Saturday, January 04, 2014

The last rats bail the sinking ship







For those to foolish to grasp that US forces remain in Iraq -- as trainers, the US Army Special-Ops sent back into Iraq in the fall of 2012 by US President Barack Obama, etc -- check out Australia ABC's report on the Defense Dept cuts on combat pay in many locations around the world and pay attention to this:  "Military personnel will continue to receive imminent danger pay for serving in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, where the US fought wars over the past decade."

Now we're moving to a lengthy section of today's State Dept press briefing.  After this morning's "Oh, look, it's al Qaeda! Oh, no, it's not! It's sometimes al Qaeda!," some may think spokesperson Marie Harf's saying what I want heard so we're including all of this!  No.  Although quickly, better eye glasses, Marie, they fit your face (her new eye glasses are better).  We're noting this because of the December 27th snapshot where I asked, "So before the year ends is anyone going to call the press on their b.s.?"  You can't say al Qaeda's increasing in Iraq and also applaud Barack's position.  There's an inconsistency there.  This was explored in the exchange that follows.  Lucas Tomlinson is with Fox News, Matthew Lee is with the Associated Press and Said Arikat is with Al Quds.

Lucas Tomlinson: Do you have an update on the violence in Iraq?

MS. HARF: Not an update from yesterday. I know we talked about this a little bit. Let me see what I have in here. Obviously, as I said yesterday, a number of our folks on the ground and in Washington remain in touch with all of the different parties in Iraq. I think I’d make the points I made yesterday that our overall point is to encourage moderates on all sides and isolate extremists on all sides, support the government in our fight against al-Qaida – a fight, as you know, we share – and help them learn from the lessons that we learned from fighting this. Obviously, we know the situation is very serious. No update on that today, but it’s something we’re very concerned about.

Lucas Tomlinson: Yesterday, you indicated that Syria was to blame for the increase in violence.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

Lucas Tomlinson: Do you stand by those comments?

MS. HARF: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, largely to blame. Obviously, there’s a lot of factors at play here. We know some of the recent history in Iraq with some of the sectarian tensions. I’d note that we are pleased that different political leaders have called for calm and have taken steps to try to move away from this kind of violence. But Syria obviously is an incredibly destabilizing force, not just in Iraq but elsewhere.

Lucas Tomlinson: Would you say al-Qaida is a part of this destabilizing force?

MS. HARF: Well, again, I think it’s sort of what you asked yesterday. There are different either affiliated groups with al-Qaida in the region or groups that might take ideology from al-Qaida that aren’t official affiliates. Certainly, we’re concerned about that. We have been in Iraq for a long time, as you know, with the al-Qaida affiliate there. But I’d say there are extremists on both sides here, and there are moderates on both sides, and that’s why we’re encouraging the moderates to step up increasingly and show these extremists that that’s not the way forward for Iraq.

Lucas Tomlinson: How would you define al-Qaida?

MS. HARF: In general, or in Iraq?

Lucas Tomlinson: Just in general.

MS. HARF: Okay. Well, what we’ve talked a lot about, I think, is – we talk a lot about al-Qaida core in here, right, and the success we’ve had in Afghanistan and Pakistan against the al-Qaida core group, which, quite frankly, is today a shadow of what it was, certainly on 9/11 but even after. At the same time, over the past few years, we’ve made it clear that we’re increasingly concerned about either official affiliates like AQAP or al-Shabaab, AQ in Somalia or elsewhere, but also concerned with extremist groups who may claim ideology with al-Qaida but aren’t official affiliates, and also concerned with sort of the lone wolves that are out there that may go on the internet and see extremist ideology and want to act on it.  So that’s why I think you’ve heard the President speak about this most recently at NDU, when he talked about the way forward and the threat we face and how we’re going to fight it.

