Monday, August 18, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Monday, August 18, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack talks Iraq, Marie Harf insists the US can stand with IS in Syria and oppose it in Iraq and not be contradicting itself, a new poll has some depressing and distressing findings, and much more.

A busy day for Iraq with violence and political overtures, various US cabinets making statements and US President Barack Obama speaking on the topic.

Let's start with  CENTCOM which issued the following:

TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 18, 2014 – U.S. Conducts More Airstrikes Near the Mosul Dam
From a U.S. Central Command News Release
TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 18, 2014 — U.S. military forces today continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Iraq, using a mix of fighter, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft to successfully conduct 15 airstrikes near the Mosul Dam.
The strikes damaged or destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions; an ISIL checkpoint; six ISIL armed vehicles; an ISIL light armored vehicle; an ISIL vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft artillery gun, and an IED emplacement belt.
All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.

 Since Aug. 8, U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 68 airstrikes in Iraq. Of those 68 strikes, 35 have been in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul Dam. These strikes were conducted under authority to support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense forces as they work together to combat ISIL, as well as to protect critical infrastructure, U.S. personnel and facilities, and support humanitarian efforts.

Barack noted the dam in his speech today as well, "Today, with our support, Iraqi and Kurdish forces took a major step forward by recapturing the largest dam in Iraq, near the city of Mosul. The Mosul dam fell under terrorist control earlier this month, and is directly tied to our objective of protecting Americans in Iraq."

So this was a success?

Forget your feelings on bombings.  Along with all that the Kurdish and Iraqi military do, the US military conducted 35 air strikes in approximately five days and with that, the US government insists, the Islamic State is no longer in control of the Mosul dam.

I'm confused.

How many air strikes did IS conduct?

I'm pretty sure that number is zero.

US military might used to bomb repeatedly -- 35 air strikes -- is what it took to apparently rescue one dam.

That's really not looking good for the US military, the Iraqi military and/or the Kurdish military.

The only one who comes out looking strong in that recap is IS.

We're all aware that Iraq has more than one dam, right?

In that general vicinity alone, Iraq also has Duhok Dam, Badush Dam, Bekhme Dam, Dukan Dam and Dibis Dam.

That's not a full listing of Iraq's dams.  It's not even a full listing of the dams in the Tigris river basin (the Ephrates river basin also has dams).

But this is what it took to wrestle one dam away.  Barack's spoken of the alleged danger of that dam -- probably more to justify his own actions.

Baghdad would be flooded!

That was the claim.  It popped up on the chat and chews all weekend which is how you knew it was a White House talking point.

No, Baghdad would not have been flooded.

There is not a grand Slip and Slide between Mosul and Bahgdad that will carry the water through.

There is dried land, land that bakes in the summer heat.  Iraq's supposed to reach 116 degrees F on Tuesday and 117 on Wednesday.  We all get what happens in those temperatures, right?

 Most of the water from the dam -- had the dam been ruptured -- would have endangered very little -- even Mosul itself may not have seen water standing for hours.

But it was a talking point.


To justify the actions taken.

Barack declared this afternoon, "If that dam was breached, it could have proven catastrophic, with floods that would’ve threatened the lives of thousands of civilians and endanger our embassy compound in Baghdad."

No, the Baghdad Embassy was not in danger of 'flooding.'

Barack's going to have to work hard at scaring Americans.

In "TV: Spoiler alert" on Sunday, Ava and I touched on some of the TV coverage of Iraq:

Martha Raddatz was again filling in as host of the program and she wanted [ABC News' Terry] Moran to "tell us the difference between these airstrikes" and the earlier ones the US launched last week.

"This is different," Moran responded.  "This is moving on beyond helping people."

What was he speaking of, this difference?

Bombing IS near a Mosul dam was not part of the defined mission.

Thursday, for example, US President Barack Obama declared:

Last week, I authorized two limited missions:  protecting our people and facilities inside of Iraq, and a humanitarian operation to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians stranded on a mountain.
A week ago, we assessed that many thousands of Yezidi men, women and children had abandoned their possessions to take refuge on Mount Sinjar in a desperate attempt to avoid slaughter.  We also knew that ISIL terrorists were killing and enslaving Yezidi civilians in their custody, and laying siege to the mountain. Without food or water, they faced a terrible choice -- starve on the mountain, or be slaughtered on the ground.  That’s when America came to help.
Over the last week, the U.S. military conducted humanitarian air drops every night –- delivering more than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of fresh water.  We were joined in that effort by the United Kingdom, and other allies pledged support. Our military was able to successfully strike ISIL targets around the mountain, which improved conditions for civilians to evacuate the mountain safely.
Yesterday, a small team of Americans -– military and civilian -– completed their review of the conditions on the mountain.  They found that food and water have been reaching those in need, and that thousands of people have been evacuating safely each and every night.  The civilians who remain continue to leave, aided by Kurdish forces and Yezidis who are helping to facilitate the safe passage of their families.  So the bottom line is, is that the situation on the mountain has greatly improved and Americans should be very proud of our efforts.Because of the skill and professionalism of our military –- and the generosity of our people –- we broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar; we helped vulnerable people reach safety; and we helped save many innocent lives.  Because of these efforts, we do not expect there to be an additional operation to evacuate people off the mountain, and it’s unlikely that we’re going to need to continue humanitarian air drops on the mountain. 

Martha Raddatz also spoke to retired Colonel Steve Ganyard who noted the change, pointing out Barack was moving away from his declaration that "these strikes will only be based on humanitarian purposes and to protect American people" in Iraq. 

After a weekend full of nonsense about how the water in the dam could flood Baghdad, Barack declared today it could have harmed the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Do the lies ever end?

It's all so confusing.

For instance, the US government says IS is bad and evil in Iraq but the same US government backs IS in Syria.

Efforts failed in today's State Dept press briefing to make sense of this nonsensical 'mission' which cancels itself out.  Spokesperson Marie Harf moderated.  Excerpt.

QUESTION: Can we move to Syria?

MS. HARF: We can.

QUESTION: As you know, the Syrian regime has been bombing Islamic State’s positions in Raqqa for two days. Since you are doing the same thing across the border in Iraq, what would you say --

MS. HARF: I would disagree that we’re doing the same thing, but go ahead.

QUESTION: But, I mean, you are bombing Islamic State position in Iraq, so would you say that the U.S. and Syria are on the same page against a common enemy?

MS. HARF: No. No, I would not. And in large part, that’s because it’s the Assad regime’s own actions that helped lead to the rise of ISIS or ISIL or IS or whatever we’re going to call it this week. It is the security environment they created. It is them – the Assad regime encouraging the flow of fighters into Iraq that they did, certainly, when we were there and also have done recently. So I would strongly disagree with the notion that we are on the same page here in terms of what we’re doing.

QUESTION: Regardless of the cause, you do agree that you share an enemy in common, correct? I mean with ISIS, in particular.

MS. HARF: I don’t want – I’m not going to say that we share anything in common with the Syrian regime.

QUESTION: Okay. Let me ask you this. Do you think that ISIS --

QUESTION: Anything? (Inaudible) breathe, don’t you? About air, do you have that in common?

MS. HARF: I missed your insightful questions, Matt.

QUESTION: Is ISIS in Iraq a different organization than ISIS in Syria, or is it one and the same, to the best of your knowledge?

MS. HARF: They’re an organization, it’s my understanding, with the same leadership in general. Obviously, there’s different parts of it on the ground operating in different places, but under the general same umbrella of this group, yes, it’s my understanding.

QUESTION: So if you bomb them in Iraq and the Syrian regime bombs them in Syria, you’re bombing the same organization, right?

MS. HARF: Well, the – that’s a little too simplistic, Said. The reason that they were able to flourish and grow so strong is because of the Assad regime who enabled them to grow in the security environment and indeed fostered their growth throughout many years. So I think that I – again, I just – I don’t concede the point that we’re on the same page here in any way.

"That's a little too simplistic" huffed the woman who sees bombings as different based upon who is being killed.  She was pressed again on the topic shortly afterwards.

QUESTION: I just want to stay on Syria. The Syrian coalition has asked actually the United States to bomb ISIS positions in Syria. So people – what do you respond – but what do you respond --

MS. HARF: Well, the operational picture is a lot different in Syria.

QUESTION: Sure. They say you’re bombing in Iraq, but they don’t recognize a geographical border. Why can’t you go --

MS. HARF: Okay. Well --

QUESTION: -- if they ask you officially to bomb it?

MS. HARF: -- let’s talk about the difference here. First, in Iraq we have a government that has asked for our help and asked for our support and welcomed us in. That obviously is not the case in Syria. Even if the moderate opposition is asking, I would remind people that the Syrian Government does still maintain some level of anti-aircraft capabilities. It’s a very different operating picture. It would require very different things.

Did the Iraqi government ask for help?

I ask because  All Iraq News reported:

The office of the Commanding General of the Iraqi Armed Forces announced that "The Iraqi Government did not give permission for any military plane to violate the Iraqi space," in a sign to the US airstrikes targeting the shelters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant near Erbil and Mosul.
A statement by the office received by AIN cited "During the last few days, we noticed violation of some military air-jets for Iraqi space and handing over of military equipment without permission of the Iraqi Government," which is a sign for providing the Kurdish peshmerga with western weapons.

The statement added "We welcome the supportive stances of the international community for Iraq in its war against terrorism but we assert the necessity of respecting the sovereignty of Iraq."

It would appear things are not as simplistic as the US government has portrayed them.

But why should they worry?  Why should Barack?

The US is bombing Iraq.

And Barack honestly believes the world will believe his lie (This is NOT a combat mission!) as long as significant numbers of US troops are not on the ground in Iraq.  Until then, Barack's convinced he can conduct a war but no one will  call it out.

Raed Jarrar continues to struggle with holding Barack accountable.  However, he does manage to point out (in a column for the Chicago Tribune), "Iraq cannot be bombed into stability or moderation. So-called surgical strikes will not transform the war-torn nation into a peaceful and prosperous one. While the United States should search for productive multilateral methods to help Iraq, our top priority should be doing no additional harm.

It's interesting that Barack presented his own actions and decisions as a humanitarian impulse when All Iraq News reports that it's the Australian Government which has announced it is prepared to take in 2,200 refugees from Iraq.

Of course, humanitarian actions do not include War Crimes.

Nouri al-Maliki remains prime minister of Iraq.  So it's no surprise his War Crimes continue.  Nouri continues to bomb the residential neighborhoods of Falluja.  Alsumaria reports 6 people were killed in the latest bombing with another seven left injured.

Barack's speech today prompted questions.

  • Others found humor in the hypocrisy of the remarks:

  • People told me if I voted for McCain and Romney, we'd have another war in Iraq. Turns out they were right!
  • Barack Obama says there will be no American "boots on the ground" in Iraq. You know what this means? HOVER SOLDIERS.

  • Moving to another topic . . .

    The wolf is at Iraq's door declared Barack in the brief question and answer period which followed his speech:

    Dr. Abadi has said the right things. I was impressed in my conversation with him about his vision for an inclusive government.  But they’ve got to get this done because the wolf’s at the door and in order for them to be credible with the Iraqi people, they’re going to have to put behind some of the old practices and actually create a credible united government.

    Haider al-Abadi is the prime minister-designate of Iraq.  He was named that last Monday and has 30 days to form a Cabinet or, per the Constitution, someone else gets named prime minister.

    For now, many are tossing signs that they are eager to see al-Abadi move from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  For example, Alsumaria reports that cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr expressed his desire to see his bloc work with al-Abadi and that a delegation had met with Haider to explore how that could happen and how Iraq can work at inclusion.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports the Kurds are gearing up to meet with al-Abadi in Baghdad.   Nidal al Laythi (Al-Monitor) offers:

    Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi is working, along with some of his assistants, including friends and colleagues, on drafting the governmental program he will discuss with the other blocs to form the new government, Dawa Party spokesman Zuhair al-Naher says.
     Naher, who's close to Abadi, told Azzaman [in London] over the phone: “Abadi’s priority is to reinforce the armed forces through training and armament. The decision to designate Abadi is purely Iraqi. Washington and Tehran only agreed on the decision after it was already made, like all other countries.”
    Naher added that the prime minister-designate is going to ask the UN Security Council to issue a resolution which allows an international joint operation to be conducted with Iraqi forces against the Islamic State (IS) to liberate Mosul, Tikrit and the rest of the villages controlled by IS in Diyala and Kirkuk.

    In other news, National Iraqi News Agency notes 1 person was shot dead in Yusifiyah,  2 Alexandria car bombings left 1 person dead and eight more injured, a battle west of Kirkuk left 3 rebels dead and two more injured, and an air strike in Sedira Village left 1 suspect dead.  Alsumaria adds 2 corpses were discovered near Baquba.

    Reporting on the latest poll, Susan Page (USA Today) notes,  "Americans are increasingly inclined to say the United States has a responsibility to respond to rising violence in Iraq, a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll finds, although most also express fears about getting pulled back into a extended conflict there."

    Has the White House -- including Barack -- really been that successful in selling more war?

    Not seeing it.

    But I do see idiotic behavior from the likes of Justin Raimondo ( to ridicule victims.  As we noted awhile back, that sort of behavior only sends people running.

    The fight really is for the uninformed on any issue.  You have similar percentages supporting and opposing and the 'winner' is whomever gets the uninformed motivated.

    When you mock victims, you repulse a number of people.  These people no longer need to know any intricate issue, they just need to know that they don't want to be on the same side as the boorish prick making fun of victims.

    I favored air drops and opposed a US bombing campaign.

    You could have opposed both and done so in a manner that didn't repulse people.

    Where does the Pope stand?

    Supposedly, Pope Francis is in full support of war on Iraq.


    Greg Hillis argues people are reading everything but what Pope Francis actucally said.

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