Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Deal


From April 5, 2015, that's "The Deal."  C.I. noted:

A woman puts a piece of paper with "The De" on it on the fridge and explains, "No, he didn't finish it. But he's still really proud of it."  Barack preens unnecessarily.  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Barack never did deliver.  Even when he started something that might have been good, he refused to follow it through.  That was his story in the Senate as well.

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

Friday, June 22, 2018.  THE DAILY BEAST decides to copy PINK NEWS (can we use the p-term?) without attribution, Moqtada's chief of staff speaks to the press, and much more.

Tim Teeman has a report that posted an hour or so ago at THE DAILY BEAT and either he or THE BEAST decided that the way to cover Iraq's LGBTQ was with an ISIS hook.  I have no idea why.  ISIS did kill LGBTQs but even the figures in his article note that this accounted for only 10% of the deaths.  The bulk have been, according to Teeman's article, militias (31%).

Killing of LGBTQs in Iraq -- and those suspected of being LGBTQ -- predates the rise of ISIS.   Let's drop back to June 1, 2009 to note that day's   KPFK's Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett which featured a conversation between Garrett and LA City Council member Bill Rosendahl and the topic was marriage equality:

Bill Rosendahl: . . . we're not equal in America today.  We're not equal anywhere on the earth.  In fact, I put a motion in last week on the council about the outrage in going on Iraq right now.  While we have 130,000 troops there, spending billions of dollars, killing a lot of local people, that gay people are being round up and murdered.  Over 600 have been documented and we're there watching it happen. And it's just outrageous and our president should get up and show some real leadership and, frankly, say, "Look, we're in Iraq to create freedom there and democracy and gay people are not going to be any more murdered just because they're gay."  And that's what's going on -- tortured and murdered.  And so, we suffer as gay people all over the planet.  We have a better life here in American and in the west than a lot of gay people have in other parts of the planet.  They're literally killed for their realities but here in the States we still don't have our basic civil rights.  I mean, when is our president going to get up and talk about Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Our people are in the military.  They're thrown out of the military.  He promised us that, I'm expecting real leadership out of him.  And I must say I am disappointed.  He has not taken the leadership seriously enough.  I don't like what he's doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I don't like what he's continuing to do in Iraq. He better not get to boisterous about North Korea and Iran.  You know, he should focus on our infrastructure, our education and bring peace to the planet, not more imperial war. 
Lila Garrett: Wait a minute.  600 gay people were murdered?  By whom?
Bill Rosendahl: 600 gay people in Iraq were murdered by --
Lila Garrett: By?
Bill Rosendahl: -- family and by folks within the militia who see gay people out in the street being more public.  They round us up and then they kill us.  And then there's an incredible torture mechanism that they do which I don't really want to say on the air but it's just disgusting how they end up putting us to death and to know about it from international gay and lesbian groups and to know our government knows it's going on and has said nothing about it, to me, is outrageous and I want our president to show some real leadership on this.
Lila Garrett: Yeah, but I really have to know, these 600 murdered people, you say by families and militia, are you talking about the American militia
Bill Rosendahl: No.  No, no, no.  No, I'm talking about several, what I consider, perversions of the Koran.  There are people who believe in Mohammad that also believe to be gay is wrong and that 'honor' murders can take place.  So some of it is literally families killing their own. And others are groups that are just part of the community who single out young gay men because they figure they are gay and kill them.  They literally kill us.
Lila Garrett: Are you saying, that this is happening in Iraq or is happening in Iran?
Bill Rosendahl: This is happening in Iraq as we're talking right now, Lila.
Lila Garrett: By Iraqis?
Bill Rosendahl: By Iraqis. 
Lila Garrett: And the United States is not stopping it?
Bill Rosendahl: It is not stopping it.
Lila Garrett: This is unbelievable.
Bill Rosendahl: It is unbelievable.  It's outrageous.  It is a living hell for my folks over there.
Lila Garrett: I don't understand why this isn't the story in the United States.
Bill Rosendahl: Well because the American media is so perverted.  They spend all this time about Miss America and all that at the same time this is going on over there.  They spend more time on trivia here than they do on real stories.  They spent some quality time on that young lady that was in Iran that was arrested as a spy who was a reporter.  But this particular issue has gotten no press, mainstream press, it has gotten a lot of other press and there's a lot of e-mails that are circulated and the gay and lesbian international groups have documented it, have gone over there and are the ones who first brought it to my attention.  And that's why I brought it to the attention of my colleagues on the City Council and we unanimously passed a resolution.  In fact, my chief of staff Mike Bonahma was with the vice president of the United States the next day, Joe Biden, because he was one of the early Obama supporters, and mentioned it to him, handed him the resolution and as Biden left the room, he said, "I'll get back to you on it." So hopefully our president will show real leadership and show an outrage to this.
Lila Garrett: Let's not hold our breath before Obama shows real leadership.
Bill Rosendahl: I know.
Lila Garrett: I want to get back to these 600 gay people that have been murdered.  By the Iraqis -- by whom among the Iraqis?  By the Sunnis?
Bill Rosendahl: No, no, no.  I'm talking about family.  I'm talking about just the militias and the insurgents in general.  They consider this [being gay] wrong and a murderous act and they literally kill us.  And when the numbers started to become hundreds -- and now it's over 600 documented -- that's when it was brought  to my attention.  In fact, one of the international leaders of the gay group read a letter that was sent to him by a 25-year-old gay man who was in that threatened position.  So we're trying to raise the awareness out there, the public awareness, and you're helping with that, Lila, by putting it on your show.

Let's stay with that day's snapshot for a moment to make sure we're all on the same page:

As noted May 15th, "Ruben Vives (Los Angeles Times) reports that the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted Wednesday to approve Council Rep Bill Rosendahl's 'resolution calling for federal legislation urging the Iraqi government to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people'."  Lila noted that the segment was taped ahead of time so, for perspective, the resolution passed May 15th.  This year, the targeting's been noted here first in more on the issue, you can see this snapshot, this entry and the roundtable Friday night ["Roundtable on Iraq," "Roundtabling Iraq," "the roundtable," "Iraq," "Iraq in the Kitchen," "Roundtable on Iraq," "Talking Iraq," "Iraq," "Talking Iraq roundtable" and "Iraq roundtable"] That's going back to the start of April and it is not true that the MSM has ignored it.  They could do a lot more but they have covered it and where there has been no amplification is in Panhandle Media which appears to feel it's a 'niche' story to be left to the LGBT media.  In April, Wisam Mohammed and Khalid al-Ansary (Reuters) and Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN), the Dallas Morning News, UPI and AFP reported on it.   Michael Riley (Denver Post) covered the story and covered US House Rep Jared Polis' work on the issue (which included visiting Iraq), PDF format warning, click here for his letter to Patricia A. ButenisPolis is quoted at his website stating, "The United States should not tolerate human rights violations of nay kind, especially by a government that Americans spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year supporting.  Hopefully my trip and letters to US and Iraqi officials will help bring international attention and investigation to this terrible situation and bring an end to any such offenses."   For the New York Times, Timothy Williams and Tareq Maher's "Iraq's Newly Open Gays Face Scorn and Murder" covered the topic.  BBC News offered "Fears over Iraq gay killing spate."  The Denver Post offered an editorial entitled  "Killing of gay Iraqis shouldn't be ignored: We applaud Rep. Jared Polis for his efforts last week to shine the spotlight on the killings of homosexuals in Iraq,"  Nigel Morris offered "Iraqi leaders attacked over spate of homophobic murders" (Independent of London), the Telegraph of London covers the issue hereNeal Broverman (The Advocate), Jessica Green (UK's Pink News), and Doug Ireland covered it (here's one report by Ireland at GayCityNews -- he's filed more than one report), AFP reported on it again when signs went up throughout Sadr City with statements such as "We will punish you, perverts" and "We will get you, puppies" (puppies is slang for gay men in Iraq) and Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reported on that as well. Chris Johnson offered "Polis seeks to aid Iraqis: Says gays 'fear for their life and limb' after fact-finding trip to Baghdad" (Washington Blade), Killian Melloy (The Edge -- this is the April 2nd story that contains the State Dept stating it's not happening -- the denial) and [PDF formart warning] the April 15th  "Iraq Status Report" by the US State Dept notes the killings.  Amnesty International weighed in as did the  International Gay and lesiban Human Rights Campaign.  Jim Muir (BBC News -- text and video) reported on the targeting and the attacks. UK Gay News covered it, last week ABC News offered Mazin Faiq's "Tortured and Killed in Iraq for Being Gay" Chicago Pride and UPI covered the latest deaths last week.  And AFP and Jessica Green (UK's Pink News) covered the public statement from Moqtada al-Sadr about how they needed to be "eradicated" for "depravity" and he thinks they can be 'taught' not to be gay. As for the technique, Bill Rosendahl didn't want to discuss on air  Doug Ireland (ZNet) reported on that in May:

As the murder campaign targeting Iraqi gays intensifies, a leading Arabic television network last week revealed the use of a horrifying new form of lethal torture against Iraqi gay men -- anti-gay Shiite death squads are sealing their anuses with a powerful glue, then inducing diarrhea, which leads to a painful and agonizing death. The use of this stomach-turning new torture was first reported by the Al Arabiya network, which is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates and was alerted to the story by a leading Iraqi feminist and human rights activist.
Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), told Al Arabiya that the torture substance "is an Iranian-manufactured glue that, if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile telephones in Iraq." Al Arabiya said its reporter confirmed the use of this anal torture by "visiting the Baghdad morgue in Bab-al-Moazaam in central Baghdad, where Neman Mohsen, the medical examiner, confirmed they have the bodies of seven homosexuals in the morgue. He said, 'We were not able to identify the culprits, who dumped the bodies in front of the morgue and fled without being seen.'" A two-person team from Human Rights Watch (HRW) currently in Iraq to investigate persecution of LGBT people has also confirmed the use of this form of torture. In a widely-circulated email from Iraq, the head of HRW's LGBT desk, Scott Long, said he and his colleague had gathered evidence which confirms the Al Arabiya report and that HRW would make its own detailed report after the organization's two staffers return to the United States next week.      

The State Dept denial noted above came when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.  It was considered wiser to ignore it than risk that they might be forced to pull aid from Iraq.  US Senator Robert Menendez would run afoul of the Obama administration a few years later when he refused to back down on the human rights abuses carried out by the Iraqi government.  It was during that period that the efforts to remove Menendez from office kicked off. 

And the human rights abuses of the Iraqi government included the targeting of Iraq's LGBTQ community.  As we covered here, this was a Nouri al-Maliki operation.  It was his Ministry of the Interior that distributed pamphlets throughout the schools and sent in speakers explaining that these "vampires" must be killed.

To this day, some who paid attention will try to give Nouri cover noting that the Ministry could have acted alone.  Yes, it could have.  But who was the head of the Ministry?

Nouri al-Maliki.  He refused to name a Minister for Parliament to confirm because he wanted to control the Ministry of Interior.

Nouri was prime minister and he was in charge of the Ministry.

The Ministry had been in place for almost seven years before that and it had a lousy reputation; however, it was not known for going into schools with presentations calling for students to kill.

Nouri, of course, insisted that was not what they were doing.  AL MADA and ALSUMARIA had covered the story before his denial.  Too bad for Nouri, they were then able to produce the documents handed out by the Ministry to the students.  They were calling for the murder of anyone suspected of being gay and they were referring to them as "vampires."

That's Nouri.  That's the Iraqi government at that time.  And the US State Dept, in April of 2009, didn't want to risk being forced to cut off funding to Iraq or US troops being removed from Iraq.

From Tim Teeman's report this morning:

Rana from Babylon said: “I will die without anyone knowing that I was a lesbian. All the feelings I have, and all the girls I had crushes on will remain secrets I will take with me to my grave. I don’t think I will ever live to see an Iraq that welcomes people like me.” 
Mazin, a gay man living in Baghdad, told IraQueer in January 2018: “I escaped my family’s home six months ago. My dad is a police officer and he found out that I am gay. He’s been threatening to kill me since then. I’ve been staying at my friend’s house since, and rarely go out.”
Rawa, a 26-year-old gay man, said he was unable to keep his job because of sexual harassment and violence. “I was raped by my boss when I was working as a barista. He then threatened that he will report me to the police if I said anything. I had no choice but to escape.”
Hana, who is 31 years old and lives in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, said: “Every day I spend with my husband, another part of me dies. My father forced me to marry my cousin. I no longer recognize myself in the mirror.”
Members of the trans community face particular danger “simply by existing,” the report said. Hormone treatments are not legal and so make transitioning even more dangerous. Gender confirmation surgery is not permitted by the law, and if people manage to have the surgery outside the country, they face difficulties obtaining legal documents that reflect their gender identity.

96% of Face Physical or Verbal Violence. A new report, released by the group , has revealed the state of LGBT rights in . It found 96% of LGBT Iraqis have faced physical or verbal violence because of their sexuality or gender…
Ronny, a gay Christian refugee from Mosul, Iraq, looks out at the city skyline. After being sexually harassed by his work colleagues, he moved to an LGBT shelter in Istanbul. Ronny, 32, has faced other discriminatory acts in Turkey, including being beat up by eight people on…

We are officially releasing our baseline study highlighting the situation of the LGBT+ community in Iraq. Read more about the report in this interview with .

Eve Hartley reported on the survey four days ago for PINK NEWS and, interesting, she didn't feel the need to use ISIS as a hook.

Members of the trans community in particular face extreme danger simply by existing in Iraq. In particular danger are those who choose to undergo hormone treatment and show physical changes.
As hormone treatments and sex operations are not legal in Iraq,  transitioning is even more dangerous for those individuals. People who manage to undergo the surgery outside of Iraq face the difficulties in obtaining legal documents that reflect their post surgical identity.

Hmmm.  That's strangely similar to what Tim wrote this for morning for THE DAILY BEAST:

Members of the trans community face particular danger “simply by existing,” the report said. Hormone treatments are not legal and so make transitioning even more dangerous. Gender confirmation surgery is not permitted by the law, and if people manage to have the surgery outside the country, they face difficulties obtaining legal documents that reflect their gender identity.

Strangely similar.

Eva and PINK NEWS cover it and then THE DAILY BEAST and Tim 'borrow' from it four days later.

Let's move on to another topic, Turkey's continued attacks on Iraq.

Statements by undisclosed Iraqi sources talked about an understanding between Baghdad and Ankara on Turkey pursuing the PKK inside Iraqi territory. Turkey has touted the reported agreement, but Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, have adamantly denied one exists.
Saad al-Hadithi, spokesman for the prime minister's office, said Turkey's statements about launching military operations in Iraq are politically motivated as Erdogan is trying to impress voters before the June 24 elections.
“Turkey wants the Turkish citizens to vote in favor of the Turkish president in the elections,” Hadithi told Al-Monitor. “The Iraqi government will not allow Turkish forces to invade its territory under any pretext. It warned Turkey not to do so. The entry of Turkish troops into the Iraqi territory is a violation of sovereignty.”
While Baghdad is openly rejecting the Turkish incursion, silence prevails in the KRG.
The KRG — which fought a war against the PKK in the 1990s — doesn't mind Turkey's military action against the Kurdish militant group, said Nawzad Hasan, a political analyst at Al-Sabah Iraqi newspaper and a former professor at Salahuddin University-Erbil.
KRG spokesman Sven Dzi told Al-Monitor, "The KRG had called on the PKK months ago to leave the Kurdistan region territory, to deny Turkey any pretext for its invasion.” 
Though Iraq clearly rejects any military action without its consent, Hasan told Al-Monitor that Baghdad isn't in a position to stop Turkish incursions right now, given the internal turmoil over Iraq's recent elections.

Nawzad Hasan's an interesting sort of analyst "Baghdad isn't in a position to stop Turkish incursions right now, given the internal turmoil over Iraq's recent elections."  Those elections took place May 12th.  What prevented Baghdad prior to that?  This has been going on for years. As noted in yesterday's snapshotYENISAFAK reports, "Turkey has 11 temporary military bases in northern Iraq, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Thursday."

On the topic of the recent elections, Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc came in first in the elections (who knows how the recounts will turn out).  Quentin Muller (THE NEW ARAB) interviews Dhia al-Asadi (chief of staff for Moqtada).  Here's an excerpt:
Q.M. - Why did he distance himself from Iraqi Shia politicians?
D.A. - Moqtada left the Shia coalition because he didn't trust al-Maliki. And above all he wanted to change our relations with our neighbours. We fought the US intervention in Iraq, but that didn't mean we had to put up with the presence of Iranians, Turks or other Arabs on our soil. It is positive to have good relations with one's neighbours, but that doesn't mean those countries should interfere in our affairs.
Q.M. - Have you carried out surveys among your followers to make sure your new positions won't cause a split in the Sadrist movement?
D.A. - Our movement involves three different levels. There is Moqtada, the leader, there is an "elite" - though I wouldn't call us that, rather we are intermediaries, civic advisers, like myself; and then there are the grassroots followers, who trust him implicitly.

There was no need to take a survey or negotiate with them, because whatever he decides, they will go along with it. Sometimes we advisers will get together with him and negotiate, pointing out different possible directions we could take, but the final choice is his. Before making a decision, Moqtar al-Sadr consults with those who are closest to him, in Iraq and abroad.
Q.M. - But still, isn't it a little odd to have made an alliance with communists and liberals, often viewed in Iraq as "atheists"?

D.A. - In 2015, we took to the streets alongside representatives of the very few other parties involved in the anti-corruption demonstrations, and we realised we had a common goal, a peaceful one: Reforming the political system.

And so Moqtada al-Sadr broached the question: Why not join our efforts and form a single coalition? Some thought such a coalition couldn't last because of our ideological differences. Sometimes contradictions do arise, but our goal was not to discuss what divides us but rather our common objectives.

The following community sites -- Jody Watley -- updated:

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    Friday, June 15, 2018

    Uncle Joe's Looking Better and Better



    From March 30, 2015, that's  "Uncle Joe's Looking Better and Better."  C.I. noted:

    John Kerry does his Frankenstein and chants, "More war.  More war."  Hillary Clinton holds a shotgun and insists, "Vote for me and nobody gets hurt."  In front of both of them, a grinning Joe Biden says, "Bet Uncle Joe's looking better and better to you."  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    Imagine how much better we'd be today if Joe Biden had run for president in 2016.

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

    Friday, June 15, 2018.  The western press obsesses over foreign countries interfering in Iraq -- foreign countries that are not the United States.

    The big news out of Iraq continues to be Moqtada al-Sadr and Hadi al-Ameri teaming up.

    Iraq: The leader of the Sadrist movement Moqtada al-Sadr had announced the formation of an alliance between the people & the opening to form the largest bloc in parliament, came during a joint press conference with President of the Al-Fathahidi alliance held in Najaf.14-06-2018

    THE ECONOMIST notes:

    WHAT would politicians the world over like to do when they lose an election? Annul the results and burn the ballots, of course. In Iraq such dreams come true. On June 6th outgoing MPs voted to hold a recount of Iraq’s election and sack the head of the electoral commission. They were furious that a populist Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, won the poll, held in May. Then, on June 10th, a warehouse in Baghdad containing a million ballots went up in flames. Firefighters claim to have saved most of them, but the equipment for counting the votes was destroyed.
    Weary of the democratic process, Mr Sadr and his rivals are again readying their militias. An arms cache that exploded under a mosque in Mr Sadr’s Baghdad stronghold killed about 20 residents and brought his militia, Saraya Salam, onto the streets. “Certain parties are trying to drag Iraq into civil war,” he warned.
    The fiercest rancour is between the Shia factions vying for the post of prime minister. Mr Sadr’s electoral bloc, Sairoun, seeks to wrest power from Dawa, a Shia Islamist party that has led the government since 2005. Dawa held the most seats in the outgoing parliament, but the electoral bloc of its leader, Nuri al-Maliki, a former prime minister, tied for fourth in the poll. Mr Maliki and his allies cried foul and said a new electronic-voting system made the poll easier to rig.

    Some are fretting over the alliance between Moqtada and Hadi but this is an alliance that resulted from US interference.  The US government egged on the losers encouraging them to demand a recount or a revote.  They thought that would happen.

    All it did was lead to Moqtada teaming up with Hadi to block the US interference.

    Moqtada teaming up with others was limited.  And, as Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) observed in his analysis last week, "Al-Sadr is satisfied because the state of law alliance – another Iran-allied group but one that is less popular than the militias’ – is not part of this agreement."  State of Law is Nouri al-Maliki's coalition.

    ALJAZEERA notes:

    Sadr and Amiri are strange bedfellows.
    Sadr, who once led violent campaigns against the US occupation that ended in 2011, has emerged as a nationalist opponent of powerful Shia parties allied with neighbouring Iran and as a champion of the poor.
    "Our meeting was a very positive one, we met to end the suffering of this nation and of the people. Our new alliance is a nationalist one," Sadr said.
    Al-Sadr's alliance comprising of communists and secular Iraqis has announced it is fiercely opposed to any foreign interference in Iraq - whether Tehran's or Washington's.
    Amiri, a fluent Persian speaker, is Iran's closest ally in Iraq, having spent two years in exile there during the era of former President Saddam Hussein.

    The Fatah alliance he led in the election was composed of political groups tied to Iran-backed Shia armed groups who helped government forces defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) fighters.

    Hadi heads the militias bloc.  Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) offers a look at the group:

    The Fatah, or Conquest, alliance is led by Hadi al-Ameri, a former government minister-turned soldier, leader of the Badr brigades and well known for his closeness to Iran and his friendship with senior Iranian soldier, Qasim Soleimani.  It is made up of 18 different political parties, most of which are backed by armed militias. The Badr group is probably the most prominent in the group but the alliance also includes political wings of parties like Hezbollah in Iraq and the League of the Righteous. And they managed to do better in the elections, held May 12, than the two other alliances – that led by Haider al-Abadi and another led by cleric Ammar al-Hakim - who formerly got many of the Shiite Muslim votes in Iraq.
    When the extremist Islamic State, or IS, group sparked the security crisis in 2014, that would impact the country so critically over the next three years, a Shiite Muslim-led government was in charge. The IS group exploited opportunities – political unrest, sectarian divisions, a lack of security, a mismanaged military – to take control of certain cities and towns in Iraq. Locals believed that many of these things were the fault of the current government.
    Many Shiites came to believe that the Shiite Muslim political parties that had ruled for over a decade bore a large part of the responsibility for the IS group’s development.
    Meanwhile the Shiite Muslim militias formed in response to the security crisis and were seen as a new hope. They were defended their own homes and also went to fight the IS group on its territory. Locals came to see them as a group with potential – not just in security terms but also with the potential to resolve other longstanding problems in Iraq, such as the wobbling economy and the lack of state services.
    In 2015, Shiite Muslim militia leaders began to exploit that vision of them and started making political statements. The leader of the League of the Righteous held a press conference commenting on the nature of Iraqi politics and how a change was needed. In a year marked by extremely high summer temperatures and the deterioration of power supplies, a statement from Hezbollah in Iraq said it would hold the minister of power to account and called on police not to use violence against demonstrators who were protesting the power cuts. Such calls were unusual, coming from a militia. A few weeks before the Iraqi election, the militias also added the fight against corruption to their list of priorities.

    “The fight against corruption is the first step we will take when we get into parliament,” Abdul Amir Fattah Hassan, a member of the Conquest alliance, told NIQASH. “For too long, personal interests have disrupted state services.”

    The US government made a huge mistake when they thought they could force Moqtada to step aside after his bloc won the elections.  Their efforts to circumvent him led to his alliance with Hadi.  As usual, the western press finds outside interference shocking -- when it's not the US.  So they spend all their time focusing on the manipulations of non-US governments.  THE ARAB WEEKLY features an AFP piece focusing on Iran's role in the teaming:

    Insiders said the unlikely tie-up to try to form a new government came after Iran decided that if it couldn't beat Sadr, then it might be better to seek to join him.
    In the immediate aftermath of the vote, Tehran had launched a political offensive to try to unite its allies and block Sadr's path to power.
    But Iran changed tack on realising pushing the popular cleric aside was too problematic, and instead sought to include Sadr in a Shia alliance broad enough to neutralise his influence.
    At a meeting Sunday with Ameri and former premier Nuri al-Maliki at Iran's embassy in Baghdad, top emissaries from Tehran apparently endorsed a link-up with Sadr as the lesser of two evils.
    "Dismissing Moqtada Sadr could allow him to assemble other groups and increase the criticism levelled at Iran's role in Iraq," said a source close to participants of the meeting.

    What might the landscape in Iraq look like if the governments of Iran and the US stopped trying to control things from behind the scenes?  The world will probably never know.  Just like PBS' FRONTLINE will repeatedly ignore the US role in Iraq while always focusing on Saudi Arabia and Iran's attempts to control Iraq.

    XINHUA notes, "A security personnel was killed and six others wounded on Friday in a militant attack on a security checkpoint in central Iraq on the first day of Eid al-Fitr festival, a police source said."  In addition, Leith Aboufadel (ALMASDAR NEWS) explains, "The Turkish military killed at least 26 fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the Qandil Mountains region of northern Iraq today, Turkish state-owned Anadolu Agency reported."

    The Turkish conflict continues and it has no end in sight.   Fazel Hawramy (AL-MONITOR) points out:

    "If the occupying enemy sleeps even one night comfortably … we won’t accept that," Adasa Janwelat, a young female sniper from Afrin said May 20 as she prepared to go into battle alongside other fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) against units of the Turkish army, which has occupied a large swath of territory in the Sidakan area in northern Iraq.
    "After kicking out the Turkish army from south Kurdistan [Iraq], I will go to Afrin and fight against the occupying forces there." Two weeks later, on June 3, a website close to the PKK released a video, which showed the group's snipers observing Turkish soldiers on peaks in the Sidakan area through their binoculars and shooting five of them dead.
    The Sidakan area is an inaccessible triangle with spectacular high peaks, rocky and precipitous gorges and rivers flowing between Iraq, Iran and Turkey. It has served as the perfect corridor for PKK fighters to cross into Turkey and attack the security forces. Since July 2015, when a 2½-year cease-fire collapsed between the government and the PKK, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has undertaken a crusade against the group in Iraq and Turkey and its affiliated groups in Syria.
    Erdogan feels emboldened — especially after wresting control of Afrin from the US-backed People's Protection Units (YPG) in March, which was followed by PKK fighters' withdrawal from Sinjar and more recently the YPG's withdrawal from Manbij. But the tenacity of the PKK and its ferocity in fighting its enemies — be they the Turkish army or other Kurdish groups — show that if Erdogan indeed attacks Qandil, which is very unlikely, he should expect a bloody and long war with serious consequences for the stability of the region and Iraqi Kurdistan. While Turkish firepower appears to have been fairly effective in the flatlands and hills of northern Syria, the highlands of northern Iraq are a different story and could become a death trap for any ground invasion by the Turkish army.


    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and THE DIANE REHM SHOW -- updated:

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