Saturday, January 9, 2016

For poser Barack and the bitches who worship him

Rebecca's "is barack cracking up in public?" and Mike's "The hypocrite Barack" have already covered Barack's drama last week -- crying tears for the dead -- or, some of the dead.

John Chuckman (CounterPunch) notes:

Had I seen the image of Obama, weeping over American gun deaths, seven years ago, I know I would have been deeply moved. It would have reinforced my view of him then as an empathetic, bright, and progressive politician. And I did then, and do now, find America’s violence – all of it, not just the small fraction of it seen in street killings – an appalling assault on the human spirit.
But the image comes seven years later, following a period of Obama’s proving himself an utterly cold and dry-eyed killer. Actually, apart from seven years packed with regular killing and support of others doing killing in at least half a dozen lands, he is reliably reported to have once said at a high-level meeting, without tears or the least change in demeanor, “I’m pretty good at killing.”

He's Bully Boy Bush with a fan boy choir, The Cult of St. Barack.

I'm really tired of them and their whoring.

They should have gotten honest a long time ago.

Their refusal to still do so should mean that when Barack leaves office we don't take them seriously.

They're whores.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Saturday, January 9, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Basra's a hotspot again (who could've guessed? Uh, anyone paying attention), Haider al-Abadi's talking anti-corruption again, a drone crashes in Iraq and much more.


Starting with terminology.


One definition of "distraction" would be "a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else."  That's the definition we're interested in today.

From December 31, 2015's "Those never-ending victory laps:"


I guess every day is going to be about declaring and celebrating the liberation of Ramadi -- since it was first claimed on Monday and until the day finally comes that it is liberated.
Point of fact, it's still not liberated.
But every day, the limited amount of time the world press spends on Iraq is taken up by tales of Ramadi's liberation.
And so much more gets ignored.
For example?
IRAQI SPRING MC reports counter-terrorism forces in Diyala shot dead a female civilian in front of civilians and Iraqi troops.
Or how about a new flashpoint developing?
IRAQI SPRING MC notes troops being sent to Basra.  This comes as NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY notes MP Abd al-Salam al-Maliki is calling for the declaration of a state of emergency in Basra arguing the situation there is turning into a crisis.
But by all means, let's all waste another day declaring Ramadi liberated (when it's not).



That's how the year ended -- and with no western press coverage of Basra, to be very clear.

Nine days later?

Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports, "Fear has become part of daily life amid a surge of violence in Basra, where rampant crime, kidnappings and extortion have become commonplace. Marauding Shiite militiamen drive around in cars with tinted windows and without plates, while local clans wage bloody feuds."

Basra's struggling and, in part, that's said to be because Iraqi forces are being deployed elsewhere in Iraq.

Such as?

Ramadi.


See the Iraqi forces are like the western press -- they apparently are small in number and can only focus on one thing at a time.

How does Basra fall off the radar?

Or has everyone forgotten this photo op?

PM Al-Abadi visits West Qurna 2 in Basra and adopts new measures to enhance security for international oil companies
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From the August 22, 2015 snapshot, "Iraq Times reports the reaction to citizens in Basra which was to protest Haider's visit. The activists noted that he traveled all the way to Basra to reassure Big Oil but he did not meet with a single local protester to address the concerns that have had them pouring into the streets for the last weeks.  The report notes that the British and US Ambassadors to Iraq had lobbied Haider to visit Basra to reassure Big Oil.  As Iraq Times also notes, just north of Basra is where a protester -- protesting against Big Oil -- was shot dead by security forces working for yet another foreign oil company in Iraq."

And the protests?  They continue in Basra.  ALSUMARIA reports Friday saw continued protests there against the government's corruption.


Yes, the western press should have been paying attention to Basra last year.



So much gets ignored.

Including the lack of success in Barack Obama's never-ending bombing of Iraq.  Today, the US Defense Dept announced:


Strikes in Iraq
Coalition forces used rocket artillery, fighter, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 22 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
-- Near Haditha, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and four ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Mosul, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL weapon caches and three ISIL assembly areas.
-- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed 21 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL sniper positions, two ISIL recoilless rifles, an ISIL vehicle bomb facility, and two ISIL weapon caches.
-- Near Sinjar, a strike struck two separate ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL light machine gun.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed an ISIL-used culvert and an ISIL fighting position.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is a strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.
Jack A. Smith (GLOBAL RESEARCH) goes where the western press fears to tread:

• IN IRAQ, WASHINGTON’S DISASTROUS WAR has lasted nearly 13 years from March 2003 with the exception of two and a half years until returning in August 2014 to fight against the Islamic State (IS) — itself a product of the first war. President Obama propelled the second intervention soon after IS captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in June 2014. Late last month, after losing much ground, Iraqi forces backed by American air power recaptured the key city of Ramadi, destroying a large portion of the city in the process. The battle to recapture Mosul may take place this year.
However, many sources in and out of Congress argue that only a significant ground war will ultimately defeat the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. This could take many years. Aside from 3,500 U.S. military “trainers and advisers” in Iraq, President Obama is reluctant to engage in a ground campaign in either country, given the Pentagon’s difficulties in actually winning winning a major war in the Middle East. If political pressure doesn’t oblige him to deploy a large number of ground troops against IS this year, there is a likelihood his successor may do so in 2017. Regardless, the Iraq war will become more intense in 2016.
There are several other important problems regarding Iraq, but two stand out.
(1) The Islamic State is a militant Sunni “caliphate” based on Islamic fundamentalist Wahhabi doctrine mainly propagated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The IS evidently considers its main enemy to be the Shia branch of Islam, which departed from the Sunni version in the 7th century. Virtually all of the many Sunni jihadist groups follow a form of fundamentalist Wahhabism or the nearly identical Salafism, and most condemn adherents of Shia Islam.  The IS “state” occupies large portions of two Shia-governed countries, Iraq and Syria. Sunni Arabs in Iraq — most of whom do not share fundamentalist views — constitute 15 to 20% of the Iraqi population. But many oppose the Shia controlled Baghdad government. Unless a substantial number of these Sunnis turn strongly against the IS, defeating it will be more difficult.
Kurds make up 17% of the Iraqi population and are described as “mainly secular Sunnis” who seek independence from Iraq in the future to build their own independent state — but at the moment they supply the most effective ground forces against the IS. The Shia represent up to 65% of the population but have long existed under Sunni rule, usually as secondary citizens. It was only after the U.S. destroyed the minority secular Sunni government of Saddam Hussein and his B a’ath Party that the Shia won power in an election. The Bush/Cheney Administration probably knew that regime change in Iraq — Iran’s enemy neighbor to the west — could strengthen the Shia government in Tehran, but since they initially planned to invade Iran (as well as Syria) after Iraq was subdued they ignored the risk. The U.S. sank so deeply in the Iraqi quagmire that it never was able to expand its ridiculous imperialist escapade.
Iraq continues to splinter and fall apart. 
Though the Shia and Sunni divide has garnered the most attention in recent months, there's also the reality that the Kurds, as Smith notes above, seek independence.
The Kurdish Regional Government is in northern Iraq and has been semi-autonomous for years.  The Kurds would like full autonomy.
The Kurds remain the largest ethnic group in the world without a homeland.  
Kurds in Syria and Turkey feel suppressed and both countries have governments that fear an independent Kurdistan in Iraq would increase demands for independence for Kurds in both Syria and Turkey.
Hannah Lynch (RUDAW) wonders if this is the year the KRG sees full independence and notes:

Kurdish president Masoud Barzani has echoed the sentiment of many people that the Kurdish region would fare better on its own.
In the summer of 2014 when ISIS took over large swathes of Iraq’s territory, Barzani asked the Kurdish parliament to set a date for an independence referendum, saying that the Kurds no longer wanted to be part of Iraq’s troubles.
"There might be some negative consequences arising with the declaration of independence in the beginning. We need to be patient because in the end it is worth it, and we can provide a better tomorrow for our people," says Ayub Hassan, a goldsmith in downtown Erbil.
From reality, to fantasy.  Iraq is not just a corrupt country, it is regularly found in the top ten of most corrupt countries  in the world.  On its most recent corruption index, Transparency International ranked Iraq the 170th most corrupt country in the world out of 175 countries.
Anyone remember the protests of 2015?
Let's drop back to the October 5th snapshot:


Haider al-Abadi was installed as the new prime minister in the fall of 2014 in an attempt to reset the clock and pull Iraq back from the brink.
During his year and counting as prime minister, he's accomplished very little but flapped his gums a great deal.
For example, protests started (re-started) months ago.
The spark was the lack of electricity in 100-plus degree days.
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (Guardian) reports:
More than a decade after the US invasion – and more than $40bn (£26bn) of investment later – Iraqis must still make do with limited electricity. In a country with one of the world’s largest oil reserves, this is a matter of great exasperation for locals.
“People here get a few hours of electricity every day, so when the current comes there is a huge demand: everyone plugs in their fridges and air conditioners, the old network is overloaded and transformers fry and cables melt,” said Faris. “We work three shifts, 24 hours a day, trying to patch up the old network and we can’t keep up.”
When summer temperatures peak above 50C (122F), it’s a matter of life and death – a far more emotive issue than Isis and the sectarian divide. This summer, as temperatures surged and tempers frayed, thousands of people staged a series of protests, pressing into city centre squares to denounce the corruption that riddles the system.


All these months later, all these grand pronouncements from Haider later, and the electricity issue is still not addressed.
But Haider did announce, over the weekend, that he'd accomplished something to meet the demands of the people.
Sunday, AFP reported that Haider al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq, declared that opening the Green Zone to the public is part of his fulfilling his promise to the Iraqi people.
Strange, I don't require any signs carried by the protesters in recent months that called for opening the Green Zone.
And, of course, it's not really that open.  As AFP noted, "The measure offers limited access to the vast area, with most streets still requiring a special badge [. . .]"
Haider never met the demands of the protesters.  And the corruption continues.
But do nothing Haider al-Abadi spoke today.  PRESS TV notes:
“2016 is the year of eliminating corruption, there is no such things as acceptable corruption and non-acceptable corruption,” Haider al-Abadi said in a Saturday speech at a ceremony to celebrate Police Day in the capital, Baghdad.
The comments came following a criticism by Iraq’s senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who urged the Iraqi government to reform the current administration and take more serious measures against graft.
Covering the speech, ALSUMARIA notes that he gave a similar anti-corruption speech on September 23, 2015 but that, back then, he likened corruption to terrorism.
Haider al-Abadi's empty words have been useless.

Let's move to rumors.

US helicopters are taking part in attacks in Kirkuk.

ALSUMARIA reports that this rumor is being denied by US Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones.

And did a US drone crash in Iraq?  Yes, RUSSIA TODAY reports, "Washington has confirmed that one of its Predator drones deployed in a mission against Islamic State terrorists crashed in Iraq. However, the military denied ISIS militants’ claims that the jihadist group shot the drone down." Lolita C. Baldor (AP) adds, "U.S. Air Forces Central Command says the military lost control of the drone, but the specific cause of its crash is being investigated." And Phillip Swarts (AIR FORCE TIMES) observes, "In the last eight months of 2015, Air Combat Command reported the loss of at least three RPA's -- two in the Middle East and one in Africa."


But what about what happened in Mosul?

ALSUMARIA notes Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erodgen is insisting that Turkish troops defended Camp Ba'shiqah near Mosul from the Islamic State.

But REUTERS notes, "Iraq's joint operations command denied on Saturday that Turkish forces based in northern Iraq had been attacked by Islamic State or had clashed with the militants, refuting claims by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan."

On that one, it's still unclear what is just rumor and what is fact.

What about those false US rumors about the Iraq War having ended?  Michelle Tan (ARMY TIMES) reported Friday on new deployments, "About 1,300 soldiers will deploy to Iraq this spring to support Operation Inherent Resolve. The other 500 soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel."

So, no, Barack did not end the Iraq War.  Or close Guantanamo . . . Or . . .


We'll note this Tweet:




The Shia cleric al-Sarkhi al-Hasani: "Shias clerics have forgotten about the executions of Sunnies in "
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Indeed.


In some of today's violence, ALSUMARIA reports a south Baghdad bombing left five people (including three children) injured, and 1 corpse was discovered dumped in Baghdad (shot dead).


Turning to England, Jonathan Owen (INDEPENDENT) reports:

Dozens of cases in which British soldiers are accused of unlawfully killing Iraqi civilians have already been referred to prosecutors, The Independent can reveal, with more than 50 deaths set to be examined.
The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat) has sought advice from the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) on unlawful death cases involving 35 alleged killings, and 36 cases of alleged abuse and mistreatment, it can be disclosed.





This has been a story there for over a week but until now there were many allegations being made to the press.  These are still allegations but they've now been turned over to legal prosecutors.  Lexi Finnigan (TELEGRAPH OF LONDON) adds:


On Friday night MPs and forces chiefs labelled the move to contact 280 soldiers a “despicable witch-hunt”. 
Some veterans have even been handed the letters personally and quizzed on their doorsteps by taxpayer-funded detectives






iraq
rudaw


the telegraph of london

















Thursday, January 7, 2016

They are just so damn tawdry

The right wing Daily Caller reports:


Is this the scandal that ends Hillary’s campaign? Former President Bill Clinton visited the hedonistic private island of a billionaire pedophile who police found was engaging girls as young as 12, multiple times. Now a new lawsuit may compel the former president to testify under oath about what he was doing there. The New York Post reported that Hillary is furious that Bill is mired in the scandal.
 
Yes, it's a right-wing publication.

And?

Does that make the report any less disgusting?

Bill and Hillary are just so damn tawdry.



This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Thursday, January 7, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept continues to act as if it is a wing of the US Defense Dept, Iraq's getting $800 million in weapons from the US but Barack didn't think to put conditions on the deal, and much more.


Today, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued the following:


Media/Public Contact: 
pm-cpa@state.gov
Transmittal No: 
15-64
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2016 - The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of Hellfire missiles and Captive Air Training Missiles, related equipment and support. The estimated cost is $800 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on January 6, 2016.
The Government of Iraq has requested a possible sale of five thousand (5,000) AGM-114K/N/R Hellfire missiles; Ten (10) 114K M36E9 Captive Air Training Missiles; associated equipment; and defense services. The estimated major defense equipment (MDE) value is $750 million. The total estimated value is $800 million.
The proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security goals of the United States by helping to improve a critical capability of the Iraq Security Forces in defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Iraq will use the Hellfire missiles to improve the Iraq Security Forces' capability to support ongoing combat operations. Iraq will also use this capability in future contingency operations. Iraq, which already has Hellfire missiles, will face no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles into its armed forces.
The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Corporation in Bethesda, Maryland. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
Implementation of this proposed sale will not require any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives in Iraq.
There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.
This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.
All questions regarding this proposed Foreign Military Sale should be directed to the State Department's Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, pm-cpa@state.gov.


This isn't supposed to happen.

Laws, the Leahy Amendment, it's all supposed to forbid governments like Haider al-Abadi's receiving weapons.

The White House got its way but that just means Barack Obama owns this.

He can be fawned over and fluffed today but, in history, this is tied to him.

The entire failure is tied to him.

And it is a failure.


Over the weekend, Karen DeYoung (WASHINGTON POST) reported:

The current prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, also a Shiite, has given much lip service to inclusion but has made little headway in changing Iraq’s sectarian equation. “All these things have to move in harmony. . . . You can’t simply focus on the military and ignore political factors,” said the senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal assessments.
“Our diplomats are working day in and day out” on Iraqi political reconciliation, the official said, “but in some ways it is even more difficult. . . . These are existential questions that the Iraqis are asking themselves.”



The diplomats are working very hard, are they?

So Barack got his Iran deal but didn't think to secure the release of American hostages.

Meanwhile the Iraqi government does as it damn well pleases despite years of promises to institute reconciliation and Barack just hands over anything to them.

It's difficult, the official told Karen DeYoung.

It's not that difficult.

Iraq wants a weapons sale worth $800 million?

That's a want.

The White House then tosses out their want.

The Iraqi government has to give a little or there's no deal.

That's what deal making is, that's what diplomacy is.

In June of 2014, Barack publicly declared that the only answer to Iraq's crises was a political solution.

Yet in August of 2014, he started bombing Iraq.

He used the US military, his envoy and the State Dept to work on more military means.

And there's been no progress on the political front.

None at all.

Yet he continues to pull State from diplomacy in order to have it work military.


At the top of today's US State Dept press briefing, spokesperson John Kirby declared:


Okay. I do have just a couple of things at the top additionally. And the Secretary alluded to this, but I wanted to flesh it out just a little bit more.
As he mentioned, he met today with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter as well as other leaders from the State Department and from the Defense Department here in the building to discuss coordination on all the lines of effort in the counter-ISIL campaign. This meeting today was one of a series of regular meetings between Secretary Kerry and Secretary Carter to discuss synchronization and mutually reinforcing efforts in the counter-ISIL campaign.

Today’s meeting in particular focused on next steps following continued progress in Ramadi as well as efforts to cut ISIL supply lines between Mosul and Raqqa. They also discussed the strategy to enhance our counter-messaging efforts. We are working to support the Government of Iraq as they continue working to stabilize the city of Ramadi. Our efforts in Ramadi are as much diplomatic and humanitarian as they are military. As the city continues to be cleared of ISIL, stabilization and humanitarian needs will be increasingly pressing on everybody. We are working with the coalition to address those very urgent needs.


At what point does State work on State issues?

"Even more difficult" to do diplomacy for the State in Iraq the US official told Karen DeYoung.

It's got to be difficult when all your time is spent on military issues, getting other countries to join the 'coalition' of bombers dropping bombs on Iraq.

Who's really being helped?


Farah, 8, from w/ her teddy bear ‘Aysha’ at a registration centre in Presevo, Serbia                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
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The diplomatic push has been ignored.


What do the bombings bring to the refugees?


Ibrahim lives in a camp in . "More than anything I miss my school & my friends”
and                                                                                                                                      
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A diplomatic surge might help the refugees.

But there's no diplomatic surge.

How long can Iraq wait?










  • What Barack has pursued in Iraq is a failure.


    Yes, each day the Defense Dept can brag about bombing Iraq.  In fact, here they are doing so for today:


    Strikes in Iraq
    Coalition forces, using rocket artillery, fighter, fighter-attack, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft, conducted 22 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Baghdadi, two strikes struck an ISIL staging facility and an ISIL weapons cache.
    -- Near Huwayjah, a strike destroyed an ISIL bunker.
    -- Near Albu Hayat, a strike destroyed 30 ISIL rockets, an ISIL rocket rail, and an ISIL building.
    -- Near Habbaniyah, two strikes destroyed two ISIL staging areas, two ISIL buildings, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL tactical vehicle.
    -- Near Haditha, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit, wounded an ISIL fighter, and destroyed three ISIL vehicle bombs, an ISIL fighting position and two ISIL vehicles.
    -- Near Hit, two strikes struck an ISIL vehicle bomb factory.
    -- Near Mosul, four strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed 11 ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL bed down locations, an ISIL tunnel and four ISIL assembly areas.
    -- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck two large ISIL tactical units, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed 13 ISIL fighting positions, four ISIL heavy machine guns, four ISIL vehicle bomb staging facilities, an ISIL staging area, three ISIL buildings and three ISIL tactical vehicles.
    -- Near Sinjar, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is a strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.


    Barack is repeating the same mistakes Bully Boy Bush did.

    Barack's provided a 'surge' in military power.

    Supposedly, this was supposed to support the government and allow it to work on the political crises.


    The whole point of Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' was that sending more US troops into Iraq would allow them to secure the country and allow the Iraqi government to focus on the political crises.

    The US military did its part of the 'surge' but the political aspect was forgotten.

    Barack's making the same mistakes.


    And the violence includes the bombs dropped from war planes.

    But the violence isn't limited to that.

    Also today, IRAQI SPRING MC reports 2 corpses were found dumped in Baghdad, 1 man and 3 women were discovered dead in a Baghdad apartment (thought to have been killed by Shi'ite militias), 2 corpses were discovered in Diyala (said to be the victims of Shi'ite militias), a bomb south of Baghdad killed 2 people and left six more injured, a Baghdad bombing killed 1 person and left four more injured, a Baghdad bombing near a fish market left 1 person dead and five more injured, 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Tarmiya and another was left injured,



    Fanar Haddad explores the climate in Iraq with "Shia-Centric State Building and Sunni Rejection in Post-2003 Iraq" (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace):


    Underlying this spectrum of Sunni rejection is a latent resentment toward the post-2003 order that in turn is founded on a deep sense of Sunni alienation, a sense of loss, and a sense of victimhood beginning with regime change in 2003.7 This sense of resentment does not predetermine attitudes and positions; rather, and as with similar societal cleavages characterized by asymmetric power relations elsewhere in the world, people’s attitudes and positions are constantly shifting. Most people are not ideological hardliners—they react to socioeconomic and political conditions and make their choices accordingly. This can be seen in changing Sunni political behavior and participation in the political process over the years: from the boycott in 2005 to violence to participation in 2009 and 2010 to protest in 2013 and back to violence in 2014–2015.8 These shifts have reflected how Sunnis have perceived the permanence or transience of the post-2003 order and the prospects for political progress.
    Shia-centric state building is likewise a spectrum. At its most basic, it involves ensuring that the central levers of the state are in Shia hands (and more specifically in Shia-centric hands) and that Shia identities are represented and empowered. This could range from allowing, or even encouraging, Shia symbolism in public spaces to incorporating the Shia calendar into the national calendar for events and holidays, all the way to attempting to endow the state with a Shia identity.9 Whatever position a person adopts along this spectrum, the essence of it is that the Iraqi Shia are the Iraqi staatsvolk—Iraq’s constitutive people.


    The following community sites updated:













  • Wednesday, January 6, 2016

    Food for thought

    Be sure to read this important article at Information Clearing House.  It's about how the government does not serve the people.

    Here's an excerpt:




    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"



    Wednesday, January 6, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, some news outlets make claims regarding Haider al-Abadi that they just can't back up, FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS is suddenly concerned about justice, and much more.


    The increasing useless FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS offers Giorgio Cafiero's "Saudi Arabia Executed a Nonviolent Shiite Cleric. It’s Going to Cost Them Big."  They don't seem to grasp what they're saying.

    Words we use say a great deal.

    So do words we choose not to use.

    The execution -- which we'll again get to in a moment -- will "cost them big," Giorgio huffs and puffs like the bulls**t sexism offender that he and FPIF are.

    Strange, isn't it, how you can search their archives and never find a single report on the Sunni women of Iraq being thrown in prison when they're charged with no crime (other than being related to someone the police couldn't round up) and then beaten and raped.

    By its silence in real time and its silence since, FPIF made damn clear that beating and raping female prisoners came with no cost, that a government could carry these crimes out and not only get away with it but not even be called out for it.

    Today sexist Giorgio is suddenly concerned because a cleric was executed.

    (I oppose the death penalty.)

    Today sexist Giorgio is outraged and insists the cleric was non-violent.

    He bases that on hearsay.

    But when Rasha al-Husseini, a politician's secretary, 'confessed' under what many bodies saw as torture (Human Rights Watch, here), FPIF said what?

    Oh, that's right.

    FPIF said not a damn thing.

    It's a funny sort of concern.

    The same 'concern' that led them to embrace Nouri al-Maliki and stay silent about his many crimes -- including torturing Iraqis (including torturing Iraqi journalists).

    But today, today FPIF is suddenly concerned.

    It would be touching if it were so ghastly and so whorish.

    As to the execution, Matt Bradley and Ghassan Adnan (WALL ST. JOURNAL) report, "Shiite politicians and religious leaders urged their followers to take to the streets of Baghdad on Wednesday to protest Saudi Arabia’s execution of a dissident Shiite cleric as the prime minister appealed for calm amid a threat of fresh sectarian violence."

    Nimr al-Nimr was the Shi'ite cleric executed.



    Iraq is bordered by both Iran and Saudi Arabia. (It also shares borders with Jordan, Syria and Turkey.)  And some are worried that being caught between the two will mean an increase in strife within Iraq.



    AFP notes the fear that things could return to the 2007 standard in Iraq, "The civil war saw the reign of death squads and horrific communal violence that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than four million, reshaping the confessional map of a country in which up to 65 percent of the Muslim population is Shiite."

    This was the period of ethnic cleansing -- which few ever want to discuss honestly.

    The over four million refugees are largely forgotten today as people regularly note 3 million refugees from Syria and Iraq and the last years and bill it as the biggest refugee crisis.

    Not yet.

    The over four million refugees remains the biggest refugee crisis in the region since 1948.


    Ali Akbar Dareini and Jon Gambrell (AP) note the proposal (ridiculous proposal) being offered: Iraq will serve as mediator and help Iran and Saudi Arabia come to an understanding.

    The Iraqi government can't (or won't) even implement reconciliation in its own country.  The Sunnis of Iraq still feel persecuted (for good reason).  But Iraq's going to be successful as a mediator?

    The reporters explain:

    The offer by Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, made during a news conference in the Iranian capital, included the diplomat referring to the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr as a "crime," a description that raised questions as to whether Saudi officials would even consider such an offer. The kingdom and its allies say that al-Nimr was executed after being tried and sentenced to death under Saudi law.

    No one would believe the Shi'ite based government could be impartial.

    Not with its close ties to Iran and its history of public rebukes against Saudi Arabia dating back to Nouri al-Maliki's second term as prime minister of Iraq (2010 to 2014).

    Here's one reaction to the proposal on Twitter:












  • Same Iraq that allows Shia Militias to murder Sunnis.



  • Wait, some fools would believe it.

    Did someone say CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR?


    The outlet's Michael D. Regan types, "Abadi gained power last year and has recently tried to bridge relations with Iraqi Sunnis, the country’s minority populace, Reuters said."

    Even if it was what REUTERS said, that wouldn't make it true.

    But Maher Chmaytelli's REUTERS report  really doesn't say that.

    It maybe hints towards that but it doesn't make that claim.

    It offers statements like, "Powerful Iran-backed Shi'ite militia called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi -- a Shi'ite who has staked his credibility on efforts to reconcile with Sunnis -- to shut a Saudi embassy that reopened only last month after decades of strained ties."

    But if you make a claim, you need to be able to back it up.

    Ramadi is not proof of any attempt to bridge relations.

    Pushing the reconciliation bill through the Parliament?

    That would be a sign.

    It was agreed to by Nouri al-Maliki in 2007.  Part of the White House 'benchmarks,' remember?


    It was something the Iraqi government was supposed to do in order to prove that US tax payer money was not being wasted.

    Reconciliation effort?  That would be the government agreeing to what we always called de-Ba'athifcation.  The US government imposed Ba'athication on Iraq -- running of those members who had been part of the Ba'ath political party.  They were supposed to be reintegrated into Iraq.  It's also the agreement to enact an amnesty law for those who were members of the Ba'ath Party.

    Thug Nouri al-Maliki agreed to it in 2007.

    And billions of US tax dollars have poured into Iraq ever since.

    But the deal was never held up.

    In fact, the Iraqi press was reporting just last month that the reconciliation bill was still buried.

    Like members of Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- I'm just not seeing this alleged effort by Haider al-Abadi (prime minister since the fall of 2014) to reconcile with the Sunnis.

    But if REUTERS wants to hint that this is happening or THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR wants to state that it is, it's incumbent upon both to back that up.

    Neither can.

    Don't talk about Ramadi and Sunni tribal fighters taking part in the fight against the Islamic State because, reality, those tribal leaders have been fighting against the Islamic State for some time now.

    Better reality?

    The Sahwa are not back and on the payroll.

    Sahwa.  Awakenings.  Sons Of Iraq (and Daughters Of Iraq).

    These were Sunni fighters (then-Gen David Petraeus told Congress in April 2008 -- check the archives, I was at the hearing and we reported on it then -- that Awakenings were mainly Sunni).

    The US paid them.

    Senator Barbara Boxer, in that hearing, wanted to know why the Iraqi government wasn't paying them?

    This led then-US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Petraeus (then the top US commander in Iraq) to promise to explore it.

    And the cost was passed off to the Iraqi government.

    Of course, the whorish press insisted it had been done.

    When it hadn't.

    And the US had to keep paying.

    But finally Nouri said he'd pay 'em.

    And then he took off the payroll.

    And then he had many of them arrested.

    It was part of his war against Sunnis.

    So if Haider was really different from Nouri (Haider belongs to Nouri's political slate State of Law and to Nouri's political party Dawa and Arabic media loves to show a clip of the two side by side gushing to one another and laughing and touching one another), he could prove it and demonstrate a real effort to bring the Sunnis back into the fold by putting Sahwa back on the Iraqi government payroll.



    And if that judgment seems a little harsh to the whorish press, why don't we note these words:



    While we are focused on making additional tactical gains, the overall progress in the Sunni-populated areas of Iraq has been slow, much to our and Prime Minister Abadi's frustration. Indeed, with respect to Sunni tribal forces, we would like to see the government do more to recruit, train, arm, and mobilize Sunni popular mobilization fighters in their communities. We continue to engage the Iraqi government at all levels to move forward on this critically important aspect of the counter-ISIL campaign, including working with Sunni local police to ensure there is an Iraqi hold force to sustain any future gains.



    That's not me.

    That's US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to the Senate Armed Services Committee on December 9th.

    And don't say, "See, he got his wish with the Ramadi forces!"

    No.

    First, Ramadi's still not liberated.

    If it were, the US Defense Dept would not have announced this today, "Near Ramadi, eight strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL staging areas, three ISIL buildings, an ISIL front-end loader, six ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL anti-air artillery piece, an ISIL rocket propelled grenade system, an ISIL recoilless rifle, three ISIL vehicles, and four ISIL heavy machine guns. The strikes also damaged an ISIL tactical vehicle and denied ISIL access to terrain and wounded three ISIL fighters."  Nor would US President Barack Obama have congratulated Haider today on "continuing to liberate Ramadi, noting that the United States and our counter-ISIL Coalition partners will continue to intensify support for the ISF in these efforts, in coordination with the Iraqi Government." (We'll post the White House press release in full, later in the snapshot.)


    The forces that have taken parts of Ramadi -- again, still not liberated in full all these days later -- had finally moved across the Euphrates River from Ramadi when Carter appeared before the Committee -- a point he himself made, "After a frustratingly long time, we are starting to see some movement in the operation to re capture Ramadi. Over the past several months, the coalition has provided specialized training and equipment -- including combat engineering techniques like in-stride breaching and bulldozing, and munitions like AT-4 shoulder- fired missiles to stop truck bombs – to the Iraqi Army and counter- terrorism service units that are now beginning to enter Ramadi neighborhoods from multiple directions. In fact, in the last 24 hours, the ISF retook the Anbar Operations Center on the northern bank of the Euphrates River across from Ramadi's city center."


    Again, when a news outlet makes a claim, it needs to be able to back it up.

    REUTERS and THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR can't back their claims up.

    We covered the hearing in the Wednesday, December 9th "Iraq snapshot," "Turkey's invasion and occupation of Iraq continues..." and in the Thursday, December 10th "Iraq snapshot" while Mike covered it in "So now attack helicopters" and "What is the plan?," Betty in "Joe Manchin is a sad US Senator," Wally at Rebecca's site with "Who knew Ash Carter was a fan of The Killers?," Ava at Trina's site with "Those shameful senators," Ann with "That posturing and preening Senate Armed Services Committee," Ruth with "Senator Blumenthal misses the point," Kat with "Disgusting 'answer' to the refugee crisis" and Elaine with "Senator Claire McCaskill is a pig."


    Carter also appeared before the House Armed Services Committee last month. . We covered that December 1st hearing in the Tuesday December 1sts snapshot  and the Wednesday, December 3rd snapshot and in "Ash Carter spun wildly to Congress," additional reporting: Cedric's "Hank Johnson's sexual obsession with Barack" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HANK HIS JOHNSON!" covered US House Rep Hank Johnson wasting everyone's time to profess his strangely sexual obsession with Barack and Carter and Gen Joe Dunford refusing to indulge Johnson,  At Rebecca's site, Wally reported on Ranking Member Adam Smith  in "Even House Democrats are criticizing Saint Barack.(Wally)," at Trina's site Ava reported on the obsession with oil that was at the heart of the hearing in "It's still about the oil," Mike reported on US House Rep Niki Tsongas offering some realities about the so-called coalition in "US Armed Services Committee hearing offers a little bit of reality," Ruth reported on US House Rep John Kline's questioning which established that there was no cap on the number of US troops that could be in Iraq "Iraq still matters,"  Kat took on the surreal aspect with "The US just declared war on everyone but Santa," Elaine covered one time anti-war US House Rep Jackie Speier making an idiot of herself in statements and dress with "The idiot Jackie Speier" and Dona moderated a roundtable at Third on the hearing with "Congress and Iraq."




    At that hearing, Carter also noted that Sunnis weren't being brought in, "The progress in the Sunni portions of Iraq --  as the campaign to recapture Ramadi shows -- has been slow, much to our and Prime Minister Abadi's frustration. Despite his efforts, sectarian politics and Iranian influence have made building a multi-sectarian ISF difficult, with some notable exceptions, such as the effective US-trained counter-terrorism forces. We continue to offer additional US support of all kinds and urge Baghdad to enroll, train, arm, and pay Sunni Arab fighters, as well as local Sunni Arab police forces, to hold territory recaptured from ISIL."

    I can back up my judgment call.

    And I can do with reality and even do it by quoting Carter's public testimony to Congress.

    It's a shame that so-called news outlets like REUTERS and THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR feel they can just say anything and not have to back it up -- no matter how ridiculous their claim is.


    Today, the White House issued the following:


    THE WHITE HOUSE
    Office of the Press Secretary
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    January 6, 2016

    Readout of the President's Phone Call with Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi of Iraq

    President Obama today called Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi of Iraq to congratulate him on Iraqi forces' recent successes in Ramadi and to underscore the United States' enduring support for Iraq in its fight against ISIL.  President Obama praised the courage and tenacity of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in continuing to liberate Ramadi, noting that the United States and our counter-ISIL Coalition partners will continue to intensify support for the ISF in these efforts, in coordination with the Iraqi Government.  The President also praised Prime Minister Al-Abadi's plans with Anbar Governor Rawi to stabilize Ramadi and create the conditions necessary for residents to return home.
    President Obama reiterated the U.S. commitment to work together with international partners to support Iraq's efforts to stabilize and strengthen its economy.  The President emphasized the need to take measures to improve the structural integrity of Mosul Dam and noted the United States' continued support for efforts to ensure timely maintenance work. 
    On regional issues, Prime Minister Al-Abadi and President Obama discussed their mutual concern over Saudi Arabia's execution of Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr and the attacks against Saudi Arabia's diplomatic facilities.  They agreed on the need for all regional parties to demonstrate restraint, avoid provocative rhetoric or behavior, and avoid a worsening of sectarian tensions. They agreed on the importance that all parties maintain diplomatic engagement and dialogue. President Obama reaffirmed the United States' commitment to Iraq's territorial integrity and sovereignty and called on Turkey to do the same by withdrawing any military forces that have not been authorized by the Iraqi government.  Finally, President Obama and Prime Minister Al-Abadi reaffirmed their commitment to the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq and their determination to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.


    And let's note today's US Defense Dept's bombing of Iraq announcement in full:

    Strikes in Iraq

    Attack, bomber, fighter, ground attack, remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 19 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Huwayjah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

    -- Near Haditha, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL vehicles, an ISIL vehicle bomb, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position and wounded six ISIL fighters.

    -- Near Kisik, five strikes destroyed two ISIL bunkers, nine ISIL fighting positions, 11 ISIL assembly areas, and suppressed a separate ISIL fighting position and an ISIL machine gun position.

    -- Near Mosul, one strike destroyed an ISIL rocket cache.

    -- Near Ramadi, eight strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL staging areas, three ISIL buildings, an ISIL front-end loader, six ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL anti-air artillery piece, an ISIL rocket propelled grenade system, an ISIL recoilless rifle, three ISIL vehicles, and four ISIL heavy machine guns. The strikes also damaged an ISIL tactical vehicle and denied ISIL access to terrain and wounded three ISIL fighters.

    -- Near Sinjar, one strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Tal Afar, one strike destroyed four ISIL fighting positions and damaged an ISIL bunker.


    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

















     
     

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