For those to foolish to grasp that US forces remain in Iraq -- as trainers, the US Army Special-Ops sent back into Iraq in the fall of 2012 by US President Barack Obama, etc -- check out Australia ABC's report on the Defense Dept cuts on combat pay in many locations around the world and pay attention to this: "Military personnel will continue to receive imminent danger pay for serving in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, where the US fought wars over the past decade."
Now we're moving to a lengthy section of today's State Dept press briefing. After this morning's "Oh, look, it's al Qaeda! Oh, no, it's not! It's sometimes al Qaeda!," some may think spokesperson Marie Harf's saying what I want heard so we're including all of this! No. Although quickly, better eye glasses, Marie, they fit your face (her new eye glasses are better). We're noting this because of the December 27th snapshot where I asked, "So before the year ends is anyone going to call the press on their b.s.?" You can't say al Qaeda's increasing in Iraq and also applaud Barack's position. There's an inconsistency there. This was explored in the exchange that follows. Lucas Tomlinson is with Fox News, Matthew Lee is with the Associated Press and Said Arikat is with Al Quds.
Lucas Tomlinson: Do you have an update on the violence in Iraq?
MS. HARF: Not an update from yesterday. I know we talked about this a little bit. Let me see what I have in here. Obviously, as I said yesterday, a number of our folks on the ground and in Washington remain in touch with all of the different parties in Iraq. I think I’d make the points I made yesterday that our overall point is to encourage moderates on all sides and isolate extremists on all sides, support the government in our fight against al-Qaida – a fight, as you know, we share – and help them learn from the lessons that we learned from fighting this. Obviously, we know the situation is very serious. No update on that today, but it’s something we’re very concerned about.
Lucas Tomlinson: Yesterday, you indicated that Syria was to blame for the increase in violence.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
Lucas Tomlinson: Do you stand by those comments?
MS. HARF: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, largely to blame. Obviously, there’s a lot of factors at play here. We know some of the recent history in Iraq with some of the sectarian tensions. I’d note that we are pleased that different political leaders have called for calm and have taken steps to try to move away from this kind of violence. But Syria obviously is an incredibly destabilizing force, not just in Iraq but elsewhere.
Lucas Tomlinson: Would you say al-Qaida is a part of this destabilizing force?
MS. HARF: Well, again, I think it’s sort of what you asked yesterday. There are different either affiliated groups with al-Qaida in the region or groups that might take ideology from al-Qaida that aren’t official affiliates. Certainly, we’re concerned about that. We have been in Iraq for a long time, as you know, with the al-Qaida affiliate there. But I’d say there are extremists on both sides here, and there are moderates on both sides, and that’s why we’re encouraging the moderates to step up increasingly and show these extremists that that’s not the way forward for Iraq.
Lucas Tomlinson: How would you define al-Qaida?
MS. HARF: In general, or in Iraq?
Lucas Tomlinson: Just in general.
MS. HARF: Okay. Well, what we’ve talked a lot about, I think, is – we talk a lot about al-Qaida core in here, right, and the success we’ve had in Afghanistan and Pakistan against the al-Qaida core group, which, quite frankly, is today a shadow of what it was, certainly on 9/11 but even after. At the same time, over the past few years, we’ve made it clear that we’re increasingly concerned about either official affiliates like AQAP or al-Shabaab, AQ in Somalia or elsewhere, but also concerned with extremist groups who may claim ideology with al-Qaida but aren’t official affiliates, and also concerned with sort of the lone wolves that are out there that may go on the internet and see extremist ideology and want to act on it. So that’s why I think you’ve heard the President speak about this most recently at NDU, when he talked about the way forward and the threat we face and how we’re going to fight it.
Lucas Tomlinson: There was a UN report that was just released that said there were over 8,000 civilians killed in Iraq over the last year --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
Lucas Tomlinson: -- the most deadly year in Iraq since 2008. And critics of the Administration’s policies would say their policy in – your policy in Iraq would say that we abandoned the country. Can you respond to that?
MS. HARF: Well, a few points. Obviously, we’ve condemned this violence in the absolute strongest terms. But let’s be clear who’s responsible for the violence. It’s the terrorists who were behind it. That’s why we are partnering with the Iraqi Government very closely to fight this shared threat, because at the end of the day we can certainly help them fight it, but we also want to help them build their own capability to do so themselves, because ultimately that’s the best way forward for Iraq. So I don’t think we need to relitigate policy decisions that were made however many months ago. But today, what we’re focused on is the relationship, how we work together very closely on this issue, and fighting this challenge, certainly, together.
