Saturday, June 21, 2014

Another bad report card






How bad is it?  Longtime Nouri enabler and minimizer Patrick Cockburn (Indpendent) writes today, "Isolated and discredited by humiliating military defeat, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is likely to go soon, battered as he is by only slightly veiled demands for his immediate departure from powerful figures who once supported him."  Dave Zweifel (Madison Cap Times) offers, "If al-Maliki can't reach -- or more likely, refuses to reach -- an agreement with other factions to share in Iraq's government, then we need to walk away."

Why is he right?  Dave Zweifel is right.  You can argue he's right because Nouri has committed War Crimes, had journalists arrested and beaten, beaten and killed protesters and bred violence and division in the country.

I would certainly agree with all those reasons.

But there's another reason and it's one the press hasn't paid attention to.

Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

Wednesday night on The NewsHour (PBS -- link is text, audio and video), Judy Woodruff moderated a discussion between Senator Tim Kaine and Senator John McCain.  We'll note this:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Should the U.S. be providing military — more military assistance to Iraq right now?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Judy, the question is a little bit premature, because what we really need — and there is a process — the way this is supposed to work is the president will come to us and lay out what he thinks is the preferred option.
And then, after consulting with Congress, we will go forward. I expect that he will do that soon. He’s already been in significant consultation, not only with leadership, but with others like me, but when he does come, there’s going to be some hard questions.
Maliki — we had the opportunity. The U.S. wanted the stay in Iraq and Maliki basically kicked us out. He didn’t want us to stay. Then he ignored all the advice that we and others gave him about how to govern Iraq, to try to do it in a way that brought Kurds and Sunnis and Shias together. Instead, he’s run Iraq for Shias and marginalized, even oppressing Sunni and Kurds.
And so this extremism, the Sunni extremism, has been a predictable consequence of that, in my view. They’re horrible people doing horrible things, but he’s given them an opening by governing in such an autocratic way.
So, if it’s just a matter of, do we come in now to back up Maliki with military force after he kicked us out and after he’s governed the wrong way, that would be foolish. What we should be first talking about is, are there reforms that the Iraqis are willing to make to try to demonstrate to all in the country that they are all going to be treated equally?
Those kind of reforms really are the things that have to happen before we decide what kind of assistance we should provide.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you have had raised a couple of things. And let me just pick them one by one.
In terms of the reforms, Prime Minister Maliki says he has reached out, for example, to Sunnis. He’s brought them — he’s given them a role in his government. He says, in essence, that it’s just wrong to say that he has not reached out.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Virtually every objective account that we have heard from Iraq experts here, not only folks connected with the administration, State Department, DOD, but NGOs and others, suggest just the contrary, that he has ignored that advice and that he has run this government for Shias with the strong support of the Shia-based government in Iran, and he has done it in a way that has marginalized Sunnis and marginalized Kurds.
And that’s why they’re not coming to his aid right now.

We'll note McCain now publicly favors "boots on the ground" but we're not interested in his comments.  Not because he's a Republican but because Kaine came close to something, circled around it -- like Cher with a note she never quite hits -- but never got to it.  We'll cover it in Friday's snapshot.  We are by no means done with this topic.

We keep hearing various voices saying 'Maliki kicked us out.'

There's actually much worse than no SOFA, there's wasted billions.  Yes, some of it was supposedly brought back in, some of the US taxpayer millions were not wasted, supposedly.

I mean "supposedly" because it's the State Dept which operated without any oversight during Barack's first term -- something that reporters should be hitting Hillary Clinton on hard.  John Kerry wasn't Secretary of State for more than nine months when he made good on his promise to have an IG for the State Dept -- a position that was empty for Hillary's entire four years as Secretary of State.

It matters and reporters should be asking her why she felt she was above oversight.

Because she felt that way, the country still doesn't know what was done with all the money, there are several ongoing investigations trying to determine whether the State Dept lost money, had it stolen or what.

But, at it's most basic, Barack's plan for Iraq is to provide assistance and training.

Let's speak very slowly because some people don't get other governments.

In the United States, Barack Obama is president.  He nominates people to be in the Cabinet.  For example, he nominated Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense.  The Senate confirmed that nomination, voted for Hagel.  Hagel is now Secretary of State.  If Barack is unhappy with Hagel's performance, he will ask for Hagel's resignation.  By custom -- though not by law -- Hagel would then resign.

It's different in Iraq.  The president is not the head of their country and not elected in a general election.  The head of their country is the prime minister -- also not elected in a general election.  Parliament elects a prime minister-designate.  The prime minister -- if he or she abides by the Constitution -- has 30 days to name a Cabinet -- that's a full Cabinet.  It's the only rule for moving from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  In 2010, Nouri got a second term via the extra-constitutional and US-brokered Erbil Agreement so he didn't have to abide by the Constitution.

He refused to nominate people to head the three security ministries.  That includes the Ministry of the Interior which is over the federal police.  Let's say Nouri had wanted Chuck Hagel for that spot and Hagel had wanted that spot and taken Iraqi citizenship.  If Nouri had nominated him and Parliament had approved him, Chuck Hagel would be Minister of the Interior.  If Nouri decided he didn't want Chuck after the vote, Nouri had no say.

Hagel could stay on.  Hagel is not required to step down.  The only one who can remove Hagel from office is the Parliament.  So if Nouri nominates someone and the Parliament votes them into that office, they basically own that office for the full term.

Nouri staged a power grab -- unconstitutional and no one wanted to call it out and very few even wanted to mention it.  One exception would be CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq.  Another would be Nussaibah Younis whose October 2012 "Time to Get Tough on Iraq" (New York Times) offered a number of important observations including:

Even apart from the Syrian crisis, the United States should be getting tough on the Maliki regime to prevent Iraq's descent into authoritarianism. Although Prime Minister Maliki's first term had its successes, including the "Charge of the Knights" attack against Shiite militias in Basra in 2008, Prime Minister Maliki has become increasingly consumed by his own dictatorial ambitions. And a number of his actions have heightened sectarian tensions in Iraq. He cut a deal with the extremist Shiite party led by Moktada al-Sadr. He reneged on a promise to meaningfully include the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya list in government. He presided over what's being seen as a witch hunt against leading Sunni politicians, culminating in the sentencing to death in absentia of Iraq's vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi.
In addition, Mr. Maliki's government is plagued by incompetence, corruption and a contempt for human rights; ordinary citizens are fast losing confidence in the power of the democratic system. Mr. Maliki has further undermined Iraq's independent institutions, such as the electoral commission and the Iraqi central bank, by bringing them under his direct custodianship. And, most dangerously of all, he is concentrating power over Iraq's entire security apparatus in his hands by refusing to appoint permanent ministers to lead the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of the Interior and National Security Council. 

