HE WAS JUST SWORN IN AS THE NEW SECRETARY OF DEFENSE BUT ALREADY ASH CARTER IS IN SERIOUS TROUBLE.
AT THE SWEARING IN, VICE DOOFUS JOE BIDEN DECLARED AT THE CEREMONY THAT CARTER IS "A THINKER AND A DOER" -- TWO TOPICS JOE KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT.
AT LEAST JOE DIDN'T CALL HIM "AN OLD BUTT BUDDY."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
NBC News correspondent Richard Engel has long reported on Iraq and recently returned from yet another trip to the country. Appearing Sunday on Meet The Press (NBC), he was asked by host Chuck Todd about his impressions.
Richard Engel: I was incredibly depressed, frankly. I knew that Iraq was in bad shape. It was even worse than I thought. ISIS is a huge problem in Iraq, in Syria. But unless you confront the much bigger issues, the issue of will Kurdistan be an independent state? What happens to Sunni areas? Will the government in Baghdad continue to be run by Shiite militias? What happens with Hezbollah? What happens with Assad? Unless you address these bigger issues, ISIS is still going to be there. I was completely discouraged by what I saw. The Iraqi army has been described as pathetic, little more than a coalition of militias. So, I got no indication that things are going well.
Iraq is not a country with one crisis, it's a country with multiple crises and that has been the case since Nouri al-Maliki's second term as prime minister.
In terms of fighting/combatting/overcoming the Islamic State, the biggest crisis would be the alienation of the Sunni community. Nouri's second term was marked by them being sidelined politically, their votes ignored, their protests ignored, their representatives ignored, falsely arrested and imprisoned, Sunni women and girls tortured and raped in prisons, Sunnis attacked and killed by government forces and government welcomed Shi'ite militias, etc.
In August, Haider al-Abadi became the new prime minister.
Haider is, as Isaiah noted in today's The World Today Just Nuts, "No Friend To Sunnis."
Sunday, Human Rights Watch issued a release which includes the following:
Abuses by militias allied with Iraqi security forces in Sunni areas have escalated in recent months. Residents have been forced from their homes, kidnapped, and in some cases summarily executed. At least 3,000 people have fled their homes in the Muqdadiyya area of Diyala province since June 2014 and, since October, been prevented from returning. In addition to the events documented here, Human Rights Watch is conducting an investigation into more recent allegations that militia and SWAT forces killed 72 civilians in the town of Barwana, also in Muqdadiyya.
Residents told Human Rights Watch that security forces and allied militias began to harass residents in the vicinity of Muqdadiyya, an area 80 kilometres northeast of Baghdad in June, shortly after the extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) took over Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The abuses escalated around October, witnesses said, the month after Hayder al-Abadi took over as prime minister, pledging to rein in abusive militias and to end the sectarianism that fed the cycle of violence under his predecessor.
“Iraqi civilians are being hammered by ISIS and then by pro-government militias in areas they seize from ISIS,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “With the government responding to those they deem terrorists with arbitrary arrests and executions, residents have nowhere to turn for protection.”
Human Rights Watch spoke to six displaced residents of villages near Muqdadiyya – a largely rural region in central Diyala with a diverse population of about 300,000, including Sunni and Shia Arabs, Kurds, and Turkoman. Five residents told Human Rights Watch that they initially left their villages in June and July, when Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq militiamen, volunteer fighters, and Iraqi SWAT forces attacked.
In mid-October, hearing that militias had left the area, residents began to return home, only to find that militias had torched many homes. Soon after, militia members who now control the area began kidnapping the returned residents and firing randomly in the street, at homes, and in the air with automatic weapons. The residents interviewed described the kidnappings and killings of three men by militias.
The attacks in northern Muqdadiyya appear to be part of a militia campaign to displace residents from Sunni and mixed-sect areas after the militias and security forces routed ISIS in these areas. On December 29, Hadi al-Ameri, the Badr Brigades commander and transport minister under the previous administration of Nuri al-Maliki, threatened Muqdadiyya residents, saying, “The day of judgment is coming” and “We will attack the area until nothing is left. Is my message clear?”
In October, Human Rights Watch researchers observed militias occupying and setting fire to homes in the proximity of Amerli in Salah al-Din province, following the retreat of ISIS fighters. On December 17, the Wall Street Journal and other media reported that militias were carrying out evictions, disappearances, and killings in the Baghdad Belt after conducting military operations against ISIS. In January 2015, media reported that militias had arrested thousands of men in Samarra without warrants and were preventing them from returning home. On January 26, militias, volunteer fighters, and security forces reportedly escorted 72 civilians from their homes in Barwana, Diyala province, and summarily executed them. Human Rights Watch is currently investigating these allegations.
On December 18, 2014, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Prime Minister al-Abadi in which he pledged to “bring … all armed groups under state control. No armed groups or militias will work outside or parallel to the Iraqi Security Forces.” In addition to ordering a public investigation into the killings in Barwana, al-Abadi ordered an investigation into allegations that security forces extrajudicially killed two Sunni civilians in Anbar and has strongly condemned unlawful conduct by militias and security forces.
The evidence that militias are leading security operations in Salah al-Din, Diyala, Baghdad, and Babel provinces belie this pledge, Human Rights Watch said. On January 1, 2015, Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis, the long-time leader of the Kita’ib Hezbollah militia who now heads the Hashd al-Sha’abi (Popular Front), a quasi-governmental organization, gave a news conference in which he described himself as a military commander and the president of the “militia Hashd al-Shaabi,” and attacked Saudi Arabia and the US, which he described as sponsors and supporters of ISIS. This suggests that despite the prime minister’s promises, militias continue to act with free rein.
“The Iraqi government and its international allies need to take account of the militia scourge that is devastating places like Muqdadiyya,” Stork said. “Any effective response to ISIS should start with protecting civilian lives and holding those who abuse them to account, especially in areas where people have already suffered from ISIS occupation and attacks.”
Since August, Haider al-Abadi has been prime minister. What has he done to show Iraq's Sunni community that he was different from thug Nouri al-Maliki (who Haider is friends with)?
Not a damn thing.
September 13th, Haider al-Abadi did announce that he had ended the bombing of Sunnis civilians in Falluja. That's a War Crime, deliberately bombing civilians. And they were War Crimes when Nouri al-Maliki started the military bombings in January of 2014.
But while Haider got some easy publicity for his announcement, the next day, September 14th, the bombings continued, as they have every day since.
So much for Haider's word.
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