Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hayder's claim to 'leadership'?

Three years into his term as prime minister, and desperate to win re-election next May, Hayder al-Abadi grasps at something -- anything -- to prove he's been an effective leader.

Corruption is still rampant in Iraq.

So is poverty.

Jobs are hard to come by.

The country has fallen further apart.

Not much to point to with any pride.

So Hayder screams that he's defeated ISIS.

Over and over, he announces this as his victory.

Samuel Oakford (AIRWARS) notes:

Ground fighters on all sides of the conflict in Iraq suffered heavy casualties. US military officials have thrown around large numbers — claiming anywhere from 45,000 to 70,000 or more ISIS fighters killed since Coalition operations began. But analysts have questioned whether the number of ISIS fighters in general has tended to be exaggerated, especially by Western militaries.
In the fight for Mosul, elite units like Iraq’s Special Operations Forces were so heavily depleted during fighting — by some estimates they suffered “upwards of 50 percent casualties” in East Mosul — that their role in the more densely packed West was severely diminished.
In March, CENTCOM chief Gen. Joseph Votel said that 774 Iraqi troops had so far been killed in Mosul. US officials have since put the number of Iraqi military dead in Mosul at 1,400. Other estimates place the number even higher: In November 2016, the UN reported that 1,959 members of the Iraqi Security Forces and supporting forces had been killed that month alone in Iraq. After the Iraqi government protested, the UN stopped publishing estimates of government forces killed in the fighting. Many more Peshmerga fighters and irregulars with Popular Mobilization Forces militias also died fighting ISIS.
Partly as a result of this high Iraqi toll, in December 2016 the Obama administration loosened restrictions on who could call in airstrikes, allowing personnel farther down the command chain to do so. That decision allowed faster approval of attacks, which Coalition officials said would help assist ground troops.
However some journalists on the ground have said that this led to an immediate rise in civilian casualties, a toll that only grew as operations in Mosul continued into the city’s West and ultimately ended in a hellish assault on the narrowly packed Old City.

Though civilians, Iraqi forces and members of ISIS were killed in significant numbers, remarkably few Coalition personnel have died during combat operations – a measure not just of battlefield superiority but of how intensively the alliance depended upon remote air and artillery strikes. As of December 15th, just 13 US service members were reported as killed in action during the entirety of Coalition operations in Iraq and Syria going back to 2014. Partners like France have only suffered rare casualties during operations around Mosul, and not from direct fighting.

All the deaths and ISIS is not defeated -- a fact even a Talabani makes today (Bafel Talabani).

In other news, Human Rights Watch notes:

Iraq’s parliament has rejected proposed amendments to Iraq’s Personal Status Law (PSL) that would allow religious judges to impose discriminatory law on family matters, Human Rights Watch said today.
The amendments would have covered areas including inheritance and divorce, and, by giving powers to impose family laws to certain religious communities, would have allowed girls to be married as young as age 8 under some of these laws. The head of the women’s rights committee in parliament rejected the initiative in mid-November, blocking the bill. However, two leading women’s rights organizations say that some parliament members have threatened to continue to push for the amendments to secure votes in some parts of the country in the May 2018 parliamentary elections.

“Parliament’s women’s rights committee has made a great contribution to Iraqi society in rejecting this effort to scuttle Iraq’s family law protections,” said Belkis Wille, senior Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Threats by lawmakers to dismantle protections under the current law and restore discriminatory laws would be devastating to women’s rights.”
Parliament members from several Shia Islamic parties, spearheaded by the Fadhila Party, to which the justice minister belongs, proposed the amendments on November 1. The proposed amendments would enshrine Shia and Sunni religious establishment control over marriage-related matters and require courts to make exceptions to existing legal protections.
Hanaa Edwar, founder and general secretary of Al-Amal Association, a leading Iraqi human rights organization, and a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East Advisory Committee, said the members also threatened to continue to push for the amendments unless the women’s rights committee dropped key protections in a domestic violence bill pending before parliament since 2015.

“The proposed amendments seek to establish sectarianism and undermine the principle of citizenship and national identity of Iraq,” Edwar told Human Rights Watch. “The amendments would violate key rights enshrined in Iraq’s constitution and laws, and would treat women as inferior to men.”