Thursday, September 01, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, September 1, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept's John Kirby needs to call Philippe Kropf and the number is +964 (0)751 1352875, the UN's death toll for Iraq increased wit August having the largest death toll of the year thus far, and much more.

What you go and do
You go and give the boy a gun
Now there ain't place to run to
Ain't no place to run to

When he hold it in his hand
He feel mighty he feel strong
Now there ain't no place to run to
Ain't no place to run

One day he may come back
Repay us for what we've done
Then where you gonna run to
Where you gonna run

But one fine day
All our problems will be solved
Bang bang bang
We'll shoot him down

-- "Bang Bang Bang" written by Tracy Chapman, first appears on her MATTERS OF THE HEART album, a strong remaster appears on last year's GREATEST HITS

Handing children guns -- the topic of a question raised in Wednesday's US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson John Kirby.

QUESTION: Human Rights Watch says Iraqi Government-backed militias have recruited children in preparation for an offensive to drive ISIL from Mosul. They call on the Iraqi Government to take action to demobilize child soldiers. Has the U.S. raised the issue with the Iraqi Government or are you going – aware of the issue?

MR KIRBY: I’m not aware of that report. Obviously, we would strongly condemn the use of children as soldiers in any armed conflict, but I’m not aware that – of this particular report.

First, let's inform you of what Kirby couldn't -- takes a lot of time to curl those lashes, doesn't it, John?

Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch issued an alert which opened:

Iraqi government-backed militias have recruited children from at least one displaced persons camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to fight against Islamic State forces. All security forces and armed groups should abide by international law and demobilize any fighters under age 18.
  Witnesses and relatives told Human Rights Watch that two tribal militias (Hashad al-Asha`ri) recruited as fighters at least seven children from the Debaga camp on August 14, 2016, and drove them to a town closer to Mosul, where Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are preparing for an offensive to drive the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, from the city. The Hashad al-Asha`ri, made up of local Sunni fighters, are expected to play a key role in Mosul military operations, while the government may order the mainly Shia militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces to stay out of the Mosul fighting.
“The recruitment of children as fighters for the Mosul operation should be a warning sign for the Iraqi government,” said Bill Van Esveld, senior children’s rights researcher. “The government and its foreign allies need to take action now, or children are going to be fighting on both sides in Mosul.”
  Human Rights Watch has documented that ISIS has extensively recruited and deployed children in its forces.
Debaga camp, 40 kilometers south of Erbil, currently houses over 35,000 people displaced in the fighting between government forces and ISIS. Two people living in the camp since March told Human Rights Watch that at least two militia groups engaged in the fighting against ISIS are entirely made up of camp residents. They said that these two militias, commanded by Sheikh Nishwan al-Jabouri and by Maghdad al-Sabawy, the son of the recently deceased commander Fares al-Sabawy, have been recruiting from the camp for months. Their trucks have been arriving empty, and driving away filled with men, and in some cases, boys.

The two camp residents said that two very large trucks arrived in the evening of August 14 and took away about 250 new recruits, at least 7 of them under age 18, to join Sheikh al-Jabouri’s forces. Witnesses and other camp residents said that all the men and boys volunteered to join the militias. An aid worker who was on the road saw the two trucks heading to Hajj Ali, a town about 46 kilometers from Debaga and 7 kilometers from the front lines with ISIS. They contacted local aid workers in Hajj Ali, who confirmed that the group had arrived there, stayed for one night, and then went on to join a militia nearby.

John Kirby pinky swears he's never even heard of the report, is completely unfamiliar with it.

There are two options here.

First, he's lying because the militias are part of the Iraqi government (Hayder al-Abadi incorporated them into the armed forces some time ago) and the US government is not allowed to 'partner' in military operations with governments that use child soldiers.

So he's lying to avoid legal ramifications.

Or there's the second choice: He's really that stupid.

Let's go with the second choice.

I think it's the first but I think he's playing dumb on the national stage to avoid legal ramifications.

So the US government has wasted X trillion of US taxpayer dollars on this never-ending illegal war and US troops are on the ground there and President Barack Obama has appointed a special envoy (Brett McGurk) and the State Dept and John Kirby can't be bothered monitoring Iraq?

That's what he's saying to the United States and to the world -- but to the US taxpayers that pay his salary -- and all that eye liner can't be cheap, John -- he's saying that he can't be bothered.

They can play with tax dollars like it's paper play money and with human lives like their plastic figures, they just can't pay attention to reality.

Not a good message for the State Dept to convey.

While John Kirby was preening from the podium yesterday, the United Nations in Iraq issued the following:

(Baghdad, 31 August 2016): The UN is deeply worried by reports that child recruitment is taking place in at least one displacement camp in Iraq and that boys are reportedly being transported to areas near the frontlines, possibly to join armed groups that will fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“Involving children in fighting is totally unacceptable,” said Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. “We are deeply concerned by the reports that this is happening.”

The UN is also deeply concerned by reports of mass graves of thousands of civilian victims in areas of Iraq formerly under the control of ISIL.
“Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of civilians during the conflict. The battle to retake Mosul is likely to start soon. Hundreds of thousands of civilians will almost certainly be at risk. Everybody has to do everything possible to ensure they live and receive the assistance they need,” said Ms. Grande.
International humanitarian law (IHL) obliges all parties to the conflict to refrain from recruiting minors or using them to take part in hostilities. IHL also requires parties to ensure that civilians are protected and allowed to leave conflict zones safely.
“Under no circumstances can civilians be used as human shields,” said Ms. Grande. “This violates all principles of humanity.”
The humanitarian community in Iraq issued a Flash Appeal in July urgently requesting US$284 million to prepare for the Mosul operation. To date, less than 20 percent of this amount has been raised.
Humanitarian partners are also seeking funding for their 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan which provides assistance for 7.3 million Iraqis. To date, partners have received only 53 percent of the US$861 million they require for on-going operations.
For further information, please contact:
Philippe Kropf, Communications Officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Iraq,
( / +964 (0)751 1352875)

Repeating, the contact information is Philippe Kropf and the number is +964 (0)751 1352875.

Could someone pass that on to John Kirby?

Turning to violence, Wednesday, the US Defense Dept announced:

in Iraq
Bomber, fighter, ground-attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 14 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Baghdadi, a strike produced inconclusive results.

-- Near Albu Hayat, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Bashir, a strike suppressed an ISIL tactical unit.

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

-- Near Hit, four strikes engaged an ISIL vehicle bomb factory, a barracks, a headquarters building and destroyed three fighting positions.

-- Near Kisik, a strike destroyed an ISIL mortar system and suppressed another mortar position.

-- Near Mosul, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit, destroying a fighting position, a command-and-control node, two mortar systems, eight rocket rails, a rocket system and a tunnel. The strike also and damaged an excavator and suppressed a mortar position.

-- Near Ramadi, two strikes engaged two ISIL tactical units, destroying two fighting positions, two mortar systems, a mortar cache, two vehicles and an artillery system. The strikes also damaged another mortar system.

-- Near Rawah, a strike engaged an ISIL weapons cache.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle.

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.

Today is the first day of September.  Which means?  UNAMI's released the death and wounded tolls for August:

Baghdad, Iraq, 01 September 2016 – A total of 691 Iraqis were killed and another 1,016 were injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq, excluding Anbar, in August 2016*, according to casualty figures recorded by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

The number of civilians killed in August was 473 (including 16 federal police, Sahwa civil defence, Personal Security Details, facilities protection police, fire department), and the number of civilians injured was 813 (including 21 federal police, Sahwa civil defence, Personal Security Details, facilities protection police, fire department).

A total of 218 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (including Peshmerga, SWAT and militias fighting alongside the Iraqi Army but excluding Anbar Operations) were killed and 203 were injured.
According to the casualties recorded for August, Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate with 907 civilian casualties (231 killed, 676 injured). Ninewa 116 killed and 83 injured, Kirkuk had 81 killed and 13 injured, while Karbala 17 killed and 25 injured, Salahadin 14 killed and 04 injured and Diyala 06 killed and 05 injured.
UNAMI has not been able to obtain the civilian casualty figures from the Anbar Health Department for the month of August.
“The bloodletting in Iraq continues without letup. Casualty figures remain too high and civilians again are bearing the brunt,” Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Ján Kubiš said.
“In the past few days, Daesh suicide bombers struck a wedding celebration in Ain Al-Tamr in Karbala Governorate, killing or wounding many, and bombs went off in the capital Baghdad. We strongly condemn these terrorist attacks and other acts of violence, reiterate our call on the parties to undertake every effort to safeguard the lives of civilians and urge Iraqis in general to show strength in unity in the face of this unrelenting violence,” Mr. Kubiš said.
* CAVEATS: In general, UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in conflict areas in some cases; UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. UNAMI has also received, without being able to verify, reports of large numbers of casualties along with unknown numbers of persons who have died from secondary effects of violence after having fled their homes due to exposure to the elements, lack of water, food, medicines and health care. For these reasons, the figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum. [UNAMI has not been able to obtain the civilian casualty figures from Anbar for the month of August.]

The UN figures are an undercount.  They always are.

But even just using UN figures alone, that makes August the most violent month of the year thus far.

Not only did the number dead increase by around 200 and the wounded toll also increase by around 200 but you have to drop back to July 2015 to find a month where the death toll was higher (844).

That's not good news.

With the liberation of Mosul -- or 'liberation' -- still on the horizon this year, there's a chance the United Nations may record more deaths in 2016 than in 2015.

In addition to the above violence, RUDAW reports yesterday saw the hanging of at least 7 Arab men by the Iraqi government.  The men -- non-Iraqis -- were all allegedly convicted.

That doesn't mean much with Iraq's well known use of forced convictions and kangaroo courts.

Question, since Iraq's legal system never got better, why did THE NEW YORK TIMES drop their coverage of it?

They used to do a yearly article -- back when Bully Boy Bush was in the White House.

These days, it's paper over all the unpleasant truths.

Like the talk about Hoshyar Zebari.

  1. Hoshiyar Zebari: "an Iraqi official transferred $6.4 billion to his account in a bank." Welcome to

All week long, Zebari's been the focus of talk throughout the Iraqi media about how (a) he's corrupt and (b) has stolen at least six billion from the Iraqi people.

Silence in the western media.

The following community sites updated yesterday and the day before: