Sunday, January 27, 2019

About those US bases in Iraq . . .

Picking up from last night's "Protests in Iraq," where Turkish troops in northern Iraq shot dead one person and left ten more injured.  AFP reports, "Iraq Sunday said it would summon the Turkish ambassador over the death of a Kurdish protester after Turkish troops opened fire on demonstrators in the country’s northwest."  While the Iraqi government registers alarm, the KRG government instead punishes a news outlet.  ANADOLU AGENCY reports:

Iraqi Kurdish authority has shut a private broadcaster in northern city of Duhok on Sunday reportedly over its provocative broadcasting regarding Saturday's attack on Turkish military post.
The NRT TV said its office in the city was raided and sealed off by security forces, and some employees working in the office were also detained and released later on bail. 

I fail to see how censoring journalists aids the Kurdish people.  But then I'm confused also as to why  Turkey has a base in Iraq anyway?  The Iraqi government has not been welcoming of Turkey's military actions.  For example, Mohammed Ebraheem (IRAQI NEWS) reports:

The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday that it summoned Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad Fatih Yıldız in protest at the last week’s bombardment of the town of Shaladze in the autonomous Kurdistan region, which left several people killed and wounded.
The Turkish bombardment “violates our country’s sovereignty and contradicts with fraternal and brotherly ties between the two countries,” Baghdad Today quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

Meanwhile, HAARETZ notes the move in the Iraqi Parliament to push for a vote on removing US troops:

The timing of this proposal is no coincidence. It’s a response to Washington’s announcement of its intent to build more military bases in Iraq as part of its strategy of containing Iran.
But for now, expanding America’s military presence in Iraq is an empty slogan because it’s not based on any plan that could explain the goals of this presence. Continuing the war against the Islamic State might provide a good excuse, but using it would contradict former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s declaration that the Islamic State has been defeated in Iran.                                                     
That assertion, incidentally, proved baseless. According to The New York Times, since Abadi’s announcement, the Islamic State has committed more than 1,200 attacks in Iraq. It remains active in the south and also poses a threat in areas near the Iraqi-Syrian border. 

The issues of the bases has been noted repeatedly this month in snapshots.  RUDAW was the first to note the issue in 2019 -- noting it on January 1st, in fact:

The presence of US troops in Iraq and taking over bases across the country violates Baghdad's strategic agreement with Washington, says an Iraqi lawmaker and member of parliament's defense committee, adding that the parliament will seriously work on the expulsion of all foreign forces.

“Agreements between Iraq and the US were on the pullout of foreign forces from Iraq after 2013," said Badr al-Zaidi, an MP and member of the parliamentary security and defense committee. "But there is another agreement about the staying of a small number of foreign forces to train Iraqi security forces."

Al-Zaidi said that US personnel were taking over many military bases in Iraq.

“Nowadays, we see Iraqi military bases filled with US troops, weapons, ammunition, and airplanes," he told the media in a press conference. "And this is contrary to the bilateral agreement between Iraq and the US."

Switching topics, dropping back to the November 20th snapshot:

Let's again note, Friday evening, Ryan Browne (CNN) reported:

Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher is being charged by the Navy with stabbing and murdering a wounded person, shooting at noncombatants, posing for a photo and performing his re-enlistment ceremony next to a dead body.
Gallagher is being charged with various violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice while deployed to Mosul, Iraq, in 2017, related to the various incidents.
Gallagher "did ... with premeditation, murder a wounded male person" under his care by "stabbing him in the neck and body with a knife" while battling ISIS in Mosul in May 2017, according to the charge sheet dated Friday.
Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence, public affairs officer with the Naval Special Warfare Command, said the Navy is taking the allegations seriously.

These charges are charges.  No one has been tried yet.  He has had an Article 32 hearing.  That's not a trial, it's like a hearing in civilian courts where a plea is entered before someone goes onto a trial.  It's purpose is to determine whether there is a need to go forward with a trial (they are determining probabilities -- going forward says there are probabilities -- it does not determine the person is guilty).  Gidget Fuentes (NAVY TIMES) notes:
But during two days of testimony in his Article 32 hearing here, Gallagher’s criminal defense attorneys painted a different picture of the highly-decorated SEAL, describing him as a battle-hardened hospital corpsman who properly treated a gravely-wounded ISIS fighter, only to have his reputation smeared by a handful of spiteful SEAL malcontents in the 19-man platoon who griped about his gruff leadership style.
Gallagher, a veteran of eight overseas and combat deployments, is facing 14 criminal counts, including premeditated murder for allegedly stabbing to death an alleged ISIS fighter Iraqi forces brought for medical care by his SEAL Team platoon in Mosul, Iraq, in early May 2017.

Vaishnavee Sharma (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) reports: "Gallagher was arrested Sept. 11 and held at San Diego’s Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar. He considered filing a civil rights lawsuit against Navy investigators after alleging that they 'laid siege' to his home and marched his children out of the house during a probe." 

On the charges, Dave Phillips (NEW YORK TIMES) notes the charges, "They said he fired into civilian crowds, gunned down a girl walking along a riverbank and an old man carrying a water jug, and threatened to kill fellow SEALs if they reported his actions."

There are updates on the case.  Andrew Dyer (LOS ANGELES TIMES) reports:

The hearing Friday revealed that seven Navy SEALs have been granted immunity to testify for the prosecution during the upcoming trial of Edward R. Gallagher, a chief special warfare operator alleged to have murdered a wounded teenage Islamic State combatant by stabbing him in the neck.
The trial phase is scheduled for Feb. 19. Prosecutors expect to call the seven SEALs and up to 13 additional witnesses of the May 2017 incident in Mosul, Iraq.

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