Nouri put puppets in as 'acting' ministers.  They're not ministers.  They do what he tells them or he pulls them out of the post.  They've never been voted on by Parliament so they can't act independently.  They have no real power.

They are the voice of Nouri.

Hopefully, we're all on the same page now and we can get to why that matters in terms of Barack's plan.

He declared, "Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the [police training] program? Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States. I think that might be a clue." 
The State Dept's Brooke Darby faced that Subcommittee. Ranking Member Gary Ackerman noted that the US had already spent 8 years training the Iraq police force and wanted Darby to answer as to whether it would take another 8 years before that training was complete? 
 Her reply was, "I'm not prepared to put a time limit on it." She could and did talk up Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior Adnan al-Asadi as a great friend to the US government. 
But Ackerman and Subcommittee Chair Steve Chabot had already noted Adnan al-Asadi, but not by name. That's the Iraqi official, for example, Ackerman was referring to who made the suggestion "that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States." He made that remark to SIGIR Stuart Bowen.
8 years. 8 years of training last November. And for Fiscal Year 2013, the State Dept wants $149.6 million dollars to train yet another year?
From that hearing:
Ranking Member Gary Ackerman: When will they be willing to stand up without us?
Brooke Darby: I wish I could answer that question.
Ranking Member Gary Ackerman: Then why are we spending money if we don't have the answer?
[long pause]
Ranking Member Gary Ackerman: You know, this is turning into what happens after a bar mitzvah or a Jewish wedding. It's called "a Jewish goodbye." Everybody keeps saying goodbye but nobody leaves.

The State Dept still can't answer Ackerman's question: "When will they be willing to stand up without us?" They can't even answer his second question: "Then why are we spending money if we don't have the answer?"

The above coves two issues.  Let's grab the first one.  Didn't the US government already spend millions and spend years trying to train the forces?

What's different now?

I think an argument can be made that the mass desertions from the security forces -- nearly 400,000 deserted this month by some reports -- results from Iraqis in the security forces being conflicted about attacking their fellow citizens.  That happened in 2008 when Nouri sent security forces to attack Basra.  Some people are surely thinking "I don't want to get killed" and who could blame them for that?  But there's also the issue of Iraqis being asked to kill one another.

How do you deal with that?

I don't know that you do. Again, asking soldiers to attack their fellow citizens is always risking desertion -- that's been true in century after century, country after country.

It's worse in Iraq because you've had Nouri attacking Sunnis for everything in the last four years.  He ran off the Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and tortured Tareq's staff and bodyguards to try to get them to provide forced confessions -- at least one bodyguard died of kidney damage as a result of this torture. Further harming Nouri on just this one example,  Tareq was not only found guilty in absentia by a Baghdad court that had publicly declared his guilt months before the trial started but he was also repeatedly -- four or five times -- sentenced to death by this court.  That surpasses "excessive" and borders on "obsessive." Other Sunni politicians have been targeted, Sunni activists have been targeted, Sunnis have been disappeared into the prison systems leaving their families not even knowing if their loved ones are still alive, Sunni girls and women have been tortured and raped in Nouri's detention centers, jails and prisons . . .  It doesn't matter if you're Sunni or Shi'ite, that has to bother you.  So when Nouri orders an assault on Sunnis, all of that is factored in and weighs on those being ordered to carry out the asault.

For Barack's proposals to succeed at the most limited definition of success requires Nouri al-Maliki to step aside.  Training will be wasted -- US training -- and advising unless Nouri goes.

That's one issue from the above.  The above contains another issue as well.

Now let's talk about the 'acting' Minister of the Interior. That's Deputy Minister Adnan al-Asadi. He is one of the Iraqis Ranking Member Ackerman referred to in the November 30th hearing, "Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector Generals how utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue."
Adnan al-Asadi was not Minister of the Interior.  He was 'acting' (for four years) and doing Nouri's bidding.
Adnan al-Asadi is who stated, to SIGIR, in 2012, that the US government should spend the money set aside for training Iraqi forces instead on programs in the US. Two years ago, Nouri didn't want training and assistance.  If this is news to you, you should refer to  the Office of the Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction's [PDF format warning] "Iraq Police Development Program: Lack Of Iraqi Support And Security Problems Raise Questions About The Continued Viability Of The Program."
That report found that the US State Dept had wasted ("de facto waste") approximately $206 million in training the Iraqi police since they took over October 1, 2011. How so? They spent $98 million on a Basra training facility and $108 million on a Baghdad training facility.
And what happened to those facilities?
The US taxpayers footed the bill and the State Dept, after Nouri made clear that there would be no training from the US, ended up abandoning the buildings and handing them over to the Iraqi government -- and Nouri didn't pay a penny for those facilities.
In real time, when this nonsense was taking place, there were some members of Congress asking why these fortified and new buildings weren't being turned over to NGOs or civic organizations in Iraq but instead were being gifted to the man who had killed the training program?
No answer was ever provided to that question.

 The US taxpayer spent millions on the construction of training facilities, on the presence of trainers, on scheduling training and Nouri's forces -- apparently on Nouri's orders -- didn't show up for training.
Now the US taxpayer is going to foot the bill again?
The Congress needs to find out the price tag on Barack's new Iraq mission.
The Congress needs to find out who's paying it.
Nouri asked for it.  He sits on billions, he can pay for it.

Why isn't he being asked to pay for it?

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  • Friday, June 20, 2014

    Old School Feud








    Lindsay Wise (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that the U.S. would send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to assess how best to advise and train Iraqi forces. But the president stressed that American combat troops would not deploy to the country again."  We're back to that nonsense again?  Troops on the ground aren't 'combat troops'?

    We're back to pretending and hair splitting, aren't we?

    Remember this?

    The point is as long as we have American troops in Iraq -- no matter what you call them -- you can call them 'noncombat' troops, you can call them Mousekateers -- they're going to be fighting and dying -- some of them.

    That's what Thomas E. Ricks told Steve Inskeep on NPR's Morning Edition March 4, 2009.

    Let's flip through the scrapbook some more. August 31, 2010, Barack gave a speech from the Oval Office.  Anyone remember it?  Here's the opening:

    Good evening.  Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about the end of our combat mission in Iraq, the ongoing security challenges we face, and the need to rebuild our nation here at home. 
    I know this historic moment comes at a time of great uncertainty for many Americans.  We’ve now been through nearly a decade of war.  We’ve endured a long and painful recession.  And sometimes in the midst of these storms, the future that we’re trying to build for our nation -- a future of lasting peace and long-term prosperity -- may seem beyond our reach.

    But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that the future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment.  It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.

    Yea!  War was over!  Combat troops were out of the country!  What was left was 'advisers,' right?

    So he gave that speech August 31, 2010.

    What happened the next month?  Anyone, remember?

    Here's a hint: Seven.   And, no, we're not talking Jeri Ryan's character on Star Trek: Voyager.

    7 was the number of US troops who died in Iraq in September 2010, when 'combat' operations were over an all 'combat' troops had left the country.

    October 2010: 2 US troops were killed.

    November 2010:  2 US troops were killed.

    December 2010: 1

    January 2011: 6

    February 2011: 3

    March 2011: 2

    April 2011: 11

    May 2011: 2

    June 2011: 15

    July 2011: 5

    Zero for August 2011

    September 2011: 4

    October 2011: 4

    November 2011: 2

    Zero for December 2011.

    Zero for January 2012.

    August 31, 2010, Barack gave a speech about 'combat' soldiers leaving Iraq and 'combat' operations having ended but 66 troops would die after 'combat' ended.

    Today, Barack made a declaration that the White House media team Tweeted:

    They're not?  You said August 31, 2010 that they were out of combat and combat operations were over.  66 troops died after you made that claim in a speech.

    So why should anyone believe you?  Do you have a crystal ball?  Runes? Tarot cards?  Maybe you use a pendulum? Or spell craft?

    Please do explain to the American people how sending troops into Iraq comes with guarantees when your pretty words of August 31, 2010 did not protect 66 service members, did not prevent their deaths.

    There are no guarantees and Barack lies when he tries to sweet talk the American people.

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    Michael S. Smith: Michael, the Sunni Muslims in Iraq were defeated during the course of the American war against Iraq and now there's been a tremendous development in Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq.  Tell us about it.

    Michael Ratner:  You know, as we've covered on this show many times, I mean probably the most upsetting event of the last was the United States going to war in Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Hussein.  Without discussing Saddam Hussein -- good guy, bad guy, mixed guy -- it was a completely illegal war, a war of aggression killed perhaps a million people.  And while the US has supposedly pulled out, they've left complete chaos.  And the war's created, you know, complete and utter chaos in Iraq.  The place is clearly falling apart at this point. And the latest news is remarkable.  The latest news is on the back of the Sunnis taking over over Falluja -- and remember Falluja, that was taken over about six months ago by the Sunnis, but particularly the group is called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria -- an organization that supposedly was once part of al Qaeda.  And Falluja is now under their control -- under Sunnis control.  But it wasn't a major city.  And it also, you have to recall, Americans -- many Americans were killed in Falluja.  US put in a huge amount of money and forces to take it back years ago, they did and now it's gone again.  But the big news today which I think is actually shocking and just tells us we have a real problem in the Middle East right now is now the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has taken over the city of Mosul.  They came in from Syria -- and remember, these are people who want to put together caliphate [an Islamic state]  -- made up at this point of Syria and Iraq -- or at least parts of those two countries. They came over and they've taken over the city of Mosul which is the second biggest city in Iraq, 1.4 million people.  And the Iraqi forces, mostly Shi'ite, who were, you know, supporting the government, have fled the city. And so now you're seeing a situation where Iraq not only has the Kurdish part in the north -- which is practically a separate state or is a separate state.  Now you have the Sunnis taking over Mosul and Falluja.  And the question is what's going to happen now.  But I can tell you now, you got chaos.  And so when all of you out there think about getting a woman president and Hillary Clinton?  Just think this: This is the person who voted for the Iraq War and for what we're seeing in front of us.  And this is the person who did it not because she believed in it but because of political expediency.  Her expediency has cost a million lives and caused the situation today -- along with many others who voted for this, the media who went for it -- from the New York Times to the Washington Post, etc.  This is what the United States has wrought in Iraq.

    That discussion is from this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week and is hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights).  For any offended by Michael's remarks regarding Hillary, two things.

    A) The comments are more accurate than what Stephanie Cutter offered last week on CNN's Crossfire.  As Ava and I noted Sunday, it was disgraceful for her to pretend all Congressional Democrats opposed the Iraq War.  She had been Ted Kennedy's assistant.  The late senator took a brave stand and a public stand against war on Iraq.  When Cutter lies and deceives, she cheapens what one of Ted Kennedy's great moments.

    B) He could have held her more responsible.  Here, we noted repeatedly Hillary wasn't over Iraq when she headed the State Dept.  Others didn't make that distinction -- others include Hillary.  But I bet, if pressed on it now, as she gears up for a presidential run, she'll make clear she wasn't over Iraq.  Until she does, anyone who wants to blame her for the current crises in Iraq can do so.  Again, I'm surprised the media hasn't been running with that already.

    Actually, there's a third item.  She sought the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2008 and may seek it out in 2016.  With Iraq being such a tragedy and such a crime, anyone who's run for president or might run for president needs to be asked in depth questions about Iraq.  The way Terry Gross probed Hillary on marriage equality is the way Hillary should be probed on Iraq -- the way anyone floating a run for the presidency should be probed.

    There are a lot of different takes about the current crises in Iraq so let's move over to noting a few.  Mark Thompson (Time magazine) notes:

    The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) may be so brutal it gets kicked out of al-Qaeda, but Maliki is no prize. He has repressed the Sunnis and Kurds, promoted Shi’ite officers in the Iraq military who didn’t warrant higher rank, and refused to share power. He used Iraqi security forces to attack peaceful Sunni protests and sidelined the Sunni Sons of Iraq that played an important role in bringing peace to Anbar province.
    “Maliki was primarily concerned not with the military situation, but with his own political power,” says Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “He was deeply concerned that if we had stayed he wouldn’t be able to hold together what he thought he had done during 2010 and 2011, which was put virtually all of the instruments of state power under the authority of the prime minister’s office.”

    Also weighing in this week,  Iraq War veteran Ross Caputi (ZNet) whose analysis opens:

    This week Iraq emerged from the recesses of American memory and became a hot topic of conversation. Alarming headlines about ISIS’s “takeover” of Mosul and their march towards Baghdad have elicited a number of reactions: The most conservative call for direct US military action against ISIS to ensure that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki remains stable in Baghdad. The most liberal lament the ongoing violence and divisions in Iraqi society caused by the US occupation; though they make no attempt distinguish between the violence of ISIS and the violence of the Maliki government.
    This range of ideas and perspectives is fascinating, and it says much about American war culture, but mostly for the ideas and perspectives that are omitted from this debate. Entirely absent is the perspective of Iraqis and the issues that are important to them: accountability, independence, and resistance. Moreover, the real complexities of this issue have been lost in a number of the Western media’s favorite binaries: terrorism vs. counterterrorism, good vs. evil, and insurgency vs. stability.
    If we dare to take Iraqi voices seriously and think outside of the dominant framework presented to us by the mainstream media, a very different picture of the violence in Iraq emerges and a whole new range of options open up for achieving peace and justice.

    On The Reid Report today (MSNBC -- link is video), Joy Reid spoke with NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin and with the Center for a New American Security's Michele Flournoy.  Flournoy served in the Defense Dept during Barack's first term.

    Michele Flournoy:  I actually think the administration is focused on the most important thing which is to engage with all the political parties in Iraq: Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurd -- trying to get to a more inclusive government situation.  Remember why this is happening.  This is -- this crisis on the ground -- because Prime Minister Maliki has taken a very sectarian approach to government, marginalizing the Sunni population and basically creating a situation where they are turning to and welcoming in Sunni terrorist groups like ISIS.  So the core driver of this is political and that's where the first area of focus needs to be and I think the administration is rightly focused there.

    Joy Reid: And to your point, this is a problem that has a solution that needs to be noted in Prime Minister Maliki's governance.  The Washington Post reports today that the hope for a political solution, essentially what you've just described, are actually dimming.  And the Post reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is actually "tightening his hold on power in response to the catastrophe unfolding in Iraq. Negotiations on a new government have been suspended, and instead, Shiite factions who had sought to prevent Maliki from securing a third term in office by aligning with Sunni and Kurdish politicians have thrown their support behind him."  That sounds like a devolving situation, not an improving one.

    Michele Flournoy:  I don't think it's moving in the right direction but I think it's important for the United States and, frankly, all of the neighboring states and the broader international community to say either you come up with a more inclusive approach to government or you're not going to last.  I mean, this is something that has to be fundamentally changed at the political level.  I think the other thing that we need to be doing is engaging the countries on the periphery, particularly Iran, to exercise restraint, not to pour fuel on the fire by sending in their proxies and sort of simply inflaming what could become a civil war. 

    The Washington Post report Joy referred to is Liz Sly's "Iraqi premier Maliki gaining strength as Shiites rally behind him."  Sly's covered Iraq for many years and for many outlets.  She knows the civil war (ethnic cleansing) that gripped Iraq.  So there's something we need to note from Sly's article that didn't get mentioned on air:

    Sunnis shuddered Tuesday at the news that the body of a Sunni imam and two of his assistants had been discovered in Baghdad’s morgue, four days after they were detained by men wearing government uniforms. The episode echoed the sectarian bloodletting that raged in the middle of the last decade, and it reinforced fears that a new round of killings could be imminent.

    In light of that, we'll note Flournoy's closing remarks, "And, again, the message to Maliki has to be either you govern in an inclusive way that's truly representative of the population of Iraq or you need to step aside and let someone else step in who can do that because you're risking renewed civil war if you don't."

    Another view?  Harlan Ullman (Pakistan's Daily Times) argues things are not at the breaking point in Iraq yet:

     First, Iraqi parliamentary elections, held on April 30, have not yet led to the formation of a new government. Maliki’s Dawa Party took a real pasting. Hence, a new government could easily have a more moderate and secular prime minister who could actively reconcile with Sunni and Kurdish moderates.
    Second, Iraq’s most powerful politician, Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, has called upon all Iraqis to rise to the defence of their country. Even if the ISIS insurgents collect a number of Sunni insurgents and past supporters of Saddam Hussein, they are not a well-equipped fighting force. The balance will shift to government forces now that the initial shock of the onslaught has been digested. Third, if the US is smart, bold and courageous, the threat of ISIS/ISIL, which is real, offers new opportunities in the region. More will shortly follow on that.

    She's worked for the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor and much more.  Today, Robin Wright (New Yorker) offers:

    Iraqis must become invested in their own political order and risk putting their lives on the line to secure it. Unfortunately, Maliki may not be willing to either cede the powers required for a just resolution or to step aside. His intransigence has sabotaged Iraqi nationalism -- though others share in the blame -- and simply propping him up could eventually be costly. On Tuesday, Maliki defied international appeals for political outreach. Instead, he declared a boycott of a Sunni political bloc and put the blame for Iraq’s disintegration on Saudi Arabia. “We hold them responsible for supporting these groups financially and morally, and for the outcome of that -- which includes crimes that may qualify as genocide: the spilling of Iraqi blood, the destruction of Iraqi state institutions and historic and religious sites,” his government said in a statement. So Washington will have to be bold and blunt with him -- and even consider withdrawing support. 

    Can Nouri pull together Iraq?  Can he reach out to the Sunnis and/or the Kurds?  Reuters notes, "Washington and other Western capitals are trying to save Iraq as a united country by leaning hard on Prime Minister to reach out to Sunnis. Maliki met Sunni and Kurdish political opponents overnight, concluding with a frosty, carefully staged joint appearance at which an appeal for national unity was read out."

    And that minor moment came about only after days of pressure from the White House.

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    "He falls even lower"

  • Wednesday, June 18, 2014

    He falls even lower









    It was last Wednesday when US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  He was not there to testify about Iraq.  No, he was present because Barack has nominated him to be the next US Ambassador to Egypt.

    Iraq is in turmoil and Barack's trying to pull the Ambassador out and bring in a new one.

    What Barack has offered is an ever changing Ambassador to Iraq.

    Chris Hill was an utter failure.  We noted he would be before he was confirmed.  A simple look at his personnel file was all anyone needed to grasp the failure Hill would be.  This was who Barack went with for his first Ambassador to Iraq.  After Hill's failures were too big to ignore, Barack then nominated James Jeffrey.  Like Hill, Jeffrey was confirmed.  Unlike Hill, Jeffrey wasn't a non-stop embarrassment in the post. Barack then nominated I'll-stick-my-cock-in-anything Brett McGurk to be the next Ambassador.  He withdrew his nomination when his e-mails about blue balls only further made his nomination seem like a joke. Then Barack nominated Beecroft.

    And now he's moving Beecroft to Egypt and has nominated Stuart E. Jones to be Ambassador to Iraq.  Jones currently serves as the US Ambassador to Jordan.

    Barack is currently in the sixth year of his presidency.  Jones is Barack's fifth nominee to be Ambassador to Iraq.  Not only does that not instill confidence, it also demonstrates a lack of vision and a lack of consistency in the US government's dealings with Iraq.

    In his prepared remarks, Jones noted:

    Mr. Chairman, I am both humbled and thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as Chief of Mission at American Embassy Baghdad, one of our largest and most complex diplomatic missions. I had the honor of serving as Deputy Chief of Mission in Baghdad. I also served as the Governorate Coordinator in Ramadi, in Anbar Province under the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004. Later I was Director for Iraq Affairs on the National Security Council staff here in Washington. These jobs have helped me prepare for the complexity and challenges of the assignment ahead. We are all familiar with the history of Iraq's past decade. It is impossible to serve in Iraq without recalling and honoring the sacrifice and achievement of our U.S. servicemen and women and civilians. More than 4,000 Americans lost their lives to give the Iraqi people a chance at a better future. Today we are committed to helping build a new Iraq, which has moved beyond the isolation and oppression of its past, with secure borders, strong democratic institutions, and where all citizens benefit from its abundant resources.

    And that contained the first evidence that Jones isn't up for the job.

    I'm sick of these nominees Barack keeps offering who do not value life.  I'm tired of it, their work demonstrates that if they short cut life at their confirmation hearings, they don't suddenly develop a respect for it later on.

    "More than 4,000 Americans lost their lives"?

    The number of US military personnel the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4489.

    'Well, by Price Is Right showcase showdown rules, Stuart Jones is right!  He didn't overbid!'

    I guess that's true, but it's also true that this isn't a game show.

    He wants to be Ambassador to Iraq.  He submits the statement he read out loud to the Committee in writing. And he can't get the number right?

    He can -- and does -- provide accurate statistics for suicide bombers.  And you should listen to him yack on with oil statistics.  But when it comes to how many US military personnel died in Iraq, he goes all soft and fuzzy.

    Again, if you're not interested in human life when you're angling for the position, you don't later develop an affinity for it while performing your duties as Ambassador.

    Chair Robert Menendez:  In Iraq, while political leaders are deal making to form a government, the Iraqi people are not benefiting from their country's increased oil output and the conflict continues to surge in western Iraq as the spillover from Syria has enabled the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to take hold.  Clearly, we must continue to support Iraqi security forces but I'm concerned by reports that they have been using barrel bombs in their operations.  Serious questions remain unanswered: Iraq's role in Syria, the activities of Iraqi Shi'ite militias fighting with Assad's security forces,  the Iranian influence in Iraq and the commitment of the Iraqi government to protect the residents of Camp Liberty until we can conclude a resettlement process. 

    Barrel bombs?  Human Rights Watch noted barrel bombs in their May 27th report:

    Iraqi government forces battling armed groups in the western province of Anbar since January 2014 have repeatedly struck Fallujah General Hospital with mortar shells and other munitions, Human Rights Watch said today. The recurring strikes on the main hospital, including with direct fire weapons, strongly suggest that Iraqi forces have targeted it, which would constitute a serious violation of the laws of war.
    Since early May, government forces have also dropped barrel bombs on residential neighborhoods of Fallujah and surrounding areas, part of an intensified campaign against armed opposition groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS). These indiscriminate attacks have caused civilian casualties and forced thousands of residents to flee.

    “The government has been firing wildly into Fallujah’s residential neighborhoods for more than four months, and ramped up its attacks in May,” said Fred Abrahams, special adviser at Human Rights Watch. “This reckless disregard for civilians is deadly for people caught between government forces and opposition groups.”

    Camp Liberty refers to the Ashraf community and they'll be mentioned again in a moment.  Menendez is the Committee Chair, Senator Bob Corker is the Ranking Member.  Corker noted at the top of the hearing, "Iraq, we're continue to read daily, the devolution that is taking place there.  You feel it on the ground.  The lack of -- The lack of involvement that we have had in terms of shaping things on the ground is very, very apparent and I know we'll talk about that during Q &  A."

    Along with Beecroft and Jones, the Committee also heard from Dana Shell Smith who's nominated to be the US Ambassador to Qatar. Our focus is Iraq, we won't be addressing her nomination.  We will note she was able to look up frequently as she read her opening remarks because someone took a nomination seriously enough to review their written remarks and probably practice delivering them.  Well done, Shell Smith.

    By contrast, Jones badly read from his prepared remarks and ran with Brett McGurk's overused buzzwords such as "holistic approach" to Iraq. The bulk of his statements focused on Iraq's oil.  Oil, oil, oil.

    Chair Robert Menendez:  Ambassador Jones, you know, we had Prime Minister Maliki here last year.  It was a difficult meeting.  I don't know whether or not he will actually, uh, be the prime minister again.  I guess by many accounts, he may very well ultimately build the coalition necessary to do that. But, as I said to Ambassador Beecroft as it relates to our relationship with the Egyptian government, in this case, the Iraqis must understand that the use of barrel bombs, that the overflights and the transiting of airspace by Iran sending troops and military equipment into Syria with impunity, and the lives of the people at Camp Liberty until they are resettled is going to be part of what this Committee judges as it relates to future arm sales, as it relates to our relationship.  So I would like to hear from you.  We understand the importance, we honor the lives of those who were lost in pursuit of a more democratic Iraq from the United States and an enormous national treasure.  But there has to be some change in the course of events here including having a government that is more inclusive, in which every Sunnis isn't an 'enemy' of the state.  There are many Sunnis who want to be part of Iraq as a nation but they have to be included as well.  Can you tell me about what you'll be messaging there as it relates to these issues?

    Ambassador Stuart Jones:   Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  Let me take your last point first which is, uh, of course, we completely agree, for Iraq to succeed, the different el -- the different political elements, the sectarian groups need to come together and create a shared vision.  They need to create a shared vision for their national security, they need to pull together to address the terrorist threat posed by ISIL and, uh, although the news from Mosul is very bad, I think one, uh, positive aspect of this may be that the groups are indeed coming together to address this challenge.  At least we're seeing signs of that in the last 24 hours.  In regards to the use of barrel bombs, the use of barrel bombs is completely unacceptable.  It's an indiscriminate weapon against civilians and it cannot be tolerated.  This is something that my colleague, Steve Beecroft has raised with the senior levels of the Iraqi government.  There has been an instruction handed down through the military that barrel bombs will not be used.  And we've also heard from military contacts that they recognize that instruction.  In regards to the overflights, this is an issue that remains a problem.  We are concerned that Iran is supplying the Bashar regime with overflights over Iraq.  This is something that we would like to see the Iraqis stop.  And this is, again, something that we have raised at the most senior levels.  And I will continue to do that and look for ways to find a way to stop -- to stop this traffic.  Uhm, on the issue of Camp Liberty, uhm, I know this is an issue of particular concern and it's a very important issue.  When I was the Deputy Chief of Mission in Iraq in 2010 and 2011, uhm, we witnessed a terrible attack on Camp Ashraf in which many people were killed and others were wounded.  I think the steps that we've taken since then have been quite positive, moving the residents of Ashraf to Camp Liberty has improved their security.  The government of Iraq has also responded to our requests and others requests to improve the security around Camp Liberty and that's encouraging.  But the solution, of course, is to remove the members of Mojahedin-e-Khalq from Iraq and get them to a safer place. They will not be safe until they are outside of Iraq and, uh-uhm, our government is taking the lead on this.  The Special Envoy for the Secretary [of State John Kerry], Jonathan Weiner, is meeting with representatives of countries around the world and asking them to take members of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq.  And we also now have a team in Baghdad to interview members to see -- working towards receiving a group of those here in the United States.  And I think this is the best solution that we can present.

    Chair Robert Menendez:  Well two final points so that you're crystal clear. I don't want to hear Iraq tell us that we need actionable intelligence.  When we have it, we'll provide it. But they have a responsibility in doing random surveillance of over flights.  And that is an excuse that is unacceptable. Secondly, I agree with you that resettlement of the MEK is the ultimate solution.  I hope -- and I have urged the State Department to consider bringing some of them to the United States as an example to the rest of the world that we're asking to seek resettlement to do so.  But in the interim, I hold the prime minister responsible for the lives of those individuals at the Camp.

    Ideally, we'll note more from the hearing in tomorrow's snapshot.  For now, we'll move to an exchange with the Ranking Member.

    Ranking Member Bob Corker:  Ambassador Jones, you know, I've visited Ambassador Beecroft and been to Iraq -- like many of us [on the Committee] many times.  Today, when you're there, unlike Jordan where you still are, it feels like a vacant, deserted lot, relative to our emphasis on it.  It feels like we've checked the box and moved on, that we've really lost influence.  That's, I think, everybody acknowledges that. That we really haven't been robust in all levels relative to our efforts there. We had a great conversation yesterday and we talked a little bit about the lack of a SOFA [Status Of Forces Agreement] and the fact that our troops are gone and that's contributed to the lack of influence in a pretty big way.  You've had two tours there.  And I mentioned I was going to bring this up just to kind of set the record straight. Many of us have felt -- and maybe after you say what you say -- may still feel that one of the reasons that Iraq is the way that it is is that we, you know, didn't leave behind some presence and that we actually, this was actually what the administration wanted to occur.  You have a very different perspective on that and I thought, don't take too long, if you will, but I thought it would be good for you to share your thoughts relative to why we do not have a presence in Iraq today.

    Ambassador Stuart Jones:  As you said, we spoke about this yesterday.  My view on this is that, uhm, is that the Iraqi people really did not come together and ask us to stay in a way that made it possible for us to stay.  And it's as simple as that.  No secr -- No major Iraqi leaders -- with the exception of the Kurds -- came forward and invited us to stay in a public matter.  And they didn't go on television.  Uhm, we obviously needed to have a Status Of Forces Agreement for the security of our troops and the Iraqis didn't meet us half way on that.  So I think that this was the result of-of-of that negotiation and that's how it ended.

    Ranking Member Bob Corker:  And so, from your perspective, the fact that we have no presence there and, candidly, much less influence, uh, is a result really of just the Iraqi people not wanting it to be that way?

    Ambassador Stuart Jones:  Yes, sir.

    Ranking Member Bob Corker: That's interesting and a very different perspective than I've heard from most but I appreciate your sharing that.  Uhm, and I would agree with the Chairman.  We had a pretty terse meeting with Maliki here.  I'd had one on the ground, just before that. [Menendez, Corker and others met with Nouri in the last week of October of last year.]  He's obviously not been a good prime minister. He has not done a good job of reaching out to the Sunni population which has caused them to be more receptive to al Qaeda efforts.  Uh, obviously the Syrian conflict -- I know there's analysis today saying that that's really not having an impact on Iraq -- I believe it's having a major impact on Iraq.  But with our diminished status in Iraq and the fact that we used to play shuttle diplomacy, if you will, between the Sunnis and Shia and causing that to work in a better way -- I think you did that before in your previous capacity -- how do you view your role there going there now under the circumstances that we have and trying to mitigate some of the problems that exist between the -- especially the Shia and the Sunni.

    Ambassador Stuart Jones:  Yeah, uhm, well I think I'm blessed to be following in the footsteps of Steve Beecroft.  I think Steve has established very good relations with all of the groups in Iraq and I think this is a role that we should continue to play -- brokering, using our good offices to broker solutions to the myriad problems that face -- that face Iraq.  I think we've made great progress in recent months in trying to broker an arrangement by which the hydrocarbon, uhm-uh, law could be finalized and the relations between Kurdistan -- the Kurdish Regional Government and Baghdad could resolve their problems.  I think we also could find ways to support a process of political conciliation between some Shi'ite, uh, Sunni groups and, uh, and the government.  This is the role that the United States has played in Iraq in the last ten years and I certainly hope to continue that role.  I think we do have significant influence because of our, uh, continuing presence in the commercial and the petroleum sector as well as continuing presence in the military sector though, obviously, not with troops on the ground.

    Are you feeling it for the nominee?

    He's well liked in the State Dept and is considered to have shown real skill and talent in Jordan.  But when he says something like "great progress in recent months" on the hydrocarbon issue?  Well it may seem that way to him.  To others, probably not.

    I've been hearing that claim in Congressional hearings since 2006.

    And there's been no law passed.

    And, more importantly, nothing's happening now.  Nor will it happen.

    Over the weekend, Parliament held what was their last session.

    So you'll have a new Parliament at some point.  (In 2010, it took over 8 months after the parliamentary election for Parliament to have a real session and name a president and Speaker of Parliament and prime minister-designate.)  And the process of discussing a law will start all over.  As it repeatedly has.  And Stuart Jones -- he will be confirmed (and that's not a complaint, he's better than Hill and most think he'll be better than Jeffrey) -- will become the latest Sisyphus to start each day pushing the same rock up the hill.

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  • Tuesday, June 17, 2014

    Barry O re-starts it to be applauded when he pulls out







    It wasn't that long ago, Marc A. Thiessen (Washington Post) reminds, that the White House was hailing the 'success' of Iraq, "In 2011, the situation in Iraq was so good that the Obama administration was actually trying to take credit for it, with Vice President Joe Biden declaring that Iraq 'could be one of the great achievements of this administration'.”

    Why stop with Joe Biden?  It was US President Barack Obama who spoke at Fort Bragg December 14, 2011 and declared, "Now, Iraq is not a perfect place.  It has many challenges ahead.  But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people."

    Or how about we go more current?

    Remember this?


    Remember that?

    Maybe this will jog memories.  After the meet-up above took place,  Former US Ambassador Marc Ginsberg pointed out at The Huffington Post:

    By most accounts Iraq is heading toward an unchecked meltdown, and Maliki would like us to believe he deserves a red carpet welcome as the innocent plaintiff in the upheavals he created, not as the felonious defendant he should be adjudged.
    And to top off his disastrous management of Iraq, he wants Washington to legitimate his charade by endorsing his bid for re-election in Iraq's crucial 2014 elections.

    Ginsberg served in the Carter administration and the Clinton administration.  Grasp that when Barack had his last face-to-face with Nouri al-Maliki, November 1, 2013, seven months ago, Nouri's actions were well known.  Ahead of that meet-up, Human Rights Watch issued a press release which noted:

    Iraq’s crackdown on peaceful government critics and an epidemic of executions should be top agenda items during the prime minister’s state visit to Washington, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to President Barack Obama. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is scheduled to meet with Obama on November 1, 2013.
    Iraqi officials say that Maliki’s priority will be to accelerate US provision of arms, intelligence, and other counterterrorism support, including the immediate delivery of drones and F-16 fighter jets. But Obama should make clear that his administration will prohibit security aid, especially arms, equipment, and training for security forces, unless the Iraqi government ends its widespread use of torture.
    “Iraq is plagued by terrorist attacks that are killing civilians in record numbers, but relying on torture and executions after unfair trials only makes the situation worse,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “Obama needs to send a clear message to Maliki that the US will not support his assault on human rights.”

    There was all of that and so much more going on.

    And yet Barack met with Nouri and made nice.

    Let's note some of what Barack said after the meeting:

    And we appreciate Prime Minister Maliki’s commitment to honoring that sacrifice by ensuring a strong, prosperous, inclusive and democratic Iraq.
    [. . .]
    I emphasized the ambition of continuing counterterrorism support and partnership, that we were encouraged by the work that Prime Minister Maliki has done in the past to ensure that all people inside of Iraq -- Sunni, Shia and Kurd -- feel that they have a voice in their government.  And one of the most important expressions of that will be elections next year.  I encouraged that Iraq pass an election law and that that moves forward so that people understand that when they have differences they can express them politically, as opposed to through violence.

    What a bunch of lies.  Nouri was attacking Sunni protesters, Iraqiya had walked out of the government, Nouri was at war with the Kurds and yet Barack lied.

    A strong, prosperous, inclusive and democratic Iraq?

    Yes, it's an obvious lie now.  It was an obvious lie then if you were paying attention.

    Days before the meet-up, US Senators Carl Levin, John McCain, Robert Menendez, Lindsey Graham, Bob Corker and James M. Inhofe released an open letter to President Barack Obama which noted:

    It is essential that you urge Prime Minister Maliki to adopt a strategy to address Iraq’s serious problems of governance. Such a strategy should unite Iraqis of every sect and ethnicity in a reformed constitutional order, based on the rule of law, which can give Iraqis a real stake in their nation’s progress, marginalize Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other violent extremists, and bring lasting peace to the country. To be effective, an Iraqi political strategy should involve sharing greater national power and revenue with Sunni Iraqis, reconciling with Sunni leaders, and ending de-Baathification and other policies of blanket retribution. It should include agreements with the Kurdistan Regional Government to share hydrocarbon revenues and resolve territorial disputes. And it requires a clear commitment that the elections scheduled for next year will happen freely, fairly, and inclusively in all parts of Iraq, and that the necessary preparations will be taken.
    If Prime Minister Maliki were to take actions such as these, he could cement his legacy as the leader who safeguarded his country's sovereignty and laid the foundation for the new Iraq. In this endeavor, Prime Minister Maliki and our other Iraqi partners would have our support, including appropriate security assistance, and we would encourage you to provide U.S. diplomatic support at the highest levels to help Iraqis reach the necessary political agreements before the 2014 elections. However, if Prime Minister Maliki continues to marginalize the Kurds, alienate many Shia, and treat large numbers of Sunnis as terrorists, no amount of security assistance will be able to bring stability and security to Iraq. That is not a legacy we want for Prime Minister Maliki, and that is not an outcome that would serve America’s national interests.

    Nouri met, that week, with members of the US Congress.  On The NewsHour (PBS -- link is video, audio and text), Margaret Warner reported that meet-up did not go well:

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Maliki did spend time on the Hill?


    JUDY WOODRUFF: And how much progress did he make there? What happened?

    MARGARET WARNER: It went very badly.

    The key meetings yesterday were with Senator McCain and -- excuse me -- Wednesday -- and then with Corker and Menendez. And I'm told that that latter meeting was particularly contentious. They laid out all their concerns. He sort of sat impassively and, according to the aides present, he simply repeated platitudes about how he's governing by the constitution.
    And, finally, Menendez got so -- I don't know if it's angry, but certainly peeved, that he looked at him and he said: Look, I feel you're just glossing over our concerns. And you need to know you're not getting any of this without our OK.
    And Senator Corker came out afterwards and said: We felt he was completely dismissive of our concerns.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And it's known that one of the things they feel strongly about is he needs to share power.

    Yeah, that was a known.

    And he didn't.

    And look where things stand today.

    It's cute to watch partisan whores try to spin this.  'It's Bully Boy Bush's fault' a lot of stooges insist.

    Fareed Zakaria (Washington Post) agrees Nouri's problematic but wants to distract and deceive:

    But how did Maliki come to be prime minister of Iraq? He was the product of a series of momentous decisions made by the Bush administration. 

    I'm not in the mood for damn liars.

    Nouri got a first term (2006) because Bully Boy Bush insisted on it.

    But he got a second term -- despite losing to Ayad Allawi in the March 2010 elections -- because of Barack.  What the Iraqi Constitution couldn't give Nouri, what the Iraqi people refused to give Nouri, Barack did.  He ordered US officials to negotiate a contract (The Erbil Agreement) to give Nouri a second term.  This contract -- signed by Nouri and the heads of all of Iraq's major political blocs -- found the leaders agreeing to a second term for Nouri in exchange for things they wanted (the Kurds wanted Nouri to implement Article 140 of the Constitution -- which resolves disputed Kirkuk, Iraqiya wanted an independent security council to be headed by Ayad Allawi, etc).

    Fareed, stop lying, stop whoring.

    If you think it was bad for the Iraqi MPs in 2006 to agree to giving Nouri a term as prime minister, it was even worse in 2010 when voters rejected Nouri and Barack spat on the most basic principle in a democracy (voting) to keep Nouri on for a second term.

    November 10, 2010 a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time since the March 2010 vote and this was only possible due to The Erbil Agreement.  At that meeting,  Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explained, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. "

    How long does Fareed intend to lie and whore?

    In November 2010,  Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reported:

    Vice President Biden made numerous calls to senior Iraqi leaders over the past several months and U.S. officials directly participated in top-level negotiating sessions that lasted until just moments before the Iraqi parliament finally convened to approve a new power-sharing government Thursday, a senior Obama administration official said Friday.
    Hoping to rebut criticism that it had lost influence in Iraq and was too passive over the eight months since the March election there, or that its efforts were designed to keep Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in power, the administration offered a detailed written account of previously unreported meetings, visits and calls it said Biden and others had made.

    The negotiated power-sharing deal DeYoung is writing about is The Erbil Agreement.  Back then, Michael Jansen (Gulf Today) observed, "The deal making that produced last Thursday’s session of parliament is nothing to boast about." She then goes on to note:

    It is not clear why Iraqiya thought Maliki -- a sectarian Shiite whose Dawa party was a bitter enemy of the Baath -- would implement this pledge. Maliki has also failed to carry out solemn promises to recruit into the security forces or find civil service jobs for fighters of the Sunni Awakening Councils -- or Sons of Iraq movement -- who helped US and government forces curb Al Qaeda in 2007-08. Maliki has shown himself to have absolutely no intention of sharing power with Sunnis and certainly not with secular politicians like Allawi who represents the "old Iraq" where politics was non-sectarian.
    In spite of Obama's declaration that an "inclusive" government formula had been found after months of wrangling, Maliki is not interested in including Sunnis, secularists, former Baathists and others who do not subscribe to the ethno-sectarian system imposed on Iraq by the previous Bush administration.

    And Farred wants to whore and lie?

    What Fareed hides, The Erbil Agreement, Barack made a statement about Novemeber 12, 2010:


    Before I discuss the G20, I want to briefly comment on the agreement in Iraq that's taken place on the framework for a new government.  There's still challenges to overcome, but all indications are that the government will be representative, inclusive, and reflect the will of the Iraqi people who cast their ballots in the last election. This agreement marks another milestone in the history of modern Iraq.  Once again, Iraqis are showing their determination to unify Iraq and build its future and that those impulses are far stronger than those who want Iraq to descend into sectarian war and terror. For the last several months, the United States has worked closely with our Iraqi partners to promote a broad-based government -- one whose leaders share a commitment to serving all Iraqis as equal citizens.  Now, Iraq's leaders must finish the job of forming their government so that they can meet the challenges that a diverse coalition will inevitably face.  And going forward, we will support the Iraqi people as they strengthen their democracy, resolve political disputes, resettle those displaced by war, and build ties of commerce and cooperation with the United States, the region and the world.

    And Barack did far more than make a statement that week.  Let's drop back to the November 11, 2010 snapshot to note what happened when The Erbil Agreement wasn't being implemented right away (in fact, it never would be) and Iraqiya walked out of Parliament in protest:

    Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call." 

    But Fareed wants to whore and lie and pretend he can get away with it, that he can rewrite history and tell lies and no one will be the wiser.  Patrick Martin (WSWS) notes it was Bully Boy Bush and Barack both who installed and kept Nouri the prime minister of Iraq:

    Who installed Maliki? His regime was the culmination of the supposed transformation of Iraq into a “democracy.” His election was hailed as a great success, first by George W. Bush, who launched the war, and then by Obama, who completed it on the schedule laid down by his predecessor.

    In 2006, the Parliament wanted to give Ibrahim al-Jafaari a second term as prime minister.  The Bully Boy Bush White House did not trust al-Jafaari for a number of reasons and one of their fears was a second term for anyone so early in Iraq's new 'democracy' stage would risk setting up a new dictator.  They insisted on Nouri and got their way.

    That was bad.

    But in 2010, the voters made clear that they preferred Iraqiya over Nouri's State of Law.  That should have been the end of it.  But Barack ensured that Nouri got a second term he didn't earn.

    Fareed damn well knows that the second term to Nouri was far worse for Iraq than the first term.

    Fareed needs to stop lying and stop whoring.

    And, hopefully, he will.  Too many others have nothing to offer but lying and whoring.  So we'll just ignore them for today.

    The Erbil Agreement is not minor. Ann, in the comments, rightly notes in a comment on James Coogan's WSWS 'analysis' which ignores The Erbil Agreement, "I'm sorry but I don't take seriously any 'analysis' that doesn't point out the 2010 elections were decided by The Erbil Agreement, a legal contract the US pushed to give Nouri a second term."

    David Ignatius (Washington Post via Real Clear Politics) points out:

    Maliki's failure has been increasingly obvious since the elections of 2010, when the Iraqi people in their wisdom elected a broader, less-sectarian coalition. But the Obama administration, bizarrely working in tandem with Iran, brokered a deal that allowed Maliki to continue and has worked with him as an ally against al-Qaeda. Maliki's coalition triumphed in April's elections, but the balloting was boycotted by Sunnis.

    Given Maliki's sectarian and authoritarian style, a growing number of Iraq experts are questioning why the Obama administration continues to provide him billions in military aid -- and is said to be weighing his plea for lethal Predator drones. The skeptics include some who were once among Maliki's champions.
    Iraq's on fire today because Nouri didn't honor The Erbil Agreement and instead attacked Sunni politicians and protesters, because he refused to nominate people to head the Ministries of Defense, Interior and National Security in order to steal control of those ministries.  As the head of the Minister of the Interior, he was responsible for sending the MoI employees into schools to demonize Iraqi gays and lesbians, to encourage students to attack and kill those they suspected of being gay, to lie and state that they sucked blood as vampires did, that they deserved to be killed and much more.  Nouri, of course, denied such claims were made.  However, Alsumaria and Al Mada got ahold of handouts MoI employees passed out at their school presentations proving that they were making these smears in an attempt to incite violence against Iraq's gay and lesbian population (and those who might be perceived as such).  Gay men (and men thought to be gay) were killed with bricks, they were killed via torture, they were killed in so many ways and this took place on Nouri's orders.

    So for those dirty, nasty whores -- Katrina vanden Heuvel, step up -- who cover for Nouri today?  You're homophobic trash and you threaten the safety of not just gays and lesbians but of minorities around the world.  You should be ashamed of yourselves and, honestly, shut your mouths and hang your heads in shame.  [If you're interested in some of the people who got it wrong and some of the people who got it right last week, see "The media rediscovers Iraq (Ava and C.I.)."]

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