Thursday, October 30, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, October 30, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods (War Crimes) continue, Loveday Morris explains what 'victory' looks like in Iraq, and much more.


In Monday's snapshot, we noted the death of Sean P. Neal and the presumed death of Jordan L. Spears -- both in the latest wave of the Iraq War which has been dubbed "Inherent Resolve."  Tuesday, the Defense Dept issued the following announcement:


IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: NR-546-14
October 28, 2014

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty


  The Department of Defense announced today the reclassification of a previously reported death of a Marine in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Cpl. Jordan L. Spears, 21, of Memphis, Indiana, was lost at sea Oct. 1 while conducting flight operations in the North Arabian Gulf. He was initially classified as a non-global war on terrorism casualty.
Spears was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron-163, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.
For more information, media may contact the I Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs Office at (760) 763-7039 or after hours at (760) 207-5865.
 
The "reclassification" the release notes means Jordan L. Spears is now the first US service member to die in Operation Inherent Resolve.


How many more people will be sent to die in the never-ending Iraq War?

For now, one group of armed forces won't be going.  Al Arabiya News notes:


Australian commandos set to join the fight in Iraq against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have hit an unexpected snag – Baghdad has not yet issued them visas, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Thursday.

Although 200 special forces troops are in in the Gulf awaiting their deployment, the Iraqi government’s “excruciating inefficiency” has made them unable to reach their assignment, according to the daily, citing an unidentified source.



The forces are sent over with no plan.

Just bomb.

Then bomb some more.

And while the Iraqi government -- safe from the aerial bombings, safe in the protected Green Zone -- is happy to see the country bombed, already Iraqis are rejecting it.  Not a surprise.

It's not a plan.

It's a shock and, grasp reality, it's an insult to Iraqis.

Foreigners are 'helping' them by bombing their countryside?

In what world is that 'help'?

In the world where countries can't stop lining up at the chance to bomb Iraq.


NewsinEnglish.no reports, "Norway’s government has confirmed plans to send a total of 195 military personnel to Iraq and Afghanistan as a contribution to the US-led international efforts to combat terrorism. The decision announced Thursday was critizised by some left-wing politicians, but the opposition Labour party said it supported the move." Steven Chase (Globe and Mail) reports, "Canadian warplanes are poised to start striking targets in Iraq, with the government saying bombing of Islamic militant forces should begin very shortly."  Emily Kent Smith (Daily Mail) reports England's gearing up to provide Apache helicopters to Iraq and "If Apaches are sent to Iraq - which are piloted by the Army Air Corps - it would mark the first British Army involvement in a conflict role in the country."


For those who've forgotten who else is bombing Iraq, the US Defense Dept helpfully notes, "Among the coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq are the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain."


That's a lot of countries and so many more lining up for their chance to destroy Iraq.

The US Defense Dept boast, "Separately, officials said, U.S. and partner-nation military forces conducted two airstrikes in Iraq yesterday and today, using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists. [. . .]

  In Iraq, an airstrike near Bayji struck a small ISIL unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, and an airstrike west of Ramadi struck an ISIL checkpoint."

Tom Bowman (NPR's Morning Edition, link is text and audio) notes:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been on the defensive recently about the strategy to take on the Islamic State. American warplanes have been bombing targets in Iraq and Syria, but militant fighters are still on the move.
"We have made it very clear, I have and President Obama has, that this is a long, difficult effort," Hagel said.
Difficult, some critics say, because the U.S. military is not bombing enough targets and is not deploying any U.S. ground troops in the fight. There are also critics who say the U.S. does not have effective partners on the ground and is not training a sufficient number of local troops or militias.

"This sounds like a Goldilocks approach. We're looking for a solution that's just right," said Fred Hof, who worked in the Obama administration on Syria policy.



Greg Miller (Washingon Post) adds, "The magnitude of the ongoing migration suggests that the U.S.-led air campaign has neither deterred significant numbers of militants from traveling to the region nor triggered such outrage that even more are flocking to the fight because of American intervention."


If you're not grasping what a failure US President Barack Obama's 'plan' has been, Xinhua reports, "A total of 255 tribesmen and local policemen were executed by the militants of the Islamic State (IS) after the group took them from their villages and towns in Iraq's western province of Anbar, a provincial security source said on Thursday."

Here's the thing about little boys and their war toys, it stops being a fun game quickly.  They end up like gamblers at black jack, they just can't walk away..  They're losing but they keep betting because now they've lost face, now everyone's looking at them.  And they know they're not doing anything different and they're not planning to do anything different, but if they keep bluffing, surely (they hope) their luck will change.

Luck is all Barack's hoping for at this point to save his 'plan.'


  Al Arabiya News notes,  "Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants executed 46 people and besieged 500 families in the Iraqi city of Heet, Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent to Anbar reported on Wednesday."  Sameer N. Yacoub and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) add, "Hit was captured by Islamic State militants earlier this month after heavy clashes with the government security forces and tribal militias."  Earlier this month.

