Monday, March 28, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Monday, March 28, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi's given until Thursday to alter his Cabinet, US State Dept spokesperson John Kirby's spin gets a push back, where the hell are Iraq's national elections (now two years overdue), and much more.

Today, the US military continued bombing Iraq -- an action that has taken place daily ever since August 2014.  The US Defense Dept announced/bragged:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack and fighter aircraft conducted 10 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Mosul, four strikes struck an ISIL security headquarters and an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed an ISIL assembly area and suppressed an ISIL mortar position and an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Qayyarah, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units; destroyed four ISIL mortar positions, an ISIL machine gun and an ISIL supply cache; and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Sinjar, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun position.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL assembly area.

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.

While the bombing has become a daily feature, at the US State Dept today, something different emerged.  In the midst of spokesperson John Kirby's daily nonsense, a participant refused to play along.

QUESTION: Yes. The Iraqi prime minister, Mr. Al-Abadi, has been pushing ahead for reform in its government, and he claims to reshuffle his own cabinet. I was curious about your position on these claims about Abadi has been trying to accomplish.

MR KIRBY: What you call claims I think are, in fact – you almost – it makes it sounds like he’s doing something wrong here. Prime Minister Abadi is --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR KIRBY: Prime Minister Abadi is trying to make necessary political reforms in his country and he has moved some officials around, and that’s the obligation, that’s the responsibility; those are the choices that a prime minister has to make. We continue to support his efforts to improve governance in Iraq and to enact appropriate reforms to try to facilitate that process.

QUESTION: But bringing what he calls technocrats into his cabinet at this moment would definitely make a lot of people angry because he is going to exclude a lot of party appointed into his government. How would you react to that?

MR KIRBY: Again, these are decisions that he has to make and his government has to make and the Iraqi people have to make, and those are internal decisions that we aren’t going to involve ourselves in each individual appointment that he makes. These are internal matters for Iraq to speak to and for him to speak to. In general, we support his efforts at reform and we support his efforts at trying to get a government in place – and keep a government in place – that can be responsive to the needs of the Iraqi people and can help them deal with the very real threat inside their own country represented by [the Islamic State].

QUESTION: So wait, wait. So this – the position of the U.S. is that you’re not going to interfere in the president – or the leader of a country, his choices for cabinet, but you will interfere in who the – or you will choose who should be the leader of the country, but once your selected person is in power, they can have whoever they want in the cabinet? Is that basically what --

MR KIRBY: Well, it was the Iraqi people that --

QUESTION: After you guys --

MR KIRBY: -- put Prime Minister Abadi in the position he’s in.

QUESTION: After the U.S. pulled the rug out from under --

MR KIRBY: We’re not – we don’t involve ourselves in the internal decisions of an electorate like that.

QUESTION: Except in Syria.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)




MR KIRBY: How is that – I’m not sure I follow how we’re doing that in Syria.


John Kirby's not just an embarrassment, he's a damn liar.

In 2010, following the March elections and an eight month political stalemate, the US government gave Nouri al-Maliki a second term (even though he lost the 2010 election) via The Erbil Agreement.

In 2014, the US appointed/backed Haider al-Abadi to replace Nouri.

Reality: the Iraqi people did not vote on Haider.

Bigger reality:  Iraq is over two years later on national elections.

Is no one ever supposed to notice that?

John Kirby's lie brings attention to that reality.

Where are the national elections which should have taken place already?

Where are they, John Kirby?

More reality, what Haider's trying to do with the Cabinet?  It's not in the Constitution.

Strange how Kirby and company back the Constitution -- except when they don't.

Any observer of Iraq needs to be asking: Where are the national elections.

Every member of Parliament?

Their term has expired.

They were elected in the 2010 elections.

Where are the national elections?

REUTERS notes:

 Iraq’s parliament on Monday gave prime minister Haider Al Abadi three days to present a new non-party cabinet to fight corruption or risk a no-confidence vote.
A flash on state television called Thursday the “final deadline" for Mr Al Abadi, who said more than six weeks ago that he would replace ministers with technocrats unaffiliated with political parties.
But other politicians, including some within his own party, have pushed back against a reshuffle, fearing it could weaken the political patronage networks that have sustained their wealth and influence for more than a decade.

Muayed al-Tarifi (ANADOLU AGENCY) adds:

"Thursday will be the final deadline for [al-Abadi] to present his new cabinet," MP Rahim al-Draji told Anadolu Agency.
He said parliament would hold a confidence vote on Saturday if al-Abadi failed to present his government lineup by Thursday.

Why is the State Dept not demanding elections?

Why is the White House not insisting upon them?

They are now two years overdue.

The US government isn't interested in Iraq following its Constitution, they're just interested in bullying the country around.

And their puppet Haider al-Abadi?

Even if he wants to do this by Thursday, there's little chance he'll be able to.

Following elections, putting together the Cabinet has been problematic.

Even doing it partially has required weeks and weeks.

 Meanwhile, Kareem Raheem and Stephen Kalin (REUTERS) report,  "Powerful Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr entered Baghdad's Green Zone, the heavily-fortified center of the capital housing government buildings and embassies, on Sunday to keep up pressure on the government to enact reforms."
With a series of self-serving statements, Moqtada announced he would rally in the Green Zone while his supporters rallied outside.
How brave.
Within the safety of the Green Zone.

XINHUA notes:

"Our project is to reform, we will not give it up, and I will enter the Green Zone by myself and will sit-in inside the Green Zone and represent the Iraqi people, and you (his followers) keep your sit-in at the gates. None of you move," Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr told hundreds of his followers before walking across the security checkpoint near the parliament building inside the government district. 

All by himself?

Except for his brigade of bodyguards.

Moqtada's been desperate for days now to get some publicity.
His rallies have been covered less and less -- even by Iraqi media.

None of it really worked and, by Friday evening, really only NINA was reporting on him and his rally.

Entering the Green Zone changed that.  He is said to have met with Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and ALSUMARIA reports that Saleh al-Mutlaq joined Moqtada in the tent he's set up inside the Green Zone.
While he gets a flurry of attention (please note, Mariah Carey cancelling Brussels concert is a much bigger topic on Arabic media currently), the western media ignores Falluja.

NINA reports that Arshad al-Salhi, head of Parliament's Human Rights Committee, states "that thousands of families in the besieged district of Fallujah die of hunger and pain caused by lack of food and water availability, calling on the government to assume its responsibilities in securing the requirements of insulated people."  ALSUMARIA notes that Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi is also noting the dire conditions in Falluja and calling for the Iraqi government and the United Nations to provide assistance.

Felicity Arbuthnot (DISSIDENT VOICE) notes:

In Fallujah, besieged by militias and according to another contact: “ … bombed since  January 1, 2014 by the government (armed by the USA and with US military advisers this whole time) and since August 2014 by the US Coalition”, the people are starving: “ On March 17th a husband threw himself his wife with their three children in to the river (Euphrates) from a bridge and drowned. They were desperate from hunger …” And the bodies of: “Nearly four thousand killed civilians have been taken to the hospital since January 2014.”

In other problems for the country, Daniel J. Graeber (UPI) reports:

The World Bank, meanwhile, said Iraq "needs to put its economic house in order" by reforming state-owned enterprises, enacting more even distribution of oil revenues and addressing chronic shortages of electricity.
"Through demonstrating a commitment to such real changes, we hope Iraq can find the support it seeks to relieve its immense fiscal pressures in the light of significantly reduced oil prices," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said.

And that's why you don't take money from the World Bank or the IMF.  They loan it.

And then they make demands.

It's never handed out freely.

And Iraq never needed the loans.

Corrupt leaders have stolen billions from the country since 2003.

And the problems never end for Iraq.  Jamal Hashim (XINHUA) reports:

A potential catastrophe set forth by the condition of the Mosul dam, Iraq's largest dam, raised alarms as the rainy season approaches.
The collapse of the Mosul dam could unleash a flood that may kill hundreds of thousands of people and trigger an environmental disaster, experts warned.

It is 113 meters high and 3.4 km long and is located 50 km north of Iraq's second largest city of Mosul, the capital of the province of Nineveh in northern Iraq.

Now let's move over to VOGUE and Julia Felsenthal's latest review:

There’s a particularly wrenching moment early in Only the Dead See the End of War, the gripping, graphic new documentary about the Iraq war airing tonight on HBO. The Australian conflict journalist Michael Ware is filming the aftermath of a 2003 suicide bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad. Iraqi first responders dig through rubble, pulling out maimed and dead bodies. One man notices Ware. He puts his hand in front of the journalist’s lens. “Why do you film the dead?” he asks angrily.
Ware doesn’t reply, nor does he lower his camera. More than a decade later, this documentary seems to offer an answer.

Phil Zabriskie (TIME magazine) also weighs in:

Only the Dead shows that while Ware may have escaped his time in Iraq with his life, his mind and soul were badly scarred. “I became a man I never thought I’d be,” he intones at one point. The most uncomfortable example of this comes when Ware films a dying man who’d been shot by American troops, doing nothing to intervene or remind the soldiers that the laws of war require them to provide medical assistance to wounded enemy combatants. The most poignant example comes when Joe Walker, a young Marine 2nd Lieutenant, shows Ware and photographer Yuri Kozyrev around Observation Point Hotel, a crumbling shell of a building in Ramadi that was taking fire every single day. Walker openly wrestles with the impact the experience is having. “I try my best to keep the big picture in mind,” he says. “When I got guys getting shot, getting killed, you start getting tunnel vision. You start hating this place. You start hating everybody here.”
Ware’s camera catches a dazed, baleful expression across the Marine’s face. “I could see good men here losing their grip, losing themselves,” Ware narrates. He knows whereof he speaks, because the same thing, of course, was happening to him.

No surprise, SALON and their critic Sonia Saraiya are lost.

Saraiya expects every movie to tell her exactly what to think.

Feeling clearly scares her as much as independent thought.

By contrast, Hannah Block (NPR) concludes:

Only the Dead is as much a reflection on the choices journalists make, and at what cost, as it is on the nature of war. We see Ware's face grow haggard and haunted as the film progresses. "I became a man I never thought I'd be," he says. In making this film, he's taken a brave look at himself as much as he has at the war that consumed him for so long.

Earlier tonight, Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Hillary Responds To Her Weekend Losses" went up.  It notes that, over the weekend, Hillary lost Washington, Alaska and Hawaii to Senator Bernie Sanders in their battle to win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

And it's not just those three Hillary's lost.  From the opening of Ava and my latest TV critique:

"We've just won six out of the last seven contests," Senator Bernie Sanders told Jonathan Karl this morning on ABC's THIS WEEK about his repeatedly defeating Hillary Clinton in Democratic primaries and caucuses. "We have the momentum."

On the topic of Hillary, we'll close with this:

  • . I didn't like her tone when she smirked at her "mistake" of sending 1000s of troops to their death in !