Monday, August 24, 2015

Iraq and the press that (mis)covers it

Question: If the press were a character in The Wizard of Oz, would they be the Scarecrow or the Lion?  Brainless or cowardly?

You have to wonder.

For three weeks, the western press has churned out promotional copy for Haider al-Abadi and his so-called 'reforms' that they've passed off as reporting.

When does the examination and analysis begin?

How about just a fact check?

Here, we've noted repeatedly that Haider is taking actions he does not have the Constitutional power to take.  That's a serious part of the story but it's not in the press coverage, is it?

Maybe now it will be:

Abadi also risks his endeavour by putting it on shaky constitutional ground. Rushing to regain the street’s favour, he launched it partly outside the constitution, cancelling the vice presidents’ posts, for example, without legal power to do so. This sets a precedent that could be overturned by the Supreme Court and exploited by political rivals to remove him. 

That's from the International Crisis Group's "Iraq: Conflict Alert" which they issued today.  They warn:

If the current reforms prove little more than window-dressing, they will mean the end of the political life of the prime minister and large portions of the political class. In their place, militia commanders would ride popular anger and military supremacy to power. There are many precedents in Iraq’s history. It was, after all, only a year ago that IS used Sunni anger and a lightening military strike to impose repressive rule in large parts of the country.

On militias, Mohammed al-Zaidi (Niqash) interviewed the leader of the League of the Righteous Qais al-Khazali.

NIQASH: In the past few weeks you have made several statements about the need to change Iraq's political system from a parliamentary one to a presidential one. Could you explain what you're asking for and why?

Al-Khazali: Today in Iraq we have big problems and everybody knows what they are – namely state services are problematic as are strategic projects and the level of unemployment as well as a raft of other things.
The League of the Righteous believes that one of the main reasons for these problems is the sectarian quota system in Iraq. To resolve this we have suggested that a presidential system be introduced because at the moment, the Prime Minister cannot choose the members of his government. He must bend to the will of the different blocs represented in Parliament who impose candidates upon him. There's a bad atmosphere between the Prime Minister and the Cabinet and its had a negative impact on the government’s work. That is why we make such demands. But such sensitive issues must be left to the Iraqi people to decide.

NIQASH: But in making these requests, some critics have said that what you are really doing is opening the door for the return of former Iraqi prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Al-Khazali: We do not have any special relationship with Nouri al-Maliki. For example, we were not given any special positions within his government when he was in charge. Additionally we didn't join his electoral bloc during elections; in fact, we contested the elections as a completely separate list.

al-Khazali is not just a thug, he's a huge liar.

Vying with him for the honor of liar supreme?

The Daily Beast which reposts the interview with a cutesy and largely fact free intro:

None of the Shia militias operating in Iraq is regarded with more suspicion by the United States, and more fear by its enemies, than Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the League of the Righteous. Over the last year or so, The Daily Beast has written frequently about this splinter group that was responsible for thousands of attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq after it started operations under the command of Qais al-Khazali in 2004.
Following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, the League continued to assert itself in Iraq’s politics and on the street. Last year it was believed responsible for the slaughter of 29 women and two men in an attack on an alleged house of prostitution. But since the virtual collapse of Iraq’s U.S.-trained regular army in the face of offensives by the so-called Islamic State, Baghdad has put increasing reliance on Shia militias with close ties to Iran and the head of its external covert action and proxy force operations, Qasem Suleimani.
As these militias’ confidence has grown, so have their demands that representation of Kurdish and especially Sunni factions in the government and military be curtailed. This conflicts directly with the policies advocated by Washington, which clings to the idea that more, not less, Sunni representation will help undercut ISIS and lead to a stronger Iraqi national army.

What are they missing?

Not much, right?
A major front page New York Times story but, hey, history must be purged of all Barack-related errors and mistakes 

Let's drop back we'll drop back to the June 9, 2009 snapshot with the realization that some who looked the other way in real time will now be outraged:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

No one ever did.

And publications like The Daily Beast do their part to ensure no one ever will.

Why white wash thugs? 

As Kirk H. Sowell points out in his most recent analysis, Iraq may be headed for the thug model becoming a Shi'ite militia state.

Suck up -- I believe that's the chief press credential these days.

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