Monday, July 13, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Monday, July 13, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, a new UN report notes that the violence against civilians in Iraq is being carried out by terrorists and by the Iraqi forces, Donald Trump offers a silly and idiotic proposal and that causes outrage -- that causes outrage,  Haider al-Abadi again tries to retake Anbar Province, and much more.

Let's start with some reality.

Donald Trump wants to be the Republican Party's presidential nominee.

Whether that will happen or not remains to be seen.

But all the bottom feeders are out attacking him.

(I know Donald.  I do not like Donald.)

David Letterman came out of his retirement to attack Trump.

Jon Stewart's made his final days on Comedy Central all about Trump.

One of the things Donald Trump is being ridiculed for is declaring that the US should bomb Iraq's oil fields.

Now I'm not for bombing anything.

But the gasping and the clutching of the pearls over the remark, the proposal?

If you think you look educated or humane, think again.

The Iraqi military has shelled Falluja General Hospital.

Not once or twice.

And we're not talking about the 2004 siege of Falluja.

We're talking about in the last twelve months.

It's taken place mulitple times.

All of you hypocrites  -- and, sadly, that is what you are -- who are hollering about how ridiculous Donald Trump is for calling for the bombing of Iraq's oil fields?

He's making a strange argument, but it's just words at this point.

If you really gave a damn about Iraq, you would have been screaming your head off when the Iraqi military was bombing Falluja General in the last 12 months.

In May of last year, Human Rights Watch noted:

Iraqi government forces battling armed groups in the western province of Anbar since January 2014 have repeatedly struck Fallujah General Hospital with mortar shells and other munitions, Human Rights Watch said today. The recurring strikes on the main hospital, including with direct fire weapons, strongly suggest that Iraqi forces have targeted it, which would constitute a serious violation of the laws of war.

Since early May, government forces have also dropped barrel bombs on residential neighborhoods of Fallujah and surrounding areas, part of an intensified campaign against armed opposition groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS). These indiscriminate attacks have caused civilian casualties and forced thousands of residents to flee.

“The government has been firing wildly into Fallujah’s residential neighborhoods for more than four months, and ramped up its attacks in May,” said Fred Abrahams, special adviser at Human Rights Watch. “This reckless disregard for civilians is deadly for people caught between government forces and opposition groups.”

Hairy fur ball Jon Stewart didn't give a damn about that.

That's why he's not news, why he has never been news.

What he's become is a bully and a bore.

The bombing of Falluja General?

A War Crime.

It's not a theoretical being floated by Donald Trump.

The Iraqi military targeting civilians in Falluja?

Also a War Crime.

Today, the United Nations released "Report on the Protection of Civilians in the Armed Conflict in Iraq" which notes of the attacks by the Iraqi government on civilians and civilian targets such as hospitals:

According to applicable rules of international humanitarian law, civilian infrastructure and property is protected from attack unless and only for such time as it is used by a party to the conflict for military objectives . UNAMI/OHCHR has nonetheless continued to receive reports of Government-associated forces apparently deliberately destroying civilian infrastructure or failing to take adequate precautions in the planning and execution of their operations. Incident reports have increased in tandem with the reclaiming of territory from ISIL control

July 5th, Al Jazeera reported:

At least 73 people have been killed in the the western Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, as the Iraqi government stepped up air strikes and artillery fire against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) armed group, sources told Al Jazeera. 
An air strike on a sports field in Ramadi shortly after midnight on Sunday killed at least 50 people and left more than 30 people injured. At least 23 people were killed and around 40 wounded after shelling north of Fallujah. 

And from Saturday's snapshot:

Meanwhile the Iraqi military continues its year and a half long bombing of civilians and civilian homes in Falluja.  Amre Sarhan (Iraqi News) reports a medical source told them that Saturday "Fallujah General Hospital received the bodies of 25 people, including three children and four women, and 23 wounded, including five women and six children, as victims after their homes were subjected to mortar fire in different areas of Fallujah."  In addition, Iraqi Spring MC reports that the Iraqi military bombed civilian areas of Ramadi today.

You may think Donald Trump's idea is crazy (I do).

But it's an idea.

It's not been implemented.

For 16 months, the civilians of Falluja have been under attack.  The attacks have been carried out by the Iraqi military.

This isn't an idea floated by Donald Trump, it's actual War Crimes.

And apparently it doesn't matter.

To those who want to whine about Donald Trump's proposal while ignoring War Crimes?

How are you any better than Bully Boy Bush and others who focused on the oil in Iraq while ignoring the people?

Answer: You're not.

Today, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi staged his latest attempt at taking (a part of) Anbar Province away from the Islamic State.  As Sinan Salaheddin (AP) observes:

This is not the first time the Iraqi government has announced an operation to retake Anbar — where several key towns, including the provincial capital Ramadi, remain under IS control. In May, authorities announced an operation to retake Ramadi, but there has not been any major progress on the ground since then.

Dominic Evans (Reuters) explains, "The sprawling Sunni Muslim province extends hundreds of kilometers west of Baghdad. Many of the towns and cities that line the banks of the Euphrates, snaking down from the Syrian border, are Islamic State strongholds.Islamic State's capture of Ramadi two months ago marked the biggest defeat for the Baghdad government since the militants swept through the north of the country last June and declared a caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq straddling the border."

AP has also noted that the announcement was made on Iraqi TV by Yahya Rasool who is the spokesperson for the Joint Operations Command but that he failed to "clarify whether the U.S.-led international coalition is taking part, mentioning only government forces and allied Shiite and Sunni paramilitary troops."  Failed to clarify or failed to credit?

Al Jazeera's Imran Khan offered:

We are hearing the province will be surrounded on three sides going up to the border with Syria. They have announced operations like this one in the past particularly in Ramadi when it was taken by ISIL forces in mid-May. And that's a battle that's still ongoing. It is likely that this operation will concentrate on the second city in Anbar province, Fallujah, and move further west. While this is going on, we have also heard coalition airstrikes have hit an ISIL media and radio station in Anbar province.

What are they fighting for in Iraq?


Or the ability to carry out their own killings?

Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports:

Iraqi officials have been candid that the brunt of the fighting about to engulf the city will be borne by an umbrella group of Shiite militia groups formed under the supervision of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the elite of Shiite Iran. That’s raised dire concerns from American advisers that these sectarian groups – overtly hostile to both Americans and Sunni Muslims – will break the already deeply frayed relationship between the Shiite government in Baghdad and the Sunni tribes that dominate the large swaths of Iraq currently under the Islamic State’s control.

Read more here:
The government claims that Sunni tribal fighters and local policemen from Anbar will join the militia-led assault. But many remain skeptical that Sunnis have joined in sufficient numbers to avoid the impression of a Shiite pogrom against Sunnis in Fallujah.

Read more here:

At the US State Dept press briefing today, spokesperson John Kirby spun wildly.

QUESTION: Slightly Iran-related. In relation to Fallujah, wondering if the United States detects any evidence of Iranian involvement or direction of Shiite militia trying to take back Fallujah?

MR KIRBY: I would point you to the Iraqi Government – this is an Iraqi-led operation – to speak to the participation of these Popular Mobilization Forces and certainly Tehran for the degree that they are or are not facilitating. I do think it’s important to remember a couple of things. This is an Iraqi-led operation, as it should be. And so we’re going to let them speak to the progress of it. And then on the Popular Mobilization Forces, and I mentioned this a week or so ago but I think it bears repeating: About 80 percent of these Popular Mobilization Forces, or Shia militia as they are otherwise known, are not at all connected to Tehran or the Iranian regime. They’re Iraqi citizens proud of their country and wanting to chip in and fight. And what we’ve said from the very beginning is that all the forces arrayed on the ground against ISIL in Iraq need to be under the command and control of the Iraqi Government. And that’s what we’ve seen with the vast majority of these Shia militiamen.

So I think it’s just important to keep a little context in here. When we talk about Shia militia fighting here or fighting there, there’s this automatic sort of connection drawn to Tehran, and that’s just not the case mathematically.

The assault on Anbar comes as the United Nations News Centre reports:

The ongoing conflict in Iraq continues to exact a “terrible” and deadly toll on the country’s civilians, particularly in the areas still under control by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to a new report released today by the United Nations.
The report – a joint effort compiled by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) – notes that the situation facing civilians in ISIL-controlled territory remains dire with many of those perceived to be opposed to the extremist group’s ideology being murdered, often in “grim public spectacles.”
Members of ethnic and religious communities, for instance, continue to be persecuted with as many as 3,500 members of the Yezidi community remaining under ISIL captivity enduring physical and sexual violence.
Others, meanwhile, are apparently being persecuted based on their perceived sexual orientation. On 8 March, the report says, ISIL beheaded two individuals accused of homosexuality and a third for blasphemy in the Bab al-Toob area of Mosul.
[. . .]
Although the report widely focuses on the crimes perpetrated by ISIL extremists, it also documents violations committed by the Iraqi Security Forces and affiliated forces, including indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling as well as actions of reprisal against civilians. 

Meanwhile Margaret Griffis ( counts 90 violent deaths across Iraq today.

Her count comes as the UN announced 15,000 deaths in the last 18 months.

  • CHPSRE: RT KenRoth: Iraq civilian toll in past 18 months: 15,000 dead, 30,000 injured--UN report. …