CRANKY CLINTON IS SAID TO HAVE REVIVED THE SLEAZE FACTOR.
REACHED FOR COMMENT, CRANKY NODDED HER HEAD FURIOUSLY, "YEAH, I'M BRINGING SLEAZEY BACK, AND CHEESEY BACK, AND GREASY BACK, AND BACK FAT BACK. IN FACT, AT MY RALLIES, I WANT MY SUPPORTERS TO CHANT 'BACK IT UP! BACK IT UP! BACK IT UP!' AND I'LL BE TWERKING. YOU HAVEN'T LIVED UNTIL YOU'VE SEEN ME TWERK AND SHAKE WHAT MY MOMMA GAVE ME!"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
"Self-Defeating Brutality" is the name of Aki Peritz' essay on Iraq at Slate:
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was in the U.S. last month, begging for arms and cash in order to fight ISIS. His requests come none too soon; the Iraqi military is reportedly gearing up for a summer offensive against ISIS in Anbar Province. But the impending series of battles will result in little intelligence gathered for the conflict-to-come in Mosul, Syria, and elsewhere. This spells bad news for Baghdad, Washington—and Tehran.
Why? Here’s one answer: Buried in a recent New York Times article about Iraq’s liberation of Tikrit from ISIS is this startling fact: The Iraqi militias battling ISIS took no prisoners of war. That was despite a fierce series of battles taking place in a dense urban area, resulting in hundreds, if not thousands, of casualties.To take zero prisoners during a major military operation probably means only one thing: Iranian-backed militias executed every single ISIS fighter they found under any and all circumstances. One spokesperson for the Badr brigade copped to as much. He said, “To be honest, everywhere we captured them we killed them because they were the enemy.”
Read the entire essay and grasp the disaster that was the assault on Tikrit.
For those who've forgotten, Tikrit was where the Iraqi government was supposed to show how strong their forces -- armies as well as the thugs in the militias like the Badr brigade. The operation was going to move quickly, insisted the government. And, by mid-week, the government was insisting that by Friday they would be in Tikrit.
Didn't happen in the second week.
Weeks into the operation, Holly Williams (CBS News -- link is text and video) reported:
A condition of the U.S. strikes is that the militias go home. Just outside Tikrit two weeks ago an Iraqi general -- Bahaa al-Azawi -- confidently told us that victory was days away."We got the ability, we got the capability to defeat terrorism, and push them away from Iraq," al-Azawi said at the time.
But the Tikrit offensive stalled -- even though one senior Iraqi politician told us ISIS may have only 20 fighters left in the city.
Yeah, with minimal Islamic State members in Tikrit, they still couldn't pull it off. Iran was calling the shots via Iranian Quds Force General Qasem Soeimani and flexing muscle -- or what passed for muscle -- and the attempt to take Tikrit took weeks.
And might still be going on if Hadi al-Amiri had his way.
The Minister of Transportation most infamous in Nouri al-Maliki's second term for refusing to allow a plane to land in Baghdad because it had not waited hours for his son to board.
He's still Minister of Transportation -- this despite the failures in transport in Iraq. (During Nouri's first term, they used to make a show of train successes. They gave up that pretense early on.)
He also the head of the Bard brigade -- even though you weren't supposed to be allowed to run for Parliament if you were part of a militia.
As head of the Bard brigade he sort-of directed the Tikrit operation (Qasem Soleimani really called the shots) and he publicly insisted, week after week, that they did not need US air strikes.
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi begged for US air strikes -- and the White house demanded Soleimani leave first -- and they were the only thing that saved the month-long operation from total failure.
But it's not accurate to call it a "success."
Not even all these weeks later.
Zaid Al-Ali explores Tikrit at The New York Review of Books:
The offensive to liberate Tikrit, launched in March 2015, involved a disparate group of armed groups, including regular forces, militias, volunteer fighters, local tribal forces, Iranian advisers, and US war planes. Throughout the campaign, dozens of bodies were transported daily to Wadi el-Salam, the world’s largest cemetery, in the Shia holy city of Najaf. Displaced Tikritis noted with consternation as Baghdad’s mainly Shia neighborhoods were lined with funeral notices for the young men who were dying in the battle to liberate their city.
One month after ISIS’s defeat, many locals who had left still consider it too dangerous to return to Tikrit. Since the liberation, hundreds of criminals have been operating freely, looting and destroying property. In one district, more than a quarter of the homes were destroyed after its liberation, and reports of property destruction are still coming in. The elected provincial council and the governor have not been able to return to the city. Municipal services have yet to be restored and few businesses have reopened. Many Tikritis are furious at the army and the police’s failure to restore order, and the government’s refusal to acknowledge the problem.
And the failure inside the city may explain why so few have returned. Mustafa Habib (Niqash) notes:
A combination of pro-government forces expelled the Islamic State, or IS, group from Tikrit in early April. But as yet there's no real civilian life here, no schools open, hospitals, courts of justice or police stations active. Residents of the city who fled their homes some time ago – the city was largely empty when the security forces arrived to fight the IS group – remain displaced, in cities around Iraq waiting for an official decision as to whether they should return. In fact, the city is more like a ghost town at the moment, populated only by wraiths from the various kinds of security forces in charge of different areas around the city.
Getting to Tikrit is hardly fun at the moment either. The soldiers deployed along the highways leading from Baghdad to Tikrit look terribly tired and they all seem to be in a bad mood. They certainly don't trust strangers. They act as though everyone coming through here may as well as be a member of the IS group, until they can prove otherwise.
Once inside Tikrit, it's not particularly easy to move around. There are three types of security forces inside the city and each controls its own areas. The first and most powerful is composed of members of the unofficial Shiite Muslim militias, composed of volunteers who took up arms to fight the IS group. Those most obvious here are Hezbollah in Iraq, the League of the Righteous, (or Asaib Ahl al-Haq in Arabic) and the Najbaa brigades.
The second strongest organisation in Tikrit is the official Iraqi army, including counter terrorism units and special forces. And the third group here are the local police, who appear to have only limited resources and powers.
NIQASH was asked not to report which areas are under control of which groups for security reasons. Additionally all of the forces present in Tikrit are not happy to let those they consider “strangers” take pictures in the areas they supervise. After journalists reported on some members of the Shiite militias who burned and looted property and exacted their revenge on locals they thought were IS members, the militia men do not trust journalists. However both the Shiite militias and the soldiers were happy to give visitors pictures they had taken themselves.
Despite the failures of the Tikrit operation, the high profile failures, nothing has been learned.
That lovely Hadi. The thug's in the news today for other things as well -- apparently threatening the United States. Rudaw reports:
Iraqi Shiite leader Hadi Ameri, who is currently commanding Hashd al-Shaabi fighters in the Anbar military campaign against ISIS militants, has threatened “all parties working to dissolve Iraq.”
Ameri’s controversial comments came days after a new bill introduced by Republicans in the US Congress called on the White House to directly arm and assist the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Sunni Arab tribes against the Islamic State.
Rudaw, like nearly every other outlet, is wrong to designate the bill to Republicans in the US House of Representatives. We went over this at length last night but we'll note this press release on the bill:
H.R. 1735 Passes
House Armed Services Committee
|WASHINGTON - The House Armed Services today passed H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2016 by a vote of 60-2. Details of the bill can be found here. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the Committee, made the following statement on passage:|
"This is a bill the entire Committee can be proud of. After a day of extensive debate, we have produced legislation that is the first step in a process of substantial reform at the Department of Defense. Those reforms will enhance our military's efficiency and begin restoring its agility. I look forward to bringing this legislation to the floor in the weeks ahead."
It passed the Committee on a vote of 60 in favor and 2 against. That's not a "Republican bill" -- that's a bipartistan bill.
The bill makes formal what Haider was supposed to have done.
The US government has supplied Haider with weapons to fight the Islamic State.
The weapons were supposed to go to the Shi'ites, yes, but also to the Sunni and Kurds.
Haider's been more than a little greedy with the weapons. And the US Congress has covered this in one hearing after another.
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