Saturday, January 11, 2014

He briefly looks to the economy






One of the points of Nouri's assault on Anbar was to end the ongoing protests in Iraq -- protests against his government -- protests which have lasted over a year.

How'd that work out for al-Maliki?

الجمعة الموحدة في مدينة سامراء: .

That's Samarra.

You may remember Samarra especially due to AP falsely reporting December 30th that the protests had withered away in Samara.  False then, false today.

Brave Iraqis also turned out in Ramadi and Jalawla.

And fearful, scared Nouri resorted to collective punishment again today.   Iraqi Spring MC reports Nouri al-Maliki's air force bombed residential areas in Ramadi today, denied humanitarian aid to Falluja, killed a child named Taha Ayoub Aelchortani and left two more injured with his bombings, bombed homes in Falluja, Ramadi's hospital has received 200 dead or wounded from Nouri's bombings and Falluja has received 150 dead or wounded.  Omar al-Jaffal (Al-Monitor) reports:

Meanwhile, the head of the tribal council in Anbar, Abdul Rahman al-Zobaie from Ramadi, told Al-Monitor, “The army ought to stop the indiscriminate shelling of civilian houses.” He noted, “This has killed and injured hundreds of civilians and destroyed a large number of houses. The government of Anbar ought to expedite measures to meet the needs of the affected families.” 
Zobaie said, “Local police forces are deployed at the entrance of the city, and checkpoints have been established in all areas in Fallujah, [and are] working on protecting the governmental institutions with the support of the tribes. There are no members affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS] as propagated by some politicians and the government of Anbar.” 
He added, “The government of Fallujah, with all its tribal sheikhs and dignitaries, are demanding that the central government and the armed forces stop the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas and withdraw the armed forces, as the [local] police are the only party responsible for managing the crisis.”

AFP notes, "The United Nations and NGOs have said that civilians lack access to essential supplies such as food and fuel as a result of a government blockade, while Human Rights Watch has condemned rights abuses by all sides during the crisis." And there's still little clarity for the western press regarding who's in Falluja with guns.   Isabel Coles (Reuters) reports, "Iraqis fleeing from Falluja question whether the masked gunmen who overran their city 10 days ago are really al Qaeda-linked militants as the government says, but fear their presence will draw a ferocious response from the army regardless."  Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) explains:

Neutral sources in the city confirmed to Al-Monitor that four armed groups are deployed inside the city and on its outskirts:

  • Tribal gunmen: This group of fighters is led by former army officers belonging to the main Dulaim tribes — among them the al-Bou Nimr, al-Farraj, al-Bou Issa and al-Fallaha — besides gunmen from the al-Jamilat, al-Jabour and al-Janabat clans. They have been organizing under the banner of the Tribal Revolutionaries. It is believed that Sheikh Ali al-Hatem al-Salman is personally leading them. Their political and religious reference is the Tribal Revolutionaries’ Council, which is likely led by the Salafist cleric Abu Abdullah al-Janabi.
  • Assorted armed groups: These had fought against US forces and later either disbanded, reduced their activity or joined the Sahwa or Iraqi security forces. They include Hamas-Iraq, Kataeb al-Thawrat al-Ishrin, Jamaat al-Naqshbandi, Jaish al-Mujahidin and Baathist outfits. These groups have Brotherhood and Salafist leaders inside and outside Iraq and coordinate with the Anbar Revolutionaries’ Council.
  • Salafi jihadist organizations: These groups follow al-Qaeda but are not part of ISIS, having split from it after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, rebelled against the global al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. The most prominent of these groups is Jaish Ansar al-Sunna.
  • ISIS: Part of the ISIS contingent came to Fallujah from Ramadi, as noted above, after battles there against Sahwa forces. From there, they journeyed to Fallujah and were joined by local ISIS members as well as fighters from Abu Ghraib and other Baghdad environs.
The picture on the ground is made complex by overlapping forces. No one can say for sure whether there is coordination among these various groups. The most credible information indicates that the Tribal Revolutionaries is the largest, with thousands of fighters affiliated with tribal leaders and clerics, and is native to Fallujah. Meanwhile, outside Fallujah, besides Iraqi Army forces stationed east and north of the city, government Swat police forces have been deployed south and west of it connected to Ramadi. Tribal Sahwa forces are present in the areas of the Swat and army contingents, but are less influential in Fallujah compared to in other cities in Anbar.

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  • Friday, January 10, 2014

    Dan Murphy: King of Fan Fiction





    Failed spokesperson, Hillary Clinton gal-pal and spouse in neocon dynasty Victoria Nuland has weighed in on Iraq.  Failure is rewarded in Barack's administration -- failure and deception.  Which is how Dick Cheney's right-hand ended up in Barack's administration to begin with.  Nuland was interviewed for the Netherlands' Nieuwsuur:

    Question: The last few days we had some very serious news from Iraq.

    Assistant Secretary Nuland: Absolutely.

    Question: Anbar Province. And some commentators are now saying it was a mistake for the United States to leave so soon. Iraq was not ready for it. What are your feelings about this?

    Assistant Secretary Nuland: Obviously we are all watching with concern the situation on the ground in Iraq. I think you know that Vice President Biden was in touch with key Iraqi leaders in the last 36 hours to urge them to work together and to work with tribal leaders and others in the key cities in Fallujah and Ramadi, to say no to terror, to stand up to taking Iraq backwards, and for Iraqis to manage their security together.
    I think you know the backdrop of the U.S. decision. It was an Iraqi decision, how we would work with them going forward, and we have in this instance offered certain kinds of support for their security effort and we’ll continue to do that.

    No, he's not.  Even away from a podium, Victoria Nuland can't stop lying -- no wonder she worked so well with Dick Cheney for so many years.

    What leaders has Vice President Joe Biden spoken to?

    AP reports he finally spoke to KRG President Massoud Barazani today.

    Took his sweet ass time, didn't he?

    How does the US government leave Barazni out of the loop until today?  Barzani is a power player, he is the head of a political dynasty.  You're in a panic over Iraq but can't figure out how to look in the Kurds?

    Hoshyar Zebaria?  That little nobody?  That toad lackey?  Well maybe John Kerry liked speaking to him but Zebari represents no constituency and Goran can't stand him, the Talabani family sees him as an opportunist so exactly what faction does he represent?  The Barzanis?  No.  He represents no one.

    Iraq has no president -- the whole country's in a Constitutional emergency if anyone was smart enough about the law and grasp what was happening.  December 2012 -- not last month, December a year ago, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  He has been out of the country for over a year.  He's propped up every now and then to be posed for pictures.  No video because he can't speak.  And he can't carry out his duties and hasn't been able to for over a year.

    Some want to say the post is 'ceremonial' only -- yeah, well, so's the US Vice Presidency, right?

    Over 15,000 Anbar residents have fled to Erbil -- part of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government.  At what point did you plan to bring them into the conversation?


    No, not even today.

    AP explains Joe used his time today to whine about the KRG's deal with Turkey -- the deal Nouri doesn't like.

    Why the hell has the White House made What Nouri Wants their governing principle?

    Even now, when Joe should be doing the job of bringing in the Kurds, he fails because he's too damn busy whining that the KRG has an oil deal Nouri doesn't like.

    Nouri has certainly  f**ked the White House up the ass for the last five years.

    Bully Boy Bush is a War Criminal but at least he wasn't jerked around in the public square by his puppet Nouri al-Maliki.

    The editorial board of Lebanon's Daily Star offers "U.S. nearing irrelevance."  Five years of doing Nouri's bidding slowly does not become strength by doing it quickly.  The US government is becoming a joke.  Barack's a klutz on the world stage, that's how he managed to spend the second half of 2013 elevating Vladamir Putin up to world leader status.  The White House is running blind, there's no grown up in charge and everyone's in a panic.

    In their panic, they're trying to arm Nouri more and quicker and John T. Bennett (Defense News) notes this criticism:

    “What is shocking is the State Department and the administration had not been more engaging with us on what they’re doing with the Iraqis on this,” a Senate Foreign Relations Committee aide told Defense News Thursday in a telephone conversation that included a second panel aide. “I think the administration has not yet successfully calibrated how to best engage with Congress.”

    Guy Taylor (Washington Times) speaks to Iraq's Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily who parrots the line from Nouri:

    “The administration has to have a better understanding of any adverse impact of any delay in provision of support to Iraq,” Ambassador Lukman Faily told The Washington Times in an interview Wednesday. “It cannot afford a whole town or province of Iraq falling to al Qaeda and becoming a safe haven. It’s against the U.S. strategic interest. It’s against the U.S. national security to do that.”

    When you're playing someone else's game on their terms, you have no influence.  

    If there was adult left in the White House, they'd be focusing their attention on something other than Nouri's narrative and Nouri's wants and desires.

    They'd also be asking why Nouri kicked these events off now?

    Ellen Knickmeyer  (Wall St. Journal) reports:

    Voters in Mr. Maliki's political base in Iraq's largely Shiite south are speaking out, with some urging Iraq's army to attack Fallujah.
    For Mr. Maliki, the reward of a tough response "includes getting the prime minister's ratings [stature] high among ordinary Shiites, who still don't trust the Sunni community and feel uncomfortable [about] the Sunni protests," said Fadel al-Kifaee, a political analyst in Baghdad.

    Mr. Maliki is hoping for a third term as prime minister in national elections in April, said Kournay al-Mulhem, the Berlin-based editor at large for the Iraqi news website Niqash.

    Instead of questioning the events, they're so busy responding to the chaos Nouri's created, they can't even take a moment to think.

    Back to Nuland.

    Question: The Secretary of State said, Kerry said we might send some more weapons, but there will be no boots on the ground, no new boots on the ground. Is it possible for the United States to stay out if Iraq might become another safe haven for terrorists?

    Assistant Secretary Nuland: Again, none of us has a crystal ball but we are focused now with the Iraqis on their capacity as citizens of their country to manage their security issues together, to manage it across confessional lines, to manage it across political lines. That’s what they want to do with our support, with the support of European countries as well. So that’s what we should all be pushing for now. Iraqis being able to manage their own security challenges.

    Question: Can they?

    Assistant Secretary Nuland: Again, that is what they want to be able to do. We need to support them in that and we need to work with them to get the kind of progress that they deserve and that the Iraqi people have suffered a lot to have.

    Question: Were you shocked that the rebels were able to take control of Fallujah which is so important city politically, symbolically?

    Assistant Secretary Nuland: The presence of extremists of this kind, whether it’s in Iraq, whether it’s in Syria, whether it’s in Lebanon, is disturbing to all of us.

    But this was never about terror.  This was about Nouri arresting a political rival and stopping a political protest.

    December 27th, the Iraqi protests continue against Nouri's corrupt government -- a year and a week and counting.  Nouri was furious and vowed publicly, on TV, that the protests would not see another Friday.  Decemeber 28th, he ordered the arrest of Ahmed al-Alwani.  There were a number of problems including that a dawn raid on a person's home left 6 people -- including al-Alwani's brother -- dead.  Equally true, there was no right to arrest him.  He's a Member of Parliament.  He can be arrested by police if they catch him while he's carrying out a crime.  Otherwise, Parliament's got to first vote to strip the MP immunity or there's no arrest.  What's worse than the Constitution not being followed were idiots of Nouri's party stating that saying someone was guilty (charging them) was the same as them being caught in the act.  They are idiots.  December 30th, Nouri's forces attacked the protest squares.

    That's how we get to the attacks and the present mess.

    Doubt it?  Here's Bill van Auken (WSWS) explaining it:

    The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, installed under the US occupation, has pursued an openly sectarian agenda, ruthlessly purging leading Sunni political figures, using the security forces to crack down on the population of Anbar and branding protests against these abuses of power as acts of Al Qaeda terrorism.
    At the end of December, the Maliki regime touched off the present conflict by moving to arrest Ahmed al-Alwany, a prominent Sunni member of parliament in Ramadi—killing his brother and five bodyguards in the process—and then on December 30 sending in security forces to break up a protest encampment that had existed in the same city for months, killing at least 17 more.
    Amid seething popular anger, armed groups, including both the Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and local tribesmen, seized control of police stations, drove out the security forces and set up local checkpoints, effectively taking over Fallujah and much of Ramadi.

    The Obama administration has responded by declaring its full support to Maliki and rushing weapons, including Hellfire missiles, drones and other equipment to his military. It is exerting maximum pressure on Congress to end its delay on shipment of Apache attack helicopters and F-16s to the regime. That this weaponry, in the hands of a regime that has become ever more sectarian and authoritarian, may soon be used to massacre civilians has presented no obstacle to the Obama White House.

    It was not about 'terrorism,' it was about Nouri attacking his political rivals.

    And now he's using the attacks to try to appear strong and the US is backing him -- this is his election strategy.  This is insanity.

    Even right-wing Max Boot (Wall St. Journal) grasps what kicked things off:

    Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has no-one but himself to blame. If he had embraced the Sunni Awakening movement, Iraq likely would have remained relatively peaceful. Instead, the moment that US troops left Iraq, he immediately began victimizing prominent Sunnis.

    Reporter Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) also shows some wisdom:

    The national reconciliation that the US military's "surge" of 30,000 extra troops into the country was supposed to enable never took place. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from the Dawa Party, a Shiite Islamist political movement with close ties to Iran, has governed Iraq with intolerance and arrogance, stubbornly refusing to reach out to Iraq's disenchanted Sunni Arab majority and dismissing almost all of the community's political leaders who stand up to him as terrorists or friends of terrorists.
    Though it may seem strange, this is good news. Because what's happening in Iraq at the moment is not some atavistic expression of "ancient" hatreds and irreconcilable cultural differences. Instead, it's a function of the failure of politics and power sharing in the modern era. And that's the kind of failure that can be rectified if Iraq's leaders, starting with Mr. Maliki, decide to change course from the politics of marginalization and exclusion. 

    Allen G. Breed and Julie Watson (AP) offer this of the November 2004 assault on Falluja:

    For several bloody weeks, the Marines went house-to-house in what has been called some of the heaviest urban combat involving the Corps since the Battle of Hue City, Vietnam, in 1968. Historian Richard Lowry, who interviewed nearly 200 veterans of the Iraq battle, likens it to ''a thousand SWAT teams going through the city, clearing criminals out.''
    ''They entered darkened rooms, kicking down doors, never knowing if they would find an Iraqi family hunkered down in fear or an Islamist terrorist waiting to shoot them and kill them,'' says Lowry, author of the book ''New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah.''

    The most afraid would most likely be the "Iraqi family hunkered down in fear."  It's been nine years, you'd think by now the press could cover Iraq by covering Iraqis.  But you'd be wrong.  Stephen Lendman (Global Research) is one of the few who remembers the actual victims of the slaughters.

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    Thursday, January 09, 2014

    The bad grade







    His nonsense is really insulting, confusing TV talk show hosts with reporters, at a time when so many reporters around the world are being killed. The close of 2013 saw many updates on the continued violence around the world but, as Dirk Adriaensens "2013: Another year of slaughter in Iraq claims the lives of at least 21 media professionals" (BRussells Tribunal) points out, as bad as it seemed it is actually far deadlier for journalists in Iraq than was previously known:

    In Iraq, at least 404 media professionals have been killed since the US invasion in 2003, among them 374 Iraqis, according to The BRussells Tribunal statistics. The impunity in Iraq is far worse than anywhere else in the world.

    Dr. Yasser Salihee (here with his wife Dr. Raghad Wazzan) gave up his job at Yarmouk Hospital to become a journalist.

    In memory of Dr Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for the news agency Knight Ridder, killed on 24 June 2005 by a single bullet of an American sniper as he approached a checkpoint that had been thrown up near his home in western Baghdad by US and Iraqi troops. Since May 2005, Dr. Salihee had been reporting on the similarities between the death squads used in El Salvador to obliterate their “insurgency” and the US military’s creation of the “Wolf Brigade” that had been unleashed to eliminate the Iraqi Resistance. Salihee had been gathering evidence that US-backed Iraqi Ministry of Interior forces had been carrying out extra-judicial killings. We believe that he was assassinated because he came too close to the truth. There is serious doubt that the shooting was “an accident”. Nevertheless, the Committee for The ‘Protection’ of Journalists (CPJ) has thrown Dr Yasser Salihee in the dungeons of history.  He doesn't figure in any of their death lists.  

    While Reporters Without Borders lists 11 Iraqi journalists killed in 2013 and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists lists 12, BRussells Tribunal reveals the actual number is at least 21.
    These murders take place, as Dirk Adriaensens vividly explains, in a lawless nation where killing a journalist matters so little that investigations aren't even launched.
    The Iraqi press sees this and knows this and yet still shows more bravery in reporting than western outlets in Iraq do. Nouri has provided no protection to journalists.  Instead, his forces have attacked and terrorized journalists.  Played a 'joke' of pointing a gun at a New York Times correspondent, kidnapped and beaten journalists who covered the February 2011 protests.  In 2006, his first moves as prime minister was to attack reporters.  He tried to arrest them for covering the violence.  He was humored by the world then and he's been humored ever since.
    As a result, each year is deadlier for journalists in Iraq.
          3 January 2014 – The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom, expressed alarm today at the recent killing of six media workers in two separate incidents in Iraq and called for measures to bring those responsible to justice.

    The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, has condemned the killing of Raad Yassin, Jamal Abdel Nasser, Mohamed Ahmad Al-Khatib, Wissam Al-Azzawi and Mohamed Abdel Hamid in an attack on Salaheddin TV in Tikrit, and of Omar Al-Dulaimy in the city of Ramadi.

    “Once again I call on the authorities to do all they can to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice,” she said in a statement issued by the Paris-based agency, which adds: “The escalation of violence against the media in Iraq is intolerable as it poses a severe threat to national reconciliation and reconstruction.”

    Omar Al-Dulaimy was killed on 31 December, while covering armed clashes in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, where he worked as a correspondent for the Voice of Ramadi radio, a station broadcasting in Anbar province.

    Five members of Salaheddin TV— chief news editor Raad Yassin, producer Jamal Abdel Nasser, cameraman Mohamed Ahmad Al-Khatib, presenter Wissam Al-Azzawi and archives manager Mohamed Abdel Hamid — were killed in a suicide attack on the headquarters of their television station in Tikrit on 23 December. 
    From UNESCO, let's go to UNAMI's statement released today:
    Baghdad, 8 January 2014 - The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, said that the UN is working closely with the Iraqi national and regional authorities as well as with humanitarian partners to ensure safe passage for humanitarian assistance and emergency supplies to both the stranded and displaced families of Anbar province.
    “There is a critical humanitarian situation in Anbar province which is likely to worsen as operations continue. The UN agencies are working to identify the needs of the population and prepare medical supplies, food and non-food items for distribution if safe passage can be ensured. This remains a primary challenge. The situation in Fallujah is particularly concerning as existing stocks of food, water and life-saving medicines begin to run out. According to our preliminary assessment, over 5,000 families have fled the fighting and sought refuge in the neighbouring provinces of Karbala, Salahadine, Baghdad and elsewhere. The UN is working with the Ministry of Displacement and Migration to identify their needs and meet them immediately," Mr. Mladenov said.
    Not a minor point.
    People are dying and, just as in the two attacks on Anbar in 2004, the western press wants to pretend like no one's being hurt except some 'bad guys.'  In November 2004, they lied and pretended everyone was out when the US government attacked.  No one lied harder than the New York Times' Dexter Filkins who even won a little prize for his lies -- while failing to share it with the US military censors who revamped and then cleared his copy (explaining the 8 day delay for it to make it into the paper -- the press moved faster in the days of the Pony Express).
    People died.
    People are dying now.  
    Anbar is a very populated province.  It is thought to have 1.5 million people (Iraq's not had a census in decades).  
    Human Rights Watch realizes there are lives at risk.  They issued a statement which opens:
    Iraqi government forces appear to have used indiscriminate mortar fire in civilian neighborhoods in Anbar province, and al-Qaeda fighters and armed men from local groups have deployed in and attacked from populated areas. Apparently unlawful methods of fighting by all sides have caused civilian casualties and severe property damage. A government blockade of Fallujah and Ramadi has resulted in limited access to food, water, and fuel for the population.
    Based on numerous reports and accounts by local residents in interviews with Human Rights Watch, government security forces responded to attacks by al-Qaeda armed groups on the night of January 1, 2014, with mortar and gunfire into residential areas, in some cases with apparently no al-Qaeda presence. The security forces then surrounded the cities, witnesses said.
    “The government urgently needs to deal with the threat from al-Qaeda, but killing their own citizens unlawfully is not the way,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Civilians have been caught in the middle in Anbar, and the government appears to be doing nothing to protect them.”
    This is a tragedy for Anbar.  It is a tragedy for the Iraqi people.
    This is from the Human Rights Watch statement:
    In Fallujah, the army closed the main eastern, northern, and southern checkpoints, refusing to allow any people, medicine, or food to enter or leave the city through these checkpoints. Fallujah residents said that security forces allowed families with children to leave the city through the two other checkpoints, but only with “extreme difficulty,” and, as of January 8, have continued to refuse to allow single men to leave. Army forces continue to surround Ramadi, but residents reported that they were able to leave the city. On January 8, the Erbil governorate announced that 13,000 Anbari residents had fled into Erbil province.
    Residents told Human Rights Watch that as of January 6, the army blockade and intermittent heavy fighting had prevented residents from getting sufficient food, water, electricity, and fuel. On January 3, the Iraqi Red Crescent reported that it sent convoys with food aid to both cities but could not enter because of heavy fighting. On January 5, Anbar’s provincial council described the humanitarian situation in Fallujah as “catastrophic.”
    In a post on his Facebook page on January 8, a Ramadi resident, Omar al-Shaher, reported that al-Qaeda fighters had fought army forces that afternoon in the city’s Sharia 60 neighborhood. He said the army used drones to fire on the al-Hamiria bridge, which connects the neighborhood to desert areas outside the city. Al-Shaher said that Ramadi’s al-Malaab, Ziraha, Sharia 60, and Albu Jaber areas remained unstable and that residents feared that a “huge battle” was soon to come.
    An employee in Fallujah’s main hospital reported that mortar fire from army shelling had killed 25 Fallujah residents and injured 190 since the fighting began on December 30, 2013, all resulting from the shrapnel, the employee said. The areas of the city the employee said the casualties came from are all areas where, according to residents, al-Qaeda was not present.
    US President Barack Obama's denied giving Nouri armed drones so where did the armed drones come from?  Or is the press going to ignore that like they ignore so much?
    'Analysts' ignore a lot as well.  The Brookings Institution postss:
    Noting that the Obama administration tried to keep forces in Iraq in 2011, an offer rejected by the Iraqi government, [Michael] O'Hanlon said that "I'd be willing to see several hundred Americans or even a couple thousand of special operations persuasions, of intelligence backgrounds, go and help the Iraqis if the Iraqis can decide they want that help."
    Would Michael be willing to see that?  If he's an analyst, he should probably first acknowledge that Special-Ops were sent back in during the fall of 2012.  September 2012, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

    Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

    If you can't be honest maybe you should just not say anything?
    Then again, maybe we have to be grateful for partial honesty?
    Retired US Col Peter Mansoor (Defense One) gets it partly right when examining the roots for today's problems:
    Despite this promising beginning, the situation in Iraq began to spiral downward after the election of 2010 when the winner, Ayad Allawi, was sidelined in favor of another Maliki term in a backroom deal cut in Tehran. Sunni Arabs became disenchanted with the political process, increasingly dominated by an authoritarian prime minister who used the security forces and courts to pursue his political agenda. The withdrawal of the last U.S. combat forces from Iraq in 2011 gave Maliki a green light to further these policies; his pursuit of Tarik al-Hashemi and other Sunni politicians deepened Sunni discontent. The way was open for the revitalization of al-Qaeda in Iraq, once left for dead after the manifest successes of the Awakening and the surge.
    Iran can be credited.  They strong armed cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr to drop his opposition to Nouri.  But that's not how Nouri got his second term.  There was still the problem of the votes and the will of the Iraqi people and a little thing called the Constitution.  Barack had US officials broker the extra-constitutional Erbil Agreement which went around all of that to provide Nouri a second term.  Mansoor's told half the truth and it's a sign of just how many lies are out there that I feel like shouting "THANK YOU!" to him at the top of my lungs.
    He's targeted one Sunni politician after another.  But he's just accused of it?  He refused to the power-sharing agreement outlined in The Erbil Agreement but he's just accused of running a sectarian Shia-dominated regime?
    Wow, thank goodness for the bravery of Al Jazeera America.  Next up, they're expose on tooth pastes that promise more than they deliver.
    David Welna (All Things Considered, NPR) plays stupid as well, "At the White House earlier this week, spokesman Jay Carney wondered aloud just what the president's critics might want, beyond the Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones that are being sent to Iraq."
    If you don't know what happened then maybe stop flapping your gums.  Had the White House not backed Nouri for a second term and sided with Iraqi voters, Ahmed Chalabi would be in charge.
    Is he a nicer person that Nouri?

    I don't know.  
    But the US government consensus was he'd be a better and more inclusive ruler.  The Iraqi people spoke in the election of 2010 and spoke for a united Iraq which is why they chose a Shi'ite leader (Allawi) of a mixed political party (Shi'ite and Sunni). 
    Sunni voters alone could not have allowed Iraqiya to beat State of Law.  It was Sunnis and Shias working together for the future of Iraq.  That was a powerful moment, it had been building in the 2009 elections.  The US could have backed up that powerful future.  Instead Barack spat on democracy and let a despot have a second term the people didn't give him.
    And the results aren't surprising.  Barack saw the same CIA personality disorder analysis on Nouri that Bully Boy Bush saw.  These were the liabilities outlined if Nouri's paranoia and narcissism weren't 'managed.'
    And Barack not only gave him a second term, he's armed him while Nouri's attacked Iraqis.  Nouri's over the Ministry of the Interior (in a power grab, he refused to nominate anyone to head the Ministry) and that's who targeted the gay and emo youth, went around to schools encouraging kids to kill them, said that they sucked blood and were vampires -- Now, of course, the Ministry denied it.  And that might have been end of story but both Alsumaria and Al Mada had copies of the official handout from the Ministry that was given to students on each of these 'teachable moments.'  That's only one example.
    Nouri's a thug.  And Barack keeps arming him.  Josh Rogin (Daily Beast) reports:
    As Iraqi army forces prepare to mount an offensive to take back control of the city of Fallujah from al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), the Obama administration is in a full court press to urge Congress to allow the sale of dozens of Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters the Maliki government has been seeking for years. Both the House Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had been holding up the sales, out of concern Maliki will use them against his domestic political enemies. Senators in both parties also lament Maliki’s increasingly sectarian style of governing and his alleged cooperation with Iran to aid the Syrian regime.
    The Daily Beast has learned that the House Foreign Affairs Committee has now dropped its hold on the Apache sales but one senior senator still refuses to allow it to go through – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Congressional aides said Tuesday that Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns has been lobbying Menendez to release his hold on the sales and Burns has also been reaching out to other senators who have problems with Maliki. 
    I'm not calling Rogin a liar but if the House Foreign Affairs Committee has dropped their hold without making any conditions for Nouri to turn over the seven Ashraf hostages?  I think a number of people may not be serving on that Committee after the 2014 elections.

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    Wednesday, January 08, 2014

    White House pushes back







    This wave of violence was kicked off by Nouri's forces storming the home of an MP in Anbar and when Osama al-Nujaifi attempted to lead an investigation into Nouri's actions that left six people dead, al-Nuajifi was prevented from leaving Baghdad.

    This and so much more really going on in Falluja gets ignored.  Kieran Kelly (Dissident Voice) reports:

    Behind the scenes, however, Shafaq News reports that some government sources admit that the claims are a deliberate deception. One source describes the government stance as: “Deliberate confusion in the information and attempts to create a dangerous atmosphere in the city to be dealt with in a militarily way in every way,” but in reality, “Fallujah and even other cities are still experiencing quieter days than before”. By citing Al Qaeda and linking it to the brutal terrorist mass-murder campaign as well as alleged ambitions to create an entire state, the Iraqi government may be working towards justifying unleashing high levels of military violence on Fallujah, but who really is controlling Fallujah?

    Instead of focusing on real issues like Kieran Kelly, everyone seems to be defocusing.

    NewsBusters is a right wing media watchdog.  They often do good work.  They often are outright stupid.  Kyle Dreenen's worship of Bully Boy Bush is as embarrassing as Media Matters worship of Barack Obama.  If Dreenen focused less on rescuing his heart throb and more on doing media criticism, he could have nailed Brian Williams.  The first quote he offers from Williams is, "US fighting forces are gone from Iraq.  But as so many predicted when President Bush chose to go to war there after 9/11, the fighting has started up again."  Well, they're not gone, US forces remain in Iraq and Barack's too damn stupid to make that a talking point which allows the right-wing to clobber him with 'you pulled all the forces out of Iraq!'

    But the important sentence is that second sentence.

    If you were opposed to the Iraq War and speaking out before it started -- I was -- then that second sentence is startling: "But as so many predicted when President Bush chose to go to war there after 9/11, the fighting has started up again."  We were the voices that were silenced by NBC, by ABC, by CBS, by CNN, and by MSNBC  -- though screamed at and derided, we got a better hearing on Fox than anywhere else.  We were the voices Cokie Roberts dubbed "none that mattered."

    Yet now Brian Williams wants to note us?  (And NewsBusters, you're right-wing critique of Williams is that if all these voices were saying it ahead of the war, why weren't they on the media.  You should be accusing Williams of attempting to re-write history.)

    Bully Boy Bush started the illegal war (with the help of his powder puff gal squad Tony Blair and John Howard).  In 2006, the Iraqi Parliament wanted to name Ibrahim al-Jaafari to a second term as prime minister.  The White House refused to allow that to happen.  Nouri had no militia and, most importantly, he had an intelligence dossier that insisted he was easily manipulated and controlled.  So he was installed as the US puppet.  The paranoia that made him so easy to  trick also made him prone to attacks on the Iraqi people.  In 2010, the Iraqi people voted and Nouri's State of Law lost to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.  Iraq should have been free of the despot.  But Samantha Power and Susan Nuclear Rice argued that Nouri must have a second term. Barack idiotically agreed.

    So the Iraqi people watched as the US government created a legal contract, The Erbil Agreement, that gave Nouri a second term despite the votes.

    Then came the end of the SOFA and Barack bungled that as well.  Because, let's be honest, he's so damn stupid.  I'm glad he is, I'm glad the bulk of US troops are out of Iraq.  But the SOFA fell apart because Barack didn't understand the difference between rule and letter of the law.  Exiting Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had attempted to educate Barack on SOFAs but to no use.  New Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta thought he had conveyed the realities to Barack but he hadn't.  Then again, maybe Barack wasn't stupid, maybe he just didn't want a large number of troops in Iraq either?

    Regardless what was agreed to and could have been implemented to keep around 9,000 to 15,000 US troops in the country was set aside.  A number of forces remained in Iraq after the drawdown (which the press billed as a "withdrawal" and of course he sent in Special-Ops in the fall of 2012.  Today, only Ewen MacAskill (Guardian) can note, "The CIA, which retained a presence in Iraq after the 2011 US troop withdrawal, is reported to be involved in helping with co-ordination of intelligence as well as targeting Hellfire missiles. In addition, there are 200 US military advisers left after the withdrawal."

    As long as he continues to lie about that, he'll continue to be attacked for it.

    Michael Crowley (Time magazine) leads the attack today by noting candidate Barack's promises:

    “We will need to retain some forces in Iraq and the region,” Obama said. “We’ll continue to strike at al-Qaeda in Iraq.”
    Obama made the point repeatedly: “In ending the war, we must act with more wisdom than we started it,” he said a month earlier. “That is why my plan would maintain sufficient forces in the region to target al-Qaeda within Iraq.”
    And in a February 2008 primary debate, moderator Tim Russert pressed Obama on whether there were any circumstances that would lead him to re-escalate in Iraq: “Do you reserve a right as American president to go back into Iraq, once you have withdrawn?” Russert asked.
    “If al-Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad,” Obama responded.
    Six years later, even with al-Qaeda showing alarming strength in Iraq — and across the border in Syria — nobody thinks Obama will “go back into Iraq” anytime soon. As Secretary of State John Kerry put it Sunday: “This is a fight that belongs to the Iraqis.”

    There are two huge mistakes the US government made with Iraq beginning in 2003.  The first was Bully Boy Bush's decision to invade.  The second was Barack Obama overruling the votes of the Iraqi people to give Nouri a second term.

    Violence continues with a stun bomb in Basra, the Iraqi Air Force bombing Anbar, military helicopters bombing Ramadi, and more.  And what may be most appalling is how little any of this is understood.  The editorial board of the Journal Democrat offers "Editorial: Let Iraqi fight this war" and while their conclusion may make sense, their reasoning doesn't.

    Are we retroactively stupid?

    The editorial board is: al Qaeda!!!!

    In real time it was called "insurgents."  It's as though their minds have turned to mush.  And if we could acknowledge the reality that Anbar has always been a zone of resistance, we might be able to better understand what is taking place right now instead of reducing it to the comic book nature of 'al Qaeda.'

    What's going on in Iraq?

    Here's how the Libertarian Ed Krayewski (Reason) describes it:

    You’d be forgiven if, while looking at recent headlines about Iraq, you thought it was the aughts again. Fallujah, the site of some of the most intense fighting during the U.S. war in Iraq, is again at the center of political violence in that country. Over the weekend, the city fell to Al Qaeda-linked fighters who declared an independent Islamist state there. Iraq’s prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, in power since 2006, has urged residents in Fallujah to fight back. Neighboring Iran, meanwhile, has offered to help expel Al Qaeda from the city while last month Iraq turned to the United States, requesting it send drones and missiles to help battle the Al Qaeda-linked Islamists. Seventy-five Hellfire missiles reportedly arrived in Iraq on December 19, and drones were supposed to be on their way, too. The fighting in Fallujah was a culmination of a year of increasing political violence in Iraq. 

    The periodical is called Reason so is it really too much to suppose they might use reason?

    Nouri picked a fight last week and -- at least  initially -- he's lost. He's now demanding that the people of Falluja do what he could not.  In what world is that acceptable?

    Do they have Hellfire missiles, these residents of Falluja?

    He's already made the residents victims of collective punishment -- collective punishment is a War Crime -- and now he's not saying, "We will rescue you," he's screaming, "Fix my mess!!!"

    ABC News Radio adds:

    Ross Caputi, a former Marine who fought in the second battle for the city and is now an outspoken critic of U.S. intervention in Iraq, told ABC News recently that he’d watched his friends die there “for the purposes of regime change and furthering business interests friendly to the Bush administration.”
    “[Now] Iraqis will die there to further the interests of [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki’s government,” he said.

    Caputi's is a lone voice of honesty.  More often we get the likes of  NPR's Larry Kaplow:

    Yet again, Iraqi civilians are fleeing violence in Iraq's sprawling western province of Anbar. Years of under-the-radar daily tension and bloodshed has erupted into another al-Qaida surge and retaliatory Iraqi government airstrikes.

    I'm sorry, are you a liar or an idiot, Kaplow?  Over 100,000 were fleeing on Friday and they were fleeing the government attacks. Fighters had not then seized control of Falluja (that would come Saturday).  Kaplow had his head up his ass as usual and missed that reality.

    Lauren Hood (ITV News) offers a video report on the battle in Ramadi including footage the Iraqi government released of them attacking 'al Qaeda' -- two lone pick up truck.  Not even enough for a tailgate party but that qualifies for a terrorist cell?  Right-winger Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary) is convinced that Americans are getting too friendly with Iran and appears to be laying the preliminary groundwork for show trials to come.  Left-wing aymaan30 (allvoices) accepts the ready made construct but at least has the sense of mind to note:

    Iraq needs a representative democracy and it won’t be realized unless Nouri al-Maliki stops Shia-appeasement and Sunni marginalization.
    Moreover, if the United States continues to support a Shia-controlled Iraq and ignores the Sunni marginalization, the march of Iraq into the pit of religious theocracy and sectarian bloodshed would continue.
    Simply developing a holistic strategy to isolate the al-Qaeda would be a palliative gesture. At the same time, Hellfire missiles and drones are not going to solve this problem. In fact, these moves will make it worse. 

    But it's weapons and weapons, billions of dollars worth of weapons.  Amaani Lyle (DoD's American Forces Press Service) quotes Army Col Steven Warren declaring today, "We're expediting delivery of 10 operational ScanEagles for part of the original purchase, as well as an additional four nonoperational ScanEagles, which will be sent to help facilitate maintenance of the original 10."  Yes, that must be the answer.  After all, the US government has only provided Iraq with $14 billion in weaponry and training since 2005.  You might think, "$14 billion?  Doesn't the country just have something like 32 million people?  What the heck?"  Indeed.  The problem isn't a lack of weapons or not enough weapons, the problem is a non-inclusive government which continues to penalize and terrorize Sunnis.

    In yesterday's snapshot, I noted we'd come back to Monday's State Dept press briefing by spokesperson Marie Harf:

    QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, there’s been strong criticism of the performance of president – or Prime Minister Maliki towards the uprising in Anbar long before ISIS showed up. How do you guarantee that all these weapons that you’re giving to him to fight ISIS is not going to be used against his political opponent?

    MS. HARF: In terms of what we’re selling to the Iraqi Government?

    QUESTION: Yeah. All the assistance that he’s been asking them to combat ISIS --

    MS. HARF: Well, it’s to the Iraqi Government. It’s not to any one person in the Iraqi Government. I should be clear about that. Obviously, we’re close partners with them. We work together on all these issues. I have no indication that anything we have given them is being used in any nefarious way. I’m happy to check with our folks.

    No, it's not 'to the Iraqi Government.'  It's too Nouri al-Maliki.

    The US government brokered The Erbil Agreement to give Nouri a second term as prime minister.  In that contract, the other political blocs went along with a second term in exchange for a power-sharing government.  That did not happen.  Nouri didn't keep his word and the US government did not demand that he keep his word.  In addition, failure to nominate people to head the security posts were a power grab on Nouri's part.  Add in that the country's without a president.  For 13 months now, Jalal Talabani has been in Germany.  He's not well enough to hold office and the Constitution has yet again been ignored.

    This all goes to the fact that there is no Iraqi government, there is only a despot named Nouri who has been put in charge.

    As has too often been the case in the last few years, The Economist has a better grasp of the issues than most outlets:

    But the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham has also flourished because there has been passive acceptance by Iraqi Sunnis who believe their government and security forces are against them. The Iraqi army is so unpopular in Anbar that in the summer it withdrew to the outskirts of the cities, adding to the lack of security that allowed extremists to regroup.
    Mr Maliki, a Shia, has largely marginalised Iraq’s Sunni minority, ignoring the demands of protests over the past year. Iraqi prisons full of young Sunni men, in some cases arrested along with their wives and children, political exclusion and lack of economy opportunities have fuelled ongoing protests in Anbar and other Sunni areas.  The final straw came on December 30th when the Iraqi army tore down a protest camp in Ramadi, later arresting a prominent Sunni parliamentarian.

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  • Tuesday, January 07, 2014

    The page turner






     Today Saad Abedine and Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) note that Nouri has publicly told his thugs not to attack the residential neighborhoods.
    Really?  Shame he couldn't have made that last week when his thugs were attacking homes with mortars and bombs.
    For example, this AFP report.

    There's a pushback taking place and all the whoring from Joshy and others can't change it.

    Some of the criticism the White House  is facing?

  • Reuters: "al Qaeda bursts back to life in Iraq". Too many American lives and hundreds of billions of $'s later, this is what we get??

  • Obama in 2007: "my plan would maintain sufficient forces in the region to target al Qaeda within Iraq." Never mind.

  • Maybe it's time for the White House and its cheerleaders to acknowledge Barack sent Special-Ops in during the fall of 2012 and it didn't do any good?

    Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports, "Iraq's prime minister urged people in the besieged city of Falluja on Monday to drive out al Qaeda-linked insurgents to preempt a military offensive that officials said could be launched within days."  Nouri couldn't drive them out so he insists the people of Falluja do his work?  Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) adds, "Civilians were reportedly fleeing in droves from Fallouja, a city of 300,000 that witnessed some of the worst violence of the 2003-2011 U.S. occupation of Iraq when Al Qaeda-backed militants sought to drive out the foreign forces.

    Mick Krever (CNN) reports:

    The Iraqi government’s “increasingly authoritarian” policies that have “marginalized Sunnis” have contributed to the worst violence in that country in years, Former U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq Meghan O'Sullivan told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.
    “There needs to be a lot of changes in the policies of the government of Iraq in order for this threat to be neutralized,” she said.

    Violence in Iraq is the worst in years, and part of the city of Falluja may have already fallen into the control of an al-Qaeda affiliated group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

    What Nouri's unleashed on Anbar Province is collective punishment and that's a War Crime.  Only Nineveh Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi seems to grasp that.  All Iraq News quotes him stating:

    The military leaders must know that the mass punishment is one type of crimes. These crimes cannot be neglected and can be seen anywhere in the world, despite the number of terrorists in Fallujah where shelling the city is a mass punishment for the citizens in Fallujah.

    Nouri terrorizing Anbar did nto stop the violence today.   National Iraqi News Agency reports a Shirqat bombing left seven people injured, an attack on an Abu Ghraib checkpoint left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead and three more injured, 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Balad, Sheikh Hussein Rakan Hussein al-Niami died in Tikrit today from wounds he received a few weeks ago,  a Samarra roadside bombing claimed the life of 2 people and left four more injured, security forces killed 8 fighters in Jurf al-Sakhar, a Tuz-Khormato car bombing claimed 3 lives and left thirteen people injured,  a Mosul roadside bombing left two police members and one civilian injured, a Jorfissakhar mortar attack left nine people injured,  2 fighters were shot dead in Abu Ghraib and a third injured, 1 fighter was shot dead at an Udhaim checkpoint, an armed clash east of Ramadia left 3 fighters dead and seven more injured, "The security force killed in a security operation carried out today in south of Mosul, two leading members of Daish in Qayyarah, and Shurah areas , and arrested 42 wanted in the same areas," and "The Army Aviation in coordination with the operations of Baghdad , killed ( Bashir Alewi Markab) in Garma area northeast of Fallujah."  All Iraq News adds 1 corpse was discovered in Mosul.

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