Saturday, August 27, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, August 27, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, US President Barack Obama comes off like a cheapskate, Iraq digs moats, and much more.

This week, the media worked overtime to ignore Iraq.

For example, Ned Parker and Jonathan S. Landay (REUTERS) reported:

Shi’ite militias in Iraq detained, tortured and abused far more Sunni civilians during the American-backed capture of the town of Falluja in June than U.S. officials have publicly acknowledged, Reuters has found.More than 700 Sunni men and boys are still missing more than two months after the Islamic State stronghold fell. The abuses occurred despite U.S. efforts to restrict the militias' role in the operation, including threatening to withdraw American air support, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.
The U.S. efforts had little effect. Shi’ite militias did not pull back from Falluja, participated in looting there and now vow to defy any American effort to limit their role in coming operations against Islamic State.
All told, militia fighters killed at least 66 Sunni males and abused at least 1,500 others fleeing the Falluja area, according to interviews with more than 20 survivors, tribal leaders, Iraqi politicians and Western diplomats.
They said men were shot, beaten with rubber hoses and in several cases beheaded. Their accounts were supported by a Reuters review of an investigation by local Iraqi authorities and video testimony and photographs of survivors taken immediately after their release. 

They missed that story at the other outlets.

And the cowards who cover the State Dept, supposed journalists, never once asked about it at the four daily State Dept briefings. (Four?  The State Dept didn't hold a press briefing on Friday.)

What else did they miss as they rushed to ignore Iraq.


Lukman Faily is Iraq's ambassador to the US.

Certainly something for my Iraqi political colleagues to learn from and reflect on.

Faily says his Iraqi political colleagues should learn from and reflect on "One minuter you're PM, the next you're sitting in a wall eating chips while people say 'is that..?'"

Haider al-Abadi is the prime minister of Iraq currently.

Was that a slap at Haider?

Surely not, right?

Maybe better late than never however losing one innocent live due to incompetences is still unforgivable.

He's Tweeting about the 'magic wands' used as bomb detectors when they did not such thing.

Again, is that a slam at Haider who's been prime minister for two years?

Trial&error shd not b used as a technique 4people's wellbeing.A decade of suffering from terror shd have been enough

Lukman Faily was appointed to his current post by Nouri al-Maliki in 2013.  Nouri was prime minister until US President Barack Obama had him replaced with Haider.

For those not aware, no, it is not normal for someone who is an ambassador to go around Tweeting critiques of their country.

It's also news worthy.

Or is if anyone pays attention to what happens.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Ground attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 10 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

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

-- Near Hit, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a fighting position.

-- Near Kisik, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and suppressed a mortar position.

-- Near Mosul, a strike engaged an ISIL communications facility.

-- Near Qayyarah, three strikes engaged an ISIL vehicle bomb factory, a training camp, and a large tactical unit; destroyed two vehicles and an assembly area; and suppressed two tactical units.

-- Near Ramadi, two strikes engaged two separate ISIL tactical units, and destroyed three fighting positions, a vehicle, and a weapons cache.

-- Near Tal Afar, a strike engaged an ISIL safe house.

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.

The Iraq War continues.

With little media attention.

The White House might wish that the press covering the White House had asked about Ned Parker and Jonathan Landay's report.  Especially when what they asked about made Barack look like a cheapskate -- among other things.  From Friday's White House press briefing moderated by Josh Earnest.

  Q    Thanks, Josh.  I want to ask you about an interview that the parents of Kayla Mueller did.  Of course, Kayla Mueller was taken hostage and murdered by ISIS, and the President went out to visit with the family about 17 months ago.  Her parents say that, during that visit, the President had promised to make a donation to a foundation they had set up in Kayla's name.  Is that correct?  Did he make that promise?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, Jon, let me just start by saying that obviously the ordeal that the Mueller family has had to endure is unimaginable.  And their daughter, Kayla Mueller, was a special person who had a special calling in her life.  And I actually still remember the first time that we were in this room talking about reports of her death.  And her parents made public a letter that she had written and been able to deliver to them, or have delivered to them, where she talked about how her life had been fulfilled based on her passion to serve people in need.  And I think the line that she used was she said that she recalled seeing God in the eyes of people who were in crisis.  It's a really profound statement for somebody who was -- she was just in her late twenties when she was killed.  
And her life and her example I think has had an impact on people all across the country.  Her life and her example have had an impact on people here at the White House, myself included.  And given all that, I think the pain and grief that continues to be experienced to this day by Kayla's parents I think is entirely understandable.  
What I can say -- I'm not going to speak to any private conversations that the President has had with the Mueller family.  I know that they've given an interview.  What I will say is the President is aware of the foundation, Kayla's Hands, that's been formed to honor her memory and to honor her life's work.  Is certainly is consistent with the kind of charitable organization that the President and the First Lady have supported in the past.  And I do anticipate that the President would make a commitment to support this organization moving forward. 

Q    What Carl Mueller, Kayla's father, said is that the President in that meeting, back in March of last year -- that he said that he would be making a donation to the foundation, and 17 months later he says the donation has not been made.  Can you confirm that no donation has been made?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, listen, I wasn’t a part of the conversation.  Obviously, Mr. Mueller and the President were.  So what I can tell you is --

Q    But you wouldn’t think he would lie about this?

MR. EARNEST:  No, I'm not accusing anybody of not telling the truth.  I'm just indicating that I wasn’t part of the meeting.  And even if I were, I wouldn’t -- this is a private conversation.  The President obviously is aware of the foundation that's been set up to support the life's work of Kayla Mueller, and it is exactly the kind of organization that the President and First Lady have supported in the past, and I would anticipate that this is a foundation that the President and First Lady would support.

Q    Can you think of any reason that would prompt a delay like that?  I mean, I know the President is obviously busy.  Could he have forgotten about it?  Or is there something that would prevent him as President for making a donation?

MR. EARNEST:  Again, I can't speak to any promises or conversations between the President and the Mueller family directly.

Q    The Mueller family, both parents, also expressed some disappointment with the amounts -- or saying that the efforts that were taken to free Kayla before she was murdered were inadequate.  What Carl Mueller says is the President could have been a hero, but he chose not to.  What's your reaction to that?

MR. EARNEST:  Again, this is a father who is grieving over the loss of his daughter.  And again, I think the grief and sadness that he feels about the fact that his daughter was not successfully rescued I think is an entirely human response and one that's entirely understandable.  What I will say, Jon, is that at the direction of President Obama himself, a variety of national security agencies in the federal government expend significant resources and dedicate significant time to going to great lengths to try to rescue Americans who are being unjustly held against their will around the world.
And you’ll also recall, Jon -- I know you covered this closely -- there were some weaknesses in that approach that were identified by the administration.  And there have been important reforms that have been made to that process over the course of the last 18 to 24 months that have resulted in more effective use of those resources and more effective use of the expertise within the federal government to sharpen our efforts to secure the return, or to rescue American citizens held against their will around the world.
There also has been a concerted effort made to improve the way in which the federal government of the United States communicates with families who are in this unspeakable situation, like the Mueller family was.  And the President has been pleased by the way those reforms have improved the effectiveness, both in terms of securing the release of American hostages, but also in terms of communicating more clearly and directly with families who are in that difficult situation.
But the President hopes that the pace of improvement will continue as the reforms take root.

Q    And I remember one of those issues was the question of private individuals paying ransom.  The Muellers say that White House officials threatened them with criminal prosecution if they tried to pay the $6 million ransom that ISIS was demanding.  Is that correct?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, as we’ve talked about before, there are sort of three aspects to this.  The first is, I’m just not going to get into private conversations between government officials and families who are in this difficult situation.  I can tell you that it is not the policy of the Obama administration to threaten families like these who are in this situation with prosecution.  
But thirdly, the United States does have a policy that we have assiduously followed of not paying ransom.  And that is a very painful policy, and it’s understandable that families like the Muellers would have grave concerns about that policy, both as a policy matter, and I can understand them raising some pretty thorny moral questions about that, too.  But the conclusion that President Obama reached is the same conclusion that previous Presidents in both parties have reached, which is that to get in the habit of paying ransom would only make Americans traveling overseas a more appetizing target to criminal or terrorist organizations that are hoping to collect a ransom.
And so for that reason, we’ve made clear and we have carefully followed a policy of not paying ransom, even to secure the release of Americans who are being held against their will overseas.

Q    Okay, and just a last question, Josh.  So just to be clear, the first line of questioning here.  Can the Mueller family expect that the President, that the Obamas will make a donation to their daughter’s -- to the foundation in the name of Kayla Mueller soon?

MR. EARNEST:  As I mentioned, I can’t speak to any previous conversations that they’ve had, but I can tell you that --

Q    But is a donation coming, is the question.

MR. EARNEST:  The foundation, Kayla’s Hands, that’s been established in her memory is certainly the kind of foundation that the President and First Lady have supported in the past.  And I would anticipate that they would make a financial contribution to continue supporting it.

The lack of press attention on Iraq is especially shocking considering that Mosul is supposedly about to be liberated after being held by the Islamic State for two years and that this liberation is expected to increase the refugee crisis by at least a million.  Emma Graham-Harrison (OBSERVER) reports:

The campaign to oust Isis from Mosul could trigger an exodus of up to a million civilians into Iraqi Kurdistan, and risks overwhelming a region already strained to “near breaking point” by multiple crises, internal government documents seen by the Observer reveal.

A plan for handling the possible refugee surge, that also doubles as a desperate call for help from the international community, warns that the Kurdistan Regional Government can barely support the 1.5 million people who have already fled to the territory. Iraqi Kurdistan is already struggling with an economic collapse, the battle against Isis and the ongoing refugee crisis. Without extra funding for the expected influx, social, economic, political and security stability of the region will be “at risk of total collapse”, the documents warn. Officials also say that security may be at threat from Isis militants attempting to infiltrate among the refugees.

The refugee crisis impacts all segments of Iraq's population including children:

4.7M children need humanitarian assistance; that’s almost 1 in 3 children in the country v/

This week, the press cheered on the news that Iraqi forces planned to send a robot into Mosul.  State of the art to allow the Iraqi military to avoid combat and ignored that other 'security' techniques harken back to the dark ages.  Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) reports on the return of the moats:

One of the first cities that the IS group was pushed out of was Jurf al-Sakhar, south of Baghdad. To isolate the city, inside the province of Babel, from neighbouring Anbar province, which was still hosting a lot of IS group fighters at the time, a trench was built. Around 45 kilometres long, the earthy security measure also boasts 10-meter-high dirt barriers and watchtowers every 500 or so meters.
“It was very important to build this trench,” says Hassan Fadaam, deputy head of the Babel provincial council. “The city has suffered from extremist attacks for years.”

The city of Balad in Salahaddin province also has a new trench. In July, extremists were able to get into the city – despite the fact that it is controlled by members of Iraq’s Shiite Muslim volunteer militias – and blow themselves up in front of a Shiite Muslim shrine, killing over 40 people. The attackers had apparently been disguised as anti-IS militia members.

The only thing keeping Iraq 'hot' on Twitter as the US media ignored the country would be Bill and Hillary Clinton.

How Clintonian Huma Abedin's journal claims Bill Clinton bombed Iraq to distract from affair

Equally popular on Twitter is how the Iraq War creators rush to honor one of their own: Hillary.

  1. fearmongers about Trump while surrounding herself with the freaks and neocons who got us into Iraq.
  2. is huddled in her bunker, plotting World War III with the men who started the Iraq War.

Will HRC be called on to "disavow" the support of Paul Wolfowitz, the chief intellectual architect of the Iraq War?

Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the Iraq war, is voting for Hillary.

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