Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, September 23, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, bombings continue, John Kerry points fingers at others, Barack suffers from mission creep, US army prepares for a new headquarters in Iraq, and much more.

Michael Crowley (Time magazine) documents the US mission creep in Iraq:

From a podium in the White House’s state dining room on the night of Aug. 7, Obama gravely described his authorization of two military operations. One was to stop ISIS’s advance on the Iraqi city of Erbil, which Obama described as a threat to Americans stationed there. The other was to rescue thousands of Yezidi people besieged by ISIS fighters atop Sinjar Mountain.
[. . .]
On a Sunday afternoon ten days later, the White House quietly issued a statement announcing air strikes with the goal of liberating the Mosul dam from the clutches of ISIS militants. 
[. . .]
Then, on Sept. 7, came word of still another mission: A Pentagon statement said the U.S. was now bombing ISIS around the Haditha dam, in western Iraq—far from Erbil, Sinjar and Mosul. By now, American drones and planes had conducted about 150 strikes in the country. The U.S. was conducting a de facto air campaign against ISIS in support of Iraq’s government.

Crowley continues with his documentation but for those who need a single example of the mission creep, Michelle Tan (Army Times) reports:

As the U.S. expands its war against the Islamic State, the Army is preparing to deploy a division headquarters to Iraq.
Officials have not identified the division that will deploy — the first division headquarters to go to Iraq since the U.S. withdrawal in 2011.
An official announcement is expected in the coming days. But Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno recently confirmed the Army “will send another division headquarters to Iraq to control what we’re doing there, a small headquarters.”

Yeah, that never-ending Iraq War is expanding.  David Corn(nuts) and all the other trashy whores can toss aside ethics and offer justifications but the reality is there for anyone who wants to see it.

Flash from Mexico
The Toreadors have all turned gay
Roman whores have quit to seek a better way
Dope has undermined the morale of
The Buckingham Palace guards
Motorcycle gangs ride naked down Hollywood Boulevard

If through all the madness
We can stick together
We're safe and sound
The world's just inside out and upside down

 -- "Safe and Sound," written by Carly Simon and Jacob Brackman, first appears on Carly's Hotcakes

In the crazy, upside down world we live in, Christi Parsons and WJ Hennigan (Los Angeles Times) can report:

President Obama said Tuesday that he will "do what's necessary" to fight the Sunni Muslim extremists targeted in a fierce round of U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria and that he'll do so with the support of regional partners whose coordinated bombing makes it "clear to the world that this is not America's fight alone."
Speaking just before his departure for New York to meet with world leaders at the United Nations, Obama said the bombings he ordered overnight had the support of Arab coalition partners.

So how long does this crazy last?

The 'plan' is nothing but bombing.

If the US wasn't taking part in the bombings in Iraq and Syria (along with France), the White House would be decrying these actions, would be insisting that the country or countries carrying them out needed to be punished.

In what world is bombing a country a 'plan' for peace?

In New York today, NINA notes, Iraq's Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari met up with the Danish Foreign Minister Martin Legurd.  And Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in New York today for the United Nations' General Assembly.

Iraq's President Fuad Masum didn't arrive in New York today.  Because he was already there. All Iraq News notes he arrived on Monday.

With so much of the government out of the country, maybe it's good that Iraq now has three vice presidents?

Of course, with Nouri al-Maliki being one, that means the other two, Osama al-Nujaafi and Ayad Allawi, must spend the bulk of their time ensuring Nouri's not carrying out a coup.

Two Iraqi officials who aren't in New York?  The Minister of Defense and the Minister of Interior.

They're not in New York but that's mainly due to the fact that those two posts have still not been filled.

Nothing like leaving the security posts empty to scream, "We are committed to fighting the Islamic State!"

All Iraq News reports MP Hamid al-Khudhari states these positions must be filled and that "there must be Ministers to run the security file."  Meanwhile Nouri's State of Law coalition is whining because they want Hadi al-Amiri to be the nominee and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has not nominated al-Amiri.  MP Salah al-Jubouri tells NINA, "There is a need to name the ministers of defense and interior, because of the security problems in the country, whichmakes it imperative for the Prime Minister to resolve this file in nearest opportunity."  He notes Parliament begins a 2 week vacation starting September 26th and he doesn't expect the positions to be filled until after the break.

With rumors that the United Kingdom's about to join France and the US in bombing Iraq, there's apparently no rush for Iraq to prepare their own defense team and plan, let alone put people in charge of executing it.

Why were they in New York?  Because Iraq will be the topic Wednesday at the United Nations.Security Council meeting with US President Barack Obama acting as Chair of the special session.

That's tomorrow.  All Iraq News reports, "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday blamed Islamic State militants and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for destroying cultural treasures in Syria and Iraq describing it as 'ugly, savage, inexplicable, valueless barbarism'."

Who's the 'barbarian'?  Who sent war planes into a foreign country to bomb the country?

And having done that, is the US government really in a place to slam others for destruction taking place in Iraq?

Is the White House now insisting that US planes are dropping Nerf footballs on Iraq because that's about the only way US bombs aren't also "destroying cultural treasures."

Today, John Kerry insisted:

Now obviously there are a range of terrorist groups that concern us, and we are laser focused on combatting them. But we gather this week to discuss as priority a threat that has a particular resonance for every country in this room, and that’s ISIL.
ISIL is an organization that knows no bounds, as it has proven. It brutalizes women and girls and sells them off as slaves to jihadists. It forces grown men to their knees, ties their hands behind their back, and shoots them in the head. Fed by illicit funding and a stream of foreign fighters that have come, regrettably, from many of the countries around this table – mine included – it has seized territory, and it has attempted to undertake announced genocide against minority groups like the Yezidis. This kind of barbarity simply has no place in the modern world. And these coldblooded killers, masquerading as a religious movement, need to be stopped.

Now President Obama has laid out a coordinated global strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL. And we’ve assembled a broad coalition. And last night, by conducting strikes against ISIL, targets inside Syria, we took another major step towards getting the job done. But it will require enormous cooperation and perseverance by everybody.

Aslumaria notes that John Kerry is insisting that many Arab countries have joined what Mike's dubbed The Spread The Blame Around Coalition.

How many?

The State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted the answer:

AP proclaims, "World leaders meet at UN facing turmoil from multiple crises, with few solutions."


There was no talk of solutions, just of bombings.

I've castigated the press for failure to cover the political issues in Iraq -- especially since Barack has repeatedly insisted that Iraq's only solution is a political one, not a military one.

But what has the White House offered thus far except a military response and focusing on garnering support for that?

Exactly who works on the political process and when?

The State Dept released the following today:

SECRETARY KERRY: Mr. President, you go right ahead.

PRESIDENT [FUAD] MASUM: (Via interpreter) Our meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State was very positive and very fruitful. We have discussed several issues, especially the situation in Iraq and the region. And also, we specifically focused on this terrorist organization known as ISIL. We have common views concerning this issue, and also we believe that the latest session of the UN Security Council was remarkable, and it gives peace and – gives assurances to people in the region that this threat will be dealt with.
Therefore, we would like to thank the countries that have come together in order to support Iraq and to stand by Iraq and support it in its war against terrorism, which is a new threat in this area.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much. Delighted to be here with President Masum and with Foreign Minister Jafari, who have already proven to be important partners in this effort, and I appreciate the very constructive meeting that we’ve just had to talk about where we are.
Before I get started, I want to just say a few words about our decision to conduct strikes against ISIL targets in Syria, and also against seasoned al-Qaida operatives in Syria, who are known as the Khorasan Group. We have been very clear from the beginning we will not allow geography or borders to prevent us from being able to take action against ISIL, and we will not allow them to have a safe haven where they think they can have sanctuary against accountability. We will hold them responsible for their grotesque atrocities, and we will not allow these terrorists to find a safe haven anywhere. That is President Obama’s resolve.
If left unchecked, ISIL is not only a threat to the stability of Iraq and to the region, but it is a threat to countries elsewhere, including here. From the beginning President Obama has been very clear that this is not America’s fight alone. ISIL poses a threat to not just Iraq and Syria but to the region as a whole, and the region has to be a leader in this effort in order to fight back.
I want to commend President Masum and Prime Minister Abadi for the critically important steps that Iraq has taken to help form a government, and it is obviously important that they continue to take those steps, and we talked about some of that today. They are committed to doing so.
But they’ve also been, importantly, reaching out to their neighbors and helping to build this coalition. More than 50 countries have now agreed to join this effort to combat ISIL, including the Arab countries that joined us last night in taking military action in Syria. The overall effort is going to take time, there are challenges ahead, but we are going to do what is necessary to take the fight to ISIL, to begin to make it clear that terrorism, extremism does not have a place in the building of civilized society. And we will work with our friends from Iraq in order to make certain that their choice to move forward in a democratic and viable way will bear fruit and be supported by the international community.

Thank you.

No, thank you, John.  And could you explain to us why the head of US diplomacy could only talking bombings and war while offering some vague salute to vague events of over two weeks ago?

There's been no political progress in Iraq overseen by the president of Iraq. There's been no progress at all and, in three days, the Parliament breaks for a two week vacation.

Where's the progress?

Where's the work on that?

If you don't get that there are serious political problems to address, you need to read Mustafa Habib's piece for Niqash:

Recently there have been three major issues that the different political blocs in the Parliament have been working on.

Firstly, a new internal bylaw to regulate the work of the prime minister's department. This is something that Iraq's last Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, had refused to even discuss because, one imagines, such a bylaw would have reduced the many powers he tried to keep solely for his executive branch.

The second issue centres on a steering committee for all of the parties that identify as Shiite Muslim majority, which work in an alliance in Parliament. The committee would bring about more unified and quicker decision making among the alliance. In the past, al-Maliki had also refused to help form such a committee because once again, it would have taken away his power.

The third issue is possibly the most important and concerns a number of decisions made by al-Maliki shortly before he was ousted by al-Abadi. The new government wants to know what all of these were – some remain unclear – and they want them annulled or reversed.

This series of decisions includes al-Maliki making some important appointments, handing out sensitive positions to his closest allies and even relatives, as well as withdrawing money from the national coffers.

Early in September al-Maliki appointed one of his closest allies, Ali al-Allaq, to head Iraq's Central Bank. This came at the same time as the Central Bank's former head, Sinan al-Shabibi, was sentenced to seven years in jail on charges of corruption.

It is generally thought that because al-Shabibi, an economist, had resisted al-Maliki's attempts to interfere in Central Bank business and not allowed him to withdraw money from the bank's reserves, that al-Maliki cooked up the corruption charges in order to have him removed from the post.

There have already been calls to reverse the decisions made against al-Shabibi. 

Other appointments made by al-Maliki include appointing his spokesperson, Ali al-Mousawi, as director general at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, making the head of his financial office, Dea'a al-Quraishi, the Deputy Minister of Planning and appointing an MP from his own party, Ali al-Shlah, as chairman of the board of trustees at the national broadcaster, the Iraqi Media Network, which also runs the Iraqiya TV channel.

Current MPs say that behind the scenes, al-Maliki also appointed dozens more of his closest allies and followers into senior jobs in sensitive positions. Other job holders were forced to retire, army officers loyal to al-Maliki were unjustifiably promoted and other army officers were paid above and beyond their salaries by his office.

There are serious issues to address and there's no excuse for the failure of US outlets to cover that reality.

One of the few figures with national standing in Iraq to remain in Iraq is Ammar al-Hakim.  All Iraq News notes that the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq met today with the leader of Goran, Nicherwan Mustafa, to discuss outstanding issues between Baghdad's central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Under the 'leadership' of thug Nouri al-Maliki, relationships between the Kurds and the central government out of Baghdad soured, to put it mildly.  The conflict which received the most western press was the conflict over oil.  In the continued absence of a national gas and oil law, the Kurds exercised their right to do with their oil as they saw fit.  This alarmed Nouri and the State Dept.  Another conflict was Nouri's refusal, in both of his terms as prime minister, to implement Article 140 of the Constitution.  Oil-rick Kirkuk is claimed by both Baghdad and the KRG.  Article 140 is how the situation gets resolved -- census and referendum.  Victoria Nuland and other spokespersons who were so bothered by the selling or potential selling of oil by the Kurds never expressed a sad note over the refusal of Nouri to obey the Constitution.

They also didn't decry Nouri withholding federal funds from the KRG.  That move was an attempt to blackmail the Kurds on the oil issue.  Nouri also called the Kurds "terrorists" and supporters of "terrorists" and much more.  Nouri refused to respect their territorial integrity and frequently sent the SWAT forces into disputed areas which only heightened tensions.

There's much more and there's much to sort out.

It may not be as 'sexy' as war planes but it should still capture the attention of the western press.

Al Mada notes KRG President Barzani called for Iraq's new government to listen to the Kurds and that KRG President is calling for the three presidences -- Iraq's president Fuad Masum, Speaker of Parliament .  Salim al-Jubouri and Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi -- to visit the KRG.

Over on the violence front,  Alsumaria reports a Sadr City car bombing left 14 people dead and sixty-seven more injured.  All Iraq News quotes a security source stating the bombing was "in front of Muntadher police station."  Alsumaria reports a Baghdad roadside bombing left two police officers injured.  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 103 killed in Tuesday's violence.

In some possible good news regarding bombings (on the ground, not dropped from war planes), Alsumaria quotes a senior official at the Ministry of the Interior, Adnan Hadi al-Sadi, declared that "sophisticated equipment" would soon be utilized in Iraq to detect bombs.

This would be a huge improvement.

For those who've forgotten, once upon a time a device was invented to find lost golf balls on the golf course.  It couldn't even do that.  But a hack and a crook decided he'd market it as a device that could detect bombs.  You held the magic wand by a car, for example, and ran in place and if the wand moved, there was a bomb!!!!

The US military was publicly calling out this 'magic wand' in 2008 but Nouri al-Maliki, then prime minister, kept spending a fortune on this device.

Even after the man selling it was arrested, Nouri continued to insist it be used.  Even after the man was tried and convicted in a British court.

Even as late as this summer, Nouri was still insisting the magic wands be used.

Because stupidity is not unique to one nation, we'll note this Tweet highlighting US government stupidity: