Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nouri telling US to stay (Tim Arangon, NYT)

On the topic of withdrawal, Al Mada reports today that a component of the Sadr bloc in Parliament is insisting that although Moqtada al-Sadr said he was freezing the Mahdi Army (due to corruption and an inability to trust them, he said), he's not doing that. He's only, they insist, freezing the activities in relation to US troops and that this is not intended to suggest that they support an extended US presence in Iraq. They are collecting signatures, in Parliament, to oppose the extension of the US military presence in Iraq. Al Mada also reports that that Sami al-Sakari al-Mahdi has stated that the Mahdi militia is in disarray and that State of Law agrees with the decision to dissolve the Mahdi militia because "any military action outside the framework of the Iraqi forces is act outside the law." Dar Addustour reports that a "joint security committee" has been created to determine whether or not the US military should stay beyond 2011 and that the committee is led by Nouri al-Maliki and . . . US Gen Lloyd Austin. They state this joint security committee was formed after the meet-up of political blocs at Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's home on Saturday.

Tim Arango (New York Times) reports, "The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is privately telling American officials that it wants their army to stay here after this year." That's the opening sentence, read the article in full. We'll note it further in today's snapshot, but it's just gone up online and isn't it today's paper (though some form of the article will be in tomorrow's).

The Post-Journal editorial board explains plan-B (shoving the military under the State Dept umbrella to keep it in Iraq) and asks some key questions:

Why is this force - one strong enough to defeat the armies of some small countries - needed? To guard U.S. diplomats, [Under Secretary of State Patrick] Kennedy told members of Congress. To get an idea of how much protection the State Department personnel will need in Iraq, consider that the agency requires only about 1,800 security employees for all the rest of its posts throughout the world.
Kennedy admitted to lawmakers the security force will be used for military-type operations under State Department orders.
That doesn't sound much like the U.S. combat role in Iraq ended last fall. Clearly, President Obama has found a way to claim he has kept his pledge to pull troops out of Iraq while not really keeping it.

Sean Kane (Christian Science Monitor) explores extending the US military presence:

Iraqis often remind Americans that the US presence in their country is only temporary, while the country’s neighbors are permanent. This long view is important to remember in the midst of the drama surrounding Defense Secretary Panetta’s recent visit to Baghdad. Mr. Panetta visited last week to express “tremendous concern” regarding increased Iranian arms in Iraq and push forward discussions with the Iraqi government on whether American troops will be asked to stay on after the end of this year.

Kane concludes Turkey (plus US forces) would be the answer! But Turkey's been using their air force to bomb northern Iraq for how many years now? Are we forgetting the PKK and the sore spot it has caused or Turkey's fear of the KRG and that further independence for the KRG is a threat to Turkey (the Turkish government believes that further independence for the KRG would encourage the Kurds in Turkey to up their activism for their own region). I'm confused as to how a country which bombs one country and regularly sends military raids into it is going to be the answer to saving and securing it?

The following community sites -- plus On The Wilder Side and -- updated last night and this morning:

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "CIA MOST LIKELY TO CONTINUE CRIMINAL WAYS UNDER PETRAEUS" (Veterans Today):

Nowhere in his discussion of how General David Petraeus will fare when he takes over the CIA in August does Washington Post columnist David Ignatius challenge the basic operation of the Agency itself. His article of July 8th asks what sort of agenda Petraeus will pursue and concludes, “America needs a great intelligence service, and it will soon have a director whose ambition matches the agency's mission.”
Within the parameters of his vision, Ignatius's article makes perfect sense. He is right on the mark when he writes, “This is a bruised organization, wounded by so many years of public criticism, and it needs a leader, not a martinet.” Where The Post columnist errs, however, is that “the many years of public criticism” does not cause him to reflect on whether the Agency is worth salvaging. This lack of questioning, much less exposing, what are essentially massive and ongoing criminal activities by the CIA directed from the White House typifies how far The Post has slipped since the days it refreshed the practice of journalism by exposing the Watergate scandal.
Ignatius writes that Petraeus will be a Director who told the Senators that confirmed his nomination he will listen to the dissenters and grumblers in the Agency and answer his own e-mail and that on some days he would even eat in the employee cafeteria. (Wow, what a guy, huh?)
Ignatius wrote his column after “spending a week with Patraeus's entourage in Kabul,” and being the good reporter he is we may be rightly distressed by his observation that the CIA post, among other things, will allow Petraeus to stay with the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are likely to shift to paramilitary-intelligence missions, once the uniformed troops leave.” (Italics added.)
This means these wars are liable to be continued just as the Obama regime is waging wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan, and Libya, keeping them secret when it can and denying that they are wars when it can't. It suggests the U.S. will keep up its deadly drone assassinations being waged without even the flimsiest pretext of legal authority and in spite of hundreds or thousands of innocent civilians who are being butchered. Not to be ignored, either, is incoming “Defense” head Leon Panetta's remark July 9th in Kabul that the U.S. will keep 70,000 troops in Afghanistan until the end of 2014---a higher figure than announced by President Obama. According to The Washington Post of July 12, Panetta's aides “scurried afterward to say he misspoke.”
Why the U.S. today needs one soldier stationed in the Middle East, where we are now widely reviled, confounds me. By now substantial majorities the American public, like their European cousins, want all their troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, yet their elected officials betray the sound instincts of their citizenry.

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oh boy it never ends