Friday, July 16, 2021. We look at the upcoming elections in Iraq (another group announced today that they won't be participating) and the difference between public statements and what officials really want.
THE NATIONAL offers a nonsense clip -- did the US State Dept hold their hands while they made it? -- entitled "Why are US troops in Iraq?"
Why are US troops in Iraq? As you watch the garbage above, you quickly realize it won't provide you with an answer.
2,500 US troops in Iraq? You mean 2,500 admitted to, right?
Then they call the drawdown at the end of 2011 a "withdrawal" -- which not even the Pentagon called it in real time. And then they insist that after the "withdrawal," three years later, US troops were sent back into Iraq.
How's your math?
I never claim it to be my strong suit but when I ad 2011 plus 3, I get 2014. Is that what you get?
I ask because 2014 isn't 2012. I'm right no that, right?
Tim Arango's September 25, 2012 NEW YORK TIMES report which noted, "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 [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."
2012. A year after 2011. Not even a full year after the drawdown (not withdrawal, all US troops did not leave Iraq -- refer to Ted Koppel's real time reporting for NBC and NPR).
THE NATIONAL wants to ask "Why are US troops in Iraq?" They don't want to answer it.
Not even in a geopolitical manner. But they also don't want to be honest about the basics.
This is a propaganda video made by people who want the US in Iraq forever. As the video moves from getting basic facts wrong, it then presents arguments as facts. ISIS. Iran. Blah, blah, blah.
Iran? The US has to stay in Iraq because of Iran?
Hate to break it to THE NATIONAL but ISIS may some day be gone but Iran's going to be Iraq's neighbor forever.
They share a border. They'll fight, they'll get along, they'll have a relationship that will last as long as the earth does.
It's all a bunch of nonsense from THE NATIONAL.
Let's drop back to yesterday's snapshot: After it went up, there was some confusion. We were talking about Mustafa al-Kadhimi and his notorious inability to provide leadership. We were noting that elections were supposed to take place this October and that Mustafa wanted a second term as prime minister of Iraq. We were noting that otuside factors were the only thing benefitting him because his own actions certainly were not. We explained that one of the biggest political parties in Iraq, the PUK, was in disarray. It's the second largest party in the Kurdistan Region. (Clearing up for one e-mail, the person appointed prime minister-designate will most likely have to cobble together support from various parties and slates because no one will win enough support from the direct election -- or that's been the case in every national election in Iraq since 2005.) And now Moqtada al-Sadr -- Shi'ite cleric and attention whore -- is issuing a dramatic statement. Those seem to come weekly now, don't they? Last week, he was declaring that he was about to be killed and "Don't Cry For Me Sadr City" in his best Evita manner. Yesterday's announcement was he wouldn't see office, be part of the process and blah blah blah. Then we noted a sentence about Mustafa that I'll include in just a second. Mustafa is making agreements with political leaders and has been doing that for months -- these are regarding the upcoming elections because he wants their support to get a second term. The PUK and KDP have been in talks but have made no agreement thus far. Moqtada had made an agreement with Mustafa. (Nouri al-Maliki is rather infamous right now for his -- and State of Law's stance -- which is against a second term for Mustafa. Even Moqtada wouldn't go that far.)
So after that, the following:
At the end of the month, Mustafa al-Kadhimi is supposed to visit the US and meet with President Joe Biden. ADDED: ARAB NEWS reports:
Iraq and the US discussed Thursday “the mechanisms for the withdrawal of combat forces” during a meeting of senior officials.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi met with US National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk to discuss these mechanism and the “transition to a new phase of strategic cooperation that develops the relationship between the two countries and enhances Iraq’s security and sovereignty,” a statement released by Kadhimi’s office said.
That first sentence created some confusion -- did I mean Mustafa or Moqtada? I meant Mustafa. So I asked Shirley to add what appears after "ADDED" hoping that cleared it up.
On that topic, if the US government wants Mustafa for a second term, look for the visit to produce statements about a "withdrawal." It'll be meaningless but they'll offer them.
Mustafa is grand standing about wanting US troops out. He doesn't. His government would fall without them -- and that's the reason, pay attention THE NATIONAL, that US troops are still in Iraq: To prop up the US created government that refuses to gain traction or popularity with the Iraqi people. All this time later, it has still not taken root and Iraqis do not feel their government represents them. For good reason. Here's a video report on the most recent protests (over the hospital fire earlier this week and the corruption.)
Mustafa is not popular. He was supposed to be a one term prime minister that would get sworn in, schedule early elections and then step aside quickly. Then he got into office. The addiciton to power -- and possibly the lure of corruption -- have him determined to be a life long politician. And, really, who can blame him? What's he going to do? Go back to 'reporting' (writing opinion pieces passed off as reporting) for outlets like ARAB NEWS?
When he made his recent statements after the bombing the US carried out at the end of June, some who don't pay attention to Iraq were hailing him. That would include Glenn Greenwald. Glenn, you're too smart to act so foolishly.
First, if Mustafa wanted US troops out of Iraq, he would have exercised the exist clause which he can trigger as prime minister -- the exit clause to the agreement the US government and the Iraqi government entered into.
It doesn't require any input from the Iraqi Parliament. Why is that?
Know the damn history. So many idiots are betrayed by not knowing it.
Nouri al-Maliki couldn't sell the Parliament on an agreement. The US grasped it and so did Nouri. The UN mandate for the occupation of Iraq was running out. The US needed its own mandate to stay -- a legal agreement between it and the Iraqi government. Like the UK, they got one. But they were idiots and got a yearly agreement. Nouri rammed it through without Parliament the first year but suffered huge blowback and promised that he would get their permission for the next year. He didn't.
That's why the SOFA was a three year agreement. It was too much for Nouri politically -- and the US government wanted him as prime minister -- to keep going back yearly.
This applies to the current situation as well and why people need to know the history.
Mustafa's lying the same way Nouri did. He needs US troops to stay in Iraq to protect him -- now from the militias, on top of everything else. Especially true after they openly rejected him and circled his compound a few weeks ago.
Nouri lied. The US government lied. To the Iraqi people, to the US citizens, to the world.
It wasn't planned.
Nouri wanted US troops in Iraq. To remain in Iraq. He did not want to expend a lot of time and effort on selling 3,000 or less. He told Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman -- as they both noted and as Lieberman testified before Congress -- in the summer of 2011 that he wanted approximately 20,000 at a minimum.
And then the 'withdrawal' took place.
I was at the hearing where Leon Panetta testified as Secretary of Defense and explained that negotiations were ongoing. Even while the 'withdrawal' was being sold by both governments and by the press, both sides thought an agreement would be reached by January. Didn't happen in the end. Because Barack Obama wouldn't guarantee the number of US troops Nouri wanted.
But while that went on, the discussions, you really didn't hear about it. You were lied to and told that a "withdrawal" was taking place. (Ted Koppel tried to get the real information out.)
So you need to stop mistaking posturing statements from politicians as they seek re-election for truth.
If Mustafa wanted US troops out of Iraq, the steps would have already been initiated for that to happen.
The upcoming meeting is taking place in an attempt to lift Mustafa's profile in Iraq. It's part of his recent (and ongoing) meet leaders tour. So far, that hasn't helped at all and he's openly mocked (even by ARAB NEWS) for his interaction with the leader of Egypt.
The US government is assessing Mustafa's popularity currently and they are also assessing how well he might be able to deliver what the US government wants. If they decide to bet on him, look for him to stand beside Joe Biden and issue some statement about US troops leaving.
Such an announcement doesn't have to be true. Believe it when US troops actually leave.
But it will be an attempt by the US government to inflate Mustafa's standing in Iraq.
Officials shot down a report out of Baghdad on Thursday that the United States is preparing to withdraw its approximately 2,500 troops from Iraq.
The push back follows a tweet from a BBC reporter saying that Brett McGurk, the National Security Council’s top official for the Middle East and North Africa, told Iraqi officials that American troops would leave the country.
“This report is totally false,” a senior Biden administration official told Defense One. The BBC reporter later deleted her original tweet and said in a new post that U.S. officials said it was “not true,” denying the information she received from Iraqi sources.
McGurk met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi on Thursday to discuss preparations for the next strategic talks between the United States and Iraq, which first happened in April, as well as “the mechanisms for the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq and the transition to a new phase of strategic cooperation,” according to a translation of a tweet from Al-Kadhimi’s office.
Al-Kadhimi is expected to meet with Biden in Washington later this month.
On the planned elections, Sura Ali (RUDAW) reports:
Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako said on Friday that
Christians will not vote in Iraqi parliamentary elections because of
concerns over militias and possible fraud, the latest boycott that could
cast doubts on the legitimacy of the election.
“I doubt that there will be transparent and fair elections as the ground is not prepared for that. There are militias and political money, so fraud will occur,” Sako said in an interview with Rudaw, adding that he expects the same people will stay in power.
In this environment, he said Christians will not participate in the elections because they are “tired of it.”
“The Christian quota will be hijacked again,” he added.
Iraq will hold parliamentary elections in October, a year ahead of schedule. An early vote was one of the demands of anti-government protesters who took to the streets in 2019. But after assassinations of leading activists, the government’s failure to hold the murderers responsible, and rampant corruption, there have been numerous calls for boycotts.
Some activists and journalists have called for a boycott campaign, saying the elections will be open to fraud and overtaken by militias that operate out of the control of the state.
In Iraq, the people are still reeling from a fire that appears to be caused due to a lack of government oversight and regulation probably due to corruption. Ruth Sherlock (NPR) notes, ''Flames swept through outbuildings of the al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in the southern city of Nasiryah on Monday that had been set up to isolate those sick with COVID-19. Patients became trapped inside, with rescue teams struggling to reach them in time." This morning, Abdulrahman Zeyad and Samya Kullab (AP) report:
No beds, medicines running low and hospital wards prone to fire — Iraq’s doctors say they are losing the battle against the coronavirus. And they say that was true even before a devastating blaze killed scores of people in a COVID-19 isolation unit this week.
Infections in Iraq have surged to record highs in a third wave spurred by the more aggressive delta variant, and long-neglected hospitals suffering the effects of decades of war are overwhelmed with severely ill patients, many of them this time young people.
Doctors are going online to plea for donations of medicine and bottled oxygen, and relatives are taking to social media to find hospital beds for their stricken loved ones.
“Every morning, it’s the same chaos repeated, wards overwhelmed with patients,” said Sarmed Ahmed, a doctor at Baghdad’s Al-Kindi Hospital.
Widespread distrust of Iraq’s crumbling health care system only intensified after Monday’s blaze at the Al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in the southern city of Nasiriyah, the country’s second catastrophic fire at a coronavirus ward in less than three months.
The following sites updated: