Thursday, April 02, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, April 2, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, militias loot in Tikrit, Amnesty International fears far worse than looting is taking place, there is no deal with Iran but some spin and some lie, a convicted felon -- released only months ago and now a registered sex offender -- gets published by The Huffington Post -- thanks, Arianna, for stabbing women in the back, the Ashraf community continues to be under attack, Hillary Clinton's 'skill' with regard to that community does not speak well for her alleged leadership, and much more.

The US government has been seeking a treaty with the Iranian government.

Some would have you believe the moment arrived today.

US Secretary of State John Kerry:  We, our P5+1, EU partners, and Iran have arrived at a consensus on the key parameters of an arrangement that, once implemented, will give the international community confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful. And over the coming weeks, with all of the conditions of the 2013 Joint Plan of Action still in effect from this moment forward, our experts will continue to work hard to build on the parameters that we have arrived at today and finalize a comprehensive deal by the end of June.

Did you follow that?

Because a lot of people -- including supposed journalists -- did not.

There is no deal.

Parameters of a deal?

That's not a deal.

The negotiations will continue.

They may or may not lead to a deal.

Cedric and Wally grasped that this afternoon "Barry calls a maybe 'historic'" and "THIS JUST IN! ALL HAIL THE MAYBE HISTORIC DEAL THAT MIGHT BE REACHED IN 3 MONTHS! OR NOT!" joint-post:


. . . MIGHT . . .

. . . BE REACHED . . .

. . . IN . . .

. . . THREE MONTHS . . .





On The NewsHour (PBS -- link is video, text and audio), Judy Woodruff put it this way, "The United States and five other nations say they have achieved a political framework for a final agreement with Iran."

Again to John Kerry:

US Secretary of State John Kerry:  Our political understanding arrived at today opens the door for a long-term resolution to the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Now, we have no illusions about the fact that we still have a ways to travel before we’ll arrive at the destination that we seek. We still have many technical details to work out on both sides and still some other issues that we acknowledge still have to be resolved; for example, the duration of the UN arms and ballistic missile restrictions on Iran and the precise timing of and mechanism for the conversion of the Arak reactor and Fordow site. And of course, once we’re able to finalize a comprehensive deal, the process of implementation then remains in front of us as well. But that’s a good challenge to have, frankly.

There is no deal.

There may be one at some point.

There's not one now.

I'm real sorry to be the one to tell Phyllis Bennis to put the vibrator down and stop shrieking in ecstasy but someone has to.

Phyllis can take comfort in the fact that her public madness has been trumped.

No, Phyllis is many things (a number of them good) but she is never trash.

Trash wrote this:

The deal recently concluded between Iran and the so-called "P-5 plus 1" nations (the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) is designed to prevent Iran from being able to rapidly acquire fissile material in quantities suitable for use in a nuclear weapon. According to President Obama, the agreement is a "good deal" that "shuts down Iran's path to a bomb." The devil is in the details, of course, which won't be finalized until June 30,

I didn't realize trash was out of prison.

Turns out, he got paroled back in December.

Arianna allowed her website -- bearing her name -- to publish those scribbles by that piece of trash.

The Huffington Post offers this tagline to the column:

Scott Ritter served as a weapons inspector for the United Nations in Iraq from 1991-1998 and is the author of Target Iran published by Nation Books.

It should include that he "was convicted of six counts, including felony unlawful contact with a minor.  Sentenced to up to five and half years, he was sent to Laurel Highlands state prison in Somerset County, Pa., in March 2012."  And he served 2 years and 9 months before being paroled.

Scott Ritter is filth.  He's a sex offender who supposed to be getting treatment as part of his parole.  I wonder how writing -- which will surely lead to speaking -- is supposed to protect anyone because he's not supposed to have contact with underage females.

I don't understand.

He gets a pass because he's a White man?

He's a convicted pedophile.

Arrested multiple times and convicted.

No one should publish his 'writing.'  It's dull and plodding.

But if it is to be published, it needs to be published with a notice that he's a convicted predator.

Long before the conviction, years before, we took a strong stand against Scott Ritter and the people who enabled him.

We noted that Katrina vanden Heuvel would feel less inclined to publish him if it was her teenage daughter he was targeting.  We noted Amy Goodman's stamp of approval could enable him to continue the behavior and she'd be responsible if some young girl was harmed.

They enabled him.

They lied for him.

They insisted that there was a conspiracy against him.

There was no conspiracy, Ritter was not innocent.

He was a predator and he got caught yet again.

And this time he got convicted.

There is no reason to publish his writing.

But those stupid enough to do so need to identify him as a predator.

Those stupid enough to publish him make clear that (a) they don't value the safety of women and girls and (b) they think when a predator is White you give him a pass.

He has nothing of value to offer.

And that's demonstrated by the fact that he's writing about a deal that's done when it's not done.

Christopher Dickey and Tim Mak (Daily Beast) explain:

But Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif all emphasized a basic truth: the deal’s not done yet, and while what came out of Lausanne was a better and more complete framework than many diplomats expected when they went in, nothing has been signed, sealed and delivered.
It will be a miracle, in fact, if the deal outlined today can be wrapped up by the end of June, the deadline that’s been announced. Not only are the technical details to be resolved enormous and complicated, attacks on the whole process are likely to be relentless.

On the topic of spin, Tikrit.  Margaret Griffis ( reports, "It is unclear how successful the operation in Tikrit has been. Tours of the city have been canceled, and reporters are not allowed to wander by themselves. Also, many of the militiamen believe that the U.S. military has been ineffectual in the operation and even helping the militants."

AFP reports the US government continues its attempt to grab the glory regarding the 'liberation' of Tikrit and quotes a US official declaring, "Air support became the key factor in this."  And maybe Haider al-Abadi can delcare, for the third day in a row, that, today, Tikrit is liberated?  And, who knows, maybe today will be the day when there are no reports of battles in Tikrit?

How little will any of that actually matter?

Maybe the answer to that can be found with regards to the corpse discovered dumped in southern Baghdad today.  Alsumaria reports the man was a Sahwa and had been kidnapped at a checkpoint run by men in "military uniforms" who kidnapped the man and stole his car.  Hours later, they dumped his dead body in the streets.

Sahwa are predominately Sunni (we say "predominately" based on David Petraeus' testimony to Congress in April 2008).  The killers were most likely Shi'ite.  Whether they 'stole' the military uniforms (a laughable claim that's been made throughout the Iraq War) or were given them or were actually Iraqi military forces, it's Shi'ite on Sunni violence and anything that happened in Tikrit yesterday or the day before didn't lessen that.

"We are very concerned by reports of widespread human rights abuses committed in the course of the military operation in the area around Tikrit."

That's Amnesty International's Donatella Rovera speaking to AFP today.

Rovera also notes, "We are investigating reports that scores of residents have been seized early last month and not heard of since, and that residents’ homes and businesses have been blown up or burned down after having been looted by militias. There have also been reports of summary executions of men who may or may not have been involved in combat but who were killed after having been captured."

National Iraqi News Agency notes:

Vice President Iyad Allawi urged on Wednesday the army men to stay away from revenge and arrests, marginalization and the completion of military progress achieved in Tikrit.
Allawi praised - in a statement reported by his press office on the occasion of Liberation of Tikrit city from the control of the IS organization – the role of the Iraqi army who confronted the terrorist organizations and contributed to their defeat, stressing the importance of moving away from revenge and arrests, marginalization and slogans that cause damage to preserve the victory achieved and complete progress achieved down to the final victory on this IS extremist organization.
He stressed the need to respect the people of Salah al-Din province, as they are an integral part of the Iraqi people, adding that the Iraq war against terrorism embodied the national unity of the Iraqi people.

And those lovely thugs the US government keeps trying to sell to the press as the answer to a new Iraq?

AFP reports what took place yesterday in Tikrit:

Pro-government militiamen were seen looting shops in the centre of the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday after its recapture from the Islamic State jihadist group in a month-long battle.

The militiamen took items including clothing, shampoo and shaving cream from two shops in central Tikrit before driving away.

Iraqi Spring MC Tweeted about the militia looting and offered a photo:

: تكرار حالات السلب والنهب التي تنتهجها القوات الحكومية والميليشيات التابعة لها عند دخولها مناطق النزاع.
47 retweets18 favorites

Alsumaria notes that southern Baghdad also saw a group wearing military fatiques set up a check point and steal a car and 450 million dinars.

That's approximately $381,760 in US dollars.

All Iraq News notes a Baghdad car bombing left 1 person dead and thirteen injured.  Margaret Griffis ( counts 78 violent deaths across the country today.

How bad is it really in Iraq?

Alsumaria reports Nouri al-Maliki, former prime minister of Iraq, forever thug and one of Iraq's three vice presidents today, has declared that what's happening in Iraq now poses a regional threat.


Not when he created and fostered this strife?

Nouri will never take accountability for his actions but even he can't pretend things are peachy and jolly in Iraq.

In other news, a group of demonstrators in Dhi Qar Province today attempted to meet with Minister of Health Adela Hammound who was visiting the province.  Their issue?  Failure to pay them for their work.  The conversation?  Alsumaria reports it was carried out with bullets as the Minister refused to meet with them but her security forces fired shots -- either in the air or at the protesters -- what was being shot at is now the subject of a formal investigation.  Iraq Times notes the city's committee has issued a statement declaring that shots were fired but they were fired in the air and any injuries that resulted were accidental. However, Alsumaria quotes the Minister stating that her security forces did not fire any weapons.

We'll note this Tweet.

  • A twitter campaign to demand the release of a Camp Liberty resident taken hostage by Iraqi forces - starts now

  • Donya is talking about a member of the Ashraf community.

    As of September 2013, Camp Ashraf in Iraq is empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty).  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9, 2013, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1, 2013.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.  In addition, 7 Ashraf residents were taken in the assault.  November 2013, in response to questions from US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, the  State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Brett McGurk, stated, "The seven are not in Iraq."

    The September 28, 2012 change in designation?

    Tom McCarthy offers "Hillary Clinton: foreign policy is her strong suit -- but it could be her undoing" at the Guardian.

    Her 'strong suit' saw her repeatedly refusing a court order regarding the designation of  the MEK.

    That's part of her foreign policy.

    It's not a part that speaks well for her ability to make a decision or for her ability to comply with a court order in a timely fashion.

    July 17, 2010, Glenn Kessler (Washington Post) reported, "A federal appeals court Friday ordered the State Department to review its decisions to label an Iranian opposition group as a foreign terrorist organization, strongly suggesting the designation should be revoked."

    It was over two years before Hillary announced the designation.

    Again, it doesn't speak well for her ability to make a decision or for her ability to comply with a court order in a timely fashion.

    Nor does it speak well for her that she was unable to re-settle 3,000 dissidents during her time as US Secretary of State.

    As for the Ashraf member being Tweeted about, Shahriar Kia (News Blaze) explains:

    On Monday, 16 March 2015, Mr. Safar Zakery, a truck driver and a member of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran residing in Camp Liberty near Baghdad International Airport, was hit by an Iraq SWAT Humvee in a suspicious road accident. Traffic police at the site to investigate the matter immediately said the SWAT Humvee was responsible for the accident.
    Despite the fact that Safar Zakery was innocent, the Karkh investigative court - under the influence of three Iraqi army intelligence officers in contact with the Iranian regime's embassy and in charge of Camp Liberty's management team - had Mr. Zakery illegally arrested and imprisoned.

    The illegal arrest and continued detention of Safar Zakery are under orders issued by Iraqi national security advisor Falih Fayyadh. He is implementing his policies through his three agents by the names of Sadeq Mohamed Kadhem, Major Ahmed Khozeir and Captain Heidar Azzab Mashi, all having major roles in the crackdown and massacre of Ashraf and Liberty residents from 2009 onward.