Monday, April 12, 2021

Iraq snapshot

 Monday, April 12, 2021.  The US occupation of Iraq, like the Iraq War itself, continues, the US press remains a joke and last week's lie that the meet-up with Iraqi officials had to be virtual doesn't help, protests continue in Iraq and much more.

US troops remain in Iraq which means that they remain targeted.  MEHR NEWS AGENCY notes:

According to Iraq's Saberin News, the US convoy was targeted by an explosively formed penetrator (EFP).

An Iraqi group called “International Resistance” has claimed responsibility for the attack.

No further details have been released.

Similar attacks against US troops in Iraq have been increasing in the past months.

The latest attack comes as some members of Parliament urge the US government to remove US troops from Iraq.  PRESS TV reports:

The defense and security committee of Iraq’s parliament has called for the evacuation of combat troops from the US embassy in Baghdad.

Badr al-Ziyadi, a member of the defense and security committee, on Monday called for “the evacuation of any US combat troops from the American embassy in Baghdad”.

The MP told al-Maalomah news agency that while the US claims to be maintaining troops for training, there are combat forces to protect its warplanes as well as Americans in Iraqi bases.

Moreover, “there is an agreement that stipulates the protection of the foreign advisors by the Iraqi government” headed by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, he added.

Two lawmakers with the Fatah (Conquest) Alliance at the Iraqi parliament also warned of US intentions to maintain its military presence in Iraq.

There was a meet-up last week -- virtual because the US government doesn't care enough -- to meaninglessly talk about the ongoing US military presence in Iraq.  PRESS TV spoke with Sabah al-Akili ("Iraqi security expert") about the meaningless talk and how the US government is not serious about leaving Iraq:

Staying in Iraq would enable the US to weaken the regional countries so it can advance its pro-Israeli agendas, including the so-called "deal of the century," a hugely pro-Tel Aviv plot hatched by Washington, the analyst stated.

The Americans, he added, were trying to impose their will on the Iraqi people, using certain figures and political factions, who favor continued US military interference, towards the purpose.

He advised that the withdrawal talks had to come up with a timetable outlining the manner of the troops' withdrawal, otherwise they were "worthless," and also urged that the Iraqi parliament speaker pitch in the efforts that could help enact the law mandating the forces' pullout.

The government, too, has to act on the parliamentary legislation, otherwise various political factions can take action to impeach or overturn it, Akili said.

Nevertheless, the expert expressed certainty that Iraqis' will was "stronger than that of the occupier" and that the US would eventually turn Iraq into its "own graveyard."

The American forces would not try to engage with Iraqi resistance groups directly, but the groups have Coordination Council that has vowed they "would take action if the Americans' insisted on staying."

So far, he noted, Americans have been being warned against continuing their military presence in Iraq by means of various attacks that have taken place on their convoys, but such attacks could expand in scale to target their bases if necessary.

The United Nations ratifications entitle Iraqis to confront those occupying their homeland, Akili said, and underlined that the Iraqi groups were equipped with advanced weapons as well as surveillance and reconnaissance devices.

On the meaningless meet-up, Hassan Ali Ahmed (AL-MONITOR) offers this take:

Mahmoud al-Rubai, the spokesman of the Sadeqoun movement — which is the political wing of Asaib Ahl al-Haq — issued a statement about the strategic talks that said, “Provided that their numbers, missions and whereabouts are known, there is no objection to the presence of advisers for training and development purposes, as well as military technicians, according to the real need for the Iraqi armed forces, their weapons and their equipment, which is applicable in various countries of the world, and we are not against intelligence and information cooperation with countries of the world in order to fight IS and fight terrorism.”

“We leave the matter to be determined by the competent authorities,” Rubai said.

A source close to Iraqi militias told Al-Monitor that the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, Ismail Ghaani, was in Iraq on April 4-6. He is said to have met with several militia leaders and to have put pressure on them to stop any acts outside of the Iraqi state.

This comes in conjunction with the resumption of negotiations between Iran and world powers on finding a pathway to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. It could be that Iran does not want to ruin the negotiations before they get started.

Although Iran was not willing to enter any direct dialogue with the United States on the nuclear deal, it finally accepted indirect talks with the United States in Vienna this week.  

Prior to the US-Iraq strategic talks, the Coordinating Committee of the Iraqi Resistance Factions, which includes all Iran-backed militias, issued a statement demanding a clear timetable for departure of all US forces from Iraq. The committee said it supports the strategic talks only if they lead to setting a clear timetable for a US departure, and that otherwise militias will return to attacking US bases and forces in Iraq.


Again, getting into Iraq has always been much easier than getting out.  On the topic of the militias,  Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST) report:

But while some U.S. officials have viewed the militias as little more than proxies in a campaign to extend Iran’s regional influence, these groups are often deeply embedded in the fabric of Iraqi society, having emerged out of its own turbulent history.

Some have roots that date back decades. Their official network, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, was born in 2014 with widespread support across Iraq’s Shiite south, after tens of thousands answered calls by Iraq’s prime minister and by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq’s highest Shiite religious authority, to fight the Islamic State militants.

And now, as some Iraqis are souring on these Iran-backed militias, the grievances extend well beyond Tehran’s influence to include concerns about what these groups have become and the promises they have broken.

Today, the militias are economic powerhouses and enforcers of the political regime. They are marbled throughout the country’s ruling institutions, and when mass protests erupted against the government in October 2019, Iran-backed armed groups quashed them with deadly force. Human rights groups have frequently accused them of abuses.

“It made me regret that I allowed my brother to fight. I pray every day to live long enough to look out for his children,” said Abdullah, 58, a former militia volunteer who like others interviewed spoke on the condition that his last name be withheld, out of fear of retaliation. An Islamic State sniper killed his brother, Haider, in an ambush in the fall of 2014, he said.

In the corner of their family home, Haider’s son, Karrar, sat listening, tense knees pulled to his chest as he stared at the ground.

Meanwhile protests continue in Iraq.  MIDDLE EAST MONITOR reports:

Hundreds of protesters in southern Iraq yesterday closed three bridges in the city of Nasiriyah, the capital of Dhi Qar Governorate, and the Maysan Oil Company building demanding jobs for local residents, Anadolu reported.

Eyewitnesses said hundreds of protesters demanding jobs in government institutions and oil companies closed the three bridges in Nasiriyah, while others prevented employees of the Maysan Oil Company from entering the building.

They held banners outlining pledges made by the company to employ locals. Commitments, they said, have not been met.

There was no immediate comment from the authorities on the protests.

Imagine that, the government had no comment.  This would be she same government that Tweeted the following last week:

PM : Tomorrow we will announce the results of the investigative committee on the casualties during the recent protests in Nasiriyah.

Six days later and they still haven't released any results.  

Staying with governments, we'll note the following from the US State Dept:

April is National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM) and celebrates the heritage, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans. This month, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs will highlight Arab Americans in our bureau advancing U.S. foreign policy and national security efforts in the United States and across Europe. This effort is a part of a broader campaign celebrating diversity and inclusion as core American values.

Throughout 2021, EUR will highlight the diversity of Americans serving in the bureau. Please check back here throughout the month as we spotlight our outstanding colleagues in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.

Jamal Al-Mussawi

Jamal Al-Mussawi

Jamal Al-Mussawi is the Chief of the External Affairs Unit in U.S. Embassy Berlin’s Political Section. Prior to his current assignment, Jamal was the Chief of Staff/Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell, and then to Acting Assistant Secretary Philip Reeker. Jamal also served as the Political-Economic Counselor in Muscat, Oman; a Political Officer in Bratislava, Slovakia; a Consular and Political-Economic Officer in Bridgetown, Barbados; and as a Political Officer in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Before joining the U.S. Foreign Service in 2005, Jamal worked for three years at the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute, where he designed and implemented courses on human rights, counterterrorism, political-military affairs, and foreign policy for the institute’s Political Training Division. In 2014, Jamal founded the Arab Americans in Foreign Affairs Agencies (AAIFAA) Employee Affinity Group and served twice as AAIFAA’s chair. He is currently an adviser to AAIFAA as well as Mission Germany’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. Born in Basrah, Iraq, Jamal was raised and educated in the United States, Egypt, and the UK. A seemingly constant foreign language student, Jamal has studied (and speaks to varying degrees) Russian, Slovak, Arabic, and German.

Hazel Cipolle

Hazel Cipolle

Hazel Cipolle is the Desk Officer for Southern Europe in the Office of Press and Public Diplomacy. Hazel’s Lebanese and Syrian heritage sparked her love for the Arabic language and led her to study international culture and politics at Georgetown University, where she became interested in international education issues. She managed a non-profit workforce and higher education development program that bridged colleges in the United States and countries of the Middle East and North Africa for several years before joining the Department of State in 2014. Her Foreign Service postings include as Cultural Affairs Officer for the Tunis-based Libya External Office, Public Diplomacy Officer at U.S. Embassy Tunis, and at U.S. Embassy Cairo. Hazel is a native of New Hampshire and brings her love for language, dance, and the outdoors into her work.

