Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, February 25, 2016. Chaos and violence continue, John Kerry wants billions from Congress but doesn't feel he owes them even basic respect in a hearing, Moqtada al-Sadr floats the threat/promise of Friday protests, and more.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced/bragged/insisted/claimed:

Strikes in Iraq
Fighter aircraft conducted four strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed an ISIL excavator.

-- Near Ramadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Sinjar, a strike destroyed two ISIL weapons caches and five ISIL assembly areas.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions.

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 have been carried out every day for 18 months and the Islamic State is still in Iraq.

What's been accomplished?

Not real much except to spend a lot of US taxpayer monies.

On that topic -- taxpayer money -- let's note this.

"Let me just say that $50 billion is the total request when you add the OCO and the core elements and the AID. It’s equal to about one percent of the federal budget, and it is, frankly, the minimum price of leadership at a time when America is diplomatically engaged more deeply than at any time I think in history in more places as the same time."

That's US Secretary John Kerry appearing this morning before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs.  US House Rep Kay Granger is the Chair of the Committee and US House Rep Hal Rogers is the Ranking Member.

In spite of all the US dollars which continue to be spent in Iraq, Kerry didn't even note the country in his opening remarks and Iraq was only an issue when Committee members raised it.

Ukraine was a popular topic in the hearing.  And US House Rep Nita Lowey used the hearing to trash the French government and, yet again, note her fealty to the government of Israel.

Let's note a rare moment when Iraq came up, when the Chair was noting the Kurds.

Chair Kay Granger: What can we do to help them stabilize their economy and get them the equipment that they need to fight ISIL?  And I still here continually the fact that the aid for the Kurds has to go through Iraq, that 17% just doesn't get there.  And it doesn't get there in time to be helpful.  So what else can we do?

Secretary John Kerry:  I have heard that, uh, Madam Chair -- about the question of  some siphoning off.  Uh, I don't know.  I don't have specific evidence of it.  But I've heard these-these allegations and we have a team working -- the Embassy in Baghdad is working very, very closely.  It is a fact, indeed, that US military assistance has to go through the central government.  And that's required both by Iraqi law and by international law.  Uh, and-and-and the reason for that is that we have -- part of our policy has been to try to strengthen the central government of Iraq and not to encourage a break off or the belief that independent entities in the country can deal directly with the -- with the United States and other countries.  So in order to strengthen the government of Iraq, that has been the rule.  But I will tell you that massive amount of effort is getting to the Kurds and the Kurds, frankly, have been quite extraordinary in their efforts to help fight ISIL

Chair Kay Granger:  They have.

Secretary John Kerry:  We need to say thank you to them.  And we're training and working with them right now with respect to the preparations for Mosul and, uh, that will continue.

Kerry continued to be an embarrassment to the administration in today's hearing -- part of the reason he's been pushed to the shun and Brett McGurk has become Barack's go-to.

In the hearing, he was combative and flat out rude repeatedly.

Why did he want this job?

Who knows but it went to his head.

He would never have accepted such rudeness from a committee witness when he was Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but today rudeness is all he offers.

US House Rep Mario Diaz-Balart did not agree with the White House's normalizing of relations with Cuba.

Kerry was shocked that Diaz-Balart wouldn't fawn over him the way US House Rep Barbara Lee did (and she did everything but fall to her knees before Kerry).

Whether you agree with what the administration is doing with Cuba or not, the fact that Kerry was surprised anyone would voice disagreement was shocking.

Even more shocking was his failure to apparently know Diaz-Balart's history.

By marriage, Diaz-Balart has a connection to Fidel Castro. His aunt was married to Fidel prior to Fidel ruling Cuba (they divorced, they share a son).  Diaz-Balart's father was a member of Cuba's House of Representatives (before Fidel's rise to power) and opposed any amnesty being offered to the rebel Fidel Castro.

These are not abstract ideas or beliefs for Diaz-Balart, they're part of his family history.

And for Kerry to go into that hearing with apparently no knowledge that Diaz-Balart might not be thrilled with attempts to normalize relations with Cuba is rather shocking until you realize that Kerry no longer does any research or preparing at all.  He just thinks he can thunder and intimidate people into silence.

That's diplomacy?

That's America's key diplomat?

Diaz-Balart tossed out numbers.

They may or may not have been wrong.

But Kerry was not prepared, had no numbers of his own and was unable to take part in a discussion so he just got rude.

US House Rep Mario Diaz-Balart:  Do you have any of those numbers, because the numbers that we have --

Secretary John Kerry:  Well I'll get those numbers for you.

US House Rep Mario Diaz-Balart:  Reassure us because --

Secretary John Kerry:  I am trying to reassure you but you don't want to be reassured.

US House Rep Mario Diaz-Balart:  Mr. Secretary, you have not given me any numbers.

Kerry has become rude and corrupted by power in his position.

As a member of the Senate, he would have pursued a witness for numbers and if a witness had attempted to mind read him, he would have corrected the witness immediately.

Corrupt, rude, and, yes, stupid.

Again, no one should have been surprised that the objections to White House moves regarding Cuba would come up -- let alone that Diaz-Balart would raise them.

Kerry has failed Iraq.

He's failed to defend the people under attack in Iraq, for example.

