Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, June 22, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri al-Maliki insults  Sunni politicians and Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the US government hopes tossing some money will let them off for assisting with War Crimes in Iraq and much more.

Since August of 2014, the US government has bombed Iraq daily.

Recall: our current bombing campaign in Iraq was pitched as "limited". It's now almost 2 yrs old.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Rocket artillery and bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

-- Near Beiji, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL vehicles, an ISIL improvised explosive device, an ISIL vehicle-borne IED, four ISIL rocket rails, two ISIL mortar systems, an ISIL supply cache and an ISIL anti-air artillery piece and damaged five ISIL berms.
-- Near Fallujah, three strikes struck two separate large ISIL tactical units and destroyed 11 ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, two ISIL heavy machine guns, five ISIL light machine guns, five ISIL rocket propelled grenade systems and two ISIL mortar systems and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Kisik, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL assembly areas, an ISIL tunnel and three ISIL rocket rails.
-- Near Mosul, four strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL vehicles, six ISIL assembly areas and an ISIL rocket system.
-- Near Qayyarah, three strikes destroyed three ISIL rocket rails and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL light machine gun, an ISIL rocket-propelled-grenade system, an ISIL boat and three ISIL weapons caches.
-- Near Tal Afar, a strike suppressed an ISIL heavy machine gun 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.

That they'll release.

Other things?

Not really.

At yesterday's Pentagon press conference moderated by press secretary Peter Cook, the following exchange took place

Q:  Peter, during last week's briefing, the issue of injured American service members came up, and you said you would take the question and look into it.

      Can you confirm that four American service members were injured in Northern Syria on June 9th?

      MR. COOK:  (Inaudible) -- this is -- I'm glad you raised the question, because this does raise a question, a policy question for us about identifying injured service members.

      And as I stated last week, and probably should have stated more clearly, our policy is not to identify wounded service members, for a variety of reasons -- including operational security, including privacy reasons.

      And so, I'm not going to be able to elaborate more fully on that situation.  Just as I wouldn't with other wounded service members, because of that -- because of our policy in place.

      Q:  I believe on May 31, the Pentagon did come out and say there were two service members, one in Iraq and one in Syria, who were injured and I think you even gave a specific location -- (inaudible), north of Raqqah.  And I'm not asking for a specific location or name.  You know, were there American service members injured?  Because in the past, you have acknowledged when they have been injured.

      MR. COOK:  And what -- and of course one of the things that we're concerned about here is not just operational security -- (inaudible), but also, we do not want to provide additional information to the enemy that might enhance their own assessment of the battlefield situation and their own impact.

      Q:  (inaudible) -- because on May 31, you did give out two numbers of Americans injured.

      MR. COOK:  I'm just spelling out right now our policy consistent with what it's been in the past with regard to wounded service members.  We provide information with regard, of course, to casualties.  But for a variety of reasons, we do not provide information on wounded service members and we're going to continue to stick to that, again, because we don't want to provide information to the enemy that might be helpful, we have privacy concerns that we want to address.

      And again, we don't routinely release that information.  There have been some exceptions in the past, but that is our -- our basic policy and I'm going to stick to that policy.

Cook insisted this was not a change.  Idrees Ali and Leslie Adler (REUTERS) point out, "However, the Pentagon has released such information in the past and responded to queries, and it was unclear how Cook's comments were consistent with previous disclosures."  At the conservative website HOT AIR, Jazz Shaw maintains:

It’s hard not to read something overtly political into this policy change, no matter how the Pentagon describes it. We’ve already seen the President standing by his policy of not mentioning Islamic terrorism and our own Attorney General has tried to keep mentions of ISIS out of transcripts of conversations with terrorists attacking at home. Any news about battlefield injuries in the war against this enemy clearly plays against the Democrats in general and Hillary Clinton’s election hopes in particular, so suppressing public discussion of such unpleasant realities has a clear political side to it.

ALSUMARIA reports that independent politician Izzat al-Shahbandar states that while Iraq has made gains in the battle against the Islamic State but none on the political front.  Though described in the article -- and by the press usually -- as "independent," he is a member of Nouri al-Maliki's political slate State of Law.

Shi'ite Nouri al-Maliki is the former prime minister of Iraq and the forever thug.

RUDAW reports today that he's slammed Sunni politicians as "terrorists" (he did that while he was prime minister too) and denounced Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and compared the rallies carried out by Moqtada's followers to "robbery."

Nouri's persecution of the Sunni population provided the Islamic State the foundation they needed in Iraq.

Also on the political front, the office of the current prime minister, Haider al-Abadi,  issued the following today:


استقبل السيد رئيس مجلس الوزراء الدكتور حيدر العبادي في مكتبه اليوم الاربعاء رئيس ائتلاف الوطنية الدكتور اياد علاوي.

وجرى خلال اللقاء مناقشة الاوضاع السياسية والامنية والاقتصادية التي يشهدها البلد واهمية توحيد الجهود لمواجهة 
التحديات التي يمر بها العراق.

كما جرى التأكيد على ضرورة ادامة زخم الانتصارات بعد تحرير الفلوجة والدعم والاسناد لقواتنا البطلة وتوفير المستلزمات 
الضرورية والعيش الكريم للنازحين.

ودعا الدكتور العبادي جميع الكتل السياسية الى دعم قواتنا البطلة في حربها ضد العصابات الارهابية والابتعاد عن كل ما من 
شأنه ان يؤثر سلبا على عزيمة مقاتلينا مؤكدا في الوقت ذاته على اهمية نبذ الخلافات واللجوء للحوار لحل القضايا العالقة 
للسير بالبلد الى بر الامان.

المكتب الاعلامي لرئيس الوزراء
22 حزيران 2016

The press release notes that Ayad Allawi traveled to Haider al-Abadi's office today and the two met to discuss economic, security and political developments within Iraq and the need to unite to face the challenges and to carry on the momentum of victory beyond the liberation of Falluja.

Allawi now leads the National Coalition.  In 2010, he led Iraqiya which offered a way forward for Iraq, a political party built not on sect but on commonalities.

Despite election irregularities and Nouri al-Maliki's stunts, Iraqiya won the 2010 elections and Allawi should have been named prime minister-designate and given the opportunity to attempt to form a government.

However, Nouri al-Maliki refused to step down bringing the country to a standstill.  That political stalemate lasted over 8 months and Nouri was able to carry out that paralysis of the Iraqi government with the help of US President Barack Obama who had US officials negotiate The Erbil Agreement -- a legal contract that did away with the votes of the Iraqi people and gave Nouri a second term as prime minister.

On 'liberated' Falluja, AFP notes the large number of Iraqis it has created:

"We have to admit that the humanitarian community has also failed the Iraqi people," said Nasr Muflahi, Iraq head of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

"There are serious funding shortfalls, but there is no justification why there aren't more aid agencies helping the people of Fallujah," he said.

As already existing camps filled way beyond capacity, other camps were being set up but the newly displaced families arriving there often found nothing to sleep on or under, nothing to eat or drink.

Salam Khoder (ALJAZEERA) speaks with the refugees:

When Um Anwar, a resident of Fallujah, was asked to describe her life in the refugee camps at Amiriyat al-Fallujah, she summed it up in a sharp, clear voice: "We are staying inside the camp but living outside the tents." 
Um Anwar left Fallujah on Friday June 17, with her four daughters. "We have been sleeping out in the open for days now," she told Al Jazeera. "My four daughters and I take turns in sleeping during the night. Two of us have to stay up watching while the rest of us fall into sleep. This is the only way to ensure no one is coming our way during the night. They told us that they had no tents to spare us one as a family."

Her son, Anwar, fled the city 15 months ago and has been trying to make a living in Baghdad ever since, while her husband was killed in a bombing in Fallujah city shortly after her son left.

And the refugees also have to deal with the Shi'ite militias.

Iraqi Sunni civilians displaced from Fallujah tortured by Shia Militias

War Crimes took place throughout the 'liberation' of Falluja and continue to take place.

Awash in blood and guilt, the US government attempts to buy it's way out.

  1. >1/2 of Iraq's 3.4m displaced are children. Today we announced July 20 pledging conference to raise support for Iraqi people in dire need

What's she talking about?

US State Dept spokesperson John Kirby explained at today's State Dept press briefing:

On Iraq, we are pleased to announce that the United States will co-host a pledging conference with Canada, Germany, and Japan in Washington, D.C. on the 20th of July to raise support for urgent humanitarian and stabilization needs in Iraq. This will be an effort to help the people of Iraq weather the humanitarian crisis and destruction wrought by [the Islamic State] in the country, and as – to remind, as you know, I mentioned yesterday, we announced yesterday $20 million of assistance for Iraq specifically for humanitarian purposes. And I fully would expect that the pledging conference will see, as I said yesterday, additional contributions by the United States.
Now, while [the Islamic State] has suffered continued defeats on the battlefield, we now believe we’re at a critical juncture in the fight. Iraq needs the international community’s support to provide desperately needed items such as food, water, shelter, medicine for those in need, and to assist in the return of displaced families back to liberated areas as quickly as possible. It’s critical that we focus not only on defeating [the Islamic State], of course, but also what comes after that. Reconciliation and long-term peace are simply not possible until Iraq’s acute humanitarian crisis is alleviated and people can return to their homes with access to basic services, to health care, education, and with at least a modest hope for prosperity.

We believe that this pledging conference will provide a unique and important opportunity for the international community to assist in doing just that, and to helping Iraq’s citizens move past some of these challenges and in remedying the harm caused by [the Islamic State] and to show solidarity with the people of Iraq as they rebuild their nation.

Turning to politics in the US where Democrats in the House of Representatives are staging a useless move that's supposed to lead people to vote for them.

Of all things Dems could've but didn't do a sit-in for (end Iraq War, punish Wall St & torturers), they choose this:

Not everyone's falling for the nonsense and a hashtag has been created #DemsNeverSat:

  1. against systemic disinvestment, poverty, school closures, health care access, etc
  2. against crimes against humanity. In fact, they championed the weapons sales.
  3. to protest the most corrupt presidential candidate in US history.
  4. Glad ppl r as disgusted w/ dog & pony show as I am & see it 4 what it is
  5. to stop the Iraq War. Or apologized for never trying.
  6. to stop Hillary making arms deals w/ countries who donated $$$ to her Foundation
  7. as black children were disproportionately expelled in schools on pipeline 2 prison .
  8. when Flint kids were drinking what looks like sewerage
  9. for any other cause when it wasn't an election year
  10. in protest of the drone war's extrajudicial executions of suspects without due process or a trial.
  11. in protest of poverty, the war on drugs, racist policing & mass incarceration of black/brown communities.
  12. when someone under FBI investigation ran for president
  13. against the use of sanctions on Iraq which killed hundreds of thousands of women & children.
  14. to oppose the terror watch list, which they're pretty much embracing right now.
  15. to demand a new water system in flint.
  16. to stop the Obama administration from deporting 2.5+ million people.
  17. while private prison corporations were cutting backdoor deals with state & municipal govt's encouraging more incarceration.
  18. for extended unemployment benefits
  19. against Wall Street bailouts
  20. while racist police forces were getting surplus military hardware to use in communities of color in the US.
  21. And for some tough but fair criticism, check out
  22. while Israel was slaughtering civilians in Gaza. Decided to give them more military aid.
  23. against the repeal of the Voting Rights Act
  24. for universal healthcare
  25. in opposition to NSA collecting data on U.S. citizens and sharing with local law enforcement
  26. for mandatory paid maternity leave
  27. to raise the minimum wage
  28. to stop the War in Iraq

Staying with politics in the US, Chaka Con?

Emily Babay (Philadelphia Inquirer) reports:

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was convicted on Tuesday of federal corruption and bribery charges, as a federal jury in Philadelphia found that he misused grants, campaign contributions and charitable donations to pay off debts and advance his career.
[. . .]
Prosecutors said Fattah accepted an illegal $1 million campaign loan from Albert Lord, the former Sallie Mae chief executive, in an effort to save his struggling 2007 mayoral bid. The congressman and his allies then stole charitable donations and federal grants from an education nonprofit he created to pay Lord back.

In addition, there were bribes, funds illegally used to buy his son a car and much, much more.  Chaka Fattah is a Democrat and he is a super delegate who has pledged his support to Hillary.  Since he's now a convicted felon, he should be stripped of his super delegate status.  Since he's come out already for Hillary Clinton, she should issue a statement on the felony convictions of her friend Chaka.

A Republican is also in the news for crimes.

In fact, his journey to prison even made Iraq's ALSUMARIA.  Doug Stanglin (USA TODAY) reports:

Former House speaker Dennis Hastert reported to prison in Minnesota on Wednesday to begin serving a 15-month sentence in a case involving millions in hush money paid to cover up his sexual abuse of teenage students 30 years ago.
Hastert, 74, partially wheeled himself into the Rochester Federal Medical Center complex, which is surrounded by high, razor-wire fencing. A woman followed behind him, carrying crutches.