Saturday, June 06, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, June 6, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the lies about Iraq continue, the State Dept finally appears to offer an olive branch to Ammar al-Hakim, and much more.

As we were noting Friday, Diana Ohlbaum blew her chance to explore a serious topic via her own dirty whoring.  The Hill published her  "Republicans' revisionist history on Iraq" possibly in an attempt to open her up to the public ridicule she now so richly deserves.

In a tacky poly blend of fact and fiction, she offers this mouth dropper:

It was President George W. Bush who signed the security agreement with Iraq that set a date of Dec. 31, 2011 for all U.S. forces to withdraw from the country. 

Get it?

Because Bully Boy Bush did a treaty with Iraq, no one else can.

It's a liar posing as a child's view of the world.

By this 'logic'?

He left no time to regret
Kept his dick wet
With his same old safe bet
Me and my head high
And my tears dry
Get on without my guy
You went back to what you knew
So far removed from all that we went through
And I tread a troubled track
My odds are stacked
I'll go back to black
-- "Back to Black," written by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson, first appears on Amy's Back to Black album

So by the liar's 'logic,' since Bully Boy Bush got his dick wet, Barack must be a virgin, right?

In an either/or, dichotomous binary world, that is the only possible outcome, right?

By her 'logic.'

It's a 'logic' that's fact-free.

Here's Barack speaking about it on June 19, 2014:

Q    Just very quickly, do you wish you had left a residual force in Iraq?  Any regrets about that decision in 2011?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, keep in mind that wasn’t a decision made by me; that was a decision made by the Iraqi government.  We offered a modest residual force to help continue to train and advise Iraqi security forces.  We had a core requirement which we require in any situation where we have U.S. troops overseas, and that is, is that they're provided immunity since they're being invited by the sovereign government there, so that if, for example, they end up acting in self-defense if they are attacked and find themselves in a tough situation, that they're not somehow hauled before a foreign court.  That's a core requirement that we have for U.S. troop presence anywhere. 



That's right.  Barack tried to get a new agreement but failed.

A fact that a cheap whore who can't even get honest about her politics thought she'd lie about in an article slamming Republicans for lying.

I don't need cheap whores.

None of us who are trying to tell the truth need cheap whores 'helping' us.

All their lying does it obscure reality even further.

I am trying to be as honest about Iraq as I can be because the Iraqi people matter.

I'm not the whore Bob Somerby who announced this week that his entire reason for existence online is to elect Democrats (Ruth noted it here).

Lies are not helping the Iraqi people, lies have never helped the Iraqi people.

The lie that sanctions were a 'humane' way to avoid war didn't help the Iraqi people.

The lie that Iraq had WMD didn't help the Iraqi people.

Democratic politicians were the ones chiefly responsible for the first lie, Republican politicians were the ones chiefly responsible for the second.

A lot of politicians did a lot of lying and, thing is, politicians lie all the time.  It's only when whores enable them that their lies have traction.

It's only when filthy whores see themselves as something better than they are -- cheap tricks who will be used and tossed aside -- and lie for politicians. Diana Ohlbaum is just the latest whore to sling a tired ass.

She writes:

Third, it is clear that leaving U.S. troops in for longer, or returning them now, would not essentially change the fundamentals of the conflict. ISIS and other extremist forces are expanding, not for lack of powerful enemies, but because those enemies are themselves so abhorrent. The repressive, violent and corrupt regimes in Syria and Iran are the chief antagonists and targets of ISIS. By inserting ourselves into this fight, we unavoidably strengthen the very regimes we find so repugnant and so threatening to U.S. interests in the region.

Is that clear?

No, it's not.

And you have to be a damn liar to claim otherwise.

I have been speaking out against the Iraq War since February 2003 -- one month before it started.

It is still going on and I am still speaking out.

But opposition to the illegal war or the desire to stop it does not give me the excuse to lie about it.

The drawdown of US forces is December 2011.

And immediately Nouri al-Maliki

From the December 12, 2011 snapshot:

CNN reported this afternoon that an arrest warrant had been issued for Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi by the Judicial Commitee with the charge of terrorism.  Omar al-Saleh (Al Jazeera) terms it a "poltical crisis" and states, "The government says this has nothing to do with the US withdrawal, that this has nothing to do with the prime minister consolidating his grip on power.  However, members of al-Iraqiya bloc, which Hashimis is a member of, say 'No, [Maliki] is trying to be a dictator."  Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) observes, "The arrest warrant puts Mr. Maliki on a possible collision course with the Kurds, who run their own semiautonomous region in the north and participate in the central government but have longstanding disputes with Baghdad over oil and land; and with Sunni Arabs in provinces like Anbar, Diyala, Nineveh and Salahuddin who have pressed in recent weeks for more autonomy from Baghdad with the backing of the Kurds."
What the hell is going on? 
Over the weekend, Nouri went for another power grab. 
It actually started before Saturday but the press was ga-ga over photo-ops.  'Last soldier out! No, really, last US soldier out! Except for the ones still there! Don't look behind the curtain!'   And apparently covering for Barack was more important than telling Americans what was taking place in Iraq.

Late Saturday night online (Sunday in print), Liz Sly (Washington Post) noted that the 'government' in Iraq is "unraveling faster than had been anticipated Saturday." Really?  All in one day.  Well,  no, not in one day.  She continued,  "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders." 

And December 18, 2011 on All Things Considered (NPR), Kelly McEvers offered this take:

Kelly McEvers: Here in Kuwait, just having crossed over the border, we have all these US commanders telling us that they're leaving Iraq in a better place, that it's a thriving democracy. Yet in Baghdad it looks like you have Prime Minister Maliki -- who is a Shi'ite and whose government is Shi'ite -- going after his rivals who are Sunnis. Just yesterday, charges were announced against the Vice President who is Sunni and troops surrounded his house. The Maliki government accuses him of being involved in a terrorist plot. But Maliki's detractors say this is sectarian revenge. So you know we've got these promises from US commanders that things are going really well but this kind of national reconciliation government looks like it's unraveling.

This took place in the immediate aftermath of the US drawdown.

Had more US troops stayed -- Ted Koppel established that not all US troops had left, if you're late to the party, Google that -- would Nouri have pulled that nonsense?

Maybe not.

Maybe so.

It seems doubtful to me that he would have.

But we just don't know.

And that's what's called honesty.

Diana Ohlbaum is dishonest and lying when she writes:

Third, it is clear that leaving U.S. troops in for longer, or returning them now, would not essentially change the fundamentals of the conflict. ISIS and other extremist forces are expanding, not for lack of powerful enemies, but because those enemies are themselves so abhorrent. The repressive, violent and corrupt regimes in Syria and Iran are the chief antagonists and targets of ISIS. By inserting ourselves into this fight, we unavoidably strengthen the very regimes we find so repugnant and so threatening to U.S. interests in the region.

Would US troops on the ground in Iraq now -- as more than so-called 'trainers' -- make any difference?

I don't know and neither does Diana Ohlbaum.

My argument would be that any 'gains' that might result would be erased when the US troops left or decreased in number and Iraq would be right back where it was.  So maybe there's something to be said for allowing it to be sorted out now* and maybe there's not.

[*If the US government is going to 'help' with war planes, they can certainly help with diplomacy.]

But the "violent and corrupt regimes in Syria and Iran" are not the reason the Islamic Society has a the strong foothold in Iraq today.  The reason for that is Nouri al-Maliki's second term and the actions he took.

Is Diana Ohlbaum even aware that Iraqis took to the streets in December 2012 in protests which lasted until January 2014 -- when Nouri began burning down protest camps -- over a year of steady protests?

If she is aware, she's not honest enough to admit it.

She's just another partisan liar pretending to give a damn about Iraq but actually trying to use it as a political football in order to influencing voting.

Her lies -- like other earlier lies -- do not help the Iraqi people.

Is Robin Yassin-Kassab a liar or just really bad at condensing and summaring?  Yassin-Kassab (Guardian) writes of Emma Sky's The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq:

In the 2010 election, with both Sunni and Shia support, the non‑sectarian, nationalist Iraqiya bloc won two seats more than Nouri al‑Maliki’s State of Law coalition. But many MPs were disqualified by the de‑Ba’athification committees, while Maliki demanded a recount and then manoeuvred to stay on as prime minister. To his military’s disgust, Obama ignored the deadlock for two months. Chris Hill, the new US ambassador, told Odierno that Iraq wasn’t ready for democracy and needed a Shia strongman. An opinion poll disagreed: only 14% of Iraqis thought Maliki should stay in power. But the Iranians lobbied hard to preserve him and thus to alienate Iraq from the rest of the Arab world. Obama’s acquiescence led one of Sky’s Iraqi informants to complain: “Either the Americans are stupid or there is a secret deal with Iran” – a view that is still more widespread today. Where Bush made democracy a totem, and thought it could be delivered via occupation, Obama gave up on it entirely. The results of this equally misguided (and orientalist) approach are painfully evident today.
Sky saw the start of Maliki’s slide into paranoid authoritarianism. His regime abandoned (or arrested) the Sahwa militias who had fought al‑Qaida, detained thousands of Sunnis without trial, killed dozens of peaceful protesters, and appointed loyalists rather than competent officers to the army.

In November 2013, Obama praised “a strong, prosperous, inclusive and democratic Iraq”. By July 2014, Islamic State had driven the Iraqi army out of Mosul and set about cleansing religious minorities from the north. 

Let's zoom in here where the trouble starts:

But many MPs were disqualified by the de‑Ba’athification committees, while Maliki demanded a recount and then manoeuvred to stay on as prime minister.

Many MPs were disqualified -- before the election.

Not after.

Is that clear to the readers?

Saleh al-Mutlaq, for example, would go on to be Deputy Prime Minister in the 2010 to 2014 government.

But he was not allowed to run in the elections.

He was among the Sunnis disqualified (more than Sunnis were disqualified).

Ahead of the elections, he was a frequent guest on Al Jazeera's Inside Iraq where he discussed not being allowed to run.

The summary also implies that Iraqiya won by two votes before a recount.

Wrong, Iraqiya had a bigger lead and it was chipped away at when Nouri stomped his feet and demanded a recount.

Chipped away at but not destroyed.

And the political stalemate -- where Nouri refused to step down and brought the government to a standstill for eight months -- is that clear?

Nothing's clear.

Again, maybe the writer's just bad at summary or recap.

But lies don't help the Iraqi people.

The lies include pretending it's okay that Haider al-Abadi's doing nothing to reach a political solution in Iraq.

Frederic Wehrey and Ala' Albrababa'h's report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace noted:

The new Iraqi government of Haider al-Abadi initially took several steps to accommodate the tribes and temper the IS’s heavy-handed military campaign in Sunni areas. During his recent visit to Jordan, Abadi also met with several Sunni leaders from the Anbar Province to discuss support for a tribal struggle against the IS. But on balance, Iraqi government support for the tribes has fallen far short of what would be required to turn the tide against the IS in the province.

They noted that in December.

All these months later, it's still true.

  • Jason Ditz ( offers, "Reached late last year, the new Iraq-Kurdistan oil revenue sharing deal was supposed to be the centerpiece of a new rapprochement between the autonomous region and the central government, and new unity in the country. That deal is already in jeopardy, however, over disputes on revenue sharing."

    But it wasn't a deal and it wasn't followed and your first clue there was Haider's refusal to drop the lawsuit Nouri had brought regarding a tanker of oil the Kurds want to sell which has been stalled for over a year now.

    Your second clue that there was no deal was the fact that Haider was involved.

    Haider's a liar like Nouri -- pretending to make changes but never actually doing anything.

    Sunnis remain targeted.

    If you doubt it, Nour Malas (Wall St. Journal) reports:on how Ramadi refugees are not being allowed to enter Baghdad:

    On the outskirts of the capital and 50 miles southeast of Ramadi, Bzeibez is the only crossing over the Euphrates river between Anbar and the capital Baghdad. For five days after Ramadi fell to the Sunni extremists of Islamic State on May 17, the bridge was either completely or intermittently closed to those fleeing violence, officials at the bridge and in Baghdad said.
    [. . .]
    “When they came, yes there were women and children,” Mr. Bassem, the policeman, said on Wednesday. “But we see Daesh, and they have women and children among them so how can we be sure?”
    Behind him, teenage boys pushed steel wheelbarrows stacked with sacks of potatoes, sugar, and fabrics in both directions across the bridge, which was open for its usual working hours on Wednesday. Children, some of them residents of the area and others newly displaced, jumped into the Euphrates below to ward off the midday heat.

    Sunnis aren't welcome in Baghdad by Haider al-Abadi but he can't get enough of Qasem Soleimani.

  • Lastly, better late than never.  We've spent months noting that the US government has lost Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq -- a Shi'ite leader.

    We've also noted that the US government has done nothing to address that.

    Today the State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted the following: