CRANKY CLINTON'S CONTINUED SILENT GAME ALLOWS HER TO AVOID MANY TOPICS INCLUDING THE ISSUE OF IRAQ.
THE PRESS HAS PRETENDED TO BE INTERESTED (AND OUTRAGED) OVER JEB BUSH'S ANSWER EARLIER THIS WEEK TO WOULD HE -- WELL, TURNS OUT, HE'S NOT SURE WHAT QUESTION HE WAS ANSWERING.
GOOD THING HE DIDN'T TRY TO FUDGE WITH "BIG BIRD!" WHILE BIG BIRD DOES HAVE HIS FANS FEW QUESTIONS IN A POLITICAL RACE HAVE TO DO WITH BIG BIRD -- NOW BERT AND ERNIE, THAT'S A WHOLE OTHER STORY.
AND SO IS CRANKY'S EFFORTS AT RESTRAINT OF LATE WHEN SHE'S USUALLY THE FIRST TO JOIN A DOG PILE.
BUT NOT ON THE TOPIC OF IRAQ. ON THAT TOPIC, SHE JUST WANTS TO STAY SILENT -- FOR OBVIOUS REASONS.
REACHED FOR COMMENT, CRANKY SAID, "MAKE IT QUICK, I'M BOILING KITTENS."
WHEN INFORMED WE WERE CALLING ABOUT IRAQ, CRANKY SUDDENLY BROKE INTO A VERY WEAK-ASS SPANISH ACCENT AS SHE INSISTED, "OH NO, THE PRETTY LADY SHE NO BE HOME. PRETTY LADY HILLARY WITH PRETTY BLOND HAIR NO HOME. SHE IS SO PRETTY AND SO BEAUTIFUL. SHE WILL BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. BUT SHE NO HOME. CALL BACK LATER. YOU GO NOW. BYE BYE."
It was not a good day for US President Barack Obama. Alexander Bolton (The Hill) notes, "Senate Democrats on Tuesday delivered a stinging blow to President Obama's trade agenda by voting to prevent the chamber from tackling fast-track legislation." Today also saw him criticized as sexist for his remarks on Senator Elizabeth Warren with NOW's Terry O'Neill declaring his remarks were sexist and that their "clear subtext is that 'the little lady' just doesn't know what she's talking about" while Senator Sherrod Brown stated, "I think the president was disrespectful to her by the way he did that. I think that the president has made this more personal than he needed to."
As bad as today may be for Barack, next month may be worse.
June 2015 will mark the one year anniversary of Barack rebuking Iraq's then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and insisting the only way for the country to emerge from its crises was via a "political solution." That publicly stated realization has been followed by months and months of the US government refusing to work with Iraq towards a political solution or to demand that Iraq's leaders take necessary steps.
Iraq came up in today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke.
QUESTION: Okay. And then some Sunni – Iraqi Sunni leaders are here in town in Washington, D.C., including Rafe al-Essawi, who is wanted by the Iraqi court. Can you tell us why they are here and whether they have met any State Department officials?
MR RATHKE: Well, we’re aware that the former Iraqi deputy prime minister and the governor of Nineveh province are visiting Washington this week. It’s an unofficial visit, not organized by the U.S. Government. They have requested meetings at the Department of State, so we expect that senior department officials who work on issues related to Iraq and ISIL will meet with them during their stay, but I don’t have further --
QUESTION: Are they going to meet Mr. Essawi?
MR RATHKE: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Are they going to meet Mr. Essawi as well?
MR RATHKE: I don’t have further information on the meetings. As again – as I said, this is an unofficial visit. So they’ve requested meetings here, and we will meet with them. I don’t have a full lineup of exactly who’s going to participate.
QUESTION: Well, when you meet with them, will you be able to share some more information?
MR RATHKE: I don’t have any further information. I’d refer you back to their delegation to talk about the details.
Yesterday in DC, Rafe al-Issawi appeared at Brookings Institution event with Nineveh Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi. The event was moderated by Kenneth Pollack.
Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi: [. . .] the volunteers are ready to fight as soon as they get weapons. By now we have thousands of fighters who have graduated from these camps [run by international trainers] and are ready to fight but they don't have weapons. They don't have the weapons they need for the fight for the liberation of Mosul from Da'ash. Since last January -- now five months ago -- we are still waiting for the promises of weapons that have been made by our government in Baghdad. Promises are nice but it's the weapons that our volunteers need, not the promises. The force which hold Mosul after liberation must be trusted by the people of Mosul. That means the force must be from Mosul and its surrounding province in Nineveh. If these forces to be trusted by Mosul community the Mosul people will be on the side of the liberation and Da'ash cannot make a comeback into Mosul. The liberation comes first, of course, but its the period after the liberation that will be decided. Our people will be watching.
al-Nujaifi's remarks work with regards to Mosul. He identified the Nineveh Province city as the equivalent of Chicago or San Francisco in the United States.
But the remarks also go to the ongoing operation in Anbar Province where non-Sunnis are failing in their assault on Ramadi and Shi'ite militias have also found no success. The news that 1,000 Sunni fighters might take part is seen as too little and way too late.
Only 1,000, Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) notes as he explains:
In response to mounting criticism that sectarian Shiite Muslim militias are committing crimes against the mostly Sunni Muslim residents of embattled Anbar province, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi has authorized training and arming Sunni militiamen to combat the Islamic State.
But as the first class of local Sunnis began training this week, analysts, security experts and government officials expressed concerns that the program is too small and poorly coordinated to make a difference, while others are concerned that arming the Sunnis will alienate Abadi’s Shiite militia allies, who’ve already complained about the government’s cooperation with the American-led coalition.
The remarks by Atheel al-Nujaifi also go to the failures of Prime Minister Haider al-Obadi to live up to his part of the deal: The US government arms Iraq to fight the Islamic State and Haider distributes those arms to the fighters -- all those fighting against the Islamic State -- Shi'ites, Kurds and Sunnis.
But Haider has refused to supply the needed arms to the Sunnis and the Kurds. Atheel al-Nujaifi noted the failure to provide Sunni fighters with the needed arms.
Last week, KRG President Massoud Barzani visited DC and he noted, again, the failure of Haider and the Baghdad-based government to arm the Kurds.
Rudaw examined Barzani's visit in a discussion featuring Nussaibah Younis and Ernie Audino with Rudaw's Namo Abdulla moderating.
Nussaibah Younis: I'm not at all surprised that President Barzani was well recieved in the United States. After all, the Kurdish Peshmerga -- and particularly the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga -- are the only responsible, very well equipped, very effective forces on the ground in the fight against ISIS and the United States has been absolutely desperate to support forces on the ground so that the US is not again in the position where it has to send ground troops into Iraq. So it makes absolute sense that President Barzani and other Kurdish leaders would be very well received in Washington.
[. . .]
Ernie Audino: I think President Barzani left the meeting seemingly happy with the results of the meeting maybe not because of the independence issue -- maybe not because of that. But we can presume that that was one of several issues he very likely discussed. Now I wasn't in the meeting, but it's clear he certainly had to articulate a case for direct arming of the Peshmerga -- something that has not happened yet, okay? Arms and equipment go directly to Baghdad first and -- from my experience on the ground trying to equip the Kurdish government back in 2006, I can tell you the equipment, very little of that gets into the hands of the Peshmerga. And right now if its on the manifest of the carrier that's landing in Baghdad and Baghdad does not want that in the hands of the Peshmerga, the Peshmerga do not get it. And the Peshmerga just got 25 mwraps. And that's good, I'm glad That's 10% of all the Mwraps that were delivered to Baghdad.
Namo Abdullah: That's mine resistant vehichles, right?
Ernie Audino: That's correct. That's correct. The Peshmerga desperately need those vehicles to cross the open ground. But 10% landing on the ground in Baghdad going to the main effort in the fight? The Peshmerga? That's inconsistent with sound military doctrine.
If Haider wants to continue to oversee the distribution, he needs to honor his word to distribute the arms and equipment. If he can't, the US Congress is prepared to handle the responsibility he's shirked.
There is genuine concern in Iraq over Haider's inability to deal fairly.
At Monday's event, Atheel al-Nujaifi also noted, "President Obama last month pledged $200 million in humanitarian aid. With this humanitarian aid, President Obama promised, to be on hand immediately in Mosul after liberation. Or will it be tied up in Baghdad's bureaucracy?"
And that's a very good question since so much of the money in Iraq tends to vanish and never reached the intended or the needy.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"