Monday, November 16, 2020. Iraq executes 21 people as the country's said to be headed towards a financial crisis and, in the US, isn't treason to conspire to trick a sitting president into believing that you've carried out his orders as commander in chief?
Over the weekend, there was talk that Donald Trump was conceding the election. That talk was premature apparently. Yesterday, his campaign sent out many e-mails and we'll just note this one:
It’s been heartwarming to see all of the tremendous support across the Nation from great American Patriots, like YOU. Organic rallies have been springing up all over the Country in support of yours truly - incredible!
One thing has become clear these last few days, I am the American People’s ALL-TIME favorite President.
For years, the Democrats have been preaching how unsafe and RIGGED our Elections have been. Now, they are saying what a WONDERFUL job the Trump Administration did in making 2020 the most secure Election ever. Which is true, except for what the Left did: THEY RIGGED THE ELECTION!
I promise you we are fighting to ensure EVERY SINGLE LEGAL ballot is counted, Lester. I have legal teams on the ground in every critical state. All I need now is YOUR SUPPORT.
Please contribute $5 IMMEDIATELY to stand with me against VOTER FRAUD. >>
On the efforts to raise money, some are saying the money will go to a post-election PAC. I have no idea. I'm certainly not fundraising for him. What I do know is he is e-mailing supporters and presumed supporters several times a day asking for money. I also know he's not providing them with any real information, just begging for money. We noted that last week.
If this is all about creating a post-election war chest -- if -- to be used at a later date for something else -- a run for the presidency in 2024? -- that would explain why he's yet to concede. Equally true, if he believes he's won or possibly won and that irregularities are denying him victory, then he has every right -- as does any candidate -- to challenge the results.
How will history see Donald Trump? That's one prospect that might influence his decisions and actions over the next weeks.
Things look a little better for Donald in the last few days. Freud noted the criminal's compulsion to confess. James Jeffrey backed that up. THE DAILY SABAH reported:
“We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” Jeffrey told the Defense One outlet in an interview published Thursday.
The number of US soldiers remaining in Syria was “a lot more than” the 200 troops Trump agreed to leave there, Jeffrey said. The actual number of soldiers still deployed in the area is unknown.
Pentagon officials convinced the president to leave approximately 200 troops behind to protect oil fields in the country’s east that were at risk of falling under ISIS control, Jeffrey said.
However, the real number of troops in northeast Syria is “a lot more than” the 200 Trump agreed to leave behind, Jeffrey said, with some officials putting the number as high as 900.
“What Syria withdrawal? There was never a Syria withdrawal,” Jeffrey told the publication.
B-b-b-but that was so unfair -- insists two friends at THE WASHINGTON POST -- she had two more Tweets!
It's not my job to highlight everything she Tweets. She is a professional writer and she should know how to do a Tweet. The used the emojis she chose to use -- why any serious journalist would be using emojis is beyond me, but whatever.
For the record, here are her other two Tweets:
To be clear, I am not implying this is actually funny. I used the weeping laugh because it is tragicomic. The joke is on Trump, who told so many lies, for being so easily lied to by his officials. It’s a tragedy that they think it’s OK to lie to Americans....
...about the scope of their involvement in foreign wars. And it sets a very dangerous precedent.
Nothing in those two other Tweets changes one word I said -- and I do so those Tweets before I wrote what I wrote.
Had I included them, I would have noted -- as I already did -- that this is real life, life and death. I would've pointed out to Ms. Sly that she is not THE POST's drama critic, she is a reporter. "Tragicomic"? Save it for the Arts section, dead. This is the closet thing to treason that has taken place in the last four years. Surely, Liz is familiar with the term. Her paper's used it repeatedly over and over during the last four years. Such as with Dana Milbank's 2019 column "For Trump, the name of the season is treason."
I don't care if you like Donald Trump or not. I don't like him, I never have. This isn't about Donald Trump. This is about a conspiracy to overrule the decision of the commander in chief, this is about a conspiracy to keep basic facts from the commander in chief. James Jeffrey and others did not want US troops to leave Syria. Guess what? That's not their call. They can advise, they can advocate, they can plead. But at the end of the day, that decision goes to the President of the United States. (It should go to the US Congress but they long ago abdicated their role in war.)
This is not a 'tracicomic" issue. It's not a play, it's reality and lives are at stake and so are institutions, quite frankly. "The joke is on Trump" -- what joke? Where is it a joke, Liz?
Unelected officials whose sole role is to carry out the orders of the President of the United States ignored the orders, lied to him so that he would think they were carrying out his orders. I can't imagine anything that more clearly qualifies as treason.
James Jeffrey should be in a prison. I don't use the term "treason" mildly because you can be executed for it. I've never accused anyone -- not even Bully Boy Bush whom I loathe -- of treason because it's such a serious charge. But that's what James and the others committed.
They were not elected. They lied to the president, they lied to the people. They did so because they did not want to carry out his orders.
If you don't want to carry out the president's orders, you resign.
They refused to carry out the orders and lied to pretend the orders had been carried out. That is treason, that's text book treason.
And for Liz Sly to pretend that it's okay or karma because Trump lied? I don't give two s**ts what Trump did. We're talking about an order from the president and officials resisting that order and lying to pretend they executed it. This is a life or death issue. And Donald's the one with the title of president, he's the one history should hold accountable for his actions. But he just got a pass because we now know that in at least one instance we've got unelected officials overruling his decisions and conspiring to lie to him in order to trick him.
And it's not funny. And it doesn't make me feel good to label it as such. It makes me sick to my stomach. And this has nothing to do with Donald Trump. He's about to be out of the White House. This has to do with the office, with the presidency. And right now, we're saying it's okay for this to happen again.
No, it's not. And James Jeffrey and anyone else involved needs to be prosecuted for treason.
Will they be? I doubt it. Not in a world where a reporter Tweets emojis and calls it a "tragicomdey" and implies it's karma. Not in a world where a reporter can't note that this is worse than Watergate. This is an abuse of power on the part of unelected officials who think they can determine policy and not the person who was sworn in as president, the person who they are supposed to serve under.
This is treason and it sets a very dangerous precedent. So now if Joe Biden should be sworn in as president (I expect he will be) and should he decide to pull all US troops from Iraq, if the officials serving under him -- non-elected persons -- decide they don't like his call, they can just lie to him that all US troops have been removed. That's what it means to just accept James' actions. There's need to be punishment but, please note, there's not even a public rebuke of him or his actions.
An order by the President of the United States was given to an unelected official, the unelected official not only refused to carry it out but he conspired with others to ensure the order wasn't carried out and to lie to the president so that the president thought the order was executed. That is treason.
\I wish I could find another word for it but there's not another term for it.
You either call it out now or you accept that you've given a pass to anyone who thinks they know better than an elected President of the United States. Joe Biden is not the brightest light bulb in the pack. So if you accept this, you're saying that if Joe chooses to order troops out or anything -- if he has a different COVID strategy than the officials who are supposed to be executing his orders and policies, you are saying that it's okay for them to do the opposite and to lie to him that they've done what he ordered and to conspire with others to carry this lie out.
Again, this is treason.
That James Jeffrey is ignorant enough to brag about this in public is amazing. He clearly thinks this is something to be proud of. It is not.
And jokes and then "let me be clear" minimizing from journalists does not help. No, Liz Sly, as a reporter, cannot call it treason. She can, however, treat it as a serious subject and not pretend it's some drama she's been asked to review.
What I said to the two friends at THE POST who called was basically, at the end of the paper, "Your anger is at me for not including two other Tweets she offered and not at an unelected official who subverted democracy and conspired against the government?"
In both cases, there was a lot of 'well's and 'but's and everything but outrage over what was done. Excuse me, there was outrage: Outrage over what I wrote on Saturday about Liz. There was no outrage over what James Jeffrey did and what he bragged of.
I think their priorities are off.
ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports the US government says there are 3,000 US troops in Iraq currently. Of course, that's what is being said and we have no faith in those numbers as a result of James Jeffrey's own admitted actions. But that is what's being said: 3,000. Iraq is the largest CIA outpost and those numbers do not include the CIA. In financial news, Gina Lennox Tweets:
And she Tweets:
ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports, "Iraq’s debt has exceeded $160 billion after the fiscal deficit law was approved, while the foreign public debt alone ranges between $60-70 billion." But not all believe there is a crisis. MIDDLE EAST MONITOR ONLINE reports the claim of one MP:
A member of the Economic and Investment Committee in the Iraqi Parliament, Mahmoud Al-Zajrawi, said he believes the country's financial crisis is "fabricated" in an effort to force Baghdad to normalise relations with Israel.
In an interview with Arabic Post news site, Al-Zajrawi explained that the government of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has asked the Parliament's permission to borrow 41 trillion Iraqi dinars ($12.6 billion) from national banks to pay the salaries of state employees, adding that he does not rule out the possibility that the financial crisis in Iraq, such as delaying the payment of state-employees' salaries, and resorting to borrowing, being a means of external pressure aimed at paving the way for Israel to sign a peace agreement with Baghdad.
At BROOKINGS, Marsin Alshamary wonders what, if anything, Mustafa al-Kadhimi has accomplished since becoming prime minister on May 7th? There's the call for early elections. Marsin notes:
In August, he proposed an election date of June 6, 2021. Proposing a date, however, does not ensure that early elections will occur, since it has to be ratified by the Council of Representatives. Early elections require financing, and Kadhimi’s cabinet has not proposed a federal budget for 2021, despite it being on his list of priorities. Proposing a budget that includes electoral financing would pressure the Council of Representatives to agree to this date. An already difficult task, as it requires parliamentarians to vote themselves out of a job.
So failure there. And the protesters were also calling for smaller districts and Mustafa hasn't even touched on that issue. Mustafa's failing on COVID. What about on the issue of justice? Marsin points out:
Kadhimi has repeatedly promised to seek justice for the hundreds of protesters who lost their lives in the past year, but has yet to do so. It was not until October that Kadhimi formed an official committee to investigate those crimes. In a televised interview, he explained that it was a time-consuming and difficult task, which required patience. In private interviews, activists expressed skepticism at his ability to implement early reforms and to seek justice for the killed protesters. They also expressed concern at his inability to stop the assassinations and kidnappings of civil society activists in Iraq today, which continue to take place under Kadhimi’s watch, such as the killing of security researcher Dr. Husham Al-Hashimi and the Basra-based activist Dr. Riham Yaqoob.
After reviewing a variety of failures, Marsin points out, "Six months ago, Kadhimi’s government was lauded for presenting the right intentions for reform, but today, his inactions speak louder."
This morning, Human Rights Watch issued the following:
authorities should fulfill a commitment to locate victims of enforced
disappearance and ensure that those responsible are held accountable,
Human Rights Watch said today.
Since taking office in May 2020, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi announced that his government was creating a new mechanism to locate victims of enforced disappearances, but authorities appear to have done little follow-through. Iraqi authorities did not respond to a November 5 letter from Human Rights Watch requesting information about eight disappearances that occurred between December 2019 and October 2020.
“Creating a do-nothing mechanism, as Iraqi governments have done for years, is simply not enough to address longtime problems like enforced disappearances,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Ending enforced disappearances and holding security forces accountable requires a sustained and serious commitment that includes tracking these cases.”
Case details obtained by Human Rights Watch indicate that the Popular Mobilization Forces – PMF or Hashd al-Sha'abi, security forces nominally under the control of the prime minister since November 2016 – were most likely behind all eight disappearances. These cases are only a small fraction of the total disappearances believed to have been carried out by these groups over the past year.
Al-Kadhimi has made multiple commitments since he took office in May to investigate and punish enforced disappearances. In October, during the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances’ review of Iraq, the government said it had established a new mechanism to coordinate its efforts to locate disappeared persons.
However, in each of the cases that Human Rights Watch reviewed, relatives have had no success getting information from the authorities on the whereabouts of those missing. None of the families had heard specifically about this new mechanism, nor had it contacted them. One added, “We always hear about the government creating new committees, but we never hear that there are any results coming from these committees.”
In one case, a relative of Ammar Zaidan Mukhlif, 48, said he had been missing since December 25, 2019. Prior to 2003, Mukhlif was a captain in the Republican Guard and from 2003 to 2008 worked as a police chief in al-Dour town in Salah al-Din Governorate. In 2008, because of his prior Republican Guard role, the Accountability and Justice Committee, linked to Iraq’s de-Baathification process, ordered him into retirement. The relative said that Mukhlif had been desperate to return to work.
The relative said that a man who identified himself as a member of the PMF security directorate called Mukhlif on December 24, told him he had permission to return to work, and that he should go to the PMF security directorate office in Baghdad the next day for the man to give him more information.
The relative said Mukhlif left home at 9 a.m. on December 25, but by 11 a.m. his phone had been switched off. Later that day, the relative said, the family filed a missing person case with the police in Tikrit and the PMF security directorate in al-Dour, where staff said they knew nothing about him or the identity of the man who called him. They tried to get other information from the phone carrier, which said cellular phone tower information located him near Samara before his phone was turned off, and through another relative with the police who reviewed CCTV checkpoint footage and said his car had passed through the main checkpoint between al-Dour and Samara before disappearing.
In another case, on the night of December 25, a resident of al-Dour said, a senior official in Salah Al-Din’s Ministry of Interior Intelligence office called his father, Sheikh Fares Khattab. Khattab had reached out to the official to try to get his other son, lieutenant colonel Ghalib Fares Khattab, 45, a job there, and the senior official told him to come to Tikrit on December 26 to arrange his transfer there. Both left for Tikrit at 9 a.m. but did not pick up their phones again.
“We went to police stations in al-Duor and Tikrit, asking the police and armed forces to find them,” the son said. “Police and anti-terrorism forces started reviewing security cameras and a colonel from the Tikrit kidnap unit told us that based on CCTV footage, he had issued two arrest warrants and was tracking my father’s phone. But they never told us who they had issued the warrants against, nor what they found out from his phone. Until now no one has been arrested as far as we know.”
He said that a policeman he knew showed him CCTV footage from a checkpoint and said that two vehicles that were most likely linked to the PMF were seen escorting Khattab’s car through Tikrit. The son said that a friend of his who is linked to the Interior Ministry told him that on December 27, while armed forces were searching for Khattab, a PMF representative called the friend and ordered him to stop the search.
In a third case, a friend of Sajjad Satar Shanan, a prominent anti-government protester in Nasriya, said that on September 19, he was in the car with Shanan and four other friends driving to a village outside of Nasiriya city. At 9 p.m., about four kilometers outside of the city, two pickup trucks without license plates stopped their car. Eight armed men got out and ordered Shanan out of the car. The friend said he asked who the men were, and they replied, “It is better for you just to let us take him,” and they took him away.
The friend said he told the men he recognized one of them as a Badr Organization member, a unit within the PMF, and another one shot at him twice, with one bullet piercing his thigh. The friend later went to the police and gave them a full report including the name of the man he had recognized but said that no one had been arrested. “I have also received many calls from blocked numbers since then with people threatening me to stop talking about this incident,” he said.
In another case, about 25 armed men in uniform with logos of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haqq, another PMF unit, raided al-Farhatia village of Balad district in Salah al-Din governorate and arrested 12 men on October 17. “They told us that they would bring them back and they gave no reason why they were arresting them,” said a relative of 9 of those arrested, who said he recognized some of the men from a nearby checkpoint the group controls.
Villagers found the bodies of eight of the men on the ground the next morning, about 500 meters from the village and 200 meters from the checkpoint. They were handcuffed. Their hands looked like they had been burned, and they had been shot in the head. Al-Kadhimi visited the village on October 18 along with the ministers of defense and interior and pledged to hold those responsible for the killings accountable. The authorities subsequently arrested four people, the relative said he was told, but have not been charged anyone yet as far as he knew. The other four men remain missing.
On November 5, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to the prime minister’s office providing additional details in the cases of all eight people disappeared. A spokesperson said the letter would be given to the prime minister, but Human Rights Watch has not received a response yet.
Human Rights Watch has been documenting enforced disappearances across Iraq for decades, including a 2018 report about 78 men and boys forcibly disappeared between April 2014 and October 2017. In three more cases featured in the report, men who were disappeared and later released said that the PMF or the National Security Service had detained them for periods ranging from 34 to 130 days at unofficial detention sites.
In June 2018, Human Rights Watch sent an inquiry with a list of dozens of names of disappeared people along with the approximate dates and locations where they were last seen to Haidar Ukaili, the human rights adviser to the prime minister’s Advisory Council, but never received a formal response.
“With the 2021 parliamentary elections on the horizon, time may be running out for Al-Kadhimi to use his tenure to seriously tackle Iraq’s most pressing human rights concerns,” Wille said. “Taking decisive action on enforced disappearances will allow him to develop a track record in tackling serious abuses that have plagued the country.”