Monday, February 24, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Monday, February 24, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on Anbar continues, two US officials (retired) raise concerns about the US arming Nouri, the State Dept goes spastic over another weapons deal Nouri's lined up with another country, and much more.

For roughly seven weeks, Nouri al-Maliki has assaulted Anbar Province.  The chief thug and prime minister of Iraq has been armed with US weapons which has used on the Iraqi people.  Far from condemning him, the US government has repeatedly congratulated him as he has terrorized the people of Anbar.

National Iraqi News Agency reports:

Fallujah educational Hospital said on Monday 24 Feb. that the number of victims of random shelling on the city of Fallujah was the martyrdom and wounding of / 722 / people since the beginning of military operations. 
 According to Dr. Ahmed Al-Shami head of resident doctors at the hospital in Fallujah told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that the shelling by the army on residential neighborhoods, killed / 106 / persons and wounded / 616 / others, most of them women and children.

They're one of the two hospitals in Falluja that have been repeatedly shelled by Nouri's military in the last weeks (a War Crime -- the other hospital shelled in Falluja is Falluja General Hospital).  They're short on supplies.

They're a hospital serving the Iraqi people and they're short on supplies but Nouri's not shipping in supplies, he's not doing a damn thing.  They're dependent upon the Intenrationl Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Nouri's not only terrorizing the people and attacking the hospitals, he's refusing to supply the hospitals.

And the US government backs this despot.  They get in bed with this tyrant.

106 civilians dead, six-hundred-and-sixteen injured.  And the US government doesn't give a damn.

Felicity Arbuthnot, "Iraq Puppet Government Offers Financial Bounty to Extrajudicial Killers" (Global Research).

In a recent article on the website of the publication Foreign Policy, he writes: “Iraq has defeated Al Qaeda before and we have a holistic strategy to defeat Al Qaeda again.” He is surely including in his “holistic strategy” all those across Iraq, not alone in Western Anbar Province, who are demonstrating, rising up and have had heartily enough of his brutal, divisive, sectarian regime.

Military bombing in Falluja today left three civilians injured.  Saturday, NINA reported, "Army forces stationed around Falluja pounded with heavy artillery and tanks" leaving 5 people dead ("including two children") and five more injured.

5 dead from the military shelling Falluja on Saturday.

But that was ignored by western outlets.

Instead, they promoted a ridiculous lie that either demonstrates a lack of character or a greater stupidity than even their strongest critics have ever accused them of.

For example,  WG Dunlop reported that "Iraq announces 72 hour truce in Falluja."  You can also clich here because the story was all over, despite being highly suspect.

Can you do basic math?

I think I can.

72 hours is three days.

The press -- not just AFP -- reported a 72 hour truce.  Saturday, Sunday and Monday would be 72 hours.
Press TV offered video of the false claim.  KUNA put a time on it -- the 72 hours would end at 6:00 am Monday.

For a 72 hour truce to end at 6:00 am Monday (Iraq time), it would have needed to begin Friday morning at six.  Can we all count?

Six a.m. Friday to six a.m. Saturday is 24 hours.  Six a.m. Saturday morning to six a.m. Sunday morning is 24 hours -- our total is now 48.  Sorry to go so slowly but it appears the press can't do basic match so we need to go slow, real slow.  Sunday six a.m. to Monday six a.m. would be 24 more hours.  Add that to our previous 48 -- that's 48 plus 24 -- and you get 72.

AFP and others are either stupid or liars.

On Saturday, five people in Falluja died from the military bombing.  For there to be a 72 hour truce, that attack couldn't have happened.

But they ignored it.

And also pretended that a 72 hour truce could be 24 hours less than 72. 

Along with being unable to count, they're unable to have context or common sense.

Nouri's word is worthless.  His first term as prime minister demonstrated it but it was his second term that really drove it home.

For those with common sense, anyway.  A lot of people don't have common sense, they're more apt to 'reason away,' as Aretha Franklin noted in her cover of The Doobie Brothers' "What A Fool Believes" (her cover of the song -- which made it to number 17 on the R&B chart -- first appears on her 1980 album Aretha):

Keeps sending him 
Somewhere back in her long ago
She can still believe there's a place in her life
Hey, someday, someway, she will return
He had a place in her life 
She never made him think twice
As he rises to her apology
Anybody else would surely know
He's watching her go
Oh, yeah
What a fool believes he sees
No wise man has the power to reason away
What seems to be
Is always better than nothing 
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Nothing at all 
Nothing at all

The press is so adorably as they struggle so desperately to believe in Nouri, hanging on by fingertips.

My fingertips are holding onto 
The cracks in our foundations
And I know that I should let go
But I can't
-- "Foundations," written by Kate Nash, first appears on her Made of Bricks

They should have let go, they wouldn't have looked so foolish trumpeting a truce on only Nouri's word.

Sunday, NINA explained:

5 civilians have been killed and ten others injured on Sunday 23, Feb as a result of the bombing of military forces to Fallujah despite the decision to suspend military operations for three days .
A security source told the reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "The army forces stationed outside the city of Fallujah pounded, with heavy artillery and tanks, Fallujah despite the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces' decision yesterday to stop military operations in Fallujah for / 3 / days ."
He added, "The bombing killed five civilians and wounded / 10 / others , including 3 children ."

Did they note that?

Not AFP.  

Not any western outlet.  They all averted their eyes as though Nouri had walked into the room with his fly open and no one wanted to be the one to tell him to zip up.

NINA reports today:

Army forces are building earthen mounds on all main and branch roads around the city of Fallujah and its villages to prevent the entry of any vehicle or getting out of it.
A security source told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that these measures led to the displacement of hundreds of families from areas near to these mounds as al-Falahat, al- Nasaf and Albu al-Alwan villages.

Is the US government concerned about that?

Oh, hell no.

Sunday,  Iraq's Foreign Ministry issued the following:

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari received on February 22, 2014 a telephone call from the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry , and discussed a number of issues of common interest concerning promotion of peace and security in the country and the ongoing preparations for the elections, in addition to the Syrian crisis .

        Mr. Kerry stressed support of the U.S. administration for the government's efforts in the fight against terrorism.

        For his part, Foreign Minister Zebari affirmed keenness and commitment of the government to provide the best atmosphere for holding the legislative elections, and to shift the security and political situation in Anbar province in favor of the democratic process.

        The Minister also reviewed repercussions of the Syrian crisis on the security and humanitarian situation in the country. Both sides agreed on continuing communication to exchange views on the latest developments in the region.

Kerry's supports their fight against terrorism?

Kerry supports Nouri al-Maliki's attack on the Iraqi people.

If there's anything more shameful than John's repeated waffling on the Iraq War, it's his embrace of the slaughter of the Iraqi people and sliding the cover of 'terrorism' over the dead in order to conceal what's really taking place.

They don't care about that.

What do they care about?

Let's dart over to today's US State Dept press briefing by spokesperson Jen Psaki:

QUESTION: Finally, Iraq. Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Iran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition --

MS. PSAKI: Oh, Iraq. Sorry, you threw me off there. I said Iran and Ukraine. I wasn’t sure what the connection was there. Iran and Iraq.

QUESTION: Yeah, exactly. Signed – Iran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million. Are you aware of this deal?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve certainly seen those reports. If true, this would raise serious concerns. Any transfer of arms from Iran to a third country is in direct violation of UNSCR 1747. We are seeking clarification on his matter from the Government of Iraq, and to ensure that Iraqi officials understand the limits that international law places on arms trade with Iran.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry has talked to Foreign Minister Zebari during this weekend.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Has he – have he discussed this issue with him?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me give you a readout of that call first. As you mentioned, Secretary Kerry spoke with Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari on Saturday to discuss bilateral and regional issues, the ongoing discussion between Baghdad and Erbil on energy and revenue sharing, and our shared commitment towards a long-term partnership under the Strategic Framework Agreement. 
They also discussed the situation in Anbar province and the Government of Iraq’s efforts to combat ISIL in coordination with local police and tribes. The Secretary noted the critical need for support from the local population and encouraged the Government of Iraq to continue its efforts to empower local officials and tribes, and to drive ISIL out of the populated areas.
The Secretary also reiterated the United States commitment to support Iraq in its fight against ISIL. The two also discussed the importance of Iraq’s national election on April 30th, and Secretary Kerry assured Foreign Minister Zebari that the United States will continue to work with the United States Assistance Mission for Iraq to ensure that the election occurs on time, is transparent, and reflects the will of the Iraqi people. 
Secretary Kerry also emphasized the importance of finalizing an agreement under discussion between Baghdad and Erbil on energy and revenue sharing, underscoring that this agreement should be concluded as soon as possible, as it will demonstrate that all Iraqis share equitably in the benefits of Iraq’s natural resources.
I don’t have anything further on the earlier question you had. It’s likely that was raised at other levels.

QUESTION: One more thing on this. Iraqi lawmakers say that Maliki had made the deal because he was fed up with delays to U.S. arms deliveries. Do you feel like you bear responsibility in pushing Iraq to make this deal with Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, we are still looking into those reports, but we certainly view the Government of Iraq as a partner in the fight against terrorism and we’re committed to supporting them in this fight. We have provided the Iraqi military and security forces with more than $15 billion in equipment, services, and training through the FMS program in the past, and we are working to accelerate our FMS deliveries of critical CT equipment. We’ve made a number of shipments recently, including critical deliveries of Hellfire missiles and hundreds of small arms along with large quantities of small arms and tank ammunition. And we have worked to approve important military equipment to Iraq through our FMS program, including the recent notification of Apache helicopters.
So we will continue to work closely with them. I think the proof of our efforts is in the pudding there, and all of the steps we’ve taken to move forward, whether it’s small ammunitions or a number of the items of military equipment I’ve mentioned, and that tells you how committed we are to our partnership. 

QUESTION: Will this deal with Iran, between Iraq and Iran, affect the cooperation between the U.S. and Iraq and the arms deals?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, we’re still looking into those reports. Iraq, of course, is a sovereign country with its own unique identity. But given the international sanctions with Iran, the Government, of course, of Iraq should use caution as it looks to these reports or to any proposed deals. And – but again, we’re looking for clarification from our partners in Iraq.

QUESTION: Can you refute the claim that the United States is dragging its feet in delivering the arms needed for Iraq despite many statements since Maliki’s visit?

MS. PSAKI: I think I just did.

QUESTION: You just did. Okay.

QUESTION: So just to push you --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- a little bit farther on this, if those reports are true, and if the Iraqi Government is buying arms from Iran in direct violation of these Security Council sanctions, isn’t it obvious or inherent that the U.S. would end its FMS program with Baghdad? I mean, isn’t that almost a requirement if not some kind of moral obligation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t want to go too far, given we don’t – we’re not there yet, so we try not to get too far into hypotheticals, as fun as it is. But we – of course, that’s one of – we would be very concerned, as I mentioned, if this were – if we found this to be true, and obviously, we’d have to evaluate things. But I don’t want to go too far in terms of what that would mean.

QUESTION: And you can’t go too far at this point because you haven’t verified the reports, right?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But once those reports are verified, which I assume won’t take very long, you would have a decision?

MS. PSAKI: We’ll see where we are. And we can keep talking about it. 

QUESTION: I’m sure we will. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Can you please check if the Secretary has discussed this point with Foreign Minister Zebari?

MS. PSAKI:  Sure, I’ll check and see. But again, my understanding is that it was raised at other levels.

They don't care about the dead or the wounded in Iraq, but they do care about money.

Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports, "Iran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million, according to documents seen by Reuters - a move that would break a U.N. embargo on weapons sales by Tehran." Rasheed informs Nouri made the deal with Tehran in November, right after he returned from his November 1st White House visit with US President Barack Obama.


Nouri met with Barack, got promises on weapons from him, then ran to Iran to get more weapons.  You can be sure he told Tehran what Barack said.  You can be sure.

The only one left out of the loop was his 'friend' Barack.

Fox News emphasizes Jen Psaki's assertion today, "Psaki stressed that any sale of arms by Iran to another country would break a U.N. embargo."

Oooh, a UN embargo.

Oooooh, so important.

How about international law?  It's a War Crime to bomb hospitals, it's a War crime to target innocents with collective punishment.  The US government signed off on that.  But they look the other way as Nouri uses the weapons the US government provides him with to kill and maim innocent civilians.

Today, The Hill published a column by retired General Ron Griffith and retired Lt Gen Jay Garner who argue:

The latest rise in violence and increasing crackdowns on al-Maliki’s political opponents should raise concerns about the Iraqi government’s use of U.S.-provided weapons, and the conditions under which the United States should allow more weapons to Iraq.   
Iraq’s recent budget, which passed with no Kurds represented, combined with al-Maliki’s threat to cancel the KRG budget predicts the length to which he may go to inflict his political will. This has heightened Kurdish and Sunni concerns about al-Maliki's ability to buy advanced weapons to punish political disagreement with Baghdad.  
The January 15, 2014 U.S. Presidential Policy Directive unequivocally mandates that U.S. arms transfers not violate human rights or any international humanitarian law.  Thus, it is imperative that if the United States is to continue providing arms to Iraq, then, at a minimum, conditions and monitoring mechanisms should be imposed to prevent either deliberate or unwitting misuse of those weapons (for example, against Iraqis who oppose the government).   

In 2003, Garner was also in charge (briefly) of US government reconstruction efforts in Iraq.  He was quickly replaced by Paul Bremer because the White House did not approve of his announced plan to hold elections in 90 days.

So Garner and Griffith realize the dangers but not the White House?

The White House realizes the dangers, they just don't care.

The only real fallout on this is that Barack most likely will now not visit Iraq next month.  The visit was going to be another jot in and jot out and don't announce it ahead of time.  Some in the White House advised the president that such a visit, weeks before Iraq is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections could be seen as an endorsement of Nouri.  Barack didn't care.

He's visiting the region and was willing to dash in.

But that was before today's revelations.

Nouri may have killed a photo op.

On the arming of Iraq, earlier today I noted that we'd objected to the F-16s being provided to Nouri repeatedly for many reasons including why is the US government giving Iran a look inside the F-16s?  Because that's what will happen with Nouri.  And I noted:

Years and years ago, the Israeli government was concerned about Iraq's military capabilities.  Specifically, they were bothered by one fighter jet.
They got an Iraqi pilot to fly it into Israel and defect to the country.
This was under Saddam Hussein's rule.
When people want information they find a way to get it.  (The pilot was well paid and his entire family was granted asylum.)
Does anyone really think, once Nouri receives his first F-16, that Iran's going to have to pay off an Iraqi pilot to get a look at an F-16?
Nouri's probably going to give them a guided tour.

I do love the e-mails accusing making things up.  Especially when no one making the accusation attempted to even Google for themselves first.  The year was 1966, the Iraqi pilot was Munir Redfa, the plane was an MiG-21.  At this page of the Jewish Virtual Library, you can find out more about that defection.

On a related topic, Friday's snapshot  included:

Meanwhile Isabel Coles and Jane Bair (Reuters) report that, despite claimes from Hussain al-Shahristani (Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister for Energy) earlier this week, the Kurds have not reached any agreement with Baghdad regarding exporting oil.  KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee is quoted stating, "Absolutely we have not reached any agreement to export oil via SOMO.  The dialogue and discussions are still under way."
Nouri's failures are many.  He's attempting to coherce the Kurds on the oil by using the 2014 budget as a club.

Nouri attempting to coherce the Kurds?  I was off making up stories, according to several e-mails.   Saturday, Press TV reported:

Baghdad is withholding wages for hundreds of thousands of Kurdish employees in an attempt to apparently punish the semi-autonomous Kurdish region over its controversial oil exports.
“There is this mindset and now a continuation of this mindset whereby the central government does not believe in the existence of Kurdistan region. If we look back their opposition was contained to the parliament and the government but now we see that their opposition is directly towards the income of the people, which is the wages,” said Kurdish MP Umed Khoshnaw from the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Last week, Iraq's Kurdish Deputy Prime Minister Roj Nuri Shawais called on Kurdish ministers in the Iraqi cabinet to resign if Baghdad refused to solve the problem.

April 30th, parliamentary elections are supposed to take place in Iraq.

Earlier this month, Ayad Allawi Tweeted:

  • I am participating in the general contrary to news announcing the withdrawal of my nomination.

  • Today, NINA reports:

    Head of Al-Iraqiya National Coalition Iyad Allawi accused on Monday 24 Feb. the government of targeting his coalition's candidates through including them in the procedures of accountability and justice.
    He said in a press conference today that the issue of getting a large number of seats in the House of Representatives election is up to the Iraqi government, because it is interested in maintaining the integrity of the electoral process .
    He added that the government now began an everlasting hostility to the National Coalition through following random eradication policies that affect the innocent and the guilty.

    Over the weekend, All Iraq News quoted a statement issued by the al-Ahrar bloc:  "We will participate in the next elections in three different slates and we aim at winning the PM post to achieve our national programme."   al-Ahrar is also known as the liberal bloc (don't apply US or European definitions of "liberal" to the bloc) but it is best known as the Sadr bloc.  Cleric and movement Moqtada al-Sadr announced his political retirement February 15th.  February 18th, he delivered a speech --  CounterPunch posted the speech in full  -- emphasizing his decision.

    Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc?  Gee, if the bloc was going to be able to pick the prime minister, who would they go with?  Oh, we're back to last week.  But let's stay with today, NINA reports:

    MP, of the Ahrar bloc, Bahaa al-Araji said: "any attempt to postpone the parliamentary elections will be considered as a coup against the Constitution and against the will of the Iraqi people."
    He said in a press statement : "any party cannot postpone the parliamentary elections , but with the approval of the House of Representatives ."
    He added : "The majority of the political blocs in the House of Representatives are agreed on holding the elections as scheduled . And if any party tried to postpone it , even the government , it means a coup against the constitution and a coup against the will of the Iraqi people."

    Today, All Iraq News quotes Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi stating at a press conference, 'We call Sadr to reconsider his latest decision and participate in the next elections [. . .]"

    Through Sunday, Iraq Body Count counts 764 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.  Today?

    National Iraqi News Agency reports Iraqi Major General Mohammed al-Dulaimi insists that they killed 2 Da'ash with four more injured, 1 government employee was shot dead in al-Jebinat, police officer Yassin al-Kurwy was shot dead in al-Muqdadiyah, a Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing left 1 person dead, Joint Operations Command declares they killed 2 suspects in Nineveh Province, Diyala Operations Command declares they killed 9 suspects in the province today, an armed battle in Khirbet Aaziz Aziz Village left three Iraqi military personnel injured, a southern Baghdad attack (Alyusfiyah area) left 1 civilian and 1 police member injured, a Taji roadside bombing left 1 person dead, a woman was wounded in an eastern Baghdad shooting, 1 corpse was discovered in Kirkuk  and the corpse of 1 truck driver was discovered in the streets of Baghdad.