Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, August 18, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue,  Haider al-Abadi rushes to rescue those in need (an oil company), Hillary Clinton uses Mad Maddie Albright for a 'charm offensive,' and much more.

Starting in the US where Hillary Clinton continues to seek the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination.  This despite rumors that former US Vice President Al Gore may step into the mix. In the meantime, Hillary's apparently on a self-destruct mission as evidence by her campaign's deployment of Mad Maddy Albright.

Albright is being used to lecture/hector Jeb Bush who is seeking the GOP's presidential nomination.

Or that's what the campaign hopes.

But all Albright really does is underscore the half a million killed during the presidency of Bill Clinton.

"We think the price is worth it," Mad Maddie replied when asked by Lesley Stahl (60 Minutes) about the half-a-million Iraqi children killed due to the sanctions imposed on Iraq during Bill Clinton's presidential terms.  As FAIR pointed out:

It’s worth noting that on 60 Minutes, Albright made no attempt to deny the figure given by Stahl–a rough rendering of the preliminary estimate in a 1995 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report that 567,000 Iraqi children under the age of five had died as a result of the sanctions. In general, the response from government officials about the sanctions’ toll has been rather different: a barrage of equivocations, denigration of U.N. sources and implications that questioners have some ideological axe to grind (Extra!, 3-4/00).

During Hillary's attempt to secure the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination, Mad Maddie was always the first Hillary advisor cited when critics wanted to smear Hillary's campaign:

Mad Maddie was used in 2008 to (a) demonstrate that Hillary was out of touch and (b) to underscore that long before Bully Boy Bush started the illegal war in 2003, Bill Clinton oversaw the slaughter of a half-million Iraqi children in what some foolishly saw as 'more peaceful times.'

Mad Maddie shooting off her tired yap this week only reminds people that when it comes to killing Iraqis, Bill and Hillary have been doing it for decades.

. is right: We can't afford another President Bush who would take us backward on Iraq and foreign policy.

And the world can afford another President Clinton who would kill another 500,000 Iraqi children?

In other poor visuals, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi made a special visit today.

Aref Mohammed, Ahmed Rasheed, Isabel Coles and William Hardy (Reuters) note, "Hundreds of locals recently blocked some entrance to Iraq's giant southern West Qurna-2 oilfield, operated by Russia's Lukoil, demanding jobs in a sign of the growing challenges facing foreign firms operating in the south."  So Haider rushed there today in an attempt "to reassure Lukoil."

  • PM Al-Abadi visits West Qurna 2 in Basra and adopts new measures to enhance security for international oil companies                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

  • Time and again, Haider puts oil first, ahead of the Iraqi people.

    Dropping back to the April 15th snapshot:

    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. 

    How did that work out?

    Does anyone remember?

    Oh, yeah, the Islamic State seized Ramadi -- which they still control today.

    But, hey, that refinery in Baiji, that oil refinery is safe.

    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 101 violent deaths across Iraq today.

    But, hey, Haider al-Abadi made a special trip today to reassure . . . Lukoil.

    Meanwhile, AFP reports former prime minister of Iraq and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki has dubbed the Iraqi Parliament's findings on the fall of Mosul "worthless."

    For those late to the story, yesterday  Emma Gatten (Independent) reported:

    Former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki could face trial over the fall to Isis of Iraq’s second city of Mosul, which led to the declaration of its caliphate last summer.
    Mr Maliki is one of around 30 senior officials named in a report that has been approved in parliament. It calls for Mr Maliki to face trial for what it says was negligence in choosing corrupt officers who failed to respond to the threat adequately.
    “No one is above the law and accountability to the people,” said parliament speaker Salim al-Jaburi in a statement after receiving the report, which was passed by a show of hands in parliament. 

    It's not just the report that Nouri's denouncing, it's the finding of his guilt.

    AFP quotes Nouri's rant from his Facebook page:

    There is no value in the result that emerged from the parliamentary investigation committee on the fall of Mosul, which was dominated by political differences and was not objective. [. . .] What happened in Mosul was a conspiracy planned in Ankara, then the conspiracy moved to Arbil,
    World Bulletin notes, "Iraq’s parliament approved the report on Monday by a large majority, after which it was referred to the CPI and the court [Supreme Court] for further investigation and a final decision."

    In other news, at the State Dept today, spokesperson John Kirby stamped out rumors that the US was investigating an alleged chemical attack on the Kurds:

    QUESTION: Just one question. There were media reports that the United States was investigating the alleged use of chemical gas by ISIS against the Kurds in Iraq. Has that committee or that investigating team come to a conclusive result about the use of gas against --

    MR KIRBY: I’m not aware of a U.S. investigation into this. I’d refer you to --

    QUESTION: CNN and other media outlets, they all reported it.

    MR KIRBY: Oh, well, if CNN reported it, then – (laughter). I mean, look, I don’t – I don’t have anything to report on that.

    QUESTION: So you didn’t investigate it?

    MR KIRBY: No, I’m telling you I don’t have anything to report on this news report you’re giving me about an investigation. The press reporting itself is deeply concerning to us. I’ve seen no indication and we have no confirmation that ISIL used a chemical agent, whether it’s mustard or anything else. Obviously, if it’s true, it’s certainly very deeply concerning given the brutality that this group is capable of.

    QUESTION: But --

    MR KIRBY: I don’t have any investigation to read out to you today --

    QUESTION: But did the U.S. --

    MR KIRBY: -- and I’d point you to DOD.

    QUESTION: So you don’t know if the U.S. had investigated at all?

    MR KIRBY: I don’t.