Thursday, April 14, 2016

Iraq snapshot

April 13, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue -- and that's just in the Parliament, threats of dissolving Parliament, bombs dropped, and much more.

Murtaza Hussain (THE INTERCEPT) reports:

MORE THAN 90 PERCENT of young people in Iraq consider the United States to be an enemy of their country, according to a new poll.
After years spent justifying the war as a “liberation” of the Iraqi people, the survey casts further doubt on the success of that endeavor.

Today the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq

Attack, fighter and ground attack aircraft conducted seven strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Huwayjah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.

-- Near Hit, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed six ISIL machine gun positions and four ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Mosul, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL assembly areas and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb.

-- Near Tal Afar, a strike produced inconclusive results.

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 daily since August of 2014.

Again, Murtaza Hussain reports:

MORE THAN 90 PERCENT of young people in Iraq consider the United States to be an enemy of their country, according to a new poll.
After years spent justifying the war as a “liberation” of the Iraqi people, the survey casts further doubt on the success of that endeavor.

And how has this addressed the problem of the Islamic State?

It has not.

The editorial board of THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE reminds:

The Iraqi government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has its own problems, considered largely to be a result of the actions of its Shiite Muslim leadership in monopolizing authority in Baghdad, excluding the 35-percent Sunni Muslims who ruled the country from 1932 to the U.S. invasion in 2003. That piece of unwise religious discrimination is bad enough in itself, but it is joined by serious pushing and shoving among the Shiites themselves.

The refusal to address the persecution of the Sunnis, the refusal to bring the Sunnis into the government fully is what resulted in the rise of the Islamic State.

Until that's addressed, time's just being wasted.

Tuesday, the Iraqi government used their time responding to Haider al-Abadi's call for a new Cabinet -- and it was chaos in the Parliament as some supported Haider's push and others opposed it.

Things did not improve on Wednesday.

AP words it this way "Iraqi lawmakers have resorted to throwing water bottles and punching each other."  Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST) reports:

Schoolyard-style chaos descended on Iraq’s parliament on Wednesday as lawmakers scuffled and threw water bottles at one another amid a political crisis that is destabilizing the country.
In a day of bickering and brawls in Baghdad, more than 100 parliament members signed a petition calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, President Fuad Masum and the speaker of parliament, Salim al-Jabouri, lawmakers said. About the same number are staging a sit-in in the parliament building.

Saif Hameed and Maher Chmaytelli (REUTERS) report:

Iraq's parliamentary speaker Salim al-Jabouri may request the dissolution of the assembly after ministers scuffled during a chaotic parliamentary session on Wednesday over a plan to overhaul the government that aims to tackle graft.
The possibility of holding new elections in Iraq was raised after state TV reported that al-Jabouri was considering the future of the current assembly.
According to Iraqi constitution, dissolving the parliament requires the approval of the majority of the MPs at the request of one third of the assembly, or the approval of the president at the request of the prime minister.

How serious could al-Jabouri be?

That depends.

He could be dead serious.

Or this could be a parent bluffing from the driver's seat, "If you kids don't straighten up, I'm turning this car around right now! I'm not joking!"

Possibly, it's the latter?

ALSUMARIA reports that his office is denying rumors that he plans to resign.

One would think if you were really serious about dissolving the Parliament, you'd have other things to do besides refute rumors that you might be resigning.

But who knows?

What is known is that the Iraqi Constitution states:

 Article 61:
First: The Council of Representatives may dissolve itself with the consent of the absolute majority of its members, upon the request of one-third of its members or upon the request of the Prime Minister and the consent of the President of the Republic. The Council may not be dissolved during the period in which the Prime Minister is being questioned.

Second: Upon the dissolution of the Council of Representatives, the President of the Republic shall call for general elections in the country within a period not to exceed sixty days from the date of its dissolution. The Cabinet in this case is considered resigned and continues to run everyday business.

We know what general elections are in Iraq, don't we?

I ask because few seem to grasp that dissolving the Parliament would mean another contest for the post of prime minister.

That's what general elections are.

So if the Parliament is dissolved (and the Constitution followed -- always a big "IF" in Iraq), Haider al-Abadi might or might not be chosen to be prime minister of Iraq.

It's very likely there would be a push to go with someone else.

Not only does Nouri al-Maliki still covet the post (Nouri was prime minister from 2006 through 2014) but a large number of Shi'ites see Haider al-Abadi as a failure.

It's only the governments of Iran and the United States that continue to firmly back him.

The fact that he could lose his post may be why Haider's talking state of emergency.

  • Prime Minister Haider Abadi may declare state of emergency, as chaos rises in political statue.

  • Brawls in Parliament?

    Iraq's seen them before.

    Nothing on Tuesday or Wednesday in the Parliament qualifies as a state of emergency.

    But making such a declaration might be able to temporarily save Haider's job.

    The controversial Zalmay Khalilzad (former US Ambassador to Iraq) has a column at THE NEW YORK TIMES where he offers:

    The Iranians, who usually act as brokers between Shiite groups, have generally been skeptical of Mr. Abadi, whom they regard as too close to the United States. However, Iran has recently opposed unseating the prime minister, perhaps fearing that prolonged negotiations over his succession could drive Shiite parties further apart and divert diplomatic and security resources away from the fight against the Islamic State. Iran might also realize that lasting success against the jihadist group requires addressing Iraqi Sunnis’ concerns rather than encouraging sectarianism.
    The United States has also played an influential role in facilitating agreements among Iraqis in recent years. The United States has had a good working relationship with Mr. Abadi, as Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Baghdad last week affirmed. But officials in Washington are, like their Iranian counterparts, concerned that a political crisis in Baghdad could delay the campaign to retake Mosul from the Islamic State. The political crisis could also derail efforts by the Iraqis to deal with their financial problems.

    Even Zalmay can't pretend there's support among the Iraqi people for Haider to remain in place.

    Meanwhile, Edward Tick writes the editorial board of THE NEW YORK TIMES:

    As a psychotherapist working closely with our military and veterans, I am deeply troubled by your article about a Marine’s death on a secret Iraqi base. I am concerned not only for the family of this fallen Marine, but also for all of us being misled by leadership disguising the realities of war.
    It is tragic enough that another American son has fallen, but when families and the nation are told that he and others are not counted as being deployed in the combat zone because they are on temporary assignment or there less than four months; when the public is told that our Marines are on “fire complexes” rather than fire bases so that they sound safer; when we were told combat operations were over while we are still sending troops to fight and be killed in that same region, we are fed a series of lies.

    Yes, it sounds like the peace movement is reawakening.

    And doing so after years of being in a medically induced coma.  Leslie Cagan and other liars broke up various peace organizations following the November 2008 election.

    They didn't want to challenge or pressure Barack.

    They weren't peace leaders, they were just get-out-the-vote tools for the Democratic Party.

    Now the peace movement is realizing that their 'leaders' were liars with few exceptions (Cindy Sheehan was not a liar and would be high on the list of exceptions -- but if you weren't speaking out like Cindy in the last years, you are on the liar list).

    It's going to be hard for them to assume 'leadership' posts again.

    They're exposed for the tawdry liars they are.