Thursday, July 2, 2015

River

Theme post time and I said, "Let me get in on this."


We're picking our all time favorite cover recording.

Herbie Hancock is an immensely talented artist.

I love everything he's done.

But my all time favorite of his albums is River: The Joni Letters.

Working with various artists (including Tina Turner), he reworks some of Joni Mitchell's classic songs.

This is the one that really nails it for me from that album.

He and the great saxophone player Wayne Shorter are working with vocalist Corinne Bailey Rae on that one and isn't she amazing?

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Wednesday, July 1, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, even the UN's undercount of deaths finds June's death toll the highest since last September, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports nearly 5,000 deaths for the month of June, the refugee crisis continues, Matthew Hoh and Jesse Ventura take on Barack's Iraq War spin, and much more.



Yesterday's snapshot focused basically on an e-mail Hillary Clinton sent and how the New York Times' lazy 'reporting' was distorting the e-mail.


Did it matter that they distorted?

Wouldn't most people have the brains to realize the distortion?

It did matter and clearly most people don't have the brains needed.

Presumably an outlet calling itself "Pink News" wants to accurately report on LGBT issues.


Yet Joseph Patrick McCormick kicks off his nonsense with:


Newly released emails show Hillary Clinton discussed Saddam Hussein’s treatment of LGBT people, calling it “sad and terrible”.



No, you are wrong, you are grossly incorrect.

You should be embarrassed and ashamed of yourself for writing such stupidity.

E-mails?

Two were released.

The first is Cheryl Mills forwarding to Hillary a news report: Ashley Byrne's "Saddam's rule 'better' for gay Iraqis" (BBC News).

The second is Hillary replying:

So sad and terrible.  We should ask Chris Hill to raise this w govt.  If we ever get Posner confirmed we should emphasize LGBT human rights.


The news report is that things were better for Iraq's LGBT community under Saddam.

Bynre writes in the report:

All the LGBT Iraqis interviewed for Gay Life After Saddam maintained that life was easier for them when Saddam Hussein was in power, from 1979 to 2003. 


So if you write, as McCormick does at Pink News today:


Newly released emails show Hillary Clinton discussed Saddam Hussein’s treatment of LGBT people, calling it “sad and terrible”.



You are flaunting your ignorance in the public square and really need to sit your tired ass down.

Hillary did not discuss Saddam's treatment of LGBT people and the article she was commenting on was noting that in the post-Saddam era, life had become very dangerous for Iraq's gay community.


This is what happens when 'reporters' like Peter Baker and Steve Eder get away with lazy and inaccurate work -- it quickly spreads and the truth is distorted.



Today, UNAMI announced the figures for Junes death toll in Iraq.  They go with 1,466 dead and 1,687 injured and those are the number you'll see.  Add 801 deaths for 2,488 deaths from violence (that includes security forces) and  2342 for the injured (includes security forces).

After over a year of criticism, they've made some attempt to include Anbar Province in the body of the report (136 killed and 163 injured).

This is an undercount.

They do not include the civilians in Falluja killed by the Iraqi military bombings of residential neighborhoods, for example.



Even so, AP notes, "The monthly death toll was the highest since last September, and the rise from last month appeared to be almost entirely due to higher casualties among security forces."


Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports, "Antiwar.com, using news reports, found at least 3,311 militants were killed and 287 were wounded. Many of these deaths were reported by the Iraqi government, which could be exaggerating its successes. On the other hand, many of the wounded might not have fallen into government hands and therefore are uncountable. In total, 4,777 were killed and 1,974 were wounded during June."


The violence takes place in a populated country with a very young population.  The United Nations notes:



The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today said that over the past year in Iraq, it has seen a 75 per cent increase in grave violations against children that include killing and maiming, abduction, recruitment as soldiers, sexual violence, attacks against schools and denial of humanitarian access.
“We could never have predicted that one year on we would be looking at a violent crisis that has affected more than eight million people,” said Colin MacInnes, UNICEF’s Acting Representative in Iraq briefing the press in Geneva from Irbil. This month marks the anniversary of the beginning of the widespread violence across the country.
This time last year, many communities in Iraq, particularly in locations such as Mosul and Tikrit, witnessed violence that displaced people on a scale that caught everyone by surprise. It led to the collapse of the healthcare system, the education system the public safety net. The situation for children in particular was desperate. In the 2014-15 school year more than 650,000 children had received no schooling whatsoever and over three million did not attend a regular school cycle.
“For those children not in school and who did not have services the situation continued to worsen,” said Mr. MacInnes.

The speed and scope of the crisis has been very severe, he continued, affecting both national and international actors. The ability of families to access even basic items was also harshly impacted. Recently nearly 3,000 people from Anbar were being displaced every week. 



The refugee crisis is so great that even the Iraqi government has to acknowledge it in some form.  Andolu Ajansi reports the Ministry of Migration and Displacement is stating that the last 12 months have seen 493,990 Iraqi families displaced within Iraq.  Those numbers are an undercount and they do not include the number of families who have fled Iraq in the last 12 months due to the ongoing violence.



On the internally displaced, Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) reported last week:


Al-Monitor met with people who had been displaced from the towns of al-Alam, al-Dor and Tikrit in Salahuddin governorate who refuse to return for other reasons. Samer al-Douri, a civil engineer from al-Dawr who was displaced to the city of Sulaimaniyah, said that returning to al-Dawr is now impossible in light of the Popular Mobilization Units imposing their control over the areas that were recently liberated.
He added, “We will not be safe even though we ran away from al-Dawr when IS invaded it. The government and the Popular Mobilization Units still deny the return of our families.”
Iqbal al-Ojaili, who was displaced with her family from Tikrit to Sulaimaniyah, told Al-Monitor, “I refuse to return at the government's discretion. I have three boys and their lives are in the hands of a security member. If the latter decides that they are terrorists, it will be over for them.”
Ali Issam, who also fled to Sulaimaniyah, told Al-Monitor that his house in Tikrit had been completely looted. He owned a food store that was burned to the ground. “How do I get back, and where and how will I live?” Issam asked.




Last week, Shalaw Mohammed (Niqash) reported on a refugee camp in Kirkuk:


Omar Sabbah has not left the displaced persons' camp where he is now living for two whole months. Originally from Tikrit, he says that if he wanted to leave, he'd have to walk a long way on an unpaved road. There are no easy ways to get out of here, he complains. “Life in the camps is another kind of prison,” he says. “We can only hope conditions improve in our own home towns soon so we can return there.”
Sabbah is one of around 8,500 people living in 1,800 tents in the Laylan camp for displaced people, about 20 kilometres out of the northern city of Kirkuk.
When he managed to escape the extremist group known as the Islamic State that had control of Tikrit until recently, Sabbah said he'd never expected to end up living in such a remote area.
Although the Islamic State, or IS, group was pushed out of Tikrit Sabbah doesn't think he can go back to the city anytime soon. The city was liberated by a mixture of pro-government Iraqi forces, which also included a large number of fighters from Shiite Muslim militias. These have been both celebrated for their victories and controversial because of bad behaviour after the fighting ended.

Omar knows this only too well. He has already changed his first name to Ammar. In Iraq, it is possible to tell which sect or tribe any person is from because of their names. “The Shiite militias hate the name Omar, which is why I changed mine,” Sabbah explains. “It's going to make it easier for me to return home in the future.”



The above and so much more should result in the US State Dept spearheading a diplomatic mission which would include making a sizable donation to the United Nations' aid programs in Iraq and encouraging other nations to do the same.


Instead, the UN has to repeatedly note that their aid programs in Iraq are in danger due to serious shortfalls in the budget.

They could also foster an environment which would allow for reconciliation and a political solution.  Instead, the State Dept mistakes itself for the Pentagon and when Iraqi officials take tentative steps, there's no encouragement or support from the White House.


For example, National Iraqi News Agency reports that the three presidencies (Iraqi Preisdnet Fuad Masum, Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri and Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi) were supposed to meet tonight:

 A source told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "The meeting will deal with a number of issues in the forefront will be the national reconciliation and the political agreement document as well as some of the bills that are still waiting for legislation."

He noted that "the three presidencies perhaps, will call to convene a meeting for the political blocs, explaining that there is a consensus among the three presidencies on the need to come out of usual routine meetings and reach clear decisions on the files that are discussed."

Salim al-Jubouri, House Speaker held a meeting yesterday evening with MPs and ministers of the Iraqi forces coalition to discuss a number of important files, particularly the political file and what was achieved from the terms of the political agreement, in addition to the bills that await to be approved in the House of Representatives during its legislative term and laws sent by the Council of Ministers. "/ 



This news is apparently so unimportant to the administration that it can't even get a Tweet from the State Dept's Brett McGurk -- McGurk who Tweets daily on US airstrikes on Iraq.



Were Barack Obama and the White House not being held hostage by the government of Iran, maybe they could address issues in Iraq?

Instead, the wasted time continues.  We were told that all the focus would end in March when a deal was arrived at.

There was no deal.

The White House insisted that by the end of June, they'd have a deal.


June has ended.

Currently, they've tacked on another week.

As former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker has repeatedly noted in the last weeks, Iran is not helping Iraq, it is assisting in the hardening of divisions among Iraqis and in inciting ill will.

But that can't be addressed when Barack is held hostage by Tehran.

Some news reports today made the laughable claim that Barack knows how to walk away from the bargaining table.

No, he doesn't.

And when you demonstrate that, and he did last March, you have no power.

That's why tacking three more months to the 'talks' did not result in a deal.

Tehran knows Barack will do anything to avoid walking away.

Tehran knows they're calling the shots.

It's not a debate among equals, it's one group insisting on what they want (Tehran) and another party too scared to end the talks.

And while he continues to allow Iran to take center stage, Iraq suffers every day.



Barack Obama's 'plan' for Iraq doesn't stem the violence, it only adds to it.  The US Defense Dept announced today:


Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted nine airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Baghdadi, three airstrikes struck land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage and destroying two ISIL excavators.
-- Near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL tunnel system.
-- Near Haditha, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL vehicles.
-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL mortar firing position, destroying an ISIL building.
-- Near Waleed, an airstrike destroyed three ISIL armored personnel carriers.



None of that steers Iraq towards a political solution.


None of that addresses the very real grievances of the Sunni population, a population targeted under the (mis)leadership of Nouri al-Maliki for years and still targeted by the man who replaced him as prime minister Haider al-Abadi.

In January 2014, Nouri began bombing civilians areas in Falluja (Sunni-dominate Falluja).  These bombings continue under Haider al-Abadi (they are collective punishment which is legally defined as a War Crime).


On Falluja, Rudaw reports:

Airstrikes carried out over the last two weeks by the Iraqi Army against the Islamic State, or ISIS, have been causing heavy collateral damage on the civilian residents of Fallujah, the city's top health official reported Wednesday.

“The random airstrikes carried out by the Iraqi air forces against Daesh [ISIS] gunmen have killed 71 people and wounded 90 others,” Ahmad Shami, head of physicians in Fallujah Hospital, told Rudaw.




Iraqi Spring MC notes today's Iraqi military bombings of Falluja's residential area left 4 children dead and their mother and father injured.


Falluja is only one city in Anbar Province.  Middle East Monitor reports:


The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq denounced what it described as "crimes and flagrant human rights violations" committed in the city of An-Nukhayb in the Anbar province, adding that the area is being emptied of its indigenous people as part of a systematic policy of demographic change carried out by the Popular Mobilisation Forces with the support of the government.
In a statement released yesterday, the association quoted eyewitnesses from the area as saying that on Monday "members of the Popular Mobilisation Forces started to burn dozens of safe homes and houses inhabited by the people of the area. They also attacked the inhabitants by beating them and yelling obscene and sectarian insults at them."










Iraq War veteran Matthew Hoh appeared on Jesse Ventura's Off The Grid today.  Excerpt:


Jesse Ventura:  What do you think of this latest troop deployment?  We already have 3,100 troops in Iraq and now we're sending in at least 450 more to "train local security forces" -- whatever that means.  What do you make of it, Matt?


Matthew Hoh:  Oh, it's completely absurd, Governor.  You know, it's -- What does anybody expect to come out of this?  Except more violence in Iraq, more violence in Syria, more violence where ever we put our troops into the middle of a civil war.  It only benefits groups like the Islamic State or Shia militias that get all riled up because of the presence of foreign troops and basically us trying to pick winners and losers again in someone else's civil war that we had a lot to do with starting, of course. But also too, the other people that make a ton of money off of this, the only other people that benefit, are the defense companies.  And the amount of money that goes into these conflicts is-is just obscene -- particularly when you look and compare it to the declining states of our nation -- how our own schools are failing, our infrastructure is failing, etc. But we are more than willing to send troops overseas to fight in foreign civil wars.  And most of that -- or a good deal of that -- has to do with American defense companies making billions and billions of dollars of it.

Jesse Ventura:  Now Obama said, Matt, that these are not combat troops, they're "trainers."   What the hell does that mean?

Matthew Hoh:  You're talking about putting American troops into the middle of Iraq.  More American troops into the middle of Iraq where we had already lost 4,500 troops, 4,500 Americans in the Iraq War, tens of thousands wounded, 100,000 or more with mental issues, homeless issues, etc. But this notion that they're just going to be trainers is just -- is just a politician trying to sound both tough and safe at the same time.





Lastly,, Trevor Timm explores the topic of civilian deaths at the Guardian.  He's noting the calls for more civilian deaths in Iraq.  We noted this when we reported on the House Armed Services Committee hearing on June 24th.  And you can also refer to the June 4th snapshot as well as in "Iraq: Failed follow ups and whining that bombs aren't being dropped quick enough"









Read on ...

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Death of Children


children

 

From December 16, 2012, that's  "The Death of Children."  C.I. noted:


Barack delivers remarks about the shooting at a Connecticut school, "The deaths of American children is shocking.  Our hearts are broken today.  Now, if you'll excuse me, there are some children in Pakistan I need to kill in a drone strike."   Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.


I don't have much to add on that comic except it was the beginning of 'hidden messages.'  Like the Beatles, I was suddenly accused of hidden messages.  Apparently, if you look closely at Barack's black jacket you can find some writing.

Which is most likely either a grocery list or a comic I did before.  I use my drawing pad mainly for drawing but there are times I'll need to make a grocery list because I'm grabbing more than the usual (milk, etc) and will need to write it down.

Since that comic, there have been others where I've been said to (accused of?) having hidden messages in the comics.

So far, though, there's never been any hidden message.



Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Saturday, June 13, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept tries to spin the meaning of bases in Iraq, Barack's legal rationale is dubbed 'thin and shallow,' Amy Goodman sells war,  BBC News never sees torture or forced confessions -- only guilty people (who've not yet been convicted of any crime), and much more.



Earlier this week, as Barack Obama again sent more US troops into Iraq, The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel offered this:




  • This should not be part of Pres's legacy-- Obama Does Have a Strategy in Iraq: Escalation


  • I knew when it went up because a friend at The Nation immediately called and said it had to be -- had to be -- included in a snapshot.

    It was, the friend insisted, a statement.

    I scoffed at the notion but said we'd note it at some point if there was time.

    Today, we make time.

    As weak as Katrina's Tweet ('statement') is, she now stands like a giant for what she Tweeted.

    Why?

    All things fake-ass eventually lead to Amy Goodman -- the Porter Goss of the '10s.

    Thursday on the weak ass and fake ass Democracy Now!, Goody Whore was pimping war.

    She brought on a ridiculous guest -- the Guardian's Shiv Malik -- because his revisionary faux history exempts Barack as a player and pins blame on all others.

    So eager was she to wash Barack clean that she brought on a War Hawk and gave him time to insist, "Now, that doesn’t mean that America should simply carry on focusing on al-Qaeda and not regear its intelligence machine, its military machine towards ISIS. You know, if you were wondering what’s a greater threat, ISIS certainly is."

    Most adults are able to grasp that Amy should have pushed back against this urge for warring.

    And if you've seen Goody play Last Journalist Standing, you know damn well that she's always preaching that when a guest goes on Charlie Rose or wherever and expresses an opinion it's the host's job to push back against it -- especially if it's promoting war.


    That was then.

    Today?

    If you're preaching war on her show, she'll let it slip on by, don't stop, slip on by . . .


    With Goody pimping war, Katrina vanden Heuvel's weak Tweet (which couldn't call out Barack, only express horror at escalation) suddenly makes her come off like MLK brought back to life.

    Judged against an ever shrinking baseline, Katrina manages to stand stall.

    Not all the left once against the illegal war has turned to silence or weak stances.  For example, Thomas Gaist (WSWS) is able to report honestly what's going on:

    The Pentagon is preparing to develop a network of new US military bases in strategic areas of Iraq, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Thursday.
    The new US garrisons will house further deployments of hundreds more US troops, beyond the deployment of an additional 450 US forces announced by the Obama administration on Wednesday.
    The Pentagon aims to establish a chain of “lily pads, if you will, that allow us to continue to encourage the Iraqi security forces forward,” Dempsey said. US military planners are already looking at possible locations for bases in central Iraq, he added.
    “We’re looking all the time at whether there might be additional sites necessary,” Dempsey said while speaking to reporters during a visit to Europe this week.
    The US currently maintains a force of some 3,100 troops in Iraq, a figure set to increase to nearly 3,600 as a result of the new deployment announced Wednesday.
    The US may eventually decide to go “all-in” with its intervention, State Department spokesman Admiral John Kirby said in statements earlier this week. Even in such a scenario, the war would likely continue for at least 3-5 more years, Kirby said.


    While WSWS talks reality, the State Dept played words games on Friday in the press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke.




    QUESTION: Continue Iraq?


    MR RATHKE: Go ahead.


    QUESTION: Yeah, just on the – like the consideration of adding more bases and troops to Iraq. So if this becomes a reality and you’ll reoccupy the bases that you used to --


    MR RATHKE: Well, wait, I think it important to make clear here that there is no contemplation of U.S. bases. The U.S. train and advise and assist program in support of the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi Security Forces are located on Iraqi bases where we have a presence that is necessary to carry out that mission. But these are Iraqi bases.


    QUESTION: But didn’t General Dempsey say that those bases will be used by the United States? He called them the “lily-pad” bases.


    MR RATHKE: Well, I think what the chairman said is consistent with the strategy the President has laid out, and that strategy is if there is a request from the Iraqi – if there’s a request from the Iraqi Government and the President’s military advisors recommend additional venues to further train, advise – to further the train, advise, and assist mission, then the U.S. Government would consider that. And I think that’s been clear.


    QUESTION: So while we’re seeing this kind of incremental increase in the number of troops and bases in Iraq, they are being used by --


    MR RATHKE: But, no, no. Again, you’re using this word “bases,” and I want to be really clear about that word, because what we’re talking about are – is U.S. support at Iraqi bases --


    QUESTION: Okay. Iraqi bases.


    MR RATHKE: -- where we are carrying out a train, advise, and assist mission.


    QUESTION: But you’re using them.


    MR RATHKE: Well, but not exclusively. For example, at Taqaddum where the 450 or so additional U.S. personnel will be located, that is the Iraqi operations headquarters. So these are in no way U.S. bases. These are Iraqi bases where the U.S. is carrying out our mission to support the Iraqi Security Forces.


    QUESTION: Okay. Well, with this gradual increase in the number of troops, why shouldn’t Americans or Iraqis be worried that the United States will actually commit itself to a long war – slide itself into a long and bloody war that it used to fight for, like eight years?


    MR RATHKE: Well, the mission I think is quite clear. We are on the one hand carrying out airstrikes in support of Iraqi Security Forces under Iraqi command and control to push ISIS out of Iraq. And on the other hand, we have a train, advise, and assist mission which is in support of Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqi Security Forces, and that is our mission. That mission is not changing. The ways in which we’re carrying out that mission have just been revised to include additional personnel carrying out the train, advise, and assist mission. But you’re --


    QUESTION: Okay.


    MR RATHKE: -- presupposing a completely different mission, and that’s not the mission that the United States has in Iraq.


    QUESTION: And you’re saying this is not a change in strategy. This is just completing the --


    MR RATHKE: No, as I think people have – as I think several U.S. Government officials have said in the course of this week, the strategy remains the same; of course, we’re always looking at ways to better execute the strategy. And in response to a very specific request from Prime Minister Abadi for additional support in advising and assisting Iraqi Security Forces and supporting their integration with the Sunni militias in Anbar, the United States has decided to commit additional personnel to that effort. So – but I think that’s --


    QUESTION: Just --


    MR RATHKE: -- that’s been quite clear.


    QUESTION: Just one more. Will any of these new troops go to Kurdistan, or just to the center of Iraq?


    MR RATHKE: Well, we have existing efforts in Kurdistan at the joint operations center where they work closely with their Kurdish colleagues.


    QUESTION: The new forces, in other words.



    MR RATHKE: And so the new – but the additional forces are focused on the Taqaddum base. My colleagues from the Department of Defense have offered more detail about that, but I don’t want to – I don’t – I take a certain suggestion from your question that we’re not doing things with Kurdish forces, and nothing could be further from the truth. Our partnership in the Kurdistan region, with the Kurdish forces, has been an important part from the very start of our train, advise, and assist mission and that continues.



    But Jeff Rathke is only one sick joke in a wealth of embarrassments.

    Few could ever top 'reporter' Orla Guerin (BBC News) who offers:

    Iraq's newest enemy, Islamic State, is in residence in the city of Ramadi just 110km (70 miles) west.
    We came face to face with members of an IS cell in the capital, who are now in custody. They are accused of helping to plan bomb attacks that killed about 50 people late last year.
    The cell leader, Haider Mansur, limped into view, in a yellow prison uniform. We were told he injured himself trying to evade arrest. The 34-year-old was handcuffed and had shackled feet. He said he was studying accountancy before Islamic State came calling. With his short hair and neatly trimmed beard, he almost looked the part.


