FOR YEARS NOW, BULLY BOY BUSH HAS BEEN THE MOST UNPOPULAR LIVING OCCUPANT OF THE OVAL OFFICE.
TODAY, THAT ALL CHANGES!
FADED CELEBRITY BARRY O IS NOW AS UNPOPULAR AS BULLY BOY BUSH.
THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN, THERE'S A NEW LOSER IN TOWN.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
This morning, Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now! -- link is audio, video and text) declared, "Iraq is on the brink of disintegration. Sunni Islamist rebels have seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, as well as Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, and Dhuluiya which is just 55 miles northwest of the capital of Baghdad. The rebels are now advancing toward Baghdad. Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurds have seized control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk. The Sunni militants are led by a group called ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. They now control a territory that stretches from the eastern edge of Aleppo, Syria, to Fallujah in western Iraq and now the northern city of Mosul. The sudden advance by the Islamist rebels has shocked the region. Earlier today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the territorial integrity of Iraq is now in question."
This afternoon at the White House, US President Barack Obama declared, "We discussed the situation in the Middle East, and obviously the concerns that we have around Iraq and Syria. Both our countries are potentially threatened by jihadists and freedom fighters, as they call them, that are going into Syria, getting trained in terrorist tactics and then potentially coming back to our countries and could end up being a significant threat to our homeland, as well."
"We" was a reference to himself and Abbot, Prime Minister of Australia. The two met today to discuss various issues. After the discussion, the two addressed the press. We'll note this exchange between Barack and the Associated Press' Nedra Pickler:
Q Mr. President, are you considering drone strikes or any sort of action to stop the insurgence in Iraq?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, this is an area that we’ve been watching with a lot of concern not just over the last couple of days but over the last several months, and we’ve been in close consultation with the Iraqi government. Over the last year, we have been providing them additional assistance to try to address the problems that they have in Anbar, in the northwestern portions of the country, as well as the Iraqi and Syrian border. That includes, in some cases, military equipment. It includes intelligence assistance. It includes a whole host of issues.
But what we’ve seen over the last couple of days indicates the degree to which Iraq is going to need more help. It’s going to need more help from us, and it’s going to need more help from the international community.
So my team is working around the clock to identify how we can provide the most effective assistance to them. I don’t rule out anything, because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria, for that matter.
Part of the challenge -- and I’ve said this directly to Prime Minister Maliki, and Vice President Biden has said this in his very frequent interactions with the Iraqi government -- is that the politics of Shia and Sunni inside of Iraq, as well as the Kurds, is either going to be a help in dealing with this jihadist situation, or it’s going to be a hindrance. And frankly, over the last several years, we have not seen the kind of trust and cooperation develop between moderate Sunni and Shia leaders inside of Iraq, and that accounts in part for some of the weakness of the state, and that then carries over into their military capacity.
So I think it’s fair to say that in our consultations with the Iraqis there will be some short-term, immediate things that need to be done militarily, and our national security team is looking at all the options. But this should be also a wakeup call for the Iraqi government. There has to be a political component to this so that Sunni and Shia who care about building a functioning state that can bring about security and prosperity to all people inside of Iraq come together and work diligently against these extremists. And that is going to require concessions on the part of both Shia and Sunni that we haven’t seen so far.
The last point I’ll make -- what’s happened over the last couple of days I think underscores the importance of the point that I made at my West Point speech: the need for us to have a more robust regional approach to partnering and training partner countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. We’re not going to be able to be everywhere all the time, but what we can do is to make sure that we are consistently helping to finance, train, advise military forces with partner countries, including Iraq, that have the capacity to maintain their own security. And that is a long and laborious process, but it’s one that we need to get started.
That’s part of what the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund that I am going to be calling for Congress to help finance is all about, giving us the capacity to extend our reach without sending U.S. troops to play Whac-A-Mole wherever there ends up being a problem in a particular country. That’s going to be more effective. It’s going to be more legitimate in the eyes of people in the region, as well as the international community. But it’s going to take time for us to build it. In the short term, we have to deal with what clearly is an emergency situation in Iraq.
Those remarks came up in today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki:
QUESTION: -- you just announced this aid for internally displaced people. Have any decisions been made about – or can you enlighten us on where the process is on what the President outlined with the Australian foreign minister in terms of the options being considered for assisting the Iraqi Government in dealing with the deteriorating situation?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, what you have seen – and I know you saw it, Matt, but just for the benefit of others, the President did speak to this just a little while ago, in the last hour. And what he said and made clear is that we’ve had a lot of concern, not just in the last couple of days but months. And what we’ve seen over the last couple of days is an indication that Iraq needs more help.
Our team is working overtime on a range of options that does not include, to be clear, boots on the ground. Secretary Kerry is clearly very engaged in these discussions, which are ongoing. And Deputy Assistant Secretary Brett McGurk, of course, is as well, given he’s on the ground, as well as a range of officials from the State Department. I don’t have anything to enlighten you on, given these are ongoing discussions. But the President made clear that in the short term there may be the immediate need for additional military assistance, and there’s an ongoing discussion about that.
QUESTION: So immediate means possibly by the end of the day or in the next --
MS. PSAKI: I’m not giving a timing indication. I think what he’s indicating is in the short term, in addition to the capacity building that we’re doing over the medium and long term.
QUESTION: Right. Do you have any thoughts about the Iranians saying that they’re willing to help defend the Shia community or defend Baghdad and/or, both, the Kurds taking control of Kirkuk? Do these developments cause you any concern?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me take the second one first. We support the steps taken between the federal government and the Kurdish regional government to cooperate on a security plan that will enhance the Iraqi army’s ability to hold positions and confront ISIL. We’re encouraging both Baghdad and Erbil to continue and further their cooperation, given the immediate threat that they’re all facing from ISIL on the ground.
So at this point, the official position is "no boots on the ground."
Barack is President. Joe Biden is Vice President. Let's note this:
Biden noted the "internal threat" aspect being proposed and how these requires the US "to support the Iraqi government in its battle with all 'outlaw groups' -- that's a pretty expansive commitment." He noted that it requires the US "to take sides in Iraq's civil war" and that "there is no Iraqi government that we know of that will be in place a year from now -- half the government has walked out."
"Just understand my frustration," Biden explained. "We want to normalize a government that really doesn't exist."
No, Joe didn't just Sally Langston Barack (reference to Shonda Rhimes' Scandal).
That's Joe speaking when he was Senator Joe Biden and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We covered the hearing in the April 10, 2008 snapshot -- it remains one of the most important hearings the Committee held on Iraq. We were among the few to turn out for it. The week had seen then-General David Petraeus and then-US Ambassador Ryan Crocker testify to several Congressional committees. By the time Friday rolled around, the press may have been exhausted.
Too bad. It was an important hearing.
When Joe spoke those words, the prime minister of Iraq was Nouri al-Maliki.
He's still prime minister right now, finishing his second term.
What's really changed is that as bad as Nouri's first term was -- and it was bad -- his second has been even worse. And he's created more chaos and violence.
Joe's concerns in 2008 were valid.
They're only more valid today.
The White House needs to walk away from Nouri and not just because it's important to Iraq but also because it's important to the presidency. We'll get to the second point later in the snapshot.
For now, back to Democracy Now!'s discussion on Iraq:
MOHAMMED AL DULAIMY: What I see is the failing of the whole system that the United States and its allies, they tried to build in Iraq. The whole democracy experiment in Iraq is in danger, as actually has been for a long time in danger, but now it’s more obvious to everyone. We are seeing now the consequences of a leadership of a sectarian regime that was ruling in Iraq for the past eight years, led by Mr. Nouri al-Maliki, and the lack of trust among his partners, corruption. All of that gave the way for radicals to rise and gave the chance to occupy a two million city, population city, in Mosul, the second-largest Iraqi city. All of this is threatening the integrity of Iraq, the unity of the country, and threatening Iraq to descend to a more like Syrian-like civil war.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And when you talk about the reign of al-Maliki and the sectarianism of his government, could you elaborate on that? Because clearly al-Maliki as a Shiite leader and the majority of the population of Iraq being Shiite, the United States has continued to back his rule there despite his clampdown on any kind of dissent.
MOHAMMED AL DULAIMY: Yes, we have enough evidence, actually, videos of speeches of Mr. al-Maliki himself, showing that this man is leading the country towards a civil war. His previous press conferences accusing his partners of terrorism, sometimes forging cases against them, as they say, led the country to high tension, causing Sunnis to go into streets to protest and to show their demands. Mr. al-Maliki refused most of these demands. And to the limit, he accused them of continuing some historical event that took place 1,400 years ago, about 1,400 years ago, and he said that the killers of Imam Husayn are still living among—he meant Sunnis—among the other party, which he meant Sunnis. Mr. al-Maliki has failed to build an Iraqi military that will respect human rights. I just want to say that fanatics, Islamists, feed on such human rights breaches. It helps them to further their cause and to win more recruits. This is what has had—happening in Iraq.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy is a name many should already know. If you don't, think Sahar Issa or Laith Hammoudi. They were among the Iraqi reporters working for McClatchy Newspapers. They went out of their way and took great risks to let the world know what was really happening in Iraq. Today, Al Dulaimy is seeking refugee status in the United States -- status which should be immediately granted. He's the perfect example of why the program was created.
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