The Common Ills


Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, August 25, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the United Nations Security Council recognizes Iraq's LGBT community, a paper ceases publication in Baghdad due to militia attacks, Emma Sky discusses how Iraq got to its current crises, and much more.




We're going to open with these remarks by US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power from Monday:





Today we are making UN history. The UN Security Council has never before had a meeting on LGBT issues.
It is an honor to co-host this meeting with Chile, which continues to be a strong advocate for LGBT rights and more generally for empowering civil society around the world.
Let me welcome our briefers. Deputy-Secretary General Jan Eliasson, who along with Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, has worked tirelessly to advance LGBT rights both within the UN, taking unprecedented steps on behalf of LGBT rights, and across the world. Jessica Stern is here representing the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, an NGO doing critically important work to protect LGBT persons, including in the places we will discuss today. And finally, we are beyond grateful to have a man we’ll call “Adnan” and Subhi Nahas speak to us today. You will have the opportunity to hear from them directly, but I’d like to just now say a few words about each.

“Adnan” is not Adnan’s real name – it is a pseudonym he is using to hide his identity. Adnan fled northern Iraq after being marked for death by ISIL because he is gay. Adnan is a client of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, an extraordinary organization that has helped facilitate his participation today. He still fears that he could be attacked by ISIL if identified, which is the reason he is speaking to the Council today by phone rather than by video link. Out of concern for Adnan’s safety, I would like to request that no audio or video recordings be made during this historic event.
Subhi Nahas – a gay man and LGBT advocate from Syria – was forced to flee his home after receiving death threats from Jabat al Nusra. Even after fleeing to neighboring Lebanon and then Turkey, he continued to receive threats, this time from ISIL. He now lives in the United States.
Adnan and Subhi’s experiences are distinct, as you will hear, but they share key parallels. Both faced discrimination, threats and attacks before violent extremist groups seized power in their communities. Both were marked for death for being gay, and knew LGBT individuals who were killed. And both had to flee their homes because of who they are.
Their cases are not outliers, but rather part of a pattern of systematic abuse. Yet until now, the targeting of LGBT persons like Adnan and Subhi by ISIL has received scant international attention. Today, we are taking a necessary step toward remedying that oversight.
ISIL does not try to hide its crimes against LGBT persons – it broadcasts them for all the world to see. Many of us have seen the videos. ISIL parading a man through the streets and beating him – for being gay. ISIL marching men to the tops of buildings and throwing them to their deaths – for being gay. In one of these videos, allegedly from Syria, we are told that the victim was found to be having a gay affair. He is blindfolded, walked up stairs of a building, and then heaved off its roof. His suffering did not end there. The victim miraculously survived the fall, only to be stoned to death by a mob that waited for him below. Kids in the crowd were reportedly encouraged to grab stones and take part.
The mob in this instance carries an important lesson: while the targeting of LGBT individuals in the region appears to have worsened as ISIL’s power has grown, such violence and hatred existed well before the group’s dramatic rise, and that violence and hatred extends far beyond ISIL’s membership. The victim in that grotesque video may have been thrown to his death by ISIL, but he was ultimately killed by stone-throwing individuals who did not belong to the group. Similarly, before Subhi Nahas was forced to flee his country because of death threats from Jabhat al Nusra, he was targeted for being gay by Syrian government soldiers. And before ISIL came to power, Adnan was repeatedly attacked by gangs of thugs for being gay, once being beaten so severely that he could hardly walk.
Today, we are coming together as a Security Council to condemn these acts, to demand they stop, and to commit to one day bringing the perpetrators to justice. That unified condemnation matters. This is the first time in history that the Council has held a meeting on the victimization of LGBT persons. It is the first time we are saying, in a single voice, that it is wrong to target people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. It is a historic step. And it is, as we all know, long overdue.
But crucial and unprecedented as this step is, condemning ISIL’s violent and systematic targeting of LGBT individuals is the easiest step we can take today. Because while today’s session is focused on the crimes against LGBT persons committed by ISIL, we know the scope of this problem is much broader. Consider the report released in June by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – a report that found that thousands of people have been killed or brutally injured worldwide because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. According to the report, “the overall picture remains one of continuing, pervasive, violent abuse, harassment and discrimination affecting LGBT and intersex persons in all regions…often perpetrated with impunity.”
We are all horrified by ISIL’s videos of men being thrown to their death. But what is it about these crimes that so shocks our collective conscience? At its essence – it is the denial of a person’s most basic right because of who they are. It is ISIL deciding that, because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, they do not deserve to live.
Yet if these crimes feel utterly unjust and wrong to us, we must also ask: Why is it acceptable to deny LGBT persons other human rights? Why should LGBT persons be imprisoned for who they are? Why should police be allowed to refuse to investigate attacks or threats against LGBT persons? Why should we accept LGBT persons being turned away from schools or jobs or social services because of who they love? The answer to all of these questions is the same: We should not accept it. But too often we do.
No religious beliefs justify throwing individuals off of buildings or stoning them to death because of who they love. No cultural values excuse refusing to investigate a killing, assault or death threat because the victim is gay. These are not Western-imposed rights, or the North trying to force its values on the South.
Yet in too many parts of the world, denying LGBT rights is still seen as moral and just. Laws are used to criminalize LGBT persons, rather than to prosecute the people who violate their rights. That must change.
That change begins by working to stop attacks against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. And by taking steps to ensure that those who commit these heinous and brutal crimes are held accountable, whether the perpetrators belong to ISIL or police forces or are members of our own communities.

But stopping violence is not enough. We must strive to defend the rights of LGBT persons wherever they are denied, including within the United Nations. To give just one example, as recently as five years ago the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission – the NGO led by Jessica Stern, one of our guest briefers – was denied UN accreditation in the UN NGO Committee because of the issues they work on. And you will hear today just how critical those issues are. As a result, Jessica and members of her NGO were not even allowed to attend meetings like this one, much less speak at one – they wouldn’t even be in the room. Today, because of a successful campaign led by some Member States with support from civil society, Jessica’s group has been accredited – and she is speaking up here on the stage where she belongs. Nonetheless, groups like Jessica’s are still being denied accreditation on similar grounds.

The effort to defend the equal rights of LGBT persons must also be waged within every one of our countries, even those where important progress has been made – and that includes in the United States. For just as this year we have made tremendous strides in advancing LGBT rights in the United States, we are under no illusion that the work is finished. Every one of our countries can and must do more to advance these rights domestically.
Let me conclude and hand the floor over to my esteemed co-host, Ambassador Barros-Melet. This year we mark seventy years since the creation of the United Nations. It is fair to say that in writing the charter, the drafters did not consider LGBT rights part of their conception of equal rights. But if we read the Charter today – and in particular its call to “reaffirm faith… in the dignity and worth of the human person” – it is impossible not to see a call for all of us to affirm LGBT rights. It is impossible not to see individuals like Adnan and Subhi as having the same inherent dignity and worth. And it is impossible not to take up the struggle for their rights as our own, as we have other great human rights struggles over the last seven decades. Today, we take a small but important step in assuming that work. It must not be our last step.
Thank you.
And with that, let me turn it over to Ambassador Barros-Melet of Chile, the United States’ co-chair for today’s event.
###




We attended the event on Monday and, today, I was asked by a State Dept friend if we were going to note the event in any way?

Some people there?


Two-bit whores.

They had nothing to say when the Iraqi government was persecuting the LGBT community in Iraq (specifically  actions in 2009 and 2012).

That was under Nouri al-Maliki.  He used the Ministry of the Interior to go into the schools and attempt to stir up greater violence against the LGBT community.

This was not news in the US.

And certain US figures at the event yesterday really hope no one ever goes back and discovers how silent they were in real time.


But a lot of whores  who will allow themselves to be used to sell war showed up with the intent to sell war.

Power?

I don't care for Samantha Power -- that's obvious, check the archives here and at Third.  I loathe her husband and have loathed him long before he hooked up with Power.

I'm sure she's selling war in some form by participating in the event because she's a War Hawk.  That said she and Hillary Clinton are the only two who expressed grave concerns in the administration when Nouri al-Maliki was targeting the LGBT community in Iraq (and Hillary's the only one who offered a public comment in real time).

So we'll not Samantha Power's opening remarks (in full).  Again, I'm sure she's selling war (what else does she ever do?) but she's also got a bit of a history on this issue that demonstrates -- selling war or not -- she does actually care about the issue.

Still we'll  offer a basic truth that she didn't.


Power opened with, "Today we are making UN history. The UN Security Council has never before had a meeting on LGBT issues."

That's just not good enough and considering the lies that are in the official United Nations record, it needs to be corrected.

If you go to the so-called 'transcripts' of the United Nations Security Council briefings on Iraq, you'll find a paragraph or so about Nouri's attack on the LGBT community in Iraq.

Let's be really clear -- and I called this out in real time -- those sentences were never stated publicly.

If you're late to the party, you can check out the   April 10, 2012 snapshot and the April 11, 2012 snapshot and particularly this section:

We got a little talk about women in this presenation.  That is new.  Previous presentations to the Security Council by the Special Envoy to Iraq frequently left women out.  But apparently, something more "gross" and "disgusting" than women has been found by the office of Special Envoy: Iraq's LGBTs.
It was really disgusting to hear Kobler prattle on about violence and minorities and never once note the attacks on Iraq's LGBT community.  It was disgusting.
It was disgusting that Susan Rice never bothered to raise the issue. As evidenced by this White House announcement, the administration is aware that this is LGBT Pride Month.  Somehow the memo didn't reach Susie Rice. If the US LGBT community has any sense of community with those LGBTs living in other countries where their lives are threatened for who they are, US LGBTs would insist that the White House start proving they give a damn about LGBT rights. 
These photo ops and press releases are bull f**king s**t if in hearing after hearing, the administration refuses to address threats to LGBTs.  Susan Rice presided over the Security Council hearing today.  She had it in her power to set the agenda.  She was happy to slam that hammer down repeatedly announcing "So ordered" after she'd issued an edict.  But she wasn't happy or willing to use that power to address the plight of Iraq's LGBT community.  Since the start of this year, many have been killed.  This isn't a secret, it's well reported, and we've certainly covered it here. 
Martin Kobler and Susan Rice and the United Nations and the White House enable those killings by refusing to address the murders in what they call a hearing on the "the situation in Iraq."  There's no excuse for that.  Shame on them for their non-actions and their silence.




Ban Ki-moon's Special Envoy to Iraq at the time (Martin Kobler) never mentioned the LGBT community.

It looks like he did due to a 'transcript' of the event.  

Though the trained monkey read from his statement for approximately 17 minutes, he skipped the section on the LGBT community.

So to say, "Today we are making UN history"?  That's correct.  But not just because there's never been a Security Council meeting on LGBT issues.  It's also because the Security Council has never before been told in a hearing about Iraq's LGBT community.


The event was put together to sell war.

Jessica Stern was on board (always!) and repeated, as fact, allegations she never witnessed.  This despite the fact that, not so long ago, she was cautioning against the reports of the Islamic State attacking LGBT community members in Iraq.

What about the Iraqi witnesses!!!!

A Syrian man, now living in San Francisco, appeared to offer testimony.

Otherwise we heard from a male who said he was Iraqi and may or may not have been but was not present and phoned in his testimony.  It was like listening to Charlie on Charlie's Angels, "Good morning, angels!"  "Good morning, Charlie!"

That's about as much time as we'll spend on the event because I'm really not interested in taking part in a fake they-were-tossing-babies-out-of-incubators psyops bit.  But, again, Power was genuinely concerned when Nouri and his goons were attacking the LGBT community so, although everything she does is about selling war, we will take her concern as genuine and note her remarks -- if no one else's remarks.


A much more important gathering was recently covered by Al Jazeera.  This was an event that the Association of Muslim Scholars In Iraq held and out of it has come their "The 'Inclusive Iraq' Scheme: The Proper Solution for Saving Iraq and the Region."  We noted a section of it yesterday.  Who else is noting this, by the way?  It should be getting major attention.  Or does the western press believe attention on Iraq solutions is only warranted if its westerners offering solutions or 'solutions'?  At any rate, we'll note this section of the report:



  Finally, it is worth stressing that the aforementioned initiative details come within the framework of the following specifics and firm beliefs:
1. Full adherence to the independence of Iraq and its territorial integrity and the preservation of its identity. Its policies on development shall be based on the common interests of its citizens. The building of the modern state shall be in accordance with the necessary foundations, constitutionally, legally, economically, militarily, socially and culturally.
2. Commitment to the pluralistic approach and freedom of opinion, based on mechanisms that are consistent with and respect our values ​​and traditions.
3. Exclusion of political revenge mechanisms and allowing for justice. This should be based on a consensual agreement between Iraqis in order for it to take its course in preserving the rights, the lives and dignities and to prevent the events that took place and currently taking place from happening again.
4. Being aware that our tragedy in Iraq is not a tragedy of a certain group, race, region, governorate or any particular place. It is the tragedy of the homeland and the nation. Giving instant attention to partial problems that arise here or there should not affect seeing the whole picture of this tragedy.
5. Rights are not given, but acquired by uninterrupted effective acts, arduous efforts and great sacrifices. Identity is the product of pride in position, mission and mandate. It is not a favour given by anyone nor the result of effect of an action event, effect and reaction, however this may be painful, harsh and long.

6. Inspiring the spirit of resistance, uprisings, protests and popular revolts is crucial and necessary in determining our path towards change and deliverance.


On the subject of protests, this morning I noted that a woman had been stabbed in Baghdad at Friday's protest and this was apparently news to several people judging by e-mails -- not that a woman was stabbed but that a woman participated.

I'm looking at Arabic social media on the protests and often forget that many have to depend on reports in the English language from western media which apparently has yet to discover that women are taking part in these protests.


For those who were not aware of that, we'll offer this Tweet from Friday (a rare one to note women in the protests but women are there at every protest).



  • " data-follows-you="false" data-has-cards="true" data-item-id="634986960067522560" data-name="#IRAQ شمرية العراق " data-permalink-path="/moonnor27/status/634986960067522560" data-screen-name="moonnor27" data-tweet-id="634986960067522560" data-user-id="1638349476" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">



  • " data-follows-you="false" data-has-cards="true" data-has-native-media="true" data-item-id="634839822977343488" data-name="Amer Al-Kubaisi" data-permalink-path="/alkubaisi_en/status/634839822977343488" data-screen-name="alkubaisi_en" data-tweet-id="634839822977343488" data-user-id="2989627672" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    women in today's protests against the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



    Let's stay with truths and note Kevin Sylvester's This Sunday Edition (CBC) which featured Emma Sky discussing Iraq and her new book  The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.  Excerpt of the discussion about the 2010 national election:


    Emma Sky: And that national election was a very closely contested election. Iraqis of all persuasions and stripes went out to participate in that election.  They'd become convinced that politics was the way forward, that they could achieve what they wanted through politics and not violence.  To people who had previously been insurgents, people who'd not voted before turned out in large numbers to vote in that election.  And during that election, the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki, lost by 2 seats.  And the bloc that won was a bloc called Iraqiya led by Ayad Allawi which campaigned on "NO" to sectarianism, really trying to move beyond this horrible sectarian fighting -- an Iraq for Iraqis and no sectarianism.  And that message had attracted most of the Sunnis, a lot of the secular Shia and minority groups as well.

    Kevin Sylvester:  People who felt they'd been shut out during Maliki's regime basically -- or his governance.

    Emma Sky:  Yes, people that felt, you know, that they wanted to be part of the country called Iraq not -- they wanted to be this, they wanted Iraq to be the focus and not sect or ethnicity to be the focus.  And Maliki refused to accept the results.  He just said, "It is not right."  He wanted a recount.  He tried to use de-Ba'athification to eliminate or disqualify some Iraqiya members and take away the votes that they had gained.  And he just sat in his seat and sat in his seat.  And it became a real sort of internal disagreement within the US system about what to do?  So my boss, Gen [Ray] Odierno, was adamant that the US should uphold the Constitutional process, protect the political process, allow the winning group to have first go at trying to form the government for thirty days.  And he didn't think Allawi would be able to do it with himself as prime minister but he thought if you start the process they could reach agreement between Allawi and Maliki or a third candidate might appear who could become the new prime minister. So that was his recommendation.

    Kevin Sylvester:   Well he even calls [US Vice President Joe] Biden -- Biden seems to suggest that that's what the administration will support and then they do a complete switch around.  What happened?

    Emma Sky:  Well the ambassador at the time was a guy who hadn't got experience of the region, he was new in Iraq and didn't really want to be there.  He didn't have the same feel for the country as the general who'd been there for year after year after year.

    Kevin Sylvester:  Chris Hill.

    Emma Sky:  And he had, for him, you know 'Iraq needs a Shia strongman. Maliki's our man.  Maliki's our friend.  Maliki will give us a follow on security agreement to keep troops in country.'  So it looks as if Biden's listening to these two recommendations and that at the end Biden went along with the Ambassador's recommendation.  And the problem -- well a number of problems -- but nobody wanted Maliki.  People were very fearful that he was becoming a dictator, that he was sectarian, that he was divisive. And the elites had tried to remove him through votes of no confidence in previous years and the US had stepped in each time and said, "Look, this is not the time, do it through a national election."  So they had a national election, Maliki lost and they were really convinced they'd be able to get rid of him.  So when Biden made clear that the US position was to keep Maliki as prime minister, this caused a huge upset with Iraqiya.  They began to fear that America was plotting with Iran in secret agreement.  So they moved further and further and further away from being able to reach a compromise with Maliki.  And no matter how much pressure the Americans put on Iraqiya, they weren't going to agree to Maliki as prime minister and provided this opening to Iran because Iran's influence was way low at this stage because America -- America was credited with ending the civil war through the 'surge.'  But Iran sensed an opportunity and the Iranians pressured Moqtada al-Sadr -- and they pressured him and pressured him.  And he hated Maliki but they put so much pressure on to agree to a second Maliki term and the price for that was all American troops out of the country by the end of 2011.  So during this period, Americans got outplayed by Iran and Maliki moved very much over to the Iranian camp because they'd guaranteed his second term.

    Kevin Sylvester:  Should-should the Obama administration been paying more attention?  Should they have -- You know, you talk about Chris Hill, the ambassador you mentioned, seemed more -- at one point, you describe him being more interested in putting green lawn turf down on the Embassy in order to play la crosse or something.  This is a guy you definitely paint as not having his head in Iraq.  How much of what has happened since then is at the fault of the Obama administration?  Hillary Clinton who put Chris Hill in place? [For the record, Barack Obama nominated Chris Hill for the post -- and the Senate confirmed it -- not Hillary.]  How much of what happens -- has happened since -- is at their feet?


    Emma Sky:  Well, you know, I think they have to take some responsibility for this because of this mistake made in 2010.  And Hillary Clinton wasn't very much involved in Iraq.  She did appoint the ambassador [no, she did not] but she wasn't involved in Iraq because President Obama had designated Biden to be his point-man on Iraq and Biden really didn't have the instinct for Iraq. He very much believed in ancient hatreds, it's in your blood, you just grow up hating each other and you think if there was anybody who would have actually understood Iraq it would have been Obama himself.  You know, he understands identity more than many people.  He understands multiple identities and how identities can change.  He understands the potential of people to change. So he's got quite a different world view from somebody like Joe Biden who's always, you know, "My grandfather was Irish and hated the British.  That's how things are."  So it is unfortunate that when the American public had enough of this war, they wanted to end the war.  For me, it wasn't so much about the troops leaving, it was the politics -- the poisonous politics.  And keeping Maliki in power when his poisonous politics were already evident was, for me, the huge mistake the Obama administration made. Because what Maliki did in his second term was to go after his rivals.  He was determined he was never going to lose an election again.  So he accused leading Sunni politicians of terrorism and pushed them out of the political process.  He reneged on his promises that he'd made to the tribal leaders who had fought against al Qaeda in Iraq during the surge. [She's referring to Sahwa, also known as Sons of Iraq and Daughters of Iraq and as Awakenings.]  He didn't pay them.  He subverted the judiciary.  And just ended up causing these mass Sunni protests that created the environment that the Islamic State could rear its ugly head and say, "Hey!"  And sadly -- and tragically, many Sunnis thought, "Maybe the Islamic State is better than Maliki."  And you've got to be pretty bad for people to think the Islamic State's better. 




    The 2010 decision set the events in motion for Iraq's current (and ongoing) crises.

    We objected in real time.  We called for the vote to be respected.

    The western press ignored the vote, ignored the will of the people and treated it as normal that, following an election, the outcome was decided by a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement).

    On the topic of the western press . . .


    My (increased) criticism of the western press over the last two weeks resulted in complaints from two friends today with news outlets covering Iraq.

    Don't I, they wondered, remember what happened to Ned Parker?

    Yeah, I do.

    He was threatened and had to flee Iraq for his own safety as well as the safety of his co-workers.

    I defended Ned.

    I'd defend Ned tomorrow.

    He was one of the finest journalists to ever cover Iraq.

    But I say that not just because of his final reports from Iraq (final for now) about the militias attacking civilians, I say that for his entire body of work on Iraq going back to his days at the Los Angeles Times -- long, long before he joined Reuters.

    Ned Parker mattered every day in his reporting from Iraq.

    I find it cowardly for some who never write anything of importance or value to claim that they can't cover -- or their outlets can't cover -- Iraq honestly because they might also get run out of Iraq like Ned Parker.


    So I'm not really impressed, for example, with an AP report which insists:


    Winning the battle for control of an oil refinery town north of Baghdad is a key step toward defeating the Islamic State group, Iraq's prime minister said in remarks aired Tuesday, hours before a suicide attack killed 13 soldiers and allied militiamen in the western Anbar province.


    Qassim Abdul-Zahra has the byline but this goes beyond one writer.

    I don't know how any outlet can publish that today without noting that his comments are a reply to a very public complaint.

    From Saturday's snapshot:


    Iraq Times reports the reaction to citizens in Basra which was to protest Haider's visit. The activists noted that he traveled all the way to Basra to reassure Big Oil but he did not meet with a single local protester to address the concerns that have had them pouring into the streets for the last weeks.  The report notes that the British and US Ambassadors to Iraq had lobbied Haider to visit Basra to reassure Big Oil.  As Iraq Times also notes, just north of Basra is where a protester -- protesting against Big Oil -- was shot dead by security forces working for yet another foreign oil company in Iraq. 




    Ned Parker is a brave and courageous journalist.

    I don't disagree with that.

    But I also don't see how you have to be Ned Parker to report on Haider's defensive remarks about how he has focused on saving Big Oil and include that this defensive stance results from Iraqi citizens stating Haider cares more about oil than the Iraqi people.

    On the topic of the press, Al Arabiya reports:

    London-based pan-Arabian newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat has announced the decision to stop publishing its edition in Iraq, after repeated violations by Ahl Al-Haq group militia, which they say is “close to Iran and to the former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.”
    The newspaper reported on Tuesday that the militia group had raided their buildings where the paper is printed in the capital Baghdad.

    It added that armed militia were breaching the law, and censoring content by ‘deleting or amending articles and the reports in the newspaper’ that criticized Iranian policy in the region.



    We'll note Ross Caputi's "The battle for your hearts and minds in Falluja" (Medium.com) in tomorrow's snapshot.

    Lastly, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 99 violent deaths across Iraq today.





     iraq
    al jazeera



    Posted at 10:52 pm by thecommonills
     

    Truth the western media misses day after day in Iraq

    Truth the western media misses day after day in Iraq


    On 13th August 2015, the Iraqi government bombed the Fallujah Maternity and Neonatal Hospital, killing 31 people, including 23 women and children.
    This incident was widely reported in the Western media; though the coverage was perhaps cursory and even dismissive by labeling it an “IS-held” hospital. Nevertheless, information about this atrocity was available to the Western world, as is information about the many similar atrocities committed by the Iraqi government since the start of their war against the Sunni uprising and the Islamic State in December 2013.
    This was in fact the 40th time that the Iraqi government has bombed a hospital in Fallujah, and in Fallujah alone over 4,000 civilians have been killed and 5,200 wounded in the last 20 months of government attack.
    The United States has also been complicit in these killings; first by shipping weapons to the Iraqi government to facilitate their internal repression of Sunnis, and then by reinitiating a campaign of airstrikes in the Sunni majority provinces of Iraq in August 2014.


    The above is from Ross Caputi's "The battle for your hearts and minds in Falluja" (Medium.com).  Make a point to read the article in full and to share it with your friends.  It's doubtful you'll find a more important article on Iraq this week (or this month).



    So many press liars offering so much copy and saying so damn little.

    There's the lie that the protesters are treated well.

    The lie that Haider al-Abadi's given them protection.

    Tell it to the woman stabbed last Friday at the Baghdad protest.

    Or tell it to the activists in Hilla.







    متظاهرو بابل ينزلون الى شوارع الحلة رغم اعلان فرض حظر التجوال من قبل القوات الحكومية التي اطلقت النار عليهم قبل قليل

  • Details
  • " data-follows-you="false" data-item-id="635586555759820800" data-name="اعلام الربيع العراقي" data-permalink-path="/IraqiSpringMC/status/635586555759820800" data-screen-name="IraqiSpringMC" data-tweet-id="635586555759820800" data-user-id="1076290609" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false" style="border-bottom-color: rgb(225, 232, 237); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; cursor: pointer; min-height: 51px; padding: 9px 12px; position: relative;">
    بابل: وصول آليات عسكرية إلى ساحة اعتصام الحلة يُشار الى ان القوات الحكومية اطلقت النار قبل قليل باتجاه المتظاهرين في المدينة؛لانهاء التظاهرة
  • Details
  • " data-follows-you="false" data-item-id="635586555759820800" data-name="اعلام الربيع العراقي" data-permalink-path="/IraqiSpringMC/status/635586555759820800" data-screen-name="IraqiSpringMC" data-tweet-id="635586555759820800" data-user-id="1076290609" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false" style="border-bottom-color: rgb(225, 232, 237); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; cursor: pointer; min-height: 51px; padding: 9px 12px; position: relative;">

  • بابل: انباء عن سقوط قتلى وجرحى من متظاهري الحلة؛ جراء قيام القوات الحكومية باطلاق النار عشوائيا تجاه المتظاهرين العزل

  • بابل: القوات الحكومية في مدينة الحلة تطلق الرصاص الحي باتجاه المتظاهرين، وتعلن فرض حظر للتجوال في مركز المدينة .
  • Details
    " data-follows-you="false" data-item-id="635550373810466816" data-name="اعلام الربيع العراقي" data-permalink-path="/IraqiSpringMC/status/635550373810466816" data-screen-name="IraqiSpringMC" data-tweet-id="635550373810466816" data-user-id="1076290609" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false" style="border-bottom-color: rgb(225, 232, 237); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; cursor: pointer; min-height: 51px; padding: 9px 12px; position: relative;">
  • القوات الحكومية في الحلة تفرض حظرا للتجوال في المركز وتمنع الحركة كليا عقب اشتباكات مع المعتصمين امام المحافظة.
    1. Details
      " data-follows-you="false" data-item-id="635550373810466816" data-name="اعلام الربيع العراقي" data-permalink-path="/IraqiSpringMC/status/635550373810466816" data-screen-name="IraqiSpringMC" data-tweet-id="635550373810466816" data-user-id="1076290609" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false" style="border-bottom-color: rgb(225, 232, 237); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; cursor: pointer; min-height: 51px; padding: 9px 12px; position: relative;">





    As Iraqi Spring MC explains in their Tweets, to stop the protests, first they tried to impose a curfew.  Then they began firing live ammo at the protesters.

    Was it only three weeks ago that Haider -- after Ayad Allawi and others publicly called for the protesters to be respected and protected -- insisted that this was a democratic right?


    When they thought they could use the protesters to front their political schemes, they were all for it.  But as their alleged 'reforms' grow ever more hollow, the protesters aren't just making demands, they're calling out the corrupt posing as reformers.





    The following community sites updated last this morning:
















  • The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

     

  • Posted at 10:45 pm by thecommonills
     

    Monday, August 24, 2015
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Monday, August 24, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, militias strangle the hope in Iraq, the League of Righteous lies (but what else would they do), the United Nations notes the ongoing refugee crisis in Iraq, and much more.


    One image may capture better than any other a feeling many Iraqis have regarding the leadership in the country.







    That's from the Kitabat website and 1/2 the face is current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi while the other half is former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

    The accompanying article argues that Iraq is witnessing the struggle between Haider and Nouri -- both Dawa Party members, following Haider's announcement that the Vice President posts were being ended (Nouri al-Maliki is one of the three -- or was).  The article notes that Nouri cannot win the battle by depending on popularity.

    And that's a good call to make.  In 2010, when he lost the election to Iraqiya, before Barack Obama and the Iranian government rescued him and insisted he get a second term, there was a long line of people opposed to him publicly -- this included the National Alliance (Shi'ite political bloc), Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and the leadership of the Dawa political party.

    The article argues that Nouri will try to seize control by utilizing the support he has from various Shi'ite militia groups including the Badr brigade and the League of Righteous.


    The League of Righteous should have been dismantled (others would argue their members should be in prison or executed for the reign of terror they carried out).  But they'r e not dismantled and, in fact,  Mohammed al-Zaidi (Niqash) just interviewed the leader of the League of the Righteous Qais al-Khazali last week:



    NIQASH: In the past few weeks you have made several statements about the need to change Iraq's political system from a parliamentary one to a presidential one. Could you explain what you're asking for and why?


    Al-Khazali: Today in Iraq we have big problems and everybody knows what they are – namely state services are problematic as are strategic projects and the level of unemployment as well as a raft of other things.
    The League of the Righteous believes that one of the main reasons for these problems is the sectarian quota system in Iraq. To resolve this we have suggested that a presidential system be introduced because at the moment, the Prime Minister cannot choose the members of his government. He must bend to the will of the different blocs represented in Parliament who impose candidates upon him. There's a bad atmosphere between the Prime Minister and the Cabinet and its had a negative impact on the government’s work. That is why we make such demands. But such sensitive issues must be left to the Iraqi people to decide.

    NIQASH: But in making these requests, some critics have said that what you are really doing is opening the door for the return of former Iraqi prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.




    Al-Khazali: We do not have any special relationship with Nouri al-Maliki. For example, we were not given any special positions within his government when he was in charge. Additionally we didn't join his electoral bloc during elections; in fact, we contested the elections as a completely separate list.





    That's an utter lie.

    First, let's drop back  to the June 9, 2009 snapshot:




    This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."


    Long before the Afghanistan-did-he-desert-was-he-captured melodrama, Barack had already negotiated with terrorists.  The League of Righteous are terrorists.  And Barack released their leadership from US military custody after he entered in a deal with them to release the 5 British citizens.

    The League was very public to the Iraqi press about the fact that they had a deal with the US government.  They also went back on the deal for a period of time -- releasing only 1 living British citizen and the corpses of three, holding onto a forth corpse while insisting Barack hadn't lived up to all of his part of the deal.

    It's a deal the American people should have known about.

    To this day, the White House has never publicly been pressed to be honest about that deal or even to acknowledge it.

    But several White House friends -- including ______________ -- have insisted to me over the years that the US just released the terrorists from military custody and that didn't prevent Nouri al-Maliki, who was prime minister from 2006 to 2014, from prosecuting them for their crimes in Iraqi courts and that, the argument (or lie) goes, was what was supposed to happen.

    So, by that logic, Nouri's done a great deal for the League, he's kept them out of prison and out of the Iraqi courts.

    He also, when no political organization was supposed to have an active militia, brought them into the political process -- despite his knowing (as did everyone) that the League was nothing but an armed militia.

    They participate in politics now as a result of Nouri.

    So Qais al-Khazali is both a thug and a liar.

    So that's the League.

    Badr?

    Kirk H. Sowell (Cairo Review) noted in his latest analysis:



    Badr—founded in the 1980s in Iran, its continued supporter—is not only the most important of the various armed groups composing the Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd). It also symbolizes how Iraqis’ hopes for a democratic country governed by the rule of law have given way to a political system that is expressly sectarian and increasingly resembles a garrison state. No other militia-political party was better prepared to capitalize on the collapse of Iraqi security forces in northern Iraq last June. Badr’s military commander, Ameri—who tried and failed to get an appointment as minister of defense or interior, in part due to U.S. opposition—has been transportation minister since Maliki’s second cabinet and is now a parliamentarian. Under the new government of Haider Al-Abadi, Ameri was able to get a member of his party, Mohammed Salem Al-Ghabban, confirmed as interior minister. Prior to leaving office, Maliki had made Ameri the military governor of Diyala—an informal appointment usually described euphemistically as al-masuul al-amani (the security official)—which he remains to this day.


    Today, the International Crisis Group issued "Iraq: Conflict Alert" which warned:



    If the current reforms prove little more than window-dressing, they will mean the end of the political life of the prime minister and large portions of the political class. In their place, militia commanders would ride popular anger and military supremacy to power. There are many precedents in Iraq’s history. It was, after all, only a year ago that IS used Sunni anger and a lightening military strike to impose repressive rule in large parts of the country.



    Where does Iraq go now?


    As the White House continues to insist bombing Iraq is liberating it, things don't look all that good.




    The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI) have brainstormed and come up with practical and realistic moves that can be taken.  For example:


    a. A call to hold extensive consultative meetings between the Iraqi powers that stand against the current political situation in Iraq, for the purpose of agreeing on and coordinating the principles and basics of the Inclusive Iraq Scheme and its activation.
    b. A call to convene a series of extensive seminars between the competent members and elites of the civil society, its active groups, its opinion leaders and social fronts, to bring closer the different points of views and reach perceptions that are as convergent as possible.
    c. A call on significant society groups, entities and titles to hold meetings, within their anticipated participation in any forthcoming collective Iraqi effort, and in support of and expansion of an Iraqi public opinion transforming into an active mass movement.
    d. A call to hold a public conference on the establishment of an inclusive Iraqi framework, under one title that regulates the ideas and thoughts of the aforementioned Iraqi powers. This is to be reached through a joint action charter based on the foundations of unity, independence of the Iraqi decision, rejection of near and distant foreign dependency and the enhancement of civil peace. This should stop any attempts to singly influence some powers dragging them towards individual concessions or into traps set here and there. This comes in preparation for a proper solution that can prevent Iraq from falling prey to deadly vacuum.


    We'll note more in tomorrow's snapshot.


    Meanwhile, Iraq has seen the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1947 -- and that was true by 2008.  It's only more true as the displaced continues to grow.  Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced a national hotline had been created to address the humanitarian crisis:



    Baghdad, 24 August 2015 - A national hotline for Iraqi citizens affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis has been launched to provide timely information on humanitarian services such as food distribution points, medical services, and shelter options across Iraq.
    The renewed conflict in Iraq has resulted in a displacement crisis of an unprecedented scale. Over 3.2 million people have been forced into displacement since January 2014 alone. People are scattered in over 3000 locations across the country. This continues to present an enormous challenge for aid agencies trying to provide emergency and life-saving assistance to displaced populations. Many internally displaced persons (IDPs) are residing in hard to reach areas and are in desperate need of assistance and information about available services.
    “More than 3.2 million Iraqis have been internally displaced since the beginning of 2014 and we are simply not able to reach everyone due to the sheer size of the crisis. People continue to be on the move and many more are being displaced as we speak. While the call centre will help identify and respond to the most urgent needs of the displaced, it will also ensure that up-to-date information is available to them, so that they can access the assistance and services they require”, said Bruno Geddo, UNHCR Representative in Iraq. “This is particularly important for displaced people living outside formal camps and settlements, who may otherwise not be easy to reach to help them meet their needs and harness their resources”, Geddo concluded.
    The IDP Information Centre was established as a joint initiative of the Iraq Humanitarian Country Team in an effort to enhance two-way communication between displaced populations and aid agencies. IDPs and affected communities will be able to seek information about humanitarian aid, request assistance, and provide confidential feedback on the humanitarian agencies’ services and outreach activities.
    “First and foremost, the call centre serves as a quick and easy way for IDPs to find out about how the humanitarian community can help. But more importantly, it offers us a chance to connect to, and better understand, the people we serve,” said Jane Pearce, WFP Iraq Country Director. “Through the participation and feedback of IDPs in listening exercises and consultations, we are able to tailor the type of assistance we provide. The affected populations thus become stakeholders in the assistance process, and the humanitarian community more accountable to them”.
    Following a successful pilot in July 2015 in Erbil Governorate, the information centre is now operational across Iraq and can be reached via any Iraqi mobile phone by dialling 6999.
    “The IDP Information Centre represents a truly cooperative effort among humanitarian agencies”, said Kareem Elbayar, UNOPS Programme Manager. “UNOPS established and operates the information centre through the financial contributions of UNHCR, WFP, and OCHA; in-kind support has been provided by IOM. Most importantly, the information we give to callers is provided and regularly updated by dozens of NGOs and UN agencies working through the humanitarian cluster system in Iraq”.

    The IDP Information Centre is currently open from 8:30a – 5:30p Sunday through Thursday, but plans are in place to extend the working hours and add additional operators as needed.




    Iraq came up today at the State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson John Kirby.  We'll note the section regarding northern Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government, where the issue of the presidency remains unresolved.






    QUESTION: Can we go to Iraq?


    MR KIRBY: Sure.


    QUESTION: Any updates on that Kurdish political parties meeting and U.S. involvement?


    MR KIRBY: So yesterday, the five main political parties in the Iraqi Kurdistan region met and decided to continue their discussions. We remain engaged with all the key stakeholders, the United States does. And as I said last week, this is, of course, an internal matter. And we’re – I’d refer you to the Kurdistan Regional Government for further information.


    QUESTION: So one point on this issue, and specifically on U.S. involvement. I’ve been monitoring the social media reaction by the people and also the Kurdish media, that they’ve seen the U.S. involvement is a negative one, is not in favor of democracy, is not in favor of representation law. Because what we have heard from the delegations, that – Kurdish parties’ representation in the meetings – that Ambassador McGurk, he is pressuring everyone to accept extension – President Barzani’s presidential extension for two more years as justifying with the ISIS issue or crisis or threat. And also this is, as you have mentioned before, this is the end of his term, and by law he’s not allowed to stay. And also it’s not an election that he’s suggesting. It is something – extension – which is not democratic, not according to the law. So can you confirm that this is what he suggested in the meeting?


    MR KIRBY: What I can confirm is that Ambassador McGurk was invited back to those meetings in Erbil after he had already left and went to Baghdad. We talked about this last week. He was asked back. And as I said last week, our role was simply to attend and to say what we have said all along, which is that we urge a unified, inclusive approach by all the political parties there, but that these were or these will be decisions that they make for the good of the people they represent. And any assertion that Brett McGurk or any other American delegate or any other American there in Iraq was putting undue pressure on the parties to do one thing or another is absolutely false.


    QUESTION: That means you confirm that that’s not true, that he’s not – he didn’t suggested any – in any way to --


    MR KIRBY: Ambassador McGurk was invited back. He didn’t go to Erbil to put pressure on any one party or for any one purpose. He was invited back, and so he went. And his message was that – what it has always been, which is that we want a unified approach by all the political parties to reach a consensus and to go forward so that they can best represent the people of the region.


    QUESTION: Last one on this. Do you believe – like, is it United States position that it is important that the Kurdish political parties to reach an agreement whether to stay – to allow President Barzani to stay as the president of Kurdistan in any way because of – you think that they – everybody should focus on the ISIS threat at the moment?



    MR KIRBY: We’ve said now is the time for unity in the face of a common enemy, and our focus is on defeating and degrading ISIL. And we want everybody to share that, obviously, same goal and to come together to unite against what is in fact a common enemy to all people living in Iraq.
    As for the solution that they come up with, again, these are internal matters for them to speak to, for them to decide, and for them to explain – not for the American Government to dictate, and we aren’t.


    QUESTION: Sorry, one thing is not clear. What do you mean by “unity?” Because they are all part of a government, all five major political parties. What this unity means, which is – I mean, they are – if they are part of the government and they are all in the parliament, so does this unity means that the division of the region that we have seen in the past in ’90s, so what is the unity --


    MR KIRBY: I just meant a unified approach. Don’t read too much into it. I mean, we want them to take a unified approach forward to best represent the people of the region.




    QUESTION: Thank you.



    Sunday, Margret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counted 188 violent deaths across Iraq.


    Lastly, Diana Ross broke barriers -- for all women and for men of color and, yes, for the gay community.  She has been an inspiration to more people and in more ways than most   could even list.  Her concerts are communities where she welcomes and embraces all as part of the family of the world.


    As the leader of Motown's Supremes, she remade the cabaret circuit.  TV?  As Oprah Winfrey has often noted, when Diana, in all of her glamour, popped up on 60s television, it was an event since national television featured so few African-Americans.  Lena Horne and Eartha Kitt are among those who preceded Diana and paved the way for her and others but both women were appealing to a mature (adult) audience.  Diana Ross was a teen sensation.  Motown was, as the slogan went, the sound of Young America.  As someone with huge appeal to teenagers and pre-teens, she was presenting images of joy, strength and empowerment before many of the damaging racial stereotypes  could take hold in the generation coming of age.

    At the height of the British Invasion, Diana and the Supremes held their own with dozens of hits that have remained a soundtrack of an era (12 of which went to number one on the pop charts).


    Diana went solo following her last number one with the Supremes ("Someday Will Be Together" -- a song which actually doesn't feature the vocals of the two other Supremes).  She became a Vegas performer as important as Frank Sinatra or Cher.  She continued to release hit records (5 solo number ones and one duet with Lionel Richie which went to number one) and also branched out into film and tele-films (Double Platinum, The Wiz, Mahogany, her Academy Award nominated performance in Lady Sings The Blues and her Golden Globe nominated performance in Out of Darkness).  Her concerts are legendary and so is she.


    Sunday, community sites did theme posts about Diana: Mike offered "Mirror Mirror,"  Marcia went with "I'm Coming Out," Ruth chose "'Chain Reaction'," Stan shined a light "Workin' Overtime," Elaine again explored"Swept Away," Ann went with the more recent "Diana Ross' 'Not Over You Yet'," Kat noted Diana's first solo dance hit "'Love Hangover'," Rebecca went with "surrender" which is one of the many classics Ashford & Simpson (Valerie Simpson and the late Nick Ashford) wrote for Diana, Betty squeezed in as much as she could into an overview of "Diana Ross" and  Trina kicked it back to the sixties with "Where Did Our Love Go."



    I try to note theme posts when the community does them.  I wrote a bit more than I normally would.

    If that bothers someone who feels some other topic should have been covered, I'm waiving to you right now -- with the middle finger.

    Women matter.

    And there are few western popular music artists -- male or female -- who have done as much as Diana has.

    There's also the background behind the posts.

    The immediate background is that Sunday Jim suggested we do a look at Diana's music at Third.

    Betty and I immediately said no.

    The posts were in response to that "no."

    Diana is a friend and my biggest regret online is the piece at Third that I believe savaged her music.  Betty was in tears over the final article and I was steaming mad.  That was years ago.  Betty can speak for herself at her site (and probably will tonight) but I am still furious.  And doing a piece that might or might not right that earlier piece from years ago?  It could actually see me walking offline because I am still that furious all these years later.


    So  never accuse me of playing favorites.  I hated that article.  There was no time to rewrite it, hours had been spent on it already.  I was opposed to it.  I noted I was but I didn't kill it.  I didn't censor it. So never accuse me of playing favorites.


    But those posts were an attempt to rectify an earlier wrong (I believe it was a wrong) and I will write a wrap around that notes the amazing accomplishments of a dear friend.











    Posted at 09:12 pm by thecommonills
     

    Iraq and the press that (mis)covers it

    Iraq and the press that (mis)covers it

    Question: If the press were a character in The Wizard of Oz, would they be the Scarecrow or the Lion?  Brainless or cowardly?


    You have to wonder.

    For three weeks, the western press has churned out promotional copy for Haider al-Abadi and his so-called 'reforms' that they've passed off as reporting.

    When does the examination and analysis begin?

    How about just a fact check?


    Here, we've noted repeatedly that Haider is taking actions he does not have the Constitutional power to take.  That's a serious part of the story but it's not in the press coverage, is it?


    Maybe now it will be:


    Abadi also risks his endeavour by putting it on shaky constitutional ground. Rushing to regain the street’s favour, he launched it partly outside the constitution, cancelling the vice presidents’ posts, for example, without legal power to do so. This sets a precedent that could be overturned by the Supreme Court and exploited by political rivals to remove him. 


    That's from the International Crisis Group's "Iraq: Conflict Alert" which they issued today.  They warn:


    If the current reforms prove little more than window-dressing, they will mean the end of the political life of the prime minister and large portions of the political class. In their place, militia commanders would ride popular anger and military supremacy to power. There are many precedents in Iraq’s history. It was, after all, only a year ago that IS used Sunni anger and a lightening military strike to impose repressive rule in large parts of the country.



    On militias, Mohammed al-Zaidi (Niqash) interviewed the leader of the League of the Righteous Qais al-Khazali.


    NIQASH: In the past few weeks you have made several statements about the need to change Iraq's political system from a parliamentary one to a presidential one. Could you explain what you're asking for and why?


    Al-Khazali: Today in Iraq we have big problems and everybody knows what they are – namely state services are problematic as are strategic projects and the level of unemployment as well as a raft of other things.
    The League of the Righteous believes that one of the main reasons for these problems is the sectarian quota system in Iraq. To resolve this we have suggested that a presidential system be introduced because at the moment, the Prime Minister cannot choose the members of his government. He must bend to the will of the different blocs represented in Parliament who impose candidates upon him. There's a bad atmosphere between the Prime Minister and the Cabinet and its had a negative impact on the government’s work. That is why we make such demands. But such sensitive issues must be left to the Iraqi people to decide.


    NIQASH: But in making these requests, some critics have said that what you are really doing is opening the door for the return of former Iraqi prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.



    Al-Khazali: We do not have any special relationship with Nouri al-Maliki. For example, we were not given any special positions within his government when he was in charge. Additionally we didn't join his electoral bloc during elections; in fact, we contested the elections as a completely separate list.


    al-Khazali is not just a thug, he's a huge liar.

    Vying with him for the honor of liar supreme?

    The Daily Beast which reposts the interview with a cutesy and largely fact free intro:



    None of the Shia militias operating in Iraq is regarded with more suspicion by the United States, and more fear by its enemies, than Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the League of the Righteous. Over the last year or so, The Daily Beast has written frequently about this splinter group that was responsible for thousands of attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq after it started operations under the command of Qais al-Khazali in 2004.
    Following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, the League continued to assert itself in Iraq’s politics and on the street. Last year it was believed responsible for the slaughter of 29 women and two men in an attack on an alleged house of prostitution. But since the virtual collapse of Iraq’s U.S.-trained regular army in the face of offensives by the so-called Islamic State, Baghdad has put increasing reliance on Shia militias with close ties to Iran and the head of its external covert action and proxy force operations, Qasem Suleimani.
    As these militias’ confidence has grown, so have their demands that representation of Kurdish and especially Sunni factions in the government and military be curtailed. This conflicts directly with the policies advocated by Washington, which clings to the idea that more, not less, Sunni representation will help undercut ISIS and lead to a stronger Iraqi national army.


    What are they missing?

    Not much, right?
    A major front page New York Times story but, hey, history must be purged of all Barack-related errors and mistakes 



    Let's drop back we'll drop back to the June 9, 2009 snapshot with the realization that some who looked the other way in real time will now be outraged:

    This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."


    No one ever did.

    And publications like The Daily Beast do their part to ensure no one ever will.


    Why white wash thugs? 


    As Kirk H. Sowell points out in his most recent analysis, Iraq may be headed for the thug model becoming a Shi'ite militia state.

    Suck up -- I believe that's the chief press credential these days.


    New content at Third:












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  • Posted at 09:12 pm by thecommonills
     

    Hejira

    Hejira

    Emma Sky spoke with Kevin Sylvester (CBC's The Sunday Edition) about her book The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq:



    But the biggest missed opportunity happened following the first national elections in 2010, when the sitting Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, failed to gain a majority.

    "Iraqis had become convinced that politics, not violence, was the way forward." she says. "All the various groups came out to vote, and the bloc that won ran on a platform of 'no to sectarianism.'"
    Sky believes this presented an opportunity to oust Nouri al-Maliki, a man who was consolidating his own power base, in favour of a true - or at least fledgling - democracy.
    "But it was a close result. Maliki refused to accept the results," she said. 
    The U.S. decided that backing al-Maliki, even with his faults, was the best chance for stability. This wasn't something the military supported.
    "The ambassador at the time, Chris Hill, had no experience of Iraq and didn't really want to be there."

    Sky writes that Hill spent most of his time trying to make the embassy in Baghdad "normal." He even brought in rolls of sod to make a lawn where he could practise lacrosse.


    It was one of the most important moments in Iraq since the 2003 invasion started.


    And yet it's the incident so few people know of.

    Why is that?

    Emma Sky's written a serious book.

    It's the kind that supposed to get you booked on public affairs programs.

    And is there any more high profile public affairs program than Charlie Rose's ridiculous and ongoing show?


    The book came out in April but still no Charlie Rose appearance.

    He has five hours on PBS to fill each week.

    It would be strange unless you remembered that the last book that told the truth about the importance of 2010 was also ignored by Rose.

    As Ava and I noted in 2012's "TV: Media continued fail:"

    Gwen Ifill doesn't know a damn thing about foreign policy so asking her to moderate the segment was laughable.  Equally laughable was not going with a NewsHour foreign policy guest for the segment.

    In fact, we're thinking of one in particular: Michael R. Gordon of The New York Times.

    Gordon's appeared multiple times on The NewsHour.  Strangely, he wasn't booked for the segment on foreign policy last week.

    Why would that be?

    If you're wondering, he's not suddenly press shy.  To the contrary, he has a new book to sell, one he co-wrote with Bernard E. Trainor, The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. The book came out Tuesday.

    Generally, that means you can expect to see and hear Gordon all over PBS and NPR. Strangely, that has not been the case.  No NPR coverage last week of the book.  No come on The NewsHour for a discussion.  Frontline loved to have him on in the past but now now.  Charlie Rose?  He has appeared 12 times in the last ten years on Rose's PBS and Coca Cola program.  But he was no where to be found last week.

    Did Gordon show up at the PBS office party loaded on booze with little Gordon hanging out of his fly?

    No, he did something far worse than that.

    He dared to criticize Barack -- the ultimate media faux pas.  From  John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):



    Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."




    And that, boys and girls, is how you get vanished by PBS and NPR.




    The NewsHour has had Sky on to discuss the book and Iraq, to their credit.  But Charlie Rose feels like he'll lose all his hagged out celebrity 'friends' (horse faced Sarah Jessica Parker among them) were he to allow what the White House did in 2010 to be discussed on his cheesy ass program.

    (Charlie Rose is the only one who thinks Sarah Jessica Parker is still a celebrity.)

    By such factors are the decisions made about what America will or will not see on so-called public affairs programming.






    I'm traveling in some vehicle
    I'm sitting in some cafe
    A defector from the petty wars
    That shell shock love away
    -- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name



     The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4497.


    The following community sites  updated:














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  • Posted at 09:09 pm by thecommonills
     

    Friday, August 21, 2015
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Thursday, August 20, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, corruption charges are brought against some Iraqi officials, Nouri al-Maliki continues to insist he's done nothing wrong, partisan whores treat Iraq War Criminal John Podesta as an honest voice, and much more.



    Let's start with the idiots.

    How stupid do you have to be to do this:


    retweeted


    Chutzpah: Jeb blaming Obama for W's failure in Iraq. Must have forgotten it was Bush-Cheney who blew it there. Now he wants a do over? Plz..



    Seriously?

    How much of a fool and moron is Robert Jolley?

    He's just a parrot for partisan spin, we get that.

    He's not about anything that actually matters.

    I oppose the ongoing Iraq War and have been speaking out against it publicly since 2002 in my offline life.


    What has Baby Cum Pants Jolley done?

    My tolerance for idiots is at an all time low.


    Don't you ever pretend you give a damn about Iraq and then quote all time whore John Podesta.

    Seriously, just stop Tweeting.

    There's no come back for you.

    Only other idiots will ever applaud you.

    You belong to a movement of mass stupidity.



    Dropping back to the March 28, 2007 snapshot:

    Interviewed by Bonnie Faulkner (KPFA's Guns and Butter) today, professor Francis Boyle discussed how a 2003 exploration of impeachment by the Democrats was cut short when John Podesta announced that there would be no introduction of bills of impeachment because it would harm Democrats chances in the  2004 election.  Speaking of the measures being applauded by much in the media, big and small, Boyle declared, "It's all baloney.  All they had to do was just do nothing and Bush would have run out of money. . . .  The DNC fully supports the war, that was made clear to Ramsey [Clark] and me on 13 March 2003 and nothing's changed."  John Podesta, former Clintonista, is with the Democratic talking point mill (that attempts to pass itself as a think tank) Center for American Progress -- with an emphasis on "Center" and not "Progress." 



    See you can't Tweet or reTweet Podesta on the topic of Iraq unless you're trying to get the blood on his hands onto your own.


    Here's David Swanson (in 2009, at Democrats.com) discussing Podesta's role in the Iraq War:


    Boyle and Ramsey Clark presented the case for impeachment to Democratic congress members on March 13, 2003, just days before the bombs hit Baghdad. Impeachment could conceivably have prevented over a million deaths. The congress members present accepted the validity of the case, but John Podesta and others argued that it would be better for Democrats in the next election to let the war happen. We saw this same cold blooded calculation, of course, in 2007 and 2008, as the Democrats controlled the Congress and claimed to "oppose" the war while keeping it going. While Clark argued for the political advantage of pursuing impeachment, Boyle declined to address that point, preferring to stick to the facts. Sadly, electoral arguments are almost the only thing most congress members care about, and human life is not even on the list.



