Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mithal Alusi to Face Charges Over Israel Visit

Before anyone begins to fret let me just say that I think that all this will play out brilliantly for Mithal.

Here’s what happened today: the Iraqi Parliament unanimously voted (…that included the Kurds, I believe) to lift parliamentary immunity from Mithal Alusi (liberal and secular Sunni MP for Baghdad, head of the Iraqi Nation Party) over his attendance at last week’s Counter-Terrorism Conference in Hezliyah, Israel.

Parliament also voted to bar him from attending any more sessions, or from traveling outside the country. He is to face charges of treason that carry the death penalty.

Iraq is still at a state of war with Israel.

I can’t help but chuckle as I write this: Alusi is a bad-ass, and these folks, especially the Islamists, don’t realize that they are falling into his trap. The Minister of State for National Security, Abdel-Karim al-‘Anizi, made the mistake of calling Alusi an Israeli agent today, only to get Alusi to retort that al-‘Anizi is an Iranian spy; Alusi then proceeded to beat-up al-‘Anizi.

This is classic political theatre as Iraqis get ready for elections. The so-called Iraq ‘analysts’ and ‘experts’ will have a hard time explaining when this is all over why such antics work to Alusi’s favor. Welcome to the rough-n-tumble politics of the New Iraq.

A little over a week ago, I saw Alusi and he gave no indication that he’s about to pull off another one of maverick stunts. In retrospect, I now realize that he had something up his sleeve.

Alusi has been going to conference in Herzliyah every year for the last four years. It was his decision to put last week’s visit into the political spotlight.

I spoke to Alusi earlier today, and this is what he had to say: “America doesn’t have the confidence to deter Iran from building a nuclear weapon. The Americans are even preventing Israel from saving itself. Iraqis and Israelis are the two nations that will suffer the most from a radical Iranian leadership that can threaten us with nuclear weapons. Thus, Iraq and Israel must find a strategy to counter this threat. Time is running out.”

“I am not honored to be in such company in the parliament. Half of them are working for the Iranians or the terrorists, and the other half is distracted by money. 90 percent of Saddam’s laws are still in effect, what has the parliament done to legislate new laws that give Iraqis their rights according to the new constitution? There are parliamentarians who are hiding in Iran because they will be arrested if they return to Iraq, but has parliament lifted their immunity and disbarred them? No. There are heads of parliamentary blocs who have arrest warrants out in their name for supporting and financing terrorism, but no one does anything.

“There are tens of ex-ministers and officials who stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the Iraqi state, and parliament passes a law to give them amnesty because they are all from the same political parties. I have to serve the voters who elected me, but really I am uncomfortable being in the company of many of these parliamentarians.”

Alusi added, “Nouri al-Maliki is a close friend; he is a patriot and good hearted man, but he is helpless. He is surrounded by rings of Iranian spies and corrupt bureaucrats. He is managed by them, rather than the other way round. Iraq needs new management.”

As regards his elections message, “I want to tell the Iraqi voter: don’t vote for me if you don’t find me convincing. But use your vote as a protest against all these parties in parliament and government. Tell them that they are fired. Fired for failing at every level in managing this country.”

“They are trying to distract the voter with issues such as Israel and Kirkuk. They are terrified by elections because they know that the Iraqi people will punish them for failure.”

UPDATE:

This is one of Alusi's more recent pronouncements on an Iraqi TV channel; this is why he's seen as controversial (English subtitles):



UPDATE:

It is interesting to look through the comments section on Al-Arabiya TV's web coverage on the Alusi story (...sorry, almost all of is in Arabic). One would think that it would be cram full of Arab nationalists (...Arabiya is Saudi-owned) denouncing Mithal as a Zionist spy; on the contrary, the response is predominately supportive. The catch line is that Alusi was punished for speaking out against Iran, not for visiting Israel.

15 Comments:

Anonymous m said...

Mr. Alusi is always a source of inspiration.

3:21 PM, September 14, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed Mr. al-Alusi is a national hero.

Dear Mr. al-Alusi,

The news from this morning's parliamentary decision to lift your immunity came as a shock to me because at a time when Iraq's lawmakers should be busy with pressing issues such as article 140, provincial election law, the situation in Khanaqin, the US-Iraq security deal, counter-terrorism, municipal services, de-Ba'thification, corruption, the refugee crisis need i go on? They instead chose to punish you, the oh-so-brave and patriotic Iraqi who stands alone on core issues that should be the priorities of this government.

You, my dear sir stand for issues that were used to build a case against Saddam and now that Saddam is removed, you find yourself alone in a city ruled by people of dual loyalties, personal interests and most importantly people who should have no place in the New Iraq.

Your courage and bravery are things for which should be rewarded not punished. I remember when I first met you two years ago in Washington and how when I asked you about the number of Ba'thists who would be affected by a fully-implemented de-Ba'thification program, you said that it didn't matter, what matters is that they have to pay for what they have done! Indeed my friend, you are right, no true reconciliation process can be achieved without a firm resolution on this core issue of de-Ba'thification.

But as I read the painful headlines of possible charges of treason, I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the silliness of such reports. If you are a traitor, then we need to redefine the word, because if you are a traitor, then those who elected you were misled, but how could that be since your popularity has risen since the last time Iraqis were at the ballot boxes? My friend, if you are a traitor, then those who once served as spokespeople for the insurgency and are now your colleagues at the Council of Representatives should be awarded sainthood status. If you are going to be put on trial for treason, then those who ordered the assassination of Ayman and Jamal (may they rest in peace) should be acquitted of all charges.

Because a world where Mithal al-Alusi is charged with treason is a world that operates upside down and therefore should be a world where nothing is logical and nothing is sensible.

Where are your fellow Iraqi "liberals?" Where are the progressive minds who spoke so poetically at the opposition conferences from Salahadin in 1992 to London in 2002? Where are the authors of the de-Ba'thification law? Where are those who were calling for the right of Iraq's Jews to return to their country? Why have they all vanished?

But as long as our lawmakers can still only find a moment of unity around old battles, then that glimpse of hope for a liberal Iraq goes farther and farther from sight.

4:56 PM, September 14, 2008

 
Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Hi anonymous,

I would have prefered if you'd signed your excellent and eloquent comment, and please do if it were just a case of forgetfulness.

But I don't agree with what you wrote about the hope for a liberal Iraq goes farther and farther from sight. If I judge, albeit anecdotally, from what I've been hearing today regarding Mithal Alusi's case, then I'd say that liberal and secular politics in Iraq is on the right track to undermine the Islamists, and eventually defeat them in the polls.

I'm very bullish about where all this is going. Seems pretty good by my reckoning.

Best,

Nibras

6:32 PM, September 14, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

McClatchy has a good story on Mr. Alusi:

http://legacy.charlotteobserver.com/world/story/810563.html

6:57 PM, September 14, 2008

 
Blogger Believer in Islam said...

I did not hate Mr.Mithal nor liked him ! I had a good position toward him . In fact I have seen many people vote for his bloc after he ran for elections independently away from Al-Chalabi .However , visiting a country that has no borders with us ! has no interests with us ! has a bad attitude with Arabs and Muslims ! Has this long history of evil and ill-blood ! Why ? and why now ? Do we need what is called Israel? No . Do we fight them militarily ? no . Do we have joint cooperation with them ? No . I used to work in Iraqi parlimant when I was in Iraq one year ago , I knew very well and for sure that Mr.Mithal is not attending his own committee !! is that patriotic? why he ccritisize others while he does all the time the same thing? Why he did not , instead of Israel, visit the Iraqis who are still on borders ? Why he did not try to work from inside to out side ? do we need Israel ? No . I believe that Alusi's visit was the death penality in Alusi's history among Iraqis who really loved him . Alas he is (persona non grata ) .

10:00 PM, September 14, 2008

 
Anonymous Kafir said...

Nibras,

I hope Alusi's trap gets sprung. I'd like the see the Iranian sympathizers perp-walked out of parliament and the executive branch.

On another topic, what do you think of this?

It is attributed to Hoshyar Zebari. Can you confirm it? If so, it has serious implications for the US presidential race in that Obama would have committed a violation of The Logan Act (a felony in place since 1799) and have to face charges.

5:44 AM, September 15, 2008

 
Blogger Abbas Hawazin said...

Mr. Kazimi,

I think it was al-Anizi who proceeded to beat up al-Alusi.

It seems admiration of al-Alusi is on of the few things we share.

Best.

10:09 AM, September 15, 2008

 
Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Hi Abbas,

What you've seen on some websites about what happened with al-'Anizi is disinformation. I've spoken to many eye-witnesses, including Mr. Alusi, who dispute this storyline. Alusi even alleges that the source for the story is Iranian intelligence.

So go figure.

Best,

Nibras

8:30 AM, September 16, 2008

 
Blogger Orville said...

Nibras,

Any chance that those comments of Alusi's quoted above exist in a second source? I agree with you wholeheartedly about the play, and it is brilliant. I'm waiting to watch it play out. PS you saw that shortly after Iran ousted Al-Arabiya from the Islamic Republic, the bureau chief for Al-Arabiya discovered a bomb in his car?

12:29 PM, September 17, 2008

 
Anonymous Saqr said...

I'm an Iraqi and I share his apathy toward the Iranians, but to call for a strategic alliance with Israel is an insult to my father who was expelled (and humiliated) by Israel from his homeland that was once Palestinian. Because of what Israel did to my father, I regard Israel as my enemy and my fellow compatriots agree with my sentiment (their ancestors were also expelled by them) so the Iraqi law is correct in declaring Israel as an enemy of state. The fact that Alusi set foots on Israel while ignoring Iraqi law forbidding Iraqi citizens from traveling to Israel shows that he has no regard for the Iraqis' prejudices toward Israel. Therefore, he deserved to be branded as a traitor and I'm glad the parliament banned him and revoked his immunity privileges even though I consider the parliament corrupted and infested with Iranians agents. I hope that one day the parliament will be replaced by a new parliament, free of Iranian influence and free of Israeli sympathies, who will put the Iraqi interests above all else.

May Allah bless Iraq. Curse Iran and curse Israel.

10:45 AM, September 19, 2008

 
Blogger Orville said...

Saqr,

Why hasn't any immunity been lifted for Talabani's official handshake with Israelis? Or better yet, why hasn't the Kurdish delegation to the Council of Representatives been eviscerated for at best, turning a blind eye to Mossad activity, and at worst, facilitating it? Maybe because both Talabani and the Kurds play both sides of the fence?

Alusi is a patriotic Iraqi. How many Iraqis have been killed by Israelis? The Iranians killed more Iraqis than even the Ba'ath. Now they seek to cow their 'inferior' Arab neighbor into acting like a servant or a handicapped little brother. Kus uhktom.

3:09 PM, September 19, 2008

 
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