Saturday, September 05, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, September 5, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, protests continue, so-called reporters continue to cover up corruption, and much more.

Hannah Allam, the joke of all US reporters covering Iraq returns to the topic.

For those late to the public embarrassment, Hannah not only writes for McClatchy but operates a little-read Twitter feed.  Yet she grandstands publicly, for years now, about Iraqi refugees at various events -- how they need help and attention.

But she never writes or Tweets about the topic.

She's become a useless joke.

At this point, the human punchline returns to the topic of Iraq to scribble:

 Iraq’s ability to fight Islamic State extremists who control roughly a third of the country is hampered by a financial crisis that’s left the Baghdad government operating “hand to mouth,” Iraqi Ambassador Lukman Faily warned this week.
The inability to pay salaries on time to the soldiers and militiamen fighting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has hurt morale and hindered progress in operations to retake key hubs that were captured by the jihadists, Faily said in an interview Thursday. And belt-tightening measures such as consolidating government ministries threaten to exacerbate ethnic and sectarian tensions by upsetting the delicate power-sharing quota system that’s been in place since the U.S.-led occupation authority took charge following the invasion of 2003.
“This goes back to not making your support conditional,” he added, referring to Iraqi officials’ frustration with the Obama administration’s reluctance to bail them out last year unless Baghdad first made reforms to address the corruption and ingrained sectarianism that softened the ground for the extremist takeover of Mosul in the north and most of Anbar province in the west.

Read more here:

Is that what it goes back to?

Oh, Faily thinks the whole world is as stupid as he is -- or Hannah is.

She then talks to Iraq Oil Report where, no surprise, it's Nouri's fault.

Unlike Iraq Oil Report, we've slammed Nouri al-Maliki since the summer of 2006.  We were never taken in by the thug.  Iraq Oil Report had to wait until he was out of power to really slam him (2014).

They're cowards.  The world is full of cowards.

We still slam Nouri for his actions today.

For his actions.

Nouri hasn't been prime minister since August of last year.  Haider al-Abadi is prime minister.

If there are budget woes now, that's on Haider.

I loathe Nouri al-Maliki.  He's a thug and belongs in prison.

I'm comfortable slamming him for anything he's done.

But today's budget woes are not Nouri's problems.

Past corruption is Nouri's problem.

Not today's corruption.

Here's some basic reality that was too much for Hannah, the  World Bank ranks 185 countries based on GDP (Gross Domestic Product).  Iraq comes in at 75 while Madagascar is ranked 173.

The most recent numbers for Madagascar's GDP is $22 billion in US dollars.

That would be a country closer to struggling.


Saif Hameed (Reuters) reported last January, "Iraq's parliament approved a budget worth 119 trillion Iraqi dinars ($105 billion) on Thursday, made possible by improved ties between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish region, but contrained by plunging global oil prices."

The price of oil fluctuates, that's nothing new.  As this week wound down, it was $46.75 per barrel at one point.  As Hameed noted in his January report, the budget approved was based on a $50 per barrel price.

The price per barrel only dropped below $50 at the end of July.  It had been above $50 per barrel since the start of the year with it being nearly $70 mid-April.  Barring any economic disaster, oil will average a price per barrel of greater than $50 for the year.

In the meantime, the CIA estimates 37 million Iraqis in Iraq.

In what world can a $105 billion yearly budget not guarantee the protection and security of 37 million people?

That's the question that idiots and liars like Hannah have ignored year after year.

The hard questions, the ones journalists are supposed to ask, have gone ignored under Nouri al-Maliki.

Now that he's out, Iraq Oil Report can criticize him to Hannah but, here's the thing, now that he's out of power, he's no longer responsible for the ongoing corruption.

McClatchy Newspapers did little to nothing for Iraq.

When they bought Knight-Ridder, they thought they could buy Knight-Ridder's pre-Iraq War reporting image.

But only idiots (hey, Lambert) fell for it.

McClatchy existed before the Iraq War started.

It did not expose the lies leading to war.  That was Knight-Ridder.

Buying Knight-Ridder and then absorbing it in the summer of 2006 did not make McClatchy a truth teller in 2002 and 2003 when it, like the New York Times and so many other outlets, just parroted what Bully Boy Bush, Dick Cheney and others said.

In all her time 'reporting' on Iraq for McClatchy, Hannah never wrote one story that mattered.

That tells you a great deal about Hannah and about McClatchy.

Today, she writes an idiotic piece about Iraq struggling with finances but fails to tell you their 2015 budget, fails to tell you the population -- we're talking about 37 million people and a 105 billion dollar budget.

There's no extreme math skills needed to see this problem.

But apparently, Hannah lacks whatever skills are necessary to point out this basic problem.

Those skills might include honesty because she's never come off as very honest to me.

When you have a corrupt government and US reporters fail to report on the corruption, I'm failing to understand how a reporter like Hannah can be characterized as anything but corrupt herself.

All Iraq News reports, "The Supreme Religious Authority called for pursuing the top corrupted officials as a basic step towards reforms."  Press TV adds:

"One of the essential steps for reform is to hunt the big heads among the corrupt and hold them accountable, to retrieve all the stolen money," Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said in a sermon delivered by his representative Ayatollah Ahmad al-Safi in the Iraqi holy city of Karbala on Friday.
He added people "have long suffered from corruption" and they want "this mission to be implemented without procrastination and delay".

His call would have more power if amplified by the world press.  Instead, 'reporters' like Hannah Allem provide cover for the corruption and the corrupt.

What the Hannahs of the world do 'report' is the statements of people like Haider claiming that they will do this or that.

Report it as fact and with no follow up.

Leave it to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to point out what the press refuses: Iraqi officials making statements to the media are not enough, actual actions are needed.

Which is a good time to note Tim Arango's "Protests in Iraq Bring Fast Promises, but Slower Changes" (New York Times) from Monday:

For five Fridays now, thousands of Iraqis -- mostly, but not entirely, youthful and secular — have gathered in central Baghdad’s Tahrir Square to demand change. At first, the demands were small — improve electricity amid a summer heat wave -- but the list has grown longer and more complex: Fix the judiciary, hold corrupt officials accountable, get religion out of politics.

The protests have come to overshadow the fight against the Islamic State, Iraq’s main preoccupation over the past year. Change, at least on paper, came quickly. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced a set of sweeping measures to placate the protesters. He called for the elimination of several senior government positions, including the three vice presidencies; the end of sectarian quotas in politics; the reduction of ministries; and a new drive to eliminate corruption.
Several weeks later, few of the measures, aside from the firing of three deputy prime ministers and a few ministers, have been carried out, and many protesters now say they are pessimistic about real change.

“We haven’t noticed anything yet,” said Ali Farras, 25, who joined the protests on Friday. “It is just ink on paper.”

You can also read Tim Arango's report at Gulf News.


Protests continued on Friday as Al Mada (above) notes.

Al Mada reports that thousands turned out in central and southern Iraq to protest.  Thousands turned out in Baghdad's Tahrir Square alone.  Protestors vowed that the demonstrations would continue until their demands (reforms, jobs, the passage of the law to create the National Guard, public services, etc) were met.

Turning to some of the  violence on Friday and today, Press TV offers the Islamic State abducted 20 men in Salahuddin province according to anonymous security source,  they also allegedly executed 8 people in al-Hadar village while Iraqi officilas insist that Iraqi war planes killed 7 people and left twelve more injured outside Tal Afar.  All Iraq News notes the Kurdistan National Union claims the Islamic State "executed 50 of its elements,"  an Al-Taji IED left four Iraqi soldiers injured, and an Adhmiah sticky bombing left 1 person dead and another injured.

Meanwhile Seumas Milne (Guardian) continues to cover a 2012 document on the Islamic State:

A revealing light on how we got here has now been shone by a recently declassified secret US intelligence report, written in August 2012, which uncannily predicts – and effectively welcomes – the prospect of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria and an al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. In stark contrast to western claims at the time, the Defense Intelligence Agency document identifies al-Qaida in Iraq (which became Isis) and fellow Salafists as the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” – and states that “western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” were supporting the opposition’s efforts to take control of eastern Syria.
Raising the “possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality”, the Pentagon report goes on, “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)”.
Which is pretty well exactly what happened two years later. The report isn’t a policy document. It’s heavily redacted and there are ambiguities in the language. But the implications are clear enough. A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state” – despite the “grave danger” to Iraq’s unity – as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.

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