Friday, August 23, 2013

Dalibama bombs in Syracuse









Governments with enormous wealth for the officials and enormous poverty for the people tend to be government's with gross human rights abuses.  To maintain an enormous disparity, officials will often resort to violent attacks on the very people they claim to represent.  With that in mind, let's look at Iraq.

Yesterday, Aswat al-Iraq reported:

Commander of Iraqi Air Force Anwar Hama Amin disclosed that Iraq needs 90 jet fighters to build its air force, pointing that the Turkish and Iranian violations will continue unless Iraq is supplied with these fighters in the coming stage.
In a press statement, today, he described the US F 16 fighters deal as "the deal of dreams", which shall be a complete project comprising of 36 planes by 2016.
It is expected that the first dispatch will arrive in September 2014.

  Friday, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in DC.  He was there for his Thursday visit with US Secretary of State John Kerry.  We covered the event in Friday's snapshot and in Monday's.  Today we're going to note another aspect.  The Center for Strategic and International Studies has posted video and audio of the DC event.  And they also now have a [PDF format warning] transcript of the event.

Josh Rogin: Thank you very much, I'm Josh Rogin with Newsweek and the Daily Beast.  Thank you for your time today. As you know, uh, as we discussed, increased security cooperation is one of the main request of the Iraqi government is for new U.S. arm sales to Iraq. Lawmakers here in Washington are concerned about those sales for two reasons. They believe that Iraq is still allowing Iran to use Iraqi airspace to promote the flow of arms to the Assad regime. Also they are concerned that the Iraqi government may use uh U.S. weapons uh towards political ends to marginalize the political opposition as we've seen in the past. What assurances can you give us on both of these fronts? What specific steps are you taking to stop the arms flow from Iran over Iraqi airspace to Assad? And what assurances can you give us that, as we approach new elections, that U.S. weapons won’t be used for domestic political purposes? Thank you. 

Minister Hosyar Zebari: Definitely my government will abide by all the rules and regulations that you here in the United States or Congress will impose on arm sales. Not only to Iraq  to many other countries in the world. So we will abide by that, definitely, for these weapons not to be used for domestic use or improperly. But to be used for the defense of the country. Now on the flight of -- the overflight of -- of Iranian using Iraqi airspace -- let me give you the reality and Sometimes we are speaking theoretically about the situation, as if Iraq has dozens of fighters or aircrafts. For your information, Iraq doesn't have a single fighter plane up to now. It has a couple of helicopters, some training let's say planes, small planes, but it doesn't have a single aircraft to protect its airspace. Iraq up until now doesn't have an integrated self-defense to protect its skies. We have requested and we are waiting for the delivery. So, that is the situation when we talk about Iraq's capabilities and deterrence capabilities to prevent others from using its airspace and so on. We have made demarches to the Iranians. We don't want and we don't support you or any other to use our airspace because it runs against our policy of taking an independent, neutral position here, not to militarize the conflict in any way. And we have done a number of inspections. These inspections could not be, I mean, endorsed by some circles here in the United States. That this could choose only those who carry legitimate equipment or material. But we have raised the possibility here, really, we will continue to live up to our commitments here. But there are Security Council resolutions banning these from leaving Iran. Under Chapter VII, whether its weapons, imports, export -- we don't have the capabilities of enforcing this. Though politically we have made these demarches. So who's going to reinforce that? Is it the Security Council or who? We've taken note actually of the U.S. administration’s serious concerns about this [. . .]

We'll stop there.  Before we go to the next exchange, two things.  One, when I am quoting someone speaking in English and it's not their native language, I do not include "uh" or "uhm."  These moments can be revealing -- in any language -- when someone does it in their native language.  In a second or third (or more) language, they may not be revealing of anything other than the person is not speaking in their native language so we do not include the uhs or uhms.  That's the policy here.  Second, Zebari's recent lies has been Iraq's no longer got to worry!  Chapter VII is over!!  Truthfully, it's been replaced with Chapter VI.  That was too much truth for Zebari.  But isn't it interesting that he's citing the no longer existent Chapter VII.  Same topic, of weapons, asked again at the event, we'll skip the first part of the question (we covered that in Monday's snapshot).  This is Wallace Hays.  Not "Wallace Hayes" as I wrongly typed Monday.  A friend passed that on.  You can find a profile of Wallace Hays here.  My apologies for getting the spelling of his last name wrong.

Wallace Hays:  Hi, Wallace Hays, Independent Consultant I wanted to give you an opportunity, a lot of people here feel like there's been a lack of political reconciliation in Iraq and that it has been U.S. policy to support the Erbil Agreement, which has not been implemented in Iraq. And, following up on Mr. Rogin's question, why should -- I'd like to  give you the opportunity to explain, why should the United States sell arms to Iraq, when in fact many people believe that the lack of political reconciliation is contributing to some of the violence today? Thanks. 

Minister Hoshyar Zebari: Thank you. Political reconciliation is the key issue really, for Iraq and the stability of Iraq and I think that all of the key leaders believe that this is the way forward. With the hydrocarbon law, with normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia, with Turkey, I mean all the questions have been pointed questions about the core issue in Iraq. So, the political reconciliation is moving, it's not stagnant. I mean, look at the representatives of the Sunni community, let's say or from al-Iraqi parliamentary blocs. They are now represented in Parliament, now they are represented in government. They may feel that they are underrepresented or marginalized, this is a fair call, I mean we could do more about that, definitely. But really the lessons that came out of this local election were very, very important. Many people believe they could do with the majoritarian democracy or political majority government, that the one sect or one group could win all over and rule by themselves, it proved they couldn't. They could win but they could not govern. And I think everyone realized and recognized that there has to be an inclusive democracy, a nonsectarian democracy, in Iraq for this country to have any future.

Zebari's remarks there are pure nonsense.  We called them out in Monday's snapshot, refer to that.  In terms of Hays picking up on Rogen's question, please note that Zebari doesn't really address that  (except via a false portrayal of current Iraqi politics).

Last week, Josh Rogin and Eli Lake (Daily Beast) reported:

The U.S. government has notified Congress in recent weeks of its intention to sell Iraq $4.7 billion worth of military equipment, but none of those sales include the top item on Iraq’s shopping list, the Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters. The House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have refused to allow the sale of the helicopters to date.
“The committee continues to carefully review all proposed arms sales to Iraq in order to ensure that such transfers support U.S. national security interests in the region,” a House Foreign Affairs Committee spokesman told The Daily Beast. Two administration officials confirmed that until the committees sign off, the U.S. government won’t be able to complete the arms deal.
The State Department is negotiating with the leaders of those committees behind the scenes to alleviate concerns about the sale. Committee leaders are worried the Iraqi government will use the helicopters to go after their domestic enemies, not just suspected terrorists. Also lawmakers are convinced that Iraq still allows Iran to fly arms over Iraqi airspace to aid the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

These are serious concerns.   They are not new concerns.  At the end of 2011, for example, Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) pointed out:

The apparent effort of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to consolidate power since the US [drawdown] is worrisome to some defense analysts in the US, who say it's conceivable that he could use weapons purchased from the US against his political enemies and the people of Iraq.

Outside of Congress, the US government has not taken the concerns seriously.  As we noted Friday, Zebari lied and downplayed the April assault:

Hoshyar Zebari: As I said before, really we have demonstrations, sit-ins, all over the country for the past eight months and the government never resorted to the kind of violence -- except in one or two incidences in Haiwja.  And I'm not here to justify this violations whatsoever.  But really the government has tolerated this so far to go on without any intimidations.

The April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53 dead.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

Not only did the government murder Iraqis, it did so via equipment the US government sold them.  Without the helicopters the US sold Iraq, the massacre would not be possible because Nouri's forces were denied entry into Kirkuk by the governor.  To get inside Kirkuk, to Hawija, they had to fly over.  This was made very clear when  Shalaw Mohammed (Niqash) interviewed Governor Najm al-Din Karim back in May:

NIQASH: Let’s talk about the controversial Tigris Operations Command. It’s caused several crises around here. What’s your opinion on this Iraqi military base?

Al-Din Karim: Neither I, as governor, nor the provincial council have changed our opinions on this issue. We don’t want the Tigris Operations Command here and we don’t accept their presence. Although we have agreed to form a committee in Baghdad to try and resolve this impasse.

NIQASH: The incidents in Hawija, where protestors were killed by the Iraqi military, also seems to have seen more Iraqi army forces enter Kirkuk.

Al-Din Karim: Actually those forces did not come through Kirkuk - they entered Hawija by helicopter. They tried to come through Kirkuk but we prevented them from doing so. I know the Prime Minister disapproved of this – he told me so last time we met.

Without the helicopters the US sold to Iraq, that massacre wouldn't have happened.  That massacre is important because people were killed and wounded and it became clear that Nouri was ready to turn on groups of Iraqis.  That massacre is also seen as a major point in the continued escalation of violence in Iraq.  Last week, the International Crisis Group issued "Make or Break: Iraq’s Sunnis and the State" and this is their take on Hawija:

As events in Syria nurtured their hopes for a political comeback, Sunni Arabs launched an unprecedented, peaceful protest movement in late 2012 in response to the arrest of bodyguards of Rafea al-Issawi, a prominent Iraqiya member. It too failed to provide answers to accumulated grievances. Instead, the demonstrations and the repression to which they gave rise further exacerbated the sense of exclusion and persecution among Sunnis.
The government initially chose a lacklustre, technical response, forming committees to unilaterally address protesters’ demands, shunning direct negotiations and tightening security measures in Sunni-populated areas. Half-hearted, belated concessions exacerbated distrust and empowered more radical factions. After a four-month stalemate, the crisis escalated. On 23 April, government forces raided a protest camp in the city of Hawija, in Kirkuk province, killing over 50 and injuring 110. This sparked a wave of violence exceeding anything witnessed for five years. Attacks against security forces and, more ominously, civilians have revived fears of a return to all-out civil strife. The Islamic State of Iraq, al-Qaeda’s local expression, is resurgent. Shiite militias have responded against Sunnis. The government’s seeming intent to address a chiefly political issue – Sunni Arab representation in Baghdad – through tougher security measures has every chance of worsening the situation.
Belittled, demonised and increasingly subject to a central government crackdown, the popular movement is slowly mutating into an armed struggle. In this respect, the absence of a unified Sunni leadership – to which Baghdad’s policies contributed and which Maliki might have perceived as an asset – has turned out to be a serious liability. In a showdown that is acquiring increasing sectarian undertones, the movement’s proponents look westward to Syria as the arena in which the fight against the Iraqi government and its Shiite allies will play out and eastward toward Iran as the source of all their ills.
Under intensifying pressure from government forces and with dwindling faith in a political solution, many Sunni Arabs have concluded their only realistic option is a violent conflict increasingly framed in confessional terms. In turn, the government conveniently dismisses all opposition as a sectarian insurgency that warrants ever more stringent security measures. In the absence of a dramatic shift in approach, Iraq’s fragile polity risks breaking down, a victim of the combustible mix of its long­standing flaws and growing regional tensions.

And yet the White House wants to provide more weapons to Nouri? In 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections and Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya beat Nouri's State of Law.  Nouri refused to honor the will of the Iraqi people, the democratic process or his country's Constitution.  He refused to step down and he refused to allow a new Parliament to be seated.  This was the political stalemate, it lasted for over eight months -- only because Nouri had the support of the White House.  It was ended by the US-brokered Erbil Agreement, a legal contract that gave cry baby Nouri a second term he did not earn.  The political leaders signed the contract because (a) the White House swore it was binding and would have the full backing of the US government, (b) the leaders wanted to end the stalemate and (c) in exchange for giving Nouri a second term, he agreed to give them certain things (like implementing Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution).  Nouri broke the contract after being announced prime minister for a second term.

The above demonstrates that (a) Nouri's word is worthless, (b) Nouri will not honor the Iraqi Constitution, (c) Nouri does not feel bound by any laws and (d) he has no respect for the Iraqi people as evidenced by his ignoring their will at the voting box.

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