Lucas Tomlinson: There was a UN report that was just released that said there were over 8,000 civilians killed in Iraq over the last year --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

Lucas Tomlinson: -- the most deadly year in Iraq since 2008. And critics of the Administration’s policies would say their policy in – your policy in Iraq would say that we abandoned the country. Can you respond to that?

MS. HARF: Well, a few points. Obviously, we’ve condemned this violence in the absolute strongest terms. But let’s be clear who’s responsible for the violence. It’s the terrorists who were behind it. That’s why we are partnering with the Iraqi Government very closely to fight this shared threat, because at the end of the day we can certainly help them fight it, but we also want to help them build their own capability to do so themselves, because ultimately that’s the best way forward for Iraq. So I don’t think we need to relitigate policy decisions that were made however many months ago. But today, what we’re focused on is the relationship, how we work together very closely on this issue, and fighting this challenge, certainly, together.

Lucas Tomlinson: Bottom line, would you say the threat of al-Qaida is increased in Iraq and Syria?

MS. HARF: Well, I think I would say both in Syria and Iraq – well, certainly – let’s start with Syria. I think the threat of terrorism and extremism has increased as a direct result of the atmosphere the Assad regime has created in Syria, the fact that they have decided to engage in violence against their own people and really create a security vacuum has led to a very serious situation where terrorists like al-Qaida affiliated or people that claim ideology with al-Qaida can flourish. Obviously, that’s why we’ve said that we need to move quickly to end the civil war there even though it’s very, very complicated and hard to do.

Lucas Tomlinson: Doesn’t the al-Qaida threat in Syria, the al-Qaida presence, come from Anbar province in Iraq?

MS. HARF: Well, I think that’s an oversimplification of sort of the al-Qaida picture in the region. I think that there are extremists and terrorists operating in both. I don’t know what the flowchart looks like necessarily or where all the fighters are coming from when we look at Syria. I’m happy to check with our experts and see, certainly, where they come from and how they get to Syria. But we’re concerned about it in both places, quite frankly, and that’s we are encouraging moderates within Iraq – in the government, in Anbar, and elsewhere – to step up and say this is not what we want for our country, to learn some of the lessons we learned, and to move forward, hopefully, with a less violent future.

Lucas Tomlinson: Can we agree that the threat of al-Qaida has increased in the Middle East?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t – when you say “the threat from al-Qaida,” that’s sort of an overly vague and broad and almost without-meaning term.

Lucas Tomlinson: Well, the source of these attacks --

MS. HARF: Well --

Lucas Tomlinson: -- in Iraq came from al-Qaida.

MS. HARF: I think in some places, the terrorist threat has gotten worse. Like I said, in Syria, certainly as a direct result of what the Assad regime has done, the security situation, certainly the threat of either al-Qaida affiliated or ideologically affiliated groups has gotten worse. But when we take about, quote, “al-Qaida,” I’m not sure if you’re referring to al-Qaida core, which actually we don’t think has the reach into these places that it did in the past or that some people might think. It doesn’t mean they’re less dangerous, but when you’re talking about how to confront these groups, it matters where they take their direction from, quite frankly. And when you use the term al-Qaida, it matters what that means.

Lucas Tomlinson: Well, from the podium you’ve mentioned foreign fighters --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

Lucas Tomlinson:  -- and having – going towards Syria responsible for attacks against the Assad regime. Part of these flood of foreign fighters do come from Iraq --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

Lucas Tomlinson: -- and from Anbar province.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

Lucas Tomlinson: And over the last year in Iraq, we’ve seen 8,000 civilians killed. I think it’s fairly self-evident that violence has increased and the cause of that increase in violence is the al-Qaida franchise.

MS. HARF: Well, I think the use of “franchise” is a helpful caveat. But again, who’s giving direction, operational direction, operational planning to the folks that are perpetrating this violence in Iraq? I’m happy to check in with our folks and see specifically what part of the terrorist org chart that is. Because again, it matters not just in the words you use but in how you fight it, something we’re working with the Iraqi Government to do all the time, and the Lebanese Government, as we talked a lot about, and others in the region as well.

Lucas Tomlinson: So lastly, you will not say from that podium that the threat of – from al-Qaida is increasing in the Middle East?

MS. HARF: Well, I would say the threat from al-Qaida core has significantly decreased because of our efforts over the past several years. The threat of – from al-Qaida affiliates in some places has increased, certainly in Syria – we’ve talked about that. We’ve talked about that in Yemen. Each country is different, each group is different, and we will evaluate the threat each place differently. It’s just a little more complicated than that.

Matthew Lee: Without relitigating the decisions that were made in the last term or over the past couple years, can you just address the suggestion in one of the earlier questions that the United States abandoned Iraq?

MS. HARF: Well, I would fundamentally disagree with it. Just because we don’t have troops on the ground doesn’t mean we don’t have a continuing close partnership with the Iraqi Government. You see that all the time from the assistance we give them. We talked a little bit about it over the Christmas holiday, I think, some of the additional military assistance we’ve given them. So we don’t define a relationship with a country based on boots on the ground. In fact, it’s the opposite. We very much have a close and continuing partnership and we’ll keep working with them on this joint threat.

Matthew Lee: Was it not the Administration’s preference to keep a number of troops on the ground in Iraq?

MS. HARF: I’m really not going to relitigate the --

Matthew Lee: I’m not asking you to relitigate it; I’m just --

MS. HARF: Can I finish?

Matthew Lee: Yes.

MS. HARF: Thank you. I’m not going to go back into internal deliberations about whether we were going to and wanted to put a new SOFA in place, something that happened, what, two years ago now, two and a half years ago now? I just don’t think that’s a beneficial discussion to have from this podium. The President was very clear when he came into office that our goal was to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home. I just don’t think it serves any purpose to re-litigate those discussions from, what, 2011, in 2014.

Matthew Lee: I’m not asking you to relitigate it. Was the Administration not interested in concluding a SOFA with the Iraqi Government?

MS. HARF: I’m just not going to go back down that road. I don’t --

Matthew Lee: Well, the answer is yes, okay? And I don’t see why you can’t say --

MS. HARF: Do you want my job, then? You want to answer?

Matthew Lee: No, but I would prefer that you not try to sidestep. I mean, it’s a pretty --

MS. HARF: I’m not trying to sidestep it.

Matthew Lee: Yeah, you --

MS. HARF: We’re focused on 2014 and where we go from here. A discussion or debate about what we may or may not have --

Matthew Lee: His question was, “How do you respond --

MS. HARF: -- about what we may or not have wanted in 2011 --

Matthew Lee: Hold --

MS. HARF: -- is not relevant to the discussion today, Matt.

Matthew Lee: It’s completely relevant --

MS. HARF: It’s just not.

Matthew Lee: -- to the question that he asked --

MS. HARF: I disagree.

Matthew Lee: -- which was that critics– his question was critics suggest or say, claim, accuse the Administration of abandoning Iraq. And --

MS. HARF: And I disagreed with the premise.

Matthew Lee: Okay. And I’m asking you --

MS. HARF: Because I said --

Matthew Lee: Was the Administration interested in concluding a SOFA with the Iraqi Government or not back several years ago?

MS. HARF: I’m just not going to – I’m not going to go back down that road. What I’ve said is that you don’t define being --

Matthew Lee: Okay. You’re looking for a – you think that I’m trying to set a trap for you, and I’m not. I’m just trying to get a straight answer, and it’s a historical fact that you were involved in negotiations with the Iraq --

MS. HARF: Absolutely. I’m not saying we weren’t involved in them.

Matthew Lee: Okay. Well, then, what’s wrong?

MS. HARF: But you were asking what we wanted, what we didn’t want, what the content of the discussions were.

Matthew Lee: The whole point of the SOFA was the same point as the BSA in Afghanistan, which was to allow --

MS. HARF: They’re actually quite different.

Matthew Lee: I understand that, but it was to keep some presence --

MS. HARF: So don’t make that comparison.

Matthew Lee: -- to keep some presence on the ground in Iraq.

MS. HARF: Again, they’re very different situations.

Matthew Lee: Yes.

MS. HARF: Very different situations.

Matthew Lee: They are. But the suggestion if you deny that the U.S. abandoned Iraq --

MS. HARF: Absolutely. Because I don’t think it’s defined --

Matthew Lee: -- then you might want to explain --

MS. HARF: -- by boots on the ground.

Matthew Lee: Then you might want to explain to people that the Administration did try to conclude a SOFA with the Iraqis that would have allowed --

MS. HARF: I just don’t think that’s a helpful discussion to have today.

Matthew Lee: It’s the answer to the question, though.

MS. HARF: I don’t think it’s a helpful discussion to have today --

Matthew Lee: And if you --

MS. HARF: -- and I think I would define our engagement with Iraq not by boots on the ground.

Matthew Lee: Fair enough.

Lucas Tomlinson: But after 8,000 people are killed, that’s also not a helpful way to define our involvement in the country.

MS. HARF: Well, certainly we’re doing what we can to help them build their capability. We have been very clear that we are partners with Iraq in this shared fight, but we also were very clear about – the President was when he came into office about ending the war there, about building a new relationship going forward, and focusing on other security threats going forward.  So again, this isn’t something we’re going to relitigate here, something that happened in 2011. What we’re focused on now is how we continue building the relationship and building their capabilities.

Lucas Tomlinson: But to Matt’s point in – for the Administration to end the war in Iraq, did you all perhaps forget to leave behind some tools that could aid them in defeating adversaries?

MS. HARF: Absolutely not. Again, you don’t define a relationship with a country by boots on the ground. That’s just ridiculous.

Lucas Tomlinson:  But some would define the relationship about peace, and they define the relationship --

MS. HARF: Well, again, we can’t impose peace on people. I think that’s --

Lucas Tomlinson:  But you give them tools to aid them.

MS. HARF: Which is exactly what we’re doing. But it’s a tough fight and it’s a hard challenge, and these issues aren’t easy. If they were easy they would have been dealt with years ago. So it’s not like if we just flipped a switch and did x, y, or z, the terrorist threat in Iraq would go away. That’s just not how the – that’s not how it works.
So we’re helping them build their capability. We’re helping provide them with the tools, the guidance, the assistance, as they fight this fight. But it’s really up to them, in conjunction with us helping them, to push out the extremists, to encourage moderates, to learn the lessons we all learned from the years we were there when we did have boots on the ground, and try and move the situation forward in a better way.
Said. I’ve missed you.

Said Arikat: Happy New Year.

MS. HARF: We’re going to go to Said next. Happy New Year.

Said Arikat: I just wanted to follow up – happy New Year to you. I wanted to follow up on Iraq. So you agree with the tactics that the Maliki government is using? Is that what you’re saying?

MS. HARF: That’s not what I’m saying --

Said Arikat: All right.

MS. HARF: -- at all. We’re obviously --

Said Arikat: But you said you’d leave it up to them how they want to conduct this operation.

MS. HARF: Well, that was a broad statement. So we’re obvious following – if you’re talking about Anbar --

Said Arikat:  Right.

MS. HARF: -- we’re obviously following the events in Anbar. We’ve been encouraged by efforts by several of Iraq’s political leaders to contain the crisis in Anbar and unite forces against extremists. Obviously, we’re in close contact from the ground by Ambassador Beecroft here, from Brett McGurk and others, with the Iraqi Government at all levels to discuss the way forward. We’re following the situation there and helping in any way we can.

Said Arikat: Now, seeing how the United States is also sending drones and so on to strike terrorist camps in Yemen and other places, why not do the same thing in Iraq?

MS. HARF: Each country is different. Each situation is different. And we provide assistance with counterterrorism in different ways everywhere. They’re just not always comparable situations.

Said Arikat: Is that because there is a lack of agreement on these things between you and the Iraqi Government?

MS. HARF: There’s just different situations. I would hesitate from making any generalizations or analysis of it. They’re just all different.

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Friday, January 03, 2014

Ani DiFranco regroups and rebooks



hey, peeps, i heard ya.  i really, really heard ya.  it was insensitive for me to plan to hold a retreat at a plantation that endorsed the lie that slavery was happy times for 1 and all.  i was wrong not to listen to you.  
i have listened.
and good news, i've decided to do the retreat after all and have found a new location,  one in savannah, georgia. 
it's an eatery.
the lady & sons.
the lovely owner, 1 paula deen, swears to me it will be a boost for both of us.


Iraq Times reports that troops were pulled from Dhi Qar and, now in Iraq, they don't have sufficient food rations.  More poor planning from Nouri.

سيطرات في مناطق السعدان بقضاء غرب العاصمة بغداد بعد فرار عناصرها. .

Militants/terrorists/rebels/who knows attacked/defended/ who knows.  But turmoil continued in Iraq today. All Iraq News notes Baghdad Opertations Command says they've killed 30 people (suspects) in Anbar.  National Iraqi News Agency reported clashes taking place in Ramadi, a tribe has taken 'back' a Ramadi police station from militants, the governor of Anbar says Ramadi is quiet and police should return to their posts and help citizens repair police stations  and Jabbar Yawar (Secretary Generl of the KRG's Ministry of Peshmerga) declared, "The Peshmerga forces are protecting citizens in the areas between Nafutkana and Vichabour, which include Salahuddin, Diyala and Kirkuk provinces, and part of Nineveh."  You get what the 'safe to return' message from the governor is, don't you?  People deserted their posts.  A Ministry of Interior announcement today also made that clear.  Here you can see a photo of the military force in Anbar after Nouri's forces fled.  Al Mada notes that for several hours today fighters were able to seize police stations in Ramadi and Falluja.  Irish Times reports on the seizures and includes this:

“The tribesmen are now fighting the army. What is the army doing in our city and why did they come?” Sheikh Adnan al-Mehana, the head of one of the biggest tribes in Anbar, said by phone from Ramadi.
“Today, we defeated the army and if another force will be sent, we are ready for them,” he said.

Grasp that?


For the second time this week, the BBC's Rafid Jaboori has provided lies as news.  I hope Nouri's f**king Rafid, because I hope Rafid's getting something out of his whoring.  Here he is today, offering 'analysis:'

Al-Qaeda has moved into Anbar to exploit the dispute between the Sunnis and the government. However, Mr Maliki has now secured backing from key Sunni tribal leaders.

Maybe if you just follow the BBC you can pretend Rafid's offering analysis.

Iraqi Spring MC notes that Anbar tribal leaders are pointing out that they did not ask for Nouri's forces to be sent into the province and the tribal leaders maintain they're more than able to provide security without Nouri's forces.

Nouri's forces are committing genocide.  You can pretty as much you damn well want and you kid yourself however you need to, but that's what's happening and that the United States government is allowing to happen.  They have armed a despot.

As the day wound down, NINA reported that police Colonel Mohammed al-Thiyabi had been shot dead in Ramadi.  Iraqi Spring MC reports that tanks shot at rebels on a bridge in Anbar and that Nouri's aircraft dropped bombs on homes in Ramadi.   His forces also bombed Falluja and many people were wounded and taken to Falluja General Hospital.  A 6-year-old girl named Estrabraq was killed by the bombs Nouri's forces dropped and two more children were left wounded.

The people are being terrorized and maybe someone can ask the State Dept about that?  Maybe they can ask about this child that Nouri's forces shot dead in Iraq?

عناصر تقتل طفلا-8 سنوات- باطلاق الرصاص باحدى سيطراتهم في الصقلاوية. . .

That little boy was shot dead by Nouri's forces in Saqlawiyah which is an Anbar Province city near Falluja.

Nouri's forces always get away with killing children.

Former US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey tells USA Today (on the Anbar assault, not about children dying), "Maliki has taken a very serious and unfortunate step toward pushing a large percentage of the Sunni population to feel disenfranchised."

There are multiple reports in Arabic social media that "fighter jets" are being used.  Iraq has no fighter jets.  That's what Congress was told in December, just weeks ago.  So where did these fighter jets come from?

Also, the White House might want to check with the propaganda channel Voice of America -- it's also saying fighter jets are being used in Anbar.

Let's drop back to Monday's snapshot:

Rudaw also notes, "The scholars also demanded that all Sunnis involved in the political process withdraw from the so-called Document of Honor, because 'Maliki has proved that he does not respect treaties or covenants'."  Let's get back to the resignations noted earlier in the snapshot.  Al Mada reports 44 MPs with the Motahidon Alliance have submitted their resignations to Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi because of today's attacks on the protesters in Anbar.  All Iraq News notes the spokesperson for the Motahidon Alliance held a press conference and stated that the resignations are taking place and "that the war in Anbar is unconstitutional and violate all patriotic terms."  KUNA covers it here. Liu Dan (Xinhua) reports, "The MPs from the Sunni Motahidoon (United) Alliance also demanded the withdrawal of the army from cities in the Anbar province and the release of Ahmad al-Alwani, a Sunni lawmaker who was arrested on Saturday, the bloc's spokesman Dhafer al-Ani said at a televised press conference."  Matt Bradley (Wall St. Journal) points out, "Mr. Awlani was an early supporter of the year-old Sunni protest movement against Mr. Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government."

Monday at Marie Harf's State Dept press briefing some of that was asked of:

QUESTION: Today, a number of parliamentarians have resigned and the government continued to pound areas in Ramadi and Anbar and so on, and at the same time, you have already sent in some drones and other material to fight terrorism. Do you have any comments on that?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re tracking the events in Anbar closely. We’re concerned by the reports of soldiers and civilians who have been killed in clashes. We, from the U.S. side, have been intensely engaged from both Baghdad and Washington with Iraqi leaders on all sides. We’ve been urging restraint, dialogue, and certainly for all sides to take steps to de-escalate and not to further escalate the situation. We’ll continue to gather facts on the ground and continue to engage with Iraqi leaders as this moves forward.

QUESTION: Yeah. Are you talking to the – to people, like, from the Iraqiya and the dialogue like (inaudible) and so on who have just withdrawn, including the speaker of the parliament and --

MS. HARF: Well, I think we’re still gathering facts on that, Said. I saw some of those reports before I came out. I think all the facts aren’t entirely clear. Suffice to say, we’re talking to folks from all different sides that are involved in this.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that the government may collapse?

MS. HARF: I think you’re getting 15 steps ahead of where we are. What we’re calling on folks to do is to de-escalate the situation on all sides.

QUESTION: Don’t you think that the security forces has overreacted in dealing with the protestors in Anbar?

MS. HARF: Again, we’re still looking at the situation to get all the facts on the ground. I just don’t want to go further than that before we know exactly what happened. We’ve called on all sides to show restraint. That includes, certainly, the security forces and other folks as well. So we’ll see what exactly happened and go from there.

QUESTION: And on what level are you talking to the prime minister?

MS. HARF: I can double-check and see if there’s some specifics I can share about what level.

Let's note what's going on with imprisoned MP Ahmed al-Alwani -- illegally imprisoned.  NINA reports:

A parliamentary delegation headed to the Anti-terrorism center to meet MP Ahmed al-Alwani.
MP, of the Iraqiya coalition, Sumayya al-Qallab told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA /: "The delegation includes MP Khalid al-Alwani, MP Hamid al-Zobaie and Sumayya al-Qallab."
The Acting Defense Minister, Saadoun al-Dulaimi and the head of the Iraqi Awakening Conference, Ahmed Abu Risha met Alwani yesterday, emphasizing that he enjoys good health, and he was allowed to contact with his family, and he will be presented to the investigating judge on Thursday.

