Thursday, September 09, 2010

US military in Iraq until 2016?

Some form of U.S. military presence will be needed in Iraq at least until 2016 to provide training, support and maintenance for the vast quantity of military equipment and weaponry that Iraq is buying from America, Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader Obeidi said.
In addition, Iraq will continue to need help with intelligence gathering after 2011, and the fledgling Iraqi air force will require U.S. assistance at least until 2020, the date by which Iraq aims to achieve the capability to defend its airspace, Obeidi said.

The above is from Liz Sly's "Iraqi official forsees a U.S. military presence until 2016" (Los Angeles Times) and the article also notes that Obeidi "is regarded as a close ally of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki."

Yesterday Iraq's political stalemate hit the six month mark. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister.

Alsumaria TV reports today, "Al Iraqiys List member Aliya Nassif warned of democracy collapse in Iraq if the Constitution and election results are not respected." Hayder Najm (niqash) writes of the latest rumors:

Reports of ‘violent verbal arguments’ between the Iraqiya bloc leader, Iyad Allawi, and Saleh al-Mutlaq, who heads the National Dialogue Front, have caused many in the Iraqi media to question the bloc's ability to maintain its unity and continuity.
Mutlaq’s party is one of the key members of the Iraqiya bloc, holding 22 of the 91 parliamentary seats they won in the March elections. Mutlaq has recently become a target for Nouri al-Maliki, who is seeking to detach him and his party from Iraqiya by offering him a prominent position in a new government headed by the State of Law coalition.

When nothing takes place, when there's no movement or progress on an issue, rumors abound. Qassim Al-kaabi (Asharq Al-Awsat) notes, "Sources inside Al-Iraqiya List, which is led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, have asserted that the media leaks claiming that US Vice President Joe Biden succeeded in persuading Arab and non-Arab countries to stop backing Al-Iraqiya are untrue and baseless and they also called baseless the reports attributed to a leading figure in the State of Law Coalition [SLC], which is led by outgoing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, that the latter cited Biden for these remarks and that the countries responded positively apart from Saudi Arabia."

Nir Rosen weighs in at Socialist Worker and allows me to note what I was noting Monday in an e-mail to a visitor, we are selective -- highly selective -- when it comes to noting Rosen because he frequently confuses fiction with fact and opinion with reality. At Socialist Worker, he reveals just how bad he can be, "Maliki was a popular candidate, supported by Iraqis for having crushed both Sunni and Shiite armed groups, and he came in first as an individual politician, with Allawi a distant second. But Maliki's candidates came a close second to Iraqiya -- a surprise after Allawi's dismal performance in 2005." There is no basis for that claim, there was never a basis for it. Nir may have heard state TV reports maintaining that but, as Deborah Amos has pointed out in her paper on the elections, Nouri got highly favorable coverage on state TV. Nir Rosen's statement can't be fact checked because there's nothing factual about it. It's Nir's hope/dream presented as reality. Nouri was not a popular candidate by the standards with which political popularity is measured. By those standards, Nouri should have breezed into a second term as prime minister after his political slate cleaned up with a solid majority of votes. But that didn't happen. Despite all the soft press -- and US outlets calling the election for Nouri. What happened was his slate came in second. That is a rebuke from the voters.

That rebuke comes after Nouri's allies Ahmed Chalabi and Ali al-Lami purged candidates and threatened that some candidates eventually on the ballot wouldn't be on the ballot. They created intentional chaos in an attempt to further tilt the elections to Nouri. The voters sent a rebuke of Nouri.

Nir Rosen has a strong desire -- present in all of his writing -- to tie a bow around Iraq so it's no surprise he's suppporting the administration's candidate and possibly he's supporting Nouri for the same reason. He came in 'first' as a national candidate? The reality is that the only 'national' race Nouri was 'in' was his party: State of Law. And his party came in second. That's reality. Nir can go loony and crazy all he wants, it doesn't change reality. (The US administration wants Nouri due to Nouri's promise to extend the US military presence past 2011 if he remains prime minister.)

Meanwhile Alsumaria TV reports that the former Camp Cropper (now Al Karkh Prison) has seen a prison break as "four non-convicted detainees" escaped and this "coincides with the disappearance of the prison manager Omar Khamis Al Dulaimi."

Because they always whore, the New York Times' Sarah Lyall declares Tony Blair a success despite the fact that his book isn't. She wants you to know that it's a 'hit!' because it will be number 3 on the paper's best seller list September 19th. But the paper's 'best seller' list is a bit like the Billboard chart in the pre-sound scan era and they forget to tell you that. In fact, everyone looks the other way on that and maybe it's time to take down the paper's chart once and for all? There's no real reason for their selective 'survey' to begin with in this day and time when scans as point of sale can give you an accurate accounting to begin with. Lyall finds it amusing that Tony Blair LIES in his book, grabbing a scene from a movie and passing it off as his own life. That's not amusing, that's indicative of the b.s. book he's written. P.S. She wants to insist Blair must be popular because he won three elections. Whores never worry about facts. Labour's own polling -- which I am highly familiar with, to put it mildly -- demonstrated how Tony has fallen. If she couldn't get ahold of those figures, she should have checked public polling which has repeatedly found the same unpopularity for Tony. But whores don't like facts so they ignore polls and instead find apologists who will say what they want them to say. Equally true, Israel is far from the paper's only twisted loyalties issues when it comes to their 'reporters.' What the New York Whores underplay, Samira Shackle (New Statesman) takes seriously and notes of Blair's claim to have never seen The Queen (maybe his ghost writer should be asked about viewing the film?), Shackle notes, "So what's the explanation, then? Telepathy? Insight? Bugging?" James Denselow (Huffing Post) argues:

Tony Blair's certainty of historical vindication in Iraq can only be challenged by a people's history of the war.
In interviews accompanying the release of his book Tony Blair has repeated that history will ultimately judge him on Iraq. Meanwhile on the same week that U.S. combat mission 'ended' for the second time in Iraq, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said that gauging success in the country will 'really require a historian's perspective'.
Yet there is a danger that an elite's history written by those responsible for the Iraq adventure can create its own reality.

And we'll close with this from Kathy Kelly's "The Indefensible Drones: A Ground Zero Reflection" (War Is A Crime):

Libby and Jerica are in the front seat of the Prius, and Mary and I are in back. We just left Oklahoma, we're heading into Shamrock, Texas, and tomorrow we'll be Indian Springs, Nevada, home of Creech Air Force Base. We've been discussing our legal defense.
The state of Nevada has charged Libby and me, along with twelve others, with criminal trespass onto the base. On April 9, 2009, after a ten-day vigil outside the air force base, we entered it with a letter we wanted to circulate among the base personnel, describing our opposition to a massive targeted assassination program. Our trial date is set for September 14.
Creech is one of several homes of the U.S. military's aerial drone program. U.S. Air Force personnel there pilot surveillance and combat drones, unmanned aerial vehicles with which they are instructed to carry out extrajudicial killings in Afghanistan and Iraq. The different kinds of drone include the "Predator" and the "Reaper." The Obama administration favors a combination of drone attacks and Joint Special Operations raids to pursue its stated goal of eliminating whatever Al Qaeda presence exists in these countries. As the U.S. accelerates this campaign, we hear from UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial executions, Philip Alston, who suggests that U.S. citizens may be asleep at the wheel, oblivious to clear violations of international law which we have real obligations to prevent (or at the very least discuss). Many citizens are now focused on the anniversary of September 11th and the controversy over whether an Islamic Center should be built near Ground Zero. Corporate media does little to help ordinary U.S. people understand that the drones which hover over potential targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen create small “ground zeroes" in multiple locales on an everyday basis.
Libby, at the wheel, is telling Jerica about her visit to Kabul, in 1970. "I worked for Pan Am," said Libby, "and that meant being able to stay for free at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. After landing in Pakistan, we hired a driver to take us across the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan. All along the highway we saw herds of camel traveling along a parallel old road. I wonder if the camel market in Kabul is still there?"
Jerica says she'll look for it. She and I have been hard at work to obtain visas and arrange flights for an October trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan. [Libby is exceptional in that she hasn't tried to talk Jerica out of the dangerous travel.]

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