Monday, September 14, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Monday, September 14, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, cooked intel continues, Turkey continues to use the PKK for political reasons, the United Nations pretends it's now interested in fair elections in Iraq, and much more.

Friday evening, Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) reported:

The investigative committee of the US House of Representatives has summoned Pentagon officials for a briefing about allegations of manipulated intelligence about the war against the Islamic State (Isis).
Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Ron DeSantis, who chairs its national-security subcommittee, asked the defense secretary, Ashton Carter, and inspector general, Jon Rymer, on Friday for information about an ongoing investigation into charges from dozens of US Central Command and Defense Intelligence Agency analysts that their superiors suppressed negative assessments of the year-old war against Isis.

In a sign of escalating congressional interest in an unfolding controversy, the GOP lawmakers requested briefings no later than 18 September. 

The Guardian article features a photo of Rep Jason Chaffetz with the  disgusting Elijah Cummings standing near him.  Cummings cared about Iraq only when Bully Boy Bush was in office.  Even worse, he cared about transparency only when Bully Boy Bush was in office.  Benghazi found him squealing that this was an effort to destroy US President Barack Obama.  After two years of him sputtering that off key whine, he switched to this is an effort (the same effort) to destroy Hillary Clinton's chances at the presidency.

Now with analysts saying their own intel is being cooked, where does the vile Elijah Cummings stand?

Yet again, he's not rushing to demand transparency.

Cummings only cares about transparency when he can use it as a partisan weapon.

Today, Rep Ron DeSantis' office issued the following:

Sep 14, 2015
Press Release
Washington, DC – Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-06), chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, has sent letters to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Department of Defense Inspector General Jon Rymer concerning allegations that officials have altered intelligence reports regarding the military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq. Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Jason Chaffetz (UT-03), joined DeSantis in sending these letters. DeSantis issued the following statement:
“I am concerned by allegations that political objectives are being taken into consideration regarding our national security. The data collected by our military personnel and intelligence agents is critical to accurately addressing threats and should not be influenced or altered to fit an advantageous political narrative. The Committee is taking these reports very seriously and we will investigate fully.”

There's been a great deal of press coverage in recent weeks and last week, Ali Watkins (Huffington Post) noted:

News that senior U.S. intelligence officials may have doctored analysis on the Islamic State weighs heavily on Washington. It suggests that President Barack Obama's intelligence apparatus didn't learn from the costly failures of the Bush era.
The Daily Beast reported late Wednesday that more than 50 intelligence professionals have formally complained that their analysis of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and of Syria's al Qaeda branch, al Nusra, was altered by U.S. Central Command higher-ups in order to make the U.S. military campaign to defeat those groups look more successful than it actually was.

And with the reports come questions and speculation.

  • James Clapper.  It's not often someone perjures themselves before Congress, has perjury exposed and is not then asked by the White House to resign.

    But Barack's been peachy keen on having professional liar James Clapper remain a part of the administration.

    While the intel is one issue, Jeremy Bender (Business Insider India) is concerned about another:

    US military advisers in Iraq's Anbar Province, which has largely been overrun by the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh), are sharing a military base with an Iranian-backed Shiite militia, The New York Times reports.
    The militia, known as Kataib Hezbollah, was previously responsible for the death of more than one thousand US soldiers during the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
    But now, due to the general collapse of the Iraqi Security Forces, the US and Kataib Hezbollah are forced to awkwardly work together and coordinate their actions against ISIS through an Iraqi military official. According to The Times, this includes logistical coordination such as assuring that US airstrikes do not accidentally hit members of the militia while in the field against ISIS.
    This coordination, which is entirely a marriage of convenience, may have the unintended consequence of ultimately enshrining Iranian rule and control in Iraq. Already, the Iranian-backed militias operate with little-to-no oversight from Baghdad and instead follow Iran's commands. 

    Bender highlights the issue today, a day after NINA reported:

    The tribal leader, Mahmoud Hussein al-Alwani declared the arrival of a US military armored force to Habbaniyah base east of Anbar.

    He said in a press statement that "the arrival of an American fighting force to Anbar give great zeal to the military forces that currently are fighting, because of its strength, modern arming and experience in fighting battles in cities."

    It is mentioned that security sources said yesterday that hundreds of American soldiers arrived to the base of Habbaniyah in eastern Anbar province days ago.

    Over the weekend, UNAMI issued the following:

    During his meeting today with the IHEC Commissioners, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Ján Kubiš expressed the United Nations continuing commitment and support in promoting the professionalism, independence and impartiality of Iraq’s electoral institutions.
    He also condemned acts of violence targeting IHEC staff and expressed his deepest condolences to the families of several dozens of electoral personnel who lost their lives in attacks perpetrated by ISIL elements.
    “We stand together with the IHEC in condemning these cowardly acts against its staff and condole with the families of victims, who died as martyrs”, Mr. Kubiš said.
    The SRSG also reiterated the international community’s commitment, following the renewal of UNAMI’s mandate, to support the government of Iraq and the IHEC in preparing credible electoral processes. He also welcomed the progress made so far by the IHEC and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s Electoral Commission in clarifying their respective roles and responsibilities which will allow the United Nations to support both IHEC and K-IHEC in a coordinated manner.

    “Strong electoral institutions free of political interferences are crucial for sustaining Iraq’s democratic processes and the protection and wellbeing of electoral staff are of paramount importance”, he underlined.

    That is just so sweet.

    And completely worthless.

    The United Nations refused to protect the Iraqi voters in 2010.

    Though they were asked to create a caretaker government to allow the transfer of one administration to another, they refused.

    They were actually in favor of the idea until the White House told them "no."

    They went along and the result?  (A) Nouri al-Maliki refused to step down and brought the government to an eight month political stalemate.  (B) Nouri, who lost the election, got a second term as the votes were tossed aside in favor of a US-brokered legal contract (The Erbil Agreement).

    After that, the United Nations has a lot of nerve pretending to care about votes and voting in Iraq.

    Also over the weekend, the increasing ridiculous Turkish government made outlandish charges against the PKK -- charges that are, no doubt, true of the Turkish government itself which is why it's a good time to again note an essay All Iraq News ran last month:

    The immediate justification for the launching of renewed airstrikes by Turkey and the US is the expansion of the war against ISIS. In the wake of the bombing in Turkey’s majority Kurdish town of Suruç, which killed 32 youth activists, the Turkish government has allegedly struck hard against both ISIS and PKK targets. It is against this backdrop that any analysis of the new phase of this war must be presented.

    First and foremost is the fact that even if one were to accept the Turkish government’s official story – the suicide bomber was linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) – not at all a certainty, the question of ultimate responsibility becomes central. While Ankara would have the world believe that its hands are clean, and that it is the innocent victim of international terrorism, the reality is that Turkey has done everything to foster and promote the growth of ISIS from the very beginning. As such, it is the Turkish government who must shoulder much of the blame for the Suruç bombing.

    Since at least 2012, Turkey has been the principal conduit for weapons flowing into Syria. In June of that year, the NY Times confirmed that the CIA was smuggling weapons to anti-Assad forces from the Turkish side of the border using agents of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, long-time assets of US intelligence. Also in 2012, Reuters revealed that Turkey had “set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria’s rebels from a city near the border… ‘It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main coordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom,’ said a Doha-based source.”

    It is now also documented fact that Turkish intelligence (MIT) has been an active player in the ongoing campaign to arm and resupply the terror groups such as the al Nusra Front and others. The evidence of this fact was made public by the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet which published video footage along with transcripts from wiretaps confirming what many eyewitnesses have stated: Turkish security forces have been directly involved in shelling and support operations for Nusra front and other jihadi groups in and around Kassab, Syria, among other sites. Many of the very same terrorists who have been armed and supported by the Turkish government are today being held up as enemies of Turkey, and rationalization of the need for Turkish military intervention.

    So, with the inescapable understanding that Turkey’s government is the primary supporter and sponsor of terrorist groups in Syria, the justification for war becomes flimsy at best. But, if it’s not about fighting terror, then what exactly is Ankara’s objective? What does it hope to gain?

    Today's Zaman notes, "Critics argue Turkey's announced intention to fight ISIL is a ruse to go after the PKK, which has been waging a three-decade long war with the Turkish state. State Department spokesman John Kirby denounced the PKK-linked violence on Wednesday, backing Turkey's fight against the PKK as 'self-defense.' He also called on the PKK to return to the political process."

    Did Kirby call for that?

    Probably, he's becoming a non stop embarrassment these days.

    So much so that the western press appears to be doing rewrites just for John Kirby.

    At any rate, Richard Spencer (Telgraph of London) reported:

     The leaders of the PKK Kurdish guerrilla organisation has said they have been in indirect talks with the United States, despite being listed by Washington as terrorists, asking it to intervene and mediate in its war with Turkey.
    In an interview with Telegraph, Cemil Bayik, one of the three-man interim leadership council of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), would not identify the intermediaries in the negotiations – used because of its international proscription as a terrorist group. 

    And he reported that August 17th so there's really no excuse for that detail being buried or ignored just because John Kirby has never talked about it.

    This month on The Real News Network, Sharmini Peries spoke with Baris Karaagac regarding the escalation in violence:

    PERIES: Now Baris, some people speculate that this escalation and the nationalist sentiment coming out of Erdogan are all leadup to the upcoming elections. Your thoughts on that?

    KARAAGAC: Well, I think behind all this escalation of violence is Erdogan's desire to weaken the pro-Kurdish HDP. The political party that got 13 percent of the vote in June, and now has 80 members of the parliament. This was the biggest obstacle for Erdogan to effect constitutional change so that he could become a more powerful president. This is the main reason why he provoked this violence, why he ended the ceasefire, and why the Turkish military and the police forces are attacking the PKK.

    Meanwhile, Iraq still can't pass a bill to form a National Guard but, good news, Alsumaria reports the Parliament's debated Monday on whether or not to block porn sites.

    New content at Third: