Saturday, September 26, 2015

I Hate The War

Nothing changes in Iraq.

The year and counting 'plan' to defeat the Islamic State has failed and yet the plan is to continue it.

Because maybe doing the same thing for another year will somehow miraculously change things.

And maybe pretending Ibraihm al-Jaafari is still prime minister will help?

He seems to think so.

John Irish and Michelle Nichols (Reuters) report that he declared on Friday that "he wants the U.S.-led coalition to bomb more Islamic State targets."

Exactly why is the Foreign Minister making such pronouncements?

Shouldn't it be the prime minister's job to make such statements?

Wait, that would require common sense and there's been no common sense when it comes to addressing the crises in Iraq.

Just more crazy.

Prensa Latina reports, "The UK is to extend the use of surveillance aircraft in Iraq and Syria until next year, the defence secretary has announced. The RAF Sentinel will continue to provide information to British and coalition forces fighting Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists, Michael Fallon said."

I hadn't realized that British troops were "fighting Islamic State (ISIS)" in Iraq.

Had you?

War planes?

But that's what the RAF Sentinel is.

And the sentence reads: "The RAF Sentinel will continue to provide information to British and coalition forces fighting Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists,"

So that's not war planes.

War planes can't "provide information" to themselves.  But they are providing it to some British forces -- presumably on the ground.

More of the same, always more of the same.

Reuters reports, "Iraq's most influential Shi'ite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, reaffirmed on Friday the need for economic and administrative reforms and warned delays would spark a stronger reaction from the streets."

But his influence has waned due to his involvement in politics.  And he never spoke for 100% of Iraqis -- or even 100% of Shi'ite Iraqis.

And the 'reforms' do not address any key problems.

Not even corruption.

Reportedly, the plan Nouri al-Maliki -- former prime minister and forever thug -- is attempting to set for Haider al-Abadi to force him out of office involves corruption -- specifically, Haider protecting a corrupt official.

When Haider was set to appear before Parliament this month but then, shortly after arriving at the building, immediately fled, it was said to be because he'd learned of the trap Nouri planned to lay.

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] 4496.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, Tavis Smiley and Cindy Sheehan -- updated:


  • The e-mail address for this site is

    Friday, September 25, 2015

    Veterans Honor the Fallen in Tunnels to Towers 5K

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following yesterday: 

    NEW YORK, NY (September 24, 2015) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) members are honored to participate once again in the Stephen Siller Tunnels to Towers 5K Run and Walk, Sunday, Sept. 27 in Lower Manhattan. The run, which was the first commemorative event created following 9/11 and has been held on the final weekend of September since 2002, benefits the Stephen Siller Foundation honoring U.S. military and first responders.

    “Connecting returning vets and their families has been a key element for IAVA since its inception,” said Paul Rieckhoff, CEO and Founder of IAVA and 9/11 first responder. “Through these events veterans are able to connect and reunite with a community. This simple idea is empowering, and I can think of no better occasion to connect veterans with one another than the Tunnel to Towers Run. So many of our service men and women were inspired by the heroes of 9/11 and as we walk and run in the footsteps of Stephen Siller we will also be thinking of our lost brothers and sisters in combat.”
    IAVA member veterans, family and friends will also join at a VetTogether on Friday, Sept. 25 at 5 p.m. ET before the run, for a pasta carbo-load dinner. VetTogethers are held nationally and are designed to build camaraderie and help service members stay connected following their return stateside.

    Firefighter and father of five, Stephen Siller, is one of the many remarkable heroes of 9/11. Siller was off duty when the World Trade Center was attacked, and rushed on foot through gridlocked traffic with 60 pounds of gear on his back through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center. Siller was last seen with his brothers of Squad 1, Brooklyn, all of whom died saving others. Participants of the Tunnel to Towers Run retrace Siller’s final footsteps through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center site.

    What began as a runner-led memorial for Siller eventually evolved into ensuring that honor and service is provided to the brave men and women serving in America’s recent wars, as well as courageous first responders who serve domestically every day.

    The run kicks off at 9:30 a.m. ET in Brooklyn. “Team IAVA” will include 40 runners and walkers.

    After the run, IAVA members are invited to a VetTogether at Rieckhoff’s home in Lower Manhattan to relax, enjoy good food and conversation, and reflect on their Tunnel to Towers day. IAVA was founded and is headquartered in New York City.

    Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA has repeatedly received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

    Isakson Statement on Speaker Boehner

    Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office issued the following today:

    Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
    Friday, September 25, 2015
    Marie Gordon, 770-661-0999
    Isakson Statement on Speaker Boehner
    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today released the following statement on the decision by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to resign his post at the end of October:
    “John Boehner has been a close and trusted friend since I first was elected to Congress. While I regret his retirement, I respect his decision and thank him for his unselfish service to the United States. Under John’s leadership, the Republican majority in the House gained strength and worked hard to reduce spending, defend America’s interest internationally, and empower free enterprise. I will miss my friend.”

    Description: Description: cid:image001.gif@01CB9C61.36E8FA70
    Press Secretary

    131 Russell Senate Office Building | Washington, DC 20510
    phone: 202.224.3643 | fax: 202.228.0724

    Visit Johnny’s website to learn more about his work in the Senate and to sign up for his newsletter.

    Iraq snapshot

    Friday, September 25, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the grades are coming in and Barack's getting Fs, RAND has a new report, and much more.

    Starting with a Tweet.

    1. It's revealing that this Australian govt thinks the answer to 's problems is (more) planes and bombs. That's been tried before, people!

  • It's revealing that any US government can only think of  "(more) planes and bombs."

    US President Barack Obama is only the latest American fool to preach "(more) planes and bombs."

    And despite the lack of success for over a year now, he continues to advocate it.

    And others, like the Australian government, rush to join in on the deadly nonsense.

    The stupidity only increases collectively and apparently in unison.

    The rush to join the death club clouds reason and even the abilities of basic observation.

    As RT noted this week, "Over 53,000 flights, 6700 strikes, and nearly $4 billion dollars later, Operation Inherent Resolve has yet to achieve any of its objectives."

    But the desire to join the death club is too powerful to be let facts get in the way.

    Yesterday, the US Defense Dept boasted:

    Bomber, fighter, fighter-attack, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 16 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Huwayjah, an airstrike destroyed 16 ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Habbaniyah, an airstrike destroyed two ISIL anti-air artillery pieces.
    -- Near Kirkuk, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
    -- Near Mosul, six airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicle bomb-making facilities, an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL cache, an ISIL bunker, and suppressed an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL light machine gun, and two ISIL mortar positions.
    -- Near Ramadi, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed two ISIL buildings, an ISIL excavator, and three ISIL mobility obstacles.
    -- Near Sinjar, three airstrikes struck separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed and ISIL light machine gun and six ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Tal Afar, one airstrike suppressed ISIL mortar fire.

    Officials also announced a previously unreported Sept. 10 airstrike near Tal Afar, Iraq, which struck an ISIL tactical unit and resulted in a destroyed vehicle and the death of a senior ISIL leader.

    They boasted of that (and of bombings on Syria) and:

    The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.
    Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

    It was nice of them to provide a listing of all the delusional parties who shouldn't be allowed access to a water gun, let alone a bomb.

    But each day, they boast of their latest round of bombings when they should be embarrassed.

    Not only is it barbaric, but it's accomplished nothing.

    Operation Inherent Failure, led by Barack Obama.

    Is that redundant?

    It feels redundant.

    Bringing up the stupidity from the rear, Michael Knights (Al Jazeera) writes:

    Iraq's Kirkuk province has long been identified as a fulcrum for political and ethnic tensions, with the potential to make or break national reconciliation efforts between Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen. With each passing week, Kirkuk rises on the agenda of Iraqi politicians and the province is becoming a focal point for Arab-Kurdish and intra-Kurdish politicking.
    Kirkuk is currently central to five interlocking sets of conflicts. The first is the fight against the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, which is slowing down in central Iraq and which has been largely static along the Kurdish-ISIL front line for many months. The US-led coalition now needs to generate a new northern front against ISIL that fuses together Sunni Arab paramilitaries with Kurdish and international support. Kirkuk is the launchpad for operations against the adjacent ISIL redoubt in Hawija.

    It's a cute little scribble that never manages to grasp reality.

    Should we drop back to July 2011 for the RAND Corporation's report entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops"?

    From the July 26, 2011 snapshot:

    Of greater interest to us (and something's no one's reported on) is the RAND Corporation's  report entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops."  The 22-page report, authored by Larry Hanauer, Jeffrey Martini and Omar al-Shahery, markets "CBMs" -- "confidence-building measures" -- while arguing this is the answer.  If it strikes you as dangerously simplistic and requiring the the Kurdish region exist in a vacuum where nothing else happens, you may have read the already read the report.  CBMs may strike some as what the US military was engaged in after the Iraqi forces from the central government and the Kurdish peshmerga were constantly at one another's throats and the US military entered into a patrol program with the two where they acted as buffer or marriage counselor.  (And the report admits CBMs are based on that.)  Sunday Prashant Rao (AFP) reported US Col Michael Bowers has announced that, on August 1st, the US military will no longer be patrolling in northern Iraq with the Kurdish forces and forces controlled by Baghdad. That took years.  And had outside actors.  The authors acknowledge:
    ["]Continuing to contain Arab-Kurd tensions will require a neutral third-party arbitrator that can facilitate local CMBs, push for national-level negotiations, and prevent armed conflict between Iraqi and Kurdish troops.  While U.S. civilian entities could help implement CMBs and mediate political talks, the continued presence of U.S. military forces within the disputed internal boundaries would be the most effective way to prevent violent conflict between Arabs and Kurds.["]
    As you read over the report, you may be struck by its failure to state the obvious: If the US government really wanted the issue solved, it would have been solved in the early years of the illegal war.  They don't want it solved.  The Kurds have been the most loyal ally the US has had in the country and, due to that, they don't want to upset them.  However, they're not going to pay back the loyalty with actual support, not when there's so much oil at stake.  So the Kurds were and will continue to be told their interests matter but the US will continue to blow the Kurdish issues off over and over.  Greed trumps loyalty is the message.  (If you doubt it, the Constitution guaranteed a census and referendum on Kirkuk by December 31, 2007.  Not only did the US government install Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister in 2006, they continued to back him for a second term in 2010 despite his failure to follow the Constitution.)
    Along with avoiding that reality, the report seems rather small-minded or, at least, "niche driven."  Again, the authors acknowledge that as well noting that they're not presenting a solution to the problems or ways to reach a solution, just ways to kick the can further down the road and, hopefully, there won't be an explosion that forces the issue any time soon. ("Regional and local CBMs have the potential to keep a lid on inter-communal tensions that will, without question, boil beneath the surface for a long time.  They cannot, however, resolve what is, at its heart, a strategic political dispute that must be resolved at the national level.") Hopefully? Page nine of the report notes that the consensus of US military, officials, analysts, etc. who have worked on the issue is that -- "given enough time -- Arab and Kurdish participants will eventually have a dispute that leads to violence, which will cause the mechanism to degrade or collapse."
    The report notes that, in late 2009, Gen Ray Odierno (top US commander in Iraq at that point) had declared the tensions between Arabs and Kurds to be "the greatest single driver of instability in Iraq."  It doesn't note how the US Ambassador to Iraq when Odierno made those remarks was Chris Hill who dismissed talk of tensions as well as the issue of the oil rich and disputed Kirkuk.
    The authors argue that the unresolved issues could still be solved (and "civil war is not imminent") but that "the window is quickly closing".  So what's the problem?  The authors explain:
    ["]The issues that divide Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and other minorities in northern Iraq mirror the nation's most complex and contentious political challenges: disputed internal boundaries (which must be settled in order to determine the territorial boundaires of the Kurdistan region), the lack of clarity regarding control over Iraq's hydrocarbons, and the need to professionalize and integrate Iraq's military and police.  More locally, Arab-Kurd disputes extend to the sharing of power on local governing bodies, the ethnic composition of local police, rights to previously seized or abandoned property, the jurisidiction and condut of Kurdish security and intelligence services, and protections for minority rights.["]
    If the US military leaves can the US State Dept fill the role?  While the authors note that the State Dept is interested in doing that and might be able to grab some roles, "U.S. diplomats would be ill-suited to join Kurdish and Iraqi security forces on armed patrols or at checkpoints, where disagreements on operations and tactics are more likely to lead to violence." The authors think the United Nations might be able to play a role in the CBMs but acknowledges that in June of 2009, UNAMI was uanble to please either side.
    The report really ends there though the authors continue on -- including offering some ridiculous 'soutions.'  Reality, if the US wanted to make an impact on the issue, the time to do so was long, long ago.  It's an Iraqi decision and they'll have to decide it.  And they'll most likely do so in a violent manner.  The report notes, "Kurdish leaders hope that favorable demographic trends will strengthen their position over time, as will revenues from whatever energy contracts they are able to conclude themselves.  For its part, Baghdad seems to believe that improvements to Iraqi Army capabilities will deter armed conflict and prevent the KRG from seceding."

    The unresolved issue of Kirkuk remains unresolved.

    It is still disputed land.

    The Constitution of Iraq is still not being followed.

    But Knights waives away all of that and insists Kirkuk is the way forward  (obsessed Brit TV watchers would insist Essex is the only way).

    And RAND?  They just issued a report by Brian Michael Jenkins entitled [PDF format warning] "How the Current Conflicts Are Shaping the Future of Syria and Iraq."

     Sectarian and ethnic divisions are now almost entirely driving the conflicts.  At the same time, internecine conflicts continue among the jihadists and other religiously motivated rebel formations.  
    National armies have failed.  Power has shifted to militias.  These are capable of defending ethnic and sectarian enclaves but are limited in their ability to conduct strategic operations beyond their home ground.  This shift will, in turn, weaken central government authority. 
    Syria and Iraq are now effectively partioned, and those partitions are likely to persist.  The Kurds are consolidating their territory, united their enclaves in Syria and Iraq, and laying the foundation for a future independent state, although they have not announced their intention.  Although the Kurds are proving to be effective fighters when supported by coalition bombing, they are unlikely to advance into traditional Sunni areas.  The Syrian government has largely abandoned the Sunni areas of the country and is increasingly devoted to defending its sectarian bastion in western Syria.  The Shia-dominated government in Baghdad has not been able to win over any of Iraq's Sunnis and that will impede its ability to recapture the cities and towns now held by ISIL.  Whether ISIL, despite the bombing campaign and some pressure from Iraqi forces, will be able to consolidate its Islamic State and become the primary political expression of Sunnis in Syria and Iraq or, instead, a Sunni badlands emerge where warfare between armed rivals continue indefinitely, remains to be seen.

    If the new release from RAND were a report card, I have a feeling little Barry would be hiding it from his mother because, if you missed it, Operation Inherent Failure is a failure.

    Even the grade from shop class is dismal.  Ali Khedery (Foreign Affairs) observes:

    In 2010, still flushed with the success of Bush’s “surge,” Vice President Joe Biden forecast that President Barack Obama’s Iraq policy was “going to be one of the great achievements of this administration,” lauding Iraqis for using “the political process, rather than guns, to settle their differences.” And in 2012, even as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was running an increasingly authoritarian and dysfunctional regime, the administration continued its happy talk. “Many predicted that the violence would return and Iraq would slide back toward sectarian war,” said Antony Blinken, then Biden’s national security adviser. “Those predictions proved wrong.”
    Today, of course, the Iraqi army has all but collapsed, despite some $25 billion in U.S. assistance. Shiite militants who have sworn allegiance to Iran’s supreme leader operate with impunity. And the Islamic State (or ISIS) dominates more than a third of Iraq and half of Syria. Obama’s successor will thus certainly earn the distinction of becoming the fifth consecutive president to bomb Iraq.

    Yes, Barack's even failing shop class.

    I heard it in the wind last night
    It sounded like applause
    Chilly now
    End of summer
    No more shiny hot nights
    It was just the arbutus rustling
    And the bumping of the logs
    And the moon swept down black water
    Like an empty spotlight 

    -- "For The Roses," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

    Chilly now.

    Thursday, September 24, 2015

    The annual bungling of the annual cholera outbreak

    The cholera outbreak continues in Iraq.  Press TV notes there are at least 121 cases currently and that Iraq's Ministry of Health spokesperson Rifaq al-Araji "mainly held low water levels in the Euphrates responsible for the cholera outbreak in Iraq, saying that simmering temperatures during summer months may have activated the bacterium that causes the disease."

    And that helps how?

    To its credit,  Reuters notes:

    Cholera is spread mainly through contaminated water and food and, if untreated, can lead to death by dehydration and kidney failure within hours.
    Iraq’s water and sewerage systems are outdated and infrastructure development has been hindered by years of war and neglect. Poor public services were a catalyst for street protests last month in Baghdad.

    The annual cholera outbreak rarely finds people telling the truth.

    Let's drop back to September 13, 2008 for one of the most shameful moments:

    Yesterday, a press conference was held in Baghdad during which is was noted, "The disease is epidemic in Iraq." The disease is cholera. Participating were Iraq's Minster of Health Dr. Salith al-Hasnawi, Dr. Tahseen al-Sheikhly and WHO's Dr. Naeema al-Gasseer (who was a public menace). And there was plenty of time to slam the press, excuse the puppet government, blame individual Iraqis and what has to be seen as encouragement of attacks on Iraqi women. It was a complete embarrassment and the United Nations should be ashamed that a rep for the World Health Organization not only participated but launched her own attacks.
    Dr. al-Sheikhly started the conference insiting that "we decided today that the Iraqi government is going to deal with this topic with total frank". Apparently that decision required him immediately handing off to al-Hasnawi who gave the figures for cholera as "36 confirmed cases: 20 cases in Babil Province, 1 in Maysan, 13 in Karkh District in Baghdad. We had 6 but the confirmative test added 7 -- 3 in Mahmudiyah, 4 in Yusufiyah. Rusafa District had 1 case coming from Kut, it was dected in Rusafa. Today we confirmed a second case in Mada'in."
    Moving from confirmed to suspected cases, he declared, "It is 86 cases: 20 in Maysan, they are new, suspected; 39 in Karkh suspected; 6 in Karbala; 1 in Nasiriyah; 1 in Najaf cases. All of them would cause...would make 86. The mortalities of cholera were 6 only." Later, he would add, "In Hillah now, we have 19 suspected cases."
    "Total frank" flew out the window early on. al-Sheikhly declared there was six deaths from cholera at the opening of the press conference and would later insist "only five death . . . mortalities." The numbers given were in doubt and anyone counting on WHO representative Dr. al-Gasseer to clear up the numbers was hoping in vain. She stayed clear of the number issue although she did find time to play journalism professor: "Media can be negative affect also. Your role is to deliver the information rapidly in order to help us stop spreading the disease." Much later in the press conference, al-Hasnawi would chime in with his own journalism lesson, "The media buzz. it has maybe negative results that would affect the social life and affect the people."
    Iraq doesn't have a free press and while it's easy to snicker at 'advice' from the puppet government, WHO shames itself and the United Nations by participating in attacks on the press in a region that knowingly attacks the press. That was disgraceful and the United Nations should be ashamed for taking part in that farce. They allowed themselves to be a shield. If you're missing that fact, much later in the press conference, al-Sheikhly would reply to a question with, "If you would allow me, I would like the WHO to answer as being neutral side."
    [. . .]
    Admitting that lack of potable water was the cause ("the big reason"), al-Hasnawi declared "the committee is going to have plans. We're going to have rapid procedures and strategies for the long term, for the midterm." Oh really? Much later in the press conference, a timeframe would be mentioned by al-Hasnawi, "Within 10 years, our infrastructure is going to be finished for the first 8 centers and providing treatment and the staff. The outcomes are going to be witnessed after years." Well isn't that something to take pride in? In 10 years, 8 centers (the first eight, mind you) will be functional.
    In addition As-Salam Satellite Channel pointed out that despite promises from Nouri al-Maliki (puppet of the occupation) that villages would receive water tanks, the tanks have not been received. al-Sheikhly replied, "Mr. Prime Minister allocated 16 water tanker to be sent to the areas that are having shortage due to some cuts in the water pipe...waterline. Also, the area that you are talking about, maybe within the coming days they would reach the tank...they would receive a tanker." He went on to declare that the promise was made when a water pipe was broken.
    So why wasn't anything done?
    al-Hasnawi would go on to declare that there was nothing to worry about because WHO was assisting. There is a cholera outbreak and WHO is allowing it to be minimized. al-Hasnawi asserted, "The shortages of medications, who said that the Ministry of Health now needs medications with an expiration to the cholera cases? WHO is present." He then declared of the outbreak, "It happens in everybody -- in every country in the world, not only in the ministry of Iraq." Golly, it's hard to think of another country with all the billions Iraq has (not to mention the billions the US is spending) that faces cholera outbreaks every year.
    As if the press conference could not become more of a joke, the United Nation's figure began not just using outdated terminology ("housewife") but blaming women for the outbreak of cholera, " As you are individual responsible at your house, if you do not control your family – how they cook food, how they wash their food, if the woman...the housewife there does not have correct information about how to deal with food – this is your responsibility. I would tell...there is a formal responsibility and local responsibility."
    The idiot then returned to the issue of lecturing and hectoring the media. Someone explain to the United Nations that the good doctor needs a good ass kicking. That was so shameful and so embarrassing and it sullies the reputation of the UN. And no one needs her climbing on the cross about how 'rough' things are for her: "I cannot call everybody from the international community." No? Well how about you just trying doing your damn job and if that's too much work for you, how about you try finding another job because all you are is a public embarrassment.
    WHO again took an issue of potable water and attempted to turn the puppet government's failures into a lacking in individual Iraqi citizens: ". . . how to deal with food and personal hygiene. I have asked the minister that the clergymen need and do have a big responsibility. They need to spread this line of cleanliness." That statement is all the more offensive when you consider the attacks on women and when you take in what "cleanliness" connates in a fundamentalist society. Repeating, the United Nations SHOULD BE ASHAMED.

    But the annual cholera outbreak provides shame for so many, as is demonstrated year after year.

    Reuters deserves credit for providing the basics (while others just carry the nonsensical ravings of a government spokesperson) but to be really clear, let's go to Doctors Without Borders:

    Cholera often breaks out when there is overcrowding and inadequate access to clean water, trash collection, and proper toilets. It causes profuse diarrhea and vomiting which can lead to death by intense dehydration, sometimes within a matter of hours. 

    The Iraqi people are not at fault.

    And since this go round isn't even mentioning purification tablets, they're actually being failed in ways they weren't in previous outbreaks.

    But the press needs to stop treating this as "Oh My Goodness! Cholera! How Strange!"

    No, how expected.

    It happens every time this year.

    Some times the western press covers it, other times they ignore it.

    But it happens every year.

    And the fault is the Iraqi government.

    There's no excuse for it.

    Oh, the river is low, is it?

    Well you can send in tanks of water (or ice -- Nouri was fond of ice at election time to try to garner votes -- tanks of ice).  You can also get off your corrupt and lazy ass and start working on the public infrastructure which would not only improve health conditions, it would also create jobs and Iraqis -- pay attention the demands of the protesters -- need jobs.

    The cholera story could be covered in so many ways.  Instead, it's treated as though, "Hey, look over here!"  And then it vanishes until next year.  No one ever connects it as an ongoing event.  No one ever makes demands on behalf of the Iraqi people.

    It's headline news, not reporting.

    The following community sites -- plus Black Agenda Report and Cindy Sheehan -- updated:

  • The e-mail address for this site is


    Wednesday, September 23, 2015

    Iraq snapshot

    Wednesday, September 23, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi backs off his reforms or 'reforms,' just in time for the Pope's US visit President Barack Obama remembers Iraq, the cooked intel story is not going away, and much more.

    Today, the State Dept's Deputy Sex Addict Brett McGurk Tweeted:

  • Today with , confirmed $75M for acute needs of Iraqi IDPs & named a special coordinator for 's minorities.

  • And to think, all it took was a face-to-face with the Pope for US President Barack Obama to finally recognize the refugee crisis other countries have been noting for weeks.

    Brett's giddy Barack named a special coordinator for Iraq's minorities?

    Apparently, Brett'll use any excuse to whip it out (but didn't we already know that).

    Otherwise, why not grasp that this "special coordinator" will be about as effective as the ridiculous Daniel Fried who was John Kerry's "Special Advisor on Camp Ashraf" from November 2011 until January 2013 -- and accomplished nothing.


    If you're in doubt, this week former US House Rep Patrick Kennedy penned a column which included:

    My uncle, President John F. Kennedy, managed to negotiate a nuclear deal with a hostile adversary (the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, signed with the Soviet Union in August 1963) while actively supporting, in both rhetoric and to the tune of tens of billions of dollars in funding, the cause of democracy in Eastern bloc countries. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan took the same approach with the USSR by signing the INF Treaty while redoubling the U.S. commitment to democracy behind the Iron Curtain. This strategy kept faith with America's deepest-held values and most vital interests. Sadly, today our government has not pursued a similar course with respect to Iran.
    While my former colleagues in Congress have now given President Barack Obama the votes he needs for a nuclear deal, what's been equally worrisome has been the near total abdication of America's moral authority on promoting democracy and human rights in Iran, both of which were under assault even during the nuclear talks, when we had maximum leverage.
    [. . .]
    The U.S. can start by taking prompt action to protect thousands of Iranian dissidents who languish like sitting ducks in an Iraqi camp we swore to protect but didn't, for fear of alienating the regime from the negotiating table. With the deal done, one would think the Obama administration now has the leverage to save these souls who cast their lot with a secular, democratic, non-nuclear Iran. After years of ambushes and massacres at the hands of Iran-supported forces, these brave men and women should be protected from further attacks at the ironically named Camp Liberty. We must make clear to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that he is responsible for the protection of these Iranian dissidents, and they must be brought to the safety of third-party nations.

    The deal is done, but America's interests and values endure. We must now use the imminent passage of the nuclear pact to renew America's unique commitment to the ideal of democracy and human rights in Iran and stand with the Iranian people and not their oppressors.

    For approximately 14 months, Fried held a role that tasked him with relocating less than 4,000 people.

    And he failed.

    He failed and no one cared and the press didn't even muster a yawn.

    For those who've boarded the plane late, here's an overview on the Ashraf community.  As of September 2013, Camp Ashraf in Iraq is empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty).  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1st.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.  It was during that attack that the 7 hostages were taken.

    The seven remain missing -- though John Kerry and Brett McGurk have insisted to Congress that they know where the 7 are -- and the Ashraf community still needs homes outside of Iraq.

    So Pope Francis comes to the US and suddenly Barack finds another job to create where an advisor will do nothing and accomplish nothing?

    What a proud moment for us all.

    Barack delivered empty words June 19, 2014 when he insisted the only answer for Iraq was a political solution.

    There's no political solution all this time later.

    And the latest US-installed puppet, Haider al-Abadi, is a joke.

    Nour Malas (Wall St. Journal) reports on Haider's reforms or 'reforms' and how Haider's well covered press announcements have not resulted in action -- but Haider "has backtracked" from his promises.

    There is still no National Guard.

    The main thing with the Guard?  This was going to bring Sunnis into the process.

    Persecuted under Nouri al-Maliki, this was going to bring in Sahwa and other elements.

    But apparently, Shi'ites in control do not want Sunnis in the military.

    You may remember the refusal of the Baghdad government to arm the Sunni fighters in Anbar Province -- the months of refusal and foot dragging and only when the US Congress began talking of arming the Sunnis directly did Haider finally start providing the Sunni fighters with arms.

    Malas notes that Iraqi and US officials blame Haider for failing to get Parliament to pass legislation creating the National Guard.

    Malas details how, even operating in secret (and unconstitutionally), Haider was unable to wrest control of Dawa (Shi'ite political party) from former prime minister (and forever thug) Nouri al-Maliki.  And how this and other events have led Haider to back away from his claims and promises.

    Haider held a meeting with Shi'ite military officers and Iran's Qasem Soleimani (Quds Force commander and designated a terrorist by the US government) in which he announced he would propose no more reforms with regards to the military.

    Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing (covered in the Thursday and Friday snapshots) and one topic was raised frequently.  An example.

    Committee Chair John McCain: Indeed this Committee is disturbed by recent whistle-blower allegations that officials at Central Command skewed intelligence assessments to paint an overly positive picture of conditions on the ground.  We are currently investigations these allegations which we take with the upmost seriousness.  The Department of Defense should as well.  And if true, those responsible must be held accountable.


    Senator Claire McCaskill: I understand from your testimony, Gen Austin, that you can't comment on the IG investigation this accusation that people are putting pressure on intelligence analysts to change the tenor of their reports.  It's a serious allegation that strikes at the core of our government in terms of our ability to oversee and make decisions around the use of our military. I want to say, at the end of this investigation, when you can discuss it, I just want to put on the record that I, for one, am going to be watching very carefully about any potential retaliation against any of the men or women that may have come forward with allegations.  It is incredibly important that whistle-blowers be protected in this space and -- depending upon what the investigation finds -- I understand that maybe there are other factors that I am not aware of -- but I just want to put on the record that I will be paying very close attention to how these whistle-blowers are treated in the aftermath of this investigation.

    The cooked intel story is not going away and in the latest development Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo (New York Times) report Gregory Hooker's role:

    As the senior Iraq analyst at Central Command, the military headquarters in Tampa that oversees American military operations across the Middle East and Central Asia, Mr. Hooker is the leader of a group of analysts that is accusing senior commanders of changing intelligence reports to paint an overly optimistic portrait of the American bombing campaign against the Islamic State. The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating. 

    Although the investigation became public weeks ago, the source of the allegations and Mr. Hooker’s role have not been previously known. Interviews with more than a dozen current and former intelligence officials place the dispute directly at the heart of Central Command, with Mr. Hooker and his team in a fight over what Americans should believe about the war.

    Earlier this week,, Shane Harris and Nancy Youssef (The Daily Beast) reported on what was being cooked:

    In some cases, analysts were also urged to state that killing particular ISIS leaders and key officials would diminish the group and lead to its collapse. Many analysts, however, didn’t believe that simply taking out top ISIS leaders would have an enduring effect on overall operations.

    Amnesty International has an online petition regarding Iraq:

    One year after the take-over of Mosul by the group calling itself Islamic State (IS), Iraq is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

    Sectarian violence has spiraled to a level not seen since 2006-2007, the worst period of civil strife in the country’s recent history. IS’s territorial gains have been accompanied by widespread war crimes, including mass killings, abductions, rape and destruction. Hundreds of thousands of people, mainly religious and ethnic minorities, have been forced from their homes. Some 2.8 million people have been displaced by the conflict. Many are living in dire conditions, as the Iraqi central government and Kurdish authorities, as well as the international community, have struggled to provide for even the most basic needs of the growing number.  Many of the displaced have also been denied access to safe areas by both the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) acting out of security concerns but also on sectarian and discriminatory grounds.
    At the same time, Shi’a militias acting with impunity and outside any legal framework, but with the backing of Iraqi government and government forces have been carrying out reprisal attacks against Sunni communities, including mass killings, abductions and destruction of Sunni villages.

    Sign our petition to call on the Iraqi central government, the Kurdistan Regional government and the international community to protect civilians and put an end to human rights abuses

    Call on the Iraqi government  and the Kurdistan Regional government to:

    • Ensure that all allegations of abductions, hostage-taking, enforced disappearance, unlawful killings, including extrajudicial executions and other summary killings, torture and other ill-treatment by members of pro-government militias and members of the security services or armed forces are investigated promptly, thoroughly, transparently and independently;
    Call on the Iraqi central government, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the International community to:

    • Make concerted efforts to ensure that adequate protection and humanitarian assistance including shelter, food, water, sanitation and essential medical assistance is provided to those displaced by the conflict, and that they are allowed a safe passage to safe shelter.
    • When transferring or receiving weapons, adopt a preventive approach and strict safeguards in order to mitigate and remove the substantial risk of the arms being used directly by the intended recipients, or through diversion, to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law

    If you'd like to sign the petition, click here.