Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, January 6, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, some news outlets make claims regarding Haider al-Abadi that they just can't back up, FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS is suddenly concerned about justice, and much more.

The increasing useless FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS offers Giorgio Cafiero's "Saudi Arabia Executed a Nonviolent Shiite Cleric. It’s Going to Cost Them Big."  They don't seem to grasp what they're saying.

Words we use say a great deal.

So do words we choose not to use.

The execution -- which we'll again get to in a moment -- will "cost them big," Giorgio huffs and puffs like the bulls**t sexism offender that he and FPIF are.

Strange, isn't it, how you can search their archives and never find a single report on the Sunni women of Iraq being thrown in prison when they're charged with no crime (other than being related to someone the police couldn't round up) and then beaten and raped.

By its silence in real time and its silence since, FPIF made damn clear that beating and raping female prisoners came with no cost, that a government could carry these crimes out and not only get away with it but not even be called out for it.

Today sexist Giorgio is suddenly concerned because a cleric was executed.

(I oppose the death penalty.)

Today sexist Giorgio is outraged and insists the cleric was non-violent.

He bases that on hearsay.

But when Rasha al-Husseini, a politician's secretary, 'confessed' under what many bodies saw as torture (Human Rights Watch, here), FPIF said what?

Oh, that's right.

FPIF said not a damn thing.

It's a funny sort of concern.

The same 'concern' that led them to embrace Nouri al-Maliki and stay silent about his many crimes -- including torturing Iraqis (including torturing Iraqi journalists).

But today, today FPIF is suddenly concerned.

It would be touching if it were so ghastly and so whorish.

As to the execution, Matt Bradley and Ghassan Adnan (WALL ST. JOURNAL) report, "Shiite politicians and religious leaders urged their followers to take to the streets of Baghdad on Wednesday to protest Saudi Arabia’s execution of a dissident Shiite cleric as the prime minister appealed for calm amid a threat of fresh sectarian violence."

Nimr al-Nimr was the Shi'ite cleric executed.

Iraq is bordered by both Iran and Saudi Arabia. (It also shares borders with Jordan, Syria and Turkey.)  And some are worried that being caught between the two will mean an increase in strife within Iraq.

AFP notes the fear that things could return to the 2007 standard in Iraq, "The civil war saw the reign of death squads and horrific communal violence that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than four million, reshaping the confessional map of a country in which up to 65 percent of the Muslim population is Shiite."

This was the period of ethnic cleansing -- which few ever want to discuss honestly.

The over four million refugees are largely forgotten today as people regularly note 3 million refugees from Syria and Iraq and the last years and bill it as the biggest refugee crisis.

Not yet.

The over four million refugees remains the biggest refugee crisis in the region since 1948.

Ali Akbar Dareini and Jon Gambrell (AP) note the proposal (ridiculous proposal) being offered: Iraq will serve as mediator and help Iran and Saudi Arabia come to an understanding.

The Iraqi government can't (or won't) even implement reconciliation in its own country.  The Sunnis of Iraq still feel persecuted (for good reason).  But Iraq's going to be successful as a mediator?

The reporters explain:

The offer by Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, made during a news conference in the Iranian capital, included the diplomat referring to the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr as a "crime," a description that raised questions as to whether Saudi officials would even consider such an offer. The kingdom and its allies say that al-Nimr was executed after being tried and sentenced to death under Saudi law.

No one would believe the Shi'ite based government could be impartial.

Not with its close ties to Iran and its history of public rebukes against Saudi Arabia dating back to Nouri al-Maliki's second term as prime minister of Iraq (2010 to 2014).

Here's one reaction to the proposal on Twitter:

  • Same Iraq that allows Shia Militias to murder Sunnis.

  • Wait, some fools would believe it.


    The outlet's Michael D. Regan types, "Abadi gained power last year and has recently tried to bridge relations with Iraqi Sunnis, the country’s minority populace, Reuters said."

    Even if it was what REUTERS said, that wouldn't make it true.

    But Maher Chmaytelli's REUTERS report  really doesn't say that.

    It maybe hints towards that but it doesn't make that claim.

    It offers statements like, "Powerful Iran-backed Shi'ite militia called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi -- a Shi'ite who has staked his credibility on efforts to reconcile with Sunnis -- to shut a Saudi embassy that reopened only last month after decades of strained ties."

    But if you make a claim, you need to be able to back it up.

    Ramadi is not proof of any attempt to bridge relations.

    Pushing the reconciliation bill through the Parliament?

    That would be a sign.

    It was agreed to by Nouri al-Maliki in 2007.  Part of the White House 'benchmarks,' remember?

    It was something the Iraqi government was supposed to do in order to prove that US tax payer money was not being wasted.

    Reconciliation effort?  That would be the government agreeing to what we always called de-Ba'athifcation.  The US government imposed Ba'athication on Iraq -- running of those members who had been part of the Ba'ath political party.  They were supposed to be reintegrated into Iraq.  It's also the agreement to enact an amnesty law for those who were members of the Ba'ath Party.

    Thug Nouri al-Maliki agreed to it in 2007.

    And billions of US tax dollars have poured into Iraq ever since.

    But the deal was never held up.

    In fact, the Iraqi press was reporting just last month that the reconciliation bill was still buried.

    Like members of Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- I'm just not seeing this alleged effort by Haider al-Abadi (prime minister since the fall of 2014) to reconcile with the Sunnis.

    But if REUTERS wants to hint that this is happening or THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR wants to state that it is, it's incumbent upon both to back that up.

    Neither can.

    Don't talk about Ramadi and Sunni tribal fighters taking part in the fight against the Islamic State because, reality, those tribal leaders have been fighting against the Islamic State for some time now.

    Better reality?

    The Sahwa are not back and on the payroll.

    Sahwa.  Awakenings.  Sons Of Iraq (and Daughters Of Iraq).

    These were Sunni fighters (then-Gen David Petraeus told Congress in April 2008 -- check the archives, I was at the hearing and we reported on it then -- that Awakenings were mainly Sunni).

    The US paid them.

    Senator Barbara Boxer, in that hearing, wanted to know why the Iraqi government wasn't paying them?

    This led then-US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Petraeus (then the top US commander in Iraq) to promise to explore it.

    And the cost was passed off to the Iraqi government.

    Of course, the whorish press insisted it had been done.

    When it hadn't.

    And the US had to keep paying.

    But finally Nouri said he'd pay 'em.

    And then he took off the payroll.

    And then he had many of them arrested.

    It was part of his war against Sunnis.

    So if Haider was really different from Nouri (Haider belongs to Nouri's political slate State of Law and to Nouri's political party Dawa and Arabic media loves to show a clip of the two side by side gushing to one another and laughing and touching one another), he could prove it and demonstrate a real effort to bring the Sunnis back into the fold by putting Sahwa back on the Iraqi government payroll.

    And if that judgment seems a little harsh to the whorish press, why don't we note these words:

    While we are focused on making additional tactical gains, the overall progress in the Sunni-populated areas of Iraq has been slow, much to our and Prime Minister Abadi's frustration. Indeed, with respect to Sunni tribal forces, we would like to see the government do more to recruit, train, arm, and mobilize Sunni popular mobilization fighters in their communities. We continue to engage the Iraqi government at all levels to move forward on this critically important aspect of the counter-ISIL campaign, including working with Sunni local police to ensure there is an Iraqi hold force to sustain any future gains.

    That's not me.

    That's US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to the Senate Armed Services Committee on December 9th.

    And don't say, "See, he got his wish with the Ramadi forces!"


    First, Ramadi's still not liberated.

    If it were, the US Defense Dept would not have announced this today, "Near Ramadi, eight strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL staging areas, three ISIL buildings, an ISIL front-end loader, six ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL anti-air artillery piece, an ISIL rocket propelled grenade system, an ISIL recoilless rifle, three ISIL vehicles, and four ISIL heavy machine guns. The strikes also damaged an ISIL tactical vehicle and denied ISIL access to terrain and wounded three ISIL fighters."  Nor would US President Barack Obama have congratulated Haider today on "continuing to liberate Ramadi, noting that the United States and our counter-ISIL Coalition partners will continue to intensify support for the ISF in these efforts, in coordination with the Iraqi Government." (We'll post the White House press release in full, later in the snapshot.)

    The forces that have taken parts of Ramadi -- again, still not liberated in full all these days later -- had finally moved across the Euphrates River from Ramadi when Carter appeared before the Committee -- a point he himself made, "After a frustratingly long time, we are starting to see some movement in the operation to re capture Ramadi. Over the past several months, the coalition has provided specialized training and equipment -- including combat engineering techniques like in-stride breaching and bulldozing, and munitions like AT-4 shoulder- fired missiles to stop truck bombs – to the Iraqi Army and counter- terrorism service units that are now beginning to enter Ramadi neighborhoods from multiple directions. In fact, in the last 24 hours, the ISF retook the Anbar Operations Center on the northern bank of the Euphrates River across from Ramadi's city center."

    Again, when a news outlet makes a claim, it needs to be able to back it up.

    REUTERS and THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR can't back their claims up.

    We covered the hearing in the Wednesday, December 9th "Iraq snapshot," "Turkey's invasion and occupation of Iraq continues..." and in the Thursday, December 10th "Iraq snapshot" while Mike covered it in "So now attack helicopters" and "What is the plan?," Betty in "Joe Manchin is a sad US Senator," Wally at Rebecca's site with "Who knew Ash Carter was a fan of The Killers?," Ava at Trina's site with "Those shameful senators," Ann with "That posturing and preening Senate Armed Services Committee," Ruth with "Senator Blumenthal misses the point," Kat with "Disgusting 'answer' to the refugee crisis" and Elaine with "Senator Claire McCaskill is a pig."

    Carter also appeared before the House Armed Services Committee last month. . We covered that December 1st hearing in the Tuesday December 1sts snapshot  and the Wednesday, December 3rd snapshot and in "Ash Carter spun wildly to Congress," additional reporting: Cedric's "Hank Johnson's sexual obsession with Barack" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HANK HIS JOHNSON!" covered US House Rep Hank Johnson wasting everyone's time to profess his strangely sexual obsession with Barack and Carter and Gen Joe Dunford refusing to indulge Johnson,  At Rebecca's site, Wally reported on Ranking Member Adam Smith  in "Even House Democrats are criticizing Saint Barack.(Wally)," at Trina's site Ava reported on the obsession with oil that was at the heart of the hearing in "It's still about the oil," Mike reported on US House Rep Niki Tsongas offering some realities about the so-called coalition in "US Armed Services Committee hearing offers a little bit of reality," Ruth reported on US House Rep John Kline's questioning which established that there was no cap on the number of US troops that could be in Iraq "Iraq still matters,"  Kat took on the surreal aspect with "The US just declared war on everyone but Santa," Elaine covered one time anti-war US House Rep Jackie Speier making an idiot of herself in statements and dress with "The idiot Jackie Speier" and Dona moderated a roundtable at Third on the hearing with "Congress and Iraq."

    At that hearing, Carter also noted that Sunnis weren't being brought in, "The progress in the Sunni portions of Iraq --  as the campaign to recapture Ramadi shows -- has been slow, much to our and Prime Minister Abadi's frustration. Despite his efforts, sectarian politics and Iranian influence have made building a multi-sectarian ISF difficult, with some notable exceptions, such as the effective US-trained counter-terrorism forces. We continue to offer additional US support of all kinds and urge Baghdad to enroll, train, arm, and pay Sunni Arab fighters, as well as local Sunni Arab police forces, to hold territory recaptured from ISIL."

    I can back up my judgment call.

    And I can do with reality and even do it by quoting Carter's public testimony to Congress.

    It's a shame that so-called news outlets like REUTERS and THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR feel they can just say anything and not have to back it up -- no matter how ridiculous their claim is.

    Today, the White House issued the following:

    Office of the Press Secretary
    January 6, 2016

    Readout of the President's Phone Call with Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi of Iraq

    President Obama today called Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi of Iraq to congratulate him on Iraqi forces' recent successes in Ramadi and to underscore the United States' enduring support for Iraq in its fight against ISIL.  President Obama praised the courage and tenacity of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in continuing to liberate Ramadi, noting that the United States and our counter-ISIL Coalition partners will continue to intensify support for the ISF in these efforts, in coordination with the Iraqi Government.  The President also praised Prime Minister Al-Abadi's plans with Anbar Governor Rawi to stabilize Ramadi and create the conditions necessary for residents to return home.
    President Obama reiterated the U.S. commitment to work together with international partners to support Iraq's efforts to stabilize and strengthen its economy.  The President emphasized the need to take measures to improve the structural integrity of Mosul Dam and noted the United States' continued support for efforts to ensure timely maintenance work. 
    On regional issues, Prime Minister Al-Abadi and President Obama discussed their mutual concern over Saudi Arabia's execution of Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr and the attacks against Saudi Arabia's diplomatic facilities.  They agreed on the need for all regional parties to demonstrate restraint, avoid provocative rhetoric or behavior, and avoid a worsening of sectarian tensions. They agreed on the importance that all parties maintain diplomatic engagement and dialogue. President Obama reaffirmed the United States' commitment to Iraq's territorial integrity and sovereignty and called on Turkey to do the same by withdrawing any military forces that have not been authorized by the Iraqi government.  Finally, President Obama and Prime Minister Al-Abadi reaffirmed their commitment to the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq and their determination to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.

    And let's note today's US Defense Dept's bombing of Iraq announcement in full:

    Strikes in Iraq

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

    -- Near Huwayjah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

    -- Near Haditha, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL vehicles, an ISIL vehicle bomb, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position and wounded six ISIL fighters.

    -- Near Kisik, five strikes destroyed two ISIL bunkers, nine ISIL fighting positions, 11 ISIL assembly areas, and suppressed a separate ISIL fighting position and an ISIL machine gun position.

    -- Near Mosul, one strike destroyed an ISIL rocket cache.

    -- Near Ramadi, eight strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL staging areas, three ISIL buildings, an ISIL front-end loader, six ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL anti-air artillery piece, an ISIL rocket propelled grenade system, an ISIL recoilless rifle, three ISIL vehicles, and four ISIL heavy machine guns. The strikes also damaged an ISIL tactical vehicle and denied ISIL access to terrain and wounded three ISIL fighters.

    -- Near Sinjar, one strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Tal Afar, one strike destroyed four ISIL fighting positions and damaged an ISIL bunker.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.