Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, October 6, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Tony Blair lies again, Alice Fordham and NPR offer some truth telling, and much more.

War Criminal Tony Blair emerged from beneath the rock he's been living to impart some of the stupidity and blood lust that's condemned him to his own personal hell.

Jewish News reports of Blair:

Speaking to Rabbi David Wolpe  – named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine – the former prime minister, said: “We can apologise for the mistakes, but in the end we got rid of Saddam Hussein… Once you get rid of the tyrants, you get competition between Islamists and more moderate groups.”

Saddam Hussein is gone, War Criminal Tony Blair remains -- though Arrest Blair might be able to address that.

Saddam Hussein's actions and crimes did not lead Iraq to the brink of extinction.

Tony Blair's actions -- along with Bully Boy Bush's actions and John Howard's action -- destroyed Iraq.

He seems to think that as long as he points to Saddam, his own guilt vanishes.

It doesn't work that way.

And destruction is not a 'mistake.'  It's a crime.

Lies used to launch a war also don't go to character or nobility.

Tony Blair's a cheap thug who should stand trial at the Hague.

And Saddam Hussein was contained and not a threat to other nations.

Just War theory allows for no war on Iraq.

Tony's a criminal who wants to paint himself as a hero.

It's not an identity the world's prepared to pin on him.

His actions brought down the Labour Party in England.

He's despised around the globe.

And every time he tries to lie his way out, it only reminds people just how much they loathe him.

In fairness, others are also responsible for Iraq.

That list includes Barack Obama.

Liars and whores -- is there really a difference anymore -- work overtime to pretend otherwise.

And they probably fool an ignorant American public that's depended on the US media -- which largely withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2008 -- to inform them of reality.

At Huffington Post, Libertarian Doug Bandow, at best, sports ignorance, and, at worst, flat out lies:

Bush continued to support the Maliki government even as it ruthlessly targeted Sunnis, setting the stage for Iraq's effective break-up. In 2007 U.S. military adviser Emma Sky wrote of the U.S. military's frustration "by what they viewed as the schemes of Maliki and his inner circle to actively sabotage our efforts to draw Sunnis out of the insurgency." Al-Qaeda in Iraq survived, mutating into the Islamic State. The Bush administration then became one of the Islamic State's chief armorers when Iraqi soldiers fled before ISIS forces, abandoning their expensive, high-tech weapons which U.S. aircraft had to destroy last year.
Third, President Bush failed to win Iraqi approval of a continuing U.S. military presence and governing Status of Forces Agreement. With Americans ready to leave and Iraqis determined to move on, Bush planned an American exit. Retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno explained: "us leaving at the end of 2011 was negotiated in 2008 by the Bush administration. And that was always the plan, we had promised them that we would respect their sovereignty." Indeed, while Republican candidates now treat this departure as a failure--Jeb Bush proclaimed "that premature withdrawal was the fatal error"--attempting to stay would have been much worse. Washington would have had leverage only by threatening to withdraw its garrison, which the Maliki government desired. U.S. troops would have had little impact on Iraqi political developments, unless augmented and deployed in anti-insurgency operations, which Americans did not support. And a continuing military occupation would have provided radicals from every sectarian viewpoint with a target. 

First off, Odierno's comments conflict with others.  When a conflict occurs, you tend to go with the people who were actually in the room.  Odierno did not take part in the negotiations.  Brett McGurk, Condi Rice and others -- who were actually involved in the negotiations (this was a diplomatic effort, not a military one) -- have stated differently and they are correct.

Not only were they in the room but their remarks are also accurate based on the public record.

Bully Boy Bush negotiated the SOFA for three years.  Why three years?

It replaced the United Nations mandate.

That provided the legal cover for the US troops to be in Iraq.

The UN mandate had been a yearly agreement.

At the end of 2006, Nouri signed off on it for another year.

The Iraqi Parliament was furious.

Nouri promised he would get their approval next time.

At the end of 2007, he did not.

It was becoming a political issue.

For that reason, the agreement was a three year agreement.

(And don't forget that Barack tried to extend it.)

That's the reality.

Reality is hard for Doug Barlow so he lies, "Bush continued to support the Maliki government even as it ruthlessly targeted Sunnis, setting the stage for Iraq's effective break-up."

The ruthless targeting?

You mean in 2010?

After Nouri's secret torture prisons were exposed?

But Barack, Joe Biden and Samantha Power demanded Nouri continue as prime minister?

Even after Nouri lost the election to Ayad Allawi?

Is that what liar Doug Bandow means?

Is that what the cheap, little hustler means?

I'm not seeing any world leaders with cleans hands when it comes to Iraq.

I also think it's less than honest when Barlow cites Emma Sky's book --  The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq. -- and portrays Odierno as supporting US troops leaving at the end of 2011 when Sky notes on page 311, "He believed twenty thousand or so US troops were needed to say in Iraq in post-2011 to train Iraqi security forces and to provide the psychological support to maintain a level of stability.  He envisaged a long-term strategic partnership between the two countries."

Doug Bandow will most likely get away with his lie because the American media has ignored Iraq and even should Emma Sky's book sell a million copies domestically -- and be hugely popular at public and school libraries -- it still won't reach most Americans.

Charlie Rose has never brought Emma Sky on his program to discuss the book.

In part because he can't handle the truths she tells and in part because he's so strongly anti-woman.

In Canada, she can get on TV and radio.  Let's again note her August appearance on Kevin Sylvester's This Sunday Edition (CBC).  Let's excerpt the section on the 2010 election -- when Barack's president and Nouri loses.  Wasn't Bully Boy Bush who "continued to support the Maliki government even as it ruthlessly targeted Sunnis, setting the stage for Iraq's effective break-up" then.

Emma Sky: And that national election was a very closely contested election. Iraqis of all persuasions and stripes went out to participate in that election.  They'd become convinced that politics was the way forward, that they could achieve what they wanted through politics and not violence.  To people who had previously been insurgents, people who'd not voted before turned out in large numbers to vote in that election.  And during that election, the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki, lost by 2 seats.  And the bloc that won was a bloc called Iraqiya led by Ayad Allawi which campaigned on "NO" to sectarianism, really trying to move beyond this horrible sectarian fighting -- an Iraq for Iraqis and no sectarianism.  And that message had attracted most of the Sunnis, a lot of the secular Shia and minority groups as well.

Kevin Sylvester:  People who felt they'd been shut out during Maliki's regime basically -- or his governance.

Emma Sky:  Yes, people that felt, you know, that they wanted to be part of the country called Iraq not -- they wanted to be this, they wanted Iraq to be the focus and not sect or ethnicity to be the focus.  And Maliki refused to accept the results.  He just said, "It is not right."  He wanted a recount.  He tried to use de-Ba'athification to eliminate or disqualify some Iraqiya members and take away the votes that they had gained.  And he just sat in his seat and sat in his seat.  And it became a real sort of internal disagreement within the US system about what to do?  So my boss, Gen [Ray] Odierno, was adamant that the US should uphold the Constitutional process, protect the political process, allow the winning group to have first go at trying to form the government for thirty days.  And he didn't think Allawi would be able to do it with himself as prime minister but he thought if you start the process they could reach agreement between Allawi and Maliki or a third candidate might appear who could become the new prime minister. So that was his recommendation.

Kevin Sylvester:   Well he even calls [US Vice President Joe] Biden -- Biden seems to suggest that that's what the administration will support and then they do a complete switch around.  What happened?

Emma Sky:  Well the ambassador at the time was a guy who hadn't got experience of the region, he was new in Iraq and didn't really want to be there.  He didn't have the same feel for the country as the general who'd been there for year after year after year.

Kevin Sylvester:  Chris Hill.

Emma Sky:  And he had, for him, you know 'Iraq needs a Shia strongman. Maliki's our man.  Maliki's our friend.  Maliki will give us a follow on security agreement to keep troops in country.'  So it looks as if Biden's listening to these two recommendations and that at the end Biden went along with the Ambassador's recommendation.  And the problem -- well a number of problems -- but nobody wanted Maliki.  People were very fearful that he was becoming a dictator, that he was sectarian, that he was divisive. And the elites had tried to remove him through votes of no confidence in previous years and the US had stepped in each time and said, "Look, this is not the time, do it through a national election."  So they had a national election, Maliki lost and they were really convinced they'd be able to get rid of him.  So when Biden made clear that the US position was to keep Maliki as prime minister, this caused a huge upset with Iraqiya.  They began to fear that America was plotting with Iran in secret agreement.  So they moved further and further and further away from being able to reach a compromise with Maliki.  And no matter how much pressure the Americans put on Iraqiya, they weren't going to agree to Maliki as prime minister and provided this opening to Iran because Iran's influence was way low at this stage because America -- America was credited with ending the civil war through the 'surge.'  But Iran sensed an opportunity and the Iranians pressured Moqtada al-Sadr -- and they pressured him and pressured him.  And he hated Maliki but they put so much pressure on to agree to a second Maliki term and the price for that was all American troops out of the country by the end of 2011.  So during this period, Americans got outplayed by Iran and Maliki moved very much over to the Iranian camp because they'd guaranteed his second term.

Kevin Sylvester:  Should-should the Obama administration been paying more attention?  Should they have -- You know, you talk about Chris Hill, the ambassador you mentioned, seemed more -- at one point, you describe him being more interested in putting green lawn turf down on the Embassy in order to play la crosse or something.  This is a guy you definitely paint as not having his head in Iraq.  How much of what has happened since then is at the fault of the Obama administration?  Hillary Clinton who put Chris Hill in place? [For the record, Barack Obama nominated Chris Hill for the post -- and the Senate confirmed it -- not Hillary.]  How much of what happens -- has happened since -- is at their feet?

Emma Sky:  Well, you know, I think they have to take some responsibility for this because of this mistake made in 2010.  And Hillary Clinton wasn't very much involved in Iraq.  She did appoint the ambassador [no, she did not] but she wasn't involved in Iraq because President Obama had designated Biden to be his point-man on Iraq and Biden really didn't have the instinct for Iraq. He very much believed in ancient hatreds, it's in your blood, you just grow up hating each other and you think if there was anybody who would have actually understood Iraq it would have been Obama himself.  You know, he understands identity more than many people.  He understands multiple identities and how identities can change.  He understands the potential of people to change. So he's got quite a different world view from somebody like Joe Biden who's always, you know, "My grandfather was Irish and hated the British.  That's how things are."  So it is unfortunate that when the American public had enough of this war, they wanted to end the war.  For me, it wasn't so much about the troops leaving, it was the politics -- the poisonous politics.  And keeping Maliki in power when his poisonous politics were already evident was, for me, the huge mistake the Obama administration made. Because what Maliki did in his second term was to go after his rivals.  He was determined he was never going to lose an election again.  So he accused leading Sunni politicians of terrorism and pushed them out of the political process.  He reneged on his promises that he'd made to the tribal leaders who had fought against al Qaeda in Iraq during the surge. [She's referring to Sahwa, also known as Sons of Iraq and Daughters of Iraq and as Awakenings.]  He didn't pay them.  He subverted the judiciary.  And just ended up causing these mass Sunni protests that created the environment that the Islamic State could rear its ugly head and say, "Hey!"  And sadly -- and tragically, many Sunnis thought, "Maybe the Islamic State is better than Maliki."  And you've got to be pretty bad for people to think the Islamic State's better. 

That's Barack, that's on Barack.

Again, I don't believe any leader's hands are blood free when it comes to Iraq.

I certainly don't believe Jill Stein's hands are blood free.

She ran an embarrassing campaign in 2012 for president.  She was the Green Party nominee and she offered mild criticism of Barack but went after Mitt Romney (the GOP nominee) like crazy -- especially after Barack lost a debate to Mitt.

She didn't run a campaign, she acted like the kid sister to the Democratic Party.

As September drew to a close, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported that the US had just sent in a Special-Ops division into Iraq:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.  

Mitt and Barack were arguing over Iraq with each, frankly, lying through their teeth.

Jill Stein didn't even raise the issue or point to the New York Times report to discredit or question Barack (or point out that Mitt was wrong in his charges).

Jill was worthless, a lousy candidate.

And she's another Hillary Clinton.

She thinks she's owed the Green Party's 2016 nomination.

And liars in the press help her.

The Green Party will not select their nominee until the summer of 2016.

She is among those running for the nomination.

And her cult has done their best to pretend she has the nomination and bully other candidates into backing down.

But she can't fight for anything but her own vanity.

Where was Jill when Barack was bombing Libya?

"Where was Jill?" should be the rallying cry of her opponents because she was never anywhere to be found.

By contrast, I know where Cynthia McKinney was.

She was publicly objecting to war on Libya.

Looking at the state of Libya today, she was right.

Cynthia was the 2008 Green Party presidential nominee and she is weighing rather or not to seek the nomination in 2016.

Cynthia's a fighter, Jill's not.

That probably goes a long, long way towards explaining all the fawning press Jill's been getting.

That and the fact that she offers tidy bromides as opposed to penetrating analysis or real criticism.

Where's her critique of Operation Inherent Failure, for example?

Pravda notes, "According to Italian newspaper Corrierre della Sera, Italy will start bombing terrorists in Iraq in the next few hours. Italy will launch the operation only after all the details are coordinated with the US command."  

Jill's got no statement on Iraq at her website.

She's got nothing.

This as Alice Fordham reports today for NPR's Morning Edition (link is text and audio  and transcript)..

Fordham sketches out an Iraq plagued by shortage of supplies -- not just guns for recruits but also boots --  and funds with Sunni tribes ready to fight but forced to the sidelines and Ramadi still held by the Islamic State.

She quotes Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi expressing his disappointment over what the US has offered -- he thought it would be more.

A key section of her report is this:

FORDHAM:  To get an idea of what's going to be needed, I meet a soldier who's been fighting close to Ramadi.


FORDHAM: He won't give his name because he's afraid of his commanders but tells me it's not like the government or coalition isn't doing anything. He recently had American training, and they armed his unit, too.

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: (Through interpreter) They transfer us to Ramadi. We spent two days there. We liberated from 30 to 40 kilometers.

FORDHAM: Liberated the outskirts from ISIS, that is. And following heavy casualties, reinforcements arrived. But he says the officers are still a problem.


FORDHAM: They take bribes to let people go on leave and flee themselves as soon as the battle heats up. Food and water are scarce. Plus, he too says ISIS just has way more men and weapons and uses devastating car bombs in battle.
How long do you think before Ramadi is retaken?

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: (Through interpreter) Ramadi retaken will last from seven to eight years.

Again, it's Operation Inherent Failure.

People might try paying attention.

The call for US troops to be sent into Iraq in larger numbers will only grow.  Those of us opposed to it now should be taking a stand now.

The US State Dept issued the following today:

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 6, 2015
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL General John Allen arrived in Baghdad, Iraq today to meet with senior Iraqi government and security officials. During his meetings with Iraqi officials, General Allen will discuss the Coalition’s continued support for Iraqi-led efforts to degrade and defeat ISIL, as well as recent developments in the region.

In some of today's violence, Alsumaria reports 2 dead in a Falluja clash, 2 corpses were discovered in the streets of Baghdad (dead from gunshot wounds), and an armed attack outside of Baghdad left a dentist dead.

  • Isakson Statement on Committee Approval of Department of Labor Nominee Who Will Help Veterans Find Jobs


    Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Committee and his office issued  the following  today:

    Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
    Tuesday, October 6, 2015
    Lauren Gaydos, 202-224-9126
    Isakson Statement on Committee Approval of Department of Labor Nominee Who Will Help Veterans Find Jobs
    Committee approves nomination of Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training
    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today released the following statement after the committee approved the nomination of former U.S. Rep. Michael H. Michaud to be Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training:
    “One of our greatest obligations as elected officials is to ensure the seamless transition into civilian life for our veterans who are returning home from the battlefield. Part of this responsibility includes seeing to it that veterans have the resources necessary to find jobs,” said Isakson. “Mr. Michaud demonstrated a strong commitment to serving veterans through his previous service on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and I am confident that he will bring that same level of dedication to the Department of Labor’s veterans programs. If confirmed, I look forward to working with him to help improve the quality of training and employment programs available to returning veterans, as well as to combat veteran homelessness.”
    The committee approved Michaud’s nomination today by voice vote. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions shares jurisdiction over this nomination, so it must also approve the nomination before it can advance to the full Senate for a vote on final confirmation.
    The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.

    Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.

    Operation Inherent Failure

    It's getting harder and harder for even the press to pretend Barack Obama's efforts in Iraq might succeed.

    Today's truth teller?

    Alice Fordham reporting for NPR's Morning Edition (link is text and audio -- transcript should show up by 2:00 pm EST)..

    Fordham sketches out an Iraq plagued by shortage of supplies -- not just guns for recruits but also boots --  and funds.

    Sunni tribes ready to fight but forced to the sidelines.

    Ramadi still held by the Islamic State.

    She quotes Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi expressing his disappointment over what the US has offered -- he thought it would be more.

    A key section of her report is this:

    One Iraqi soldier, speaking on condition of anonymity because he's afraid of his commanders, says the coalition, while taking some action, is not doing enough, given how weak Iraq's forces are.
    He says he's received U.S. weapons and "very good" training from American and other instructors. He saved a man's life with the first aid he was taught. When he was deployed just south of Ramadi last month, other soldiers were able to call in airstrikes, allowing his unit to take and hold land on the outskirts of the city.
    "We surrounded ISIS in Ramadi," he says. "But I don't think we will achieve any progress in future." He gestures to a TV tuned to the state channel, proclaiming victories, and calls it lies and propaganda.

    He says that his commanders are corrupt, taking bribes to let people go on leave, and that they abandon troops when the battle heats up — and that there's scarce food and water. ISIS is better armed, more numerous and uses car bombs and similar tactics.

    Haider can claim he was shoved into the arms of Russia by the US failing to do more for him but the reality is he claimed he was addressing corruption in the military and, a year in office, and the problem remains.

    It's not  a minor problem when you invested everything into a military solution.

    Operation Inherent Failure was doomed to fail when the political aspect was ignored, when the root causes were avoided.

    A year later and nothing to show for the efforts.

    The following community sites -- plus Black Agenda Report, Latino USA and Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox -- updated:

  • The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


  • Monday, October 05, 2015

    Iraq snapshot

    Monday, October 5, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi continues his fakery, Ramadi remains held by the Islamic State, Operation Inherent Failure remains an abject one, and much more.

    Iraq was slammed by violence today with Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) counting 56 dead with 32 alone killed by an al-Khales car bombing. Ahmed Rasheed, Michael Gregory and Allison Williams (Reuters) quote al-Khales police captain Mohammed al-Tamimi declaring, "The driver begged police to be allowed to park his vehicle in order to buy medication from a nearby pharmacy and five minutes later it (the bomb) went off and caused huge destruction."

    That was one of three major bombings.  AFP reports ten people died in another "bombing in Zubayr, near Basra in southern Iraq, was claimed by the Sunni extremist Islamic State group, which has controlled swathes of the country since last year but was thought to have little reach in the deep Shiite south" while a third bombing  left five people dead in Hosseiniyah.

    In other violence, Alsumaria notes a Kirkuk roadside bombing left two Peshmerga injured and  Dawn Ennis (The Advocate) reports:

    More horrifying atrocities against men believed to be gay have come to light in occupied Iraq, where Islamic militants from ISIS have executed four men by tying them up and tossing them from the rooftops of high-rise buildings.  
    Extremists in Mosul executed two Iraqi men in this fashion simply for being gay, local sources reported to the ARA News website. Another report claimed the same fate befell two men in Nineveh, for the same “crime.”

    A civil rights activist in the region told ARA News the judgment of who is gay is based on “superficial information without any investigation.”

    US President Barack Obama's plan or 'plan' to address the Islamic State and rescue Iraq has yielded no positive results and remains Operation Inherent Failure.

    Mosul fell to the Islamic State in June 2014.

    And today?

    It remains under the control of the Islamic State.

    In April of 2015, Ramadi fell to the Islamic State.

    And today?

    It remains under the control of the Islamic State.

    But unlike with Mosul, with Ramadi there's an effort to liberate Ramadi.

    How long has the operation to retake Ramadi been going on?


    Haider al-Abadi's government is attempting to portray reclaiming a stadium -- not in Ramadi -- as a victory.

    All these months later, the Iraqi government now controls a sports stadium.

    That's what passes for 'success' in Iraq.

  • Fred Fleitz (Fox News) offers:

    In Iraq, ISIS took the city of Ramadi last May despite being outnumbered 10-1 by the Iraqi army.  Iraqi officials said they would retake the city “in days.” 

    Four months later, there is little prospect of this or an assault to retake Mosul which was supposed to occur last spring. This is due to the weakness of Iraq’s army and President Obama’s refusal to allow U.S. military advisers or special forces leave their bases and accompany Iraqi forces into the field. 

    Operation Inherent Failure.

    June 19, 2014, Barack insisted the only answer to Iraq's crises was a political solution.

    Yet in all the time since, there's been little effort to address Iraq's crises which include the long targeting of the Sunni population.

    They remain excluded.

    For over a year now, Barack and others in the administration have insisted that Iraq needs a national guard but the draft law remains a bill as Parliament refuses to pass it due to objections over a Sunni force.

    In a surprising development today, Judit Neurink (Independent) reports:

    The Iraqi government has embarked on secret talks with Sunni militia figures and former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime in an attempt to secure crucial Sunni support in the fight against Isis.  

    After a first meeting in the Qatari capital Doha early last month, a second round of talks took place in Tanzania two weeks later, and three more sessions are planned, according to well-informed Iraqi sources who were party to the talks but requested anonymity because of their sensitive nature. The Independent has seen photographs of the meeting in Tanzania, which showed representatives from Western and African governments alongside officials of Iraq’s Shia-led government. The US and the UN are mediating the talks.

    The Doha conference, of course, was used by State of Law to target the Sunnis.

    They attempted to use the participation of Salim al-Jabouri in the conference as an excuse to strip him of his post as Speaker of Parliament.

    State of Law was created by -- and is run by -- Nouri al-Maliki who was prime minister from 2006 through 2014 and used his post to persecute the Sunnis.

    Haider al-Abadi was installed as the new prime minister in the fall of 2014 in an attempt to reset the clock and pull Iraq back from the brink.

    During his year and counting as prime minister, he's accomplished very little but flapped his gums a great deal.

    For example, protests started (re-started) months ago.

    The spark was the lack of electricity in 100-plus degree days.

    Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (Guardian) reports:

    More than a decade after the US invasion – and more than $40bn (£26bn) of investment later – Iraqis must still make do with limited electricity. In a country with one of the world’s largest oil reserves, this is a matter of great exasperation for locals.
    “People here get a few hours of electricity every day, so when the current comes there is a huge demand: everyone plugs in their fridges and air conditioners, the old network is overloaded and transformers fry and cables melt,” said Faris. “We work three shifts, 24 hours a day, trying to patch up the old network and we can’t keep up.”
    When summer temperatures peak above 50C (122F), it’s a matter of life and death – a far more emotive issue than Isis and the sectarian divide. This summer, as temperatures surged and tempers frayed, thousands of people staged a series of protests, pressing into city centre squares to denounce the corruption that riddles the system.

    All these months later, all these grand pronouncements from Haider later, and the electricity issue is still not addressed.

    But Haider did announce, over the weekend, that he'd accomplished something to meet the demands of the people.

    Sunday, AFP reported that Haider al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq, declared that opening the Green Zone to the public is part of his fulfilling his promise to the Iraqi people.

    Strange, I don't require any signs carried by the protesters in recent months that called for opening the Green Zone.

    And, of course, it's not really that open.  As AFP noted, "The measure offers limited access to the vast area, with most streets still requiring a special badge [. . .]"

    But there's a bigger issue, isn't there?

    One AFP ignores for reasons unknown.

    Is the Green Zone open to all Iraqis?


    It's not.

    It can't be.

    Not when Baghdad isn't open to all Iraqis.

    Or have we forgotten that Sunnis in Anbar Province have been repeatedly denied entry to Baghdad over the last months?

    AFP apparently forgot.

    Not everyone was so willing to toss aside facts and common sense.  Alap Naik Desai (Inquisitr) explains the results of the 'grand opening,'  "However, many excited Iraqis who rushed to get a glimpse of the territory left disappointed.  This is because severe restrictions, still in effect, prevented the majority of Iraqis access to most of the area.  This didn't stop the PM taking credit for the initiative.

    Haider's full of words.

    It's in actual action that he's lacking.

    The US State Dept also has the gift of gab.

    Today's State Dept press briefing found spokesperson Mark Toner offering lots of words -- few possessed any real value.

    QUESTION: Just two questions on Syria and Iraq.

    MR TONER: Yeah, sure.

    QUESTION: The first one: The Kurdish groups in Syria and both in Iraq – the Iraqi Kurdish president has issued a statement. They both welcome the presence of the airstrikes by Russian – by Russia in Syria. Aren’t you concerned that some of your very best partners are now welcoming the Russian airstrikes?

    MR TONER: Well, again, we have great respect for the Iraqi Kurds in the fight that they’re waging against ISIL in Iraq. Our position on Russian airstrikes, I think, has been made painfully clear over the last four or five days since the very first airstrikes were carried out. We said many times that we would welcome a constructive role for Russia if it takes the fight to ISIL. Thus far, we’ve not seen that that’s the case. We’ve seen no indication that they’re actually hitting ISIL targets – ISIL targets.

    QUESTION: Is it constructive if --

    MR TONER: Please, go ahead, sir.

    QUESTION: Is it constructive if Russia supports the Kurds in Syria or the Kurds in Iraq?

    MR TONER: Is it constructive if – it’s constructive if --

    QUESTION: Militarily?

    MR TONER: It’s constructive if Russia wants to, as I said, live up to what it’s saying, live up to its words with action, which is – it says it wants to take the fight to ISIL. We’ve not seen that thus far. Frankly, what we’ve seen thus far is that Russia’s decision to undertake military action in Syria and intervene in that civil war that’s taking place between Assad and the moderate Syrian opposition – frankly, we consider it a strategic mistake. If they are serious about taking the fight to ISIL, then, as I said, we can find a role – or we can see a role for them to play constructively, certainly within the context of de-conflicting any action that they may be taking against some of the targets that we’re also hitting.
    Our primary purpose here is to support those groups in northern Syria – Kurds, Arabs, others – who are waging successful attacks against ISIL, dislodging them from some key strongholds and frankly clearing ISIL out of that territory. That remains our focus. We’re part of a 60-some-odd member coalition doing that. If Russia wants to play in that sphere, then we would see a role for them, but we don’t see that yet.

    QUESTION: Could you comment on a report in The New York Times that the United States is coordinating with Turkey to open another front in northwestern Syria, and perhaps even get closer to where the Russians are bombing? Could you comment on that?

    MR TONER: No, I’m not going to get into – I’m not going to confirm those reports. I mean, obviously, we’ve been working with some of these groups in northern Syria for some time, continuing to provide them support – both the Department of State, nonlethal assistance, DOD, train and equip. We’re going to continue those efforts, but I’m not in a position to really speak to those reports in The New York Times.

    QUESTION: (Inaudible) you said – you’re going to continue that? I thought there was a pause or some kind of a hiatus in the train and equip program because it was so – it was not --

    MR TONER: I think that they’ve – they’re looking at --

    QUESTION: Is that over? This is probably better asked to the Pentagon.

    MR TONER: No, I’m not clear on that, actually, but I would refer you to the Department of Defense. My understanding was that they’re looking at how to rejigger it, improve it, but --

    QUESTION: All right. And then I hesitate to ask this here, but – rather than have a colleague ask at the Pentagon, but you just said that, in response to an earlier question with – about Russia about de-confliction on targets that we may also be hitting. Are you aware of any shared targets that --

    MR TONER: No, that’s – sorry if I was unclear about that point.

    QUESTION: So --

    MR TONER: We’re trying to hit ISIL targets. We’ve not see that Russia is doing that yet.

    QUESTION: So then what is de-confliction?

    MR TONER: Sorry.

    QUESTION: You just don’t want planes running into each other? Is that – is that what it is?

    MR TONER: I mean, we want to avoid those kinds of tragic incidents, yes. And certainly, that’s – on a really tactical level, yes, that’s one of the concerns.

    QUESTION: Okay.

    MR TONER: But also there’s other concerns as well in this battle space. I don’t really want to speak to it in my capacity, but – yeah.

    QUESTION: But would it also involve Russian airstrikes against targets that you do not believe are ISIL or al-Qaida affiliates? Does that also fall under the de-confliction idea, or is this something that’s kind of not – better to ask the Pentagon?

    MR TONER: No, I mean, I would say – I mean, that’s – look, that’s been made abundantly clear both in the political sphere as well as in the tactical level. We don’t want to see Russia hitting some of the Syrian opposition forces that we believe they’ve struck.

    QUESTION: Okay. Well, does de-confliction also go to Russian planes flying into Turkish airspace, something like that?

    MR TONER: Yes, that certainly involves that.

    QUESTION: So in terms of that specific incident, again realizing that this might be better directed at the Pentagon, has there been any diplomatic activity other than just what the NATO statement, which I think we’ve all seen, with the Russians – between the U.S. and the Russians about this incident or these – this – these incidents?

    MR TONER: So I did try to check on this before. There’s been no follow-up to the de-confliction – I hate that word, but to the efforts at – to de-conflict that started – began last week, I think on Thursday. There’s been no follow-up to that, but obviously we made clear our concerns about this --

    QUESTION: No, I’m not talking --

    MR TONER: -- in the NAC – right, in the NATO --

    QUESTION: Right. No, I’m talking about aside from NATO and aside from --

    MR TONER: Right. Not that I’m aware of, no.

    QUESTION: -- the de-confliction talks, you don’t know if there’s been any contact, direct contact, between you and the Russians?

    MR TONER: Direct contact, no. I don’t believe so.

    QUESTION: Because the Secretary spoke about how the Turkish foreign minister called him on Saturday, I think he said, after the first incident.

    MR TONER: That’s right, that’s right.

    QUESTION: So you’re not aware of anything since then?

    MR TONER: No.

    QUESTION: So Mark, are you saying to the best of your knowledge they have not spoken about the Russian flights into Turkish airspace?

    MR TONER: To my knowledge, no. Now again, I don’t know if our embassy in Moscow has approached the Russian Government. To my knowledge, that has not happened between DOD, but again, to my knowledge. I’m not aware of any --

    QUESTION: I mean between Kerry and Lavrov.

    MR TONER: Not to my knowledge, no; they haven’t spoken.

    QUESTION: Mark, on the same topic. Do you have the same concerns of Russian cooperation with the Iraqi, like Russia targeting ISIS in Iraq like you have in Syria, or it is different story? Because they have a cooperation in Baghdad. That’s what the Prime Minister Abadi said, like for sharing intelligence.

    MR TONER: Yeah, sharing intelligence. But I frankly haven’t seen them actually voice any kind of willingness to actually hit ISIL targets in Iraq. Frankly, that’s a question better asked of the Iraqi Government and how they would feel about actually active Russian attacks in that space.

    QUESTION: Right, but they authorized, they welcomed – actually both regional government of – Kurdish Regional Government, also Baghdad. But what is your concern? Do you have the same thing, or you think if Iraqis is not concerned so you’re fine with that?

    MR TONER: Well, it’s a sovereign country. They can certainly make those kinds of decisions. Our concern, again, is we’re active in that same space. We’re obviously working, closely advising the Iraqi military we believe with some success over the past year, certainly, to take the fight to ISIL in Iraq. So I can’t really speak to any hypothetical role that Russia may play in that struggle.

    QUESTION: Okay. Well, one more on that last one.

    MR TONER: Please go ahead, yeah.

    QUESTION: You have many forces in Iraq that you are cooperating with – I think the Iraqi Government, Sunnis, and the Kurds. And the recent month is the Kurdish officials, they were concerned about the amount of ammunitions and also the weapons they have received from the United States, it’s really decreased to not – they have not received the share that they – was provided by Pentagon to them.

    MR TONER: You’re speaking about --

    QUESTION: The train and equip program.

    MR TONER: No, no, no, but which group in particular?

    QUESTION: The Kurdish group in Iraq, not in Syria. So one of the Kurdish official – I think the chancellor of the council of – security council of Kurdistan – he said that we have not received anything from United States since May. So --

    MR TONER: I’m not aware of any lapse in our efforts to supply them. I’d have to check on that. And frankly, it might be a better – question better directed to the Department of Defense.

    QUESTION: So I asked the Department of Defense the same issue.

    MR TONER: There you go. What did they say? (Laughter.)

    QUESTION: Well, they said that’s – that we have sent everything to Baghdad, but that’s for the diplomatic mission.

    MR TONER: Well, that is – I mean, that is a critical element of our effort there. We’ve said – we’ve been pretty adamant about the fact that command and control rests with the Iraqi Government. That said, we’ve seen a real effort on the – part of the Iraqi Government, the Iraqi military, and frankly, no lapse in getting that equipment, ammunition, whatever, supplies out to those who need it. So I honestly can’t speak to this particular case. I just don’t have the --

    QUESTION: What do you – do you mean, like, those who needs – that they are fighting? You mean maybe they are sending more to Sunnis because they are fighting extensive – in Peshmerga front lines --

    MR TONER: We have – again, I – we’ve made that very clear. And frankly, we believe that it is indeed the case where the Iraqi Government is doing a good job at disseminating those supplies to those who are actually fighting the fight against ISIL – Kurds, Sunnis, whoever. Some of these local forces on the ground that are quite effective. I’ve just seen nothing; I don’t know. I can’t speak to any lapse in supply or equipping the Kurdish forces. I just don’t --

    QUESTION: Right. Will you take it that seriously, that – these concerns by the Kurdish official, that they are not getting anything from Baghdad?

    MR TONER: I mean, obviously, we would – we would obviously take something like that – a comment like that with concern. I just said I don’t have any information about it. I can look into it, but I don’t have anything to – I don’t have any facts or any figures here to refute that.

    The last word goes to CNN's Arwa Damon who again notes an import report published last week.

  • reuters
    ahmed rasheed

    Forgotten Ramadi

    How long has the operation to retake Ramadi been going on?


    Haider al-Abadi's government is attempting to portray reclaiming a stadium -- not in Ramadi -- as a victory.

    All these months later, the Iraqi government controls a sports stadium.

    That's what passes for 'success' in Iraq.

  • And that Tweet about says it all.

    New content at Third:

    Kat's "Kat's Korner The triumphant return of Janet " went up early this morning.

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