Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Fall and Rise and Fall of Iraq

Violence continues in Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency reports 3 civilians shot dead in Kut, a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured, a Kirkuk sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 civilian and left two more injured, and a Tikrit car bombing left seven security forces injured.  Alsumaria adds that a police officer was shot dead outside his Mosul home, an attack on a Mosul checkpoint left 2 police officers dead,  and a Tikrit suicide bomber attacked the Salahuddin Province Council leaving five people injured.  And All Iraq News notes a Baghdad perfume shop bombing which claimed 2 lives and left seven people injured.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 891 violent deaths for the month thus far. Yesterday, a wave of bombings struck Iraq. Bob Schieffer noted on Monday's CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley (link is video), "And this was another deadly day in Iraq.  At least 58 people died as car bombs ripped through markets, parking lots and a cafe.  In all, 18 bombs went off today.  There has been a surge of violence throughout Iraq by some accounts close to 700 people have died just this month alone."  NINA notes al Qaeda in Iraq has claimed responsibility for yesterday's bombings.  "For Iraqis it's a grim reminder of a past they had hoped was over.  Once again, multiple bomb attacks are sewing havoc," BBC's Bridget Kendall observes (link is video).

Bridget Kendall: So what's fueling the violence? Well, one problem is worsening Sunni - Shia tensions in Iraq exacerbated by the Shia-led government of Nouri al-Maliki who Sunni politicians say is behaving like a dictator.  That resentment has helped al Qaeda in Iraq recruit Sunni militants.  And the conflict in Syria next door has played its part too.  al Qaeda extremists operate in both countries.

All Iraq News notes that a member of the Security and Defense Committee in Parliament is strongly calling out Nouri for his failure to visit any of the wounded from yesterday's attacks while the Sadr bloc MP Jawed al-Shiheli has criticized Nouri for failing to visit the injured and for failing to visit the sites of the bombings.  Meanwhile Sadr bloc MP Jawed al-Hasnawi declared that Nouri has "full responsibility for this situation. There should be an inclusive change to the security leaders."

Last week's prison break appears to still be drawing attention to Iraq (or maybe the media's finally realized it was a mistake to drop Iraq from the news radar).  In terms of al Qaeda in Iraq, Robin Simcox (Huffington Post UK) offers:

Much of the media narrative suggests that the group was irrevocably destroyed by the Anbar Awakening and American surge of late 2006/early 2007. While it is true that these events hugely damaged ISIL, it is not as if the group packed up its operations and accepted defeat. AQ is nothing if not resilient, and the departure of all American troops in 2011 provided it with the perfect fillip to bounce back with a vengeance.
Even prior to the 2011 withdrawal, ISIL was able to carry out co-ordinated attacks every four to six weeks, killing on a mass scale. They have picked up their pace further now, with approximately 2500 dying in Iraq as the result of terrorism in the last two months.

Among the analysis currently being offered by the Brookings Institute.  Kenneth M. Pollack offers (PDF format warning) "The Fall and Rise and Fall of Iraq."  (Yes, the title does recall the BBC's The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin from the seventies.)  Among the problems with the 21 page report? 

How about the fact that we don't get to 2009 until the bottom of page 13?

That leaves only 8 pages for 'the fall' Iraq is currently in.

Considering that Pollack calls Bully Boy Bush out in the paper, I don't know why we need to dwell on Bush.

The reasons for the current problems aren't mysteries.

The refusal to honor the US-brokered Erbil Agreement is really at the root of everything.  In 2010, Iraq held Parliamentary elections and Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya came in first and Nouri's State of Law was second.  That meant, according to the Constitution, that Allawi was the next prime minister.  But the White House backed Nouri and brokered The Erbil Agreement to go around the Constitution (and the will of the Iraqi people) to give Nouri a second term.  The Erbil Agreement found the leaders of the political blocs agreeing to a second term for Nouri (after 8 months in which Nouri refused to step down) in exchange for his agreeing to various concessions.

No surprise, Nouri used the contract to get his second term but refused to honor the promises he made in the contract.  And the US government that had promised it was a legally binding contract with the full backing of the United States?  They acted like they didn't notice a thing.  This is what kicks off the current problems.  You can blather on about Syria and whine on about this or that, but the reality is that's what it boils down to primarily.  You cannot sign a contract with 'partners' and then refuse to honor it without creating bitter enemies.

