Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, March 30, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, a US general embraces the killer of US troops, Iraq still has no legitimate government, the White House finally releases a plan or 'plan' for addressing the Islamic State, and much more.

On the 13th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, another US service member died in Iraq.  As the month of March draws to a close, Timothy Whiteman (WILMINGTON CONSERVATIVE EXAMINER) reports:

The earthly remains of Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, USMC, have been returned home to California. As reported by KABC-TV of Los Angeles on Mar. 28, 2016, the fallen Leatherneck will nonetheless receive a hero's welcome in the Southern California town of Temecula, albeit a sad one.
The small town on the edge of California's High Desert region will honor their hometown hero with a public viewing this Friday at the Temecula City Hall Town Square. Mayor Mike Naggar in a statement, "Temecula is deeply saddened to learn that one of our hometown high school graduates, who grew up to be the bravest of warriors, died protecting our Nation's freedoms. Cardin is forever a hero to Temecula and to our Nation."

March 19th, Liz Sly and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST) explained:

A senior Iraqi army officer in Makhmour said two rockets landed about 8:20 a.m. Saturday on the U.S. camp, a small, closely guarded facility where American advisers have been based for several months helping Iraqi army and peshmerga forces battle Islamic State fighters nearby and preparing for an offensive to recapture the key Iraqi city of Mosul.

Kim Henderson (DAILY LEADER) notes Louis Cardin:

Back at home, Cardin was kown as "Louie," the second-youngest of eight siblings, a military-minded guy who joined the Marines in 2006 just two days after graduating from his Temecula, California, high school.  So while his former classmates moved into dorms that fall, Louis moved into dorms that fall, Louis moved into a different mold -- that of a field artilleryman.  He was following in the footsteps of his two grandfathers and an older brother, Vincent, who told reporters that Louis would have turned 28 next month.  Vincent said he and Louis had recently been messaging via Facebook about getting their mother a ring for her birthday, one containing all the siblings' birthstones.
Mary Pat, mother of Cardin brood, has waved away offers of condolences, preferring instead to speak of her years with Louis as a gift.  She's aware that President Obama publicly acknowledged her son's death during his visit to Cuba, but says her Louie would have wanted the attention deflected from himself and directed instead toward his fellow Marines.  That's why the two care packages Mary Pat was preparing to send to her son -- filled with desert essentials like baby wipes and over-the-calf socks -- will be sent to other recipients.  "That's what he'd want," she told The Press Enterprise, a Riverside, California, newspaper.

And no one can tell you why Cardin died.

To protect Iraq?

What Iraq?

The government that is no more?

In March 2010, national elections were held.

There is no one in the national government today who legitimately holds office.  From Iraq's Constitution:

Article 54:
First: The electoral term of the Council of Representatives shall be limited to four calendar years, starting with its first session and ending with the conclusion of the fourth year.

Second: The new Council of Representatives shall be elected forty-five days before the conclusion of the previous electoral term.

Get it?

Their terms expired in 2014.

It's 2016.

The country being helped or 'helped' has refused to hold elections.

This isn't a representative government or one that even cares enough to look that way.

This is an abusive and non-responsive government which refuses to abide by accountability.

This is why US troops have been sent to die in Iraq?

To defend this joke of a government?

And today, US President Barack Obama just made things worse.

Background comes via Human Rights Watch, here they are discussing Iraq's 'popular mobilization forces' -- Shi'ite militias:

Mostly Shia militias fighting ISIS, such as Badr Brigades, League of the Righteous, or Imam Ali Battalions, carried out widespread and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in particular, demolishing homes and shops in recaptured Sunni areas.
Militia fighters as well as Iraqi security forces in late August 2014 succeeded in driving ISIS fighters from the Shia Turkmen and Sunni Arab town of Amerli and subsequently raided several dozen neighboring Sunni villages driven by revenge and expelled Sunni Iraqis to alter the area’s demographic. Kurdish Peshmerga fighters told Human Rights Watch of 47 villages that Shia forces methodically destroyed. Raids included looting, burning, and demolition by explosives, as well as the abduction of at least 11 local men.
After recapturing Tikrit in March 2015, militia forces torched and blew up hundreds of buildings and destroyed large sections of neighboring al-Dur, al-Bu ‘Ajil, and southern al-Alam. Militias also forcibly disappeared some 200 men and boys.

Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) also carried out, or failed to prevent, destruction of Arab homes and looting of shops in areas recaptured from ISIS. Witnesses implicated Peshmerga forces in the wholescale destruction of the village of Barzan, in Zumar district, in September 2014, as well as in nearby Bardiya town, where KRG forces, at a minimum, allowed Kurdish civilians to raze Arab houses.

Okay, so US troops are on the ground in Iraq to protect the innocent civilians from these Shi'ite militias?


The US military is now hugging and dry humping these forces.

