AMERICA'S PRINCESS BARRY O REMAINS UPSET OVER THE BIRTH OF THE ROYAL PRINCE IN ENGLAND.
"HE'S CONVINCED THAT THE BABY HAS CUT INTO HIS OWN POPULARITY," VALERIE JARRETT WHISPERED TO THESE REPORTERS EARLY THIS MORNING AT AN UNDISCLOSED MDONALD'S IN THE CAPITOL WHERE SHE WAS PLIED WITH SAUSAGE MCMUFFINS.
AS SHE DEMANDED CINAMON MELTS, JARRETT INSISTED, "BITCH BE TRIPPING. HE IS SO UNPOPULAR AND SO UNLOVED THAT I TEASE HIM HE'S THE NEW MILLI VANILLI. YOU WATCH MUCH VH-1 BEHIND THE MUSIC?"
A NEW WALL STREET JOURNAL - NBC POLL FINDS 50% OF AMERICANS DISAPPROVE OF BARRY O'S JOB PERFORMANCE WHILE A MCCLATCHY - MARIST POLL FINDS 52% OF AMERICANS DISAPPROVE OF BARRY O'S JOB PERFORMANCE.
BURROWING THROUGH A FRUIT 'N YOGURT PARFAIT, JARRETT INSISTED, "FOOL'S LOST IT. HE'S CONVINCED ALL HE NEEDS TO DO IS TAKE HIS SHIRT OFF DURING NEXT MONTH'S VACATION AND THE PEOPLE WILL LOVE HIM ALL OVER AGAIN. DAMN IT, WHERE'S THE GRANOLA THAT'S SUPPOSED TO BE IN THIS PARFAIT?"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Through Monday, Iraq Body Count counts 684 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month. With eights days left in the month, AFP is declaring July to have "the highest monthly figure in a year marked by spiraling violence."
Federal News Radio notes, "Hundreds of convicts, including senior members of al Qaeda, broke out of Iraq's Abu Ghraib jail after comrades launched a military-style assault, authorities said on Monday." The Sunday prison news only became news outside of Iraq when the number of prisoners who escaped were announced on Monday. Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) concludes:
These weren't attacks on mosques or markets, designed to spread terror by killing unprepared civilians in public spaces. These were attacks on the militarized prisons of Abu Ghraib and Taji, both of which have large contingents of insurgents among their inmates and have long been targets for Iraq's jihadis. Yet the government of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was forced to scramble attack helicopters and rush troops to join pitched battles. Even so, they may not have staved off a stunning symbolic defeat.
Alsumaria reports today that al Qaeada in Iraq has issued a statement claiming responsibility for 'invading' the prisons in Abu Ghraib and Taji and breaking down the walls to allow for the release of the prisoners. BBC News adds, "In an online statement, al-Qaeda said Sunday's attack was the final one in a campaign aimed at freeing inmates and targeting justice system officials." Salam Faraj and Mohamad Ali Harissi (AAP) point out the note proclaims "dark days ahead."
Ari Soffer (Israel National News) explains, " Iraqi officials had initially denied that any prisoners had escaped, but were forced to backtrack as the sheer scale of the jailbreak became clear." Mohammed Tawfeeq and Joe Sterling (CNN) note, "At least 21 inmates and at least eight prison guards were killed, the Iraqi Justice Ministry said, while 25 inmates and 14 guards were wounded." Mona Mahmood and Peter Beaumont (Guardian) report:
Yousef Ali had just sat down at his home near Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison at shortly after 9pm on Sunday evening to break his Ramadan fast when he was startled by the sound of explosions from the direction of the prison. "We began to hear mortars and gunfire, followed by two car bombs," he said. "We could tell there was a big fight inside the prison. We could see aircraft hovering above the prison and nearby areas."
The scope and magnitude of the attacks drawfed earlier attempts at breaking out which is another reason that the prison attacks and break outs are news. Also making the events news? The issue of how and the issue of what it says about the state of Iraq today as well as the issue of the attempt to locate the escapees. On the last one, Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Iraqi security forces on Tuesday set up dragnets at airports and along highways leading out of the country in a hunt for hundreds of Al Qaeda-allied militants broken out of jail by a massive, coordinated assault on two prisons near Baghdad, Arab media reported." NBC News' Richard Engel reported (video and text) on the prison break this morning for NBC's Today:
Checkpoints were set up Tuesday as the search continued for up to 500 militants freed by the attack, which followed the deaths of 250 Iraqis in 10 days of violence.
[. . .]
They added that checkpoints had been set up around Abu Ghraib, as the search for the escapees continued.
Both attacks took place exactly a year after The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's most senior leader, Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, launched a campaign dubbed "Breaking the Walls" to make freeing imprisoned members a top priority.
“The mujahideen brigades set off after months of preparation and planning to target two of the biggest prisons of the Safavid government," the group said in the statement, Tuesday.
Suada al-Salhy (Reuters) also quotes that section of the statement from the Islamic State of Iraq, "In response to the call of the mujahid (holy warrior) Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to seal the blessed plan of 'Breaking the Walls'... the mujahideen brigades set off after months of preparation and planning to target two of the biggest prisons of the Safavid government." David Blair (Telegraph of London) offers this on the statement and its meaning:
No Iraqi would have missed the subliminal message of al-Qaeda’s triumphant announcement yesterday. When the movement’s leaders claimed credit for two audacious prison breaks outside Baghdad, they declared how “months of preparation and planning” had culminated in these blows against a “Safavid government”.
The Safavids have not actually been in government for a while – for a good 300 years, in fact. They were a Persian dynasty that dominated Iran and its empire, including a big slice of present-day Iraq, in the 16th and 17th centuries. Under their founder, Shah Ismail I, the Safavids managed the extraordinary feat of making Shia Islam the state religion in Iran, while imposing their faith on conquered peoples living between the Tigris and Euphrates.
Iraqis will grasp the analogy: al-Qaeda’s Sunni zealots believe that the Shia politicians who dominate Baghdad today are heirs to foreign invaders. Once, the violence in Iraq was directed towards the Anglo-American occupiers; today, the killing has become a sectarian struggle between a Shia majority that holds the reins of power and a beleaguered Sunni minority.
Let's move on to the questions of how the two attacks were carried out. Colin Freeman (Telegraph of London) notes that questions are being asked about the hows of the attack and break out:
Questions were also asked as to why it took the Iraqi government 10 hours to send in helicopter gunships to quell the fighting at Abu Ghraib, a delay that some said suggested poor command and control within the security establishment.
One Iraqi politician, who asked not to be named, claimed that the assault on the prison at Taji was planned simply to divert security forces from what was to be the main strike at Abu Ghraib, where an estimated 15,000 inmates are held.
He added that a number of senior Sunni guards at Abu Ghraib had gone missing since, and that it was possible that they had been acting as "inside men". Other reports claimed that inmates had started riots just prior to the attacks to distract the guards, and had been armed with weapons.
Adam Schreck (AP) observes, "The attacks, among the most stunning in Iraq since a surge in violence began in April, have provoked sharp criticism from opposition lawmakers of the government's efforts to keep the country's safe." All Iraq News notes that cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr has declared the prison attacks are the "beginning of the terrorist attacks and the biggest security breach in Iraq." He is calling for Nouri and others to appear before the Parliament for questioning. Ibrahim al-Jaafari is the head of the Iraqi National Alliance. He is also a former prime minister of Iraq and, had the White House not stepped in, but would have been renamed prime minister for a second term. (Instead, in 2006, the Bush White House insisted Nouri be named prime minister; just as, in 2010, the Barack White House insisted Nouri get a second term despite the will of the voters.) All Iraq News reports that al-Jaafari is calling for an investigation into the prison attacks and escape. Comments are also coming in from US observers. RT offers:
However, despite widespread claims that the escapees are largely affiliated with Al-Qaeda, there is no way of knowing, says Sara Flounders, head of the International Action Center. She also told RT that not much is known about Abu Ghraib itself after the US handed over control to the Iraqi government, following its withdrawal from the country.
“The state of security hasn’t substantially improved since. We know also there are many operatives left in Iraq that continue US policy aims. There’s a lot that’s uncertain and unknown today in Iraq. We do know there was a prison break. But before we rush to label everyone Al-Qaeda, let’s be aware that Abu Ghraib itself as a prison was notorious for US torture techniques… it was turned back over to the Iraqi government and we have no idea if any conditions improved.”
But ultimately, Flounders concludes that the international audience shouldn’t be surprised at the news, because Western efforts in Iraq have not shown any signs of addressing the actual spread of sectarian violence after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, while billions of dollars were misspent – an opinion shared by defense consultant Moeen Raoof.
“The Iraqi government isn’t controlling anything… [It] hasn’t been spending its oil funds on security… the toppling of Saddam Hussein was a fatal, fatal mistake,” one that will be repeated in Afghanistan, after complete US withdrawal, he believes.
And there's is criticism from a US Senator. Lauren Fox (US News and World Reports) notes:
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blamed the Obama Administration Tuesday for the massive prison break in Abu Ghraib outside of Baghdad.
"It's the result of our failure to leave a residual force behind. The whole place is unraveling," McCain says. "We won the peace and lost the war. It is really tragic. And those people who are out of Abu Ghraib now, they are heading right to Syria."
Press TV finds someone who also feels the US government is to blame -- along with the British government:
“This is a legacy of the occupation of Iraq by the United States and the British for the past ten years or so,” said Sabah Jawad in a Tuesday interview.
“They recruited a lot of pro-Ba’athists within the security system. There [are] a lot of people in the security system who do not feel allegiance to Iraq as such,” he added.
The analyst highlighted links between the terrorists in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, including in Syria, and said, “They (terrorists) have links with the regional powers. They are part and parcel of the whole plan to destabilize and divide the Middle East on sectarian lines as well.”
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