Saturday, May 07, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, May 7, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, another US service member has died in Iraq, Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr continues to hide in Tehran, and much more.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Ground-attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 11 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Al Baghdadi, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle and damaged an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Albu Hayat, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL boat, and an ISIL weapons cache.

-- Near Ar Rutbah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Bashir, a strike destroyed an ISIL command and control node.

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

-- Near Habbaniyah, a strike damaged an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Hit, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Kisik, a strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Mosul, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, an ISIL communications facility, destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.
Additionally, on May 5, a strike was erroneously reported.  The correct assessment reads:

-- Near Al Baghdadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL command and control node, three ISIL rocket rails, and an ISIL bunker.

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.

Since August 2014, the US government has bombed Iraq non-stop.

The Islamic State has not been defeated.

But two US service members have died in Iraq this week alone.

Tuesday, US Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV was killed in Iraq.

Friday, CNN reported:

An American service member died of a non-combat injury in Iraq on Friday.
The U.S.-led coalition announced the death but did not immediately name the service member. A Defense Department official said Saturday that the service member is American but did not provide further details.

Non-combat injury.

Of course, the White House spent last week insisting Keating's death wasn't a combat injury.

Regardless, two Americans dead in the never ending war on Iraq because Barack, like Bully Boy Bush before, doesn't have the good sense on how to end a war.

From Tuesday's White House press briefing moderated by spokesperson Josh Earnest:

Q    Sure, thank you.  On the death of the U.S. Navy SEAL in Iraq, is there any reaction from the President to that, or expression of condolence?  And can you tell us when he was informed about that?

MR. EARNEST:  Darlene, I can tell you that the President has been briefed on this incident, and everyone here at the White House, including the First Family, extends our condolences to the family of the servicemember that was killed today in northern Iraq.  This individual is the third U.S. servicemember killed in action since the beginning of Operation Inherent Resolve, and this servicemember’s death reminds us of the risks our brave men and women in uniform face every single day.

Reminded of the risks involved?

I don't think so.

I think Barack's been babied and coddled and spared the risks involved.

History will not be so indulgent.

He will be the liar who campaigned for the presidency insisting he would end the Iraq War but did not, in fact, end the Iraq War.

Friday morning, CBS NEWS reported:

Iraqi security forces were enforcing a major security clampdown Friday, bracing for a possible new round of anti-government protests.
Last week, Iraqis angry over corruption and a government they feel fails to protect or represent them stormed the capital's heavily guarded "Green Zone," which houses both Iraq's national government and the U.S. Embassy.
CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports that security forces worked overnight to erect blast walls across all the lanes of one of the main bridges leading into the Green Zone, and Iraqi soldiers and police were deployed in the streets, sealing off the sensitive area.

Jeff Schogol (MARINE CORPS TIMES) reports that last week's storming of Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone and the Parliament (within the Green Zone) has  resulted in the US government sending 25 more Marines into Iraq -- these Marines will beef up the security as the US Embassy/Compound in Baghdad.

Clearly, the White House is concerned that the Green Zone will be stormed again and that on a second time the invaders might attempt to storm US property in the Green Zone.

A repeat of the US Embassy falling in Tehran on November 4, 1979.

The issue of the additional US Marines being sent to the Baghdad Embassy was raised in Friday's State Dept pres briefing.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. increased military personnel at the U.S. embassy as a result of security concerns – brought in additional Marines? Can you confirm those reports? And secondly, if this is the case, is this a permanent increase in the number of military personnel who will be there for security reasons or a temporary up-staffing?

MR KIRBY: Well, I think you know we don’t talk about security posture at our embassies, and it’s a dynamic situation. We constantly evaluate our security posture, and, frankly, we routinely and constantly change that posture as appropriate. That is what we expect the good people in Diplomatic Security to do. I won’t talk about it one way or another. I will – I do think it’s important to remind, however, that our embassy in Baghdad continues to operate normally.


QUESTION: Is there – one more – is there ongoing – is there concern in this building concerning the ongoing friction between the Iraqi Government and Muqtada al-Sadr’s followers? I know that you’ve said before that this is sort of inside baseball, an issue that Iraq has to work out, but is there concern that these tensions may be destabilizing to U.S. interests such as the overall fight against the Islamic State?

MR KIRBY: We want, obviously, to see the reforms that Prime Minister Abadi is putting into place – we want to see them succeed. And we know that he knows how important it is for him to continue pursuing these reforms in keeping with Iraq’s constitution. And Iraq is an important partner in the region. They are certainly an important partner in this fight against Daesh. Our support inside the coalition remains and will continue. That support is being done by, with, and through the Abadi government in Baghdad.
But you’re right. Look, these are political challenges that the Iraqi people have to work through and Prime Minister Abadi has to lead them through. And as I said earlier, a few days ago, we’re confident that he can do that and that he’s well aware of the significant challenges he’s facing.

QUESTION: Kirby, can I have a follow-up on that, please?


QUESTION: Are you concerned, though, about the security around that embassy?

MR KIRBY: We’re concerned about the security of our embassies all over the world, everywhere.

Charlie D'Agata (CBS NEWS) explains of how last week's efforts appeared, "It looked like an uprising."

Better safe than sorry, but, really, "an uprising"?

Moqtada's revealed himself to be a fraud.

He sent his zombies in last week.

Last Saturday, they stormed.

Sunday, they retreated.

As we pointed out Sunday:

 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. 

Where are Motqada's zombies now?

Better question: Where is the Shi'ite cleric and movement leader?

Loveday Morris (WASHINGTON POST) reports:

The Iraqi rumor mill swirled into action, with some politicians speculating he was summoned by a furious Tehran.
"I think they are angry, maybe they blame him for what happened," Abdul Razzaq said.
Five days later, he has still not returned, and before his departure, he had announced a two-month spiritual retreat. His supporters have remained stoic.

And, in an aside, Morris also revealed who helped Moqtada's supporters breach the Green Zone:

Abadi was already seen as a weak leader, and Sadr's actions have undermined him further, with members of parliament incensed by the breach of their fortified inner sanctum.
As he attempts to regain control, and credibility, he has pledged to prevent another breach and fired the head of Green Zone security, who kissed Sadr's hand as the cleric entered the area in March.

And as Moqtada hides in Tehran, his power in Parliament -- already limited -- shrinks further.

Wael Grace (AL MADA) reports that Nouri al-Maliki and Ibrahim al-Jaafari are leading efforts to isolate Moqtada in the Parliament.  Nouri was a two-term prime minister (and forever thug) until the US government ousted him and replaced him with Haider al-Abadi.  Ibrahim is also a former prime minister of Iraq -- he was supposed to get a second term in December of 2006 -- the Parliament wanted him, the US government didn't.  The two are leading the effort to push Moqtada to the side and you can be sure that effort also includes sidelining and replacing Haider as well.

As the intrigue continues to swirl, Tariq Alhomayed's analysis for ASHARQ AL-AWSAT:

When Mr Haider Al-Abadi became the prime minister of Iraq and vowed to take steps towards reform, it was said at the time that Al-Abadi was planning to revolt against corruption and intended to reform the political system. However, nothing happened.
Today, it is said that Moqtada Al-Sadr aims to abandon sectarianism and fight corruption. Is it possible to believe this even though some chanted against Iran whilst the Green Zone was stormed and parliament was occupied? Of course not, not because it is said that Al-Sadr had flown to Iran, but because of a very simple reason. When Al-Sadr intended to enter the Green Zone to start a sit-in there in March, the head of security of the Green Zone kissed his hand in a scene captured on camera. This move itself is evidence of sectarianism taking root in Iraq, and the lack of value for the state and its prestige, which Al-Sadr now claims to defend by calling for a technocrat government.

Those in service of the US government have repeatedly pimped the lie that Haider was attempting to create a cabinet of techonocrats.

What in Moqtada's history suggests he'd support that?


And nothing in Haider's history suggested it either.

In fact, Haider's refusal to work towards political reconciliation argues that he has no interest in working with Sunnis but every interest in pushing them out of the government, in ending quota systems to ensure that he does not have to work with them.

Amer Araim (EAST BAY TIMES) offers this take on life in Iraq for Sunnis:

The Shiite-controlled government in Baghdad and its militias are also engaged in sectarian cleansing against Sunni Arabs to force them to leave or convert to Shiite, as was done in Iran in the past.
One of the major U.S. policy objectives in Iraq, and the world, is to defeat the terrorist groups al-Qaida and the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). Arab governments and peoples are supporting this objective. However, the Obama administration is not able to reconcile the fight against terrorism with the prevention of ethnic and sectarian conflicts in Iraq and other areas.
The U.S. intervention helped liberate areas controlled by terrorists in Iraq, however, the sectarian and ethnic cleansing against Arab communities that followed is used by terrorist propaganda to convince these communities that no one will protect them.

The Sunni Arab community in Iraq is having quadruple sufferings from the atrocities of ISIS; the Iraqi government and its militias including the support provided by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; the Kurdish authorities and their militias; and the inability of the U.S. government to find a just and durable solution or to effectively engage the United Nations Security Council to find a solution, notwithstanding the mischievous role played by Russia in the council today.

US Senator Marco Rubio has ended his pursuit of the GOP's presidential nomination.  This week, he visited the Middle East, we'll note this on his visit to Iraq:

On Tuesday, Rubio met with Council of Representatives Speaker Saleem al-Jabouri to discuss the political situation in Iraq, U.S. security assistance, and Iraqi support to defeat ISIS:
On Tuesday, Rubio met with U.S. Embassy staff in Baghdad, Iraq:
Rubio talking with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones on Tuesday:
Rubio with C-17 flight crew on the ground in Baghdad on Tuesday:
On Wednesday, Rubio met with Kurdistan Region Security Council Chancellor Masrur Barzani:

We'll close with this Tweet about War Hawk Hillary Clinton:

How can you say you're going to stand up for working people when you’re courting Jeb Bush's right-wing donors?