Wednesday, March 27, 2013









Last week was the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.  The retrospectives weren't that many.  The finest I caught -- and I caught 20 if you include Al Jazeera -- was the radio documentary that Nora Barrows-Friedman did for Flashpoints (KPFA) entitled Iraqi Frequencies: 10 Years of Occupation and Resistance.  If you missed it, you can currently click here and stream. It is also posted at Project Censored for streaming but that's a KPFA stream as well.  Nora made the documentary with Shakomako and they've posted it at their website.

Dahr Jamail (Al Jazeera journalist, author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq and  The Will To Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan): So Iraq is, today, a shattered country.  It's a failed state.  Again, it's a country where the Maliki regime -- You know I've referred to Prime Minister Maliki as a Shia Saddam and I think that that's accurate.  One of the bizarre experiences was being in our Baghdad bureau last year -- December and January -- and watching Maliki -- this was just in the wake of the so-called US withdrawal.  He had a military parade.  It was the first military parade in Iraq since the last one that Saddam had just before he was removed from power by the invasion.  And Maliki had it in the exact same place.  It was in the Green Zone.  It was on the same street that goes underneath the two big swords arching over the street.  And Maliki stood in the same place and there was the same camera angle of him that Saddam did.  It was a very surreal experience to watch. A new dictator brought in to replace the former one -- and yet this one also supported by the US.  So it was a bit surreal and particularly given that while he was standing there, the Green Zone was taking mortar fire from resistance fighters and the city, even to this day, remains largely unreconstructed.  Again the electricity situation, the water situation, employment  all of them are dismal.  As I said, Iraq remains a failed state.

So-called withdrawal is correct.  Today, US President Barack Obama signed into law the "Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013."  [PDF format warning, click here.]   From page 101.

SEC. 8094.  The Department of Defense shall continue to report incremental contingency operations costs for Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom or any other named operations in the U.S. Central Command area of operation on a monthly basis in the Cost of War Execution Report as prescribed in the Department of Defense Financial Management Regulation Department of Defense Instruction 7000.14, Volume 12, Chapter 23 "Contingency Operations", Annex 1, dated September 2005.

Or take page 128:

For an additional amount for "Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide", $7,714,079,000: Provided, That of the funds provided under this heading, not to exceed $1,650,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2014, shall be for payments to reimburse key cooperating nations for logistical, military, and other support, including access, provided to United States military operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and post-operation Iraq border security related to the activities of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, notwithstanding any other provision of law: Provided further, That such [. . .]

From page 154:

SEC. 9012.  From funds made available to the Department of Defense in this title under the heading "Operation and Maintenance, Air Force" up to $508,000,000 may be used by the Secretary of Defense, notwithstanding any other provision of law, to support United States Government transition activities in Iraq by funding the operations and activities of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq and security assistance teams, including life support, transportation and personal security, and facilities renovation and construction: Provided, That to the exxtent authorized under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, the operations and activities that may be carried out by the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq may, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, include non-operational training activities in support of Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Counter Terrorism Service personnel in an institutional environment to address capability gaps, integrate process relating to intelligence, air sovereignty, combined arms, logistics and maintenance, and to manage and integrate defense-related institutions: Provided further, That not later than 30 days following the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State shall submit to the congressional defense committees a plan for transitioning any such training activities that they determine are needed after the end of fiscal year 2013, to existing or new contracts for the sale of defense articles or defense services consistent with the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.): Provided further, That not less than 15 days before making funds available pursuant to the authority provided in this section, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a written notification containing a detailed justification and timeline for the operations and activities of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq at each site where such operations and activities will be conducted during fiscal year 2013.

AP reports it "provides another $87 billion for overseas military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq" -- military operations in Iraq.  Last week, as Mike notedKai Ryssdal observed on American Media's Marketplace, "The United States has officially been out of Iraq for about 15 months.  But there are still thousands of American soldiers stationed in the country today, ten years after the first full day of war."

Let's review what those forces are based on previous reporting.  Most recently,  Adam Entous, Julian E. Barnes and Siobhan Gorman's "CIA Ramps Up Role in Iraq" (Wall St. Journal) reported March 11th:

In a series of secret decisions from 2011 to late 2012, the White House directed the CIA to provide support to Iraq's Counterterrorism Service, or CTS, a force that reports directly to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, officials said.
The CIA has since ramped up its work with the CTS -- taking control of a mission long run by the U.S. military, according to administration and defense officials. For years, U.S. special-operations forces worked with CTS against al Qaeda in Iraq. But the military's role has dwindled since U.S. troops pulled out of the country at the end of 2011.

Previously, December 12, 2011 on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams, Ted Koppel reported who would remain in Iraq after the drawdown:

MR. KOPPEL: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?

AMB. JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.

That was during the drawdown masquerading as a withdrawal.  In addition that, US forces were beefed up in the fall.  September 25, 2012,  Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

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 [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

Negotiating an agreement?  We covered that agreement.  It was finalized December 6, 2012 (and it's posted in full in that day's snapshot). It's the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department of Defense of the United States of AmericaWe addressed its meaning at length in the December 10th and the December 11th snapshots.  John Glaser ( pointed out March 12th:

Most Americans have been led to believe that all US forces besides those guarding the massive American Embassy in Iraq have been withdrawn since the end of last year.
In reality, US Special Operations Forces as well as the CIA have been providing this support to these elite Iraqi forces that report directly to the increasingly authoritarian Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. They have essentially been used as a secret police force for Maliki to attack, detain, and torture his political opponents and crack down harshly on public dissent.

And Nouri  has not impressed professor Henri J. Bakey (Los Angeles Times):

Iraq is on its way to dissolution, and the United States is doing nothing to stop it. And if you ask people in Iraq, it may even be abetting it.
With very few exceptions, an important event in Iraq went unnoticed in the U.S. media this month. Prime Minister Nouri Maliki sent a force that included helicopters to western Iraq to arrest Rafi Issawi, the former finance minister and a leading Sunni Arab opposition member. Issawi, who was protected by armed members of the Abu Risha clan, one of post-2003 Iraq's most powerful Sunni tribes, escaped capture.
This action came on the heels of Maliki's telephone conversation with Secretary of State John F. Kerry and took Washington by surprise. Had a confrontation ensued, the results would have been calamitous. It could even have provided the spark for the beginning of a civil war. Still, Maliki's actions represent another nail in the coffin for a unified Iraq. Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, had previously accused Vice President Tariq Hashimi, a leading Sunni political figure, of terrorism, forcing him to flee Iraq in 2011. Hashimi was subsequently tried in absentia and sentenced to death.

Luiz Flavio Gomes (Pravda) sums up Iraq today, "After a decade, and more than a billion dollars spent, a new Iraq is far from built from the rubble today, ruled by a tendentiously dictatorial Prime Minister , that wants to perpetuate himself in power, with Parliament voting against it."  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports that the way Nouri handled the 2013 budget showed he has no concern over power-sharing or consensus and notes:

There is a lack of trust in government and there is a lot of missing legislation as well as a lack of civil peace.  That's why it's still important that alls ectors of Iraqi society be represented in politics -- then they won't feel marginalized and they will be reassured that a new dictatorship cannot emerge.  When those various sectors do start to feel left out of the political process, the results have been violence and tension, they say. 


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