Saturday, August 06, 2011







Turning to Iraq, today United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated he intends to appoint Garmany's Martin Kobler as the special envoy to Iraq, replacing Ad Melkert who has held the post since 2009. (And Ad Melkert has proven highly ineffective when you measure the needs-to list he was given with what was actually accomplished. When you've failed to accomplish what you were supposed to, you may be tempted to spin reality in the progress report you provide the Security Council.) So who is Martin Kobler?
The Goethe Institut has described the 58-year-old as "a globe-trotting diplomat." Gamal Nkrumah (Al-Ahram Weekly) offered of him in a profile, "He is a disarming mixture of joshing informality and intense enthusiasm, and appears to like questions rather more than answers." Current reports on the announcement (AFP, DPA, Reuters, etc) tend to ignore the three children and his spouse. The latter is surprising because in 2006, Britta Wagener was news. That's when her husband (Kobler) was Germany's ambassador to Egypt and and he made the second in charge at the embassy was Britta Wagner. Complaints were filed over it, there was a protest at a staff meeting in December of 2004 and issues of conflicts of interest were raised. If you read German, you can click here for one report on the issue. Also not being discussed is the fact that he's going from Afghanistan (UN Mission in Afghanistan) to Iraq at a time when so many are going the opposite way.
Kobler was previously Germany's Abassdor to Iraq for roughly one year (August 2006 through September 2007). Of that period of time, he told the Goethe Institut, "I never experienced anarchy before living in Iraq. In 2006 there was no trust, no system, nothing to give a backbone to the society. The situation had stripped people of all morality. At any moment children could be kidnapped, held for ransom, anyone might be caught in a bomb blast. It made me realize that Fate alone decides if you are born into a protected childhood."
Let's stay on the topic of diplomacy to note this Tweet by Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf about Iraq's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hoshyar Zebari.
jane arraf
janearraf jane arraf
Yes, the topic of non-withdrawal, Al Mada reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc in Parliament is stating that they have not agreed to go along with or approve the plan to keep the US military in Iraq under the guise of trainers. The spokesperson calls it a betrayal of Iraqis and notes that if the issue was really training there would be no need to specify how many US soldiers would remain in Iraq. Jane Arraf adds:
jane arraf
janearraf jane arraf
Mohammed A. Salih (Christian Science Monitor) explores feelings on the issue in Kirkuk and finds many who want the US military to remain such as Mohammed Jassim who states, "Ideally, I would not want US soldiers to be ehre. But the reality makes me want them to stay. If they were leave now problems and tensions might emerge. There are many sides who don't want things to go well here." Part of the reason many in Kirkuk may want US forces to stay is that their oil-rich region is still a huge question mark. This despite the fact that Constiution of Iraq called for the issue to be resolved with a census and a referendum no later than the end of 2007. Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister then, he is prime minister now. He refused to follow the Constitution.
With the exception of Chris Hill (one-time US Ambassador to Iraq -- who infamously told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that it was "just an old fashioned land dispute"), diplomats with various governments and the United Nations have publicly spoken of how important resolving the issue of Kirkuk is to the future and stability of Iraq. Due to the oil there, everyone wants it. Due to the historical expulsions of various groups in differing waves, claims are made on the region. The central government out of Baghdad wants it and the Kurdistan Regional Government wants it. Tensions run high between Arabs and Kurds over this issue and these tensions threaten the future of Iraq as the RAND Corporation's recent report, entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops," noted. (See the July 26th snapshot for more on the RAND report.) While Arabs and Kurds are the large parties disputing who has the right to Kirkuk, they are not the only groups of people in Kirkuk. Among others, there are the Turkemen who first came to Kirkuk as far back as 1055. It's a very complex issue and the plan was to have it resolved by 2007. Despite that being written into the Constitution, it did not happen and the fate of Kirkuk remains unresolved today.
Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) observes that "the Kurdish bloc, the largest gainer in the Iraq War, hopes for a long-term presence of the American soldiers, especially in the disputable region of Kirkuk. Worries from the other religious party Sunni Muslim will be deepened as the Shiites in neighboring Iran will expand its clout without the threats posed by the U.S. military." Of course, Jalal Talabani has already stated his opinion that US forces need to remain in Iraq stated it to Chinese Television. From that interview last month:
Axes: On the subject of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, there are media reports talking about the agreement of the Iraqi parliament on this issue, hoping to keep U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of this year, while White House also hoped to extend the stay of troops U.S. in Iraq, what is your opinion on the subject of the withdrawal of U.S. forces or keep them?

President Talabani: First, this news is not true, that the Iraqi parliament decided anything for the survival of U.S. forces, the Iraqi parliament to now did not study the subject, well known that relations between Iraq and the United States determined agreement (SOFA), which provides for the evacuation of U.S. forces at the end of this year, as well as our (the strategic framework agreement) on the principles of relationships, the parties of Iraq and the U.S. insist on this agreement, which sets political and trade relations, cultural and technological ... etc. The theme of the survival of U.S. forces in Iraq, First extension of the agreement is not possible because the extension of the agreement requires approval by two thirds parliament and this can not be obtained, while you remain a number of American forces for training or not? I chaired the days before the two meetings of leaders of Iraqi political attended by all political actors, some views were clear and some are not clear, for example, the direction of the Sadrist movement, which to them (40) deputies in the parliament is the categorical rejection of the presence of U.S. forces, the direction of Kurdish leadership is to keep U.S. forces a limited number, at least in the disputed areas, and the rest They still studying this topic, Voattiyna Mhlten of Iraqi political parties to give us an answer within the prescribed time about whether they agree with the survival of a number of U.S. troops, and not all the troops, the Americans also do not want to keep all their forces, and proposed is that the number of U.S. troops for training, of course I want to say a thing which is that according to the reports of officers and the military leadership of Iraq, the military leadership of the Air Force, Navy and armor and infantry filed reports to the President and the Prime Minister in these reports say where he can not protect the Iraqi Air and the sea of ​​Iraq and the Iraqi border after the withdrawal of U.S. forces, say they can protect the internal security but can not protect the atmosphere air, land and sea, our aircraft, American aircraft that we purchased had not yet reached, if reached need to be a period of training as well, for the Navy do not have boats enough to protect sea, which for us is very important, because the only source of the great Iraqi oil is the sea so we if hampered the export of oil will affect our economy, our line of oil passes through Turkey, this line is not sufficient for the export of oil, we now produce more than (3) million barrels per day and over the next year, God willing, we get to (4) million, then we need two others, we intend to extend another line through Syria, and run the old line passing through Syria broken now, as well as the oil pipeline to Aqaba through Jordan, only then we can export the quantities of oil we produce in the country, and as I said, Iraqi experts believe that Iraq remains a need to protect the air, sea and training the Iraq on the weapons that we bought from America, weapons, armor, Abrams tanks and aircraft (F16) and (F18) that we bought, we bought from America all were new to the Iraqis, we need the training, I noticed during the discussions between the Iraqi political forces that there is a tendency for the survival of a limited number of U.S. trainers, and the survival of a larger U.S. troop is not there a strong desire, as I said there is opposition to the survival of these forces by some forces.

Aswat al-Iraq reports that US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffery and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met last night to continue discussions about keeping US forces in Iraq beyond the end of the year. Karamatullah K. Ghori (Asia Times) notes of the reasons (excuses) being given to argue for keeping US troops in Iraq:

In touting the line that Iraqi forces are inadequate to rise to challenges that remain largely undefined beyond the cryptic excuse of sectarian divide, the generals betray an appalling disregard for their own failure to train their Iraqi proteges sufficiently. If they couldn't do it in eight years, despite all the resources and numbers at their command, what's there to lend confidence to anyone that they'd be able to find the holy grail of a competent and fully trained Iraqi security force with a thinned-out and scaled-down presence?
Iraqi politicians, representing the full spectrum of the country's myriad factions and clans, do seem to a certain extent to subscribe to the American angst on account of the Iraqi troops' half-baked ability to take charge of the gargantuan task of keeping the country secured against anarchy.

As part of the deal to open discussions (and to keep US troops in Iraq -- Nouri wouldn't have given in just for 'discussions'), Nouri's agreed to finally create the security council to be headed by Ayad Allawi that the Erbil Agreement promised last November. Al Mada reports that State of Law is attempting to fast track the issue through the Parliament and stating that no additional conditions have to be met to create the council.

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Friday, August 05, 2011







Onto Iraq. Yesterday on Free Speech Radio News, Andrew Stelzer discussed with Phyllis Bennis the announced negotiations on extending the US military presence in Iraq beyond 2011 Excerpt.

Andrew Stelzer: First of all, I'm sure many of our listeners are skeptical on the whole premise of this debate. Is there really a possibility that we're going to see a full US withdrawal from Iraq before 2012 begins?

Phyllis Bennis: I don't think so. I think that there are a number of scenarios where include a complete withdrawal. The SOFA as orignally signed requires all US troops and all Pentagon paid contractors to be out of Iraq by the end of this year. But there's another part of the SOFA that's problematic as well and that is that by specifiying that Pentagon paid contractors must be removed it leaves the door open for State Dept paid contractors. And one of the things that I think we're already seeing on a small scale and it may end up being rather small scale but it may be quite big as well is that a number of Pentagon paid contractors will have their contracts be immediately signed on to State Dept contracts. They will do exactly the same work, the same level of non-accountability and probably even the same huge amounts of money but because they will be paid, their check will be cut by the State Dept rather than the Pentagon, they won't officially be required to leave by the end of the year so that's a serious problem as well.

Andrew Stelzer: And so what are the different political factions on the sides of this debate in Iraq?

Phyllis Bennis: It's hard to know. There's no one in Iraq that believes that there's a popular view. In fact, there's new reports today about a so far not released poll that the US took in Iraq, indicating that there's a widespread hope that the US is out entirely according to the conditions of the SOFA**. The real issue is where do people, individuals within the government, powerful people from a number of different parties, where do they stand? The only party that I think from the broad, mass base of it right up to the top leadership that is thoroughly opposed to it, to the US remaining, is probably the Sadrists, the supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr, whose militias have played a key role in the fighting but who also play a major role in the Iraqi Parliament. There are various individuals who believe that their particular brand of power certainly including President Maliki [C.I. note Nouri al-Maliki is prime minister], that their own position of power and influence is dependant on US protection, the US remaining in place. But they can't necessarily go and say that publicly because there is such widespread opposition. So how this plays out is going to be very interesting.

**No, Phyllis, that is not the conditions of the SOFA. That was the lie. There's a difference between truth and lie. Phyllis may choose to paper over reality so that some lying assholes can sneak off with their dignity intact, I won't. Iraqis have died because of these lies. Shame on the liars.

The SOFA replaced the UN mandate. The UN mandate legalized the occupation (there was no mandate for the invasion) and provided legal cover for US troops. Without it, as Joe Biden repeatedly noted in the Senate, and without any replacing agreement, US troops would be in danger of legal prosecution. That was the reason for the mandate, that was the US government's concern. Nouri al-Maliki becomes prime minister in the spring of 2006. The UN mandate expires at the end of that year. He renews it without consulting Parliament. Parliament is enraged. 'This can't happen,' they insist, stating that the Constitution gives them a say. Okay, if the Constitution gives you a say (I agree it did), then you don't go pass new legislation. But that's what they did. And Nouri swore it would never happen again.

Let's look at the wording, "Decides to extend until 31 December 2007 the arrangements established in paragraph 20 of resolution 1483 (2003) for the depositing into the Development Fund for Iraq of proceeds from export sales of petroleum, petroleum products, and natural gas and the arrangements referred to in paragraph 12 of resolution 1483 (2003) and paragraph 24 of resolution 1546 (2004) for the monitoring of the Development Fund for Iraq by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board;[. . .]" That's the UN mandate. The fact that it only extended to December 31, 2007 meant that all foreign forces (including US) had to leave at the end of 2007 . . . unless the contract was replaced with another one (be it a mandate or a new contract).

Now following the extension at the end of 2006 (Nouri's letter requesting the extension was dated November 11, 2006), 2007 played out something like the "Slipped my mind" skits from Kids in the Hall, 2007 was drawing to a close and the UN mandate was expiring. What did Nouri do? Renewed it without consulting Parliament. And then pretended to be sorry about that. The US knew their puppet couldn't take the heat on this every year. So the SOFA would be a three year agreement, not a one year. Phyllis may want to stretch the truth to give assholes cover, I don't. The SOFA is no different than the UN mandate. In 2006, when the UN mandate was set to expire, no one was going around saying, "That means the US leaves!!!!" Everyone knew it was very likely the mandate would be renewed. People should have grasped that reality about the SOFA. But you had a lot of liars and a lot of people who don't know the first thing about contract law. That we have arrived at this point is not shocking or unexpected. And you can check the archives from November 2008 and see we've been sounding the alarm on this repeatedly while others whored and lied and while Iraqis died. Playing dumb or excusing the lies does not bring back one Iraqi life. And, in fact, it cheapens their deaths if you rush to distort reality (LIE) so that some US gas bags don't have to take accountability for the lies that they repeatedly told, lies that had consequences, lies that resulted in deaths.

Equally true, the myth of "trainers" needs to be called out. It's not hard. Watch Jason Ditz and Scott Horton talk about it truthfully on Antiwar Radio:

Scott Horton: There are so many wars. We don't have enough time to talk about all of them. But could we fit in Iraq and the future of the American occupation?

Jason Ditz: We can certainly try. The latest with Iraq, it seems to be that the Maliki government is looking to just ignore Parliament entirely, to take a page out of the US book and circumvent the Iraqi Congress and try to prove an extension of some sort without such a vote.

Scott Horton: And so what's the reaction in the Parliament to that?

Jason Ditz: Well there hasn't really been a public reaction yet but I would only assume it's going to be a negative one because, of course, the 2008 vote to extend US troops through this year was incredibly difficult in Iraq's Parliament and it only came with the promise of this grand national referendum on the US occupation which never came. And it seems like the vote's only going to have gotten more difficult since then.

Scott Horton: Well you know, I guess I don't really know and people say otherwise, but I kind of get the idea that Maliki doesn't want the occupation to continue. Now maybe his army guys like having American help and that kind of thing, some of his general and all of that. But I kind of getting the feeling that he's playing the same game that he did in 2008 which is, 'Gee, I'm trying to get them to go along with it but they just don't seem to want to' when his heart really isn't in it. Am I wrong? What do you think?

Jason Ditz: It's really hard to say but it seems like a few months ago he was saying "Absolutely not, there's no need for troop extensions." And now he's saying, 'Well it depend what Parliament's saying and, oh, by the way, military personnel that are classified as trainers don't count and we don't reall need to ask Parliament about that.' So it seems like he's buckling under the pressure and is giving a lot ground to the US demand to be asked to stay.

Scott Horton: Well is there a difference between numbers at all? Obviously, they're going to call combat troops whatever they want to. But trainer seems to imply a very limited number, much less than they wanted. They wanted to leave 10,000 [or] 20,000 troops, right?

Jason Ditz: Right and it's not really clear how many trainers we're talking here. But certainly they could use any excuse to claim that these guys are trainers

Scott Horton: Sure.

Why can Scott Horton and Jason Ditz do that but others can't? What could it be? Maybe the answer's in the next excerpt?

Martha Montelongo: I've heard you refer to Cindy Sheehan and how she was -- she was legitimately, authentically opposed to the war and the left loved rallying around her when she was opposing George Bush or President Bush but as soon as Obama comes into office, nobody pays any attention to her. They just completely ignore her. So it makes you wonder how much of a movement is there and where are all the leftists who were so engaged in the anti-war movement during President Bush's tenure?

Angela Keaton: To be fair and to be really precise, we're talking about moderate liberals, we're talking about the mainstream, not the hard left. The hard left, of course, is still against the war and, you know, they've-they've stayed the course. But moderate liberals, particularly those organizing around the Democratic Party abandoned Sheehan immediately of course because they can no longer turn it against -- They -- Partisanship, in this country the partisanship is so strong and people are so attached and they're very identified with their party as well as, in this case, people are terribly identified with Barack Obama. There's a Cult of Presonality. that I couldn't really imagine about a US president, I find them rather odd and creatures on their best days. But this weird cult that coalesced around him, clearly -- one -- there's a couple of things. Obama is a very, very shrewd politician. He knows very well. His PR people did a wonderful job convincing someone that he was anti-war. In fact, all four times [in the Senate] Barack Obama could've voted against the war, he voted for the war spending, all four times. And he only made one anti-war speech. And that was a speech on Iraq in 2007*. Barack Obama was never an anti-war president, never intended to be, and was very, very explicit when he said he would fight the good war in Afghanistan. His words. And go deeper into Pakistan. I guess talking about the secret -- or not so secret war -- in Pakistan. And he has of course now killed more people with drones in Pakistan than George Bush has -- which is something I'm sure he should be proud of. And these are the people that moderate liberals have chosen to identify with. I mean, you notice that MoveOn and Daily Kos and others are absent from the anti-war movement. There were some very good numbers that happened right around the time that Barack Obama looked like he was going to be the [Democratic Party presidential] nominee and you started seeing all the money, resources draining toward the Obama campaign and CODEPINK chapters went from 200 down to about 90. And CODEPINK itself has very much stayed the course as well but people -- it wasn't the priority anymore and the excitement was around Barack Obama and somehow the gay rights movement has convinced themselves of this too. That like Barack Obama was a gay rights president and that's never been the case. The same thing with the anti-war movement, they convince themselves. It's all wishful thinking, it's a bit of projection on this shiny new model-like-actor type who is now in office. I say that because he's like very good looking and people really respond to that. They responded to that more than they'd respond to the fact that for years they've known about things like depleted uranium, for example, and all the deaths of children in Iraq. This is the direction they chose, as my colleague Scott Horton says, "Tall and handsome over justice." So the more that I think about it, now that I've just said it, damn the moderate left for what they've done because really this time more than ever we needed an antiwar movement and one that was serious and consistent and one that couldn't be picked apart by nationalists and conservatives. The nationalists and the conservatives were right. It wasn't an anti-war movement, it was an anti-Bush movement.

That's's Angela Keaton speaking with Martha Montelongo on Gadfly Radio (here for Angela's segment, here for full episode). And those who don't feel the need to lie, disguise or pretty up the truth don't feel that a War Hawk gets a pass for waging wars. As Sherwood Ross (OpEdNews) observed recently about this war insanity, "That's because presidents and Pentagon chiefs start new wars even before they finish fighting the old ones! Who can recall a time in our history when the U.S. initiated aggressive wars against five nations (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen)?"

Angela was discussing Come Home America which attempts to be an organization that can represent people opposed to war from all ends of the political spectrum. We've noted it before when, for example, John Halle has promoted it. In 2006, we would have noted it much more than we have in the last two years. Why is that?

There are trust issues. Not with Angela Keaton, not with Adam Kokesh, not with Karen or any of the others on the right. They have been consistent. They bring the same vocal outrage today that they brought when Bush ran the wars. The same cannot be said of people on my side -- including people who signed Come Home America's letter.

Jeff Cohen recently wrote a critique of Barack that was as blistering as any of the valentines he once penned to Barack. So I'm not talking about Jeff. But people need to take some accountability and not just because it's good for the soul. The Cult of St. Barack passed an advertising machine off as a movement. One of the advertising tools they used was testimonials. "I thought I was happy with Pepsi until one day I tried new Barack Obama . . ." That same tool, testimonails, can be used to awaken others. If you were taken in, you can share that you were and how reality peeled the scales away from your eyes.

As Kat observed in an Iraq roundtable Feb. 13, 2009:

I dont think anyone's going to disagree with which side is more committed at this point. And it's pathetic because, as we've noted before, if Hillary had been elected, the same left that plays the quiet game currently would be demanding action. A lot of it is people being scared to criticize Barack, a lot of it is them believing the hype, a lot of it is the desire to worship a man. But it's pathetic and it's pathetic that they believed his lies about Iraq and it's pathetic that they played Sophie's Choice with Iraq and Afghanistan -- that knowing that while he was saying he'd pull 'combat' troops from Iraq, he was saying he'd send more to Afghanistan, these same so-called lefties endorsed him and lied for him and covered for him.

Yeah, a lot of people played Sophie's Choice and judged Afghans to be less important than Iraqis. That needs accountability. And if you can come forward and own what you did, you can encourage others with your actions to also consider how they went from "END THE WAR NOW!" to "Whatever Barack wants!" and how they get their souls back?

"Iraq snapshot"
"Withdrawal or not and what's Nouri really up to?"
"MST, veterans suicides"
"The wake up call"
"Day 2 with Cleaver"
"David Walsh breaks it down"
"The continued Great Recession"
"3 men, 2 women"
"4 men, 2 women"
"where is the outrage?"
"gene jones: fake and coward"
"While you looked for your comfort zone . . ."
"The wasteful lies"
"Through the mirror of my mind, time after time . . ."
"Too hot"
"The real racism"
"Message from Michael"
"FSRN earns praise"
"Iraq and the 'crisis'"
"Matthew Rothschild is worthless"
"A rough age for divas"

Wednesday, August 03, 2011














Each month the Army releases their data on suicides. The press covers it and any information released by the other branches as well. Reading in the paper (the monthly release is usually just noted in the print media), you can be left with the impression that these are the military suicides but they are not the only ones. Those who have discharged and left the service have become "veterans" and not "service members." Veterans deal with many issues like readjustment to civilian life, attempting to find employment (in a bad economy and in a climate where young male veterans of the current wars have one of the worst rates of unemployment in the country), attempting to re-establish relationships, as well as, for some, other issues such as PTSD.
Veterans taking their own lives because the system failed them (or their pain from what they experienced while serving is too much to handle) are paying the costs of war and they are paying it with very few aware because their numbers are not tracked.
Many have decried this lack of record keeping including Senator Daniel Akaka when he was Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee and Senator Patty Murray back then as well as since she became Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee. Senator Murray and three other senators are attempting to resolve the 'mystery' around veterans suicides and to get this cost of war out in the open. Her office notes:
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, has joined with Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Robert Casey (D-PA) to call on state Governors to begin reporting critical statistics on suicides among military veterans in their states. The effort, which comes amid a steadily rising suicide rate among veterans and members of the military, focuses on pushing 41 states to create a direct link to the VA to communicate information about veteran suicides. That information is particularly important for tracking and prevention efforts as many suicides among veterans not enrolled in the VA often go unrecorded.'
"One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals," the Senators wrote. "In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care."
In addition to the National Governors Association the letter sent by the Senators also went to the National Association of Medical Examiners, which is the professional organization for medical examiners and death investigators who are responsible for investigating deaths that are violent, suspicious, or otherwise unusual.

The full text of the Senators' letter is below:

July 20, 2011

The Honorable Dave Heineman

Chair, National Governors Association

444 North Capitol Street

Suite 267

Washington, DC 20001-1512

Dear Governor Heineman:

As you know, there has been a disturbing rise in suicide rates among veterans and members of the military. We are sure you find this trend as troubling as we do. As we continue our work to provide all the needed resources and services to assist servicemembers and veterans with mental health concerns, we ask for your assistance in this effort.

One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals. In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care. This makes it very difficult for researchers and mental health professionals to study the information and design effective, targeted campaigns to prevent suicide.

This is a result of the fact that only 16 states provide information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Violent Death Reporting System. VA has also been working with the states to create a direct link between the states and VA to communicate information about veteran suicide, but so far only nine states have reached such an agreement with the Department.

Thank you for your assistance, we look forward to working with you on behalf of the nation's veterans.

Patty Murray
John D. Rockefeller IV
Robert Casey
Max Baucus
Turning to the Iraq War, news came late yesterday that the Iraq had agreed to launch official negotiations with the US on the US military staying in Iraq beyond 2011. As Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) notes, "Long after most reporters had rushed home to beat the 1 a.m. curfew still in force, Deputy Prime Minister Rosh Nuri Shawis emerged to read a statement to state-run television saying the attendees recognized the need for further training of Iraqi military forces." And as we'll note, curfew or not, Jane Arraf reported on it yesterday. As did AP's Lara Jakes and Mohammad Ali Harissi for AFP -- those three's reports were noted in yesterday's snapshot.
Yang Lina (Xinhua -- link has text and video) reports, "Iraq's political leaders have given the government the green light to begin negotiating a deal with the U.S. The deal would keep American troops beyond the end of 2011 to train Iraqi security forces." Ned Parker and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) point out, "As a candidate, President Obama promised to end the Iraq war, so the White House has been reluctant to call openly for U.S. troops to remain."

So, yes, that makes the start of acknowledged negotiations major news. (Even if the New York Times runs a paragraph by AP and refuses to file their own story on the issue. Talk about caught sleeping on the job -- and, no, that's not a slam at Tim Arango who is pursuing a different story and doing follow ups. He is not the only one who could have written the story and when Mullen went into Iraq, he did so with reporters.)

Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) observes, "After weeks of wrangling and lots of US pressure it appears to be a breakthrough. After a five hour meeting in presidential compound here in Baghdad there was an announcement that a deal has been reached that presence of US military trainers would be raised in parliament." And as noted yesterday, Jane Arraf Tweeted about the big meet-up so refer to her Twitter feed for many more details about what was discussed by the Iraqi political blocs beyond US troops. And, if you visited her feed this morning, you saw that the supposed official stated position of the Sadr bloc is they're not going to block the move if everyone else goes along with it (US troops in Iraq beyond 2011) but that she (Arraf) was meeting up with a Sadr official to find out what their position actually entails.

Of the negotiations, Press TV notes, "The move, which is opposed by the Iraqi people, comes after a visit to Baghdad by the outgoing Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who has urged the al-Maliki government to make a decision whether it wants an extended presence of American forces in Iraq." This week in Baghdad, a petition calling on US forces to leave Iraq at the end of the year got 2.5 million signatures. Another number is offered by Stars & Stripes, "The U.S. has offered to keep up to 10,000 troops in Iraq beyond the year-end deadline." As Dar Addustour notes, the meet-up of the political blocs took place at Jalal Talabani's home (Talabani is the President of Iraq).

Mohammed Tawfeeq and CNN quote
the Deputy Prime Minister Ruz Nouri Shawees stating, "After extensive discussions, the leaders of the political blocs headed by Iraq's President Jalal Talabani have agreed to let the Iraqi government start negotiations with the American side only on the issues of training and under the Strategic Framework Agreement." In an active and functioning media, that statement alone would result in multiple columns, analysis and discussions. As it is, it will probably sail right over most heads (the meaning of it). Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) elaborates further, "The leaders agreed that any request to keep U.S. military trainers in Iraq would fall under a general security agreement with the United States and would not require signing a new accord to keep U.S. troops in the country into 2012, according to Talabani's office. U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Iraq did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday night."

The only non-Iraqi press outlet I see offering analysis of the news at this point is the editorial board of the Khaleej Times:

With pressure coming in from Washington to decide at the earliest if it wants the remaining troops to stay or leave, Maliki faces a tough task. His tenuously cobbled coalition government is at a risk of falling apart in case a decision is made in favour of retaining American forces for longer than the December 2011 deadline. Facing violent opposition from some of his coalition partners -- concerning further prolonging of US forces in the country -- Maliki is in a catch-22 position in trying to choose the lesser of the two evils. For the security in Iraq is far from stable and is in fact worse than before, according to a recent report presented before the US Congress. According to the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Junior, the security situation is at an all time low.
Though an earlier military assessment in May lauded the improvement in security, it was misleading and based on a comparative assessment of the situation to that in 2007. As a matter of fact, according to Bowen, Iraq is facing enhanced security threat from Shia militant factions that have contributed to the spread of violence and instability. An increase in targeted killings of US soldiers and Iraqi officials and attacks in Baghdad over the past many months is testament to the fact. In addition, the Iraqi military capability is as yet not on track.

The start of negotiations is major news. And it did come late yesterday. So some needed to play catch up today. Understandable. If they, in fact, caught up.
There are 20 headlines to stories on The Nation's main page currently, not one has anything to do with Iraq. On Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman gave it two sentences plus a quote from Adm Mike Mullen. A military officer, grasp this, had more to say on Democracy Now! about war than did that 'peace loving' Amy. (Some may say, "She covered the debt ceiling!" Finally. And too damn little too damn late. Ava and I documented that in real time she did nothing "TV: The unexamined (American) lives" and "TV: The Age of Fakery." She only cared after the fact. See Elaine's "The Goody Whore" from last night.) And then there's Matthew.
The Progressive offers a piece by Matthew Rothschild, a weak and inaccurate piece. Maybe he shouldn't have written a damn thing?

Mike picked Matty Rothschild as Idiot of the Week and boy had Matty earned that honor. A month or so back, Matty was going to get ripped apart by me over his so-called concern for civil liberties. If you're concerned for civil liberties and do a "McCarthy Watch," you do that the same regardless of who is in the White House. He can rip Bush apart, he just can't call out Princess Barack. Now because Matthew called out the Libyan War and (rightly) noted it was an impeachable crime, I wrongly thought he had left the Cult of St. Barack and was more than willng to table the critique of how he does a McCarthyism Watch when it's Barack and when it's Bush.
If you're wondering what it looks like, you can see it in his hideous column "Pentagon Presses to Stay in Iraq, with Immunity!" Oh, that runaway Pentagon!
Poor Barack, the ultimate victim. No one listens to him! The Pentagon does what it wants!
I'm sick of this crap. He is president. People like Matthew Rothschild lied and whored to get him the Democratic Party nomination. He's now the president hold him accountable. I am so sick of these pathetic little babies and Matthew is the King of them.
From his embarrassing garbage:
All U.S. troops are supposed to be out of Iraq by the end of this year.
This has not only been Obama's pledge. This is the precise wording of the security agreement between the Iraqi government and the United States.
But now the Obama administration wants to keep U.S. troops beyond that date, so the Pentagon's been negotiating with the Iraqis to extend the American presence there.
Okay, that wasn't Obama's pledge. That's a damn lie. Barack would not have gotten the Democratic Party nomination if he was promising that all troops will be out of Iraq at the start of 2012, three years after he takes office. That's a damn lie.
Secondly, after "Obama's pledge," Barack's never responsible again. It's not Barack that wants the US to stay in Iraq, it's "the Obama administration." Matthew Rothschild is such a damn chicken, such a pathetic coward, that he can't call out Barack Obama.
I don't like Barack. I didn't vote for him. I won't vote for him in 2012. But I'm not the one pretending he's a weakling, I'm not the one pretending he has no strength or power. I recognize he's the president of the United States. That's something that the Cult of St. Barack that gifted him with the nomination can't own up to.
The Pentagon is NOT negotiating.
"Brave" Matty can call them out but he's wrong. Robert Gates, when he was Secretary of Defense, was required to note the time issue and that it was passing when speaking to Nouri or Jalal Talabani. Leon Panetta has infamously noted the time issue since becoming Secretary of Defense. Adm Mike Mullen went to Iraq to convey how serious the government was taking the issue.
Their efforts were to prompt action. They are not negotiating anything. James Jeffrey, the US Ambassador to Iraq, is the public face of negotiations (as Ryan Crocker was when he was the US Ambassador to Iraq). He is assisted by State Dept employees the administration has tasked for this issue.
This is not who Hillary Clinton has selected, it's not her issue. Joe Biden and Samantha Power are tasked with Iraq on the orders of Barack Obama. Hillary is not involved. You see her with her Iraqi counterpart from time to time, she does receive most visiting Iraqis but she and Nouri are not close and anyone who can't grasp that can't remember Hillary's public remarks about Nouri when she was in the Senate. That's the practical reason Hillary's not over Iraq. There are other reasons as well. Samantha Power is elevated to her position because, although Joe Biden has a great relationship with many Iraqi politicians (including the Kurds), he also made comments, when he was a senator, about Nouri that Nouri has not forgotten. (Hillary and Joe both rightly called Nouri a despot at one point or another and it's not forgotten on Nouri's side. And they were not one time remarks. Nor were they unique remarks in the Senate. Back then, Baraba Boxer was among the many calling out Nouri as a Little Saddam.)
If that's news to you, that's still not an excuse for ever thinking that the Pentagon would be negotiating -- or that they would do so against the wishes of the president.
Matthew throws caution and facts to the wind in this sentence: "Because even as Admiral Mullen was making his pitch, U.S. troops along with Iraqi troops were raiding a village, killing three men, including a tribal elder who was seen in handcuffs, and wounding five others, including two little girls."
No. You can't alter facts and keep them as facts. Mike Mullen arrived in Iraq on Monday. The incident Rothschild's referring to took place LAST WEEK. This appears in Saturday's second entry: "and, dropping back to Friday night, a "joint U.S.-Iraqi air landing on al-Rifeiat tribe's village in Balad township of Salahal-Din Province" today resulted in the deaths of 4 Iraqi civilians (and six being injured)," Mullen arrived on Monday. You can't alter the facts and claim that they're still facts. Yes, Matthew Rothschild, it does make the story play better, but it's not fiction and you can't alter the facts. (And if you're interested in this story, Tim Arango has filed two reports on it so far -- here and here.)
What Matthew Rothschild is really doing when he refuses to call out Barack Obama, when he invents blame for the Pentagon and when he alters time lines to make the story more 'pleasing,' what he's really doing is demonstrating how Judith Miller was able to write for The Progressive. She did. Long before her bad reporting helped sell the Iraq War, she was writing for The Progressive. And meeting the very low standards required from that magazine.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Negotiations to keep US troops in Iraq"
"Iraq needs gasoline"
"RACIST NPR and RACIST Steve Inskeep "
"Day after the end"
"4 men, 3 women"
"shame pn them a;;"
"The White House Way"
"Good for him"
"Halle takes on Tim Wise"
"The Goody Whore"
"The gutting"
"That frail but determined terrorist"

Tuesday, August 02, 2011








Starting with the Libyan War. On this week's Black Agenda Radio -- hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, first airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network -- they highlight a speech former US House Rep and 2008 US presidential candidate as part of her report back from her fact finding mission to Libya. This is an excerpt of Cynthia speaking at Atlanta's Church of the Black Madonna, use the link for the speech in full.
Cynthia McKinney: As a student of the Counter Intelligence Program, I know my own government will lie. And as a student of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I know that the media will lie. And so I decided to try my best to take a delegation of alternative journalists who would go to Libya and tell the truth, let the chips fall where they may. But the only problem was there were sanctions that our president had put on making it very difficult for Americans to travel there. So that meant that I had to borrow money -- about $25,000 is what it took. And I got a friend to put this on his credit card. And the money that you have just given will help to pay that back. [Applause.] At every stop along the way, there are people who say, "I want to go to Libya." In fact, where is Derreck? Derreck is going to go if we can raise some of that money so that we can take another delegation because the truth continues to need to be told. Now I've got some very bad news in this final minute that I have left. And that is that as of yesterday, I received an e-mail from a Russian who is concerned about what is going on in Libya. 70% of the drinking water has now been contaminated by NATO bombing [. . .] the facility that supplies 70% of the people with their drinking water. Not only was NATO not content, and exactly they did the same thing in Iraq, if you will remember, this also is a War Crime. In fact, there have been many War Crimes that have been commited against the people of Libya. But not only did NATO not content itself with destroying the access to clean water, but they also bombed the manufacturing plant that makes the pipes for the Great Man-Made River. If oil is the war for the 20th century, water is the war for the 21st century. There's one more thing before I have to take my leave of this microphone that I want to report to you. And that is, how in the world are you going to have a Race War on the African continent? [Applause.] Please explain it to me! [Applause continues.] When the American guys land -- well the guys that are not supposed to be there, right? But when the Americans land and they see people who look like me, they say, "Oh! There are African mercenaries!" Well I am here to tell you that Libya is at least 50 to 60% people who look like me. [Applause.] But unfortunately, if there's anything that our government knows how to do it is how to use racism to incite people to do the unthinkable. And so now you have had what I have suspsected, well, maybe it's an identity issue, or is it Arab, or is it Black or is it African or what? But now you've got these people who have called in NATO to bomb their own fellow country people. Now they are killing people who look like me and you. And there is a very real sense of insecurity now because people who look like me have some concern about whether or not some one who looks like some of the people in this audience are going to kill them, are going to lynch them, are going to torture them, are going to murder them? But in the end, I will close with this, and that is, sadly, we are seeing the reintroduction [new imperialism] politics onto the African continent. But who is doing it? The first person to use the word "mercenary" in regards to what is happening in Libya in an official capacity was United States' United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, a woman who looks like me. This policy of bombing is being perpetrated by a president who looks like me. And so now I take this personally because I have been blessed to be able to travel all over this planet and everywhere I go, I walk with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [Applause], I walk with Malcolm X [Applause], I walk with all of the great people who have struggled in this country and provided a modicum of dignity in the face of oppression. I walk with them because people understand that Black people in the United States never go along with war. [Applause.] They understand that Black people in the United States sing the song of oppression every day. [Applause.] So now when I go around the world now I have to make excuses for Colin Powell, Condaleeza Rice, President Barack Obama and Susan Rice and [deafening Applause] and I am not going to do it any longer! [Loud cheering and Applause] -- I make no excuses [Cheering and Applause] a War Crime committed by George W. Bush is a War Crime committed by President Barack Obama.
Turning to Iraq, last night on Adam vs The Man (RT, airs at seven p.m. EST, Monday through Friday and streams online), Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh noted the latest on Iraq.
Adam Kokesh: We may be wrapping up operations in Iraq but it's good to know Obama is still kicking ass -- or at least someone is kicking ass in Iraq. Either way there's blood in the sand. In fact, Iraq may be more dangerous now than it was a year ago. Shi'ite militias continue to pose immediate threats to both troops and Iraqi officials bringing forth a constant stream of assassination attempts and rocket attacks but perhaps more pertinent to the American people 15 US troops died in June -- the highest number in two years. A review by Stuart Bowen Jr., Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, has released a new analysis stating, "Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work. . . . It is less safe, in my judgment, than 12 months ago." Now US forces are scheduled to withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year but have been vocal in their offer to Iraqi officials that 'we could keep our young men and women in harm's way beyond the deadline if they so choose.' I guess George Bush's "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" ceremony in 2003 was a little premature after all. Maybe so was Obama's announcement that we were going to be pulling out some time in the near future or during his presidency even.
Dar Addustour notes US Adm Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Iraq and spoke with Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and thug of the occupation, about the US military remaining in Iraq, spoke "in detail" and al-Maliki assured Mullen that the political blocs would take up the issue today when they attended Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's meet-up. Meanwhile 2.5 million residents of Baghdad have signed a petition calling on US forces to leave Iraq at the end of this year. Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) adds, "Though many Iraqi leaders agree that U.S. forces should continue providing air defense and training for Iraqi military forces, they remain far apart on how to make the request and for how long American forces should stay -- prolonging the process much longer than American officials expected." In addition, Aswat al-Iraq notes that Mullen spoke with Talabani on Monday about the status of US forces in Iraq. Jim Garamone (American Forces Press Service) notes, "Though U.S. forces in Iraq are planning to draw down to zero in December, they are preserving capabilities in the country should the Iraqis ask for continued help, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said here today. Speaking to reporters traveling with Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III said Iraqi leaders are thinking about the way ahead and are trying to figure out the direction they want to go." Phil Stewart (Reuters) reports that Mullen stated today any agreement with Iraq to extend the US military presence beyond 2011 must include immunity for US troops. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) quotes Mullen stating, "That kind of agreement, which would include privileges and immunities for our American men and women in uniform will need to go through the Council of Representatives (parliament)." Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf explains, "There's a lack of clarity so far on the issue of whether US troops should stay. Essentially what Mullen is talking about is an agreement to ask the US to start negotiations and not an agreement to ask US troops to stay."
Aswat al-Iraq adds, "Legislature Khalid al-Assady of the State of Law Coalition, led by Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has expressed confidence that the meeting of Iraq's Political Leaders, scheduled to take place at the residence of President Jalal Talabani on Tuesday 'would reach a national accord on the withdrawal of the American Forces from Iraq, by the end of the current year'." Alsumaria TV adds, "Iraq Premier Nouri Al Maliki said on Tuesday he hopes that Iraq political blocs leaders could reach during the meeting to be held today a finall decision about whether Iraq needs to keep US troops or not and called to carry on cooperating and coordinating between the two parties." AP adds that the polical blocs have met and they have given the approval for negotiations to commence. AFP covers it here. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor and Al Jazeera) Tweeted the meet-up, including the following:
janearraf #Iraq political leaders agree US military trainers needed next year - agree to discuss in parliament - significant first step.
janearraf Spoke too soon on Sadrists - main #Sadr leader walked out of talks that resulted in resulted in #Iraq plan to discuss keeping US trainers.
Staying with politics, Aswat al-Iraq reports that Iraqiya is telling the press Nouri al-Maliki is indicating he's responsive to their desire to end Political Stalemate II and "settle all the suspended dossiers and complete the articles of Arbil Agreement, including the nomination of the National Council for Strategic Policies." Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf Tweets:
janearraf #Iraq meeting seems major reconciliation between PM Maliki and Ayad Allawi, with new promises of power. Part of deal sidelining Sadrists?
Meanwhile Ali Hussein (Al Mada) wonders about the political elites and notes that an Iraqi mother's options narrow and narrow and yet there's not even a safe place to beg, or the millions who suffer this summer in Iraq without electricity as they fast (for Ramadan) in tin houses and their needs and interests continue to be ignored. Hussein writes that Iraqi's feel powerless and see the Parliament as a body that does not look out for the people while political forces and blocs grab the power and that law has become nothing but a weapon for the ruling party. Where, Hussein wonders, is the country all Iraqis love, where is the homeland? Sacrifices have been made, a river of blood has been shed, where is the Iraq they have dreamed of?
CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq Tweets:
Mohammed Tawfeeq
mtawfeeqCNN Some of Ramadan shows on Iraqiya State TV show miserable life under Saddam, while some other TVs showing miserable life in post- Saddam Era!
Today a bombing rocks Kirkuk, one apparently targeting Iraqi Christians. Xinhua notes that "a booby-trapped car" exploded leaving a church partially damaged and at least 19 people injured. Jamal Taher Bakr (AGI) reports the church is Holy Family Church, that four children and a nun are said to be among the injured and that an additional two car bombs were discovered. AFP speaks with Father Imad Hanna who states the church had not previously been targeted and that, "Women, children and men from this neighbourhood were wounded in the explosion." Asia News reports, "This morning, Mgr Louis Sako, the archbishop of Kirkuk, visited the wounded in hospital. Many of them have already been released and gone home." The Archbishop Sako states, "We are shocked because Christians play no role in the political games." Ivana Kvesic (Christian Post) quotes police deputy Torhan Abdulrahman stating, "It was a coordinated attack to target churches at the same time." Carol Glatz (Catholic News Service) explains, "Police defused two other car bombs -- one in front of a Christian school and another in front of a Presbyterian church." AP counts 23 wounded and notes that Father Imad Hanna was among the wounded. They also quote Rev Haithem Akram stating, "The terrorists want to make us flee Iraq, but they will fail." Vatican Radio observes (link has text and audio), "This is an unusual attack for Kirkuk -- often seen as a haven of relative security for many Christians fleeing the rampant sectarian violence of Mosul and Baghdad. The Christians of the city and their leaders -- Archbishop Sako -- at the forefront -- are renowned for their work and efforts to promote inter-religious harmony and peace. [. . .] A US State Department report says Christian leaders estimate that 400,000 to 600,000 Christians remain in Iraq, down from a preward level of as high as 1.4 million by some estimates."

Iraqi Christians made up a tiny section of Iraq's internal population but they compose a large portion of the refugee population. Throughout the Iraqi War, Christians have been repeatedly targeted. The most infamous attack is the October 31, 2010 attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad which was invaded and taken in the middle of a religious service. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reminds, "An October 31 attack on the Sayidat al-Nejat Cathedral, or Our Lady of Salvation Church, left 70 people dead and 75 wounded, including 51 congregants and two priests." David Kerr (CNA) notes, "The
attack comes on the day that three men were sentenced to death in Baghdad for their role in a church siege last October [. . .] A fourth man was sentenced to 20 years." Atul Aneja (The Hindu) adds, "The convicted men have one month to file an appeal."