Thursday, February 19, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, February 19, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Islamic State kills a journalist, Iraqi forces spend two days physically attacking journalists in Baghdad, how many US Marines are on the ground in Iraq because Iraqi media has a number and western media plays dumb, CENTCOM whispers about an upcoming assault on Mosul which may involve US troops, Barack's little lecture at this week's failed summit results in criticism from an Iraqi leader who had been seen as a friend of the US government, Nouri continues to reign on Arabic social media (as the most crooked and criminal person on the face of the planet), and much more.

Starting with reporters . . .

Iraqi journalist killed by Daesh: Qais Talal Agha show same respect we give to western journos

Qais was kidnapped last June and executed Wednesday in Mosul with his corpse handed over to his family afterwards.  The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory notes that 8 more journalists are said to be held by the Islamic State in Nineveh Province. Qais was 27 years old.

That murder is outrageous.

It's also all too common in Iraq.

Iraqis may recoil at the actions of the Islamic State but they're not pushed into the arms of their government -- no, not when their government is beating up journalists.

Wednesday saw a reporter and photographer for the Sumerian Channel severely beaten and a number of other journalists were harmed -- they were attacked by security forces in Baghdad who were insisting upon seeing their cell phones.  Al Arabiya News reports:

Several journalists were beaten on Wednesday during a press conference with senior government officials held at the Al-Nahrain Strategic Studies Center in Baghdad, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
Al Arabiya’s correspondent in Baghdad said the journalists were assaulted by the body guards of National Security Advisor Faleh Al Fayad when some of them demanded more time to film the event, which was also attended by Interior Minister Mohammed Ghabban and Iraq's Military Spokesman Saad Maan.

Alsumaria notes that today another group of journalists were attacked when they openly protested yesterday's attack.  They were attacked by Iraqi forces.  Today's attack took place in Baghdad's Tahrir Square and left several reporters beaten including an Al-Fayhaa photographer.

It's such a public nightmare that even Iraq's laughable Ministry of Human Rights has had to issue a statement decrying the attack.  All Iraq News notes National Alliance MP Hamdiya al-Husseiny has denounced the attacks.  Alsumaria notes that Diyala Province Governor Amer Nostra is demanding that those responsible for the attacks be punished.  Meanwhile the Observatory for Journalistic Freedoms is stating that an apology will not suffice and will not be accepted, that the attack is an attack on basic rights and an apology will accomplish nothing.

All Iraq News reports Speaker of Parliament Saleem al-Jubouri has declared that legal actions will be taken against those who attacked the journalists. While journalists attached to the United Nations in Geneva are calling for an investigation into the "criminal" attacks.

So how many billion has the US taxpayer forked over for the training of Iraqi forces?

Back in January, Loveday Morris (Washington Post) reported on US training efforts and observed, "Years after the U.S. military tried to create a new army in Iraq -- at a cost of over $25 billion -- American trainers have returned to help rebuild the country’s fighting force."


So they can kill journalists more quickly?

Why are US tax dollars being used to provide training and weapons to forces who openly and publicly attack the press?

And does the US press think that if they ignore it (a) they're helping US President Barack Obama and (b) being real journalists?

On (a), probably.

They whore constantly.

On (b), let's remember that when a US reporter dies, the US press expects the entire world to stop and mourn.

But the same press ignored all the deaths of Iraqi journalists.

Their true outrage over the Islamic State, please remember, has nothing to do with what the Islamic State does in Iraq.  It has to do with one American reporter and one American-Israeli reporter being killed by the Islamic State.

When that happened, they went crazy, they put on the hair shirts, they wailed, they wanted 'justice.'

When it's the Iraqis that suffer, the US press really doesn't give a damn.

You can tell by the fact that they don't even pretend to be interested in any of the daily (ongoing) violence in Iraq.

A point this Tweet really dries home.

While CNN talks Nutella and Kittens, they ignore the 50 Muslims slaughtered in the streets of Iraq today by the Shia. 

                           Retweeted 5,517 times

While CNN talks Nutella and Kittens, they ignore the 50 Muslims slaughtered in the streets of Iraq today by the Shia.

In other violence, Alsumaria reports a roadside bombing southwest of Baghdad left 2 parents and their daughter dead,  All Iraq News states over "150 civilians" were executed in Anbar today by the Islamic State.  Margaret Griffis ( counts 196 violent deaths today throughout Iraq.

Still no political solutions in sight to stem the violence.

But Barack's always up for tossing the US military at any problem -- apparently mistaking trained forces for a giant paper towel from a roll of Bounty.

Alsumaria reports US Marines -- about 3,000 -- are now on the ground in Iraq to participate in the upcoming effort to seize control of Mosul (which the Islamic State has controlled since June).  3,000 is not being reported in the US.

Zero is being reported in the US.

In fact, when even the possibility is floated,   MSM outlets tends to avert their gaze and turn their heads.  Jason Ditz ( notes, "US officials are now saying that the offensive against the ISIS-held city of Mosul will be supported by the US, with both airstrikes and “if necessary” US ground troops backing the Iraqi military."

Ditz links to the only MSM outlet noting US troops possibly being involved in an assault to take back Mosul, NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski who opens with:

Iraqi military forces backed by U.S. airstrikes and possibly American ground troops could launch an assault to wrest control of the city of Mosul from ISIS as early as April, a senior U.S. official told NBC News on Thursday.      

Paul McLeary (Defense News) also cites an unnamed CENTCOM official as his source for these numbers, "Approximately 20,000 to 25,000 Iraqi and Peshmerga troops will move on the city to retake it from an estimated 2,000 IS fighters -- an attacking force that will include five Iraqi Army brigades, three peshmerga brigades, and former Mosul police forces, tribal fighters, and Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service troops."

If you're thinking this is a source Paul has cultivated and worked . . .

You're wrong.

This was not a private conversation.

It was a background briefing.

Here's how that works, the Pentagon is the john insisting on his fantasies being played out and the press are the whores working to make the fantasy come true.

At least Nancy A. Youssef (Daily Beast) provides some context when repeating the words the Pentagon wants the news to carry:

That the Pentagon would announce the makeup, time frame, and goal of a military campaign is unusual, particularly against a group considered to be one of the world’s most lethal. Indeed, ISIS stormed Mosul (and took control of it on June 10) in large part because the Iraqi forces stationed there ran away from their posts. ISIS’s swift sweep through Mosul sparked the U.S.-led military campaign.
[. . .]
The CENTCOM official said he was announcing the details of the upcoming operation to demonstrate “the level of commitment… to this upcoming operation.”

Press Association notes that the effort will begin in March . . .

or . . .

. . .  April.

The Pentagon's not sure which.

Doesn't exactly build confidence, does it?

"we are not at war with Islam" says Obama. But he is at war in 5 Islamic countries (Afg, Iraq & drones in Yemen,Pak & Somalia)
74 retweets 56 favorites

Good point.  We noted the remark and the perception in yesterday's snapshot and also pointed out:

Today, he decided to speak on behalf of Muslims.
And he's not a Muslim.
How do you think that plays in the Middle East?
The man who's bombing Iraq, the man whose drones are killing civilians in Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere, this man declared today -- this non-Muslim -- what is and isn't Islam, what is and isn't the proper practice.
How do you think that plays out?
There's a good chance that Barack put his big foot in his big mouth yet again and only did more damage.

How do you think it plays out, Barack lecturing the Muslim world?

If you're still pondering that, All Iraq News reports:

The head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, Ammar al-Hakim, denounced the "double standards of the US towards fighting terrorism, considering these double standards as "helpful factor for encouraging terrorism."
In his speech at the weekly cultural Forum he holds in his office in Baghdad, al-Hakim said "We heard reports over killing a Muslim family in the US for racist reasons but we did not hear any denouncement for this crime," noting that "Even the US President took many days to issue a denouncement for this crime which is considered a clear evidence for double standards." 

That's not Moqtada al-Sadr, cleric and movement leader, speaking.  Moqtada?  The press loves to call him "radical cleric" because he opposes US forces on Iraqi soil and always has and because he's repeatedly called out the US government.

No, that's Ammar.  Ammar who, like his late father, has always been a friend to the US government.

Ammar who many administration officials were saying should be named Iraq's new prime minister (instead it was Haider al-Abadi).

Ammar felt the need to call out Barack.

The xenophobia of the White House is matched only by its hubris.

Again, there are times when, if you're smart, you learn to shut your mouth.

I know Bill Clinton, I like Bill Clinton.  So you can dismiss this observation if you need to.  But when Bill Clinton hosted events -- like Barack's summit this week -- he was more than happy to let others shine.  He was more than happy to let others speak.

By contrast, Barack's got to be the center of attention, the one who knows everything and can't stop talking.  It's a 'summit' in name only.  The entire purpose for everyone to assemble and listen to Barack drone on.

The world did not need non-Muslim Barack explaining what was and wasn't Islam.  In a world in which Muslims are repeatedly persecuted, the last thing needed was a non-Muslim standing up and trying to be the voice -- the single voice -- of a group he's not even a part of.  Pompous doesn't begin to describe it.  And it was and it is offensive.

Mr. Know It All
Well ya think you know it all
But ya don't know a thing at all
Ain't it, ain't it something y'all
When somebody tells you something 'bout you
Think that they know you more than you do
So you take it down another pill to swallow

-- "Mr. Know It All," written by Brian Seals, Ester Dean, Brett James, Dante Jones, first recorded by  Kelly Clarkson for her album Stronger

Barack chose to grand stand and lecture yesterday.  Today, Ammar al-Hakim had words for Barack.  You can be sure others in the Middle East felt even more strongly than Ammar.

The government of Iraq has wrongly claimed the right to Jewish artifacts. The Jews were persecuted in Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion.  Following the start of the Iraq War, the Jewish community was targeted even more and has dwindled to approximately 5 people.  Yet the Iraqi government believes that the Jewish property that they stole or that they forced Jews to leave behind somehow belongs to them.

There's the exhibit that we've gone over repeatedly.  But there's also an artifact that has made it to Israel -- a 200-year-old Torah scroll -- and no one seems to know how.

Some thought the US government might have had it and kept it out of the official archive (that they restored and digitized and plan to hand over to the Iraqi government).

In response to this suspicion, last month the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following:

Regarding the Status of the Iraqi Jewish Archive

January 28, 2015
The Iraqi Jewish Archive remains in the custody of the U.S. National Archives and Record Administration while plans are finalized on future exhibitions in the United States.  None of the materials in the Iraqi Jewish Archive have traveled outside of the United States.  The United States continues to abide by the terms of its agreement with the Government of Iraq.

The exhibit of the material in Washington in 2013 and New York in 2014 has led to increased understanding between Iraq and the United States, and a greater recognition of the diverse heritage of Iraq.  We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the Government of Iraq on this matter so that the exhibit can be displayed in other cities in the United States.

Again, no one knows how the scroll left Iraq and ended up in Israel.  Last month, Justin Moyer (Washington Post) offered:

How the scroll left Iraq isn’t clear. Jews emigrating to Israel from Iraq were once forbidden from taking cultural objects. But the scroll may have been smuggled out of the country after the United States’s invasion in 2003. The scroll had ended up at Israel’s embassy in Jordan, where Jewish artifacts were often brought after the beginning of the Iraq War. It may even have been salvaged by U.S. soldiers.

But after a mob attacked Israel’s embassy in Cairo in 2011, Jordan didn’t seem like such a safe place for a Torah after all.

We bring up the issue today because former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki is more than just one of Iraq's three vice presidents.  He's also the subject of intense debate and speculation in Arabic social media where his criminality is always being discussed.

This week's big Nouri speculation?  That Nouri actually arranged for the scroll to work its way to Israel in a long process that would hide his involvement in the scroll's journey and that he did this for the cash with the Israeli government paying him several million dollars.

Is it true?

Who knows?

I'd guess not.

But Nouri told so many lies when he was prime minister (and attacked and killed so many people) and destroyed Iraq that it's only fitting that whenever anything controversial arises, he is always the first person suspected of wrong doing.

jim miklaszewski
ned parker
nancy a. youssef
the daily beast

jason ditz