Saturday, August 16, 2014

I Hate The War

Since last Saturday, there have been more bombings of Iraq -- bombs dropped from the air -- and more US troops sent into Iraq.

And more serious discussions from those of us opposed to war?

I'm not seeing it.

Justin Raimondo's biggest cause these days appears to be JustinRaimondoIsRight with bitchy a close second.

If anyone's aided the conversation at all, I'd say it was Cher.  [See "Media: Barack Lies, Cher Tweets and Martha Plays (Ava and C.I.)."]

Otherwise, I'm just not seeing or feeling it.

We have walked away from David Swanson.

So an e-mail informed me.

I wasn't aware of that.

We highlight Swanson from time to time which is more than nice of us when you consider the history there.  (It goes back to the Bully Boy Bush years.)  But we didn't walk away from his content.  He hasn't sent any since August 2nd (I searched the public e-mail account).

I then went to his site to see what we were 'walking away' from.  Saw pages of other topics.  First thing on Iraq was Danny Schechter.

A sad little piece that only demonstrated (a) how tight the circle jerk remains and (b) how sad Danny's become.

I'm going to stand with the Arab world and reject Patrick Cockburn.  Other lefties can do as they see fit.  But I don't embrace racism, sexism, xenophobia or homophobia.

Cockburn hates Sunnis.

Danny's so eager to be in the circle jerk, he quotes Cockburn's xenophobia without even realizing it.

The main victor in the new war in Iraq is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) which wants to kill Shia rather than negotiate with them.

Is that right, Patrick?

This group of Sunnis (a group you tend to lump all Sunni resistance into) is doing something novel, are they?

You really never did call out the Shia, did you, Patrick?

In fact, long before Moqtada al-Sadr found leadership skills and maturity, when he was a bit of a thug and headed a violent militia, Patrick wrote a book glorifying him.

No real concern over Shi'ites targeting Sunnis.  No real concern over a group that 'wants to kill Sunni rather than negotiate with them.'

Nouri al-Maliki, Patrick's personal cum rag, targeted Sunnis repeatedly and Patrick didn't decry it.  Nor did Danny Schechter.

It's been open season on Arabs and it's really time for the left to say no to the demonization of Arabs.  What happens in Gaza over and over happens due to the demonization.

When we're okay with it being done in coverage of Iraq, we're okay with it being done to the Palestinians.

I'm not going to embrace Patrick's hatred of the Sunnis and I'm not to be part of the silence on it either.

It's very typical of the left gatekeepers to look the other way on their own.  That's how trashy Amy Goodman not only stole property from Pacifica Radio but also how she got away with publishing in H**tler magazine.

It's also how she stole the radio program Pacifica created (Democracy Now!) and made it her own, how she's become a millionaire off the show.  Salim Muwakkil didn't get rich off the show, did he?  But Goodman did.  It's  cute little con job where they pretend they care.

Muwakkil co-founded the show.  But Amy pocketed the cash, didn't she?  She ripped off a lot of people but her rip-off of an African-American man should be remembered the next time she tries to whip up racial tensions.  Give her the corpse of an African-American and Amy cares, she really cares.  But a living African-American, one who doesn't take marching orders?  They'll be gone quickly.  Ask the African-American interns, the very few African-American interns, she's employed or 'employed' on Democracy Now! and you'll find out that they see Goodman as just another plantation owner and you'll find out they have good reason for seeing her as such.

But Danny won't tell you that and Patrick won't tell you and they'll be in the circle jerk -- Amy included -- because that's more important to them than the Iraqi people or, for that matter, you.

So they stayed silent while Nouri al-Maliki slaughtered protesters.  They won't call each other out now, of course.  They'll just pretend like it never happened.

They stayed silent when Iraq's LGBTQ community was under attack by Nouri.

They stayed silent when journalists -- and journalism -- were attacked by Nouri.

Even his frivolous law suit against the Guardian -- which he initially won -- didn't prompt them to condemn him.

They are the problem.

Their 'history' of Iraq on display today looks more like elective plastic surgery as they rush to enhance this detail and cover up that reality.

They did little to help anyone in Iraq but they did help their buddies in the circle jerk.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4491.

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, August 15, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Friday, August 15, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, possibilities as to why Nouri is steeping down, some look to the prime minister-designate for hope, and much more.

Yesterday's big news that Iraq's two-term prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki had agreed to step down continues to be news.   Al Mada notes statements of relief made by US Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Nickolay Mladenov.  Andrew Reiter (US News and World Reports) offers:
This is an unquestionably positive development for Iraq. First, the peaceful transfer of power represents a key step in Iraq’s young democracy. Second, the new government should be better equipped to deal with the worsening security threat posed by Islamic State militants. And third, it could usher in a period of improved relations with the U.S.
A peaceful transfer of power is a welcome development for Iraq’s nascent democracy that has seen al-Malaki consolidate his rule over his eight years in office. Following the controversial 2010 parliamentary elections, al-Malaki created the Office of the Commander-in-Chief, giving himself direct control over the Iraqi army and police. In response to recent events, he deployed a number of elite security forces throughout Baghdad’s Green Zone in an overt threat to his opponents. Fears of a military coup were rampant.

Loveday Morris and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) point out, "Maliki has become a deeply divisive figure but had clung to his position in the face of a growing consensus among Iraq’s politicians and the international community that only a new leader would have a chance of unifying a country experiencing growing sectarian divisions."  How bad did it get for Nouri?  Martin Chulov, Julian Borger and Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) explain, "He had lost the support of his party, of the president, the parliament, the Americans, Saudis and finally the Iranian government, his biggest foreign ally and sponsor. Even the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, issued a statement pointedly welcoming the appointment of Abadi."

How did he lose the support of Ali Khamenei?  Ali Hashem (Al-Monitor) reports:

An Iraqi source close to Ayatollah Ali Sistani told Al-Monitor: “Around 10 days before the designation, an envoy representing the Iranian leadership visited Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Najaf. The envoy heard a clear stance from Sistani: Nouri al-Maliki shouldn’t continue as a prime minister. …​ Sistani won’t say this in public, but he had to tell it to the Iranians, because he thought the crisis in the country needed a solution and that the deadlock would complicate efforts to reach an agreement.”
According to Al-Monitor’s sources in Tehran and Baghdad, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after learning of Sistani’s position, asked his aides to facilitate the change, calling on them to play a role in convincing Maliki to withdraw. “There were several alternatives for Maliki, one was him being appointed vice president. He refused. He was obstinate on the prime minister position and gave all those who tried [to talk] with him reasons for him not to accept. His main challenge was that he’s the leader of the bloc that won the election, and the constitution gives him the right to form the new government.”

Also weighing in was The Diane Rehm Show.  In the second hour of Friday morning's broadcast, Diane addressed Iraq with her guests Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers), Greg Myre (NPR) and Jim Sciutto (CNN).  Excerpt:

REHM: Good to see you all. Jim Sciutto, what finally made Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki agree to step aside? 

SCIUTTO:  I think the loss of the support of the support of both the U.S. and Iran. And once you had public statements. For the U.S. statement, somewhat more predictable, but once the Iranians said they wanted a transition, they wanted a more inclusive government, he saw the writing on the wall. But it was touch and go, because on Sunday night, and we were on the air Sunday night, as you had tanks in the streets, bridges closed in Baghdad. Forces loyal to Maliki being ordered -- you know, accounts from Baghdad police telling us ordered around key buildings. It looked like, for a moment, he was gonna make a power grab. So, you know, it appeared he had some second thoughts towards the end, but once that support disappeared, even he could see the writing on the wall. 

REHM:  Nancy. 

YOUSSEF:  So, the reason he gave, in his speech, in which he was surrounded by members of his party and his successor, was, in part, that he didn't want to see Iraq return to dictatorship, which arguably was code for that he didn't think that the militias and the armed forces he put on the street could actually keep him in power. The only other list -- person I would add to that list is Sistani, Ayatollah Sistani, who's the leader of the Shias in Iraq had called and supported his transition.  And so, internally, that was perhaps the most important loss for his support. And so, once all those factors came in to play, it was impossible to see who would support him. In addition, I would add also are the court systems, because the last time he had sort of been challenged, the courts had supported him, and constitutionally, he didn't have the ground to stand on to continue his fight. 

REHM: Greg. 

MYRE: Just looking back, Maliki came to power in 2006. At that moment, Iran was facing this Sunni insurgency that was tearing the country apart. The U.S. felt a real sense of urgency to intervene. Here we are eight years later going through the same thing. And you can go back, and the U.S. military involvement has now been over 20 years in Iraq. And are we moving forward anywhere, or are we just going in circles? 

While various possibilities were tossed around at various outlets, few bothered to examine Iraqi sentiment.  Kholoud Ramzi (Niqash) covers Iraqi reaction:

The desperate attempts of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stay in power may have been taken seriously by many and led to questions about attempted coups and concern as to which sectors of the military supported him - but there are many Iraqis who are not taking al-Maliki seriously at all. Sarcastic pictures, jokes and comments have been circulating on Iraqi social media for the past few days, with those photo shopping pictures and posting jokes appearing to compete amongst themselves to make a mockery of their soon-to-be-former Prime Minister.
One of the most popular pictures shows al-Maliki wearing a Hitler-style moustache. Another shows US President Barack Obama patting al-Maliki on the back, as if to bid him farewell. This has garnered a number of humorous comments. 
One Iraqi Kurdish journalist shared a picture that shows young men trampling on a picture of al-Maliki that is lying on the floor. “They started to throw your pictures on the ground as soon as they heard about al-Abadi,” the journalist wrote in the caption. “They started to throw shoes at the picture as soon as they knew you were out. I fear that soon they will beat you with their shoes. We Iraqis are the kind of people who receive our leaders with cheering and applause and then farewell them with shoes.”
Another picture showed two tribal leaders, or sheikhs, sitting behind al-Maliki at a funeral. “Let us grieve for the soul of [al-Maliki’s] third term,” those who shared the picture wrote. “The funeral of the State of Law bloc.”
Another Iraqi prankster posted a picture of al-Maliki’s wife. “Breaking news,” they wrote. “Al-Abadi’s wife has called al-Maliki’s wife to ask her where she put the presidential mugs.”
Those who supported al-Maliki also came in for ribbing, with politicians who protested al-Abadi’s nomination or al-Maliki’s ouster also targeted by jokers. 
Another commenter wrote this: “Al-Maliki ruled us for eight years and he brought us right back to the era of the Caliphate. If he had had another four years, we might have seen dinosaurs roaming the streets of Baghdad”. 
Some other activists wrote on one of al-Maliki’s Facebook pictures that Iraqis need to thank the Prime Minister for his achievements before he leaves. They listed 14 of the most important ones. This included sectarianism, displacement, insecurity, corruption and lack of government services. “Last but not least we should congratulate him on the birth of Daash, which came from all of these achievements,” they wrote, using the Arabic acronym for the Sunni Muslim extremist group known as the Islamic State, that now controls parts of the country.

Deeply unpopular Nouri.  So many have wanted him gone for so long now.  And where do things stand now?  Shashank Bengali and Patrick J. McDonnell (Los Angeles Times) state, "Maliki’s surprise announcement Thursday that he would give up his bid for a third four-year term raised hope that a new government could unite a country that is more bitterly divided than at perhaps any time since the sectarian civil strife of 2006-07."

So few want to admit that.  In part because they whored for Nouri and in part because they lack the ability to they were wrong to cheer Nouri on.  The man was a tyrant and a despot. He had Iraqis rounded up -- usually Sunnis -- mass 'arrests' that lacked arrest warrants.  The people were then lost in the 'legal' system -- often never tried, not on trial once, but kept in prisons.  Some people were arrested with arrest warrants -- for other people!

They have an arrest warrent for Ali al-Mutlaq.  They go to his family's home.  Ali is not present so they arrest Ali's wife, sister, child or parent.  That's not justice.  It is why so many innocents rot in prison -- accused of no crime but held regardless.

Many of the females in Nouri's prison arrived there as a result of being a relative of someone.  Once in prison, many girls and women were assaulted or raped.  Nouri attempted to ignore this when it became the topic of fall 2012.  An investigation by Parliament found that the assaults and rapes were taking place -- this would also be backed up by the work of Human Rights Watch:

Iraqi authorities are detaining thousands of Iraqi women illegally and subjecting many to torture and ill-treatment, including the threat of sexual abuse. Iraq’s weak judiciary, plagued by corruption, frequently bases convictions on coerced confessions, and trial proceedings fall far short of international standards. Many women were detained for months or even years without charge before seeing a judge.
The 105-page report, “‘No One Is Safe’: Abuses of Women in Iraq’s Criminal Justice System,”documents abuses of women in detention based on interviews with women and girls, Sunni and Shia, in prison; their families and lawyers; and medical service providers in the prisons at a time of escalating violence involving security forces and armed groups. Human Rights Watch also reviewed court documents and extensive information received in meetings with Iraqi authorities including Justice, Interior, Defense, and Human Rights ministry officials, and two deputy prime ministers.
“Iraqi security forces and officials act as if brutally abusing women will make the country safer,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “In fact, these women and their relatives have told us that as long as security forces abuse people with impunity, we can only expect security conditions to worsen.”

There was his targeting of Iraq's LGBTQ community.  There was his attack on protesters -- most infamously the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija resulted fvia  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported 53 dead  -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

This is who some people are praising?  This is the real Nouri al-Maliki and they ought to explain how 'great' he is to have earned their praise.

That's why Iraq needed a new prime minister.

On that need,  Martin Chulov (Guardian via Irish Times) explains:

  Iraq risks being torn apart by warring sects unless Haider al-Abadi, the new prime minister, can gather the country’s estranged factions behind him and form a government, senior Iraqi politicians said yesterday.
“This is all or nothing,” said one senior Iraqi official who is hoping for a senior ministry within the new cabinet. “None of us are sure that he can do it. And if he can’t, we are doomed.”

Former State Dept employee Ali Khedery offers, in an essay for the New York Times:

But if anyone has the potential to unite Iraq and hold it together in the face of ISIS terrorism and Iranian meddling, it is Mr. Abadi. In a society where name and upbringing count for a lot, he comes from a respected Baghdad family and was raised in an upscale neighborhood. He studied at one of the capital’s best high schools, earned a degree from one of its top universities and later received a doctorate in engineering in Britain.
While Mr. Maliki spent his years in exile in Iran and Syria and earned degrees in Islamic studies and Arabic literature, Mr. Abadi, a fluent English speaker, worked his own way through his long and costly studies abroad. In meetings over the past decade, Mr. Abadi always impressed me and other American diplomats with his self-effacing humor, humility, willingness to listen and ability to compromise -- extremely rare traits among Iraq’s political elite, and precisely the characteristics that are needed to help heal the wounds Iraqis sustained under Hussein and Mr. Maliki.
“We’ll give Abadi a real chance if for no other reason than because he’s a Baghdadi — not a thug from a village like almost everyone else that’s ruled us since ’58,” a shadowy financier of the Sunni insurgency told me this week.

There are many expectations out there.  Whether al-Abadi can live up to them -- or even half of them -- all eyes are on him for now.    Chelsea J. Carter and Tim Lister (CNN) report:

Abadi is viewed as a moderate and has shown more of a willingness to compromise than al-Maliki, Ranj Alaadin, an Iraqi specialist at Columbia University, told the BBC.
"He is very engaging, articulate and direct," Alaadin told the British network.
Abadi was born in Baghdad in 1952, according to his website.
A long-time member of the Dawa Party -- he is said to have joined as a teenager -- he was one of thousands of prominent Iraqis who left the country during Saddam Hussein's rule.
Abadi left to study abroad after receiving a bachelor's degree in 1975, and stayed away as Hussein tightened his grip on the country. Two of his brothers were not so lucky; they were executed in 1982 for belonging to the Dawa Party. The following year, the regime canceled Abadi's passport.

There are many issues to be addressed.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) runs down some and concludes:

Of all the challenges, any new Iraqi government will have to face, possibly the most frightening and complex is economic.
The country has seen budget deficits rise by as much as a third, last year’s budget has not been approved and this year’s budget has not yet been tabled.
“In 2012 and 2013 Iraq had about US$18billion in its coffers in the Development Fund for Iraq [a fund created to save Iraq’s oil revenues] but this year there’s only about US$5billion, according to figures from the International Monetary Fund,” says local economist and researcher Mathhar Mohammed Saleh. “This is very dangerous. But nobody has really paid it much attention because everyone is busy with political conflicts and security problems.”

The Development Fund is supposed to bridge any budget deficits – but as the deficit gets bigger and the bridging funds get smaller, Iraq may well be facing a serious economic problem.
“Additionally the delay in approving the national budget gave the last government license to spend in an uncontrolled way,” says Iraqi Kurdish politician, Najiba Najib, who was on the previous government’s Finance Committee. “We don’t know how or where the government spent the money but we do know this conflict with the IS group is draining resources.”
Additionally, since 2010, al-Maliki has continually rejected any requests to submit annual accounts to Parliament. The excuse was that government ministries had not sufficiently developed their accounting departments or that there were technical issues. However for a long time it has been thought that these excuses were really just a cover for major corruption.
Iraq has consistently been ranked as one of the most corrupt states in the world by the international watchdog organization, Transparency International.

“The new Prime Minister is going to spend his four-year term searching for solutions to the problems created by al-Maliki,” says local political analyst, Khalid al-Ani. “Al-Maliki has made a lot of enemies and created many problems. His successor cannot possibly solve them all. He needs the cooperation of all political players as well as international support to find solutions.”

Ayad Allawi was the leader of 2010's winning political slate Iraqiya -- they bested Nouri's State of Law.  National Iraqi News Agency reports that he offered a cautionary note today:

Head of the National Coalition Iyad Allawi said on Friday that the Iraq crisis does not depend on changing faces but by putting Iraq on the right road associated with a clear program to solve the Iraq crisis," pointing out that "Abadi is a part of the political structure that ruled Iraq, which is from the womb of Dawa party and we are waiting for what would he do.
Allawi expressed his doubts on the ability of the Abadi to correct the political process, especially as he has come out of the womb of the Dawa Party, and he is the heir to the unique approach of political governance and based on indifference with politicians in Iraq.
He stressed "the need to correct the ways of dialogue with the Kurds, especially because they consider themselves to be part of Iraq, and recognize its sovereignty, and there should be clear rules and explicit to deal with the Kurds and the order of the relationship with them is the most important law (oil and gas). 

Meanwhile, we'll note this Tweet.

Embedded image permalink
Remember that time Obama bragged about ending the war in Iraq? Yeah, me too. '

Lastly, the following community sites were updated since the last snapshot:

  • iraq
    shashank bengali

    all iraq news
    al mada

    Marie Harf assesses Erbil and other things



    Thursday afternoon at the State Dept, spokesperson Marie Harf (pictured above from last week) moderated a briefing which touched on Iraq at length including the below:

    MARIE HARF:  And finally, on Iraq, as you just heard the President say, we said we would break the siege of Mount Sinjar, and indeed have broken the ISIL siege of that mountain, have saved – helped save many innocent lives at the same time. Our assessment team completed its work, found that our food and water had been reaching people trapped there successfully. We successfully struck ISIL targets which allowed people to leave. The Kurdish forces and Yezidis have been working together to lead the evacuation of people from that mountain. A majority of the U.S. military personnel who were part of that assessment team will be departing Iraq in the coming days, as the President said, and of course, there does remain a major humanitarian and security challenges here. We are working with our international partners and the international community to continue fighting both of those threats, but again, at least a little bit of good news coming from Mount Sinjar today.

    QUESTION: Thank you. How would the State Department at this point assess the security of Erbil?

    MS. HARF: In general?

    QUESTION: Yes.

    MS. HARF: Well, you heard the President when he announced last week what – the different steps we would be taking in Iraq. One was to protect the city of Erbil. We believe we have had some progress in pushing ISIL’s advance towards Erbil back. I don't know of any on-the-ground updates more specific than that.

    QUESTION: Okay. Well, as you heard the President say, that airstrikes will continue to protect our people and facilities in Iraq --

    MS. HARF: Yes.

    QUESTION: -- so I’m just wondering, at this point, if those will be immediately necessary considering that ISIL’s been pushed back at least to some extent?

    MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have any prediction about when we’ll take military strikes, and we tend not to say we take them before we take them for, I think, fairly obvious reasons. But under the two goals the President outlined when he announced the military action, we remain and retain the capability to strike at the time and place of our choosing to protect our people, and to protect – with Erbil, it’s obviously a critically, strategically important city. There’s infrastructure there that’s important. So those are all goals that we continue to focus on, and if more strikes are needed, the U.S. military stands ready to take them.

    QUESTION: Right, and I guess I’m trying to get to: What is the urgency of the situation of Erbil today, if you have any updates compared to what it was a week ago when some of these strikes started?

    MS. HARF: Well, I think we’ve made progress in pushing ISIL back from Erbil. I think there’s still a huge threat, though, so I don’t want to downplay that. But I think we have made some progress, taken upwards, I think, of 20 strikes or close to 20 specifically about defending Erbil specifically.

    QUESTION: Twenty specifically on Erbil?

    MS. HARF: Well, there were, I think, 25 strikes now. I think seven of the – seven or eight were around Mount Sinjar. I can check on the exact numbers, but taken over a dozen strikes designed to protect the city of Erbil.

    QUESTION: Okay. And about the number of U.S. personnel in Erbil, first off, do you have any idea of how many of the military personnel will come out, as you just said?

    MS. HARF: A majority. We can check with DOD on specific numbers. I don’t have that in front of me.

    QUESTION: Okay. And how – is there any movement to put State Department employees back in Erbil at this point?

    MS. HARF: There are a number of State Department employees still in Erbil.

    QUESTION: But a number of them came out, so I’m wondering --

    MS. HARF: A small number came out.

    QUESTION: -- will they be returning?

    MS. HARF: I can check and see if we have additional adjustments to our staffing that will be happening. Some of the remaining military personnel will stay to help, particularly at the joint operations center. So that’s being staffed by a number of different American folks to help the Iraqis against this threat, but that’s what they’ll be working on mostly. But I’ll check on the State Department people.

    QUESTION: Thank you.

    QUESTION: To Anbar? We have an interview with the governor of Anbar who says that the United States has agreed to provide support to Anbar in their – or to the authorities in Anbar in their fight against the Islamic State. It’s not clear from his comments precisely what kind of support that would be, but the suggestion is that – or what he says is that their primary desire is for air support. Have U.S. officials made any – and he says these meetings were with American diplomats and military. Has the U.S. Government made any commitments to assist the Iraqi authorities in Anbar?

    MS. HARF: Well, we’ve continued meeting with a range of officials to talk through what the needs might be – the security needs to fight ISIL across the board. Separate from that, you heard the President very clearly outline the current mission that we’re operating under, what the goals of that are. The first is protecting our people and personnel in Erbil, focused on Erbil, and the second was, of course, the humanitarian situation around Mount Sinjar.
    So in general, we will continue talking with Iraqi partners about what the needs might be. Nothing to announce in terms of hypothetically what that might look like in the future beyond sort of what we’ve already said about how we make these decisions. But again, nothing to announce or --

    QUESTION: My reading of the War – thank you for that – my reading of the War Powers Resolution letter that the President sent to the speaker, and as you just reference, is that it would not cover U.S. military assistance in the form of personnel or airstrikes in Anbar. Is that correct?

    MS. HARF: I can take a look at the war powers that we submitted to Congress on this specific – I don’t have that in front of me and I’m not an attorney. But it was focused on these two specific points.

    QUESTION: Exactly, protecting your people in Erbil and --

    MS. HARF: We also do have people in Baghdad, I would remind.

    QUESTION: -- right – and the humanitarian situation in that area.

    MS. HARF: Well, there are only very specific things that trigger a war powers that needs to be submitted to Congress. So separate from war powers, in the general issue, as I said, I don’t have anything to announce or preview about a hypothetical and whether we’ll help in one place in one way. We have a variety of tools we can use to help, and if the United States military has the capability they can bring to bear and the President makes that decision, we can have that conversation then.

    QUESTION: And is he correct that there’s been a commitment made here?

    MS. HARF: I don’t have more details for you than that, Arshad. We’re having conversations about what it might look like in the future, but nothing concrete beyond that.

    QUESTION: But the President did say, though, that “We’ve increased the delivery of military assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the front lines.”

    MS. HARF: Correct.

    QUESTION: I would assume that Fallujah is a front line --

    MS. HARF: Correct. Yes, yes.

    QUESTION: -- as it has been for months.

    MS. HARF: And that’s – I mean, our assistance to them has certainly been ongoing, absolutely. We’ve talked about that quite a bit.

    QUESTION: Marie, can I ask you for more specifics about the situation in the mountain?

    MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yes.

    QUESTION: With the President saying that the siege has been broken, is it your understanding that all these Yezidis who had fled there, that the vast majority of them are now safe, have left? Or are there still some remaining Yezidis who need support?

    MS. HARF: So, yeah. What we know now is that basically there were a number of Yezidis on the mountain. And some had been slowly trickling off, as we talked about in this room a little bit, but the U.S. airstrikes around the base of the mountain, in the vicinity of the mountain to take out ISIL targets really allowed for humanitarian passage off of the mountain and into safer – safer areas. The Kurdish forces and the Yezidis have really been in the lead on this evacuation off of the mountain, which has been a very good thing. There are some remaining Yezidis on the mountain. Some of the – we do know that food and water has been getting through to them. Some eventually may end up staying, a small number, given some actually live there to begin with.
    So we think that the evacuation will continue, will be able to continue. We’re monitoring it, obviously. But as the President said, we don’t at the – it’s not necessarily likely that we’ll have to take additional airdrops there, humanitarian-wise, but obviously we’ll keep monitoring it.

    QUESTION: Sure. I mean, just for our own interest, is there a way to quantify it a bit, of roughly how many --

    MS. HARF: With numbers? I can check on that. There have been a variety of numbers floating around out there. I can check and see.

    QUESTION: Can you speak to that, actually? Because I was --

    MS. HARF: I could say on numbers – just one second – on numbers, we do think that about thousands – and I can see if there’s a more specific number – of Yezidis have been able to evacuate from the mountain each night over the last several days since we’ve really upped the airstrikes around them. They’ve been doing the evacuations at night for obvious security reasons. And that’s, I think, what they’ve been focused on operationally.

    QUESTION: So DOD said today that there were something like 4,000 still left on Sinjar and about half of them were herders who were indigenous and weren’t going to leave anyway.

    MS. HARF: Yeah, that sounds about right.

    QUESTION: I’m just kind of wondering where the 40,000 number that was being kicked around a couple of days ago first surfaced.

    MS. HARF: Well, we think the numbers were in the tens of thousands, certainly. That was our assessment and that remains our assessment. They have been able to be getting off of the mountain, as we said, because we helped open up these corridors here and broke the siege. So the numbers were fairly high. We always said we also didn’t – it’s hard to quantify exactly what the numbers were on that mountain. So --

    QUESTION: Of those who escaped, do you think most of them left by the land corridors, or were airlifted out?

    MS. HARF: Uh-huh, yeah. It’s my understanding through the land corridors.

    QUESTION: Through the land corridors?

    MS. HARF: Yes.

    QUESTION: All right.

    MS. HARF: That’s my understanding.

    QUESTION: Can I go back to Arshad’s question about Anbar? It seems as if the Administration, both from the President on the record and from other officials on background in recent days, have indicated that airstrikes are going to be an open-ended project for the U.S. military because of the threat from Islamic State group. And one official in particular noted the sophisticated capabilities of these fighters, which would indicate that, okay, perhaps they lose some of their equipment and some of their people due to airstrikes, but they can find other ways to get to other parts of the country if that is indeed their intent. Given the ongoing questions about the Iraqi military’s ability to regenerate itself and develop its capability in order to confront IS directly, why isn’t it reasonable to assume that discussions of the sort with the Anbar governor – and it’s his version of events – as well as with other regional leaders across Iraq, aren’t, in fact, happening?

    MS. HARF: I said conversations are happening, Roz. I just said they were happening about how we can best help. I said I don’t have anything up here to confirm about what future action hypothetically we might take.
    And in terms of being open-ended, I mean, what we’ve been – the President was very clear that the missions he authorized were very discrete missions, and that obviously you don’t put an end date – you don’t want to tell the enemy, okay, we’re going to pick up and stop bombing you on this date, right, when you’re talking about a group that is rapidly moving forward. And in part because the situation is so fluid, right?

    QUESTION: Right.

    MS. HARF: So I think that going forward here, the President will continue looking at the situation on the ground, he will continue making decisions based on what’s our national security interest, but at the same time really helping the Iraqis get back on their feet and fight. And I would take issue with a little bit of what you said, that the Iraqis have been able to actually regroup in some ways. They’ve gotten more arms, they’ve gotten more weapons, and they’ve been able to start pushing back against ISIL, particularly working with the Kurds to do that. So I think they are on the right trajectory here. We just need to help some more, and I think they need a little more time, but we’ll keep working with them.

    QUESTION: But how much territory has the Iraqi military been able to retake from IS fighters? How much --

    MS. HARF: I don’t have a percentage for you, Roz.

    QUESTION: I mean, the dam is still under IS control.

    MS. HARF: That is true.

    QUESTION: There are --

    QUESTION: Fallujah.

    QUESTION: Yeah, and Fallujah. I mean, there are still very real gains.

    MS. HARF: Huge challenges, yes.

    QUESTION: Still very real gains. I mean, the President said so himself late last week, this isn’t going to be done in a matter of weeks.

    MS. HARF: I wholeheartedly agree with that.

    QUESTION: So why isn’t it reasonable to assume that there is some focused discussion on expanding U.S. airstrikes across other parts of Iraq, whether or not War Powers letters need to be sent or --

    MS. HARF: We are having constant discussions internally in our own government and with the Iraqis about how we can help – what that looks like, whether that’s our assistance, whether those are our weapons, whether those are our advisors, whether it’s a different military mission, but the President’s been very clear here that there are not going to be troops on the ground in combat roles and that we need to be very deliberate when making decisions about where to use direct military power here. So the conversations are – I’m not saying the conversations aren’t happening. I’m just saying that there’s – I don’t have any new decisions to outline for you about what we may or may not do.

    QUESTION: Well, it seems a bit specious to suggest that there couldn’t be any military actions because in particular, given that Iraq does not have a standing air force with the capabilities of, for example, calling in airstrikes, it looks as if it would be left up to the U.S. to provide that backup that the Iraqi military doesn’t have itself.

    MS. HARF: There’s really like 15 different hypotheticals, and I’m not sure what the overall question you’re asking here is. Are we considering a range of options? Yes. I don’t know how much clearer I can be than that. And the Iraqi air force does have – let’s step back. They do have some ability to conduct air support to operations happening on the ground. They’ve done it with the Kurds particularly recently that we think has been fairly helpful. Are we considering a range of options? Yes. I mean, I’m not sure how much more clear I can be. Are we going to outline what those might look like? No.

    QUESTION: Let me ask it this way if I may: You’ve said from the podium that the decisions were made heretofore in large part based on protecting American people and American facilities in Iraq. That’s why we saw the strikes against Erbil. That was the first piece of evidence used.

    MS. HARF: Yes.

    QUESTION: Laying apart the humanitarian aid aspect of this right now --

    MS. HARF: That was a huge aspect of it though too, but yes.

    QUESTION: Okay.

    MS. HARF: Driving the decision making.

    QUESTION: The humanitarian aid?

    MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

    QUESTION: In Sinjar?

    MS. HARF: Correct. But also taking strikes around it to make sure we can get people off. They went hand in hand.

    QUESTION: Okay.

    MS. HARF: Yeah.

    QUESTION: Well, fine. I guess I’m saying – what I’m asking is: What do you think would change that decision-making process in terms of could the U.S. strike places other than targets where U.S. personnel and facilities are not located?

    MS. HARF: Well, on that though, remember we have folks in Baghdad, so obviously the principle that’s applied to Erbil would, of course, apply to protecting our people in Baghdad. However, we felt it was – we needed to do that (a).

    QUESTION: Right. But you all have said Baghdad’s not under threat --

    MS. HARF: Right.

    QUESTION: -- the way that Erbil is.

    MS. HARF: That’s true.

    QUESTION: But Fallujah is, so that’s the distinction I’m trying to make.

    MS. HARF: Okay. So you’re asking what our decision-making process internally is like about whether and when we take military action?

    QUESTION: I’m asking what would make the decision process change at this point to attack or to launch airstrikes against a city where there are no U.S. interests.

    MS. HARF: Well, we’re looking at every situation in Iraq right now – where there are threats strategically, where ISIL has made gains, where the security forces of Iraq might need more support, and we will make decisions based on the threat picture, on the capabilities we have and that we can bring to bear, based on how we think we could be most helpful. And we’ll continue looking at it on a day-by-day basis. There are meetings every single day looking at what more we might be able to do. And in a lot of these places, we’ve increased our – and I keep talking about this, but it’s important – we’ve increased our eyes on our surveillance and reconnaissance so we can help the Iraqis with targets, help find these guys and go after them.

    QUESTION: Right. But that’s been going in Fallujah for months now, and IS still --

    MS. HARF: It has been, and it’s a really tough fight. And if people think that these things get turned around in a day – I mean, you know that better than anyone. These are – some of these are lengthy, tough fights.

    QUESTION: Completely, and what could turn it around is direct U.S. military intervention.

    MS. HARF: We will keep looking at what the options are and what we think is in our interests, and we’ll keep working with the Iraqis to help them fight against this threat. I just don’t have more to outline for you on what the internal deliberations are like about where and when we take military action in Iraq.

    QUESTION: Okay.

    QUESTION: Marie, can you address reports that Islamic State fighters are massing around the town of Qara Tapa, which is about 70 miles north of Baghdad? Do you have any information on that?

    MS. HARF: I’ve seen some of those reports. I don’t. I’ll check again with our team. I didn’t have anything to confirm that one way or the other. I’m not sure it’s not true; I just don’t know. I’ll check.

    QUESTION: Thank you.

    MS. HARF: Yes. Iraq?

    QUESTION: Yeah.

    MS. HARF: Go ahead.

    QUESTION: You said you had an estimate before of 40,000 people on the --

    MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t say our estimate was 40,000.

    QUESTION: Okay.

    MS. HARF: We actually haven’t set a number from the podium, in part because it was really hard to know. We said tens of thousands.

    QUESTION: Did you have an estimate of the number of ISIS fighters who were at the base? Because it sounds as if – I’m not a military expert, but seven – six, seven military – or airstrikes, rather, to break the siege --

    MS. HARF: Pretty – they’re pretty big airstrikes.

    QUESTION: Right. Well, okay.

    MS. HARF: Pretty big bombs.

    QUESTION: Right. From the CENTCOM readouts, I mean, there were – they were precision
    strikes --

    MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION: -- to clear – seven airstrikes to prevent a genocide; sounds like a pretty good deal. So, I mean, what --

    MS. HARF: I would agree.

    QUESTION: Right. So, I mean, are you looking to – is the President committed to continuing airstrikes to prevent humanitarian catastrophe?

    MS. HARF: Everywhere we see humanitarian crises or situations, we look at the best way to do that. And the best way isn’t always the United States military. And there are a number of humanitarian crises – not just in Iraq – but in other places around the world where the U.S. Government is absolutely very deeply involved with the provision of humanitarian assistance – food, water, shelter, helping people just stay alive in some of these situations. So there’s different tools we can bring to bear, and it’s not always the best one to use the U.S. military.
    Here, there was a discrete – particularly locationally – a situation where, with a very small number of airstrikes – you’re absolutely right – we were able to break the siege of this mountain. That’s not the case everywhere, and that’s – it’s not always the same.

    QUESTION: Sorry, if you got into --

    QUESTION: But --

    MS. HARF: Let me have him finish and then you can go.

    QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was just going to add that is an option that remains on the table in Iraq; theoretically in eastern Syria as well.

    MS. HARF: Certainly, we – well, look, the President has always said we maintain the ability to strike at a time and place of our choosing if we believe it’s in our interest to do so, and he’ll make those decisions going forward.

    QUESTION: I’m sorry if you got into this, but, I mean, one of – a lot of people think that one of ISIS tactics is to make you think that you’ve dispersed them or broke the siege, and then as soon as the – as soon as you leave the area, that they’ll just start again.

    MS. HARF: Well, we have broken the siege of the mountain and --

    QUESTION: For now.

    MS. HARF: Well, the people that were trapped on it, many of them have been able to leave. So that’s been a good thing. The rest of them who will be leaving – a few thousand may remain up there who, I think, lived there before the siege – are being helped off by Kurdish forces, with the Yezidis helping them. So again, we’ve broken the siege of the mountain. It doesn’t mean there’s not a really horrible humanitarian situation in the north of Iraq that we’re going to keep focused on.

    QUESTION: Well, not only a humanitarian situation in terms of aid and things like that, but --

    MS. HARF: Security situation.

    QUESTION: -- there is a security situation.

    MS. HARF: That’s right.

    QUESTION: And you’re not abandoning that?

    MS. HARF: No, not at all. We’re very focused on it. But in terms of the discrete goal of breaking the siege of the mountain, that was done. That doesn’t mean it’s not – as you heard the President say – still a very serious situation.

    QUESTION: Have other countries done enough to help with the humanitarian piece? I mean, there was the --

    MS. HARF: Yes.

    QUESTION: -- the video of the British prime minister standing in front of UK aid pallets and we’re weeks into this crisis, and clearly it’s going to get worse as people are now living in tent cities.

    QUESTION: We have had a number of partners, and I don’t have the full list in here, but I can get it. Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan – I think I’m naming all the people – the EU, a number – and then, of course, Saudi Arabia and other partners in the Gulf really stepping up to the plate here helping on the humanitarian side. We have been heartened by, really, the outpouring of aid here that has come in. We are continuing to have conversations with our partners about what more we can all do.

    QUESTION: How realistic is it to think about trying to get people to go back to their homes, or is this going to be a mission that’s going to have to be carried out over the coming winter?

    MS. HARF: In terms of resettling people in their homes?

    QUESTION: Yeah.

    MS. HARF: Well, obviously, there’s a number of internally displaced people in Iraq, and I think I got some numbers for you – you asked yesterday: 1.4 million Iraqis have been displaced by violence since January; 2.2 million in total since 2004, I think. So a large, large majority of those have been displaced since January. So we’re working with the UN, with – obviously, USAID plays a key role in this – to help those people, to get them food, water, shelter, urgent medical care. Obviously, we want them to be safe, and so the goal at the end of the day may be for some of them to return to their homes, but these places have to be safe. And in the meantime, we want to help them get what they need, the care they need.

    QUESTION: So are we going to be seeing the same kind of IDP camps that resemble Syrian refugee camps?

    MS. HARF: We’ll see. I mean, I don’t – we’re working with the UN on how we can keep these people safe. Whatever the best way to do that is, I think, is probably what we’ll do.

    QUESTION: New subject.

    QUESTION: No, can I ask another on Iraq?

    MS. HARF: Yeah.

    QUESTION: Go ahead.

    QUESTION: Well, if I could just follow up on what you were saying a moment ago. There are a lot of places in the world where there are humanitarian crises, but we don’t necessarily get involved in all of them.

    MS. HARF: No, but we always get – we usually always get involved --

    QUESTION: Militarily.

    MS. HARF: Correct.

    QUESTION: Directly militarily.

    MS. HARF: That’s a key distinction.

    QUESTION: Is sort of the line that’s drawn between where we get involved and where we don’t get involved, is it just a matter of strategic importance? Because we’ve seen other places in the world, as you’ve alluded to, where there have been humanitarian crises leading to the deaths of thousands of people, where the U.S. has very specifically not used the term “genocide,” which it’s used here.

    MS. HARF: Potential for genocide here.

    QUESTION: Potential for genocide here. But those words have not been used in some of these other crises that were – observers on the ground had used the term “genocide” in Central African Republic; beyond that, Sudan, DRC. What is kind of the reasoning? Where do you decide to get directly militarily involved?

    MS. HARF: Right, no, and it’s a good question. And it’s – you can’t draw parallels between any two situations, and we really do judge each of them based on their own merit.
    In Iraq we were responding to a very specific request from the government to help and to augment its security forces’ efforts to supply assistance to its citizens. That’s what we were focused on there. And I think the key part of that is we were working with the government. We also – and this is not something we have everywhere – have significant intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance in Iraq. So we have eyes on, which helps our ability to use military assets in these kind of situations. So we have greater capacity to take military action in places we have more eyes on. That’s not the case everywhere, and it’s not always a viable option to use the U.S. military.
    But in all of those places you mentioned, we have a very robust humanitarian effort, we work with the UN and other international organizations. So we are very deeply involved, just not militarily.

    QUESTION: And then, has – with the siege here having been broken, as the President said, is the potential for genocide lessened?

    MS. HARF: Certainly, but – but – what we’ve seen with ISIL’s barbaric acts against all Iraqis from different sects and backgrounds, there’s a very, very serious threat here. It’s really a nihilistic group that has – I mean, we’ve seen the photos and images. I’m sure all of us have. So while this specific situation has been much alleviated, I think there’s still huge challenges, and we’re still watching it and helping in any way we can.

    QUESTION: But there’s still – I mean, you’ve broken the siege off the mountain, but that doesn’t – as you said, there’s the security situation. And that doesn’t stop ISIL’s kind of desires to eradicate all quote-unquote “infidels.”

    MS. HARF: That’s right.

    QUESTION: So the potential for genocide technically still exists.

    MS. HARF: Right. I was referring specifically on the mountain.

    QUESTION: Right.

    MS. HARF: When we said there was a potential for genocide on this mountain --

    QUESTION: Right.

    MS. HARF: -- that has been, in large part, alleviated. But again, we’re watching and there are still people there, and we want to make sure people get off who want to get off of that mountain, right. But yes, broadly speaking, there is still a potential here for genocide when you have a terrorist group that has said they want to find people just because of their religion and kill them, I think they’ve been pretty clear about what they want to do here.

    QUESTION: Can I ask – you were asked yesterday about the PKK and their involvement.

    MS. HARF: Yes.

    QUESTION: Did you get an answer?

    MS. HARF: I did, a little bit of one. Let’s see what I have here. Our position on the PKK status has not changed. We are aware that there are many groups that are fighting ISIL in northern Iraq. Our efforts are focused on supporting the Government of Iraq, as part of Iraq the KRG, to provide much-needed security assistance to protect Iraq. So again, we know there are many groups here, but our position on the PKK has not changed.

    QUESTION: Have you seen any evidence that the Kurds and the PKK are working together to fight ISIS?

    MS. HARF: I can check with my team, but I don’t have anything for you.

    QUESTION: Please.

    QUESTION: I think the question was whether you were concerned about the possibility of their working together and therefore concerned about the possibility of U.S. military --

    MS. HARF: I think the question was whether we were working with them. But --

    QUESTION: Really? Okay, I thought --

    MS. HARF: You can ask a different question.

    QUESTION: Let me ask it a different way.

    QUESTION: No, I --

    QUESTION: I mean, the question I thought was --

    QUESTION: Yeah, I’m looking for evidence that the Kurds and the PKK were working together.

    MS. HARF: And I said we’re aware that many groups are fighting ISIL in northern Iraq. I can check and see if they’re working together.

    QUESTION: And if they are, or if you think they are, if you have concerns about the possibility of U.S. munitions or anything else that goes to the Kurds ending up with a designated terrorist group.

    MS. HARF: To my knowledge, we are not concerned about that.

    QUESTION: Okay, thank you.

    QUESTION: You’re not concerned about --

    MS. HARF: And I did ask that question.

    QUESTION: Not concerned about in the sense you don’t think that’s happening or will happen?

    MS. HARF: Yeah, it’s not a concern. Obviously, we’re – we look at these things. But I checked with our team, and that didn’t seem to be a concern.

    QUESTION: Thank you.

    QUESTION: Can I ask a political question about Iraq?

    MS. HARF: Yeah.

    QUESTION: Is the current prime minister, Mr. Maliki, being as cooperative as the U.S. and others would hope that he would be during this transition period?

    MS. HARF: Cooperative with us?

    QUESTION: Well, in terms of following the constitutional calendar --

    MS. HARF: Well, the process is moving forward and --

    QUESTION: But he’s still pushing his legal challenge.

    MS. HARF: The process is moving forward, separate and apart from that. And that’s the process the constitution has outlined. We believe that everything’s been done constitutionally and it should proceed.

    QUESTION: Does his pursuit of this lawsuit raise any more concerns in this building about whether the transition to an al-Abadi government will take place as scheduled?

    MS. HARF: Well, I think we could ask – I’ve gotten asked this question every day for the last three days, and what I’ve said is the process is moving forward. We would reject any efforts to use coercion of the judicial process to change what Iraq’s constitutional process is or impact that process, but there’s a process in place. They’re having meetings about forming a government. The prime minister-designate has broad support, including from Prime Minister Maliki’s own party, and that process is moving forward. So I think we hope we can see some more movement in the
    coming days.

    QUESTION: Have any U.S. officials spoken with Prime Minister Maliki since Mr. al-Abadi – I’m going to learn how to say this --

    MS. HARF: I know.

    QUESTION: -- was named by the president last week?

    MS. HARF: We have. We’re not going to outline specifically all of our conversations, but we remain in contact with him and with a variety of Iraq’s leaders.

    QUESTION: Why not?

    MS. HARF: Why not what?

    QUESTION: Why not describe the phone calls, who spoke with him about what topics?

    MS. HARF: Because we don’t always outline our private diplomatic communications, but we’ve remained in contact.

    QUESTION: Is this an effort to basically dismiss him from the public stage?

    MS. HARF: No, this is an effort to see Iraq’s constitutional process move forward as it is outlined in their own constitution.

    QUESTION: But if another country were to do this with the – with President Obama once he comes to the end of his second term, I would imagine that this government would have some real concerns about talking to his successor rather to him since he would still have the legal authorities.

    MS. HARF: I don’t even want to venture to address that sort of ridiculous hypothetical that in no way is comparable to the Iraqi parliamentary process, by the way, which is totally different than our own government system.

    [note headline corrected for spelling and broken code on photo fixed.]


    New found interest in Iraqi women?

    Mariz Tadros (Guardian) writes:

    Evidence that women belonging to the Yazidi and Christian religious minorities in Iraq are being raped and sold into slavery by the Islamic State (Isis) is mounting. One of the first to speak out was Vian Dakheel, the only Yazidi female MP who addressed the Iraqi parliament last week, despite the speaker telling her to be quiet and stick to the agreed statement.
    “Mr Speaker, our women are being taken as slaves and being sold in the slave market,” she said.
    A spokesman for Iraq’s human rights ministry, Kamil Amin, confirmed that the Islamist group had captured Yazidi women under 35 years old, that it is holding them in schools and likely to use them as slaves.

    Why, Tadros wonders, isn't this everywhere?

    Well, first off, western powers have a history of using such events -- real or imagined -- to promote war and justify assaults on people.

    Real or imagined, such events tend to result in 'action' which does nothing to help the women -- see Afghanistan, for example.

    Second, I'm sorry, Tadros, aren't you being ahistorical?

    You are.

    Religious minority women have been targeted since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    You're only just now noticing?

    Are you five-years-old or six?

    Put on your big girl panties, Tadros, cause you're going to need to do a lot of work today to catch up.

    This is not a new development.  It's been going on forever throughout the war.

    And it's get a little bit of attention here and there -- as with most issues having to do with Iraqi women, it's largely ignored.

    The biggest attention the issue received was the faux Romeo & Juliet story from many years ago.  In that one, supposedly a man and a young woman had fallen in love.  They went back to tell her parents and tribe and, if you read Patrick Cockburn's original report, she was hanged.  If you real real news outlets, you know she was stoned to death.

    Regardless, it most likely wasn't the love story promoted but part of the continued efforts to destroy religious minority women in Iraq.

    It has been going on for years, it has been documented by many NGOs but it's suddenly a concern to Tadros?

    What's different?

    Oh, that's right.

    She's connecting it to the Islamic State and Sunnis.

    She's now bothered by an ongoing issue and using it to what?  Motivate action?

    That's why people step away from you and your issue, Tadros.

    It looks less like you care about Iraqi women -- you clearly don't care enough to even do the basic work required to grasp this isn't a Sunni issue -- and more like you're pimping war and are convinced you've found your issue.

    When you can write about it in a manner that doesn't suggest this ongoing, over a decade long problem didn't just start yesterday, people might care about the issue.

    Right now, it just looks like you're attempting to inflame tensions further in order to give the world more war.

    P.S. Where was your tired ass when Sunni women and girls were being tortured and raped in Nouri's jails and prisons?

    Maybe if you'd ever weighed in on that, people would take you a little more seriously.

    In other developments, Al Arabyia News reports:

    Iraq’s most influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, threw his weight behind the new prime minister and said the transition was a rare opportunity to resolve political and security crises, Reuters reported.
    Underscoring the urgency of containing a sectarian conflict fueled by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, Sistani urged the military to hoist only Iraq’s flag to avoid factionalism. The cleric called on lawmakers to meet “historical responsibility,” and cooperate with the Prime Minister designate Haidar al-Abadi to form government.

    Meanwhile Ammar Karim (AFP) sums up the mood, "Iraqis and foreign brokers breathed a sigh of relief Friday after Nuri al-Maliki dropped his bid for a third term as prime minister, a move seen as vital to tackling a spiralling military and humanitarian crisis."

    The e-mail address for this site is

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    Thursday, August 14, 2014

    Iraq snapshot

    Thursday, August 14, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack talks Iraq, Nouri's stepping down, we talk about what promise had to be made for that to happen, and much more.

    This afternoon US President Barack Obama delivered a speech from Martha's Vineyard.  We'll note the section on Iraq.

    First of all, we continue to make progress in carrying out our targeted military operations in Iraq.  Last week, I authorized two limited missions:  protecting our people and facilities inside of Iraq, and a humanitarian operation to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians stranded on a mountain.
    A week ago, we assessed that many thousands of Yezidi men, women and children had abandoned their possessions to take refuge on Mount Sinjar in a desperate attempt to avoid slaughter.  We also knew that ISIL terrorists were killing and enslaving Yezidi civilians in their custody, and laying siege to the mountain. Without food or water, they faced a terrible choice -- starve on the mountain, or be slaughtered on the ground.  That’s when America came to help.
    Over the last week, the U.S. military conducted humanitarian air drops every night –- delivering more than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of fresh water.  We were joined in that effort by the United Kingdom, and other allies pledged support. Our military was able to successfully strike ISIL targets around the mountain, which improved conditions for civilians to evacuate the mountain safely.
    Yesterday, a small team of Americans -– military and civilian -– completed their review of the conditions on the mountain.  They found that food and water have been reaching those in need, and that thousands of people have been evacuating safely each and every night.  The civilians who remain continue to leave, aided by Kurdish forces and Yezidis who are helping to facilitate the safe passage of their families.  So the bottom line is, is that the situation on the mountain has greatly improved and Americans should be very proud of our efforts.
    Because of the skill and professionalism of our military –- and the generosity of our people –- we broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar; we helped vulnerable people reach safety; and we helped save many innocent lives.  Because of these efforts, we do not expect there to be an additional operation to evacuate people off the mountain, and it’s unlikely that we’re going to need to continue humanitarian air drops on the mountain.  The majority of the military personnel who conducted the assessment will be leaving Iraq in the coming days.  And I just want to say that as Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the men and women of our military who carried out this humanitarian operation almost flawlessly.  I’m very grateful to them and I know that those who were trapped on that mountain are extraordinarily grateful as well.
    Now, the situation remains dire for Iraqis subjected to ISIL’s terror throughout the country, and this includes minorities like Yezidis and Iraqi Christians; it also includes Sunnis, Shia and Kurds.  We’re going to be working with our international partners to provide humanitarian assistance to those who are suffering in northern Iraq wherever we have capabilities and we can carry out effective missions like the one we carried out on Mount Sinjar without committing combat troops on the ground. 
    We obviously feel a great urge to provide some humanitarian relief to the situation and I’ve been very encouraged by the interest of our international partners in helping on these kinds of efforts as well.  We will continue air strikes to protect our people and facilities in Iraq.  We have increased the delivery of military assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the front lines. 

    And, perhaps most importantly, we are urging Iraqis to come together to turn the tide against ISIL –- above all, by seizing the enormous opportunity of forming a new, inclusive government under the leadership of Prime Minister-designate Abadi.  I had a chance to speak to Prime Minister-designate Abadi a few days ago, and he spoke about the need for the kind of inclusive government -- a government that speaks to all the people of Iraq -- that is needed right now.  He still has a challenging task in putting a government together, but we are modestly hopeful that the Iraqi government situation is moving in the right direction.

    How smart is Barack?

    He's been hailed as a genius.

    I don't think he is.  I know he was a so-so student -- in a manner that indicates boredom, not a lack of intelligence.  And he has the gift of timing which has allowed him to seize moments in the past.  He now holds a position that tends to make people believe they are infallible and fills them with hubris.

    He's at a fork in the road.

    The smart thing to do is walk out, hail the efforts on behalf of the Yazidis as a success (and I have no problem with that call) and walk out.

    Mitchell Prothero and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) fret:

    Humanitarian aid workers warned Thursday that it was too soon to declare the U.S. mission to aid Yazidi refugees in northern Iraq a success, noting that at least 100,000 residents who fled the Islamic State’s capture of Sinjar now crowd cities and refugee camps and will need humanitarian assistance for months to come.

    Read more here:

    And your point is?

    There are tons of farmers in the US.  Plenty of crops.  Humanitarian aid is not expensive, it can help American farmers, it can do so much to help people in need.

    I'm confused as to why humanitarian aid workers are complaining?  What do they want that hasn't happened?

    Did they want boots on the grounds -- US troops?  Do they still?

    Did they want an open-ended, undefined mission?

    If so, they're not really humanitarian aid workers.

    Bully Boy Bush started an illegal war.  That hangs around his neck forever.

    But he had a tiny window of opportunity where he could have made his image just a little better.  If he'd pulled US troops out of Iraq early on in 2003, his image might not be in tatters now.

    There's a vanity when it comes to leaders, it tells them that, "Sure, every one else has screwed up and destroyed their own legacies but I'm different, I'm special, I'm smart and can pull this off."

    Sadly, that's rarely the case.

    This was a good moment for the US.  Image wise, it was a good moment.

    Good p.r. even.

    Along with hubris, there's also the addiction to applause -- which Barack clearly suffers from.  That addiction can allow you to repeat, can have you singing the same once loved song over and over for the next 30 years.

    So in addition to believing that he can 'take on' Iraq, Barack could also fall into the trap of thinking Iraq's the way for easy bursts of applause.

    Either or both could lead the growing US presence in Iraq to increase even further.

    Barack should take the win, continue humanitarian aid, continue diplomatic relations but not pursue military solutions in Iraq.

    The temptation is there.  To show it can be done 'right' is very tempting and why leaders and officials in Australia, France and England this week and last have been making comments about how they should be involved in the current actions or how they would be more involved than the US government is.

    Everyone wants to be smarter than Bully Boy Bush.

    When it comes to resorting to war, so many lose their intelligence even faster than they lose their reputations.

    Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) observes:

    Last week, when Obama first announced that he had ordered military action against the Islamists, his language was all about limits. These were "targeted airstrikes," he said, with carefully limited goals: protecting American personnel in Kurdistan and rescuing terrified displaced Iraqis on Mt. Sinjar.
    But it didn't take long for the mission to grow. By the weekend, Obama was already talking about "a broader strategy in Iraq," one that would help a new, improved government in Baghdad repel the fighters of the Islamic State entirely.
    "We will continue to provide military assistance and advice to the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces as they battle these terrorists, so that the terrorists cannot establish a permanent safe haven," he said, and added, "This is going to be a long-term project."

    Language did change very fast.  Sarah Mimms and Matt Berman (National Journal) report:

    Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Wednesday that the U.S. is considering sending ground troops into Iraq to help the humanitarian mission to rescue the Yazidis. Military advisers will give their recommendations on the use of troops to the White House in the next few days, following an assessment from about 130 Marines and special-operations forces now in Iraq.
    The distinction here is that these would not be combat troops, as much as ground forces with the specific mission of helping rescue Yazidi refugees. Ground combat with ISIS would not be part of the plan. Whether the humanitarian troops would be forced into combat scenarios is another question entirely, and Rhodes admitted that best laid plans don't always work out. "There are dangers involved in any military operation," Rhodes said.

    I don't buy the idea of Barack The Original Innocent.  Nor do I buy the ludicrous fantasies of some embarrassments on the left (the news dumpster, for example) that Barack would do this or that if he wasn't being controlled by unknown and hidden elements of the government.

    Good or bad, they are his actions and he's responsible for them.

    He went beyond air drops and he got lucky.

    Luck does run out.

    It certainly ran out for Nouri al-Maliki.

    The chief thug and prime minister of Iraq thought he'd had a third term.  He thought that in the lead up to the April 30th elections, he thought that after.  His co-conspirators like 'reporter' Jane Arraf did their part to promote that lie.  He never won the required amount of seats.

    He barely increased his showing from 2010 and that might not have happened if other blocs, seeing a pattern of small blocs benefiting in the 2010 parliamentary elections, hadn't decided to run as part of smaller slates this go round.

    He was not a done deal but damned if his liars didn't tell you he was getting a third term.

    A lot of lies from a lot of places.  Patrick Cockburn bias against Sunnis is well known which is why it was shocking to see Glen Ford citing him favorably in this week's column.

    To repeat, Arabic social media documented Cockburn's bias.  We didn't.  We picked up on it and amplified it for those who read English but not Arabic. His bias is now so widely known that it's noted in Arabic newspapers.

    A lot of people have been misled by him over the years.

    Misled?  Like the greedy woman who wants to bankrupt Pacifica Radio?

    The Goody Whore what's she up to?

    Mishandling Iraq among other things.

    From yesterday's awful broadcast:

    AMY GOODMAN: The situation of what’s happening now in Baghdad with the new prime minister, the current prime minister, and what this all means, who will be the actual prime minister?

    PATRICK COCKBURN: Well, I think, you know, that Maliki is finished. I think he’s been finished for some time. The question was: Would he fight it out? He had military units that were personally loyal to him, but he found that after the new prime minister had been appointed, the Iranians had turned against him. They wouldn’t support him. He didn’t have any outside political support. His own party was disintegrating or would no longer support him. So I think that the transition will happen.
    But I think what is wrong is to think that—almost everything now is being blamed on al-Maliki, both inside and outside Baghdad, that he was the person who provoked the Sunni uprising, he was the hate figure for the Sunni, he produced an army that was riddled with corruption. But I think that it’s exaggerated, that it’s as if there was a magic wand that would be used once al-Maliki had gone. But there were other reasons for this uprising, for the creation of ISIS—notably, the rebellion in Syria in 2011. This changed the regional balance of power. That was a Sunni rebellion, which Iraqi politicians over the last couple of years were always telling me, if the West supports the opposition in Syria, this will destabilize Iraq. And they were dead right. It wasn’t just al-Maliki.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Patrick Cockburn, you mentioned that the current Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is obviously not solely responsible for the situation there now. You’ve also pointed out in a piece that he still retains the support of Iraq’s Shia majority. What do you think the consequences of that will be with this shift in power to Abadi?

    PATRICK COCKBURN: I think he did have that support. I don’t think it’s going to last very long, because he had it because he had portrayed himself as the Shia leader who protected their interests, and he tried to get away from the fact he had presided over one of the greatest military defeats in history, when ISIS took Mosul, by claiming that he’d been stabbed—the army had been stabbed in the back by the Kurds, that there had been treachery. But he still had support because he had power, because he controlled the budget, $100 billion, because he controlled millions of jobs. I think once he’s no longer in control of the executive and the money, that support will diminish very fast. There are millions of Iraqis who have their jobs through Maliki. Now that’s changed, and so will their support.

    First off, there is no "new prime minister."  Please get your damn facts right.

    For the first time ever, the Constitution (Iraqi Constitution) may be followed and enforced.  al-Abadi is the prime minister-designate.  He has a task to complete, a pilgrimage to make.  He must form a Cabinet -- that's nominate for each post and have Parliament vote each one in* and do so in 30 days from his being named prime minister-designate (he was named that Monday).  If not, there will be a new prime minister-designate named by the president of Iraq.

    (*If, for example, he nominated Amy Goodman to be Minister of Misinformation and CIA Liason and the Parliament said no, provided the 30 days were up, he could nominate someone -- or many someones -- for the post and have Parliament vote.)

    As for Patrick Cockburn's ridiculous lies, I'd probably say them too if I had rotten egg all over my face, if I'd whored for Nouri like Patrick did over and over.

    Nouri's not to blame for everything!

    What's even funnier than Patrick's sexual obsession with Nouri -- which leads him to 'magic wands' -- is that part of Nouri's failure -- which whorish Paddy won't note -- is due to magic wands.

    Remember those?  The idiot and crook who sold those around the world is in prison for that.  They supposedly were bomb detectors (and golf bomb finders!).  You held the magic wand and basically jogged in place and it dipped or not depending on whether a car had a bomb or not.

    They do not work.  It was established in court.

    Yet as of this month, Nouri was still making the forces use them in Iraq.

    He couldn't fix the infrastructure or provide potable water but he did provide magical wands.  And his decision to keep using them over a year after the UK verdict means he can't win in a lawsuit.  That money is now lost.  When a huckster sells you something and a court finds his actions were illegal, you immediately file charges and stop using the product.  If you continue using it, you're not going to have any legal standing and Nouri destroyed Iraq's legal standing.  The government's legal standing.  An Iraqi family who lost a loved one due to those magic wands being used at checkpoints would have standing to sue the maker/distributor as well as the Iraqi government -- and Nouri himself once he's out of office.  Remember suing Nouri, we're coming back to that topic.

    If you're not getting how whorish and dishonest Patrick Cockburn is, look at this statement closely:

    I think he did have that support. I don’t think it’s going to last very long, because he had it because he had portrayed himself as the Shia leader who protected their interests, and he tried to get away from the fact he had presided over one of the greatest military defeats in history, when ISIS took Mosul, by claiming that he’d been stabbed—the army had been stabbed in the back by the Kurds, that there had been treachery. 

    Is that what he did, Patrick?

    Hmm.  That's a sanitized version of what he did.  He didn't claim the military was stabbed in the back or treachery, he took to the airwaves and accused of harboring terrorists and of terrorist actions, inciting them.

    This is why Kurds walked out of the Cabinet.  And this isn't 'ancient' history, this took place just weeks ago.

    In a column, Peter Van Buren appears to agree with Patrick.  We should care about Peter's opinion why?  Sexism is the least of his problems.  He writes:

    Despite Maliki throwing the last serious U.S. reconciliation plan under the bus, America stood by and watched the Iranians broker a deal after the 2010 elections that gave Maliki another four years as prime minister. American eyes were on the exit, and Maliki was the devil we knew — a quick fix to declare enough democracy in Iraq so we could get out.

    It takes a whore, Peter proves it takes a whore, in fact, it takes a bordello to keep the lies alive.

    Iran did not "broker a deal after the 2010 elections that gave Maliki another four years as prime minister."


    The US government brokered The Erbil Agreement.  Peter was low level, yes, but he also knows how to read -- or I thought he did -- and should have caught up on reality a long damn time ago.

    For over eight months the political stalemate continued in Iraq after the March 2010 parliamentary elections.  In October of 2010, the Iranian officials did their backing of Nouri.

    Nouri didn't become prime minister then* -- he became it in November, the day after all the political leaders signed off on the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.

    The US gave Nouri his second term via The Erbil Agreement.

    Stop trying to pin everything on the Iranians.  I'm so sick of people who will go to such lengths to erase their own government's actions and rush to blame them on another country.

    I'm also sick of people who don't know how to say "I was wrong."

    I've said it many times.  I've said it many times here.

    I said I was wrong when I disagreed with Justin Raimondo about an issue then-Bradley Manning's attorney was raising.  When I am wrong, I'm okay admitting it.

    I expect to be wrong more than I'm right.

    That's not false modesty (it may be low self-esteem).

    Justin seems to struggle with the words "I was wrong."

    What happens when that's the case?  When you're wrong and events prove you wrong, what happens if you can't say you're wrong?

    Some just act like it never happened and re-adjust their stance or remain silent.

    But Justin appears to belong to the group that digs their heels in, lies -- flat out lies, and tells you night is day.

    That explains his nonsense in his latest column.

    I wanted to like it.

    I saw the headline and thought we might disagree but it would still be a column worth highlighting.

    Wrong. He molests the facts.  That's the only term for it.

    He's flat out lying, cherry picking bits and pieces of broken facts to try to pretend he was right.

    We get it, Justin.  You hate Jesus and you hate any religion that's linked to it even if it's just remotely linked to Jesus.  (And, of course, Justin hates the Jews as well.)

    We get it.

    Every day, you are so damn scared that you might be wrong, that there might be a god of some kind, that you have to rip apart anyone who believes.  We get it.

    I practice no religion.

    That's on me.

    I don't ridicule people who do.

    I don't have to.

    I'm secure in my beliefs.  I don't need to attack people who practice religion or to hate or dislike them.

    So many disappointments.

    Okay, let's go lawsuit.

    Jim Michaels (USA Today) reports, "Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced Thursday night that he is stepping down, ending a political crisis at a time when Islamist militants have seized large swaths of the country and remain on the offensive."

    What happened?

    Nouri's a criminal.

    While Patrick Cockburn's still going down on Nouri, others aren't.

    And Nouri's big problem was solved this evening when he received a series of promises that he wouldn't be prosecuted or sued.

    See, Nouri has a list of people he plans to get even with.  And he was hoping two of those MPs wouldn't be re-elected.  One wasn't.  And a third term for Nouri was going to include persecuting and prosecuting that (now former) MP.

    But Nouri realized something similar could happen to him.

    He's already set a precedent where MPs can be tried.  It's illegal but he's done it.

    Per the Constitution, no one serving in the Parliament can be sued while serving.  The Parliament can vote to strip the person of their office and then they can stand trial.  Otherwise, you're supposed to wait until they're out of office.

    Nouri was afraid of what might befall him.  As an MP but former prime minister, could he be sued?  Or would the new government ignore the Constitution the same way Nouri did?

    In a series of talks, Nouri made clear this was his biggest obstacle to surrendering the office.  It was a minor part of a written list he'd agreed to last week when he agreed to not seek a third term.  However, as Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc noted, Nouri then broke that agreement.

    So with a lot of hand holding and promises, Nouri finally agreed to step down.

    Does everything become perfect now?

    No, it does not.

    But when someone is named prime minister, Iraq will collectively hold its breath to see if they have another Nouri or not.

    Another Nouri means intensified fighting across the country.

    A leader who is inclusive and speaks to the Iraqi identity that voters embraced in the 2009, 2010 and 2013 elections could help pull support from the more extremist elements in the country.

    US Secretary of State John Kerry issued the following statement today:

    Press Statement
    John Kerry
    Washington, DC
    August 14, 2014

    We commend the important and honorable decision by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to support Prime Minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi in his efforts to form a new government and develop a national program in line with Iraq’s constitutional timeline. This milestone decision sets the stage for a historic and peaceful transition of power in Iraq.
    We urge Mr. Abadi and all Iraqi leaders to move expeditiously to complete this process, which is essential to pulling the country together and consolidating the efforts of Iraq’s many diverse communities against the common threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
    Consistent with our Strategic Framework Agreement, the United States stands ready to partner with a new and inclusive government to counter this threat, and we will encourage other countries in the region and international community to do the same.

    And that's where we're going to leave it.  The stuff about Nouri's fears on prosecution comes from 1 White House friend and three State Dept friends.  There's more that's not being discussed and we may go into that in Friday's snapshot.

    nancy a. youssef