Times shrouds Baghdad mayoral coup. Oh, and there was a sandstorm, too.
Everything will be fine in Iraq once the dust settles—except that the storm over Baghdad won’t end. You can bet on that.
The sweltering city of 6 million is separated from reality by way over a hundred degrees. Take Monday, for instance, when Shiite gunmen stalked into city hall and kicked out the mayor, Alaa al-Tamimi.
Most people in that insufferable place didn’t even notice because of a blinding, paralyzing sandstorm. What was the excuse of New York Times reporter James Glanz for not seeing the full story of the coup? Maybe because he was blinded by Alaa al-Tamimi. It was only on July 8 that Glanz wrote a kiss-ass puff piece on al-Tamimi. Here’s an excerpt:
Oh, spare me. The guy was no better than incompetent as an administrator—and quite possibly corrupt. As I pointed out just last month, even the guy’s name, Alaa al-Tamimi, reminds me of Al D’Amato, that machine pol who has schemed and entertained for so long in Nassau County, New York, and the rest of the United States.
At least Al D’Amato won an election or two. Al-Tamimi never has. He was not elected but merely appointed mayor by the Bush regime and was seen by many Iraqis as nothing more than a U.S. puppet.
There’s a whole lot more to this latest mad episode of the Iraq debacle than Glanz let on.
Not that there wasn’t a coup, no matter how Iraq’s increasingly temporary government tried to spin it—like in this Radio Free Iraq account:
Here’s how Glanz started his story this morning:
The deposed mayor, Alaa al-Tamimi, who was not in his offices at the time, recounted the events in a telephone interview on Tuesday and called the move a municipal coup d’état. He added that he had gone into hiding for fear of his life.
“This is the new Iraq,” said Mr. Tamimi, a secular engineer with no party affiliation. “They use force to achieve their goal.”
The group that ousted him insisted that it had the authority to assume control of Iraq’s capital city and that Mr. Tamimi was in no danger. The man the group installed, Hussein al-Tahaan, is a member of the Badr Organization, the armed militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, known as SCIRI.
Oh, no, you’re saying. The religious nuts have deposed a good ol’ secular mayor. Woe is us. The religious nuts are surely no prize, but neither was Tamimi, an expatriate Iraqi who returned after the invasion and was installed by Jerry Bremer as the American stooge in charge of Baghdad. (Tamimi was both governor and mayor, due to Baghdad’s status as its own province.)
Tamimi was not elected to the job, as was Mazen Makkia, the city council chief who sacked him. Glanz points that out but he only skims over their relationship, saying that Makkia “had been in a lengthy and unresolved legal feud with Mr. Tamimi.”
It was a little more than that. SCIRI’s own daily paper, Al-Adala, reported in early July (courtesy of the crack translators at the Institute for War & Peace Reporting):
Yeah, Tamimi sounds like the kind of administrator whom Bremer would appoint. (Along with a bunch of sensible Christians, we’re still waiting to find out what happened to the billions of dollars that disappeared during Bremer’s disastrous reign.)
But don’t take the word of SCIRI’s own paper about Tamimi.
On July 19, a few days after the news that the provincial council had decided to fire Tamimi, the independent daily Al-Sabah reported:
Glanz has al-Tamimi whining about not having enough money to solve Baghdad’s problems. But clearly there were other problems with the particularly dirty version of “democracy” that the Bush regime dumped on the Iraqi people (see cartoon above).
Baghdad’s municipal government has been paralyzed by corruption, as the capital city’s newspapers of all persuasions have pointed out.
Al-Bayan—a paper published by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari‘s own party—noted in June:
Too bad that most of the U.S. press takes its cue from what the New York Times prints.
And then take billmon’s advice and read the great essay “Iraq: Bush’s Islamic Republic” by John Kenneth Galbraith‘s son, Peter Galbraith, in the August 11 issue of the New York Review of Books.
Once you see Galbraith’s point that the Bush regime, through Bremer’s paternalistic and ideological idiocy, accidentally set a timed fuse that will blow apart Iraq, beastly hot Baghdad will suddenly make you shiver.