a no-confidence vote in Parliament. Some of the demands include strengthening the role of Parliament, setting a two-term limit on the premiership, ending dictatorial tendencies, adoption of the Arbil Agreements, among others. In order to withdraw confidence in Maliki’s government, a threshold of 163 votes in the 325-seat Parliament is needed, which would likely be impossible without the Sadrists.
Maliki Visits Kirkuk
Maliki flew to the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk on Tuesday to hold a cabinet meeting with his ministers, where he insisted that the multi-ethnic area reflected an Iraqi identity. “Kirkuk is special. It is special because it is a microcosm of Iraq,” Maliki stated in a televised version of the meeting. “In the truest meaning of the word, its identity is Iraqi.” Kurdish spokesman Omed Sabah publicly denounced Maliki’s characterization of Kirkuk as a city with an Iraqi identity, insisting that Kirkuk is “an Iraqi city with a Kurdistani identity.” While Maliki had previously announced plans to hold a series of such meetings earlier this year, Basra and now Kirkuk are the only provinces to host a Council of Ministers session.
The timing of the Kirkuk visit comes when Baghdad-Arbil relations appear at their worst. Kurdish officials criticized Maliki for not mentioning Article 140, the constitutional provision that was intended to resolve territorial disputes between Arbil and Baghdad through a referendum. No Kurdish ministers attended Maliki’s cabinet meeting in Kirkuk. Kurdish lawmaker Mustafa Amin claimed that the Council of Ministers session in Kirkuk was illegal, arguing that only “consultancy meetings” are allowed to be held in provinces. Amin added that the event was intended for Baghdad to “supervise or interfere in the works and authorities of the provinces and regions.” The next day, in an apparent response to Maliki’s visit, Kurdistan Region Deputy Prime Minister Imad Ahmad Sayfour led a delegation of seven Kurdish ministers to Kirkuk.
Interpol Issues Notice On Hashemi
At the request of the Iraqi government, Interpol issued a Red Notice on Tuesday for Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi “on suspicion of guiding and financing terrorist attacks” in Iraq. While not an international arrest warrant, the Red Notice represents a non-binding international alert to all of Interpol’s 190 member countries to seek their help in locating and detaining him. Turkish authorities have already announced that they will not hand over Hashemi, who is currently residing in Istanbul. On Wednesday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag implied that Turkish reticence was due not only to Ankara’s support for Hashemi, but also to a lack of Iraqi cooperation over handing over PKK fighters based in Iraqi territory to Turkey. Moreover, Turkey is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits members from extraditing foreign nationals to countries where they likely face death or ill treatment. Article 4 of Iraq’s Anti-Terrorism Law states that those who incite, plan, finance, or assist terrorists “shall face the same penalty as the main perpetrator” – a death sentence. On Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that the issue was for Turkey and Iraq to settle. Hashemi’s lawyers are reportedly moving to repeal Interpol’s notice. His trial in Baghdad was postponed for a second time on Thursday.
Judiciary, Parliament Tussle Over Ministerial Accountability
After weeks of parliamentary pressure on Higher Education Minister and senior Da’awa parliamentarian Ali al-Adeeb to appear before Parliament for questioning, judicial authorities from Iraq’s Supreme Court ruled on Monday that lawmakers’ requests to question ministers must be accompanied by a specification of alleged constitutional and legal infractions. The court said that questioning a minister in Parliament is the highest form of supervision the body can exercise, tantamount to withdrawing confidence in a minister. Haidar al-Mullah, an Iraqiyya spokesman, stated last month that the parliamentary request included six references regarding legal and constitutional violations committed by Adeeb. But Maliki’s State of Law coalition, of which Adeeb is a senior member, argued that the request was not legal because of its political motives. Iraq analyst Reidar Visser called the ruling “politically biased to the point where it apparently overrules the Iraqi constitution and the right of Parliament to hold ministers accountable.”