Saturday, August 15, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, August 15, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, protests continue, protesters get attacked, Moqtada al-Sadr is among those calling out the attacks, the US government is offended by a bombing but not by the bombing of a maternity hospital, Hillary Clinton finally responds to Jeb Bush's charges, and much more.

Protests continued Friday in Iraq.

  • Iraqi protesters tore Khamenei pic in Baghdad yesterday and said Iran get out from Iraq Down Iran muhalls                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

  • Among those protesting?

    NINA reports:

    Hundreds of Iraqi journalists took part in the grand mass march that took place on Friday afternoon in al-Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, departing from the headquarters of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate.
    [. . .]
    The correspondent pointed out that among the slogans filed by demonstrators are slogans calling for the dissolution of parliament and the prosecute of the corrupt.

    Alsumaria notes thousands turned out to protest in Najaf on Friday. Alsumaria also notes hundreds turned out to protest in Wasit.  As protests swept Iraq for the third consecutive week, those too young to protest mirrored the action of the adults around them.

  • And Iraqi protests were not limited to Iraq on Friday.

    protesters in yesterday Against the corruption of the Iraqi Goverment                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

    Protests also continued today.  Alsumaria reports in Basra, protests protested outside a Korean company Daewoo calling for jobs and 1 demonstrator was shot dead and another left injured apparently by employees of the Korean company.

    As it turns out, that attack was not the first attack on protesters.

    Dar Addustour notes that Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr decried the attacks on protesters.  Iraq Times reports that protesters in Karbala on Friday were attacked by riot police.  And today the Governor of Baghdad, Ali al-Tamimi, called out the Friday attack on protesters.  Dar Addustour reports that the attacks occurred by a Turkish restaurant near Tahrir Square and that the attackers wore anti-riot gear

    In his latest column, As Sheik (Dar Addustur) calls out the "thug actions" of those attacking the protesers and decries the efforts of the state to use its resources to attack peaceful protesters who are only demanding their rights and an end to the continued theft of public money.

    Today, former US Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, now seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, finally responded herself to Jeb Bush's Tuesday charges that she and US President Barack Obama lost Iraq.  BBC News reports:

    On Saturday Ms Clinton responded by saying Mr Bush "should present the entire picture. [That]... includes the agreement George W Bush made with the Maliki government in Iraq that set the end of 2011 as the date to withdraw American troops."

    Reuters has video of  Hillary speaking:

    I think that, uh, what, uh, is being done with ISIS, uh, is very, uh, significant in terms of  the support that the United States is now providing to the Iraqi army to retrain because of what Maliki did to, uh, really start to erode its abilities, to support the Kurds, to try to get the Sunnis back into, uh, the fight against ISIS.  But this has to be an Iraqi-led mission and like anybody who has followed the horrific, barbaric behavior of ISIS, I, uh-uh, I am very committed to supporting the efforts within the region to take on the threat --

    And we'll stop her there.

    She never speaks of the need for political reconciliation.  She never notes any grievances.

    She just wants bombs and more bombs.

    She's also either grossly uninformed or determined to be a liar.

    We will again notes this week's attack on the Falluja maternity hospital.

  • We covered the hospital bombing in Thursday's "Iraq snapshot" and "US outraged by possible chemical attack, not so bothered by the actual bombing of a maternity hospital" and if you think we were overstating the silence of the US government, the day the maternity hospital was bombed, this is what the US State Dept released:

    Press Statement
    John Kirby
    Washington, DC
    August 13, 2015

    The United States condemns in the strongest terms both the ISIL attack this morning at a crowded market place in Baghdad, and the car bomb attacks in Diyala Province on Monday, as well as other recent terrorist attacks against the Iraqi people. We express our deep condolences to family and friends of the victims. These atrocities show once again the utter disregard ISIL has for innocent civilians, including women and children.
    As Iraqis unite against ISIL and turn the tide on the battlefield, ISIL will try to maintain its campaign of terror to sow discord among the Iraqi people. The United States continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi people as they confront ISIL and the violence it represents. We remain committed to working with Prime Minister Al-Abadi, the Iraqi Security Forces, and our partners in the international community to support the Government of Iraq in defeating ISIL and holding this terrorist organization accountable for the atrocities it has committed.

    Not one word about the maternity hospital bombing -- bombed by the Iraqi military.

    Apparently, they were concerned infants would grow up to be terrorists?


  • When the US government cannot call out the bombing of a maternity hospital, they don't look like an honest or fair broker. They look like cheap liars that will embrace murder.

    And more.

    Stephanie Nebehay (Reuters) reported yesterday:

    A U.N. human rights watchdog called on Iraq on Friday to close what it described as secret detention centres where militant suspects, including minors, are "severely tortured".
    The panel of 18 independent experts, who reviewed Iraq's record in preventing torture and ill-treatment last month, had challenged Iraqi officials to name a single person the country had jailed for torture in a justice system that had "gone astray".

    In its findings issued on Friday, the watchdog voiced concern at information pointing to a pattern whereby militant and other high-security suspects, including minors, were arrested without warrants and detained in facilities - especially those run by the defence and interior ministries.

    There's a lot of pretending for Barack Obama to continue his support of the murderous regime governing Iraq today.

    There's a lot of nonsense on Hillary's part when she can't call it out either.

    But Hillary's all about the nonsense these days.

    Former Florida governor Jeb Bush launched his 'attack' on Hillary earlier this week and she 'responded' by having Jake Sullivan speak for her because she's too much of an idiot to speak for herself apparently.  She needed four days to respond to a Bush?

    How stupid do you have to be to need more than five minutes to respond to a Bush?

    In the long gap between Jeb's charge and Hillary's response, many weighed in.

    The centrist offered:

    So, President Bush reluctantly agreed to a withdrawal deadline without leaving behind a residual force because of Maliki’s strong objections. Jeb Bush ignores those facts.
    Still, Obama had three years to negotiate a new agreement prior to the Dec. 31, 2011, withdrawal date to keep some U.S. troops in Iraq. In fact, a day before Bush signed the agreement, Gen. Ray Odierno — the former commander of the U.S. troops in Iraq and current Army chief of staff — said the agreement might be renegotiated depending on conditions on the ground. “Three years is a very long time,” Odierno told the New York Times.
    Leon Panetta, who was Obama’s defense secretary from July 2011 to February 2013, wrote in his 2014 book, “Worthy Fights,” that as the deadline neared “it was clear to me — and many others — that withdrawing all our forces would endanger the fragile stability” in Iraq. As a result, the Obama administration sought to keep 5,000 to 10,000 U.S. combat troops in Iraq, as Sullivan said in his statement.
    But negotiations with Iraq broke down in October 2011 over the issue of whether U.S. troops would be shielded from criminal prosecution by Iraqi authorities. Panetta wrote that Maliki insisted that a new agreement providing immunity to U.S. forces “would have to be submitted to the Iraqi parliament for its approval,” which Panetta said “made reaching agreement very difficult.”
    Very difficult, but Panetta wrote it was not impossible.

    At the right wing Weekly Standard, Derek Harvey offered:

    The Obama/Clinton defense rests on a thin reed of claiming President George W. Bush agreed to an end date for America’s presence in Iraq. This is misleading. The plan was to renegotiate an extension based on the conditions on the ground. U.S. military advisors believed a continued presence was necessary, and our Iraqi partners desired such a presence even if their own politics complicated negotiations to secure it.  Our senior military leaders said that Iraqi security forces were not prepared to succeed without continued U.S. forces as the ISF needed continued enabling support and U.S. higher-end intelligence for counter-terrorism targeting.  Importantly, in October 2011 all but 40 members of Iraqi parliament voted in favor of a continued U.S. military presence, but only the Kurds would openly support the immunity requirements as framed by the administration. Clearly this was a failure to engage early enough and with a commitment to achieving a longer-term presence secure the hard fought gains made by our military. Unfortunately, the Obama strategic team saw this only through a domestic political lens, thinking that if Iraq spun out of control they were immune politically and would just blame George Bush.
    Securing this agreement was a task for diplomacy, but the fact that Secretary Clinton visited Iraq exactly once during her tenure suggests securing this agreement was not terribly high on her agenda.   

    The right wing website Powerline offers excerpts  from an interview Senator Lindsey Graham (vying for the Republican nomination for president in 2016) gave where he makes a point to put the blame on Barack and not Hillary:

    Lindsey Graham: I think it was our fault. The president got the answer he wanted when it comes to troop levels. He wanted zero. He got zero. He promised to end the War in Iraq. He actually lost the War in Iraq.
    But this is something that most people don’t know. I want to make sure you understand. Secretary Clinton called me to go over to Iraq to talk to all the parties to see if we can find a way to achieve a residual force to be left behind. I went with Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman. We met with Mr. Allawi who’s is the Aratia party leader, the former prime minister. He is a Shia, but it was a Sunni coalition. We flew up to meet with President Barzani – not president – but Barzani, the head of the Kurds. … Then we met with Maliki.
    So we had Ambassador Jeffrey – U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and Gen. Austin, the commander of Iraq forces at the time in the meeting with me, Maliki, and McCain. I asked Prime Minister Maliki, “Would you accept troops?” He says, “If other will, I will.” Then he turned to me and said, “How many troops are you talking about?” I turned to Gen. Austin and then Ambassador Jeffrey – “What’s the answer to the prime minister’s question?” Gen. Dreyfuss says, “We’re still working on the number.” The number went from 18,000 recommended by Austin down to 3,000 coming out of the White House.
    General Dempsey answered Senator McCain’s question and my question as to how the numbers went down – “What is because the Iraqis suggest too many?” He said, “No, the cascading numbers came from the White House.” I was there. They were all ready to accept a residual force. But when you get below 3,000, it was a joke. And we got the answer we wanted. I was on the ground. I asked the question. I heard the answer from Gen. Austin – the White House hasn’t made up their mind, yet.

    Hugh Hewitt: Jeb Bush is right. This is truly at the feet of Obama-Clinton.

    Lindsey Graham: You know, Maliki has got a lot of blame for Iraq falling apart, but I lay this at the foot of the President of the United States solely. The Iraqis to a person would’ve accepted a residual force, but he wanted to get to zero. He would never come forth with a number. They never had a number.

    Hillary was not over Iraq.  That's the point Graham's making.  She also wasn't on board with what Barack wanted to do regarding Barack (that's why she asked Graham and others to visit Iraq and speak to the politicians).

    But in terms of the failures in Iraq, the most truth regarding the charges made by Jeb Bush comes from Dexter Filkins at The New Yorker:

    Moreover, I think the Republican argument that a handful of American troops could have saved Iraq misses a larger point. The fundamental problem was American policy—in particular, the American policy of supporting and strengthening Maliki at all costs. Maliki was a militant sectarian his whole life, and the United States should not have been surprised when he continued to act that way once he became Prime Minister. As Emma Sky, who served as a senior adviser to the American military during the war in Iraq, put it, “The problem was the policy, and the policy was to give unconditional support to Nuri al-Maliki.” (Sky’s book, “The Unraveling,” is the essential text on how everything fell apart.) When the Americans helped install him, in 2006, he was a colorless mediocrity with deeply sectarian views. By 2011, he was an unrivalled strongman with control over a vast military and security apparatus. Who enabled that?
    First, it was the Bush White House. Then the Obama White House—Clinton was a part of that team, of course, but the official with primary responsibility for Iraq was Vice-President Joe Biden. Biden was a firm backer of Maliki, because it was through Maliki that the Americans seemed sure of an easy exit.

    The real turning point in Iraq came not in 2011, when the last American troops departed, but in 2010, following national elections there. In the long deadlock that followed the voting, American diplomats backed away, acquiescing to an Iranian-brokered deal to allow Maliki to continue as Prime Minister. The constitutionality of the deal was deeply suspect, but the Americans averted their eyes. The Iranian price for backing Maliki was clear: he would throw out the American troops. “We were so focussed on getting out that we let the Iranians form the government,” Sky said.

    Hillary took forever to respond to Jeb's charges which does not speak well of the campaign she's running.  More importantly, she's gotten a pass for Sullivan's statement that Hillary believes the problem with the Iraq War includes that Bully Boy Bush did not send enough troops in.

    War Hawk Hillary was not an action figure the American public wanted to buy in 2008 and it's doubtful they will in 2016.  Willing to repeatedly remind the American voters that Hillary supported the war and voted for it in 2002 is Lincoln Chafee.  William Petroski (Des Moines Register) reports:

    Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee told Iowa State Fair goers Saturday the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a mistake based on false information and he’s proud he rejected the arguments of the nation’s pro-war leaders.
    Chafee, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, was a Republican serving in the U.S. Senate at the time. He was the only Republican senator to vote against the use of military force against Iraq. Advocates of the war argued force was needed to protect the United States from further terrorist attacks after Sept. 11, 2001.
    “I did my homework and I went down to CIA and I found there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. It was all a hoax,” Chafee said in remarks at The Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox.

    Meanwhile in the ongoing Iraq War, the violence never ends.  Murtada Farag (AP) counts 22 dead from bombs in Baghdad and immediately around Baghdad today.  Margaret Griffis ( counts 99 dead from violence on Friday.

    Friday, August 14, 2015

    US outraged by possible chemical attack, not so bothered by the actual bombing of a maternity hospital

    Yesterday, the State Dept was asked about rumors of the Islamic State using chemical weapons in northern Iraq:

    QUESTION: Iraq.

    MR KIRBY: Yeah.

    QUESTION: The Iraqi Kurds have claimed that ISIS has used chemical – may have used chemical gas against their fighters near Erbil. Is that – have you seen those reports?

    MR KIRBY: I have not.

    Yesterday afternoon, the State Dept's spokesperson John Kirby hadn't even heard of the reports.

    Hours later, unnamed "US officials" ("defense officials") were telling NBC News' Courtney Kube that they believed the Islamic State had used mustard gas.

    Elliot Hannon (Slate) worded it this way:

    American officials believe ISIS likely used chemical weapons in Iraq on Wednesday, a development that for the first time indicates the militant group has obtained outlawed chemical weapons. Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in northern Iraq reported difficulty breathing following an ISIS attack, a worrying sign generally considered an indication of chemical weapons use. U.S. officials believe mustard gas was the chemical agent used.

    The US is highly concerned about this possible use of chemical weapons indicating a sea change of concerns when it comes to chemical weapons in Iraq.

    It was the US that used white phosphorus (admitted after pressed) and depleted uranium (still denying), for example.  The chemical attacks on Falluja, for example, have resulted in birth defects -- a  huge increase -- and the US government has neither apologized nor acknowledged its role.

    So it's good that the US government is finally showing a little bit of concern over the use (or alleged use) of chemical weapons in Iraq.

    The US government should, of course, be even more outraged by the attack on a maternity hospital in Falluja yesterday.

    This attack is not "alleged."  The staff has spoken to the press about it and there is photographic evidence.

    The attack resulted in many deaths including the deaths of infants.

    Of course, the US government and the world press have averted their eyes because the attack was carried out by the Iraqi military (using the war planes the US provided them with).


  • How has Haider al-Abadi and, the prime minister before him, Nouri al-Maliki gotten away with two years of bombing civilians in Falluja?

    Because the world looks the other way.

    Plenty of puffed up chest talk about Iraq and how important it is -- but that all boils down to political football words in the US.  There's no real concern for Iraqis, just efforts to use them and their country for partisan gain.

    Thug Nouri's back in the news:

    Al Baghdadiya TV broadcasted the following report on Thursday, August 13th citing Iraqi government sources:
    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has sent two letters to the Integrity Commission to have this commission immediately begin investigating on a number of corruption files regarding Nouri Maliki and Baha al-Araji. The most important of these files is equipping the army with weapons, selling foreign currency in the Central Bank and granting loans to the provinces.
    According to these sources Haider al-Abadi has emphasized on opening the corruption files of Ahmad Maliki, the son of Maliki.

    File it under "believe it when you see it."

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