Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Where is it?






Al Mada reports that negotiations continue for US military forces to remain in Iraq beyond 2011 and that both the Iraqi government and the US government agree that some US presence is needed for training Iraqi forces. The report also notes that 'trainers' could get immunity via either the arrangement with the State Dept or NATO.

Eli Lake (The Daily Beast) speaks with Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and reports:

Last month, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraq was continuing to negotiate the details of the post-2011 U.S. training mission in his country.
Bowen said the Iraqi army has some important bright spots. "The military and police are better equipped and trained than they have ever been before in modern Iraqi history, but they have a significant way to go before the military is capable of external defense, defending its borders," he said, singling out Iraq's special operations forces in particular. "They are among the best in the Middle East, if not the best."
In the latest report from Bowen's office, released Friday, Gen. Babakir Zibari said Iraq is not capable of providing for the country's external defense now, though he added that the country may be able to suppress internal strife. He also said in an interview published in the report that Iraq's air force will not be capable defending the country's air space until 2020.
"The Iraqi air force is still at a very rudimentary phase," Bowen said. "They have no jet aircraft -- they rely on rotary wing aircraft."

The last time we corrected Joel Wing it was not pretty on his end so prepare to cue up Jackson Browne's "Here Come Those Tears Again." Wing writes, "The 2008 Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between Washington and Baghdad allows for a police training mission past the December 31, 2011 withdrawal date."
How did the SOFA get so screwed up in the coverage? Because people don't know what the hell they're talking about but continue yapping away. Several e-mails came in asking if Joel Wing is correct? Of course not.
Before we get into anything else, let's deal with a basic of contract law. Remember this and you'll never have to wonder when someone makes an idiotic statement whether they're right or wrong: When a contract expires, it expires. If you sign a contract to star in one film for Paramount and also sign a contract to star in one film for Universal and you finishing filming the Paramount picture and begin shooting the Universal one, no one would be stupid -- hopefully, no one would be stupid enough to say -- "The Paramount contract allows for ___ to make the film with Universal." A contract's only good for what a contract's good for. And when a contract's done -- as it appears the SOFA is -- then it's done. The SOFA appears to expire December 31, 2011. Something could change tomorrow and the US and Iraq could decide to extend it. Barring that, the SOFA is set to expire December 31, 2011.
An expired contract is an expired contract. That's so basic that if you can't grasp that, you really need to be checking legal issues with others before writing about them. So now that we've established that the SOFA -- unless it's renewed or extended -- has no say beyond December 31, 2011 when it is currently set to expire, what is the governing document? As we've noted repeatedly, it's the Strategic Framework Agreement. And we could offer many State Department officials testifying to Congress on this topic as reported in earlier snapshots. But to make it real easy for cry babies, we'll instead link to this State Dept page of the Ambassador Iraq Transition Coordinator Patricia Haslach, testifying to Congress (link is text and video) on June 1st of this year and we'll offer this excerpt:
The Strategic Framework Agreement sends a strong signal that our relationship with Iraq extends far beyond miltary support alone. The agreement focuses on seven areas of cooperation: political and diplomatic; defense and security; cultural; economic and energy; health and environment; information technology and communications; and law enforcement and judicial. In 2009, Secretary Clinton hosted Prime Minister Maliki for a Higher Coordinating Committee meeting to lay out our shared vision for this reinvigorated partnership. Ambassador Jeffrey, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, and other U.S. officials in Iraq work to implement this vision on a daily basis. Our partners in the interagency -- including Commerce, Energy, Justice, Transporation, and Treasury -- play a crucial role in sharing expertise. The SFA is the cornerstone of U.S. diplomatic efforts in Iraq, and its vision of parternship pervades all of our efforts and steers our future goals.
Or you can click here -- still State Dept -- for Michael Corbin (Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs) specifically invoking the Strategic Framework Agreement on August 16, 2010 in a press briefing with Colin Kahl. And if all of that doesn't do the trick for you, check out the Special Inspector General on Iraq Reconstruction's October 24th report [PDF format warning] entitled "Iraqi Police Development Program: Opportunites For Improved Program Accountability And Budget Transparency." On page two of the report, you'll find this: "The Strategic Framework Agreement between the United States and Iraq, signed in November 2008, provided a basis for continuing bilateral law enforcement and judicial training. One provision directed cooperation on enhancing law enforcement. The PDP grew out of this agreement." PDP is "Police Development Program."
I hope we're clear on that now. It's no sin to be wrong. We're all wrong at some point and I'm more wrong than anyone else. It's a mistake to pretend you're not wrong. And while we're talking about the Strategic Framework Agreement, there's a reason we've emphasized it so much this year and last: We didn't cover it.
In real time, it's a sentence here, a sentence there. In November 2008, we weren't interested. If you leave out the shoe tossing incident -- that occured when Bully Boy Bush and Nouri al-Maliki were signing both the Strategic Framework Agreement and the SOFA -- you'll find very little of it in 2008 or 2009.
And that's my mistake. I focused on the SOFA because that's what hearings were held on that's what Senators and Representatives -- of both parties -- were objecting to. I never foresaw the possibility that diplomacy would be militarized and the SFA would be used in any way other than it had been in the past. That was my mistake and don't I look like a fool today over that? Absolutely. I was wrong, I was stupid and I was foolish. And copping to all of that? Didn't make the sky fall in. Didn't mean my life ended or I collapsed in tears. It's a fact of life, if you're going to try to cover something, you're going to make mistakes. When you do, the smartest thing is to admit to it.
I don't play on the SOFA and the reason for that is because enough lies were given on that already. Here we told the truth about the SOFA. And those who think the illegal war is really over should grasp that their belief system needs to include praise that Iraq balked at immunity. Because the SOFA didn't mean the war ended ever. And as we always stated it could expire, it could be renewed it could be replaced. If others had bothered to be truthful, the Iraq War might really be ending or it might have ended a long time ago. Instead a number of serial liars provided non-stop spin and declared the Iraq War over. Leslie Cagan, that means you and the leadership or 'leadership' of United For Peace & Justice.
By the same token, the same serial liars -- we were dealing Tom Hayden just yesterday -- are backing spinning again. They're lying and they need to stop. A friend at State explains the announcement Barack made last month as giving him and Nouri a 'victory' for their domestic audiences and then when 'trainers' go in (the friend believes that the negotiations will be successful and trainers will go in), Barack and Nouri will both still insist they ended the war and occupation. I don't know. What I do know is that negotiations are ongoing. What I do know is the Iraqi press is very interested in those negotiations. What I do know is Moqtada al-Sadr is concerned enough that he's called an emergency session of Parliament and stated that Nouri needs to call of his visit to DC next month.
I'm not a psychic. I can't tell you what's going to happen. I can provide a list of possibilities. And we did that with the SOFA and we were attacked for doing that. People who whore themselves to the Democratic Party were really interested in attacking us. And now there's a small group -- including this site -- who are interested in trying to get across that the negotiations have not ended, that the 'lovely' speech was spin. Do I get some great thrill in doing this?
No, I'm damn tired of it and I wish to hell people would start doing the jobs they say they hold -- whether that's reporter or leader of the left.
Here is what we know about the US and Iraq after December 31, 2011. 1) The CIA will maintain its presence. 2) Special-Ops will maintain their presence. 3) The Iraqi Air Force is not trained and cannot patrol its own airspace and really doesn't have the equipment for that at present. 4) The US Embassy in Baghdad will have Marines (as all US embassies do) and they will have soldiers as well. The Iraqi press is concerned with how many. The American press likes to keep repeating the 'all' lie. 5) The US Embassy in Baghdad will oversee 'security' contractors. 6) Negotiations are ongoing between DC and Baghdad on the issue of 'trainers.' 7) Kuwait and others will be used -- as Barack noted they would in 2007 -- as a staging platform for US troops.
That's what we know. There are rumors -- the big one in the Iraqi press today was whispers that Nouri had approved 200 "trainers" -- granted them immunity. But in terms of what is known, that's not what people think they heard in the speech. And on number seven, Lolita C. Baldor (AP) is reporting, "While all but a small number of U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the year, they won't all be home for the holidays as President Barack Obama promised last month. The Pentagon is poised to move at least 4,000 soldiers from Iraq to Kuwait at the end of the year, pending a final decision expected soon by Pentagon and Kuwaiti leaders, U.S. officials said Wednesday." Somewhere Tom Hayden's clutching the pearls and calling for the smelling salts.

If you don't like those seven realities -- and I don't (although I can live with the Marine half of number four) -- then you need to be objecting now. Not in January, not a year from now. Gallup published a poll today -- they did a random sample of 992 American adults and the survey has a 4% plus/minus margin of error. Asked if they approve of Barack's decision, 75% of "All Americans" say they approve. 21% say they disapprove. But do they know what's going on because the media's done a very poor job of explaining what was going on and so-called voices of peace like Tom Hayden have ignored reality and, when forced to address any of the seven realities we noted two paragraphs up, dismiss it as fantasy. Well Tom used to take joy in the killing of Palestinians as well, I do remember. I'm not really sure he's who we need to go to for ethical advice.
Joel Wing mentions the Interior Ministry, how the US State Dept will be helping to strengthen it. He should do a piece on why?
Why should the US waste their time on the Ministry of Interior? Or the US tax payers money? Nouri was named prime minister-designate in November 2010. He was supposed to name a Cabinet -- not a partial one, a Cabinet -- in order to move to prime minister (per the Constitution). He didn't. It's now one year later.
The Ministry of Interior, that the US government is going to spend millions of tax payer dollars to 'assist' and 'train,' still has no Minister. An 'acting minister' isn't a minister. An acting minister is a puppet. Without him or her going through the Constitutional process, they have no protection and serve only as long as Nouri wants them to. They are his puppets. If you've forgotten our 'brilliant' US press assured us as December came to a close that Nouri would name ministers for Interior, Defense and National Security in a matter of weeks.
He still hasn't. Does anyone know what March is? Yeah, it's the anniversary start of the Iraq War. But it will also be two years after Iraq held elections. Those elections were to determine the national government (citizens voted on members in the Parliament). In four months, it will be two years after those elections and Iraq still doesn't have ministers for the three security ministries. But the US government is willing to throw away tax payer dollars -- during The Great Recession -- on training a department that's so unimportant to Nouri, he won't even nominate a head for it and take that nomination to Parliament for a confirmation (or denial). We'll pick up there tomorrow. Let's stay with the New Saddam.

Nouri's crackdown on 'Ba'athists' has taken a lot of attention off the continued targeting of Sahwa also known as "Sons Of Iraq" and "Awakenings." These are largely Sunni fighters who were paid by the US government to stop attacking US military equipment and US troops. (That's Gen David Petraeus explanation from April 2008.) Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) speaks with Sahwa leader Abu Azzam al-Tamimi who states there are 50,000 Sahwa left in Iraq, 30,000 of which are in Baghdad. (At their height, there were approximately 98,000 according to Petraeus' 2008 Congressional testimony.) When the US turned control of the Sahwa over to Nouri, there were promises of bringing them into the process via government jobs. That never really happened and al-Tamimi notes it is unlikely to happen by year's end when the program is supposed to end. What happens when these Sahwa, who've struggled for pay and have waited not just for checks but also for government jobs, get nothing? Does that increase security in Iraq or does dismissing and ignoring one time armed rebels mean that they rejoin the resistance?

Nouri's never going to be mistaken for a smart person. Back to his crackdown on political enemies. Dar Addustour reports politicians are calling on Nouri to release the over 600 Iraqis he's had arrested recently. And they report that more were arrested yesterday in Basra -- two journalists working for Basra radio: Mohammad Matouk and Zia Albzona. Al Rafidayn carries an article on the "Sons of the General Command of Jihad and Liberation" which is supposedly a Ba'athist group and supposedly distributing pamphlets throughout Nasiriyah demanding people joing them in a coup attempt against Dhi Qar Province. Last week Reidar Visser (Gulf Analysis) pointed out, "Suffice to say in this context that the Iraqi constitution actually offers pro-active protection of former members of the Baath. Article 135-5 explicitly says 'mere membership of the Baath party is not a sufficient basis for transfer to the court'. Article 7 of the constitution outlaws propagation of a number of political ideologies where Baathism is mentioned alongside racism, terrorism and ethnic cleansing, but stipulates the passage of a law by parliament to codify this more precisely, which has yet to be done. In other words, there is no basis whatsoever for prosecuting anyone for simply having been a Baathist member -- and arguably, at the current time, not even for propagation of Baathism since this is not covered by any specific form of legislation."
Dar Addustour also reports that Sheikh Ali Hatem Suleiman states he was at his office last night when the government attempted to harm him either by arrest or by killing him. The government states that they raided his home yesterday and that this was over a property dispute.

Moqtada al-Sadr has called for an emergency session of Parliament to discuss what the US is doing in Iraq and what the plans are. That session is scheduled for tomorrow. (He's also called for Nouri al-Maliki not to go to DC next month.) Dar Addustour reports that a meeting is to be held at Jalal Talabani's home and there's some indication the meeting may take place today, ahead of the emergency session. It's also noted that when the meeting does take place the topics will include US Vice President Joe Biden's scheduled trip to Iraq this month.

No comments: