Wednesday, December 24, 2008

El Salvador and al-Mashhadani exit

The 200-troop contingent from El Salvador, which was part of Tuesday's agreement, will return home next month, Salvadoran President Elías Antonio Saca announced Tuesday, according to press reports in El Salvador. Britain has said it intends to withdraw its 4,000 troops from southern Iraq by the end of May.
The non-American foreign troops that remain in Iraq work primarily in training and advisory capacities.
Shortly after the security agreement was approved, Iraq's abrasive and divisive parliament speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, announced his resignation, bowing to calls for his ouster from Shiite and Kurdish lawmakers.

The above is from Ernesto Londono's "2nd Troop Accord Passes In Iraq" (Washington Post) and from Saif Hameed and Ned Parker's "Iraq OKs security deal allowing British troops to stay" (Los Angeles Times) we'll note this on al-Mashhadani:

Mashadani, who remains a member of parliament, was a controversial figure throughout his tenure as speaker.
Sunni lawmakers said he had vowed to change his behavior in the summer of 2007, when his bodyguards allegedly beat up a Shiite lawmaker after a verbal altercation. He was briefly dismissed over the incident and then reinstated.
"He was rough with everyone. He used vulgar language and was directing insults at everyone without any exceptions. The blocs found that this phenomenon was too frequent and that it was not acceptable," said Salim Abdullah Jabouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Accordance Front, of which Mashadani is a member.
Mashadani also praised Iraqi journalist Muntather Zaidi, who rocketed to fame a week ago when he hurled his shoes at President Bush at a Baghdad news conference. Zaidi is scheduled for trial Dec. 31.

US outlets were largely indifferent to al-Mashhadani throughout his term as Speaker and, of course, the New York Times was flat out hostile to him printing outright lies (including that he was in tears and hiding at his father's house when he was out of the country on a diplomatic mission).

Adam Ashton and Laith Hammoudi make fools of themselves with their opening statment to "What are 'combat troops'? Iraq withdrawal depends on answer" (McClatchy Newspapers) which is especially offensive coming from Ashton who's been more than forthcoming about the reality of the so-called 2011 'withdrawal' allegedly promised in the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. Since their article doesn't remotely resemble the headline (hint, headline conveys the thrust of an article), it may have been edited from DC. There's really no excuse for it regardless. It's shameful.

The meaning of "combat troops" is still being debated, for example. It's important because the security agreement calls for all U.S. combat forces to leave Iraqi urban areas by June 2009. The U.S. has nearly 400 military stations in Iraq, some of which are located in Iraqi neighborhoods where soldiers work closely with Iraqi forces.

As embarrassing as their opening garbage is the fact that only the above paragraph really covers the headline -- something like paragraph five in an article over 13 paragraphs long. Even more embarrassing is Hammoudi and Ashton show up not just a little late, not just as the party's winding down, but after all the guests have gone home.

Last week Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker (New York Times) were reporting more in depth than the crap McClatchy's tossed out today as was Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times). This week started with Bumiller offering an in-depth analysis. Not only do Ashton and Hammoudi fail to build on what has already been provided [and toss in Bumiller's previous Odierno reporting as well as Sudarsan Raghavan and Qais Mizher's (Washington Post)], they seem completely unaware of it.

McClatchy has become the biggest embarrassment of the mainstream in 2008 and it's exactly because of crap like Ashton and Hammoudi's article. They're no longer taken seriously and this Iraq 'coverage' is tarnishing the entire operation. (Which is great for me. It allows me help in crafting jokes -- such as my salsa and chips one about McClatchy earlier which was worked up by an editor for a competing paper and myself.)

I'm not interested in Jenan Hussein's piece because I'm so sick of that 'brave' McClatchy's non-stop crap; however, Hussein does have a strong feature article so we'll link to it.

Ned Parker's "In Iraq, transfer-of-power committees have yet to take shape" (Los Angeles Times) also covers Odierno and notes that the Iraqi committees that should be overseeing the new security responsibilities for Iraq are still note in place. From the article:

"Even if all the committees are in place, Iraqi politics could change any agreement or all of these procedures with no warning," said Anthony Cordesman of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "If you have one really drastic incident that catalyzes Iraqi politics, suddenly all of these agreements could lead to a new set of Iraqi demands."
He warned that the Americans would continue to find themselves on the front lines of multiple power struggles: between Shiite factions, Sunni factions, Sunnis and Shiites, and Kurds and Arabs.

Andrea Stone also covers Odierno in "Iraq power shift still being worked out, general says" (USA Today):

Gen. Ray Odierno said, "We're still working our way through" how to define combat forces and when soldiers are considered on- or off-duty if they are outside a military base.
The meanings are important because the recently approved security agreement that will go into effect Jan. 1 calls for all "combat forces" to leave Iraqi cities by the end of June 2009. The document also gives Iraq jurisdiction over off-duty U.S. personnel who commit crimes outside military bases.

[And personal for a McClatchy friend in DC who will hit the roof about the above, Ned Parker and Andrea Stone both use the phrase "calls for" regarding 2011 unlike Ashton and Hammoudi's piece which states it will happen. They committed the greater offense. You can call and argue all you want but I'm standing on that and I'll be in the air shortly -- not ignoring your voice mails -- so don't stew all day.]

On that 'crystal clear' treaty, it's worth noting what Alan Chvotkin ("who works on behalf of contractors") tells AP's Mike Baker: "The immunity question -- the largest question being talked about — is not addressed in the ... agreement. The implication is there is none, but there's some hedging on that question. As of right now, there's still some ambiguity. And smart people disagree about it."

Stan's "Richard Cohen, holidays and more" went up last night and other community posts include:

Mike plans to blog tomorrow and on Friday. Others are still deciding what they'll be doing. At this site, we will have entries every day. Some may be more talking entries (most likely Thursday night's "I Hate The War" will be a talking entry). Snapshots? I plan not to do one on the 25th (tomorrow). If I do one, every one has said they'll post something to repost the snapshot so I'd rather not do one. If the news is too big (as was the case on Thanksgiving when the treaty passed the Parliament and the White House finally published a version of it -- finally -- online) there will be one. I plan to do one on the 26th. There may be a snapshot on the 25th but that will be determined by what the news is or isn't at that point. Shirley & Martha will be offering their books of 2008 piece between now and January 2nd (I believe they're planning to offer it early next week), Ruth will be covering radio for 2008, Kat will be covering music for 2008 and I'll be doing the year-in-review. On days when those appear, I may cut back on regular entries. For example, if Kat's music piece publishes January 1st, I may just one entry that morning and the snapshot. But we will have new content up here each day. In terms of newsletters, the only one that might be expected to be effected is the gina & krista round-robin because it publishes on Friday mornings. Gina and Krista advise that they will publish this Friday and next as usual. If I've forgotten something, e-mail and I'll address it. There will be a snapshot today.

And Waleed Ibrahim, Aseel Kami and Missy Ryan (Reuters) report that the Sunni Accordance Front has lost 1/25 of its members in the Parliament today due to a walk out and Khalaf al-Ilayan (Iraqi National Dialogue Council) declared, "Due to the Accordance Front's failure to achieve its mission and the Islamic Party's unilateral actions, we declare ... the Accordance Front has been dissolved."

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