Day 204 of The Mosul Slog.
''ISIS is finished!''?
Someone didn't get that message to Baghdad, apparently.
"ISIS is finished!"?
ISIS will not be 'finished' by a military operation.
ISIS can be made useless by a political operation.
ISIS took hold in Iraq because of a government that persecuted the Sunnis.
The Sunnis were disappeared, false arrests took place (without arrest warrants, without cause -- going to a home for someone and when that person was not home arresting a child, a parent, a sibling, etc.), Sunni girls and women were beaten and raped in jails and prisons, etc.
ISIS might have been avoided if the US hadn't determined an election by overthrowing the results.
That is what happened in 2010.
In March 2010, the Iraqi people voted.
Nouri al-Maliki insisted he would win a second term.
He certainly did enough bribery to win.
But the voters weren't impressed.
His State of Law came in second to Iraqiya.
Iraqiya was led by Ayad Allawi. It was a non-sectarian party. It made a point of being inclusive of Sunnis, Shi'ites and various minorities. It made a point of honoring Iraq's past by representing men and women. Shi'ite fundamentalists had failed, the Iraqi people felt. They wanted to break with what was and pursue inclusion and the notion of one Iraq for all.
Nouri stamped his feet.
He refused to step down.
The then-top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno had predicted this happening ahead of the election. But US Ambassador Chris Hayes (and Chrissie's vanity) had shut Odierno out of the loop.
Nouri refused to step down.
For over eight months, he refused to step down.
Instead of standing by free and fair elections, Barack Obama backed thug Nouri al-Maliki.
Nouri of torture and secret prisons infamy.
Barack had US officials in Iraq broker The Erbil Agreement -- a legal contract that gave Nouri a second term.
Why did others sign off on the deal?
Because The Erbil Agreement promised (a) to end the political stalemate that had brought the Iraqi government to a standstill and (b) to settle outstanding political issues. For example, the contract said the issue of Kirkuk would be voted on -- something the KRG had long wanted. The Kurds, everyone, got something they wanted in the contract.
That's the only term, sorry.
That's in the Iraqi Constitution.
Nouri had refused to obey the Constitution throughout his first term.
Now he's going to honor it?
Barack Obama swore to Ayad Allawi -- in a frantic November 2010 phone call -- that this was a legal contract with the full backing of the United States government.
As soon as Nouri was named prime minister-designate by the Iraqi Parliament that November, the US government 'forgot' The Erbil Agreement.
Nouri used it, made promises in writing, and then, after he became prime minister, announced through his attorney that The Erbil Agreement was illegal and that Nouri would not be bound by it.
The people had peacefully voted.
They were overturned.
Now they appealed to their elected leaders.
Shi'ites, Kurds and Sunnis came together to put forward the threat of voting Nouri out of office via a vote of no confidence.
Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr repeatedly stated during this that the effort would end at any point if Nouri would honor the promises made in The Erbil Agreement.
They followed the outlines in the Constitution and gathered the necessary signatures.
Per the Constitution, it was then turned over to the president of Iraq who would -- ceremonial task only -- introduce it in the Parliament.
But US Vice President Joe Biden leaned on Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Talabani refused to introduce it and high tailed it out of Iraq to Germany for 'emergency surgery' (he had elective knee surgery -- karma would bite Jalal in the ass months later when, during an argument with Nouri, he'd suffer a stroke and have to be taken to Germany).
The people had now utilized the ballot and then their elected leaders.
Having no results, they took to the streets and began protesting. The protests would last for over a year.
Let's drop back to the morning of December 28, 2013:
Iraqis dubbed today "Friday of Honor" (following the Wednesday of Dignity protests earlier this week).
Kitabat reports that "millions" came out to protest in Anbar Province today. Their photo of Falluja shows the large crowd with banners, flags and a huge photo of Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi (last week, Nouri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of 150 staff and bodyguards working for al-Issawi -- 10 have been charged with 'terrorism' and 50 have been released, this was seen as politically motivated). The Falluja protesters demanded that innocent people be released from detention and end to the 'terror' arrests, an end to politicizing the Iraqi military, that Nouri turn over the soldier who raped the girl in Mosul and more. They chanted for unity and for an end to sectarianism and Nouri's abusive government. AP goes with the more conservative estimate of "tens of thousands" of people protesting. Al Jazeera (link has video) also goes with "thousands."
