Thursday, March 17, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, March 17, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the Islamic State takes credit for a plane crash,  Moqtada al-Sadr's followers get ready to turn out in Baghdad, what might a Hillary Clinton presidency mean, and much more.

In the United States, the battle for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination continues with War Hawk Hillary Clinton competing with Senator Bernie Sanders.  Tuesday saw Clinton win four primaries.

Which doesn't mean the race is over.

  • .: It is absurd to say we should rally behind a candidate when only half the country has voted

  • Though some are calling for the issue to be wrapped up, those who remember Hillary staying in through June of 2008 realize she'll look like a real hypocrite should she or her staff begin floating that Sanders should drop out now.

    There's also the fact that he drives the enthusiasm in the race while she brings with her a certain boredom.

    And there is the fact that she's married to Bill Clinton.

    Bill Clinton who cheated on her when he was governor of Arkansas and when he was president of the United States.

    One of the affairs, with Monica Lewinsky, resulted in impeachment (but no removal from office).

    Once a cheater, always a cheater.

    So what might a Hillary Clinton presidency look like on the evening news?

    Andrea Mitchell:  Good evening, I'm Andrea Mitchell and this is NBC NIGHTLY NEWS WITH LESTER HOLT.  Lester is off tonight.  Our top story?  Former president Bill Clinton refuses to vacate the White House.  First up, we go to NBC analyst and host of MEET THE PRESS Chuck Todd. Chuck?

    Chuck Todd: Andrea, they're calling it 14 Days of Do-Nothing.

    Andrea Mitchell: Who's calling it that, Chuck?

    Chuck Todd: Just me, so far, but I'm really hoping this catchs on.   It was 14 days ago that the world learned of Bill Clinton's affair with actress Bernadette Troy.  The scandal continues because of the inaction on the part of the White House and, today, Ms. Troy's announcement today that she will be selling copies of a sex tape with First Gentleman Bill Clinton.

    Andrea Mitchell:  Now is this 'alleged sex tape' or has anyone actually viewed it?

    Chuck Todd:  Thus far, no one has viewed it.  At midnight, it will begin selling and streaming at iTunes and Amazon.  

    Andrea Mitchell:  And there has been no response as of yet to the announcement or the affair.  Thank you, Chuck.  We'll come back to Chuck later in the program but for now we go to NBC News correspondent Michelle Kosinski who was at the White House earlier today when President Hillary Clinton was joined by UK Prime Minister David Cameron to address the issue of Iran's nuclear program.  But the only questions were about Bernadette Troy.  Michelle?

    Michelle Kosinski:  You are correct on that, Andrea.  Finally facing a group of reporters, President Clinton was on the White House lawn this afternoon.  The press was told that she would speak and then Mr. Cameron would make a few remarks.  There would be no questions.  Someone, Andrea, forgot we have a free press.

    Footage of President Hillary Clinton and David Cameron standing at a podium. 

    President Hillary Clinton: And so it is for this reason that we are giving Iran an ultmatium.  They have until midnight --

    Reporter 1:  What about the sex tape!

    Reporter 2:  Have you seen the sex tape, Madam President!

    Reporter 3:  Are you and the First Gentleman sharing the same bedroom still!

    Reporter 4:  Do you forgive him?

    Michelle Kosinski:  President Clinton's remarks on Iran were a footnote to today's event.  Clearly, America wants to know what is going on.  More to the point, they want an answer to that lonely cry: "Do you forgive him?"  Back to you, Andrea.  

    Andrea Mitchell: Thank you, Michelle, for that report.  To grasp what it all means, we go back to NBC news analyst Chuck Todd.  Chuck, you heard Michelle's report.  What do you make of it?

    Chuck Todd:  Clearly on Day 14 of Do-Nothing, the American people want answers.  They need answers.  Remember, this is not the first time Bill Clinton has cheated on the president.  But this is the first time it's happened -- or known to have happened -- since Hillary Clinton was sworn in as president.  

    Andrea Mitchell:  And what does it mean exactly?

    Chuck Todd: Exactly?  My sources say that this was more than just a Lewinski -- much more.  There was penetration --

    Andrea Mitchell: No, Chuck, what does it mean for the country?

    Chuck Todd: I think what the American people are asking is, "Do you forgive him?"  Does President Clinton forgive her husband Bill?

    Andrea Mitchell: Thank you for breaking that down, Chuck.  We now go to entertainment correspondent and TODAY SHOW host Savannah Guthrie.  Savannah, the whole country still wants to know who Bernadine Troy is?

    Savannah Guthrie:  Well, Andrea, Bernadette Troy in Meadville, Pennsylvania in 1988 and went on to a notable career with an episode of DONNY!, a background player on BEST TIME EVER WITH NEIL PATRICK HARRIS! and contributions to many other shows that ended with an exclamation point.  Troy is possibly most recognized for her work with Tom Beregon on infomercials.

    Andrea Mitchell: So she is acclaimed in her field?

    Savannah Guthrie:  Yes, that is correct.  One observer said, and I'm quoting, "Bernadette is like a young Charo or Joey Heatheron before the drugs."

    Chuck Todd: I said that!  Andrea, I said that.

    Andrea Mitchell:  NBC News analyst Chuck Todd.  Chuck, I understand that you are now being cited as an expert on this topic?

    Chuck Todd:  Yes, Andrea that is correct.  Now --

    Andrea Mitchell:  Excuse me, Chuck, we have Richard Engel standing by.  NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel.  Richard, are you there?

    Richard Engel: Yes, Andrea, I am there or, rather, I am here in downtown Baghdad where protests are breaking out across the region and the root cause of it may be the latest affair of former president Bill Clinton.  In Tehran, the protesters carried signs stating "YANKEE DEVIL WATCH WHERE YOU POKE THAT THING" while in Damascus some signs proclaimed, "YANKEE DEVIL STOP YOUR FORNICATION."

    Andrea Mitchell: And, Richard, I understand that some foreign governments are watching this situation very closely.  

    Richard Engel:  Well in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, leader Kim Jong Un has said that President Hillary Clinton has been bloodied on the world stage insisting that her paralysis on the issue of her marriage is reflective of her larger failure to act on the world stage.  He declared today, and I quote, "Yankee devil Hillary is weak and now is the time to destroy the United States."

    Andrea Mitchell:  Chuck, analysis?

    Chuck Todd:  It would appear President Clinton is being seen as a, quote, "Yankee devil."

    Andrea Mitchell:  Insight!  We'll be right back after these commercial messages.

    In DC today, Secretary of State John Kerry felt the need to speak.

    Felt the need?

    He was under a Congressional order to make a decision by Thursday the 17th as to whether or not the Islamic State was committing genocide.

    Looking like an idiot by waiting until the last minute, Kerry compounded his doofus image by wearing a green tie that was an eye sore and didn't go with the black suit he was wearing.  It was a tired, washed out green.

    We get it, John, you're part Irish.  You can note that with a little lapel pin on St. Patrick's Day, you don't have to wear an ugly tie while holding a news conference.

    John declared the Islamic State "responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims," insisted it was "genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions – in what it says, what it believes, and what it does" and maintained the Islamic State "is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities."

    It was a wordy speech but one bereft of poetry or insight despite the months he had to prepare for it.

    The reaction to the speech?

    A lot of panning.

    For example:

  • Today I wished I be in 's press conference to throw my shoes on his face just like the old days

  • Reactions also included that John Kerry announcing this new status required that certain actions kick in:

  • Since you've denoted ISIS as genocidal, Secretary , why won't the US take in more Syrian & Iraqi refugees for sanctuary?

  • How many Syrian & Iraqi refugees will you accept, President ? Labels like "genocide" come with humanitarian obligations.

  • Meanwhile, John continued to stroke the Shi'ite administration of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi despite the fact that Sunnis continue to be targeted by many Shi'ite militias -- al-Abadi has folded these militias into the official Iraqi forces.

  • MP: militias have kidnapped 1400 civilian men fleeing Anbar. They are being held & tortured south of Baghdad.

  • Meanwhile Moqtada al-Sadr, movement leader and Shi'ite cleric, is calling on his followers to turn out in Baghdad.  STRATFOR describes it as follows:

    Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has organized a sit-in that will take place March 18 near Baghdad's Green Zone. The objective of the protest, like many before it, is to end government corruption and replace members of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Cabinet with technocrat ministers. Widely viewed as a symbol of resistance to Western intervention in Iraq, al-Sadr has significant influence over Shiite public opinion. Because al-Sadr's political coalition lacks the parliamentary votes to disapprove new Cabinet members, he has turned to protest to gain leverage with the government. Previously, al-Sadr had given the government 45 days to implement various reforms. 
    During the 11 days of planned protest — set to end on the day of the reform deadline — 15,000-20,000 registered protesters will take turns occupying tents near the Green Zone's three gates. During a phone conversation with the Iraqi president, al-Sadr stressed that the sit-in is a tool to pressure the government, and both sides emphasized the need to maintain order during the protest.

    Hamdi Alkhshali and Ralph Ellis (CNN) report that an Iraqi military plane carrying five people crashed on Wednesday in nothern Iraq and that the Islamic State is claiming they shot the plane down.  REUTERS shares a photo of what is said to be the wreckage -- the photo was taken in Hawija.

    Hawija is home to the notorious massacre of a few years back, the April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from the Iraqi security forces storming in on the orders of then prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and slaughtering citizens.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

    If indeed the Islamic State did down the Iraqi military plane, it will be seen by some as a highly symbolic action/victory as a result of/response to the 2013 massacre.  It also refutes some of John Kerry's boasts in today's speech.

    Today, the US Defense Dept announced/bragged:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Baghdadi, a strike destroyed an ISIL weapons cache.

    -- Near Rutbah, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit.

    -- Near Beiji, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit.

    -- Near Fallujah, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL staging area and an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Hit, four strikes struck two ISIL weapon factories and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL bomb and an ISIL supply cache.

    -- Near Kirkuk, a strike destroyed an ISIL machine gun position.

    -- Near Kisik, two strikes destroyed three ISIL beddown locations and four ISIL assembly areas.

    -- Near Mosul, nine strikes struck seven ISIL propaganda sites and two ISIL manufacturing factories.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.



    "Saturday" on dateline corrected to Thursday 3/18/16.