Monday, March 23, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Monday, March 23, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the US 'protests' fizzle out, the Tehran-Baghdad assault on Tikrit still remains outside the city, bombs are dropped on the city, a prominent US official (CIA Director) joins the chorus warning about the rise of sectarianism in Iraq fueled by Tehran, and much more.

Oh, the worthless and the pathetic.  Let's start there.

The World Can't Wait, Cindy Sheehan and a lot of others thought they could hijack the anniversary of the Iraq War to pimp their pet causes.

No one turned out.

Most locations were lucky to mount a baker's dozen worth of 'protesters.'

Debra Sweet's embarrassing organization offered suggested Tweets ahead of the 'days' of protests.

The suicide rate among recent veterans is 50% higher than for civilians - these wars are wrong & we know it.
US veteran suicides are as high as 8,000 per year, exceeding U.S. death rates on battlefield

I don't know how those are Tweets, but okay.

I'm sorry, they want you to be sympathetic to veterans?

They want to talk about pressure on veterans?

I'm sorry, Cindy Sheehan and Debra Sweet attacked and savaged Chris Kyle.

That's why I'm not promoting their crazy.

We did a parody of World Can't Wait at Third ("The World Can Wait (Parody)"") and that was February 8th.  I didn't want to do anything else to draw attention to these pathetic souls.

Chris Kyle was not a mercenary.

He did what he was trained to do and what he was ordered to do.

If you're unhappy with that, you take up with the government of the United States.

You don't trash him.

And if you do trash him, then stop pretending you give a damn about veterans because you clearly do not give a damn.

Imagine a US sniper who's returned to the US and feels that the US does not need to be in Iraq still.  He or she may look for people who feel similar.  But reading Cindy and Debra's attacks on Chris Kyle, would that veteran feels he or she would be welcomed by Cindy and Debra's groups?

Probably not.

The enemy is not veterans.

The enemy is a government that lies.

But all the weak protests offered was hatred.

It's really funny as they carved out this group and that group and ran their oppression Olympics -- to such a degree that even their hero Karl Marx wouldn't have been allowed at the protests were he alive today.

Whether you think Occupy was a movement or not, what it did -- at its best -- was attempt to united.  It was the 99% versus the 1%.

That was inclusive.

There was nothing inclusive about the protests this weekend.

Only San Francisco's protest really bothered to address Barack Obama.

Even more appalling was that the limited attention to Iraq did not include a cry to stop the War Crimes.

Are they even aware of that?

ABC News aired an important report March 11th and The a second one March 12th. March 12's report is transcribed below:

David Muir: Now to new fall out after our ABC investigation last night. It involves the fight against ISIS known for those awful videos, lining up their victims on the beach.  And now a new concern.  Are some of the Iraqi forces -- trained and paid for by US taxpayers -- using techniques that are just as brutal?  Well the State Dept tonight responding to our report and ABC's chief investigative reporter Brian Ross back on the job tonight.

Brian Ross:  The State Dept called these scenes today serious and disturbing.  Brutal images of what appear to be Iraqi forces and militias carrying out, celebrating, torture and beheadings.  In this torture scene, two US weapons against the wall. This video shows two civilians, pleading for their lives, about to be shot dead.  A man with an American supplied weapon walks by, a gunman with what appears to be the insignia of Iraqi Special Forces caught on tape.

US State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki: Their behavior must be above reproach or they risk being painted with the same brush as ISIL fighters.

Brian Ross:  The Pentagon says it has already cut off money to some Iraqi units because of gross human rights violations.  But Senator Patrick Leahy says the ABC News report shows the government should cut off money to more Iraqi units.

Senator Patrick Leahy: When you look at at the videos and look at the uniforms being worn, do we really want to say the US condones that?

Brian Ross: US officials tonight tell ABC News that America's top military leader Gen Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has repeatedly warned Iraqi leaders about the conduct of the Iraqi military and the militias that fight with them -- especially because the US is sending $1.5 billion to the Iraqi army and almost 3,000 American troops to help train them.

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq

President Obama will host Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House on Tuesday, April 14.  The Prime Minister’s visit underscores the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq and the strong U.S. commitment to political and military cooperation with Iraq in the joint fight against ISIL.  The President and Prime Minister will discuss a range of issues, including continued U.S. support to Iraq to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, the Government of Iraq’s actions to address the needs of the Iraqi people and to strengthen cooperation between all communities in Iraq, and advancing a broad U.S.-Iraqi partnership through expanded political, commercial, and cultural relations under the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.

What's the real point of the meet-up?

Maybe the stalled assault on Tikrit and what that might mean.

Al Jazeera thinks it means one thing, "If Iraqi forces are unable to push ISIL back and recover lost territory, US President Barack Obama would be faced with a choice of accepting failure in Iraq or committing US combat troops - something both US and Iraqi officials have spoken firmly against."

The assault on Tikrit has demonstrated a number of things including that the Iraqi military is still not ready.

It's also demonstrated that Iran can't handle a ground war.

That's not a typo: Iran.  (Not Iraq.)

How embarrassing for Iran.

They've sent all those forces in, they've taken over as 'leaders' of the assault and the assault ground to a stand still.

Press TV reports the assault is back on! And they note Iraqi planes bombed Tikrit.

Jonathan Beale and the BBC attempt to say that coalition planes are helping.  Attempt.

Beale's a damn liar and an embed who can't stop fawning and lying.

If coalition forces are bombing Tikrit -- as the text maintains but the video report doesn't bear out -- that's a story.  Instead of getting reported, the world is reminded yet again that the same BBC that whored out their good name to pimp the Iraq War is still doing so today.

Friday, Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reported:

The much ballyhooed Iraqi government operation to capture the central city of Tikrit from the Islamic State has stalled three weeks after it began, amid widespread reports that Shiite Muslim militias and the government are badly divided over tactics and roiled by claims that the militias have engaged in war crimes against the local Sunni Muslim population.

Read more here:

Sunday, AP noted, "Operations to recapture Tikrit have been on hold for nearly a week" while today Press TV says they're back on.

 The Tehran - Baghdad alliance has been most noted for its repeated failures and, again, for telegraphing to the world that the Iranian forces can no longer hold their own in a ground war.

Iraq and Iran were an issue that US State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf attempted to dance around in today's press briefing:

QUESTION: On Iraq and Iran’s role – I mean, for observers, we’re seeing the country really from inside and outside Iraq, Iran seems to have taken over the leadership of the war against ISIS from the United States. When you see --

MS. HARF: I think that the Iraqi Security Forces would strongly disagree with that --


MS. HARF: -- as would the Kurdish forces.

QUESTION: The United States has led a coalition against the Islamic State.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But over the past – say since the war against – in Tikrit started, the – to recapture Tikrit, the United States has been bombing ISIS only in the areas where the Kurds advance, not in Tikrit. No airstrike in Tikrit, where the Iraqis are focused.

MS. HARF: Well, we – the coalition has continued to provide air support in the fight against ISIL with multiple airstrikes on ISIL targets in various locations, with the last strikes occurring over this weekend.

QUESTION: But all of them have been in --

MS. HARF: Let me finish.

QUESTION: -- the Kurdish area.

MS. HARF: Let me finish with the – and I said in various areas, various locations. And this fight against ISIL is much bigger than Tikrit. That’s one – certainly one part of it. That battle is ongoing. But the fight against ISIL on the military side is much bigger than Tikrit. The United States is leading that with our Arab partners, with our Iraqi partners, our Kurdish partners, but then there’s all the other four lines of effort beyond that that we are leading a coalition around the world.

QUESTION: But isn’t it really fair to say that the Iranians are helping the Iraqi Shia government and the militia – Shia militias who are helping the Iraqi Government to recapture the area? The United States is helping only the Kurdish government at the moment.

MS. HARF: That is patently false.

QUESTION: At the moment.

MS. HARF: That is patently false.

QUESTION: That’s practically true, though.

MS. HARF: No, it is patently false, actually. What you said is not true.

QUESTION: At the moment.

MS. HARF: At the moment, what you said is not true. I will keep saying that until I make my point 
clear --

QUESTION: Well, what --

MS. HARF: -- that the – wait, let me finish – that the United States is supporting the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish forces throughout Iraq in a variety of ways to help them push back on ISIL. We are training Iraqi forces; we are helping them get them more equipment; we are supporting them on a day-to-day basis, day in and day out; we’re helping the coalition take strikes. This is something we’re very committed to.
So yes, Tikrit is a small part of it. But clearly, the United States military is very focused on this and is playing a leading role in helping push back on ISIL.

QUESTION: Just one more question. An Iraqi lawmaker, prominent one, said that there are as many as 30,000 Iranians on the ground in Iraq. Does that concern you?

MS. HARF: I can’t confirm that that number is accurate.

Marie's attempts at spinning today follows yesterday's confession that the US government is worried about Iran's involvement in Iraq.  

As we noted last nightCIA Director John Brennan appeared on Fox News Sunday (link is video and text), "During the wide-ranging interview, Brennan said that Iran and the Islamic State are equal in the threat they pose to the United States."  AP notes this morning, "The comments by CIA Director John Brennan on Fox News Sunday are among the strongest yet voiced by American officials about the involvement of shadowy Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in the war against the extremist group."

Brennan may have made the strongest comments from any US official but his comments followed those of others in Iraq and out of Iraq in recent days.

At SUSRIS, Riad Kahwaji offers an analysis which includes:

Despite extensive efforts by the Obama administration to assure its Arab allies that their long-term strategic partnership will remain strong and will not be affected by the signing of a nuclear deal with Iran, a very skeptical mood prevails in the traditionally pro-Western Arab capitals. “The U.S. has sold us to Iran and it is now executing an agenda aimed at helping Tehran assert its influence in the region,” said one Arab official. The official reiterated views expressed by many of his counterparts in the region. “Look how Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are spearheading the Iraqi army attack against Tikrit under the eyes of the Americans who have troops deployed in the country and are providing air cover to forces advancing against Daesh,” he added. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria and is today under attack by an International and Arab Alliance providing air power to the Iraqi forces.
Fears expressed earlier by the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, that the Iranian involvement in the fighting in Iraq could turn the war on terrorism into a sectarian war is proving truer by the day. Media reports out of Tikrit are talking about dozens of billboards and banners of Iranian leaders like Ayatullah Khoumaini and Ali Khaminei were put up at all the main gates of Tikrit, a Sunni stronghold. The IRGC has reportedly even deployed Iranian-made multiple rocket launchers around the city. An Iraqi Shiite Memeber of Parliament Ahmed Al Assadi told the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat on March 18 that Iran was providing the Iraqi Shiite militias with all the weapons they need, which is a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions that bar Iran from exporting arms. There are growing fears of atrocities and massacres that could be committed by the Shiite mil itias operating under the IRGC against the Sunni residents of Tikrit. The Iraqi House Speaker and other members of Parliament have repeatedly called over the past few weeks for independent investigations into reported massacres and sectarian cleansing committed by the Shiite militias known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in Sunni towns and villages that were occupied by ISIS. Failure of the international community to investigate these reported acts of genocide and the continued role of the PMU alongside the IRGC are making the United States look complicit with Iran in a war against the Arabs in a conflict that is quickly turning into a large-scale sectarian war.

As criticism of Tehran's involvement has grown so strong -- especially as the reports of human rights abuses (War Crimes) taking place have grown -- Iraq's Council of Ministers has issued a statement denying any Iranians are in Iraq.  Rudaw reports, "Iraq’s Council of Ministers on Monday denied there were any foreign combat forces in the country, reacting to reports that Iranian forces have been fighting alongside the Iraqi Army in the war with ISIS."

The denial was in response to statements made on Sunday by a Kurdish MP.  Rudaw reports:

At least 30,000 Iranian soldiers and military experts are in Iraq and involved in the fight against ISIS,  a Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament said Sunday, calling it a “threat to Iraq’s sovereignty.”
“At least 30,000 soldiers and military experts from the Islamic Republic of Iran are fighting ISIS militants in Iraq,” Shakhawan Abdullah, head of the parliamentary security and defense committee, told Rudaw.

Their denial indicates that either the Council of Ministers is composed of a pack of liars or else they're not in touch with their colleague who serves as the Minister of Transportation.

AFP spoke with that minister yesterday, Hadi al-Ameri, who is currently serving in the (illegal) capacity of "commander of the Badr militia" and al-Ameri couldn't stop singing the praises of Iranian Qassem Soleimani (identified by the US government as a terrorist) who is there, in Iraq, "whenever we need him," according to al-Ameri.  AFP notes:

Soleimani has advised Iraqi forces in multiple operations against ISIS, which led a major offensive last June that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad.
In doing so, he and other Iranian advisers provide the kind of forward support during operations that U.S. President Barack Obama has yet to authorize American forces to undertake.

And others are disturbed by Iran's involvement as well.  Sherine Tadros (Sky News) reports:

Iraq's vice president Iyad Allawi has told Sky News that Iran's involvement in his country is unacceptable and is failing to push Islamic State fighters back.
Speaking from his office in Baghdad, Mr Allawi said he was very concerned about Iran's increasing influence on the militias fighting the war against IS in Iraq.

He said: "I think the role of any regional power or any power in Iraq's affairs is unacceptable."

Saturday, the editorial board of the Washington Post observed:

The Obama administration, focused on completing a nuclear deal with Iran and eager to minimize direct U.S. involvement in the latest Iraq war, has played down the militia menace. While not supporting the attack on Tikrit with airstrikes, senior officials have characterized it as a positive development. Such statements suppose that a force including commanders and units on the State Department’s global terrorism list and steered by an Iranian general who previously directed attacks on U.S. troops will somehow advance the aim of reconstructing a multiethnic Iraq.
In fact, a new report from Human Rights Watch documents how Shiite militias have pursued a brutal scorched-earth policy in areas already liberated from the Islamic State. After U.S. airstrikes drove Islamic State forces out of the town of Amerli, in northeastern Iraq, late last summer, the militias went on a sectarian rampage, burning and bulldozing thousands of homes and other buildings in dozens of Sunni villages. The intent was to violently alter the demography of once ethnically diverse areas so that Shiites could dominate them.

Today, the Defense Dept announced:

Airstrikes in Iraq
Fighter aircraft conducted six airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Mosul, an airstrike destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Rawah, an airstrike struck an ISIL trailer.
-- Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL staging area and an ISIL tactical unit.
 -- Near Tal Afar, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.

There is no mention of Tikrit on that list.

BBC needs to back up their reporting or retract it.