Thursday, February 18, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, February 18, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, US House Rep Brad Sherman wants to kill some Iraqi civilians, the Iraqi government prepares to carry out more death sentences and much more.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced/boasted/claimed:

Strikes in Iraq
Fighter, ground-attack, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 12 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Albu Hayat, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed nine ISIL rocket rails.
-- Near Fallujah, one strike destroyed an inoperable piece of partner nation equipment, at the request of the Iraqi government, in order to prevent its capture by ISIL forces.
-- Near Makhmur, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.
-- Near Mosul, one strike produced inconclusive results.
-- Near Qayyarah, one strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb.
-- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL recoilless rifle.
-- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL light machine gun.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL vehicle and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

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.

These bombings are supposed to end the Islamic State in Iraq.  No one's ever supposed to think that through or examine it too closely because the 'logic' falls apart quickly.

And once upon a time, US President Barack Obama grasped that.

He knew bombings were not going to defeat the Islamic State.

He ordered bombings to start in August of 2014.  Shortly after, August 11, 2014,  he made some remarks while vacationing on Martha's Vineyard.

US President Barack Obama:  But as I said when I authorized these operations, there is no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.  The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government -- one that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis, and one that can unify the country’s fight against ISIL.
Today, Iraq took a promising step forward in this critical effort.   Last month, the Iraqi people named a new President.  Today, President Masum named a new Prime Minister designate, Dr. Haider al-Abadi.  Under the Iraqi constitution, this is an important step towards forming a new government that can unite Iraq’s different communities.

Where did his common sense go?

The US government has done nothing to address the political crises.

And now some even crazier 'plans' are floated.  As we noted at Third in "Editorial: Congress has a plan for Mosul," US House Rep Brad Sherman's become all about the killing:

Mosul was seized by the Islamic State in June 2014.

The Iraqi government has been unable/unwilling to liberate it.

So all this time later, Mosul remains in the hands of the Islamic State.

But rest assured, Brad Sherman is on the job.

Last Wednesday, during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Sherman felt the need to pontificate to Barack Obama's Special Envoy Brett McGurk.



Brad's bothered, you understand, by the electricity.

Why, he wanted to know, was the Iraqi government supplying civilians in Mosul with electricity?

Brad would just cut it off.

They've been occupied for almost two years.

Could be for two more years more as far as anyone knows.

But it don't bother Brad.

He also didn't understand why more bombs were not being dropped by the US and why, specifically, Mosul wasn't being bombed.

"Civilians!" the world collectively screams back.

Oh, Brad didn't forget about them.

He just doesn't give a damn about them.

Why when France was occupied, he insisted, the allies killed at least 90,000 civilians while they bombed.

Brad Sherman is deeply disturbed.

Some argue the US government has done nothing at all -- or at least nothing to brag of.  Earlier this week, at ALGEMEINER, Joseph Puder argued:

The Obama administration has provided the Iraqi army with military hardware worth billions of dollars. Iraq’s main power brokers are Iraqi Shiite militias, who are loyal to Iran. This raises the question as to why American taxpayers should provide an ally of Iran, and a potential enemy of the US, with such enormous aid.
The Iraqi army’s shameful performance against the Islamic State (ISIS) and its abandonment of vast territory to ISIS, along with the squandering of huge quantities of US supplied arms, brings into question the suitability of the Iraqi army to take on ISIS. The Iraqi-Shiite militias may very well turn against the US in the not-too-distant future. Moreover, some Shiite militias have been shown to be as brutal and blood-thirsty as ISIS.

For those who missed this week's news, the Iraqi forces who are commanded by Baghdad will be thinning out.  Seems the economic crisis or 'crisis' will mean funding will be cut so those who are about to face life without payment will be leaving.

By contrast, as the central government of Baghdad has repeatedly withheld the federal monies from the KRG, the Peshmerga have had to fight without pay.

And most have done it.

Because this isn't Iraqis being sent to Jordan or Kuwait to fight there.

This is about Iraqis taking back their own country.

Or that's how the Peshmerga tended to see it.

It was a battle to save the country.

And, payment or no payment, the Peshmerga were in.

Sadly, the same can't be said for Baghdad's forces.

And Baghdad's forces include the militias who are out of control and who are noted in the following Tweet:

  • Shia militias crimes افضحوا الحشد الشيعي الارهابي قام بصلب رجل سني عراقي واعدامه فقط لان اسمه عثمان

  • Iraqi Sunni man tortured & killed by Shia militias This militias backed by Iran Oh my God painful

  • In other news, the Iraqi government itself cannot stop killing.

  • REUTERS notes that "death sentences in Iraq are often handed down after very brief trials in which defendants are poorly represented, seldom allowed to give evidence and are often tortured into making confessions that are then used against them."

    Amnesty International issued the following today:

    Iraq: Shocking surge in 2016 death sentences tops 90 as ‘terror’ trial closes

    The 40 death sentences handed down today in Iraq after a fundamentally flawed mass trial shows a reckless disregard for justice and human life, said Amnesty International, and brings the total sentenced in 2016 close to 100.
    Iraq’s courts have imposed at least 52 death sentences since Jan. 1, 2016. Today a further 40 individuals were sentenced to death as the verdict of a high-profile anti-terror trial is delivered in Baghdad.
    “For Iraqi courts to hand down 92 death sentences in just six weeks is a grim indicator of the current state of justice in the country,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.
    “The vast majority of the trials have been grossly unfair, with many of the defendants claiming to have been tortured into ‘confessing’ the crimes. These allegations must be urgently investigated and a re-trial that meets international fair trial standard should be ordered.”
    Today’s trial involved 47 individuals accused of involvement in the Speicher massacre, in which at least 1,700 military cadets from Speicher Military camp, near Tikrit, were brutally killed by militants from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) in June 2014.
    Iraq’s Federal Judicial Authority confirmed that 40 people were sentenced to death under the 2005 anti-terrorism law and seven were released due to lack of evidence.
    More than 600 arrest warrants were issued by the Iraqi authorities in connection with the Speicher massacre. The Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) went on to announce that it would consolidate all cases relating to the Speicher crimes into one case – opening the door to mass trials. In July 2014, 24 men were sentenced to death by hanging, under the 2005 Anti-Terrorism Law in connection with the massacre.
    “These mass, expedited trials raise serious questions about whether the Iraqi authorities really want to uncover the truth behind these abhorrent attacks, or whether they simply want to create the illusion that justice has been done. Once again we are seeing basic human rights trampled upon as the authorities circumvent fair trials in the name of national security,” said Lynch. Amnesty International is calling on the Iraqi authorities to halt the ratification of death sentences and immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
    Before a death sentence can be carried out, the President of Iraq must ratify it. Former President Jalal Talabani refused to ratify any death sentences leading to a backlog of more than 600 cases.
    Last year, the new President Fuad Ma’sum came under significant pressure from MPs and the public to ratify death sentences, particularly following the Speicher massacre. A Special Committee was set up in the Presidency Office to manage the backlog. In July 2015, Amnesty International called on the Iraqi President to to halt the ratification of death sentences that would pave the way for executions. Many of those sentenced to death have been subject to grossly unfair trials.