Pollack gets a great deal right in his analysis of the current problems when he finally gets to them.  For example, Pollack writes: 

The problems reemerged after Iraq’s 2010 national elections. Ayad Allawi’s mostly - Sunni Iraqiyya garnered slightly more votes than Maliki’s overwhelmingly Shi’a State of Law coalition. But Maliki refused to believe that he had lost, and refused to allow Allawi to take the first shot at forming a government. He pressured Iraq’s high court to rule that he could get the first chance to form a government.
Rather than insist that Allawi be given the first chance, as is customary in most democracies and was clearly what was best for Iraqi democracy, the United States (and the United Nations) did nothing. Ten months of bickering, backstabbing and political deadlock followed. In the end, the Iranians forced Muqtada as - Sadr to back Maliki, uniting the Shi’a behind him. At that point, the Kurds fell into place, believing that the prime minister had to be a Shi’a, and Iraqiyya’s goose was cooked. But so too was Iraqi democracy.
The message that it sent to Iraq’s people and politicians alike was that the United States under the new Obama Administration was no longer going to enforce the rules of the democratic road. We were not going to insist that the will of the people win out. We were willing to step aside and allow Iraq’s bad, old political culture of pay - offs, log - rolling, threats and violence to re - emerge to determine who would rule the country -- the same political culture that the U.S. had worked so hard to bury.
It undermined the reform of Iraqi politics and resurrected the specter of the failed state and the civil war. Having backed Maliki for prime minister if only to end the embarrassing political stalemate, the Administration compounded its mistake by lashing itself uncritically to his government. Whether out of fear of being criticized for allowing him to remain in office in the first place, or sheer lack of interest and a desire to do what required the least effort on the part of the United States, the Administration backed Maliki no matter what he did -- good, bad or indifferent.

For an American analyst with an institution closely tied to the administration, that's more honesty than most would expect.  It's not all there -- for example, the French wanted a caretaker government in 2010 and attempted to rally for that at the United Nations but the US government (Susan Rice) stopped that.

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, The Diane Rehm Show, Black Agenda Report, Antiwar.com, Chocolate City, On the Wilder Side, Pacifica Evening News and Susan's On the Edge -- updated last night and this morning:

In reference to my comments regarding equal access for all this morning, a friend with TV Land's Hot In Cleveland notes that the program's online streaming features Closed Captioning and that care is taken to ensure that the Closed Captioning is correct such as in the latest episode posted.  Hot In Cleveland stars the very talented cast of Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White.  And we'll close with this update on Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh's case (after the video is the transcript of the video).


The courtroom this morning was dimmed for Adam Kokesh’s first hearing after he was taken into Federal custody on Friday, July 26. As Adam was brought in front of the judge in an orange prison jumpsuit and shackles, Adam’s attorney, Peter Cooper, immediately asked why the Federal Marshals had confiscated Adam’s notes before the case. The judge replied that Mr. Cooper could “buy the transcripts, if he wished”. The tone for this case thus set, the prosecution brought forward Detective Robert Freeman to testify regarding the affidavit that he presented to Judge Frederick Sullivan. The affidavit for this case is in addition to the sealed affidavit that allowed a coalition of federal thugs to perform a raid on Adam’s Herndon residence three weeks ago.
The contents of Detective Freeman’s affidavit, accepted today, were not read verbatim, but did specifically mention the YouTube video that Adam posted on the morning of July 4. The sealed affidavit from the Virginia case has not yet been opened.
The tone throughout the hearing was terse, and the prosecuting attorney repeatedly objected to each question that Adam’s lawyer posed, citing ‘discovery’ as the reason why any question whatsoever would be absolutely invalid. It seems as if the court has at least one confidential informant that will see the stand as the case progresses. The judge’s attitude went hand-in-hand with the prosecution, portraying Mr. Cooper’s questions as insolent and repeatedly threatening to end the hearing early.
Adam’s lawyer pressed the witness to describe the shotgun that was found in Herndon, and the witness could not name the model, but stated that it was the same shape and color as the one portrayed in the video. When asked if he knew what a green screen was, Detective Freeman noted that he “knew they existed” but that he “was not a video forensics analyst”. Judge Sullivan stated that it was ‘ridiculous to question’ the authenticity of the video, because Adam had ‘racked a shotgun for all the world to see’.
Mr. Cooper’s questions laid the gaping holes in the warrant and the case to light, though it remains to be seen whether the facts will overcome the overwhelming bias that Judge Sullivan showed in the opening act of this high-profile case.
The attorneys for the day’s other cases in the front row of the courtroom pulled up Adam’s YouTube channel on their mobile devices and cracked jokes about Adam’s guilt. Darrell Young was removed from the courtroom after attempting to take a picture. Adam has been charged with carrying a firearm outside his home or office in the District of Columbia, which carries a sentence of up to 5 years.
The tension in the courtroom came to a head when the Judge shouted that he “WOULD NOT ENGAGE IN RIDICULOUSNESS” after accusing Mr. Cooper of “wasting his time” with “ridiculous questions”. He scoffed at the idea that Adam’s actions constituted an ‘act of political theater’, as Adam’s lawyer aptly phrased it. None of that mattered, though, as Adam was denied bond for this case. The judge considers Adam a flight risk, and because he is an outspoken political activist who was found with weapons, he is also considered dangerous to the public. The judge also noted that Adam had a previous minor marijuana charge from June 8, 2013, and felt that Adam had violated the terms of his release.
Adam will remain a political prisoner without bond until his felony status hearing on August 13. The AVTM team is continually raising funds for Adam’s legal and operational expenses at www.adamvstheman.com/invest, and we have raised approximately $17,000 of our goal of at least $45,000. Please donate as much as you responsibly can in order to make sure that Adam keeps his freedom. We will be releasing further updates as they develop. Thank you immensely for your support.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

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