Saturday, July 16, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, July 16, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi's government threatens peaceful protesters and takes down the internet, the IMF prepares their takeover of Iraq, and much more.

The chances of a liberated Iraq most likely vanished this week with the International Money Fund announcing:

The IMF has approved a three-year, $5.34 Billion loan for Iraq focused on implementing economic and financial policies to help the country cope with lower oil prices and ensure debt sustainability. 

The loan will be provided under the Stand-By Arrangement facility and also includes measures to protect vulnerable populations—critical in a time of ongoing conflict, which has resulted in over 4 million internally displaced people. 

There has been silence on this topic -- even among notable 'lefties' like Phylis Bennis -- as we noted January 15th, "Even though the IMF will be yet another form of occupation."

Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has long warned against taking money from the IMF but Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi elected to ignore al-Sistani.

There was time for American left 'leaders' to voice their objection to this take over.

The May 19th snapshot noted:

Mohammad Tayseer and Dana Khraiche (BLOOMBERG NEWS) report, "Iraq has reached a $5.4 billion, three-year loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund to help OPEC’s second-biggest producer repair public finances damaged by the plunge in oil prices and war with Islamic State militants."
The revenge fantasies, where the daughter of Saddam Hussein must be captured and flogged in the streets of Baghdad?
They are raw meat tossed to the masses to distract them from the ongoing corruption in Iraq.
Billions of dollars have disappeared from the country's coffers as a result of corrupt politicians and officials.
Rather than fretting over the daughter of Saddam Hussein, they might ask how Nouri al-Maliki's son ended up with all those sports cars and residences outside of Iraq.
Where did that money come from?
How did Nouri's two terms as prime minister of Iraq leave him such a wealthy man?
Those are questions that need to be asked.
The Iraqi people live in squalor.
They have no dependable public services.
Baghdad floods in the raining season -- water up to the knees in some sections (including Sadr City) and that's due to the crumbling public infrastructure.
The corruption is not a secret.
There have been US Congressional hearings on the topic going back to the years when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.
Billions have been stolen.
And now the IMF is getting their hooks into Iraq.

The IMF $5.4 billion loan to Iraq will have an annual interest rate of 1.5 per cent, Iraq's Central Bank Governor Ali Al Alak said at a press conference, following a week of talks with IMF officials in Jordan, Reuters reported.
The IMF deal will allow Iraq to secure additional financial aid of around $15 billion over the next three years, including securing international bonds, according to [Iraq's Finance Minister Hoshiyar] Zebari.

At this late stage, who's still pretending that the IMF helps out countries in trouble?

Thursday, Stephen Kalin (REUTERS) reported:

Pressured by lower-than-expected oil prices, Iraq will cut non-oil spending in its 2016 budget by 15 percent and take on several billion dollars in international debt, it said in a memo released by the International Monetary Fund on Thursday.

OPEC's second-largest producer, which relies on oil exports for nearly all its revenue, has sought donor support amid a collapse in global crude prices and a costly war against Islamic State militants that has displaced more than 3.4 million people.

Non-oil spending cut by 15%?

It's already been cut.

The Iraqi people will suffer yet again.

The corruption is never-ending.

Which is why protests never end in Iraq.

Which is why even threats do not stop the protesters.

And threats were was issued Thursday ahead of Friday's protests.

AFP noted that the security forces issued an announcement that anyone protesting would be dealt with "as a terrorist threat."

Which raised the question of who's in charge of the puppet government in Iraq -- a question everyone in the press will work overtime to avoid.

Despite the threats, thousands turned out Friday.

  1. Images from Today demonstration in Tahrir Square,the demonstration was over quickly with no incident
  2. Tahrir Sqaure now ,all the demonstrators went home , ops announced all roads and bridges reopened
  3. All the roads and bridges reopened in after the demo over in less than 2 hours, No one knows why they went home quickly
  4. Great coverage by NRT for today demonstration ,Sadr in Video addressing the people in Tahrir Square
  5. Images from today demonstration in Tahrir square by the Sadrist


The demonstrators massed in Tahrir Square on Friday, holding placards reading "Yes, yes to reform. No, no to sectarianism. No, no to corruption". 
The protest went ahead despite the security forces warning late on Thursday that the rally called by the influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was "unauthorised" and would be treated as a "terrorist threat".
Sadr has led repeated protests in recent months, some of them breaching the central Green Zone government and diplomatic compound.

Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada had halted protests during the holy month of Ramadan.

ALSUMARIA has a photo essay of the protest.



Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, said in a speech, read to the crowd by an assistant, that their presence in Tahrir square was to demand fulfillment of comprehensive reforms in all institutions of the Iraqi state.
He added that they will continue to protest peacefully until the demands are met.
The cleric also called for the dismissal of corrupt state officials and those with special privileges, as well as calling for an end to the sectarian and political quotas in government jobs.


Sadr has led repeated protests, some of them breaching the central Green Zone government and diplomatic compound, calling for an end to what he says is a corrupt power-sharing system between the country's rival sectarian and political factions.
"Yes, yes to reform.  No, no to sectarianism.  No, no to corruption," read the placards brandished by protesters.

RUDAW adds:

According to Rudaw’s correspondent at Tahrir Square, protesters were chanting “Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites are one, and Iraq is for all.”
Rudaw’s Bahman Hassan added that protesters were threatening to storm Baghdad’s secured Green Zone again, saying “Today we are at Tahrir Square and tomorrow we will be inside the Green Zone.”

Threats did not stop the protesters.

Threats also did not prompt the White House or the US State Dept to issue any statement at all, let alone to condemn the Iraqi government's threat to treat civilian protesters as terrorists.

This is appalling and disgusting.

These are the craven acts of cowards who will not stand up in defense of democracy or humanity.

Instead, in their short term goals, they will back any dictator, any tyrant.


In addition to threats, the Iraqi government also shut down the internet.

CIRCLEID reports:

The Iraqi government shut down internet access in the country for nearly four hours in response to mass protests in Baghdad. According to reports, the Internet access went down at 3.39 UTC, but was restored at 7.15 UTC. The outage was detected by internet performance company Dyn. Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Dyn: “There’s a history of outages in Iraq, they seem to do this more and more these days for things as trivial as sixth grade exams. ... There was just a UN resolution condemning internet outages, and that was slightly in response to previous Iraqi outages." 

On the UN resolution, Ben Sullivan (TECHWEEK) explains:

That UN resolution came just two weeks ago, when the organisation published a paper called The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet.
The resolution criticises the practice of shutting down internet access to citizens. While it was passed by consensus, certain countries such as China and Russia attempted to change parts of the resolution by changing the text of the resolution.
Other countries backed China and Russia’s view, such as Saudi Arabia, India, and South Africa.
But the resolution states: “The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

And the White House?

They rushed to condemn this attack on free speech?

No, of course not.

Barack Obama backed thug Nouri al-Malik until it was far too late.

He overturned the votes of the Iraqi people in order to give Nouri a second term.

He termed a blind eye to Nouri's abuses -- secret torture chambers (revealed by Ned Parker's reporting for THE LOS ANGELES TIMES), the disappearance of Sunnis, the beating and rapes of Sunni girls and women in the Iraqi jails and prisons, the attacks on Sunnis politicians, the attacks on peaceful protesters, etc.

From 2010 on forward, these abuses just piled up.

And Barack tolerated them.

Because he needed Nouri.

Finally in the second half of 2014, he replaced Nouri with Haider al-Abadi.

And he tolerates anything that Haider does today.

There is no higher ground for Barack to struggle to.

He is in the swamp, up to his knees in despots.

While there is no US effort made towards diplomacy or solving the political crisis in Iraq, the US government is more than happy to continue to drop bombs on Iraq.  Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack helicopter and bomber, ground-attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 10 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

-- Near Baghdadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.
-- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL bunker and an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb.
-- Near Mosul, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Qayyarah, two strikes destroyed 21 ISIL boats and suppressed two ISIL mortar positions.
-- Near Ramadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL staging area.
-- Near Sinjar, a strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.
-- Near Tal Afar, two strikes struck an ISIL vehicle-borne-bomb factory and damaged an ISIL excavator.

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.

Ruth's "Lock her up, lock her up, throw away the key" went up earlier as did the following community sites:

Victory Declared as Vets Block Cuts to GI Bill

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following on Friday:

Post-9/11 Veterans group activates 31,000+ activists to stop Congress

Tel: 212-982-9699

Washington, D.C. (July 15, 2016) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) has cleared a major hurdle in their campaign to #DefendtheGIBill stalling the top priority bill for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC) leadership as the Senate leaves for summer recess. Yesterday U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) stood up for veterans in blocking the bill, heralding success for the veterans advocacy organization and its 425,000 members. For the past six months veterans have voiced their opposition to the so-called “Veterans First Act”. This legislation would have included $3.4 billion in cuts over the next five years to the the Post-9/11 GI Bill hurting military recruiting, retention and morale.

“From the start of this campaign, IAVA members were clear: our benefits will not be used as a piggy bank for other programs,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of IAVA. “Leaders in Congress cannot claim they take care of all veterans while in the same breath breaking their promise to our New Greatest Generation. Over the past six months, through an aggressive campaign on the hill and across the country IAVA members have made their voices heard on this issue. The message is clear — veterans will not be robbed of their benefits to pay for other government initiatives.”
IAVA’s progress has shown the strength of the 12 year old institution as a leading voice for veterans:

  • Since February 2016, IAVA members have sent over 31,729 letters to Congress asking representatives to oppose any cuts to the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
  • IAVA staff and members have held meetings with 81 senate offices and lobbied over 80 percent of the Senate on the campaign to #DefendTheGIBill.
  • After tremendous pressure from IAVA, including testimony in March by IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff in front of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees, IAVA celebrated the Senate decision to cancel plans to increase the number of years of service required in order for service members to transfer their benefit to dependents.
  • In May, IAVA halted a House bill that included a 50 percent cut to the housing allowance provided to children who will have their parent’s Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits transferred to them.
  • In June, during a rapid response advocacy blitz reacting to SVAC members promoting the bill on the Senate floor, IAVA members made 139 calls constituent calls to Senator Isakson and Senator Blumenthal.
  • In July, IAVA successfully hindered the SVAC attempt to bend the rules and garner a hasty vote on the Veterans First Act ahead of their Independence Day break.
  • And, on Wednesday, IAVA escalated its defense of the GI Bill by launching an ad campaign in Connecticut and Georgia targeting the leaders of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

“IAVA fought hard nine years ago to get the Post-9/11 GI Bill passed and we will continue fighting when Congress returns from summer recess to make sure they are permanently eliminated from this bill,” concluded Rieckhoff.

Secretary Hillary Clinton has pledged to oppose proposed congressional cuts to the Post-9/11 GI Bill and are calling on Mr. Donald Trump, to make the same pledge. IAVA continues to call on President Obama and members of Congress to take a stand and #DefendTheGIBill and oppose this unprecedented attempt to cut the landmark education program.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill has been used by nearly one million veterans and their family members to accomplish educational goals and chart new career paths. IAVA continues to call on Congress to take a stand and pledge to #DefendTheGIBill and oppose any cuts to the benefits our veterans rely on. See a full list of Members of Congress in opposition to the cuts here.

Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 11th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 5,800 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.

DAV’s response to Donald Trump’s veterans health care speech

Disabled America Veterans issued the following this week:

Statement of Garry J. Augustine, DAV Washington Executive Director

Garry-Augustine_PhotoWe appreciate the passion and focus of Mr. Trump to improve the health and well-being of America’s veterans and agree with some elements of his plan.  However, while his proposal to give every veteran a card to purchase private sector medical care may be well-intentioned, it would be disastrous for the men and women who served.

Encouraging all veterans to seek care in the private sector which lacks the expertise to treat military and combat injuries and illnesses, and which does not typically provide integrated or coordinated care, would lead to worse health outcomes for many veterans.

In addition, economists estimate such a plan would be at least two to three times more expensive than the current VA health care budget; between $1 – $2 trillion dollars more in the first ten years.  This proposal would bust the federal budget, bankrupt the VA health care system and could lead to significant new costs on veterans for care they have already paid for with their blood, sweat and sacrifice.

Just last week, a Congressionally-created Commission rejected the idea of giving veterans a plastic card to buy private sector care, citing both the enormous costs as well as a decline in the quality of care.  Instead, the Commission recommended building upon the high quality of care provided by the VA in order to create integrated networks utilizing community providers to expand access for veterans.

DAV, other veterans organizations, many veterans leaders in Congress, the VA and now the Commission have all come to the same conclusion: the best way to expand access to high-quality, veteran-focused care is by integrating community providers into networks coordinated by VA, not by sending more veterans out into the private sector.

We hope to have the opportunity to discuss our concerns with Mr. Trump in order to find common ground on how best to fulfill the promises to the men and women who served.  We look forward to working with the next President and Congress to strengthen, reform and sustain the VA health care system for the millions of veterans who choose and rely on VA for their care, particularly those injured and ill from their service.