Saturday, August 29, 2020

US forces being cut in Iraq (not a withdrawal, sadly) and the UN calls out the attacks on Iraqi civilians

Gordon Lubold and Michael R. Gordon (WALL STREET JOURNAL) report, "The Pentagon is cutting the U.S. force in Iraq to about 3,500 troops, U.S. officials said, a roughly one-third reduction that President Trump is expected to tout as progress toward winding down what he has described as endless wars."  Bitch boi Oliver O'Connell (THE INDEPENDENT which, for the record, egged on the Iraq War) harps, "It is expected that President Donald Trump will promote the move as evidence that he is fulfilling a promise to wind down US involvement overseas in what he calls 'endless wars'."  Donald calls it an "endless war," does he?  And what does Oliver O'Connell call a war that will hit the 19 year mark in March?  Premature ejaculation?  Oliver's clearly a nasty, little power-bottom who expect a long, long ride.  At the very least the idiot should have worded it "in what he and others call 'endless wars'" since the term's been used by elected Democrats and elected Republicans.  But for THE INDEPENDENT, the Iraq War is a gas.  Even Paddy Cock-burn at the height of his playing (he no longer even pretends to be interested in Iraq) wasn't about calling out the war. But then, if there was any real significant difference between Cockburn's position and that of the paper's notorious hawk John Rentoul, Cockburn wouldn't have been at the paper to begin with.  Joyce Karam (THE NATIONAL) reports:

Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Jessica McNulty told The National that a reduction in US forces will take place due to improvements in the capabilities of Iraqi forces.

“We are reducing troop levels as the Iraqi capability to defeat ISIS remnants and prevent its resurgence improves,” Commander McNulty said. 

A reduction is not a withdrawal.  Barack did a reduction which the Pentagon rightly called a "drawdown" and not a "withdrawal."  He did a reduction and then, in the fall of 2012, began sending more troops back in -- first with Special Forces -- late to the party on that? We covered it repeatedly in the fall of 2012 -- one example, "Let the fun begin (Ava and C.I.)"  that I wrote with Ava the day after the 2012 election:

Lies about Iraq drove the 2008 election and they drove the 2012 election as well.

The country was transformed to the elephant in the room for 2012 that no one could be honest about.  President Barack Obama  lied that he'd 'ended' the Iraq War, he misled people into believing that all US troops had left Iraq, and he failed to inform Americans that he was negotiating to send even more US troops into Iraq.

While the uninspiring victory speech last night blended The Hollies "He's Not Heavy, He's My Brother" ("The road is long") with Jerry McGuire ("You've made me a better president"), it also made clear that the administration was on fumes even before the second term officially begins in January.

The administration is as empty as the media.  If you doubt that, September 26th, the New York Times' Tim Arango reported:

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.

September 26th it was in print.

Days later, October 3rd, Barack 'debated' Mitt RomneyAgain October 16thAgain October 22nd.
Not once did the moderators ever raise the issue.

If Barack's sitting before them and he's flat out lying to the American people, it's their job to ask.  They didn't do their job.  Nor did social menace Candy Crowley who was apparently dreaming of an all-you-can-eat buffet when Barack was babbling away before her about how he wouldn't allow more "troops in Iraq that would tie us down."  But that's exactly what he's currently negotiating.

Maybe Candy Crowley missed the New York Times article?  Maybe she spends all her time pleasuring herself to her version of porn: Cooking With Paula Deen Magazine?

That is possible.

But she was only one of the three moderators.  Bob Schieffer and Jim Lehrer also moderated.  Of course, they didn't foolishly self-present as a fact checker in the midst of the debate  nor did they hit the publicity circuit before the debate to talk about how they were going to show how it was done.

In June of 2014, he would publicly begin sending more US troops into Iraq.  He would be in the White House for two terms, eight years, and would not keep his 2008 campaign promise to end the war and bring all troops home.  Like his other broken promises -- ending veterans homelessness, marching on picket lines with workers, closing the torture center at Guantanamo Bay -- Barack didn't keep it. And the press refused to hold him accountable.  Eight years of Lois Lerner and other scandals and the press actively looked the other way -- even when Barack was caught spying on AP -- and that goes a long way towards explaining how Donald Trump won the 2016 election.

XINHAU notes:

That would bring U.S. force levels roughly back to where they were in 2015 when the United States was in the early phase of its campaign against the Islamic State, according to the report.

The report said the actual number of troops left might be slightly more than 3,500, due to Pentagon counting rules that often exclude troops on temporary assignments.

Currently, there are over 5,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq to support Iraqi forces in battles against remnants of the Islamic State, mainly for training and advisory purposes.

In the midst of the Democratic Party's national convention, Iraq's prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi visited DC.  The visit was overshadowed and little covered.  Robert Burns (AP) notes:

Trump met last week at the White House with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

“We look forward to the day when we don’t have to be there,” Trump said then. “We were there and now we’re getting out. We’ll be leaving shortly and the relationship is very good. We’re making very big oil deals. Our oil companies are making massive deals. ... We’re going to be leaving and hopefully we’re going to be leaving a country that can defend itself.”

Mustafa became the prime minister on May 7th.  Thursday, the United Nations issued a report entitled "Human Rights Violations and Abuses in the Context of Demonstrations in Iraq October 2019 to April 2020."  The 64 page report notes multiple crimes against civilians.  From the executive summary:

In October 2019, demonstrations started in multiple governorates across Iraq on an unprecedented scale, initially driven primarily by young people giving voice to their frustration with poor economic, social and political prospects. This report, Human Rights Violations and Abuses in the Context of Demonstrations in Iraq, details human rights violations and abuses perpetrated against protesters and persons expressing political dissent from 1 October 2019 to 30 April 2020,with a view to promoting accountability and preventing future violence.
The report was prepared by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) through its Human Rights Office and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The findings presented are based on more than 900 interviews conducted in Iraq with various sources, including people involved in protests, human rights monitors, political and civil activists, journalists, lawyers, family members of killed protesters,as well as on observations from demonstration sites, visits to detention facilities,and meetings with various Government officials and other relevant interlocutors. The findings in this report suggest extensive human rights violations and abuses that appeared aimed at ending the protests, including the violent targeting by armed actors of protesters and persons expressing criticism of political parties and armed groups with various ties to the State. While the current Government,formed in May 2020,has indicated its commitment to accountability for demonstration-linked violations and abuses, the continued impunity for these acts remains a serious concern. Since October 2019,the human rights environment deteriorated markedly in relation to the rights to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly, with the fragile civic and democratic space shrinking further. Protesters and people openly and candidly expressing discontent remain at great risk.

During the country wide demonstrations which began on 1 October 2019, extreme levels of violence were witnessed.
UNAMI/OHCHR documented credible reports of the death of 487 protesters and the injury of 7,715 at protest sites.Those killed included at least 34 children and one woman. On 31 July 2020, the Prime Minister of Iraq indicated that violence during demonstrations up to that date had killed at least 560 people, including individuals and security personnel, with the majority of victims being young and over half based in Baghdad.The establishment of a fact-finding body for the sake of accountability was one of the first commitments of the Government formed in May 2020, which it has since reiterated on several occasions. UNAMI/OHCHR also documented the use of unnecessary and excessive force against protesters in several governorates, but mainly in Baghdad, Dhi Qar, Karbala and Basra. When using force in situations that gave rise to deaths and injury, including when protesters acted violently, security forces in multiple incidents failed to progressively escalate the use of force, to distinguish violent from non-violent protesters,and to respond proportionately. Security forces used unnecessary lethal force against protesters,with frequent reliance on live ammunition and the use of less-lethal weapons-such as tear gas -in a deadly manner. They also used less-lethal weapons capable of causing unjustified and unnecessarily severe injury, including air rifle pellets and shotgun pellets containing buckshot rounds.
[. . .]
UNAMI/OHCHR also documented a pattern of targeted and arbitrary arrests of persons supportive of the demonstrations and/or expressing political dissent. Moreover, protesters provided reports of ill-treatment and torture while in detention. Many of those detained were unable to inform anyone of their whereabouts for several days, leading to concerns about incommunicado detention and to increased reports about the high numbers of missing people.
Additionally, UNAMI/OHCHR recorded undue restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, including a total block on the internet, restricted access to social media platforms, raids on satellite television channels and attempts to interfere with broadcasting. Journalists also reported being injured at the site of demonstrations despite being identifiable as press, being assaulted and harassed, having their equipment confiscated or material deleted, and, in some cases, being temporarily detained.

NPR's lucky so few people in America pay attention to Iraq.  Otherwise, people would be reading the above and thinking about the 'report' (we called it out in real time) where the first protester was killed by the firing of canisters into the crowd.  Be real embarrassing for NPR if people looked at the justification offered on air for that criminal act.  

In fact that moment of shame is only rivaled by WASHINGTON WEEK when Gwen Ifill found the shooting of Iraqis by Blackwater on September 16, 2017 amusing -- the notion that Blackwater would hurl objects at the Iraqi people as they drove past them just tickled her.

It's amazing what members of the whoring press find amusing and cute and worthy of defending.  It's a shame for NPR that the UN doesn't agree with their on air 'talent.'

In other Iraq War news, Ginger Buchanan Tweets:

Pentagon backs awarding Medal of Honor to Alwyn Cashe, who died saving fellow soldiers in Iraq

Chandelis Duster (CNN) reports:

US Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe was on patrol on October 17, 2005, in Samarra, Iraq, when a roadside bomb detonated near the Bradley fighting vehicle carrying the Florida native and his fellow soldiers. Cashe, 35, suffered fatal burns while pulling the soldiers from the burning vehicle. He died on November 8 of that year at the Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told lawmakers in a letter this week that Cashe's actions "merit the award of the Medal of Honor." If awarded, Cashe would be the first Black service member honored with the distinction for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Esper's determination comes after a bipartisan push from lawmakers to upgrade Cashe's Silver Star Medal, the third-highest US military combat honor, to the Medal of Honor, which is the nation's highest award for combat valor. 

The recent five hour documentary aired by the BBC (and a smaller version aired by PBS on FRONTLINE -- one hour and fifty-three minutes and nineteen seconds versus the five hours of the actual documentary) is the subject of media criticism.  Edward Pentin (NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER) explains:

A new five-hour documentary series on the social impact of the Iraq War made for the BBC and PBS has been roundly criticized for entirely ignoring the plight of Iraq’s persecuted Christians and other minorities.

In an Aug. 20 open letter to the BBC, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil in northern Iraq said the airbrushing of any mention of the country’s minorities in the program, called Once Upon a Time in Iraq, raised “grave concerns” about the program’s editorial process.

Made by British filmmaker James Bluemel and aired on the BBC over the summer, the series aims to offer a “personal archive from civilians and soldiers from both sides of the conflict.”  

Those interviewed share their personal accounts and recollections of life under Saddam Hussein, the U.S.-led invasion, and the years of chaos and hardship that followed, including sectarian violence and the atrocities carried out by the Islamic State group, which occupied parts of northern and central Iraq from 2013 to 2017.

The following sites updated:

The following sites updated: