Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, November 4, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Ahmed Chalabi has left the earth, the media keeps selling war on Iraq, and much more.

We're going to start with US politics.  Cynthia McKinney is a former member of the US House of Representatives and was the 2008 Green Party presidential candidate.  There are many people urging her to run again for the 2016 Green Party presidential nomination.

If you don't understand why there is a growing chorus of voices asking Cynthia to yet again step up again, note the opening of her latest column:

The one question that has not been answered during Hillary Clinton’s grilling before a US Congress committee over the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, was: “What was the policy that was being carried out that led to the deaths of these four men?”
The attack on the US consulate in Libya resulted in the deaths of four US citizens on September 11, 2012.
The four who were found dead in the aftermath of the Benghazi chaos of that night were the US Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens; Sean Smith who, significantly, was known as “Vile Rat” in his online gaming community; and two former US Navy SEALs and Central Intelligence Agency contractors (CIA), Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
These four public servants answered the call to serve the policy of the US government. Their deaths in the service of their country are truly tragic. However, the question that has not been answered in all of the hoopla over the proceedings of the Select Committee are: “What was the policy that was being carried out that led to the deaths of these four men?” It is the avoidance of even asking that question in public, let alone answering it, that is the proverbial elephant in the room.

The top Democrat on the Select Committee is Representative Elijah Cummings from Maryland, who in a moment of selective outrage, exclaimed to rousing applause from the audience, “We’re better than that! We are so much better! We’re a better country! We’re better than using taxpayer dollars to try to destroy a campaign! That’s not what America is all about!” But, apparently, using taxpayer dollars to destroy one country and literally wipe another country off the map – that’s OK, I guess. Because, at the time of the televised hearings, U.S. Embassy in Libya personnel weren’t even in Libya! They’re operating from Malta, after President Obama’s policy to destroy Libya was so effective. How much questioning about that took place in the eleven-hour hearing?

Contrast that straight talk, that strong voice of humanity with the gauze covered piffle Jill Stein -- who is not the 2016 Green Party presidential nominee (the nominee will be selected in August of 2016 at the national convention) -- regularly offers.

Cynthia McKinney is a leader.

Turning to Iraq . . . 

The failed Operation Inherent Resolve continues with US President Barack Obama promising 'liberation' to Iraq via bombs dropped from overhead.  The Defense Dept announced today:

Strikes in Iraq

Attack, bomber, fighter, ground attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 19 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Baghdadi, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Albu Hayat, two strikes struck two separate large ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb, an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL building, and four ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Beiji, one strike wounded an ISIL fighter.

-- Near Mosul, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Ramadi, five strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle bomb, an ISIL weapons cache, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL building and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, nine strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL bomb-making facility, an ISIL staging facility, three ISIL staging areas, four ISIL weapons caches, an ISIL headquarters location, an ISIL bed-down location, 10 ISIL fighting positions, and two ISIL vehicles.

Since August of 2014, these bombings have taken place.

And the Islamic State is still not on the run.

All the money wasted on these bombs and the Islamic State is still not on the run.

All the civilians killed in these bombings and the Islamic State is still not on the run.

All this destruction to Iraq -- yes, bombs dropped from the air landing on Iraq causes destruction -- and the Islamic State is still not on the run.

Operation Inherent Failure is Barack's big solution.

It it any wonder a growing chorus of voices register that they are unimpressed with Barack's plan or 'plan.'  

For example, Nicholas Watt (Guardian) reports, "Jeremy Corbyn has suggested Britain should review its involvement in coalition airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, as the government confirmed it had no current plans to seek parliamentary approval to extend the bombing campaign to Syria."

ITV's Chris Ship interviewed Corbyn and they note:

"I'm not sure how successful it [military action in Iraq] has been because most of the action appears to have moved into Syria so I think we have to look again at that decision," the Labour leader told Chris Ship.
Mr Corbyn was speaking as Downing Street denied reports that Prime Minister David Cameron has abandoned hope of winning parliamentary approval to extend RAF operations into Syria.

The name changes of the groups fighting in Syria and Iraq should not fool anyone. In essence they are the same forces; they are “agents of chaos” being using to create insecurity against U.S. rivals and any governments or entities that are resisting U.S. edicts. With the erosion of Al-Qaeda and the fading of Osama bin Laden from the limelight, Washington created new legends or myths to replace them in the eyes of the public and the world as a means to sustain its foreign policy. Soon Jubhat Al-Nusra, ISIL/ISIS, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi were all conjured up and fostered as new bogeymen and monsters to sustain Washington’s “long war” and to justify the militarism of the United States. These bogymen also have been used to fan the flames of sedition, drive out Christians and other minorities, and fuel sectarianism among Muslims with the objective of dividing the region and pushing Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims to kill one another.

He was a destructive force who did huge damage.

We noted his role in fueling the Iraq War Tuesday.  We did not blame him for the Iraq War.

Adam Johnson (FAIR) and a 'writer' at Salon are among a group of xenophobic and, yes, racist whiners.

They're offended that some news outlets are taking so much blame to Chalabi.

They whine that Bully Boy Bush and Dick Cheney are getting off easy.

Bully Boy Bush is a War Criminal and Dick Cheney is so much worse that there's not even a term -- not one we can use in a work safe environment -- that can describe him.

But let's stop being so damn xenophobic.

America is not the great god of the world.

Every thing that happens does not require an American lead or guide.

For Sunnis in Iraq, Chalabi was a bigger obstacle than Bully Boy Bush.

Bully Boy Bush (with aid from Democrats and Republicans in Congress) went to war on Iraq.

Guess what?

The history of Iraq is a history of western countries going to war on it.

Bully Boy Bush is just one in a long parade of ants masking as leaders who tried to destroy Iraq.

He inflicted harm, no question.

But stop pretending that the story begins and ends there.

Chalabi destroyed Iraq and did so in many ways.  Most notoriously, there was his role in de-Ba'athification.  Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) notes:

While the original decision to bar Baathists from senior government positions was an American one, driven by the goal of ensuring that Hussein’s political bloc never returned to power, it was Mr. Chalabi who became its champion and quickly seized the reins as the implementer of the new policy.
“He used it as a political weapon,” said Ryan Crocker, a former United States ambassador to Iraq, who knew Mr. Chalabi from before the invasion as well as afterward.
“I never could figure out if he had the deep anti-Baathist passion of some of the other political figures or whether this was just a tool to be used,” added Mr. Crocker, who is now the dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

And he used the Justice and Accountability Commission to do further damage.

This included when the supposed-to-have-disbanded commission popped back up ahead of the 2010 parliamentary elections and Ahmed used it to go after Sunni politicians.  One politician he went after was Saleh al-Mutlaq.

al-Mutlaq discussed this with Jassim al-Azzawi on a January broadcast of Al Jazeera's Inside Iraq:
Jassim al-Azzawi: [Overlapping] Yes, I shall come to the scare tactics and the fear politics that you mention but before that, I guess our international audience would like to know, who stands behind this campaign to disbar more then 500 people?  Some of them such senior figures as yourself. The National Dialogue Front has about 12 members in Parliament.  You've been in politics for many, many years. I guess the logical question is: Who's behind it? It is my role as a presenter and a journalist to ask the tough questions and perhaps it's your role as a politician and even your perogative not to answer.  Let me give you a couple of options and see which one you lean on.  Is it Ahmed Chalabi, the former head of the de-Ba'athification?  Is it Prime Minister [Nouri] al-Maliki fearing that Saleh al-Mutlaq has the wind behind him and one day he might even become the president of Iraq?  Or is it another force? Who is exactly orchestrating this?

Saleh al-Mutlaq: Well Ahmed Chalabi could not do what was done alone.  I think there's a power behind that and my belief is that Iran is behind that and Ahmed Chalabi is only a tool -- Ahmed Chalabi agenda is a tool to do this.  And Ahmed Chalabi is not alone. We discovered that Ahmed Chalabi now has an intelligence association in Iraq and he worked with so many people outside the Iraqi government. And what happened really surprised everybody.  The same day that this decision was taken, everybody was saying, "I know nothing about it." You ask al-Maliki, he says, "I know nothing about it." You ask the president [Jalal Talabani], he says he knows nothing about it.  You ask the Chairman of the Parliament, he knows nothing about it. Then who is doing that?  We discover there is a small organization which does not exist legally.  The de-Ba'athification committee has been frozen -- including Ahmed Chalabi himself -- has been frozen by the prime minister and by the president.  And another committee, which is the Accountability, came in but it was not formed because the Parliament did not vote on the names that were being proposed by the prime minister because most of them are from al Dahwa Party [Nouri's party].

And in a Inside Iraq broadcast at the end of February 2010, Jasim faced off against a very loud Ahmed:

Jasim al-Azawi: And now I'm delighted to welcome from Baghdad, Ahmed Chalabi, chairman of the Accountability and Justice Commission and a candidate of the Iraqi National Alliance for Parliament.  Ahmed Chalabi, welcome to Inside Iraq.  And let me start from the beginning and that is Prime Minister [Nouri] al-Malliki has decided to rescind a recent act issued by your commission.  Lately you have submitted a list of 376 members of the army, the police and the intelligence. They are supposed to be Ba'athists and you are going to remove them. al-Maliki is saying, "Stop it, Ahmed Chalabi. You have no idea the damage you are cuasing."

Ahmed Chalabi: The prime minister has no authority on his own to exempt anyone from the decisions of the Justice and Accountability Commission. Article 12 of Law Number 10 from 2008 specifies that the Council of Ministers has the authority to request exemption for anybody who is uh subject to the Justice and Accountability law provided he gets the approval of the Parliament.

Jasim al-Azawi: What makes you think that he cannot get the ministers to sanction his authority and more significantly --
Ahmed Chalabi: He may get the ministers to sanction his authority but he needs to get Parliament to approve what he does.
Jasim al-Azawi: Well since you mentioned Parliament, in that case let me turn the table on you. Parliament has never sanctioned your commission -- the Justice and Accountability -- that bill never went to Parliament and more importantly you and your executive director Mr. Ali al-Lami were never appointed by Parliament so on what authority you are expunging people and banning people?
Ahmed Chalabi: On the authority of Law Number 10, Justice and Accountability Law of 2008. This argument has been settled by the uh Appeals Commission of the uhm uh Justice and Accountability that was appointed by Parliament a few weeks ago. In their ruling on the case of Mr. Saleh al-Mutlaq, they said that the Justice and Accountability Commission is valid and is active and is authorized by the law --
Jasim al-Azawi: Ahmed Chalabi, you know very well, you know very well,
Ahmed Chalabi: -- so therefore this argument does not hold water anymore because the highest court in Iraq has approved the legality of the current commission.
Jasim al-Azawi: Ahmed Chalabi, that is -- that is absolutely not right, not true. Parliament has --
Ahmed Chalabi: How do you know that!
Jasim al-Azawi: Because --
Ahmed Chalabi: I read you -- I read you the statement!
Jasim al-Azawi: Before you read me that statement, Parliament has never voted on the Accountability and Justice Commission --
Ahmed Chalabi: I will tell you! I will read the statement!
Jasim al-Azawi: -- and --
Ahmed Chalabi: I will readyyou the statement! It doesn't matter what you say.  It's just an argument to detract from the legality of the commission. It says here that the law, Law Number 10 will only specify that they rename the de-Ba'athification Comission into the Justice and Accountability Commission -- rename. Therefore, this commission is working according to the law and has the legality for the reasons specified above.'  That's the decision of the court.
Jasim al-Azawi:  At any rate, we don't want to get into the legal aspect, we will let the viewers to judge -- We will let the viewers and the Iraqis --
Ahmed Chalibi: It's not the viewers! It's the Iraqi court!
[too much cross talk and too much shouting by Ahmed]
Jasim al-Azawi: -- by Parliament, but the federal government has not given it's final verdict yet.
[too much cross talk and too much shouting by Ahmed, we'll skip ahead]
Jasim al-Azawi: Fine. Let us go to the second gentleman in this commission. I am talking to you but there is somebody behind you, your executive director, Mr. Ali al-Lami.  Just for the viewers to know who Mr. al-Lami is, correct me if the statement and the story I'm going to tell is wrong. This gentleman was released by US forces back in August of 2009 [Ahmed giggles -- giggles is the term, watch and see] under the charges of terrorism.  He was --
Ahmed Chalabi: [Waving finger] No charges!
Jasim al-Azawi:  He was -- he was released from prison --
Ahmed Chalabi: No charges!
Jasim al-Azawi: I will come to the story completely, but now let's just say, now he finds --
Ahmed Chalabi: He was kidnapped!
Jasim al-Azawi: He was captured by the Americans because they think --
Ahmed Chalabi: He was kidnapped!
Jasim al-Azawi: Hold on --
Ahmed Chalabi: By contractors at the airpot.
Jasim al-Azawi: Hold on, Mr. Chalabi. He was -- he was not charged directly --
Ahmed Chalabi: He was not charged.
Jasim al-Azawi: I am the first one to say that. Mr. Odierno --
Ahmed Chalabi: He was not charged!
Jasim al-Azawi: I said that. I said that. Let me finish the story. He was believed to be the mastermind of a terrorist act that happened in al-Sadr City where American forces and civilian administrations along with Iraqi officials, they were meeting with some council members in Sadr City  the American officials they were on the way out there was an IED and there was an explosion and many people killed. Odierno believes that Mr. al-Lami is directly responsible for that.
Ahmed Chalabi: This is patent nonsense. There is no charge. They have no evidence. And it is based on an intelligence report of one unreliable informer for the American tactical units in the area. They -- Mr. Lami was not arrested. He was kidnapped at the airport by US contractors, taken to a US prison, put under pressure and almost tortured for 38 days and they could get nothing from him on this issue. They have no evidence. He stayed 351 days in jail. And the Iraqi government has no case, n-n-n-n-n-o authority, no legal entity and no intelligence entity of the Iraqi government, there is any charge against Mr. Ali --- Ali al-Lami.  And the US has not charged him and he was released without charges. Therefore, legally, he was kidnapped. And as for this issue of the uh-buh-uh-uh people who were killed by-by the IED, he had nothing to do with it. I am certain he had nothing to do with it. And this charge has not been proven.


