As we noted yesterday, Iraq's not a news maker currently. Everyone has something else to cover. Even at a State Dept press briefing.
For example, yesterday Matt Lee (ASSOCIATED PRESS) wasted everyone's time again by asking spokesperson John Kirby questions about what the incoming administration will do and John again informed him he cannot answer those questions.
But it got Matt the chance to waste time, to get in one of those barbs that let people think he's independent.
What if WikiLeaks gets a hold of the Matt Lee and Victoria Nuland e-mails?
As someone who saw some of them over a year ago, I know Matt would lose a lot of credibility. Orchestrating with Nuland what to ask, sharing how Benghazi wasn't a real issue, blah blah blah.
Maybe instead of trying to show boat in press briefings, he should do the job the AP is paying him to do?
While the press flounders, US Vice President Joe Biden was noting Iraq. Yesterday, the White House issued the following:
For Immediate Release
November 21, 2016
Readout of Vice President Biden’s Call with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi of Iraq
The Vice President spoke today with Iraq's Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to discuss the campaign to liberate Mosul and the broader campaign to defeat ISIL in Iraq. The Vice President commended Iraqi Security Forces for their battlefield successes against ISIL and pledged continued U.S. support pursuant to our Strategic Framework Agreement. He also extended condolences to the families of those killed in the battle to liberate Mosul and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded. He also commended the close ongoing cooperation between the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga. The Vice President reaffirmed U.S. respect for Iraq's territorial integrity and sovereignty. He also underscored the importance to U.S. interests of building on the successful U.S.-Iraq partnership in the years ahead to protect strategic gains and to ensure Iraq's lasting stability.
The slog that never ends.
It's now 36 days since the operation began.
And still it continues.
As do the War Crimes.
As we noted yesterday, Hayder al-Abadi went on state media Monday morning to denounce the press and human rights organizations for telling the truth.
He doesn't want to stop the War Crimes.
He just wants to stop the coverage of the War Crimes.
Some very kind and strong people who care about Iraq have had faith that Hayder would change things. I have had exchanges with them where I disagreed.
I hope now they're beginning to grasp that (a) Hayder's no different from Nouri al-Maliki and (b) when vengeful people are put in a position with no checks or balances, they only become worse.
James Cogan (WSWS) reports:
The US-directed offensive to recapture the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and surrounding towns and villages from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has entered its fifth week.
The assault involves an increasingly antagonistic collection of armed forces, including some 30,000 Iraqi Army troops, 15,000 peshmerga soldiers of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), thousands of anti-ISIS Sunni Arab and Christian fighters, Turkish Army-backed Turkomen militias, and as many as 20,000 to 30,000 Shiite militia members loyal to the fundamentalist political parties that dominate the US-backed government in Baghdad.
The Shiite militias, known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), are seeking to capture the predominantly ethnic Turkomen city of Tal Afar, 60 kilometres to the west of Mosul, near the border with Syria, and cut off escape routes for ISIS forces to its Syrian capital of Raqqa. The PMF captured Tal Afar airport on November 16. In the past 24 hours, it has claimed that its fighters are on the verge of fully surrounding the city.
The Turkish government, which proclaims itself the defender of Turkomen Iraqis, has repeated its threats to invade Iraq and attack the largely Arab Shiite militias if they “cause terror” in Tal Afar. In operations against ISIS in the western Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, the PMF were accused of sectarian killings and abuses against Sunni civilians. To try to placate Turkey, Iraqi Army units have been dispatched to ostensibly lead any assault on Tal Afar.
In Mosul, Iraqi government special forces claim they are slowly “clearing” ISIS fighters from the eastern suburbs, in the face of fierce resistance, and are eight kilometres from the city centre. Northern Mosul is sealed off by Kurdish pershmerga. To the south, the Iraqi Army has advanced to within 20 kilometres. The vast bulk of the city, however, is still firmly under ISIS control.
The US military has admitted that hundreds of American personnel are on the ground and involved in the combat. British and Australian troops are also reported to be fighting alongside Iraqi units.
US Army spokesperson Colonel John Dorrian told journalists last week that US Green Berets and other special forces personnel were “in the thick of a very tough battle.” Dorrian stated: “There’s no question that US advisors are in harms’ way... It’s not our role to take terrain or close with the enemy, but as the Iraqis move, if they need us, we’ll go where they need us.”
US troops are in combat.
That's the reality.
It's the reality the Hannah Allems have chosen to ignore until after Donald Trump is sworn in.
Then those useless 'reporters' will suddenly discover US troops are still in combat in Iraq.
And they will be outraged.
Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) observes, "Though reports out of Mosul suggest the offensive there is moving at a snail’s pace, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari talked up the continued 'progress,' claiming the battle is going better than the government had expected."
The United Nations notes:
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that as of Sunday, the United Nations has registered more than 68,500 people as displaced by the military operations to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here Monday.
This is a jump from nearly 60,000 people just three days earlier, Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.
"A health assessment carried out in Zelikan Camp, northeast of Mosul, showed the urgent and widespread need for psychosocial assistance among displaced families, with nearly three-quarters of those interviewed expressing a strong level of distress," Dujarric said.
Maybe that's what Ibrahim means by progress?
We know what the Iraqi position on refugees is: Indifference and hatred.
It was left to the KRG for the last six years to take the bulk of the refugees.
The central government based in Baghdad didn't give a damn.
There's a lot of talk about fake news these days. It's a shame that Twitter's about the only medium really offering context:
14 yrs after media-amplified drumbeat for the Iraq War, same media now decries “fake news” & offers no analysis of its role in such fabulism
‘Fake news’ & ‘post-truth’ politics? What about those Iraqi WMDs? (Op-Ed by @NeilClark66)
As we wind down, we'll include this press release from the office of Iraq War veteran and US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard:
Gabbard Statement on Meeting with President-Elect Donald Trump
New York, NY—U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today released the following statement on her meeting with President-elect Donald Trump regarding Syria:
"President-elect Trump asked me to meet with him about our current policies regarding Syria, our fight against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as other foreign policy challenges we face. I felt it important to take the opportunity to meet with the President-elect now before the drumbeats of war that neocons have been beating drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government—a war which has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions of refugees to flee their homes in search of safety for themselves and their families.
“While the rules of political expediency would say I should have refused to meet with President-elect Trump, I never have and never will play politics with American and Syrian lives.
“Serving the people of Hawaiʻi and our nation is an honor and responsibility that I do not take lightly. Representing the aloha spirit and diversity of the people of Hawaiʻi, I will continue to seek common ground to deliver results that best serve all Americans, as I have tried to do during my time in Congress.
“Where I disagree with President-elect Trump on issues, I will not hesitate to express that disagreement. However, I believe we can disagree, even strongly, but still come together on issues that matter to the American people and affect their daily lives. We cannot allow continued divisiveness to destroy our country.
“President-elect Trump and I had a frank and positive conversation in which we discussed a variety of foreign policy issues in depth. I shared with him my grave concerns that escalating the war in Syria by implementing a so-called no fly/safe zone would be disastrous for the Syrian people, our country, and the world. It would lead to more death and suffering, exacerbate the refugee crisis, strengthen ISIS and al-Qaeda, and bring us into a direct conflict with Russia which could result in a nuclear war. We discussed my bill to end our country’s illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government, and the need to focus our precious resources on rebuilding our own country, and on defeating al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups who pose a threat to the American people.
“For years, the issue of ending interventionist, regime change warfare has been one of my top priorities. This was the major reason I ran for Congress—I saw firsthand the cost of war, and the lives lost due to the interventionist warmongering policies our country has pursued for far too long.
“Let me be clear, I will never allow partisanship to undermine our national security when the lives of countless people lay in the balance."
The following community sites -- plus THE GUARDIAN -- updated: