Friday, January 1 2021. History is largely ignored by the press.
REUTERS notes, "Iraqi security forces have killed Abu Yaser al-Issawi, an Islamic State commander who had claimed to be the leader of the group in Iraq and its 'deputy caliph', Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said on Thursday." Said? Well he Tweeted:
And while Tweeted is more accurate than "said," even more accurate would be "claimed."
How many times did we hear, for example, that Abu Ayyub al-Masri was killed -- starting as far back as 2006 and he wasn't killed until 2010. And what of the other leader, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi? How many times was the world told he was dead? Repeatedly in 2007, as I remember, and also true, the Iraqi government insisted they had arrested him in 2009 -- even produced photos claiming it was him. It wasn't. He would be killed in 2010 -- in the same attack that killed al-Masri, by the way.
More to the point, those two deaths didn't really matter. David Rising (AP) reported on those two deaths:
The U.S. and Iraq claimed a major victory against al-Qaida on Monday, saying their forces killed the terror group's two top figures in this country in an air and ground assault on their safehouse near Saddam Hussein's hometown.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the killings of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri at a news conference and showed photographs of their bloody corpses. U.S. military officials later confirmed the deaths, which Vice President Joe Biden called a "potentially devastating blow" to al-Qaida in Iraq.
[. . .]
But Biden, President Barack Obama's point person on Iraq, said the deaths of the al-Qaida leaders underscored their overall improvement.
"The Iraqis led this operation, and it was based on intelligence the Iraqi security forces themselves developed," said Biden, who came before reporters in the White House briefing room to draw added attention to the results.
Potentially devastating blow, Joe?
No. No, four years later, they'd not only be stronger, they'd become one of the most infamous terrorist groups in the world when they seized control of the second largest city in Iraq, Mosul. Now terrorist groups terrorize -- hence their name. They don't attempt to rule. Somehow, ISIS -- not at all weakened -- managed to do what none before them could and they occupied and controlled Mosul not for days, not for weeks, not for months, for years.
And something else let's not forget, a US service member was killed in that attack. Private 1st Class Charlie Cabay Antonio. He was 28 years old, his friends called him Bong, he was from Kahuhi, Hawaii. He suffered. His family and friends suffered.
But for all of Joe's blustering -- which never included mentioning Charlie Antonio by name -- ISIS wasn't ended or even really harmed.
As Matthew Frankel noted two months later that year (2010) at Brookings:
Much has been made of Monday’s announcement of the recent killing of the number three man in all of Al Qaeda. The consensus seems to be that Mustafa Abu al-Yazid’s death will be a significant blow in the war on terror, but it’s much more likely to have no effect at all. If the past seven years in Iraq is any indication, the removal of enemy leaders has little to no impact on the group’s ability to conduct attacks against us.
The recent killing of top two leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayub al-Masri and Abu Umar al-Baghdadi, is a perfect example. “The death of these terrorists is potentially the most significant blow to Al Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency,” said General Ray Odierno, commander of US forces in Iraq, after the operation, which took place late last month.
The good feeling lasted less than three weeks, however. A series of devastating jihadist-led coordinated attacks across Iraq, killing over 100 people, soon reduced Odierno’s comments to mere hyperbole. And the fact that Masri’s death didn’t mean the end of Al Qaeda in Iraq shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has followed Iraq closely since 2003. In the past, whenever officials have pronounced upon the significance of an enemy killing, it has always proven premature.
So why hasn’t the removal of insurgent and terrorist leadership yielded more successful outcomes in Iraq? My research of twenty different high-value targeting campaigns from Algeria to Chechnya to Japan suggests that such operations have the greatest chance of success when conducted by local forces against a centralized opponent in conjunction with larger counterinsurgency operations. Until recently, American targeting efforts in Iraq failed to meet any of these criteria.
One needs to go back in time only four years to understand this dynamic firsthand. In June 2006, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was finally killed after a months-long manhunt. “Zarqawi’s death is a severe blow to Al Qaeda. It’s a victory in the global war on terror,” President Bush said at the time. But the “victory”—such as it was—proved to be short-lived. Weekly attacks against Coalition forces climbed from 950 in the week before Zarqawi’s death to 1400 just three months later. High-profile attacks nearly doubled over the next nine months, according to U.S. military data.
And our struggles with high-value targeting operations in Iraq have hardly been limited to Sunni jihadist groups. Overemphasis on targeting operations plagued our efforts in the early years of the war. In the months following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, U.S. forces made finding the fugitive leader, his sons, and other holdouts from the infamous “deck of cards” their top priority, ignoring the fact that anti-occupation sentiment had spread to tribal and non-Baathist Sunni figures and spawned a broad decentralized insurgency.
Poorly-conceived and poorly-managed targeting efforts added fuel to the fire. Brazen midnight US military raids sometimes led to the capture of an insurgent, but often created a new generation of enemies as a result of rough tactics and lack of sensitivity towards local customs.
Furthermore, since the Sunni insurgency was decentralized, with local commanders holding large amounts of autonomy, the targeting campaign did little to stem the levels of violence. The eventual capture of Saddam, and the deaths of his sons, had no effect on the growing insurgency. Instead, it took a combination of persistent attacks by Shia militias and the rise of the Anbar Awakening to defeat the bulk of the Sunni insurgency.
History has shown that a military force that fights insurgents far from its home turf, like American soldiers have done in Iraq, will have a severe disadvantage because troops don’t understand the local cultural dynamics and networks. Despite our technological superiority, the United States often falls short in the area of local intelligence collection, leading to poor target selection and unnecessary collateral damage as we have seen in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The press, yet again, plays dumb today and treats a claim as proof and treats the claim as significant. There's no historical evidence to suggest that the death, if it took place, is in any way significant or that it will alter the trajectory of ISIS in any significant manner.
But don't let facts, reality or the examples from the past interrupt the nonsensical ravings, right?
And don't let the claim force you to note the executions in Iraq. MEMO notes:
Executions are imminent in Iraq following the president's approval of the death sentences for hundreds of Sunni prisoners in response to the suicide bombings in the capital Baghdad last week, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) has warned.
The execution of 340 civilians arrested and detained under Article 4 of the country's Terrorism Law was approved two days after the bomb blasts, in which 32 were killed and for which [ISIS] claimed responsibility.
Three detainees were executed last Monday in the Nasiriyah Central Prison. According to AOHR UK, the condemned men came from the provinces of Nineveh, Anbar. Notably, all three were Sunni Muslims, raising concerns that their execution was based on sectarian grounds.
Mosul. The city was destroyed by bombings carried out by ISIS, the US government and the Iraqi government. That US and Iraq were 'liberating' the city. All this time later, Mosul remains in ruins. AFP reports on one section of the city:
Mosul's Old City still lies in ruins three years after intense fighting drove out Islamic State jihadists. Many Mosul residents long waited for compensation or rebuilding -- in vain, as Iraq remains mired in political and economic crisis, reported AFP. With rebuilding unlikely and Iraq's economy in tailspin, homeowners are desperate to sell. But many who lived through the horrors of IS rule there are now unable to find buyers for their properties in what still resembles a warzone.
A few days ago, THE NEW ARAB Tweeted:
Last month, Samya Kullab (AP) wrote:
The U.N. has estimated that over 8,000 Mosul homes were destroyed in intense airstrikes to root out IS. The nine-month operation left at least 9,000 dead, according to an AP investigation.
Memories of the group’s brutality still haunt locals, who remember a time when the city squares were used for the public beheading of those who dared violate the militants' rules.
The Old City on the west bank of the Tigris River, once the jewel of Mosul, remains in ruins even as newer parts of the city have seen a cautious recovery. The revival, the residents say, is mostly their own doing.
“I didn’t see a single dollar from the government,” said Ahmed Sarhan, who runs a family coffee business.
There are many problems with what Kullab wrote -- not reported, typed. Including where did the reconstruction money go?
