Monday, September 08, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Monday, September 8, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, a UN official seems confused as to how Iraqi children die (Nouri could explain it to her, the executioner usually knows all), Haider al-Abadi has become the new Prime Minister of Iraq, a number disgrace themselves trying to scare the American people, and more.

Ban Ki-moon is the United Nations Secretary-General.  Today, his office issued the following statement:

The Secretary-General welcomes today’s announcement of the formation of a new inclusive Government in Iraq and congratulates Haider al-Abadi on his confirmation as Iraq's Prime Minister. At this challenging moment for Iraq and the region, today's decision by the Iraqi Council of Representatives is a positive step towards political stability and peace in the country.
The Secretary-General calls on all Iraqi political leaders to build on the current momentum of collaboration to ensure that a decision is made without delay on the pending appointments of Minister of Defence and Minister of Interior.

The Secretary-General hopes that the ministerial programme approved today will be implemented in a timely manner, taking into account the needs of all Iraqi communities. The Secretary-General pays tribute to outgoing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for his leadership in this time of transition. The United Nations looks forward to working with the new Government of Iraq in its efforts to serve all Iraq's communities while confronting major challenges.

Also weighing in was US Secretary of State John Kerry.  His statement included (click here for statement in full and to stream video of it):

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. Tonight we mark what is unquestionably a major milestone for Iraq, and what President Obama has made clear will be a cornerstone of our efforts against ISIL.
Just a few hours ago, overcoming the obstacle of ethnic and sectarian divides, the Iraqi parliament approved a new and inclusive government, one that has the potential to unite all of Iraq’s diverse communities for a strong Iraq, a united Iraq, and to give those communities the chance to build the future that all Iraqis desire and deserve.
Now is the time for Iraq’s leaders to govern their nation with the same vision and sense of purpose that helped to bring this new government together in the first place. And in that effort, they should know the United States will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqis as they implement their national plan to overcome the longstanding political and economic grievances that have for too long divided their country.

Tonight Iraq has a unity government. Tomorrow I will travel to the Middle East to continue to build the broadest possible coalition of partners around the globe to confront, degrade, and ultimately defeat ISIL.

Anyone who's read this site for even a little bit should know that thug and former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is someone who I feel did great harm to Iraq and bred the current crises in the country.

So I'm thrilled Nouri's gone -- officially.   And here's another opinion on Nouri, Tim Arango of the New York Times:

The U.S. basically chose Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, whose sectarian politics alienated many Sunnis, creating the fertile ground for ISIS to sweep into these areas. And many of those Maliki policies that have pushed aside the Sunnis were started by the Americans. Excluding Sunnis from political life? That has its origins in the American de-Baathification policy. Mr. Maliki’s security policy of conducting mass arrests of Sunni men in the name of fighting terrorism? The U.S. did that too. So at every turn in the Iraq story now, you see the American legacy at play.

That's from an online conversation Tim Arango did with Reddit.  Click here for full conversation.

While I'm glad Nouri is officially out,  it's sad that the Iraqi Constitution has yet to be honored.

Haider al-Abadi's done better than anyone so far -- well, better than Nouri in 2006 and Nouri in 2010.   But he didn't form a Cabinet -- that would mean a full Cabinet.

There is no Minister of Defense.  There is no Minister of the Interior.

EFE notes that "the Defense and Interior portfolios will remain vacant due to disagreements regarding the candidates, said Al-Abadi, who will make new proposals to fill the posts to Parliament in a week."

That's not a full Cabinet.

The Constitution has one rule for how a person moves from prime minister-designate to prime minister: Form a Cabinet in 30 days.

Not a partial Cabinet.

People can pretend all they want.

I'm thrilled Nouri is not prime minister.  But I'd be a hypocrite if I pretended the Constitution was being followed.

Credit to Roy Gutman (McClatchy Newspapers) for noting that the Cabinet is missing two posts:

But Abadi put off until next week a vote on the two top security posts after members of parliament complained that they knew little about his proposed defense minister, Khalid al Ubaidi, a Sunni who is a former military officer but about whom little else was known.
Abadi’s nominee as interior minister, Hadi al Ameri, also is likely to prove controversial. Ameri heads the Badr Organization, a Shiite militia group with close ties to Iran. When it was known as the Badr Brigades, the group fought alongside Iran in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and Ameri’s presence in such a sensitive position _ the Interior Ministry is responsible for Iraq’s police forces _ is likely to rankle many Sunnis.

The inability to successfully name people to the two posts wasn't surprising.  Over ten hours before the 8:00 pm (Baghdad time) vote, Alsumaria reported a spokesperson for the Sadr bloc  had announced that no vote would  take place on the nominees for Minister of the Interior and for Minister of Defense.

Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr is the head of the Sadr bloc.  When they make an announcement, it's always worth listening to.  But if anyone doubted their power, on Sunday they blocked  Ahmed Chalabi from becoming the Minister of Municipalities and Construction.

US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, treated the following:

  • At crucial time, new govt is opportunity for stronger, more united that's vital to defeating ISIL & giving all Iraqis stake in future.

  • Congratulations to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the people of in their approval of a new, inclusive government today.

  • Let's deal with Nouri.

    We noted last week that he was up for one of the three posts of Vice President of Iraq.  Over the weekend, a flurry of rumors insisted he was refusing the nomination -- some rumors even insisted his health was causing him to refuse.

    When has Nouri ever refused a position of power?

    Even so, Sunday found an unnamed "source" telling All Iraq News that Nouri "rejected to be within the governmental formation and also rejected to be within the three presidencies."

    Nouri didn't refuse the nomination and, today, he was voted into office.  National Iraqi News Agency reports the Parliament voted -- majority vote -- to name Nouri, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and former Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi to be the three vice presidents of Iraq.

    In other news from today, National Iraqi News Agency reports former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was named Foreign Minister.  He's a Shi'ite.  Hoshyar Zebari held the post for two terms.  He is a Kurd and, this go round, he's now a Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq.

    Let's move from the Iraqi Parliament over to the US Congress which will no doubt rush to provide legal cover for Barack's actions in Iraq.  Patricia Zengerle and David Lawder (Reuters) report:

    U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to pursue a military campaign against Islamic State without seeking special congressional authority now but lawmakers said on Monday they would probably approve any request he made for extra funding.
    They said there was widespread support in Congress for attacks to stop the advance of the Sunni Islamist militant group, especially after the videotaped beheading of two American journalists by the Islamist group in the last three weeks.

    Robert Costa and Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) add, "Top House Republican aides said Monday night that based on conversations with White House aides, they do not expect Obama to seek formal authorization. Top House GOP leaders also do not expect to be bringing any such legislation to the floor in the coming days, said the aides, who asked to remain anonymous because they weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter."

     The White House issued the following statement today:

    The White House
    Office of the Press Secretary

    Letter from the President -- War Powers Resolution Regarding Iraq

    Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
    As I reported on August 8 and 17 and on September 1, 2014, U.S. Armed Forces have conducted targeted airstrikes in Iraq for the limited purposes of stopping the advance on Erbil by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), supporting civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar, supporting operations by Iraqi forces to recapture the Mosul Dam, and supporting an operation to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in the town of Amirli, Iraq.
    On September 6, 2014, pursuant to my authorization, U.S. Armed Forces commenced targeted airstrikes in the vicinity of the Haditha Dam in support of Iraqi forces in their efforts to retain control of and defend this critical infrastructure site from ISIL.  These additional military operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this threat and prevent endangerment of U.S. personnel and facilities and large numbers of Iraqi civilians.
    I have directed these actions, which are in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.  These actions are being undertaken in coordination with and at the request of the Iraqi government. I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the
    Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148).  I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.


    Congress, if the record of the last sixty or so years hold, will vote to back Barack if asked to do so.  There would be some criticism but most would go along.

    The way Dianne Feinstein always does.  Kristina Wong (The Hill) reports:

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wrote in an op-ed published Monday that the United States "must lead an aggressive, international effort to confront and eliminate" the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that includes sustained airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
    The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote in USA Today that the threat posed by ISIS to the U.S. "cannot be overstated."

    Oh, Dianne, I think it can be overstated and, clearly, it can even be overstated by you.

    Just last week, someone who presumably would know the power and reach of the Islamic State offered a different assessment than Dianne.  RIA Novosti reported:

    Speaking at a Brookings Institution Intelligence Project event, US Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen said this Wednesday that despite the growing strength of ISIS, there is no evidence of a direct threat to the continental United States.
    “At this point, we have no credible information that ISIS is planning to attack the United States,” Olsen told attendees.
    Olsen noted that despite the IS’s growing threat to US interests, Al-Qaeda remains the most serious terror threat, given its global presence. 

    If someone could stop Dianne from running in circles and re-attach her head to her body, she might grasp what Olsen was saying.

    Crazy Dianne should be in a rest home enjoying her final years.  Instead, her faltering memory and diminished capacities go unnoticed by most of the public and won't be remarked on by the media unless/until she angers one of the big money lobbies she has made her career bowing too.

    Not everyone's so stupid.  Senator Mark Udall told the truth.  His thanks?

    CNN's Ashley Killough reports he's had to apologize for a statement:

    In his statement Monday, Udall said his "intent was to emphasize the importance of taking the right next steps as we confront this serious threat."
    Udall, who sits on the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, also has received criticism for arguing that ISIS is not "an immediate threat to the homeland."
    His views are at odds with a majority of the country. According to a new CNN/ORC International poll, seven in 10 Americans believe ISIS has the resources to launch an attack against the U.S.

    I can't endorse Mark for re-election because my rule is I don't endorse anyone I can't vote for.  I live in California so Colorado really doesn't need to know who I'd vote for.  They'll make up their own minds as they should.

    But I can say, on the apology, that's nonsense.  It's a nonsense issue being used to attack Mark.

    And in Colorado or outside of Colorado, you can applaud Mark Udall for telling the truth. He tells the truth when so few even try.

    CNN cites a poll about how Mark's views are at odds with the general public.

    Would that be the case had CNN (and others) not spent hour after hour with alarmist propaganda passed off as news?

    If the media hadn't enlisted in the fear campaign, those numbers wouldn't have shot up.

    So people who care about the truth in the United States should be applauding Mark Udall.  For those who live in Colorado, doesn't mean you have to vote for him.  Should, however, mean you make a point to defend him.

    It's rare for anyone in the US right now -- in or out of Congress -- to point out that the Islamic State is not Napolean's army, let alone Nazi Germany.

    Instead, we get 'experts.'

    Sudden experts apparently.

    Former US House Rep Jane Harman offers a column at CNN which opens,  "President Barack Obama has properly decided to go to Congress and then the American people this week to reveal his strategy to degrade and destroy ISIS. To paraphrase former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, this is a crisis the President should not waste. How individual members of Congress respond to this call should matter and should be a 2014 election issue -- the duck and blame game stops here."

    Is Jane like a chicken with her head cut off?

    No, Jane's just a War Hawk that never met a war she couldn't get to at least third base with.

    It's really hilarious that Jane wants to insist today that members of Congress should be held accountable by how they vote -- if there's a vote -- on Iraq.  That certainly wasn't her position when she sat in Congress.  Harman voted for the Iraq War and being a Democrat from California, she spun madly to justify that vote when the war went so bad that even most members of the media could no longer pretend that things were great, really great.

    Like Jane, the editorial board of the Washington Post never met a war it didn't cheer on which explains this evening's editorial:

    We are glad that the president has come around to a more sober view. But if he is truly committed to the group’s defeat, certain things must follow from that determination. First, the objective — victory — must determine the strategy, tactics and schedule. Heretofore, Mr. Obama has had an unfortunate tendency to do things the other way round: to view military conflict as something to be carried out according to a schedule, whereby U.S. forces must be withdrawn on a particular date, whether their goals were lastingly achieved or not. He has described his country as tired of war, and, in multiple instances, ruled out certain means — ground forces especially — before anyone has even asked for them. He wishfully mused that the tide of war had “receded.” Now, if Mr. Obama believes that the destruction of the Islamic State is essential to U.S. security, he must commit to that goal and fashion whatever strategy is necessary to achieve it.

    Equally ridiculous, the remarks of Leila Zerrougui.  AFP reports:

    Islamic fighters in Iraq have killed hundreds of children including in summary executions and used some as suicide bombers, the top UN envoy on children and armed conflict said Monday.
    "Up to 700 children have been killed or maimed in Iraq since the beginning of the year, including in summary executions," Leila Zerrougui told the UN Security Council.

    What is the rate for whoring?

    I hope Leila was paid well.

    Nouri's government has been killing children for some time -- UNICEF even established that Iraqi forces killed 8 children in the massacre in Hawaija last year.

    And just this weekend, Hawajia was back in the news.   Margaret Griffis ( reported civilians were killed in airstrikes in Abbai, Tal Ali and Hawija.  Hawija found the Iraq and US military -- and let's be clear, it's both -- bombing a hospital resulting in 18 deaths -- "Eight of the fatalities were newborns housed in a premature baby wing that collapsed due to the strike."

    Iraqi Spring MC Tweeted the following Saturday.

    مقتل الطفل(أنس العباسي)وإصابة(2)بجروح في العباسية شمال سامراء؛ نتيجة لإطلاق نار عشوائي من قبل الجيش ولحشد الشعبي. .

    The young boy in the photo?  Anas al-Abbasi.

    He was killed in Samarra by the Iraqi army  when they fired into a crowd of civilians.

    Two other children were left injured.

    This is why so few people take the United Nations seriously.

    You get some fat, lying, hypocritical ass blathering on about some group, some minor group, while refusing to call out the crimes against civilians carried out by a government.

    It's craven and it's cowardly and it's, sadly, become the hallmark of the Ban Ki-moon era of the United Nations.  His second term will soon be over and it's been a term with little bravery and little accomplishment.

    He's not the only leader on the world stage who should be embarrassed.

    Wednesday, US President Barack Obama is finally supposed to explain his plan or 'plan' for Iraq to the American people.

    Iraq War veteran and March Forward activist Mike Prysner raises a very pertinent question.

  • I wonder if Obama's "3 years to defeat ISIS" Iraq war strategy will be as successful as Bush's "months, not years" Iraq war strategy