Sunday, May 01, 2016


At POLITICO, Emma Sky argues:

While the United States has been fixated on the Islamic State and the liberation of Mosul, the attention of ordinary Iraqis has been on the political unraveling of their own country. This culminated on Saturday when hundreds of protesters breached the U.S.-installed “Green Zone” at the heart of Baghdad for the first time and stormed the Iraqi parliament while Iraqi security forces stood back and watched. The demonstrators, supporters of radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, toppled blast walls, sat in the vacated seats of the parliamentarians who had fled and shouted out demands for the government to be replaced. A state of emergency was declared.
This incident should be a jarring alarm bell to Washington, which can no longer ignore the disintegration of the post-Saddam system it put in place 13 years ago. The sad reality is that Iraq has become ungovernable, more a state of militias than a state of institutions. As long as that state of affairs continues, even a weakened Islamic State, which has been losing territory and support, will find a home in Iraq, drawing on Sunni fears of corruption and incompetence by the Shia-dominated government.

Yesterday's events may have finally created an urgency with regards to political issues in Iraq.

These protests were a long time going. Iraq’s public coffers are a sieve, where billions have vanished in the salaries of “ghost soldiers” or into the bank accounts of well-connected pols and their kin. Problematic enough in peacetime and during high global oil prices, economic crisis is 2016 has become a national security crisis, as state bankruptcy could easily damage or end the ongoing war against the Islamic State.

But Moqtada al-Sadr has already pulled his supporters from the protests.  Ashley Fantz and Merieme Arif (CNN) report:

Protesters who stormed Baghdad's Green Zone retreated Sunday but organizers say the challenge to Iraq's leadership isn't over yet.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr broke into Parliament on Saturday, waving Iraqi flags, ransacking rooms and sitting at lawmakers' desk while gesturing at cameras that captured the scene.

The retreat of Moqtada's followers may indicate that Moqtada didn't believe he had the power to keep the protests going until demands were met.

Or they may indicate that he was concerned about the safety of the followers.

But either way, they don't demonstrate an understanding of protests.  You don't stage a protest demanding something and then retreat. 

Violence continued in Iraq with RUDAW reporting, "A pair of simultaneous car bombs at a parking lot in Samawa city in southern Iraq killed at least 30 people and wounded another 55 on Sunday, an interior ministry official said."

And it continued with the US Defense Dept announcing:

Strikes in Iraq
Rocket artillery, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted 26 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Al Baghdadi, two strikes destroyed an ISIL mortar system and five ISIL bed down locations.

-- Near Al Qaim, a strike struck an ISIL vehicle bomb facility.

-- Near Albu Hayat, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Bayji, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Fallujah, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL supply cache, and an ISIL frontend loader.

-- Near Hit, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL anti-air artillery system, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL unmanned aircraft site, an ISIL bunker, an ISIL tunnel entrance, and an ISIL vehicle bomb storage facility and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Kirkuk, two strikes struck two separate large ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, four ISIL assembly areas, five ISIL vehicles, two ISIL vehicle bombs, two ISIL mortar positions, an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL bunker, and an ISIL supply cache.

-- Near Kisik, a strike suppressed an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Mosul, six strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL heavy machine guns, two ISIL mortar systems, two ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL weapons cache.

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

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, five ISIL heavy machine guns, four ISIL mortar systems, and an ISIL assembly area.

-- Near Tal Afar, a strike immobilized two ISIL excavators.

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.

As Iraq descends into further chaos, is it possibly time for the US press to acknowledge that Barack should have done more than just bomb (and train)?  That he should have actually started an intensive diplomatic mission in Iraq?

Or are we all still in denial over what's actually taking place?

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4498 (plus 10 in Operation Inherent Resolve which includes at least 1 Iraq War fatality).

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Ben Harper serves up a minor masterpiece" went up earlier tonight.  Isaiah's latest goes up after this.  The following community sites -- plus THE GUARDIAN, SOCIALIST WORKER and Jody Watley -- updated:


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