And to that day's snapshot:
Morning Star notes, "Protesters took to the streets after Friday prayers for the sixth day of protests calling for Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down and for the release of Sunni prisoners." Al Arabiya notes that the protesters had support from Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, "In a letter by Sadr sent to the tribal sheikhs, the Islamist leader said that he supports their protests against Maliki and their effort to hold unity and thwart sectarianism." Deutsche Welle quotes Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki whining today, "It is not acceptable to express something by blocking roads, inciting sedition and sectarianism, killing, or blowing the trumpet of war and dividing Iraq." Sign of a true despot, civil disobdience is likened to "killing." Because it is a 'killing,' it's a killing of his crafted image, it's an exposure of his failure as a leader. Ken Hanly (Digital Journal) observes of the slogan at many of the protests across Iraq "The people want to bring down the regime," "This is the slogan protesters used in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere during the Arab Spring."
Kitabat reports that "millions" came out to protest in Anbar Province today. Their photo of Falluja shows the large crowd with banners, flags and a huge photo of Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi (last week, Nouri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of 150 staff and bodyguards working for al-Issawi -- 10 have been charged with 'terrorism' and 50 have been released, this was seen as politically motivated). The Falluja protesters demanded that innocent people be released from detention and end to the 'terror' arrests, an end to politicizing the Iraqi military, that Nouri turn over the soldier who raped the girl in Mosul and more. They chanted for unity and for an end to sectarianism and Nouri's abusive government. Kamal Naama and Raheem Salman (Reuters) add, "Around 60,000 people blocked the main road through Falluja, 50 km (30 miles) west of the capital, setting fire to the flag of Shi'ite Iran and shouting 'out, out Iran! Baghdad stays free' and 'Maliki you coward, don't take your advice from Iran'." AP goes with the more conservative crowd estimate of "tens of thousands" of people protesting. For a good photo from AP of the Falluja crowd, click here (photographer is Karim Kadim). Omar al-Saleh reported for today's Inside Story (Al Jazeera -- link is text and video):
Omar al-Saleh: A show of support in Ramadi and Falluja for Iraqi Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi. During it's biggest rally in days in Anbar Province, local leaders have called for civil disobedience and thousands have blocked the highway linking Iraq to Jordan and Syria. They are demanding the release of 9 bodyguards of the finance minister who were arrested on Thursday [of last week]. But Rafia al-Issawi addressed the crowd saying the issue now was bigger than his bodyguards.
Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi: This crowd is not political or sectarian. But it represents all Iraqis who came to denounce the injustice and marginalization. When we say the injustice has happened against Sunni Arabs, that doesn't mean that we want to take the country to a civil war.
Omar al-Saleh: The protesters urged the Shi'ite-led government to stop its sectarian approach and marginalization of Sunnis and their leaders but the government continues to deny the accusation. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says the issue of the bodyguards is judicial and the role of the state is to pursue wanted terrorists and not to support them. Many feel the crisis may escalate.
Political Analyst Watheq Alshashimi: The situation in Iraq may take a dangerous direction as elections approach. What politicians are doing is polarizing their supporters ethnically and based on sectarian affiliatons. What's happening in Anbar can escalate and may lead to more pressure on the prime minister.
Omar al-Saleh: But other Sunni leaders accuse the president of trying to consolidate his grip on power and target his political rivals. Tareq al-Hashemi, Iraq's fugitive Vice President, has been sentence to death in absentia for terrorism charges. He says the prime minister is adopting sectarian policies. Adding to Iraq's political turmoil is the looming confrontation between the Iraqi army and forces from the semi-autonomous Kurdish north.
[. . .]
As noted earlier, Prashant Rao and other journalists were prevented from entering to observe the Falluja protests; however, they were not the only ones blocked from entering the province. Aswat al-Iraq notes, "Police sources said here today that the army forces prevented Iraqi delegations from other provinces from entering to participate in Fallujah sit-in on the international highway." Al Jazeera (link has video) also goes with "thousands:"
Massive demonstrations took place along a major highway near the city of Fallujah on Friday, a day after thousands of protesters continued an almost week-long blockade on a key highway in the western Anbar province.
Protests erupted last week after Iraqi authorities detained 10 bodyguards of the finance minister, who is from Anbar and is one of the government's most senior Sunni officials.
Many Sunnis accuse Maliki of marginalising the country's religious minority group by refusing to share power and depriving them of equal rights.
Many Sunnis accuse Maliki of marginalising the country's religious minority group by refusing to share power and depriving them of equal rights.
Alsumaria notes "hundreds" protested in Mosul at noon and their demands were similar with the addition of they called for the execution of the soldier who raped the young girl. All Iraq News adds that the protesters called for all charges against al-Issawi's bodyguards to be dropped. Alsumaria notes that Samarra saw thousands turn out and their calls were similar but they also want the long promised amnesty law implemented and they want the Justice and Accountability Commission dissolved (the Commission was used most infamously in the 2010 elections to disqualify various Sunnis from running for office -- that includes the current Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq). AP adds that protests took place today in Tikrit as well. BBC News notes a Ramadi protest and that held "a mock funeral for the Iraqi judiciary."
Bill Van Auken (WSWS) observes:
The protests began last week after troops detained bodyguards and aides of Finance Minister Rafie al-Essawi, while searching his home and offices on December 20. The government has claimed that it arrested only ten of the minister's bodyguards on charges of "terrorism." But Essawi, a member of the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, charged that over 100 people connected to his staff were rounded up by what he said was a "militia force" controlled by Maliki's supporters.
It appears that the discrepancy arises from the fact that only the bodyguards were subjected to formal arrest, while the others were essentially subjected to extra-legal detention and interrogation.
Addressing Maliki in a statement to the Iraqi media, Essawi stated, "You are a man who does not respect partnership at all, a man who does not respect the law and the constitution, and I personally hold you fully responsible for the safety of the kidnapped people."
The finance minister told Associated Press that Maliki was deliberately seeking to stoke sectarian conflicts between the Sunni and Shia populations. "These practices are aimed at drawing the country into a sectarian conflict again by creating crisis and targeting prominent national figures," he said.
The incident was essentially a replay of a similar crackdown carried out a year ago, on December 19, 2011, the day after the last US troops ended the more than eight-year American occupation of Iraq. Then the target was Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, also a Sunni member of the Iraqiya bloc.
The people took to the streets and peacefully protested.
He had police follow them home, he had journalists arrested, he had his forces attack the protesters, killing them.
It is in this environment that the Islamic State publicly shows up.
The protests that blocked the highway?
The Islamic State shows up with the promise to protect the protesters on the highway.
The persecution of the Sunnis has not ceased, national reconciliation has not emerged.
End the persecution and embrace one-Iraq-for-all and you take away any standing the Islamic State may have.
Refuse to address that and nothing changes.
ISIS may end up drive out of Mosul (more than likely, it will just be driven underground), but that doesn't end it. The only thing that does is national reconciliation.
The US Defense Dept's Lisa Ferinando reports, "The Iraqi forces liberated more than 18 miles of terrain in west Mosul this week, [Air Force Col John] Dorrian said, adding that although the enemy is weakened, a tough fight remains."
Meanwhile the governments of Iraq and the United States are discussing troops remaining in Iraq even if the Islamic State should be defeated. Paul R. Huard (NRT) weighs in and notes:
So whether the increases are drastic or incremental, there will be no official word about U.S. troops sent to fight [the Islamic State] in the Middle East.
That is an untenable policy. In an age of readily available information on the Internet ranging from mil-blogs written by informed individuals to postings on social media, news of the size and mission of specific units will make its way into the media.
Besides, both Kurds and Americans will want to know about the U.S. soldiers who are in harm’s way. That information is vital to both the public debate regarding strategy and the people in both the United States and Kurdistan understanding the soldier’s mission.
But make no mistake: Both Iraq and the United States want U.S. forces in the region for the foreseeable future.
In other words, they want the troops there for a very long time.
The following community sites -- plus BLACK AGENDA REPORT -- updated:
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