Thursday, January 09, 2014








His nonsense is really insulting, confusing TV talk show hosts with reporters, at a time when so many reporters around the world are being killed. The close of 2013 saw many updates on the continued violence around the world but, as Dirk Adriaensens "2013: Another year of slaughter in Iraq claims the lives of at least 21 media professionals" (BRussells Tribunal) points out, as bad as it seemed it is actually far deadlier for journalists in Iraq than was previously known:

In Iraq, at least 404 media professionals have been killed since the US invasion in 2003, among them 374 Iraqis, according to The BRussells Tribunal statistics. The impunity in Iraq is far worse than anywhere else in the world.

Dr. Yasser Salihee (here with his wife Dr. Raghad Wazzan) gave up his job at Yarmouk Hospital to become a journalist.

In memory of Dr Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for the news agency Knight Ridder, killed on 24 June 2005 by a single bullet of an American sniper as he approached a checkpoint that had been thrown up near his home in western Baghdad by US and Iraqi troops. Since May 2005, Dr. Salihee had been reporting on the similarities between the death squads used in El Salvador to obliterate their “insurgency” and the US military’s creation of the “Wolf Brigade” that had been unleashed to eliminate the Iraqi Resistance. Salihee had been gathering evidence that US-backed Iraqi Ministry of Interior forces had been carrying out extra-judicial killings. We believe that he was assassinated because he came too close to the truth. There is serious doubt that the shooting was “an accident”. Nevertheless, the Committee for The ‘Protection’ of Journalists (CPJ) has thrown Dr Yasser Salihee in the dungeons of history.  He doesn't figure in any of their death lists.  

While Reporters Without Borders lists 11 Iraqi journalists killed in 2013 and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists lists 12, BRussells Tribunal reveals the actual number is at least 21.
These murders take place, as Dirk Adriaensens vividly explains, in a lawless nation where killing a journalist matters so little that investigations aren't even launched.
The Iraqi press sees this and knows this and yet still shows more bravery in reporting than western outlets in Iraq do. Nouri has provided no protection to journalists.  Instead, his forces have attacked and terrorized journalists.  Played a 'joke' of pointing a gun at a New York Times correspondent, kidnapped and beaten journalists who covered the February 2011 protests.  In 2006, his first moves as prime minister was to attack reporters.  He tried to arrest them for covering the violence.  He was humored by the world then and he's been humored ever since.
As a result, each year is deadlier for journalists in Iraq.
      3 January 2014 – The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom, expressed alarm today at the recent killing of six media workers in two separate incidents in Iraq and called for measures to bring those responsible to justice.

The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, has condemned the killing of Raad Yassin, Jamal Abdel Nasser, Mohamed Ahmad Al-Khatib, Wissam Al-Azzawi and Mohamed Abdel Hamid in an attack on Salaheddin TV in Tikrit, and of Omar Al-Dulaimy in the city of Ramadi.

“Once again I call on the authorities to do all they can to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice,” she said in a statement issued by the Paris-based agency, which adds: “The escalation of violence against the media in Iraq is intolerable as it poses a severe threat to national reconciliation and reconstruction.”

Omar Al-Dulaimy was killed on 31 December, while covering armed clashes in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, where he worked as a correspondent for the Voice of Ramadi radio, a station broadcasting in Anbar province.

Five members of Salaheddin TV— chief news editor Raad Yassin, producer Jamal Abdel Nasser, cameraman Mohamed Ahmad Al-Khatib, presenter Wissam Al-Azzawi and archives manager Mohamed Abdel Hamid — were killed in a suicide attack on the headquarters of their television station in Tikrit on 23 December. 
From UNESCO, let's go to UNAMI's statement released today:
Baghdad, 8 January 2014 - The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, said that the UN is working closely with the Iraqi national and regional authorities as well as with humanitarian partners to ensure safe passage for humanitarian assistance and emergency supplies to both the stranded and displaced families of Anbar province.
“There is a critical humanitarian situation in Anbar province which is likely to worsen as operations continue. The UN agencies are working to identify the needs of the population and prepare medical supplies, food and non-food items for distribution if safe passage can be ensured. This remains a primary challenge. The situation in Fallujah is particularly concerning as existing stocks of food, water and life-saving medicines begin to run out. According to our preliminary assessment, over 5,000 families have fled the fighting and sought refuge in the neighbouring provinces of Karbala, Salahadine, Baghdad and elsewhere. The UN is working with the Ministry of Displacement and Migration to identify their needs and meet them immediately," Mr. Mladenov said.
Not a minor point.
People are dying and, just as in the two attacks on Anbar in 2004, the western press wants to pretend like no one's being hurt except some 'bad guys.'  In November 2004, they lied and pretended everyone was out when the US government attacked.  No one lied harder than the New York Times' Dexter Filkins who even won a little prize for his lies -- while failing to share it with the US military censors who revamped and then cleared his copy (explaining the 8 day delay for it to make it into the paper -- the press moved faster in the days of the Pony Express).
People died.
People are dying now.  
Anbar is a very populated province.  It is thought to have 1.5 million people (Iraq's not had a census in decades).  
Human Rights Watch realizes there are lives at risk.  They issued a statement which opens:
Iraqi government forces appear to have used indiscriminate mortar fire in civilian neighborhoods in Anbar province, and al-Qaeda fighters and armed men from local groups have deployed in and attacked from populated areas. Apparently unlawful methods of fighting by all sides have caused civilian casualties and severe property damage. A government blockade of Fallujah and Ramadi has resulted in limited access to food, water, and fuel for the population.
Based on numerous reports and accounts by local residents in interviews with Human Rights Watch, government security forces responded to attacks by al-Qaeda armed groups on the night of January 1, 2014, with mortar and gunfire into residential areas, in some cases with apparently no al-Qaeda presence. The security forces then surrounded the cities, witnesses said.
“The government urgently needs to deal with the threat from al-Qaeda, but killing their own citizens unlawfully is not the way,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Civilians have been caught in the middle in Anbar, and the government appears to be doing nothing to protect them.”
This is a tragedy for Anbar.  It is a tragedy for the Iraqi people.
This is from the Human Rights Watch statement:
In Fallujah, the army closed the main eastern, northern, and southern checkpoints, refusing to allow any people, medicine, or food to enter or leave the city through these checkpoints. Fallujah residents said that security forces allowed families with children to leave the city through the two other checkpoints, but only with “extreme difficulty,” and, as of January 8, have continued to refuse to allow single men to leave. Army forces continue to surround Ramadi, but residents reported that they were able to leave the city. On January 8, the Erbil governorate announced that 13,000 Anbari residents had fled into Erbil province.
Residents told Human Rights Watch that as of January 6, the army blockade and intermittent heavy fighting had prevented residents from getting sufficient food, water, electricity, and fuel. On January 3, the Iraqi Red Crescent reported that it sent convoys with food aid to both cities but could not enter because of heavy fighting. On January 5, Anbar’s provincial council described the humanitarian situation in Fallujah as “catastrophic.”
In a post on his Facebook page on January 8, a Ramadi resident, Omar al-Shaher, reported that al-Qaeda fighters had fought army forces that afternoon in the city’s Sharia 60 neighborhood. He said the army used drones to fire on the al-Hamiria bridge, which connects the neighborhood to desert areas outside the city. Al-Shaher said that Ramadi’s al-Malaab, Ziraha, Sharia 60, and Albu Jaber areas remained unstable and that residents feared that a “huge battle” was soon to come.
An employee in Fallujah’s main hospital reported that mortar fire from army shelling had killed 25 Fallujah residents and injured 190 since the fighting began on December 30, 2013, all resulting from the shrapnel, the employee said. The areas of the city the employee said the casualties came from are all areas where, according to residents, al-Qaeda was not present.
US President Barack Obama's denied giving Nouri armed drones so where did the armed drones come from?  Or is the press going to ignore that like they ignore so much?
'Analysts' ignore a lot as well.  The Brookings Institution postss:
Noting that the Obama administration tried to keep forces in Iraq in 2011, an offer rejected by the Iraqi government, [Michael] O'Hanlon said that "I'd be willing to see several hundred Americans or even a couple thousand of special operations persuasions, of intelligence backgrounds, go and help the Iraqis if the Iraqis can decide they want that help."
Would Michael be willing to see that?  If he's an analyst, he should probably first acknowledge that Special-Ops were sent back in during the fall of 2012.  September 2012, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

If you can't be honest maybe you should just not say anything?
Then again, maybe we have to be grateful for partial honesty?
Retired US Col Peter Mansoor (Defense One) gets it partly right when examining the roots for today's problems:
Despite this promising beginning, the situation in Iraq began to spiral downward after the election of 2010 when the winner, Ayad Allawi, was sidelined in favor of another Maliki term in a backroom deal cut in Tehran. Sunni Arabs became disenchanted with the political process, increasingly dominated by an authoritarian prime minister who used the security forces and courts to pursue his political agenda. The withdrawal of the last U.S. combat forces from Iraq in 2011 gave Maliki a green light to further these policies; his pursuit of Tarik al-Hashemi and other Sunni politicians deepened Sunni discontent. The way was open for the revitalization of al-Qaeda in Iraq, once left for dead after the manifest successes of the Awakening and the surge.
Iran can be credited.  They strong armed cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr to drop his opposition to Nouri.  But that's not how Nouri got his second term.  There was still the problem of the votes and the will of the Iraqi people and a little thing called the Constitution.  Barack had US officials broker the extra-constitutional Erbil Agreement which went around all of that to provide Nouri a second term.  Mansoor's told half the truth and it's a sign of just how many lies are out there that I feel like shouting "THANK YOU!" to him at the top of my lungs.
He's targeted one Sunni politician after another.  But he's just accused of it?  He refused to the power-sharing agreement outlined in The Erbil Agreement but he's just accused of running a sectarian Shia-dominated regime?
Wow, thank goodness for the bravery of Al Jazeera America.  Next up, they're expose on tooth pastes that promise more than they deliver.
David Welna (All Things Considered, NPR) plays stupid as well, "At the White House earlier this week, spokesman Jay Carney wondered aloud just what the president's critics might want, beyond the Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones that are being sent to Iraq."
If you don't know what happened then maybe stop flapping your gums.  Had the White House not backed Nouri for a second term and sided with Iraqi voters, Ahmed Chalabi would be in charge.
Is he a nicer person that Nouri?

I don't know.  
But the US government consensus was he'd be a better and more inclusive ruler.  The Iraqi people spoke in the election of 2010 and spoke for a united Iraq which is why they chose a Shi'ite leader (Allawi) of a mixed political party (Shi'ite and Sunni). 
Sunni voters alone could not have allowed Iraqiya to beat State of Law.  It was Sunnis and Shias working together for the future of Iraq.  That was a powerful moment, it had been building in the 2009 elections.  The US could have backed up that powerful future.  Instead Barack spat on democracy and let a despot have a second term the people didn't give him.
And the results aren't surprising.  Barack saw the same CIA personality disorder analysis on Nouri that Bully Boy Bush saw.  These were the liabilities outlined if Nouri's paranoia and narcissism weren't 'managed.'
And Barack not only gave him a second term, he's armed him while Nouri's attacked Iraqis.  Nouri's over the Ministry of the Interior (in a power grab, he refused to nominate anyone to head the Ministry) and that's who targeted the gay and emo youth, went around to schools encouraging kids to kill them, said that they sucked blood and were vampires -- Now, of course, the Ministry denied it.  And that might have been end of story but both Alsumaria and Al Mada had copies of the official handout from the Ministry that was given to students on each of these 'teachable moments.'  That's only one example.
Nouri's a thug.  And Barack keeps arming him.  Josh Rogin (Daily Beast) reports:
As Iraqi army forces prepare to mount an offensive to take back control of the city of Fallujah from al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), the Obama administration is in a full court press to urge Congress to allow the sale of dozens of Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters the Maliki government has been seeking for years. Both the House Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had been holding up the sales, out of concern Maliki will use them against his domestic political enemies. Senators in both parties also lament Maliki’s increasingly sectarian style of governing and his alleged cooperation with Iran to aid the Syrian regime.
The Daily Beast has learned that the House Foreign Affairs Committee has now dropped its hold on the Apache sales but one senior senator still refuses to allow it to go through – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Congressional aides said Tuesday that Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns has been lobbying Menendez to release his hold on the sales and Burns has also been reaching out to other senators who have problems with Maliki. 
I'm not calling Rogin a liar but if the House Foreign Affairs Committee has dropped their hold without making any conditions for Nouri to turn over the seven Ashraf hostages?  I think a number of people may not be serving on that Committee after the 2014 elections.

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