Why did that visit take place?

Before today's visit was being reported, Wednesday, in fact, Iraq Times was reporting that Nouri had acknowledged that al-Alwani was not responsible for shooting anyone or transferring weapons and would allow the visit to take place.

How nice of him.

Per the Iraqi Constitution, al-Alwani cannot be arrested unless he's arrested while he's committing a crime or the Parliament strips him of his office.  At his home at dawn, asleep, on Saturday, he was not in the midst of any crime.

He has not been stripped of his immunity.

The arrest was illegal.

He was said to be -- yes, it's coming -- a 'terrorist.'  And an assassin.

Why have the charges not been made public?

Where's the government release noting why he was arrested?

It doesn't exist.

But Monday, Nouri's office did issue a statement of him claiming the assault on Anbar was uniting the province.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

He struggles to wrap his mind around it







NINA reports Omar al-Dulaimi was shot dead in Ramadi today while he was covering the clashes between Nouri's forces and militants or rebels.  NINA notes he was "a graduate of the Department of Information in the faculty of Arts, University of Anbar, and worked as a reporter for one of the local agencies in Ramadi."

Yesterday, The Committee to Protect Journalists published a report by Elana Beiser on the deaths of journalists in 2013 which noted 70 journalists were killed around the world in 2013:

At least 10 journalists were killed for their work in Iraq­, nine of them murdered, and all during the final quarter of the year. Unidentified gunmen opened fire on cameraman Mohammed Ghanem and correspondent Mohammed Karim al-Badrani of the independent TV channel Al-Sharqiya as they filmed a report on Eid al-Adha holiday preparations in Mosul in October. It is unclear why they were targeted; the station has attracted ire from both Iraqi authorities and anti-government militants.

As the year ends, the number of journalists killed in Iraq this year stands at eleven -- at least eleven.

The year winds down and so does Nouri al-Maliki's second term as prime minister.  What has he accomplished?

Not a damn thing.

Every October, the heavy rains come to Iraq.

Every year.

It's the raining season.  It's not a surprise.

And if you're on your second term as prime minister, it's especially not a surprise.

When heavy rains fall in most wealthy countries, the water moves along via the public sewage systems.

If you don't have them, the water doesn't move along.  Instead the water pools.

A home that comes down in the midst of storms?

That's probably not Nouri's fault.  That's the effect of the rain (most likely).

But when, for example, rain water -- after the raining stops -- is knee high in Baghdad?

That's on Nouri al-Maliki.

Top photo on this Al Mada page of photos is of the flooding in Baghdad.

al mada

Iraq brings in billions of dollars from oil each month and yet Nouri can't address public services. The crumbling infrastructure has not really been updated since the 70s.

Iraq has another water problem.  Having any.

This is going to become a very pressing issue for Iraq in the 21st century if it's not addressed.

An intelligent leader aware of the rainy season would have been prepared to work the heavy rains to his or her advantage.  That would require constructing water towers.  The basin issue?  That's what the whole region's going to be fighting over.  If I were in charge of Iraq, every major city would have a water tower.

In a largely useless interview on Morning Edition (NPR -- link is text and audio), this exchange took place between host Steve Inskeep and AFP's WG Dunlop:

INSKEEP: We understand that as we were arranging this call, there were power outages in Baghdad. How regular are city services at this point?

DUNLOP: It really varies by area and time. But ultimately, there's not 24-hour power. Many Iraqis have to supplement government-provided power with private generators - either buying generators themselves, or buying lines from local neighborhood generators.

Nouri's first term started in 2006.  And it's 2013.  Yet he's failed to fix the electricity.

Unemployment remains at record highs in Iraq, it's one of the reasons people have protested for over a year. Nouri's failed to provide jobs.

As we've repeatedly noted, every few months Iraq's importing nurses from other countries.  The way you create jobs?  Fast track medical training.  You provide an education for those in need of jobs to become nurses and doctors -- both are heavily needed in Iraq.

But Nouri didn't do that. He didn't do that in 2006 or any time since.  We've noted that he needs to do this since at least 2009.

In November, in search of a campaign issue, he brought it up once and then dropped it.

Also in November, All Iraq News reported, "Iraq has occupied the (130) position globally in terms of economic development indicator in accordance with the general prosperity and welfare world annual pointer of 2013. The report, which was issued by the British Institute (Legatom) in London including (142) countries, is considering many pointers such as the happiness and satisfaction of the people of the country and their ability to plan for better future as well as the financial fortune."

He has been prime minister for over seven years now and he has nothing to show for it, nothing to point to with pride.

He has no accomplishments.

In 2007, he agreed with the White House to a set of benchmarks.

He failed at them.

He failed at them while Bully Boy Bush was in the White House and he's still not accomplished them.

One of them we still hear the foolishness of reporters on.  That would be the oil and gas law.

How long would it take to count up all the 'reports' from news outlets over the years that have told us that Iraq was about to pass an oil and gas law?

Vivienne Walt (Time magazine) noted:

Among the key "benchmarks" for progress in Iraq set by President George W. Bush in January of 2007 was the passage of a new Iraqi oil law. But almost three years on, the controversial legislation setting terms for foreign investment in the country's oil sector, and for distributing its revenues, remains stalled in the legislature. And Iraqi politicians admit it's unlikely to pass before the current parliament is replaced following Iraq's general elections next January.

And she noted that in October 2009.  It's still true.
The January "general elections" she's referring to did take place . . . in  March of 2010.  
Which is why we try to say "scheduled for April 30th" about the supposed upcoming elections. 

Iraq did have elections this year.

This was more failure for Nouri.

The press runs with the poor showing of his State of Law as evidence that his popularity is on the wane.  I don't make that argument.  I do think he's far less popular but these were provincial elections and they're more local elections.

So what do I mean it was a failure for Nouri?

The Kurdistan Regional Government is (currently) three provinces in northern Iraq.  They held their elections in September.  That's fine, the KRG is semi-autonomous.

But Iraq has 18 provinces and that still left fifteen.

One did not vote.  That left fourteen.

April 20th was the day of elections . . . for twelve provinces.

Nouri is deeply unpopular in Anbar and Nineveh Province.

Guess which two weren't allowed to vote in April?

You got it.

In Novmeber, the State Dept's Brett McGurk told Congress, "In the Sunni majority provinces of Ninewa and Anbar, provincial elections had been delayed due to security concerns. We were clear from the outset that this decision was unwise, and pushed to ensure the elections took place, which they did on June 20."

Clear from the outset?

On that -- at least on that -- McGurk told the truth.

In March of this year, Al Jazeera reported the following

Kerry's visit also addressed democratic reforms and upcoming elections which are threatened by sectarian tensions.
The secretary of state has told Iraq's parliamentary speaker the US believes Iraq is facing a serious crisis and is in danger of going backwards, according to an official at the talks.
Iraq's parliamentary speaker told Kerry that a decision earlier this month by the Iraqi government to postpone provincial elections next month in two Sunni-majority provinces due to security concerns is unconstitutional.
The statement said the speaker pointed out to Kerry that security during the last elections four years ago was much worse, and described the delay as a "political decision".

Following this discussion, Kerry says that Maliki agreed to revisit a cabinet decision to delay elections in two Sunni majority provinces next month.

Al Jazeera goes on to tell you that the elections were delayed in the two provinces for security reasons.


That's a lie and part of the continued lying that outlet does for Nouri.

The most violent province was Baghdad -- as cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr pointed out.

It wasn't about violence at all.

Pressed on that, Nouri suddenly announced the delay was because they couldn't prevent voter fraud in those two provinces.

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