Thursday, October 01, 2015

Punishing the only success

Isabel Coles of Reuters reports:

Kurdish forces said they drove Islamic State out of several villages near the oil city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq on Wednesday after U.S.-led coalition airstrikes targeted insurgent positions overnight.



Barack's latest wave of the Iraq War remains a failure.


Can you imagine how much worse it would be without the Kurdish Peshmerga?

They are the only group racking up real success.


If you take away their accomplishments, you've got nothing.

And yet the White House repeatedly cuts the Kurds off at the knees and refuses to support them.


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Wednesday, September 30, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi continues his trip to the United States, more e-mails reveal the real Hillary Clinton (homophobe and greedy), and much more.


As part of Haider al-Abadi's continued visit to the United States, the prime minister of Iraq sat down with Margaret Warner (PBS' The NewsHour -- link is text, audio and video) for an interview.  Excerpt.


MARGARET WARNER: Another thing, of course, that happened over the last few days was news that Iraq had entered an intelligence pact with Russia and Iran and Syria to share intelligence about ISIS. Why did you join that?


HAIDER AL-ABADI: ISIL is an international terrorist organization. As far as the intelligence is concerned, we can only gather information about ISIL inside Iraq.
We need the help of other countries. Russia now considers ISIL as a national threat to them. It is a national threat to Syria. And, of course, it is a threat to Iran as well. Now, to share this intelligence with these countries is going to help us. I will do whatever it takes to protect the Iraqi people.
And there are many terrorist networks all over the world and fighters coming across different countries, to Syria, to Iraq. I need the help of that intelligence, as well as the intelligence of the international coalition, which is…

(CROSSTALK)


MARGARET WARNER: But doesn’t most of your intelligence in fact come from the Americans? And are you worried that the U.S. will become more wary and less forthcoming sharing intelligence with you if they know it also goes to Iran and Russia and Syria?


HAIDER AL-ABADI: No, we will be careful not to share this information which comes from other parties with another party.




Some have little faith in Haider al-Abadi's ability to self-censor.  It was on another US trip, for instance, when he created an international incident by declaring he had intel about planned attacks on American targets including the NYC subway system.



It was a year ago when Arshad Mohammed and Jonathan Allen (Reuters) reported:



Iraq has "credible" intelligence that Islamic State militants plan to attack subway systems in Paris and the United States, the prime minister said on Thursday, but U.S. and French officials said they had no evidence to back up his claims.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's comments were met with surprise by security, intelligence and transit officials in both countries. New York's leaders scrambled to ride the subway to reassure the public that the nation's largest city was safe.




As his heavily reported claims were rebuked by both US and French government officials, Haider was left standing alone on the world stage and returned to Iraq an object of both ridicule and scorn.



The man who can't trust his own mouth now says he can handle top secret intelligence and not pass it on to Russia?



Noting that Iraq has long allowed Russia to fly over the country, in Iraq air space, David L. Phillips points out at CNBC:


Iraq's Shiite-led government appears to be more loyal to Iran than the United States. Iran's Quds Force is fighting alongside Shiite militias against the Islamic State in Anbar and other western provinces of Iraq. Iran's political support and security assistance are critical for the survival of Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government. 
Iraq's Shiite-led government appears to be more loyal to Iran than the United States. Iran's Quds Force is fighting alongside Shiite militias against the Islamic State in Anbar and other western provinces of Iraq. Iran's political support and security assistance are critical for the survival of Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government.
  Further demonstration of Iraq's non-cooperation with the United States surfaced over the weekend: Iraq has reached an understanding with Russia, Iran and Syria to share intelligence about the Islamic State. Iraqi officials kept Washington in the dark during negotiations.

The Obama administration should be able to influence the government of Iraq. Washington supported Abadi's bid to become prime minister. The Pentagon has an extensive equip-and-train program bolstering the Iraqi Security Forces. Between 2005 and 2013, the U.S. spent $25 billion on security assistance to Iraq. U.S.troops were indispensable in toppling Saddam Hussein, which created conditions for Shiites to ascend in Iraq.   




Should be able to but apparently the puppet pulls the strings.


Operation Inherent Failure we dubbed it.


And the final grades keep rolling in.


Take this week's [PDF format warning] Foreign Fighter Task Force report from the House Homeland Security Committee.


