Friday, April 10, 2015

Grandma Mia Farrow's boytoy gets called out

Something like 50 years ago, Mia Farrow had a hit movie.

She never had another hit and the only thing she will be remembered for are Woody Allen's films.

That probably depresses her to no end.

But life just got a little worse for her. Rick Sterling (Dissident Voice) writes:

You might think that after seeing the consequences of their campaign for “freedom and democracy” in Libya, journalists like Nicholas Kristof and “humanitarian campaigners” like Avaaz would have some qualms.
Unfortunately they have learned nothing. They have generaly not been held to account, with a few nice exceptions such as this Greenwald/Hussain article. And now they are at it again. Many well-intentioned but naive members of the U.S. and international public are again being duped into signing an Avaaz petition based on fraud and misinformation. If the campaign succeeds in leading to a No Fly Zone in Syria, it will result in vastly increased war, mayhem and bloodshed.

Nicky Kristof is Mia's married boytoy.

He's a user and so is she so they feed off one another in their desperate need for attention.

And Mia likes to pretend she's a do-gooder and so does Nicky K.

But bother are just cheerleaders for war.

Mia's image has taken real hits in recent years.

There was that awful piece of writing with her daughter's name on it (that Nicky K published at the New York Times) which everyone believes Mia wrote, there was her attempt to hijack and destroy Cate Blanchett's Oscar nomination, there was Mia's attempt to bully Diane Keaton into backing up Mia's lies, and there's the ridiculous lip injections she's been getting.

But most of all, there's her War Hawk nature which comes out more and more each year.

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

Thursday, April 9, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, we examine Joe Biden's repeated lies about Iraq in a speech so embarrassing that the White House hasn't posted it (an hour after the snapshot goes up, we'll post the speech in full -- as prepared for delivery), Haider al-Abadi has declared war on the press even though the western press is so good about looking the other way for him, IAVA continues its truth telling,  and much more.

As the announcer used to say at the start of The Lone Ranger, "Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear."

Who knew the White House felt the same?

Audio only?

They promote Vice President Joe Biden's speech on Iraq for days, they call it a major one and yet when it takes place all they offer is an audio stream?

That makes it only much less surprising that the White House still hasn't bothered to post a transcript of the speech.

Biden offered early on, "Next week, Prime Minister Abadi will make his first visit to Washington, D.C. And this provides us with an opportunity to take stock of where things stand right now. And that’s going to be the focus, with your permission, of my remarks today."

(All quotes from prepared remarks that the White House has yet to post, FYI.)

And taking stock would be a good thing.  It might not be a pretty thing, but it would be a good thing.

Any hopes that Joe would speak some truth and offer leadership vanished quickly.

Vice President Joe Biden:  Critics have made a number of claims regarding our policy in Iraq and the state of affairs in Iraq today. They say that Iraq’s fight against ISIL -- under the command of the Iraqi government, backed by America and an international coalition -— has stalled, has been stalemated. We read that ISIL remains in a commanding position inside of Iraq; that Iran and its proxies are leading the fight against ISIL, and that they are dominating Iraq; and that Iraq itself is likely to be a thing of the past, doomed to split apart because of sectarian violence. There’s just one problem with these critiques: The claims do not reflect the circumstances on the ground. The claims do not respect and represent the circumstances on the ground. They don’t reflect Iraq’s progress against ISIL -– incomplete but significant and growing; Iraq’s resilience and unity in confronting the crisis many predicted would split them apart; or Iraq’s resolve to uphold their sovereignty and their independence -– even as they look to their neighbors in all directions for assistance. 

That's just disgusting.  That's Petey Beinart 'thinking.'

You create a straw man to rail against.

Whether or not the 'fight' is bogged down is not the issue.

Joe Biden provided real leadership on LGBT rights as Vice President, he spoke plainly and forced the White House to move before it was actually ready to.

But on Iraq, he offered garbage and lies.

Whether this part of Iraq is occupied by the Islamic State or that part is?  That's not the argument nor is it the terms for success that have been laid down.

It wasn't some straw man who declared:

Finally, the United States will lead a diplomatic effort to work with Iraqi leaders and the countries in the region to support stability in Iraq.  At my direction, Secretary Kerry will depart this weekend for meetings in the Middle East and Europe, where he’ll be able to consult with our allies and partners.  And just as all Iraq’s neighbors must respect Iraq’s territorial integrity, all of Iraq’s neighbors have a vital interest in ensuring that Iraq does not descend into civil war or become a safe haven for terrorists.
Above all, Iraqi leaders must rise above their differences and come together around a political plan for Iraq’s future.  Shia, Sunni, Kurds -- all Iraqis -- must have confidence that they can advance their interests and aspirations through the political process rather than through violence.  National unity meetings have to go forward to build consensus across Iraq’s different communities.  Now that the results of Iraq’s recent election has been certified, a new parliament should convene as soon as possible.  The formation of a new government will be an opportunity to begin a genuine dialogue and forge a government that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis.
Now, it’s not the place for the United States to choose Iraq’s leaders.  It is clear, though, that only leaders that can govern with an inclusive agenda are going to be able to truly bring the Iraqi people together and help them through this crisis.  Meanwhile, the United States will not pursue military options that support one sect inside of Iraq at the expense of another.  There’s no military solution inside of Iraq, certainly not one that is led by the United States.  But there is an urgent need for an inclusive political process, a more capable Iraqi security force, and counterterrorism efforts that deny groups like ISIL a safe haven.
[. . .]
Regardless of what’s happened in the past, right now is a moment where the fate of Iraq hangs in the balance, and the test for all of them is going to be whether they can overcome the mistrust, the deep sectarian divisions, in some cases just political opportunism, and say this is bigger than any one of us and we’ve got to make sure that we do what’s right for the Iraqi people.  And that’s a challenge.
That’s not something that the United States can do for them.  That’s not something, by the way, that the United States Armed Forces can do for them.  We can provide them the space, we can provide them the tools.  But ultimately, they’re going to have to make those decisions.

No, those remarks were made June 19, 2014 by US President Barack Obama.

With Barack having made those remarks, Joe had to struggle to address them.

Vice President Joe Biden:  When Mosul fell, Iraq had just held their national election. Fourteen million -- roughly 14 million Iraqis had shown up at the polls. But now they had to form a government in the middle of this chaos. And having been deeply, deeply involved, as Brian McKeon will tell you because he was with me, trying to help form the first government and being engaged, we knew this could be extremely difficult [sic].
During the term of the last government, distrust had deepened so profoundly between Sunni, Shia, and Kurds -— creating serious obstacles to a unified effort against ISIL and a questioned willingness of whether they were willing to literally stay together.
But the irony -- the irony of all ironies -- is that Iraq was actually -- helped form its government because of ISIL. ISIL the very outfit that intended to tear Iraq apart and establish a caliphate, it actually united Iraqis.
The Sunnis realized they preferred a united, federal Iraq under a new government to being at the mercy of ISIL or dependent upon the other Sunni states. The Kurds realized that withdrawing from Iraq was not a viable option, and they did not want a terrorist state on their doorstep. I don’t know how many conversations I had with President Barzani relating to this. And the Shia, they realized they didn’t want to take on ISIL alone or become a vassal of a neighboring state. Consequently, they each concluded they were better off if they were in this together. And to quote a famous American politician in an early war of ours, we either hang together or hang separately.

Oh, the nonsense never ended.

Vice President Joe Biden: The Iraqis themselves recognized how badly the trust had been broken among them. Nothing less than a comprehensive change could deliver a united Iraqi government that could effectively take on ISIL, and many Iraqi leaders believed that the only way to do this, as I believed, was a wholesale change in leadership; that every interest in Iraq had to find different leaders this time to occupy the seats of power.
I remember speaking to -- with Usama Nujayfi, a proud son of Mosul, who had been the speaker of Iraqi’s parliament, and him deciding that in order to make way for a new wave of leaders, it was very important -- which he thought was important as well -- that he would have to step down as speaker.
And so there was a need, from the speaker to the Prime Minister to the president, to find new leaders. And the result was -- another widely respected Sunni, Salim Jabouri, became the new parliamentary speaker, and Iraq chose Fuad Masum, a well-respected Kurdish senior statesman, to be the new president. And he stuck to his convictions under enormous pressure -- because you know how the process works -- he, the president, is the one that then turns to one of the factions to form a government.

That's a cute, albeit incomplete, rendering of history.

I have no problem with Osama al-Nujaifi.

But he didn't step down as Speaker of Parliament for the good of the country.

He stepped down to become one of Iraq's three vice presidents.

That's actually a higher position than Speaker of Parliament.

It has more powers, much more powers.

Including the power to kill legislation after Parliament's passed it.

It was 2009 when then-Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi demonstrated that power wasn't just in theory but actual by killing a just-passed election law (and pushing the national elections back from 2009 to 2010 in the process) when he felt the election law did not adequately represent Iraqi refugees (which were predominately Sunni).

Joe likes to pretend the government changed but it didn't.

In 2010, the only change was Osama al-Nujaifi.

Everyone else stayed in their same positions.

In 2014?

There was shuffling but that was all.

Yes, Iraq finally got a new president.

But that wasn't due to a vote.

That was due to the idiot Jalal Talabani.

He can't eat right.

He thinks he can visit the US and they can suck out his cholesterol and make him all better and he can then eat mountains of unhealthy food a day.

Didn't work out for him.

Suffered a massive stroke.

Which his family lied about.

Jalal was whisked off to Germany.

They'd sit fat boy up for some photos every now and then -- just like Weekend At Bernie's, as Arabic social media noted in real time.

Iraq had no president.

The Constitution was ignored -- in part because the Talabani family lied repeatedly, insisting Jalal's health wasn't that bad and hwas improving.  He was out of the country for basically a year and a half.  And when he finally returned, he still couldn't assume his duties (or speak in public).

So there was never any doubt that Iraq would have a new president.

Nouri al-Maliki?

The thug who brought Iraq to ruin?

He is no longer prime minister.

Don't throw that confetti just yet.

He is now one of Iraq's three vice presidents.  (And he continues to occupy the home/castle of the prime minister.  Since August, he's refused to move out.)

Osama became another.  Ayad Allawi, another former prime minister of Iraq, is the third.

Where's the change Joe Biden's talking about?

Let's get back to Joe's speech and see if you can catch his 'quantum leap' in time and space in the following remarks.

US Vice President Joe Biden: There was an enormous amount of pressure, but he stuck to his guns. And he named Haider al-Abadi, the Prime Minister, a Shia leader who had built up majority support within the Shia National Alliance, which won a majority of the votes. There was a consensus among these leaders that Iraq would need a much greater measure of functioning federalism, which is called for in the constitution. They all agreed to that. That common understanding backed by genuine acts of statesmanship has led to significant progress. And the chance of a long-term unity government here.
In just eight months, Prime Minister Abadi and other Iraqi leaders have formed an inclusive government, in record time, arrived at a national budget with equitable revenue sharing, forged an oil deal between Baghdad and Erbil. I don’t know how many times Brian and I sat there over the 23 visits into Iraq being told there’s an oil deal just over the horizon. Never occurred. But in the face of this crisis, they pulled that together.
They built a consensus and began to mobilize thousands of Sunni fighters to fight against ISIL. And just this past week, Prime Minister Abadi visited Erbil, met with President Barzani to discuss cooperation with the Peshmerga forces in a plan, coordinated by General Austin in part, to help liberate Mosul. Yesterday, he was in Anbar Province announcing the delivery of over 1,000 weapons for Sunni tribes in preparation for the liberation of Anbar, in part, as part of his commitment that he made to Sunni leaders in the formation of the government.

So he starts with August when Haider al-Abadi became prime minister, moves quickly to a so-called oil 'deal' ("between Baghdad and Erbil")  That's a leap from August to December 2nd.

It's also a joke.  He's singing praises and getting away with those off key notes because he's speaking to an American public kept stupid by lazy and craven media.

There is no oil deal.

What is about this White House and their need to pronounce deals that don't exist?

That December 'deal' was not a deal.  Which is how, February 15th (two months after 'the deal'), Rudaw was able to report "First round of Erbil-Baghdad oil talks ends in impasse."  Exactly a month later, Rudaw would report, "The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said it has abided by 97 percent of its commitments under a key oil agreement with Baghdad, but that in return the central government has lived up to only 20 percent of its financial obligations."

And let's now move to March 25th:

In a detailed interview with Rudaw, Kurdistan’s Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami explains the hurdles encountered by the Kurdistan Regional Government over an oil deal signed with Baghdad. That agreement was supposed to mend a year of tensions and restart payments from Baghdad for the running of the regional government. Hawrami explains why that has not gone smoothly. “The issue is not technical, it is money and political,” he explains.

Rudaw: What is the basis of your agreement with Baghdad?

Ashti Hawrami: Our agreement with Baghdad was signed in November of last year which was a temporary agreement for 150,000 barrels of oil per day. In return, Baghdad agreed to give $500 million to the Kurdistan Region monthly. That was to continue negotiating for an agreement for 2015. In reality, we expected $1 billion by the second installment, but they only sent half a billion. We gave up on that and continued with the 150,000 barrels. On December 2, 2014 we were in Baghdad talking about the budget. We agreed that we would produce from Kurdistan’s oilfields 250,000 barrels of oil daily for SOMO (State Oil Marketing Organization) in return for the 2015 budget. We also agreed that we would transport for them 300,000 barrels of oil from Kirkuk and hand it over to SOMO at Ceyhan port. That was our agreement, and in return the Kurdistan Region would receive its 17 percent share of the budget. That was our first and principal agreement, which was to go to the Iraqi council of ministers for passing. We then continued with exporting the 150,000 barrels through December while waiting for the agreement to become law. We continued for two or three weeks as a gesture of goodwill until we see the draft of the law. But in the first seven days they started complaining, saying, “You are sending us little (oil). You have to send 250,000 barrels.” We then said that we hadn’t even started yet. We said that we hadn’t said we would export for sure 250,000 barrels a day, and that that would be the case in the annual total sum. 

Joe Biden hailed a deal as wonderful when the reality is that Baghdad's failed to honor it.

It's nothing but empty words from Baghdad.

And Joe adds his own gas baggery to that.

There's the budget.  Joe did hail the budget as a success today.

The budget?  That was January 29th. (Covered in the Jan. 31st snapshot.)

Of course, in the Iraq press these days, the big story is that oil prices are wrecking havoc on the national budget and there's talk of cuts.  Alsumaria notes that they're talking about cutting (or gutting) the education scholarships. And lucky for Joe Biden that the US press doesn't give a damn about Iraq.  Otherwise, all US outlets would be noting, as Alsumaria did, that Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri declared today that the oil prices may force the government to cut salaries in the next two months.

Nothing Joe Biden was fully honest.

He spun, he lied, he embarrassed himself.

If Joe was going to have a presidential run, today was the day he would have made that clear by talking honestly about Iraq.

He didn't.

But then, he couldn't.

Joe was tasked with Iraq by Barack.

You can't run on Iraq today and win.

You can't even get the presidential nomination today if you're the anchor that sunk Iraq.

Joe could have provided honesty but he didn't.

So he'll go down as the only two term Democratic Vice President in modern time not to run for the party's presidential nomination.  Not since Alben Barkley was forced not to run (opposition from labor) has a sitting Vice President from the Democratic Party been so humiliated.

Words matter.

And if you don't want an American audience to know about some words, the easiest way to conceal them -- even in plain sight -- is to leave them in a foreign language.

Those who paid attention -- a few of us actually did -- to the increased thuggery throughout Nouri al-Maliki's term should remember that a hallmark was his hatred of the press, his attacks on the press. They weren't limited to encouraging his thugs to point guns at reporters (the New York Times infamously had to remove an American reporter from Iraq when that happened to him) and they weren't limited to suing England's Guardian newspaper nor were they limited to (in my opinion) his ordering the assassination of Iraqi journalist Hahdi al-Mahdi.

There was so much more.

He tried to criminalize reporting early on.

In that, he was following the US government's lead in Iraq where they repeatedly went after stringers insisting that their photography of the aftermath of bombings had to mean they were the ones behind the bombs.

Did the US government really believe that?


Nor did Nouri.

But both knew they could intimidate the press with the fear of arrest.

Nouri's 'gone' (again, he's a vice president who refuses to vacate the prime minister's residency -- how gone is that really?).

And Haider's a change, right?

Haider al-Abadi's a friend of the press.

That's what the western press keeps insisting.

And to make the claim, they have to ignore a great deal.

For instance, they ignored yesterday's speech by Haider.

Not the part about 'liberating' Anbar.

They were fully on board with repeating that.

We noted the press release from the prime minister's office yesterday.

In part.

And waited to see who'd step forward to report.

No one in the western press has, have they?

Haider attacked the press while speaking of 'liberating' Anbar.  He said that the military forces had real victories but the media kept trying to undercut them.

It wasn't a long speech, it wasn't a long press release.

So how did they miss it?

Haider's turning out to be another Nouri.

Check the archives, the accepted view of Nouri today?

We documented it in real time.


People waited four years and -- yes, daily -- ignored the signs with Nouri.

Maybe if they'd called him out or even reported honestly -- maybe then things would be different?

Neither the western press nor the White House helps Iraq by being silent on these attacks.

(When I noted this morning we'd be covering something the press was ignoring, a friend at NBC News called -- he was aware of Haider's remarks on the press and knew that's what I was referring to.  He said it was funny how I gave people enough rope to hang themselves.  I wasn't doing that.  I wasn't silent yesterday because I wanted to see who would cover it.  I was silent because the press release didn't make the English language version of Hadier's website.  I was waiting to see if it would.  It didn't.  And I was waiting for that because I'd much rather copy and paste that in then have dozens of e-mails from people who never bothered to learn Arabic insisting that I must be wrong -- even though they can't read Arabic -- because that would never be said.)

Let's start wrapping up.

Margaret Griffis ( counts 406 dead from violence.

It disappeared!

From our links!

I'm just not in the mood for hour after hour to have "bulls**t" on this website spelled out in full.

I love the s-word, I use it all the time.

But not here.

And I really didn't appreciate that it was up on this page because of

That word is why we have the work safe policy (yes, I used "cock" on Saturday -- it's an allowed word and, equally true, if we're going to get risky on the policy, the weekend is when we do it since the bulk of our community members who check the site from work do so Monday through Friday).  The Washington Post quoted Dick Cheney, then President of Vice, using that term.  There were people, across the country, who got in trouble at their work for accessing a website -- a daily newspaper -- because of the s-word being there in full.

That's why we've always had the work safe policy.

I've got a bigger potty mouth than anyone.

But at this site, we don't get to use my favorite term, the s-word.

When I have time to go into the links, I'll put back on.  But when that time comes, if I have to take it down again, it's staying down.

Too many organizations stay silent to curry favor.  Applause to one group which seems consistently willing to speak their truth because truth matters.  Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following today:

Tel: 212-982-9699

NEW YORK (April 9, 2015) - The following statement is from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff in response to today’s announcement by New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio of his appointments for the Veteran Advisory Board (VAB) for the city:

“These appointments, already long over due, are a visible representation of the tone deafness of this administration on veteran issues. Most glaring is the lack of Veteran Service Organizations and veteran service providers represented on the list. It’s hard to believe this administration could be further disconnected from the veterans’ community, but these appointments achieve exactly that.

The mayor made big promises about veterans’ services in New York City but, so far, has not delivered despite being provided ample time and opportunity. For example, it took him nearly nine months to appoint a Commissioner of Veterans Affairs. Even now, after Commissioner Dr. Loree Sutton’s nearly eight months on the job, we still don’t have a public comprehensive plan for the direction of Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs (MOVA) or veteran services in the city.

IAVA is a national veterans empowerment organization headquartered in New York with more than 10 years of experience in delivering results for veterans. Yet, when we’ve tried to provide advice and guidance to this administration, we’ve repeatedly been rebuffed. IAVA and other VSOs have been highly critical of the mayor in numerous testimonies ranging from MOVA to the VAB. With little VSO representation on the VAB, we hope this isn’t a sign of what happens when you question this mayor.

While the appointment of a committee won’t provide a sure fix, it should be part of a real plan, real leadership and real resources. The mayor still has not met once with the existing VAB, or a single time with IAVA or other leading veterans organizations. We know he’s busy, but if the president of the United States can find time to meet with us three times over the last few months, we’d hope the mayor could squeeze us into his schedule.

Since being elected, the mayor has consistently fought expansion of MOVA – including expanding its budget and creating a Department of Veterans Affairs, which would bring greater services to NYC veterans and has overwhelming support in city council. In total the MOVA budget, after this year’s budget is passed, will only be roughly $500,000 for a city that has an estimated 230,000 veterans. The mayor was also largely responsible for a gubernatorial veto of a veterans pension bill that was passed nearly unanimously in the state legislature.

With 6,844 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs disability claims pending and 3,380 stuck in the New York Regional Office backlog, our veterans need help, not excuses, from their local leaders. Further, city veterans wait an average of 225 days to complete a claim, significantly higher than the national average of 184 days. A viable VAB is exactly what our veterans need. These latest appointments to the VAB are just another example of the mayor’s laissez-faire attitude towards veterans’ issues in NYC. The community deserves and demands better from its city.

We have more post-9/11 members than any organization in America. And more than anyone in NYC. Anyone who works in this space or attends the Veterans Day parade knows that. The lack of a representation of any kind from IAVA is a slap in the face to thousands of our members city wide.”

Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA has repeatedly received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Personal problem

First up, Stalker returns to CBS on May 4th as the last new episodes are shown.  Hopefully, the show will get a second season.

Now . . . 

I have a lot of good friends.  We should all have that problem, right?

And since Elaine and I moved to Hawaii, I don't see many of them that often.

So we depend on the phone.

There is a very good friend (not Tony) who I love to talk to but I hate to call.

If I call him and tell him, "Hey, I've got ten minutes but I wanted to check in," it doesn't matter.

In ten minutes, he'll say, 'Oh, yeah, one more thing . . .'

Unless I just hang up, I can't get off the phone in less than 30.

Now there are times when I can talk that long or even longer.

But we'd talk a lot more if he'd learn to respect my, "I only have 10 minutes."

More and more, he's saying, "Hey, we haven't talked in three weeks, what's going on?"

I don't have time.

If I could do ten minutes, I'd probably call him at least 4 times a week.

But when a short call lasts 90 minutes or more, I just don't have the time and I don't want to pick up the phone and call because I feel trapped.

So I'm tossing that out there.

He reads my site.

He'll know I'm addressing this to him.

And maybe this is just solely my personal problem.

But I really don't believe I'm the only one going through this headache.

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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue,  some sort of operation begins in Anbar, Haider holds a gun for the cameras, the US State Dept spends (wastes) more time on war, and much more.

Starting in Iraq where the action was in Anbar Province.

The State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted:

PM Abadi in today to distribute new weapons to tribal fighters in preparation for decisive ops against

PM Abadi in today to distribute new weapons to tribal fighters in preparation for decisive ops against .
36 retweets 28 favorites

This morning, Alsumaria reported that the Iraqi government has launched its assault on Anbar Province. And al-Abadi had left Baghdad to visit Anbar and see how the operation is commencing.
The governor of Anbar Tweeted the following:

I am now in Habbaniyah Airbase overseeing the distribution of arms to the volunteer fighters of
13 retweets 5 favorites

At the Prime Minister's website, there's a photo of Haider holding a rifle -- not since two time Academy Award winnter Shelley Winters attempted to play a Ma Barker in Bloody Mama has someone looked so unconvincing holding a firearm.

The press release with the photo notes that Haider al-Abadi (billed as "Doctor") went to Anbar Province on a visit to prepare for the 'liberation' of all of the province.

Anbar is now the follow-up to Tikrit's 'liberation.'  WG Dunlop and Karim Abou Merhi (AFP) remind, "It also took a month for Iraqi forces to retake Tikrit – a relatively small city that ISIS seeded with bombs and defended with snipers and suicide bombers.  Recapturing the vastly larger area of Anbar, where militants have had even longer to prepare their defenses, will be a major challenge." Rod Nordland (New York Times) points out that 'post-liberation' still finds battles in Tikrit.
 KUNA notes the liberation operation began today while Nordland notes the disagreements on whether such a liberation effort began today or not and that there are disagreements about the scope of what took place today.

Margaret Griffis ( notes 184 violent deaths across Iraq today.

The right wing Ace of Spades HQ offered this Tweet today:

  • "You just can't go around BOMBING countries that upset you!" -- President "Bomber" Barack O-bomba, currently bombing Iraq w/o authorization

  • Barack's bombings have not been authorized by Congress.  At one point he wanted an AUMF but, as with the economy, his interests drifted elsewhere.

    On the bombings I keep coming back to what a member of Congress said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing last month.

    US House Rep Lois Frankel:  I have a couple of questions.  First relates to underlying conditions that led to the rise of ISIL.  Would you -- would you agree that ISIL is not the cause of the turmoil in the region but a symptom of a deeper problems?  And I'd like to get your opinion is it unstable governments, poverty, desperation, radical religion, what?  I'd like to get your take on that.  And secondly, I think the American public somehow thinks that you can simply get rid of ISIL by bombs or dropping -- or drones.  Could you just explain the difficulty of -- of their assimilation into the population, and so forth, the terrain.

    Envoy John Allen: One of the, I think, real benefits of the counter-ISIL coalition which numbers at 62 entities right now -- countries and entities -- is the recognition that Da'ash is in fact not the disease, it's a symptom of something bigger.  And that broad recognition includes the base societal factors that have given rise to, uh, the attractiveness of an organization like this.  And it's -- there are societal issues, there are political issues, inclusiveness, participation -- uh, social issues associated with economic opportunity, the ability ultimately to have the opportunity to put food on the table for families. And often the result of the absence of all of those or some of those in these countries and among these populations have created the conditions of despair and desperation which has made those populations susceptible to radicalization and then recruitment.

    Why is Frankel insulting the American people?

    They're not the ones ordering the bombing of Iraq.

    Nor have they insisted that bombing is the answer.

    That's the White House.

    Lois Frankel is happy to basically call the American people stupid but she can't call out the White House?

    Nearly a year ago (in June), Barack insisted the only answer for Iraq was a political solution.

    So where's the work on that?

    No where.

    And Barack's not directing the State Dept to work on the issue.

    What are they working on?

    The State Dept issued the following today:

    Office of the Spokesperson
    Washington, DC
    April 8, 2015

    On April 8 Special Presidential Envoy General John Allen and Deputy Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk participated in a meeting of the Small Group of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL in Jordan. The Small Group met at the Political Director level to review Coalition operations and progress along the various lines of effort to degrade and defeat ISIL.  The leadership of the Coalition Working Groups gave briefings on their respective activities to date and discussed priorities for their efforts in the coming months. This meeting of the Coalition Small Group marked the first Coalition meeting since Working Groups were established in February 2015.
    Working Group co-leads represented at the meeting were:
    Military Efforts: Iraq and the United States
    Stopping the Flow of Foreign Terrorist Fighters: Turkey and the Netherlands
    Counter-Finance: Italy, Saudi Arabia, and the United States
    Stabilization Support: Germany and the United Arab Emirates
    Counter-Messaging: United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States
    The Small Group also discussed Coalition understandings of potential ISIL affiliates and expansions outside of Iraq and Syria, noting the importance of distinguishing between ISIL command and control and local or isolated terrorist groups seeking to affiliate themselves with ISIL branding.
    The Small Group affirmed support for a Coalition meeting at the Ministerial level later this spring.

    So the Special Envoy and Brett with his ever changing titles are doing what?

    Oh, military strategy.

    Who does the US have tasked to work on the political solution?


    Maybe Barack can appoint a person to work on that?  Maybe that will work out as well as his appointing someone over the Ashraf issue?

    Barack's putting all his balls and Joe Biden's basket this week.  On Thursday, the Vice President is scheduled to deliver a major address on Iraq.  Fred Lucas (Blaze) spoke with White House flack Josh Earnest about the choice of Joe for the speech:

    Asked why, given the gravity of the situation in Iraq, Obama couldn’t have spoken on it when he was in the country, Earnest noted Biden’s experience in dealing with Iraqi leadership.
    “For that reason, I think it makes a lot of sense for the vice president in this context, while the president is out of the country, to provide the American people an update on our ongoing efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, starting in Iraq but in other places, including Syria,” Earnest said.

    Let's change topics, what's that smell?

    Oh, it's Medea and Jodie and the great unwashed CodeStink.

  • Those who led us into war are trying to drag us into war. Learn more:

  • Win Without War?

    That laughable piece of crap?

    The silent crowd?

    That faux group used Iraq to elect Democrats in 2006.

    That's all it ever helped on.

    So we can't listen to Chuck Schumer and we shouldn't listen to this person or that but two dumb idiots who went to Iran and embarrassed themselves?  That's what we're supposed to listen to?

    Medea is an attention addict and Jodie's always been an idiot.

    But I'm not screaming that they don't have a right to speak.

    In America, everyone does.

    But the Cult of St. Barack has yet again been activated.

    They've been activated to play the attack dogs and to attempt to silence -- to scare into silence -- anyone who questions Barack's still not reached deal with Iran.

    I have no opinion on the deal -- or the Easter bunny or other things that don't exist.

    I live in the real world.

    Propose a deal and I may make the time to look over it and weigh in.

    But I will always be against the attack poodles -- right or left -- who attempt to silence debate and discussion.

    Chuck Schumer has every right to weigh in.

    Not because he's a US Senator, but because he's an American citizen.

    If you don't like his argument, take that on.

    Or is that too much works for the lazy gals of CodeStink?

    I'm getting really tired of people with objections being ridiculed and made fun of by this cult.

    We didn't like it when the right did it during the reign of Bully Boy Bush.

    We certainly shouldn't participate in it ourselves.

    I could call Medea an "American hater." I could call her that and I could actually back it up because I know Medea.  She's rooting for the fall every day.

    But if Medea ever puts out an actual argument for the non-deal with Iran, we'd refute it if I felt the need.  We'd probably mock her in it as well because, after all, she is Medea and it doesn't get more ridiculous than that.

    But I'm really tired of this cult executing their marching orders to stop dissent, to silence debate.

    They help no one and their bullying is not helpful to democracy.

    Let's move over to the State Dept where spokesperson Marie Harf and the press corps shocked the nation by remembering Iraq for a few seconds today.

    MS HARF:  What else?  Iraq, yes.

    QUESTION:  Yes.  Today prime minister – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi, he visited Anbar and he was talking about the operations to liberate the entire province, and there was some kind of stories in the Iraqi media, local media, that there are disagreement between the United States and Iraqi Government on the problem of operations either in Mosul or in Anbar.  So if you have any comment on that.

    MS HARF:  I hadn’t seen those reports, but I haven’t heard of disagreements.  As we’ve always said, these are decisions for the Iraqis to make in terms of what the next offensive should be.  As we saw in Tikrit, that will, I think, hinge on a cooperative approach with Iraqi ground forces that are under Iraqi command and control.  That’s obviously supported by coalition airpower, but the timing and what comes next is really up to the Iraqis to decide.

    QUESTION:  So the first time, when they have done that – or conducted operations in Tikrit, it was not consulted with – they didn’t consult with the U.S. and the coalitions.  For the Anbar one, did they ask --

    MS HARF:  Well, we’ve consulted with them on an ongoing basis, but these are Iraqi-led operations.  That’s --

    QUESTION:  Did they – because that – he was in Anbar and I see the retweet by Ambassador Brett McGurk, that he was also like endorsing his activities, the prime minister’s activities in Anbar.  So are you talking to them on when the Anbar liberation should be conducted?

    MS HARF:  Well, we’re certainly in close cooperation with them and in conversations with them about the timing of what happens and what comes next, but again, these are Iraqi decisions to make.

    QUESTION:  You don’t have any disagreement on the decision they made to – either on --

    MS HARF:  These are their decisions to make, and we’re happy to keep talking about it.

    QUESTION:  Any – okay.  Anything, do you have anything on prime minister’s visit to Erbil?  Are you encouraging that or not?

    MS HARF:  Let me see.  I had something.  Didn’t that happen a couple of days ago?

    QUESTION:  Yeah.

    MS HARF:  He met with President Barzani.  Yes.  Well, we welcomed that meeting on Monday, I think, in Erbil between Prime Minister Abadi and the KRG President Barzani.  Obviously, we’ve said many times President Barzani and the people of the Kurdistan region are essential partners in the fight against ISIL.  We appreciate the coordination that’s taking place between them and welcomed this visit.

    QUESTION:  One more last one.

    MS HARF:  Okay.

    QUESTION:  Since Prime Minister Abadi is going to visit next week, is going to visit Washington, is there any plan to invite President Barzani also since he refused it last time due to the visa issues?

    MS HARF:  I don’t have more details about that visit.  I’m happy to check.

    QUESTION:  Thank you.

    MS HARF:  Yes.

    QUESTION:  And do you know anything – going back to the situation in Tikrit, do you have anything more on reports that there might have been some retaliation attacks between Shia and Sunni?

    MS HARF:  I had something on this yesterday.  Let me see what I have.  That we obviously take seriously any of these kinds of reports.  We believe the initial reports of widespread looting and burning of homes appear to have been exaggerated, but we do remain concerned by reports that appeared over the weekend and have raised our concerns with the Iraqi Government.  I think it was on Monday that Prime Minister Abadi vowed to protect the people who had been under ISIL control from any retribution or rights violations when the lands are retaken by government forces.  So this is something that we talk to the Iraqis about quite a bit.

    QUESTION:  Is there a mechanism for working particularly with the Iraqi military to make certain that they’re not engaging in something?

    MS HARF:  Well, this is something that Prime Minister Abadi has pledged and it’s up to them to make sure that it doesn’t happen.


    Wednesday, April 08, 2015

    Brian Williams is embarrassing

    I can remember when the Brian Williams scandal broke.

    The NBC Nightly News anchor was caught first lying about Iraq and then the Katrina lies emerged and then it was he just can't stop lying.

    And some idiots like Amy Goodman were acting as though he hadn't done anything wrong.

    Because they lie themselves.

    So they need to defend liars.

    But in the latest development . . .

    7h7 hours ago
    Brian Williams thinks a brain tumor led him to lie about taking fire in Iraq

    Instead of admitting he lied -- to his co-workers -- Brian floated that maybe he had a brain tumor.

    How disgusting do you have to be to do that?

    He never needs to come back.

    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
    Tuesday, April 7, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, anticipation mounts for Joe Biden's Iraq speech scheduled for delivery on Thursday, Haider al-Abadi preps for an assault on Anbar, the Democratic Party thinks Iraq can again be used (or mis-used) for an election cycle, the non-deal with Iran gets criticism from the region, and much more.

    Josh Richman (Daily Democrat) notes US Vice President Joe Biden's planned trip to the Bay Area later this week and, "The vice president earlier Thursday will give a major speech at the National Defense University in Washington about progress made in strengthening Iraq's government and military to defeat the self-proclaimed Islamic State, The Associated Press reported. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama next week in Washington."  Fred Lucas (Blaze) points out that "the White House is offering little information on why it's Biden, and not Obama, who will be talking about issues of such gravity in close proximity to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s visit."

    There are actually a number of reasons Barack might want to take a pass on Iraq.  But while it's interesting that Joe's been tasked with the important speech, it's also interesting who's rushing forward to hijack Iraq.

    Take the always laughable Steve Benen who wants to prove something but only succeeds in proving stupidity.  Benen's a producer with the faltering MSNBC talk show hosted by Rachel Maddow.  He wants you to know that people who are "wrong" about the Iranian 'deal' were wrong about Iraq.

    I'm confused.

    Who was wrong about Iraq?

    When I say someone was wrong about Iraq, I'm speaking as someone who opposed the illegal war and spoke out against it.

    Benen's boss is Rachel Maddow who supported the war before it started, supported in 2004 as an Air America Radio host, repeatedly whored out the lie that "we" (the US) "broke it" (Iraq) so "we" had to pay for it and insisted that was The Pottery Barn Rule.  There was no such rule.  And  this was revealed by  Al Franken, whose Air America Radio show aired directly after Unfiltered (hosted by Lizz Winstead, Chuck D and Rachel Maddow) but apparently Rachel never caught those broadcasts.

    She did manage to support the Iraq War.

    She did refuse to present an anti-Iraq War view on Unfiltered.  She did refuse to bring on veterans who were opposed to the war (Janeane Garofalo's The Majority Report had no problem bringing those veterans on)  Rachel Maddow, throughout the life of Unfiltered, insisted that the US military could not leave Iraq.

    So it's really funny that Steven Benen wants to blog about who was wrong on Iraq and to do so at Rachel's website.  Good lackey that he is, he knows to avoid mentioning his boss.

    Leaving aside the hypocrisy, let's deal with the larger issue, there is no deal with Iran.  There's framework for a deal that might be reached at the end of June -- might not be as well.  The whores -- that includes Steve -- rushing forward to defend a 'deal' that isn't one is much more embarrassing than anyone objecting to it.

    But you could be wrong on Iraq (I wasn't) and be right to oppose the Iranian 'deal.'

    I hope Benen realizes he's doing more harm to his own political party than anything else.

    Americans know little about the 'deal' because there's little to now.

    But if you want to promote that being wrong on Iraq means you're incapable of rational thought, lots of luck turning out voters if Hillary Wrong On Iraq Clinton gets the Democratic Party's presidential nomination (as many believe she will).

    The Democratic Party doesn't know what to do.  It was running on fumes some time ago.

    Now it doesn't even have fumes.

    So they're going to try to make 2016 about the Iraq War.

    It's pretty much agreed by party leaders that the 2016 Dem candidate can't run on Barack's coat tails.  The promised change never came and too many Americans are still without jobs.

    ObamaCare remains deeply unpopular and deeply divisive.

    So the party's trying to build a strategy around Iraq.

    They're going to be running a lot of Iraq War veterans for that reason.

    In 2006, the Iraq War let the Democrats win control of both houses of Congress.  In 2008, the Iraq War let the Democrats win the White House.

    Having nothing to show for the trust the American people placed in the party, Democratic leadership hopes to use the ghost memories of Iraq to scare up voters in 2016.  That's what all the idiotic Tweets of late have been about.  (The one that outraged Dem honchos today was a 'friendly' who elected to Tweet that Bully Boy Bush was responsible for the 9-11 attacks. Leadership continues that "crazy" and "harmful.")

    There are two basic problems with resurrecting Iraq -- largely forgotten by the American public as a result of the only real withdrawal that took place: the US press withdrawl.

    Again, Hillary is seen as the likely nominee.

    She's hostile and defensive when talking about her own vote for the Iraq War.

    Or was, in 2007 and 2008, hostile and defensive.

    As she demonstrated in her January 2013 public rage during Congressional testimony, she hasn't honed her social skills since her last run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

    Reviving Iraq and using it as a club to beat political opponents with risks reminding the American public of how wrong Hillary was on Iraq.

    The other problem for the Democratic Party is that Barack owns Iraq.

    Didn't have to be that way.

    He could have ordered US forces out of Iraq upon being sworn in.

    Instead, he wanted to put his imprint on Iraq.  And he did.

    And it's why Iraq is in crises today.

    CNN's Arwa Damon Tweets today:

  • Inside look at why Obama administration mistakes as devastating as Bush. "How Obama Abandoned Democracy in "

  • Damon's referring to Emma Sky's "How Obama Abandoned Democracy in Iraq: Bush's mistake was invading the country. His successor's was leaving it to a strongman" which POLITICO published today and which offers more clarity than most articles on Iraq have in the last four years.

    Sky explains how, in the 2010 elections, Iraqis reached for something more: a national identity.  And the US government could have backed that by supporting Iraqiya's win but instead worked to undermine it so that thug Nouri al-Maliki could have a second term.  This was not under Bully Boy Bush.  Barack was president.  Chris Hill was Barack's (hideous and destructive) US Ambassador to Iraq.

    Sky writes of Joe Biden:

    Biden visited Iraq at the end of August 2010. By then, Hill had been replaced as ambassador by Jim Jeffrey. In internal meetings, one U.S. adviser argued that Maliki was “our man”: He would give us a follow-on Status of Forces Agreement to keep a small contingent of U.S. forces in Iraq after 2011; he was a nationalist; and he would fight the Sadrists. Furthermore, the official claimed that Maliki had promised him that he would not seek a third term. “Maliki is not our friend,” replied another official, Jeff Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, exasperated at the delusional nature of the discussion. But Biden had been persuaded by the arguments that there was no one but Maliki who could be prime minister and that he would sign a new security agreement with the United States. The Obama administration wanted to see an Iraqi government in place before the U.S. mid-term elections in November. Biden believed the quickest way to form a government was to keep Maliki as prime minister, and to cajole other Iraqis into accepting this.
    [. . .]
    I tried to explain the struggle between secularists and Islamists, and how many Iraqis wanted to move beyond sectarianism. But Biden could not fathom this. For him, Iraq was simply about Sunnis, Shia and Kurds.
    I tried another tack: “It is important to build belief in the democratic process by showing people that change can come about through elections—rather than violence. The peaceful transfer of power is key—it has never happened in the Arab World.” At the very least, either Maliki or Talabani needed to give up his seat; otherwise, they would both think they owned the seats. Biden did not agree. He responded that there were often elections in the United States that did not bring about any change.

    Meeting Iraqiya, Joe would do on to invoke Al Gore, "He said that one of his predecessors, Al Gore, had technically won more votes in the 2000 presidential election, but for the good of America had stepped back rather than keep the country in limbo while fighting over the disputed vote-count."

    I know there are many who would argue if Al Gore had fought for the presidency, the Iraq War would not have happened.  (I don't argue that.  Though Gore came out against the Iraq War before it started, he'd also given an infamous speech that showed he could have gone the other way.)

    But it's also true that Al Gore made up his own mind.

    Iraq's President Saddam Hussein didn't tell Gore it was time to step aside, for example.  But the White House did tell Iraqi leaders that Nouri al-Maliki was getting a second term (despite losing the 2010 elections) and the White House then negotiated The Erbil Agreement which overturned the votes and the election and gave Nouri a second term.

    Sky visited Iraq in the summer of 2014 and saw the results of that second term.  Here she notes speaking to former Minister of Finance Rafi Issawi:

    Rafi listed for me the Sunni grievances that had steadily simmered since I’d left—until they had finally boiled over. Maliki had detained thousands of Sunnis without trial, pushed leading Sunnis, including Rafi, out of the political process by accusing them of terrorism and reneged on payments and pledges to the Iraqi tribes who had bravely fought Al Qaeda in Iraq. Year-long Sunni protests demanding an end to discrimination were met by violence, with dozens of unarmed protesters killed by Iraqi security forces. Maliki had completely subverted the judiciary to his will, so that Sunnis felt unable to achieve justice. The Islamic State, Rafi explained to me, was able to take advantage of this situation, publicly claiming to be the defenders of the Sunnis against the Iranian-backed Maliki government.

    Those realities are why Barack might be less than keen to deliver a speech this month on Iraq.  Equally true, in June of last year, Barack stated Iraq's crises could only be resolved with a political solution and there's been no progress on that front.

    After nearly a year of being occupied by the Islamic State, Tikrit has been 'liberated.'

    As such, it should be a rallying point, a beacon of hope and a sign of what can be accomplished in a 'new' Iraq.  Instead, the failures of Haider al-Abadi have ensured that Tikrit's 'liberation' confirmed every Sunni fear that a new prime minister (Haider) didn't mean anything was changing in Iraq.  Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports

    As security forces took control last week, journalists and civilians returning to the area witnessed widespread looting by both security forces and militias. Two local staff members from the Reuters news agency witnessed the summary execution of an Egyptian man accused of being an Islamic State fighter by a crowd of angry Iraqi policemen.
    Concern about Shiite militia behavior as they moved into a Sunni area was one reason the United States withheld air support from the operation until Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gave assurances that the militias would not enter the city itself as part of the final push. But the militias had a heavy presence in the town after its liberation and were seen openly looting government buildings and private homes, as well as burning buildings belonging to suspected collaborators.

    Fred Abrahams (Human Rights Watch) points out, "In other areas retaken from ISIS, pro-government militias and volunteer fighters, along with Iraqi security forces, have looted Sunni villages, destroyed homes with explosives, and burned buildings to the ground.Rod Nordland (New York Times) notes the Shi'ite militias crimes in Tikrit were seen in earlier 'liberation' efforts and he offers:

    Prime Minister Abadi publicly criticized the looting and ordered the militias to be withdrawn from Tikrit on Saturday as a result, a move that was widely praised by Sunni leaders.
    On Tuesday, Mr. Abadi went a step further, ordering that all the popular mobilization forces be placed under the direct command of the prime minister’s office. The collective popular mobilization had been led by Hadi al-Ameri, a prominent Shiite politician and leader of the Badr Organization and militia, who has close ties to Iran.
    “He tried his best to stop the looting in Tikrit, and we appreciate that, but he couldn’t,” Hamid al-Mutlaq, a Sunni member of Parliament from Anbar, said of the prime minister’s efforts. “The people of Anbar will not let that happen there.”

    Jason Ditz ( links to Nordland's article and observes, "Iraqi PM Hayder Abadi is trying to give lip-service to the US idea, saying they’d like more Sunni involvement. He doesn’t seem to be ruling out the Shi’ite militias, however, and given the looting and lynching the militias have carried out virtually every time they take Sunni towns, the number of Sunnis who might get on board for the offensive are shrinking by the day."

    There's a larger issue here that Ditz doesn't acknowledge.

    The US idea of Sunnis being necessary to liberate Anbar Province (predominately Sunni in terms of population) is one the US Congress supports.

    At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing last month, Chair Ed Royce explained, "The Committee will be interested to learn what the administration is doing to press Prime Minister [Hadier al-] Abadi to ensure he doesn't become former Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki, a disastrous sectarian."    Barack's Special Envoy John Allen was questioned by the Committee.  

    US House Rep David Cicilline: General, according to a recent Human Rights Watch report, a Shia militia destroyed a Sunni village they had retaken from ISIS. which was methodical and driven by revenge according to the report.  It indicated that dozens of other villages were similarly targeted and considering the increasing efforts to combat ISIS by Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias, sort of building on Congressman Deutch's question,  how can we -- how can we monitor Iranian retaliatory actions?  And will the Shia militias punitive actions cause Iraq's disenfranchised Sunnis to view ISIS as really their only protectors?  And what are we doing to mitigate that?  And also what are the implications for fostering reconciliation between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish communities in Iraq because of Iran's involvement?

    When Haider al-Abadi visits DC this month, he will meet with Barack at the White House.

    He will also meet with various members of Congress.

    And they will have serious questions about what he is doing to come to a political solution and what he's doing with regards the Shi'ite militias.

    Congress has been very clear that Sunnis must be involved in any Anbar Province effort.  Haider will have to explain how he intends to make that happen.

    He'll have to convince them because they were concerned about the Shi'ite militias before Tikrit.  They're only more concerned now.  And they are the ones who control the power of the purse.

    They could vote against continued funding of Barack's bombings.

    More likely, if they lose faith in Haider, they will instead merely invoke the Leahy Amendment which forbids US funding and support for regimes that terrorize their own citizens. 

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 158 violent deaths in Iraq today.

    Returning now to the issue of the Iranian 'deal,' I've noted here repeatedly that I have no opinion on a deal.  I'd have to know something about it -- even a proposed deal -- to have an opinion of support or opposition and I don't feel the White House has been forthcoming on the details.

    I do have an opinion on the White House using cheap whores to silence debate and dissent.  

    I opposed that nonsense under Bully Boy Bush, I'll oppose it under Barack Obama.

    As Gwen Ifill (The NewsHour, PBS) explained Monday, "After last week’s announcement of a framework agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program, the White House is working overtime to sell the deal to the American public, Congress and skeptical allies.:

    Breaking from the pack, Yousaf Butt (The Hill) offers:

    After a marathon negotiation session, Tehran and the world powers announced last week that an initial framework of a nuclear deal had been agreed upon. But things have quickly gotten complicated: there's considerable confusion as to what last week's initial understanding actually means. We still don't know what Iran would have to do, nor when the various sanctions on Iran would be removed in return. The White House released a factsheet on the agreement but Iran has not signed off on this factsheet – Iranian foreign minister Javid Zarif immediately took to twitter, disparaging the White House release: “...[t]here is no need to spin using ‘fact sheets’ so early on.” It's far from clear which “facts” in the White House factsheet will survive until July, the deadline for a final agreement.
    So what did Tehran and the world powers agree to last week? Depends who you ask. There are at least three different versions of what was allegedly decided.

    Some of the most excited voices -- such as the hysteric and hysterical Phyllis Bennis -- have cared little that the framework for a deal came via the US and European countries.  Bennis is usually one of the loudest critics of imperialism and generally supports region's making their own decisions.

    But the White House elected to sideline countries in the region.

    While it hasn't stopped Phyllis from repeatedly dialing the rotary phone, it has led to criticism from those living in the Middle East.  For example, Salman Aldossary (Asharq al-Awsat) responds very clearly to the notion that Barack can lecture the Gulf on who their friends are and who their friends are not:

    What invaluable gifts US President Barack Obama has bestowed on Iran! Has the “axis of evil” collapsed to the extent that the president of the world’s most powerful country is courting one of its key members? Not only did Obama crown his two terms in office with a “historic” vague deal with Iran, but he gave Tehran a free hand in Iraq, turning a blind eye to the activities of the Popular Mobilization forces that operate under the command of Quds Force leader Gen. Qassem Suleimani. Not only has he turned over a new leaf with Tehran, he is even issuing statements on its behalf, going so far as to tell “Sunni Arabs” that Tehran does not pose a threat to them and instead telling them to focus on “real internal threats” according to a New York Times interview. What is strange about the interview is Obama’s frequent use of terms like “Sunni Arabs” and “Sunni countries.” These are expressions that betray sectarian over-simplification; while he refers to whole states as being “Sunni,” Obama falls short of describing Iran as a Shi’ite country. I wonder what other surprises Mr. Obama has up his sleeve.
    It was Washington that labelled Iran as a member of the so-called “axis of evil” and a country that sponsors terrorism. It was Washington that warned the world against dealing with Iran, imposing economic sanctions on Tehran and regarding it as an arch enemy. So, after all this, how can the US president now come out to say that Iran no longer poses a threat to its neighbors? Does the signing of a nuclear framework deal negate this threat? Does Obama expect the Gulf—which has long suffered from Iran’s interventions and sponsorship of terrorism—to simply believe his efforts to improve the image of Tehran? Isn’t this the same Tehran that has posed a clear and present danger to Gulf states for the past 36 years? 

    Gulf News does a round up of reactions from Gulf bloggers:

    Obama’s argument was promptly refuted by a blogger writing under the moniker “The Free”.
    “The problem with the US is that it wants to decide for us who our friend is and who our foe is,” he posted online. “It also wants to decide when we should destroy one another and who should reconstruct what has been destroyed. We are treated like political adolescents,” he said.
    The Bulldozer, another blogger, said that the US could not be trusted.
    “There is no safe ground with the US, a country that is ready to sell out its closest allies for the sake of its own interests,” he said. “It is not a matter of Sunni or Shiite. It is pure interests. The US sold the Shah of Iran in 1979, and then it sold Kuwait before selling Saddam [Hussain]. It recently sold Hosni [Mubarak] and others. Today, it is selling away everyone.”
    “The US has reached a conclusion that Sunnis were a threat and as such they should be subdued,” Conclusion, another blogger, said. “To the US, the Arab countries are the source of terrorists and the best solution to deal with them is to work closely with Iran against them.”
    Mohammad Al Azemi said he was shocked that Obama failed to see the reality on the ground.
    “Iran has taken over Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and now wants to take over Yemen,” he said. “Yet, we have a US president who says that Iran is not a threat!”                                      

    These voices represent many who were provided no seat at the table but who will be most directly impacted by any deal that is eventually made.

    We're going to again note an opinion on the deal.  Francis A. Boyle is an attorney and a professor of international law.  He's also the author of many books including, most recently, United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law.  Below he weighs in on Iran and nukes:

    Everyone knows that Iran does not have nuclear weapons. These negotiations are really about re-integrating Iran into the  U.S.   Imperial Order as Iran was before the 1979 Revolution— becoming once again the American  “policeman” for the Persian Gulf. For well-known reasons, Israel cannot do that job. Israel will remain America’s “policeman” on the Mediterranean for the Northern Middle East. And Iran is slated to become once again  America’s “policeman” for the Persian Gulf together with all  its oil and gas fields  and the Straits of Hormuz through which most energy supplies are  shipped to Europe, China, Japan and elsewhere in Asia.  Integrating  Iran will also enable the United States to consolidate its tenuous toe-hold in Afghanistan and thus continue to project power into Central Asia with its riches of oil and gas fields there. It appears that Iran is willing to go along with this Agenda.
    Professor Francis A. Boyle
    Francis A. Boyle
    Law Building
    504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
    Champaign, IL 61820 USA