Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The continued military stand-off

Alsumaria reports that meetings continue between the Iraq Ministry of Defense and the KRG's Peshmerga.  All this time later, there is still no resolution.  Kurdish MP Chuan Mohamed Taha notes the two have failed to agree on who stations troops where.

This has to do with disputed areas -- which probably means it has to do with oil -- and it has to do with the Constitution.  In 2005, many -- including Nouri -- participated in drawing up Iraq's Constitution.  Article 140 details how Iraq will resolve disputed regions: hold a census and a referendum.  Nouri became prime minister the next year.  And Article 140 was supposed to be implemented on oil-rich Kirkuk by the end of 2007.

Yet Nouri never got around to it for some reason.  What's a broken oath to a Constitution, after all?

It's now 2013.  And oil-rich Kirkuk still hasn't been resolved.  But last year, a little past the half-way mark, Nouri created a new military force:  Operation Command Tigris.  He selected the commander all by himself -- despite needing Parliament to sign off on any nominee.

And he then dispatched Operation Command Tigris into Iraq.  But not just any part of Iraq, mind you.  No, he sent them into the disputed areas.

A new military force under Nouri's command and they're being sent into the disputed areas?  To the Kurds, this looked like Nouri was attempting to 'resolve' the disputes by force.   As the tensions piled on, the disputed areas were left with a military stand-off between Operation Command Tigris and  the Peshmerga (the elite Kurdish force).

As this went on and on, the international press ignored it.  It wasn't until the events of November 16th that the world press finally paid attention.  From that day's snapshot:

The big violence in Iraq today?   Alsumaria reports violence resulting from Nouri's Operation Command Tigris.  Alsumaria reports a clash between the Tigris forces and members of a Kurdish official's protection detail left many injured (over ten and possibly one dead).  All Iraq News reports 1 person is dead -- a civilian and the outlet says all the injured were Tigris forces. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that 1 Iraqi soldier also died and states that clash took place in Khurmato "when Iraqi soldiers attempted to search a house belonging to Goran Najam, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, officials said.  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is the current leader of the PUK."  Sinan Salaheddin (AP) offers, "The clash occurred as police commandos were attempting to arrest a Kurdish smuggler in the city of Tuz Khormato, said Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir al-Zaidi, of the newly formed Dijla Joint Military Command. When the smuggler took shelter in the offices of a Kurdish political party, police tried to break into the building, but gunmen guarding the office opened fire, he added."  Peshmerga spokesperson Jabbar Yawar tells Alsumaria that this was a personal problem between the two and is now contained. 

After that incident (which claimed the life of Lt Gen Abdulamir al-Zaidi), the world press briefly paid attention.  Impatiently.  They drummed their fingers, couldn't hide their boredom or rolling eyes and then, suddenly, the international press declared the situation over.  Even though it wasn't.  They did that by taking a joint-press conference by Nouri and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and erasing Ban Ki-moon and everything he said and then distorting what Nouri said.  (See November 27th's "Wait, they told us yesterday's meeting solved everything!")  And then the international press pretended Dionne Warwick had personally asked them to "Walk on by, don't stop, Walk on by . . ."

And the international press did.

But the military stand-off continued and continues.  The silence from the media is troubling and alarming when you grasp that various 'press respected' institutions have repeatedly warned that the disputed areas were a flashpoint.  For example, from the July 26, 2011 snapshot:
Of greater interest to us (and something's no one's reported on) is the RAND Corporation's report entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops." The 22-page report, authored by Larry Hanauer, Jeffrey Martini and Omar al-Shahery, markets "CBMs" -- "confidence-building measures" -- while arguing this is the answer. If it strikes you as dangerously simplistic and requiring the the Kurdish region exist in a vacuum where nothing else happens, you may have read the already read the report.
[. . .]
The authors acknowledge:
["] Continuing to contain Arab-Kurd tensions will require a neutral third-party arbitrator that can facilitate local CMBs, push for national-level negotiations, and prevent armed conflict between Iraqi and Kurdish troops. While U.S. civilian entities could help implement CMBs and mediate political talks, the continued presence of U.S. military forces within the disputed internal boundaries would be the most effective way to prevent violent conflict between Arabs and Kurds. ["]
[. . .]
The report notes that, in late 2009, Gen Ray Odierno (top US commander in Iraq at that point) had declared the tensions between Arabs and Kurds to be "the greatest single driver of instability in Iraq." It doesn't note how the US Ambassador to Iraq when Odierno made those remarks was Chris Hill who dismissed talk of tensions as well as the issue of the oil rich and disputed Kirkuk.

By refusing to cover even the major daily themes regularly, the international press is left badly explaining to their news consumers what just happened -- over and over. 

The following community sites -- plus Pacifica Evening News,, IVAW, Adam Kokesh, C-SPAN, the Guardian and OutFM -- updated last night and this morning:

The e-mail address for this site is

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