Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Blundering their way through

The New Statesman doesn't do much these days.  Which makes it all the more embarrassing when they feature an outsider like BBC's John Simpson.



He's supposed to be someone's who has made their mark.

He's not even Jim Muir.

But with decades of nothing on his resume, he draws on his vast inability to break a scoop in order to offer a pandering and patronizing column which includes passages such as this:

Iraq’s new prime minister, the short and bouncy Haider al-Abadi, is a British-trained engineer who, as an exile from Saddam Hussein, used to run a highly successful business in London building lifts and designing transportation systems. It was his decision to lift the curfew in order to show people in the most practical way that things were getting better. His predecessor and rival Nouri al-Maliki, more gloomy and bitter than ever after being pushed out of office last summer, argued strongly against it. Still, it seems to be working. The people of Baghdad are being given a glimpse of what life might be, if only Iraq could free itself from terrorism.

Yes, a glimpse!  The end of a curfew is just like "what life might be" if it were "free . . . from terrorism."

Next up, John Simpson heads to Brighton to report a band of unruly 14-year-olds whose terrorist parents have put them on curfew.

In the real world, Eli Lake (Daily Beast) offers some genuine issues when he explores that stated -- US government stated -- plan to attack Mosul shortly:

But the apparent disagreement over the time frame is significant: If Iraq were to re-take Mosul without a real plan for what comes next -- i.e., having credible Sunni Arab leaders in place to administer the city -- it could intensify sectarian hostility that is already breaking Iraq apart.
The worse-case scenario is a repeat of what happened in Amirli, a town north of Baghdad that was retaken from Islamic State forces in September by a mixture of Iraqi army troops, Kurdish Peshmerga and Shiite militias supported by Iran. Human rights groups have been documenting how in the aftermath of the battle, Shiite militiamen attacked Sunni Arabs who were not connected to the Islamic State and burned the homes of Sunni families, simply as retribution. In Congressional testimony in December, Sarah Margon, the Washington director for Human Rights Watch said, "crudely empowered Shia militias are being used to punish the Sunni population because of its sect." 

So, assuming Iraq really is preparing to take Mosul in the spring, it's worth asking who will be doing the liberating. 

On the gabby announcements by the US government, Al Bawaba notes, "Iraqi officials have expressed irritation and analysts skepticism at the US prediction that an offensive to retake Iraq's key city of Mosul from jihadists could be launched in April-May."  Kate Brannen (Foreign Policy) adds:

The Pentagon is walking back its public plans to help Iraqi forces seize Mosul from the Islamic State, chastened by a backlash in Baghdad for failing to inform leaders there before releasing details of the springtime offensive.
Angered Iraqi officials said the unusual level of detail released about the Mosul operation — including that it would likely launch in April or May — created the appearance that the U.S. is leading the battle, and not Iraqi forces.

Who's in charge?

Specifically who's in charge of the US effort?

You have Republicans and Democrats in Congress publicly criticizing the Pentagon's announcement and now you've got the Iraqi government doing the same.

Who's making these blunders?

Where is the oversight and the planning in any of this?

Oh, right, bombings from airplanes have passed for a 'plan' by the White House.  Why should we be surprised by continued blunders after they've confused a tactic with a plan for months?

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, and Dissident Voice -- updated:


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