Mr. Maliki Speaks (And the World Waits)
November 19, 2008: IRAQ-Six days before the Iraqi Parliament is scheduled to vote on the U.S. security agreement—which sets a 2011 deadline for American combat troops to leave Iraq—Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has publicly defended the pact for the first time. Additionally, the U.S. security agreement includes conditions such as no detainees, detention centers, American prisons or building raids without an Iraqi judicial warrant. In Mr. Maliki’s words, the agreement is “a strong beginning to get back full sovereignty in Iraq in three years.” The public statement comes in the wake of allegations of conspiracy, with opponents stating that negotiations have occurred in secrecy, and supporters—mostly Shiite and Kurdish legislators—trying to soothe voters into reaching the necessary majority. As the election dates close in, Sunni legislators have scrambled to submit specific demands, including amnesty for over 16,000 detainees. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, one of the most influential Shiite clerics in Iraq, may have summed it up best, stating: “any agreement that doesn’t win national consensus, will not be acceptable and will be a reason for more suffering for Iraqis.” Such consensus is certainly not being helped along by Iran, whose leading conservatives have denounced the agreement for “exploiting Iraq”. For now, the only thing to do is pop some popcorn and wait.
Rainbows Over New Dehli
November 19, 2008: INDIA-On Tuesday, India and Egypt solidified their ties by signing five accords. The accords established an extradition treaty, cooperation on the uses of outer space, joint fighting against terrorism, and the push for reform of the global economic system. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the talks “productive and fruitful” and expressed that the two countries are looking to strengthen relations. The economy was the major emphasis of the talks, as last year bilateral trade between the two countries reached $2.2 billion. India is looking to scale up investment, as Egypt has historically been an important gateway for Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The two sides also signed a “memorandum of understanding” that abolished visa requirements for those with special passports crossing both borders. With all the sludgy, grey diplomacy going on in the world right now, it’s a bit refreshing to hear two leaders gush so enthusiastically about one another. Rumor has it that rainbows and unicorns were also present at the accord table.
BRIEFS (Still No Boxers)
In the midst of negotiations, China stated that any attempt on the Dalai Lama’s part to separate Tibet would be utterly “doomed.” Rumor has it, that this was followed by: “We wants it, we needs it, my precious…”
A combination of Chile’s private and public health sector failed to notify at least 2,000 citizens that they had contracted AIDS.
Congo rebels have agreed to pull back forces until talks with the military on Wednesday.
Obama is reportedly indecisive about the continuation of Star Wars; also upset about the cost of Natalie Portman’s hairpieces and light sabers.
Those pesky Somali pirates are at it again, hijacking a Saudi supertanker carrying more than $100 million worth of crude oil and another Iranian vessel. When is Hollywood going to get on this?
Australians hope that the Baz Luhrman’s film “Australia” will spur tourism. In other news: Aussie tourism bureau offers Hugh Jackman free keg of VB for every minute he remains shirtless.
Good Deed of the Week:
Just over two years ago, Jeff Stein of the New York Times tiptoed around Capitol Hill and asked important policy makers the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite. Can’t remember? Don’t feel too guilty, most American officials couldn’t remember either. Let’s change this once and for all. As an early Christmas/Chanukkah present, pass this article around to all your well-meaning friends. Maybe by 2009, even Joe the Plumber will be able to rattle this baby off. As for that other scary question that you secretly hope no one ever asks you–Never fear, Diplomatic Courier is here. The Prime Minister of Canada is Stephen Harper.
By Dana Liebelson