Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, April 15, 2015.   Chaos and violence, 3 villages fall to the Islamic State as a US official insists momentum is on the US government and coalition's side, Valerie Plame wants to run with the Kool Kids and tosses aside her brain to do so, Buzzfeed doesn't grasp why Haider al-Abadi is insisting there are no "militias," and much more.

Yesterday, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met first with US Vice President Joe Biden and then with US President Barack Obama.  Today, he continued meeting with US officials.

Senator John McCain is the Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  His office issued the following statement today:

Apr 15 2015

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement on his meeting today with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi:
“Today, I had a productive meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. I am grateful for his steady leadership at a perilous time for his country. We discussed a range of issues related to our common fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including the role and conduct of Iranian-backed militias inside Iraq, political inclusion of Iraq's Sunni population, and the progress and development of Iraqi Security Forces into an integrated multi-sectarian organization. As I discussed with Prime Minister Abadi, in order to defeat ISIL, I believe the United States should provide further military assistance to Iraq and deploy additional U.S. personnel, including forward air controllers to strengthen our air campaign.”

McCain's answer is usually, "Send in the troops."  That's never worked with Iraq so far.

I don't care for McCain and he's being kind of stupid.  I like Valerie Plame but sometimes she's kind of stupid as well.

  • Yeah, Wolfowitz did promise that.

    What's your point?

    That he was wrong?

    Well he's a liar.

    What does that have to do with more millions of US taxpayer dollars being gifted to Iraq right now, the millions Barack announced yesterday?

    Iraq is not Ethiopia.

    Nor is Iraq   one of the world's neediest countries.

    Oh, did oil prices drop?

    So what does that mean for Iraq?  Only 20 billion brought in over the next months instead of $40 billion.  With a population of approximately 30 million people Iraq really doesn't need to be begging.

    Or wouldn't need to be begging were it not for all the government corruption.

    And that's where Valerie's a disappointment.

    Unlike Valerie, I turned down the CIA.

    She went to work for them.  And this is best she can offer?

    An obvious faux fact check of a statement over a decade ago?

    Like I said, I like Valerie but she can be real stupid sometime.

    In future Tweets, she might try using her considerable brain and actually offering something of value.

    Earlier this month, Susanne Koelbl interviewed Haider for Der Spiegel.  The corruption was noted:

    SPIEGEL: Iraq is at war, but it is not the only crisis affecting the country. Many residents of Baghdad use the word "thieves" when they talk about your politicians. How corrupt is your government?

    Al-Abadi: We have problems and the way I am dealing with them is to start by admitting them. Corruption is a huge issue. It has to do with the society, which has changed -- both during the times of Saddam Hussein's regime and after. Also, the sanctions had an adverse effect on society in nurturing this culture of corruption. During the 1960s or 1970s, bribery was very rare in Iraq. The number of government employees was very small and usually they were the elite. But then they incorporated millions of people into the government -- not to better run the state, but to control the people. We are in the process of implementing a number of processes and procedures that aim to curb the extent of corruption.

    SPIEGEL: One of your first actions after you took office was to close the office of your predecessor's son, who is said to have provided huge government contracts to people who were ready to pay the most for them. Young college graduates claim they had to pay officials $10,000 to $20,000 in order to obtain government jobs. Why should Iraqis have any faith in this government?

    Al-Abadi: We need to flip the system. Four years ago, the government tried to stop the corruption at the Passport Office, where people pay $400 to $500 just to get their passport issued. Every day they were arresting so many people and it did not have much of an effect. But if you ease the procedure, for instance making the document available online, it puts an end to it altogether. I don't want to fill our prisons with people who ask for petty cash while we are facing this major terrorist threat to the country. I want to keep these prisons for the actual criminals who are killing people or for people who are stealing vast amounts of money from the people. I want to change how we run the government in Iraq.

    For those who don't follow Iraq closely, the predecessor is Nouri al-Maliki.  His son is Ahmed al-Maliki who was likened to Uday Hussein.  Ahmed was most recently in the news last December when he was reportedly detained in Lebanon -- a country he was visiting after he'd had billions of dollars transferred from Iraq's banks to a Lebanese bank and, when detained, was carrying the US equivalent of $1.5 billion dollars.

    Newsweek (re)posts a problematic column penned by Hardin Lang and Peter Juul.  (Problematic?  Even a cursory read of McClatchy Newspapers reporting from Iraq over the last four weeks would have prevented many of the factual errors in the column.)  We'll avoid their shaky factual ground and instead zoom in on their conclusion:

    One option might be a more formal recognition of the de facto decentralization resulting from the conflict with ISIS. Such an outcome will be hard to engineer in the post-Saddam Iraqi political system. But it is incumbent on Iraq’s allies to help find a solution that gives Sunni Arabs a home in Iraq’s body politic and a solution that gives the state its best chance of hanging together. Abadi’s visit allows the Obama administration to raise these concerns at the highest level.
    Last summer, the Obama administration used the promise of military assistance to remove then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from power. Today, the United States and its coalition partners can use the same leverage to help Abadi rebuild the authority of the Iraqi government and fend off challenges from Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

    The only successful path to an enduring victory over ISIS requires the Iraqi government to survive the forces tearing at it from all sides. Abadi’s visit represents an opportunity for the United States to give his government the leverage it needs to withstand the storm.

    That would be one way of describing a political solution.  In June of last year, Barack said that was the only thing that could solve Iraq's crises.  Yet it's the only thing the White House avoids working on.

    The State Dept issued the following today:

    Today Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to the State Department to brief senior diplomatic representatives from among the 62 members of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. This plenary session was an opportunity for Coalition partners to reaffirm our support for Iraqi-led efforts to reclaim territory from ISIL, and our support for the Iraqi people as they are rescued from ISIL control and forge a more inclusive and durable political order.
    Deputy Secretary Blinken thanked Coalition partners for their extensive contributions toward the Coalition’s goal of degrading and defeating ISIL, echoing President Obama’s assertion that while the fight against ISIL is far from over, the momentum is heading in the right direction. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL General John Allen briefed on progress across multiple Coalition lines of effort, and provided a readout of last week’s Coalition Small Group meeting in Jordan. Building on those conversations, Coalition partners discussed how to further strengthen, accelerate, and integrate contributions to Coalition efforts.
    This was the third Washington plenary session of Coalition ambassadors.

    Oh, goody.  Another meet-up for war, war, war.

    But no meet-up for diplomacy.

    "The momentum is heading in the right direction"?

    Really because Judy Woodruff declared on this evening's NewsHour (PBS -- link is text, video and audio), "Fighters with the Islamic State group gained new ground today in Western Iraq."

    He made those comments after today's big news was already in the news cycle.

    This morning, Arwa Damon (CNN -- link is video and text) reported on the situation in Anbar Province's Ramadi noting that deputy provincial council head Falih Essawi is issuing "a dire, dire warning" as the Islamic State advances.

    Arwa Damon:  ISIS forces, it seems, early this morning managing to enter the outskirts of the city of Ramadi from the east.  This now means that ISIS is fighting on the east.  ISIS advanced from the north -- taking over three towns from the outskirts there over the weekend.  The routes to the south already blocked off.  The city basically under siege except for the western portion that is still controlled by forces, by government forces, but that is wavering as well.

    Sky News notes the three areas taken, "The militant group took the villages of Sjariyah, Albu-Ghanim and Soufiya, in Anbar province, which had been under government control, residents said." Nancy A. Youssef (Daily Beast) observed:

    Pentagon officials stopped short of saying the city was on the brink of falling. But they didn’t sound confident it would hold, either.
    “The situation in Ramadi remains fluid and, as with earlier assessments, the security situation in the city is contested. The ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] continue to conduct clearing operations against ISIL-held areas in the city and in the surrounding areas of Al Anbar province,” U.S. Central Command spokesman Army Maj. Curt Kellogg, a said in a statement, using the government’s preferred acronym for ISIS. The Coalition continues to coordinate with ISF forces and provide operational support as requested.”

    AFP's Jean Marc Mojon and Karim Abou Merhil sound out various Middle East experts about the prospects for victory in Anbar.  We'll note this section:

    “Anbar, and especially Fallujah, is like Asterix’s village,” said Victoria Fontan, a professor at American University Duhok Kurdistan, referring to an unconquerable town in the French comic book series.
    The province is packed with experienced fighters and while some Sunni tribes have allied with the government, others are fighting alongside ISIS or sitting on the fence.
    Local knowledge is seen as key to retaking territory along the fertile strip lining the Euphrates, where ISIS has inflicted severe military setbacks to the police and army since June.

    Iraqi Spring MC notes this takes place as calls for reinforcements of government troops to be sent to . . . Baiji.

    That's in northern Iraq, Salahuddin Province.  These reinforcements are being sent in to protect . . .  Well, not people.  There are people in Ramadi who need protection.  But the government forces going to Baiji are going to protect an oil refinery.

    Saif Hameed, Isabel Coles and Giles Elgood (Reuters) explain:

    The new Anbar campaign was intended to build on a victory in the city of Tikrit, which Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite paramilitaries retook this month.
    But the Sunni jihadists have struck back in Anbar as well as Baiji, where they blasted through the security perimeter around Iraq's largest refinery several days ago.

    Meanwhile, Iraqi Spring MC reports, just to the east of Ramadi, 3 Sahwa have been killed by the Islamic State today.  Also today in Anbar Province, Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports, "In Soufiya, the militants bombed a police station and took over a power plant. The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing for their own safety, said airstrikes were trying to back up Iraqi troops. Iraqi security officials could not immediately be reached for comment."

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 290 violent deaths throughout Iraq today.

    From the factual to the whatever, Hayes Brown (Buzzfeed) is probably a typical American journalist -- over inflated ego and underfed brain.  He makes that clear with the following:

    There are currently dozens of groups fighting against ISIS in Iraq, some of which are committing human rights abuses, but please don’t call them “militias,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Wednesday.
    “Militias, according to the [Iraqi] Constitution, according to us, are the enemy of the state,” he said in a small roundtable with reporters. “Militias are an organization who are outside the state who carry arms, not under the control of the state,” he said. “They are not allowed.”
    (A quick Google search shows that a common definition of a militia is “a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.”)

    Hayes is such a dupe and such a stupe.

    Let's drop back to the March 24th snapshot:

    The assault is a failure.  And with MP Shakhawan Abdullah telling Rudaw reports, "At least 30,000 soldiers and military experts from the Islamic Republic of Iran are fighting ISIS militants in Iraq"?
    It really doesn't make Iran look very powerful or able to carry out a ground war.
    And what does it say about thug Hadi al-Ameri?
    He commands the Badr militia.
    But the Shi'ites also an MP and Minister of Transportation.
    Which is confusing because to run for office, political entities in Iraq were supposed to give up their militias.
    But the Badr brigade is run by al-Ameri who somehow (illegally) serves in the Iraqi government.

    Hayes has missed a great deal. To run for office, politicians were told that their political parties had to give up the militias.  (Badr is the militia for the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq led by Ammar al-Hakim.)

    Not to do so would mean they couldn't hold office.

    Haider al-Abadi grasps that -- he's a member of Dawa (not the leader, somehow Nouri remains leader of the party).  He's run in these elections.

    He knows that, as prime minister, if he calls these militias, a lot of people are going to be out of office.  So he rushes to insist that these militias are something other than militias.

    Like Hillary Clinton is something other than Hillary:

  • Betty teamed up with Cedric and Wally for a joint-post today about an idiotic column at CNN that insisted Hillary Clinton should not be called Hillary -- not even by Hillary's campaign or by Hillary herself.

    The idiot guest posting at CNN feels its sexism.  (Is it sexism when we refer to Bill Clinton here as "Bill" or Barack Obama as "Barack"?)

    The columnist has her panties in a wad over this "Hillary" usage.  It would not, she insists, happen to a man.


    Did she think General Dwight Eisenhower's last name was "Ike"?

    Ike was the nickname used in the drafting him to run for president campaign as well as in his successful presidential campaign.  "I like Ike."

    Didn't harm him any.

    I'm far more bothered by pieces that refer to Hillary as "Mrs. Clinton."

    Hillary has name recognition that puts her ahead of every other candidate or potential candidate so far.

    "Hillary" is her brand.

    CNN shouldn't run such idiotic columns.

    Lastly, yesterday the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following statement:

    Anfal Campaign

    April 14, 2015
    U.S. Embassy Baghdad
    Office of the Spokesperson
    For Immediate Release                  

    Today marks the anniversary of the Anfal -- Saddam Hussein’s brutal campaign against the Kurdish people in Iraq in which thousands of innocent Iraqis were slaughtered, and thousands more were wounded, maimed, or expelled from their homes.  We honor those who were killed or injured as a result of the Anfal, and pledge to stand with all Iraqis and the Kurdish people as they strive to build a brighter future for themselves and their descendants.

    arwa damon
    nancy a. youssef