Friday, January 10, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Friday, January 10, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on Anbar continues, rumors of a secret deal surface, Nouri gets more rewards from the White House, Dan Murphy embarrasses himself (again), and more.

One of the points of Nouri's assault on Anbar was to end the ongoing protests in Iraq -- protests against his government -- protests which have lasted over a year.

How'd that work out for al-Maliki?

الجمعة الموحدة في مدينة سامراء: .

That's Samarra.

You may remember Samarra especially due to AP falsely reporting December 30th that the protests had withered away in Samara.  False then, false today.

Brave Iraqis also turned out in Ramadi and Jalawla.

And fearful, scared Nouri resorted to collective punishment again today.   Iraqi Spring MC reports Nouri al-Maliki's air force bombed residential areas in Ramadi today, denied humanitarian aid to Falluja, killed a child named Taha Ayoub Aelchortani and left two more injured with his bombings, bombed homes in Falluja, Ramadi's hospital has received 200 dead or wounded from Nouri's bombings and Falluja has received 150 dead or wounded.  Omar al-Jaffal (Al-Monitor) reports:

Meanwhile, the head of the tribal council in Anbar, Abdul Rahman al-Zobaie from Ramadi, told Al-Monitor, “The army ought to stop the indiscriminate shelling of civilian houses.” He noted, “This has killed and injured hundreds of civilians and destroyed a large number of houses. The government of Anbar ought to expedite measures to meet the needs of the affected families.” 
Zobaie said, “Local police forces are deployed at the entrance of the city, and checkpoints have been established in all areas in Fallujah, [and are] working on protecting the governmental institutions with the support of the tribes. There are no members affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS] as propagated by some politicians and the government of Anbar.” 
He added, “The government of Fallujah, with all its tribal sheikhs and dignitaries, are demanding that the central government and the armed forces stop the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas and withdraw the armed forces, as the [local] police are the only party responsible for managing the crisis.”

AFP notes, "The United Nations and NGOs have said that civilians lack access to essential supplies such as food and fuel as a result of a government blockade, while Human Rights Watch has condemned rights abuses by all sides during the crisis." And there's still little clarity for the western press regarding who's in Falluja with guns.   Isabel Coles (Reuters) reports, "Iraqis fleeing from Falluja question whether the masked gunmen who overran their city 10 days ago are really al Qaeda-linked militants as the government says, but fear their presence will draw a ferocious response from the army regardless."  Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) explains:

Neutral sources in the city confirmed to Al-Monitor that four armed groups are deployed inside the city and on its outskirts:
  • Tribal gunmen: This group of fighters is led by former army officers belonging to the main Dulaim tribes — among them the al-Bou Nimr, al-Farraj, al-Bou Issa and al-Fallaha — besides gunmen from the al-Jamilat, al-Jabour and al-Janabat clans. They have been organizing under the banner of the Tribal Revolutionaries. It is believed that Sheikh Ali al-Hatem al-Salman is personally leading them. Their political and religious reference is the Tribal Revolutionaries’ Council, which is likely led by the Salafist cleric Abu Abdullah al-Janabi.
  • Assorted armed groups: These had fought against US forces and later either disbanded, reduced their activity or joined the Sahwa or Iraqi security forces. They include Hamas-Iraq, Kataeb al-Thawrat al-Ishrin, Jamaat al-Naqshbandi, Jaish al-Mujahidin and Baathist outfits. These groups have Brotherhood and Salafist leaders inside and outside Iraq and coordinate with the Anbar Revolutionaries’ Council.
  • Salafi jihadist organizations: These groups follow al-Qaeda but are not part of ISIS, having split from it after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, rebelled against the global al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. The most prominent of these groups is Jaish Ansar al-Sunna.
  • ISIS: Part of the ISIS contingent came to Fallujah from Ramadi, as noted above, after battles there against Sahwa forces. From there, they journeyed to Fallujah and were joined by local ISIS members as well as fighters from Abu Ghraib and other Baghdad environs.
The picture on the ground is made complex by overlapping forces. No one can say for sure whether there is coordination among these various groups. The most credible information indicates that the Tribal Revolutionaries is the largest, with thousands of fighters affiliated with tribal leaders and clerics, and is native to Fallujah. Meanwhile, outside Fallujah, besides Iraqi Army forces stationed east and north of the city, government Swat police forces have been deployed south and west of it connected to Ramadi. Tribal Sahwa forces are present in the areas of the Swat and army contingents, but are less influential in Fallujah compared to in other cities in Anbar.

Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports rumors of secret developments:

A secret deal was done between the tribes of Anbar and Sunni Muslim extremists this week – the result has seen extremists withdraw from Fallujah. But questions remain: Will PM Nouri al-Maliki still react with military force? How did Al Qaeda manage to take over a city like Fallujah in just two days? And why did they react so diplomatically when asked to leave?

Sources from within the tribes in the city of Fallujah in Anbar province say that on Tuesday evening, a secret deal was done by the tribes of Anbar and members of the extremist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Sources told NIQASH that the extremist group, also known as ISIS or Daash, said they would withdraw from the city so that the Iraqi army did not invade.  

For several days now Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been threatening to send his troops into Fallujah to re-take the city; as Iraqi army troops massed on the outskirts of the city he even put out a call to locals to expel the extremist elements themselves - or face an attack by the Iraqi military.
The deal, done in the central city, was reached in order to prevent any further damage to the city. The city is mostly home to members of Sunni Muslim tribes who tend to be conservative when it comes to religion and to tribal customs. And despite their antipathy toward al-Maliki’s government –a Shiite Muslim-led coalition that Sunni Muslims say has alternately sidelined and targeted them – locals apparently do not want to see a repeat of 2004, when the US army stormed the city after the gruesome deaths of four contractors there. 

Although it is unusual for ISIS to react in what may best be described as a diplomatic way, they apparently ad good reason.
“Only several dozen Daash fighters actually entered the city in the first place,” says Ahmad al-Jumaili, one of the tribal leaders in Anbar. “They were only carrying light and medium sized weapons with them. And there is no way they could control a city like Fallujah where all the people of the city have at least one weapon in their homes.”

AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted the following today:

  • Deadly standoff over major Iraq cities enters second week - :

  • At the Guardian and at BRussells Tribunal, Ross Caputi explains:

    This week, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior's assertion that al-Qaida's affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has taken over half of Falluja is being parroted in headlines by almost every major media network. But again, it appears that the role of al-Qaida in Falluja is being exaggerated and used as a justification for a military assault on the city.
    The violence began just over a week ago, when Iraqi security forces disbursed a protest camp in Falluja and arrested a politician who had been friendly to the protestors' goals. This camp was part of a non-violent protest movement – which took place mostly in Sunni cities, but was also receiving some support from the Shia community – that began a year ago. Iraqi security forces have attacked protestors in Falluja and other Sunni cities on several occasions, the most egregious example taking place in Hawija, when over 50 protestors were killed

    While some deal with reality, some struggle with themselves.

    In the church they light the candles
    And the wax rolls down like tears
    There's the hope and the hopelessness
    I've witnessed thirty years
    -- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album Hejira

    Case in point, Dan Murphy.  Light those candles, Danny, cause the tears they are a coming.

    Today, the Christian Science Monitor reporter Tweeted.

  • I took on a little of the partisan finger pointing in Iraq and the myth of how great things were post surge.

  • Well that's good, Dan, it's good to know you were objective or tried to be and --  Oh, he wasn't done Tweeting.

  • I wrote today if you're listening to people saying Obama "lost" Iraq well, you're listening to the wrong people.

  • Both Tweets take you to the same article by Dan, "The myth of Iraq's squandered stability."  I'm sorry is this a defense of Obama -- something Dan's already written many times over -- or a look at partisan finger pointing?

    Well it is a defense of Barack written by a devote schoolboy -- it's a bunch of crap.

    He should be ashamed of himself, he's immature brat. He's such a little brat and he can't even get his figures right.  He builds his article around 2008 and Petraeus.  That's when, according to Dan, everything went wrong.  Apparently, Iraq's been on a very slow simmer, with a tilted lid, for the last years and it only now boiled over.

    Dan took one for Barack today.  He's really hoping this did the trick and Barack will ask him to senior prom because Dan's got his eye on a purple formal.

    Like I always say, if you're going to be a bitch, don't be a dumb one.  Poor dumb bitch Dan also Tweets:

  • could have somehow seen to it that Allawi was PM after the election. Nonsense. We had no leverage beyond reoccupying.

    That's beyond ignorant.  And 2010 is the starting date -- it's what his article ignores but what a Tweet tosses onto his face.  There were many things that have been done when Nouri's State of Law lost to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya in the March 2010 elections.  The White House could have pulled their support of Nouri at any point during the eight months when he refused to step down as prime minister.  They could have allowed the France sponsored position of a UN-caretaker government replacing Nouri, they could have done so much.

    Dan can't grasp that because all he ever grasps is his penis which he identifies with a gun and that with the military which is why he wrote his repulsive and ignorant piece today.  Next time, Dan, just excuse yourself, go off in the men's room, beat off, then come back.  Don't type while all your bloods flowing below your navel.

  • He's such a stupid idiot and fate has a way of ensuring the stupid look really stupid.

    If Dan's weighing in on Iraq today, who would be the counterweight?  That's right Ned Parker, an actual journalist.

    At the Los Angeles Times, Ned repeatedly broke stories of Nouri's human rights abuses and secret prisons.  The Christian Science Monitor still can't write about that, not even in retrospect.

    "Who Lost Iraq?" is the title of Ned Parker's Politico essay.  Remember Dan Murphy's first Tweet?  Pretending he was going to step out of partisanship?  Ned Parker actually does that and refuses to play cheerleader for either the Democrats or the Republicans.

    Here's three early paragraph of the articles, Dan Murphy can study and hopefully learn from them:

    It was the April 2010 national election and its tortured aftermath that sewed the seeds of today’s crisis in Iraq. Beforehand, U.S. state and military officials had prepared for any scenario, including the possibility that Maliki might refuse to leave office for another Shiite Islamist candidate. No one imagined that the secular Iraqiya list, backed by Sunni Arabs, would win the largest number of seats in parliament. Suddenly the Sunnis’ candidate, secular Shiite Ayad Allawi, was poised to be prime minister. But Maliki refused and dug in.
    And it is here where America found its standing wounded. Anxious about midterm elections in November and worried about the status of U.S. forces slated to be drawn down to 50,000 by August, the White House decided to pick winners. According to multiple officials in Baghdad at time, Vice President Joseph Biden and then-Ambassador Chris Hill decided in July 2010 to support Maliki for prime minister, but Maliki had to bring the Sunnis and Allawi onboard. Hill and his staff then made America’s support for Maliki clear in meetings with Iraqi political figures.
    The stalemate would drag on for months, and in the end both the United States and its arch-foe Iran proved would take credit for forming the government. But Washington would be damaged in the process. It would be forever linked with endorsing Maliki. One U.S. Embassy official I spoke with just months before the government was formed privately expressed regret at how the Americans had played kingmaker.

    With the exception of naming Joe, you can find that over and over here in the last years.

    We've covered it, we've covered The Erbil Agreement.  Dan Murphy can't find either with his one free hand.

    He also can't find the failure that is Chris Hill.  Chris Hill was not qualified to be the US Ambassador to Iraq and he did more to screw than anyone.  Thing is though?  That was obvious at his confirmation hearing and we noted it then.  He had no understanding of Iraq.  He was a joke.  And he only got worse once he was confirmed.  He was so bad he barely lasted a year and, for the record, when a president nominates someone to be an ambassador, they're not assuming they're going to have to keep coming back -- over and over -- in the same term to nominate others for the same position.

    Hill was a failure.

    You can be an idiot like Dan Murphy or you can start looking at what took place.

    The US government installed Nouri as prime minister under Bully Boy Bush (2006) and they demanded under Barack (2010) that the despot get a second term.

    That's too complicated for Dan Murphy so he goes to 2008 -- the last year Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, pretend not to notice -- and tries to pretend like that's what led up to everything.

    No, this is about democracy, this is about elections, this is about circumventing a Constitution.

    In fact, this is about Dan Damn Murphy.

    I have no problem calling out Bully Boy Bush and the archives make quite clear that, when he occupied the White House, I called him out over and over and over.  Barack Obama has been President of the United States since January 2009.  I don't have a problem calling him out.

    Dan Murphy does which is why he goes to 2008 to explain today's failures (when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House) and acts as though the last five years don't make a difference.

    And it's that same blindness over the last five years that allowed Nouri to grab more power and to destroy more lives.

    Dan Murphy's supposed to be a reporter.  Looking at Nouri's assault on Anbar today, he's unable to make one pertinent observation in a piece he Tweeted about twice.

    He also insists, in Tweets, that the US has or had no leverage.

    Excuse me, what's Nouri's stomping his feet for right now?

    That's right F-16s.  That's leverage the US has.  They have a lot of other leverage as well.  But for simple minds like Dan Murphy the only way to have leverage is to have 'boots on the ground.'  His limited vision goes to why his 'reporting' so often sucks.  He injects his opinions into the reporting and he's not a very thoughtful or analytical person.

    Now if you're not getting how insane Nouri is, please note that in the midst of all this week's events, he wasn't content to leave other things alone.  AFP reports, "Baghdad: Iraq’s oil ministry sharply criticised the autonomous Kurdish region on Friday for its move to sell oil independently, saying it was a violation of the constitution and amounts to smuggling."  It's one fight after another, Nouri's always picking fights.

    And the US government always caters to him.  Even if Dan Murphy won't face that fact.  Barbara Starr (CNN) reports, "The Pentagon is considering a proposal to train Iraqi forces in counterterrorism operations, a senior U.S. defense official tells CNN. It would be the U.S. military's most significant involvement with Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew from that country two years ago."  Julian E. Barnes (Wall St. Journal) adds, "The commando training likely would take place in Jordan and wouldn't require American troops to enter Iraq, a move opposed by the Obama administration and its toughest critics in Congress."

    Tuesday's snapshot noted this from Human Rights First:

    Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today praised the Obama Administration for supporting the repeal of the Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that led to the war in Iraq after 9/11. The support for the repeal came in an announcement made by National Security spokesperson Caitlin Hayden.
    “While the move is mostly symbolic because the United States is not in an armed conflict in Iraq, it signals the reluctance of the administration to leave endless war authority on the books,” said Human Rights First’s Michael Quigley.
    The administration’s call for repeal of the Iraq AUMF comes amid an uptick in violence in Iraq, and serves as a reminder that the most effective responses to extremist violence will rarely require the status of war, and counterterrorism efforts may even be hindered by a war footing. The administration’s statement also precedes a likely in debate in Congress on the status of the Afghanistan AUMF as the Obama Administration ends combat operations in the country later this year.  At the National Defense University last May, President Obama said he would work with Congress to revise or repeal the Afghanistan AUMF.
    Most Americans are reluctant with good reason to extend the war to dozens of countries simply on the grounds of an al Qaeda-affiliated presence,” Quigley said.  “The debate this year should focus on strategic counterterrorism measures that assure U.S. security with resort to war only as a last step.”

    For more information or to speak with Quigley, contact Corinne Duffy at or 202-370-3319.

    Today Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Tweeted:

  • Co-sponsoring 's bill to , to end authority for war and prevent more troops being sent there.