Saturday, August 01, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, August 1, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, protests return to Iraq in a big way, Haider al-Abadi hails them as an early warning sign, Ayad Allawi calls for the security forces to respect the right of peaceful protests, Turkey continues bombing northern Iraq, Haider al-Abadi compares and contrasts Turkey with Iran, and much more.

Protests swept Iraq today.

التظاهرات الشعبية ضد الفساد الحكومي والفاسدين الذين حكموا وسرقوا باسم الدين وزعموا اتباع آل البيت في حكمهم .

The protests took place in may parts of the country recalling the last wave which kicked off in December 2012 and lasted through January 2014.

Back then, Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister.

  • Basra protesters had complaints.

    They did not have new complaints.

    And while it's true that citizens of Basra had already taken to the streets last month to protest, these complaints go further back.

    They are among the complaints Iraqis made when they kicked off the December 2012 protests.

    These grievances were real and genuine and they remain unaddressed.

    Nouri al-Maliki may be 'gone' (as Mike noted recently, it's hard to call him gone when he is now one of three vice presidents of Iraq) and Haider al-Abadi may be the new prime minister -- for approximately a year now -- but the grievances remain.

    Baghdad saw protests today.

    1. Protestors earlier today in Baghdad singing national anthem and holding flag in protest of corrupt politicians                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

  • Corruption.

    One of the complaints of the 12/12 thru 1/14 protests, yes.

    Also a grievance in the protests that kicked off in January of 2011.

    To stop those protests, Nouri al-Maliki insisted if the protesters would leave the streets, he would end corruption in 100 days.

    Refresher from November 8, 2012:

    In a statement at his website, Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain Najafi declares the cancellation of the card system will have negative consequences.  If corruption was a problem, the statement notes, then this is an indication that the anti-corruption campaign failed.  The Grand Ayatollah is calling for an explanation and says it is needed quickly.

    The anti-corruption campaign is a failure?  That may refer to when Nouri grew nervous as Iraqis took to the streets in large numbers at the start of 2011.  As February was winding down, Nouri was making many promises to try to hold on as prime minister.  The Iraqi people had many demands and many justifiable complaints.  There was the lack of jobs, there was the lack of public services (dependable electricity, potable water, etc.), there was the many 'disappeared' who had vanished in Iraq's 'justice' system.  There was also the issue that they had voted and nothing had changed.  Despite the outcome of the March 2010 election (Iraqiya came in first, Nouri's slate came in second), their votes were overridden.  Nouri remained prime minister.  Jalal remained president.  Why did they even vote?  (This was stated in word in speeches and to reporters and also in signs carried.)  Nouri was spinning like crazy.  And give him 100 days, he'll address corruption, he'll address jobs, he'll pull the moon from the sky and waltz it across Baghdad.

    100 days came and went and nothing.  Nouri plays kick the can with every problem.  That means he refuses to address it.  He kicks on down the road for a later time that never comes.  He hopes to exhaust his rivals and he hopes to exhaust the Iraqi people.  That has been his pattern since 2006.

    He made those promises as the Arab Spring or 'Arab Spring' was sweeping the region and various rulers feared the people might run them out of office.

    Iraq was ignored by the US cheerleaders for the Arab Spring (that would include Corrente which laughable claimed to be live blogging it).

    But the protests in Iraq were rooted in genuine complaints and grievances and when the protests returned in December 2012, it was interesting to watch the Corrente types continue to ignore it -- even when protesters were attacked by government forces, even when Nouri had them attack reporters covering the protests (Corrente, like the New York Times, ignored this -- NPR and the Washington Post were two US outlets that covered the attacks).

    Protests have returned.

    Nouri's 100 days to end corruption in 2011?

    It came and went.

    All that happened was that Adel Abdul-Mahdi departed his post.

    The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq member was one of Iraq's two vice presidents during Nouri al-Maliki's first term -- Tareq al-Hashemi was the other.  He and al-Hashemi were named vice presidents for a second term in November 2010.  Later a third vice president was named.  Iraq dropped back down to two vice presidents after the national protests and Nouri's promise to meet the demands and to address corruption in 100 days.  When Nouri failed to do so, Adel Abudl-Mahdi announced he was resigning and cited the government's inability to address the needs of the people or the corruption.

    Nouri never addressed the corruption.

    The protests have returned.

    And, as All Iraq News notes, the Iraqi Parliament has issued a statement supporting the protests on the issue of the lack of electricity.  Also supporting the electricity protests?  Vice President Ayad Allawi.  Alsumaria notes this and that he's called for the security forces to respect the right of peaceful protest.

    The reason the protests have returned is because Haider al-Abadi has done nothing to address these and other concerns.

  • Iraqi Spring MC notes protests took place in Najaf with the police firing guns just over the heads of protesters.  Alsumaria reports that protesters in Samwah demanded better services.

    Alsumaria reports Haider al-Abadi is calling the protests "an early warning sign" and insisting that austerity policies must be followed.

    Well that's what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) imposes and that's why you never should take their dirty, blood money.  Once you do, they own you.

    Iraq never needed some billions from the IMF.

    Dirty men like the State Dept's Brett McGurk stroked their dirty dicks to orgasm over the IMF loan and cowards like Antonia Juhasz refused to speak out.

  • Statement from the IMF after approving badly needed $1.24 billion in financial support for -

  • Iraq brings in billions from oil each year.  It is not Ethopia.

    It's annual budget is enough to make every Iraqi citizen a millionaire several times over.

    The IMF loan was never about helping Iraq.

    It was about controlling Iraq.

    The clerics in Iraq who warned about it were ignored.

    Betty says this site was the only one to call out the IMF deal in the US.  I hope that's not the case but I honestly am not aware of anyone calling out the deal.  (If you did, the e-mail is and we will gladly note you.)

    Haider al-Abadi was not installed last year by the White House because he was someone who would fight for or protect the Iraqi people.

    He is as corrupt as Nouri.

    No surprise.

    Like Nouri, he is a Dawa Party member and he also was part of Nouri's State of Law coalition and Arabic social media has been filled with video of the two men giddy and giggling over shared secrets.

    Haider was a re-set.

    Anyone could have been.

    But Nouri was so corrupt and so out of control that Iraq could not survive a third term.

    The people of Iraq needed to know that there was a chance at change in some way or form.

    Haider was a re-set.

    And he has failed to change anything.

    Which is why people are again taking to the streets.

    People, of course, include reporters and they staged a sit-in today in Baghdad calling for Article 14 of to be repealed.

    Protests also took place in northern Iraq's KRG where protesters gathered before the KRG Parliament to lodge their objections to the Turkish war planes dropping bombs on the region.

    All Iraq News reports that Haider al-Abadi publicly declared today that Turkey needs to respect Iraq's sovereignty.

    Alsumaria adds that he declared the PKK (the supposed target of Turkey) exists in Turkey and not Iraq and that the Iranian government is also opposed to the PKK but they (the Iranian government) have not bombed Iraq.

    On the first day of the new month, UNAMI releases their death toll figures for July.

  • :Casualty figures 4 July:1,332 Iraqis killed; another 2,108 injured in acts of terrorism,violence&armed conflict

  • Friday, July 31, 2015

    'Helping' Iraq

    The bombs continue to fall from the sky onto Iraq.  Iraqi Spring MC notes dozens of civilians killed and wounded in western Anbar as refugee shelters were among those hit.  Refugees are at risk throughout Iraq.  UNHCR looks at one refugee family:

    Sozan and her family have lived in a plastic tent for the past two years. In the winter, the tent's roof and walls protect her and her four children from the elements, but come summer it turns into an oven.
    Now with Iraq in the midst of the summer's second heatwave, temperatures are regularly topping 50 degrees Celsius, compounding the already difficult lives of hundreds of thousands of refugees like Sozan.
    "You can feel it's like hell, there's no way to describe it," Sozan says. Originally from Qamishli, Syria, she and her family are now sheltering in Kawergosk refugee camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
    This is their second summer living in Iraq as refugees. While Sozan says she is more accustomed to the heat this year than last, this summer's punishingly high temperatures have been particularly difficult to cope with.
    By 9.00 a.m. local time, Sozan and her children are already sweating through their clothing. One by one she takes them into the kitchen area of their tent and gives them bucket showers to help cool them off.

    "This is the only thing that works," she says. "I call it a shower, but they keep [some of] their clothing on, that way it cools them more when it dries."

    And the heat is only rising in Iraq.  It's led to the government announcing a four-day weekend this week.  But while various Iraqi politicians and officials use the break as an excuse to travel outside of Iraq, refugees are, more or less, trapped in refugee camps.   Rudaw reports:

    The recent wave of stifling heat and a lack of electricity has led to the deaths of at least 52 children in refugee camps in less than a week, a Baghdad official said on Friday.

    “After the deaths of these children due to high temperature of 50 degrees Celsius, the government is trying to provide 24-hours electricity and coolers for refugees to save them from heat waves of summer,” said Raad al-Dahlaki, head of the Iraqi parliament's Committee on Immigration and Displacement. 

    And the US government leads a campaign to bomb Iraq from the air and Turkey bombs northern Iraq.

    And this qualifies as 'helping.'

    John Kerry did have an image to worry about.

    It'll be interesting to watch, in the coming years, as he tries to grapple with the many failures in Iraq and how little people care about his Iranian efforts but hold him accountable for what went wrong in Iraq.

    He'll be the new Madeline Albright, with all that entails.

    The following community sites updated:

  • The e-mail address for this site is


    Thursday, July 30, 2015

    Iraq snapshot

    Thursday, July 30, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue,  the US continues dropping bombs on Iraq, Turkey continues dropping bombs on Iraq, it's as though all of Iraq has turned into the Gap Band singing "You Dropped A Bomb On Me," and much more.

    At the Guardian, Sarah Yahya writes about expectations and stereotypes she encounters from some people based upon the fact that she is an Iraqi woman:

    “No one can make you do what you don’t want to do and no one can stop you from doing what you want to do,” my grandmother always said.
    My grandmother is the most acclaimed and respected actress in Iraq. In a career that spanned over 40 years, she shaped the female role in both theatre and television in Iraq. She was the first Mandaean actress in history. Mandaeanism is an ancient and a minority religion that resides in Iraq and Iran, to which we belong.

    My own mother is the first female president of the largest Mandaean association in Australia or anywhere in the world.

    It's easy to bury history.  You can, for example, just hide it under the rubble.

    The US Defense Dept notes that air strikes continued on Iraq today:

    U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
    Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place yesterday, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
    [. . .]
    Airstrikes in Iraq
    Attack, fighter-attack, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 22 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with the government of Iraq:
    -- Near Haditha, eight airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, five ISIL staging areas and as ISIL command and control site and destroyed two ISIL vehicles, three ISIL structures, an ISIL berm, an ISIL IED belt, eight ISIL mortar systems and an ISIL fighting position.
    -- Near Kirkuk, one airstrike struck an ISIL heavy machine gun position.
    -- Near Makhmur, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and three ISIL buildings.
    -- Near Mosul, four airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL bunkers, an ISIL weapon cache, an ISIL excavator and an ISIL light machine gun.
    -- Near Ramadi, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL tank, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL mortar system.
    -- Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL light machine gun and two ISIL fighting positions.

     -- Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL fighting position.

    It was probably stupid for anyone to think that the same US government that went to war on Iraq in 2003 was going to extend a helping hand.

    The US government should be cleaning up the environmental damage done.  The burn pits in Iraq, for example, injured many American troops and contractors.  Those burn pits remain in Iraq polluting the environment whether or not they're used.

    Falluja is a chemical dumping ground due to the weapons -- confirmed and denied -- that the US government ordered used there.

    The birth defects result from this -- as though the US government's biggest export was some sort of play-at-home version of the Love Canal.

    Instead of cleaning up these toxic minefields, the US government now 'helps' Iraq by endlessly bombing it.

    Again, there are many ways to bury history -- among the easiest is to just let rubble fall over it.

    As the day began, the State Dept's Brett McGurk's Twitter feed looked like this.


    But for some reason, Brett began creating new Tweets but backdating them.


    He spent considerable time this morning posting Tweets, newly posted today, but with older dates on them.


    Again, it's very easy to bury history.

    Especially when all involved agree not to ask questions or even speak of what you've done.

    The same press that pretends there's nothing strange about a government employee using his work time to create a false (and public) narrative is the same press that never asks how bombing Iraq from war planes today helps?

    How does it help?

    Is anyone in the press ever going to be brave enough to ask that question?

    Recruitment for the Islamic State is not dropping.  Most estimates have it increasing but it is, at the very least, maintaining its recruitment numbers of the last six months.

    How does dropping bombs on Iraq address the recruiting numbers for the Islamic State?

    Maybe it's one reason there are so many doubts about the 'purity' of the US government's motives?

    RT notes:

    US doesn’t want to resolve the crisis and put an end to Islamic State. On the contrary, it’s eager to exploit the jihadists “to achieve its projects in Iraq,” Qais Khazali, a leader of Iraqi Shiite fighters has said.
    "We believe the United States of America does not want to resolve the crisis, but rather wants to manage the crisis,” Qais Khazali, a leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), an Iraqi Shiite paramilitary group, told Reuters in an interview.

    The US government has carried out a war on Iraq under the pretext of 'helping' Iraq.

    At what time does any sober, thinking person find the honesty to ask: How does dropping bombs on Iraq help the Iraqi people?

    It is long past time for #IraqiLivesMatter.

    There's little honesty in the press corps and that was demonstrated yet again today.

    Background: At the end of last week, Turkey began bombing northern Iraq.

    It did so with the approval of the US government which sought to argue that Turkey had a "right" to bomb Iraq.

    The government of Iraq, however, disagreed.

  • In response, the US State Dept stopped their daily briefings -- no briefings Tuesday or Wednesday.

    Today, the press briefings resumed with spokesperson Mark Toner taking over from Monday's John Kirby.

    And today?

    Not one reporter or 'reporter' bothered to ask the State Dept to explain how they could praise and defend Turkey's bombing of Iraq when the Iraqi government -- a supposed ally of the United States -- was calling the bombings a violation of their national sovereignty?

    Not one.

    It's not that they ignored the bombings.

    It's just that, yet again, no one gave a damn about the Iraqi people.

    QUESTION: Staying with Turkey --

    MR TONER: Yeah, sure.

    QUESTION: -- you indicated earlier – you said the U.S. believes that Turkey’s attacks against the PKK are a form of self-defense. Overall, is there U.S. concern that if these types of attacks continue that it’s going to be destabilizing to the overall U.S.-led mission against the Islamic State?

    MR TONER: Well – and thank you. I can’t reinforce that enough, that the recent PKK attacks, and, of course, the Turkish military response, have nothing to do with our counter-ISIL efforts. And I know that there’s a tendency to lump them together. We’ve been – we can’t be more clear about that. That said, it’s PKK that’s initiated this violence; Turkey’s retaliated in self-defense. But we want to see, obviously, that situation calm down. We want to see the PKK cease violence and return to negotiations, and we would urge the Turkish Government, obviously, to respond proportionately.

    QUESTION: Is there a concern that they have not responded proportionally so far?

    MR TONER: Again, I don’t – these are longstanding issues. This was the PKK that carried out attacks against Turkish military. They have carried out a series of airstrikes in retaliation. I think what we want to see generally is the PKK to stop these attacks so that the situation can calm down.

    QUESTION: Yeah, but do you think that the Turkish airstrikes have been disproportionate?

    MR TONER: No. I would say it’s been in self-defense, and we would --

    QUESTION: So so far --

    MR TONER: -- and that’s been very clearly our line.

    QUESTION: So thus far, at least, what the Turks have done in terms of the airstrikes against the PKK is okay and is in accordance with the U.S.-Turkey understanding on how to go about business, the business of countering ISIL?

    MR TONER: Well, again, I don’t want to – I want to separate the two out. Because what we agreed to in terms of our coordinating closely with Turkey on anti-ISIL efforts is a different thing altogether than these PKK attacks and the strikes carried out by Turkey.

    QUESTION: So you’re saying in conversations with the Turks about this the PKK has not come up once?

    MR TONER: Oh, I don’t necessarily think that. In fact, we – look, our position’s clear. We’re – they’re a foreign terrorist organization. We consult with the Turks a lot on PKK issues. But I think we want to see – just to be clear, we want to see the PKK stop these provocative attacks, and we want to see the Turkish Government respond proportionately.

    QUESTION: Yeah --

    MR TONER: Yeah.

    QUESTION: -- but is there anything having to do with attacks on the PKK that is contained within this understanding that you reached with Ankara?

    MR TONER: No.


    MR TONER: No.

    QUESTION: Okay. So as far as you’re concerned, the Turks can do whatever they want with the PKK in terms of airstrikes, as long as they don’t hit the YPG, the other Kurds?

    MR TONER: Well, again, I think --

    QUESTION: The non-FTO Kurds?

    MR TONER: Right, but I think that we want to see – we want to see this settled down.

    QUESTION: I understand what you want to see, but you’re not going to complain if the Turks continue to attack the PKK.

    MR TONER: No.

    QUESTION: Is that right?

    MR TONER: Well, I don’t know “complain,” but we’ve been very clear that these are separate and that Turkey does have a right to defend itself.

    QUESTION: From a policy perspective rather than a --

    MR TONER: Yeah.

    QUESTION: -- on-the-ground military perspective --

    MR TONER: Yeah.

    QUESTION: -- how does one tell the difference between the PKK and the – how do you tell the difference between a good Kurd and a bad Kurd? And how should the Turks make that distinction? Do they have to wear uniforms that say “FTO” on them, the PKK? (Laughter.)

    MR TONER: Look, Matt, in all honesty --

    QUESTION: Well, I mean, how does this work? It seems like you said “no, not at all” --

    MR TONER: In all --

    QUESTION: -- in response to a question about whether or not this complicates things there.

    MR TONER: We know --

    QUESTION: And I would submit to you that regardless of whether you think it complicates stuff standing in Washington right now, on the ground there it does complicate things.

    MR TONER: Yeah, but there’s – anyway, they’re located geographically in different areas. Again, I don’t want to get into the details about how you tell them apart, but it’s very clear that they are separate entities.

    QUESTION: All right.

    MR TONER: Yeah.

    QUESTION: So your alliances are based on geography? I’m sorry.

    MR TONER: I apologize. That’s --

    QUESTION: You form your alliances based on geography?

    MR TONER: No, no. We just know that the PKK, where they hang out. That’s all I’m clarifying. They’re in northern Iraq mostly is where they base their operations.

    QUESTION: Right, but they’re mobile. I mean, people move, so you can’t – it just can’t be a geographic thing, especially in an area which --

    MR TONER: Understood.

    QUESTION: -- where the lines of the map have become completely blurred.

    MR TONER: I understand – I understood your question, but again, I would refer you to the experts who are following these kind of movements on the ground and can delineate.
    Yeah, please. Go ahead. Sorry.

    QUESTION: Just two questions. The U.S. ambassador in Iraq and General Austin met with President Barzani yesterday. And according to local media reports, they discussed the Turkey-PKK conflict. Do you have anything about the content of those meetings to share with us?

    MR TONER: I don’t, frankly. So I can try to get more of a readout. I don’t know what we – we consult, obviously, all the time with the Kurdish region. But I don’t have any specific readout of that meeting.

    That's a lot of words.

    You can bury reality under many things -- not just rubble, even a barrage of words.

    Bombs aren't falling on an empty regions.

    AFP at least recognizes that and spoke with one of the many targeted by Turkey's bombs:

    Rasul Abdullah Faqi, a father of seven from Inzi, a village at the foot of the Qandil mountains, said the population lived in fear of more air raids. “The strikes hit our village in several spots and we have lost a lot of cattle. Some of our farms were damaged or burned down,” the 40-year-old said.
    He pulled his donkey out of an enclosure to show a makeshift bandage he wrapped around his animal to cover a deep wound.
    “There are no PKK members in my village, they’re further up, quite far from here,” Faqi said.
    “The people are scared, some have left but many are staying and will stay until the bitter end,” he said.

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 194 violent deaths across Iraq today.