Today, those people include the Sunnis.

And they are attacked by their own government.

  • *Warning Graphic* NO these are not horrid acts perpetrated by the likes of These were done by the Iraqi army

  • Iraqi Shiite militias im Aleppo kill and drag body of a man bcz he is a "son of an Omayyad" (Sunni)

  • The US government looks the other way.

    They fail to call these actions out.

    And then they're surprised that the Islamic State -- which attempts to present itself as a defender of the Sunni people -- got a foothold in Iraq?

    The Islamic State is only a defender of the Sunnis when it comes to protecting them from the Shi'ites who attack them.  The Islamic State itself attacks the Sunni people.

    But that reality is sometimes obscured.

    Changing topics, what happens if the Islamic State is defeated?

    It's not over, it's not finished, argues an expert.

    Ariel Ben Solomon (JERUSALEM POST) speaks with an expert and is told:

    “The Islamic State insurgency will not end if or when all territory is recaptured in Iraq and Syria. The group will return to its pre-January 2015 operational model of destabilizing mass-casualty attacks in urban centers alongside low-level insurgent operations, ensuring that if it cannot fully control these cities, then neither will Baghdad or Damascus,” said Matthew Henman, head of the IHS JTIC.

    If the Islamic State will most likely remain in Iraq even if Barack's vision of 'defeat' for the Islamic State takes place, then it's time to really get honest about how you defeat the Islamic State.

    You don't do so militarily.

    You defeat it by robbing it of its purpose.

    You defeat the Islamic State by removing the only justification it ever had for being in Iraq.

    Nouri al-Maliki was persecuting the Sunnis.  This meant he was using the army to circle the homes of Sunni politicians, he was doing kangaroo courts to sentence Sunni politicians to the death penalty, he was using his forces to invade their homes at three in the morning and kill their family members in the process.

    And this was the Sunni politicians.

    The average Sunni had it even worse.

    There were arrests with no arrest warrants.

    They came looking for Laif al-Naffari and Laif wasn't there but his wife was?

    They arrested his wife.

    And these people arrested were tossed into prisons and jails and disappeared.

    Sunni girls and women in prison were beaten and raped.

    We could go on and on.

    But with the world -- including Barack Obama -- looking the other way, that's when the Islamic State -- a terrorist organization -- took hold in Iraq as a defender of the Sunnis under attack.

    Now they would go on to launch their own attacks against Sunnis.

    But that's not the point.

    The point is that it was the persecution of the Sunnis -- and the world' non-response to it -- that created the climate where some saw the Islamic State as needed in Iraq.

    Let's remember that they only went visibly public when Nouri was threatening and attacking Sunni protesters.

    "But with the world -- including Barack Obama -- looking the other way"?

    Yes, Barack looked the other way.

    Not only did Barack give Nouri a second term as prime minister, but Barack also ignored the protesters. Even when they carried signs proclaiming "Obama, if you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us?Sunday, April 21, 2013, a State Dept friend called me and said the US was monitoring Hawija closely and considered it a hot spot.  So how did the massacre happen two days later?

    And since they were monitoring it, they clearly knew, at least after it happened, that what took place were War Crimes.

    And yet Barack stood with Nouri, continued to stand with him.

    From Samarra من سامراء

    Iraqis in Samarra with a message for the world (photo via Iraqi Spring MC).

    That's March 15, 2013.  One month later, the Hawija massacre would take place.

     The April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

    Want to destroy the Islamic State?

    Stop the persecution of the Sunni people in Iraq.

    Rob the Islamic State of what they insist is their reason for existing.

    On protests, let's turn to a Tweet.

    Shiaa cleric Muqtada Al sadar surveying tahrir square in preparing for Fridays protest for reform

    The return of Friday protests?

    If it happens, that would be major news.

    Especially if it were true protests.

    As opposed to the staging and theatrics the Baghdad government sometimes puts on.

    Real protests took place in Dhi Qar today.  IRAQI SPRING MC reports that street cleaners took to the streets of Nasiriyah today to demand the payment of salaries -- salaries that are over two months overdue.

    Wael Grace (AL MADA) reports that Moqtada declared today his continued support for Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi while insisting that, if protests begin, his followers would stay in the streets until al-Abadi implemented reforms.  Moqtada stated he supports the Parliament and feels that any finger pointing for failures need to be pointed to the executive branch (which could mean Haider himself but most likely means the Cabinet of Ministers).  Moqtada insists this protest would be for the people and not about backing any political group.  He further stated that demonstrators will not be carrying any weapons.

    On the Cabinet of Ministers, ALL IRAQ NEWS reports that the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Ammar al-Hakim, declared today that there was a need for government reform, a political representation of all segments of Iraqi society and that he backs Haider's call for some Cabinet ministers to resign from their posts.

    ADDED: Lastly, Stan's "The Rock, Zac Ephron and Goldie Hawn" earlier this week inspired the following theme posts: Ruth's "Kojack: The Movie," Rebecca's "trapper john m.d.." Mike's "BJ and the Bear," Betty's "Holmes & Yo-Yo," Kat's "Supertrain," Ann's "The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo," Stan's "Blansky's Beauties," Elaine's "The Man From Atlantis," Marcia's "Love Sidney" and Trina's "American Girls."