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The Common Ills

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, August 19, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, public musings over mission creep become more common, the Pentagon gets confused when asked how much the US bombings of Iraq are costing the taxpayers, and much more.

Yesterday found US President Barack Obama declaring:

Today, with our support, Iraqi and Kurdish forces took a major step forward by recapturing the largest dam in Iraq, near the city of Mosul. The Mosul dam fell under terrorist control earlier this month, and is directly tied to our objective of protecting Americans in Iraq.
[. . .]
Iraqi and Kurdish forces took the lead on the ground and performed with courage and determination. So this operation demonstrates that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are capable of working together and taking the fight to ISIL. If they continue to do so, they will have the strong support of the United States of America.

And today?

No speeches to the world today.

Not on the day that found Lizzie Dearden (Independent) reporting the battle for the dam continues and that, "Government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are trying to push back the militants on the ground around the dam, which is 45 miles from Mosul."  Australia's Sky News (link is text and video) reports:

  Sky's Alex Crawford, at Mosul Dam, said: "We heard firing behind us about 1km away. The president's son said he suspected some hardened IS fighters were in the south of the dam who had not been cleared from the area."
She added: "They are still clearly holding out and putting up some sort of defence."

Crawford said she heard heavy machine-gun fire and possibly mortar shelling as well as jets overhead.

AFP states, "Fighting erupted Tuesday in the area surrounding the dam and U.S. warplanes carried out fresh strikes targeting ISIS, a senior officer in the Kurdish peshmerga forces told AFP."

At the Pentagon today, spokesperson Rear Adm Jack Kirby took questions from the press.

Q: Where do the missions -- the airstrikes for Mosul, where do they fit into the two -- the missions the president delineated, protecting humanitarian issues and then protecting U.S. personnel? Because this seems like a classic softening up the opposition, close-air support for invading -- a counter-invading force. Where do -- where do the missions fit? And wasn't that -- this an example of mission creep, albeit maybe accidental?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, let's take the second part first. Mission creep -- you know, this is a phrase that gets bandied about quite a bit, but let's just kind of talk about it for a second. Mission creep refers to the growth or expansion of the goals and objectives of a military operation, that the goals and objectives change, morph into something bigger than they were at the outset.
It doesn't talk about -- mission creep doesn't refer to numbers of sorties, numbers of troops, numbers of anything. It doesn't refer to timelines. It doesn't even refer to intensity. It's about the mission itself. Nothing has changed about the mission, missions that we're conducting inside Iraq. As I said before, airstrikes are authorized under two mission areas -- humanitarian assistance and the protection of U.S. personnel and facilities.
The airstrikes that we conducted in and around Mosul dam over the last 72 hours or so fit into both those categories, both helping prevent what could be a huge humanitarian problem should the dam be blown or the gates -- they're just allowed to flood, and also to protect U.S. personnel and facilities. So there's been no -- well, I'm not going to -- I'm not going to say a negative. What I'll just tell you is, the missions are clear. The operations that we're conducting are inside the authorizations for those missions. And we're going to continue to be vigilant going forward. And if there is a need for more airstrikes in conjunction with either of those two mission areas, those two authorizations, we'll conduct them.

Q: How effective, how crucial were the strikes to retaking the dam? Do you have a sense of that? What -- you know, without those airstrikes, would the Iraqis and Peshmerga have been able to have retaken the dam?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: It's hard to, you know, arm-chair quarterback here a military operation that just wound up. We believe they were critical to assisting in that -- in the retaking of the dam. But I also would -- at the same time -- point to the courage, the bravery, the skill of both the Kurdish forces and Iraqi forces and their extensive cooperation with one another in conducting this operation. Yes, we were a critical part of it, but it was a team effort.

It was a team effort?  What's Kirby trying to say?  "IS just wanted it more"?

Before the bad news that the issue of the dam was still up in the air, Barack was preaching Operation Happy Talk.  As Matthew Weaver (Guardian) observes:

Barack Obama hailed the retaking of the Mosul dam as a symbol of how Isis militants could be defeated by co-operation between Kurdish, Iraqi and US forces. “This operation demonstrates that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are capable of working together and taking the fight to Isil [Islamic State]. If they continue to do so, they will have the strong support of the United States of America.”

On the topic of mission creep, William Saletan (Slate) notes the changing scope of Barack's misadventure:

On Aug. 7, Obama specified two grounds for military action: to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq and to prevent the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis trapped by ISIS on Mt. Sinjar. Two days later, however, he added another issue: “We have to make sure that ISIL is not engaging in the actions that could cripple a country permanently. There’s key infrastructure inside of Iraq that we have to be concerned about.” Specifically, on Thursday, he authorized airstrikes “to recapture the Mosul Dam,” arguing that its destruction “could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, endanger U.S. personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad [280 miles away], and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace.” In Obama’s foreign policy, nation-building is out. But using force to help governments provide “critical services” is in.

Gordon Lubold and Kate Brannen (Foreign Policy) also address the issue:

The administration entered the conflict with an aggressive airstrike and airdrop campaign in northern Iraq based, it said, on the need to protect the U.S. personnel in the country and to prevent militants from slaughtering members of the Yazidi religious minority sect stranded atop Mount Sinjar. Then last week, U.S. officials announced that a reconnaissance team that had visited Sinjar discovered that the humanitarian crisis wasn't as bad as first feared, thus removing one of the main justifications for the air campaign. In recent days, the United States has launched a barrage of airstrikes in and around Mosul that appear to be directly targeting the Islamic State, leading many to conclude that the mission is expanding beyond the administration's stated goals and objectives.
"The administration can call it whatever they want, but semantics aside, they're now waging war," said Stephen Biddle, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. 

The word games leaders resort to in order to deceive the people they supposedly represent.

The Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus observes, "Even without American boots on the ground, Obama has entered the United States in its fourth Iraq war. It won’t be over quickly. As the president said, this is going to be a long-term project."

It's a reality few want to tackle, let alone acknowledge.

BBC News, noting the United Kingdom's involvement, reported yesterday, "Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said the UK's military involvement in the country could last for 'months', and has revealed that RAF surveillance aircraft are operating there."  However, wire services carry British Prime Minister David Cameron's denial, "Britain is not going to get involved in another war n Iraq.  We're not going to be putting boots on the ground."

And, like Barack Obama, Cameron thinks as long as he can insist that it's just dropping bombs, it's not really war.

Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) went in search of someone to make sense of the events:

 Dan Trombly, an Iraq military analyst from Caerusa Associates, a Washington consultancy, said that Tuesday’s defeat showed that the Iraqis had made little progress in reforming their military from the shattered hulk that was swept aside by a much smaller force of fighters from the Islamic State in June.
“From what we’ve been able to see in Tikrit, ISF has made far too little progress towards building organizational cohesion and professionalism,” he said by email, referring to Iraqi security forces. “The new volunteers seem undertrained and coordination between and within conventional military units and militia forces is insufficient to withstand the pressure of relatively simple guerrilla tactics.”
Trombly noted that a national military with heavy armor and artillery support, as well as rudimentary air power from a handful of decades-old Iraqi air force jets, should not see an offensive stalled simply because the enemy fought back.

Read more here:

The issue of mission creep was raised in today's State Dept press briefing.  Spokesperson Marie Harf struggled yesterday as she insisted it was consistent policy for the US government to attack the Islamic State in Iraq while aiding and arming it in Syria.  Today, she tried to explain how narrow goals being expanded did not constitute mission creep.  Excerpt.

QUESTION: As you know, the – yesterday the Kurdish forces recaptured the Mosul Dam, and of course they --

MS. HARF: Working with Iraqi security forces, yes.

QUESTION: Yeah, working with Iraqi security forces. And of course, that was because of the help that the United States provided from the air.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: But don’t you – if we go back a little bit and to President Obama’s first statement about Iraq, and he said it – the operation would be limited.

MS. HARF: To two goals.

QUESTION: Two goals, yeah.

MS. HARF: One of which was protecting our people. And as we said very clearly the night the President announced military action, and as we have said multiple times since then, that Mosul Dam is critical infrastructure that if breached, either because ISIS can’t run it or because they take some sort of nefarious action to do so, it would threaten our people and our facility in Baghdad. So we’ve said that from the beginning.


MS. HARF: This is very much in line with the goals the President laid out that first night.

QUESTION: So does that mean the threat is now gone and the United States will stop its operations? Because the Mount Sinjar crisis is almost over, and the advance on Erbil has stopped. The dam is – has been recaptured.

MS. HARF: Right. And those are all good things. But we maintain the ability to strike at a time and place of our choosing if we believe our people or our facilities are in danger. That applies to Baghdad, that applies to Erbil. So we will continue monitoring the situation. We have a number of assets at our disposal if we feel that any of those people are threatened.

QUESTION: Do you – don’t you believe that there has been – that limited airstrike that President Obama outlined very explicitly, you’ve gone beyond that now?

MS. HARF: Not at all, in no way. He outlined two goals for this, one of which was protection for our people. The Mosul Dam, if breached, which – we have no idea if ISIS would be able to or would be willing to actually run it and not do something to breach it, would directly threaten our people in Baghdad.


QUESTION: And – sorry, one more question. Kurdish officials --

MS. HARF: Because of the massive flooding that would occur.

Again with the lie that the dam breaking would flood Baghdad?  

There are over 200 miles between Mosul and Baghdad. In addition, the wave of water would have to have a southeast trajectory and to ignore the bits of river bed it would have to cross over repeatedly to strike Baghdad. 

The lie re: Baghdad was first popularized by journalist or 'journalist' Patrick Cockburn in 2007 when he cited 'experts' Ryan Crocker and David Petraeus saying there could be "flooding along the Tigris river all the way to Bahgdad."  Neither Crocker nor Petraeus is an engineer and Cockburn was noting a US Army Corps of Engineers report elsewhere so it's strange he didn't go to that.

Strange until you read the (long) US Army Corps report and grasp that there's nothing in it that backs up Crocker and Petraeus' claims re: Baghdad.  Then you understand why a reporter or 'reporter' would elect to sidestep the issue. 

The 2007 Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction's "Relief and Reconstruction Funded Work at Mosul Dam Mosul, Iraq" notes the letter Crocker and Petraeus wrote in passing but only refers to Mosul being flooded (in three to four hours).

Well threats of destruction were used to pimp the Iraq War at its start, it's probably necessary to continue to pimp threats of destruction to keep the war going.

It certainly keeps people from asking questions like "how are we paying for this?"

At the Pentagon press briefing that issue briefly arose.

Q: Do you know how much these airstrikes are costing yet? And are they coming from the OCO budget or the base budget?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: You'll have to go to CENTCOM for that. I don't have a budget figure. The operations budget that -- that Central Command and the services have are funding this. There's not a request in for extra funding or anything like that for this operation. I just -- I'd refer you to CENTCOM, though, for more details on that.

Someone forgot to tell the American taxpayer that the card already maxed out on an illegal war was about to see its credit limit raised just so more money could be spent on the illegal war.

Someone also forgot to tell Barack the way it works with the Iraq War:  Any time you try to spin success, reality slaps you in the face.

At this point, they're have been so many 'turned corners' in the Iraq War, the world is left dizzy.

And the bombs keep getting dropped.

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    The US is on pace to conduct more airstrikes in Iraq this month (204), than in Afghanistan last month (160).

    Being forced to fight again over the dam wasn't the only major operation attempted today.  Early on, NINA reports, the military announced, "The security forces started today a massive military operation to liberate the city of Tikrit, the center of Salahuddin province, from the (IS)."  After the announcement?

    Xinhua explains what happened:

    Iraqi security forces on Tuesday halted an offensive to retake control of the militant- seized city of Tikrit, the capital of the Sunni-dominant province of Salahudin, due to heavy resistance by the militants, security sources said.
    Earlier in the day, the troops entered Tikrit from three directions, but was forced to retreat after fierce clashes with the Sunni militants, including those who are linked to the Islamic State militants, an al-Qaida offshoot, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

    Heba Saleh, Claer Barrett and Giulia Segreti (Irish Times) note:

    Abu Abd al-Naami, a spokesman for the Council of Iraqi Revolutionaries, which represents some of the country’s Sunni tribes that are fighting against the Iraqi government, claimed that Tikrit had come under attack from the Iraqi army, but that “tribal” and “revolutionary” forces had repulsed the assault. 
    Mr al-Naami, whose organisation insists there is no such body called Isis, added that fighting continued on the southeastern outskirts of the birthplace of executed former president Saddam Hussein. 

    National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 corpses were discovered in al-Hawy, the aerial bombing of Mosul left 6 civilians dead and five more injured, and a Sabea al-Bour mortar and rocket attack left 2 people dead and ten more injured.

    LINKS: International Journal of Socialist Review interviews author and activist Tariq Ali

    What are your thoughts on US President Barack Obama’s commitment of the US to long-term involvement in Iraq, which he claims is a response to the rise of Islamic militants?

    Nonsense. The real reason is to make sure that the US-Israeli protectorate [Kurdish region] remains safe. The aftermath of the occupation was designed to divide Iraq across religious lines. What we are witnessing (as I pointed out a decade ago) is the balkanisation of Iraq.

    Do you agree with Hillary Clinton’s recent statement that the rise of ISIS can be attributed to the failure of the US to help rebels in Syria?

    Another absurdity. The US did help and arm the Syrian rebels via Turkey. They did not bomb Assad out of existence, as they were unsure of the consequences. After all, Clinton, who supported the war on Iraq, should see what happens if you destroy a regime unilaterally. The rise of ISIS in Iraq is because they destroyed all the structures of the old regime. Had they done the same in Syria, we would have had an even worse situation than now, with at least three different wars taking place. Qatar/Turkey/US backing the so-called moderate Islamists, and the Saudis angry that the Muslim Brotherhood is being revived in Syria.

    We'll note Morgan Fairchild's Tweet about Iraq today:

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    'No' from one Iraq villager triggered Islamic State mass killings via

  • We won't note a discussed death.  It hasn't been confirmed.  There's no need to 'rush out' on this.  If it was your family member, you'd likely be holding out hope unless it was confirmed and the last thing you'd need was the whole world speaking of your loved one in the past tense while you waited for confirmation of life or death.

    Lastly, All Iraq News notes the rumor that Haider al-Ebadi, prime minister-designate, intends to nominate cabinet members next Monday.  If true, that would be a smart move since he has thirty days (starting on Monday of this week) to form a Cabinet -- which requires Parliament confirming his nominees.  Attempting it in 7 or so days would allow him some time to seek out nominees to replace anyone Parliament shot down.

    tariq ali

    Posted at 08:31 pm by thecommonills

    Monday, August 18, 2014
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Monday, August 18, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack talks Iraq, Marie Harf insists the US can stand with IS in Syria and oppose it in Iraq and not be contradicting itself, a new poll has some depressing and distressing findings, and much more.

    A busy day for Iraq with violence and political overtures, various US cabinets making statements and US President Barack Obama speaking on the topic.

    Let's start with  CENTCOM which issued the following:

    TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 18, 2014 – U.S. Conducts More Airstrikes Near the Mosul Dam
    From a U.S. Central Command News Release
    TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 18, 2014 — U.S. military forces today continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Iraq, using a mix of fighter, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft to successfully conduct 15 airstrikes near the Mosul Dam.
    The strikes damaged or destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions; an ISIL checkpoint; six ISIL armed vehicles; an ISIL light armored vehicle; an ISIL vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft artillery gun, and an IED emplacement belt.
    All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.

     Since Aug. 8, U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 68 airstrikes in Iraq. Of those 68 strikes, 35 have been in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul Dam. These strikes were conducted under authority to support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense forces as they work together to combat ISIL, as well as to protect critical infrastructure, U.S. personnel and facilities, and support humanitarian efforts.

    Barack noted the dam in his speech today as well, "Today, with our support, Iraqi and Kurdish forces took a major step forward by recapturing the largest dam in Iraq, near the city of Mosul. The Mosul dam fell under terrorist control earlier this month, and is directly tied to our objective of protecting Americans in Iraq."

    So this was a success?

    Forget your feelings on bombings.  Along with all that the Kurdish and Iraqi military do, the US military conducted 35 air strikes in approximately five days and with that, the US government insists, the Islamic State is no longer in control of the Mosul dam.

    I'm confused.

    How many air strikes did IS conduct?

    I'm pretty sure that number is zero.

    US military might used to bomb repeatedly -- 35 air strikes -- is what it took to apparently rescue one dam.

    That's really not looking good for the US military, the Iraqi military and/or the Kurdish military.

    The only one who comes out looking strong in that recap is IS.

    We're all aware that Iraq has more than one dam, right?

    In that general vicinity alone, Iraq also has Duhok Dam, Badush Dam, Bekhme Dam, Dukan Dam and Dibis Dam.

    That's not a full listing of Iraq's dams.  It's not even a full listing of the dams in the Tigris river basin (the Ephrates river basin also has dams).

    But this is what it took to wrestle one dam away.  Barack's spoken of the alleged danger of that dam -- probably more to justify his own actions.

    Baghdad would be flooded!

    That was the claim.  It popped up on the chat and chews all weekend which is how you knew it was a White House talking point.

    No, Baghdad would not have been flooded.

    There is not a grand Slip and Slide between Mosul and Bahgdad that will carry the water through.

    There is dried land, land that bakes in the summer heat.  Iraq's supposed to reach 116 degrees F on Tuesday and 117 on Wednesday.  We all get what happens in those temperatures, right?

     Most of the water from the dam -- had the dam been ruptured -- would have endangered very little -- even Mosul itself may not have seen water standing for hours.

    But it was a talking point.


    To justify the actions taken.

    Barack declared this afternoon, "If that dam was breached, it could have proven catastrophic, with floods that would’ve threatened the lives of thousands of civilians and endanger our embassy compound in Baghdad."

    No, the Baghdad Embassy was not in danger of 'flooding.'

    Barack's going to have to work hard at scaring Americans.

    In "TV: Spoiler alert" on Sunday, Ava and I touched on some of the TV coverage of Iraq:

    Martha Raddatz was again filling in as host of the program and she wanted [ABC News' Terry] Moran to "tell us the difference between these airstrikes" and the earlier ones the US launched last week.

    "This is different," Moran responded.  "This is moving on beyond helping people."

    What was he speaking of, this difference?

    Bombing IS near a Mosul dam was not part of the defined mission.

    Thursday, for example, US President Barack Obama declared:

    Last week, I authorized two limited missions:  protecting our people and facilities inside of Iraq, and a humanitarian operation to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians stranded on a mountain.
    A week ago, we assessed that many thousands of Yezidi men, women and children had abandoned their possessions to take refuge on Mount Sinjar in a desperate attempt to avoid slaughter.  We also knew that ISIL terrorists were killing and enslaving Yezidi civilians in their custody, and laying siege to the mountain. Without food or water, they faced a terrible choice -- starve on the mountain, or be slaughtered on the ground.  That’s when America came to help.
    Over the last week, the U.S. military conducted humanitarian air drops every night –- delivering more than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of fresh water.  We were joined in that effort by the United Kingdom, and other allies pledged support. Our military was able to successfully strike ISIL targets around the mountain, which improved conditions for civilians to evacuate the mountain safely.
    Yesterday, a small team of Americans -– military and civilian -– completed their review of the conditions on the mountain.  They found that food and water have been reaching those in need, and that thousands of people have been evacuating safely each and every night.  The civilians who remain continue to leave, aided by Kurdish forces and Yezidis who are helping to facilitate the safe passage of their families.  So the bottom line is, is that the situation on the mountain has greatly improved and Americans should be very proud of our efforts.Because of the skill and professionalism of our military –- and the generosity of our people –- we broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar; we helped vulnerable people reach safety; and we helped save many innocent lives.  Because of these efforts, we do not expect there to be an additional operation to evacuate people off the mountain, and it’s unlikely that we’re going to need to continue humanitarian air drops on the mountain. 

    Martha Raddatz also spoke to retired Colonel Steve Ganyard who noted the change, pointing out Barack was moving away from his declaration that "these strikes will only be based on humanitarian purposes and to protect American people" in Iraq. 

    After a weekend full of nonsense about how the water in the dam could flood Baghdad, Barack declared today it could have harmed the US Embassy in Baghdad.

    Do the lies ever end?

    It's all so confusing.

    For instance, the US government says IS is bad and evil in Iraq but the same US government backs IS in Syria.

    Efforts failed in today's State Dept press briefing to make sense of this nonsensical 'mission' which cancels itself out.  Spokesperson Marie Harf moderated.  Excerpt.

    QUESTION: Can we move to Syria?

    MS. HARF: We can.

    QUESTION: As you know, the Syrian regime has been bombing Islamic State’s positions in Raqqa for two days. Since you are doing the same thing across the border in Iraq, what would you say --

    MS. HARF: I would disagree that we’re doing the same thing, but go ahead.

    QUESTION: But, I mean, you are bombing Islamic State position in Iraq, so would you say that the U.S. and Syria are on the same page against a common enemy?

    MS. HARF: No. No, I would not. And in large part, that’s because it’s the Assad regime’s own actions that helped lead to the rise of ISIS or ISIL or IS or whatever we’re going to call it this week. It is the security environment they created. It is them – the Assad regime encouraging the flow of fighters into Iraq that they did, certainly, when we were there and also have done recently. So I would strongly disagree with the notion that we are on the same page here in terms of what we’re doing.

    QUESTION: Regardless of the cause, you do agree that you share an enemy in common, correct? I mean with ISIS, in particular.

    MS. HARF: I don’t want – I’m not going to say that we share anything in common with the Syrian regime.

    QUESTION: Okay. Let me ask you this. Do you think that ISIS --

    QUESTION: Anything? (Inaudible) breathe, don’t you? About air, do you have that in common?

    MS. HARF: I missed your insightful questions, Matt.

    QUESTION: Is ISIS in Iraq a different organization than ISIS in Syria, or is it one and the same, to the best of your knowledge?

    MS. HARF: They’re an organization, it’s my understanding, with the same leadership in general. Obviously, there’s different parts of it on the ground operating in different places, but under the general same umbrella of this group, yes, it’s my understanding.

    QUESTION: So if you bomb them in Iraq and the Syrian regime bombs them in Syria, you’re bombing the same organization, right?

    MS. HARF: Well, the – that’s a little too simplistic, Said. The reason that they were able to flourish and grow so strong is because of the Assad regime who enabled them to grow in the security environment and indeed fostered their growth throughout many years. So I think that I – again, I just – I don’t concede the point that we’re on the same page here in any way.

    "That's a little too simplistic" huffed the woman who sees bombings as different based upon who is being killed.  She was pressed again on the topic shortly afterwards.

    QUESTION: I just want to stay on Syria. The Syrian coalition has asked actually the United States to bomb ISIS positions in Syria. So people – what do you respond – but what do you respond --

    MS. HARF: Well, the operational picture is a lot different in Syria.

    QUESTION: Sure. They say you’re bombing in Iraq, but they don’t recognize a geographical border. Why can’t you go --

    MS. HARF: Okay. Well --

    QUESTION: -- if they ask you officially to bomb it?

    MS. HARF: -- let’s talk about the difference here. First, in Iraq we have a government that has asked for our help and asked for our support and welcomed us in. That obviously is not the case in Syria. Even if the moderate opposition is asking, I would remind people that the Syrian Government does still maintain some level of anti-aircraft capabilities. It’s a very different operating picture. It would require very different things.

    Did the Iraqi government ask for help?

    I ask because  All Iraq News reported:

    The office of the Commanding General of the Iraqi Armed Forces announced that "The Iraqi Government did not give permission for any military plane to violate the Iraqi space," in a sign to the US airstrikes targeting the shelters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant near Erbil and Mosul.
    A statement by the office received by AIN cited "During the last few days, we noticed violation of some military air-jets for Iraqi space and handing over of military equipment without permission of the Iraqi Government," which is a sign for providing the Kurdish peshmerga with western weapons.

    The statement added "We welcome the supportive stances of the international community for Iraq in its war against terrorism but we assert the necessity of respecting the sovereignty of Iraq."

    It would appear things are not as simplistic as the US government has portrayed them.

    But why should they worry?  Why should Barack?

    The US is bombing Iraq.

    And Barack honestly believes the world will believe his lie (This is NOT a combat mission!) as long as significant numbers of US troops are not on the ground in Iraq.  Until then, Barack's convinced he can conduct a war but no one will  call it out.

    Raed Jarrar continues to struggle with holding Barack accountable.  However, he does manage to point out (in a column for the Chicago Tribune), "Iraq cannot be bombed into stability or moderation. So-called surgical strikes will not transform the war-torn nation into a peaceful and prosperous one. While the United States should search for productive multilateral methods to help Iraq, our top priority should be doing no additional harm.

    It's interesting that Barack presented his own actions and decisions as a humanitarian impulse when All Iraq News reports that it's the Australian Government which has announced it is prepared to take in 2,200 refugees from Iraq.

    Of course, humanitarian actions do not include War Crimes.

    Nouri al-Maliki remains prime minister of Iraq.  So it's no surprise his War Crimes continue.  Nouri continues to bomb the residential neighborhoods of Falluja.  Alsumaria reports 6 people were killed in the latest bombing with another seven left injured.

    Barack's speech today prompted questions.

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    Obama cites genocide, protecting Americans to justify Iraq strikes. Is that just cover for a broader campaign?

    Others found humor in the hypocrisy of the remarks:

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    People told me if I voted for McCain and Romney, we'd have another war in Iraq. Turns out they were right!
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    Barack Obama says there will be no American "boots on the ground" in Iraq. You know what this means? HOVER SOLDIERS.

  • Moving to another topic . . .

    The wolf is at Iraq's door declared Barack in the brief question and answer period which followed his speech:

    Dr. Abadi has said the right things. I was impressed in my conversation with him about his vision for an inclusive government.  But they’ve got to get this done because the wolf’s at the door and in order for them to be credible with the Iraqi people, they’re going to have to put behind some of the old practices and actually create a credible united government.

    Haider al-Abadi is the prime minister-designate of Iraq.  He was named that last Monday and has 30 days to form a Cabinet or, per the Constitution, someone else gets named prime minister.

    For now, many are tossing signs that they are eager to see al-Abadi move from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  For example, Alsumaria reports that cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr expressed his desire to see his bloc work with al-Abadi and that a delegation had met with Haider to explore how that could happen and how Iraq can work at inclusion.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports the Kurds are gearing up to meet with al-Abadi in Baghdad.   Nidal al Laythi (Al-Monitor) offers:

    Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi is working, along with some of his assistants, including friends and colleagues, on drafting the governmental program he will discuss with the other blocs to form the new government, Dawa Party spokesman Zuhair al-Naher says.
     Naher, who's close to Abadi, told Azzaman [in London] over the phone: “Abadi’s priority is to reinforce the armed forces through training and armament. The decision to designate Abadi is purely Iraqi. Washington and Tehran only agreed on the decision after it was already made, like all other countries.”
    Naher added that the prime minister-designate is going to ask the UN Security Council to issue a resolution which allows an international joint operation to be conducted with Iraqi forces against the Islamic State (IS) to liberate Mosul, Tikrit and the rest of the villages controlled by IS in Diyala and Kirkuk.

    In other news, National Iraqi News Agency notes 1 person was shot dead in Yusifiyah,  2 Alexandria car bombings left 1 person dead and eight more injured, a battle west of Kirkuk left 3 rebels dead and two more injured, and an air strike in Sedira Village left 1 suspect dead.  Alsumaria adds 2 corpses were discovered near Baquba.

    Reporting on the latest poll, Susan Page (USA Today) notes,  "Americans are increasingly inclined to say the United States has a responsibility to respond to rising violence in Iraq, a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll finds, although most also express fears about getting pulled back into a extended conflict there."

    Has the White House -- including Barack -- really been that successful in selling more war?

    Not seeing it.

    But I do see idiotic behavior from the likes of Justin Raimondo ( to ridicule victims.  As we noted awhile back, that sort of behavior only sends people running.

    The fight really is for the uninformed on any issue.  You have similar percentages supporting and opposing and the 'winner' is whomever gets the uninformed motivated.

    When you mock victims, you repulse a number of people.  These people no longer need to know any intricate issue, they just need to know that they don't want to be on the same side as the boorish prick making fun of victims.

    I favored air drops and opposed a US bombing campaign.

    You could have opposed both and done so in a manner that didn't repulse people.

    Where does the Pope stand?

    Supposedly, Pope Francis is in full support of war on Iraq.


    Greg Hillis argues people are reading everything but what Pope Francis actucally said.

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  • iraq

    Posted at 09:19 pm by thecommonills

    Wait, who objected to the US air strikes?

    Wait, who objected to the US air strikes?

    The weekend's actions in Iraq and the press focus was mainly centered on a dam in Mosul. In a misdated article (it carries Saturday's date currently but it was published this morning), Rebecca Collard attempts to answer "Why Iraq Is So Desperate to Retake Mosul Dam From ISIS" (Time magazine):

    Now that dam — the country’s biggest, holding back 11 billion cubic meters of water and producing over 1,000 megawatts of electricity — is at the center of a military struggle between Iraqi and Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. and the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), which took control of the structure on Aug. 7.
    Kurdish forces retook part of the dam early Sunday, the Associated Press reported, aided by U.S. and Iraqi air strikes. The Americans brought along some serious hardware to the fight; a combination of bombers, fighter jets, attack planes and unmanned drones, according to U.S. Central Command, conducted 14 strikes on Sunday and nine the day before. The show of force proves that the threat posed by ISIS control of the dam is finally being taken seriously.

    Iraq is that "desperate"?

    Strange because "Iraq" doesn't seem to be.

    In fact, "Iraq" had an official response that western outlets don't seem able to quote from or to find.  Reuters notes that who is in control of the dam now remains in dispute:

    The television station quoted Lieutenant-General Qasim Atta, a military spokesman, as saying the forces were backed by a joint air patrol. He did not give details. An independent verification was not immediately possible.
    A Twitter account belonging to a media organisation that supports the Islamic State said the dam was still under the group's full control.

    John Vandiver (Stars and Stripes) adds, "The U.S. military used a mix of aircraft to carry out attacks on Sunday, including fighters, bombers and drones, U.S. Central Command said in a statement."
    AP insists that "U.S. and Iraqi airstrikes pounded the area in the past two days."

    A lot of words to say so little.  For example, who's objected to the air strikes?  It's a rather significant detail and only All Iraq News appears able to report on that:

    The office of the Commanding General of the Iraqi Armed Forces announced that "The Iraqi Government did not give permission for any military plane to violate the Iraqi space," in a sign to the US airstrikes targeting the shelters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant near Erbil and Mosul.
    A statement by the office received by AIN cited "During the last few days, we noticed violation of some military air-jets for Iraqi space and handing over of military equipment without permission of the Iraqi Government," which is a sign for providing the Kurdish peshmerga with western weapons.

    The statement added "We welcome the supportive stances of the international community for Iraq in its war against terrorism but we assert the necessity of respecting the sovereignty of Iraq."

    I'm sorry but that objection -- from the Iraqi Armed Forces -- is probably one of the most important details of the story and the Mosul action can't be reported on in an honest manner without including that objection.

    The press can and does quote from the White House letter to Congress:

    The White House
    Office of the Press Secretary

    Letter from the President -- War Powers Resolution Regarding Iraq

    August 17, 2014
    Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
    On August 14, 2014, I authorized the U.S. Armed Forces to conduct targeted air strikes to support operations by Iraqi forces to recapture the Mosul Dam. These military operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to support the Iraqi forces in their efforts to retake and establish control of this critical infrastructure site, as part of their ongoing campaign against the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, endanger U.S. personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace. Pursuant to this authorization, on the evening of August 15, 2014, U.S. military forces commenced targeted airstrike operations in Iraq.
    I have directed these actions, which are in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. These actions are being undertaken in coordination with the Iraqi government.
    I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.


    The press just isn't interested in quoting from the Iraqi Air Force.

    This despite the fact that conflict is always news.

    In other news, National Iraqi News Agency notes 1 person was shot dead in Yusifiyah,  2 Alexandria car bombings left 1 person dead and eight more injured, a battle west of Kirkuk left 3 rebels dead and two more injured, and an air strike in Sedira Village left 1 suspect dead.

    On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) they continue their silence on Iraq and their never ending focus on Israel.  Also, Heidi's left the National Lawyers Guild.

    The e-mail address for this site is


    law and disorder radio
    michael s. smith
    heidi boghosian
    michael ratner

    Posted at 05:04 am by thecommonills

    Sunday, August 17, 2014


    US military Colonel Joel Rayburn pens a column for the Washington Post which opens:

    Nouri al-Maliki may have agreed to step down as prime minister of Iraq on Thursday, but the damage he has wrought will define his country for decades to come. The stunning collapse of the Iraqi state in its vast northern and western provinces may be Maliki’s most significant legacy. After nine decades as the capital of a unitary, centralized state, Baghdad no longer rules Kurdistan, nor Fallujah, nor Mosul, and might never rule them again.

    It's an interesting opinion piece in that the opinion is built on actual facts.  You can agree or disagree with Rayburn but you can't accuse him of failing to nail down the basics in his column.

    If only everyone else could say the same.  Susan Milligan turns in soft porn at US News & World Reports entitled "No Other Choice" which insists, "Obama sincerely wants to keep his campaign promise and satisfy an American public exhausted with U.S. involvement in a part of the world where there appears to be no clear way to achieve a permanent peace."

    Barack doesn't just want to keep his campaign promises, Milligan insists, he "sincerely wants to."

    Keep working that Harlequin Romance, Milligan, just don't expect anyone to believe it.

    Milligan describes the Yazidis as "a mainly Kurdish-speaking religious minority."

    While some do describe the group that way -- some would include Kurds -- the Yazidis, generally speaking, don't usually describe themselves that way.

    Of Nouri, Milligan declares, "He declared in his weekly radio address that staying on – despite overwhelming . . ."


    Does Milligan know a damn thing?

    Nouri's address is televised.

    It does air on radio, but it's televised.

    Does Milligan just assume Iraq doesn't have TV resources?

    It's moments like those -- and there are so many in Milligan's brief column -- that ensure few will take her seriously.

    Patrick J. McDonnell and David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) know about Iraqi TV and can even note it in their piece on how Kurds may now be in control of the dam in Mosul:

    In comments to news agencies and on Iraqi television, the officials reported the gains at the Mosul dam, a massive structure on the Tigris River that is a key source of power and water for northern Iraq. Regaining control of the dam would be a major victory for Kurdish authorities, who were embarrassed in early August when Islamic State militants overran the dam and other areas nominally under Kurdish control, forcing a hasty withdrawal of peshmerga forces, as the Kurdish fighters are known.

    Meanwhile, Martin Pengelly (Guardian) reports on Barack's ridiculous claim, "In a letter to Congress, outlining the rationale and justification for the strikes, Obama said the integrity of the dam was crucial to the security of the US embassy in Baghdad. The US has consistently cited the security of US personnel in Baghdad as cover for its military operation to support the Kurds."

    Susan Milligan would no doubt insist that Barack meant that lie "sincerely."

    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] 4491.

    New content at Third:

    The e-mail address for this site is


    Posted at 10:57 pm by thecommonills

    Selling war?

    Selling war?

    Tracey Shelton (Global Post) reports:

    For the Christians now in Erbil, the statement won’t offer much comfort. They want to leave Iraq for good. And they fear the international community has forgotten them.
    For these families, displacement and violence is nothing new. This is the latest, albeit the most extreme, in a long line of threats to their minority group here in Iraq. But this time they say enough is enough. IS has now pushed many of these families, once determined not to leave their homeland, to call for migration.
    “No more Iraq!" shouted one man outside St. Joseph's.
    “We have nothing here anymore. We are homeless and penniless. Iraq is over for us. We do not trust this country,” said another.

    What's being done to the Iraqi Christians is horrific and has been going on for years now.  Each year seems to bring a new group targeting them.

    Deborah Amos (NPR) has probably done a better job of documenting that than any other reporter and you can refer to her Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East.  For the most part, they are ignored.

    Carol Hunt (Irish Independent) writes:

    We can be assured it's not just a humanitarian problem but also a political and security crisis when Barack Obama and David Cameron are forced to interrupt their holiday plans.
    "Iraq," to quote one commentator, "is a bloody mess". Meanwhile, Europe is finally facing up to the escalating horrors - and dangers - of what is happening in Northern Iraq.
    Last Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Flanagan attended an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, which discussed the horrific brutalities being perpetuated in Iraq on innocent men, women and children by the Jihadi group now known throughout the world as IS (Islamic State).
    "There are innocent men being shot and killed, women are being raped and sold into slavery," said Mr Flanagan, who was clearly shocked at what he had heard discussed at the 
extraordinary meeting, which also covered the 
situations in Syria, Gaza, Ukraine and Libya.

    The Yazidis are targeted.  To the degree that is stated above?  Maybe, maybe not.

    But the sensationalism in reporting on their plight is turning off a number of people who would otherwise be sympathetic.  The failure of the media to, for example, report on Iraqi Christians and the Yazidis is puzzling.

    Is it a correct all?

    IS marches into and takes over a town and the Yazidi are the first targeted, then the Christians.  But in Mosul and other places, the media looked the other way when it was the Yazidi being targeted and only expressed concern when it was the Christians.

    So this emphasis on the Yazidis today might be an attempt at a corrective.

    It might also be what many fear: An attempt to sell war.

    I think Barack earned some deserved applause for his air drop of food and water to the Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar.  And, as I said before this week, applause can be addictive and people can repeat the same action that got applauded in hopes that they'll receive the same warm reception -- it's what keeps so many performers on the oldies circuit.

    As Cher sings in "My Favorite Scars:"

    Risk it all
    If you ain't living you're surviving
    Tell me why you tip your toes when you could dive in

    So there doesn't have to be any grand conspiracy here.

    It can be as simple as the news media attempting to self-correct having ignored the plight of the Yazidis in July and Barack seeking the same applause from earlier.

    But it can also be an attempt to use the Yazidis to sell . . .


    War's never stopped in Iraq.

    So maybe we word it the Yazidis can be used in an attempt to sell increased US involvement in the ongoing war?

    Damien Gayle and Sophie Jane Evans (Daily Mail) offer:

    Islamic State militants today 'massacred' more than 300 Yazidi men - just one day after allegedly killing 82 others who refused to convert to Islam.
    The insurgents stormed into the small village of Kocho in northern Iraq, where they spent five days trying to persuade villagers to take up their religion, local officials said.
    When they refused, 82 male members of the ancient sect were reportedly rounded up and shot dead yesterday, while more than 100 women and girls were kidnapped.
    And today, a further 312 Yazidis were allegedly murdered and their families abducted.

     Did the above happen?  In full?  Only partly?

    We don't know.

    But if it didn't happen -- in full or even in part -- what we do know is the Yazidis don't have a p.r. office. 

    The Yazidis have been under assault.

    If the assault has been or is being inflated, that's not on the Yazidis.  They are not part of the war machine.

    BBC News notes UK PM David Cameron's latest 'action':

    The PM, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, said a "humanitarian response" to IS was not enough and a "firm security response" was needed. 
    It comes as Church leaders expressed concern that the UK had no "coherent" approach to tackling Islamic extremism.

    It's things like that which make people suspicious -- when government officials attempt to use an event or crisis to argue for more war ("firm security response").

    Or take this press release from CENTCOM:

    August 16, 2014
    Release #20140818

    TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 16, 2014 - U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Iraq Saturday (Iraq time), with a mix of fighter and remotely piloted aircraft successfully conducting airstrikes near Irbil and the Mosul Dam.
    U.S. Central Command conducted these strikes under authority to support humanitarian efforts in Iraq, as well as to protect U.S. personnel and facilities.
    The nine airstrikes conducted thus far destroyed or damaged four armored personnel carriers, seven armed vehicles, two Humvees and an armored vehicle.
    All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.

    What does that have to do with Yazidis or Christians or Americans -- Barack declared strikes would continue to protect American personnel or the Yazidis.

    That raises eyebrows and should.

    Shashank Bengall, David S. Cloud and Patrick J. McDonnell (Los Anges Times)  call the bombings "a significant expansion of the air campaign in Iraq."

    So while there's every reason to be skeptical of numbers tossed around and of events that can't be backed up (either just for nor or can't be backed up ever), there's no reason to attack the Yazidis or to belittle them.  They're not trying to harm anyone and they are being persecuted -- part of an ongoing persecution they've faced throughout the war.

    Mocking them and belittling them may make you feel good but it also makes you look like an ass, like the Andrew Dice Clay of the antiwar set.

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, McClatchy Newspapers, Ms. magazine's blog, On the Edge and On the Wilder Side -- updated today:


  • The e-mail address for this site is

      the guardian mariz tadros iraq al arabiya news

    iraq iraq

    Posted at 12:17 am by thecommonills

    Saturday, August 16, 2014
    I Hate The War

    I Hate The War

    Since last Saturday, there have been more bombings of Iraq -- bombs dropped from the air -- and more US troops sent into Iraq.

    And more serious discussions from those of us opposed to war?

    I'm not seeing it.

    Justin Raimondo's biggest cause these days appears to be JustinRaimondoIsRight with bitchy a close second.

    If anyone's aided the conversation at all, I'd say it was Cher.  [See "Media: Barack Lies, Cher Tweets and Martha Plays (Ava and C.I.)."]

    Otherwise, I'm just not seeing or feeling it.

    We have walked away from David Swanson.

    So an e-mail informed me.

    I wasn't aware of that.

    We highlight Swanson from time to time which is more than nice of us when you consider the history there.  (It goes back to the Bully Boy Bush years.)  But we didn't walk away from his content.  He hasn't sent any since August 2nd (I searched the public e-mail account).

    I then went to his site to see what we were 'walking away' from.  Saw pages of other topics.  First thing on Iraq was Danny Schechter.

    A sad little piece that only demonstrated (a) how tight the circle jerk remains and (b) how sad Danny's become.

    I'm going to stand with the Arab world and reject Patrick Cockburn.  Other lefties can do as they see fit.  But I don't embrace racism, sexism, xenophobia or homophobia.

    Cockburn hates Sunnis.

    Danny's so eager to be in the circle jerk, he quotes Cockburn's xenophobia without even realizing it.

    The main victor in the new war in Iraq is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) which wants to kill Shia rather than negotiate with them.

    Is that right, Patrick?

    This group of Sunnis (a group you tend to lump all Sunni resistance into) is doing something novel, are they?

    You really never did call out the Shia, did you, Patrick?

    In fact, long before Moqtada al-Sadr found leadership skills and maturity, when he was a bit of a thug and headed a violent militia, Patrick wrote a book glorifying him.

    No real concern over Shi'ites targeting Sunnis.  No real concern over a group that 'wants to kill Sunni rather than negotiate with them.'

    Nouri al-Maliki, Patrick's personal cum rag, targeted Sunnis repeatedly and Patrick didn't decry it.  Nor did Danny Schechter.

    It's been open season on Arabs and it's really time for the left to say no to the demonization of Arabs.  What happens in Gaza over and over happens due to the demonization.

    When we're okay with it being done in coverage of Iraq, we're okay with it being done the Palestinians.

    I'm not going to embrace Patrick's hatred of the Sunnis and I'm not to be part of the silence on it either.

    It's very typical of the left gatekeepers to look the other way on their own.  That's how trashy Amy Goodman not only stole property from Pacifica Radio but also how she got away with publishing in H**tler magazine.

    It's also how she stole the radio program Pacifica created (Democracy Now!) and made it her own, how she's become a millionaire off the show.  Salim Muwakkil didn't get rich off the show, did he?  But Goodman did.  It's  cute little con job where they pretend they care.

    Muwakkil co-founded the show.  But Amy pocketed the cash, didn't she?  She ripped off a lot of people but her rip-off of an African-American man should be remembered the next time she tries to whip up racial tensions.  Give her the corpse of an African-American and Amy cares, she really cares.  But a living African-American, one who doesn't take marching orders?  They'll be gone quickly.  Ask the African-American interns, the very few African-American interns, she's employed or 'employed' on Democracy Now! and you'll find out that they see Goodman as just another plantation owner and you'll find out they have good reason for seeing her as such.

    But Danny won't tell you that and Patrick won't tell you and they'll be in the circle jerk -- Amy included -- because that's more important to them than the Iraqi people or, for that matter, you.

    So they stayed silent while Nouri al-Maliki slaughtered protesters.  They won't call each other out now, of course.  They'll just pretend like it never happened.

    They stayed silent when Iraq's LGBTQ community was under attack by Nouri.

    They stayed silent when journalists -- and journalism -- were attacked by Nouri.

    Even his frivolous law suit against the Guardian -- which he initially won -- didn't prompt them to condemn him.

    They are the problem.

    Their 'history' of Iraq on display today looks more like elective plastic surgery as they rush to enhance this detail and cover up that reality.

    They did little to help anyone in Iraq but they did help their buddies in the circle jerk.

    It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
    There's a war going on
    So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
    And I'm writing a song about war
    And it goes
    Na na na na na na na
    I hate the war
    Na na na na na na na
    I hate the war
    Na na na na na na na
    I hate the war
    Oh oh oh oh
    -- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

    The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4491.

    The e-mail address for this site is

    Posted at 10:03 pm by thecommonills

    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Friday, August 15, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, possibilities as to why Nouri is steeping down, some look to the prime minister-designate for hope, and much more.

    Yesterday's big news that Iraq's two-term prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki had agreed to step down continues to be news.   Al Mada notes statements of relief made by US Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Nickolay Mladenov.  Andrew Reiter (US News and World Reports) offers:
    This is an unquestionably positive development for Iraq. First, the peaceful transfer of power represents a key step in Iraq’s young democracy. Second, the new government should be better equipped to deal with the worsening security threat posed by Islamic State militants. And third, it could usher in a period of improved relations with the U.S.
    A peaceful transfer of power is a welcome development for Iraq’s nascent democracy that has seen al-Malaki consolidate his rule over his eight years in office. Following the controversial 2010 parliamentary elections, al-Malaki created the Office of the Commander-in-Chief, giving himself direct control over the Iraqi army and police. In response to recent events, he deployed a number of elite security forces throughout Baghdad’s Green Zone in an overt threat to his opponents. Fears of a military coup were rampant.

    Loveday Morris and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) point out, "Maliki has become a deeply divisive figure but had clung to his position in the face of a growing consensus among Iraq’s politicians and the international community that only a new leader would have a chance of unifying a country experiencing growing sectarian divisions."  How bad did it get for Nouri?  Martin Chulov, Julian Borger and Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) explain, "He had lost the support of his party, of the president, the parliament, the Americans, Saudis and finally the Iranian government, his biggest foreign ally and sponsor. Even the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, issued a statement pointedly welcoming the appointment of Abadi."

    How did he lose the support of Ali Khamenei?  Ali Hashem (Al-Monitor) reports:

    An Iraqi source close to Ayatollah Ali Sistani told Al-Monitor: “Around 10 days before the designation, an envoy representing the Iranian leadership visited Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Najaf. The envoy heard a clear stance from Sistani: Nouri al-Maliki shouldn’t continue as a prime minister. …​ Sistani won’t say this in public, but he had to tell it to the Iranians, because he thought the crisis in the country needed a solution and that the deadlock would complicate efforts to reach an agreement.”
    According to Al-Monitor’s sources in Tehran and Baghdad, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after learning of Sistani’s position, asked his aides to facilitate the change, calling on them to play a role in convincing Maliki to withdraw. “There were several alternatives for Maliki, one was him being appointed vice president. He refused. He was obstinate on the prime minister position and gave all those who tried [to talk] with him reasons for him not to accept. His main challenge was that he’s the leader of the bloc that won the election, and the constitution gives him the right to form the new government.”

    Also weighing in was The Diane Rehm Show.  In the second hour of Friday morning's broadcast, Diane addressed Iraq with her guests Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers), Greg Myre (NPR) and Jim Sciutto (CNN).  Excerpt:

    REHM: Good to see you all. Jim Sciutto, what finally made Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki agree to step aside? 

    SCIUTTO:  I think the loss of the support of the support of both the U.S. and Iran. And once you had public statements. For the U.S. statement, somewhat more predictable, but once the Iranians said they wanted a transition, they wanted a more inclusive government, he saw the writing on the wall. But it was touch and go, because on Sunday night, and we were on the air Sunday night, as you had tanks in the streets, bridges closed in Baghdad. Forces loyal to Maliki being ordered -- you know, accounts from Baghdad police telling us ordered around key buildings. It looked like, for a moment, he was gonna make a power grab. So, you know, it appeared he had some second thoughts towards the end, but once that support disappeared, even he could see the writing on the wall. 

    REHM:  Nancy. 

    YOUSSEF:  So, the reason he gave, in his speech, in which he was surrounded by members of his party and his successor, was, in part, that he didn't want to see Iraq return to dictatorship, which arguably was code for that he didn't think that the militias and the armed forces he put on the street could actually keep him in power. The only other list -- person I would add to that list is Sistani, Ayatollah Sistani, who's the leader of the Shias in Iraq had called and supported his transition.  And so, internally, that was perhaps the most important loss for his support. And so, once all those factors came in to play, it was impossible to see who would support him. In addition, I would add also are the court systems, because the last time he had sort of been challenged, the courts had supported him, and constitutionally, he didn't have the ground to stand on to continue his fight. 

    REHM: Greg. 

    MYRE: Just looking back, Maliki came to power in 2006. At that moment, Iran was facing this Sunni insurgency that was tearing the country apart. The U.S. felt a real sense of urgency to intervene. Here we are eight years later going through the same thing. And you can go back, and the U.S. military involvement has now been over 20 years in Iraq. And are we moving forward anywhere, or are we just going in circles? 

    While various possibilities were tossed around at various outlets, few bothered to examine Iraqi sentiment.  Kholoud Ramzi (Niqash) covers Iraqi reaction:

    The desperate attempts of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stay in power may have been taken seriously by many and led to questions about attempted coups and concern as to which sectors of the military supported him - but there are many Iraqis who are not taking al-Maliki seriously at all. Sarcastic pictures, jokes and comments have been circulating on Iraqi social media for the past few days, with those photo shopping pictures and posting jokes appearing to compete amongst themselves to make a mockery of their soon-to-be-former Prime Minister.
    One of the most popular pictures shows al-Maliki wearing a Hitler-style moustache. Another shows US President Barack Obama patting al-Maliki on the back, as if to bid him farewell. This has garnered a number of humorous comments. 
    One Iraqi Kurdish journalist shared a picture that shows young men trampling on a picture of al-Maliki that is lying on the floor. “They started to throw your pictures on the ground as soon as they heard about al-Abadi,” the journalist wrote in the caption. “They started to throw shoes at the picture as soon as they knew you were out. I fear that soon they will beat you with their shoes. We Iraqis are the kind of people who receive our leaders with cheering and applause and then farewell them with shoes.”
    Another picture showed two tribal leaders, or sheikhs, sitting behind al-Maliki at a funeral. “Let us grieve for the soul of [al-Maliki’s] third term,” those who shared the picture wrote. “The funeral of the State of Law bloc.”
    Another Iraqi prankster posted a picture of al-Maliki’s wife. “Breaking news,” they wrote. “Al-Abadi’s wife has called al-Maliki’s wife to ask her where she put the presidential mugs.”
    Those who supported al-Maliki also came in for ribbing, with politicians who protested al-Abadi’s nomination or al-Maliki’s ouster also targeted by jokers. 
    Another commenter wrote this: “Al-Maliki ruled us for eight years and he brought us right back to the era of the Caliphate. If he had had another four years, we might have seen dinosaurs roaming the streets of Baghdad”. 
    Some other activists wrote on one of al-Maliki’s Facebook pictures that Iraqis need to thank the Prime Minister for his achievements before he leaves. They listed 14 of the most important ones. This included sectarianism, displacement, insecurity, corruption and lack of government services. “Last but not least we should congratulate him on the birth of Daash, which came from all of these achievements,” they wrote, using the Arabic acronym for the Sunni Muslim extremist group known as the Islamic State, that now controls parts of the country.

    Deeply unpopular Nouri.  So many have wanted him gone for so long now.  And where do things stand now?  Shashank Bengali and Patrick J. McDonnell (Los Angeles Times) state, "Maliki’s surprise announcement Thursday that he would give up his bid for a third four-year term raised hope that a new government could unite a country that is more bitterly divided than at perhaps any time since the sectarian civil strife of 2006-07."

    So few want to admit that.  In part because they whored for Nouri and in part because they lack the ability to they were wrong to cheer Nouri on.  The man was a tyrant and a despot. He had Iraqis rounded up -- usually Sunnis -- mass 'arrests' that lacked arrest warrants.  The people were then lost in the 'legal' system -- often never tried, not on trial once, but kept in prisons.  Some people were arrested with arrest warrants -- for other people!

    They have an arrest warrent for Ali al-Mutlaq.  They go to his family's home.  Ali is not present so they arrest Ali's wife, sister, child or parent.  That's not justice.  It is why so many innocents rot in prison -- accused of no crime but held regardless.

    Many of the females in Nouri's prison arrived there as a result of being a relative of someone.  Once in prison, many girls and women were assaulted or raped.  Nouri attempted to ignore this when it became the topic of fall 2012.  An investigation by Parliament found that the assaults and rapes were taking place -- this would also be backed up by the work of Human Rights Watch:

    Iraqi authorities are detaining thousands of Iraqi women illegally and subjecting many to torture and ill-treatment, including the threat of sexual abuse. Iraq’s weak judiciary, plagued by corruption, frequently bases convictions on coerced confessions, and trial proceedings fall far short of international standards. Many women were detained for months or even years without charge before seeing a judge.
    The 105-page report, “‘No One Is Safe’: Abuses of Women in Iraq’s Criminal Justice System,”documents abuses of women in detention based on interviews with women and girls, Sunni and Shia, in prison; their families and lawyers; and medical service providers in the prisons at a time of escalating violence involving security forces and armed groups. Human Rights Watch also reviewed court documents and extensive information received in meetings with Iraqi authorities including Justice, Interior, Defense, and Human Rights ministry officials, and two deputy prime ministers.
    “Iraqi security forces and officials act as if brutally abusing women will make the country safer,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “In fact, these women and their relatives have told us that as long as security forces abuse people with impunity, we can only expect security conditions to worsen.”

    There was his targeting of Iraq's LGBTQ community.  There was his attack on protesters -- most infamously the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija resulted fvia  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported 53 dead  -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

    This is who some people are praising?  This is the real Nouri al-Maliki and they ought to explain how 'great' he is to have earned their praise.

    That's why Iraq needed a new prime minister.

    On that need,  Martin Chulov (Guardian via Irish Times) explains:

      Iraq risks being torn apart by warring sects unless Haider al-Abadi, the new prime minister, can gather the country’s estranged factions behind him and form a government, senior Iraqi politicians said yesterday.
    “This is all or nothing,” said one senior Iraqi official who is hoping for a senior ministry within the new cabinet. “None of us are sure that he can do it. And if he can’t, we are doomed.”

    Former State Dept employee Ali Khedery offers, in an essay for the New York Times:

    But if anyone has the potential to unite Iraq and hold it together in the face of ISIS terrorism and Iranian meddling, it is Mr. Abadi. In a society where name and upbringing count for a lot, he comes from a respected Baghdad family and was raised in an upscale neighborhood. He studied at one of the capital’s best high schools, earned a degree from one of its top universities and later received a doctorate in engineering in Britain.
    While Mr. Maliki spent his years in exile in Iran and Syria and earned degrees in Islamic studies and Arabic literature, Mr. Abadi, a fluent English speaker, worked his own way through his long and costly studies abroad. In meetings over the past decade, Mr. Abadi always impressed me and other American diplomats with his self-effacing humor, humility, willingness to listen and ability to compromise -- extremely rare traits among Iraq’s political elite, and precisely the characteristics that are needed to help heal the wounds Iraqis sustained under Hussein and Mr. Maliki.
    “We’ll give Abadi a real chance if for no other reason than because he’s a Baghdadi — not a thug from a village like almost everyone else that’s ruled us since ’58,” a shadowy financier of the Sunni insurgency told me this week.

    There are many expectations out there.  Whether al-Abadi can live up to them -- or even half of them -- all eyes are on him for now.    Chelsea J. Carter and Tim Lister (CNN) report:

    Abadi is viewed as a moderate and has shown more of a willingness to compromise than al-Maliki, Ranj Alaadin, an Iraqi specialist at Columbia University, told the BBC.
    "He is very engaging, articulate and direct," Alaadin told the British network.
    Abadi was born in Baghdad in 1952, according to his website.
    A long-time member of the Dawa Party -- he is said to have joined as a teenager -- he was one of thousands of prominent Iraqis who left the country during Saddam Hussein's rule.
    Abadi left to study abroad after receiving a bachelor's degree in 1975, and stayed away as Hussein tightened his grip on the country. Two of his brothers were not so lucky; they were executed in 1982 for belonging to the Dawa Party. The following year, the regime canceled Abadi's passport.

    There are many issues to be addressed.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) runs down some and concludes:

    Of all the challenges, any new Iraqi government will have to face, possibly the most frightening and complex is economic.
    The country has seen budget deficits rise by as much as a third, last year’s budget has not been approved and this year’s budget has not yet been tabled.
    “In 2012 and 2013 Iraq had about US$18billion in its coffers in the Development Fund for Iraq [a fund created to save Iraq’s oil revenues] but this year there’s only about US$5billion, according to figures from the International Monetary Fund,” says local economist and researcher Mathhar Mohammed Saleh. “This is very dangerous. But nobody has really paid it much attention because everyone is busy with political conflicts and security problems.”

    The Development Fund is supposed to bridge any budget deficits – but as the deficit gets bigger and the bridging funds get smaller, Iraq may well be facing a serious economic problem.
    “Additionally the delay in approving the national budget gave the last government license to spend in an uncontrolled way,” says Iraqi Kurdish politician, Najiba Najib, who was on the previous government’s Finance Committee. “We don’t know how or where the government spent the money but we do know this conflict with the IS group is draining resources.”
    Additionally, since 2010, al-Maliki has continually rejected any requests to submit annual accounts to Parliament. The excuse was that government ministries had not sufficiently developed their accounting departments or that there were technical issues. However for a long time it has been thought that these excuses were really just a cover for major corruption.
    Iraq has consistently been ranked as one of the most corrupt states in the world by the international watchdog organization, Transparency International.

    “The new Prime Minister is going to spend his four-year term searching for solutions to the problems created by al-Maliki,” says local political analyst, Khalid al-Ani. “Al-Maliki has made a lot of enemies and created many problems. His successor cannot possibly solve them all. He needs the cooperation of all political players as well as international support to find solutions.”

    Ayad Allawi was the leader of 2010's winning political slate Iraqiya -- they bested Nouri's State of Law.  National Iraqi News Agency reports that he offered a cautionary note today:

    Head of the National Coalition Iyad Allawi said on Friday that the Iraq crisis does not depend on changing faces but by putting Iraq on the right road associated with a clear program to solve the Iraq crisis," pointing out that "Abadi is a part of the political structure that ruled Iraq, which is from the womb of Dawa party and we are waiting for what would he do.
    Allawi expressed his doubts on the ability of the Abadi to correct the political process, especially as he has come out of the womb of the Dawa Party, and he is the heir to the unique approach of political governance and based on indifference with politicians in Iraq.
    He stressed "the need to correct the ways of dialogue with the Kurds, especially because they consider themselves to be part of Iraq, and recognize its sovereignty, and there should be clear rules and explicit to deal with the Kurds and the order of the relationship with them is the most important law (oil and gas). 

    Meanwhile, we'll note this Tweet.

    Embedded image permalink
    Remember that time Obama bragged about ending the war in Iraq? Yeah, me too. '

    Lastly, the following community sites were updated since the last snapshot:

  • iraq
    shashank bengali

    all iraq news
    al mada

    Posted at 12:02 am by thecommonills

    Marie Harf assesses Erbil and other things

    Marie Harf assesses Erbil and other things



    Thursday afternoon at the State Dept, spokesperson Marie Harf (pictured above from last week) moderated a briefing which touched on Iraq at length including the below:

    MARIE HARF:  And finally, on Iraq, as you just heard the President say, we said we would break the siege of Mount Sinjar, and indeed have broken the ISIL siege of that mountain, have saved – helped save many innocent lives at the same time. Our assessment team completed its work, found that our food and water had been reaching people trapped there successfully. We successfully struck ISIL targets which allowed people to leave. The Kurdish forces and Yezidis have been working together to lead the evacuation of people from that mountain. A majority of the U.S. military personnel who were part of that assessment team will be departing Iraq in the coming days, as the President said, and of course, there does remain a major humanitarian and security challenges here. We are working with our international partners and the international community to continue fighting both of those threats, but again, at least a little bit of good news coming from Mount Sinjar today.

    QUESTION: Thank you. How would the State Department at this point assess the security of Erbil?

    MS. HARF: In general?

    QUESTION: Yes.

    MS. HARF: Well, you heard the President when he announced last week what – the different steps we would be taking in Iraq. One was to protect the city of Erbil. We believe we have had some progress in pushing ISIL’s advance towards Erbil back. I don't know of any on-the-ground updates more specific than that.

    QUESTION: Okay. Well, as you heard the President say, that airstrikes will continue to protect our people and facilities in Iraq --

    MS. HARF: Yes.

    QUESTION: -- so I’m just wondering, at this point, if those will be immediately necessary considering that ISIL’s been pushed back at least to some extent?

    MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have any prediction about when we’ll take military strikes, and we tend not to say we take them before we take them for, I think, fairly obvious reasons. But under the two goals the President outlined when he announced the military action, we remain and retain the capability to strike at the time and place of our choosing to protect our people, and to protect – with Erbil, it’s obviously a critically, strategically important city. There’s infrastructure there that’s important. So those are all goals that we continue to focus on, and if more strikes are needed, the U.S. military stands ready to take them.

    QUESTION: Right, and I guess I’m trying to get to: What is the urgency of the situation of Erbil today, if you have any updates compared to what it was a week ago when some of these strikes started?

    MS. HARF: Well, I think we’ve made progress in pushing ISIL back from Erbil. I think there’s still a huge threat, though, so I don’t want to downplay that. But I think we have made some progress, taken upwards, I think, of 20 strikes or close to 20 specifically about defending Erbil specifically.

    QUESTION: Twenty specifically on Erbil?

    MS. HARF: Well, there were, I think, 25 strikes now. I think seven of the – seven or eight were around Mount Sinjar. I can check on the exact numbers, but taken over a dozen strikes designed to protect the city of Erbil.

    QUESTION: Okay. And about the number of U.S. personnel in Erbil, first off, do you have any idea of how many of the military personnel will come out, as you just said?

    MS. HARF: A majority. We can check with DOD on specific numbers. I don’t have that in front of me.

    QUESTION: Okay. And how – is there any movement to put State Department employees back in Erbil at this point?

    MS. HARF: There are a number of State Department employees still in Erbil.

    QUESTION: But a number of them came out, so I’m wondering --

    MS. HARF: A small number came out.

    QUESTION: -- will they be returning?

    MS. HARF: I can check and see if we have additional adjustments to our staffing that will be happening. Some of the remaining military personnel will stay to help, particularly at the joint operations center. So that’s being staffed by a number of different American folks to help the Iraqis against this threat, but that’s what they’ll be working on mostly. But I’ll check on the State Department people.

    QUESTION: Thank you.

    QUESTION: To Anbar? We have an interview with the governor of Anbar who says that the United States has agreed to provide support to Anbar in their – or to the authorities in Anbar in their fight against the Islamic State. It’s not clear from his comments precisely what kind of support that would be, but the suggestion is that – or what he says is that their primary desire is for air support. Have U.S. officials made any – and he says these meetings were with American diplomats and military. Has the U.S. Government made any commitments to assist the Iraqi authorities in Anbar?

    MS. HARF: Well, we’ve continued meeting with a range of officials to talk through what the needs might be – the security needs to fight ISIL across the board. Separate from that, you heard the President very clearly outline the current mission that we’re operating under, what the goals of that are. The first is protecting our people and personnel in Erbil, focused on Erbil, and the second was, of course, the humanitarian situation around Mount Sinjar.
    So in general, we will continue talking with Iraqi partners about what the needs might be. Nothing to announce in terms of hypothetically what that might look like in the future beyond sort of what we’ve already said about how we make these decisions. But again, nothing to announce or --

    QUESTION: My reading of the War – thank you for that – my reading of the War Powers Resolution letter that the President sent to the speaker, and as you just reference, is that it would not cover U.S. military assistance in the form of personnel or airstrikes in Anbar. Is that correct?

    MS. HARF: I can take a look at the war powers that we submitted to Congress on this specific – I don’t have that in front of me and I’m not an attorney. But it was focused on these two specific points.

    QUESTION: Exactly, protecting your people in Erbil and --

    MS. HARF: We also do have people in Baghdad, I would remind.

    QUESTION: -- right – and the humanitarian situation in that area.

    MS. HARF: Well, there are only very specific things that trigger a war powers that needs to be submitted to Congress. So separate from war powers, in the general issue, as I said, I don’t have anything to announce or preview about a hypothetical and whether we’ll help in one place in one way. We have a variety of tools we can use to help, and if the United States military has the capability they can bring to bear and the President makes that decision, we can have that conversation then.

    QUESTION: And is he correct that there’s been a commitment made here?

    MS. HARF: I don’t have more details for you than that, Arshad. We’re having conversations about what it might look like in the future, but nothing concrete beyond that.

    QUESTION: But the President did say, though, that “We’ve increased the delivery of military assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the front lines.”

    MS. HARF: Correct.

    QUESTION: I would assume that Fallujah is a front line --

    MS. HARF: Correct. Yes, yes.

    QUESTION: -- as it has been for months.

    MS. HARF: And that’s – I mean, our assistance to them has certainly been ongoing, absolutely. We’ve talked about that quite a bit.

    QUESTION: Marie, can I ask you for more specifics about the situation in the mountain?

    MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yes.

    QUESTION: With the President saying that the siege has been broken, is it your understanding that all these Yezidis who had fled there, that the vast majority of them are now safe, have left? Or are there still some remaining Yezidis who need support?

    MS. HARF: So, yeah. What we know now is that basically there were a number of Yezidis on the mountain. And some had been slowly trickling off, as we talked about in this room a little bit, but the U.S. airstrikes around the base of the mountain, in the vicinity of the mountain to take out ISIL targets really allowed for humanitarian passage off of the mountain and into safer – safer areas. The Kurdish forces and the Yezidis have really been in the lead on this evacuation off of the mountain, which has been a very good thing. There are some remaining Yezidis on the mountain. Some of the – we do know that food and water has been getting through to them. Some eventually may end up staying, a small number, given some actually live there to begin with.
    So we think that the evacuation will continue, will be able to continue. We’re monitoring it, obviously. But as the President said, we don’t at the – it’s not necessarily likely that we’ll have to take additional airdrops there, humanitarian-wise, but obviously we’ll keep monitoring it.

    QUESTION: Sure. I mean, just for our own interest, is there a way to quantify it a bit, of roughly how many --

    MS. HARF: With numbers? I can check on that. There have been a variety of numbers floating around out there. I can check and see.

    QUESTION: Can you speak to that, actually? Because I was --

    MS. HARF: I could say on numbers – just one second – on numbers, we do think that about thousands – and I can see if there’s a more specific number – of Yezidis have been able to evacuate from the mountain each night over the last several days since we’ve really upped the airstrikes around them. They’ve been doing the evacuations at night for obvious security reasons. And that’s, I think, what they’ve been focused on operationally.

    QUESTION: So DOD said today that there were something like 4,000 still left on Sinjar and about half of them were herders who were indigenous and weren’t going to leave anyway.

    MS. HARF: Yeah, that sounds about right.

    QUESTION: I’m just kind of wondering where the 40,000 number that was being kicked around a couple of days ago first surfaced.

    MS. HARF: Well, we think the numbers were in the tens of thousands, certainly. That was our assessment and that remains our assessment. They have been able to be getting off of the mountain, as we said, because we helped open up these corridors here and broke the siege. So the numbers were fairly high. We always said we also didn’t – it’s hard to quantify exactly what the numbers were on that mountain. So --

    QUESTION: Of those who escaped, do you think most of them left by the land corridors, or were airlifted out?

    MS. HARF: Uh-huh, yeah. It’s my understanding through the land corridors.

    QUESTION: Through the land corridors?

    MS. HARF: Yes.

    QUESTION: All right.

    MS. HARF: That’s my understanding.

    QUESTION: Can I go back to Arshad’s question about Anbar? It seems as if the Administration, both from the President on the record and from other officials on background in recent days, have indicated that airstrikes are going to be an open-ended project for the U.S. military because of the threat from Islamic State group. And one official in particular noted the sophisticated capabilities of these fighters, which would indicate that, okay, perhaps they lose some of their equipment and some of their people due to airstrikes, but they can find other ways to get to other parts of the country if that is indeed their intent. Given the ongoing questions about the Iraqi military’s ability to regenerate itself and develop its capability in order to confront IS directly, why isn’t it reasonable to assume that discussions of the sort with the Anbar governor – and it’s his version of events – as well as with other regional leaders across Iraq, aren’t, in fact, happening?

    MS. HARF: I said conversations are happening, Roz. I just said they were happening about how we can best help. I said I don’t have anything up here to confirm about what future action hypothetically we might take.
    And in terms of being open-ended, I mean, what we’ve been – the President was very clear that the missions he authorized were very discrete missions, and that obviously you don’t put an end date – you don’t want to tell the enemy, okay, we’re going to pick up and stop bombing you on this date, right, when you’re talking about a group that is rapidly moving forward. And in part because the situation is so fluid, right?

    QUESTION: Right.

    MS. HARF: So I think that going forward here, the President will continue looking at the situation on the ground, he will continue making decisions based on what’s our national security interest, but at the same time really helping the Iraqis get back on their feet and fight. And I would take issue with a little bit of what you said, that the Iraqis have been able to actually regroup in some ways. They’ve gotten more arms, they’ve gotten more weapons, and they’ve been able to start pushing back against ISIL, particularly working with the Kurds to do that. So I think they are on the right trajectory here. We just need to help some more, and I think they need a little more time, but we’ll keep working with them.

    QUESTION: But how much territory has the Iraqi military been able to retake from IS fighters? How much --

    MS. HARF: I don’t have a percentage for you, Roz.

    QUESTION: I mean, the dam is still under IS control.

    MS. HARF: That is true.

    QUESTION: There are --

    QUESTION: Fallujah.

    QUESTION: Yeah, and Fallujah. I mean, there are still very real gains.

    MS. HARF: Huge challenges, yes.

    QUESTION: Still very real gains. I mean, the President said so himself late last week, this isn’t going to be done in a matter of weeks.

    MS. HARF: I wholeheartedly agree with that.

    QUESTION: So why isn’t it reasonable to assume that there is some focused discussion on expanding U.S. airstrikes across other parts of Iraq, whether or not War Powers letters need to be sent or --

    MS. HARF: We are having constant discussions internally in our own government and with the Iraqis about how we can help – what that looks like, whether that’s our assistance, whether those are our weapons, whether those are our advisors, whether it’s a different military mission, but the President’s been very clear here that there are not going to be troops on the ground in combat roles and that we need to be very deliberate when making decisions about where to use direct military power here. So the conversations are – I’m not saying the conversations aren’t happening. I’m just saying that there’s – I don’t have any new decisions to outline for you about what we may or may not do.

    QUESTION: Well, it seems a bit specious to suggest that there couldn’t be any military actions because in particular, given that Iraq does not have a standing air force with the capabilities of, for example, calling in airstrikes, it looks as if it would be left up to the U.S. to provide that backup that the Iraqi military doesn’t have itself.

    MS. HARF: There’s really like 15 different hypotheticals, and I’m not sure what the overall question you’re asking here is. Are we considering a range of options? Yes. I don’t know how much clearer I can be than that. And the Iraqi air force does have – let’s step back. They do have some ability to conduct air support to operations happening on the ground. They’ve done it with the Kurds particularly recently that we think has been fairly helpful. Are we considering a range of options? Yes. I mean, I’m not sure how much more clear I can be. Are we going to outline what those might look like? No.

    QUESTION: Let me ask it this way if I may: You’ve said from the podium that the decisions were made heretofore in large part based on protecting American people and American facilities in Iraq. That’s why we saw the strikes against Erbil. That was the first piece of evidence used.

    MS. HARF: Yes.

    QUESTION: Laying apart the humanitarian aid aspect of this right now --

    MS. HARF: That was a huge aspect of it though too, but yes.

    QUESTION: Okay.

    MS. HARF: Driving the decision making.

    QUESTION: The humanitarian aid?

    MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

    QUESTION: In Sinjar?

    MS. HARF: Correct. But also taking strikes around it to make sure we can get people off. They went hand in hand.

    QUESTION: Okay.

    MS. HARF: Yeah.

    QUESTION: Well, fine. I guess I’m saying – what I’m asking is: What do you think would change that decision-making process in terms of could the U.S. strike places other than targets where U.S. personnel and facilities are not located?

    MS. HARF: Well, on that though, remember we have folks in Baghdad, so obviously the principle that’s applied to Erbil would, of course, apply to protecting our people in Baghdad. However, we felt it was – we needed to do that (a).

    QUESTION: Right. But you all have said Baghdad’s not under threat --

    MS. HARF: Right.

    QUESTION: -- the way that Erbil is.

    MS. HARF: That’s true.

    QUESTION: But Fallujah is, so that’s the distinction I’m trying to make.

    MS. HARF: Okay. So you’re asking what our decision-making process internally is like about whether and when we take military action?

    QUESTION: I’m asking what would make the decision process change at this point to attack or to launch airstrikes against a city where there are no U.S. interests.

    MS. HARF: Well, we’re looking at every situation in Iraq right now – where there are threats strategically, where ISIL has made gains, where the security forces of Iraq might need more support, and we will make decisions based on the threat picture, on the capabilities we have and that we can bring to bear, based on how we think we could be most helpful. And we’ll continue looking at it on a day-by-day basis. There are meetings every single day looking at what more we might be able to do. And in a lot of these places, we’ve increased our – and I keep talking about this, but it’s important – we’ve increased our eyes on our surveillance and reconnaissance so we can help the Iraqis with targets, help find these guys and go after them.

    QUESTION: Right. But that’s been going in Fallujah for months now, and IS still --

    MS. HARF: It has been, and it’s a really tough fight. And if people think that these things get turned around in a day – I mean, you know that better than anyone. These are – some of these are lengthy, tough fights.

    QUESTION: Completely, and what could turn it around is direct U.S. military intervention.

    MS. HARF: We will keep looking at what the options are and what we think is in our interests, and we’ll keep working with the Iraqis to help them fight against this threat. I just don’t have more to outline for you on what the internal deliberations are like about where and when we take military action in Iraq.

    QUESTION: Okay.

    QUESTION: Marie, can you address reports that Islamic State fighters are massing around the town of Qara Tapa, which is about 70 miles north of Baghdad? Do you have any information on that?

    MS. HARF: I’ve seen some of those reports. I don’t. I’ll check again with our team. I didn’t have anything to confirm that one way or the other. I’m not sure it’s not true; I just don’t know. I’ll check.

    QUESTION: Thank you.

    MS. HARF: Yes. Iraq?

    QUESTION: Yeah.

    MS. HARF: Go ahead.

    QUESTION: You said you had an estimate before of 40,000 people on the --

    MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t say our estimate was 40,000.

    QUESTION: Okay.

    MS. HARF: We actually haven’t set a number from the podium, in part because it was really hard to know. We said tens of thousands.

    QUESTION: Did you have an estimate of the number of ISIS fighters who were at the base? Because it sounds as if – I’m not a military expert, but seven – six, seven military – or airstrikes, rather, to break the siege --

    MS. HARF: Pretty – they’re pretty big airstrikes.

    QUESTION: Right. Well, okay.

    MS. HARF: Pretty big bombs.

    QUESTION: Right. From the CENTCOM readouts, I mean, there were – they were precision
    strikes --

    MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION: -- to clear – seven airstrikes to prevent a genocide; sounds like a pretty good deal. So, I mean, what --

    MS. HARF: I would agree.

    QUESTION: Right. So, I mean, are you looking to – is the President committed to continuing airstrikes to prevent humanitarian catastrophe?

    MS. HARF: Everywhere we see humanitarian crises or situations, we look at the best way to do that. And the best way isn’t always the United States military. And there are a number of humanitarian crises – not just in Iraq – but in other places around the world where the U.S. Government is absolutely very deeply involved with the provision of humanitarian assistance – food, water, shelter, helping people just stay alive in some of these situations. So there’s different tools we can bring to bear, and it’s not always the best one to use the U.S. military.
    Here, there was a discrete – particularly locationally – a situation where, with a very small number of airstrikes – you’re absolutely right – we were able to break the siege of this mountain. That’s not the case everywhere, and that’s – it’s not always the same.

    QUESTION: Sorry, if you got into --

    QUESTION: But --

    MS. HARF: Let me have him finish and then you can go.

    QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was just going to add that is an option that remains on the table in Iraq; theoretically in eastern Syria as well.

    MS. HARF: Certainly, we – well, look, the President has always said we maintain the ability to strike at a time and place of our choosing if we believe it’s in our interest to do so, and he’ll make those decisions going forward.

    QUESTION: I’m sorry if you got into this, but, I mean, one of – a lot of people think that one of ISIS tactics is to make you think that you’ve dispersed them or broke the siege, and then as soon as the – as soon as you leave the area, that they’ll just start again.

    MS. HARF: Well, we have broken the siege of the mountain and --

    QUESTION: For now.

    MS. HARF: Well, the people that were trapped on it, many of them have been able to leave. So that’s been a good thing. The rest of them who will be leaving – a few thousand may remain up there who, I think, lived there before the siege – are being helped off by Kurdish forces, with the Yezidis helping them. So again, we’ve broken the siege of the mountain. It doesn’t mean there’s not a really horrible humanitarian situation in the north of Iraq that we’re going to keep focused on.

    QUESTION: Well, not only a humanitarian situation in terms of aid and things like that, but --

    MS. HARF: Security situation.

    QUESTION: -- there is a security situation.

    MS. HARF: That’s right.

    QUESTION: And you’re not abandoning that?

    MS. HARF: No, not at all. We’re very focused on it. But in terms of the discrete goal of breaking the siege of the mountain, that was done. That doesn’t mean it’s not – as you heard the President say – still a very serious situation.

    QUESTION: Have other countries done enough to help with the humanitarian piece? I mean, there was the --

    MS. HARF: Yes.

    QUESTION: -- the video of the British prime minister standing in front of UK aid pallets and we’re weeks into this crisis, and clearly it’s going to get worse as people are now living in tent cities.

    QUESTION: We have had a number of partners, and I don’t have the full list in here, but I can get it. Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan – I think I’m naming all the people – the EU, a number – and then, of course, Saudi Arabia and other partners in the Gulf really stepping up to the plate here helping on the humanitarian side. We have been heartened by, really, the outpouring of aid here that has come in. We are continuing to have conversations with our partners about what more we can all do.

    QUESTION: How realistic is it to think about trying to get people to go back to their homes, or is this going to be a mission that’s going to have to be carried out over the coming winter?

    MS. HARF: In terms of resettling people in their homes?

    QUESTION: Yeah.

    MS. HARF: Well, obviously, there’s a number of internally displaced people in Iraq, and I think I got some numbers for you – you asked yesterday: 1.4 million Iraqis have been displaced by violence since January; 2.2 million in total since 2004, I think. So a large, large majority of those have been displaced since January. So we’re working with the UN, with – obviously, USAID plays a key role in this – to help those people, to get them food, water, shelter, urgent medical care. Obviously, we want them to be safe, and so the goal at the end of the day may be for some of them to return to their homes, but these places have to be safe. And in the meantime, we want to help them get what they need, the care they need.

    QUESTION: So are we going to be seeing the same kind of IDP camps that resemble Syrian refugee camps?

    MS. HARF: We’ll see. I mean, I don’t – we’re working with the UN on how we can keep these people safe. Whatever the best way to do that is, I think, is probably what we’ll do.

    QUESTION: New subject.

    QUESTION: No, can I ask another on Iraq?

    MS. HARF: Yeah.

    QUESTION: Go ahead.

    QUESTION: Well, if I could just follow up on what you were saying a moment ago. There are a lot of places in the world where there are humanitarian crises, but we don’t necessarily get involved in all of them.

    MS. HARF: No, but we always get – we usually always get involved --

    QUESTION: Militarily.

    MS. HARF: Correct.

    QUESTION: Directly militarily.

    MS. HARF: That’s a key distinction.

    QUESTION: Is sort of the line that’s drawn between where we get involved and where we don’t get involved, is it just a matter of strategic importance? Because we’ve seen other places in the world, as you’ve alluded to, where there have been humanitarian crises leading to the deaths of thousands of people, where the U.S. has very specifically not used the term “genocide,” which it’s used here.

    MS. HARF: Potential for genocide here.

    QUESTION: Potential for genocide here. But those words have not been used in some of these other crises that were – observers on the ground had used the term “genocide” in Central African Republic; beyond that, Sudan, DRC. What is kind of the reasoning? Where do you decide to get directly militarily involved?

    MS. HARF: Right, no, and it’s a good question. And it’s – you can’t draw parallels between any two situations, and we really do judge each of them based on their own merit.
    In Iraq we were responding to a very specific request from the government to help and to augment its security forces’ efforts to supply assistance to its citizens. That’s what we were focused on there. And I think the key part of that is we were working with the government. We also – and this is not something we have everywhere – have significant intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance in Iraq. So we have eyes on, which helps our ability to use military assets in these kind of situations. So we have greater capacity to take military action in places we have more eyes on. That’s not the case everywhere, and it’s not always a viable option to use the U.S. military.
    But in all of those places you mentioned, we have a very robust humanitarian effort, we work with the UN and other international organizations. So we are very deeply involved, just not militarily.

    QUESTION: And then, has – with the siege here having been broken, as the President said, is the potential for genocide lessened?

    MS. HARF: Certainly, but – but – what we’ve seen with ISIL’s barbaric acts against all Iraqis from different sects and backgrounds, there’s a very, very serious threat here. It’s really a nihilistic group that has – I mean, we’ve seen the photos and images. I’m sure all of us have. So while this specific situation has been much alleviated, I think there’s still huge challenges, and we’re still watching it and helping in any way we can.

    QUESTION: But there’s still – I mean, you’ve broken the siege off the mountain, but that doesn’t – as you said, there’s the security situation. And that doesn’t stop ISIL’s kind of desires to eradicate all quote-unquote “infidels.”

    MS. HARF: That’s right.

    QUESTION: So the potential for genocide technically still exists.

    MS. HARF: Right. I was referring specifically on the mountain.

    QUESTION: Right.

    MS. HARF: When we said there was a potential for genocide on this mountain --

    QUESTION: Right.

    MS. HARF: -- that has been, in large part, alleviated. But again, we’re watching and there are still people there, and we want to make sure people get off who want to get off of that mountain, right. But yes, broadly speaking, there is still a potential here for genocide when you have a terrorist group that has said they want to find people just because of their religion and kill them, I think they’ve been pretty clear about what they want to do here.

    QUESTION: Can I ask – you were asked yesterday about the PKK and their involvement.

    MS. HARF: Yes.

    QUESTION: Did you get an answer?

    MS. HARF: I did, a little bit of one. Let’s see what I have here. Our position on the PKK status has not changed. We are aware that there are many groups that are fighting ISIL in northern Iraq. Our efforts are focused on supporting the Government of Iraq, as part of Iraq the KRG, to provide much-needed security assistance to protect Iraq. So again, we know there are many groups here, but our position on the PKK has not changed.

    QUESTION: Have you seen any evidence that the Kurds and the PKK are working together to fight ISIS?

    MS. HARF: I can check with my team, but I don’t have anything for you.

    QUESTION: Please.

    QUESTION: I think the question was whether you were concerned about the possibility of their working together and therefore concerned about the possibility of U.S. military --

    MS. HARF: I think the question was whether we were working with them. But --

    QUESTION: Really? Okay, I thought --

    MS. HARF: You can ask a different question.

    QUESTION: Let me ask it a different way.

    QUESTION: No, I --

    QUESTION: I mean, the question I thought was --

    QUESTION: Yeah, I’m looking for evidence that the Kurds and the PKK were working together.

    MS. HARF: And I said we’re aware that many groups are fighting ISIL in northern Iraq. I can check and see if they’re working together.

    QUESTION: And if they are, or if you think they are, if you have concerns about the possibility of U.S. munitions or anything else that goes to the Kurds ending up with a designated terrorist group.

    MS. HARF: To my knowledge, we are not concerned about that.

    QUESTION: Okay, thank you.

    QUESTION: You’re not concerned about --

    MS. HARF: And I did ask that question.

    QUESTION: Not concerned about in the sense you don’t think that’s happening or will happen?

    MS. HARF: Yeah, it’s not a concern. Obviously, we’re – we look at these things. But I checked with our team, and that didn’t seem to be a concern.

    QUESTION: Thank you.

    QUESTION: Can I ask a political question about Iraq?

    MS. HARF: Yeah.

    QUESTION: Is the current prime minister, Mr. Maliki, being as cooperative as the U.S. and others would hope that he would be during this transition period?

    MS. HARF: Cooperative with us?

    QUESTION: Well, in terms of following the constitutional calendar --

    MS. HARF: Well, the process is moving forward and --

    QUESTION: But he’s still pushing his legal challenge.

    MS. HARF: The process is moving forward, separate and apart from that. And that’s the process the constitution has outlined. We believe that everything’s been done constitutionally and it should proceed.

    QUESTION: Does his pursuit of this lawsuit raise any more concerns in this building about whether the transition to an al-Abadi government will take place as scheduled?

    MS. HARF: Well, I think we could ask – I’ve gotten asked this question every day for the last three days, and what I’ve said is the process is moving forward. We would reject any efforts to use coercion of the judicial process to change what Iraq’s constitutional process is or impact that process, but there’s a process in place. They’re having meetings about forming a government. The prime minister-designate has broad support, including from Prime Minister Maliki’s own party, and that process is moving forward. So I think we hope we can see some more movement in the
    coming days.

    QUESTION: Have any U.S. officials spoken with Prime Minister Maliki since Mr. al-Abadi – I’m going to learn how to say this --

    MS. HARF: I know.

    QUESTION: -- was named by the president last week?

    MS. HARF: We have. We’re not going to outline specifically all of our conversations, but we remain in contact with him and with a variety of Iraq’s leaders.

    QUESTION: Why not?

    MS. HARF: Why not what?

    QUESTION: Why not describe the phone calls, who spoke with him about what topics?

    MS. HARF: Because we don’t always outline our private diplomatic communications, but we’ve remained in contact.

    QUESTION: Is this an effort to basically dismiss him from the public stage?

    MS. HARF: No, this is an effort to see Iraq’s constitutional process move forward as it is outlined in their own constitution.

    QUESTION: But if another country were to do this with the – with President Obama once he comes to the end of his second term, I would imagine that this government would have some real concerns about talking to his successor rather to him since he would still have the legal authorities.

    MS. HARF: I don’t even want to venture to address that sort of ridiculous hypothetical that in no way is comparable to the Iraqi parliamentary process, by the way, which is totally different than our own government system.

    [note headline corrected for spelling and broken code on photo fixed.]


    Posted at 12:01 am by thecommonills

    Friday, August 15, 2014
    New found interest in Iraqi women?

    New found interest in Iraqi women?

    Mariz Tadros (Guardian) writes:

    Evidence that women belonging to the Yazidi and Christian religious minorities in Iraq are being raped and sold into slavery by the Islamic State (Isis) is mounting. One of the first to speak out was Vian Dakheel, the only Yazidi female MP who addressed the Iraqi parliament last week, despite the speaker telling her to be quiet and stick to the agreed statement.
    “Mr Speaker, our women are being taken as slaves and being sold in the slave market,” she said.
    A spokesman for Iraq’s human rights ministry, Kamil Amin, confirmed that the Islamist group had captured Yazidi women under 35 years old, that it is holding them in schools and likely to use them as slaves.

    Why, Tadros wonders, isn't this everywhere?

    Well, first off, western powers have a history of using such events -- real or imagined -- to promote war and justify assaults on people.

    Real or imagined, such events tend to result in 'action' which does nothing to help the women -- see Afghanistan, for example.

    Second, I'm sorry, Tadros, aren't you being ahistorical?

    You are.

    Religious minority women have been targeted since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    You're only just now noticing?

    Are you five-years-old or six?

    Put on your big girl panties, Tadros, cause you're going to need to do a lot of work today to catch up.

    This is not a new development.  It's been going on forever throughout the war.

    And it's get a little bit of attention here and there -- as with most issues having to do with Iraqi women, it's largely ignored.

    The biggest attention the issue received was the faux Romeo & Juliet story from many years ago.  In that one, supposedly a man and a young woman had fallen in love.  They went back to tell her parents and tribe and, if you read Patrick Cockburn's original report, she was hanged.  If you real real news outlets, you know she was stoned to death.

    Regardless, it most likely wasn't the love story promoted but part of the continued efforts to destroy religious minority women in Iraq.

    It has been going on for years, it has been documented by many NGOs but it's suddenly a concern to Tadros?

    What's different?

    Oh, that's right.

    She's connecting it to the Islamic State and Sunnis.

    She's now bothered by an ongoing issue and using it to what?  Motivate action?

    That's why people step away from you and your issue, Tadros.

    It looks less like you care about Iraqi women -- you clearly don't care enough to even do the basic work required to grasp this isn't a Sunni issue -- and more like you're pimping war and are convinced you've found your issue.

    When you can write about it in a manner that doesn't suggest this ongoing, over a decade long problem didn't just start yesterday, people might care about the issue.

    Right now, it just looks like you're attempting to inflame tensions further in order to give the world more war.

    P.S. Where was your tired ass when Sunni women and girls were being tortured and raped in Nouri's jails and prisons?

    Maybe if you'd ever weighed in on that, people would take you a little more seriously.

    In other developments, Al Arabyia News reports:

    Iraq’s most influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, threw his weight behind the new prime minister and said the transition was a rare opportunity to resolve political and security crises, Reuters reported.
    Underscoring the urgency of containing a sectarian conflict fueled by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, Sistani urged the military to hoist only Iraq’s flag to avoid factionalism. The cleric called on lawmakers to meet “historical responsibility,” and cooperate with the Prime Minister designate Haidar al-Abadi to form government.

    Meanwhile Ammar Karim (AFP) sums up the mood, "Iraqis and foreign brokers breathed a sigh of relief Friday after Nuri al-Maliki dropped his bid for a third term as prime minister, a move seen as vital to tackling a spiralling military and humanitarian crisis."

    The e-mail address for this site is

      the guardian mariz tadros iraq al arabiya news

    iraq iraq

    iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq

    Posted at 11:55 pm by thecommonills

    Thursday, August 14, 2014
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Thursday, August 14, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack talks Iraq, Nouri's stepping down, we talk about what promise had to be made for that to happen, and much more.

    This afternoon US President Barack Obama delivered a speech from Martha's Vineyard.  We'll note the section on Iraq.

    First of all, we continue to make progress in carrying out our targeted military operations in Iraq.  Last week, I authorized two limited missions:  protecting our people and facilities inside of Iraq, and a humanitarian operation to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians stranded on a mountain.
    A week ago, we assessed that many thousands of Yezidi men, women and children had abandoned their possessions to take refuge on Mount Sinjar in a desperate attempt to avoid slaughter.  We also knew that ISIL terrorists were killing and enslaving Yezidi civilians in their custody, and laying siege to the mountain. Without food or water, they faced a terrible choice -- starve on the mountain, or be slaughtered on the ground.  That’s when America came to help.
    Over the last week, the U.S. military conducted humanitarian air drops every night –- delivering more than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of fresh water.  We were joined in that effort by the United Kingdom, and other allies pledged support. Our military was able to successfully strike ISIL targets around the mountain, which improved conditions for civilians to evacuate the mountain safely.
    Yesterday, a small team of Americans -– military and civilian -– completed their review of the conditions on the mountain.  They found that food and water have been reaching those in need, and that thousands of people have been evacuating safely each and every night.  The civilians who remain continue to leave, aided by Kurdish forces and Yezidis who are helping to facilitate the safe passage of their families.  So the bottom line is, is that the situation on the mountain has greatly improved and Americans should be very proud of our efforts.
    Because of the skill and professionalism of our military –- and the generosity of our people –- we broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar; we helped vulnerable people reach safety; and we helped save many innocent lives.  Because of these efforts, we do not expect there to be an additional operation to evacuate people off the mountain, and it’s unlikely that we’re going to need to continue humanitarian air drops on the mountain.  The majority of the military personnel who conducted the assessment will be leaving Iraq in the coming days.  And I just want to say that as Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the men and women of our military who carried out this humanitarian operation almost flawlessly.  I’m very grateful to them and I know that those who were trapped on that mountain are extraordinarily grateful as well.
    Now, the situation remains dire for Iraqis subjected to ISIL’s terror throughout the country, and this includes minorities like Yezidis and Iraqi Christians; it also includes Sunnis, Shia and Kurds.  We’re going to be working with our international partners to provide humanitarian assistance to those who are suffering in northern Iraq wherever we have capabilities and we can carry out effective missions like the one we carried out on Mount Sinjar without committing combat troops on the ground. 
    We obviously feel a great urge to provide some humanitarian relief to the situation and I’ve been very encouraged by the interest of our international partners in helping on these kinds of efforts as well.  We will continue air strikes to protect our people and facilities in Iraq.  We have increased the delivery of military assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the front lines. 

    And, perhaps most importantly, we are urging Iraqis to come together to turn the tide against ISIL –- above all, by seizing the enormous opportunity of forming a new, inclusive government under the leadership of Prime Minister-designate Abadi.  I had a chance to speak to Prime Minister-designate Abadi a few days ago, and he spoke about the need for the kind of inclusive government -- a government that speaks to all the people of Iraq -- that is needed right now.  He still has a challenging task in putting a government together, but we are modestly hopeful that the Iraqi government situation is moving in the right direction.

    How smart is Barack?

    He's been hailed as a genius.

    I don't think he is.  I know he was a so-so student -- in a manner that indicates boredom, not a lack of intelligence.  And he has the gift of timing which has allowed him to seize moments in the past.  He now holds a position that tends to make people believe they are infallible and fills them with hubris.

    He's at a fork in the road.

    The smart thing to do is walk out, hail the efforts on behalf of the Yazidis as a success (and I have no problem with that call) and walk out.

    Mitchell Prothero and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) fret:

    Humanitarian aid workers warned Thursday that it was too soon to declare the U.S. mission to aid Yazidi refugees in northern Iraq a success, noting that at least 100,000 residents who fled the Islamic State’s capture of Sinjar now crowd cities and refugee camps and will need humanitarian assistance for months to come.

    Read more here:

    And your point is?

    There are tons of farmers in the US.  Plenty of crops.  Humanitarian aid is not expensive, it can help American farmers, it can do so much to help people in need.

    I'm confused as to why humanitarian aid workers are complaining?  What do they want that hasn't happened?

    Did they want boots on the grounds -- US troops?  Do they still?

    Did they want an open-ended, undefined mission?

    If so, they're not really humanitarian aid workers.

    Bully Boy Bush started an illegal war.  That hangs around his neck forever.

    But he had a tiny window of opportunity where he could have made his image just a little better.  If he'd pulled US troops out of Iraq early on in 2003, his image might not be in tatters now.

    There's a vanity when it comes to leaders, it tells them that, "Sure, every one else has screwed up and destroyed their own legacies but I'm different, I'm special, I'm smart and can pull this off."

    Sadly, that's rarely the case.

    This was a good moment for the US.  Image wise, it was a good moment.

    Good p.r. even.

    Along with hubris, there's also the addiction to applause -- which Barack clearly suffers from.  That addiction can allow you to repeat, can have you singing the same once loved song over and over for the next 30 years.

    So in addition to believing that he can 'take on' Iraq, Barack could also fall into the trap of thinking Iraq's the way for easy bursts of applause.

    Either or both could lead the growing US presence in Iraq to increase even further.

    Barack should take the win, continue humanitarian aid, continue diplomatic relations but not pursue military solutions in Iraq.

    The temptation is there.  To show it can be done 'right' is very tempting and why leaders and officials in Australia, France and England this week and last have been making comments about how they should be involved in the current actions or how they would be more involved than the US government is.

    Everyone wants to be smarter than Bully Boy Bush.

    When it comes to resorting to war, so many lose their intelligence even faster than they lose their reputations.

    Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) observes:

    Last week, when Obama first announced that he had ordered military action against the Islamists, his language was all about limits. These were "targeted airstrikes," he said, with carefully limited goals: protecting American personnel in Kurdistan and rescuing terrified displaced Iraqis on Mt. Sinjar.
    But it didn't take long for the mission to grow. By the weekend, Obama was already talking about "a broader strategy in Iraq," one that would help a new, improved government in Baghdad repel the fighters of the Islamic State entirely.
    "We will continue to provide military assistance and advice to the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces as they battle these terrorists, so that the terrorists cannot establish a permanent safe haven," he said, and added, "This is going to be a long-term project."

    Language did change very fast.  Sarah Mimms and Matt Berman (National Journal) report:

    Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Wednesday that the U.S. is considering sending ground troops into Iraq to help the humanitarian mission to rescue the Yazidis. Military advisers will give their recommendations on the use of troops to the White House in the next few days, following an assessment from about 130 Marines and special-operations forces now in Iraq.
    The distinction here is that these would not be combat troops, as much as ground forces with the specific mission of helping rescue Yazidi refugees. Ground combat with ISIS would not be part of the plan. Whether the humanitarian troops would be forced into combat scenarios is another question entirely, and Rhodes admitted that best laid plans don't always work out. "There are dangers involved in any military operation," Rhodes said.

    I don't buy the idea of Barack The Original Innocent.  Nor do I buy the ludicrous fantasies of some embarrassments on the left (the news dumpster, for example) that Barack would do this or that if he wasn't being controlled by unknown and hidden elements of the government.

    Good or bad, they are his actions and he's responsible for them.

    He went beyond air drops and he got lucky.

    Luck does run out.

    It certainly ran out for Nouri al-Maliki.

    The chief thug and prime minister of Iraq thought he'd had a third term.  He thought that in the lead up to the April 30th elections, he thought that after.  His co-conspirators like 'reporter' Jane Arraf did their part to promote that lie.  He never won the required amount of seats.

    He barely increased his showing from 2010 and that might not have happened if other blocs, seeing a pattern of small blocs benefiting in the 2010 parliamentary elections, hadn't decided to run as part of smaller slates this go round.

    He was not a done deal but damned if his liars didn't tell you he was getting a third term.

    A lot of lies from a lot of places.  Patrick Cockburn bias against Sunnis is well known which is why it was shocking to see Glen Ford citing him favorably in this week's column.

    To repeat, Arabic social media documented Cockburn's bias.  We didn't.  We picked up on it and amplified it for those who read English but not Arabic. His bias is now so widely known that it's noted in Arabic newspapers.

    A lot of people have been misled by him over the years.

    Misled?  Like the greedy woman who wants to bankrupt Pacifica Radio?

    The Goody Whore what's she up to?

    Mishandling Iraq among other things.

    From yesterday's awful broadcast:

    AMY GOODMAN: The situation of what’s happening now in Baghdad with the new prime minister, the current prime minister, and what this all means, who will be the actual prime minister?

    PATRICK COCKBURN: Well, I think, you know, that Maliki is finished. I think he’s been finished for some time. The question was: Would he fight it out? He had military units that were personally loyal to him, but he found that after the new prime minister had been appointed, the Iranians had turned against him. They wouldn’t support him. He didn’t have any outside political support. His own party was disintegrating or would no longer support him. So I think that the transition will happen.
    But I think what is wrong is to think that—almost everything now is being blamed on al-Maliki, both inside and outside Baghdad, that he was the person who provoked the Sunni uprising, he was the hate figure for the Sunni, he produced an army that was riddled with corruption. But I think that it’s exaggerated, that it’s as if there was a magic wand that would be used once al-Maliki had gone. But there were other reasons for this uprising, for the creation of ISIS—notably, the rebellion in Syria in 2011. This changed the regional balance of power. That was a Sunni rebellion, which Iraqi politicians over the last couple of years were always telling me, if the West supports the opposition in Syria, this will destabilize Iraq. And they were dead right. It wasn’t just al-Maliki.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Patrick Cockburn, you mentioned that the current Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is obviously not solely responsible for the situation there now. You’ve also pointed out in a piece that he still retains the support of Iraq’s Shia majority. What do you think the consequences of that will be with this shift in power to Abadi?

    PATRICK COCKBURN: I think he did have that support. I don’t think it’s going to last very long, because he had it because he had portrayed himself as the Shia leader who protected their interests, and he tried to get away from the fact he had presided over one of the greatest military defeats in history, when ISIS took Mosul, by claiming that he’d been stabbed—the army had been stabbed in the back by the Kurds, that there had been treachery. But he still had support because he had power, because he controlled the budget, $100 billion, because he controlled millions of jobs. I think once he’s no longer in control of the executive and the money, that support will diminish very fast. There are millions of Iraqis who have their jobs through Maliki. Now that’s changed, and so will their support.

    First off, there is no "new prime minister."  Please get your damn facts right.

    For the first time ever, the Constitution (Iraqi Constitution) may be followed and enforced.  al-Abadi is the prime minister-designate.  He has a task to complete, a pilgrimage to make.  He must form a Cabinet -- that's nominate for each post and have Parliament vote each one in* and do so in 30 days from his being named prime minister-designate (he was named that Monday).  If not, there will be a new prime minister-designate named by the president of Iraq.

    (*If, for example, he nominated Amy Goodman to be Minister of Misinformation and CIA Liason and the Parliament said no, provided the 30 days were up, he could nominate someone -- or many someones -- for the post and have Parliament vote.)

    As for Patrick Cockburn's ridiculous lies, I'd probably say them too if I had rotten egg all over my face, if I'd whored for Nouri like Patrick did over and over.

    Nouri's not to blame for everything!

    What's even funnier than Patrick's sexual obsession with Nouri -- which leads him to 'magic wands' -- is that part of Nouri's failure -- which whorish Paddy won't note -- is due to magic wands.

    Remember those?  The idiot and crook who sold those around the world is in prison for that.  They supposedly were bomb detectors (and golf bomb finders!).  You held the magic wand and basically jogged in place and it dipped or not depending on whether a car had a bomb or not.

    They do not work.  It was established in court.

    Yet as of this month, Nouri was still making the forces use them in Iraq.

    He couldn't fix the infrastructure or provide potable water but he did provide magical wands.  And his decision to keep using them over a year after the UK verdict means he can't win in a lawsuit.  That money is now lost.  When a huckster sells you something and a court finds his actions were illegal, you immediately file charges and stop using the product.  If you continue using it, you're not going to have any legal standing and Nouri destroyed Iraq's legal standing.  The government's legal standing.  An Iraqi family who lost a loved one due to those magic wands being used at checkpoints would have standing to sue the maker/distributor as well as the Iraqi government -- and Nouri himself once he's out of office.  Remember suing Nouri, we're coming back to that topic.

    If you're not getting how whorish and dishonest Patrick Cockburn is, look at this statement closely:

    I think he did have that support. I don’t think it’s going to last very long, because he had it because he had portrayed himself as the Shia leader who protected their interests, and he tried to get away from the fact he had presided over one of the greatest military defeats in history, when ISIS took Mosul, by claiming that he’d been stabbed—the army had been stabbed in the back by the Kurds, that there had been treachery. 

    Is that what he did, Patrick?

    Hmm.  That's a sanitized version of what he did.  He didn't claim the military was stabbed in the back or treachery, he took to the airwaves and accused of harboring terrorists and of terrorist actions, inciting them.

    This is why Kurds walked out of the Cabinet.  And this isn't 'ancient' history, this took place just weeks ago.

    In a column, Peter Van Buren appears to agree with Patrick.  We should care about Peter's opinion why?  Sexism is the least of his problems.  He writes:

    Despite Maliki throwing the last serious U.S. reconciliation plan under the bus, America stood by and watched the Iranians broker a deal after the 2010 elections that gave Maliki another four years as prime minister. American eyes were on the exit, and Maliki was the devil we knew — a quick fix to declare enough democracy in Iraq so we could get out.

    It takes a whore, Peter proves it takes a whore, in fact, it takes a bordello to keep the lies alive.

    Iran did not "broker a deal after the 2010 elections that gave Maliki another four years as prime minister."


    The US government brokered The Erbil Agreement.  Peter was low level, yes, but he also knows how to read -- or I thought he did -- and should have caught up on reality a long damn time ago.

    For over eight months the political stalemate continued in Iraq after the March 2010 parliamentary elections.  In October of 2010, the Iranian officials did their backing of Nouri.

    Nouri didn't become prime minister then* -- he became it in November, the day after all the political leaders signed off on the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.

    The US gave Nouri his second term via The Erbil Agreement.

    Stop trying to pin everything on the Iranians.  I'm so sick of people who will go to such lengths to erase their own government's actions and rush to blame them on another country.

    I'm also sick of people who don't know how to say "I was wrong."

    I've said it many times.  I've said it many times here.

    I said I was wrong when I disagreed with Justin Raimondo about an issue then-Bradley Manning's attorney was raising.  When I am wrong, I'm okay admitting it.

    I expect to be wrong more than I'm right.

    That's not false modesty (it may be low self-esteem).

    Justin seems to struggle with the words "I was wrong."

    What happens when that's the case?  When you're wrong and events prove you wrong, what happens if you can't say you're wrong?

    Some just act like it never happened and re-adjust their stance or remain silent.

    But Justin appears to belong to the group that digs their heels in, lies -- flat out lies, and tells you night is day.

    That explains his nonsense in his latest column.

    I wanted to like it.

    I saw the headline and thought we might disagree but it would still be a column worth highlighting.

    Wrong. He molests the facts.  That's the only term for it.

    He's flat out lying, cherry picking bits and pieces of broken facts to try to pretend he was right.

    We get it, Justin.  You hate Jesus and you hate any religion that's linked to it even if it's just remotely linked to Jesus.  (And, of course, Justin hates the Jews as well.)

    We get it.

    Every day, you are so damn scared that you might be wrong, that there might be a god of some kind, that you have to rip apart anyone who believes.  We get it.

    I practice no religion.

    That's on me.

    I don't ridicule people who do.

    I don't have to.

    I'm secure in my beliefs.  I don't need to attack people who practice religion or to hate or dislike them.

    So many disappointments.

    Okay, let's go lawsuit.

    Jim Michaels (USA Today) reports, "Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced Thursday night that he is stepping down, ending a political crisis at a time when Islamist militants have seized large swaths of the country and remain on the offensive."

    What happened?

    Nouri's a criminal.

    While Patrick Cockburn's still going down on Nouri, others aren't.

    And Nouri's big problem was solved this evening when he received a series of promises that he wouldn't be prosecuted or sued.

    See, Nouri has a list of people he plans to get even with.  And he was hoping two of those MPs wouldn't be re-elected.  One wasn't.  And a third term for Nouri was going to include persecuting and prosecuting that (now former) MP.

    But Nouri realized something similar could happen to him.

    He's already set a precedent where MPs can be tried.  It's illegal but he's done it.

    Per the Constitution, no one serving in the Parliament can be sued while serving.  The Parliament can vote to strip the person of their office and then they can stand trial.  Otherwise, you're supposed to wait until they're out of office.

    Nouri was afraid of what might befall him.  As an MP but former prime minister, could he be sued?  Or would the new government ignore the Constitution the same way Nouri did?

    In a series of talks, Nouri made clear this was his biggest obstacle to surrendering the office.  It was a minor part of a written list he'd agreed to last week when he agreed to not seek a third term.  However, as Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc noted, Nouri then broke that agreement.

    So with a lot of hand holding and promises, Nouri finally agreed to step down.

    Does everything become perfect now?

    No, it does not.

    But when someone is named prime minister, Iraq will collectively hold its breath to see if they have another Nouri or not.

    Another Nouri means intensified fighting across the country.

    A leader who is inclusive and speaks to the Iraqi identity that voters embraced in the 2009, 2010 and 2013 elections could help pull support from the more extremist elements in the country.

    US Secretary of State John Kerry issued the following statement today:

    Press Statement
    John Kerry
    Washington, DC
    August 14, 2014

    We commend the important and honorable decision by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to support Prime Minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi in his efforts to form a new government and develop a national program in line with Iraq’s constitutional timeline. This milestone decision sets the stage for a historic and peaceful transition of power in Iraq.
    We urge Mr. Abadi and all Iraqi leaders to move expeditiously to complete this process, which is essential to pulling the country together and consolidating the efforts of Iraq’s many diverse communities against the common threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
    Consistent with our Strategic Framework Agreement, the United States stands ready to partner with a new and inclusive government to counter this threat, and we will encourage other countries in the region and international community to do the same.

    And that's where we're going to leave it.  The stuff about Nouri's fears on prosecution comes from 1 White House friend and three State Dept friends.  There's more that's not being discussed and we may go into that in Friday's snapshot.

    nancy a. youssef

    Posted at 10:20 pm by thecommonills

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