Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, August 27, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri claims there is a "plan B" to keep him on as prime minister, Nouri verbally attacks a high ranking US official, a new wave of refugees sweeps Iraq, a coalition of something wants increased war on Iraq, and much more.

Tonight the Washington Post published a column by Anbar Province Governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi which notes:

We are struggling in this war against the forces of darkness, but we are a people who can see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is thousands of miles away. No matter how dim the light, we hope that it will shine brighter every day.

Iraqis have the right to live in peace. Our young people have the right to enjoy all the wonderful things that life has to offer. And we have a responsibility to give them hope that will empower them to live life to the fullest, to reach out to their counterparts in other nations and to turn away from death and extremism. 

The Iraqi people are a strong group who has overcome repeatedly the attacks and 'help' from outsiders.  And, of course, they managed to survive two terms under the despot and tyrant Nouri al-Maliki.

We frequently note he's not gone here and sometimes add that Nouri will only be truly gone when he's in the ground.

Some e-mails insist that's too harsh.  Nouri's shown a kinder side in recent days and weeks, one e-mailer argued.

Has he?  Well that certainly erases his sending his goons into middle schools and high schools to liken gay men to vampires and to encourage the students to bully, harm and kill and Iraqi gays they might know.  Right?  And doesn't it wipe away all the Sunni protesters he killed?

And doesn't it just vanish all the civilians in Falluja he's killed and wounded with his bombing of residential -neighborhoods?  (National Iraq News Agency notes the bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods today left 3 civilians dead and seven more injured.)

And we could go on and on.

Nouri's a thug.

I'm not kind to thugs, so sorry.

And my belief that Nouri's not gone yet -- even though the world press tells us he is outgoing -- gone, gone, gone?

Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:

Iraq’s outgoing Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki said on Wednesday he was prepared to form a new government from among Iraq’s Shi’ite parties if ongoing talks on the shape of the new government fail.
Speaking in his weekly national address, Maliki claimed that the Shi’ite-led National Alliance—which includes his State of Law coalition, parties loyal to firebrand cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI)—had a “Plan B” in place if Prime Minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi was unable to make progress in talks on forming a government with Sunni and Kurdish factions.

Still think Nouri's packed it in?  Or, and this is a better guess, are you thinking Nouri's actively working to ensure that Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi fails so that he can be named to the position and take 30 days to form a government?

Mustafa notes the National Alliance says they have no plan B involving Nouri.  Is he lying?

Most likely.  He usually does, after all.

But his personal Eva Braun was on Democracy Now! this week and Sunni-hater Patrick Cockburn couldn't stop making excuses for his beloved:

Well, I think, you know, that Maliki is finished. I think he’s been finished for some time. The question was: Would he fight it out? He had military units that were personally loyal to him, but he found that after the new prime minister had been appointed, the Iranians had turned against him. They wouldn’t support him. He didn’t have any outside political support. His own party was disintegrating or would no longer support him. So I think that the transition will happen.
But I think what is wrong is to think that—almost everything now is being blamed on al-Maliki, both inside and outside Baghdad, that he was the person who provoked the Sunni uprising, he was the hate figure for the Sunni, he produced an army that was riddled with corruption. But I think that it’s exaggerated, that it’s as if there was a magic wand that would be used once al-Maliki had gone. But there were other reasons for this uprising, for the creation of ISIS—notably, the rebellion in Syria in 2011. This changed the regional balance of power. That was a Sunni rebellion, which Iraqi politicians over the last couple of years were always telling me, if the West supports the opposition in Syria, this will destabilize Iraq. And they were dead right. It wasn’t just al-Maliki.

He did provoke the Sunni uprising?  I realize it's difficult for Patrick to speak with Nouri's cock down his throat but the Sunnis were protesting in 2011 and were promised by Nouri that corruption ends in 100 days and it was another lie from Nouri.  They took to the streets again as December 2012 rolled around and they ended up being attacked and savaged.

And Patrick, if you can hear us over the sucking noise you're making, who do you think had Sunnis rounded up and tossed into prison?  The Easter Bunny?

Who created military forces without the authorization of Parliament?

The man whose pubes your nose is in.  That's right.

Because you're a worthless person who hates the Sunnis, you never bothered to report any of this over the years.  That's on you.  Lying about it now won't help you any.

In yesterday's snapshot, we noted The Progressive published an article on Iraq by Stephen Zunes. With Patrick Cockburn's latest spin for Nouri still fresh, let's see what Zunes has to say on the same topics:

The biggest division among Iraq’s Arabs, however, is not between Sunnis and Shias but between nationalist and sectarian tendencies within both communities. Under the corrupt and autocratic U.S.-backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Shia sectarians dominated. This resulted in an initially nonviolent Sunni backlash, which was met by severe government repression. This backlash was eventually hijacked by ISIS, which rid the major Sunni-dominated cities of government control.

Yeah, that's pretty much the way most of us who've paid attention to Iraq over the last four years feel it went down.  You won't find it in Patrick Cockburn's 'reporting.'  You can find it in our archives.  Over and over. But I don't hate Sunnis and I was never vested in lying for Nouri al-Maliki (or any other official).  Sadly, Patrick Cockburn can't say the same.

There's so much he can't say -- can't or won't.  You have governments vying to be by Barack's side in the latest wave of the Iraq War.  Paddy Cock Burn got anything to say about that?

Of course not.

Jen Psaki, State Dept spokesperson, had to address it and other topics in today's State Dept press briefing:

QUESTION: We have a story out today that cites officials talking about the United States considering a new humanitarian mission in Iraq. This one would be to the north for the ethnic Shiite Turkmen. Do you have any – anything to share about this? Why is the situation so dire? What’s being planned?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any new information for you, Brad. I will say, broadly speaking, we’re very focused on addressing the humanitarian concerns across Iraq. Obviously, this is something we continue to asses with our Iraqi partners. We’re also working at the same time on an effort to put together a coalition of countries in Europe, in the Arab world, and beyond that who might be able to contribute to taking on the threat of ISIL and the causes that have resulted, which, of course, is some of the humanitarian results that you mentioned.
And as you all know, there’s many ways to contribute. There’s humanitarian, military, intelligence, diplomatic, and we know this is an effort that is going to require significant focus and all hands on deck – not just the United States, but a range of countries. And you’ve already seen that there are a range of countries that have offered a range of assistance in Iraq, whether it’s humanitarian assistance or other countries who have taken strikes. We’ve seen the efforts of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, and many, many others, who have given assistance. And this is an effort that we think needs to be over the long term to take this on.

QUESTION: Do you have any – I mean, are you concerned about the situation, particularly of the Turkmen right now, in the north of Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s a situation we’re watching closely, just as we’re watching any humanitarian situation in Iraq that raises concerns. And as you know, we continue to assess necessary steps to take.

QUESTION: Are you – sorry, go ahead.

QUESTION: Just – Said, thank you. Just in terms of the coalition-building, have you anything more to say about other countries that might help on the military side of it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s really important to note that this is about many areas of contribution. They include military. They include humanitarian. They include intelligence. They include diplomatic efforts. We’re not going to make announcements for other countries, of course, about what they may or may not do. You’ve seen some countries take steps in Iraq to take on the threat of ISIL. Obviously, we’re having conversations with a range – dozens of countries about what contribution they’re able to make.

QUESTION: Who’s taking on ISIL militarily in Iraq --

QUESTION: Yeah, besides the Americans.

QUESTION: -- besides you and Iran, which I assume is not part of your coalition?

MS. PSAKI: Well, what I mean, Brad, is that obviously there are countries who are all considering what options they can take and they may be willing to take to take on the threat of ISIL, whether it’s Iraq or across borders.
More on this? Let’s finish this issue. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Are you aware about the desperate situation of the people in the town of Amirli in north Iraq – northern Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think as I said in response to Brad’s question, we are watching closely the humanitarian situation in Iraq; that’s obviously impacting many communities. And we continue to assess how we can provide the best assistance. And obviously this is not a short-term effort, this is a long-term effort, which is why it’s so important to work through a coalition of countries in a coordinated manner, with regional and international partners to see how we can address.

QUESTION: But to help the people of Amirli match the – one of the goals of the President’s mission in Iraq, right – humanitarian relief?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, one of the goals is humanitarian relief. You’ve seen contributions we’ve already made. We continue to assess what more we can do.

QUESTION: Yeah. On ISIL in Syria, you have said that you will not coordinate with the Assad Government because it has allowed a vacuum that has fostered ISIL. That’s still correct?


QUESTION: Now with the Iranian Government, they have fostered sectarianism in Baghdad, which you said contributed – is a political problem that’s possibly greater than the military problem. They have funded, they have armed, they have trained the Assad Government. And yet, the Secretary has said explicitly we’re open to them playing a constructive role numerous times. Is that a --

MS. PSAKI: But I think we’ve also said, clearly – and I think the context of his remarks are important – that there’s many ways you can play a constructive role, and certainly supporting a unified Iraqi Government – which I think is what his reference was to at the time – and one that takes into account the views of all parties, is one that many countries can play a productive role in. And if Iran was able to play a productive role in moving that process forward when that statement was made months ago or weeks ago, then that’s something we would certainly support.
We’ve also talked about our concern about certain kinds of outside intervention in Iraq as well.

QUESTION: Okay. But in terms of ISIL generally – Iraq or Syria – the comments that he made are not relevant in terms of Iran’s ability to play a constructive role in the military fight against the organization.

MS. PSAKI: I would encourage you to look back at the context, which I recall was about the formation of a governing – of a government in Iraq, which certainly has moved forward several steps since then.

David Williams and Jason Groves (Daily Mail) report, "America is poised to ask Britain to support air strikes against jihadi positions in northern Iraq, it was reported last night."  While England plays coy, Australia is apparently desperate to be invited to the ball.  Daniel Hurst (Guardian) reports:

Australia has signalled its willingness to contribute Super Hornets to US-led air strikes in Iraq, with the defence force “at a high state of readiness”.

The defence minister, David Johnston, said Australia was yet to be approached to provide assistance other than humanitarian relief, but would continue to talk to the US about steps to preserve civilian life from the threat posed by the Islamic State (Isis).

And Australians are apparently all in for anything.  Pak Yiu (4BC 1116 Talk) speaks with Neil James the Executive Director of the Australian Defense Association:

Mr James said an intervention like the one in 2003 is unlikely, but it could be possible.
“There may be a fair bit of air support to the new Iraqi government but I can’t see a similar type of multinational intervention there was back in 2003.”

Unlikely . . . but maybe, he says.

Who's in charge of the war?

Not the US Congress which can't find a voice one way or the other.

How about the White House?

New York Times' columnist Maureen Dowd offers this take:

As he has grown weary of Washington, President Barack Obama has shed parts of his presidency, like drying petals falling off a rose.
He left the explaining and selling of his signature health care legislation to Bill Clinton. He outsourced Congress to Rahm Emanuel in the first term, and now doesn't bother to source it at all. He left schmoozing, as well as a spiraling Iraq, to Joe Biden. Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, comes across as more than a messagemeister. As the president floats in the empyrean, Rhodes seems to make foreign policy even as he's spinning it.

Meanwhile National Iraqi News Agency reports:

A security source in Anbar said on Tuesday that, an unknown military plane bombed a school, which includes a number of displaced people from the city of Falluja, west of Anbar.
The source told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA/ that the school is located amid Kubaisa in Hit district, west of Anbar were bombed by unidentified aircraft, without knowing the size of the losses caused by the bombing. 

Kitabat reports an American aircraft crashed to the west of Baghdad International Airport -- as they describe the craft, it was a remote control drone. Kitabat also reports 27 corpses were discovered dumped to the north of Baghdad.   And in Baghdad?  Iraq Times notes the corpse of 1 woman and 6 men were discovered throughout Baghdad today.  Alsumaria reports 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Baghdad, a bombing in a booby-trapped Ramadi home left 1 police member dead, and 1 civilian was shot dead in western Baghdad.  All Iraq News adds 1 health department employee was shot dead in Raibya,  National Iraqi News notes the handcuffed corpses of 2 young men were dumped on the road in Tuz Khurmato.  Margaret Griffis ( reports 168 violent deaths took place in Iraq today.

As the violence continues, it impacts the country.  Sean Callebs (CCTV -- link is video) reports 1.5 million have been displaced by violence from the Islamic State. Iraq has seen waves of both external and internal refugees throughout the war.  Alsumaria notes the General Secretariat of the Council of Minister Mohammed Taher al-Tamimi is calling for the Iraqi schools to take in the displaced children.

We'll try to grab the topic of religious minorities tomorrow.  For now, let's return to the topic of Nouri.  He announced the alleged plan B today in his weekly speech.  He did more than that in the speech.

Among other things, he attacked US Vice President Joe Biden.

Kitabat notes Nouri accused Joe of attempting to divide Iraq into three separate regions -- Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurd.  Al Mada also notes Nouri's "attack" (they use the term) on Joe. All Iraq News notes he called on Joe "to respect the Iraqi people and constitution" -- to which Joe Biden could reply, "You first."