 The report explains:


One jihadist group in particular saw an opening.  The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), a successor organization to al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), called for sectarian war and the creation of a regional Islamic state.  AQI was a terrorist group whose leadership had pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden in 2004 and which led an insurgency against U.S. forces in the country.  After the group's leader Abud Musab al-Zarqai was killed in a 2006 U.S. airstrike, it rebranded as ISL.  The terror outfit was weakened by the surge of U.S. troops into Iraq, the Anbar awakening, and later the death of its two top leaders in 2010.  With the eventual withdrawal of American forces, however, ISI took advantage of the security vacuum and Sunni disenfranchisement with the central government to ramp up attacks.  Its new leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, oversaw the escalation in violence.
In April 2013, al-Baghdadi declared the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (hereafter, ISIS).  He sought to merge his forces with those of al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, but al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahirl rejected the merger, creating a schism between the groups.  Nevertheless, ISIS expanded its operations in northern and eastern Syria, claiming territory and creating tension with other rebel factions.  The momentum allowed ISIS to attract additional resources, especially more foreign fighters.
On New Year's Day 2014, ISIS convoys stormed Falluja and Ramadi, Iraqi cities which only a few years earlier had been liberated by U.S. forces.  The Iraqi army crumbled as the fighters arrived in convoys of 70-100 trucks, armed with heavy weapons and anti-aircraft guns.  The group's growing success resonated with Islamist radicals across social media.  ISIS launched another major offensive in June 2014, capturing Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, and taking control of others towns as it pushed south toward Baghdad.



Further in, the report offers this stark assessment:



The United States conducted its first series of coordinated airstrikes against ISIS in August 2014.  The strikes focused initially on curbing ISIS advances in nothern Iraq and protecting religious minorities but eventually shifted to supporting offensive operations against the militant group in both Iraq and its Syrian territory.  In September, President Obama declared the aim of degrading and ultimately destroying the group.  The United States has since conducted more than 5,000 airstrikes against ISIS.
Airstrikes, however, do not appear to have kept aspiring foreign fighters away.  When the strikes began, counterterrorism officials estimated the total number of extremists was around 15,000.  However, fighters continued to enter Syria at a rate of 1,000 per month.  In December 2014, intelligence officials pegged the total at more than 18,000 and by February 2015 it surpassed 20,000.  Today the figure stands at 25,000-plus foreign fighters, more than triple the number from just a year ago.  The majority of these fighters still come from the Middle East and North Africa, with Tunisia as the most significant source country.  But the total also includes 4,500 Westerners and more than 250 Americans, figures which have surged since 2014.
Indeed, foreign fighters have helped ISIS to remain strong.  Nearly 10,000 of the group's foot soldiers have been killed by airstrikes, but they have been replaced by new foreign and domestic fighters almost as quickly as they are taken off the battlefield.  There has been "no meaningful degradition in their numbers," according to one defense official, as estimates place ISIS's total fighting force at 20-30,000 -- the same as it was last fall.



Operation Inherent Failure continues on, doing the same thing with no real results.


Some call it a 'plan,' some call it stupidity.



Meanwhile, the US State Dept issued a press release today:


Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 30, 2015
Today at the UN General Assembly event on the humanitarian emergency in Iraq, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall announced that the United States is providing more than $56 million in additional humanitarian assistance to Iraqis who have been affected by violence and are in urgent need of help from the international community. This new funding brings total U.S. humanitarian assistance for the Iraq humanitarian response to nearly $534 million since the start of Fiscal Year 2014.
Nearly 3.2 m
illion Iraqis have been internally displaced due to conflict since January 2014—the fastest growing displacement crisis in the world. Iraq’s neighbors are hosting approximately 370,000 Iraqi refugees, on top of the millions of Syrians who have also sought refuge and are in need of aid. U. S. humanitarian assistance aims to assist millions of Iraqi civilians affected by conflict, providing them with critically needed relief commodities, food, shelter, clean water and sanitation, protection, medical services, livelihoods support, and other essential goods and services.
In June, the UN issued a $498 million appeal for the highest priority needs inside Iraq for July through December 2015. The United States is extremely concerned that there has not been a more robust response to this appeal from other international donors. Despite U.S. contributions, only 40 percent of the necessary funds for the most critical needs have been committed. As a result, humanitarian programs that provide essential food, health, water and sanitation, shelter and other relief services are shutting down. The Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government are taking steps to provide for the 3.2 million IDPs and the 250,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq. But more needs to be done, and the international community’s help is urgently needed.A range of organizations will receive this funding, including the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Food Program (WFP), and other international and nongovernmental organizations.
For further information, please contact Danna Van Brandt, vanbrandtdj@state.gov, or visit PRM’s website.



Sarah Sewall -- aka Sarah Sewer -- remains a threat to peace and humanity no matter how many titles she buys in Barack's administration.


The counter-insurgency guru used her time at Harvard to pimp war and now thinks she can pretend she stands for anything but destruction.

Even more amazing, as 2007 drew to a close, there was Sewer and Monty McFate chatting with Charlie (bloom off the) Rose about how Sewer could use a politician as a puppet and the unnamed politician she was speaking of was Barack Obama.


After public claims like that, you'd think Barack would make sure she had no seat at the table but, apparently, she can in fact use Barack like a puppet hence her continued role in his administration.


Sarah Sewer's not the only State Dept trash in the news.


There's former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


Yes, yes, the latest batch of e-mails released reveal her homophobic hatred of non-traditional families.


But there's also David Sirota and Andrew Perez's report for International Business Times which opens:


When then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the war against Iraq in 2002, she justified her support of the invasion as a way to protect America’s national security. But less than a decade later, as secretary of state, Clinton promoted the war-torn country as a place where American corporations could make big money.
“It's time for the United States to start thinking of Iraq as a business opportunity," she said in a 2011 speech.

The quote was included in an email released by the State Department on Wednesday that specifically mentioned JPMorgan and Exxon Mobil. JPMorgan was selected by the U.S. government to run a key import-export bank in Iraq and in 2013 announced plans to expand its operations in the country. Exxon Mobil signed a deal to redevelop Iraqi oil fields. JPMorgan has collectively paid the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation at least $450,000 for speeches, and Exxon Mobil has donated over $1 million to the family’s foundation.



She's sorry, you understand, that she voted for the Iraq War and supported it for years until well after the majority of Americans had turned against it.


Her sorry is the same as her husband's when his affair with Monica Lewinsky was exposed -- embarrassment at being caught out.


She has no real regrets about the destruction of Iraq, the refugee crises she helped create, the increased birth defects directly tied into the illegal weapons the US government used in Iraq --

She has only one regret, that the mean press asks her about Iraq today.


Oh, that mean, evil press, expecting the would be Queen of America to answer questions.

How awful.

How horrible.

She's happy to talk about Iraq -- when she thinks the press isn't around and she won't be reported.

Everything about that woman is fake, not just her hair color.

And her pretense that she's a fighter took a huge hit over the weekend as she brought out the latest man to fight her battles for her: her husband Bill Clinton.

If Hillary can't take on the press by herself, how would she ever be able to stand up to world leaders.


The general rule in a campaign with regards to spouses of candidates is that the spouse smiles and stays positive throughout.

When your spouse fights your battle -- as Marilyn Quayle did early on for husband Dan -- the candidate gets the image of being weak.


All that time Hillary's spent trying to out macho her competition just went down the drain.


Hillary gave a speech this month which Betty noted in "Not On My Watch -- says manly Hillary."

A few whiners e-mailed thinking I would attack Betty for the post because I'm a feminist.


Because I'm a feminist, I agree with Betty.

Hillary's using macho b.s. language which is actually further alienating her from would-be supporters.

Instead of always putting the emphasis on her own (self)perceived greatness, she should be making her campaign about 'us.'

But as though she's prepping for a concert, she can only keep singing 'me-me-me-me-me.'

"Not on our watch" would be inclusive language.

"Not on my watch" is Hillary aping the most macho posing candidate and swinging her phantom cock at the crowds.

It's really sad.

But so is she these days.


Finally, 16 people who were kidnapped have been released in Iraq.  September 2nd, in the Sadr section of Baghdad, 18 people were abducted -- Turkish workers and a translator.  Two were released earlier this month leaving 16 still held hostage.

The Dow Jones Business Wire notes that the 16 were released in Mosayeb and then taken to the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad.  CBC quotes Ugur Dogan, the head of their employer Nurol Holding, declaring the workers are safe.

Sputnik reminds, "This is not the first case of Turkish citizens being kidnapped in Iraq. In June 2014, militants from the terrorist group Islamic State took 49 employees of the Turkish consulate in Mosul in northern Iraq hostage. The hostages were released after three months in captivity."

Rumors swirl on Arabic social media regarding whether a ransom was paid.

Kidnapping is an occupation in Iraq -- one that brings in lots of money.

Along with individual Iraqis having to pay hefty ransoms, many companies (including news outlets) and governments have paid ransoms throughout the ongoing Iraq War.










 pbs
the newshour
margaret warner





Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How bad is it for Hillary

Hope you caught Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Col Bernie Sanders"


colberniesanders




Now how bad are things for Hillary?

So bad that the ridiculous Bob Somerby is attacking Chuck Todd for the way he spoke.

He can't take on the issues Todd raised to Hillary Clinton on MEET THE PRESS so he picks apart the way Todd spoke.

When that's what Hillary's love slave goes after, that's a sign of just how crooked Hillary really is.

It's gotten to the point where you can no longer defend her on the facts, that's obvious.

She really has become more of a menace.  A few months back, she was just an embarrassment.

New content at Third:


Written by Dallas and the following:



The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


 
Tuesday, September 29, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack gives another speech, the prostitution rings in Iraq finally get some press attention, and much more.




These are the words, the words are these,
death lingering, stunk,
Flies swarming everyone
Over the whole summit peak
Flesh quivering in the heat
This was something else again
I fear it cannot be explained
The words that make, the words that make
murder
What if I take my problem to the United Nations?
-- "The Words That Maketh Murder," written by PJ Harvey, first appears on her album LET ENGLAND SHAKE



Yesterday, US President Barack Obama insisted before the United Nations, "Even as our economy is growing and our troops have largely returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, we see in our debates about America’s role in the world a notion of strength that is defined by opposition to old enemies, perceived adversaries, a rising China, or a resurgent Russia; a revolutionary Iran, or an Islam that is incompatible with peace."


The economy's growing (at a snail's pace) and "our troops have largely returned from Iraq and Afghanistan"?

Not quite what he ran on in 2008, is it?


Back then, the Cult of St Barack gathered to hear him thunder, "We want to end the war!"


They might have puzzled over -- maybe even booed? -- a statement like, "We want to largely end the war!"


He further insisted:


In Iraq, the United States learned the hard lesson that even hundreds of thousands of brave, effective troops, trillions of dollars from our Treasury, cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land.  Unless we work with other nations under the mantle of international norms and principles and law that offer legitimacy to our efforts, we will not succeed.  And unless we work together to defeat the ideas that drive different communities in a country like Iraq into conflict, any order that our militaries can impose will be temporary.   



What international norm or principle is Barack exhibiting when he drops bombs daily on Iraq?


What hard lesson taught him that would work?


Because it hasn't worked for over a year now.


Operation Inherent Failure.


Robert Burns (AP) sums it up, "A summer of stalemate in the effort to reclaim the Iraqi provincial capital of Ramadi, despite U.S.-backed Iraqi troops vastly outnumbering Islamic State fighters, calls into question not only Iraq's ability to win a test of wills over key territory but also the future direction of Washington's approach to defeating the extremist group."


Not only is Barack's plan or 'plan' a failure but its exhausted patience within Iraq.  Al Mada reports that Shi'ite political parties are nervous about the US' military role in Iraq and plan to ask Haider about it (if and) when he finally appears before Parliament.  MP Mohammad al-Karbouli serves on Parliament's Defense Committee and states that the popular crowd (Shi'ite militias) insist that there should be no foreign troops on Iraqi soil.

Confronted with strong opposition, will Haider fold or dance like the puppet he is for the White House?

Zayd Alisa (Open Democracy) offers this:

One year after Haider Al Abadi took over the premiership and the US commenced airstrikes against ISIL or ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, previously known as Al Qaeda in Iraq - AIQ), Iraq is grappling with not only an increasingly menacing existential threat posed by ISIL, but also an intensifying wave of protests. Erupting in Basra—Iraq’s major port and above all where the overwhelming majority of Iraq’s oil exports stems from—the protests swiftly swept through southern provinces, eventually reaching the capital Baghdad.
The demonstrations were initially sparked by a brutal heat wave, which has been exacerbated by an indefensible chronic shortage in the electricity supply and by almost non-existent public services. They have dramatically expanded, however, forcefully calling for an all-out war on corruption and swift political reform.

These protests have sent shock waves across the Shia political blocs, largely because they are severely undermining their credibility and legitimacy with their Shia powerbase. The three biggest Shia political blocs, which have persistently been at the heart of all Shia-led governments since the US-led invasion in 2003, are the State of the Law (SoL), which is led by the Dawa party, and from which comes not only the incumbent prime minister, Abadi, but also his predecessors Nouri Al Maliki and Ibrahim Al Jaafari; Islamic Supreme Council (ISC) led by Ammar Al Hakim; and the Sadrist Al-Ahrar bloc.


Challenges to Haider go beyond the Parliament.  Zaid Sabah and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report:



A Shiite militia that refuses even to identify its leader is emerging as one of the greatest threats to the Iraqi administration it’s meant to be backing.
Kataib Hezbollah has thousands of fighters deployed against the jihadists of Islamic State. While the Iranian-backed group has played a key role in helping Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi stem the militants’ advance, it’s now joining forces with other Shiite militias to oppose the premier’s push to enact a measure that could limit its own power, and Tehran’s influence.
At the heart of the dispute is the National Guard Law, legislation meant to bring all pro-government armed groups under a unified command. The measure is backed by the U.S. as the only way to halt the breakup of OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer.


And yet All Iraq News quotes MP Jasim Mohammed Jaafar (Iraqi National Alliance) insisting that the National Guard bill "will be endorsed by the Iraqi Parliament after the vacation of Eid Adha."


Of course, one MP after another has insisted for over a year now that this bill was on the verge of passing.

Barack himself's been pushing it publicly since June of 2014.

Maybe he should have made his (military) support conditional?  No passage of the bill, no US war planes?




Haider's been busy in the US of late.


His Tweeter feed is little more than glorified selfies.









  • PM Al-Abadi met Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, special coordinator for the peace process in the Middle East




  • Mladenov?


    The failure as head of UNAMI is now over the peace process?

    Well I guess that's one way to rig the effort and ensure no progress.


    Mohammed Shafiq (Alsumaria) reports that Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari also addressed the United Nations Monday insisting that it needed to help Iraq with its crises.

     Which I guess is his way of insisting that the new deal with Russia was necessary.



    CBS and AP note:


    Iraq will begin sharing "security and intelligence" information with Russia, Syria and Iran to help combat the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS,) the Iraqi military announced Sunday.
    A statement issued by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said the countries will "help and cooperate in collecting information about the terrorist Daesh group," using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

    On CNN (see video on page), they argue the aspect of the goals of the US versus Russia with regards to Syria (the US government wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad replaced -- that has been the goal since the days of Bully Boy Bush).


    But another aspect is how can Iraq share intelligence with Russia?

    The US is sharing intel with Iraq which Iraq will then pass on to Russia?


    I have no problem with intel being shared but I'm not the person in the White House who has demonized Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Barack created the 'great enemy' Putin -- as we noted in real time.


    Putin was a minor player -- a fading one -- until the President of the United States repeatedly elevated him at the end of Barack's first term by verbally attacking him.


    That was Barack's decision and the world lives with the consequences.


    So it's worth noting now that the chain of intel will go something like this: US government shares with Iraq which then shares with Russia.


    Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) offers this take:

    Yesterday’s announcement that Iraq is going to engage in intelligence sharing with Russia and Syria has been met negatively by Pentagon officials, who say that it “complicates” the US war and dramatically weakens America’s own intelligence gathering abilities.
    This problem appears to be largely a function of US annoyance at the information sharing, which means the Pentagon intends to limit intelligence sharing with Iraq, seemingly out of spite, and will subsequently get less intelligence from Iraq in return.


    Ditz seems a little self-righteous and ignorant in the above.

    I have no problem with intel sharing.

    But I do grasp that the US might not want to share intel with someone they're picking a fight with.

    I'm confused as to why that's such a mystery to Jason Ditz.



    Violence continues in Iraq.  Monday?  Alsumaria reports a Baghdad car bombing left 3 people dead and seven more injured and Khalidiya mortar and rockets attack killed 1 sixteen-year-old girl and left two children and two adults injured. Iraq Times adds that a 45-year-old man was shot dead (three shots to the chest) in front of his Basra home by militia members and a Basra tribal clash left 3 people dead and a fourth injured.


    In other news, Alsumaria notes that the Ministry of Health states there are now 401 confirmed cholera cases in Iraq. All Iraq News adds that 14 confirmed cases are in Diwaniya Province.

    On cholera, we'll note this Tweet:













  • For years, we've noted the sex trade in Iraq.  Few have.  Off Our Backs did (the feminist publication ceased publication shortly after).  Today, CNN's Arwa Damon Tweets:


















  • The New Yorker report is by Rania Abouzeid and here's an excerpt:



    In 2012, Iraq passed its first law specifically against human trafficking, but the law is routinely ignored, and sexual crimes, including rape and forced prostitution, are common, women’s-rights groups say. Statistics are hard to come by, but in 2011, according to the latest Ministry of Planning report, a survey found that more than nine per cent of respondents between the ages of fifteen and fifty-four said they had been subjected to sexual violence. The real number is likely much higher, given the shame attached to reporting such crimes in a society where a family’s honor is often tied to the chastity of its women. The victims of these crimes are often considered outcasts and can be killed for “dishonoring” their family or their community.
    Since 2006, Layla, a rape victim and former prostitute, has been secretly mapping Iraq’s underworld of sex trafficking and prostitution. Through her network of contacts in the sex trade, she gathers information about who is selling whom and for how much, where the victims are from, and where they are prostituted and trafficked. She passes the information, through intermediaries, to Iraqi authorities, who usually fail to act on it. Still, her work has helped to convict several pimps, including some who kidnapped children. That Saturday night, I accompanied Layla and Mohammad on a tour of some of the places that she investigates, on the condition that I change her name, minimize details that might identify her, and not name her intermediaries.

    The work is extremely dangerous. The pimps whom Layla encounters are women, but behind them is a tangled hierarchy of armed men: corrupt police, militias that profit from the sex trade, and militias that brutally oppose it. On the morning of July 13, 2014, the bullet-ridden bodies of twenty-eight women and five men were retrieved from two apartments, said to be brothels, in a building complex in Zayouna, a neighborhood in eastern Baghdad. I saw the bodies a few hours later, at the city morgue, laid out on the floor. Morgue workers blamed the religious militias, singling out the pro-Iranian Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, one of the many armed outfits proliferating in Iraq. Other groups of suspected prostitutes have been found shot dead, but the Zayouna incident was the largest killing in recent years, and it prompted at least fifteen neighborhood pimps whom Layla knew to flee with their girls to Iraqi Kurdistan. Layla often visits apartments like the ones in Zayouna, posing as a retired pimp. As a cover, she sells the madams abayas that are intricately embroidered with colored crystals and diamant├ęs; they serve to identify women as pimps, rather than prostitutes, at night clubs.



    I should probably do a correction.

    Off Our Backs did report on the issue.

    In fairness, AFP also frequently mentioned "prostitutes."

    Whenever a woman died and someone accused her of having been a prostitute -- excuse me, whenever a woman was murdered and someone accused her of having been a prostitute -- an anonymous neighbor or a vindictive police officer -- AFP was happy to report this allegation as fact -- despite having no proof and knowing what a slur the charge was in Iraq.

    Now AFP was never interested in reporting on prostitute rings or pimps or anything like that.

    But let a woman be murdered and AFP was happy to stamp her with "prostitute" -- in a "she had it coming" kind of way.





    Lastly, Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Col Bernie Sanders" went up last night.








     


    Sunday, September 27, 2015

    Idiot of the week

    As news broke that the Defense Department had discovered Hillary Clinton e-mails to then General David Petraeus, the world waited for the professional liars to step forward: Bob Somerby and Kevin Drum.

    Repeatedly, the two hacks tell us that there is no story to Hillary's e-mail scandals.

    No matter how many times she lies.

    Over and over, she's caught in one lie after another.

    And Bob and Kevie rush in to explain how it doesn't matter.

    Over and over.

    One lie after another revealed since March but Hillary's Mama's Boyz rush in to defend her.

    To explain how a lie isn't really a lie when Hillary tells it.

    But funny thing, when DoD turns it over to the administration and the administration releases the newly found e-mails, Kevie and Bobby are less chatty.

    Oh, sure, Kevie tried to insist that the new e-mails aren't important (even though they reveal Hillary used a private server before she's stated she did, even though they reveal she did not turn over all her work e-mails).  But it was a brief little toss off, as though Kevin grew bored with himself in the middle of the jerk off.

    Bob?

    He was off pretending he cared about school scores.

    The two are the idiots of the week.



    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


     
    Friday, September 25, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the grades are coming in and Barack's getting Fs, RAND has a new report, and much more.





    Starting with a Tweet.







    1. It's revealing that this Australian govt thinks the answer to 's problems is (more) planes and bombs. That's been tried before, people!



  • It's revealing that any US government can only think of  "(more) planes and bombs."

    US President Barack Obama is only the latest American fool to preach "(more) planes and bombs."

    And despite the lack of success for over a year now, he continues to advocate it.

    And others, like the Australian government, rush to join in on the deadly nonsense.

    The stupidity only increases collectively and apparently in unison.


    The rush to join the death club clouds reason and even the abilities of basic observation.


    As RT noted this week, "Over 53,000 flights, 6700 strikes, and nearly $4 billion dollars later, Operation Inherent Resolve has yet to achieve any of its objectives."


    But the desire to join the death club is too powerful to be let facts get in the way.



    Yesterday, the US Defense Dept boasted:


    Bomber, fighter, fighter-attack, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 16 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Huwayjah, an airstrike destroyed 16 ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Habbaniyah, an airstrike destroyed two ISIL anti-air artillery pieces.
    -- Near Kirkuk, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
    -- Near Mosul, six airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicle bomb-making facilities, an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL cache, an ISIL bunker, and suppressed an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL light machine gun, and two ISIL mortar positions.
    -- Near Ramadi, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed two ISIL buildings, an ISIL excavator, and three ISIL mobility obstacles.
    -- Near Sinjar, three airstrikes struck separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed and ISIL light machine gun and six ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Tal Afar, one airstrike suppressed ISIL mortar fire.

    Officials also announced a previously unreported Sept. 10 airstrike near Tal Afar, Iraq, which struck an ISIL tactical unit and resulted in a destroyed vehicle and the death of a senior ISIL leader.

    They boasted of that (and of bombings on Syria) and:

    The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.
    Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

    It was nice of them to provide a listing of all the delusional parties who shouldn't be allowed access to a water gun, let alone a bomb.

    But each day, they boast of their latest round of bombings when they should be embarrassed.


    Not only is it barbaric, but it's accomplished nothing.

    Operation Inherent Failure, led by Barack Obama.

    Is that redundant?

    It feels redundant.

    Bringing up the stupidity from the rear, Michael Knights (Al Jazeera) writes:



    Iraq's Kirkuk province has long been identified as a fulcrum for political and ethnic tensions, with the potential to make or break national reconciliation efforts between Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen. With each passing week, Kirkuk rises on the agenda of Iraqi politicians and the province is becoming a focal point for Arab-Kurdish and intra-Kurdish politicking.
    Kirkuk is currently central to five interlocking sets of conflicts. The first is the fight against the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, which is slowing down in central Iraq and which has been largely static along the Kurdish-ISIL front line for many months. The US-led coalition now needs to generate a new northern front against ISIL that fuses together Sunni Arab paramilitaries with Kurdish and international support. Kirkuk is the launchpad for operations against the adjacent ISIL redoubt in Hawija.


    It's a cute little scribble that never manages to grasp reality.


    Should we drop back to July 2011 for the RAND Corporation's report entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops"?


    From the July 26, 2011 snapshot:

    Of greater interest to us (and something's no one's reported on) is the RAND Corporation's  report entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops."  The 22-page report, authored by Larry Hanauer, Jeffrey Martini and Omar al-Shahery, markets "CBMs" -- "confidence-building measures" -- while arguing this is the answer.  If it strikes you as dangerously simplistic and requiring the the Kurdish region exist in a vacuum where nothing else happens, you may have read the already read the report.  CBMs may strike some as what the US military was engaged in after the Iraqi forces from the central government and the Kurdish peshmerga were constantly at one another's throats and the US military entered into a patrol program with the two where they acted as buffer or marriage counselor.  (And the report admits CBMs are based on that.)  Sunday Prashant Rao (AFP) reported US Col Michael Bowers has announced that, on August 1st, the US military will no longer be patrolling in northern Iraq with the Kurdish forces and forces controlled by Baghdad. That took years.  And had outside actors.  The authors acknowledge:
    ["]Continuing to contain Arab-Kurd tensions will require a neutral third-party arbitrator that can facilitate local CMBs, push for national-level negotiations, and prevent armed conflict between Iraqi and Kurdish troops.  While U.S. civilian entities could help implement CMBs and mediate political talks, the continued presence of U.S. military forces within the disputed internal boundaries would be the most effective way to prevent violent conflict between Arabs and Kurds.["]
    As you read over the report, you may be struck by its failure to state the obvious: If the US government really wanted the issue solved, it would have been solved in the early years of the illegal war.  They don't want it solved.  The Kurds have been the most loyal ally the US has had in the country and, due to that, they don't want to upset them.  However, they're not going to pay back the loyalty with actual support, not when there's so much oil at stake.  So the Kurds were and will continue to be told their interests matter but the US will continue to blow the Kurdish issues off over and over.  Greed trumps loyalty is the message.  (If you doubt it, the Constitution guaranteed a census and referendum on Kirkuk by December 31, 2007.  Not only did the US government install Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister in 2006, they continued to back him for a second term in 2010 despite his failure to follow the Constitution.)
    Along with avoiding that reality, the report seems rather small-minded or, at least, "niche driven."  Again, the authors acknowledge that as well noting that they're not presenting a solution to the problems or ways to reach a solution, just ways to kick the can further down the road and, hopefully, there won't be an explosion that forces the issue any time soon. ("Regional and local CBMs have the potential to keep a lid on inter-communal tensions that will, without question, boil beneath the surface for a long time.  They cannot, however, resolve what is, at its heart, a strategic political dispute that must be resolved at the national level.") Hopefully? Page nine of the report notes that the consensus of US military, officials, analysts, etc. who have worked on the issue is that -- "given enough time -- Arab and Kurdish participants will eventually have a dispute that leads to violence, which will cause the mechanism to degrade or collapse."
    The report notes that, in late 2009, Gen Ray Odierno (top US commander in Iraq at that point) had declared the tensions between Arabs and Kurds to be "the greatest single driver of instability in Iraq."  It doesn't note how the US Ambassador to Iraq when Odierno made those remarks was Chris Hill who dismissed talk of tensions as well as the issue of the oil rich and disputed Kirkuk.
    The authors argue that the unresolved issues could still be solved (and "civil war is not imminent") but that "the window is quickly closing".  So what's the problem?  The authors explain:
    ["]The issues that divide Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and other minorities in northern Iraq mirror the nation's most complex and contentious political challenges: disputed internal boundaries (which must be settled in order to determine the territorial boundaires of the Kurdistan region), the lack of clarity regarding control over Iraq's hydrocarbons, and the need to professionalize and integrate Iraq's military and police.  More locally, Arab-Kurd disputes extend to the sharing of power on local governing bodies, the ethnic composition of local police, rights to previously seized or abandoned property, the jurisidiction and condut of Kurdish security and intelligence services, and protections for minority rights.["]
    If the US military leaves can the US State Dept fill the role?  While the authors note that the State Dept is interested in doing that and might be able to grab some roles, "U.S. diplomats would be ill-suited to join Kurdish and Iraqi security forces on armed patrols or at checkpoints, where disagreements on operations and tactics are more likely to lead to violence." The authors think the United Nations might be able to play a role in the CBMs but acknowledges that in June of 2009, UNAMI was uanble to please either side.
    The report really ends there though the authors continue on -- including offering some ridiculous 'soutions.'  Reality, if the US wanted to make an impact on the issue, the time to do so was long, long ago.  It's an Iraqi decision and they'll have to decide it.  And they'll most likely do so in a violent manner.  The report notes, "Kurdish leaders hope that favorable demographic trends will strengthen their position over time, as will revenues from whatever energy contracts they are able to conclude themselves.  For its part, Baghdad seems to believe that improvements to Iraqi Army capabilities will deter armed conflict and prevent the KRG from seceding."



    The unresolved issue of Kirkuk remains unresolved.

    It is still disputed land.

    The Constitution of Iraq is still not being followed.

    But Knights waives away all of that and insists Kirkuk is the way forward  (obsessed Brit TV watchers would insist Essex is the only way).

    And RAND?  They just issued a report by Brian Michael Jenkins entitled [PDF format warning] "How the Current Conflicts Are Shaping the Future of Syria and Iraq."



     Sectarian and ethnic divisions are now almost entirely driving the conflicts.  At the same time, internecine conflicts continue among the jihadists and other religiously motivated rebel formations.  
    National armies have failed.  Power has shifted to militias.  These are capable of defending ethnic and sectarian enclaves but are limited in their ability to conduct strategic operations beyond their home ground.  This shift will, in turn, weaken central government authority. 
    Syria and Iraq are now effectively partioned, and those partitions are likely to persist.  The Kurds are consolidating their territory, united their enclaves in Syria and Iraq, and laying the foundation for a future independent state, although they have not announced their intention.  Although the Kurds are proving to be effective fighters when supported by coalition bombing, they are unlikely to advance into traditional Sunni areas.  The Syrian government has largely abandoned the Sunni areas of the country and is increasingly devoted to defending its sectarian bastion in western Syria.  The Shia-dominated government in Baghdad has not been able to win over any of Iraq's Sunnis and that will impede its ability to recapture the cities and towns now held by ISIL.  Whether ISIL, despite the bombing campaign and some pressure from Iraqi forces, will be able to consolidate its Islamic State and become the primary political expression of Sunnis in Syria and Iraq or, instead, a Sunni badlands emerge where warfare between armed rivals continue indefinitely, remains to be seen.



    If the new release from RAND were a report card, I have a feeling little Barry would be hiding it from his mother because, if you missed it, Operation Inherent Failure is a failure.


    Even the grade from shop class is dismal.  Ali Khedery (Foreign Affairs) observes:


    In 2010, still flushed with the success of Bush’s “surge,” Vice President Joe Biden forecast that President Barack Obama’s Iraq policy was “going to be one of the great achievements of this administration,” lauding Iraqis for using “the political process, rather than guns, to settle their differences.” And in 2012, even as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was running an increasingly authoritarian and dysfunctional regime, the administration continued its happy talk. “Many predicted that the violence would return and Iraq would slide back toward sectarian war,” said Antony Blinken, then Biden’s national security adviser. “Those predictions proved wrong.”
    Today, of course, the Iraqi army has all but collapsed, despite some $25 billion in U.S. assistance. Shiite militants who have sworn allegiance to Iran’s supreme leader operate with impunity. And the Islamic State (or ISIS) dominates more than a third of Iraq and half of Syria. Obama’s successor will thus certainly earn the distinction of becoming the fifth consecutive president to bomb Iraq.


    Yes, Barack's even failing shop class.


    I heard it in the wind last night
    It sounded like applause
    Chilly now
    End of summer
    No more shiny hot nights
    It was just the arbutus rustling
    And the bumping of the logs
    And the moon swept down black water
    Like an empty spotlight 

    -- "For The Roses," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name




    Chilly now.