Thursday, June 23, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, June 23, 2016. Chaos and violence continue, the persecution of the Sunnis continues, silence on the part of US House Reps Barbara Lee and Nancy Pelosi continue, US House Rep Seth Moulton continues to demand an actual plan, and much more.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 22 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Baghdadi, a strike destroyed an ISIL tunnel system.

-- Near Huwayjah, a strike destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun position.

-- Near Bashir, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL command-and control-nodes.

-- Near Beiji, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL tunnel entrance and an ISIL vehicle bomb.

-- Near Fallujah, four strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units; destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, five ISIL light machine guns, an ISIL rocket-propelled grenade system and an ISIL boat; damaged two separate ISIL fighting positions; and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Mosul, eight strikes struck six separate ISIL tactical units, an ISIL oil ministry headquarters and an ISIL vehicle bomb factory and destroyed three ISIL vehicles, two ISIL weapons caches, 10 ISIL assembly areas, two ISIL command-and-control nodes and an ISIL tunnel entrance.

-- Near Qayyarah, four strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area and eight ISIL boats and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed 14 ISIL boats and two ISIL weapons caches.

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.

And as more US bombings continue, more US troops may be headed to Iraq.

AFP reports:

US military leaders are weighing whether to request additional coalition troops to help local forces fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq, but no decisions have been made, a military official said Thursday.
"We're constantly looking to see if we're right-sized," said British Army Major General Doug Chalmers, adding that troop levels and additional capabilities formed part of an "ongoing dialogue."

This follows Josh Rogin's WASHINGTON POST report earlier this week where he explained:

[US] Military leaders directing operations against the terrorists in Iraq are readying requests for more troops and equipment they feel are needed to solidify and quicken progress toward defeating the Islamic State. These proposals have not yet been formally submitted to the White House for approval, and would first be vetted by the Pentagon leadership, but key generals have already told many in Washington they need hundreds more U.S. personnel to do the job right. 

CNN adds:

The Obama administration is “not ruling out the possibility” of sending hundreds of additional troops to Iraq this fall to help train, advise and assist Iraqi forces as they get ready for a potential assault on Mosul, according to a senior U.S. official.
And while officials won’t publicly confirm it, there have been several meetings to begin to determine if more troops are needed for the upcoming battle for Iraq’s second-largest city and what those troops might do to affect the battle. 

Though he originally insisted in August of 2014, the number sent in would be small and in the hundreds, US troops in Iraq are now in the thousands -- and that's not counting Special Ops.  The number has repeatedly increased.

Back in August of 2014.  Carla Marinucci (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE) reported:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that congressional Democrats were united in support of President Obama's decision to order air strikes in Iraq as "humanitarian assistance" for refugees trapped by Islamic militant fighters, but added that "we don't consider boots on the ground an option."
Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said 100 House Democrats held a conference call Monday after Obama notified Congress that 275 U.S. troops were being deployed to Iraq as security for American diplomatic personnel in Baghdad. His notification, made under the War Powers Act, came two days after U.S. warplanes fired on Islamic State militants who have bottled up refugees near the Syrian border.
[. . .]
Although House Democrats have made it "very clear" that sending combat forces back to the country is unacceptable, Pelosi said, she left open the possibility that U.S. actions in Iraq could reach "a place where we need congressional action." 

This week, the 76-year-old, elderly Pelosi Tweeted:

 Pinned Tweet
Sit or stand but we cannot be silent for victims of gun violence - we need to take action.

But apparently she can be silent about Iraq.

"We don't consider boots on the ground an option" she said in August of 2014.

Two years later, she's silent.

Off to carry out yet another political stunt to make the American people think she'll do something.

Just like, in the 2006 mid-terms, she repeatedly told the American people 'deliver us one House of Congress and we'll end the war.'

But the voters gave the Democrats both houses of Congress and Pelosi & company did nothing.

The silence, hypocrisy and cowardice from Nancy on the Iraq War are surprising only if you don't know her record.  The website GARLIC & GRASS: A GRASSROOTS JOURNAL OF AMERICA'S POLITICAL SOUL has highlighted some of Nancy's many failures:

  • January 12, 2005 - Two months after the November referendum, Bay Area Congressional Representatives Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee, Pete Stark, and Sam Farr joined Democratic colleagues from across the country in signing a letter to President Bush calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Pelosi conspicuously refused to sign on.
  • November 17, 2005 - Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) made a brave, groundbreaking call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Pelosi stood up and said, "Representative Murtha speaks for himself." And just one day later, on Nov. 18, 2006, she voted against immediate withdrawal from Iraq. She used her leadership position as House Democratic Leader to encourage others to oppose Murtha. Doing so helped to kill the momentum building at that time to force a timetable for troop withdrawals.

  • November 30, 2005 - Two weeks later (interestingly, just after local San Francisco Green Medea Benjamin spoke about possibly running against Pelosi), Pelosi reversed course and said she supported Murtha's call for immediate withdrawal. Still, she took no action and refused to use her leadership position to call for a 'party caucus position,' which would have put the majority of the Democratic Party on record against the war and shifted the national debate about the war. Indeed, at a point when two thirds of Americans had acknowledged that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, and when a majority of Americans began saying that the time had come to start rectifying that mistake by bringing the troops home, Pelosi's actions stalled the national debate and weakened the Democratic Party's stance. 

  • Last week, US House Rep Barbara Lee Tweeted:

    Our service members deserve a Congress willing to debate the war that they are fighting. Silence is cowardice.
    Rep. Lee Call On Congress To Debate An ISIL-Specific War Authorization

    So when's the sit-in for that, Barbara?

    Oh, right, never.

    Because you're nothing but empty words.

    And empty words don't end the Iraq War.

    Not everyone's silent.

    US House Rep Seth Moulton, for example, has not been silent.

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

    From the May 13th snapshot:

    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.

    And, thing is, Barack agrees with Seth Moulton -- or did on June 19, 2014 when he (Barack) declares that the only answer to Iraq's crises was a political solution.

    Yet the last two years has the seen the US government drop more bombs on Iraq and send more US troops in while doing nothing to help broker a political solution.

    Tonight, THE WASHINGTON POST website published a column by Moulton which includes:

    In April, I visited some of the almost 5,000 troops that President Obama has put back in Iraq, and I witnessed a recurring theme: We have a military plan to defeat the Islamic State — and, as initial gains in Fallujah this week demonstrate, it’s going well in many respects — but we have yet to articulate a political plan to ensure Iraq’s long-term stability.

    Sometimes it’s impossible to tell whether it’s 2007 or 2016. The battle plans I hear from our commanders in Iraq today are the same ones I heard at the beginning of the surge, down to the same cities and tribal alliances. My question is: How will this time be different? The silence is deafening.

    And in that silence, War Crimes continue as the Iraqi forces -- supposedly there to protect the civilians -- target the Sunnis.

    Nazli Tarzi (MIDDLE EAST EYE) observes:

    For a brief moment last week, the world learned about the disappearance of at least 643 Iraqi civilians from Saqlawiya, and the torture and humiliation that awaited hundreds more captured by marauding, Iranian-backed militias.
    Outrage was at best tame, and coverage has remained thin. Although government forces have recaptured Fallujah from Islamic State (IS), the fate of the “lost” men of Saqlawiya, Al-Garma and Al-Azraqiya remains unknown. Some were freed but only to have returned with bodies riddled with dark raised welts, inflicted by sectarian militias. It appears that no soundtrack other than a skulking silence accompanies these shameful developments, leaving many important questions unanswered.
    Government officials have repeatedly said that investigations into alleged wrongdoing by its security forces are underway. Last Monday, government spokesman Sa'ad al-Hadithi affirmed that Haider al-Abadi's government is serious about pursuing violations against the people of Fallujah. Defence Minister Khaled al-Obaidi added that four military personnel had been arrested after video evidence of their abuses surfaced.
    So why are the details of federal investigations yet to be made public? Why have those arrested not been quizzed on national TV, as is done with alleged IS members who are paraded before the cameras? 

    The targeting never ends.

    Shia Militias crimes دعاء مزلزل من طفله عراقية سنيه على الحشد الشيعي وتقول ديننا قولوا امين

    Iraqi Sunni Child Crying and screaming from Shia Militias crimes against Sunni Civilians

    The persecution of the Sunnis is what allowed the Islamic State to get a foothold in Iraq.

    You can't defeat the Islamic State without ending the persecution of Iraq's Sunni population.

    In other news, Hillary Clinton just keeps getting fatter.

    Honored to welcome to the U.S. Capitol to meet with !

    And, like her waistline, her list of lies just keeps thickening.  Michael Biesecker (AP) reports, "Former Secretary Hillary Clinton failed to turn over a copy of a key message involving problems caused by her use of a private homebrew email server, the State Department confirmed Thursday. The disclosure makes it unclear what other work-related emails may have been deleted by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee."