Friday, March 07, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Friday, March 7, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue,  Nouri's assault on Anbar continues, he arrests a flunky for an offense that would warrant firing -- at the most -- anywhere else, the whistle gets blown on the so-called Center for American Progress, and much more.

We've long called out the 'Center' for American Progress and the Podesta boys.  For example, let's drop back  to the March 28, 2007 snapshot:

Interviewed by Bonnie Faulkner (KPFA's Guns and Butter) today, professor Francis Boyle discussed how a 2003 exploration of impeachment by the Democrats was cut short when John Podesta announced that there would be no introduction of bills of impeachment because it would harm Democrats chances in the  2004 election.  Speaking of the measures being applauded by much in the media, big and small, Boyle declared, "It's all baloney.  All they had to do was just do nothing and Bush would have run out of money. . . .  The DNC fully supports the war, that was made clear to Ramsey [Clark] and me on 13 March 2003 and nothing's changed."  John Podesta, former Clintonista, is with the Democratic talking point mill (that attempts to pass itself as a think tank) Center for American Progress -- with an emphasis on "Center" and not "Progress."  

Yesterday, Ziad Jilani blew the whistle on his former employers at the 'Center' noting:

Flash forward a couple years, and the Democratic Party’s lawmakers in Congress were in open revolt over the Afghanistan policy. Our writing at ThinkProgress had opened up a lot on the issue, and I was writing really critical stuff. I worked with our art and design team at CAP to put together a chart showing that Obama’s supposed “withdrawal” plan from Afghanistan would leave more troops in the country than when he began his presidency.
The post was one of the most successful things I had ever written to that point. It was featured by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell and the Congressional Progressive Caucus used it in their briefings to criticize Obama’s plan. I felt great — like I was actually doing the right thing about Afghanistan for once at an institution that had remained quiet or supportive of Obama’s policy there, which in my view was accomplishing little but more bloodshed.
But then phone calls from the White House started pouring in, berating my bosses for being critical of Obama on this policy. Obama’s advisor Ben Rhodes — speaking of a staffer who follows policy set by others for his career path — even made a post on the White House blog more or less attacking my chart by fudging the numbers and including both the Iraq and Afghan troop levels in a single chart to make it seem as if the surge never happened (the marvels of things you can do in Excel!). 

Soon afterwards all of us ThinkProgress national security bloggers were called into a meeting with CAP senior staff and basically berated for opposing the Afghan war and creating daylight between us and Obama. It confused me a lot because on the one hand, CAP was advertising to donors that it opposed the Afghan war — in our “Progressive Party,” the annual fundraising party we do with both Big Name Progressive Donors and corporate lobbyists (in the same room!) we even advertised that we wanted to end the war in Afghanistan.

CAP was begging for money -- as it always does -- and claiming they were trying "to end the war in Afghanistan" but all the little whores were doing  was screaming at writers to stop blogging about the Afghanistan War because it was too much for little Barack and his pretty little feelings.

You get how it really operates on the faux left.  Any asshole who didn't mention that Barack sent troops back into Iraq in fall 2012 should now be suspect to you.  They don't offer the truth, they merely repeat what the White House wants them to.  Here, we noted Tim Arango's September 25, 2012 report (in print September 26th):

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

Where were the whores of Panhandle Media?

Those little bitches who pretend to care, really, really care, about informing you and insist that you give them your hard earned money so they can continue to not report, so they can continue to gas bag while doing the bidding of the White House?

It doesn't matter that it's a Democratic White House.

A kiss ass is just a kiss ass -- regardless of political party or identification.

Yes, US corporate media walked from Iraq.

That didn't mean Panhandle got an excuse to do nothing.  Listen to biggest whore of all Amy Goodman self-proclaiming her greatness of  going 'where the silences are.'  Not on Iraq.

No, the dirty little whore had nothing for Iraq.  Nouri attacked protesters.  A week before he did, Goody Whore talked 'about' Iraq with a guest and neither was interested in the protesters.  This week, she briefly discussed Iraq.  But she wanted to focus not on the tragedy that is Anbar right now but what happened there in 2004 and as soon as Dahr Jamail said the words "Barack Obama," the Goody Whore was pissing herself as she rushed to wrap up her bad segment.

This is what the whores have done and this is why you do not let Medea Benjmain get away with her whorish remarks that the peace movement just walked out on leaders like her.  No, it was Medea and the others who walked away from Iraq.

And it may just be a topic to them, but to many of us, it's a humanitarian crisis -- ongoing -- created by the US government via an illegal war, continued by Barack Obama who refused to back the Iraqi voters when they went to the poll in March 2010 and voted Nouri out.

Bully Boy Bush is a War Criminal who started an illegal war.

Also true, when he ceased his occupation of the White House in January 2009, Iraq was in a much better place than it is currently.

Violence was lower, more women served in Nouri's Cabinet, there was an increase in hope via elections on the part of the Iraqi people, the judiciary was receiving assistance and training, the mass exodus of Iraqis from their country appeared to have slowed,  Iraq had two Vice Presidents in the country -- one who spoke out strongly on the human rights abuses, the other who made his key issue the issue of corruption.  Jalal Talabani was President.


Start with violence.  It increased and increased until now when it's back to 2007 levels.  Nouri named a second cabinet which originally included no women and then found a token -- a woman who said women shouldn't have any rights in Iraq, that's the woman Nouri decided should be in charge of the Ministry of Women's Affairs.  (The insufferable Hoshyar Zarbani was holding this position before Nouri could find a gender-traitor.)  The Judiciary in Baghdad is a joke, all the western governments look at it in shock.  Though the fleeing has yet to reach 2006 levels it has been increasing and increasing -- though only BBC World Services has felt the need to report on this in the last 12 months.  Hope in the elections?  When the Iraqi people voted Iraqiya over Nouri's State of Law and saw the US insist that Nouri won anyway, they saw how little votes could actually matter.

The Vice Presidents?  In 2010, they had three vice presidents -- one more than before.   In 2011, the one who'd focused on calling out corruption stepped down, resigned because Nouri failed to keep his Give-Me-100-Days-And-I-Will-End-The-Corruption promise.  That was spring of 2011.  A the end of 2011, the one who spoke out against human rights abuses, went to the KRG a day before Nouri issued an arrest warrant for him.  He remains Vice President but now spends his time in surrounding countries because Nouri's kangaroo courts have sentenced him to the death penalty -- multiple times.

And President Jalal Talabani?

The punchline to every joke in Iraq.

December 2012,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany. 

When did Jalal return?

February 2013?


Not even by February 2014.

Jalal remains in Germany, he's never returned.

Yesterday, Hamza Mustafa (Asharq al-Awsat) reported

As the countdown begins for Iraq’s parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on April 30, one of the questions on everyone’s lips is about what will be done to address the failure to appoint an acting president following Jalal Talabani’s stroke at the end of December 2012.
Although the presidency in Iraq is largely ceremonial and divorced from day-to-day government, the president is considered the guardian of the constitution and has exclusive jurisdiction following the vote of 2005. The consensus-based nature of governance in Iraq also renders the role of the president indispensable as a mediator in a system of overlapping powers and authorities, in a country where offices of state are divided among ethnicities and sects.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, prominent Kurdish leader Fuad Masum, head of the Kurdistan Alliance in the Iraqi Parliament and one of the founders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) along with Jalal Talabani in 1975, said Talabani’s absence from the scene left the Iraqi political system unbalanced.

“Despite the fact that, according to the constitution, the vice-president is supposed to replace the president in his absence—and this is what is happening now—from a practical point of view there is a breach of the principle of consensus,” he said. “Talabani has not filled his position for more than a year and there have been no Sunni vice-presidents [since] Tareq Al-Hashemi, who was sentenced to death in absentia. There is now one vice-president, Khodair Al-Khozaei, who belongs to the Islamic Da’wa Party led by Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, but from a practical standpoint the position belongs to the Kurds.”

Regarding Talabani’s health, Masum said: “What we know, whether we are leaders in the PUK or the Kurdish or Iraqi street, is what is relayed by those close to him. They are receiving information from his family and his personal physician, the Governor of Kirkuk, Dr. Najmiddin Kari . . . We receive assurances about his health even though his stay in Germany has been a long one. His treatment is proceeding slowly and requires time.”

The PUK isn't very smart.  That's why Goran was able to seize second place (behind the KDP) in last fall's KRG provincial elections.  First off, Tareq is not an ex-Vice President.  Parliament can remove him from office.  No one else can.  Parliament has refused to remove him from office.  That means he's still Vice President (and any convictions were inappropriate because he has legal immunity).  Second, if I was the PUK and I had stomped my feet and insisted that  Jalal hold onto his job for over a year despite not peforming it?

I think I'd down play things too.

But the reality is, Iraq's in a very dangerous spot right now, worse than it's been since the initial invasion.

Try to imagine 2010 without Jalal.

Nouri lost.  He demanded a recount.  He still lost.  He refused to vacate the post.  He brought the government to a standstill (with the help of the White House) and this continued for 8 months.

Without Jalal, what would have happened?

For those who've forgotten, in the summer of 2010, in the midst of Nouri's tantrum, Tareq refused to do nothing and went on a diplomatic tour of the neighboring countries leading to outrage from Nouri and his followers who insisted Tareq was not a vice president, that the country had no vice president.  Now they didn't say that about prime minister but they did say it about the vice presidents.  And it took Jalal speaking up to shut them up.

If Nouri loses this upcoming election and there's no Jalal, what the hell happens?

Jalal was the only thing that held Nouri in semi-check.

What the PUK can't admit, the KDP can.  Judit Neurink (Rudaw) quotes Fuad Hussein (KRG President Massoud Barzani's Cheif of Staff) declaring, "Iraq, maybe, has the last chance to build a democracy.

This is failure and it has happened since Bully Boy Bush finally left the White House.  It can't be pinned on him.  Some War Hawks -- Republicans and some Dems in Congress, for example -- would like to pin it on Barack's refusal to keep a large number of US troops in Iraq.


The above has nothing to do with that.

It does have to do with Nouri getting a second term he didn't win.  It does have to do with Barack having US officials broker The Erbil Agreement -- the contract that gave Nouri a second term if Nouri agreed to concessions and power-sharing.

And he did.  For 24 hours.  He signed the contract along with the other leaders of the political blocs.  And he used it to be named prime minister-designate.  He then announced that he would implement the contract but couldn't right away.

His second term is coming to an end in less than two months and he's still not implemented it.

This has created the political crisis which led to the protests which morphed into a human rights crisis as well as a security crisis.

None of that has to do with US troops on the ground.

It does have to do with the White House -- with Barack -- screwing up everything so that things are now worse in Iraq than when he was first sworn in as US President.

That's not even getting the assaults on the Ashraf community under Barack or the asaults on the LGBTs under Barack.

Instead of putting the needs of the Iraqi people front and center, the faux left whored for Barack and never gave a damn about the people around the world -- certainly not the ones in Iraq.

Yesterday, the US State Dept issued a travel warning on Iraq which included:

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all but essential travel to Iraq. Travel within Iraq remains dangerous given the security situation.  This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated September 5, 2013, to update information on security incidents and to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security concerns in Iraq, including kidnapping and terrorist violence.  The ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited.

U.S. citizens in Iraq remain at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence.  Methods of attack have included roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including explosively formed penetrators (EFPs); magnetic IEDs placed on vehicles; human and vehicle-borne IEDs; mines placed on or concealed near roads; mortars and rockets; and shootings using various direct fire weapons.  These and other attacks frequently occur in public gathering places, such as cafes, markets and other public venues.  Numerous insurgent groups, including al-Qaida in Iraq, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, remain active and terrorist activity and violence persist in many areas of the country at levels unseen since 2007.  Iraqi forces are conducting military operations in Anbar Province and elsewhere against insurgent and terrorist organizations.  Baghdad International Airport has been struck by mortar rounds and rockets.  Due to the potential of political protests and demonstrations to become violent, U.S. citizens in Iraq are strongly urged to avoid protests and large gatherings.
The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. government personnel in Iraq to be serious enough to require them to live and work under strict security guidelines.  All U.S. government employees under the authority of the U.S. Chief of Mission must follow strict safety and security procedures when traveling outside the Embassy.  State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of protective security details.  Detailed security information is available at the U.S. Embassy website.

It does continue but it leaves out the most important part for anyone considering traveling to Iraq:  Your plane may not land there.

The world learned that yesterday.  From Thursday's snapshot:

On top of all that, he [Nouri] can't explain why a flight didn't land in Baghdad.  What an idiot.  The basics, as explained by Kitabat, a plane took off in Lebanon headed for Baghdad.  Twenty minutes after take off, the decision was made by someone in Baghdad that the plane would not be allowed to land.  This was then conveyed to Beirut and the plane with the plane then turning around and heading back to Beirut.  Why?  Ghassan Hamid (Alsumaria), citing Nouri's spokesperson, reveals Nouri is claiming no one knows who gave the order.
Nouri's government has created an international incident -- demonstrating yet again what a joke his leadership is.  Dana Khraiche (Daily Star) reports:

MEA’s Public Relations Officer Rima Makkawi said the carrier was investigating why the plane was forced to return to Beirut, saying the earlier statement quoted rumors “and not the company’s reasoning.”
“We want to investigate what happened,” Makkawi told The Daily Star.

Right now, the best guess on what happened?  The plane waited six minutes after scheduled departure for Mahdi al-Amiri and a friend to be found and board.  They didn't.  The plane took off.  al-Amari's father threw a hissy fit -- yet another reason Nouri shouldn't appoint his friends and lackeys to positions of powe.  See Mahdi al-Amiri's father is Hadi al-Amiri is the Transportation Minister.  His son didn't make the flight.  The easiest explanation is that his father refused to allow it to land so it would turn around, go back to Beruit, where it would pick up little prince Mahdi.
Leave out the motive and who gave the order and this is what Oliver Holmes and Jamal Said (Reuters) report happened, "A passenger plane flying from Lebanon to Iraq on Thursday turned back after the Iraqi transport minister's son missed the flight and phoned Baghdad to stop the aircraft from landing, Middle East Airlines (MEA) said."  It also fits with the original statement issued by Middle East Airlines -- one they only retracted when Nouri began blustering and declaring he was going to launch an investigation immediately.  And it's certainly more believable than the statement made by Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Kareem al-Nuri who denied that was even supposed to be on the plane and that the reason for the refusal was that they "were cleaning operations in the airport and specific measures were taken.  We asked all flights not to land in Baghdad airport after 9 am (0600 GMT) but this flight arrived after this time, so we asked it to turn back."

CNN reports on the incident and notes it's become a Twitter topic with CitizenDeCat Tweeting, "You might consider getting . . . to the gate on time, Mahdi al-Amiri."  And that was a smart move by CNN, to note the Tweeter reaction.  Let's copy their move and notice how it's all over the world:

  1. Leia atentamente: Avião quase no destino volta atrás para buscar filho de ministro Por Redação Mahdi al-Amiri,...
  2. Ulah arogan seorang anak menteri diperlihatkan oleh Mahdi al-Amiri, yang merupakan putra dari seorang menteri...
  3. Iraqi Transport Ministers son al-Amiri misses his plane then phones ahead to have it denied landing, another Uday another dollar!
  4. You might consider getting your arse to the gate on time, Mahdi al-Amiri.
  5. Mahdi al Amiri fils du ministr d transport a fait revenir un avion qui étai parti dep8 21min parce kil étai en retard

Isn't that something.  The corruption is noted everywhere.

You know what else is something?  Nouri's 'answer.'

AFP quotes Nouri's spokesperson Ali Mussawi declaring, "[Deputy Airport Head Samer] Kubba was arrested . . . because his action was wrong and harmful to the prestige of the Iraqi state."

How stupid is Nouri that he thinks the world is that stupid?

Does anyone in their right mind honestly believe that the deputy head of an airport gives a damn if some little spoiled prince misses a plane?


The only reason he cares is because people above him -- including the little prince's daddy -- want the plane to turn around.

As usual, Nouri al-Maliki has demonstrated how corrupt he is and how there is no justice in Iraq.

First of all, guilt in this should result in dismissal, not an arrest.

Second, it makes no sense on the face of it.  Everyone knows this was about the Minister of Transportation protecting his little baby boy.

And it's outrageous and it stinks and it should be tied around Nouri's neck as yet another example of how he and his cronies live high on the hog and abuse their positions while the Iraqi people suffer.

Targeting some low level flunky for the actions of one of Nouri's friends is corrupt beyond belief.

Samer Kubba should be immediately released and he should receive an apology from both Nouri and the little spoiled prince's daddy.

It's an international incident.  Anything Kubba did or didn't do resulted from orders issued by people up the chain above Kubba.

All Iraq News notes,  "Dozens of citizens demonstrate in Baghdad and several other provinces on Friday calling to cancel the privileges to the key officials by the Pension Law."

From Iraq's relations with Lebanon, let's move to Jordan.  Missy Ryan (Reuters) reports:

The United States recently sent a small number of special forces soldiers to Jordan to train with counterparts from Iraq and Jordan, a new step in the Obama administration's effort to help Baghdad stamp out a resurgent al Qaeda threat, a U.S. defence official said on Friday.

This is step one.  Is America ready for step two?  Probably not because there have been no honest discussions about step one.

The assault on Anbar Province continues.  UNHCR issued the following today:

GENEVA, March 7 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday said the continuing fighting in western Iraq's Anbar province has forced thousands more people to move to safety. Those affected are in various locations across the province, moving westwards from previously safe locations.
"During the last week the number of displaced people in the town of Heet and surrounding areas which lies to the northwest of [the city of] Ramadi has increased by some 25,000-30,000 people," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.
Elsewhere in Anbar, an inter-agency mission this week by UNHCR, the World Food Programme and the UN Children's Fund assessed the living conditions and the needs of displaced people living in Al-Obaidy, some 450 kilometres northwest of Baghdad in the Al Qaim area.
Due to the poor security situation, the mission was forced to postpone part of their assessment. Al Qaim district hosts some 5,000 Syrian refugees, some 2,000 of them are in camp Al Obaidy while others are in host communities. The team met with people displaced to temporary houses and two collective shelters in Al-Obaidy town.
The team members identified many with specific needs, particularly female-headed households with large numbers of children. In one home, three female-headed families were cramped together in one small house with 13 children.
While the local communities have generously assisted the displaced, people are still in need of food and health care. Families living in unfinished houses lack blankets, mattresses, cooking facilities and clothing. As an immediate step, UNHCR is distributing aid packs to 300 families the team visited.
"The humanitarian needs of the displaced are growing rapidly. Prolonged displacement is putting pressure on both the displaced and host communities as they begin to exhaust their resources," Edwards said.
UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies are receiving an increasing number of requests for humanitarian assistance and support. UNHCR and partners are continuing to conduct assessments of the humanitarian needs. At present the shortage of shelter remains one of the most pressing issues.
Close to Baghdad, the city of Fallujah remains under siege, the roads remain closed and there are reports of shortages of fuel, food and other basic items. Armed clashes have been reported in the north, south and east of Fallujah, even during a 72-hour ceasefire initiated by the government of Iraq last week.
The situation in Ramadi is also volatile. Shelling and clashes have continued in recent days in the city and in rural neighbourhoods. As the situation deteriorates in the Al-Malab, Al-Bothaib and 20th Street areas, small groups of residents have fled and headed to Heet. The local council in Heet is still welcoming those fleeing, despite the significant burden on the local infrastructure, lack of sufficient accommodation and overstretched services. The district already accommodates some 11,250 displaced families.
To the north-east of Anbar, the first UN humanitarian assistance has in the past few days reached some 200 displaced families living in dire conditions in Sulayman Beg, Salah Al-Din governorate. They fled clashes last week in the north-east of the governorate.
As of Thursday, the number of people displaced in Anbar and the other governorates of Iraq is approximately 380,000. This represents almost 64,000 families, some 42,000 of whom have been displaced in Anbar, the largest governorate in Iraq.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement and the UN launched a strategic response plan to address the immediate humanitarian needs of people affected by the fighting in Anbar. The plan calls for US$103.7 million to cover the provision of assistance to 240,000 internally displaced people as well as host communities and those stranded in conflict-affected areas.
UNHCR requires US$26.3 million to address humanitarian needs of people displaced by the crisis in Anbar over the next six months. These needs are 11 per cent funded.

Nouri risks the lives of innocent civilians as he pursues collective punishment.  Collective punishment is legally defined as a War Crime.  The United States government recognizes that definition.  And yet the White House continues to arm the tyrant Nouri al-Maliki who then uses the weapons to attack the Iraqi people.

Through yesterday, violence has killed 228 people in Iraq this month according to Iraq Body Count.  Today?


National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 Khirbet Aziz Village roadside bombings left two Iraqi soldiers injured, an eastern Mosul roadside bombing left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and three more injured,  a suicide car bomber in Ramadi took his own life and the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers with four more left injured, a Baquba roadside bombing left three people injured,  a Tahrir roadside bombing left 1 person dead and two more injured, an al-Musayyib roadside bombing left 1 person dead and another injured, a second Ramadi suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 7 police members, and, dropping back to late last night, a Musayyib home bombing left five family members injured.


National Iraqi News Agency reports an Alakhsaf battle left 6 rebels deadJoint Special Operations Command announced they killed 10 suspects in Falluja,  Abdul Rahman al-Izzi and his brother Lt Gen Mahmoud al-Izzi were shot dead in al-Yarkon Village,  and, dropping back to late last night,  1 government official was shot dead in Khanaqin last night and a government employee left injured.


All Iraq News notes 1 corpse was discovered dumped in Nasiriyah.

Back to the US, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's "STRIKES AND CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE PROTEST FIRINGS AND DEPORTATIONS" (Working, In These Times):


For the last six months, community and labor activists-mostly young- have sat down in front of buses carrying people to detention centers for deportation. In Tucson, they obstructed and chained themselves to ICE vans. In San Francisco, a few days after blocking a bus carrying deportees to detention, "Dreamer" Ju Hong-a young immigrant whose deportation was deferred in the White House's executive action two years ago-challenged President Obama during a local speech. "You have the power to stop deportation," the protester told him.

In response to these actions and others like them, the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have passed resolutions demanding a moratorium on deportations;  San Francisco is imposing a halt in immigration-related firings as well.

And the pressure is only intensifying. Last week, unions and community organizations closed down an intersection in front of a Silicon Valley supermarket chain where hundreds were fired after an inspection by ICE of company personnel records (an I-9 audit), intended to identify undocumented workers for termination. The next day, immigrant recycling workers in one San Leandro, Calif. trash facility walked out of work when their employer and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency threatened their jobs in a similar audit.

These protests are a direct response to the deportations and firing that have intensified as a result of the Obama administration's immigration enforcement policies.