Recently, the last seven or so months, the Iraqi government has claimed (lied) that they diverted it to COVID relief. Again, that's a lie. But if they had diverted it, it still wouldn't explain where all the money was prior to the COVID emerging on the world stage in February of last year. Mosul should have been rebuilt long ago and it is an example of the ongoing corruption of the Iraqi government that continues year after year, regardless of which coward who fled Iraq is installed as prime minister.
In 2020, AFP noted, "Iraq gathered $30 billion in pledges from international donors in Kuwait in 2018 to rebuild, but virtually none of the funds have been disbursed." 30 billion. And yet no real rebuilding -- the rebuilding that has taken place has been done by the United Nations.
$30 billion. Wasted. A corrupt government that pockets the money -- over and over, we see this.
Turning to the US, David Sirota has a DAILY POSTER report that NEWSWEEK is part of:
On January 4, Joe Biden made an unequivocal pledge, telling voters that by electing Democrats to Georgia's senate seats, "you can make an immediate difference in your own lives, the lives of people all across this country because their election will put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check, that money that will go out the door immediately to people who are in real trouble."
Less than four weeks later:
- Biden is pushing $1,400 checks, rather than using his election mandate to demand new, full $2,000 checks.
- Democrats are now suggesting that it could take at least until March to even pass the legislation, even as the economic crisis worsens.
- Biden is now responding to threats of Republican obstructionism by floating the idea of reducing the number of people who would even get the checks. "He is open to negotiating the eligibility requirements of his proposed $1,400 COVID stimulus check, a nod to lawmakers who have said they should be more targeted," reported Reuters.
- The signals of retreat are happening even as new polling data show that the original promise for a full $2,000 stimulus check is wildly popular.
Feel familiar? We've gotten into a flux-capacitor-powered DeLorean, flown back in time and dropped ourselves into 2009.
Back then, Barack Obama and Biden had gotten themselves elected in the middle of an economic crisis after promising to pass a public health insurance option. It was a promise as clear and explicit as the $2,000 checks promise is today—their platform was explicit in pledging that "any American will have the opportunity to enroll in the new public plan."
But then over the course of the year, as Republicans in the congressional minority kicked and screamed, the administration ever so gradually started backing down, rather than using the election mandate to try to shame the GOP into submission.
By the middle of the year, Obama said: "The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform." His Health and Human Services secretary said that it was "not the essential element" of health care reform.
By the winter, Obama lied, insisting "I didn't campaign on a public option."
And then by 2010, the Obama White House had killed the plan, and Senate Democrats refused to even bring it up for a floor vote when they had the chance. Soon after, voters delivered what Obama called a "shellacking" in the midterm election, effectively foreclosing on the possibility of transformative change during Obama's presidency.
At WSWS, Bill Van Auken notes that Joe's already warring with Iran:
Meanwhile, an Iranian government spokesman appealed directly to the Biden administration to lift sanctions that have restricted the country’s ability to import vaccines needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit Iran harder than any other country in the region, with 1.4 million reported cases and nearly 60,000 reported deaths.
“Since [Biden’s] administration claims not to be anti-science like the previous one...one expects it to free the transfer of Iran’s own foreign exchange resources to fight the coronavirus and for health and food, and lift banking sanctions quickly,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told state television.
With its appeal for “unity” with the Republican Party, the Biden administration has little stomach for a swift and sharp reversal of the “maximum pressure” campaign imposed by Trump. Leading right-wing congressional Democrats, including Senator Robert Menendez, the incoming chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, have also opposed any letup of US aggression against Iran.
Biden has also pledged to “engage” with Israel before taking any steps to change the current “maximum pressure” regime against Iran, while Blinken has repeatedly stated that the new administration views Israel’s security as “sacrosanct.”
Tel Aviv has not only opposed any US return to the JCPOA but has threatened to militarily attack Iran and its nuclear facilities in response. This was expressed most directly by the new chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who gave a bellicose speech on Tuesday, declaring a return to the Iran nuclear deal an “intolerable threat” to Israel. He said that “anything that is similar to the current deal is a bad thing, and we cannot allow it,” adding that he had ordered the IDF to prepare new “operative plans” for attacking Iran.
The following sites updated: