I'm Making a New Album update: Recording Update http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/rickieleejones/updates/47368 …
Rickie Lee Jones is a great musician and a true artist.
The news that she's got a new album in the works should rank among the best news of the week.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
AFP reports that Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Thursday that Iraq was lacking in sufficient weapons -- that's right, that Iraq did not have enough weapons -- and stated, "We don't want to see a military defeat because of budget and fiscal problems."
Again, Haider believes Iraq is starved for weapons. All the bullets and all the bombs have not been enough for Haider.
These were not off the cuff remarks but something's he's been harping on for some time.
Vivian Salama and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) quote him declaring in an on Wednesday interview that "we are in this almost on our own." These are similar to the remarks he made last week.
Last week, AFP reported that Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi was slamming the coalition the US government has put together and saying it was taking to long to provide "military support" to the Iraq military, "The international coalition is very slow in its support and training of the army."
At the Pentagon on Thursday, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was asked about the statements.
Q: Mr. Secretary, yesterday Prime Minister Abadi said that he was upset by what he considered the slow, stalled pace of U.S. weapons and training, both by the U.S. and the coalition in Iraq. Do you agree with his assessment? Has that been slow or delayed? And the 6,000 -- the reports of 6,000 insurgents killed, is that a measure of what the U.S. is doing, and is that number accurate?
SEC. HAGEL: Well, regarding Prime Minister Abadi's comments, first, I don't agree with those comments. I met with Prime Minister Abadi, as many of you know who accompanied me on that trip about a month ago. The fact is that we have put a particular emphasis on getting the kind of equipment and materiel, ammunition, the needs, the requirements for the Iraqi Security Forces and the -- and the Kurds.
To give you some examples, last year we were able to move more than 1,500 Hellfire missiles, expedited in every one of these cases, all of the requests that the Iraqi government has made.
We'll have provided over 250 MRAPs, some of those went to the Kurds. Tens of thousands of small arms and ammunition. The flow of ammunition and materiel and the requests continue at an accelerated rate.
So, I do -- I do disagree with the prime minister's comments. I would say even further, I don't think they're helpful. We have a coalition of over 60 countries that have come together to help Iraq. And I think the prime minister might want to be a little more mindful of that.
We are continuing to deploy more American troops for training. And we have three of four training sites now operational in Iraq. We have about a dozen coalition partners who have trainers there, along with our trainers. We'll have a fourth training camp up soon.
So, we are doing everything we can possibly do to help the Iraqis.
As to the second part of your question, first, I have not seen any verification of that number of 6,000 that you referred to. We do know that thousands of ISIL fighters have been killed, and we do know that some of ISIL's leadership have been killed.
But also, as you ask, is that the measurement or a significant measurement of progress? It is a measurement. But I don't think it is the measurement. I mean, I -- I was in a war where there was a lot of body counts every day. And we lost that war.
What you look at is you look at things like do you have ISIL on the defensive? And I think by most every measurement, not imperfect, not perfect, they have been on the defensive.
Are they having difficulty recruiting? Yes they are.
The Peshmerga and the Iraqi Security Forces cut into their supply lines? Yes, they have.
Has there been a distortion in command and control networks of ISIL? Yes, there has been. Significant, tangible, measurable.
These are also the metrics you look at as to how much progress you're making in a war.
Poor Haider al-Abadi. Is he nuts?
If he's not insane, he's just the biggest idiot in the world.
Any time he has a chance before the world media, he makes a fool of himself.
That is his pattern.
As September drew to a close, he visited the United States and quickly made a fool of himself in the media. As Ray Sanchez and Evan Perez (CNN) explained then:
From Washington to New York, a flurry of denials followed media reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters at the United Nations that his country's intelligence agency had uncovered an imminent ISIS plot against United States and Paris subways.
"We don't have anything to back it up at this point," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told CNN. "We'll keep looking at it."
What had been a mini-triumph -- Haider proved he could both stand erect and speak, traits puppets don't always possess -- was destroyed when Haider decided to 'reveal' plots against the NYC subway that Iraqi 'intelligence' had learned of.
He hurried back to Iraq a laughing stock.
Thursday, Hagel took on Haider's remarks which Hagel clearly sees as carping.
On the issue of the 6,000 number raised to Hagel, that number comes via Al Arabiya reporting:
The U.S.-led airstrikes have “taken more than half” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group’s leadership, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones told Al Arabiya News Channel in an interview aired Thursday.
Jones described the airstrikes as having a “devastating” effect on ISIS after Baghdad criticized Washington for not doing “enough” to eliminate the Islamist group.
“We estimate that the airstrikes have now killed more than 6,000 ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq,” Jones said.
The U.S. ambassador added that the airstrikes have “destroyed more than a thousand of ISIS vehicle inside Iraq.”
Back to Haider who had a chance to shine today that he spoiled with his own mouth yet again.
It's not a surprise that Haider wants more weapons. He's done nothing since August -- in fairness to him, the US government hasn't encouraged or pressed him to -- when he became prime minister to heal the serious rifts in Iraq -- the rifts at the heart of the ongoing crises in the country.
So, like any puppet installed as opposed to a leader elected, he fears being toppled.
What keeps a puppet from being toppled, arms and more arms.
A leader would have faced the crises head on. A real leader would have realized that there were six to eight weeks after being named prime minister where there was time to demonstrate to the people that a change was taking place.
But Haider didn't bother with that.
So now, as he stumbles non-stop and the problems in Iraq only grow worse, he takes to whining publicly about weapons.
Thursday, a meet-up took place in London. The UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond explained after:
FOREIGN SECRETARY HAMMOND: Good afternoon. The recent terrible events in Paris have reminded us that the battle against ISIL is not confined within the borders of Iraq and Syria and that this poisonous ideology threatens our own citizens and the citizens of our allies.
Today, 21 key members of the global coalition met in London to review and discuss our efforts to degrade and defeat ISIL not just through military force, but by addressing the underlying narrative of the organization, its financing, its flow of foreign fighters, and by reasserting our commitment to Iraq. In total, over 60 countries have signed up to the global coalition, showing the international will and commitment to combat this threat.
On the military track, coalition airstrikes have helped to halt ISIL’s advance, and we’ve had an update today from General Allen on the work to rebuild, re-equip, and retrain the Iraqi Security Forces, allowing them in due course to push ISIL back and reassert Iraqi sovereignty over all the territory of Iraq. Beyond our military action, we reviewed how we’re doing in our efforts against ISIL’s finances and in countering their twisted narrative, how effectively we are delivering our efforts against the flow of foreign fighters arriving to fight in their ranks. And in each case, we talked about what more we can do together to achieve our objectives in these areas. We reviewed, too, how we can offer support to those who are most affected by the humanitarian crisis that the rise of ISIL in Iraq and Syria has brought about across the region.
Today’s meeting confirmed the determination of our broad and united coalition to defeat not only ISIL, but also the ideology that underlies it, and not just in Iraq and Syria, but wherever it rears its head. We recognize that political progress in both Iraq and Syria will be vital in ultimately defeating ISIL in those countries, and Prime Minister Abadi updated the meeting on progress to date and the significant challenges remaining. We congratulated him on the progress that has been made in Iraq in the hundred or so days since he formed his government and reaffirmed our support for what he is doing.
Most importantly, we all confirmed our commitment to the struggle, however long it takes and wherever it leads us, to defeating the scourge of violent Islamist extremism. Thank you. Prime Minister.
Those remarks were delivered alongside US Secretary of State John Kerry and Haider. Haider used his time to state what?
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi: Another issue, which is being discussed today, is the fiscal problem for Iraq. You know oil prices have dropped to about 40 percent of their level last year. Iraqi economy and budget relies 85 percent on oil, and this has been disastrous for us. I cannot stress this anymore, and we explained this to our partners in the coalition, and I think there is – there will be a program to stand with Iraq in their crisis. We don’t want to see a reverse of our military victory due to our budget and fiscal problems, and we have been assured that every member of this coalition will stand with Iraq in its fight against Daesh.
Daesh is a terrorist organization. It knows no race, no religion, no region. It spares nobody, so everybody must be facing Daesh. Thank you. Mr. Secretary.
Is the world really sympathetic to al-Abadi? Iraq brings in billions annually from oil sales. Many a non-oil rich country struggles with far, far less than Iraq.
And some, no doubt, wonder why al-Abadi's not noting that it's time to diversify Iraq's economy?
Two-term Iraq Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi spent years calling for just that. Nick Cunningham (Oilprice.com) notes that oil makes up 90% of Iraq's revenues.
It's really time for Haider to stop whining. He's supposed in charge. Be in charge. Provide leadership and stop your damn whining.
Might the drop in oil prices harm the fight against the Islamic State?
I believe Haider and the US government have both insisted that part of the funding of the Islamic State was coming from blackmarket oil and the money that the Islamic State could make off it. Well if dropping oil prices are hurting Iraq, they would also be hurting the Islamic State.
The Islamic State is deliberately misunderstood by the US government -- in public remarks -- and by most of the press.
We are told that the "Syrian conflict" spilled over into Iraq.
And this lie is used to churn up fear.
'It seeped into Iraq! It could seep further!'
It didn't 'seep' into Iraq because Syria and Iraq share a border.
It took root in Iraq because the Islamic State is Sunni and Sunnis were being persecuted in Iraq.
Iraq could have shared a border with Libya, not Syria, and the Islamic State still would have come in.
When you grasp that reality, you realize how the hoary subtext the White House has used to gin up the fear on the Islamic State is really not accurate at all. US President Barack Obama's resorted to using 'the Domino theory' to scare people.
'The Domino theory' was used during Vietnam and argued that, if Vietnam fell to the Communists, it would spread throughout the region and up to the United States.
If the United States is at risk of attacks, it's not due to any dominos falling -- it's due to supporting Iraqi governments that target Sunnis.
When you grasp that, you realize all these billions are being wasted.
They're used to pay for weapons and to pay for bombs.
They're useless, they're wasted dollars.
Secure the 'homeland' in the US?
You do that by demanding change in Iraq.
Not by supporting the continuation of the hunting and killing of Sunnis.
Felicity Arbuthnot has an important report at Dissident Voice which opens:
On Saturday, January 10th, the BRussells Tribunal circulated a Press Release which stated, “Iraq: Mr Uday Al-Zaidi – Appeal of Extreme Urgency.”
It outlined “an appeal for the immediate and urgent mobilization of (the relevant UN Agencies, Amnesty International. Human Rights Watch and other international NGOs and appropriate legal bodies) in securing the release of the prominent human rights defender, Mr Uday Al-Zaidi.”
The Appeal was necessarily brief, but the wider context is vital to understanding as another life hangs in the balance in the living hell of the Bush and Blair led “New Iraq.”
Mr Al-Zaidi was arrested by Iraqi security forces at 6 pm, local time, on Friday January 9th, near Al-Nasriyah in southern Iraq. Al-Zaidi, a respected journalist, is internationally renowned for his courageous advocacy against the sectarian cleansing in Iraq which began with the onset of the “divide and rule” policy of the US-UK invasion, continued under the occupation, their puppet Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and now under his replacement of August 2014, Haider Al-Abadi.
Al-Abadi came in with the US-UK tanks in 2003, having lived in London since 1977, where he was on the Executive of the (Shia) Islamic Dawa Party – which is headed by Nouri al-Maliki. The Prime Ministerial change has all the hallmarks of “same car, new paint.”
Where's the change?
In 2010, the Iraqi people rejected Nouri in the parliamentary elections and instead voted for a change. They went with a national identity as evidenced by their support for Iraqiya. But instead of allowing Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya, to become prime minister, Barack sided with Nouri who refused to step down as prime minister. The Iraqi government came to a standstill for eight months after those elections.
The political stalemate was ended by the US-brokered Erbil Agreement -- a legal contract which gave Nouri a second term. In exchange, he agreed (in writing) to certain concessions. And the White House swore that not only was the contract legally binding (it clearly wasn't) but that it had the full backing of the US government (it clearly didn't). When Ayad Allawi walked out of Parliament, Barack personally called Allawi and restated that this contract was binding and that the US government would ensure it was followed.
So Iraqiya rejoined the Parliament.
And then Nouri refused to honor the promises he'd made in writing.
And Barack didn't do a damn thing.
The State Dept acted as though the Erbil Agreement never existed.
And the White House continued to back Nouri as Nouri became more and more of a tyrant.
They said nothing publicly when he began ordering the military to circle the homes of his political rivals with tanks.
And it only got worse.
When protests began, the State Dept had no support for them.
When protesters were attacked by Nouri's thugs, the State Dept and the White House were silent.
The silence only became more appalling when protesters were killed.
And still the White House played footsie with Nouri.
All of the above came together to create the current crises in Iraq.
And finally, as spring ended last year, the White House broke with Nouri.
And they backed Haider al-Abadi.
He was supposed to be the new face that would signify change.
He's done nothing of the kind.
And just as with Nouri, the White House refuses to demand that Haider end the attacks on the Sunni population.
End those attacks and the Islamic State has no reason to be in Iraq.
If they don't have the sense to leave, you better believe the Iraqi people -- including Sunni Iraqis -- will kick them out. It won't take billions of dollars for that to happen.
Remove the justification for the presence and they're gone -- either on their own or forced out.
On their own?
Syria remains a battle field. Diverting their forces into Iraq does not help the Islamic State fight in Syria. The 30,000 to 50,000 fighters currently in Iraq could be better used by the Islamic State with a Syrian deployment.
In January 2014, Nouri ordered the Iraqi military to bomb the residential neighborhoods of the Sunni city of Falluja. These bombings are War Crimes -- collective punishment, look it up. They have been daily bombings which have left thousands of civilians -- Sunnis -- dead or wounded.
September 13th, Haider al-Abadi declared these bombings had ended.
September 14th, they continued.
And they continue to this day.
These are War Crimes. The US legally recognizes collective punishment as a War Crime. In addition, the Leahy Amendment demands that a government which attacks its own people cannot receive aid from the US government.
But Haider continues to receive aid.
September 13th underscores the only difference between Nouri and Haider.
Both are liars and both are clearly War Criminals.
But Nouri's approach was to lie via the future. The Erbil Agreement would be implemented, just not now. The protesters demands would be met in 100 days if they'd just go home. Over and over, Nouri played kick the can and would pretend at some near future date he would do what he was supposed to.
Haider announces things have changed.
Not will change, that they've changed.
But they haven't.
The Iraqi military bombing of Falluja hasn't ceased.
The announced 'deal' with the Kurds over oil has still not been implemented -- though Haider did announce it and the State Dept did praise him for it -- all those weeks ago and still nothing.
The country still doesn't have a 2015 budget.
Go down the list.
Nouri would lie and promise that something would happen in the future.
Haider lies and claims it's already happened.
That's the only difference between the two.
And, as they did with Nouri, the White House refuses to demand the needed changes that would drive the Islamic State out of Iraq.
The needed changes that would dramatically improve the lives of all Iraqis.
The Islamic State is a limited threat to the United States and would not be a threat at all were the White House not repeatedly supporting thugs who persecute Iraq's Sunni community.
The Vice President of Iraq was put on trial in absentia by Nouri.
He's been sentenced to death nearly five times.
This after Nouri had one of Tareq's bodyguards tortured to death -- after the man refused repeatedly to lie about Tareq.
And Tareq's crime -- his only known crime -- is being Sunni.
The White House refused to defend Tareq, they continue to refuse to.
And that's what happens to Iraq's most prominent Sunni politician.
For the average Sunni, with no political power at all, things are even worse.
And until that's dealt with, until that's addressed, nothing is going to get better in Iraq.
And if you're an American who Barack's scared to death with his fear propaganda about the Islamic State and how it will strike the 'homeland,' you need to be demanding that the Sunnis in Iraq are treated fairly and equally, that the rape and torture of Sunni women in Iraq's prisons and jails ends, that the Sunnis -- male and female -- stop disappearing into Iraq's prisons and jails, that no Sunnis are arrested anymore for the 'crime' of being married to someone or being the parent of someone or the child or sibling of someone.
You need to demand justice.
Because it is injustice towards the Sunni community which brought the Islamic State into Iraq and which has provided it with a home in Iraq.
AFP reports a suicide bomber or bombers detonated in Taji leaveing "at least seven people dead" and another seventeen injured. Al Arabiya News adds, "A newly appointed ISIS commander in Iraq's Anbar province has been killed, a police chief from Haditha told Al Arabiya News Channel on Thursday." Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 118 people dead from violence in Iraq today with sixty-four more injured.