Thursday, October 06, 2011

Smoke and mirrors

Tuesday there was a meet-up at Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's home. Various leaders of the major political blocs attended (and Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi and Tareq al-Hashemi walked out; before the meeting ended, Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and thug of the occupation, would also walk out) and many observers had assumed the event was called to address Political Stalemate II and the Erbil Agreement. Al Mada reports today that State of Law (Nouri's political slate) admits that's what the blocs thought as well. Instead, the meet-up was held so that the plan to keep US soldiers on Iraqi soil beyond 2011 and disguise them as "trainers" could be agreed to. State of Law is calling the meeting productive. Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc sees things less optimistically and states that they will not support US soldiers continuing to remain in Iraq beyond the end of the year. Kurdish MP Mohammed Taha feels that the meeting was necessary, regardless of topic, in a move to get the political blocs talking to one another and states his hope that the Erbil Agreement will be implemented.

Political Stalemate I followed the March 7, 2010 elections in which Nouri al-Maliki's political slate did not come in first. Despite this, despite Iraqiya winning the most votes, Nouri refused to give up his post as prime minister. With the US backing Nouri, al-Maliki dug his heels in and month after month there was a governmental stalemate. In November 2010, the Erbil Agreement allowed a government to finally be formed. All the political blocs, except State of Law, made major concessions. Iraqiya gave up their claim to the right to the prime minister post, for example. Nouri ran with the agreement long enough to be retained as prime minister and then proceeded to ignore the agreement creating Political Stalemate II as surely as his selfish actions created Political Stalemate I.

In addition to "trainers," the US government will have soldiers and contractors in Iraq under the umbrella of the State Dept. Yesterday, the US State Dept issued the following:

Question: Approximately how many security contractors will be required in Iraq to protect the U.S. diplomatic mission next year?

Answer: In light of the high threat environment in Iraq over the past several years, we expect that in 2012 there will be approximately 5,000 such security personnel to help protect our diplomatic presence in various locations around the country and ensure our capability to interact successfully with the Iraqi Government and people to build an enduring partnership of benefit to both countries and the region. We expect this number of security personnel to noticeably decrease in the following years as security conditions continue to improve, as they have done steadily since 2007.

In addition, the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq (OSC-I) will be part of our strategic engagement and partnership with Iraq. This office will require additional security personnel to protect facilities and staff. The exact number and final disposition of these security requirements are still under review.

The United States is committed to an enduring partnership with Iraq, which can be a strong ally in a strategic region of the world critical to our national security. This Administration has placed a priority in strengthening our partnership by maintaining a strong diplomatic presence on the ground in Iraq and is committed to ensuring the safety of the men and women who make up that presence. Utilizing security personnel to assist U.S. diplomatic security officials in protecting Americans serving abroad is not a new practice; it has been part of civilian operations in Iraq and elsewhere in the past and is an important component of security operations at many of our embassies and consulates around the world today.

As Iraq further develops its democratic institutions and improves its security capacity, our security presence will be reduced and operations will be comparable to other countries around the world where we have large missions and vital interests.

On the issue of forces, Dar Addustour reports Nouri will announce some reductions in forces and attempt to pass it off as a decision by all the politcal blocs (though Dar Addustour says it wasn't). Arwa Damon (CNN -- link has text and video) reports on Hanaa Edwar who's never been fooled by Nouri. The activist and feminist famously stood up to Nouri last June. Today she continues to worry about the attacks on peaceful demonstrators:

Both Al-Amal and Human Rights Watch are concerned the government is trying to portray the protesters as terrorists, and allowing thugs to beat and sexually assault them.

Despite her long career in human rights, Edwar is pessimistic about the current state of her country.

"We are losing everything now in Iraq, even you know, our dream for democracy, our dream for elections," she said.

Iraq Veterans Against the War has an event tomorrow:

War Voices - Live Broadcast!

Join us for a live broadcast of the "War Voices" forum

Friday, Oct 7, 5:30-7:30 pm

27 Social Center

2727 27th Ave, Unit D

Denver, CO

Friday, October 7 marks ten years of the U.S. Global War on Terror, which began with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Iraq Veterans Against the War and its Afghanistan Veterans Against the War committee will commemorate the occasion with "War Voices," a public dialogue on war, economic recession, and Islamophobia.

Join us in-person or via livestream!

The event will take place in Washington, DC, but we will watch the proceedings live via We'll send questions to our speakers via Facebook, Twitter (@WarVoices), or email ( We will have live chat on the day of the event alongside the streaming video.

The e-mail address for this site is