Friday, February 17, 2017

The facts

As a Green, I completely support this Tweet.

Wondering how broken are? These past 8 years they lost 1042 seats. Including the Presidency. To Trump. 💩

Sorry, she's telling the truth.

If Democrats want to woo voters, they better realize how disgusting they are as they kowtow to corporations and betray the people.

Start working for the people.

You might win some actual votes and an election or two.

This is C.I.'s "Adele and Beyonce:"

Friday, February 17, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, Zaid Al-Ali grabs his pom-poms and attempts a Leapin' Lora of historic propaganda proportions, Baghdad's slammed with bombings, The Mosul Slog continues, and much more.

Yet again, the neoliberals are out for war and eager to send other people's children off to die.  The Center For Progress is getting it's war on as we noted in Wednesday's snapshot.  And then there's Zaid Al-Ali.

He did such a bang up job working in Iraq (that's sarcasm) that he's decided he's an expert.

He has an insipid column that was apparently too pathetic for even THE GUARDIAN to run so he took to ALJAZEERA.  Here's a typical passage:

Analysts and commentators in various parts of the world claimed that Mosul's population took sides in the conflict, throwing their lot in with ISIL. A video was widely circulated on social media, supposedly showing Mosul's inhabitants stoning Iraqi army vehicles on their way out of the city - never mind that the video was actually from Sadr City in 2008.

Second sentence first: Social media is global.  Not everyone speaks or reads Arabic.  It is very easy for a posted video to be shared with unintentional misrepresentations on social media.  I really have no idea what point the idiot thought he was making with that.

The first sentence?

It's a paragraph in a September 2015 column by Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group.

A word on the International Crisis Group.  Early on, we were asked to note them by someone inhouse there and I blew it off.  We ignored them for probably the first three years.  As coverage on Iraq in the west continued to dwindle, we began to cite them.

In a perfect world, we probably would never have.  Their larger goals are in conflict with my own concepts of peace.  So I'm not a fan.

I know Joost only through his public writing.

Here's what he wrote in September 2015:

In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s autocratic tendencies and sectarian-imbued repressive policies further alienated a Sunni population that, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, threw in its lot with the Islamic State (IS), despite the latter’s brutal rule. Iran could have acted to moderate Maliki’s behavior but neglected to do so, content that a friendly Shi’ite Islamist coalition ruled a neighbor that, barely a generation ago, had launched a destructive eight-year war against it. The Iraqi army’s collapse in the face of Islamic State’s advance in June 2014 created a security vacuum that Iranian military advisers have tried to fill by commanding urgently mobilized Iraqi Shiite militias. But what will the proliferation of such militias do for the unity of the Iraqi state, which Iran claims to want to preserve? The country’s breakup into warring fiefdoms is now a more likely scenario.

That's paragraph ten of a 21 paragraph column.

Iraq is not his focus in that column.

From his other writing does he believe the Sunni population in Iraq acts in unison?


From his other non-Iraq writing, does he believe any group of people act in unison 100%?


He was writing on another topic, Iran, and he did a short cut.

It happens.

I do short cuts here and hear about it.  "You say THE NEW YORK TIMES reported in September of 2012 that Barack Obama sent Special-Ops back into Iraq but there's no link because it didn't happen!"

No, there's no link because I'm not here to spoon feed you.

Check it out, we've linked to that report over 570 times since it first ran.

Here's one random example:

There's the fact that Barack sent a brigade of Special-Ops in during the fall of 2012. Tim Arango (New York Times) reported, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence." 

So after 570 times linking to it when I'm mentioning it in passing to make another point I'm still required to link to it?  A five year old article that was outright ignored in real time but that we covered in real time and that we have linked to over 570 times since?

Sorry, I don't have that time or kind of space.

Joost took a short cut because he wasn't writing about Iraq.

Joost took a shortcut.

Zaid Al-Ali lies outright which is a wrong.

Yes, there are Sunnis who support the Islamic State -- Sunnis in Iraq.

Sorry, that's reality.  If you can't deal with it, stick with lying, Zaid Al-Ali.

The majority position of Sunnis in Iraq as the Islamic State began rising was: It's not my fight.

That was conveyed in social media as well as in strong journalism done by NPR and other outlets.

The Sunnis were being persecuted by Nouri al-Maliki.

The Islamic State rises up in response to Nouri.

Nouri had made clear that Sunnis were not part of his vision of Iraq.

It wasn't their fight.

There were some Sunni Iraqis who were against the Islamic State.  They were quoted in real media early on.  They saw it as a foreign effort (the Islamic State) and read it as an incursion in the way Iraqis see Iran's attempts to expand their border (I'm referring to cartography here, not political influence -- though it doesn't get much western media attention, Iran is frequently seen as attempting to redraw the actual border it shares with Iraq).

There were some Sunni Iraqis who were horrified by what they knew of the Islamic State and were against them for that reason.

But there were some who supported them.

And you have to remember when they rose up -- it's not a fact that the western media ever gets correct because it would require them confessing to their own failure.

Iraqis had been peacefully protesting for over a year -- demonstrations and sit-ins.

And the western media that built up the Eygpt protests as the great change in the world (didn't turn out that way, did it?) ignored the protests in Iraq.

Ignored it as Nouri used the Iraqi forces to attack the protesters.

Ignored it as Nouri used the Iraqi forces to attack journalists covering the protests.

Ignored it as Nouri used the Iraqi forces to kill the protesters.

As this became the reality and Nouri began threatening the peaceful protesters blocking the road between Baghdad and Falluja, as he began calling them terrorists and speaking (publicly) of setting them on fire, that's when the Islamic State goes public.

They are the black garbed figures that show up with guns to protect those protesters.

In their earliest public form, that's what they were -- defenders of the Sunni population who protected the peaceful Sunni protesters.

And they did protect them.

Nouri didn't kill them on that road the way he did elsewhere.

That's reality.

And that's why there were some Sunnis who saw them in a better light.

That probably would have continued for some if the Islamic State had not decided it should take and hold areas.

Once it did that, it was not just extremely fundamental, it was also corrupt.

As a movement (that resorted to violence), it could have had some success in the region.

We are speaking in political terms.  Do not e-mail me saying, "You said ISIS was successful or would have been successful and I don't think it's a success to enslave people!"  A movement's success is based upon it's ability to spread.  Even with limited violence, ISIS could have spread it's movement.  For those who recoil at that notion and insist that bombing is not an answer, I didn't say it was.  I'm referring to their movement.  For those who insist that Iraqis would recoil from violence, a number of people do not recoil in any area of the world.  Some do, some don't.  There is not a universal response.  Equally true, bombing is a daily fact in Iraq today -- including the daily bombs US war planes drop on Iraq.

As a governing force, it was always going to be doomed.

It couldn't manage a co-op, let alone a city.

And it's idealization was not even met within its own ranks so attempting leadership of a city was always going to expose hypocrisy and corruption.

But had they not started seizing territories in Iraq, they might have been able to have succeeded as a movement.

Can they now?

If they are defeated in areas that they hold in Iraq, they could go back to attempting to be a movement only.  However, since they attempted to expand and their expansion was destroyed, they'll always be seen as failures who scaled back to smaller goals and that would hurt success in the immediate future.  (Though the narrative, how it plays out, over ten or so years could lead to a revival.)

Zaid Al-Ali is slobbering over the 'success' in Mosul.

No one's looked so stupid since   that October State Dept press briefing when a journalist termed it a "slog" and CNN's Elise Labott screeched "NO!"

123 days ago, the operation to liberate or 'liberate' Mosul started.

123 days ago.

It's a slog.

The International Organization for Migration notes today, "As military operations to retake Mosul intensify, concerns mount that these operations may displace additional tens of thousands of civilians – beyond the 160,000-plus individuals currently categorized as 'displaced' in the Mosul region after four months of combat."  While RUDAW reports:

Oxfam International Director for Iraq Andres Gonzalez visited Rudaw's office in Erbil to discuss the next phase of the Mosul operations and warned of the looming humanitarian crisis which could affect 750,000 civilians as military operations target the western part of the city .

“Oxfam is calling on all armed forces to avoid the use of heavy weapons in populated and built up areas, including mortars and artillery, and to provide genuinely safe escape routes to avoid the high number of civilian casualties seen so far,” Gonzalez said this week.


Siege conditions in west : residents say they eat once a day and expect it to get worse

That's not a success.

It's The Mosul Slog.

And this Tweet from Brett McGurk this morning touches on other issues Zaid Al-Ali's ignoring.

Vital partners & training Iraqi forces to hold ground cleared of terrorists.

Lucky for Zaid, if westerners are paying attention to Iraq right now, most are paying attention to the attack in Baghdad yesterday.

Nearly 50 people killed in a car bomb explosion in southwestern on Thursday. claims responsibility.

Baghdad: At least 55 killed in car bomb attack on Thursday, the latest in wave of blasts to strike the Iraqi capital

The aftermath of car bomb today that killed more than 45 people and wounding more than 60

The following community sites -- plus PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated:

  • Thursday, February 16, 2017

    The Great Indoors

    "You try an stop us old man."

    On The Great Indoors, Joel McHale's Jack was facing that he's "old."

    Working with kids will do that to you.

    I really do love this show.  It's the only show I really get excited about these days.

    My husband will turn on The Big Bang Theory and I'll mainly ignore it and then we'll watch The Great Indoors.
    "Sometimes I crave a sweet!"

    That was my favorite moment when Jack said that.

    After that it was probably when Jack was trying to impress a younger woman and chimed in something like "burn!" and Clark looked at him and said, "You just sit there and look pretty."

    It's a very funny show.

    I thought Joel McHale was funny on Community.

    But I didn't think he was sexy.

    I do find him hot on The Great Indoors.

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

    Thursday, February 16, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, The Mosul Slog continues, Moonnar27 is apparently missing, and much more.

    Truth tellers are rare in the world.

    They are even more rare when it comes to truth telling re: Iraq.

    Moonnar27 has been a truth teller.  (Here's a Tweet we included here last January by Moonnar27.)

  • فقط انسخو هذا الهشتاق الانكليزي

    وارفقوا معه صور وفديوات جرائم الجيش الشيعي بالعراق
    اوصلوا صوتنا للعالم بكل الطرق لاتسكتوا

    Her truths have been brave and important.

    She has been off Twitter for over two weeks now -- her account killed.

    As the silence continues, people are worrying.

    Does anybody know @moonnor27 personally? Her life may be in danger. People have been trying to contact her phone & there's no response...

    Hayder al-Abadi is watered down Nouri al-Maliki.

    It wouldn't be at all surprising if Hayder sought out to silence her.

    Even less surprising if some Shi'ite militia did so.

    Moonnor27 may have just gotten sick of Tweeting.

    I'm sure the awful news she sees wears on her more than any of us could guess.

    But we're opening with this concern because there is good reason to worry and she's someone we have long noted.

    in the absence of @moonnor27 we remain vigilant for 4 all suffering from tyranny by & ignorence of the west

    Apparently once again sister @moonnor27 account appears to have been disabled

    An Iraqi activist goes silent.

    Her Twitter account is (again) killed.

    Where's the global interest if not concern?

    It's day 122 of The Mosul Slog.

    122 days to liberate Mosul and counting.

    The city was seized by the Islamic State in June of 2014.

    Hayder al-Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq, waited until October of 2016 to attempt a liberation or 'liberation' of the city.

    That was 122 days ago.

    What's to show for it?

    A few weeks ago, they were claiming they had liberated eastern Mosul.

    That's not being yelled as loudly now due to several bombings in that section of the city.

    War Crimes a plenty in the city, though.

    Human Rights Watch reports:

    Armed forces fighting Islamic State (also known as ISIS) to retake a town and four villages near Mosul looted, damaged, and destroyed homes, Human Rights Watch said today. There was no apparent military necessity for the demolitions, which may amount to war crimes and which took place between November 2016 and February 2017.
    The Iraqi authorities should investigate allegations of war crimes and hold those responsible to account, Human Rights Watch said. The United States and other countries providing military assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces should press the government to carry out these investigations. The United Nations Human Rights Council should expand the investigation it established in 2014 on ISIS abuses to include serious violations by all parties, including the Popular Mobilization Forces (known as the PMF or Hashd al-Sha'abi), units that were formed largely to combat ISIS, and are under the direct command of Prime Minister al-Abadi.

    “Absent a legitimate military objective, there is no excuse for destroying civilian homes,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “All the destruction does is to keep civilians from going home.”
    To the southwest of Mosul, Human Rights Watch documented looting and extensive demolition of buildings in three villages using explosives, heavy machinery, and fire. Witness statements about the extent and timing of the demolitions, between late December and early February, were corroborated by satellite imagery showing the destruction of at least 345 buildings, including the main mosque, in the village of Ashwa during that time. Satellite imagery reviewed by Human Rights Watch showed that the abuses took place after anti-ISIS forces incorporated the villages into a large network of earthen berms and trenches. Locals told Human Rights Watch the only armed forces in the areas taken from ISIS were different groups within the PMF.

    And we'll note this Tweet.

    1.Human Rights Watch:given a 10 year,$100 million donation by George Soros in 2010!
    2. The PMU are incorporated into the Iraqi Armed Forces!

    In addition to alarm of the destruction of homes, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released the following:

    With a new phase in the Mosul offensive poised to begin, Iraq’s Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Lise Grande, toured UNHCR’s Hasansham U3 displacement camp and the government-built Khazer M1 camp, east of Mosul, where UNHCR has also provided support and distributed emergency items.
    More than 82,000 people have been provided with shelter and emergency items in UNHCR-supported camps to the east of Mosul since the start of the offensive in October. Humanitarian agencies, working with the Iraqi government, are preparing for a new outflow of civilians from western Mosul. Construction work is beginning at a new site south of Mosul to provide additional shelters. Only a small number of families from densely-populated western Mosul have managed to escape and are staying in displacement camps, including Hasansham and Khazer.
    UNHCR has completed seven camps, including Hasansham U3, and two more are under construction. The agency is currently able to provide some 11,000 families (66,000 people) with shelter as part of the Mosul response, a figure which should expand to 20,000 families (120,000 individuals) in the near-term once land is allocated. By the end of March, it is anticipated that the Government of Iraq and humanitarian partners would have built camps and emergency sites to potentially host 41,155 families (246,930 people) in camps and emergency sites.
    “We anticipate the next phase in the battle for Mosul will be an even bigger test for the humanitarian community”, said UNHCR’s Representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo, who was visiting the displacement camps along with Iraq’s Humanitarian Co-ordinator. “We are preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.”
    Some 153,894 people remain displaced, having fled from Mosul and surrounding areas since October 17. At the same time, more than 46,000 people from Mosul and surrounding areas have returned to their places of origin, eager to return home and rebuild their lives.
    However, some returnee families also have gone back to the camps due to insecurity and a lack of basic services in their areas of origin. Ms. Grande stressed that returns should be safe, dignified and voluntary. “You cannot force people to go home. People have to make that choice on their own. They have the right to decide”, she said.
    For more information please contact:
    Caroline Gluck +9647809207286 @carogluck
    Andreas Needham +9647809207282 @andreasneedham

    How bad is The Mosul Slog going?

    AP reports, "The United Nations says it's temporarily pausing aid operations to neighborhoods in the eastern half of the Iraqi city of Mosul as attacks by the Islamic State group continue to inflict heavy civilian casualties there."

    Meanwhile, Patrick Cockburn (INDEPENDENT) types:

    The Iraqi armed forces will eventually capture west Mosul, which is still held by Isis fighters, but the city itself will be destroyed in the fighting, a senior Iraqi politician has told The Independent in an interview.
    Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurdish leader who until last year was the Iraqi finance minister and prior to that the country's long-serving foreign minister, says that Isis will fight to the last man in the densely-packed urban districts it still holds.
    "I think west Mosul will be destroyed," says Mr Zebari, pointing to the high level of destruction in east Mosul just taken by government forces. He explains that Isis is able to put up such stiff resistance by skilful tactics using networks of tunnels, sniper teams and suicide bombers in great numbers. He adds that no date has yet been set for the resumption of the Iraqi government offensive into west Mosul, but he expects the fighting to be even tougher than before.

    Cockburn goes on and on.

    He never notes that Parliament voted Zebari out last fall as Minister of Finance due to corruption -- or that Iraq's high court upheld his removal from the post.

    Doesn't mean Mosul won't be destroyed, doesn't mean it will.

    It does mean if you're listing Zebari's credit, you include that he was voted out for corruption.  (Zebari has maintained his innocence and insists that this is plot on the part of former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki to stage his own comeback.)

    Michael Gregory (REUTERS) notes:

    f Islamic State is driven from its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul, it will switch tactics to wage an insurgency from mountains and deserts, a top Kurdish intelligence official has told Reuters.

    Lahur Talabany, a senior figure in Kurdistan’s counter-terrorism efforts, also expressed concerns that another group similar to the Sunni Muslim Islamic State could emerge to menace Iraq again if political leaders fail to secure reconciliation between sects.

    RUDAW notes, "At least 15 people have been killed and another 50 wounded in a suicide truck bombing in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighbourhood on Wednesday, Reuters reported citing security sources."  Also yesterday the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Fighter aircraft and rocket artillery conducted five strikes in 21 engagements in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Kisik, two strikes damaged a tunnel.

    -- Near Mosul, three strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit; destroyed three vehicle bomb facilities, two improvised explosive device facilities, a weapons facility, an ISIS-held building, an excavator, a supply cache and a command-and-control node; damaged five supply routes and a supply cache; and suppressed three mortar teams.

    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 ISIS 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 ISIS 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. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

    Meanwhile new tensions between Iraq and Iran (or old tensions resurface).  MIDDLE EAST MONITOR reports:

    The Iraqi National Accord (INA) political coalition led by Vice President Ayad Allawi has accused Iran of violating Iraq’s sovereignty on its territorial waters over strategic waterways leading to the Arabian Gulf, and has urged the Iraqi government to take action.
    The INA said in a statement yesterday that “Iraq’s rights are today in danger after Iran escalated its campaign to acquire further gains [at Iraq’s expense],” adding that the gains coveted by the Iranian regime where both “from the river side of the Shatt Al-Arab or on the sea [boundary].”

    The statement also accused Iran of “continuing its advance [on Iraqi territory] at a rapidly quickening pace and against Iraq’s sovereign maritime rights both in the Arabian Gulf and in international waters,” and said that Iran was demanding control and sovereignty over Iraqi ports.

    The following community sites updated:

  • iraq