In the US press, they note that he supported Shi'ite militias and offer excuses for him.

He didn't just support them from afar.  Ali al-Lami was a militia member.  Actually, he was a terrorist and he died a terrorist's death.

Dina al-Shibeeb's Al Arabiya column is headlined "Iraqi warmonger Ahmad Chalabi dies."

But with all the damage Ahmed did two Americans want to whine that their pin up Bully Boy Bush isn't getting enough attention.

They want to insist that America must be injected into every story ever reported and that the US must always be the lead in any play or the star in any film.

They want to whine that the US is not dominating a narrative about an Iraqi politician (a crooked one) who died in Iraq.

They don't have the good sense to grasp that everything that happens in the world is not about them or their personal likes or dislikes.

Pity the uninformed helpers . . . 

Brian Bomberger (Bay Area Reporter) uses the release of Hasan Namir's novel God in Pink to flaunt his own ignorance:

The plight of gay and lesbian Iraqis has been much in the news in the last five years, mainly because they are at great risk for being killed, having little to no family or community support and no legal rights or government protection. LGBTQ Iraqis are hated by both the Islamic State (ISIS) forces and the pro-government militias, especially the infamous Shiite Asaib Ahl al-Haq, currently engaging in a civil war. This places them in a no-win situation. Among the terrible tortures/deaths inflicted on them: gang rape, beheading (with their heads tossed onto garbage dumps), bludgeoning (i.e., beaten with concrete blocks), stoning, being thrown from the rooftop of high-rise buildings, and the most ghastly of all, having their anuses closed up with a crazy glue-type substance that can only be removed by surgery, then being forced to drink a laxative causing diarrhea resulting in a painful death. Because coming out can be fatal, gay and lesbian Iraqis are virtually publicly invisible, which is why former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his infamous comment years ago that "there are no gays in Iraq."

Who will help the uniformed helpers?

First off, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said there were no gays in Iran.  This inspired the Saturday Night Live short "Iran So Far Away" in which Andy Samberg makes a plea for love to Mahmoud.

You're crazy for this one Mahmoud
you can deny the holocaust all you want 
but you can't deny that there's something between us
I know you say there's no gays in Iran
but you're in New York now, baby
it's time to stop hiding
and start living
-- "Iran So Far Away," written by Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer (The Lonely Island), first aired on Saturday Night Live's September 29, 2007 broadcast


Iran so far away. 

Check it out if you have to -- it was Iran, not Iraq.  


Then there's this: LGBTQ Iraqis are hated by both the Islamic State (ISIS) forces and the pro-government militias, especially the infamous Shiite Asaib Ahl al-Haq, currently engaging in a civil war.

Islamic State, huh?

They've tossed suspected gay men to their deaths off tall buildings, yes.

But this list?


Among the terrible tortures/deaths inflicted on them: gang rape, beheading (with their heads tossed onto garbage dumps), bludgeoning (i.e., beaten with concrete blocks), stoning, being thrown from the rooftop of high-rise buildings, and the most ghastly of all, having their anuses closed up with a crazy glue-type substance that can only be removed by surgery, then being forced to drink a laxative causing diarrhea resulting in a painful death. 

Gang rape, beheading, bludgeoning, stoning, anuses glued shut?

This was Shi'ites.

And it really isn't fair to say it was Shi'ite militias.

It was the government.

The government of Iraq.

Specifically, it was the Minister of the Interior -- which Nouri al-Maliki was in charge of.

As prime minister, he refused (in his second term) to nominate anyone to head it.  This allowed him to bypass Parliamentary approval and control the ministry himself.

Which allowed him to send Interior employees -- including police -- into Iraqi schools to encourage the harm and deaths of gay people.

Now, of course, when questions were asked, the Ministry of Interior denied these visits.

But then Alsumaria and Al Mada got a hold of the handouts the Ministry had provided to the students.  They called for the death of gays.  They carried lies about gays and encouraged people to 'purge' them from Iraq.

As noted this morning in "The media: Still selling war on Iraq all these years later," certain elements of the US press are suddenly interested in activities if they can express outrage over the Islamic State.  But they have little to no outrage over the crimes of the Iraqi government.

And we'll close with this Tweet on violence . . .