Lucas Tomlinson: Bottom line, would you say the threat of al-Qaida is increased in Iraq and Syria?
MS. HARF: Well, I think I would say both in Syria and Iraq – well, certainly – let’s start with Syria. I think the threat of terrorism and extremism has increased as a direct result of the atmosphere the Assad regime has created in Syria, the fact that they have decided to engage in violence against their own people and really create a security vacuum has led to a very serious situation where terrorists like al-Qaida affiliated or people that claim ideology with al-Qaida can flourish. Obviously, that’s why we’ve said that we need to move quickly to end the civil war there even though it’s very, very complicated and hard to do.
Lucas Tomlinson: Doesn’t the al-Qaida threat in Syria, the al-Qaida presence, come from Anbar province in Iraq?
MS. HARF: Well, I think that’s an oversimplification of sort of the al-Qaida picture in the region. I think that there are extremists and terrorists operating in both. I don’t know what the flowchart looks like necessarily or where all the fighters are coming from when we look at Syria. I’m happy to check with our experts and see, certainly, where they come from and how they get to Syria. But we’re concerned about it in both places, quite frankly, and that’s we are encouraging moderates within Iraq – in the government, in Anbar, and elsewhere – to step up and say this is not what we want for our country, to learn some of the lessons we learned, and to move forward, hopefully, with a less violent future.
Lucas Tomlinson: Can we agree that the threat of al-Qaida has increased in the Middle East?
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t – when you say “the threat from al-Qaida,” that’s sort of an overly vague and broad and almost without-meaning term.
Lucas Tomlinson: Well, the source of these attacks --
MS. HARF: Well --
Lucas Tomlinson: -- in Iraq came from al-Qaida.
MS. HARF: I think in some places, the terrorist threat has gotten worse. Like I said, in Syria, certainly as a direct result of what the Assad regime has done, the security situation, certainly the threat of either al-Qaida affiliated or ideologically affiliated groups has gotten worse. But when we take about, quote, “al-Qaida,” I’m not sure if you’re referring to al-Qaida core, which actually we don’t think has the reach into these places that it did in the past or that some people might think. It doesn’t mean they’re less dangerous, but when you’re talking about how to confront these groups, it matters where they take their direction from, quite frankly. And when you use the term al-Qaida, it matters what that means.
Lucas Tomlinson: Well, from the podium you’ve mentioned foreign fighters --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
Lucas Tomlinson: -- and having – going towards Syria responsible for attacks against the Assad regime. Part of these flood of foreign fighters do come from Iraq --
MS. HARF: Absolutely.
Lucas Tomlinson: -- and from Anbar province.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
Lucas Tomlinson: And over the last year in Iraq, we’ve seen 8,000 civilians killed. I think it’s fairly self-evident that violence has increased and the cause of that increase in violence is the al-Qaida franchise.
MS. HARF: Well, I think the use of “franchise” is a helpful caveat. But again, who’s giving direction, operational direction, operational planning to the folks that are perpetrating this violence in Iraq? I’m happy to check in with our folks and see specifically what part of the terrorist org chart that is. Because again, it matters not just in the words you use but in how you fight it, something we’re working with the Iraqi Government to do all the time, and the Lebanese Government, as we talked a lot about, and others in the region as well.
Lucas Tomlinson: So lastly, you will not say from that podium that the threat of – from al-Qaida is increasing in the Middle East?
MS. HARF: Well, I would say the threat from al-Qaida core has significantly decreased because of our efforts over the past several years. The threat of – from al-Qaida affiliates in some places has increased, certainly in Syria – we’ve talked about that. We’ve talked about that in Yemen. Each country is different, each group is different, and we will evaluate the threat each place differently. It’s just a little more complicated than that.
Matthew Lee: Without relitigating the decisions that were made in the last term or over the past couple years, can you just address the suggestion in one of the earlier questions that the United States abandoned Iraq?
MS. HARF: Well, I would fundamentally disagree with it. Just because we don’t have troops on the ground doesn’t mean we don’t have a continuing close partnership with the Iraqi Government. You see that all the time from the assistance we give them. We talked a little bit about it over the Christmas holiday, I think, some of the additional military assistance we’ve given them. So we don’t define a relationship with a country based on boots on the ground. In fact, it’s the opposite. We very much have a close and continuing partnership and we’ll keep working with them on this joint threat.
Matthew Lee: Was it not the Administration’s preference to keep a number of troops on the ground in Iraq?
MS. HARF: I’m really not going to relitigate the --
Matthew Lee: I’m not asking you to relitigate it; I’m just --
MS. HARF: Can I finish?
Matthew Lee: Yes.
MS. HARF: Thank you. I’m not going to go back into internal deliberations about whether we were going to and wanted to put a new SOFA in place, something that happened, what, two years ago now, two and a half years ago now? I just don’t think that’s a beneficial discussion to have from this podium. The President was very clear when he came into office that our goal was to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home. I just don’t think it serves any purpose to re-litigate those discussions from, what, 2011, in 2014.
Matthew Lee: I’m not asking you to relitigate it. Was the Administration not interested in concluding a SOFA with the Iraqi Government?
MS. HARF: I’m just not going to go back down that road. I don’t --
Matthew Lee: Well, the answer is yes, okay? And I don’t see why you can’t say --
MS. HARF: Do you want my job, then? You want to answer?
Matthew Lee: No, but I would prefer that you not try to sidestep. I mean, it’s a pretty --
MS. HARF: I’m not trying to sidestep it.
Matthew Lee: Yeah, you --
MS. HARF: We’re focused on 2014 and where we go from here. A discussion or debate about what we may or may not have --
Matthew Lee: His question was, “How do you respond --
MS. HARF: -- about what we may or not have wanted in 2011 --
Matthew Lee: Hold --
MS. HARF: -- is not relevant to the discussion today, Matt.
Matthew Lee: It’s completely relevant --
MS. HARF: It’s just not.
Matthew Lee: -- to the question that he asked --
MS. HARF: I disagree.
Matthew Lee: -- which was that critics– his question was critics suggest or say, claim, accuse the Administration of abandoning Iraq. And --
MS. HARF: And I disagreed with the premise.
Matthew Lee: Okay. And I’m asking you --
MS. HARF: Because I said --
Matthew Lee: Was the Administration interested in concluding a SOFA with the Iraqi Government or not back several years ago?
MS. HARF: I’m just not going to – I’m not going to go back down that road. What I’ve said is that you don’t define being --
Matthew Lee: Okay. You’re looking for a – you think that I’m trying to set a trap for you, and I’m not. I’m just trying to get a straight answer, and it’s a historical fact that you were involved in negotiations with the Iraq --
MS. HARF: Absolutely. I’m not saying we weren’t involved in them.
Matthew Lee: Okay. Well, then, what’s wrong?
MS. HARF: But you were asking what we wanted, what we didn’t want, what the content of the discussions were.
Matthew Lee: The whole point of the SOFA was the same point as the BSA in Afghanistan, which was to allow --
MS. HARF: They’re actually quite different.
Matthew Lee: I understand that, but it was to keep some presence --
MS. HARF: So don’t make that comparison.
Matthew Lee: -- to keep some presence on the ground in Iraq.
MS. HARF: Again, they’re very different situations.
Matthew Lee: Yes.
MS. HARF: Very different situations.
Matthew Lee: They are. But the suggestion if you deny that the U.S. abandoned Iraq --
MS. HARF: Absolutely. Because I don’t think it’s defined --
Matthew Lee: -- then you might want to explain --
MS. HARF: -- by boots on the ground.
Matthew Lee: Then you might want to explain to people that the Administration did try to conclude a SOFA with the Iraqis that would have allowed --
MS. HARF: I just don’t think that’s a helpful discussion to have today.
Matthew Lee: It’s the answer to the question, though.
MS. HARF: I don’t think it’s a helpful discussion to have today --
Matthew Lee: And if you --
MS. HARF: -- and I think I would define our engagement with Iraq not by boots on the ground.
Matthew Lee: Fair enough.
Lucas Tomlinson: But after 8,000 people are killed, that’s also not a helpful way to define our involvement in the country.
MS. HARF: Well, certainly we’re doing what we can to help them build their capability. We have been very clear that we are partners with Iraq in this shared fight, but we also were very clear about – the President was when he came into office about ending the war there, about building a new relationship going forward, and focusing on other security threats going forward. So again, this isn’t something we’re going to relitigate here, something that happened in 2011. What we’re focused on now is how we continue building the relationship and building their capabilities.
Lucas Tomlinson: But to Matt’s point in – for the Administration to end the war in Iraq, did you all perhaps forget to leave behind some tools that could aid them in defeating adversaries?
MS. HARF: Absolutely not. Again, you don’t define a relationship with a country by boots on the ground. That’s just ridiculous.
Lucas Tomlinson: But some would define the relationship about peace, and they define the relationship --
MS. HARF: Well, again, we can’t impose peace on people. I think that’s --
Lucas Tomlinson: But you give them tools to aid them.
