Saturday, June 15, 2019

Someone attacks Balad Air Base while Turkey continues to bomb northern Iraq

The Iraq War doesn't stop just because US cameras focus elsewhere.  PA reports a small fire on Balad Air Base in Iraq -- where US 'trainers' are present -- resulted frrom a mortar attack.  Qassim Abdul-Zhara (AP) notes there were no deaths and no one was injured and that the attack took place "shortly after midnight Friday."  ANADOLU AGENCY states:

A total of 48 terrorists have been neutralized since May 27 in Turkey's counter-terrorism operation in northern Iraq, an official statement said on June 14.
The ongoing Operation Claw which was launched by Turkish Armed Forces against the PKK terrorist group neutralized three more terrorists in the Hakurk region on June 14, bringing the total number to 48, the National Defense Ministry said on Twitter.

Authorities often use the word “neutralized" in statements to imply terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.

First off, they're dropping bombs.  They're not sure who they are killing.  In the past, the bulk of their operations have resulted in injured and dead civilians.  Secondly, they're not invited to do this by the government of Iraq.  It is Turkey refusing to recognize the sovereignty of Iraq.

Let's also not forget that this killing operation has lasted over three decades.  Will it be the same for the US government? 

The war has produced many things -- none of which anyone can take pride in.  It's destroyed healthcare, for example.  ALJAZEERA notes:

Iraq's vast oil wealth once paid for some of the best health services in the Middle East. But decades of conflict and political unrest have led to, as the government admits, a crisis in hospitals.
Things are particularly bad in Basra province where people have long complained of government neglect.

Around 70 children are being treated for cancer in Basra Children's Hospital. Experts say pollution from surrounding oilfields is one of the reasons why Basra has the highest rate of cancer in Iraq.

Bad healthcare's not the only thing the war has spawned.  Among the things the Iraq War has produced is refugees.  Human Rights Watch notes, "An estimated 1.8 million people remain displaced by the conflict between Iraqi forces and the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) two years after the heaviest fighting ended. A new Human Rights Watch web feature highlights the experiences of families who are struggling to find a safe home in post-ISIS Iraq."  Human Rights Watch's Belkis Willie shares:

The remaining displaced are uniquely vulnerable to abuse. Some are being forced to return home to unsafe conditions, where they risk landmines, revenge attacks from neighbors, or forced recruitment into local armed groups. Some are being prevented from returning home and are effectively detained in camps.
[. . .]
Since 2016 I have spent long stretches in camps across Iraq. During that time, I have noticed a dramatic shift in the feelings of the people in the camps. Where they were once happy to be back under Iraqi government control and receiving services, three years on, with no sign that they will be allowed to return home, these families now seethe with anger and resentment toward the authorities. Instead of developing a clear plan to reintegrate families into Iraqi society, the authorities have done little, abdicating control to armed groups, community leaders, and mob mentality. Government officials have told me it is politically “too hard” to do the right thing and facilitate their return home.

Meanwhile, there's a push for war on Iran.  If such a war takes place, Iraq would be the US staging ground for a war.  Laura Gottesdiener (COMMON DREAMS) notes:

There's a dark joke going around Baghdad these days. Noof Assi, a 30-year-old Iraqi peace activist and humanitarian worker, told it to me by phone. Our conversation takes place in late May just after the Trump administration has announced that it would add 1,500 additional U.S. troops to its Middle Eastern garrisons.
"Iran wants to fight to get the United States and Saudi Arabia out of Iraq," she began. "And the United States wants to fight to get Iran out of Iraq." She paused dramatically. "So how about all of us Iraqis just leave Iraq so they can fight here on their own?"

THE NEW ARAB reports:

The 2014 Islamic State group [IS] crisis has affected Iraqi cities in different ways. Erbil, like much of the autonomous Kurdistan Region, was spared from the intense fighting, but there are signs of war and other recent conflicts all over the city. 
A sizeable chunk of the population in the largely Assyrian Christian Ankawa suburb came to the area from the Nineveh Plains in 2014 when IS swept through the area. People from Baghdad escaped the chaos following the 2003 US invasion by coming to Erbil as well. Many are still here, despite Baghdad's improved security.
Now, with US President Donald Trump dialling up the pressure on Iran, there are talks of a new war in Iraq, given Iraq's proximity to Iran and the presence of both Iran-backed militias and US forces in the country.
Delvo Alibek, from Ankawa, does not want this to happen.
"Of course, if there's a war, it will destroy Iraq," he told The New Arab. At the same time, he thinks that Iran is a cause of problems in Iraq.
"There's been no stability in Iraq since Iran came," he said. "It became sectarian."

Many Iraqis believe an American war against Iran would hurt Iraq, but remain deeply against Iran's policies in the country at the same time and want them to stop.

Meanwhile, THE ECONOMIST offers "COMEBACK KURDS: Two years after a disastrous referendum, Iraq’s Kurds are prospering:"

In 2017 the enclave’s leaders reached for more, recklessly holding a referendum on independence, which passed overwhelmingly. The central government in Baghdad responded by booting Kurdish militias, known as the Peshmerga, out of oil-rich Kirkuk. It ended budgetary support for the regional government and, with the help of Turkey and Iran, closed its airspace and some border crossings. Western leaders abandoned the Kurds; foreigners fled the region. Masoud Barzani, Kurdistan’s humiliated president, resigned and left a power vacuum. Independence did not happen.

Here's a thought: Maybe the problem is you were wrong?

The Kurds aren't coming back because they never went away.

As for Massoud Barzani?  He was never humiliated.

No one thought the referendum was going to bring independence.  Its purpose was to record the Kurdish opinion on the topic of independence.  It was a non-binding referendum and that was known long before the vote ever took place.

But a whorish world press, needing more to do the work of their governments than to actually report the truth, attacked the referendum and attacked most leaders.  They attacked Barzani.  He was for independence and he wasn't going to back down on holding the referendum.

They gave feather kisses, however, to the genitals of the Talabani clan because they were against the referendum.

It's two years later.  The Kurds have a new president and a new prime minister.  They're both from the Barzani family.  Talabanis?  Their control over the KRG continues to weaken.

If you go back to that coverage of the vote in real time, you'll find not everyone trashed the Kurds.  We didn't.  We said what was going on right here, that this was about the future of the Kurds, this was about seeing who their friends were and who their friends were not.  We also noted -- before and after -- that the winner would be the Barzani family because they were firmly for independence which -- no surprise -- was the opinion of the Kurds.  Over 95% of the voters chose independence.

That's not a surprise.  An independent Kurdistan has always been the dream of Kurds throughout the world.

The press tried bullying Massoud Barzani into calling off the referendum.  When that didn't work, they portrayed it as a huge mistake.

It wasn't.  It gave the Kurds in the KRG a voice in the matter. 

The following sites updated: