52% OF AMERICANS CONTINUE TO DISAPPROVE OF FADED CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O'S JOB PERFORMANCE.
THIS IS CAUSING MASSIVE DISTRESS TO THE DAHLI BAMA.
SPEAKING TO THESE REPORTERS TODAY, BARRY O DECLARED, "I DON'T GET IT. I'M WORKING MY BUTT OFF. I JUST MET WITH THE MIAMI HEAT. I'M PLANNING TO MEET WITH THE POPE IN A FEW DAYS AND AFTER A FEW FACIALS. AND JUST A WEEK AGO, I SANG LADY GAGA'S 'DO WHAT U WANT!' THE GAGA SONG ALONE, IN 2010, WOULD HAVE KEPT MY FANS TALKING, TWEETING AND TEXTING FOR A WHOLE MONTH! WHAT DO PEOPLE WANT FROM ME ANYWAY?"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
It's rather sad that on the day the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon begins a visit to Iraq, the US State Dept doesn't even note the visit. Monday, Ban Ki-moon spent the day in Baghdad. Among those he met with? Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Deutsche Welle explains, "Visiting refugees from neighboring war-torn Syria in the Kurdish-hub of Irbil in northern Iraq on Monday, Ban had urged Iraqi leaders to seek 'political dialogue' and said he was saddened to 'so many young children and vulnerable groups who suffer from this man-made tragedy'." UPI notes, "Their meeting followed a bloody Sunday that left 22 dead and 80 injured. On his fifth trip to Iraq, the UN leader expressed concern about the deteriorating security situation and encouraged political unity and civic participation." ABC News Radio says the violence "overshadowed" the Secretary-General's visit to the capital.
Today, he visited the KRG in northern Iraq. The UN News Centre reports:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits the Kawrgosik Refugee Camp near Erbil, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where more than 200,000 Syrian refugees are being hosted by the regional government. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Visiting with Syrian refugees in northern Iraq, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called “heart-breaking” what he saw in Kawrgosik camp, saying he was particularly saddened to see so many young children, women and vulnerable people suffering from “this man-made tragedy.”
“I am here to send our strong solidarity and support to all the refugees who came from Syria, on behalf of the United Nations and the international community,” said Mr. Ban alongside the High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, and Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.
“We are also here to listen to the concerns and aspirations of all the refugees here,” the UN chief said, recalling the people with whom he met in their tents. “Families shared their struggles to survive, find their loved ones and cope with the sadness of those who have been lost.”
The Kurdistan Regional Government is hosting more than 220,000 Syrian refugees. Mr. Ban highly commended “its commitment to humanitarian principles” in establishing refugee camps, transit sites and a humanitarian corridor to north-east Syria.
And they note:
In a private meeting in Erbil with the President of the Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Mr. Ban urged the Government to keep the border open for refugees fleeing the conflict.
The request was echoed by Mr. Guterres, who said it “breaks my heart” to see Syrian refugees risking their lives to escape from the country, such as the reported 200 people who drowned in a Nile River ferry accident.
“Your border is open,” he said, urging Governments to take in refugees and assume full-burden sharing with neighbouring countries “in the noble need to respond to this dramatic situation.”
The KRG notes the Erbil meet-up with President Barzani and Ban Ki-Moon was also attended by Prime Minister Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Imad Ahmed as well as other officials. Ban Ki-Moon expressed his thanks for the KRG hosting the Syrian refugees and that the situations in Syria and Iraq were discussed.
Amir Taheri (Asharaq Al-Awsat) observes:
Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki has claimed that the city, which drove governmental forces out last week, is now controlled by Al-Qaeda. His aides have warned that the new Iraqi army has received orders to “liberate” the city with a shoot-to-kill strategy. “We are not going to take any prisoners,” says Muwaffaq Al-Rubai, a veteran advisor to Maliki. Using the Al-Qaeda bogeyman, Maliki has managed to persuade the Obama administration in Washington to speed up arms deliveries, including drones using Hellfire missiles, to Iraqi government forces.
However, the black-and-white picture painted by Maliki does not tell the whole story. To start with, although radical Islamist groups are involved in the current crisis in Fallujah, it is simply wrong to brand them all with the Al-Qaeda label. Elements from the groups operating under the label of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are certainly present in Fallujah and, to a lesser extent, in Ramadi, another town in Anbar. But the insurgency that has wrested control of Fallujah away from Maliki has also attracted armed Arab Sunni tribes that helped drive Al-Qaeda out of the city almost a decade ago. Some of the radical Sunni armed groups came to Fallujah from neighboring Syria, where they have suffered a series of defeats at the hands of rival Islamist groups. In a sense, Maliki provoked them into direct control by launching operations at the Kilometer 90 junction where the borders of Iraq meet with those of Jordan and Syria, a major crossing point for radical Islamists fighting against President Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.
Nouri's assault on Anbar Province continues. Alsumaria reports that Anbar Province's Health Committee announced today the vast number of victims (300 dead and 251 injured) in the two week assault have been women and children. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "Gunmen on Tuesday regained control of more districts in Ramadi, the capital of the volatile Anbar province in western Iraq, after fierce clashes with Iraqi army backed by Sunni tribes. [. . .] On Tuesday, they managed to retake control of most areas in central and northern city, a provincial police source told Xinhua." Al Jazeera adds, "Rebel fighters have staged coordinated attacks near the western Iraqi city of Falluja, destroying two army tanks and capturing a police station, police have said." AFP notes of Ramadi, "Most civil servants have returned to work and many shops reopened, but schools remained closed." Meanwhile World Bulletin reports the Anbar tribal leaders held a press conference today:
Tribal chieftains held a conference on Tuesday in provincial capital Ramadi at which they issued a joint statement condemning what they called "the unjust war waged by the government of [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki" on the province.
The province was rocked by clashes early this month when Iraqi security forces dismantled a months-old anti-government sit-in. The sit-in was staged by Sunni tribesmen to protest perceived anti-Sunni discrimination by the Shiite-dominated government.
Chieftains said that the crackdown on the province had led armed tribesmen to take up arms against government troops "in defense of their souls and the pride of the tribes that al-Maliki tried to undermine."
UNHCR issued a statement today which included:
The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday that it has been able to deliver aid over the past week to some of the estimated 70,000 people displaced by fighting and insecurity in central Iraq's Anbar province.
"Aid from the UN and partner agencies has been reaching some of the affected communities since January 8, and yesterday a further 12 trucks of UNHCR relief reached neighbourhoods around Fallujah, carrying non-food aid," spokesman Adrian Edwards said, adding that the International Rescue Committee was conducting the distribution for UNHCR.
"At present, insecurity and access difficulties are still hampering the overall effort. The UN is advocating with the government of Iraq to ensure access to displaced persons and safe passage of humanitarian aid," he added.
Other responses to Nouri's assault on Anbar? Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports, "Up to 10,000 Iraqi commandos would get antiterrorism training from the United States to bolster Baghdad's fight against al-Qaida under a plan currently being negotiated, diplomats said on Tuesday. Washington and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are finalizing a security pact that would arrange for antiterrorism training for between 8,000 and 10,000 Iraqi commandos in Jordan, US diplomats based in Amman said." Tom Roeder (Colorado Gazette) reports on Fort Carson service members in Kuwait:
Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team are preparing for three major training exercises in the next 40 days, with the biggest matching their tanks against a Kuwaiti battalion. The training allows the 3,800-soldier unit to fulfill its mission of helping America's friends while honing skills that leaders hope deter threats in the roiling region.
"It has taken on increased significance and meaning, many of us in the brigade are veterans of Iraq," said Col. Omar Jones, brigade commander and a veteran of fighting in Fallujah, Baghdad and Mosul.
The brigade deployed to Kuwait in the fall, replacing Fort Carson's 1st Brigade Combat Team for a nine-month stint.
Keeping Fort Carson troops at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, near the Iraqi border is seen as a safeguard against violence that could spread beyond Iraq. The Colorado Springs soldiers also are the nation's first responders if trouble arises in the Persian Gulf region.
And there are other reactions to note as well. Michael Holmes (CNN) reports on Iraq today including interviewing Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi:
Ayad Allawi: And I warned all the leaders in the world and the region that unless this is averted then Iraq really is on the -- has started the civil war but hasn't reached the point of no return. Once it reaches the point of no return then, unfortunately, the whole region will burn up.
[. . .]
Michael Holmes [. . .] what he's saying about the US is that they backed al-Maliki which he says is fine. They have no put enough pressure on him to reign in this sectarianism, to be more inclusive. Here's part of what he [Allawi] said about the US.
Ayad Allawi: They should support Maliki, it's up to them. But they should also clarify to Maliki that their support is conditional on the inclusivity of the political process and respecting the Constitution and respecting human rights. But unfortunately, the Americans are not doing this.
Michael Holmes: And he's a very worried man. You know, I've had that sense coming back this time. He's very worried that this could slip down that road to all-out sectarian war. He says at the moment it's an asymeterical war with the car bombings, the assassinations. He said it wouldn't take much for it to become a symeterical war -- that is armed rebellion, if you like, by the Sunnis in this country. And that would be a disaster for the region and the country.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Women and children make up the dead and wounded in..."
"Ariel Sharon: Honoring a Genocidaire (Francis A. B..."
"revenge (the good)"
"Best male acting performance of the 20th century"
"The stolen artifacts"
"The Mindy Project: Casey slams into Cliff"
"Iraq and the avoidance"
"She's rejoining the Mac"
"The illegal spying"
"The brief flare up"
"Out of control"
"THIS JUST IN! HE DISREGARDS THE LAW AND THE CONSTITUTION!"