Thursday, October 30, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, October 30, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods (War Crimes) continue, Loveday Morris explains what 'victory' looks like in Iraq, and much more.

In Monday's snapshot, we noted the death of Sean P. Neal and the presumed death of Jordan L. Spears -- both in the latest wave of the Iraq War which has been dubbed "Inherent Resolve."  Tuesday, the Defense Dept issued the following announcement:


Release No: NR-546-14
October 28, 2014

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

  The Department of Defense announced today the reclassification of a previously reported death of a Marine in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Cpl. Jordan L. Spears, 21, of Memphis, Indiana, was lost at sea Oct. 1 while conducting flight operations in the North Arabian Gulf. He was initially classified as a non-global war on terrorism casualty.
Spears was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron-163, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.
For more information, media may contact the I Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs Office at (760) 763-7039 or after hours at (760) 207-5865.
The "reclassification" the release notes means Jordan L. Spears is now the first US service member to die in Operation Inherent Resolve.

How many more people will be sent to die in the never-ending Iraq War?

For now, one group of armed forces won't be going.  Al Arabiya News notes:

Australian commandos set to join the fight in Iraq against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have hit an unexpected snag – Baghdad has not yet issued them visas, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Thursday.

Although 200 special forces troops are in in the Gulf awaiting their deployment, the Iraqi government’s “excruciating inefficiency” has made them unable to reach their assignment, according to the daily, citing an unidentified source.

The forces are sent over with no plan.

Just bomb.

Then bomb some more.

And while the Iraqi government -- safe from the aerial bombings, safe in the protected Green Zone -- is happy to see the country bombed, already Iraqis are rejecting it.  Not a surprise.

It's not a plan.

It's a shock and, grasp reality, it's an insult to Iraqis.

Foreigners are 'helping' them by bombing their countryside?

In what world is that 'help'?

In the world where countries can't stop lining up at the chance to bomb Iraq. reports, "Norway’s government has confirmed plans to send a total of 195 military personnel to Iraq and Afghanistan as a contribution to the US-led international efforts to combat terrorism. The decision announced Thursday was critizised by some left-wing politicians, but the opposition Labour party said it supported the move." Steven Chase (Globe and Mail) reports, "Canadian warplanes are poised to start striking targets in Iraq, with the government saying bombing of Islamic militant forces should begin very shortly."  Emily Kent Smith (Daily Mail) reports England's gearing up to provide Apache helicopters to Iraq and "If Apaches are sent to Iraq - which are piloted by the Army Air Corps - it would mark the first British Army involvement in a conflict role in the country."

For those who've forgotten who else is bombing Iraq, the US Defense Dept helpfully notes, "Among the coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq are the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain."

That's a lot of countries and so many more lining up for their chance to destroy Iraq.

The US Defense Dept boast, "Separately, officials said, U.S. and partner-nation military forces conducted two airstrikes in Iraq yesterday and today, using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists. [. . .]

  In Iraq, an airstrike near Bayji struck a small ISIL unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, and an airstrike west of Ramadi struck an ISIL checkpoint."

Tom Bowman (NPR's Morning Edition, link is text and audio) notes:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been on the defensive recently about the strategy to take on the Islamic State. American warplanes have been bombing targets in Iraq and Syria, but militant fighters are still on the move.
"We have made it very clear, I have and President Obama has, that this is a long, difficult effort," Hagel said.
Difficult, some critics say, because the U.S. military is not bombing enough targets and is not deploying any U.S. ground troops in the fight. There are also critics who say the U.S. does not have effective partners on the ground and is not training a sufficient number of local troops or militias.

"This sounds like a Goldilocks approach. We're looking for a solution that's just right," said Fred Hof, who worked in the Obama administration on Syria policy.

Greg Miller (Washingon Post) adds, "The magnitude of the ongoing migration suggests that the U.S.-led air campaign has neither deterred significant numbers of militants from traveling to the region nor triggered such outrage that even more are flocking to the fight because of American intervention."

If you're not grasping what a failure US President Barack Obama's 'plan' has been, Xinhua reports, "A total of 255 tribesmen and local policemen were executed by the militants of the Islamic State (IS) after the group took them from their villages and towns in Iraq's western province of Anbar, a provincial security source said on Thursday."

Here's the thing about little boys and their war toys, it stops being a fun game quickly.  They end up like gamblers at black jack, they just can't walk away..  They're losing but they keep betting because now they've lost face, now everyone's looking at them.  And they know they're not doing anything different and they're not planning to do anything different, but if they keep bluffing, surely (they hope) their luck will change.

Luck is all Barack's hoping for at this point to save his 'plan.'

  Al Arabiya News notes,  "Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants executed 46 people and besieged 500 families in the Iraqi city of Heet, Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent to Anbar reported on Wednesday."  Sameer N. Yacoub and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) add, "Hit was captured by Islamic State militants earlier this month after heavy clashes with the government security forces and tribal militias."  Earlier this month.