When you're losing cities, you aren't making "gains."  Even if you retake them, you are not making "gains." The Pentagon keeps labeling this and that "Islamic State propaganda" but the Defense Dept isn't averse to circulating its own propaganda.

Loveday Morris (Washington Post via the UK Independent) provides the reality that the Defense Dept keeps glossing over:

But a visit to the Sunni settlement this week laid bare the huge cost of that victory. The town is now emptied of its 80,000 residents, and building after building has been destroyed – by air strikes, bombings and artillery fire.
After four months of battles between the Isis and the Iraqi army, about 10,000 pro-government Shia militiamen were poured into this area in Babil province for a final push, according to Hadi al-Amiri, who leads the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade and co-ordinated the operation.
Defeating the militants involved clearing out all the residents and leaving the town nearly flattened, underscoring the challenge the Shia-led government faces in areas where demographics do not work in its favour.


And that's what the Pentagon -- and White House -- insists is a 'success.'


We noted some of today's deaths earlier.  Yesterday?  Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports:

On Wednesday, Islamic State fighters rounded up and executed 35 tribesmen in Hit, a Euphrates town in Anbar, officials said.
"We asked the prime minister to urgently arm anti-Islamic State tribal fighters. We told him each day that passes adds more complication to the situation in Anbar and the government needs to take immediate actions on ground," said Sheikh Naeem al-Ga’oud, from the prominent Albu Nimir tribe.
"But speaking honestly all what we got out of the meeting with Abadi was promises."


Rasheed reports on the growing distrust of the new prime minister Haider al-Abadi.  This isn't a surprise.  A new prime minister was not a clean bill.  It was a brief chance to demonstrate a new Iraq.

Brief.


Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) notes, "Yet Baghdad has been hit by a slew of bombings in recent weeks that seem intended to disrupt Muharram and shatter public confidence in the new Shiite Muslim-dominated government of Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, the politician plucked from relative obscurity who the Obama administration hopes will find a way to bridge the country’s sectarian divide."

Haider and the White House blew it.

Reuters notes, "The bodies of 150 members of an Iraqi Sunni tribe which fought Islamic State have been found in a mass grave, security officials said on Thursday.  Islamic State militants took the men from their villages to the city of Ramadi and killed them on Wednesday night and buried them, an official in a police operations center and another security official told Reuters."


Had the White House and Haider done their job, the 150 deaths could have been a galvanizing moment, the reason the Sunni tribal sheiks who are now living in exile in Jordan to throw their support behind Haider.

At some point, is the long promised "political solution" going to be worked on?



AFP reports:



As US-led warplanes pound jihadists in Iraq, prominent Sunni exiles say that empowering their marginalised minority will be more important than bombs and missiles in defeating the Islamic State extremist group.
Deadly sectarian tensions have riven Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago, with Sunni anger at the Shiite-led authorities seen as a key factor behind the rise of IS.



The 'shock and awe' of US war planes was only going to be 'shocking' for a bit.  It's just another layer in the cycle of violence -- the never-ending cycle of violence in Iraq.  The average Iraqi citizen has had to endure and adjust to a life that no one would consider normal anywhere else -- car bombings, roadside bombings, grenade attacks, on and on and on.

Hollie McKay (Fox News) reports on how a song Beyonce recorded, "I Was Here," has had an impact in Iraq:



“Those words were so powerful, so life-changing,” Mohammad Huzaifa Muluki, a 23-year-old student in Baghdad told FOX411. “I know it is difficult to do, but we want to change the world and that song made us realize we can. We can leave in a world with peace, without war, without terror.”
A lot of small steps, he said, can lead to big changes.
The idea was initially sparked by a young student, Muna Abdel Halim, who coordinated with Muluki and just three other friends from university to quickly launch a humanitarian campaign of the same name – “I Was Here.” Today it boasts an ever-growing list of more than 150 young volunteers, all with a mission to provide services that will help those in need.

“Every day we see and hear images and stories of pain and suffering in our own neighborhoods and in countries far away. But we also find acts of kindness, great and small,” he continued. “One day, one message, one goal to inspire people in Iraq to do something good no matter how big or small – for someone else.”


Earlier this month, Shukur Khilkhal (Al-Monitor) reported on the campaign:


Over the last two years, the campaign has completed a number of different humanitarian tasks. It cleaned up and reopened the Mustansiriya Madrasah, the most famous historical school in Baghdad, established in 1233.
The cleaning process took a full week of continuous work, following which its members cleaned Mutanabi Street. They also collected food and clothing and distributed them to needy people during the month of Ramadan in a project they called "Ramadan basket.”
As their number increased by the day, the volunteers started dividing themselves into groups, each specializing in a particular job. “There is a group dedicated to humanitarian work, another to technical work and a third to works of service-related nature, and so on,” Muluki said.

 



The song's lyrics include:

I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time
Know there was something that, meant something that I left behind
When I leave this world, I'll leave no regrets
Leave something to remember, so they won't forget

I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I've done everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here

I want to say I lived each day, until I died
And know that I meant something in, somebody's life
The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave
That I made a difference, and this world will see

I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I've done everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know



"I Was Here" was written by songwriter Diane Warren who Tweeted today:




  • In tears reading how "I Was Here" has inspired a peace movement among the youth of Iraq. This is truly the power of music. Humbled.



  • Along with "I Was Here," Diane's written or co-written many other hits such as  DeBarge's "Rhythm of the Night," Patti Labelle's "If You Asked Me To," Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me," Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing," Roberta Flack & Maxi Priest's "Set The Night To Music," Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart," Aretha Franklin & Whitney's Houston's "It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be," Heart's "Who Will You Run To," Brandy's "Have You Ever?" and  Cher's "You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me," "Save Up All Your Tears," "Just Like Jesse James" and "If I Could Turn Back Time."

    Back to the never-ending bombing passed off as a 'plan,' any measure the US was going to execute would only be 'stunning' for a brief time.


    The White House spent far too much time -- wasted far too much time -- on the military response when at one point even Barack was saying that the only answer for Iraq was a political solution.

    But the US could hold a terrorism conference with defense ministers from around the world

    Couldn't do the same for diplomats from various countries.

    And the White House continued the militarization of the State Dept by wasting various State officials on the task of talking this and that country into joining the bombings.

    They failed at the diplomacy and that's what the world will remember years from now.

    Not the daily strikes the Pentagon's so damn proud of.

    But the failure of someone who (wrongly) won the Nobel Peace Prize to use diplomacy.



    It was a brief window of time, we noted that months ago.  The hope that a new prime minister might mean the government could be inclusive and might stop the targeting of Sunnis.

    It required some grand gestures.

    We noted that as well.

    Thug and thankfully former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki targeted Sunni politicians.  This included Vice President Tareq Ali who served from 2006 to 2014 -- the last two years in exile but he held the office -- despite the whoring lie of a whorish press (I'm referring to US and European press) as they rushed to lap at the crotch of thug Nouri.

    Jane Arraf hasn't said a peep about the Frontline special that aired this week.

    Rather strange when you consider that the only time she's on TV is when PBS throws her a bone.

    But she can't highlight that special, can she?

    She whored for Saddam Hussein when he was prime minister (Jane was at CNN then) and she's whored for Nouri.

    On Tuesday, Frontline exposed Nouri as the thug we always noted he was.

    Poor Jane.  All those reports for PRI, Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor.

    Find where she's noting Nouri's crimes?

    She was a good little whore for Nouri.


    Nouri charged Tareq with crimes and demanded that the Baghdad court he controlled try Tareq.

    Tareq was still Vice President.  To stand trial, per the Iraqi Constitution, Nouri had to wait until Tareq was out of office (he resigned or his term expired) or else get the Parliament to strip Tareq of his office and immunity.  The Parliament refused to do that.

    No trial should have taken place.

    Then, months before the trial started, Baghdad judges announced Tareq's guilt.

    Before the trial started.

    Before opening arguments, let alone before any evidence was introduced.

    That's the sort of bias that forces functional judges to recuse themselves from a case.

    But the trial proceeded.

    Tareq's defense attorney wanted to call a character witness.

    The judge refused.

    The character witness?

    Then-President of Iraq Jalal Talabani.

    Who was prepared to testify.

    The evidence presented was from tortured 'confessions.'

    At least one of Tareq's bodyguards was tortured to death, beaten so badly that he died from kidney failure.

    All of this calls for the verdict to a trial which never should have taken place (due to the immunity issue) to be set aside.

    As the head of the government, Haider al-Abadi could make that call/recommendation.

    He could also issue a pardon.

    He's refused to do either.

    All he's done is promise to end the bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja.

    That was a good promise.

    Starting in January of this year, Nouri began bombing the homes of civilians in Falluja, a War Crime, legally defined as such, recognized by the international community as such (the term is Collective Punishment).

    So, September 13th, when Haider promised to end the bombings, that was good.

    Days later, as the bombings continued, it wasn't so good.

    His only gesture -- not grand at all, just respecting international law -- turned out to be hollow words as the bombings continued.

    Iraqi Spring MC notes the bombings continue and that Falluja General Hospital received the corpse of one civilian as well as one wounded civilian.


    There's been no grand gesture.

    Haider's failed to call for the release from Iraqi prisons and jails all people who have never had charges filed against them.  (In Iraq -- and they took this from the US government's actions when it directly controlled Iraq -- if you can't arrest the person you have a warrant for, arrest their spouse, or their parent, or their child, sibling, grandparent, etc.  These people, these Sunnis, remain behind bars despite never being charged with any crime.)

    The only gesture was that he would abide by international law and yet, despite that promise, the bombing of Falluja residential neighborhoods continues.









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    Uber CEO To Be Honored at IAVA’s Heroes Gala in New York November 13th

    This is from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans against the war:

    Uber CEO To Be Honored at IAVA’s Heroes Gala in New York November 13th

    CONTACT: Gretchen Andersen (212) 982-9699 or press@iava.org


    NEW YORK (October 29, 2014) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, today announced Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick will be honored at IAVA’s Annual Heroes Gala Celebrating Our 10th Anniversary. IAVA will present Kalanick with the 2014 IAVA Civilian Leadership Award on Thursday, November 13th, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.


    “IAVA is thrilled to honor Travis Kalanick for his leadership and work on behalf of the veterans community,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “As one of the country’s leading entrepreneurs, Travis has led Uber to take veteran unemployment head on with their national initiative. No veteran should leave service to their country and find themselves without employment options. Uber is unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit of America and innovating just like post-9/11 veterans across the country. UberMILITARY doesn’t just recognize the sacrifices of our veterans; it understands that the unwavering work ethic developed by veterans during their time in service is an invaluable asset to the company and its community. We are proud to present the Civilian Leadership Award this November to Travis and his team at Uber for their incredible dedication to empowering post-9/11 vets.”



    Kalanick
    Nearly 300,000 servicemembers are expected to transition into the civilian workforce every year for the next five years. Uber’s new program UberMILITARY connects service members, veterans and military spouses to Uber and empowers them as entrepreneurs and small business owners. UberMILITARY will on-board 50,000 members of the military community during the next 18 months. In cities nationwide, members of the military community will be welcomed by Uber. 



    Based on a case study conducted in San Diego, Calif., Uber found that veteran drivers do more trips with Uber per week on average that non-veteran partners. Also, veterans maintain higher driver ratings on average than non-veteran partners and receive frequent positive feedback. 


    IAVA’s 1Oth Anniversary Celebration


    The IAVA Heroes Gala is the premier fundraising event of Veterans Week in New York. Tickets can be purchased here.


    IAVA will also honor Admiral Mike Mullen, 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the IAVA Veteran Leadership Award. Willie Geist, co-anchor of NBC’s “TODAY” show and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” will serve as the Master of Ceremonies.


    IAVA is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the organization founded by CEO and Iraq War veteran Paul Rieckhoff in 2004. Over the past decade, IAVA has evolved to fight for what veterans truly want and need including playing a key role in passing the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In December 2012, in partnership with the Robin Hood Foundation, IAVA launched the Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP). This case management and referral service program concentrates on, but is not limited to, vets in New York and California with an intake of about 40 new cases a week. More recently, IAVA has promoted awareness and positive action around Military Sexual Trauma, built strong communities of veterans online and on the ground, and proposed solutions to the disability claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
    IAVA’s past Heroes Gala honorees, performers and guests include: Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Sal Guinta; former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; best- selling author and Army veteran Wes Moore; “Dancing with the Stars” winner and veteran J.R. Martinez; host of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” Stephen Colbert; Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show;” NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly; Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Leslie Gelb; Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark; Super Bowl Champion Coach Bill Cowher; singer Nora Jones; NBC News’ Brian Williams; former Chairman of the NAACP Julian Bond; and O.A.R. lead vocalist Marc Roberge.


    IAVA’s Annual Heroes Gala Celebrating Our 10th Anniversary’s top sponsors, as of Oct. 29, 2014, include HBO, JPMorgan Chase & Co., MillerCoors, Southwest Airlines, Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, Turner Broadcasting, USAA, Victory Motorcycles, Western Asset Management, and WME/IMG. To sponsor the Heroes Gala click here


    Note to media: To arrange an interview with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or other IAVA leadership or attend the Heroes Gala as a member of the press, please email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699.  



    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.
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    The political solution Barack forgot

    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 350 people killed in yesterday's Iraq violence.  Al Arabiya News notes,  "Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants executed 46 people and besieged 500 families in the Iraqi city of Heet, Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent to Anbar reported on Wednesday."  Sameer N. Yacoub and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) add, "Hit was captured by Islamic State militants earlier this month after heavy clashes with the government security forces and tribal militias."  Earlier this month.

    When you're losing cities, you aren't making "gains."  Even if you retake them, you are not making "gains." The Pentagon keeps labeling this and that "Islamic State propaganda" but the Defense Dept isn't averse to circulating its own propaganda.

    Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports:

    On Wednesday, Islamic State fighters rounded up and executed 35 tribesmen in Hit, a Euphrates town in Anbar, officials said.
    "We asked the prime minister to urgently arm anti-Islamic State tribal fighters. We told him each day that passes adds more complication to the situation in Anbar and the government needs to take immediate actions on ground," said Sheikh Naeem al-Ga’oud, from the prominent Albu Nimir tribe.
    "But speaking honestly all what we got out of the meeting with Abadi was promises."


    Rasheed reports on the growing distrust of the new prime minister Haider al-Abadi.  This isn't a surprise.  A new prime minister was not a clean bill.  It was a brief chance to demonstrate a new Iraq.

    Brief.


    Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) notes, "Yet Baghdad has been hit by a slew of bombings in recent weeks that seem intended to disrupt Muharram and shatter public confidence in the new Shiite Muslim-dominated government of Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, the politician plucked from relative obscurity who the Obama administration hopes will find a way to bridge the country’s sectarian divide."

    Haider and the White House blew it.

    Reuters notes, "The bodies of 150 members of an Iraqi Sunni tribe which fought Islamic State have been found in a mass grave, security officials said on Thursday.  Islamic State militants took the men from their villages to the city of Ramadi and killed them on Wednesday night and buried them, an official in a police operations center and another security official told Reuters."


    Had the White House and Haider done their job, the 150 deaths could have been a galvanizing moment, the reason the Sunni tribal sheiks who are now living in exile in Jordan to throw their support behind Haider.

    At some point, is the long promised "political solution" going to be worked on?


    Emily Kent Smith (Daily Mail) reports England's gearing up to provide Apache helicopters to Iraq and "If Apaches are sent to Iraq - which are piloted by the Army Air Corps - it would mark the first British Army involvement in a conflict role in the country."  That's not going to make a difference.  Until the focus shifts to the political solution, there won't be any change for the better.

    Until the focus shifts to the political solution, there won't be any improvements.

    BBC News notes, "Correspondents say the killings are most likely aimed at discouraging resistance from powerful local tribes, who will be key to any successful bid to retake Anbar province."

    They may do that.

    Mainly, the killings may underscore how alone the Sunnis are.  And that's not going to allow for a political solution.




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


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    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    One of Nouri's own accuses him of plotting a coup

    Violence continues in Iraq.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports that a battle northeast of Baquba left 1 police officer and 1 member of the Iraqi forces dead while a corpse was discovered dumped northwest of Baghdad. Alsumaria also notes corpses: 41 of them found dumped near a cliff in Babylon Province.   Alsumaria reports a Mahmudiyah roadside bombing left two people injured.

    And in what passes for 'success,' Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) notes Iraqi forces are planning another effort to retake the oil refinery in Baiji.  Another.  Another effort.  And all these efforts take place -- all these efforts focused on an oil field -- while the Iraqi people suffer -- some still trapped on Mount Sinjar.

    But no efforts have been made to stop the suffering.  Instead, the Iraqi forces and their 'friends' (like the US) just keep dropping bombs.  They believe this is a 'plan' and that it will accomplish something.

    Thus far, it hasn't accomplished anything.


    AFP reports:


    As US-led warplanes pound jihadists in Iraq, prominent Sunni exiles say that empowering their marginalised minority will be more important than bombs and missiles in defeating the Islamic State extremist group.
    Deadly sectarian tensions have riven Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago, with Sunni anger at the Shiite-led authorities seen as a key factor behind the rise of IS.


    Those aren't controversial statements and, at one time, US President Barack Obama made them all the time.  These days, he's too focused on dropping bombs and trying to strong arm others into putting troops on the ground in Iraq.  (No one's really agreed so far.  But they're happy to join the bombing flyovers.)


    In other news, Kitabat reports that MP Walid al-Hilli, a member of thug and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law, declared in an interview today with Tigris TV that not only is Nouri still refusing to move out of the presidential palace (and let new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi move in) but Nouri's also plotting a military coup to return himself to power.

    This comes as Iraq Times reveals a second complaint has been filed against Nouri over the 2012 assassination of former Basra Governor Mohammed al-Waeli.  The al-Waeli family has long blamed Nouri for the assassination, spoke publicly about this and filed a complaint (which was buried) when Nouri was still prime minister.  There is also a complaint against Nouri for bullying and threatening various members of the judiciary.


    The following community sites -- plus Antiwar.com and Jody Watley -- updated:

















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



    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Iraq snapshot

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014. Chaos and violence continue, the murder of civilians in Falluja continue, the State Dept gets asked about the empty words, Erik Prince tries to rewrite history, and much more.



    Erik Prince is back in the news but all those who had "glory hole scandal" haven't won -- yet.  No, Prince has a book and is busy promoting it.  Justine Drennan (Foriegn Policy) reports:


    In his book Civilian Warriors, as well as in a relatively rare interview ahead of its paperback release Tuesday, Prince vehemently rejected such claims and argued that Blackwater was scapegoated by vindictive Democrats and a State Department and Pentagon that couldn't come to terms with the government's growing dependence on private contractors. "I'm no hero. The world knows all too well about my mistakes. But I was never meant to play the villain," he wrote in his book. "Seeing the company I'd built torn down for no reason was almost too much to bear." 



    Really?


    Democrats kicked his Blackwater out of Iraq?


    The State Dept and the Pentagon sued his mercenary company Blackwater?


    He doesn't own Blackwater anymore.


    He sold it to escape legal culpability.


    Now he attempts to escape reality.


    Ali Abbas Mahmoud can't escape the reality of what Blackwater did back in September of 2007.  Last week, Ali Abbas Mahmoud spoke about it to Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) following the convictions of four men who had worked for Blackwater and took part in the attack:

    One of the dead boys was Mahmoud’s 11-year-old nephew, Qasim Muhammad Abbas. Qasim’s father, Muhammad Abbas Mahmoud – Ali Abbas Mahmoud’s elder brother – also died. The boy’s mother was wounded.

    The family was sitting inside a pickup when the shooting broke out. Members of Iraq’s Shiite Muslim majority, they were hauling furniture to a new home in a Shiite neighborhood after tensions with minority Sunni Muslims forced them to leave their old house.
    Ali Abbas Mahmoud, a 52-year-old Ministry of Housing employee who agreed to speak by telephone but refused a face-to-face interview, said he’d never forget how his sister-in-law, frantic with grief and terror, called him as she sat bleeding inside the pickup.
    “She made me hysterical when she called me and told me that my brother had just been killed,” he recounted. “She was in the vehicle. She screamed, ‘They slaughtered your brother and they slaughtered your nephew and I’m injured.’ She made me as hysterical as she was.”

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/10/23/244476/in-iraq-blackwater-verdict-provides.html?sp=/99/117/416/103/#storylink=cpy







    Is Ali Abbas Mahmoud a Democrat?


    A Pentagon official?

    A State Dept official?

    No, he's an Iraqi citizen.



    Erik Prince is very good about rewriting history.  Some day, the pool may pay off and he may get busted on his knees in a truck stop men's room -- at which point, he'll try to rewrite that as well.


    But all the revisions don't change the fact that his company killed innocent Iraqis.


    His company was out of control.


    It was out of control because that's the way he wanted it.


    There was no training on the need to avoid wounding or killing civilians.


    Iraqis, the same people who do not matter to him today, did not matter to him when he ran Blackwater and the actions of his employees reflected that.




    At the Pentagon today, spokesperson Rear Adm John Kirby declared, "While we recognize that a major Iraqi offensive against ISIL may still be a ways off, these are encouraging reports that highlight Iraq's determination to take the fight to ISIL."


    They continue to spin the inability of the Iraqi military to do its job as 'good news.'


    But every day that the Iraqi army fails to do its job, more US taxpayer dollars are thrown away in Iraq, "millions a day," Kirbay declared today.


    And the tab for the latest wave of the never-ending Iraq War just keeps growing.



    Q: On ISIS. Does the department anticipate forwarding a request for additional money to Congress for 2015 for the ISIS fight?


    REAR ADM. KIRBY: I think you've heard [Defense] Secretary [Chuck] Hagel and the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsy] talk about this. I think certainly there's going to have to be some considerations going forward, but I wouldn't get ahead of specific budget moves that haven't been made yet.

    I think, you know, we've gone to the Hill, we've testified to the operations, and again, Secretary Hagel has been very clear that certainly considerations for added funding are going to have to be part of the calculus going forward. But we're just not in a position right now where we can detail what that would look like, what form it would be, how much it would be, that kind of thing.


    Going to nail down the cost someday soon, huh?  Like they nailed down what was happening in Iraq?

    The administration failed to heed warning, failed to listen to intelligence, failed to use common sense and was completely surprised this summer to discover the Islamic State in Iraq.


    Tonight PBS' Frontline examined the Islamic State and how they came to be major players in Iraq.  Michael Iskikoff (Yahoo News) recaps:



    The film, reported by correspondent Martin Smith, offers a richly detailed account of how the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki alienated the country’s disenfranchised Sunni population, making reckless accusations of terrorism against Sunni leaders — including the country’s Vice Prime Minister Tariq al-Hashimi. Those allegations flatly denied by al-Hashimi on camera — were based on the testimony of bodyguards who, it is strongly suggested, were tortured.

    With little pressure or engagement from Washington, al-Maliki’s anti-Sunni agenda driven by his  “paranoia,” as one of Smith’s interlocutors says — paved the way for ISIS radicals to march through huge swaths of Iraqi territory this spring, seizing arsenals of U.S.-made weapons from a collapsing Iraqi army. This, of course, was the same army that the U.S. spent billions arming and training. In fact, terrorism expert Ken Katzman suggests in the film, they were a phantom led by do-nothing officers.


    Nouri was only in office, in his first term as prime minister, for a few months when we noted in 2006 his paranoia which the US government thought (at that time) would make him more "manageable" (as the CIA analysis termed it).  By the time WikiLeaks was publishing the State Dept cables in 2010, the US government's knowledge of Nouri's paranoia was on full display for anyone who wanted to see.

    Yet the White House, Barack's White House, continued to support Nouri.

    They demanded he get a second term as prime minister even though he lost the 2010 elections.

    To get around the voters and the election results, the US brokered The Erbil Agreement, a legal contract singed by the political leaders -- including Nouri al-Maliki -- which gave Nouri a second term in exchange for Nouri making promises -- legal ones -- as well.  But Nouri used the contract to get his second term and then refused to honor it.

    As Rafi al-Essawi told Frontline, "All the commitments that Maliki gave to the politicians in what’s called the Erbil Agreement -- that’s the agreement that formed the government at that time -- nothing from that agreement was fulfilled or implemented."

    The US government swore The Erbil Agreement was legally binding and had the full backing of the US government.  When Ayad Allawi walked out of Parliament following the signing of the agreement -- and Nouri announcing he couldn't implement it immediately -- US President Barack Obama personally spoke to Allawi on the phone to get him to drop the boycott and return to Parliament.

    But when it became obvious, months and months later, that Nouri was never going to honor his part of The Erbil Agreement, the White House said nothing.

    They said nothing.

    And they did nothing.

    And things got worse and worse.

    At Frontline, Priyanka Boghani gathers various comments from four Sunni officials reflecting on how Nouri targeted the Sunni community.  We'll not the Minister of Finance Rafi al-Essawi.

    RAFI AL-ESSAWI: The environment was really very, very poisoned because of the behavior of Maliki and the government. And everyone, Shiites and politicians, advised Maliki that this is not the way of dealing with Sunnis.
    There was no direct relationship at all between the demonstrations and tribes from outside and Al Qaeda on the outside. People got very upset, very angry about the government’s behavior and the Iraqi army’s behavior. … The people started to look at the army as an enemy rather than as a national army.
    Everyone participated in the demonstrations, every Sunni. I can say every Sunni, not as a person, but as groups, because everyone felt that they were either not represented in the new Iraq or felt that they didn’t receive a just trial.
    No one thought that the Iraqi army could attack demonstrators in Hawija. They were demonstrating for months at a time, peaceful, calling for their rights.

    So when they brought their tanks, heavy army vehicles, and SWAT teams, the security forces of the ministry of interior attacked. They killed the people in a very criminal model. This added to the upset of the people. This was not their government. And the people who killed them, these were not Iraqi army personnel. These were militias who were killing them.


    And the White House continued to back Nouri.

    For four long years, throughout his second term, they allowed him to break the legal contract they brokered and they allowed him to target the Sunni population.  They looked the other way until the spring of this year when they finally pulled support for the US-installed puppet.

    Nouri was using the security forces to violently attack protesters -- wound them, kill them.  And the US government looked the other way.



    RAFI AL-ESSAWI: [For Sunni people] participation in the political process ended in nothing. Demonstration ended in nothing. Asking the government constitutionally to change their province into region was not accepted. They started to be convinced that there is no benefit of constitutional solutions.
    So the government pushed and squeezed people towards supporting the terrorists. And I can’t say that it is — again, it is not direct support. It is only creating an environment — and this was a very fatal mistake of the government.
    When ISIS came as defenders of Sunnis, we knew that they were criminals, that they were not Sunni defenders. When they presented themselves, people said, “Well, it may be possible to save us from the government, from the army which is not a professional national army, but one that killed and arrested Sunnis.” That is why people in these provinces stayed silent. They are not supporting ISIS. They are not opposing ISIS.
    No one wants to fight against ISIS now, [because they would] appear to be pro-Maliki or supporting the militia that is killing Sunnis in Baghdad. You see, when [Sunnis] fight ISIS, people would blame them for fighting Sunnis who are protecting you, while no one is fighting Shia militias that are killing our brothers, Sunnis in Diyala.
    If the government came to the Sunnis now to fulfill their requirements, the rights of the Sunnis, no one would accept ISIS. By the way, even now, despite being very upset against the government, Sunnis are not accepting ISIS.

    To me, at the end of the day, it is the Sunnis who will defeat ISIS, exactly like in 2007 and ’08 when the Sunnis made the decision of fighting Al Qaeda.


    The administration continues to spin.

    But things don't always go there way.  Even the press doesn't always cooperate.

    At today's US State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Jen Psaki faced some questions from Al Quds' Said Arikat.


    QUESTION: Can I ask a question on Iraq?

    MS. PSAKI: Sure.

    QUESTION: Before Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was sworn in, I remember Brett McGurk, your colleague, had a hearing on the Capitol Hill.

    MS. PSAKI: He’s above me in the food chain, but keep going. (Laughter.)

    QUESTION: Okay. Yeah, he told senators that, quote/unquote, “it was unacceptable” for Baghdad to stop sending the revenue share of the Kurdistan region. He said it was unacceptable. But months have passed since he made that statement, and the Kurds don’t receive their budget yet from Baghdad. I mean, one could wonder whether the United States has done anything concrete to make sure that that decision by Baghdad would be reversed, or you just made that promise in order to make sure that you had a government in place to fight ISIS?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I would completely disagree with the premise of your question, which I’m sure you’re not surprised by. This is an issue we have raised many times publicly. It comes up in meetings that we have on the ground. And our position hasn’t changed on this; we’re continuing to press on that. But obviously, it’s up to the officials on the ground to make progress.

    QUESTION: But why hasn’t Baghdad done anything? Is Baghdad not willing to listen to what you are telling them?

    MS. PSAKI: I think, obviously, there are a range of steps that the central government is working to implement. I’d point you to them for more answers on that question.

    QUESTION: Considering that this is 17 percent of the budget, why, in your opinion, is the Baghdad government withholding all that for so many months?


    MS. PSAKI: Said, you’re familiar with the history here. I would point you to the government there. I don’t have any more analysis for you.




    As noted in yesterday's snapshot:


    Barack spent the summer insisting that Iraq required a political solution.  His point then was that the second term of Nouri had left the Sunnis 'estranged' from their own government and that a new government needed to demonstrate it was inclusive.  Iraq has a new prime minister today, Haider al-Abadi, but where is the progress on the political?
    Nouri should have put through a 2014 budget no later than September 30, 2013.  That's because the 2014 Fiscal Year kicked off October 1, 2013.
    Fiscal Year 2015 kicked off at the start of this month.
    Guess what?
    Iraq still has no 2014 budget.
    Yes, al-Abadi's only been prime minister for a short time but he's been prime minister long enough to push through a budget.  Certainly he could have done that if the US government had made helping him on that a focus.  But they didn't.



    There's been no real work on any political solution for Iraq, not by the US government.

    They've instead poured all their time and energy to get other countries to agree to bomb Iraq.

    That's the military procedure Barack once declared wasn't a solution.


    Let's go back to what Said said today at the State Dept:

    Okay. Yeah, he told senators that, quote/unquote, “it was unacceptable” for Baghdad to stop sending the revenue share of the Kurdistan region. He said it was unacceptable. But months have passed since he made that statement, and the Kurds don’t receive their budget yet from Baghdad. I mean, one could wonder whether the United States has done anything concrete to make sure that that decision by Baghdad would be reversed, or you just made that promise in order to make sure that you had a government in place to fight ISIS?



    Yeah, it does appear that the White House "just made that promise in order to make sure that you had a government in place to fight ISIS."



    They do nothing to help the Iraqi people

    September 13th, Haider al-Abadi declared an end to the ongoing War Crimes of bombing civilians in Falluja as payback, Collective Punishment, for what the Islamic State has done.  NINA notes Falluja General Hospital today recieved the corpses of 7 civilians and treated 14 people injured from these ongoing bombings -- these bombings that the new prime minister declared an end to but yet they continue.

    Because the forces aren't listening to the new prime minister.

    And the White House doesn't give a damn.

    The same White House that did nothing while Nouri targeted Sunnis from 2010 to this year wants to pretend they're 'helping' but they're not, they refuse to.  They do nothing but add to the violence.


    So it's no surprise that Middle East Monitor reports:


    A prominent member of Al-Ahrar (Freedom) parliamentary bloc of Al-Sadr movement, led by Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, said today that his bloc is determined to end the presence of American advisors in more than one Iraqi province. He pointed out that his bloc would take all necessary measures to end what he called "the new American occupation".
    In a statement to a reporter from Anadolu Agency, Mithaq Al-Mozani said: "No legal cover justifies the presence of US advisors in Iraq and their presence is part of a plan for occupation different to the 2003 occupation."

    And that was before news broke about US efforts to establish a new base in Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    On the news of the establishment of a US military base along the lines of the Turkish Incirlik base, in the Kurdistan region, the spokesman for the provincial government, said that "in this regard the talks are continuing," but he also said, "they did not take a final decision in this regard yet.
    It was a high-ranking source in the government of the Kurdistan Region, recently revealed talks by the regional government on using the al-Harir / silk / airport located within Erbil province near Iraq's eastern and northern borders as a military base for US forces in the framework of the international coalition operations to fight the IS in Iraq.



    Asked about the base at today's Pentagon press briefing, John Kirby played dumb.


    Q: Some reports from the Iraqi Kurdish region of -- particularly Iraq Kurdistan region, say that the U.S. is going to establish a military base in Irbil. Can you confirm this, Admiral?


    REAR ADM. KIRBY: I don't have anything for you on that today? Sorry.



     We continue to see that these combined targeting efforts are disrupting ISIL and forcing them to consider changes -- more changes in their tactics to try to avoid being targeted.












      
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