Friday, May 13, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Friday, May 13, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, a protest takes place in Sadr City, John Howard's role in the Iraq War gets some attention, Barack Obama's role does as well, a US House Rep calls out Barack's 'plan' for Iraq (and it's a Democrat), and much more.

Violence continues in Iraq today:

13 killed in gunmen attack at cafe in Iraq's northern town of Balad

AL JAZEERA explains, "A suicide bomber has blown himself up at a market in a town north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing at least four security personnel, hours after gunmen killed 12 people at a cafe in the same town. At least 25 people were also wounded in the attack on the restaurant in the mainly Shia town of Balad, hospital and police sources said on Friday. "

When people in the US blame Bully Boy Bush for the Iraq War it does two things.  First, it gives a pass to Hillary Clinton and the others in Congress who gave Bully Boy Bush the legislative backing he needed (we may come back to this at the end of the snapshot).

Second, it lets leaders in other countries off the hook.

Thanks John Howard for launching us into an illegal invasion of Iraq, the cost of which is heading towards $3 billion with no end in sight.


One of the deadly trinity.

Bully Boy Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard.

Howard's the forgotten one.

Even though he led Australia into war.

But that's how insignificant he remains to this day -- in the UK and the US, few even know his name.

He is responsible.

Aust has never had an inquiry into the Iraq War. John Howard has walked away having never been held to account.

Even though he's never been held responsible.

We should note that he was forgettable even when he was in office.  News outlets in the US and the UK frequently referred to him as "John Major" -- confusing him with a different politician.

It's worth remembering his name as another Australian is dead in Iraq.  His name has not been released yet but he was killed at the Australian Embassy in Baghdad.    Ben McClellan (NEWS CORP) reports, "It is understood the man was shot in the head by a fellow contractor after the pair, both former Australian soldiers, had been drinking in the contractors’ accommodation building Carl Hall early on Thursday morning Iraqi time."

Let's note this from the editorial we did at THIRD this week "Three Faces Of The Dead:"

The Iraq War continues.


  • Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV, killed by ISIS in Iraq. RIP


  • AZ Gov Ducey identified the Navy SEAL killed by ISIS in Iraq as Charlie Keating IV, a graduate of Arcadia High School in Phoenix. RIP


  • Lt. David Bauders of Seattle died in Iraq Friday. He is being called a selfless soldier who put others first.


    Both men died in Iraq last week.

    A lot of Iraqis died as well. 

    But they're largely faceless.

    Their deaths covered only as numbers -- if they even warrant that coverage.

    The American media is 'bored' with Iraq.

    How fortunate for them.

    How lucky for them.

    Others aren't so lucky.

    US House Rep. Seth Moulton noted the death of an Iraqi last week:

    Yesterday I lost my closest friend in the Iraqi Army to ISIS and our failed policy in Iraq.


    You've got three faces there.

    The faces of three people who died in Iraq last week.

    Look at those faces and ask yourself why you pretend the Iraq War ended?

    Yesterday on CNN's THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER, Jake spoke with US House Rep
    Seth Moulton (and just as soon as CNN posts a video or a transcript, we'll note a link -- instead, we'll just link to Jake's Twitter):

    Jake Tapper:  So you blame the Obama administration's failed ISIS policy of the death of your Iraqi comrade who you describe as "your closest friend."  Why?

    US House Rep Seth Moulton: He was my closest friend in the Iraqi army and the bottom line is that we have a military strategy to defeat ISIS but we don't have any longterm political strategy to ensure the peace.  And that's why we find ourselves back in Iraq again today refighting the same battles that I, myself, my fellow Marines and soldiers fought just eight or ten years ago

    Jake Tapper: And what needs to change, sir?

    US House Rep Seth Moulton:  We need to have a clear mission for the troops, a clear end game, a clear goal that they can achieve and than a strategy to maintain the peace once we defeat this terrorist group because, look, we already fought these same battles against al Qaeda but then when we pulled out of Iraq so quickly and not just pulling out the troops, I'm talking about pulling out the diplomats.  I'm talking about the people that were working in the prime minister's office, in the ministries.  The Iraqi government just went off the rails and as a result created this political vacuum that ISIS came in to occupy.  We cannot keep repeating this mistake in Iraq, going back again and again.

    Jake Tapper:  Now there are more than 4,000 US personnel, US military personnel, in Iraq right now but the White House argues this is not a combat mission.  Do you think that the Obama administration is misleading the American public.

    US House Rep Seth Moulton:  That's just simply not true, this absolutely is a combat mission.  In 2004, I had an advisory mission as a Marine with my platoon in Iraq.  We were advisors to an Iraqi unit and when that unit started to get overrun, we went to their assistance and started the battle of Najaf which was some of the fiercest fighting of the war until that time.  So there's a very fine line between an advisory mission and full fledged combat. It's very clear from the death of the Navy Seal just last week that this is absolutely a combat mission.

    Jake Tapper:  Why do you think the White House is-is pursuing the strategy that they're pursuing -- calling it an advisory mission, not a combat mission? Not pursuing the line of attack that you're suggesting they need to -- in terms of the clear strategy with an end game?  Why?

    US House Rep Seth Moulton:  I don't know.  I mean, some would say that this is trying to do war on the cheap just like the Bush administration when they got us involved in in the first place.  Let's not forget that we wouldn't be involved in this mess at all if George Bush hadn't invaded Iraq with faulty intelligence back in 2003.  But this a president who promised to get us out of Iraq and promised to use the tools of diplomacy to prevent wars from happening -- and that just hasn't happened.  You know if you think about what happened when ISIS swept into Iraq from Syria, they didn't just defeat the Iraqi army.  The Iraqi army put their weapons down and went home because they had lost faith in their government.  And yet our solution, our strategy, is to train Iraqi troops.  Well you don't fix Iraqi politics by training Iraqi troops. And Iraqi politics are broken.  That's the fundamental problem in Iraq that we need to fix.

    That discussion follows an earlier this week on Australian TV -- from THE WORLD (ABC):

    EMMA SKY: I think most of the attention in the West has really been on the Islamic State, but actually in Iraq, Iraqis themselves are getting angrier and angrier at the parliaments and all their attention is focused on the corruption of those in the parliament.

    You hear Iraqis shouting you know, "You are all thieves" and they just feel years and years have going on. The invasion was in 2003 and the same elites have been ruling Iraq since then, and instead of delivering services and security to the population they've been stealing the wealth of the country. So the problem really is this kleptocratic elite that the people are very unhappy with.

    KIM LANDERS: So what's the solution?

    EMMA SKY: It's very hard because the problems of Iraq relate to the elites who have been in power since 2003 being incapable of forming a vision for the country, to agree on the nature of the state and how the country should be governed. All they do agree on is that the oil wealth of the country will be divided up between them. They sit in the green zone, they pass a lot of money and services don't get delivered.

    KIM LANDERS: From the perspective of the West, do you think that this means that this would weaken efforts to defeat the Islamic State group?

    EMMA SKY: Islamic State is a symptom of a problem. So the bigger issue is the regime and until across Iraq and Syria you get better regimes more representative of their peoples, delivering services to their peoples it creates a space for chaos and it creates a space in which extremist groups such as the Islamic State can claim to provide a better alternative.

    KIM LANDERS: The number of US troops in Iraq seems to be mushrooming. A couple of years ago it was just a few hundred, now it's up to between 4,000 and 5,000. Is Iraq going to be a foreign policy plot on President Barack Obama's record?

    EMMA SKY: I think it will be. When President Obama became President, Iraq was actually in a relatively good place. From 2007 to 2009 is the only time in the whole war that the US had the right strategy, the right leadership and the right resources. So when President Obama took over, the levels of violence were down, there was optimism in the country that everything was heading in the right direction.

    And after the 2010 elections which were a tightly contested election, but a good election, the US didn't uphold the election results and the US quickly drew down its forces. That enabled basically Maliki, who lost the election, to consolidate more and more power and go after his rivals, to arrest Sunni's en masse, which created the space for Islamic State to rise up and created the problems that we see today.

    So I think Iraq will go down as a blot of President Obama's record. Particularly, as his administration was claiming Iraq to be a great success. 

    Emma Sky is the author of  The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.  And Barack's going to find it increasingly hard to avoid being judged on Iraq.

    And yesterday, Barack's more of the same continued with the US Defense Dept announcing:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Baghdadi, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL boat, an ISIL fighting position and three ISIL staging areas.
    -- Near Bashir, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.
    -- Near Beiji, a strike destroyed an ISIL tunnel entrance.
    -- Near Fallujah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL mortar position and two ISIL rocket rails. 
    -- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
    -- Near Mosul, two strikes destroyed nine ISIL rocket rails, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL assembly area. 
    -- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL assembly area.
    -- Near Sinjar, a strike destroyed an ISIL assembly area.
    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed an ISIL rocket system and an ISIL vehicle.
    -- Near Tal Afar, a strike destroyed 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. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

    Meanwhile, it's always interesting what the US press decides to give play to.

    They were recently enthralled with a US faux-test by the zombies of Moqtada al-Sadr.  This after ignoring over a year of Sunni protests.

    But guess what?

    There were protests in Baghdad's Sadr City yesterday.

    Did they bother to tell you?

    Demonstrations against Nuri Al_Maliki in Sader city Pics yesterday

    Well if it isn't Nouri al-Maliki -- that they're protesting.

    The thug Bully Boy Bush installed in 2006 as prime minister of Iraq and the one Barack kept as prime minister in 2010 even after Nouri lost those elections.

    Nouri wants to come back as prime minister and we've noted that Moqtada's actions are fueled by his fear that this will happen.  (I'll again note my personal opinion that Nouri would bury their past problems gladly for Moqtada's support.  Though he might stab him in the back at a later date.)