Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hayder's claim to 'leadership'?

Three years into his term as prime minister, and desperate to win re-election next May, Hayder al-Abadi grasps at something -- anything -- to prove he's been an effective leader.

Corruption is still rampant in Iraq.

So is poverty.

Jobs are hard to come by.

The country has fallen further apart.

Not much to point to with any pride.

So Hayder screams that he's defeated ISIS.

Over and over, he announces this as his victory.

Samuel Oakford (AIRWARS) notes:

Ground fighters on all sides of the conflict in Iraq suffered heavy casualties. US military officials have thrown around large numbers — claiming anywhere from 45,000 to 70,000 or more ISIS fighters killed since Coalition operations began. But analysts have questioned whether the number of ISIS fighters in general has tended to be exaggerated, especially by Western militaries.
In the fight for Mosul, elite units like Iraq’s Special Operations Forces were so heavily depleted during fighting — by some estimates they suffered “upwards of 50 percent casualties” in East Mosul — that their role in the more densely packed West was severely diminished.
In March, CENTCOM chief Gen. Joseph Votel said that 774 Iraqi troops had so far been killed in Mosul. US officials have since put the number of Iraqi military dead in Mosul at 1,400. Other estimates place the number even higher: In November 2016, the UN reported that 1,959 members of the Iraqi Security Forces and supporting forces had been killed that month alone in Iraq. After the Iraqi government protested, the UN stopped publishing estimates of government forces killed in the fighting. Many more Peshmerga fighters and irregulars with Popular Mobilization Forces militias also died fighting ISIS.
Partly as a result of this high Iraqi toll, in December 2016 the Obama administration loosened restrictions on who could call in airstrikes, allowing personnel farther down the command chain to do so. That decision allowed faster approval of attacks, which Coalition officials said would help assist ground troops.
However some journalists on the ground have said that this led to an immediate rise in civilian casualties, a toll that only grew as operations in Mosul continued into the city’s West and ultimately ended in a hellish assault on the narrowly packed Old City.

Though civilians, Iraqi forces and members of ISIS were killed in significant numbers, remarkably few Coalition personnel have died during combat operations – a measure not just of battlefield superiority but of how intensively the alliance depended upon remote air and artillery strikes. As of December 15th, just 13 US service members were reported as killed in action during the entirety of Coalition operations in Iraq and Syria going back to 2014. Partners like France have only suffered rare casualties during operations around Mosul, and not from direct fighting.

All the deaths and ISIS is not defeated -- a fact even a Talabani makes today (Bafel Talabani).

In other news, Human Rights Watch notes:

Iraq’s parliament has rejected proposed amendments to Iraq’s Personal Status Law (PSL) that would allow religious judges to impose discriminatory law on family matters, Human Rights Watch said today.
The amendments would have covered areas including inheritance and divorce, and, by giving powers to impose family laws to certain religious communities, would have allowed girls to be married as young as age 8 under some of these laws. The head of the women’s rights committee in parliament rejected the initiative in mid-November, blocking the bill. However, two leading women’s rights organizations say that some parliament members have threatened to continue to push for the amendments to secure votes in some parts of the country in the May 2018 parliamentary elections.

“Parliament’s women’s rights committee has made a great contribution to Iraqi society in rejecting this effort to scuttle Iraq’s family law protections,” said Belkis Wille, senior Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Threats by lawmakers to dismantle protections under the current law and restore discriminatory laws would be devastating to women’s rights.”
Parliament members from several Shia Islamic parties, spearheaded by the Fadhila Party, to which the justice minister belongs, proposed the amendments on November 1. The proposed amendments would enshrine Shia and Sunni religious establishment control over marriage-related matters and require courts to make exceptions to existing legal protections.
Hanaa Edwar, founder and general secretary of Al-Amal Association, a leading Iraqi human rights organization, and a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East Advisory Committee, said the members also threatened to continue to push for the amendments unless the women’s rights committee dropped key protections in a domestic violence bill pending before parliament since 2015.

“The proposed amendments seek to establish sectarianism and undermine the principle of citizenship and national identity of Iraq,” Edwar told Human Rights Watch. “The amendments would violate key rights enshrined in Iraq’s constitution and laws, and would treat women as inferior to men.”


Gorbachev Was Promised No NATO Expansion

By David Swanson

For decades the pretense has been maintained that there is some doubt as to whether the United States really promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that if Germany reunited, then NATO would not expand eastward. The National Security Archive has put such doubts to rest at least until the de-neutering of the internet succeeds.
On January 31, 1990, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher made a major public speech in which, according to the U.S. Embassy in Bonn, he made clear “that the changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an ‘impairment of Soviet security interests.’ Therefore, NATO should rule out an ‘expansion of its territory towards the east, i.e. moving it closer to the Soviet borders.’”
On February 10, 1990, Gorbachev met in Moscow with West German leader Helmut Kohl and gave Soviet assent, in principle, to German unification in NATO, as long as NATO did not expand to the east.
U.S. Secretary of State James Baker said that NATO would not expand eastward when he met with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on February 9, 1990, and when he met with Gorbachev the same day. Baker told Gorbachev three times that NATO would not expand one inch eastward. Baker agreed with Gorbachev’s statement that “NATO expansion is unacceptable.” Baker told Gorbachev that “if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.”
People like to say that Gorbachev should have gotten this in writing.
He did, in the form of the transcript of this meeting.
Baker wrote to Helmut Kohl who would meet with Gorbachev the next day, February 10, 1990: “And then I put the following question to him. Would you prefer to see a united Germany outside of NATO, independent and with no U.S. forces or would you prefer a unified Germany to be tied to NATO, with assurances that NATO’s jurisdiction would not shift one inch eastward from its present position? He answered that the Soviet leadership was giving real thought to all such options [….] He then added, ‘Certainly any extension of the zone of NATO would be unacceptable.’” Baker added in parentheses, for Kohl’s benefit, “By implication, NATO in its current zone might be acceptable.”
Kohl told Gorbachev on February 10, 1990: “We believe that NATO should not expand the sphere of its activity.”
NATO secretary-general Manfred Woerner, in July 1991, told Supreme Soviet deputies “that the NATO Council and he are against the expansion of NATO.”
The message seems to have been consistent and repetitive and completely dishonest. Gorbachev should have gotten it in marble 100-feet high. Maybe that would have worked.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio.He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
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The end of net neutrality and the fight to defend the free internet

From WSWS:

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted Thursday to overturn rules, known as net neutrality, that required internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all data on the internet the same and prohibited them from limiting or blocking users’ access to web sites and services.
The ruling heralds a new age in internet communications, where giant internet and technology monopolies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast regulate what information people have access to.
The decision is of a piece with the moves by Google, Facebook and other social media companies, working closely with the Democratic Party, to censor content online.

Read the full analysis on the WSWS

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Pope Francis is sounding like a Baptist preacher (Margaret Kimberley)

Some Tweets from journalist Margaret Kimberley:

  •   Retweeted
    My latest: how hypocrisy of takes center stage with the fall of many self-professed who hold little respect for women personally
  •   Retweeted
    The Congress is moving a tax bill that only has support of 25% of the people but CNN is talking about Omarosa and, of course, Russia! The scandal is that there is no democracy in the U.S.
  • That is how “moderate rebels” killed children in Syria.
  • The Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases conference begins in Baltimore, MD four weeks from today. I'm among the speakers. Go to the website and register today. You're welcome!
  • is sounding like a Baptist preacher.
  •   Retweeted
    ICE kept 92 immigrants shackled on a plane for two days in "slave ship" conditions, advocates and detainees say
  •   Retweeted
    Here's what Syria looked like in September 2015, a few weeks before the Russian intervention began. Second pic is Syria right now. See all that red in the 2nd pic? That was all liberated by the SAA, Hezbollah, and other allied militias. THEY defeated ISIS in Syria.
  • Exactly. Acknowledging resistance would create cognitive dissonance.
  • didn’t take out . Wall Street did it in coordination with Obama’s FBI. A public/private attack on the right to protest. 2/2
  • So criticized in his presser. Not surprising. He’s a conservative man. But he didn’t crush that movement. The U.S. government (FBI DHS) did. If you didn’t condemn Obama about don’t say anything about Putin now. 1/2
  • . I'm an American who never heard of you until a few days ago. I commend you for defending the human rights of children. The people who condemn you are contemptible.
  •   Retweeted
    Replying to 
    Why doesn't Do Mistura do his job and nudge and his Army to leave or does the ignore ?
  •   Retweeted
    Help get BAP members to a conference on closing U.S. military bases. Contribute tonight! 👉🏿
  •   Retweeted
    Replying to 
    there is no mention of The crimes of empire
  •   Retweeted
    Replying to 
    It's funny how for some people bad things from history are 'in the past and we should move on' but other aspects we should be proud of 🤔
  • Starving Indians during WWII. Torturing Kenyans in the 1950s and then destroying the records of the atrocity. I could go on. Something to be proud of?
  •   Retweeted
    Red Flag over Nepal. My snap assessment of the Communist victory, .
  •   Retweeted
  • Alabama upshot. Republicans will do a better job of vetting candidates. They already have white votes. Declaring love of slavery increased black turn out.
  •   Retweeted
    Literally crying at all the people who suddenly care about black southerners when just months ago they were acting as if the Hurricanes was some sort of Karma.
  • Stop saying that was a progressive victory. DNC chair Tom Perez already let the cat out of the bag. “This election wasn't about right versus left, it was about right versus wrong,” If you want to proclaim a left victory you must look elsewhere.