    No, Orla, you didn't come 'face to face,' you were taken to Haider.

    You were taken to Haider who is a suspect.

    Haider has not been convicted of anything -- a fact -- a fact -- that you failed to acknowledge in your so-called report.

    He is injured which indicates he may have been tortured -- as so many in Iraqi custody are or has the BBC banned Human Rights Watch from employee laptops and tablets?

    The long history of forced confessions in Iraq are not a secret.

    But Olra gets taken to an injured suspect who is in custody and Orla presents him not as a suspect but as a convicted criminal.

    Orla Guerin is the reason so many people around the world hate reporters -- they refuse to do their job.


    And entertainment programming like Dr. Who, Coupling, Call The Midwife, Sherlock, Orphan Black, etc may give the BBC a glow around the world but Orla Guerin's 'report' dulls that shine immensely.


    'Reporters' were quick to hail the 'liberation' of Tikrit in April as a 'success' as well.

    Despite the fact that it was a failure.

    It was a failure for many reasons.

    First of all, it was supposed to take a few days for the Iraqi forces to arrive in Tikrit.  It took weeks.

    Second of all, all the Iraqi forces -- military and Shi'ite militias -- needed was the leader of Iran's Quds Forces, right?

    That's what they thought.

    But instead, thousands of Iraqi forces were held at bay by a handful of Islamic State fighters.

    Third, that likely would have continued had Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi not begged for US war planes to strike.

    The response is in dispute -- some say the US government demanded Shi'ite militias (and Iranian Quds Force) leave the area first but others say the Shi'ite militias (and Iranian Quds Force) left because they were disgusted that the US was going to provide support.

    At any rate, the 'liberation' of Tikrit just underscored that nothing was going to happen in terms of military advances in Iraq without US support.

    Fourth, it was a failure because of the looting and violence the Shi'ite militias carried out -- not rumored, captured in photographs.  The response to this was Haider lying that it didn't happen and journalist Ned Parker (Reuters) being forced to leave Iraq because he dared to report the truth and the response was for him to be threatened, for his face to broadcast on state television, for Haider to attack him (not by name) in two consecutive speeches and state that Ned Parker's type of reporting was a threat to Iraq and finally for Haider to visit DC and mock Ned Parker while Haider insisted he wished he had -- and vowed he soon would -- the power to control all the press in Iraq.

    And when he said that?

    No one seemed to care enough to report it even though he said it at a public forum.

    (What the world press ignored, we reported on -- see the April 16th snapshot.)

    Fifth, despite claims to the contrary, Tikrit was never fully under Baghdad's control.

    And now, less than two months after the so-called 'success'?

    Charles Lister breaks it down in a Tweet.












  • Tikrit.  The somewhat 'success' isn't even that now.


    Poor Haider, such a failure he's probably making thug Nouri al-Maliki seem better to the US government by contrast.

    Nouri al-Maliki's a War Criminal.

    But the US government tolerated and ignored his crimes throughout the second term they insisted he get (over ruling the Iraqi people in the process).


    When Nouri terrorized Iraq's LGBT community, the White House looked the other way (and lashed out at Congressional lawmakers who were objecting to the persecution).

    When Nouri targeted and killed Iraqi journalists and activists, the White House looked the other way with idiots like failed US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill insisting that a thug was what Iraq required to 'whip it into shape.'

    When Nouri arrested the spouses and children and parents and siblings of suspects -- people whose only crime was being Sunni and being related to suspects -- the White House stayed silent.

    When Iraqi women and girls were tortured and raped in prisons -- and the Iraqi Parliament documented these allegations -- the White House stayed silent.

    When Nouri attacked peaceful protesters, the White House stayed silent.

    Today, they're staying silent as Haider continues Nouri's crimes.

    They're pretending that it's okay and that they're focused on 'the bigger picture.'

    But when a so-called leader terrorizes a people, there is no bigger picture.

    Meanwhile Marisa Taylor and Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) report:

    As U.S. military operations against the Islamic State approach the one-year mark, the White House has failed to give Congress and the public a comprehensive written analysis setting out the legal powers that President Barack Obama is using to put U.S. personnel in harm’s way in Iraq and Syria.
    The absence of an in-depth legal rationale takes on greater urgency with Obama’s decision this week to dispatch up to an additional 450 U.S. military trainers and other personnel to Iraq and to establish a second training site for Iraqi forces in war-ravaged Anbar province, most of which is under Islamic State control.
    The only document the White House has provided to a few key lawmakers comprises four pages of what are essentially talking points, described by those who’ve read them as shallow and based on disputed assertions of presidential authority.

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/06/12/269674/obamas-legal-justification-for.html#storylink=cpy



    I'm not a Richard Haass fan, I'm not a Richard Haass foe.

    I'm neutral.  But he did have a Tweet worth considering today.







  • / parallels 1)flawed decisionmaking; 2) incremental tweaks to failing policy; 3)discredited partner-not scale of US commitment





  • It's hard to disagree with those three points.

    There are certainly many, many more points to make but it is very hard to disagree with his three conclusions.





    Kristina Wong (The Hill) notes many members of Congress are expressing skepticism of Barack's move to continue the same 'plan' -- which hasn't worked -- but with more US troops being sent to Iraq.  From Wong's report, we'll note US House Rep and Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton:


     
    “Military trainers on the ground, I mean, that is really a combat role. … When the Iraqi unit that we were partnering with came under fire … that started the battle of Najaf, which was some of the most brutal fighting of the war until that time,” he said. 
    "So an advisory mission can very quickly become a ground combat mission. I mean, let's not forget: The Vietnam War started as a military advisory mission." 




    Anthony H. Cordesman (CSIS) addresses Barack's 'plan' with these observations:


    There may be some merit in sending in 450 more advisors and support personnel to Iraq – raising the U.S. total to some 3,550 – and focusing on creating Sunni forces in Anbar. There may be some merit in deploying U.S. combat aircraft more forward to an Iraqi air base at Al Taqqadum in Anbar, and there may be some merit in trying to directly integrate more Sunnis into the Iraqi 7th and 8th divisions – the two divisions that will have to try and drive ISIL forces out of Anbar.
    But , creeping incrementalism is rarely a way of correcting a failed or inadequate strategy, and this approach certainly is not a new strategy or a way of addressing the problems that the existing strategy does not address. The announcements of the last few days do not, by any means, reflect a new strategy, they do not address the problems in the existing strategy, and some proposals seem to be of questionable effectiveness.

    [. . .]

    It does not address Iraq’s deep and growing internal political and military divisions between Arab Sunni, Arab Shi’ite, and Kurd – divisions likely to be steadily fueled by Iraq’s much lower oil revenues, Iranian pressure, and the Kurdish seizure of new disputed territory in Ninewa and around Kirkuk. It has been clear from the start that success in Iraq required a far better solution to its internal problems – and quite possibly some form of federalism – as well as much more effective governance.

    Iraq has to make its own decisions, but providing strong U.S. encouragement, plans, options, and a truly proactive U.S. Embassy in Baghdad are changes in strategy that are long overdue. So is a U.S. aid plan that focuses more on helping the Iraqi government reform and address Sunni and Kurdish expectations and needs. Leading from the rear is one thing, remaining in the rear and doing little or nothing is quite another. And, this is particularly true when there is no apparent end game for lasting stability and security in either Iraq or Syria.



    As the White House continues to ignore working towards a political solution -- one that Barack swore June 19, 2014 was the only answer to resolve Iraq's crises -- the violence continues.

    AFP notes 4 suicide car bombings in Hajjaj today have left at least 11 Iraqi forces dead with twenty-seven more people injured.  As for yesterday,  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 131 violent deaths across Iraq on Friday.









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    Sunday, June 7, 2015

    Symbolic Value

    Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Symbolic Value"



    symbolic value
     
     
     
    From December 10, 2102's that's "Symbolic Value."  C.I. noted:
     
    Sharing the stage with human fad Psy, Barack declares, "My worshipers like to point out that, if nothing else, my presidency has symbolic value.  I understand the value of symbolism which is why I wore my U.S. Army t-shirt when I met Psy who called for the death of American soldiers.  Well, I wore it for that and for it's nip slip value."   Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    I still cannot believe Barack made nice with a 'celebrity' who recorded and posted a call for killing American soldiers.
     



    From December 10, 2102's that's "Symbolic Value."



    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"




    Saturday, June 6, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the lies about Iraq continue, the State Dept finally appears to offer an olive branch to Ammar al-Hakim, and much more.



    As we were noting Friday, Diana Ohlbaum blew her chance to explore a serious topic via her own dirty whoring.  The Hill published her  "Republicans' revisionist history on Iraq" possibly in an attempt to open her up to the public ridicule she now so richly deserves.

    In a tacky poly blend of fact and fiction, she offers this mouth dropper:


    It was President George W. Bush who signed the security agreement with Iraq that set a date of Dec. 31, 2011 for all U.S. forces to withdraw from the country. 


    Get it?

    Because Bully Boy Bush did a treaty with Iraq, no one else can.

    It's a liar posing as a child's view of the world.

    By this 'logic'?


    He left no time to regret
    Kept his dick wet
    With his same old safe bet
    Me and my head high
    And my tears dry
    Get on without my guy
    You went back to what you knew
    So far removed from all that we went through
    And I tread a troubled track
    My odds are stacked
    I'll go back to black
    -- "Back to Black," written by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson, first appears on Amy's Back to Black album




    So by the liar's 'logic,' since Bully Boy Bush got his dick wet, Barack must be a virgin, right?


    In an either/or, dichotomous binary world, that is the only possible outcome, right?

    By her 'logic.'

    It's a 'logic' that's fact-free.



    Here's Barack speaking about it on June 19, 2014:



    Q    Just very quickly, do you wish you had left a residual force in Iraq?  Any regrets about that decision in 2011?


    THE PRESIDENT:  Well, keep in mind that wasn’t a decision made by me; that was a decision made by the Iraqi government.  We offered a modest residual force to help continue to train and advise Iraqi security forces.  We had a core requirement which we require in any situation where we have U.S. troops overseas, and that is, is that they're provided immunity since they're being invited by the sovereign government there, so that if, for example, they end up acting in self-defense if they are attacked and find themselves in a tough situation, that they're not somehow hauled before a foreign court.  That's a core requirement that we have for U.S. troop presence anywhere. 




    Huh?

    Yeah.

    That's right.  Barack tried to get a new agreement but failed.

    A fact that a cheap whore who can't even get honest about her politics thought she'd lie about in an article slamming Republicans for lying.

    I don't need cheap whores.


    None of us who are trying to tell the truth need cheap whores 'helping' us.

    All their lying does it obscure reality even further.

    I am trying to be as honest about Iraq as I can be because the Iraqi people matter.

    I'm not the whore Bob Somerby who announced this week that his entire reason for existence online is to elect Democrats (Ruth noted it here).

    Lies are not helping the Iraqi people, lies have never helped the Iraqi people.

    The lie that sanctions were a 'humane' way to avoid war didn't help the Iraqi people.

    The lie that Iraq had WMD didn't help the Iraqi people.

    Democratic politicians were the ones chiefly responsible for the first lie, Republican politicians were the ones chiefly responsible for the second.


    A lot of politicians did a lot of lying and, thing is, politicians lie all the time.  It's only when whores enable them that their lies have traction.

    It's only when filthy whores see themselves as something better than they are -- cheap tricks who will be used and tossed aside -- and lie for politicians. Diana Ohlbaum is just the latest whore to sling a tired ass.

    She writes:


    Third, it is clear that leaving U.S. troops in for longer, or returning them now, would not essentially change the fundamentals of the conflict. ISIS and other extremist forces are expanding, not for lack of powerful enemies, but because those enemies are themselves so abhorrent. The repressive, violent and corrupt regimes in Syria and Iran are the chief antagonists and targets of ISIS. By inserting ourselves into this fight, we unavoidably strengthen the very regimes we find so repugnant and so threatening to U.S. interests in the region.



    Is that clear?

    No, it's not.

    And you have to be a damn liar to claim otherwise.

    I have been speaking out against the Iraq War since February 2003 -- one month before it started.

    It is still going on and I am still speaking out.

    But opposition to the illegal war or the desire to stop it does not give me the excuse to lie about it.

    The drawdown of US forces is December 2011.

    And immediately Nouri al-Maliki

    From the December 12, 2011 snapshot:

     
    CNN reported this afternoon that an arrest warrant had been issued for Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi by the Judicial Commitee with the charge of terrorism.  Omar al-Saleh (Al Jazeera) terms it a "poltical crisis" and states, "The government says this has nothing to do with the US withdrawal, that this has nothing to do with the prime minister consolidating his grip on power.  However, members of al-Iraqiya bloc, which Hashimis is a member of, say 'No, [Maliki] is trying to be a dictator."  Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) observes, "The arrest warrant puts Mr. Maliki on a possible collision course with the Kurds, who run their own semiautonomous region in the north and participate in the central government but have longstanding disputes with Baghdad over oil and land; and with Sunni Arabs in provinces like Anbar, Diyala, Nineveh and Salahuddin who have pressed in recent weeks for more autonomy from Baghdad with the backing of the Kurds."
     
    What the hell is going on? 
     
    Over the weekend, Nouri went for another power grab. 
     
     
    It actually started before Saturday but the press was ga-ga over photo-ops.  'Last soldier out! No, really, last US soldier out! Except for the ones still there! Don't look behind the curtain!'   And apparently covering for Barack was more important than telling Americans what was taking place in Iraq.
     

    Late Saturday night online (Sunday in print), Liz Sly (Washington Post) noted that the 'government' in Iraq is "unraveling faster than had been anticipated Saturday." Really?  All in one day.  Well,  no, not in one day.  She continued,  "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders." 



    And December 18, 2011 on All Things Considered (NPR), Kelly McEvers offered this take:

    Kelly McEvers: Here in Kuwait, just having crossed over the border, we have all these US commanders telling us that they're leaving Iraq in a better place, that it's a thriving democracy. Yet in Baghdad it looks like you have Prime Minister Maliki -- who is a Shi'ite and whose government is Shi'ite -- going after his rivals who are Sunnis. Just yesterday, charges were announced against the Vice President who is Sunni and troops surrounded his house. The Maliki government accuses him of being involved in a terrorist plot. But Maliki's detractors say this is sectarian revenge. So you know we've got these promises from US commanders that things are going really well but this kind of national reconciliation government looks like it's unraveling.

    This took place in the immediate aftermath of the US drawdown.

    Had more US troops stayed -- Ted Koppel established that not all US troops had left, if you're late to the party, Google that -- would Nouri have pulled that nonsense?

    Maybe not.

    Maybe so.

    It seems doubtful to me that he would have.

    But we just don't know.

    And that's what's called honesty.


    Diana Ohlbaum is dishonest and lying when she writes:


    Third, it is clear that leaving U.S. troops in for longer, or returning them now, would not essentially change the fundamentals of the conflict. ISIS and other extremist forces are expanding, not for lack of powerful enemies, but because those enemies are themselves so abhorrent. The repressive, violent and corrupt regimes in Syria and Iran are the chief antagonists and targets of ISIS. By inserting ourselves into this fight, we unavoidably strengthen the very regimes we find so repugnant and so threatening to U.S. interests in the region.


    Would US troops on the ground in Iraq now -- as more than so-called 'trainers' -- make any difference?

    I don't know and neither does Diana Ohlbaum.

    My argument would be that any 'gains' that might result would be erased when the US troops left or decreased in number and Iraq would be right back where it was.  So maybe there's something to be said for allowing it to be sorted out now* and maybe there's not.

    [*If the US government is going to 'help' with war planes, they can certainly help with diplomacy.]

    But the "violent and corrupt regimes in Syria and Iran" are not the reason the Islamic Society has a the strong foothold in Iraq today.  The reason for that is Nouri al-Maliki's second term and the actions he took.

    Is Diana Ohlbaum even aware that Iraqis took to the streets in December 2012 in protests which lasted until January 2014 -- when Nouri began burning down protest camps -- over a year of steady protests?

    If she is aware, she's not honest enough to admit it.

    She's just another partisan liar pretending to give a damn about Iraq but actually trying to use it as a political football in order to influencing voting.

    Her lies -- like other earlier lies -- do not help the Iraqi people.

    Is Robin Yassin-Kassab a liar or just really bad at condensing and summaring?  Yassin-Kassab (Guardian) writes of Emma Sky's The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq:



    In the 2010 election, with both Sunni and Shia support, the non‑sectarian, nationalist Iraqiya bloc won two seats more than Nouri al‑Maliki’s State of Law coalition. But many MPs were disqualified by the de‑Ba’athification committees, while Maliki demanded a recount and then manoeuvred to stay on as prime minister. To his military’s disgust, Obama ignored the deadlock for two months. Chris Hill, the new US ambassador, told Odierno that Iraq wasn’t ready for democracy and needed a Shia strongman. An opinion poll disagreed: only 14% of Iraqis thought Maliki should stay in power. But the Iranians lobbied hard to preserve him and thus to alienate Iraq from the rest of the Arab world. Obama’s acquiescence led one of Sky’s Iraqi informants to complain: “Either the Americans are stupid or there is a secret deal with Iran” – a view that is still more widespread today. Where Bush made democracy a totem, and thought it could be delivered via occupation, Obama gave up on it entirely. The results of this equally misguided (and orientalist) approach are painfully evident today.
    Sky saw the start of Maliki’s slide into paranoid authoritarianism. His regime abandoned (or arrested) the Sahwa militias who had fought al‑Qaida, detained thousands of Sunnis without trial, killed dozens of peaceful protesters, and appointed loyalists rather than competent officers to the army.

    In November 2013, Obama praised “a strong, prosperous, inclusive and democratic Iraq”. By July 2014, Islamic State had driven the Iraqi army out of Mosul and set about cleansing religious minorities from the north. 


    Let's zoom in here where the trouble starts:


    But many MPs were disqualified by the de‑Ba’athification committees, while Maliki demanded a recount and then manoeuvred to stay on as prime minister.


    Many MPs were disqualified -- before the election.

    Not after.

    Is that clear to the readers?

    Saleh al-Mutlaq, for example, would go on to be Deputy Prime Minister in the 2010 to 2014 government.

    But he was not allowed to run in the elections.

    He was among the Sunnis disqualified (more than Sunnis were disqualified).

    Ahead of the elections, he was a frequent guest on Al Jazeera's Inside Iraq where he discussed not being allowed to run.



    The summary also implies that Iraqiya won by two votes before a recount.


    Wrong, Iraqiya had a bigger lead and it was chipped away at when Nouri stomped his feet and demanded a recount.

    Chipped away at but not destroyed.

    And the political stalemate -- where Nouri refused to step down and brought the government to a standstill for eight months -- is that clear?

    Nothing's clear.

    Again, maybe the writer's just bad at summary or recap.

    But lies don't help the Iraqi people.

    The lies include pretending it's okay that Haider al-Abadi's doing nothing to reach a political solution in Iraq.

    Frederic Wehrey and Ala' Albrababa'h's report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace noted:

    The new Iraqi government of Haider al-Abadi initially took several steps to accommodate the tribes and temper the IS’s heavy-handed military campaign in Sunni areas. During his recent visit to Jordan, Abadi also met with several Sunni leaders from the Anbar Province to discuss support for a tribal struggle against the IS. But on balance, Iraqi government support for the tribes has fallen far short of what would be required to turn the tide against the IS in the province.


    They noted that in December.


    All these months later, it's still true.



  • Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) offers, "Reached late last year, the new Iraq-Kurdistan oil revenue sharing deal was supposed to be the centerpiece of a new rapprochement between the autonomous region and the central government, and new unity in the country. That deal is already in jeopardy, however, over disputes on revenue sharing."

    But it wasn't a deal and it wasn't followed and your first clue there was Haider's refusal to drop the lawsuit Nouri had brought regarding a tanker of oil the Kurds want to sell which has been stalled for over a year now.

    Your second clue that there was no deal was the fact that Haider was involved.

    Haider's a liar like Nouri -- pretending to make changes but never actually doing anything.

    Sunnis remain targeted.

    If you doubt it, Nour Malas (Wall St. Journal) reports:on how Ramadi refugees are not being allowed to enter Baghdad:


    On the outskirts of the capital and 50 miles southeast of Ramadi, Bzeibez is the only crossing over the Euphrates river between Anbar and the capital Baghdad. For five days after Ramadi fell to the Sunni extremists of Islamic State on May 17, the bridge was either completely or intermittently closed to those fleeing violence, officials at the bridge and in Baghdad said.
    [. . .]
    “When they came, yes there were women and children,” Mr. Bassem, the policeman, said on Wednesday. “But we see Daesh, and they have women and children among them so how can we be sure?”
    Behind him, teenage boys pushed steel wheelbarrows stacked with sacks of potatoes, sugar, and fabrics in both directions across the bridge, which was open for its usual working hours on Wednesday. Children, some of them residents of the area and others newly displaced, jumped into the Euphrates below to ward off the midday heat.




    Sunnis aren't welcome in Baghdad by Haider al-Abadi but he can't get enough of Qasem Soleimani.












  • Lastly, better late than never.  We've spent months noting that the US government has lost Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq -- a Shi'ite leader.


    We've also noted that the US government has done nothing to address that.

    Today the State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted the following:






















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