When you're losing cities, you aren't making "gains."  Even if you retake them, you are not making "gains." The Pentagon keeps labeling this and that "Islamic State propaganda" but the Defense Dept isn't averse to circulating its own propaganda.

Loveday Morris (Washington Post via the UK Independent) provides the reality that the Defense Dept keeps glossing over:

But a visit to the Sunni settlement this week laid bare the huge cost of that victory. The town is now emptied of its 80,000 residents, and building after building has been destroyed – by air strikes, bombings and artillery fire.
After four months of battles between the Isis and the Iraqi army, about 10,000 pro-government Shia militiamen were poured into this area in Babil province for a final push, according to Hadi al-Amiri, who leads the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade and co-ordinated the operation.
Defeating the militants involved clearing out all the residents and leaving the town nearly flattened, underscoring the challenge the Shia-led government faces in areas where demographics do not work in its favour.

And that's what the Pentagon -- and White House -- insists is a 'success.'

We noted some of today's deaths earlier.  Yesterday?  Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports:

On Wednesday, Islamic State fighters rounded up and executed 35 tribesmen in Hit, a Euphrates town in Anbar, officials said.
"We asked the prime minister to urgently arm anti-Islamic State tribal fighters. We told him each day that passes adds more complication to the situation in Anbar and the government needs to take immediate actions on ground," said Sheikh Naeem al-Ga’oud, from the prominent Albu Nimir tribe.
"But speaking honestly all what we got out of the meeting with Abadi was promises."

Rasheed reports on the growing distrust of the new prime minister Haider al-Abadi.  This isn't a surprise.  A new prime minister was not a clean bill.  It was a brief chance to demonstrate a new Iraq.


Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) notes, "Yet Baghdad has been hit by a slew of bombings in recent weeks that seem intended to disrupt Muharram and shatter public confidence in the new Shiite Muslim-dominated government of Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, the politician plucked from relative obscurity who the Obama administration hopes will find a way to bridge the country’s sectarian divide."

Haider and the White House blew it.

Reuters notes, "The bodies of 150 members of an Iraqi Sunni tribe which fought Islamic State have been found in a mass grave, security officials said on Thursday.  Islamic State militants took the men from their villages to the city of Ramadi and killed them on Wednesday night and buried them, an official in a police operations center and another security official told Reuters."

Had the White House and Haider done their job, the 150 deaths could have been a galvanizing moment, the reason the Sunni tribal sheiks who are now living in exile in Jordan to throw their support behind Haider.

At some point, is the long promised "political solution" going to be worked on?

AFP reports:

As US-led warplanes pound jihadists in Iraq, prominent Sunni exiles say that empowering their marginalised minority will be more important than bombs and missiles in defeating the Islamic State extremist group.
Deadly sectarian tensions have riven Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago, with Sunni anger at the Shiite-led authorities seen as a key factor behind the rise of IS.

The 'shock and awe' of US war planes was only going to be 'shocking' for a bit.  It's just another layer in the cycle of violence -- the never-ending cycle of violence in Iraq.  The average Iraqi citizen has had to endure and adjust to a life that no one would consider normal anywhere else -- car bombings, roadside bombings, grenade attacks, on and on and on.

Hollie McKay (Fox News) reports on how a song Beyonce recorded, "I Was Here," has had an impact in Iraq:

“Those words were so powerful, so life-changing,” Mohammad Huzaifa Muluki, a 23-year-old student in Baghdad told FOX411. “I know it is difficult to do, but we want to change the world and that song made us realize we can. We can leave in a world with peace, without war, without terror.”
A lot of small steps, he said, can lead to big changes.
The idea was initially sparked by a young student, Muna Abdel Halim, who coordinated with Muluki and just three other friends from university to quickly launch a humanitarian campaign of the same name – “I Was Here.” Today it boasts an ever-growing list of more than 150 young volunteers, all with a mission to provide services that will help those in need.

“Every day we see and hear images and stories of pain and suffering in our own neighborhoods and in countries far away. But we also find acts of kindness, great and small,” he continued. “One day, one message, one goal to inspire people in Iraq to do something good no matter how big or small – for someone else.”

Earlier this month, Shukur Khilkhal (Al-Monitor) reported on the campaign:

Over the last two years, the campaign has completed a number of different humanitarian tasks. It cleaned up and reopened the Mustansiriya Madrasah, the most famous historical school in Baghdad, established in 1233.
The cleaning process took a full week of continuous work, following which its members cleaned Mutanabi Street. They also collected food and clothing and distributed them to needy people during the month of Ramadan in a project they called "Ramadan basket.”
As their number increased by the day, the volunteers started dividing themselves into groups, each specializing in a particular job. “There is a group dedicated to humanitarian work, another to technical work and a third to works of service-related nature, and so on,” Muluki said.


The song's lyrics include:

I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time
Know there was something that, meant something that I left behind
When I leave this world, I'll leave no regrets
Leave something to remember, so they won't forget

I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I've done everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here

I want to say I lived each day, until I died
And know that I meant something in, somebody's life
The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave
That I made a difference, and this world will see

I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I've done everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know

"I Was Here" was written by songwriter Diane Warren who Tweeted today:

  • In tears reading how "I Was Here" has inspired a peace movement among the youth of Iraq. This is truly the power of music. Humbled.

  • Along with "I Was Here," Diane's written or co-written many other hits such as  DeBarge's "Rhythm of the Night," Patti Labelle's "If You Asked Me To," Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me," Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing," Roberta Flack & Maxi Priest's "Set The Night To Music," Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart," Aretha Franklin & Whitney's Houston's "It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be," Heart's "Who Will You Run To," Brandy's "Have You Ever?" and  Cher's "You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me," "Save Up All Your Tears," "Just Like Jesse James" and "If I Could Turn Back Time."

    Back to the never-ending bombing passed off as a 'plan,' any measure the US was going to execute would only be 'stunning' for a brief time.

    The White House spent far too much time -- wasted far too much time -- on the military response when at one point even Barack was saying that the only answer for Iraq was a political solution.

    But the US could hold a terrorism conference with defense ministers from around the world

    Couldn't do the same for diplomats from various countries.

    And the White House continued the militarization of the State Dept by wasting various State officials on the task of talking this and that country into joining the bombings.

    They failed at the diplomacy and that's what the world will remember years from now.

    Not the daily strikes the Pentagon's so damn proud of.

    But the failure of someone who (wrongly) won the Nobel Peace Prize to use diplomacy.

    It was a brief window of time, we noted that months ago.  The hope that a new prime minister might mean the government could be inclusive and might stop the targeting of Sunnis.

    It required some grand gestures.

    We noted that as well.

    Thug and thankfully former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki targeted Sunni politicians.  This included Vice President Tareq Ali who served from 2006 to 2014 -- the last two years in exile but he held the office -- despite the whoring lie of a whorish press (I'm referring to US and European press) as they rushed to lap at the crotch of thug Nouri.

    Jane Arraf hasn't said a peep about the Frontline special that aired this week.

    Rather strange when you consider that the only time she's on TV is when PBS throws her a bone.

    But she can't highlight that special, can she?

    She whored for Saddam Hussein when he was prime minister (Jane was at CNN then) and she's whored for Nouri.

    On Tuesday, Frontline exposed Nouri as the thug we always noted he was.

    Poor Jane.  All those reports for PRI, Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor.

    Find where she's noting Nouri's crimes?

    She was a good little whore for Nouri.

    Nouri charged Tareq with crimes and demanded that the Baghdad court he controlled try Tareq.

    Tareq was still Vice President.  To stand trial, per the Iraqi Constitution, Nouri had to wait until Tareq was out of office (he resigned or his term expired) or else get the Parliament to strip Tareq of his office and immunity.  The Parliament refused to do that.

    No trial should have taken place.

    Then, months before the trial started, Baghdad judges announced Tareq's guilt.

    Before the trial started.

    Before opening arguments, let alone before any evidence was introduced.

    That's the sort of bias that forces functional judges to recuse themselves from a case.

    But the trial proceeded.

    Tareq's defense attorney wanted to call a character witness.

    The judge refused.

    The character witness?

    Then-President of Iraq Jalal Talabani.

    Who was prepared to testify.

    The evidence presented was from tortured 'confessions.'

    At least one of Tareq's bodyguards was tortured to death, beaten so badly that he died from kidney failure.

    All of this calls for the verdict to a trial which never should have taken place (due to the immunity issue) to be set aside.

    As the head of the government, Haider al-Abadi could make that call/recommendation.

    He could also issue a pardon.

    He's refused to do either.

    All he's done is promise to end the bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja.

    That was a good promise.

    Starting in January of this year, Nouri began bombing the homes of civilians in Falluja, a War Crime, legally defined as such, recognized by the international community as such (the term is Collective Punishment).

    So, September 13th, when Haider promised to end the bombings, that was good.

    Days later, as the bombings continued, it wasn't so good.

    His only gesture -- not grand at all, just respecting international law -- turned out to be hollow words as the bombings continued.

    Iraqi Spring MC notes the bombings continue and that Falluja General Hospital received the corpse of one civilian as well as one wounded civilian.

    There's been no grand gesture.

    Haider's failed to call for the release from Iraqi prisons and jails all people who have never had charges filed against them.  (In Iraq -- and they took this from the US government's actions when it directly controlled Iraq -- if you can't arrest the person you have a warrant for, arrest their spouse, or their parent, or their child, sibling, grandparent, etc.  These people, these Sunnis, remain behind bars despite never being charged with any crime.)

    The only gesture was that he would abide by international law and yet, despite that promise, the bombing of Falluja residential neighborhoods continues.