Anissa Hanson

Anissa Hanson

Anissa joined the Foreign Service early in life. A happy Eligible Family Member with a newborn child, she had not planned on entering the career, but destiny decided otherwise. Her Foreign Service husband was killed while on assignment and Anissa was thrust into a new chapter of life. Since the early 80’s she has served in numerous posts, mainly in Europe and the Middle East. She and her son traveled the world together, learning so much about other civilizations, religions, languages, and cultures; she wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything in the world. Her son was educated in American schools all over the world and is now a practicing doctor who speaks multiple languages and who has an amazing open mind. Anissa tried to retire from the Foreign Service back in 2008, but she keeps coming back. She loves her life and wants to do nothing else.

Meghan Clare Marone Hawkins

Meghan Hawkins

Meghan Clare Marone Hawkins is an Assistant Community Liaison Officer at U.S. Embassy Tbilisi. After earning her Master’s degree in autism and developmental disabilities studies, she worked in the United States supporting children and their families through clinical and non-profit work. Meghan is a military spouse who is passionate about assisting service members and their families and has volunteered at every post where her husband has been stationed. She is a tired but proud mother of two toddlers and excited to travel the world with her family.

Rebecca Jabarov

Rebecca Jabarov

Rebecca Jabarov is a Foreign Service Specialist who joined the State Department in 2012. She is currently serving as the Office Management Specialist to the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon. Prior to joining the Department, she lived in Los Angeles for ten years where she had a career in the Entertainment field, working behind the scenes to set up various television shows and films. Her Foreign Service sister convinced her to join, as she knew she’d love the fast-paced life of a diplomat. She has previously served in Turkey, Tanzania and Azerbaijan.

Kareem Jamjoom

Kareem Jamjoom

Kareem Jamjoom joined the Foreign Service in 2007 and currently serves as the Management Officer in Embassy Podgorica, Montenegro. Kareem speaks Montenegrin, French, Italian, and Arabic. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in international politics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington, DC and a Master of Arts degree from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Kareem loves cooking, traveling, and spending time with the amazing friends he has made around the world.


Let's stay with the State Dept for a moment, they were one of the US agencies involved in last week's meeting with Iraq -- the virtual meeting.  The US press repeatedly lied that the meeting was virtual because of the pandemic, if only there wasn't COVID, it could have been face to face.


We noted it was a lie before the meeting took place.  The press has still not corrected itself.  This despite the fact that there are multiple statements you can find on the State Dept's website.  Such as?  "Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will travel to Brussels, Belgium April 13-15. " "U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 9 to meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, and other members of the cabinet.  He also met with development partners and representatives of foreign governments."  "Acting Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie Chung will accompany Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council Juan Gonzalez on travel to Colombia, Argentina, and Uruguay, April 11–15, to engage with government officials." "Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry traveled to India this week and met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They discussed U.S.-India cooperation on addressing the climate crisis and raising global ambition heading into President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate April 22-23, the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change later this year, and beyond."

We could do this all day but I think (hope) the point has been made.  Travel by the US State Dept continues.  It was their wish not to go to Iraq -- not their practice.  A virtual meet-up was done because that's about as much effort as the US government wants to make on Iraq.

It'd be great if the press could correct their error but when do they ever self-correct?

RT's GOING UNDERGROUND spoke with Fidel Narvaez, former counsel at the Ecuadorian Embassey, about the persecution of Julian Assange.  Last week, WIKILEAKS noted:

11 years ago today WikiLeaks published Collateral Murder. It was a defining moment in our understanding of the Iraq war. The publisher, Julian Assange, faces a 175 year sentence for publishing evidence of such crimes, government abuses & corruption

 Journalist Glenn Greenwald Tweets the following:

The Biden Admin and have zero moral credibility to malign the free speech and press freedom abuses in other countries while the Biden DOJ continues to do everything possible to keep Julian Assange imprisoned for publishing docs about, among others, Obama & Hillary.

And Sarah Abdallah Tweets:

Today marks two years since Julian Assange was arrested and thrown in a maximum security dungeon for revealing war crimes to the world. This is the biggest attack on press freedom in modern history. And where is the corporate media? Looking the other way, naturally.

Sturday, Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Hunter Biden Crawls Out From Under His Rock" went up.  A few are asking why he's going up late Saturday and not Sunday.  Isaiah archives his public comics at his site (as opposed to the comics he does just for the community newsletters).  That means he needs to be able to find them.  I wasn't aware until it was pointed out to me by several community members now that we're doing oighty posts a week, the weekly archive on the site does not show all the posts.  It drops off the earliest ones.  So instead of Sunday morning, when he has a comic ready on the weekend, it will go up at the end of Saturday so he can find it easily when he is doing his archives.