Saturday, April 01, 2017

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, April 1, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, The Mosul Slog continues, distortions and lies continue, it's the Iraq War.

As we noted in Wednesday's snapshot of Liar Kevin Liptak (CNN) ridiculous lie that the US is not in combat in Iraq:

It wasn't clear what fighting?  Combat mission ended in 2010?  Primarily advise and assist?
I'm sick of liars, I'm sick of whores.
The US is in combat in Iraq.
By any definition that's reality.

More to the point, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (2/15 through 1/17) spoke of this reality repeatedly to Congress when he served as Secretary of Defense.
I'm getting damn tired of your all bulls**t and lies because you hate Donald Trump.
It became combat the minute war planes -- US war planes -- began bombing in August of 2014.
It was combat before that for the special-ops left behind after the December 2011 drawdown, it remained combat when Barack sent another brigade of special ops in the fall of 2012.
Does Liar Liptak not know what Tim Arango (NEW YORK TIMES) reported in September of 2012:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

All of that's before August of 2014 when then-President Barack Obama begins the daily bombings of Iraq. 

Need another definition?

This is Gen Joseph Votel:

The Counter-ISIS (C-ISIS) Campaign has entered its third year and we are on track with the military plan to defeat the terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria. Our "by, with, and through" approach and operational level simultaneity strategy are working, and our partner forces continue to build momentum across the battlespace as we pressure the enemy on multiple fronts and across all domains. Together we are forcing the enemy to deal with multiple simultaneous dilemmas (e.g., ground operations, airstrikes, cyber activities, information operations, and discrete interdictions of resource flows). This is putting increased pressure on their operations and command and control capability while stretching their limited resources.

Kevin Liptak is an embarrassment.

He's not a reporter.

And we should all hope he's a liar because the alternative would be that he's too stupid to understand what combat is.

Wednesday, the commander of CENTCOM, Gen Joseph Votel, appeared before the House Armed Services Committee.

We'll note these opening remarks.

US House Rep Adam Smith:  The only issue I want to highlight and hopefully have the General discuss a little bit as we continue in Iraq the problem to my mind continues to be that the Baghdad government is not inclusive enough of the Sunni population.  Uhm, I met with a Sunni tribal leader yesterday.  Uhm, you know, certainly Prime Minister Abadi is trying whereas Prime Minister al-Maliki did not.  But there's not been much improvement. There is still a feeling amongst the Sunni population that Baghdad is more -- is closer to Iran than it is to their own Sunni population.  And to my mind, until we fix that problem, whatever happens in Mosul, whatever happens elswehre, if you have a disgruntled, dissatisfied, pushed aside Sunni population in Iraq, you are going to have fertile ground for ISIS, al Qaeda or whatever extremist groups want to exploit is.  So I'm curious to hear what we're doing to try and re-integrate the Sunnis into the Baghdad government so that it is not a Shi'ite sectarian government but a government for Iraq. I think that will be a great challenge going forward.

US House Rep Adam Smith is the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, US House Rep Mac Thornberry is the Chair.

We'll focus on this exchange.

Ranking Member Adam Smith:  If you could answer the question I'd raised in my opening statement about where the Sunni population in Iraq is at right now because it sounds like it's still a very deep divide.  Uhm, and while I concur with the Chairman's comments about the civilian casualties in Mosul, I know that the Sunni population is concerned about the fight that's going on there and the loss of life that is going on there from both sides.  They're also concerned about the Shi'ite militias, Iranian-backed militias, and basically the general feeling that this continues to be a Shia run country that is not making room for the Sunnis.  And that, you know, undermines our entire effort, I think, to defeat these groups.  Is that an inaccurate portrait?  Is it better than that?  And what are we doing to try to -- to try to fix what problems we may have?

Gen Joseph Vogel:  Congressman, the way that I would -- the way that I would characterize is I think in the near term here is -- is as Iraq and assisted by the coalition confronts the ISIS that they're dealing with, there has been some level of local accommodations, some cooperations, some collaborations between different groups really focused on doing this.  I would cite to you our continued efforts to raise tribal forces to bring -- uh, hold forces into -- into these areas -- particularly Sunni areas as, after they have been cleared, we have seen some success with that.  But I would agree with you that, longterm, there is still much work to be done.  I know in my interactions with the prime minister, we frequently talk about this, he is very concerned about it and, uh, and, uh, but also I think recognizes -- uh, uh, the-the balance that will have to be achieved here in the region with a variety of different interests that are ongoing and, uhm, so I-I think he-he-he clearly recognizes that.  But I would agree with you that more will need to be done to ensure that the Sunni population feels, uh, engaged, empowered and, uh, and, uh, a part of -- a part of Iraq and the, uh, Iraqi people. 

Ranking Member Adam Smith: Quick question on that, the issue of arming the Kurds or Sunni tribesmen, there was frustration expressed that they weren't able to get those arms directly and that it is our position -- our country's position that all of that has to go through Baghdad, basically.  Then I understand that.  Is that accurate?  And how is that impacting our ability to arm the Kurds and the Sunni tribesmen that we want to fight with us?

