Thursday, October 04, 2012

How many US troops remain in Iraq?

Dar Addustour reports on the US military that remains in Iraq -- with a headline of how the Pentagon refuses to withdraw them -- noting that they did not leave during the supposed full withdrawal of US forces in December 2011 and that they have instead been working with implementing security and assistng counter-terrorism forces.  The article notes that despite a lack of Congressional funding for October, the Pentagon has juggled monies to find enough funds to cover the costs through January 1st.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports that the US Embassy inside the Green Zone is cloaked in mystery and that no one can tell you the number of employees -- civilian or military.  Grace points out that despite the lowering of the US flag over Baghdad in 2011 and the announcement that, after 9 years, military operations were ending, the US government, in fact, kept US troops in Iraq after the supposed withdrawl of December 2011.   An Iraqi MP on the Security and Defense Committee tells Grace that they are sure there is a much larger number os US troops in the Embassy and that the Iraqi government does not know how many US forces remain in Iraq.  An MP with Sadr's bloc says that the US military is there for logistic support but also states that the Iraqi government has no idea of the actual number of US troops on the ground in Iraq.  The article ends reminding that all US forces were supposed to leave Iraq at the end of 2011 . . . but didn't.  Last week,  Tim Arango (New York Times) reported, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

Meanwhile, Alsumaria reports that today the Ministry of Justice announced the executions by hanging of another six people.  This brings Iraq's reported total for 2012 to 102.  Meanwhile the so-called Ministry of Human Rights insists it is not the time for Iraq to implement a moratorium on the death penalty despite international cries for just that.  There are serious questions about Iraq's justice system including the right to a fair trail and the use of forced 'confessions.'  Just the use of forced 'confessions' should be enough to make people support a moratorium.

There's no moratorium on violence, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "A car bomb exploded near an Iraqi army convoy in Baghdad on Thursday morning , killing at least four people and wounding 11 others, police said." The Irish Examiner notes the death toll has risen to 5.  Trend News Agency offers, "The attack occurred in the morning when a booby-trapped car went off near a convoy of sport utility vehicles (SUV) used by an Iraqi private security firm, in Baghdad's western district of Mansour, the source said on condition of anonymity."

Al Mada notes that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met with Hamid Majid and others heading a delegation of the Communist Party yesterday.  The discussion was the ongoing political crisis and stalemate.  It was part of Jalal's listening tour.   All Iraq News notes that the Communist Party issued a statement after the meeting stressing their support for Talabani and his efforts.  The meetings are ceremonial and can't serve any real purpose.  It's not as though the 'stumbling block' isn't known: the Erbil Agreement.  Nouri signed the US-brokered contract.  It gave him a second term as prime minister after the voters decidedly did not.  In exchange for the second term, he was supposed to provide certain things for the blocs.  He used the contract to grab his second term and then refused to honor the contract.  That is what created the current political stalemate.  This is known and has been known for over a year now.  There really isn't a need for a listening tour. 

Jalal's a joke.  Alsumaria has him saying that political parties need to be flexible.  That's nonsense.  Nouri didn't 'win' a second term as prime minister.  He wasn't 'flexible.'  He threw a tantrum and, with the White House supporting him, brought Iraq to an 8-month standstill (Political Stalemate I).  And the White House didn't support the Constitution.  The White House didn't support the Iraq people.  The White House didn't support democracy.

Nouri wasn't 'flexible.'  Now the blocs have to be flexible?

I believe they were 'flexible' when they surrendered to the Erbil Agreement giving Nouri a second term.  No one asked the Iraqi people if they wanted their votes tossed aside.

That was 'flexible' enough.  It's time for the Erbil Agreement to be honored.  And since the White House staked the US government's word on that contract, it is past time for the White House to call for it's implementation.

Lastly on 'flexible,' let's remember that the White House tried to big-boy Jalal out of the presidency.  They tried to give it to Ayad Allwai.  Jalal wasn't 'flexible.'  He blew them off.  Maybe Jalal really doesn't have standing to ask others to be 'flexible'?

Jalal's not the only one meeting.  All Iraq News notes that Ibrahim al-Jaafari (head of the National Alliance) and Ammar al-Hakim (head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) met today.  For what reasons?  Apparently to discuss facial tissues and tissue boxes -- check out the picture, I'm counting five tables (including the one with the lamp) and each one has a tissue box on it.  Did Kleenex sponsor the meeting?  All Iraq News also notes that al-Hakim held court in his office in the weekly cultural forum insisting that something must be done about the security situation and noting that last month saw the deaths of 365 people in Iraq with another 683 injured.  This may make Ammar al-Hakim the only political figure in Iraq to note the death toll from last month.  Dar Addustour notes that the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler issued a statement decrying the increased violence and calling on the government to address the root causes of the instability.

The following community sites -- plus Adam Kokesh, Jane Fonda, Jody Watley, Susan's On the Edge, Black Agenda Report,, On The Wilder Side, IPS and The Diane Rehm Show -- updated last night and this morning:

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