Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, October 20, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue,  turmoil increases in the KRG, the US Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visits Iraq, War Hawk down in Canada, and much more.

Let's start with politics.

, "We made a mistake going into Iraq" and weighs in on the war in Afghanistan:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

I know Donald Trump.  I don't like Donald Trump.  I'm not voting for Donald Trump.

But I find it hilarious how so many on the centrist-left side -- not real leftists, just whores for the Democratic Party -- are obsessed over when Trump was against the Iraq War.  Was it before the illegal war started (March 2003) or, as the public record seems to indicate, some time in 2004?

While the whores rush to attack him, does anyone bother to register Hillary Clinton?

She 'regrets' her vote authorizing the Iraq War (mainly because it's the one mess she hasn't been able to lie herself out of).  It was a "mistake."

Where's her statement on Iraq?

Where's her statement on anything other than her own narcissistic self?

The worthless might consider that but then if the likes of Kevin Drum were honest or ethical, instead of challenging Trump or anyone else, they'd be taking a vow of public silence because it's trash like (and including) Kevin Drum that pimped the Iraq War to begin with.

It's a sign of how craven the Kevin Drums are -- and how craven their candidate Hillary is -- that they need to attack someone for decrying the Iraq War.

While the US election is a year away, Canada's held their election.

The loser?

Stephen Harper.  The War Hawk who persecutes war resisters has been prime minister of Canada since February 2006.

Thanks to the election, he's out and Justin Trudeau is in.  Trudeau will not only become Canada's next prime minister, he'll become the second in his family.  He's the son of the late Pierre Trudeau whose name has been raised repeatedly over the last years as people noted that, during Vietnam, Canada was a refuge for war resisters while, under Harper, it became known for kicking them out of the country.

Australia's ABC reports:

Canada's prime minister-elect Justin Trudeau has told US president Barack Obama that Canadian fighter jets will withdraw from fighting the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria.
Mr Trudeau told a press conference that, while Canada remains "a strong member of the coalition against ISIL", he had commitments to end the combat mission.

June 19, 2014, Barack declared the only answer to Iraq's various crises was a political solution. But in the months that followed, he didn't work on a political solution, he worked on building a group of countries that would agree to bomb the already war-torn Iraq.

The bombings have not been successful.

Civilians have been killed and wounded.

Any 'militants' killed?

The bombings have been a great recruiting tool for the Islamic State.

Barack's 'plan' is a failure, Operation Inherent Failure.

And now Canada plans to walk away from the bombings.

The Guardian notes the White House's attempt to put a happy face on the news via the following statement:

The two leaders agreed on the importance of deepening the already strong United States-Canada relationship and committed to strengthening the countries’ joint efforts to promote trade, combat terrorism, and mitigate climate change. In particular, they noted the successful conclusion of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and the need to move forward with implementing the high standards of the agreement, which promises to boost economic growth and support good-paying jobs on both sides of the border. They committed to work together to achieve an ambitious and durable global climate agreement in Paris in December. 

Staying with the US government, Iraq came up in today's State Dept briefing.  Spokesperson John Kirby was asked specifically about the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq.

QUESTION: Just a couple of questions on Iraq. The prime minister of the Kurdish region has been in Iran for the past few days. He has been seeking Iran’s assistance to help resolve the political turmoil in the region. Some commentators in the region have called this possible because of the lack of an effective U.S. role there. There’s a void the Iranians are filling. Do you agree with that?

MR KIRBY: A role – a lack of effective role in Iraq?

QUESTION: In the region. In the – specifically in the Kurdish region. The United States has not been playing an effective role to solve this domestic problem, and the Kurds are now feeling that they  have to reach the Iranians to solve that problem.

MR KIRBY: Well, I won’t – certainly, they have the right to speak to who they want to speak to. But I absolutely would completely disagree with any assumption, perception, or assertion that the United States is not playing an important, indeed leading, role in the coalition efforts against ISIL. And look at the ledger. Just look at what we’ve done.

QUESTION: I was talking about the political crisis that is in the region over the position of President Barzani.

MR KIRBY: I think we’ve talked about this many, many times. These are internal political decisions that need to be worked out. You – when we talked about this before, we were certainly invited to some of the early discussions, and we’re grateful for the invitations and we went. But ultimately, these are decisions that local politicians have to make, and we respect that. And the support that we are giving to Iraq is through the government in Baghdad, and we’ll continue to do that.

QUESTION: Okay, it’s domestic, but one last question. You seem to be taking sides when it comes to practical steps in the region. For example, yesterday General Joe Dunford was in Kurdistan and he openly called Barzani “Mr. President,” while domestically a lot of people believe that his mandate is over. Why would a high-ranking --

MR KIRBY: We’ve talked about this --

QUESTION: -- U.S. official call him president? I mean, do you see him as the legitimate leader of the region?

MR KIRBY: We have talked about this before, that while these --

QUESTION: Can you answer that again now? Do you see him as the legitimate --

MR KIRBY: Well, if you’d let me answer I’d be happy to. But you’ve got to stop interrupting. Okay?


MR KIRBY: While these discussions are ongoing, he is still fulfilling that role and so we – he is considered to be the president while this is ongoing. But ultimately, these are decisions that Kurdish politicians have to work through, and I’ve said that before. Okay?

On the turmoil, Mahmut Borzarslan (Al Monitor) sketches out the recent incidents:

Developments that brought the Kurdish region to this crisis situation began when Barzani's term officially ended Aug. 20, but the Ministry of Justice extended his tenure until 2017. That solved a political issue, but it did not end political squabbling. Leaders tried to resolve the issue by holding meetings of all parties represented in the parliament.
But before a solution was found, strikes and demonstrations began.
Earlier this month, as Sulaimaniyah province was hosting one of those meetings -- the ninth -- schoolteachers who had not been paid for three months walked off their jobs.
A group protested in front of the hotel where the meeting was being held, and police used force to prevent the demonstrators from entering the building. The group then resorted to a sit-in. As this was going on, health workers in the Iraqi Kurdistan capital, Erbil, walked off their jobs.

In addition, a more recent development appears to be an orchestrated attack on the press in the region.  Reporters Without Borders announced Saturday:

Reporters Without Borders is alarmed to learn that many Kurdish media have been attacked in connection with a political crisis in the past few days in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, where the security forces have closed media outlets in an attempt to suppress criticism of the government.
The crisis over President Masoud Barzani’s succession since his term ended in August has sparked many demonstrations since the start of October, especially in Sulaymaniyah, an opposition stronghold. Some have turned into riots, with protesters demanding the payment of salaries to government employees and calling on Barzani to stand down.
To limit news coverage of the demonstrations, the premises of several media outlets have been attacked by the security forces or in some cases by demonstrators. Access to Facebook was even blocked for a day, 10 October, in Erbil.
We condemn the attacks on the media and we call on the Kurdish authorities to respect the media’s work and to end the harassment to which they are being subjected with complete impunity,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Middle East and Maghreb desk.
“And amid the continuing political crisis, we urge journalists to act in an independent and professional manner and to refrain from fuelling political tension and disputes.

As noted in the State Dept press briefing, US Gen Joe Dunford, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Iraq today. Jim Michaels (USA Today) reports, "America's top military officer arrived in the Kurdistan region of Iraq on Tuesday, saying that Iraq's government has not sought Russian airstrikes to help in its fight against Islamic State militants."  Phil Stewart (Reuters) reminds that Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was publicly open to Russia taking part in air strikes on October 1st but that Dunford declared today, "Subsequent to that, U.S. officials engaged Abadi and he did not request Russian air strikes."

 AP states, "Dunford said he wants to talk with his commanders to get updates on battles in Beiji and Ramadi."   He need not travel to Iraq for updates.

It's rather simple.

Ramadi was seized last April, the battle to retake it began in May and now, in October, it's still ongoing with no visible progress since Iraqi forces have failed to even enter the city in the last five months.

In fact, Mosul is the best example of the 'success.'

The Islamic State took control in June of 2014.

A year and a half later, they remain in control of Mosul.

There is no success.

And there is no progress.

The Beiji oil refinery is a crucial piece of infrastructure for Iraq, which made it a target for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Iraqi security forces – with coalition air support -- have wrested the refinery from ISIL, and this has given Iraqi government forces confidence that they can take on the terror group, Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said today.
Dunford told reporters traveling with him that the capture of the massive refinery by Iraqi forces could be an inflection point for the campaign against ISIL. The chairman visited Irbil and Baghdad today and met with Iraqi, U.S. and coalition leaders. They briefed him on the campaign against the terror group.
Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani said the myth that ISIL is some unbeatable opponent has been broken, Dunford told reporters.
Beiji was a tough battle, said Army Maj. Mike Filanowski, an operations officer with Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve here.  

Did they get control of the refinery?


Did they finally get control of the refinery?

The one that was seized in April.

What a pretend proud moment.

But then, you have to pretend to ignore the slaughter of Sunnis taking place in Iraq.

Oh, you can also pretend that they're all being killed by the Islamic State.

But if you're even a little bit honest, you have to face the fact that Shi'ite militias and the Iraqi military itself continues to target Sunnis.


  • Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration.  This is from Bacon's photo essay entitled "RECYCLING WORKERS FIGHT FIRINGS AND WIN A UNION:"

    SAN LEANDRO, CA - ACI workers walked out on strike to protest the company's decision to fire workers accused of not having legal immigration status. They were protesting low wages of $8.30 an hour, and the company's refusal to honor San Leandro's Living Wage of $14.17/hour.  The workers filed a suit after learning their wage was illegal, and the company then began firing people.

    SAN LEANDRO, CA  - ACI workers cheer in the company break room to celebrate the victory of the union in an election at the company.  Workers voted for Local 6 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

    David Bacon holds the copyright to the photos above and the other ones in the essay  "RECYCLING WORKERS FIGHT FIRINGS AND WIN A UNION.".