Wednesday, February 08, 2012

CIA will remain in Iraq

No, the most important Iraq article in print today from a US outlet is not Tim Arango's which has already been given too much chatter and too little thought. It's Greg Miller's Washington Post report which explains:

The CIA is expected to maintain a large clandestine presence in Iraq and Afghanistan long after the departure of conventional U.S. troops as part of a plan by the Obama administration to rely on a combination of spies and Special Operations forces to protect U.S. interests in the two longtime war zones, U.S. officials said.
U.S. officials said that the CIA's stations in Kabul and Baghdad will probably remain the agency’s largest overseas outposts for years, even if they shrink from record staffing levels set at the height of American efforts in those nations to fend off insurgencies and install capable governments.

Will NPR invite Greg Miller onto Morning Edition to discuss this article. It is very unlikely. With the exception of Ted Koppel, no one's wanted to address this topic in the mainstream media.

Tim Arango's story, if true and with unrelated components being kept in the shadow, is a story of a failed policy by the White House. But the New York Times won't allow that into print. He does a much better job conveying that failed policy on Morning Edition today in a discussion with Steve Inskeep. As Arango explains on the program, the State Dept plan wasn't made, a year ago, in isolation. It was supposed to include a continued strong US military presence. Listen to the interview. Right now, we'll note this exchange.

Tim Arango: There's a new kidnapping threat in the Green Zone and it's not just getting out of the Green Zone to interact with ordinary Iraqis, there's even new security procedures for moving around the Green Zone which is probably the most fortified places in the world.

Steve Inskeep: Now the hostility of the Iraqi authorities that you've described does that suggest that the Iraqis just really don't want the Americans there or certainly not in such numbers?

Tim Arango: I think it suggests that. It also suggests how easy an issue the the American presence is for Iraqi politicians to sort of demagogue on and to use with their own public. They don't want to be seen in public supporting the Americans or accommodating them in every way so even if privately they may say , yes, we want help from the Americans, when they go out publicly and speak to their people, they don't say the same things.

And click here for Tim Arango's New York Times report. And I'm not trying to insult Tim Arango's report. I am noting that nothing has been done to sketch it out by others and I will also add that I'm hearing from friends at the State Dept that it's more complicated than it's getting portrayed. And when I hear "more complicated," it usually means there are alternate details and a developing story. In other words, a lot of people are resting on Tim Arango's report when they should be working to add to it.

Turning to the topic of Camp Ashraf, KUNA reports, "The United States on Tuesday urged the 3,400 residents of Iraq's Camp Ashraf to relocate immediately, as it is 'no longer a viable home for them'. Ambassador Dan Fried told reporters that 'We look forward to the first residents moving from Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriya in the immediate future,' referring to a new camp the Iraqi government constructed for the Iranian dissidents who have occupied Camp Ashraf for the past 30 years. The camp was under US control until January 2009, when US handed over control to the Iraqi government." Ian Duncan (Los Angeles Times) adds:

Speaking in the European Parliament on Tuesday, Maryam Rajavi, the group's leader in exile, said residents of the camp were willing to move but were "demanding minimum assurances, namely a dignified and humane treatment at the new location."
"The EU, U.S. and U.N. should actively and immediately intervene to prevent turning of Camp Liberty into a prison," she said.

Al Mada reports that Nouri al-Maliki is attempting to rally MPs with State of Law (his political slate which came in second in the March 2010 elections) to push through a 2012 budget (yes, the 2012 budget should have been taken care of some time ago). Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) notes that political leaders who attended yesterday prep meeting for a national conference are attempting to map out the post-US Iraq. As for proposed documents, Kurds present stated that the Erbil Agreement already maps out the steps necessary.

Following the March 2010 elections and Iraqiya's first place results, Nouri al-Maliki refused to allow Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya) the chance at forming a government that his slate's win guaranteed. Nouri didn't want to give up being prime minister. Because the White House backed him, he was able to bring Iraq politics to a stand-still. Eight months of political stalemate followed during which Parliament met briefly once and that was it. There was no governing of Iraq taking place. Nor any efforts to move forward. (A White House friend has insisted in the last week that the reason the White House backed Nouri was because they needed to get started on negotiations for when most US troops left. That's a nice spin to their decision to back a thug.) Political blocs met in Erbil in November 2010 and the Erbil Agreement was hammered out. It was supposed to do a number of things for all actors involved. However, the minute it kicked in with Nouri being named prime minister-designate, he quickly disregarded the agreement. That's what's caused the political crisis. That's what the Kurds have been demanding Nouri agree to return to -- demanding since this summer. When Iraqiya announced their planned walk out December 16th, they were calling for a return to the Erbil Agreement. (The arrest warrant against Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi had not yet been issued at that point.)

Nouri (and his sycophants in the US) today like to insist the Erbil Agreement is unconstitutional. (A) They only made that claim after he used it to remain prime minister and (B)they're not legal scholars. The Erbil Agreement was not illegal or unconstitutional. But if Nouri and his pep squad want to keep insisting it was, they should grasp that means Nour's prime minister tenure is illegitimate. Al Rafidayn notes rumors that al-Hashemi has left the Sulaymaniyah villa he was staying in and is now in an undisclosed/unknown location.

Nouri is fearful of February 25th. Wael Grace (Al Mada) notes that the fear is that activists might take to Tahrir Square as they did a year ago. Nouri responded by (a) promising to cut his salary (no one ever followed up to see if that happened), (b) kicking the can -- insisting that he would address corruption in 100 days (100 days came and went and corruption in Iraq remains -- Nouri was saying earlier this month that it was as big a threat as terrorism) and (c) swearing he wouldn't seek a third term (his attorney has declared that promise to be non-binding). Grace speaks to Nouri's thugs that have been occupying Tahrir Square and running off the real protesters. One explains that he's a political activist with State of Law and he didn't get a seat in Parliament. These are Nouri's thugs. We noted that when they first appeared. Grace is the only journalist to pursue the story. If it were in English, it would be all over the internet.

Will the demonstrators show back up Feb. 25th (or more likely the 24th since they were protesting on Fridays after morning prayers)? Maybe so.

None of the demands were met. Basic services have not been met. Unemployment remains high and jobs scarce. People continue to disappear in the Iraqi justice system and more. A year later and all the problems are still present -- and more plentiful than before. The cry that may have scared Nouri the most last year -- remember the regime in Egypt was falling and numerous leaders were worried they would be next -- might have been the one about how they'd turned out to vote in the elections and nothing changed. They had the same prime minister, the same president, the same vice presidents (one, Adel Abdul Mehdi, has since resigned in protest of the corruption and the inability of the government to address it), so what was the point of 'democratic' elections?

16 days until Friday the 24th. Nouri's paranoia is well known. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

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