Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jalal Talabani and Chris Hill: Tools & Fools

Yesterday's violence in Iraq resulted in multiple deaths. Nada Barki (Washington Post) reports on some of the deaths resulting from bombings including the event that captured the most press attention:

A suicide bomber driving a water tanker loaded with explosives blew himself up near a police station in Anbar province, killing seven policemen and wounding 10. The explosion, in the provincial capital of Ramadi, a former insurgent stronghold 60 miles west of Baghdad, burned at least half a dozen cars parked nearby and damaged several buildings.

Meanwhile Thursday, there was a prison break in Tikrit with sixteen prisoners escaping and, by yesterday, 6 of the 16 were said to have been captured. Saturday CNN reported 2 more escapees were captured this morning during "house-to-house searches" for a total of 8 prisoners now captured. Fang Yang (Xinhua) reports three more have been captured (9 total) and that, with the latest three, all five who were on death row have been captured. Yang notes Col Mohammed Salih Jbara ("head of anti-terrorism department of Salahudin province) has been "sacked" as a result of the prison escape.

A visitor e-mails to note this published by ISRIA today and says "you need to mention this speech." It's a speech by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to the UN's General Assemly. He gave it Thursday. We covered it in Friday's snapshot. (It was given after six p.m. EST on Thursday so it did not make Thursday's snapshot.) Along with comparing/contrasting it with the speech he gave in 2008 (almost to the day), we also included a lengthy excerpt:

The most important challenges we face in the near future is the legislative elections due to be held in January 2010 for which the political parties have already started preparations. The success of these elections will put the current political regime based on democracy, pluralism and the peaceful transfer of power on the right path. The success of the elections will transfer the political process from the establishment stage to one of permanence and stability and will promote stability and security in Ira. The elections will strengthen our capabilities in building national institutions qualified to fulfill the requistes of a strong state based on law, living peacefully with its own people and neighbors and to be a key factor in the security and stability in the region. This will reflect postively on Iraq's Arab, regional and international relations and its active return to the international community.
The real danger currently facing Iraq is outside interference in its internal affairs which has committed the worst crimes against innocent Iraqis from various segments of society, men, women, children and the elderly. In an attempt to destabilize security and stability achieved in Iraq during 2008 and 2009, Iraq has witnessed recently a series of bombings and terrorist attacks, the last of which was the Bloody Wednesday explosions that targeted the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance which targeted the country's sovereign institutions on 19 August 2009. This led to many innocent victims, including many employees of the government, diplomats and administrators. These criminal acts and large number of victims have reached the level of genocide and crimes against humainty subject to punishment under international law. We believe these acts at this level of organization, complexity and magnitude cannot be planned, funded and implemented without support of external forces and parties and primary investigations indicate the involvement of external parties in the process.
Therefore, the government of the Republic of Iraq puts this important matter on the table of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and requests its submission to the Security Council for the purpose of forming an independent international investigation outside the jurisdiction of Iraq and bring those found guilty to a special international criminal court.
The Iraqi government finds itself obliged to resor to the United Nations to protect its people and stop the bleeding of innocent Iraqis and we are looking to the assistance of the international community and its support ot the Iraqi positions in the formation of an independent international commission to investigate the crimes of terrorism against the Iraqi people we request the United Nations Secretary General to name a senior offficial to evaluate the extent of foreign intervention that threatens the security and integrity of Iraq and to consider terrorist crimes as genocide. We also look for better cooperation and coordination with the neighboring countries and other concerned states to control Iraq's boraders, exchange information, coordinate efforts and prevent the groups that support terrorism and work against Iraq under any cover.

If the speech was going to be characterized in one word, the word would be: Stupid.

Talabani wasted his time on the UN's time on Iraq's conflicts with Syria. For three years now, Talabani's known the importance of the speech. He's known he'd have to make it as soon as Iraq was no longer a 'ward' of the United Nations. This was the first speech after the change and he was supposed to push for Iraq to be granted relief from their debts. That is the most pressing issue to the current regime and has been for some time. It's why Nouri al-Maliki was so eager to ditch the United Nations mandate (as was Talabani). So the thing to do was to make that first priority in the speech. But Talabani went with Syria which is -- at best -- a temporary problem (created by Nouri). They are scrambling to recover from Jalal's speech. There are some who wonder if he intentionally buried the issue of Iraqi debt? I have no idea if it was intentional or just more in the long line of stupidity Jalal's so often demonstrated when in the United States.

But we covered the speech before and we just noted it again. In the future, please drop a coin in the jukebox before asking me to sing for you. In other UN news, UPI reports that Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, is considering Iraq's request for an international investigation into the August 19th bombings in Baghdad (primarily targeting the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreigh Affairs -- with the latter suffering the most deaths and injuries). No decision has yet been made. Nouri continues in his attempts to create an international incident. Alsumaria reports:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki wants no relations with countries that are causing Iraqis to die. Change towards democracy and freedom in Iraq alarms some regimes which he accused of supporting Baathists, Al Maliki said.
In a visit to the State-owned Iraqi Media Network, Al Maliki said that Baathists are being helped to target Iraqis and are operating easily through certain countries that know how these groups are being trained for sabotage attacks, which has led to Baghdad recent bombings.
In a statement to Al Hayat Newspaper, Iraqi Cabinet spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh affirmed that Iraq’s stand saps all doubts regarding Iraqi internal rows over the crisis with Damascus.

Hoshyar Zebari is Iraq's Foreign Minister. The Foreign Ministry issued the following statement today and, as you read over it, notice that Zebari grasped what was most important (to the current regime in Iraq) and what to pitch first:

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, and the Iraqi delegation accompanying him met on 28.9.2009 with Susan Rice, the Permanent Representative of the United States, the U.S. Security Council president for the current session. Mr. Zebari discussed the Iraqi diplomatic move to end the provisions of Chapter VII and the efforts made to achieve this task and the need for the support from the United States and the permanent Security Council members to speed up the process of restoring Iraq to its international status and legal rights. It was agreed that Iraq will continue to take a number of required steps in the coming period.
The Minister presented to the Chair of the UN Security Council the Iraqi position on the latest crisis with Syria on the background of the bloody bombings on 19/8. Ambassador Rice and expressed deep sympathy and solidarity with the victims of this criminal attack.
The Minister presented the specific demands of the Iraqi government in this regard and stressed the importance of the Security Council's support to Iraq's request for the in the verification of these attacks and those responsible and stressed the need for investigations and the establishment by the Secretary-General to name a high-level official to assess the extent of foreign intervention and the severe damage an threat to the new democratic system and its institutions.
In a separate meeting the Minister met with Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, deputy U.S. Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and discussed the latest developments in the country and efforts and the Iraqi actions at the United Nations during the General Assembly meetings.

With Rice he did what? He "discussed the Iraqi diplomatic move to end the provisions of Chapter VII and the efforts made to achieve this task and the need for the support from the United States and the permanent Security Council members to speed up the process of restoring Iraq to its international status and legal rights" -- first item. Among the items the regime has salivated over as they imagined the day when they were no longer a legal war of the United Nations.

This entry, and the one before, are dictated because our schedule this morning is crazy. And I note that because I'm juggling four different topics and really only have time for one. Okay, we'll go with Kelley B. Vlahos. I know Robert Kagan (as disclosed here before). Vlahos is writing about the Kagans (a war hungry family) and we'll note this from "The Two Faces of Kimberly Kagan" (Antiwar.com):

If Gen. Stanley McChrystal is to get his way -- that is, convince the administration to give him more blood and treasure to sacrifice to COIN in Afghanistan -- he needs to have a few secret weapons at his disposal.
And there is nothing better than having a couple Kagans up your sleeve. Particularly Kimberly Kagan, who, like a drill bit hammering through concrete, has been virtually ubiquitous and unrelenting in her ability to stay on message, and downright stealthy in advancing an obvious political agenda while playing the geeky, bespectacled military scholar.
"Of course it’s fun to read Caesar. It’s fun to read Thucydides. It’s fun to read Polybius and learn about the concept of war in ancient times," she pronounced to Brian Lamb in an interview about herself and her new think-tank, the nonpartisan Institute for the Study of War, in 2007.
A year later, she and her husband Frederick Kagan would pen what can only be described as a detailed military panegyric to Generals David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno, who "redefined the operational art of counterinsurgency" through a tactical campaign the Kagans were very much familiar with, widely known to us mortals as "The Surge" in Iraq.
"Great commanders often come in pairs: Eisenhower and Patton, Grant and Sherman, Napoleon and Davout, Marlborough and Eugene, Caesar and Labienus. Generals David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno can now be added to the list," the Kagans gushed in the 4,536-word testimonial.

Okay, we're going to try to squeeze in one more thing. Thomas E. Ricks (Foreign Policy) finally stumbles upon the reality re: Chris Hill. Sort of. Chris Hill was unfit for the post -- and has a personnel record which demonstrates that (surprised no news agency did a FOI request on it -- I've seen it). He lacked the qualifications. He had no experience in the region. He has a long (documented) history of ignoring supervisors. And the rumors about his manic depressive state was already legendary long before he landed in Iraq. (And his MD may be why, despite promising Senator John Kerry that he would be on the next plane to Iraq as soon as he was confirmed, he waited several days before departing for Iraq.) In his hearings, he demonstrated no knowledge of the issues despite several weeks of prepping with handlers. He has no concept of Kirkuk, for example. His responses were ludicrous and embarrassing. (Nor was it impressive that he hadn't bothered to comb his hair and looked like a crazed lunatic with it flying out in all directions. When he faced the Senate for the second time, earlier this month, he had combed his hair; however, he wore a shirt with a stain on it. And answered with a sarcastic "yeah" when questioned. This is not a man who grasps diplomacy.) None of that interested Thomas E. Ricks, none of it bothered him. And his little tyke that he has the reach around with online really loved Chris Hill. In fact, Spency loved Chris Hill so much, he dropped a load in his pants everytime Chris stammered another "uh-uh." But Thomas E. Ricks has finally learned -- FINALLY -- that Gen Ray Odierno is sick of Chris Hill. I believe we noted that here three weeks after Hill had arrived in Iraq. Well it takes a little longer when your Thomas E. Ricks and apparently have no friends in the US State Dept. But Thomas has finally heard the rumbles and he writes:

What I am hearing is that Odierno is profoundly frustrated with Hill, who despite knowing almost nothing about Iraq has decided after a short time there that it is time to stand back and stop influencing the behavior of Iraqi officials on a daily basis. In addition, I am told, the ambassador believes the war is an Iraqi problem, not something that really concerns Americans anymore, despite the presence of 125,000 American soldiers. On the other hand, the diplomats respond, the military guys believe they have good relationships with Iraqi officials, but, the dips add, how would the soldiers really know? Because unlike Hill's posse, they don't speak Arabic. Which brings to mind my favorite saying of Warren Buffett, that if you've been playing poker for half an hour and you don't know who the patsy at the table is, you're the patsy.

No, Thomas E. Ricks, you're the damn patsy. You're the damn patsy because if Iraq mattered to you, maybe you should have looked into Chris Hill's qualifications when he was nominated. We were calling him out like crazy here. I waited until he testified because I had lobbied for several women to be appointed. I was not impressed with Hill and thought, "Maybe that's me having a case of sour grapes?" Then came his responses in his hearing. He never should have been confirmed and the patsy is the sucker who waited to object to the unqualified Hill -- waited until he found out Odierno was sick of Hill. Again, that sickness? It was obvious by Hill's third week in Iraq. Welcome to the story that was actually news . . . last spring.

We'll try to cover this and this and this in the snapshot this afternoon. All refugee related. We'll also toss out a link to Michael Luongo's "Hussein's Slaughter of Kurds Marked in Museum Photos, Vignettes" (Bloomberg News) -- that's tossed out at the request of a friend at CNN.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.