Monday, March 03, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Monday, March 3, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on Anbar continues, Nouri's war on the Kurdistan Regional Government continues, a new development is that not everyone will be allowed to vote in the scheduled April 30th elections, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his bellowing at Russia draw attention and should draw attention to the fact that he and the State Dept are doing damn little on Iraq, and much more.

The votes are in and US Secretary of State John Kerry has won the Hypocrisy Award.

  • Kerry's complaints abt Russian violation of int'l law would be more potent if he hadn't voted for plainly illegal Iraq War as senator

  • If US intervenes in Kosovo, Iraq, or Syria, intn'l law is irrelevant. If wants to intervene in , intn'l law is paramount.

  • From the man who voted to invade Iraq: ": Invasion is not the act of someone who is strong. It is the act of someone who is weak."

  • Timothy McGrath (Global Post) points out:

    Maybe US Secretary of State John Kerry has forgotten about the Iraq War.
    How else could he appear on "Face the Nation" and, with a straight face, slam Russia for "invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext"?

    International law expert Francis A. Boyle elaborates,  "John Kerry is claiming to stand for international law and invokes the 1994 Budapest Agreement. Of course the U.S. has repeatedly violated international law, with the Iraq invasion (which Kerry voted for) and numerous other instances. But even in this case, if you examine the Victoria Nuland [assistant secretary of state] tape, it's clear that the U.S. was plotting a coup in the Ukraine and a coup is what happened. So Russia is only the second country guilty of violating Ukrainian sovereignty and the Budapest Agreement in response to the previous violations by the Obama administration."

    Of course, the real comment here should be that Kerry needs to close his mouth and sit his ass down because, yet again, he's forgotten he's over Iraq for the US government.

    Yet again, he's sticking his nose everywhere except where it should be going.

    What did he do during February on Iraq?

    Because Americans should be outraged by the billions the State Dept is given to carry out some secretive mission (they won't explain it to Congress and we'll only offer generalities) in Iraq.

    What is that money accomplishing?

    It doesn't appear to accomplish anything and Kerry doesn't appear to be engaged in Iraq at all.  With the State Dept being over Iraq and it being their biggest money item after Afghanistan, the State Dept should be issuing statements on Iraq weekly and it should be a regular part of the daily press briefing.

    But it's not.

    And anytime Kerry speaking these days, it's as though he thinks he's president or vice president and not Secretary of State.

    I voted for Kerry in 2004, I campaigned for him, I supported him in the primary.

    But I can admit that didn't work out and he did not become president.  It's time he learned to admit that as well because while he barks and bellows at Russia, we're left with the ongoing crises in Iraq -- plural.

    Let's start with the violence.

    Friday was the end of the month.  As we noted at Third Sunday, "Iraq Body Count sees 930 violent deaths for February, UNAMI counts 703, Margaret Griffis and count 1,705."  AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted on the death toll:

  • ICYMI, new figures showed more than 700 people were killed in Iraq last month - 's wrap:

  • Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth Tweeted:
  • Exactly.

    And what is the US government doing about Nouri's assault on the Sunnis?

    Not a damn thing.

    Wait, they keep congratulating him.  They're doing that.

    They're congratulating him.

    They're joining in the pretense that the assault on Anbar (which no one wants to point out has crept into Salahuddin, Nineveh and Diyala provinces) is about 'terrorism.'  Dahr Jamail (Truthout) explains:

    Doctors, residents and NGO workers in Fallujah are accusing the Iraqi government of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" that have occurred as a result of its ongoing attack on the city.
    Dr. Ahmed Shami, the chief of resident doctors at Fallujah General Hospital, told Truthout that since Iraqi government forces began shelling Fallujah in early January 2014, at least 109 civilians have been killed and 632 wounded.

    Felicity Arbuthnot (BRussells Tribunal) notes who's backing and arming the tyrant:

    However, the US and UK are seemingly remarkably selective when it comes to tyrants who "kill their own people".
    Not only have they failed to censure their tyrannical Iraqi puppet, Nuri al-Maliki, but they are also arming him to the teeth with the same weapons which are linked to the horrific birth defects, and cancers throughout the country, which he is now using on "his own people".
    Moreover, if allegations from very well informed sources that he holds an Iranian passport are correct, to say that US-UK's despot of choice appears in a whole new political light would be to massively understate.
    To facilitate Al-Maliki's assault on Iraq's citizens, the US "rushed" 75 Hellfire missiles to Baghdad in December. On 23rd January Iraq requested a further 500 Hellfires, costing $82 million - small change compared to the $14 billion in weapons provided by America since 2005.
    The AGM-114R Hellfire II, nauseatingly named 'Romeo', clocked in at: $94,000 each - in 2012. A shopping spree on weaponry in a country where electricity, clean water, education and health services have all but collapsed since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
    The re-invasion of Iraq
    Two weeks ago an "American cargo jet loaded with weapons" including 2,400 rockets to arm Iraqi attack helicopters also arrived in Baghdad.
    Subsequently a contract was agreed to sell a further 24 AH-64E attack helicopters to Iraq "along with spare parts and maintenance, in a massive $6.2 Billion deal."
    With them comes the reinvasion of Iraq, with: "hundreds of Americans" to be shipped out "to oversee the training and fielding of equipment". Some are "US government employees" - read 'military' - plus a plethora of "contractors" - read mercenaries.
    According to Jane's Defence Weekly, on 15th November 2013 Iraq also took delivery of "its first shipment of highly advanced Mi-35 attack helicopters as part of a $4.3 Billion arms purchase from Russia", out of an order of "about 40 Mi-35 and 40 Mi-28 Havoc attack helicopters".

    The all to "attack his own people" in the guise of defeating 'Al Qaida' in Anbar province and elsewhere where the people have been peacefully protesting a near one man regime of torture, sectarianism, kangaroo courts which sentence victims who have also had confessions extracted under torture.

    While US politicians apparently crapped on their courage and had to send it out to be cleaned, more and more Iraqi politicians are speaking their minds.   Hamza Mustafa (Asharq al-Awsat) reports:

    The leader of Iraq’s National Dialogue Front (NDF) and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Al-Mutlaq has called for an end to the government siege of cities in Anbar province on humanitarian grounds.

    A statement issued by Mutlaq’s office said: “Many besieged families who could not leave are still threatened by the bombardment and lack of food and medical supplies, and they suffer difficult conditions.”
    The statement added: “Army field commanders must face up to their responsibilities towards the besieged people and coordinate with humanitarian aid teams and open routes to allow food and medical supplies to reach the families, who include women and children.”

    al-Mutlaq told All Iraq News, "There are many families who could not get out of the areas that suffer the danger of armed operations and they suffer the lack of food and medical supplies in Fallujah and Habaniya areas."  National Iraqi News Agency notes he expressed concern for the "women and children and the elderly."

    Nouri's pursuit of 'terrorists' in Falluja?  Yesterday, NINA reported, Nouri's military shelled Falluja Sunday evening leaving eight civilians injured.   Saturday, NINA reported the military's shelling of western Falluja (Nassaf Village) left three civilians injured and another Falluja shelling leaves 1 child dead and nine people injured. How many people is Nouri allowed to kill, how many children is he allowed to kill before the White House starts to ponder that maybe arming Nouri wasn't such a bright idea?  Today, Anadolu Agency reports:

    Four Iraqis have been killed in an airstrike that targeted a passenger vehicle in the western city of Fallujah, a tribal source said Monday.
    "The aircraft shelled a vehicle carrying ten people in the city," the source told Anadolu Agency."
    And in another incident today, NINA notes Nouri's shelling of residential areas in Falluja left ten people injured -- including three children.

    For those thinking, "Wait, Thursday it was announced Nouri had agreed to a cease-fire on Falluja to last a week"?  Yeah, we covered that Saturday in "Nouri's cease-fire (just another lie)" -- Nouri's not to be trusted, he never keeps his word.  In the summer of 2006, while he was out of the country, barriers were put up angering Iraqis -- put up by the US -- and Nouri swore they would come down immediately, just as soon as he returned to Iraq.  They didn't come down he returned.  They didn't come down a week later or a month later or a year later . . .  That was his first public promise and he broke it.

    There have been so many more since 2006, there was his public promise in the fall of 2010 to finally implement Article 140 of the Constitution and hold a census and referendum in Kirkuk.  There was his promise, in February 2010, to end corruption in 100 days (if the protesters stopped demonstrating -- and they believed him but he never ended corruption).  There was his legal and contractual promise (The Erbil Agreement) to form a power-sharing government in November 2010.  We could list his many broken promises all day.  How about February 2010 when he promised AFP he wouldn't run for a third term?

    And Nouri's assault isn't just killing and wounding people, it's also displacing them.  As Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reported last month:

    According to the most recent official figures about half a million people live in Fallujah. It’s thought that as much as 60 percent of the population has left the city now though, in order to escape the potential fighting. The United Nations refugee agency has said that as many as 300,000 people have left Anbar province, where both Fallujah and Ramadi are, to escape the violence.

    That is why in Fallujah one will see many doors that have pages of the Koran attached to them – the residents have fled and they hope that the holy book will prevent thieves or militias from occupying their houses and stealing their belongings.

    The displaced have to go somewhere and the provinces they're going to are having to address these additional needs with no money from Nouri al-Maliki's central government out of Baghdad.  NINA notes that leaders of Kirkuk Province met today with UN officials at the UNAMI office to ask for "Help in building a camp for displaced people from Anbar's cities, Tuz" and Sulaiman Beck.

    All Iraq News notes independent MP Kamel al-Dulaimi declared at a press conference today, "The crisis in Anbar is political and it needs real stances from everyone in order to solve it, since the politicians in the province, in particular, disappeared from the scene and have forgotten the victims of the military forces and civilians during the clashes."  Sunday,  Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Representative in Iraq for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, declared, "Only by working together can Iraqis address the causes of violence and build a democratic society in which rule of law is observed and human rights are protected."

    Yet Nouri continues this assault.  It hasn't ended violence, it hasn't even reduced it.

    And yet the US government embarrasses itself daily by backing Nouri's genocide and pretending it's about 'terrorism.'

    Today's violence?   National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 police member was shot dead and a civilian left injured in western Baghdad (Abu Ghraib), a Muqdadiyah home bombing left 1 person dead, attorney Imad al-Najmawi was shot dead in Mosul, a Mosul roadside bombing left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead and a third, an armed battle in Ramadi near the stadium and 60th Street left 2 rebels dead and three Iraqi soldiers injured, Majo General Riadh al-Khikany states they killed 1 suspect to the north of Hilla, Baghdad Operations Command notes they killed 1 suspect in Baghdad, a Kirkuk car bombing left twenty people injured, the Ministry of Interior announced they killed 15 suspects in Anbar, Kirkuk attacks left 4 people dead and six more people injured, police member Almosul Aljadeedah was shot dead in Mosul, 1 corpse was discovered in Mosul,  and 1 corpse was found dumped in the streets of Baghdad ("handcuffed and with gunshot wounds in the head").  All Iraq News adds 1 doctor's assistant was shot dead in Anbar.

    Nouri's assault started at the end of December and was going to be a quick operation.

    Weeks later, it continues.

    And Iraq's supposed to hold elections next month.

    People have been expressing the need for the parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 30th, to take place.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has declared the elections must take place and that they must take place across Iraq including in Anbar Province.  NINA adds that he called for all to vote but stated he would not be endorsing any candidate or slate.  All Iraq News reports:

    The head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, Ammar al-Hakim, warned from postponing the elections.In the conference of Handicapped persons in Baghdad, he said "All sides should participate in the elections widely."

    And there was already going to be a big adjustment in this election.  Instead of using the ration cards as identification -- as done in Iraq's previous elections -- new electronic cards are being issued -- are being issued slowly many complain on social media.  Samira Kamal (Kirkuk Now) reports:

    Electronic election cards are currently being introduced by the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to help provide a transparent and clean election process. “We are trying to prevent any candidate or political party from rigging future elections,” Safa Al-mosawy, the IHEC spokesman announced.
    Mr. Mosawy stated during an interview that the commission has issued very stringent instructions to help prevent any forgery or misuse of the electronic cards.

    If elections are held in April 30th, it's already been announced that everyone's not voting.  Iraq's voting rounds -- whether provincial or parliamentary -- include setting up voting stations in other countries -- chief among them the neighboring countries of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, where so many Iraqis have fled to.  All Iraq News reports today:

    The Independent High Electoral Commission IHEC decided not to conduct the parliamentary elections for Iraqi community in Syria due to deterioration in security situation there.The Iraqi Ambassador to Egypt, Thea'a al-Din al-Dabas, reported in a press statement ''The IHEC held a meeting with several Iraqi Ambassadors in Turkey on last week in which they discussed the arrangements required to conduct the ballots avoiding any mistakes.''

    It's never just one thing with Nouri.  We've noted the crisis he's created with Anbar, the continuing security crisis, let's go to his war on the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in the north of Iraq.  The Kurdish Globe reports on the continued tensions between Baghdad and Erbil:

    Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's dispute with Iraq's Kurds over its independent oil exports has escalated with the central government blocking Kurdistan's share of the state budget and banning two airlines from operating between Europe and Kurdistan.
    Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's dispute with Iraq's Kurds over its independent oil exports has escalated with the central government blocking Kurdistan's share of the state budget and banning two airlines from operating between Europe and Kurdistan.
    Kurdistan's president, Massoud Barzani, warned Maliki that his actions are "a declaration of war against the people of Kurdistan."

    But, of course, Nouri doesn't see it that way.  Rudaw notes:

    Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in a television interview that a budget and oil dispute with the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the north has been “exaggerated,” and that the central government felt a sense of responsibility toward the Kurds.
    “I don’t know why the problems have been so exaggerated,” Maliki said in an interview with the semi-official Al-Iraqiya TV. “We feel responsible for Kurdistan and its people, even if the Kurdish government doesn’t feel that way,” he added.

    Thousands of government workers in the KRG have been without payment because Nouri's blocked the KRG from receiving their part of the national budget.  It's so bad, in fact, that KRG officials have been calling for assistance from the United Nations to address this issue.  Hiwa Barznjy (Niqash) explains:

    Negotiators from the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan have visited Baghdad three times already this year. They went there to discuss many of the seemingly-intractable conflicts that the partially-independent region populated mainly by Iraqis of Kurdish ethnicity is having with the rest of the country, as governed from Baghdad.

    The list of these conflicts is similar to those of past years: The disputed areas of Iraq which the Iraqi Kurdish say should belong to their region but which Baghdad says belong to Iraq proper. The oil and gas law - Iraqi Kurdistan has one and Baghdad does not. Who pays for the services of the Iraqi Kurdish military, the Peshmerga. Iraqi Kurdistan’s share of national income, based on oil earnings.

    These issues have been sources of antipathy year on year – occasionally they send the relationship between Baghdad and Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan to teeter on the brink of a political abyss. And recently one of the most contentious issues – the oil and gas impasse – has been doing just that.

    “The Iraqi budget is IQD163 trillion,” the Iraqi Kurdish Deputy Finance Minister, Fazil Nabi, explained the country's draft budget for 2014 last week. “The share of Kurdistan Region from the budget is IQD19.7 trillion. Also, Kurdistan Region is entitled to IQD2.14 trillion dinars from the sovereign budget. In total, the share of Kurdistan Region from the budget is around IQD22 trillion dinars.”

    The draft budget also says that, in return, the Iraqi Kurdish must export around 400,000 barrels of oil per day and that the revenues from that must go to Baghdad, from where it will be distributed.