Saturday, September 27, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, September 27, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, US bombing kills civilians in Iraq, Iraqi military continues to bomb residential areas in Falluja, Barack's 'plan' is a bust the same way the 'surge' was, England wants a piece of it and its not the only country that does, Haider al-Abadi's window of opportunity continues to close, and much more.

Jimmy Carter is the only US president since the start of the 20th century who can't seriously be accused of being anti-Arab.  In actions and words, Carter has done what Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, the George Bushes and so many more haven't.

So earlier this week, when he spoke publicly, we linked to the video and noted that at least he was raising the issue of civilian casualties which put him far ahead of so many observers of the latest wave of the Iraq War.   We also included his comment regarding boots on the ground with Carter supporting them.

I didn't try to mind read, didn't try to minimize, we just included them.

Jimmy Carter's thoughts still carry weight in the Arab world and anyone reading the snapshot could read them and interpret them for themselves.

There's now confusion over the statements.  But not in the Arab world.

The confusion comes in the United States.

In an unsigned 'report' at the Inquisitr (well, would you want to put your name to a pack of lies?), someone (and the outlet) argues (argue) that Carter did call for boots on the ground but he supports Barack's plan.

That is where the confusion always starts n the last six years -- when members of the press attempt to figure out how to sell disagreement with Barack as "agreement."

If Carter wants boots on the ground, and he stated he does, he is at odds with Barack's so-called 'plan.'

Carter is in agreement with some people.  Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, is publicly skeptical of the plan.

But he says he supports it!

Dempsey is one of the few speaking who has to speak in code and carefully.  The term is "insubordination."  His testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee -- in full, not pull quotes -- made clear he does not believe the 'plan' is satisfactory or will achieve.

Robert Gates and Leon Panetta served in the administration as civilians.  Both were Secretary of Defense.  Both disagree regarding boots on the ground.  Former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker has publicly expressed his belief that the 'plan' requires boots on the ground.

I believe Carter's point is more along what Time's Bobby Ghosh was pointing out (on MSNBC) ahead of Barack calling for bombings -- without US troops there to verify, a lot of people could be hurt with US airstrikes and also some Iraqis could use the airstrikes to kill their political rivals and enemies.

That's what I believe Carter was thinking.


But I didn't try to decipher him when we noted his remarks.

We let them stand for themselves.

But The Inquistr has to bend them, has to reshape them, has to insist that Jimmy is backing Barack's 'plan.'

No, he's not.  If he's calling for boots on the ground -- and he is -- then he's not backing Barack's 'plan' which (publicly) calls for no boots on the ground.

The press repeatedly cannot deal with disagreement with Barack so they repeatedly misinform and outright lie to make it appear it's not taking place.

The press tends to do this to a degree with every president.

It has nothing to do with 'respect for the office' but everything to do with the press being made up of suck ups who quickly learn and instill what gets in print and what doesn't.  Fawning?  Outlets make time for that?  Challenging reporting?  Oh, it's less common than investigative journalism.

Let's hold on a second to describe the 'plan' for anyone not paying attention in the last weeks.  The US military will bomb all over Iraq (and now in Syria as well -- Syria is the new Laos) to 'defeat' the Islamic State -- a group of Sunni fundamentalists who have received some backing (in terms of concealment as well as in terms of aiding in violence) by some Iraqi Sunnis as a result of the oppression of the Sunni community in Iraq which includes but is not limited to, false imprisonment, arrests without warrants, arrests of known innocents (arrested because the police couldn't find the suspect so they arrested a mother, or a wife, or a child, or a . . .), torture and rape in Iraqi prisons, etc.

Barack has repeatedly stated in public that Iraq requires a political solution.

When he makes those statements, he's referring to the need for a government that is inclusive and represents all Iraqis.  He's basically trying to turn the clock back to 2010 when Iraqis had again (see the 2009 election results) expressed a growing belief in a national identity and a rejection of a country made up of warring sects.  Nouri al-Maliki (with the White House's backing) came close to destroying such a possibility.

Nouri wanted a third term and Barack (wisely, in my opinion) worked to ensure that it did not happen.

The whole point of that was so that Iraq could get a new prime minister, a new leader, so that people could have hope that maybe a new Iraq was possible.

A hope like that doesn't survive months.

It's either confirmed or it's a fleeting hope that quickly passes.

Sometimes I get that feeling and I want to settle and raise a child up with somebody
I get that strong long and then I want to settle and raise a child up with somebody
But it passes like the summer
I'm a wild seed again
Let the wind carry me
-- "Let The Wind Carry Me," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on Joni's For The Roses

Passes like the summer.

And what's happened in Iraq.

Haider al-Abadi was named the new prime minister.

Despite not having a Minister of Interior (over the federal police) or a Minister of Defense (over the military) in his Cabinet.

Just like Nouri.

Who went four years without filling those slots.  Yes, Americans being asked to support bombings today, Nouri went his entire term without a Minister (Secretary) of Defense.

Unlike Nouri, Haider has nominated people for the posts.  The Parliament's just refused to confirm them.

What else has Haider done?

Well, since the start of this year, back in January, under Nouri's orders residential neighborhoods in Falluja have been bombed killing and wounding thousands of Iraqis.  (Falluja's a Sunni-dominated city.)

Near the start of this month, Haider announced that the bombings were over, he had ordered it.

But . . .

the next day the bombings continued and they continue every day.

So his words may be different than Nouri's words, but the results are the same.

He has retained Nouri in the government.

Even Barack didn't do that.  For all the (accurate) critiques of Barack failing to prosecute Bully Boy Bush and his cronies, Barack didn't make Bully Boy Bush Secretary of State, for example.

But tyrant Nouri serves in Haider's government as one of three Vice Presidents (the other two are former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and former Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi).

So Nouri's policies continue, the security ministries continue to remain leaderless and Nouri continues in the government.

Where's the change?

Hope's fleeing.  Joni sings "it passes like the summer."

There are a few new freckles on your shoulders
The hammock swings lower and touches the grass
The apples are ripe and the corn is past
Everyone says summer goes by so fast
And we just got here
-- "We Just Got Here," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her Have You Seen Me Lately?

Joni sings it passes like summer, Carly sings summer goes by so fast.

Friday, NINA reported 3 civilians are dead and nine more injured.  In addition, Iraqi Spring MC noted  Falluja General Hospital received the corpses of 2 children and eight more people who were injured from last night's bombings of the residential neighborhoods.

And how were Friday prayers in Anbar celebrated?  With more civilian bombings.

NINA reports:

Chairman of Anbar provincial Council Sabah Karhot called army troops to focus on the bombing of the IS sites and not targeting residential areas.
Head of the Council Karhot told the National Iraqi News Agency / Nina / that the city of Fallujah exposed to shelling of rockets and explosive barrels that claims the lives of many innocent civilians.
The city of Fallujah exposed, daily, to the bombing of the explosive barrels and mortar shells and rockets, and about 12 civilians were killed and injured in today's bombing, which targeted residential neighborhoods in Fallujah. 

And NINA notes a Friday Mosul bombing by US war planes killed 4 civilians.

So is Haider al-Abadi a liar or powerless?

A number of people are saying powerless and noting articles like this one at Kitabat which maintains that Nouri is refusing to leave the palace he's lived in since 2006, the housing of the prime minister.  And that even high ranking members of Dawa (Nouri's political party) attempting or persuade Nouri that he must leave and allow al-Abadi to move in have failed.

An image is taking hold.  I'm not surprised.

Right now there's a call on Arabic social media for a massive protest in Baghdad on September 30th against Haider al-Abadi.  If it is large, this will not help his image one bit.

The window for Haider to make a difference, to show he was different from Nouri, is closing.

Who will they look to
So innocent they don't know
Life, life isn't always fair
There's always someone who cares
Who will they look to
In whose hands will their future lie
Whose going to tell them stand up again
Why not, why not give them one more try
Who will they look to
-- "Who Will They Look To," written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, first appears on Ashford & Simpson's Street Opera

The White House spent all these weeks shoring up foreign support for bombings and they did nothing to push on the political scene.

So it's a failure in the same way Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' is a failure.

The 'surge' was an infusion of US forces into Iraq and they would address the violence and this would provide time and space for political reconciliations and progress.

The US military did what they were supposed to.  Their side of the 'surge' worked.  But the diplomatic side was a failure which means the 'surge' was a failure since it was created to address the political issues.

Likewise, Barack's bombings.

I never supported them and I don't support them now.  I didn't support the increase of US troops during the 'surge.'  I could have been wrong both times.

If so, I'd admit to it.

But the 'surge' failed because the US diplomatic effort failed.

And the 'bombings' fail in the end not because they're border-line War Crimes (which they are).  The bombings fail because they sucked up all the White House energy and attention and nothing was accomplished in Iraq on the political end.

Okay, well every day's a new day.  Yes, I know that Diana Ross song as well.

But if you're thinking the White House will get started tomorrow (which is a business day in Iraq) or even Monday, you might want to rethink that.

The Iraqi Parliament has just started a two week vacation.  It's the holy period of Eid.

Nothing's happening.

Or did the White House think that the whole world runs on their calendar?

It's apparently 'sexier' and more 'tough guy' to focus on sending troops and bombings but if you're not going to do the really hard work, what's the point?

That's a question which should have been put to Bully Boy Bush and a question which now needs to be put to Barack.

"Nouri wanted a third term and Barack (wisely, in my opinion) worked to ensure that it did not happen," I said above.

You support empire!

I don't support empire, I support the Iraqi people, I support the rule of law.

Nouri did not 'win' the 2014 elections.  He did not even 'win' by the definition of 'winning' he gave before the voting started.  To have become Prime Minister for a third term, he would have needed to form a coalition with others.  The National Alliance, the largest Shi'ite bloc, was filled with leaders who did not support a third term for Nouri -- including cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and former Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafarri who is now Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The western press thought the White House was in the bag for Nouri (as they were in 2010) so they didn't report the voting accurately.  You had to go to the Iraqi press, the Arab press and some European press (not AFP!) to learn what happened on the day of voting.

