Yesterday, Bradley Manning spoke for three minutes in the military proceedings against him. Paul Courson (CNN) explains:
Convicted leaker Army Pfc. Bradley Manning acknowledged Wednesday that by leaking tens of thousands of pages of classified documents he "hurt people and hurt the United States."
"I understood what I was doing was wrong but I didn't appreciate the broader effects of my actions," he said during his sentencing hearing at Maryland's Fort Meade. "I only wanted to help people, not hurt people."
That's fairly straightforward but appears to confuse Alexa O'Brien and some in her circle. Reflecting on their statements today, I was reminded of film director Angela Garcia Combs sharing at Women and Hollywood Monday an observation of the late Karen Black:
Karen once described to me a great lesson she learned from Lee Strasberg. She was a young actress in his class attempting to grow her craft, yet she didn't like him. What he said didn't sit right with her, somehow his personality rubbed her the wrong way, but she had trouble putting her finger on it. One day, however, Strasberg was as usual pontificating before his class, yet he was not wearing his trademark suspenders. As he lectured, he nervously fiddled with his now imaginary prop and it occurred to Karen that for all his undoubted wisdom, Strasberg was not living in the present. Her observation of Strasberg's simple conditioned response freed her. She realized that living in the present, recognizing something as simple as what is there, rather than imposing what we wish to be there -- this is was what it would take to inhabit the characters she was to play, and thus ended her relationship with the esteemed pedagogue. Karen was a great observer of human nature and she could see when someone was not in the present. Karen inhabited the present.
Alexa O'Brien appears to be unable to live in the present as well. Whether than report what happened yesterday, she's invented these alternative realities and is making so many ridiculous statements such as this in her dotty performance on Democracy Now! today:
Now, of course, it didn’t come in the package that people expected it to come in. It actually came in a very sort of—I would actually characterize it as an earnest and sincere package. People have to understand something: Bradley Manning is more of a moral character than he is a political one. Why are people so moved by Bradley Manning? Why do people say, "I am Bradley Manning?" Because his acts were fundamentally an act of conscience.
If you are a friend of Alexa's you might encourage her to stop imploding publicly. She had a shot at a career in journalism. But reporters don't dish in "a moral character." /Even columnists -- those not named Gail Collins -- try to avoid that kind of nonsense. And people said "I am Bradley Manning" to show solidarity with him.
Words have impact.
As I noted yesterday, I fault attorney David Coombs for Bradley's statements. But whomever you blame or credit, the statements drive away support. That's reality, start addressing it.
I would hope grown ups could. I don't know about Alexa.
Am I the only not just thinking O'Brien's splitting hairs but also remembering the scene in Love & Death between Woody Allen and Diane Keaton?
Boris: Sonya, are you scared of dying?
Sonya: Scared is the wrong word. I'm frightened of it
Boris: (mocking) That's an interesting distinction
The statement Bradley made was stupid and ignorant -- regardless of who came up with it. All along, the talk has been of a win on appeal. That especially became the case as observers with any knowledge of the law watched David Coombs bungle repeatedly. So if you have Bradley make a statement, you make it a rousing one that will rally the supporters. It was stupid not to have done that.
Danny Schechter (News Dissector) observed this morning, "It was a humiliating day for Bradley Manning and his supporter who have been lobbying for him to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. He finally had a chance to have his say in court and he opted to seek mercy and perhaps a reduced sentence by apologizing."
David Swanson (War Is A Crime) offered his reaction:
I sat in the courtroom all day on Wednesday as Bradley Manning's trial wound its way to a tragic and demoralizing conclusion. I wanted to hear Eugene Debs, and instead I was trapped there, watching Socrates reach for the hemlock and gulp it down. Just a few minutes in and I wanted to scream or shout.
I don't blame Bradley Manning for apologizing for his actions and effectively begging for the court's mercy. He's on trial in a system rigged against him. The commander in chief declared him guilty long ago. He's been convicted. The judge has been offered a promotion. The prosecution has been given a playing field slanted steeply in its favor. Why should Manning not follow the only advice anyone's ever given him and seek to minimize his sentence? Maybe he actually believes that what he did was wrong. But -- wow -- does it make for some perverse palaver in the courtroom.
There is a wide range of reactions to Bradley's remarks. Many were voiced last night in the roundtable for the special gina & krista round-robin published this morning. Mike shared his reaction at his site:
I kind of thought what Bradley did was brave and the right thing to do.
Now that he's apologized will those celebs in the "I Am Bradley Manning" video join him in apologizing?
I don't know what to say.
I advocated on his behalf and I defended him.
Today he apologizes and tells the court he was wrong.
He and his support network can have each other because I'm done with him.
As I explained in a roundtable we did tonight, other people should do what they want.
But I do have a law degree. I did public defending pro bono.
And you don't do what Brad did today. Not to lessen a sentence (or try to). You don't disown actions you're proud of.
Bradley's lost his ethical high ground now.
Others can defend him. I won't attack them for it (in the community or out). But I'm done with him.
I've got a life and I'll be living it no longer worrying about him. He disowned his actions?
I supported those actions.
I'm done supporting him. And since he's admitted to damaging the country (yeah, he said that too), he'll get whatever sentence Col. Denise Lind gives him. And if she now throws the book at him, oh well. That's his problem.
(Added) Marcia shared her reaction to the 'defense':
But as a member of the LGBT community, I feel betrayed by the 'defense' David Coombs presented.
Brad is not, you understand, a brave person who came forward and did the right thing.
No, he's a dirty pervert with a sickness and, in the best tradition of burn the witch, Brad is forced to confess his sins and admit to damaging the country.
I'm real damn sorry that David Coombs is such a stupid ass and transphobe, but I'm even sorrier that Brad's name is now muddied.
I'm sorry that what he did is now on record as being a result of a 'perversion.'
Being transgendered is not "disorder."
Coombs had a right to defend his client.
He did not have a right to do so by spitting on the LGBT community.
To put on the stand witnesses testifying to a "disorder" was spitting on us. In the early 90s, that "disorder" could have been same sex attraction.
I have nothing but support for Brad but David Coombs is a transphobe and a homophobe. (Homophobe? He repeatedly equated trans as "gay." Women trapped in men's bodies are not "gay," they are transgendered.)
Of Bradley's statements, Alexa O'Brien declared on Democracy Now! today (with a straight face but while rocking herself back and forth), "So, it’s very much in line with, I think, what’s been a really actually successful defense strategy on Coombs’s part, is to lay it all out there and show how it all fits together."
Successful defense? John Knefel (Rolling Stone) noted Colonel Denise Lind found Bradley "guilt of 20 other counts, which could get him up to 136 years in military prison." We should probably point out that Bradley won't get the death penalty but that's only because the military took it off the list of options before the court-martial began. So how has Coombs mounted a successful defense? In what crazy world does Alexa O'Brien live when you're found guilty of all but two counts against you and are now facing the possibility of over 100 years behind bars?
The Bradley Manning Support Network is attempting to mount a response for when Lind announces the government's sentence against Bradley. Kat noted that last night and offered:
Are you kidding me?
In this heat? You want me to demonstrate in this heat?
For someone who says they were wrong to do what they did? For someone who says their actions damaged the country?
Forget that. Since May 2010, I have wasted my time on Bradley Manning. I've done so here, in pieces co-written with Third and over and over in various groups we've spoken to around the country.
I could have used that time on other issues, I could have used it for pleasure.
I used it on Brad because I believed in what he did. Now that he apparently does not, I don't have time for him. Sorry.
Don't give me that crap that he's facing life behind bars.
His statements today do not change that.
What they did is renounce a powerful stand.
I don't have time to fight for those who won't fight for themselves, sorry.
Some in the community (we did a round-table for a special gina & krista roundtable that will be in inboxes tomorrow morning) are of the opinion that Coombs is entirely responsible. That's fine. I respect them and their opinion. But Bradley made his statements today and, I repeat, I don't have the time to fight for those who won't fight for themselves.
I pin the blame on Coombs and do so because he's the attorney who is supposed to advise the client. If the statements were Bradley's idea (if!), Coombs should have explained the damage they do in terms of public support and in terms of an appeal.
I'm sorry, let's walk it through. Bradley hires a functional attorney like Marjorie Cohn or Michael Ratner for an appeal. That would be a great move. But what would Cohn or Ratner have to work with. "Your honor, Bradley Manning is a whistle-blower and his actions helped many ---" At what point does the prosecution jump in to point out that Bradley disowned the actions in his statement to the court and admitted he had "hurt" the United States?
I blame Coombs. But whomever you fault or credit, you're allowed your reaction. After three years plus of defending Bradley, you're allowed to feel negatively about his statement in court yesterday. Kat and Mike are done with him. That's not an unnatural response. There are others who will feel the same way. Living in denial or attempting to impose it on others (I'm not sure which O'Brien is doing) will not change the way people feel.
Before I go further, as Kat noted in her post last night, I say Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) has the right to shout, "I was right!" He was. I had hoped he was wrong. But from the start of Coombs' nonsense, Raimondo called it out. (I wrongly thought that when the court-martial started we would see some grand plan for a defense where it all made sense. That never happened.) Raimondo caught on to the nonsense of David Coombs, to how he distracted and wasted support early on. I was wrong -- I often am -- and Justin Raimondo was right. Good for him.
Back to the statement Bradley made. It included, "How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?" That also bothers people because people do make a difference. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. didn't decide, "I'm a Christian minister. How could I make a difference over the decisions of those with the proper authority." But let's not just make this about the left. I can't stand Phyllis Schlafly or the beliefs she extolls. But she apparently believes in her stated beliefs and she never let anything stop her from pushing them. This is a woman who ran for Congress in the fifties. She lost, so what. At a time when there were 96 US Senators and only one was a woman (Senator Margaret Chase) and when there were 435 House Reps but only 7 were women (Edna Flannery Kelly, Katharine St. George, Frances P. Bolton, Marguerite S. Church, Vera Buchanan, Reva Beck Bosone and Elizabeth Kee), Shlafly felt she -- one person -- could make a difference and she ran.
The belief that one person can make a difference is not rooted in left or right politics, it's a belief that belongs to all. It's in religions, including missionary religions, it's in children's fables and is the whole point of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes."
The Emperor's got no clothes on
No clothes? That can't be -- he's the Emperor
Take that child away
Don't let the people hear the words he has to say
One small voice
Speaking out in honesty
Silenced, but not for long
One small voice
Speaking with the values we were taught as children
[. . .]
You can change the world
But you better be strong.
-- "One Small Voice," written by Carole King, first appears on her Speeding Time
This is what we are taught as children, as Carole's song so aptly points out. So for Bradley's statement to go against the grain on that as well is going to leave many feeling less than thrilled. At World Can't Wait, Dennis Loo compiles a list of the many ways Bradley's actions did make a difference. WikiLeaks released a statement which included:
But Mr. Manning's options have run out. The only currency this military court will take is Bradley Manning's humiliation. In light of this, Mr. Manning's forced decision to apologise to the US government in the hope of shaving a decade or more off his sentence must be regarded with compassion and understanding.
Mr. Manning's apology is a statement extorted from him under the overbearing weight of the United States military justice system. It took three years and millions of dollars to extract two minutes of tactical remorse from this brave soldier.
Bradley Manning's apology was extracted by force, but in a just court the US government would be apologizing to Bradley Manning. As over 100,000 signatories of his Nobel Peace Prize nomination attest, Bradley Manning has changed the world for the better. He remains a symbol of courage and humanitarian resistance.
Mr. Manning's apology shows that as far as his sentencing is concerned there are still decades to play for. Public pressure on Bradley Manning's military court must intensify in these final days before the sentencing decision against him is made.
WikiLeaks continues to support Bradley Manning, and will continue to campaign for his unconditional release.
There are a wide range of opinions and stands. Pretending that Bradley didn't say what he said or that the defense has been a success? That's not opinion that's slash fiction. And don't pretend you covered the issues if you never explored counter-insurgency. Pauline Jelinek and David Dishneau (AP) explore the many issues of the hearing including counter-insurgency:
COUNTERINSURGENCY CAMPAIGNS • Manning was disturbed by what he saw at war, including the civilian deaths and tactics that turned the local populations in Iraq and Afghanistan against U.S. and other foreign troops. Those are issues that frustrated other troops who served, up to the war’s highest commanders.
Manning said he hoped exposing how America fought in Iraq and Afghanistan might prompt debate and reform of its counterinsurgency strategy, which created the battlefield around any corner and any village and neighborhood — and, as Manning said, often produced resentment and lack of cooperation among the people of both nations.
Ritchie said the question of Manning’s motives is interesting on various levels.
Yes, Bradley did say he wanted to start a debate on counter-insurgency. Too bad for Bradley, most people weren't up to it - -hadn't been for over a decade. How did counter-insurgency become 'respectable'? The Carr Center at Harvard and places where other academic whores gather. Review Adam Curtis (BBC News) 2012 report and marvel over how counter-insurgency went from being so reviled during the Vietnam era that the US military disowned it, to staging a comeback in the 00's. It took a lot of silence for that to happen and you can look to The Nation magazine which refused to call it out (I'm not forgetting Tom Hayden's piece -- I'm also not forgetting that it first appeared elsewhere and that in all the years that have followed no one at The Nation bothered to ever weigh in). Look to The Progressive magazine which never called it out.
Excuse me, The Progressive wasn't just silent. We often note Samantha Power blurbed the military's counter-insurgency manual. I never would have known that were it not for the ad for the military's manual that ran in The Progressive. So the magazine didn't just remain silent, it accepted money to promote war on a native population.
Counter-insurgency was mentioned by Bradley in his court-martial. It was mentioned by witnesses (including one this week) but where was the coverage? AP reported on it. Kelley Beaucar Vlahos (Antiwar.com) has written of it many times including this week in a column on Iraq:
Currently, I am reading (Ret) Col. Gian Gentile’s new book, Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency. Gentile is a friend of Antiwar.com, having sat for an interview back in 2009. His consistent criticism of counterinsurgency (COIN) amid the unprecedented drumbeat for it by the civilian and military power establishment was both vilified (by COINdinistas) and welcome to those of us opposed to U.S war policy overseas. In his book, he has the last say, gazing on the ruins of American power in Iraq and Afghanistan. Everything he predicted then is playing out each night on the (very) brief news reports about Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) attacks against Maliki’s government and the civilian populace. But we doubt Gentile, who fought in Iraq during its deadliest moments in 2005, is taking any satisfaction.
Today, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met in DC with US Secretary of State John Kerry. The State Dept issued the following:
The Governments of the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America reaffirmed their strategic partnership during a meeting of the Political and Diplomatic Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on August 15, in Washington, DC.
This meeting, held at the Department of State, was co-chaired by Secretary Kerry and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. This is the fourth meeting of the Political and Diplomatic JCC since it was established by the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) to strengthen the U.S.-Iraq bilateral and strategic partnership.
The United States offered its full support for Iraq’s efforts to strengthen ties within the region. Since the last meeting of this JCC, Iraq and Kuwait made impressive strides before the United Nations, resumed commercial flights between Kuwait City and Baghdad, and completed maintenance of the border pillars along their shared border. The United States was proud to support these diplomatic achievements, which required difficult decisions on both the Iraqi and Kuwaiti sides and have contributed to regional peace and stability.
The United States further reiterated its strong support for Iraq’s efforts to increase and deepen dialogue with other regional partners, and emphasized the importance of working together to bolster moderate forces and isolate extremists in the region. The United States also congratulated Iraq on the strong participation by Iraqi Security Forces in joint regional military exercises, such as the recently completed Eager Lion exercise in Jordan. The United States further affirmed its strong commitment to help the Government of Iraq defeat al Qaeda and other terrorist groups that continue to threaten Iraq and the entire Middle East region.
During the meeting, the delegations discussed international efforts to address the ongoing crisis in Syria and explored areas of potential cooperation, particularly on humanitarian issues and consultation on border security to prevent the infiltration of terrorist groups into Iraq. Both sides affirmed their commitment to a Syrian-led political transition leading to a pluralistic political system representing the will of the Syrian people. The United States emphasized the importance of providing refuge and services to those fleeing the violence in Syria. The Iraqi side further reiterated its commitment to deter the transit of weapons through its territory and welcomed in this regard the recent notification to the U.S. Congress of the potential Iraqi purchase of an integrated air defense system to fully protect its sovereign airspace.
Both delegations emphasized their commitment to close and ongoing security cooperation, noting in this regard the Memorandum of Understanding on security cooperation signed at the Defense and Security JCC in December 2012, the inaugural U.S.-Iraq Joint Military Committee (JMC) hosted by U.S. Central Command in June 2013, and the more than $14 billion in equipment, services, and training purchased by Iraq for its military and security forces through the Foreign Military Sales program. Both delegations pledged to enhance this cooperation in pursuit of their joint interests in denying terrorists a safe haven anywhere within Iraqi territory.
The United States noted the provincial elections held in Iraq earlier this year and discussed Iraq’s plans for national elections scheduled for 2014. The United States pledged to assist Iraqi implementation of this next essential step in the development of Iraq’s democracy, noting its commitment under the SFA to Iraq’s democratic development.
The delegations also discussed President Obama’s decision to extend extraordinary protections for the Development Fund for Iraq and emphasized the close partnership that exists between Iraq and the United States on macro-economic issues. The Iraqi side affirmed its commitment to resolve outstanding claims over the coming months to set the conditions for those extraordinary protections to expire in 2014. The two sides also discussed the issue of energy diplomacy and the importance to Iraq and to the global economy of ensuring a steady and redundant supply of energy resources to global markets. This topic will be addressed in further detail at the next Energy JCC to be held pursuant to the Strategic Framework Agreement later this year.
The United States praised the Government of Iraq in passing anti-trafficking legislation and pledged its continued support for the Government of Iraq’s efforts to combat trafficking in persons as well as security for all Iraqis.
The United States and the Republic of Iraq committed to continue discussions of these issues through working groups and to convene the next Political and Diplomatic JCC in Baghdad.
We took off the heading (date and title) but it was noted in full. We're not going to do the same, in this snapshot, with the background briefing. We'll include two sections tomorrow but we're not making time or space for it today.
No slam against the State Dept but I'm just not into stupid idiots of the press. And that's what most of them are. I am so weary of their inability, when provided with the opportunity, to ask about US forces in Iraq, about the Memo Of Understanding signed in December 2012 allowing for joint US - Iraq patrols. Dropping back to the April 30th Iraq snapshot:
December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed. We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way. It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "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 [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."
I'm tired of the idiots, the liars and the cover up artists. I'm tired of their blood lust for war in Syria and how that reduces Iraq to a bit player or extra in their narratives of the Gulf region. I'm tired of all of it. I'm tired of them ignoring reality. I'm tired of the repeat e-mails insisting I've lied about a Memorandum of Understanding being signed (you'd think people would at least use provided links before making that charge). I'm tired of a lazy, spineless press that refuses to report on the MoU even when the Pentagon issues a press release (as they did last December) or when the State Dept notes it as it did today:
At the December 2012 JCC, Acting Defense Minister al-Dlimi signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Security Cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense. This agreement represents the strong military to military relationship between the United States and Iraq, and provides mechanisms for increased defense cooperation in areas including defense planning, counterterrorism cooperation, and combined exercises.
We'll close with the full State Dept press release that came from. But before we do . . .
If you want to really see people not doing their job, read or watch today's State Dept press briefing. Although John Kerry met with Hoshyar Zebari today, not one reporter asks about that or Iraq and State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki never mentions it. This silence took place in spite of the fact that, as Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, John Kerry told reporters today, "Iraq sits at the intersection of regional currents of increasingly turbulent, violent and unpredictable actions. Sunni and Shia extremists on both sides of the sectarian divide throughout the region have an ability to be able to threaten Iraq's stability if they're not checked."
The silence took place despite the fact that BBC News reported, hours before the briefing, that Bahgdad has been slammed today with bombings Al Jazeera counts 7 bombings, 40 dead and fifty-six injured and notes:
Aljazeera's Imran Khan said most authorities in Iraqi government have been finger-pointing one group, a group calling itself al-Qaeda in Iraq, adding that there has been no claims of responsibility so far.
"Timing is very interesting, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave a speech on state TV on Wednesday night," Khan said.
Xinhua explains, "One of the car bombs went off in the crowded district of Alawi, near the Green Zone which houses the Iraqi government offices and some foreign embassies, killing four people and wounding 12, a police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity." ITV news offers this on the Green Zone:
- Green Zone is the common name for a 10 square kilometre site in the centre of Baghdad which houses the coalition government buildings.
- Surrounded by a seventeen foot high concrete fence it was where the key diplomats from the international community where based.
Kristen Butler (UPI) notes, "The attacks took place at nearly the same time across the city, during rush hour." ITV offers a Reuters photo essay here.
Heather Saul (Indpendent) quotes Mohammed Sabri, eye witness to a Baghdad market bombing stating, "I got closer and saw burning cars, two charred bodies and several people on the ground. Security officials keep telling us that their forces are able to protect us, but this has not happened yet." Kareem Raheem, Raheem Salman, Sylvia Westall and Elizabeth Piper (Reuters) quote an Iraqi male who was injured (and declined to give his name), "Windows were smashed and my children started screaming and running everywhere, smoke and dust filled my house. The politicians are responsible for the deterioration in security."
ITV notes the death toll has risen to 42. It may go higher. But Baghdad's not the only place in Iraq targeted with violence. National Iraqi News Agency reports a Falluja roadside bombing left two Iraqi soldiers injured, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left two more people injured, and "an armed attack on the road between Shatrah county and Aldawwayah village" left 1 person dead and two more injured. Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 390 violent deaths so far this month.
Michael Jansen (Gulf News) has a strong analysis of Iraq which includes:
Over the past year, the number of attacks has risen due to Baghdad’s inability to tackle Al Qaeda’s local franchise, the Islamic State in Iraq, and the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
Baghdad cannot deal with the jihadi insurgency because the country’s Sunni community – particularly tribesmen based in the provinces of Anbar, Salahuddin, and Nineva – has been alienated. Ever since Nuri Al Maliki became prime minister in 2006, Sunnis have been sidelined and marginalised. Sunnis hoped the situation would improve after the 2010 election which was won by the secular coalition formed by the Iraqiya party led by Ayad Alawi. This did not happen because he was bypassed as the choice of prime minister and promises to empower his party were not kept.
Maliki took the levers of power into his hands by retaining control of security ministries and operating his own militia as well as the armed forces and police. He also recruited mainly Shias into these bodies. By excluding Sunnis – particularly Sunnis who had joined the Sahwa or Awakening units formed by the US occupation forces to deal with Al Qaeda – Maliki deprived Iraq of the most useful tool against Al Qaeda which, since the US departed in 2011, has revived and flourished.
We will probably work in Jansen's critique in tomorrow's snapshot. For now we'll close with this State Dept release:
Office of the Spokesperson
August 15, 2013
Since Vice President Biden traveled to Iraq in November 2011 and convened a meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee, the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) has served as the backbone of our relationship with the Government of Iraq (GOI). The United States and the GOI value the SFA, as evidenced by public statements by each side, the three Higher Coordinating Committee meetings and 24 Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meetings held in the areas of cooperation outlined in the SFA, the Working Groups within each JCC that meet on a regular basis, and the myriad of developments across these sectors, a sampling of which is listed below:
Defense and Security (Last JCC in December 2012)
Defense and Security (Last JCC in December 2012)
June 2013, the U.S. Central Command hosted the first U.S.- Iraq Joint
Military Committee (JMC), which is a subordinate discussion to the
Defense and Security JCC. The JMC addressed issues such as border
security, Iraqi military strategy, and engagement of Iraqi Security
Forces in regional training exercises. The next JCC likely will be held
in Washington this year.
- At the December 2012 JCC, Acting
Defense Minister al-Dlimi signed a Memorandum of Understanding on
Security Cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense. This agreement
represents the strong military to military relationship between the
United States and Iraq, and provides mechanisms for increased defense
cooperation in areas including defense planning, counterterrorism
cooperation, and combined exercises.
- With strong U.S.
support, Iraq has brought its military engagement with regional partners
to historically high levels, including military exercises, strategic
conferences and bilateral military engagements. Iraq’s participation in a
naval exercise in Bahrain this year marked the first out-of-area
deployment by an Iraqi naval unit in the post-Saddam era and the
first-ever Iraqi port visit to Bahrain.
- In close collaboration with U.S. officials, the Government of Iraq has purchased more than $14 billion in equipment, services, and training through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program for its military and security forces. The Iraq FMS program is one of the largest in the world and is an important symbol of the long-term security partnership envisioned by both countries. We remain committed to meeting Iraqi equipment needs as quickly as possible.
number of Iraqi students studying in the United States increased by 31%
from 2011 to 2012 to a total of over 800. Our close bilateral
cooperation in this area should produce continued increases in 2013.
Baghdad-based English Language Institute, established in partnership
with the Iraqi government, is expected to open in October 2013. The U.S.
provided $1 million in funding to support English language instruction
to hundreds of Iraqi government scholarship students each year for this
- More than 1,200 Iraqis ages 15-22 participated in
the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program, including more than 200 in
2013. Areas of focus include leadership development, respect for
diversity, and civic participation.
- 150 Iraqi
professionals participated in the International Visitor Leadership
Program (IVLP) in 2013. Themes include women in leadership, science and
technology, interfaith dialogue, energy policy, higher education,
journalism, civic engagement, elections, public health,
entrepreneurship, stock exchange, and environmental protection.
USG, in conjunction with the UN, IAEA, and Ministry of Science and
Technology, held a two-day Nuclear Dismantlement Conference in Erbil in
2013, focusing on the Adaya nuclear burial site in Ninewa province. The
conference represented the culmination of the DOS Iraq Nuclear
Dismantlement Program’s seven years of work to safeguard and remediate
the most contaminated Saddam-era nuclear sites around the country.
- Cultural heritage is a significant pillar of the Strategic Framework Agreement, reflecting the high value both our nations place on this irreplaceable resource. Through the Iraq Cultural Heritage Project, a $12.9 million initiative developed and funded by the State Department, and implemented by the nonprofit International Relief and Development from 2008 to 2011, Iraqis have undergone training on cultural preservation techniques (including exchanges with the Smithsonian Institution, the Winterthur Museum and other key partners), rehabilitated and furnished eleven of the museum’s public galleries, a three-story collections storage facility, and significantly upgraded conservation labs.
Ministry of Electricity received U.S. training for over 100 of its key
engineers and managers on energy security and safety in 2012 and 2013.
- Iraq’s Ministry of Oil received U.S. training for 9 key geoscientists and engineers on resource evaluation.
- The Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq reaffirmed their commitment, including signing a Memorandum of Understanding in January 2013, to jointly cooperate in the areas of oil production and export, natural gas, electricity, and critical energy infrastructure protection.
considerable technical support and assistance from the U.S. Government,
Iraq has now begun arresting, investigating, and prosecuting cases
under its comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation.
- In May 2013 Embassy Baghdad, a Federal Judge from the 2nd
Circuit, and the FBI, trained 13 Iraqi investigative judges on
techniques in asset recovery in financial crimes, and a presentation on
such techniques will be made to the Acting head of the Higher Judicial
Council Judge Hammari.
- In 2012, Iraq established the High Commission for Human Rights to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
U.S. support, Iraq and Kuwait worked together to end Iraq’s Chapter VII
obligations regarding the mandate of the High Level Coordinator for
Missing Persons and Archives and establish a UN-led mechanism to
continue and maintain their cooperation in this area. U.S. support also
facilitated both parties’ successful efforts to resolve the longstanding
dispute over damage inflicted on Kuwait’s national airline during the
Gulf War. As a result, flights between Baghdad and Kuwait City resumed
in 2013 after a 22-year cessation. In addition, both sides completed
maintenance of the border pillars along their shared border in
accordance with UNSCR 833. Iraq has also constructively engaged its key
neighbors like Jordan and the United Arab Emirates on issues of shared
concern, including the growing conflict in Syria.
- In April
and June 2013, Iraq took another step toward building its democratic
foundation through successfully holding provincial elections and in
preparation for national elections in the spring of 2014.
United States continues to strongly support Iraqi civil society and the
many NGOs that continue to operate in Iraq under very challenging
circumstances, through training and advocacy, bringing public attention
to issues of inclusive citizenship, displacement, human rights and
women’s rights. The State Department also named the Hammurabi Human
Rights Organization the winner of its 2012 Human Rights Defenders Award,
for its “fearless advocacy for human rights, concrete achievements in
protecting female detainees, and critical work on curriculum reform to
promote religious freedom.”
- Through its UN partners, the
United States has contributed over $1 billion in overall humanitarian
aid since the Syria crisis began, including fully funding a $1 million
food voucher program for the Domiz refugee camp in northern Iraq and
supporting Syrian refugees living in camps and in host communities in
- The United States also continues to provide support to displaced Iraqis, both inside Iraq and elsewhere in the region. Thus far in Fiscal Year 2013, the U.S. has provided over $87 million to address the needs of displaced Iraqis through the provision of shelter, health care, livelihoods assistance, and other basic humanitarian assistance.
Airways continued to revitalize its aircraft fleet, and in part due to
U.S. Government advocacy, agreed to a contract with Boeing for 41 planes
worth $5.4 billion for delivery from 2013 – 2017.
- The Department of Transportation’s attaché office in Baghdad worked with Iraq’s Ministry of Transportation to bring Iraq’s airports into compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization codes and regulations, clearing American commercial carriers to resume operations to airports in northern Iraq for the first time in decades.
Minister Maliki joined over 100,000 Iraqi visitors to the U.S.
sponsored Pavilion at the Baghdad International Trade Fair in the fall
of 2012. U.S. organizations’ participation was up 80% over the 2011
fair, the first time the U.S. participated since the 1980s.
Trade & Investment Framework Agreement between the Governments of
Iraq and the United States, which addresses trade issues and improves
bilateral economic relations, entered into force in May 2013.
- In part due to U.S. Government advocacy, major U.S. companies like Boeing, Cisco, ExxonMobil, Ford Motors, Halliburton, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin all have offices or are represented in Iraq. U.S. exports to Iraq, excluding aircraft, rose 13 percent between the first quarter of 2012 and first quarter of 2013.
the associated press
kelley b. vlahos