Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, September 24, 2014. Chaos and violence continue, the US continues to focus on bombings and not on political solutions, we note time's running out there, we provide a few basic steps that could be taken immediately, and much more.

I have a friend I'm going to share a story on.  Many years ago, she had a mouse problem.

I kept saying call an exterminator and she wouldn't.

We'd be on the phone and she'd squeal and announce she just threw something at the mouse.

Now she'll deny my hypothesis here but she was on a TV show at the time that was successful.  This was her second successful TV show and she'd been fired from the first.

So I would point out that she was kind of tight with the money.  She'd spend outrageously for public appearances (and that is work related, I'm not mocking her) but for the basics to live on, she was saving every penny and that's why I think she refused to call an exterminator.

Today, she insists it was because she couldn't kill a living thing but that wasn't true then.

So anyway, I'm at her place two weeks later and she's screaming all the sudden and jumping on furniture and I'm looking for what I'm expecting to be a huge and ugly rat -- which are all over Malibu and are not a reflection on anyone's home or how clean they are, they're just beach rats.  They'll come in because you have an inside dog and they can smell the dog food in the bowl or whatever.

So I'm looking for one of those Malibu rats but seeing instead the tiniest mouse.  About the size of a field mouse.  Tiny and more scared of her -- tossing books at him -- then anything else.  So he's scurried against the wall and I reach over and grab him (or her, I don't know) by the tail.

At which point, my friend is screaming, "Kill him! Kill him!"  Which is why I say this 'couldn't kill a living thing' wasn't true back then.  I didn't kill him -- not because I'm a nice person but because it looked like a pet and I asked her to go over to her neighbors while I put the mouse in a plastic cup.  Sure enough, they had four mice that their daughter had as pets and one had escaped, so she got her pet back.

But the point of this story?

My friend was sometimes scaring the mouse by tossing books at it or near where she thought it was -- she also broke one of her lamps and several glasses doing that.  But she didn't kill it, she didn't stop the problem.

To get the mouse, I had to put both feet on the floor, go over to it and grab it.

I'm not for US forces on the ground in Iraq.

But I'm also not for stupidity.

US President Barack Obama has no plan.

Barack's bombing is not a plan anymore than my friend throwing books at a mouse was.

Now if his plan was: 'We will bomb and we will surround the bombed areas with US troops?'

I'd say that was a plan.  It be a bad plan, in my opinion, but it would be a plan.

My friend's mouse was usually smart enough, when my friend threw books at in one room, to try to move to another.

I don't understand how we can be so stupid to think these 'precision' bombings are accomplishing thing.  They're not.

I don't favor US boots on the ground.  But if Barack was announcing that the boots on the ground -- which already there and, yes, already engaged in combat -- if he were announcing/admitting that and coming up with someway to use them, it wouldn't be a plan I'd back but I wouldn't dispute that it was a plan.

What Barack's doing is nonsense on every level.

If you want the US to 'defeat' the Islamic State militarily (I don't think that's possible), then you're going to have to do something more than selective bombing.

Let's stop being stupid about that at least.

I don't believe there is a military answer.  I believe that bombing is just going to breed more terrorism.  I believe a number of Islamic State men who have been killed (some of who were Islamic State and some of whom were not) have loved ones they've left behind and I don't believe that the loved ones are saying, "Thank goodness he got killed!"  I think resentments and anger are being bred by Barack's actions.

I also think civilians are being put at risk.  Some are being killed and there's no point in kidding around about that.  There's never been a series of ongoing strikes anywhere that didn't result in the death of at least a few civilians -- which is why terms like "collateral damage" were invented in the first place.

So what's the solution.

For years now, with the prison breaks in Iraq and the prisoners who don't get recaptured -- and most don't -- we've repeatedly pointed out here that the escapees are able to blend and elude capture because the communities are sympathetic.

It's not, "Oh, you're a Sunni?  I'm a Sunni too!  I won't rat you out to the police for that reason!"

The sympathy comes from the fact that, under thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Sunni community was targeted.  Sunnis were taken away, many times without arrest warrants only to vanish into the jails and prisons of Iraq -- jails and prisons infamous -- even post-Saddam Hussein -- for torture and abuse.

Add in that not only were Sunni suspects arrested but so were relatives of suspects.

The Iraqi forces show up at a home looking for 28-year-old Ali Hammadi.  Ali's not home.  But his wife is.  Or his dad.  Or his mom.  Or his grandparents or maybe even a child.  There was a protest this week in Iraq calling for the Sunni children to be released from Iraq's prisons and jails.

That may shock you.  It shouldn't.

The US government instituted this practice in the early years of the Iraq War -- showing far less ethics than even the mob.  And Nouri carried it over.  If he couldn't get you, he'd arrest one of your relatives.  No arrest warrant for them, maybe no hearing for them, and they disappear into Iraq's overpopulated jails and prisons.

And that's why many Sunnis don't give a damn when there's a prison escape.  That's why their attitude is, "Good."  Too many of them have family members or friends who have been wrongly imprisoned.

This and other mistreatment is why some Sunnis join the Islamic State, join with the Islamic State in actions (worded that way because they assist in actions but do not join the Islamic State) and/or look the other way when they might otherwise alert authorities to suspicious persons.

Sometimes e-mails come in saying, "Oh, you're so mean to poor little Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio."

No, I'm not.

He's either a whore or he's an idiot.

That's reality.

We were dealing with reality in 2010 and 2011 and pointing out what was building up because of Nouri and Scotty was off basically masturbating on air because he felt Nouri had flipped the bird to the US.  That got Scotty and his little willy all excited.

And he other idiots or whores -- Patrick Cockburn, we mean you -- would giggle and guffaw and have a good time.

It was outrageous they were praising Nouri al-Malik while Nouri was targeting Sunnis, while Nouri was using the Ministry of the Interior to target Iraq's gay population, while Nouri was doing this or that.

Nouri is a War Criminal.

The agreement the US oversaw to get Nouri to step down included a no-prosecution promise.  That's too bad because Nouri should stand trial for War Crimes.  (And, point of fact, that promise is useless if the issue heads to the Iraqi courts.)

Girls and women were beaten and raped in Iraq's jails and prisons.

In fairness to Horton and Cockburn, the US government was ignoring as well.  (Members of Congress did object to the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community.  They also publicly objected to the targeted of certain religious groups and to the mistreatment of and attacks on the Ashraf community.)

Right now, John Kerry can't shut up about how 'evil' the Islamic State is for what it's doing to women.

But when Iraqis took to the streets to protest non-stop from December 2012 through January 2014, while they demanded over and over that Iraqi girls and women be released due to the abuse and rape taking place, John Kerry never said one damn word.

When the Iraqi Parliament investigated and found proof of the abuse and rape, John Kerry didn't say one damn word.

And when Human Rights Watch began documenting these rapes and abuse?

John Kerry didn't say one damn word.

Of course, in defense of John, he's part of an out-of-control administration that's probably going to be seen as even more crooked and more criminal once Barack's out of the White House.


Well John's not claiming to be anti-war, is he?

Horton was.  Cockburn went on a show called Antiwar Radio (repeatedly went on).

So their covering for Nouri al-Maliki is shameful.

I was told by a friend, a professor at Stanford, that this site isn't clearly establishing what the alternative is.

He's right.

Because I know most people reading this are either community members or readers who've been around for awhile and we've spent the last four years discussing how Nouri al-Maliki bred terrorism in Iraq.  We noted he was doing that in real time.  Not because I'm especially smart or highly intelligent but because it was obvious if you just paid attention.

A lot of people didn't.  Some were misled by people like Cockburn (whose bias against the Sunnis allowed him to ignore their suffering and to minimize it when he had to mention it because others were).

But my friend is right, it may not be clear what the alternative to bombing is.

Barack's said that Iraq requires a political solution not a military one.

We've agreed that statement here.

We've applauded it.

But instead of working on a political solution, the US government has wasted time trying to build a coalition for bombing Iraq.

Why the hell is John Kerry working on that?

That should have been Chuck Hagel, he's Secretary of Defense.

John Kerry's time should have been spent on diplomacy and political cohesion in Iraq.

No one seems to want to do the work required for peace.

Countries are rushing to sign on as partners in bombings.

But no one wants to do the work required for peace.

Nouri al-Maliki came to power -- installed by the US government -- with a huge chip on his shoulder about having run out of the country like a coward because Saddam Hussein didn't like Nouri.

Feeling like a coward -- because he was one -- now that he was in power, all Nouri wanted was to destroy the Sunnis.

And the US looked the other way over and over.

The violence finally built to the point where Barack had to address the problem.

And I wish it had happened sooner but I do applaud him for pulling the plug on Nouri.  Iraq now has a chance at peace.

Bombings are not helping the chances.

If they continue -- this is my prediction and I can be wrong and often am, these bombings are going to turn the Iraqi people not just against the White House but against the new prime minister.  They're going to be outraged that their country is being torn apart by war planes bombing -- foreign war planes.

And I can be wrong and often am.

But I don't just make stuff up.

I'm thinking of the early days of the Turkish bombings of northern Iraq.  There was some support for it among the populations near the shared border.  And that faded as the bombings continued.  Long before western news outlets were willing to acknowledge that the bombings were killing civilians, the people knew the reality and they turned on those bombings.

Currently, there is no majority support among the Iraqi people for these bombings.  Movement leader and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has denounced those bombings.  (And the attack yesterday on Sadr City is seen by some as a response to Moqtada speaking out against the bombings -- a response from some hard-line Shi'ite militia groups -- like a certain group who split off from Moqtada some time ago.  Check out Arabic social media if you haven't already for those discussions.)

Barack's exhausting people's patience with these bombings.

And if anger grows towards the US for the bombings, anger will also build against Iraq's new prime minister Haider al-Abadi.

The whole point of someone other than Nouri was a fresh start.

A fresh start goes stale quick if change doesn't emerge.

No change is emerging.

Yes, two Saturdays ago, al-Abadi did give the order to stop the bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods.

And how did that turn out?

It didn't stop.

It continues.

For example, today NINA reports:

A medical source at the hospital in Fallujah said on Wednesday that /17/ civilians were martyred and wounded, including women and children by indiscriminately bombing on Fallujah.
Th[e] source told the National Iraqi News Agency / Nina / that the indiscriminate shelling with explosive barrels and mortars targeted residential neighborhoods in the city of Fallujah, including Aljughaifi , Golan, al-Askari, al-Shuhadaa and al-Shurta, and resulted in the killing of / 4 / civilians and wounding / 13 / others, including two children and a woman were taken to the hospital.

Those deaths are bad for numerous reasons starting with the bombings of civilian targets -- residential neighborhoods -- are War Crimes -- legally defined as such.  Those deaths are bad because those people were killed for the 'crime' of living their lives.  Those deaths are bad because they appear to demonstrate that the Iraqi military -- at least some segment of it -- is refusing to follow the orders of the prime minister.

If Haider becomes a clown, no one in Iraq will take him seriously.

The bombings of residential neighborhoods -- War Crimes -- were ignored by the US when their pet Nouri started carrying them out in January of this year.  It is past time for Barack Obama and John Kerry to denounce these bombings.

The bombings daily demonstrate that nothing has changed and that the Sunnis -- Falluja is a Sunni-dominated city -- will continue to be attacked.

The US and Haider are blowing it.

You only get a brief window of time to prove you are different.

If the White House could get its thumb out of its ass long enough to stick a finger in the wind, they'd realize that things are already changing and they've wasted far too much time focusing on bombing and far too little time robbing the Islamic State of credibility -- which is the only thing that will defeat it.

There need to be serious steps taken and they need to be taken immediately.

As the Iraq Inquiry (also known as the Chilton Inquiry) in London established, de-Ba'athifcation was destructive to Iraq.  In 2007, Nouri al-Maliki signed off on a series of benchmarks put forward by the White House and one of those was demanding an end to de-Ba'athification.  (We called it "de-de-Bathification" here -- search that if you're late to the party.)

Now de-Ba'athification should end immediately.

Can it?

Maybe, maybe not.

But what can happen immediately is the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament can announce that the Justice and Accountability Commission is no more.  It was supposed to have termed out before the 2010 elections but Nouri (illegally) revived it and used it to eliminate political rivals from running for office and the same was done in 2012.  This Commission is not supposed to exist, it's not supposed to be receiving funding.  The Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament can announce that this commission and any other illegal commission will not be recognized by the government nor will they receive funding.

The Prime Minister should also immediately have his government file papers with the Iraqi Courts to overturn the conviction of former Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.  al-Hashemi was Vice President of Iraq from 2006 until this summer.  From the end of December 2011 on forward, he has been Vice President in exile because, as soon as most us troops left Iraq, Nouri insisted Tareq was a terrorist.

The Prime Minister's government should file a formal request that these charges be vacated.

It was a kangaroo court, yes.  Months before the case was heard, Iraq's judiciary in Baghdad held a press conference to announce Tareq was guilty.  Iraq, in its Constitution, notes that all are innocent until proven guilty.  The judges erred there.

They erred on evidence, they erred everywhere.

But here's why the decision needs to be vacated -- it was illegal.

al-Hashemi was a member of Parliament until this summer.  Members of Parliament have to be stripped of their rights to be sued while in office.

Tareq could be tried today.

He's no longer Vice President.

But the 'trial' took place when he was a sitting Vice President, the trial took place when the Iraqi Parliament refused to strip him of his rights.

The trial was unconstitutional and should never have taken place.

The decision needs to be vacated and the new government calling for that would go a long way towards establishing respect for rule of law and that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land -- not the whim of a tyrant like Nouri al-Maliki.

These are basic steps which can be taken right now.

They need to show change and do so quickly.

War has made Iraq a very young country population wise.

According to the CIA's estimates (Iraq is long overdue for a census), the median age is 21.5 years (21.6 for women, 21.4 for men).  To provide contrast, you can compare that to the US where the median age is 37.6 years-old (36.3 for men, 39 for women).

You're asking a lot of a young population if you're expecting them to wait months for change to start coming.

Again, the White House and Haider are blowing the opportunity for Haider to establish that he is a fresh face, a new start for Iraq.

Parliament went on vacation today.  It's going to be about two weeks before they hold another session.

Iraqis can't wait that long to see changes taking place.

And it's really past time -- does no one grasp this in the White House -- for Iraq's new prime minister to announce a program for his term, a program that will create jobs (a huge issue in Iraq) and that will benefit the public.

Nouri was real good, for example, about providing ice.  Every two years, about a month and a half before an election, Nouri would send out ice trucks to various areas.

Now that didn't create potable water -- a public works program to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure would have done that -- but it was what he offered -- about all that he did.

If Haider wants to prove he's not Nouri, he needs to announce a program on how he intends to make life better for the Iraqi people.

That the White House has not assisted him in drafting such a program demonstrates that they're unable to both rope people into their bombing programs and practice diplomacy.

There are other things I want to focus on but when a friend calls and says I'm blowing it and we need to provide concrete examples "for a highly unintelligent White House," we'll spend the whole snapshot on the basics.

The White House issued the following today:

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Abadi of the Republic of Iraq After Bilateral Meeting

United Nations Building
New York City, New York
12:05 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I want to thank Prime Minister Abadi and his delegation for the opportunity to meet here this morning. 
As I’ve said previously, the United States and Iraq have a strategic relationship that is important to both countries.  We believe in a vision of an Iraq that is inclusive, in which Sunni, Shia, Kurd are all able to come together to peacefully iron out their differences and to achieve prosperity and peace for all the people of the country.
Obviously, Iraq is under enormous threat at the moment from the organization that calls itself ISIL.  And as I’ve discussed today and for many weeks now, we consider ISIL to be a threat not only to Iraq, but to the region, to the world, and to the United States.
We are committed to working in support of Iraq regaining territory that ISIL has currently taken over, and making sure that an inclusive Iraqi government is able to control its territory and push ISIL back.  In doing that, we are coordinating closely in our military campaign.  And the airstrikes and air support that we’re able to provide, as well as the training and assistance, I think will be critical in partnership with Iraqi forces on the ground.
One of the things I’m very impressed with, however, is the fact that Prime Minister Abadi understands that in order for Iraq to succeed it’s not just a matter of a military campaign; it’s also the need for political outreach to all factions within the country.  And I’ve been very impressed with Prime Minister Abadi’s vision. 
Since he took over the prime-ministership, he has reached out systematically to all the peoples of Iraq.  He has articulated a vision of reform and a commitment to moving forward with many of the laws that had previously stalled but offer the potential of unleashing energy and entrepreneurship inside of Iraq. 
And so, in addition to the military campaign in which we’re going to be coordinating, I want to say directly to the Prime Minister that we fully support his political vision, and we are also encouraged by his willingness to reach out and work with other countries in the region who are going to be very important in supporting our overall effort to defeat ISIL.
The last point I would make:  I think that the Prime Minister recognizes this is not something that is going to be easy and it is not going to happen overnight.  But after talking with the Prime Minister, I’m confident that he’s the right person to help work with a broad-based coalition of like-minded Iraqis and that they will be successful. 
And my main message to the Prime Minister is that although we cannot do this for you, we can be a strong partner, and we are fully committed to your success.  We wish you Godspeed.  And we are grateful for your willingness to take on this leadership mantle at such a critical time in your country’s history.

PRIME MINISTER ABADI:  (As interpreted.)  In the name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful, I would like to thank President Obama for allowing for this opportunity for Iraq to explain its points of view towards the confrontation that is happening in Iraq and in which Iraq is at the forefront of the confrontation against the forces of ISIL.
The Iraqi people have confronted this very brutal, ruthless attack on the Iraqi territory with bravery, and I am very proud to say that I am the commander of the Iraqi armed forces.  Our armed forces have also offered a lot of sacrifices when they confronted the Daesh attack.  And I can say today that in many of the areas we are now turning around the ground.   
Today, I am also proud to say that our people are brave, and the popular effort on the ground has been of utmost importance.  I am keen to protect our brave people on the ground, and I am proud of the sacrifices and protect them and protect all that they have been doing to protect their communities on the ground, their religious sites, and to stand a firm stance against the terrorist attacks that targeted the minorities, and targeted and killed children, men and women.
In my discussion with President Obama, I emphasized the importance of the respect of the sovereignty of Iraq and the territorial integrity of Iraq.  And as a Prime Minister of Iraq, I reaffirmed the importance for all forces that want to help Iraq to respect the sovereignty of Iraq and its territorial integrity. I am very thankful for President Obama and all the allies, all who are helping, for maintaining and respecting the territorial integrity of Iraq and its sovereignty.
Finally, one of the requests that I have put forth for President Obama is the importance of equipping and arming the Iraqi army and to provide the Iraqi armed forces with weapons.  As you know, our armed forces are in dire need for equipment and for weapons, mostly because we lost a lot of the equipment and the weapons in our confrontation and our fight against ISIL, and specifically when the ISIL groups came through the borders from Syria, many of the weapons were destroyed.  Some of the weapons fell in the hand of ISIL.  Therefore, I am very thankful for President Obama that he promised that weapons and supplies would be delivered to Iraq as soon as possible so Iraq can defeat ISIL and Iraq can overcome this crisis.
We are keen in Iraq to promote further the strategic relationship between our two countries, a strategic relationship that is based on mutual respect within the Strategic Framework Agreement that was signed between the two governments back in 2008.  I am pleased to say that President Obama has promised to reinvigorate the Strategic Framework Agreement not only to put the focus on the military and security aspect of that agreement, but also on all other levels -- scientific, educational, economic, cultural and academic, social and other aspects of our relationship.
Mr. President, I thank you for all your support and all the promises that you have given us.  And I hope to see that these promises will be concretely fulfilled on the ground as soon as possible. 
Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much, everybody.

12:17 P.M. EDT

Barack may think he did his part with that speech.

He didn't.

Leaving aside that Haider's done nothing to present a 'vision' (let alone a plan) to the Iraqi people, when Haider did speak, none of it was about political, none of it was about the Iraqi people.

No, Haider drooled over military hardware.

Not unlike Nouri when he went to Russia to get war planes.

Today, Haider blew any chance to prove he was different.  Each day that this happens is another blow to a fresh start for Iraq.