Nouri had already worked to suppress Sunni turnout -- which included bombing Falluja before the vote, during the vote, and after the vote.  But on voting day, Sunnis encountered one problem after another in voting.  They were turned away from outside voting centers by Shi'ite militias or Nouri's security forces (Shi'ite militias, at that point, had become a part of Nouri's security forces).  They arrived at other voting centers which were closed.

Many remained closed all day.

Some, if enough complaints went in to the UN and to the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq, were opened mid-day.  While a half-open polling station is better than a non-open one, a half-day's worth of voters have been lost (more if they've shared with neighbors that they went to vote and a sign declared the polling station would not be opening).

It was not a fair vote by any means.

Even with all of that, Nouri did not manage to win as defined by the Iraqi Constitution.

He squeaked ahead of others just barely -- or his State of Law did -- but that was it.

Per the Constitution and per the Supreme Court decision he sought ahead of the 2010 elections but waited until after he came in second to Ayad Allawi to reveal it, Nouri did not win the 2014 elections.

In 2010, the White House demanded a second term for Nouri after the vote demonstrated the people rejected him.   And after Moqtada al-Sadr's April 2010 vote among Shi'ites demonstrated that even a large number of Shi'ites were rejecting him. (Moqtada's vote was open to all but those voting were mainly Shi'ites.  The turnout was such that it's also true that it was not just Moqtada's followers voting.  Slightly over a million Shi'ites not considered to be Moqtada's followers voted in that special April vote to determine who Moqtada should back for prime minister.)  The White House circumvented the Iraqi Constitution by giving Nouri a second term via a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement).

That was empire, what took place in 2010.

This time what Barack did was pull US support for tyrant Nouri -- a man known to run secret prisons where people were tortured -- this was documented -- Ned Parker reported on it at the Los Angeles Times (Ned's now with Reuters).  They shouldn't have supported him in 2010 but Barack was smart, in 2014, in pulling the support for Nouri.  I think it will eventually be seen as one of the smartest and most significant moments of foreign policy during Barack's two terms as US President.

There's always been a shortage of leaders in this world overrun with copy cats.  That point was made clear yesterday in England.  Matt Chorley (Daily Mail) reports:

Britain is to join air strikes against ISIS militants in Iraq after MPs voted overwhelmingly by 524 to 43 to back military action.
Six RAF Tornados are expected to join war planes from the US, France and Arab nations after Parliament staged a six-hour emergency debate on UK intervention.
David Cameron insisted Britain cannot 'walk on by' in the face of the threat posed by 'psychopathic terrorists'.
But divisions emerged over expanding action into neighbouring Syria, with Labour leader Ed Miliband insisting a UN Security Council resolution should be sought first, even though Russia and China are certain to veto it.

Laura Smith-Spark (CNN) explains, "Parliament was recalled by Cameron for the vote on military action in Iraq, which was approved after lengthy debate in the House of Commons and House of Lords. Any proposal to expand the strikes to Syria would require additional action by Parliament, according to the motion."

And the vote came after various speeches and columns such as this from Simon Jenkins (Guardian): "Islam’s wars are not Britain’s business. We owe their human victims all the aid we can to relieve suffering. We do not owe them our incompetence in trying to recast their politics. That is a task for the Arabs and their neighbours, not for Britain’s soldiers and taxpayers."

Not all rushed to join Conservative leader David Cameron or centrist Labour leader Ed Miliband in supporting war.  The Scottish National Party refused to support the war.  Michael Settle (Scotland's Herald) reports:

However, during an impassioned eight-hour debate, the Moray MP yesterday told the Commons that because there was no coherent plan to "win the peace" in the Coalition's motion then SNP MPs would vote against it.
He said there was "deep scepticism for the potential of mission creep and a green light for a third Iraq war", given what had happened previously in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
He added: "The motion asks for a green light for military action which could last for years [but] there is no commitment in the motion for post-conflict resolution."

And it's not just England rushing to join in senseless bombing, Griff Witte and Rebecca Collard (Washington Post) note "Denmark and Belgium also opted to join the fight."

Margaret Griffis ( reports of yesterday's violence:

At least 102 people and 40 were wounded. Most of the dead were killed in today’s airstrikes, but some of them were killed during a concentrated attack on soldiers in Anbar province last week. Details about that multi-faceted attack have been slow to leak out.

New details have emerged concerning a weekend massacre of soldiers in Anbar Province. Although many questions remain, soldiers stationed at Albu Etha told a discouraging story about being unable to get any help from army commanders or Baghdad before abandoning their post. Fifteen were killed and 40 were wounded. The Anbar assaults also took place in Saqlawiya and Sijr. Both Sijr and Albu Etha have been reclaimed by Iraq forces.

Good thing Barack's got a 'plan,' right.

The 'plan' doesn't address the Iraqi military refusing to follow the prime minister's orders.

And it doesn't address the failure of Iraqi military commanders to provide support.

But it sure does blow up a lot of stuff and a lot of people.

So let's all pretend it's a 'plan' and we can also pretend, at least for a few more weeks, that it's a success.