Let's start with the crazy.
Alsumaria reports State of Law is accusing Osama al-Nujaifi and Ayad Allawi -- two of Iraq's three vice presidents -- of wasting money on decorating their offices. However, State of Law MP insists that his precious Nouri al-Maliki asked for nothing.
No one believes State of Law. (Nouri created and heads State of Law.)
They're professional liars, first off.
Secondly, when Nouri wants to 'return' the jet plane that he doesn't own (the government owns) or when he wants to finally move his dirty ass out of the Prime Minister's residence (Haider al-Abadi became the new prime minister in August -- when does Nouri plan to vacate?) maybe someone will take 'office decoration abuse' seriously.
Maybe not -- because, third, State of Law's policies and actions took an Iraq moving closer to stability and unleashed non-stop violence.
Nouri alienated everyone, spread lies about everyone -- including leaders of foreign countries.
Has thug Nouri changed?
That's an interesting assertion. Every other report has noted that the Iraqi military -- that Nouri ran -- not the Peshmerga (Kurdish fighting force) deserted.
The White House has even noted that reality.
But Nouri has to lie because that's all he has and that's how hideous he is.
He has damaged Iraq so badly. If he had any decency at all, he'd hang his head in shame and slink off, mortified by the violence he bread in Iraq.
But Nouri has no ethics, Nouri has no decency.
Before we get to Iraq's violence, let's get to the disputed event in Syria.
Today, though the US government denies it, there are reports that the Islamic State shot down a war plane flying over Syria.
The denial came despite an admission from another government. Press Latina reports, "The Jordan Ministry of Defense today confirmed that one of its warplanes was brought down in Syria and its pilot was captured by the Islamic State (IS) fighters." Mohammad Tayseer and Nafeesa Syeed (Bloomberg News) report, "Islamic State militants are holding a Jordanian fighter pilot captive in Syria after his warplane went down during a mission against the al-Qaeda breakaway group. "
Hugh Naylor and Erin Cunningham (Washington Post) offer this from the US government:
“We are aware of the capture of a Jordanian pilot by ISIL,” Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said in Washington. “We are working closely with the government of Jordan to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident.”
AP -- always one to do as they're told and cower before a government -- offers, "Images of the pilot being pulled out of a lake and hustled away by masked jihadists underscored the risks for the U.S. and its Arab and European allies in the air campaign."
Is that the image that matters?
Strange, AP ignores another image.
Alsumaria runs it.
It's their final photo in the essay on the event.
Now it may not have been shot down.
But that picture goes to more than 'mechanical error.'
Equally true, the US government has repeatedly lied throughout the Iraq War about helicopters having 'hard landings' and 'mechanical errors' only, after the press interest died, to turn around and admit they were shot down.
Press TV notes that US CENTCOM, "which oversees the US-led coalition airstrikes against the ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria, did not give a cause for the crash."
While the US government continues to deny the events, CBC offers:
Islamic State in Iraq and Syria fighters have been assumed to have "limited air defence capability," the BBC has reported — but they're well short of having the kind of Russian equipment thought to have shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17.
In that case, U.S. officials have said a Russian-made Buk missile launcher operated by rebels in Ukraine may have fired a radar-guided SA-11 missile that took down the airliner, killing 298 people. Firing such missiles requires training. Lack of it may have contributed to the Malaysian airlines disaster.
So far, ISIS is believed to be using only portable, shoulder-mounted launchers that fire heat-seeking missiles — potentially effective, but far less sophisticated than SA-11s.
Regardless of what has taken place, the US government has put in an extraordinary amount of energy into denying all reports. What a shame that same zeal couldn't be used in devising a plan to address the Islamic State.
In Iraq today, AP reports that the military base in Madain (close to Baghdad) was bombed and "at least 24 people" are dead.
The State Dept issued a statement:
December 24, 2014The United States strongly condemns the suicide attack today in Madaen, Iraq, which took the lives of a number of anti-ISIL fighters as they gathered to receive government salaries. We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and hope for a rapid recovery for those who were injured.
As Iraqis unite against ISIL and turn the tide on the battlefield, ISIL will continue to resort to such vicious and desperate acts as cowardly suicide attacks and other atrocities to try to maintain its reign of fear.
The United States will continue to stand with the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi people against violent extremists, and to support their continued progress towards building a unified Iraq.
The State Dept issued no statement noting the two civilians wounded in the latest round of military bombings of Falluja's residential neighborhoods. These are War Crimes, they've been taking place daily since January but the State Dept says nothing about the civilians killed and wounded.
Alsumaria notes the death toll rose to 43 with sixty-one more people left injured.
In other violence, Alsumaria reports a Latifiya roadside bombing left three police members injured, Salahuddin Governor Raed al-Jubouri proclaimed 15 members of the Islamic State were killed in Baiji, a Muqdadiyah mortar attack left one woman and four children injured, a mortar attack in Salhuddin Province left three people injured, a Zafaraniyah roadside bombing left 1 person dead and four more injured, 3 Mansour bombings targeted the home of an intelligence analyst with the Ministry of the Interior and left two people injured, a Tarmiyah roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi solider and left another injured, and a grave containing the remains of 10 slaughtered Peshmergas was discovered in Jalula (Diyala Province). All Iraq News notes the Ministry of Defense states that 11 militants were killed in southern Falluja.
Among the targeted in Iraq are the religious minorities which includes Iraqi Christians. Tomorrow is one of the two major holidays in the Christian religion -- Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day.
Many children around the world, of various religions -- not just Christianity, also celebrate the day for the yearly visit Santa Claus makes delivering toys to boys and girls.
"I don't have a tree this year, all I can do is draw one" Modian, 10, from
The streets of Bethlehem, the holy city of Jesus Christ, was fully ornamented on Wednesday night with lightened trees and little colorful models for Christmas celebrations and Midnight Mass at the Church of Nativity.
Fu'ad Tawal, the Great Patriarch of the Latin Church in Jerusalem and the Holy Lands arrived at the Church of Nativity earlier at night for the Midnight Christmas Mass and to announce the beginning of Christmas celebrations.
Xinhua also notes that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in Bethlehem "expressed deep sorrow for what happened to the Christians in Iraq, and said that the political situation was very difficult during 2014 and expressed his hope that next year will be better."
In Baghdad, Tim Arango, Omar al-Jawoshy and Falih Hassan (New York Times) report:
For months now, since militants of the Islamic State stormed her hometown, Qaraqosh, in northern Iraq, near Mosul, and began killing and driving out Christians, home for Miriam and dozens of her old neighbors has been the run-down Al Makasid Primary School in Baghdad. To get by, they have relied on the kindnesses of the nearby church, and of local Muslims, too.
In the school’s dingy courtyard there is a tree, trimmed in balls and bells, and a nativity scene. A few gifts have been donated — toys, clothes, dolls and candies. It is not much, and nothing like being at home, but Christmas has not been the same in Iraq for a long time now.
Ali Jassim (Alsumaria) has a photo essay on some of the Iraqi Christians who have left Mosul to relocate to Baghdad as they are visited by Santa Claus ("Baba Noel" -- Tim Arango, Omar al-Jawoshy and Falih Hassan noted in their New York Times report). AFP reports Pope Francis telephoned refugees in Erbil:
The refugees were among those driven from their homes around Mosul last northern summer in an offensive by the jihadist Islamic State group, and on Wednesday, the pontiff used a satellite phone connection provided by Catholic channel TV 2000 to offer them his support.
'Dear brothers, I am close to you, very close to you in my heart,' the pope was quoted as telling the refugees by Italian press agency AGI.
Erbil is in northern Iraq, it's the capitol of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Alsumaria reports KRG President Massoud Barzani issued a message of congratulations to Iraqi Christians, noted the displaced and declared that Iraqi Christians are and remain a historic part of Iraq and that, while terrorism has no place in Iraq, Iraqi Christians will always have a place in the country.
Elsewhere in Iraq? Nina Shea (National Review Online -- right wing periodical) writes, "For the first time in 1,400 years, there will be no Christmas celebrations in Nineveh province, home to Iraq's largest remaining Christian community and largest non-Muslim minority, and a site of great biblical significance. This northern province, whose area is over three times larger than that of Lebanon, is now part of the Islamic State's caliphate, and its Christians and churches are no longer tolerated."
Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) offers this context, "In the north, Islamic State fighters have forced thousands to flee. In Baghdad, where the security situation is still so tenuous that priests worried that celebrations could provoke an attack. Last Christmas, three bombings targeted Christians, including a Roman Catholic church, and killed 38 people."
Alsumaria notes Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri offered greetings and congratulations to Iraqi Christians and called on Iraqi Christians to stay in Iraq and preserve their history. But an Iraqi Christian woman tells Reuters, "I wish to leave this country as soon as possible because we, Christians, have been hunted down by extremists and reduced into a very small minority. Life is not very kind to us these days."
Patriarch Louis Sacco, head of Iraq's Chaldean Church, was interviewed by Alsumaria and he noted that the Iraqi government has done little for Iraqi Christians and that, while other internal refugees have received funds from a government grant, the displaced Christians have received none of that money.
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