Sunday, July 22, 2012


Violence swept through Iraq again today.  Xinhua reports 3 Baghdad bombings claimed 15 lives with sixty more people injured, a Diyala Province roadside bombing targeting a military checkpoint claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi service members and left two more wounded, a Diayla Police checkpoint was attacked leaving 2 police officers dead and a third injured from gunfire and a Najaf car bombing claimed 5 lives and left fourteen injured.  AP notes the attacks "underscored how dangerous Iraq itself remains."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) also counts 25 dead and observes, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."  BBC News agrees noting, "There has been an increase in sectarian violence across Iraq in recent months amid worsening political tensions."

Unless, of course, you're Antony Blinken.  If you're Vice President Joe Biden's National Security Adviser, you insist that the violence is not increasing. 

As it increases,  Al Ahram Strategic Studies Centre's Yusri Azbawi tells Jumana Al Tamimi (Gulf News), "Violence returned because there are political problems that resurfaced on the Iraqi scene.  The deteriorating economic situation and political, economic and administrative corruption inside Iraq is another cause for violence. The political process in Iraq is not based on qualifications and law. It was rather built on sectarianism, so violence has returned to Iraq."

If you're Antony Blinken, you grab your boogie board and head out to catch the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk.   You insist that deaths don't matter, that violence is measured by the number of attacks.  Now when the number of attacks is greater than the number killed, don't be surprised when Blinken tries to do the backstroke away from his current 'fact' and 'metric.'

Maybe instead of spinning and splashing in Operation Happy Talk, Bliken and the White House should be addressing reality?  Specifically, when is the White House going to name a nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq?

There is none currently.  And James Jeffrey didn't play Ryan Crocker.  When Barack wasn't sure who to name as his first US Ambassador to Iraq, Crocker (Bush appointee) agreed to stay in place.  Jeffrey left Iraq a long time ago.

Jeffrey was Barack's second US Ambassador to Iraq.  First was Chris Hill who was so eager to serve four years in the post.  Sadly, he was so bad at it that he was asked to step down.  James Jeffrey replaced him.

And now the post is empty.

At a time when violence is increasing. 

Blinken can continue to deny it, the White House can continue to deny it.  But everyone's not playing that game.  The United Nations' Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, appeared before the UN Security Council Thursday to give a briefing on Iraq:

Mr. President, the number of civilian casualties caused by terrorist attacks is increasing across Iraq.  Since the beginning of this year an average of 12 violent attacks a day have claimed a total of more than 1,300 lives -- many of them innocent children and women who were simply at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

What is the US doing to help? Kobler expressed the fear that the March 2013 elections might not come to be.  If that fear comes true, violence will most likely increase.  But the US has no ambassador on the ground to aid the UN in any way with regards to these elections.

And proving that it can always get even worse, Xinhua reports on an audio recording released by the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI -- linked to al Qaeda in Iraq) which states, "We are setting of a new stage of our struggle, with the launch of a plan named 'breaking the walls.'  The tape says the effort will release "Muslim prisoners" from jail and kill "judges and investigators and their guards." The recording warns the United States that "you will see them (Qaida militants) at the heart of your country with God's willing, since our war against you has just started." Maamoun Youssef (AP) notes the recording and that it is supposed to be Abuk Bakr al-Baghdadi speaking (he "became head of the Islamic State of Iraq in 2010").

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

 The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

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