Head of the Sunni tribe of Shammar in Iraq has voiced concern over Saturday's official recognition of the Hashd al-Shaabi, a Shiite paramilitary group with growing influence in the country following its sweeping victories against ISIS militants across Iraq.
After a voting session on Saturday, Iraq's parliament granted legal status to the controversial group which has managed to mobilize Shiite forces and push back ISIS militants in several key regions across the country in the wake of Iraqi army's humiliating defeat after ISIS offensive in 2014.
But the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces in Arabic) has faced mounting criticism in the country as rights groups accused its forces of illegal detention of Sunni men and destruction of their properties in what activists view as Shiite retaliatory actions against Sunni populations in Iraq.
"Members of Shia militias, who the Iraqi government has included among its state forces, abducted and killed scores of Sunni residents in a central Iraq town and demolished Sunni homes, stores, and mosques following January 11, 2016 bombings claimed by the extremist group Islamic State," a statement by the Human Rights Watch noted earlier this year.
The Washington-based rights group has also accused the Shiite group of possible war crimes and inhuman treatment of Sunni detainees.
"We understand that there is a war taking place at present in Mosul, but on the other hand the Hashd al-Shaabi has been legalized and that we deem as dangerous for Iraq's future," said Abdulrazaq Shammar, head of the Shammar tribe, a large Sunni tribe in Nineveh Plains.
In 2014, when the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq finally pushed US President Barack Obama to stop covering for thug and then-prime minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki, a number of things should have happened including a diplomatic surge.
As Peter Beinart observed (at THE ATLANTIC) in June of 2014:
But sooner or later, honest liberals will have to admit that Obama’s Iraq policy has been a disaster. Since the president took office, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has grown ever more tyrannical and ever more sectarian, driving his country’s Sunnis toward revolt. Since Obama took office, Iraq watchers—including those within his own administration—have warned that unless the United States pushed hard for inclusive government, the country would slide back into civil war. Yet the White House has been so eager to put Iraq in America’s rearview mirror that, publicly at least, it has given Maliki an almost-free pass. Until now, when it may be too late.
Obama inherited an Iraq where better security had created an opportunity for better government. The Bush administration’s troop “surge” did not solve the country’s underlying divisions. But by retaking Sunni areas from insurgents, it gave Iraq’s politicians the chance to forge a government inclusive enough to keep the country together.
The problem was that Maliki wasn’t interested in such a government. Rather than integrate the Sunni Awakening fighters who had helped subdue al-Qaeda into Iraq’s army, Maliki arrested them. In the run-up to his 2010 reelection bid, Maliki’s Electoral Commission disqualified more than 500, mostly Sunni, candidates on charges that they had ties to Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.
For the Obama administration, however, tangling with Maliki meant investing time and energy in Iraq, a country it desperately wanted to pivot away from. A few months before the 2010 elections, according to Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker, “American diplomats in Iraq sent a rare dissenting cable to Washington, complaining that the U.S., with its combination of support and indifference, was encouraging Maliki’s authoritarian tendencies.”
By that fall, to its credit, the U.S. had helped craft an agreement in which Maliki remained prime minister but Iraqiya controlled key ministries. Yet as Ned Parker, the Reuters bureau chief in Baghdad, later detailed, “Washington quickly disengaged from actually ensuring that the provisions of the deal were implemented.” In his book, The Dispensable Nation, Vali Nasr, who worked at the State Department at the time, notes that the “fragile power-sharing arrangement … required close American management. But the Obama administration had no time or energy for that. Instead it anxiously eyed the exits, with its one thought to get out. It stopped protecting the political process just when talk of American withdrawal turned the heat back up under the long-simmering power struggle that pitted the Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds against one another.”
In July of 2014, Ali Khedery shared in THE WASHINGTON POST:
To understand why Iraq is imploding, you must understand Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — and why the United States has supported him since 2006.
I have known Maliki, or Abu Isra, as he is known to people close to him, for more than a decade. I have traveled across three continents with him. I know his family and his inner circle. When Maliki was an obscure member of parliament, I was among the very few Americans in Baghdad who took his phone calls. In 2006, I helped introduce him to the U.S. ambassador, recommending him as a promising option for prime minister. In 2008, I organized his medevac when he fell ill, and I accompanied him for treatment in London, spending 18 hours a day with him at Wellington Hospital. In 2009, I lobbied skeptical regional royals to support Maliki’s government.
By 2010, however, I was urging the vice president of the United States and the White House senior staff to withdraw their support for Maliki. I had come to realize that if he remained in office, he would create a divisive, despotic and sectarian government that would rip the country apart and devastate American interests.
America stuck by Maliki. As a result, we now face strategic defeat in Iraq and perhaps in the broader Middle East.
We could go on and on.
But those of us paying attention in real time didn't need the 2014 articles. Check the archives, we were sounding alarms the whole time including noting in late 2011 as peaceful protests began that they were the last chance before violence.
We were noting that the ballot box had now failed, the leaders had failed and now it would be up to the people.
Instead of heeding the protests, Nouri al-Maliki dubbed the Iraqi people "terrorists" and began using his forces to attack them -- as well as to attack reporters who covered the peaceful demonstrations.
His war on the Sunnis was in full bloom.
Two years after Barack forced him to step down and after the US installed Hayder al-Abadi as the new prime minister, nothing has been done to address the persecution of the Sunnis.
All the conditions that allowed for the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq still exist.
And the slog in Mosul continues -- Mosul's been held by the Islamic State since June 2014. The 'liberation' effort's been going on 42 days now.
Falluja was 'liberated' earlier. Kamal Al-Ayash (NIQASH) reports:
When he returned to the city of Fallujah, Ayman al-Mamawi wasn’t surprised to see his house in ruins. The 46-year-old had already received pictures a friend had taken for him and he knew there was substantial damage, even before he made the decision to return to his home in Iraq's central Anbar province.
As he got closer to his house, al-Mamawi said he started thinking about his priorities in terms of reconstruction and return, what he should start fixing and when.
“But as soon as I got closer I started to smell a really bad smell,” al-Mamawi told NIQASH. “Finding the source of that smell became our first priority. And finally we discovered what was causing it: There were corpses in the ruins.”
Al-Mamawi says that next he went to notify the security forces. “We were too scared of explosives to count how many dead there were. And we decided that the best thing to do would be to demolish the whole house and get rid of the human remains – as well,” he notes, “as all of our belongings and memories, which were also in the ruins.”
Of course, al-Mamawi argues, the corpses of the dead fighters from the extremist group known as the Islamic State that once controlled the city, is a good sign. “It’s an indication of the success of the Iraqi forces during the fighting,” al-Mamawi argues. “At the same time though, it is also a criticism of the local government. They have not done their job. There are still corpses everywhere!”
Al-Mamawi is not the only returnee in Fallujah to have to deal with this problem. People are finding rotting corpses all over the city and now there is a fear they might cause an epidemic, not to mention the psychological impact they have. The corpses are also a problem for the local authorities and the security forces because of the concern that there are explosives on them or hidden around them – special engineering teams are needed to get rid of the bodies.
“It would never have occurred to me that one of my biggest problems would be that there would be a corpse in every corner,” says Amer Halbusi, a 53-year-old, who recently returned to his home in the Nazirah area of Fallujah.
That's what 'liberation' in Iraq looks like to the people.
And the rulers have not been forced to address anything -- or even encouraged.
The White House has handed over F-16s, US troops, reconstruction funds (millions) and dropped bombs.
It just hasn't attached any of this to a requirement that the Iraqi government show progress on the political front, that they work towards reconciliation.
So it's all been one long waste.
Refugees are dying in refugee camps.
All Mosul refugees at the Iraq-Syria border crossing where several had died of the cold have been evacuated and brought to a camp in Syria, the UN’s refugee agency reported on Saturday.
“2,458 people have now been moved from Rajm Slebi border crossing point to Al Hol camp north-east Syria,” the UNHCR stated on their website. The number includes 2,031 Iraqi refugees and 427 displaced Syrians.
“The crossing point, which is not an environment where humanitarian agencies can adequately meet people’s protection and humanitarian assistance needs, is now empty.”
At least four people, including three children, died in the cold at the border crossing his month.
How do you fail at protecting the refugees?
Turning to the US . . .
Oh, Ro-Ro. Rosie O'Donnell stepped in it again and tracked it across the carpet and then tried to pretend she didn't. As RADAR explains:
Rosie O’Donnell is desperately trying to sweep her comments she made about Donald Trump‘s 10-year-old son under the rug.
O’Donnell came under fire by fans on Twitter after she sent a bizarre tweet out about the president-elect’s son Barron: “Barron Trump Autistic? if so – what an amazing opportunity to bring attention to the AUTISM epidemic,” with a video clip.
Her fans quickly exploded, blaming the former View hostess for putting the spotlight on him for no reason.
As INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES notes, she's insisting this was a good will Tweet.
Because calling a 10-year-old, in public, autistic is clearly a compliment to both the young child and his parents, right?
Rosie's full of it and she really needs to stop lying.
Check out Kat's "Shame on Rosie O'Donnell and Debra Messing" from earlier this month.
She should have her Twitter account suspended them. She was trying to shame Donald Trump's wife by posting photos of First Lady's fully clothed and then one of Ms. Trump nude.
She was trying to 'slut shame.'
She knows she did it.
And she got away with it.
Now she thinks she can walk it back and pretend like because her most recently adopted child (that she refused to share custody of with her ex-wife) has autism.
Okay, Ro-Ro, someone needs to break it down for you.
Your use of money to attack your ex-wives and keep them from the children is disgusting. It's Bully Boy behavior. Here's another thought Ro-Ro, this behavior could qualify as fraud and put your adoptions at risk. You don't have to remain married to keep an adopted child but if you promised a child two parents and you're now using things like the suicide attempt (that your actions forced your latest ex-wife into) to keep the women from seeing their children? That could get you in hot water.
There is nothing in feminism that allows you to keep a mother from her child.
You're a bully.
And nothing allows you the right to put a cloud of suspicion over any child.
You were wrong and you should apologize.
But you don't have the integrity or ethics to apologize.
So instead, you'll just act as though you intended no harm and pretend you're puzzled why so many are appalled by what you did.
Children are supposed to be off limits.
But a woman who robs other women of their right to raise their own children doesn't really seem like a loving parent, does she? She just seems like an angry and bitter fool who sees children as toys and pawns to be used.
Grow up, Rosie.
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