Friday, October 07, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Friday, October 7, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, tensions between Iraq and Turkey continue to heat up, the US has a split position (no surprise), and much more.

In Iraq, demands continue for Turkish troops to leave the country.

- Spokesperson for Coalition against says forces not part of the Coalition against ISIS in

RT adds:

Dorrian announced during a briefing in Baghdad that Turkey is operating “on its own” in Iraq, AP quoted him as saying. The coalition position is that every unit “should be here with the coordination or and with the permission of the government of Iraq,” he is also quoted as saying.

The issue arose at yesterday's Pentagon press briefing moderated by spokesperson Peter Cook.

Q:  There have been some reports coming from Iraq claiming that Colonel Dorrian called Turkish military presence in northern Iraq as evil and called Turks as invaders.

I got a statement from here saying that these are false, but I wonder about the Pentagon's general assessment -- of the Pentagon itself about Turkish armed forces presence in northern Iraq.

MR. COOK:  Again, you -- you -- my understanding is that the question about the words that were represented, that was not factually correct as to what Colonel Dorrian said.

Our views on this should be well known.  And this is something for the Turkish government and the government of Iraq to speak to.  And -- and we would urge them, those two governments, to speak to this issue and the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq.  This is something that we feel those two governments should be able to speak to most directly.

And the view of the United States has been that, of course, the sovereign territory of Iraq -- that the Iraqi government should be able to speak to foreign troops on its soil.  And that's something that -- again, this is a sovereign issue for the government of Iraq.

Q:  You -- (inaudible) -- some kind of -- by saying this is sovereign right of Iraqi government to, you know, to decide about foreign troops on its territories.

So do you imply that Turks are there without request or knowledge or consent of the Iraqi government?  Have you spoke to any of the parties about the issue?

MR. COOK:  This is -- this is an issue for the government of Turkey and the government of Iraq to speak to.  The government of Iraq can answer that question.  That's not something I can answer from this podium.  And again, we are -- the coalition of which Turkey is a member, is focused very much on -- on ridding Iraq of -- of the ISIL threat; Syria as well.

And that's -- will remain our focus and we think there's ample opportunity for the coalition to work very closely with the government of Iraq to achieve that goal.

Iraq wants Turkish troops off its soil.

They have appealed the matter to the United Nations Security Council.

Majeed Gly (RUDAW) quotes United Nations spokesperson Farhan Haq stating, "Any support to Iraq must conform to the principles of UN charter notably the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and non-interference. The Secretary General hopes the government of Turkey will ensure that all activities in Iraq are conducted with full consent of the government of Iraq."

That seems pretty clear.

Apparently not to officials in Turkey.

AFP quotes Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildrim stating, "No matter what the Iraqi government in Baghdad says, a Turkish presence will remain there to fight against [ISIS], and to avoid any forceful change of the demographic composition in the region."

All of this conflict comes as Iraq hopes to 'liberate' or liberate Mosul from the Islamic State which seized the city over two years ago (June 2014).

US President Barack Obama wants the battle plan to be carried out so that he can claim some success with regards to his failures on Iraq and he also hopes it will help promote Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

The fact that there are thousands of civilians held hostage in Mosul was never a concern -- certainly not a primary concern for the Iraqi government or the US government.

Instead, it's been no big deal that Mosul has been occupied for over two years.

In fact, Barack may have hid behind the Yazidis trapped on the mountain top to justify sending 500 US troops into Iraq in 2014 (the number's now up to over 5,000 -- not counting Special Ops) but the reality was that the move was prompted by repeated movements which made many fear the Islamic State was going to attempt to take Baghdad.

For the non-Kurdish national politicians, anything can happen in Iraq, any suffering, any doing without electricity or potable water, just as long as it stays far, far away from the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad where so many politicians hide out when in Iraq.

Now the battle for Mosul looms and there have been repeated cries to prepare for the civilian crisis that liberation or 'liberation' may create.

THE ECONOMIST expresses hope in what the battle for Mosul might achieve:

Mosul, by contrast, could yet become a model for defeating the jihadists and creating a saner politics that recognises Sunni Arabs’ stake in Iraq (see article). Iraqi, Kurdish and local Sunni forces are closing on the city, with American support; the jihadists are fraying. The operation to retake Mosul is due to begin this month, and may give Mr Obama a farewell triumph. The loss of Mosul would deal a blow to IS; it was from there that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the IS leader, declared his caliphate.
Much can go wrong in Mosul. Nobody knows how hard IS will fight. There are worries that the Iraqi government has not done enough to prepare for a mass exodus of civilians; or that it will be unable to prevent an armed free-for-all by Shia, Kurdish and rival Sunni militias. But for all of its violence and chaos, Iraq offers real hope. Its politics are more open than those of most Arab countries, with a feisty press and an obstreperous parliament. Cross-sectarian alliances are starting to form. Shia politicians want to shake off their image as clients of Iran, while Sunni Arab ones are moving away from the politics of rejection and the dream of reconquering Baghdad.

Not everyone is so optimistic.

Human Rights Watch issued the following release yesterday:

The Iraqi government should make a commitment to prevent any armed forces implicated in laws of war violations from participating in planned operations against the extremist armed group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in Mosul, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Those prohibited from participating should include elements of the Popular Mobilization Forces, a group of armed forces allied with the government known as the Hashd al-Sha’abi. The government should also ensure the protection of fundamental rights and nondiscrimination in security screenings and detention of people detained during the Mosul operations. Up to 1.2 million civilians are estimated to remain in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which ISIS captured in June 2014.
  “Civilians in Mosul have suffered under ISIS rule for more than two years and will need support if the city is retaken, but risk reprisals instead,” said Lama Fakih, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa. “The last thing the authorities should allow is for abusive forces to carry out revenge attacks in an atmosphere of impunity.”
In the most recent operation against ISIS, to retake Fallujah in May 2016, Human Rights Watch research indicates that members of the Popular Mobilization Forces and in at least one instance Iraqi Federal Police officers beat men taken into custody; tortured, summarily executed, and forcibly disappeared civilians including children; and mutilated corpses. Human Rights Watch has previously reported widespread abuse by the Popular Mobilization Forces, including the intentional destruction and looting of civilian property in al-‘Alam, Amerli, al-Bu‘Ajil, al-Dur, and parts of Tikrit after retaking territory from ISIS in March and April 2015.
Al-Abadi should prevent armed forces under his command or control who have been implicated in laws of war violations, including the Badr Brigades, the Hezbollah Brigades (Kata’ib Hezbollah), and other groups within the Popular Mobilization Forces, from participating in planned operations to retake Mosul. The authorities should take steps to protect civilians fleeing and in camps from revenge attacks.
Human Rights Watch documented the recruitment of child soldiers by two government-backed tribal militias (Hashad al-Asha`ri) participating in the fight against ISIS. The Iraqi government should stop working with armed groups that recruit child soldiers and those that have failed to demobilize them.
The Iraqi authorities should hold fighters and commanders in the Iraqi security forces and militias accountable for any abuses committed during military operations and make public the results of investigations into these abuses.
In light of violations in previous operations to retake territory from ISIS, Human Rights Watch has also provided al-Abadi with recommendations to prevent abuses during any screening and detention processes linked to the Mosul operation. If Iraqi and allied Kurdish forces set up centers to screen people who leave Mosul, only Iraqi Security Forces or Kurdistan Regional Government forces should operate them, not abusive armed forces. Authorities should ensure that the screening process is limited to a period of hours, and that anyone held longer is treated as detained and entitled to all protection of detainees under Iraqi and international law. No one should be presumed to be ISIS-affiliated or otherwise suspected of criminal activity based only on gender, age, religious sect, or tribal name.
Human Rights Watch noted with concern that under Iraqi law, the age of criminal responsibility is nine. If authorities screen children leaving Mosul and suspect that they were recruited or used as child soldiers by Islamic State, their treatment should focus on rehabilitation and social reintegration, not detention or prosecution.
The Iraqi authorities should promptly inform detainees of any charges against them and provide them with an opportunity to promptly challenge their detention before an independent judicial body, as required under Iraqi law. The authorities should allow independent protection monitors access to all screening and detention centers.
Since the Fallujah operation, al-Abadi’s government has refused to make public any information on the number of people killed and detained during and after the operation despite numerous requests from Human Rights Watch. The authorities should make public the number of fighters and civilians killed or detained as a result of the conflict with ISIS, and the charges brought against those in detention.

“Iraqi officials operating the screening centers and detention facilities should appreciate how vulnerable fleeing civilians will be, and treat them with care, respect, and the presumption of innocence,” Fakih said.

The issues Human Rights Watch is shining a spotlight on were raised in yesterday's State Dept press briefing -- then quickly deflected by spokesperson John Kirby.

QUESTION: Yeah. Human Rights Watch has made public a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi and they say there that, quote, “Any armed forces implicated in laws of war violations,” unquote, particularly the Hashd al-Shaabi, should not participate in the battle for – to liberate Mosul. Is anything being done to address their concerns?

MR KIRBY: Well, I think that’s a, first of all, question better put to the Abadi government. And I don’t want to speak for Prime Minister Abadi, but I think it’s fair to go back and talk about how – what he has said, and how we have publicly supported what he said, that these popular militia units – these Popular Mobilization Forces, excuse me – they have been useful in helping expel Daesh from areas of Iraq and they will continue to be useful. But we’ve long said that they need to be part of Iraqi organizational command structure, and they have been to a degree that satisfies Prime Minister Abadi, because this is his country. And we fully expect that they will have a role to play going forward.
Now, I think he’s also said – he’s been very clear about what role they won’t play in terms of Mosul, but I – again, I don’t want to get ahead of campaign planning here.

QUESTION: In terms of the role they’re playing, is it that they’re not going to enter Mosul but might be --

MR KIRBY: Again, I’m not going to – the Mosul campaign plan is an Iraqi campaign plan, and Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqi Government should speak to how they’re going to implement that campaign plan. It’s theirs. I’m not – certainly, you know I don’t like talking about military operations, and I certainly don’t like to talk about future military operations. They have – the PMF have played a role in Iraq. I suspect that they will continue to play a role. Exactly what that role is going forward in Mosul is not for me to say; it’s not for Prime Minister Abadi to describe.

QUESTION: Maybe I can formulate the question more State Department-like.

MR KIRBY: You can try. You’ll probably get the same answer, but go ahead.

QUESTION: Have you raised with the Abadi government the problem of these abuses that the Hashd al-Shaabi have committed and preventing them in the future?

MR KIRBY: We have – the short answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean that our hand was forced to do it. Prime Minister Abadi himself has expressed deep concerns about reports and allegations of violations of human rights in the conduct of operations in Iraq. In fact, he – I think this report was referring to allegations revolving around the operations in Fallujah, and the prime minister has talked about those exact allegations. And they have launched an investigation and they’ve been very honest and open about that. So of course, we’ve discussed it with the prime minister and his government, but it’s not like we had to bring it up. I mean, he was aware of these allegations on his own and launched an investigation on his own.

Kirby can't confirm anything -- but, as he admitted last week, he doesn't know anything about Iraq, he'd have to study up.  Poor little tax paid employee in over his head and unable to rise to the level.

The US Defense Dept announced yesterday:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft, as well as rocket artillery, conducted 18 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Al Huwayjah, two strikes engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle.

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

-- Near Haditha, a strike engaged an ISIL staging area.

-- Near Hit, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL-held buildings, a vehicle and a weapons cache. A second ISIL-held building was damaged.

-- Near Mosul, six strikes engaged four ISIL tactical units and destroyed three vehicles, a weapons cache, two supply caches, a command-and-control node, a mortar system and an anti-air artillery system.

-- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed an ISIL mortar system and a fighting position.

-- Near Ramadi, two strikes engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two vehicles, two bunkers and a tunnel entrance.

-- Near Rawah, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Tal Afar, two strikes engaged two ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL-held buildings and a vehicle.

At THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, Andrew Bacevich sees Iraq as a quagmire like Vietnam before and wonders how this fails to register:

Today accountability and remorse are in short supply. Whatever capacity the public once possessed to rouse itself when faced with a military enterprise gone awry has apparently dissipated. With the normalization of war, Americans have learned to tune out events occurring on distant battlefields. Public malaise frees Congress of any obligation to exercise serious oversight. Why ask difficult questions when rote expressions of supporting the troops suffice to win votes?

Votes is closer to the answer.

The couch potato generations just want to kick back and lie to themselves.  Heaven forbid they face the truth about Hillary, let alone about Barack.

Take this idiot on Twitter:

  1. I get so tired of correcting this. George W Bush signed the Status of Forces Agreement for Iraq on December 18,...

He -- and the idiots at 'THINK' 'PROGESS' (Podesta cage for the blind veal) -- insists that nothing can be be Hillary or Barack's support because Bully Boy Bush, by golly, by gum, was behind the SOFA!!!!!

No, that's not an explanation.

As Glenn Kessler (WASHINGTON POST) points out:

In fact, both sides assumed that before the SOFA expired, the two countries would negotiate an extension. “There was an expectation that we would negotiate something that looked like a residual force for our training with the Iraqis,” Rice told a reporter in 2011. “Everybody believed it would be better if there was some kind of residual force.”
The Obama administration also anticipated there would be an extension, and officials began negotiations for a new one as the deadline approached. Vice President Biden, who oversaw Iraq policy, was so convinced a deal could be struck that he was quoted as saying: “Maliki wants us to stick around because he does not see a future in Iraq otherwise. I’ll bet you my vice presidency Maliki will extend the SOFA.”
For complicated reasons, a deal was not reached. A key sticking point was whether the SOFA could exist as simply a memorandum of understanding (MOU) or needed formal approval by the Iraqi parliament. Maliki was willing to sign an MOU, but administration lawyers concluded that parliamentary approval was needed, in part because parliament had approved the 2008 version. Moreover, there were serious questions about whether an MOU signed by the prime minister would really be binding, especially given Iraq’s independent judiciary.
But politically it was much more difficult to win parliamentary approval of a SOFA that would have allowed U.S. troops to be prosecuted outside Iraq, under U.S. jurisdiction, for crimes committed in Iraq — especially because of fierce opposition from a key Shiite parliamentary bloc that backed Maliki. Indeed, his political survival depended on the support of the Sadrist bloc that was dead-set against any presence of U.S. troops. (All other parties in parliament wanted U.S. troops to remain.)
“There was a lot of effort to work through with the Maliki government what such a status-of-forces agreement would look like,” Clinton said in 2014. “At the end of the day, the Maliki government would not agree.”
Separately, it’s debatable whether the number of troops Obama offered to remain in Iraq was enough to make worthwhile such a politically difficult choice for Iraqi leaders. U.S. military commanders wanted to leave at least 16,000 troops in Iraq, but Obama’s final number ended up being much lower: 3,500 trainers and advisers.
Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in his 2014 memoir “Worthy Fights,” said that he warned Obama that without U.S. troops in place, Iraq “could become a new haven for terrorists.” But he said that White House was “so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests.” Panetta added: “To my frustration, the White House coordinated the negotiations but never really led them. Officials there seemed content to endorse an agreement if State and Defense could reach one, but without the President’s active advocacy, Maliki was allowed to slip away.”

When the negotiations collapsed, Obama was happy to make the withdrawal of U.S. troops a key part of his 2012 reelection campaign. “Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did,” he declared at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

That's reality.

And it's not even the full reality.

Here's another reason Barack and Hillary own it.

Hillary said a SOFA would have to go through the Senate.  She said that when she was campaigning in 2008 for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Because Hillary said it, Barack then said it -- remember how he hid behind her skirts?

Then, on Thanksgiving Day 2008, after the election, the White House announced that the SOFA had been signed and quickly we saw incoming president Barack (sworn in January 2009) drop from his official website the promise he made that any SOFA would face Senate approval.

So it's on Barack (and Hillary) even more than Glenn has space to acknowledge.

The wars continue because the whoring continues.