MS. HARF: Which is exactly what we’re doing. But it’s a tough fight and it’s a hard challenge, and these issues aren’t easy. If they were easy they would have been dealt with years ago. So it’s not like if we just flipped a switch and did x, y, or z, the terrorist threat in Iraq would go away. That’s just not how the – that’s not how it works.
So we’re helping them build their capability. We’re helping provide them with the tools, the guidance, the assistance, as they fight this fight. But it’s really up to them, in conjunction with us helping them, to push out the extremists, to encourage moderates, to learn the lessons we all learned from the years we were there when we did have boots on the ground, and try and move the situation forward in a better way.
Said. I’ve missed you.
Said Arikat: Happy New Year.
MS. HARF: We’re going to go to Said next. Happy New Year.
Said Arikat: I just wanted to follow up – happy New Year to you. I wanted to follow up on Iraq. So you agree with the tactics that the Maliki government is using? Is that what you’re saying?
MS. HARF: That’s not what I’m saying --
Said Arikat: All right.
MS. HARF: -- at all. We’re obviously --
Said Arikat: But you said you’d leave it up to them how they want to conduct this operation.
MS. HARF: Well, that was a broad statement. So we’re obvious following – if you’re talking about Anbar --
Said Arikat: Right.
MS. HARF: -- we’re obviously following the events in Anbar. We’ve been encouraged by efforts by several of Iraq’s political leaders to contain the crisis in Anbar and unite forces against extremists. Obviously, we’re in close contact from the ground by Ambassador Beecroft here, from Brett McGurk and others, with the Iraqi Government at all levels to discuss the way forward. We’re following the situation there and helping in any way we can.
Said Arikat: Now, seeing how the United States is also sending drones and so on to strike terrorist camps in Yemen and other places, why not do the same thing in Iraq?
MS. HARF: Each country is different. Each situation is different. And we provide assistance with counterterrorism in different ways everywhere. They’re just not always comparable situations.
Said Arikat: Is that because there is a lack of agreement on these things between you and the Iraqi Government?
MS. HARF: There’s just different situations. I would hesitate from making any generalizations or analysis of it. They’re just all different.
That's the State Dept transcript (I think I edited out a one line exchange -- not from the three reporters -- as I rushed to insert the names of the reporters -- it's something like "Happy New Year" -- it's not pertinent to the exchange if I did edit it out by accident).
Let's move to Bob Somerby who's really flaunting the ignorance these days. He continues to pimp that bad New York Times article but he's really flaunting his ignorance in a way that you rarely get. At least not since we ridiculed him for at Third Estate Sunday Review many years ago. Since then, Bob's kept that embarrassing and stupid side of himself hidden. Today he's takes his crazy for a cruise down the freeway:
Krugman was right on target! Over the past several decades, our discourse has been ruled by script. Again and again, these “story lines” have shaped the coverage of various issues and events, often “in the teeth” of rather obvious evidence.
A) It's not 'script," it's narrative you morons -- that's Krugman and Bob. Narrative. That's what called throughout the 20th century and if either man understood journalism, they might grasp that.
B) In fairness to Krugman, he hopefully has learned something since 2004. If not, he's as ridiculous as Bob Somerby because . . .
C) Check out the vanity on Somerby.
'The press went after my roommate Al Gore! And I discovered the press wasn't fair!'
Who the hell do you think you are?
He's an ahistorical idiot who repeatedly glorifies the press up until Al Gore's persecution by the press. He's forever waxing on about Walter Cronkite and how wonderful the press was then.
His vanity that tells him he's discovered a new land? It's lying to him.
We lived up in Cambridge
And browsed in the hippest newsstands
Then we started our own newspaper
Gave the truth about Uncle Sam
We loved to be so radical
But like a ragged love affair
Some became disenchanted
And some of us just got scared.
Now are you playing possum
Keeping a low profile
Are you just playing possum for awhile
-- "Playing Possum," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her Playing Possum
In 1908, Mary Baker Eddy started the Christian Science Monitor. Why? As the paper explains:
One answer might be found in a story the Monitor’s Washington bureau chief, David Cook, related in a talk several years ago:
"Consider this case. It is 1907. An elderly New England woman finds herself being targeted by Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. She is 86 years old and holds some unconventional religious beliefs that she expounds in a book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The book becomes a bestseller, making her wealthy and a well-known public figure.
The New York World decides she is incapable of managing her own affairs and persuades some of her friends and her two sons to sue for control of her estate. Although Boston and New Hampshire newspapers and major wire services interview this woman and find her competent, the New York World is unrelenting. The lady in question finally is taken to court where the case against her is dropped.
And the next year this woman, Mary Baker Eddy, founds The Christian Science Monitor.
Given her experience with the press, it is not all that surprising that she sets as the Monitor’s goal 'to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.' In one of life’s little ironies, Joseph Pulitzer went on to endow the Pulitzer prizes for journalistic excellence.
And Mrs. Eddy's newspaper has gone on to win seven Pulitzer Prizes so far, the latest in 2002 for editorial cartooning.
Here's another name: Ida B. Wells and, guess what, her problems with the press were a lot more serious than their mocking of some Ivy league-er who was forever sticking his own foot in his own mouth. From PBS' The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow:
While living in Memphis, Wells became a co-owner and editor of a local black newspaper called THE FREE SPEECH AND HEADLIGHT. Writing her editorials under the pseudonym "Iola," she condemned violence against blacks, disfranchisement, poor schools, and the failure of black people to fight for their rights. She was fired from her teaching job and became a full-time journalist. In 1892, Tom Moss, a respected black store owner and friend of Barnett, was lynched, along with two of his friends, after defending his store against an attack by whites. Wells, outraged, attacked the evils of lynching in her newspaper; she also encouraged the black residents of Memphis to leave town. When Wells was out of town, her newspaper was destroyed by a mob and she was warned not to return to Memphis because her life was in danger. Wells took her anti-lynching campaign to England and was well received.
In the 18th century in the United States, there was Helen Hunt Jackson and her work documenting the governmental abuse of the Native Americans:
Her interest in the subject began in Boston in 1879 at a lecture by Chief Standing Bear who described the forced removal of the Ponca Indians from their Nebraska reservation. Jackson was incensed by what she heard and began to circulate petitions, raised money, and wrote letters to the New York Times on the Poncas' behalf. As one observer noted, she became a “holy terror.” (Friends and critics have variously described her as “passionate,” “volatile,” “defiant” and “uncompromising.” Historian Antoinette May said she “lived a life that few women of her day had the courage to live.”) Jackson also began work on a book condemning the government's Indian policy and its record of broken treaties. When A Century of Dishonor was published in 1881, Jackson sent a copy to every member of Congress with the following admonition printed in red on the cover: “Look upon your hands: they are stained with the blood of your relations.”
In the same century, feminist Matilda Joslyn Gage would purchase Ballot Box to advance the fight for women to have the right to vote. There was Nelly Bly, Ambrose Bierce and Henry Demerest Lloyd among others. Of all from that time period, one of the most famous may be Frederick Douglass who started the anti-slavery newspaper The North Star. Douglas used his press to fight for an end to slavery.
And Bob Somerby uses his to disprove the press claim that Al Gore said he invented the internet?
Some perspective, please.
In the 20th century, feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman would not only write the short story classic "The Yellow Wallpaper," she would also work on various magazines including her own, The Forerunner (1909 to 1916) where many of her finest works would appear including "If I Were A Man." In 1970, feminists Norma Lesser, Colette Reid, Heidi Steffens, Marilyn Webb and Marlene Wicks started the periodical off our backs. Prior to that, Progressive Party members James Aronson, Cedric Belfrage and John T. McManus founded the National Guardian newspaper (1948) to combat the Cold War mentality that dominated so much of the US press. It became the Guardian in 1968. It's Vietnam coverage included Wilfred Burchett's articles on the NLF. And of course the 20th century saw I.F. Stone. August 24, 1964, he opens his (non-MSM) report:
The American government and the American press have kept the full truth about the Tonkin Bay incidents from the American public. Let us begin with the retaliatory bombing raids on North Vietnam. When I went to New York to cover the UN Security Council debate on the affair, UN correspondents at lunch recalled cynically that four months earlier Adlai Stevenson told the Security Council the U.S. had "repeatedly expressed" its emphatic disapproval "of retaliatory raids, wherever they occur and by whomever they are committed." But none mentioned this in their dispatches.
A one-person publishing industry and truth teller, Stone was needed precisely because the media little Bobby Somerby thinks was so fair once upon a time was not fair at all. "All governments lie," Stone rightly said.
Seymour Hersh's reports on the abuses of the government under Bully Boy Bush were welcomed in The New Yorker. Today he has to go to The London Review of Books to get "Whose Sarin?" published. If he only he could have made himself useless like Jane Mayer who once had the guts and courage to report on torture and Guantanamo but now pads out DNC talking points and calls that reporting. (Don't hiss too loudly. Jane's best friend made the WikiLeaks documentary and she's suffered on the party circuit as a result.)
Bob Somerby longs for the return of a time that never existed -- people like him are the reason some see nostalgia as a sickness.
Whenever Bob Somerby starts 'explaining' the world to us, I groan and remember this:
None of these women need lectures from Washington about values. They don't need to hear about an idealized world that never was as righteous or carefree as some would like us to think.
That was Hillary Clinton, the first time I ever heard her speak, August, 1992 at the ABA convention in San Francisco. I miss that Hillary.
But I remember her words about how women didn't need "to hear about an idealized world that never was as righteous or carefree as some would like us to think" whenever Somerby's off on his idiotic claims of the wonderful press until the days when they went after Al Gore.
Bob Somerby wants to reinvent the wheel and divorce himself from history because, point of fact, the treatment of Al Gore was not the end of the world or even the most outrageous behavior of the press.
The press is out of control in every country and long has been because it sells the premise that it serves the people. It doesn't. It serves the power, it covers up for the power. Every now and then, things get a little too outrageous -- even for those in power -- and we get an 'active' press.
The history of the press around the world is the same which is why I have less and less use for the critique of the for-profit press in a for-profit society. The press works for those in power and serves those in power.
It treats public servents as divine kings, born of virgins, who must be worshiped. It's disgusting.
To tell the truth of how power holds onto power, of who it victimizes and how it harms?
Historically, you've always needed something other than the mainstream press for that.
As is evident with the ongoing terrorization of the people of Anbar Province and the western press refusing to recognize those being harmed, wounded and killed. Contrast western media's stenography with actual reporting from National Iraqi News Agency:
The people of Falluja are calling for help from the intensified artillery bombardment the city is being subjected to on Friday evening, Jan. 3.
Eyewitnesses say that Askari, Jighaifi and Shuhada neighborhoods are being subjected to heavy random bombing, and civilians are not safe anymore.
They point out that military units are trying to enter the city from the south and east, but heavy fight has forced them to withdraw.
Medical source at Falluja Hospital said that 3 bodies and 28 wounded have been received so far as a result of the bombing.
Among today's violence, NINA reports 2 police members were killed in a Ramadi armed clash, a Baquba attack left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead and a third injured, Anbar Operations Command announced they had killed 10 members of Levant and the Islamic State of Iraq, a Baghdad armed attack claimed the life of 1 police officer and left five more injured, 2 fighters in Ramadi were shot dead, a Hilla bombing left 1 police member dead and ten more injured, Tunisia's Abu Bara was killed by security forces, and the Emir of the Islamic State of Iraq Abdul Rahman al-Baghdadi and 1 of his lieutenants were killed in Ramadi.
Throughout the week, Sahwa leader Ahmed Abu Risha's been stamping his feet and issuing statements (such as here) demanding other tribal leaders and the people of Anbar join with Nouri's assault.
Why's actually two part.
First off, no one really listens to him. Other tribal leaders are stronger -- especially those not echoing Nouri's calls.
We're not talking about whoring -- yet -- although Risha is a whore.
We're talking history.
The tribes fall apart as a real influence in the 1960s. As Iraq moves closer to a nation-state, the tribes matter less. The US government, after the illegal war started in 2003, began (briefly) talking up the tribes and did so for a number of reasons. The two primary ones? The US was losing the illegal war and desperate to grab onto anything so the notion that the tribes had been helpful in 'pacifying' Iraq earlier became something to pimp. But earlier was with the British at the start of the 20th century. Again, by the 1960s their power had waned.
Their power waned because of the second reason that the US government wanted to pimp the lie. If tribes really matter, heavens, why hasn't the US government been pumping money into them! Immediately that began. And that's why tribal leaders lost influence in the 1960s. A number of them were cheap whores -- that includes Risha's family -- and took money from Saddam Hussein. They ran corrupt little areas and grew rich.
And the people in the tribe were betrayed.
Not all tribal leaders in Anbar were like that.
And some still have influence because they were not bought paid for -- by Saddam or the US.
And it's these leaders that Whore Risha tries to intimidate and bully.
Risha knows a lot about bullying. He learned it from his trashy mafia family. His brother was a 'hero' to the US government in the early part of the illegal war. Maybe the same fate awaits Risha? September 13, 2007, his brother -- then the leader -- was assassinated on the outskirts of Ramai. That's when Risha takes over. He's known as the less charismatic brother. Making Sense of Proxy Wars: States, Surrogates and the Use of Force (edited by Michael A. Innes) notes Risha is considered mafia in Iraq. He's a mobster. He was that before the US came calling and put him in charge of Sahwa (also known as Awakenings and Sons Of Iraq).
In 2009, Dahr Jamail (Huffington Post) reported:
As early as April 2006, the Rand Corporation released a report, "The Anbar Awakening," identifying America's potential new allies as a group of sheiks who used to control smuggling rings and organized crime in the area.
One striking example was Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, who founded the first Awakening groups in al-Anbar and later led the entire movement until he was assassinated in 2007, shortly after he met with President Bush. It was well known in the region that Abu Risha was primarily a smuggler defending his business operations by joining the Americans.
Not surprisingly, given the lucrative nature of the cooperative relationship that developed, whenever an Awakening group sheik is assassinated, another is always there to take his place. Abu Risha was, in fact, promptly replaced as "president" of the Anbar Awakening by his brother Sheik Ahmad Abu Risha, also now in the "construction business."
[. . .]
Abu Risha's compound in Ramadi was even larger than Sheik Aifan's mansion -- and even more heavily guarded. We arrived to find an election official already waiting to take Aifan's written complaint on the rigging charges. The chief of police for the province was in attendance too, a sign of the power and influence of these two men who share a bond of power and money. (Abu Risha even owns a camel farm.)
Was it necessary to note that Risha's a thug, a mobster? Considering that in today's State Dept press briefing, Marie Harf referred to the crook as a "moderate," yeah, it was.
Last year, Eli Lake (Daily Beast) jotted down Risha's whines. He sounded like a man doing a very bad impression of Aretha Franklin singing Van McCoy's "Sweet Bitter Love" (from Aretha's Who's Zoomin' Who).
Why have you awaken and then forsaken
My magic, my magic dreams
They've all, they've all, all lost their spell
And where there, where I had a little bit of hope
Yes, sir, there is
Oh, look at me now, there is an empty shell
In 2008, Risha met with Barack face-to-face. But since?
He told Eli Lake, "There is no contact right now." And he wanted to ask Barack, "Why did you leave Iraq to Iran? Why did you give up the many sacrifices that Americans made?"
Today, the Falluja Board of Directors released a statement: They're not on board with the attack on Anbar.
Risha can take comfort in the fact that a number of artists in Baghdad have endorsed the assault. If that surprises you, you must have missed how many 'titans' of the entertainment industry got in bed with Bully Boy Bush. Or for that matter decided to whore for Barack -- I'm referring to the idiots who see their job as convincing Americans to support this or that program. Maybe if, for example, Amy Poehler worried less about what Barack wanted her to say and more about her real job, Parks and Recreation wouldn't have such bad ratings, such lousy storylines (all that work for Barack allowed her to miss the fact that she's been turned into a supporting character on her own show) and this season might be the show's last.
As a general rule, when people put their trust in you, you need to be careful how you use it -- whether that's advertising or for some government. You cheapen yourself when you whore and you should never betray your public by presenting them with a message you've failed to explain you were asked, by a politician, to present. Champion a cause, by all means, but that's different than being a megaphone for government.
That's whoring. And that's what the artists covered in the story are doing as well.
Nouri's assault began this week with the attack on the peaceful protesters.
What some of the artists of Baghdad don't care about, Human Rights Watch notes:
(Baghdad) – Iraqi authorities should immediately order a transparent and impartial investigation into violence between security forces and antigovernment protesters in the western city of Ramadi. The fighting on December 30, 2013, left 17 people dead.
The investigation should also look into the apparently related killings of the brother and five bodyguards of a member of parliament, Ahmed al-Alwany, during his arrest on December 28. The authorities should ensure that all those responsible for unlawful killings and other misuse of force are brought to justice.
“The facts of the Ramadi incident are unclear, but government statements before the clashes and the deployment of the army seemed intended more to provoke violence than prevent it,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Seventeen people died at Ramadi and the Iraqi authorities need to find out exactly what happened and why.”
In the early hours of December 30, hundreds of security force personnel descended on the Ramadi protest camp, where 300 to 400 Sunnis were protesting Iraq’s Shia-led government’s alleged use of abusive counterterrorism measures. Two witnesses told Human Rights Watch that at around 6:30 a.m., army and special police (SWAT) forces with at least 30 Humvee military vehicles, 20 pickup trucks, and 18 armored vehicles surrounded the Ezz and Karama square.
Witness accounts differ as to who began the shooting, but an exchange of fire between the security forces and armed tribesmen outside the square resulted in six deaths and ten wounded.
For a week, the authorities had repeatedly threatened to remove the protesters in Ramadi and other largely Sunni areas. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on December 27 accused the protesters of harboring al-Qaeda leaders,saying, “Today will be the last day of prayers at the Ramadi protest site,” and threatened to “burn down” the protesters’ tents. On December 23, Fadel Barwari, the commander of Iraq’s Counterterrorism Service, which oversees the SWAT forces, had said on his official Facebook page, referring to government operations against al-Qaeda in Anbar: “I swear to God I will kill those dogs and those who are with them. I will wipe them out.” He said his soldiers should “stomp them out without mercy.”
On December 28, the Iraqi state news agency reported that 30 armored vehicles had been deployed about 500 meters from the protest camp in Ramadi. In the last year of ongoing protests in Sunni areas, security forces fired on and killed peaceful protesters in at least four other incidents.
After the army surrounded the square on December 30, hundreds of men from local tribes armed with guns who had positioned themselves to defend the square fought back, the witnesses said. One protester told Human Rights Watch that the protesters had dug ditches next to their tents for protection, a precaution “learned after Hawija,” referring to a security force attack on a protest camp in April that killed at least 51 people. “As soon as the fighting started, people threw themselves into the ditches for cover,” he said. Among those killed were three people not involved in the fighting.
One protester said that fighting between city residents and security forces spread throughout the city by 8 a.m. and was still going on at 6:30 p.m., when he last spoke with Human Rights Watch. According to news reports, the December 30 clashes left 17 people dead, and clashes have continued intermittently throughout the week.
“The fighting is all over the place,” another witness, who lived two kilometers from the protest square, said that day. Three other Ramadi residents reported particularly heavy gunfire in neighborhoods throughout Ramadi and Fallujah.
The Ramadi residents told Human Rights Watch that they hid in their homes throughout the day to avoid crossfire. One said he hid under a staircase because “we can hear the bullets whizzing over our heads.”
On December 28, Iraqi army and SWAT forces arrested al-Alwany, a Sunni member of parliament, at his home in Ramadi, claiming officials wanted al-Alwany and his brother on suspicion of terrorism. During the arrest, security forces killed five of al-Alwany’s bodyguards and al-Alwany’s brother, Ali.
Agence France Presse reported a “ministry statement” claiming that the two brothers and their guards had opened fire on security forces, killing one and wounding five. The arrests and the deaths ratcheted up sectarian tensions in the area. A photograph posted on Facebook appeared to show a soldier stepping on Ali al-Alwany’s head immediately after his death.
Defense Minister Saadoun Dulaimi went to Anbar province at the time of al-Alwany’s arrest, apparently to negotiate an end to the protests. When Dulaimi left Ramadi on December 29 at about 9 p.m., he issued a statement that if the squares were emptied within 48 hours, he would release al-Alwany. Immediately following his departure, security forces cut cellular communications and Internet access across Anbar province, according to a Defense Ministry statement to local media.
Ramadi residents told Human Rights Watch that immediately following al-Alwany’s arrest, army and SWAT forces surrounded Ramadi and imposed a curfew, prohibiting residents from driving or entering or exiting the city, or bringing in food or propane.
Ramadi’s protest camp has existed for about a year. In a television interview on al-Iraqiyya channel on the morning of the December 30 raid, a Defense Ministry spokesman, Mohamed al-Askari, denied that the “removing of tents” had “caused any loss of life” and warned of a “media escalation” of events. Al-Mada Press news agency reported that another Defense Ministry source had confirmed that the Ramadi square raid had led to heavy fighting and that security forces had surrounded the city the day before.
The parliamentary speaker, Osama al-Nujaifi, head of the Sunni “Mutahidun” block, said he sent a parliamentary committee to investigate the attack on the Ramadi square, but that forces from Baghdad Operations Command prevented the committee from entering Anbar province on orders from Prime Minister Maliki. Forty-four Sunni members of parliament resigned to protest the security forces raid after Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlak, another leading Sunni politician, called on Sunni members of parliament and government officials to resign.
The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials state that security forces in policing situations shall “apply nonviolent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms,” and that “whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials shall: (a) Exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense and the legitimate objective to be achieved; (b) Minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life.”
The Basic Principles further state that, “Governments shall ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offense under the law.” Military forces, when performing law enforcement functions, are also governed by these rules.
“The situation in Anbar is only getting worse,” Stork said. “The government should be taking urgent steps to quell violence from all sides.”
Despite this week's assault, guess who didn't hide?
The people of Falluja who turned out today to protest as Iraqi Spring MC documents.
الفلوجة قبل قليل: . pic.twitter.com/w1oo3tAa8t
Sheikh Adnan Mishaal Imam and preacher of Friday unified prayers in which held in al-Dawlah mosque in Ramadi, said : " The current government of Baghdad is working to foment the spirit of sectarianism in Iraq in order to keep in power, as is the case in Syria.
He added during Friday sermon : " We do not want the release criminals and murderers, but we ask for the release of innocent prisoners and the abolition of Article 4 as well as the liar detective informant.
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