Ali Mamouri (AL-MONITOR) reports:

On March 12, US Consul General Steve Walker visited Al-Sadr Teaching Hospital in Basra to pay his respects to wounded members of the Popular Mobilization Units. The visit marked the first time a US official has publicly met these troops. This is particularly remarkable as until now, the official US position toward the Popular Mobilization Units was negative, and the United States had even demanded that the Iraqi government prevent the forces from taking part in the operations to liberate some areas, such as the city of Ramadi in Anbar, that were freed without their participation by US request.
Walker made it clear that the trip was not just a courtesy visit. Accompanied by TV stations such as the US-based Alhurra, which broadcast the visit and his remarks in Arabic, Walker said, “The US recognizes the important contribution of the Popular Mobilization Units under the command of Prime Minister [Haider al-Abadi], and most of the Popular Mobilization troops came from the south. This is why I would like to express my condolences to the people of Basra and the south who have lost their loved ones or friends in the war against the Islamic State.”
Walker expressed his solidarity with the wounded, who welcomed his visit. He told them, “The US and Iraqi people are very, very proud of you.” 

General Steve Walker is dry humping these Shi'ite forces?

If you're not getting how disgusting this is, you're not familiar with these forces and what they've done to US forces in the not-so-long ago past.

For just one example, we'll drop back to the June 9, 2009 snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

That's the League of Righteous.

That's who US General Steve Walker 'paid his respects' to.

They killed US soldiers.

And now Walker has, on behalf of the US government and military, 'honored' them with praise.

Why are US forces in Iraq?

To die for an illegitimate government and to hug the very militias that killed other US troops.

As if to make clear how fake and phony the entire operation is, the White House (finally) delivered to Congress a "Strategy for the Middle East and to Counter Violent Extremism."  PDF format warning, click here for the seven page document.

Despite invoking phrases like "whole of government approach," it's just bomb, bomb, shoot, shoot.

There's no diplomatic effort and this is the most the seven page paper can offer that doesn't involve the military:

In Iraq, we are pressing the Government of Iraq regularly to institute political reforms that promote reconciliation and inclusive governance. We are also working with the Government of Iraq to assist with stabilization and reconstruction in liberated areas. Finally, we are also leading an effort to organize financial support for Iraq, so that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) can continue operations against ISIL notwithstanding depressed oil prices.

It's always about oil, isn't it?

Even cuter, "we are pressing the Government of Iraq regularly to institute political reforms that promote . . ."

There is no government of Iraq.

And forget political reforms, how about holding a damn election, one that's now nearly two years overdue?

Quit pretending, quit fake assing.

Republican Paul Ryan is the Speaker of the US House of Representatives.  His office issued the following in response to the White House plan or 'plan:'

This is not a real plan to defeat ISIS

On the eve of Easter weekend, the Obama administration quietly released its whopping seven-page, one-month-late “plan” to counter violent extremism and defeat ISIS. No fanfare. No announcement from the president. No campaign to sell this strategy to Congress and the American people. Why? Because this is not a real plan.
Congress mandated this report to compel the administration to finally present a comprehensive plan to eliminate ISIS. There is little mention of how we’ll work alongside our allies in this fight, or which groups will help us counter violent extremism, or how we’ll develop a capable ground force in Iraq and Syria following disastrous attempts to train and equip vetted factions in both countries.
This morning, Speaker Ryan discussed the issue further on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America radio show:
“We are not doing what we need to do to get ISIS. The president we required in law [to] deliver a plan to Congress to defeat ISIS—he was a couple months late in delivering that plan. He just gave it to us a couple of days ago. And I guess you could say that that’s a good thing that he finally gave us a plan. But what was more disheartening and just shocking about it was it was just a recitation of the status quo of what they’re doing—which is even more disturbing to me because it shows me that they are just phoning it in on the war on terror, they’re phoning it on radical Islamic terrorism, and they’re not doing anything near what we need to do. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m going over to the Middle East to talk with our allies who are combating this.”
As the speaker mentioned, he will travel to the Middle East to discuss the threat posed by ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism with several key allies. House Republicans are serious about strengthening our alliances and confronting these threats. That’s why our Task Force on National Security is working on a specific policy agenda to build a stronger, safer, and more Confident America.

Ryan's criticisms revolved around the military aspect which he feels are not strong enough.

There are many points that would back up Ryan's view.

Chief among them the fact that Barack has now set up the Iraq War as something that will continue beyond his term and be left for the next US president.

It can also be noted that the 'plan' or plan has the same thing happening over and over -- despite the lack of any noticeable success.

For example, the US Defense Dept issued the following today:

 Strikes in Iraq
Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Baghdadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL boat.
-- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Hit, three strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL safe house and destroyed two ISIL assembly areas and an ISIL vehicle bomb.
-- Near Mosul, five strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed six ISIL assembly areas, an ISIL weapons cache and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Qayyarah, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL tunnels and an ISIL assembly area.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL fighting position and suppressed an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Kirkuk, a strike destroyed two ISIL assembly areas.
-- Near Kisik, a strike destroyed an ISIL assembly area.
-- Near Makhmur, a strike destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle.

-- Near Sinjar, two strikes destroyed an ISIL assembly area and an ISIL fighting 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.

They issued it today. 

And beginning in August of 2014, they've issued it every day.

And when what you are doing militarily does not work but you instead double down on it -- do the same thing but with increased assets -- what do you get?


For Paul Ryan, the response is to demand a more robust military plan.

But that's not going to defeat the Islamic State.

The group got its foothold in Iraq because the government was persecuting the Sunni people.

Stop that persecution and you remove the reason for the Islamic State to be in Iraq.