Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, August 6, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the targeting of Yazidis and other religious minorities continues, the White House silence continues, rumors fly about Nouri, and much more.

The Yazidis remain targeted in Iraq.  In fact, 40,000 are said to be trapped on a mountain  Laura Smith-Spark (CNN) explains:

 When radical Islamist fighters stormed the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar over the weekend, the Yazidi minority who call it home fled into the surrounding mountains in fear of their lives.
Now, trapped without food, water or medical care in the summer heat, thousands of families are in desperate need of help.

It's already too late to save dozens of children who've died of thirst.

Martin Chulov (Guardian) notes that 40,000 are thought to be at the top of Mount Sinjar and quotes UNICEF's Juliette Touma stating, "It's not like this is a one-off incident.  We are almost back to square zero in terms of the preparedness and the supplies.  Enormous numbers of people have been crossing the border since June.  The stresses are enormous, dehydration, fatique, people sometimes having to walk for days.  The impact on kids is very physical, let alone the psychological impact."

We should note that Nouri reportedly attempted to drop supplies -- including water -- on the mountain top over the weekend.  The drops failed.  They missed the targets.

This does not instill confidence in Iraq's pilots.  (Why helicopters were not used in the attempt is not known.  Nouri used planes.  Today, Al Jazeera reports helicopters were used by Nouri on Tuesday.)

Meanwhile the Financial Times' Borzou Daragahi Tweets:

  • Glen Carey (Bloomberg News) speaks with Housam Salim ("head of the Solidarity and Brotherhood Yezidi Organization") who states, "It is a humanitarian tragedy.  Men were executed in the streets, women were kidnapped and raped. When we are captured, they kill us immediately, and they take our women."  Time magazine's Bobby Ghosh (Quartz) points out, "Leaders of all these minority groups have sent increasingly desperate pleas—to the Maliki government, to the US, to the UN—for help. But while some appeals have gone viral online, and the UN has engaged in its usual pro-forma hand-wringing, the SOS has gone largely unanswered as the world focused on Gaza. Now that the ceasefire there appears (fingers crossed) to be holding, there’s no excuse not to respond."

    The US government could help but US President Barack Obama chooses not to.  This isn't about sending US forces into Iraq.  This is about dropping supplies onto a mountain.

    Mick Krever and Ken Olshansky (Amanpour, CNN) report:

    The foreign minister of Iraqi Kurdistan on Wednesday issued a desperate plea for American and Western intervention to halt the advance of ISIS extremists.
    “We are left alone in the front to fight the terrorists of ISIS,” Falah Mustafa Bakir told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour.

    “I believe the United States has a moral responsibility to support us, because this is a fight against terrorism, and we have proven to be pro-democracy, pro-West, and pro-secularism.”

    Tuesday, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power issued the following statement:

    I condemn in the strongest possible terms the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) recent attacks on Sinjar and Tal Afar in Ninewa province that have reportedly led to the displacement of tens of thousands of people, many from vulnerable minority communities, deepening Iraq’s already acute humanitarian crisis. ISIL’s reported abuse, kidnapping, torture and executions of Iraq’s religious and ethnic minorities and its systematic destruction of religious and cultural sites are appalling.
    The United States supports the Iraqi Security Forces and Peshmerga Forces working to defend these areas against ISIL. We urge all parties to the conflict to allow safe access to the United Nations and its partners so they can deliver lifesaving humanitarian assistance, including to those Iraqi families reportedly encircled by ISIL on Mount Sinjar. The United States is committed to helping the people of Iraq as they confront the security and humanitarian challenges in their fight against ISIL. Iraq’s leaders must move swiftly to form a new, fully inclusive government that takes into account the rights, aspirations and legitimate concerns of all of Iraq’s communities. All Iraqis must come together to ensure that Iraq gets back on the path to a peaceful future and to prevent ISIL from obliterating Iraq’s vibrant diversity.

    That I don't like Samantha Power should be a known -- I've called her out here and in pieces at Third.  I don't care for her.

    But I'm not going to pick apart her statement (a) at least she said something and (b) I don't really expect to be as one mentally with Samantha.

    But if the US 'stands' with Iraqis, why can't they organize an air drop for those suffering on top of the mountains?

    It makes no sense, the refusal.  Yes, US planes (commercial) are flying at higher altitudes over Iraq due to safety concerns, but the military could easily do a drop.

    Not only would it be a humanitarian mission, it could also be used to do some spying on various groups as it passed over a portion of Iraq.

    I don't care for Samantha Power, I think she argues for death and murder at the drop of a hat, I think she grossly misunderstood Rawanda as well as the after-effects.  But a drop of supplies, is not a call for war.  And if the administration cares, why is it Catholic Samantha speaking and only her?

    What's happening to the Yazidis echoes what is happening to the Christians who were forced out of Mosul.  Mike Stechschulte (Catholic News Service) reports the attack on the Mosul Christians led to a march this month in Detroit where participants shouted, "Obama, Obama, where are you?  Iraqi Christians need you!"  Another CNS report notes Chaldean Bishop Francis Kalabat in Southfield, Michigan:

    Bishop Kalabat had especially pointed words for President Barack Obama, whom he said has not done much to address the problem.
    "I don't understand President Obama's words, 'The situation is an Iraqi problem.' Since when? How many thousands of American soldiers were sacrificed? Bloodied, lost limbs, lost their souls, lost their lives. How is this not an American problem?" Bishop Kalabat said.
    He said the inaction by the White House has prompted the Chaldean community to pursue direct humanitarian aid instead, including via bills currently before Congress.
    "This community, you have responded in the most beautiful way," he said, referring to a $60,000 collection taken up by local Chaldean parishioners about a month ago. "It was a drop in the bucket (compared to what's needed), but it did help."
    He thanked the senators and representatives who traveled to Iraq to visit with refugees, especially from Michigan and San Diego, where the two largest concentrations of Chaldeans exist in the United States.

    Unlike Barack, some members of Congress have been willing to speak out.  Catholic San Francisco notes a rally in San Francisco earlier this month:

    Assyrian Catholics came via bus from the Central Valley and San Jose. Republican Rep. Jeff Denham of Fresno, whose district has 25,000 Assyrian Catholics, also spoke, criticizing leaders “for allowing a genocide to go on against the Christians of Iraq and Syria at the hands of ISIS without any action,” DeKelaita said.

    But Barack won't address it and, as we saw in a State Dept press briefing this week, even when the targeting of religious minorities is raised to the State Dept, the spokesperson prefers to ignore the issue.

    Who will help the persecuted?

    James Reinl (Rudaw) offers:

    Three dozen charities and faith groups have called on the US Government to cooperate more with Iraq’s Kurdish region in an effort to address a growing refugee crisis from Islamist-linked violence.
    A letter from the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, the National Council of Churches USA and other influential groups urges Washington to lay out a “clear, long-term strategy” on Iraq’s worsening humanitarian situation.

    Barack's cratering in one poll after another on the issue of foreign policy and he's also taking a hit on likability -- maybe it's time Hillary Clinton repeated his infamous 2008 sentence back to him?  "You're likable enough." -- and how much Iraq plays into it is a question only we're raising.  Where's everyone else on this topic?

    He was supposed to be right on Iraq, that's what he ran on in 2008.  He was supposed to be so smart.  But Iraq is in flames.

    Iraq War veteran JR Salzman Tweets:

    That sentiment is only going to multiply if Barack's public response is silence -- Barack's and so many of the people under him.  I don't care for Samantha Power but I do give her credit for issuing a statement and one that actually sounds like her own words.

    The White House and the State Dept are failing at their jobs when it comes to Iraq.

    That failure produces this sort of Tweet:

    That is the perception out there.

    A smart administration addresses perception.

    This is not a smart administration.

    Last night, Ruth noted (and quoted) the reporter raising the rumor/allegation that the US created ISIS (IS) and how spokesperson Jen Psaki refused to address the question.

    Why did Psaki do that?

    I have no idea.

    Maybe the White House created ISIS and she didn't want to lie?

    I have no idea.

    I do know her job requires her to respond.

    She didn't do her job.  Naharnet reports that the US Embassy in Libya tackled the allegations in a Tweet -- denying them.  Real shame they couldn't have quoted the State Dept spokesperson but Psaki was clearly too tired to do her job.

  • How sad that people believe they have to sign a petition to get the White House to okay emergency provisions being dropped to the Yazidis.

    How weak is the White House that it will take pleading from Americans to get it to act?

    Nouri's still backed by the White House despite all the above conflict, despite Sameer N. Yacoub and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reporting Baghdad bombings today left at least 51 people dead.

    Nouri al-Maliki, the despot that will destroy Iraq if he gets a third term as prime minister.

    Note this Tweet:

  • Hearing from Iraq that Maliki had 28 conditions to be met before he steps down. Shia bloc accepted them all but Maliki then changed his mind

  • If true, this would be yet another example of Nouri breaking his word.

    Nouri al-Maliki gave his weekly televised address today.  As usual, it was the sound of a fanatic raving, a rabid dog frothing at the mouth.

    Alsumaria notes that he declared the biggest bloc should be allowed to nominate the candidate for prime minister-designate.  He insisted that the post isn't elected by Parliament, it's merely the one with the largest bloc.  (Yes, that's in complete conflict with both his position in 2010 and the court ruling in 2010.)

    In his speech, Alsumaria notes, Nouri also insisted that the will of the people must be respected.  No word on whether or not that line was drowned out due to all the laughter.

    In the speech's most provocative remarks, Nouri lays down a threat.  Alsumaria quotes him declaring that any violations of the (don't laugh) "Constitutional process" will open the gates of hell.

    No, Nouri's never cared about the Constitution before.  This is most obvious in his attack on Iraq's two term Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi whom Nouri forced out of the country with false charges of terrorism and then staged a kangaroo court trial -- despite the fact that Tareq retained his office (he still does until vice presidents are named).  As such, Tareq can't be charged with anything, per the Constitution, unless the Parliament strips him of his office.  Parliament refused to.  Nouri's actions were illegal.  He repeated them with other rivals.

    But today, in a speech filled with lies, he attempts to make the case that the Constitution guarantees him a second term and then he closes by insisting any efforts to prevent him from a third term will open the gates of hell.

    Here's a Tweet on the topic of Nouri and his hell remarks.

    1. as if the country is n't hell already, # Maliki warns that new government could open "gates of hell"

    And Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports members of Parliament are saying that if Nouri pushes for a third term -- or his supporters push him for it -- that there will be walk outs in Thursday Parliament session, that Nouri is widely rejected because of his policies.