    Need more?   Here's Boyle speaking to Dori Smith (Talk Radio Nation -- link is audio and transcript) from February 7, 2007:


    Francis A. Boyle: We just need one person to introduce the bill with courage, integrity, principles, and of course a safe seat. In Gulf War one I worked with the late great Congressman Henry B. Gonzales on his bill of impeachment against Bush Sr. We put that one in. I did the first draft the day after the war started. So in my opinion there is no excuse for these bills not to have been put in already. In fact, on 13 March 2003, Congressman John Conyers convened a meeting of 40 to 50 of his top advisors, most of whom were lawyers, to debate putting in immediate bills of impeachment against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft, to head off the war. There were draft bills sitting on the table that had been prepared by me and Ramsey Clark. And the Congressman invited Ramsey and me to come in and state the case for impeachment. It was a two hour debate, very vigorous debate, obviously all of these lawyers there. And most of the lawyers there didn't disagree with us on the merits of impeachment. It was more as they saw it a question of practical politics. Namely, John Podesta was there, Clinton's former White House chief of staff, who said he was appearing on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and they were against putting in immediate bills of impeachment because it might hurt whoever their presidential candidate was going to be in 2004. Well at that time no one even knew who their presidential candidate was going to be in 2004. I didn't argue the point, I'm a political independent. It was not for me to tell Democrats how to elect their candidates. I just continued arguing the merits of impeachment. But Ramsey is a lifelong Democrat and he argued that he felt that putting in these bills of impeachment might help the Democrats and it certainly wasn't going to hurt them in 2004.



    So when the right thing could have been done, when the Iraq War could have been stopped before it started, when everything could have been changed, there was John Podesta arguing to destroy Iraq, to destroy the lives of the Iraqi people, so that Democrats could win the 2004 elections?  (For the record, the whore was wrong even when it came to electability: the Dems lost in the 2004 election -- they lost the presidency, the House and the Senate both remained under Republican control with Republicans increasing their seats -- in the single digits, but it's an increase -- in both houses of Congress.)


    Who's getting the do over?  John Podesta?

    Again, I've spoken out against the Iraq War all along.

    I'll be damned if some cheap whore tries to reTweet War Criminal John Podesta and pretend Podesta has some standing on the topic of Iraq.

    US House Rep John Conyers wanted to bring charges of impeachment and that would have ended it all.

    But there was John The Infected Whore Podesta saying don't impeach Bully Boy Bush because it would harm election chances in 2004.

    John Podesta is the last one to ever call bulls**t on anyone -- his entire life (and that of his brother Tony) has been nothing but bulls**t and people are dead as a result, millions of Iraqis included.

    Podesta should be in a holding cell waiting to be tried at The Hague.


    That stupid idiots on Twitter, caught up in their own bulls**t election, want to whore like Podesta is shameful.

    Here's Frances A. Boyles' statement on the 10th anniversary of the start of the illegal war:


    Since this is the tenth anniversary of the Bush war against Iraq, concerning Democratic Party support for it: On March 13, 2003 Congressman John Conyers convened an   emergency meeting  in Washington DC at a law firm right down the street from the White House on the Eve of War  to consider, discuss  and debate  my draft Bill to impeach Bush and Cheney to try to stop that war. He invited Ramsey Clark and me to come in and debate the case for impeachment. The debate was 2 hours long. He also  invited in about 40 top NGO  honchos affiliated with the Democratic Party, including John Podesta, for the debate. I will not name the rest of them here, but I will never forget these pro-war cowards and hypocrites for the rest of my life-- not including Congressman Conyers. At the end of 2 hours  of vigorous debating, we adjourned with my draft Bill of Impeachment sitting on the table. As Ramsey and I walked out of the building to take our separate cabs,  I turned to him  and said : “ Ramsey, I don’t understand it. Why didn’t those people take me up on my offer to stay here,   polish up my Bill of Impeachment immediately, and put it in right away to try to stop this war?” And Ramsey replied: “I think most of the people there want a war.” The Democrats  supported that war from the get-go. And this includes the Democratic National Committee. Podesta was there on their behalf and in the name of the DNC put the kybosh on my Bill of Impeachment designed to stop Bush’s war against Iraq.





    As Vanessa Williams says at the end of "Running Back To You," "Get the message?  Nuff said."


    Moving over to the State Dept.  Yesterday's snapshot noted the State Dept issued a press release noting over $18 billion in weapons that the US had transferred to Iraq.  At today's State Dept press briefing, spokesperson John Kirby was asked to explain the facts -- asked to explain them and couldn't.



    QUESTION: (Inaudible) Iraq. I have a couple of questions. First, you just published a fact sheet today on the State Department website about the military assistance and this military sales that you provide to Iraq. It’s very useful, but it’s a little bit confusing. I was going to see if you can tell us – I mean, it’s a DOD question but you published it – it’s your own fault – so I have to ask the question here. If since 2014, since the war against ISIS started, tell us the – how much you’ve provided to Iraq, but have they been military aid, meaning without charge, or have you sold the weapons to Iraq? Because at some point it talks about military sales and at some point it talks about military assistance. So it’s kind of confusing; you don’t know which portion has been free of charge and which portion have you charged Iraq.


    MR KIRBY: Why don’t we get somebody who can break that down for you in greater detail?


    QUESTION: That would be great.



    MR KIRBY: I’m not at liberty right now. I don’t have that kind of specificity of information up here. It’s both. And the larger point that I think needs to be made is that since last summer we’ve accelerated the aid and assistance, military support, that we have given to the government of Iraq and that pace continues, and we’re going to continue to do that to help them beat back ISIL. And it’s not just the United States; other nations are also contributing as well to the degree that they can. As for the exact breakdown, you’re going to have to let us get


    QUESTION: Okay.


    MR KIRBY: -- some experts to sit down and talk to you.



    QUESTION: Okay. And also on the issue of the Kurdish presidency. I know we’ve talked about this for the last couple of days, but the issue remains outstanding and the U.S. officials remain in the region talking to the leaders there. The president’s legal tenure expired last night, midnight. Do you still regard the President Barzani as the legitimate president of Kurdistan since he’s no longer by the law the president?


    MR KIRBY: Well, I think that we’ve talked about this – that they --


    QUESTION: He’s expired since midnight, so we haven’t talked about it, his term.


    MR KIRBY: They had meetings in Erbil, as we talked about, and they’ve agreed to postpone the parliament sessions to Sunday to allow additional time for parties to resolve all the pending issues related to the presidential matter.


    QUESTION: But do you regard him --


    MR KIRBY: And I’d refer you to Kurdish authorities to speak to more about this consensus agreement. So I’m not going to take a position one way or the other here. We were glad to see the Kurdish parties get together, coming to a consensus agreement to kind of – to deal with this presidential issue. And as I said, they’re going to work through the weekend to do that.


    QUESTION: So my question is: When you deal with President Barzani, do you still deal with him as the president of the region?


    MR KIRBY: I’m not an expert on the constitutional framework there. When Ambassador McGurk was in Erbil with our charge, they met with President Barzani and other Kurdish political leaders, and at their invitation were welcomed back to Erbil to get an update on the political situation. But the decisions that were made and reached were Kurdish decisions.


    QUESTION: Just – sorry, two more. I just want to be clear on this. There are two senior U.S. officials that have been there – the ambassador to Iraq and also Ambassador Brett McGurk. Does that mean the U.S. take – took this issue very seriously? How serious did you think the issue was that made you send two official to stay in the meetings for hours, a couple of meetings at least?


    MR KIRBY: They were asked to be there by the Kurdish parties.


    QUESTION: Right.


    MR KIRBY: They were invited. Ambassador McGurk was just in Iraq for much of this week, and I think earlier in the week I told you he was in Erbil, then he went to Baghdad, then he was invited back to Erbil by Kurdish political leaders because of these discussions they were having. And so he was very glad for the invitation. He and the charge went up there and they did sit in on these meetings, but it was at the invitation of Kurdish leaders and that’s why he was there.
    Separate and distinct from that, of course we consider this an important matter. I mean, what’s happening in Iraq politically, militarily, economically, especially as it relates to the fight against ISIL, is of great interest to the United States and to every other member of the coalition. So yes, we take it seriously.

    But the third point I’d want to make, and make it strongly, is that these were Kurdish decisions. Ambassador McGurk and our charge went at their invitation. It wasn’t to actively intervene or become involved in; they were invited back to sit in on these discussions. But the consensus that was reached was reached by the Kurdish parties.



    Kareem Abdulrahman and Roman Zagros offer an analysis of the KRG presidential situation at the BBC.  Excerpt:


    Mr Barzani has served his two terms, the maximum currently allowed. His last term expired in 2013, when it was extended by two years. But the KDP, which currently leads a coalition government that includes the other four parties, is firm on Mr Barzani staying in office.
    However, existing laws provide neither a clear mechanism for electing a new president nor a legal route to keep the current one in place.
    The KDP says that given the Kurdistan Region's conflict against IS, if no agreement is reached Mr Barzani should stay in power as a caretaker president until the next election in 2017.
    However, existing laws stipulate that the speaker of parliament should take over the president's powers in the event of a presidential vacuum.
    So an extension for Mr Barzani at this point would be divisive at best and possibly illegal in the eyes of many.




    As that issue festers, Lukman Faily demonstrates that US Secretary of State John Kerry's not the only diplomat capable of acting like an idiot  Zaie Benjamin Tweets the following about Iraq's Ambassador to the US:




  • " data-follows-you="false" data-has-cards="true" data-has-native-media="true" data-item-id="634525434177323012" data-name="Omar Al-Dulimi" data-permalink-path="/ODulimi/status/634525434177323012" data-screen-name="ODulimi" data-tweet-id="634525434177323012" data-user-id="2395525845" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">



  • Details
  • " data-follows-you="false" data-item-id="634525388971077633" data-name="Zaid Benjamin" data-permalink-path="/zaidbenjamin/status/634525388971077633" data-screen-name="zaidbenjamin" data-tweet-id="634525388971077633" data-user-id="48956231" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    Lukman Faily says misguided comments — such as those Ray Odierno about partitioning - only embolden Daesh brutal terrorists.




    It was stupid to say to begin with.

    Faily needs to learn how to support free speech.  Instead, he attacks public discourse and pretends that's somehow appropriate.

    Well he got slapped across his ugly face today.


    Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani warns of "partition" if political reforms/anti-corruption measures fail.




    For those who missed it, at a recent press conference, US General Ray Odierno was asked about partitioning Iraq.  He responded it was not an idea he was willing to support at present and that, if it were to take place, that was a decision for Iraq and the region.

    This had Faily bent out of shape -- so bent out of shape that days later, he's just got to comment.

    But where his comment on Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's remarks?

    Oh, that's right, the idiot knows to keep his mouth shut there, he knows not to trash al-Sistani.

    It's a shame he can't respect free speech to begin with and instead tries to silence people with the lie that free speech leads to terrorism.

    The reality of violence is that Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 304 violent deaths across Iraq and none of those resulted from al-Sistani or Odierno's remarks.

    Iraq remains one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Alsumaria reports that the country's Integrity Commission is preparing arrest warrants against 2171 people -- 13 of which are current or former Cabinet ministers.  All Iraq News quotes Hasan al-Yasiri, head of the commission providing a lower number: 9 "current and former Ministers."

    In Transparency International's most recent ranking, Iraq was ranked the 170th most corrupt country out of 175.

    Though prime minister Haider al-Abadi has promised to address corruption, the list of reforms or 'reforms' he has proposed did not include anything like what the Integrity Commission is moving on.  In fact, Haider's corruption 'reforms' didn't really address much in terms of corruption at all.

    Peace Ambassadors for Iraq notes:

    Rather than attempting to improve governance, Abadi could be eliminating the positions of Maliki and other prominent officials to consolidate his own political power in a way that does not necessarily improve either the effectiveness, transparency, or inclusiveness of Iraq’s political system.
    As the Iraqi government proceeds with this measure, it must be sure to maintain those with the necessary experience to keep the government running. If not and the reforms actually fail to change the pattern of inefficient governance, the plan would consolidate power in fewer hands and make the situation worse than before.

    One of the more problematic provisions that Abadi has proposed is the redirection of public funds from municipal governments to non-governmental militias. Iraq needs to devote its resources to strengthening its national army and making it a more inclusive force. Not only does strengthening the militias make the task of national reconciliation all the more difficult, but also it increases the influence of Iran over Iraq’s sovereign affairs and destiny.


    Oh, yeah, liar Nouri.  Nouri continues to insist the Parliamentary report -- which found him responsible for failures that led Mosul to be seized by the Islamic State in 2014 -- is wrong.  Not everyone is so sure.  All Iraq News reports KRG President Massouc Barzani has stated Nouri's denials and counter-chargers ignore reality and that he cannot escape his responsibility for the fall of Mosul.



    Lastly, US Senator Robert Menendez is one of the few who can claim to have never taken his eye off of Iraq.  He's issued a statement this week on the Iran deal and we will note it in full:





    South Orange, NJ – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the following remarks today at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations.  He was introduced by Courtney Smith, Senior Associate Dean and Associate Professor.

    Remarks follow:
    “For twenty three years as a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees, I have had the privilege of dealing with major foreign policy and national security issues.  Many of those have been of a momentous nature. This is one of those moments.
    “I come to the issue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, with Iran, as someone who has followed Iran's nuclear ambition for the better part of two decades.  I decide on whether to support or oppose an issue on the basis of whether, it is in my judgment, in the national interest and security of our country to do so.
    “In this case a secondary, but important, question is what it means for our great ally -- the State of Israel -- and our other partners in the Gulf.
    “Unlike President Obama's characterization of those who have raised serious questions about the agreement, or who have opposed it, I did not vote for the war in Iraq, I opposed it, unlike the Vice President and the Secretary of State, who both supported it.  My vote against the Iraq war was unpopular at the time, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
    “I also don't come to this question as someone, unlike many of my Republican colleagues, who reflexively oppose everything the President proposes.  In fact, I have supported President Obama, according to Congressional Quarterly, 98 percent of the time in 2013 and 2014.  My dear, late mother would have been happy if I had agreed with her 98 percent of the time -- and I revered her.
    "On key policies ranging from voting in the Finance Committee and on the Senate Floor for the Affordable Care Act, to Wall Street Reform, to supporting the President's Supreme Court Nominees and defending the Administration’s actions on the Benghazi tragedy, his Pivot to Asia, shepherding the authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to stop President Assad's use of chemical weapons, during the time I was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to so much more, I have been a reliable supporter of President Obama.
    “But my support is not – and has not been driven by party loyalty, but rather by principled agreement, not political expediency.  When I have disagreed it is also based on principled disagreement.
    “The issue before the Congress in September is whether to vote to approve or disapprove the agreement struck by the President and our P5+1 partners with Iran.  This is one of the most serious national security, nuclear nonproliferation, arms control issues of our time.  It is not an issue of supporting or opposing the President.  This issue is much greater and graver than that.
    “For me, I have come to my decision after countless hours in hearings, classified briefings, and hours-and-hours of serious discussion and thorough analysis.  I start my analysis with the question:  Why does Iran -- which has the world's fourth largest proven oil reserves, with 157 billion barrels of crude oil and the world's second largest proven natural gas reserves with 1,193 trillion cubic feet of natural gas -- need nuclear power for domestic energy?
    “We know that despite the fact that Iran claims their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, they have violated the international will, as expressed by various U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and by deceit, deception and delay advanced their program to the point of being a threshold nuclear state.  It is because of these facts, and the fact that the world believes that Iran was weaponizing its nuclear program at the Parchin Military Base -- as well as developing a covert uranium enrichment facility in Fordow, built deep inside of a mountain, raising serious doubts about the peaceful nature of their civilian program, and their sponsorship of state terrorism -- that the world united against Iran's nuclear program.
    “In that context, let’s remind ourselves of the stated purpose of our negotiations with Iran:  Simply put, it was to dismantle all -- or significant parts -- of Iran's illicit nuclear infrastructure to ensure that it would not have nuclear weapons capability at any time.  Not shrink its infrastructure. Not limit it. But fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons capability.
    “We said we would accommodate Iran's practical national needs, but not leave the region -- and the world -- facing the threat of a nuclear armed Iran at a time of its choosing.  In essence, we thought the agreement would be roll-back-for-roll-back: you roll-back your infrastructure and we'll roll-back our sanctions.
    “At the end of the day, what we appear to have is a roll-back of sanctions and Iran only limiting its capability, but not dismantling it or rolling it back.  What do we get?  We get an alarm bell should they decide to violate their commitments, and a system for inspections to verify their compliance.  That, in my view, is a far cry from ‘dismantling.’
    “I recall in the early days of the Administration's overtures to Iran, asking Secretary of State, John Kerry, at a meeting of Senators, about dismantling Arak, Iran's plutonium reactor.  His response was swift and certain.  He said: ‘They will either dismantle it or we will destroy it.’
    “I remember that our understanding was that the Fordow facility was to be closed – that it was not necessary for a peaceful civilian nuclear program to have an underground enrichment facility.  That the Iranians would have to come absolutely clean about their weaponization activities at Parchin and agree to promise anytime anywhere inspections.
    “We now know all of that fell by the wayside.  But what we cannot dismiss is that we have now abandoned our long-held policy of preventing nuclear proliferation and are now embarked – not on preventing nuclear proliferation – but on managing or containing it -- which leaves us with a far less desirable, less secure, and less certain world order.  So, I am deeply concerned that this is a significant shift in our nonproliferation policy, and about what it will mean in terms of a potential arms race in an already dangerous region.
    “While I have many specific concerns about this agreement, my overarching concern is that it requires no dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and only mothballs that infrastructure for 10 years.  Not even one centrifuge will be destroyed under this agreement.  Fordow will be repurposed, and Arak redesigned.
    “The fact is -- everyone needs to understand what this agreement does and does not do so that they can determine whether providing Iran permanent relief in exchange for short-term promises is a fair trade.
    “This deal does not require Iran to destroy or fully decommission a single uranium enrichment centrifuge.  In fact, over half of Iran’s currently operating centrifuges will continue to spin at its Natanz facility.  The remainder, including more than 5,000 operating centrifuges and nearly 10,000 not yet functioning, will merely be disconnected and transferred to another hall at Natanz, where they could be quickly reinstalled to enrich uranium.
    “And yet we, along with our allies, have agreed to lift the sanctions and allow billions of dollars to flow back into Iran’s economy.  We lift sanctions, but -- even during the first 10 years of the agreement -- Iran will be allowed to continue R&D activity on a range of centrifuges – allowing them to improve their effectiveness over the course of the agreement.
    “Clearly, the question is: What do we get from this agreement in terms of what we originally sought?   We lift sanctions, and -- at year eight -- Iran can actually start manufacturing and testing advanced IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges that enrich up to 15 times the speed of its current models.  At year 15, Iran can start enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent – the level at which we become concerned about fissile material for a bomb.  At year 15, Iran will have NO limits on its uranium stockpile.
    “This deal grants Iran permanent sanctions relief in exchange for only temporary – temporary -- limitations on its nuclear program – not a rolling-back, not dismantlement, but temporary limitations.  At year ten, the UN Security Council Resolution will disappear along with the dispute resolution mechanism needed to snapback UN sanctions and the 24-day mandatory access provision for suspicious sites in Iran.
    “The deal enshrines for Iran, and in fact commits the international community to assisting Iran in developing an industrial-scale nuclear power program, complete with industrial scale enrichment.  While I understand that this program will be subject to Iran's obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, I think it fails to appreciate Iran's history of deception in its nuclear program and its violations of the NPT.
    “It will, in the long run, make it much harder to demonstrate that Iran's program is not in fact being used for peaceful purposes because Iran will have legitimate reasons to have advanced centrifuges and a robust enrichment program.  We will then have to demonstrate that its intention is dual-use and not justified by its industrial nuclear power program.
    “What we get in return for removing sanctions is an inspection and verification regime of Iran's somewhat-diminished, but still existent nuclear program, for which we will have to depend on Iranian compliance and performance for years to come.
    “A significant part of that performance is dictated by an Additional Protocol of the IAEA agreement that ensures access to suspect sites in a country.  But Iran has agreed only to provisionally apply the Additional Protocol and only formally adopt it when Congress has abolished all sanctions.  This could mean that if Iran has been sanctioned for violations of the agreement, Iran won’t even have to seek ratification of the Additional Protocol until those sanctions have been lifted – regardless of Iran’s full compliance.
    “This is hardly an ironclad commitment on which to base our right to inspect suspicious facilities.  Of course if the Iranians violate the agreement and try to make a dash for a nuclear bomb, our solace will be that we will have a year's notice instead of the present 3 months. So in reality we have purchased a very expensive alarm system.  Maybe we’ll have an additional nine months, but with much greater consequences in the enemy we might face at that time.
    “But what happens in the interim?  Within about a year of Iran meeting its initial obligations, Iran will receive sanctions relief to the tune of $100-150 billion in the release of frozen assets, as well as renewed oil sales of another million barrels a day, as well as relief from sectoral sanctions in the petrochemical, shipping, shipbuilding, port sectors, gold and other precious metals, and software and automotive sectors.
    “Iran will also benefit from the removal of designated entities including major banks, shipping companies, oil and gas firms from the U.S. Treasury list of sanctioned entities.
    ‘Of the nearly 650 entities that have been designated by the U.S. Treasury for their role in Iran's nuclear and missile programs or for being controlled by the Government of Iran, more than 67 percent will be de-listed within 6-12 months,’ according to testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
    “For Iran, all this relief comes likely within a year, even though its obligations stretch out for a decade or more.
    “Considering the fact that it was President Rouhani, who after conducting his fiscal audit after his election, likely convinced the Ayatollah that Iran’s regime could not sustain itself under the sanctions, and knew that only a negotiated agreement would get Iran the relief it critically needed to sustain the regime and the revolution, the negotiating leverage was, and still is, greatly on our side.  However, the JCPOA in paragraph 26 of the Sanctions heading of the agreement, says:

    ‘The U.S. Administration, acting consistently with the respective roles of the President and the Congress, will refrain from re-introducing or reimposing sanctions specified in Annex II, that it has ceased applying under this JCPOA.’
    “I repeat, we will have to refrain from reintroducing or reimposing the Iran Sanctions Act I authored – which expires next year -- that acted significantly to bring Iran to the table in the first place. In two hearings, I asked Treasury Secretary Lew and Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman whether we have the right to reauthorize sanctions to have something to snapback to, and neither would answer the question, saying only that it was ‘too early’ to discuss reauthorization.

    “But, I did get my answer from the Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations who, in a letter dated July 25, 2015, said:

    ‘It is clearly spelled out in the JCPOA that both the European Union and the United States will refrain from reintroducing or reimposing the sanctions and restrictive measures lifted under the JCPOA. It is understood the reintroduction or reimposition, including through extension of the sanctions and restrictive measures will constitute significant nonperformance which would relieve Iran from its commitments in part or in whole.’
    “If anything is a ‘fantasy’ about this agreement it is the belief that snapback, without congressionally-mandated sanctions, with EU sanctions gone, and companies from around the world doing permissible business in Iran, will have any real effect.
    “The Administration cannot argue sanction policy both ways. Either they were effective in getting Iran to the negotiating table or they were not. Sanctions are either a deterrent to break-out, a violation of the agreement, or they are not.
    “In retrospect, my one regret throughout this process is that I did not proceed with the Menendez-Kirk prospective sanctions legislation that would have provided additional leverage during the negotiations and would have also provided additional leverage in any possible post-agreement nullification by them or by us.
    “Frankly, in my view, the overall sanctions relief being provided, given the Iranian’s understanding of restrictions on the reauthorization of sanctions, along with the lifting of the arms and missile embargo well before Iranian compliance over years is established, leaves us in a weak position, and – to me – is unacceptable.
    “As the largest State Sponsor of Terrorism, Iran – who has exported its revolution to Assad in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and directed and supported attacks against American troops in Iraq -- will be flush with money, not only to invest in their domestic economy, but to further pursue their destabilizing, hegemonic goals in the region.  If Iran can afford to destabilize the region with an economy staggering under sanctions and rocked by falling oil prices, what will Iran and the Quds Force do when they have a cash infusion of more than 20 percent of their GDP -- the equivalent of an infusion of $3.4 trillion into our economy?
    “If there is a fear of war in the region, it is fueled by Iran and its proxies and exacerbated by an agreement that allows Iran to possess an industrial-sized nuclear program, and enough money in sanctions relief to continue to fund its hegemonic intentions throughout the region.  Imagine how a country like the United Arab Emirates – sitting just miles away from Iran across the straits of Hormuz feels after they sign a civilian nuclear agreement with the U.S., considered to be the gold standard, to not enrich or reprocess uranium?  What do our friends think when we give our enemies a pass while holding them to the gold standard? Who should they trust?
    “Which brings me to another major concern with the JCPOA, namely the issue of Iran coming clean about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program.  For well over a decade, the world has been concerned about the secret weaponization efforts Iran conducted at the military base called Parchin.The goal that we have long sought, along with the international community, is to know what Iran accomplished at Parchin -- not necessarily to get Iran to declare culpability -- but to determine how far along they were in their nuclear weaponization program so that we know what signatures to look for in the future.
    “David Albright, a physicist and former nuclear weapons inspector, and founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, has said, ‘Addressing the IAEA's concerns about the military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programs is fundamental to any long term agreement… an agreement that sidesteps the military issues would risk being unverifiable.’   The reason he says that ‘an agreement that sidesteps the military issues would be unverifiable,’  is because it makes a difference if you are 90 percent down the road in your weaponization efforts or only ten percent advanced. How far advanced Iran’s weaponizing abilities are has a significant impact on what Iran’s breakout time to an actual deliverable weapon will be.
    “In a report to the U.N. Security Council, by a panel of experts, established pursuant to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, the experts state The Islamic Republic of Iran possesses two variants of ballistic missiles that, according to experts, are believed to be potentially capable of delivering nuclear weapons.  One, the Ghada missile, is a variant of liquid-fuel Shahab-3, with a range of approximately 1,600km. The other is the solid-fuel Sejil missile, with a range of about 2,000km.  To put that in perspective, the Ghada missile has a 650 mile range which puts Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, India, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen in their sites.
    “The Sejil missile has a 1,250 mile rage which includes Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Libya, Macedonia, Moldova, Nepal, Romania, Serbia, Somalia, and Sudan.
    “With so much at stake, the IAEA -- after waiting over ten years to inspect Parchin, speak to Iranian nuclear scientists, and review additional materials and documents -- are now told they will not have direct access to Parchin.  The list of scientists the P5+1 wanted the IAEA to interview were rejected outright by Iran, and they are now given three months to do all of their review and analysis before they must deliver a report in December of this year.  How the inspections and soil and other samples are to be collected are outlined in two secret agreements that the U.S. Congress is not privy to.  The answer as to why we cannot see those documents, is because they have a confidentiality agreement between the IAEA and Iran, which they say ‘is customary,’ but this issue is anything but customary.
    “If Iran can violate its obligations for more than a decade, it can't then be allowed to avail themselves of the same provisions and protections they violated in the first place.  We have to ask:  Why would our negotiators decide to negotiate access to other IAEA documents, but not these documents?  Maybe the reason, as some members of Congress and public reports have raised, is because it will be the Iranians and not the IAEA performing the tests and providing the samples to be analyzed, which would be the equivalent of having an athlete accused of using performance enhancing drugs submit an unsupervised urine sample to the appropriate authority.  Chain of custody doesn't matter when the evidence given to you is prepared by the perpetrator.
    “So in five months, we seek to resolve a major issue that has taken the better part of a decade to have access to, and with a highly questionable inspection regime as a solution. And, according to an AP story of August 14th – and I quote:
    ‘They say the agency will be able to report in December. But that assessment is unlikely to be unequivocal because chances are slim that Iran will present all the evidence the agency wants, or give it the total freedom of movement it needs to follow-up the allegations. Still, the report is expected to be approved by the IAEA's board, which includes the United States and other powerful nations that negotiated the July 14 agreement. They do not want to upend their July 14 deal, and will see the December report as closing the books on the issue.’
    “It would seem to me that what we are doing is sweeping this critical issue under the rug.
    “Secretary Kerry has said that, ‘We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in,’ yet, for years we have insisted on getting access to Parchin and acquiring the knowledge we need to know.
    “General Hayden, the former CIA Director, said, ‘I'd like to see the DNI or any intelligence office repeat that for me. They won't. What he is saying is that we don't care how far they've gotten with weaponization. We're betting the farm on our ability to limit the production of fissile material.’  Now, if they want to make that bet, they can, but the Administration should level with us and not insist revelations of PMD are unimportant.  Instead General Hayden says, ‘he's pretending we have perfect knowledge about something that was an incredibly tough intelligence target while I was director and I see nothing that has made it any easier.’
    “For me, the administration's willingness to forgo a critical element of Iran's weaponization -- past and present -- is inexplicable.  Our willingness to accept this process on Parchin is only exacerbated by the inability to obtain anytime, anywhere inspections, which the Administration always held out as one of those essential elements we would insist on and could rely on in any deal.  Instead, we have a dispute resolution mechanism that shifts the burden of proof to the U.S. and its partners, to provide sensitive intelligence, possibly revealing our sources and the methods by which we collected the information and allow the Iranians to delay access for nearly a month, a delay that would allow them to remove evidence of a violation, particularly when it comes to centrifuge research-and-development, and weaponization efforts that can be easily hidden and would leave little or no signatures.
    “The Administration suggests that -- other than Iraq -- no country was subjected to anytime, anywhere inspections. But Iran's defiance of the world's position, as recognized in a series of U.N. Security Council Resolutions, does not make it ‘any other country.’  It is their violations of the NPT and the Security Council Resolutions that created the necessity for a unique regime and for anytime, anywhere inspections.
    “Mark Dubowitz, the widely-respected sanctions expert from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has said:
    ‘For Secretary Kerry to claim we have absolute knowledge of Iran's weaponization activities is to assume a level of U.S. intelligence capability that defies historical experience. That's why he, President Obama, Undersecretary Sherman and IAEA chief Amano all have made PMD resolution such an essential condition of any nuclear deal.’
    “He goes on to say:
    ‘The U.S. track record in detecting and stopping countries from going nuclear should make Kerry more modest in his claims and assumptions. The U.S. missed the Soviet Union, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.  Washington underestimated Saddam's program in 1990. Then it overestimated his program in 2003 and went to war to stop a nonexistent WMD program.’
    “It is precisely because of this track record that permitting Iran to have the size and scope of an industrialized nuclear program, permitted under the JCPOA is one of the great flaws of the agreement.
    “If what President Obama's statement, in his NPR interview of April 7th, 2015, that ‘a more relevant fear would be that in year 13, 14, 15 they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero’ – is true, then it seems to me that -- in essence -- this deal does nothing more than kick today's problem down the road for ten-15 years, and, at the same time, undermines the arguments and evidence we'll

    Posted at 12:59 am by thecommonills
     

    Arrest warrants coming in Iraq?

    Arrest warrants coming in Iraq?

    Iraq remainds one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Alsumaria reports that the country's Integrity Commission is preparing arrest warrants against 2171 people -- 13 of which are current or former Cabinet ministers.  All Iraq News quotes Hasan al-Yasiri, head of the commission providing a lower number: 9 "current and former Ministers."

    In Transparency International's most recent ranking, Iraq was ranked the 170th most corrupt country out of 175.

    Though prime minister Haider al-Abadi has promised to address corruption, the list of reforms or 'reforms' he has proposed did not include anything like what the Integrity Commission is moving on.  In fact, Haider's corruption 'reforms' didn't really address much in terms of corruption at all.

    Peace Ambassadors for Iraq notes:

    Rather than attempting to improve governance, Abadi could be eliminating the positions of Maliki and other prominent officials to consolidate his own political power in a way that does not necessarily improve either the effectiveness, transparency, or inclusiveness of Iraq’s political system.
    As the Iraqi government proceeds with this measure, it must be sure to maintain those with the necessary experience to keep the government running. If not and the reforms actually fail to change the pattern of inefficient governance, the plan would consolidate power in fewer hands and make the situation worse than before.

    One of the more problematic provisions that Abadi has proposed is the redirection of public funds from municipal governments to non-governmental militias. Iraq needs to devote its resources to strengthening its national army and making it a more inclusive force. Not only does strengthening the militias make the task of national reconciliation all the more difficult, but also it increases the influence of Iran over Iraq’s sovereign affairs and destiny.


    Oh, yeah, liar Nouri.  Nouri continues to insist the Parliamentary report -- which found him responsible for failures that led Mosul to be seized by the Islamic State in 2014 -- is wrong.  Not everyone is so sure.  All Iraq News reports KRG President Massouc Barzani has stated Nouri's denials and counter-chargers ignore reality and that he cannot escape his responsibility for the fall of Mosul.


    The following community sites -- plus NPR and Black Agenda Report -- updated:











  • The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


    iraq

    Posted at 12:56 am by thecommonills
     

    Thursday, August 20, 2015
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq's been provided with nearly $20 billion in weapons by the US (for all the good it's done), Nouri al-Maliki continues to hide out in Iran as rumors of his impending prosecution swirl, and much more.



    Starting with a question, and it's an important one, from Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson.






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    what on earth has done with $18.6 billion in weapons bought from US over past decade? (from



    The cost of the ongoing, illegal war on Iraq never ends.

    Here's a thought: Tie in the cost to Barack's retirement package -- deduct from that -- and maybe Barack and others would be less willing to spend US taxpayer money so wildly?


    Here's the State Dept press release Sarah Leah Whitson is linking to:


    The United States is committed to building a strategic partnership with Iraq and the Iraqi people. Under the Strategic Framework Agreement between Iraq and the United States, we remain dedicated to helping Iraq improve security, maintain sovereignty, and push back against terrorism, most recently ISIL. U.S. security cooperation activities are increasing the Iraqi Security Forces’ capability to respond to threats and conduct counter-terrorism operations, while supporting the long-term development of a modern, accountable, and professional Iraqi military capable of defending Iraq and its borders.
    In the fight against ISIL, the United States continues to work with our coalition partners along multiple lines of effort to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL. Our strategy requires a well-equipped and trained partner on the ground. We have seen that with effective training, equipping, and command and control, and backed by Coalition firepower, Iraqi forces, including the Kurdish Peshmerga, have achieved clear victories on the battlefield in Tikrit, in Baghdadi, in Haditha, at Sinjar Mountain, at Rabiya, at Mosul Dam and now as they are isolating ISIL in Anbar as they prepare to move on Ramadi. We are seeing successes in this fight but, as we’ve said, it will take time, and the Iraqi Security Forces will need our continued assistance and partnership to achieve victory in this fight.
    Foreign Military Sales (FMS)
    • Since 2005, the Department of State has approved more than $18.6 billion worth of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) with Iraq. The Iraqi Government has financed the vast majority of these government-to-government transfers of military systems and equipment using their own national funds. Iraq values the FMS system because of its transparency and reliability and uses its own funds to purchase a wide range of U.S.-origin military equipment, demonstrating Iraq’s commitment to building a strong and enduring U.S.-Iraq defense and security relationship.
    • Recent Iraqi FMS purchases include 3,300 Hellfire missiles; 31,000 2.75-inch rockets; and over 30,000 120mm tank rounds. Other Iraqi FMS purchases include 146 M1A1 Main Battle Tanks; 36 F-16 fighter aircraft; 24 IA407 helicopters; and 9 C-130 cargo aircraft.
    Additional transfers of U.S. equipment, training, and support have been funded through other U.S. security assistance programs, including Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and Excess Defense Articles (EDA) grants and Presidential Drawdown Authority overseen by the U.S. Department of State; and Building Partner Capacity grants administered by the U.S. Department of Defense in the form of the Iraq Security Forces Funding (ISFF) and the Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF).
    Foreign Military Financing (FMF)
    • Iraq’s FMF program began in 2012 following the end of the ISFF program, which ran from 2005-2011. Since then, Congress has appropriated $1.6 billion in FMF funding for Iraq. These funds were originally intended to build up Iraq’s long-term sustainment and logistics capabilities, and for Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) professionalization and other essential training.
    • Starting in 2014, as ISIL moved into Iraq, portions of FMF funding were redirected to urgent counterterrorism requirements, including critical resupply of Hellfire missiles, 2.75-inch rockets, tank ammunition, small arms/ammo, and individual soldier items. These funds were critical to the Iraqi effort to blunt ISIL’s advance while the Department of Defense’s Iraq Train and Equip Fund was being stood up, demonstrating the flexibility and speed of Department of State security assistance programs.
    FMF also allowed Iraq to purchase body armor, transport and refurbish Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected tactical vehicles (MRAPs) provided under EDA, and funded contract logistics support for systems critical to the counter-ISIL fight, including M1A1 tanks and Cessna attack aircraft.
    Excess Defense Articles (EDA)
    • For the fight against ISIL, in addition to over 300 MRAPs, the United States has granted Iraq numerous systems under the EDA program, including Armored Tactical Vehicles, Howitzers, OH-58 helicopters, soft-skinned High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), and individual body armor.
    Presidential Drawdown Authority
    • In 2014, the President used his drawdown authority to grant Iraq $25 million worth of defense articles and services directly from U.S. defense inventories. Drawdown was used to provide urgently needed counter-IED equipment, including 326 Bangalore torpedoes; 200 anti-personnel obstacle breaching systems (APOBS); 1000 AT-4 anti-tank weapons systems; 50 MaxxPro Plus MRAPs; 50 MRAP mine rollers; and 50 mine roller kits.
    Iraq Train and Equip Funding (ITEF)
    • In FY 2015, Congress appropriated $1.6 billion in Iraq Train and Equip Funding (ITEF) to provide assistance to military and other security services associated with the Government of Iraq, including Kurdish and tribal security forces and other local security forces with a national security mission. The Department of State works closely with the Department of Defense to ensure ITEF execution supports overall foreign policy objectives.
    • Materials provided under ITEF as of August 6, 2015, include over 1,200 military transportation vehicles, approximately 20,000 small arms and heavy weapons; 2,000 additional AT-4s; Counter Improvised Explosive Device (CIED) equipment, including 200 additional APOBS, 20 Mine Clearing Line Charges (MICLIC), as well as 29 Iraqi Light Armored Vehicles (ILAVs).
    • Through over 100 airlift missions and in coordination with the Iraqi government, the coalition has provided to Iraqi Kurdish forces more than 8 million pounds of ammunition and equipment, including small arms, machine guns, mortars, radios, and vehicles donated from more than a dozen countries. Many of the U.S. contributions were purchased using ITEF.
    • Through ITEF, the United States has also trained more than 2,000 Iraqi Kurdish Forces and currently several hundred more currently training at the Erbil Building Partner Capacity site. Units trained under this program will receive the same weapons, vehicles, and equipment as the Iraq Army forces: including small arms, mortars, HMMWVs, cargo trucks, trailers, and radios.
    The United States stands with a coalition of more than 60 international partners to assist and support the Iraqi Security Forces to degrade and defeat ISIL. U.S. security cooperation has contributed to Iraq’s significant progress in halting ISIL’s momentum and in some places reversing it.
    For further information, please contact PM-CPA at PM-CPA@state.gov.


    That's a huge amount of money and it's not coming out of Barack's pockets.

    It's not even a lot of money being spent effectively.

    There is nothing to show -- no accomplishments -- for all this wasted money.

    And still the US drops bombs on Iraq and still the liberation or 'liberation' of Iraq never takes place.


    The assault on Anbar Province was sold as needed and with the Iraqi forces and officials willing and ready.  And then the assault vanished from the view of the press -- because it wasn't going well.

    All these weeks later, there are still no 'victories' to claim.


    And maybe that's why officials reacted as they did today?

    The Washington Post's Loveday Morris Tweets:














    Ramadi fell in April.  The press treated the promise of prosecutions, this week, by Haider al-Abadi as 'news' or at least as gossip.


    As they rushed to hail Haider (on his terms), they forgot their duty to point out that not only was Haider prime minister in April of this year, but he was in DC at the time and instead of immediately ordering armed forces to protect Ramadi, he sent them to Baiji . . . to protect . . . an oil refinery.


    Middle East Monitor reports today:

    The Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi reassured oil companies operating in the country that his government will protect their businesses and employees after tensions erupted near the southern oil fields.
    Al-Abadi’s assurances came during his visit to the West Qurna 2 oilfield in Basra yesterday where he met with managers in the Russian Lukoil company which operates the oilfield, according to a statement issued by the premier’s office.

    There's a great deal of mismanagement going on.

    Going on.

    Current.

    Nouri al-Maliki oversaw mismanagement, corruption, War Crimes and so much more.

    A Parliamentary investigation into the 2014 fall of Mosul to the Islamic State has found much fault to distribute and the bulk of it lands at Nouri's feet.

    AFP's WG Dunlop Tweets:


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    The Baghdad bureau obtained a copy of the unreleased report on the fall of Mosul; we'll be covering its contents this afternoon.


  • Nouri skirted out of the country right before the (announced) release of the report and remains hiding in Iran where he's taken to giving near hourly breathless updates.


    He's attacked the reports findings.  He's attacked Turkey.  He's denied any and all guilt.


    None of which is new for Nouri.

    He can always deflect onto others.

    He can talk endlessly about the Islamic State without ever acknowledging how his policies -- specifically, using security forces to target Sunni protesters, tossing Sunni family members into jails and prisons without arrest warrants (and when the forces can't fight the person they want to arrest, they arrest the parents, the siblings, the spouses, the children), etc -- contributed to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq.


    For example, last November, in an interview for Press TV's Face To Face, he could and did blame everyone -- at length -- except himself and his own thuggish policies and actions.  Excerpt:

    Rahshan Saglam: Let's start with the first question which is who do you think is behind ISIL creation? 

    ISIL has a radical, dangerous and sectarian ideology and it's a terrorist group in the true sense of the word. The terrorist group was not created from nothingness but rather it was born in an extremist region and more specifically in the state of Saudi Arabia and the region has witnessed it. This terrorist group was born from the Wahhabi ideology; an ideology which regards all Muslims, Shias and Sunnis alike, as Takfiris (excommunicated by Islam).  That's why when the world wants to find the roots of this event, it gets to the ideologies that has resulted in this extremism. And Saudi Arabia knows very well that this ideology which has a kind of financial and administrative independence within itself, is now spread to all across the Muslim world. This group has its own research centers, books and it carries out research.  Initially, it was thought that they only have problems with the Shias. But later on, it came to light that they regard all Muslims. and Islamic sects as Takfiris.  This is the very mindset out of which al-Qaeda was born and developed. Tpoint where Osama bin Laden was created and moved towards Pakistan, Afghanistan, and some parts of Yemen, Libya and even Iraq. In their opinion, the roots of this ideology and culture have legitimacy. However, in political conflicts, political projects are planned to seek interests and make gains. As we saw in Afghanistan, this trend resulted in the creation of the Taliban  The Taliban was created by an international consensus; a resolution adopted by a super power to counter another super power, or specifically to counter Communism which was ruling over Afghanistan back then. The support for the Taliban was an international support to push back the Soviet Union.  This scenario was replayed in Iraq and Syria and the entire region. ISIL, no matter who created it, was used as a tool to topple the Syrian government in the first place.  And it was used as a tool to execute the political plans and ideas by some countries in the region as well as the major powers in the world. That's why this group was born from political plans.  Now, the problem is, politics should not be hinged on murder, violence or hostility among Muslims in order to achieve certain goals for certain countries. And this is quite natural, this is a rule in societies that "he who plays with a snake will be bitten" and all those who were in contact with ISIL felt the bite by the group.  That's why when ISIL and al-Qaeda slipped out of control and the organizations and institutions of those countries were exposed to threats, some coalitions were formed to counter the terrorist groups. They have openly admitted that a day will come when ISIL will be fighting on the streets of London and Paris. That was the time when attacks against ISIL were launched by the coalition and yet there are those who think that ISIL shouldn't be uprooted completely, but rather it should continue its activities under control -- it means keeping it under control without defusing the crisis. 

    Rahshan Saglam: So how do you think this organization is being funded?

    ISIL receives support from rich individuals as well as some organizations which are disguised as charity organizations.  There are also some political figures who advocate sectarian ideologies and back this terrorist group. These groups funnel the funds to ISIL under the cover of charity organizations. Certain countries also supported this group and prepared the grounds for them. But I think the big chunk of the support for ISIL was provided by rich individuals with radical views and the so-called charity organizations which follow sectarian and religious ideologies. This terrorist group is also supported by some countries and gets military support and arms supplies. For example, ISIL was provided with weapons in Iraq and Syria by certain countries, or after the Qaddafi government was toppled most of the weapons which were being traded on the Libyan streets were purchased by two countries and they were sent to Iraq and Syria as well. Therefore, besides the charity organizations, some other countries which were at odds with the Syrian government also supported ISIL.  They didn't even stop the al-Nusra terrorist group which is a terrorist, heinous and criminal group and didn't stand in the way of other armed terrorist groups.  Based on the reports these countries were receiving, they concluded that the Syrian government wouldn't last more than two months and they thought after the fall of the Syrian government, they would also conquer Iraq within months and they would put an ened to the political system in Syria.  Right from the beginning, we said that the Syrian government won't be toppled in two years, three years or even more and the political system in this country will remain in place.  This issue has sectarian, regional and international aspects. 



    He can talk on endlessly, pointing each finger at someone else.

    He insists it has many, many aspects -- but, per Nouri, none ever have a thing to do with him.

    The Parliamentary investigation found otherwise.

    Iraqi Spring MC notes he's found a new line of attack:  Slamming the head of the Parliamentary Committee, insisting that the man stands accused of murder and kidnapping.

    Does the man stand accused of that?

    Because Nouri stands accused of mismanagement of the armed forces (to put it kindly) and corruption.

    Nouri's hourly bulletins might carry some weight (not much) if he made them from Iraq instead of hiding in Iran.

    But that is his pattern, after all.

    Flee Iraq whenever he wants.

    And this is the man that Bully Boy Bush installed as prime minister (in 2006) and that Barack insisted get a second term (after losing the 2010 elections).

    Fars News Agency reports today:

    "The ISIL was a movement created by certain regional states, headed by Saudi Arabia, with sectarian and political goals," Maliki, a former Prime Minister, told FNA in the Northeastern city of Mashhad on Wednesday.

    "The ISIL is supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey as Ankara sought to overthrow President Assad's government," he added.


    PMOI states, "Sky News TV reported on Tuesday, August 18th citing Iraqi sources: Maliki no longer enjoys judicial impunity and the Iraqi Parliament has referred an investigative committee report on the fall of Mosul to the Iraqi judiciary. Maliki is still in Iran and reports indicate other members of his family have joined him."  Asharq Al-Awsat's Manaf al-Obaidi reports:


    Some reports from Baghdad have suggested Maliki intends to remain in Iran following the referral of the Mosul report to Iraq’s judiciary and the possibility of his facing trial. But the source said Maliki would most likely return to Iraq on Thursday.
    “If he does not return or delays his return beyond this point, then it will be the end of his political career in Iraq, and this is something Maliki will not allow to happen so easily.”


    Never count rabid dog Nouri out until he's six feet under.  But the consensus among the chattering class insists Nouri's day is done.  For example, Noah Feldman (Bloomberg) offers:

    Iraq's prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, is taking severe steps to rid himself of his troublesome predecessor, Nuri al-Maliki. On the heels of a government shakeup, the latest move is a parliamentary report blaming Maliki and many of his political and military leaders for the fall of Mosul to Islamic State last summer. The report is going to be referred to a public prosecutor -- which means Abadi may be plotting a criminal prosecution. Maliki is fighting back, issuing a public statement repudiating the report.



    In the continued and ongoing Iraq War, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 179 violent deaths across the country today.


    Finally, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following today:


    IAVA works with Project on Government Oversight on veteran protections


    WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 19, 2015) — The Office of Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has dropped its demand to turn over records related to the more than 800 whistleblowers who came forward last year voicing problems within the VA healthcare system.
    After reports of fraud and mismanagement within the VA surfaced last year, IAVA partnered with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to launch a secure website in May 2014 that allowed more than 800 whistleblowers and veterans to come forward. The site allowed whistleblowers to avoid going directly through the VA, which faced accusations that it had retaliated against whistleblowers.



    “IAVA is proud to work with POGO in giving whistleblowers and veterans a voice for our community at a time when the VA was not doing right by veterans,” said Matt Miller, IAVA Chief Policy Officer. “We are pleased to hear that the Office of Inspector General has ceased efforts to identify whistleblowers and we hope that the office will begin to focus its efforts based on what is best for the veteran.”





    Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.



    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA has repeatedly received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.











    Posted at 01:12 am by thecommonills
     

    Isakson Announces He Will Vote No on Iran Nuclear Agreement

    Isakson Announces He Will Vote No on Iran Nuclear Agreement

    isakson



    Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Committee and his office issued  the following this afternoon.




    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
    Wednesday, August 19, 2015
    Marie Gordon, 770-661-0999
     
    Isakson Announces He Will Vote No on Iran Nuclear Agreement 
    ‘I will not be part of any agreement that allows the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon’
     
    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today announced that he will vote no on the nuclear agreement with Iran.
     
    “This will be one of the most important votes I will ever take as a member of the Senate. I have said from day one that I will not be part of any agreement that allows the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon.
     
    “I have spent countless hours in secure briefings, Foreign Relations Committee hearings, and quiet study and reflection. I am afraid that if this agreement is adopted, it will allow the Iranian regime to industrialize its nuclear enrichment program. This agreement will merely delay Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon rather than eliminating Iran’s nuclear weapons capability.
     
    “There are a number of factors that led me to my decision to vote no on this agreement. First, the agreement allows for phased nuclear enrichment as well as a continuation of nuclear research and development by Iran. Second, I am worried that this agreement will further Iran’s arms shipping business in the Middle East by lifting the conventional arms embargo after five years. Third, the deal gives up our leverage up-front by relieving sanctions without clarity on how Iran will be held accountable for violations of the deal, especially for small infractions. Furthermore, Iran has stated that any imposition of sanctions will be considered a breach of the agreement, making it difficult for the United States and our allies to hold Iran accountable for human rights violations and terrorism. 
     
    “And while I remain deeply concerned with what I have been able to review in the Iran nuclear agreement, I am even more disturbed by the fact that there are agreements between the IAEA and Iran that Congress has not been allowed to read. These secret agreements will serve as a baseline, yet we will not be able to know where that line actually is. To vote for something that I am not allowed to read would be an injustice to the people I represent.
     
    “We have been told that that a vote against the agreement is a vote for war. I would suggest a vote against this agreement is a vote for strength over appeasement. In my 33 years in business, the best deals I ever negotiated were the ones where I was willing to walk away from the table and started over.  For the security of my country and my grandchildren, we should say ‘no’ to this Iran deal.”
     
     

    ###










    VA Inspector General Drops Subpoena for Whistleblower Records

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following today:

    IAVA works with Project on Government Oversight on veteran protections


    WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 19, 2015) — The Office of Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has dropped its demand to turn over records related to the more than 800 whistleblowers who came forward last year voicing problems within the VA healthcare system.
    After reports of fraud and mismanagement within the VA surfaced last year, IAVA partnered with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to launch a secure website in May 2014 that allowed more than 800 whistleblowers and veterans to come forward. The site allowed whistleblowers to avoid going directly through the VA, which faced accusations that it had retaliated against whistleblowers.



    “IAVA is proud to work with POGO in giving whistleblowers and veterans a voice for our community at a time when the VA was not doing right by veterans,” said Matt Miller, IAVA Chief Policy Officer. “We are pleased to hear that the Office of Inspector General has ceased efforts to identify whistleblowers and we hope that the office will begin to focus its efforts based on what is best for the veteran.”




    Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.



    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA has repeatedly received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.











    Posted at 01:11 am by thecommonills
     

    Isakson to Hold Field Hearing on Veterans Choice in Gainesville, Ga.

    Isakson to Hold Field Hearing on Veterans Choice in Gainesville, Ga.

     


    isakson



    Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Committee and his office issued the following:






    FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY
    Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
    Wednesday, August 19, 2015
    Lauren Gaydos, 202-224-9126
     
     
     
    ***MEDIA ADVISORY***
    Isakson to Hold Field Hearing on Veterans Choice in Gainesville, Ga.
    “The Veterans Choice Program: Are Problems in Georgia Indicative of a National Problem?”
     
    WASHINGTON The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., will hold an oversight field hearing on Friday, August 21, 2015, to examine the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) implementation of the Veterans Choice Program and how issues Georgia veterans are experiencing echo a larger, national problem.
     
    At the beginning of this Congress, Isakson declared his top priority as chairman to be overseeing the implementation of the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act to ensure the VA fully and efficiently utilizes the Veterans Choice Program to improve the quality and timeliness of care. This hearing is the third in a series of oversight hearings on the program, which allows veterans to receive health care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs if they meet certain criteria.
    The hearing is open to the public and press are invited to attend. Isakson will hold a brief media availability immediately following the hearing.
     
    The hearing will be available online via an audio livestream at www.veterans.senate.gov.
    WHO:         Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
                       Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Chairman
                       Congressman Doug Collins, R-Ga.
                       VA Secretary Robert McDonald
     
    WHERE:   University of North Georgia, Gainesville Campus
                       Continuing Education/Performing Arts Center
                       Continuing Education Auditorium, Room 108
                       3820 Mundy Mill Rd.
                       Gainesville, GA 30566
     
    WHEN:      2:00 PM
                       Friday, August 21, 2015
     
     
    See below for the witness list.
     
    Panel I
     
    Hon. Bob McDonald, Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs
     
                Accompanied by:
     
    Dr. James Tuchschmidt, Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, Department of Veterans Affairs
     
     
    Panel II
     
    Donna Hoffmeier, Vice President, VA Services and PCCC Program Manager, HealthNet Federal Services
     
    Dr. Stephen Jarrard, provider and veteran
     
    Dr. Waymon Duane Williams, Georgia State Leader of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Inc.
     
    Mr. Carlos Chacha, veteran
     
     
     
    ###
     
    The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.

    Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.











    Posted at 01:10 am by thecommonills
     


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