Wednesday, January 08, 2014








This wave of violence was kicked off by Nouri's forces storming the home of an MP in Anbar and when Osama al-Nujaifi attempted to lead an investigation into Nouri's actions that left six people dead, al-Nuajifi was prevented from leaving Baghdad.

This and so much more really going on in Falluja gets ignored.  Kieran Kelly (Dissident Voice) reports:

Behind the scenes, however, Shafaq News reports that some government sources admit that the claims are a deliberate deception. One source describes the government stance as: “Deliberate confusion in the information and attempts to create a dangerous atmosphere in the city to be dealt with in a militarily way in every way,” but in reality, “Fallujah and even other cities are still experiencing quieter days than before”. By citing Al Qaeda and linking it to the brutal terrorist mass-murder campaign as well as alleged ambitions to create an entire state, the Iraqi government may be working towards justifying unleashing high levels of military violence on Fallujah, but who really is controlling Fallujah?

Instead of focusing on real issues like Kieran Kelly, everyone seems to be defocusing.

NewsBusters is a right wing media watchdog.  They often do good work.  They often are outright stupid.  Kyle Dreenen's worship of Bully Boy Bush is as embarrassing as Media Matters worship of Barack Obama.  If Dreenen focused less on rescuing his heart throb and more on doing media criticism, he could have nailed Brian Williams.  The first quote he offers from Williams is, "US fighting forces are gone from Iraq.  But as so many predicted when President Bush chose to go to war there after 9/11, the fighting has started up again."  Well, they're not gone, US forces remain in Iraq and Barack's too damn stupid to make that a talking point which allows the right-wing to clobber him with 'you pulled all the forces out of Iraq!'

But the important sentence is that second sentence.

If you were opposed to the Iraq War and speaking out before it started -- I was -- then that second sentence is startling: "But as so many predicted when President Bush chose to go to war there after 9/11, the fighting has started up again."  We were the voices that were silenced by NBC, by ABC, by CBS, by CNN, and by MSNBC  -- though screamed at and derided, we got a better hearing on Fox than anywhere else.  We were the voices Cokie Roberts dubbed "none that mattered."

Yet now Brian Williams wants to note us?  (And NewsBusters, you're right-wing critique of Williams is that if all these voices were saying it ahead of the war, why weren't they on the media.  You should be accusing Williams of attempting to re-write history.)

Bully Boy Bush started the illegal war (with the help of his powder puff gal squad Tony Blair and John Howard).  In 2006, the Iraqi Parliament wanted to name Ibrahim al-Jaafari to a second term as prime minister.  The White House refused to allow that to happen.  Nouri had no militia and, most importantly, he had an intelligence dossier that insisted he was easily manipulated and controlled.  So he was installed as the US puppet.  The paranoia that made him so easy to  trick also made him prone to attacks on the Iraqi people.  In 2010, the Iraqi people voted and Nouri's State of Law lost to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.  Iraq should have been free of the despot.  But Samantha Power and Susan Nuclear Rice argued that Nouri must have a second term. Barack idiotically agreed.

So the Iraqi people watched as the US government created a legal contract, The Erbil Agreement, that gave Nouri a second term despite the votes.

Then came the end of the SOFA and Barack bungled that as well.  Because, let's be honest, he's so damn stupid.  I'm glad he is, I'm glad the bulk of US troops are out of Iraq.  But the SOFA fell apart because Barack didn't understand the difference between rule and letter of the law.  Exiting Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had attempted to educate Barack on SOFAs but to no use.  New Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta thought he had conveyed the realities to Barack but he hadn't.  Then again, maybe Barack wasn't stupid, maybe he just didn't want a large number of troops in Iraq either?

Regardless what was agreed to and could have been implemented to keep around 9,000 to 15,000 US troops in the country was set aside.  A number of forces remained in Iraq after the drawdown (which the press billed as a "withdrawal" and of course he sent in Special-Ops in the fall of 2012.  Today, only Ewen MacAskill (Guardian) can note, "The CIA, which retained a presence in Iraq after the 2011 US troop withdrawal, is reported to be involved in helping with co-ordination of intelligence as well as targeting Hellfire missiles. In addition, there are 200 US military advisers left after the withdrawal."

As long as he continues to lie about that, he'll continue to be attacked for it.

Michael Crowley (Time magazine) leads the attack today by noting candidate Barack's promises:

“We will need to retain some forces in Iraq and the region,” Obama said. “We’ll continue to strike at al-Qaeda in Iraq.”
Obama made the point repeatedly: “In ending the war, we must act with more wisdom than we started it,” he said a month earlier. “That is why my plan would maintain sufficient forces in the region to target al-Qaeda within Iraq.”
And in a February 2008 primary debate, moderator Tim Russert pressed Obama on whether there were any circumstances that would lead him to re-escalate in Iraq: “Do you reserve a right as American president to go back into Iraq, once you have withdrawn?” Russert asked.
“If al-Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad,” Obama responded.
Six years later, even with al-Qaeda showing alarming strength in Iraq — and across the border in Syria — nobody thinks Obama will “go back into Iraq” anytime soon. As Secretary of State John Kerry put it Sunday: “This is a fight that belongs to the Iraqis.”

There are two huge mistakes the US government made with Iraq beginning in 2003.  The first was Bully Boy Bush's decision to invade.  The second was Barack Obama overruling the votes of the Iraqi people to give Nouri a second term.

Violence continues with a stun bomb in Basra, the Iraqi Air Force bombing Anbar, military helicopters bombing Ramadi, and more.  And what may be most appalling is how little any of this is understood.  The editorial board of the Journal Democrat offers "Editorial: Let Iraqi fight this war" and while their conclusion may make sense, their reasoning doesn't.

Are we retroactively stupid?

The editorial board is: al Qaeda!!!!

In real time it was called "insurgents."  It's as though their minds have turned to mush.  And if we could acknowledge the reality that Anbar has always been a zone of resistance, we might be able to better understand what is taking place right now instead of reducing it to the comic book nature of 'al Qaeda.'

What's going on in Iraq?

Here's how the Libertarian Ed Krayewski (Reason) describes it:

You’d be forgiven if, while looking at recent headlines about Iraq, you thought it was the aughts again. Fallujah, the site of some of the most intense fighting during the U.S. war in Iraq, is again at the center of political violence in that country. Over the weekend, the city fell to Al Qaeda-linked fighters who declared an independent Islamist state there. Iraq’s prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, in power since 2006, has urged residents in Fallujah to fight back. Neighboring Iran, meanwhile, has offered to help expel Al Qaeda from the city while last month Iraq turned to the United States, requesting it send drones and missiles to help battle the Al Qaeda-linked Islamists. Seventy-five Hellfire missiles reportedly arrived in Iraq on December 19, and drones were supposed to be on their way, too. The fighting in Fallujah was a culmination of a year of increasing political violence in Iraq. 

The periodical is called Reason so is it really too much to suppose they might use reason?

Nouri picked a fight last week and -- at least  initially -- he's lost. He's now demanding that the people of Falluja do what he could not.  In what world is that acceptable?

Do they have Hellfire missiles, these residents of Falluja?

He's already made the residents victims of collective punishment -- collective punishment is a War Crime -- and now he's not saying, "We will rescue you," he's screaming, "Fix my mess!!!"

ABC News Radio adds:

Ross Caputi, a former Marine who fought in the second battle for the city and is now an outspoken critic of U.S. intervention in Iraq, told ABC News recently that he’d watched his friends die there “for the purposes of regime change and furthering business interests friendly to the Bush administration.”
“[Now] Iraqis will die there to further the interests of [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki’s government,” he said.

Caputi's is a lone voice of honesty.  More often we get the likes of  NPR's Larry Kaplow:

Yet again, Iraqi civilians are fleeing violence in Iraq's sprawling western province of Anbar. Years of under-the-radar daily tension and bloodshed has erupted into another al-Qaida surge and retaliatory Iraqi government airstrikes.

I'm sorry, are you a liar or an idiot, Kaplow?  Over 100,000 were fleeing on Friday and they were fleeing the government attacks. Fighters had not then seized control of Falluja (that would come Saturday).  Kaplow had his head up his ass as usual and missed that reality.

Lauren Hood (ITV News) offers a video report on the battle in Ramadi including footage the Iraqi government released of them attacking 'al Qaeda' -- two lone pick up truck.  Not even enough for a tailgate party but that qualifies for a terrorist cell?  Right-winger Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary) is convinced that Americans are getting too friendly with Iran and appears to be laying the preliminary groundwork for show trials to come.  Left-wing aymaan30 (allvoices) accepts the ready made construct but at least has the sense of mind to note:

Iraq needs a representative democracy and it won’t be realized unless Nouri al-Maliki stops Shia-appeasement and Sunni marginalization.
Moreover, if the United States continues to support a Shia-controlled Iraq and ignores the Sunni marginalization, the march of Iraq into the pit of religious theocracy and sectarian bloodshed would continue.
Simply developing a holistic strategy to isolate the al-Qaeda would be a palliative gesture. At the same time, Hellfire missiles and drones are not going to solve this problem. In fact, these moves will make it worse. 

But it's weapons and weapons, billions of dollars worth of weapons.  Amaani Lyle (DoD's American Forces Press Service) quotes Army Col Steven Warren declaring today, "We're expediting delivery of 10 operational ScanEagles for part of the original purchase, as well as an additional four nonoperational ScanEagles, which will be sent to help facilitate maintenance of the original 10."  Yes, that must be the answer.  After all, the US government has only provided Iraq with $14 billion in weaponry and training since 2005.  You might think, "$14 billion?  Doesn't the country just have something like 32 million people?  What the heck?"  Indeed.  The problem isn't a lack of weapons or not enough weapons, the problem is a non-inclusive government which continues to penalize and terrorize Sunnis.

In yesterday's snapshot, I noted we'd come back to Monday's State Dept press briefing by spokesperson Marie Harf:

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, there’s been strong criticism of the performance of president – or Prime Minister Maliki towards the uprising in Anbar long before ISIS showed up. How do you guarantee that all these weapons that you’re giving to him to fight ISIS is not going to be used against his political opponent?

MS. HARF: In terms of what we’re selling to the Iraqi Government?

QUESTION: Yeah. All the assistance that he’s been asking them to combat ISIS --

MS. HARF: Well, it’s to the Iraqi Government. It’s not to any one person in the Iraqi Government. I should be clear about that. Obviously, we’re close partners with them. We work together on all these issues. I have no indication that anything we have given them is being used in any nefarious way. I’m happy to check with our folks.

No, it's not 'to the Iraqi Government.'  It's too Nouri al-Maliki.

The US government brokered The Erbil Agreement to give Nouri a second term as prime minister.  In that contract, the other political blocs went along with a second term in exchange for a power-sharing government.  That did not happen.  Nouri didn't keep his word and the US government did not demand that he keep his word.  In addition, failure to nominate people to head the security posts were a power grab on Nouri's part.  Add in that the country's without a president.  For 13 months now, Jalal Talabani has been in Germany.  He's not well enough to hold office and the Constitution has yet again been ignored.

This all goes to the fact that there is no Iraqi government, there is only a despot named Nouri who has been put in charge.

As has too often been the case in the last few years, The Economist has a better grasp of the issues than most outlets:

But the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham has also flourished because there has been passive acceptance by Iraqi Sunnis who believe their government and security forces are against them. The Iraqi army is so unpopular in Anbar that in the summer it withdrew to the outskirts of the cities, adding to the lack of security that allowed extremists to regroup.
Mr Maliki, a Shia, has largely marginalised Iraq’s Sunni minority, ignoring the demands of protests over the past year. Iraqi prisons full of young Sunni men, in some cases arrested along with their wives and children, political exclusion and lack of economy opportunities have fuelled ongoing protests in Anbar and other Sunni areas.  The final straw came on December 30th when the Iraqi army tore down a protest camp in Ramadi, later arresting a prominent Sunni parliamentarian.

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