Friday, September 30, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Friday, September 30, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, silence from the 'left' continues as Barack Obama's decision to send even more US troops into Iraq sinks in, Iraqi government says Sumerians traveled in outerspace to seek other planets, and much more.

Starting with news from Iraq . . .

Iraq Transport Minister: Sumerians built world's first airports & flew spaceships from southern Iraq to discover other planets (5000yrs ago)

Will the US press ask John Podesta for a comment?

Considering the way they savaged Dennis Kucinich for his beliefs over eight years ago, it really seems they should.

But, strangely, John Podesta is allowed to advise Hillary with no questions asked.

Wait, it's not strange.

US reporters never talk about Iraq.  The candidates avoid it.

Unless they can go back to years and years ago.

No one's asked to present a credible plan because no one ever is asked to address the reality of Iraq today and the press likes to avoid the realities of the ongoing Iraq War.

So it's not being a hypocrite with regards to their trashing of Dennis Kucinnich -- it's just part of their ever going desire to avoid Iraq today.

The big Iraq news for the week remains Wednesday's revelation that US President Barack Obama will be sending even more US troops into Iraq.  Larisa Epatko (PBS NEWSHOUR) notes, "The authorization followed the July announcement of a 560-troop deployment. The deployments bring the total U.S. troop level in Iraq to 5,262."

From the 'left' we have silence and more silence.  The editorial board of THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE weighs in:

There are some strong arguments against increasing U.S. troop involvement in Iraq at this point.  The first is that the Iraqi national army, which U.S. forces are supplying and training, continues to show itself relatively toothless on the battlefield — meaning that U.S. forces will play a prominent role in whatever assault on Mosul occurs.  Washington has yet to explain coherently why Americans should care one way or the other who holds Mosul, or Raqqa, for that matter. The argument that taking Mosul would validate continued U.S. support of the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the policy of building it a credible national army has a vaguely “dog-chasing-its-tail” quality to it.  If Mr. Abadi’s government had the general support of the Iraqi people, they would put in the field a credible national army on their own account, and his government would not need more American troops to fight its battles.

In other news . . .

French fighter jets take off on mission against Isil in Iraq

So French war planes will do combat with Islamic State war planes!

Oh, wait.

The Islamic State doesn't have war planes.

The US Defense Dept announced yesterday:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft, as well as rocket artillery, conducted 10 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Qaim, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb-making facility.
-- Near Beiji, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a fighting position.
-- Near Haditha, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Kisik, two strikes destroyed an ISIL fighting position and suppressed two ISIL mortar firing positions.
-- Near Mosul, four strikes engaged two ISIL tactical units and destroyed a front-end loader, a weapons cache and a vehicle.
-- Near Ramadi, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle and two trench systems.

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.

This is so embarrassing.

Mosul's been held since June of 2014 by a terrorist organization.

It's still held by one.

Barack will be increasing the number of US troops in Iraq to 5262 (using PBS' THE NEWSHOUR number -- special-ops not included in that number).

Now France is joining the US in dropping bombs on Iraq.

All to end the siege of Mosul.

The Islamic State must have millions of fighters in Mosul, right?

US military says 3,000 to 4,500 ISIS fighters (Iraqi & foreign) holed up in Mosul ahead of planned offensive

4,500 at most?

All of this and we're talking 4,500 at most?

What did the editorial board of THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE say again?

Oh, that's right: "If Mr. Abadi’s government had the general support of the Iraqi people, they would put in the field a credible national army on their own account, and his government would not need more American troops to fight its battles."

Speaking of editorial boards, THE WASHINGTON POST's editorial board reminds that nothing has been done to address the issues that led to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq:

More important, the Baghdad government has taken no serious steps to resolve long-standing disputes with Sunni and Kurdish leaders over territory, revenue and the delegation of powers to local governments.

Though the absence of such political solutions facilitated the rise of the Islamic State, the Obama administration is not pushing for them. It is not using its considerable leverage — U.S. air support will be vital to liberating Mosul — to insist on better political preparations or the exclusion of Shiite militias. Instead, eager for the operation to begin before President Obama leaves office, it has been encouraging Mr. Abadi to speed up the Mosul offensive, while leaving the Day After problem to the Iraqis. That is a highly risky course. 

It is known that liberating Mosul will create many new refugees.  But nothing has been done to address that.  D. Parvaz (ALJAZEERA) reports:

In a stifling hot office with more flies than oxygen, Rzgar Abed does not hesitate when asked about the biggest challenge in managing the camp for Iraq's internally displaced people (IDPs).
"Space ... we're at 31,000 and that is our capacity. Thirty-one thousand," said Abed, who works for the Barzani Charity Foundation.
It oversees a number of camps, populated by 1.4 million Iraqi displaced people fleeing fighters belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in the Kurdish region.

That number is set to double within a month, with an additional 1.5 million people expected to flee when the operation to take back Mosul from ISIL starts in mid-October.

Again, no preparations.

And this despite what has been done to other Iraqi cities in the name of 'liberation.'

ghost City (Sunni city ) was completely destroyed by Iraqi army &Shia militias

Despite, all the turmoil and the announcement that more US troops are headed to the country, Iraq's been mentioned only once this week in the State Dept press briefing.  On Wednesday, it briefly surfaced when spokesperson John Kirby was moderating:

QUESTION: On Iraq and Baghdad, Iraq’s parliamentary – Iraq’s national assembly last week, it removed the finance minister [ Hoshyar Zebari]. And the chief of staff of the presidency of the KRG was in New York last week, and he said that the United States was concerned. He told this to the Voice of America. The United States was concerned about this move. Could you elaborate on what he meant on this issue of U.S. concern about the removal of the Iraqi finance minister and what you think generally about what the Iraqi national assembly is doing?

MR KIRBY: What I would just say, first of all, is I’d refer you to the Iraqi Government for specifics on this recent vote to remove the finance minister. Politics aside, reforms are critical to reinforcing Iraq’s progress and to putting the country on a more sustainable fiscal path. We also will continue to support Iraq in its own critical economic reform efforts. We strongly support the Iraqi people in their fight against [the Islamic State], which is on the defensive in Iraq, and we urge Iraqi leaders to continue their efforts to that end, to defeating [the Islamic State]. That must remain and does remain our central focus, particularly at a very pivotal moment in this campaign as Iraqi forces begin to pressure Mosul, and I think that’s as far as I’m going to go on that.

QUESTION: But you don’t think, like, having so many ministers – finance, defense, interior – so many ministries without ministers is a problem?

MR KIRBY: Look, the decision to remove is an Iraqi decision and they should speak – the Iraqi Government should speak to this decision. What I’ve said in the past is we continue to support Prime Minister Abadi and his reform efforts, both political and economic. Obviously, we know that in order to enact those reforms and implement them, you need a team, you need a cabinet, and we support his efforts to fill those posts and to move his government forward. But the individual decisions about removing, in this case, the finance minister, are for the Iraqi Government to speak to. But clearly, we, more broadly speaking, continue to support Prime Minister Abadi as he tries to move the government forward.

QUESTION: But the parliament seems to be opposed to the prime minister.


QUESTION: I mean, that’s why they’re removing his ministers. One interpretation of what parliament is doing is, in fact, that this is being done at the behest of [Nouri al-] Maliki, former prime minister, and he’s trying to get at the current prime minister.

MR KIRBY: I’m simply not educated enough and nor would it be prudent for me to involve in a debate – involve myself in a debate over parliamentary politics in Iraq. Democracy is hard work, it’s tough, and we understand that, and that’s why we continue to support the Abadi government as it moves forward. But these are votes, these are decisions that Iraqi politicians need to speak to.

John Kirby at last speaks some truth: "I'm simply not educated enough" to speak of Iraq.