Thursday, December 18, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, December 18, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, more US troops will be going into Iraq, a US general predicts a three year training mission in Iraq (at least), the Ministry of Women still has no funding, the Islamic State beheads a man accused of . . . witchery, and much more.

Barack Obama's 'plan' for Iraq continues to remain sparse on details.  But some are attempting to sketch it the outline out.  Andrew Tilghman (Navy Times) quotes US Lt Gen James Terry stating that US troops will spend a "minimum of three years" training Iraqi soldiers. Terry also declared more US troops would be going into Iraq.

On the subject of US troops in Iraq, the Washington Post's Erin Cunninham Tweeted the following:

  1. 350 U.S. troops now at Ain al-Asad base in Iraq's Anbar province.

On the topic of training the administration and the military brass keep spinning, others are less impressed.  At Rudaw a comment offers this take, "The USA teach them to take their boots off so they can run faster."

It's hard to tell who that is more insulting to -- the US government or the Iraqi military?

The Iraqi miliary continues to struggle but the Peshmerga continues to do well.

BBC reports that the Kurds have broken the Islamic State's siege on Mount Sinjar.

  • Well good for the Peshmerga.

    It's good that Mount Sinjar is finally liberated.

    Wait -- something's wrong here.

    The name Susan Rice . . . .


    Oh, that's right.

    In the October 15, 2014 snapshot, we were taking on her many lies uttered on NBC's Meet The Press.  Let's zoom in:

    Offical Benghazi Liar Dirty Rice: Our air campaign is off to a strong start and we've seen very important successes in places like Mosul Dam, Sinjar Mountain, where we were able to rescue many tens of thousands of civilians at risk. And this is going to take time. So it can't be judged by merely what happens in one particular town or in one particular region. This is going to take time and the American people need to understand that our aim here is long-term degradation and building the capacity of our partners.         

    So two months and three days after the liar claimed Mount Sinjar was liberated and it was a US success, Mount Sinjar is liberated and it's a Kurdish Peshmerga success

    Poor Susan Rice.  No one ever gets more egg on their face from the Sunday Chat & Chews.

    Wanting to grab some of the Kurdish luster, US officials keep getting cozy with the Kurds.

    Case in point?

    The White House issued the following today:

    This afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional President Masoud Barzani. The Vice President and President Barzani discussed recent security and political developments. The Vice President discussed with President Barzani the passage of congressional legislation that removes certain undue restrictions on members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) under U.S. immigration laws. This new law should help ease the process for many Iraqi Kurds who wish to visit the United States. The Vice President commended the courage of the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces fighting against ISIL, and President Barzani thanked the United States and the international community for their support. Both the Vice President and President Barzani noted the renewed cooperation between Erbil and Baghdad and agreed to work together, alongside other Iraqi leaders, to sustain and deepen collaboration among Iraq’s different communities. The Vice President underscored America’s enduring support for the Kurdish people and for the security of Iraq.

    Enduring support?

    Joe's always good for a few laughs.

    While the Kurds continue to succeed, the Iraqi military is lucky to just struggle.

    And questions continue to swirl around that failure.

    Rudaw notes Parliament is holding hearings to attempt to figure out the breakdown of the Iraqi army.  News of the Parliamentary investigation.  Rudaw readers leave some interesting comments including, "When will Maliki be questioned?"  Another offers this wish:

    I hope they publicize everything they find in this commission and arrest Malaki, it's not only in Mosul the Iraqi army collapsed completely, what about all the other regions?  Malaki had hand picked the generals in Mosul, he ignored repeated warnings about IS activity months before Mosul fell.  Just 2 days before Mosul fell he deliberately put a Kurdish general in charge of one of the (empty) brigades, this was the only brigade that had no weapons or even ammunition, he not only wanted Mosul to fall but wanted to pin it on Kurds."

    Those two aren't the only ones mentioning former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.  Al Arabiya News reports:

    The president of Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, Masoud Barzani, blamed on Monday former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the collapse of the Iraqi army in the face of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) earlier this year.
    In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya's Rima Maktabi, Barzani also said the swift collapse of the Iraqi army came after substantial years of international support to train and equip the military.

    During the interview, he also said that were it not for the Peshmerga forces, the northern, oil-rich city of Kirkuk would have fallen to ISIS, which occupies almost a third of Iraq.

    Joe Biden's not the only one trying to steal the Kurds' luster.  The Iraqi Embassy in DC issued the following today:

    Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi penned an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal on [December] 18, 2014, to outline progress in defeating ISIS and rebuilding a secure and stable Iraq since the formation of the new government three months ago.
    The Prime Minister discussed efforts to empower local communities in order to effectively combat ISIS. "We are restoring relationships with the Sunni tribes that are based in areas now under Islamic State domination. These tribes are being armed and are currently fighting alongside Iraqi security forces."
    On the political front, Prime Minister Al-Abadi hailed the "long-sought, long-term agreement" with the Kurdistan Regional Government as a historic step that "provides for fair sharing of oil revenues, as well as sharing the resources and responsibilities to defend and serve all our people."
    He also highlighted key steps that his government has taken to implement reforms that will serve to address the grievances of local populations.
    "Because every citizen must have confidence in our system of justice, I have signed a decree requiring our security forces and the Ministry of Justice to safeguard the constitutional and human rights of the detainees in Iraqi jails. There will be a central record for all detainees, including the reason for their arrests and the timeline for their trials."
    The Prime Minister noted significant gains against ISIS on the battlefront through close coordination between the Iraqi Security Forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the international coalition. He called on international partners to step up efforts in order to accelerate the defeat of ISIS.
    "We need air support, training and armaments for Iraq’s security forces. We need our neighbors and allies to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq. And we need the international community, through its financial institutions, to freeze the funding of Islamic State."
    Prime Minister Al-Abadi explained his government's approach moving forward: "Only by rebuilding a secure and stable Iraq can we defeat the terrorists who draw upon discontent and feed on failure."
    To read the Arabic translation of the Prime Minister's Wall Street Journal editorial click here.
    The above is a summary of a December 18, 2014 article from The Wall Street Journal. To see the full article, click here.

    While that's what Haider wrote, what the song he sang in his heart to the Kurds went something like this:

    I have your poster close to my bed
    Earphones glued to my head
    But I'd rather have you in my arms instead
    And I'd be better than I was before
    If only I had you
    If only I had
    If only I had
    If only I had your
    Your glamour is golden
    I'd feel so important
    If only I knew you
    I want to be near you

    -- "Stardust," lyrics by Carly Simon, music by Carly and Mike Mainieri, first appears on Carly's Come Upstairs 

    Along with Joe Biden's call, the White House also issued a read out of US President Barack Obama's call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi:

    President Obama spoke by phone today with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss the political and security situation in Iraq and the progress of Iraqi Security Forces in their efforts to counter ISIL.  The President commended the steps that Prime Minister al-Abadi has taken in the first three months of his administration to govern inclusively and begin building a united front among Iraqis to combat ISIL.  The President congratulated the Prime Minister on the conclusion of the recent oil revenue-sharing arrangement with the Kurdistan Regional Government and reiterated his commitment to supporting the Iraqi Security Forces’ success through train and assist programs, provision of weapons and equipment, and airstrikes.  He also noted U.S. support for the Iraqi government’s ongoing efforts to integrate Sunni tribal fighters into Iraq’s security institutions.

    While Barack was happy to talk about that, he remains silent on whether or not US troops in Iraq were in combat this week.

    The Inquisitor reported yesterday:

    American troops in Iraq had their first actual battle with ISIS troops after the Islamist militants tried to overrun a base, an encounter that left the ISIS troops decimated and in retreat.
    The attack took place near the Ein al-Asad base, which includes close to 100 U.S. military advisers. The U.S. troops, armed with “light and medium weapons,” and were able to inflict casualties against the ISIS fighters, forcing them to retreat, Shafaq News reported. The American troops were also aided by fighter jets, which directed air strikes against the ISIS troops that “silenced their heavy sources of fire.”
    “US forces intervened because of ISIS started to come near the base, which they are stationed in so out of self-defense,” said Sheikh Mahmud Nimrawi, a prominent tribal leader.

    Since he has promised US troops on the ground in Iraq would not be in combat, if they were in combat, the White House needs to be the first to note what took place.

    Let's change topics . . .

    Who is the master
    A man and woman on a star stream
    In the middle of a snow dream
    Show me the high life
    Come over
    Let me put you on ice 

    -- "Sorcerer," words and music by Stevie Nicks, first appears on her Trouble in Shangri-La 

    AFP reports:

    The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Thursday beheaded a man publicly on charges that he was a "sorcerer," north of their bastion of Tikrit, the Islamist militant organization and residents said.
    The group released pictures of the execution on a square in Nahyat al-Alam, a town a few kilometers north of Tikrit.

    The Islamic State killing people for being sorcerer is actually less shocking that Nouri al-Maliki sending his Ministry of Interior employees into schools to tell Iraq's young adults and children that emo youth were actually vampires who sucked people's blood.  And that was Nouri's Ministry.  He refused to nominate anyone to head it so he could control it.

    Yesterday, the laughable Muhammad Mahdi al-Bayati met with British Foreign Ministry staff to discuss "women's rights conditions in Iraq and ways to develop them."

    What a load of nonsense.

    There are no real women's rights in Iraq.  The US government pretty much destroyed those with the invasion of Iraq and the installation of fundamentalists as well as efforts in the original drafts of the Iraqi Constitution -- overseen by the US government -- to strip women of all rights.

    If the meeting was at all serious, wouldn't they need the Minister for the State of Women's Affairs to be present?

    She was present for an interview.  Alaa Latif (Niqash) interviewed Bayan Nouri about her post and women's issues in Iraq:

    NIQASH: Most international studies are critical of the status of Iraqi women. What plans does your Ministry have to improve this situation? 

    Bayan Nouri:   We have a strategy with six different platforms and these are legal, educational, health-related, professional and leadership-related as well as assisting institutions that work on women’s issues.

    There is no doubt that the situation for women has worsened over the past four years and it certainly cannot be repaired in four years. However, we will continue to try, in all areas, to improve the situation by paying more attention to family protection units, assisting them to reduce domestic violence. We also want to improve the economic status of Iraqi women by granting small loans in coordination with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. We will also coordinate with the Ministry of Education in order to look more closely at the education of females because there is a big gap between the number of females and males who complete middle and secondary school. We are also coordinating better with the Ministry of Health, paying better attention to women’s health and to infant mortality rates. We also care about female participation in decision making.

    NIQASH: After decades of conflict, Iraq has a huge number of widows – an estimated one million. Can your Ministry help them?

    Nouri: I have only been in office for about 50 days and during that time, the federal budget for 2014 wasn’t even approved. We do have plans for 2015 though and these involve seeing a percentage of these widows employed or to have them improve their own financial situation through small business loans. We also want to provide residential units at discounted prices.

    NIQASH: At one stage, you said that domestic violence was actually the most common kind of violence in Iraq – despite all of the fighting that is going on.

    Nouri: We’re trying to hold training courses in this area, we have established family protection units and we also have draft family protection law before the Cabinet. When this law is passed, it’s going to have a big impact.

    Like Nouri al-Maliki, Haider al-Abadi refuses to fund the Ministry of Women.

    For those who've forgotten, this became a public issue in Nouri's first term.

    All this time later, with a new prime minister, there's still no fund for the Ministry of Women.

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 142 violent deaths throughout Iraq today.

    All Iraq News reports Haider's dropped all lawsuits against journalists.  These were Nouri's lawsuits.  Haider issued the following statements:

    "Based on the freedom of journalism and supporting the journalists, Abadi decided to cancel all the judicial complaints submitted by the CoM against the journalists in order to have a bigger role for the media outlets to contribute in building Iraq and serving the Iraqis."

    That is great . . .

    except . . .

    Nouri didn't always sue.

    He had no respect for the press -- something only the BBC would note in July of 2006 and, yes, we can go back to that because that was a shameful period for the western press.

    But he only started filing lawsuits -- most infamously against the Guardian newspaper -- after he'd been in office awhile and had gotten a taste of negative press.

    Haider's had nothing but flowers and chocolates from the western press.


    He's dropping Nouri's lawsuits.

    Big deal.

    They were over when Nouri was forced out as prime minister anyway.

    He issued some flowery words and that's really all it was.

    No one knows how he will react to negative press.

    It's silly to pretend a politician who's gotten nothing but high praise from supposed to be skeptical reporters is a friend of the press.