Gen Joseph Vogel: In, uh, I-I-I believe that made -- we've made some good progress on that in the last year.  There certainly were some, uh, some issues with that in the past in terms of how it was done but particularly, uh, as we got focused on the operation for Mosul, I think we had a high level of collaboration and cooperation between the, uh-uh, Kurdistan Regional Government and, uh -- and, uh, government of Iraq, particularly as they prepared their plans and prepared their forces for that operation.  I would highlight to you that I think one of the -- one of the key successes here and I think this has influenced the, uh, government of Iraq is the high - the high level of the coordination that took place at the military levels and the security levels as that operation gets under way -- and that continues to this day. And I do believe that is a basis for moving forward. That said, it's something that we continue to keep our -- to keep our eye on.

You'd stammer through your replies to Adam Smith as well if you were forced to sell no progress at all as some form of progress.

There has been no progress.

Hayder al-Abadi may or may not be trying for reconciliation but he's certainly not achieving it or even moving the country a little bit towards it.

He's a friend of thug Nouri al-Maliki.  He's a member of Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa Party.

Why are we expecting different results?

And why are we pretending, nearly three months into Hayder's reign, that any progress has been made?

It's as awful as Michael Gordon pretending on the pages of THE NEW YORK TIMES that the US bombing of civilians last week was someone else's fault -- or of Chair Mac Thornberry's ridiculous assertion in Wednesday's hearing that ISIS could have brought those corpses (hundreds of corpses) into the bombed housing to make the US look bad.

Ridiculous nonsense.

Not only ridiculous in the face of the corpses but in the face of the victims and their eye witness statements.

- Girl in pleads for help after US airstrike: "My brother is gone! Uncle, please help! My brother has been blown to pieces!"

The US government has spent 14 years not only at war on Iraq but 14 years propping up a government that is not supported by the people and does not represent the people.

That's why the deaths happen and the US government shrugs.

Plan was never to liberate, it was to dominate, to control, via a puppet government.

New report shows the mounting number of civilians that have been killed in Iraq

W.J. Hennigan (LOS ANGELES TIMES) reports, "New data shows air and ground strikes near the Iraqi city of Mosul have resulted in nine civilian deaths and injuries to three others in the ongoing battle against Islamic State, the U.S.-led military coalition announced Saturday. [. . .] The figures, released in a monthly report compiled by the U.S. military, bring the Pentagon's total official civilian death toll to 229 since the air war against the Islamic State group began nearly three years ago."

On the dead, UNAMI issued the following today:

UN Casualties Figures for Iraq for the Month of March 2017
Baghdad, Iraq, 01 April 2017 – A total of 548 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 567 were injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in March 2017*, according to casualty figures recorded by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
The number of civilians killed in March (not including police) was 543, while the number injured (not including police) was 561.
Ninewa was the most affected Governorate, with 541 casualties (367 killed, 174 injured). Baghdad Governorate followed 84 killed and 246 injured, and Salah al-Din had 38 killed and 69 injured.
According to information obtained by UNAMI from the Health Directorate in Anbar, the Governorate suffered a total of 90 civilian casualties (32 killed and 58 injured). Figures are updated until 29 March, inclusive.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Mr. Ján Kubiš, condemned continued deliberate targeting of civilians by the [ISIS] terrorists and praised the Government of Iraq’s efforts to protect civilians during the fighting in Mosul.
“The terrorists have used every possible wicked way to inflict casualties on civilians. Two car bombs killed or wounded many in the Baghdad area last month. In western Mosul, {ISIS] terrorists have forcibly transferred civilians, holding them as human shields as they retreated or at strategic locations in densely populated areas. In cases, [ISIS] has placed civilians in booby-trapped buildings that its terrorists used to launch attacks on government forces, shot at civilians attempting to flee to Iraqi security lines or deliberately shelled civilian areas,” Mr. Kubiš said.
The SRSG said Iraqi Security Forces have spared no effort to protect civilians.
“I welcome the commitment of the Government of Iraq to the protection of civilians in the conduct of military operations and their reiteration that the protection of their citizens is an absolute priority,” Mr. Kubiš said.
CAVEATS: In general, UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in conflict areas. Figures for casualties from Anbar Governorate are provided by the Health Directorate and are noted in the March casualty report. Casualty figures obtained from the Anbar Health Directorate might not fully reflect the real number of casualties in those areas due to the increased volatility of the situation on the ground and the disruption of services. In some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. UNAMI has also received, without being able to verify, reports of large numbers of casualties along with unknown numbers of persons who have died from secondary effects of violence after having fled their homes due to exposure to the elements, lack of water, food, medicines and health care. Since the start of the military operations to retake Mosul and other areas in Ninewa, UNAMI has received several reports of incidents involving civilian casualties, which at times it has been unable to verify. For these reasons, the figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum.
Photo: Bombing in Yousifiyah, southern Baghdad, March 2017
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Remember that the United Nations count was always an undercount but that's even more the case since they cowtowed to the Iraqi prime minister and agreed to stop counting Iraqi military deaths.

It's day 166 of The Mosul Slog.

map update. Green= completely liberated. Orange= frontline clashes. White= control

And still it continues.

As to the CENTCOM commander's attempt Wednesday to make it appear that there was progress in Iraq . . .

Legally, Iraqi parliament's decision over the flag of is not binding to provincial council.

Iraqi parlmnt took 1week 2vote ban on flag in . 13 years later, still no vote -power sharing, hydrocarbons, article140 etc

We will not implement parliament decisions to drop flag on government buildings - government council

The Iraqi Parliament voted and the Kurds are saying, "No, it's not happening."


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