Friday, December 27, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, the protests continue, Nouri threatens this was the last Friday of protests, 9300 Iraqis have died in violent deaths so far this year, we look at the press mythology around Barack, and more.
So before the year ends is anyone going to call the press on their b.s.?
Poor Rupert Cornwell. All that time in his talented half-brother's large shadow left Cornwell with a soggy brain incapable of analytical thought, incapable of anything but parrot-like repetition. British Cornwell wants to turn US President Barack Obama into a visionary and he's not about to let something like facts get in the way. The elderly fop chatters, "The last US troops left Iraq in 2011, and only a handful are likely to remain in Afghanistan after December 2014." Poor little piss ant -- so many years of writing and he has not one damn thing to show for it. Don't wake him from his early senility but all US forces never left Iraq and, in fact, another special-ops unit was sent in back in fall 2012. Tim Arango (New York Times) reported at the end of September 2012, "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
Let's emphasize one more time for the very slow and very stupid:
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
So Rupert apparently thinks he's prefect again in the midst of his first boy-on-boy crush. And he can't stop salivating over Barack's alleged miracle powers of leadership.
But wait . . .
There's the other narrative. The one where al Qaeda in Iraq is running all over Iraq and all over Syria. Sarah Birke published a post on that today at The New York Review of Books. Excerpt:
Talk to any Syrian you meet on the Syrian-Turkish border these days, and
in less than five minutes the conversation is likely to turn to Da’ash—the
Arabic acronym for the rebel organization known as the Islamic State of
Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS. Linked to al-Qaeda, the fearsome group
has swept across northern Syria, imposing sharia law, detaining and
even beheading Syrians who don’t conform to its purist vision of Islam,
and waging war on rival militias. In early December, the group killed a
foreign journalist, Iraqi cameraman Yasser Faisal al-Joumali, who was
reporting in northern Syria. Even using the word Da’ash—seen as
derogatory by the group’s members—is punishable by eighty lashes, a
twenty-three-year-old wounded fighter from a rival Islamist group told
me from his bed in a Syrian-run makeshift clinic in Turkey.
[. . .]
ISIS originated as an Iraq-based al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Qaeda in Iraq.
The organization is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an ambitious Iraqi
extremist who has overseen relentless attacks in Iraq, causing civilian
casualties, and who was designated a Global Terrorist by the US State
Department in October 2011, with a $10 million bounty on his head. As
the war in Syria progressed, al-Baghdadi saw an opportunity for
al-Qaeda, and in January 2012, sent some footmen to found Jabhat
al-Nusra with the aim of creating a new transnational state ruled by
sharia law and a belief in using violence to get there.
Now I don't personally believe the Sky Is Falling narrative that so many preach on 'al Qaeda in Iraq.' I think it's an imprecise term that is misapplied to breed fear and to justify violence and excuse it. As long as, for example, Nouri can scream "al Qaeda! al Qaeda!" he's under no obligation to own up to what he's done.
So not taking the press narrative seriously means I've yet to write a piece about, "Barack Obama blew Iraq! He should have . . ."
But what's the press' excuse?
They keep pimping this great threat from al Qaeda in Iraq.
I don't believe it. But they pimp it so they must believe it.
Mustafa Habib (Niqash) has a report today which opens:
The Sunni Muslim extremist group, Islamic
State of Iraq and Syria, has made it clear that it wants to annex Sunni
Muslim areas of Iraq. One of the biggest Iraqi military operations in
recent history has now been launched against them. But it doesn’t seem
to having any impact on the group.
The last few weeks in Iraq have been good to the
extremist organisation, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The
Al-Qaeda affiliated group managed to attack and assassinate a number of
high ranking Iraqi army officers and policemen in a number of provinces,
including Ninawa, Diyala, Baghdad and Anbar. All of these are known as
places where the organisation, also called ISIS or Daash, keeps bases.
They are also areas where a large proportion of the population is Sunni
Muslim. Al Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim extremist organisation and it often
targets Shiite Muslims – although recently it has also attacked Sunni
Muslims it considers to be cooperating with the Iraqi government.
A few weeks previously, at the beginning of December, ISIS clearly stated that its ambition
was to annex the Anbar province, which shares a border with Syria. The
extremist group already has control over various areas in Syria and it
seems it wants to add this part of Iraq too.
Habib's not the first to write about that claim. We've ignored it before. I don't take it seriously.
What I see -- and I could be wrong -- are a variety of groups making attacks but they are at cross purposes with one another and should they try to build within Iraq they would have huge squabbles, huge fights. They are not a group -- they are groups that are linked loosely. Syria provides them another mutual target. Even so, if you've paid attention, you've noticed that they can't even really get along as they conduct attacks in Syria.
But that's where I stand.
Where the press stands is that al Qaeda in Iraq is a nightmare group which has increased its power in Iraq and gone on to Syria (and Libya -- for the few who bother to note the horror that is Libya today).
Guess what boys and girls, if you want to run with that allegation, then you have to blame Barack.
You can't have it both ways. If al Qaeda is on the rise in Iraq after the (bulk) of US troops withdrew, then this is, in fact, on Barack.
He clearly made a huge error.
I'm not saying he did. But I don't buy into the mythical al Qaeda in Iraq.
He can't have been brilliant on the Middle East if al Qaeda in Iraq is truly on the rise.
You're going to have to reconcile your two assertions are in conflict, they're at cross purposes.
If al Qaeda in Iraq is on the rise, Barack's to blame for that.
And he's to blame for arming Nouri. From yesterday's snapshot:
Fortunately, not all outlets have correspondents from the kiddie table. Elise Labott and Tom Cohen (CNN) get it right regarding who is providing arms, "Two years after bringing home U.S. troops from Iraq, the Obama
administration is sending Hellfire rockets and ScanEagle surveillance
drones to help government forces fight al Qaeda affiliates growing in
influence, a State Department official confirmed to CNN on Thursday." Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) also gets it right, "The Obama administration has begun sending Hellfire missiles and
surveillance drone aircraft to Iraq to help the government battle an
expanding threat from local Al Qaeda-affiliated militants, U.S.
officials said, the first such assistance since the American withdrawal
from Iraq in 2011."
[. . .]
Noel Brinkerhoof (AllGov.com) explains today:
The Iraqi military will receive 75 Hellfire missiles from Washington. Costing nearly $70,000 a piece, the delivery represents an early Christmas gift for arms maker Lockheed Martin.
The company also made out with the order to manufacture Aerostat
surveillance balloons, three of which were provided to the Iraqi
government by the Obama administration.
Other U.S. arms merchants stand to benefit as well from President Barack Obama’s efforts to support al-Maliki.
The administration intends to ship 10 ScanEagle reconnaissance drones
in March to Iraq. This shipment will mean more revenue for Boeing.
Nicole Fray (GovConWire) adds, "William
Hartung, director of research organization Center for International
Policy, said in the report that the U.S. has provided Iraq with about
$35 billion worth of weapons and services since 2005."
Gordon Lubold was an idiot writing for the Christian Science Monitor and he's an idiot writing today for Foreign Policy about the missiles and drones. He's standing on quicksand -- pimping al Qaeda in Iraq as a huge threat but trying to also pretend no mistakes were made by Barack. It doesn't work that way. In his article, James Jeffrey strokes his like War Hawk. The only one who makes even a moment's sense is neocon Kimberly Kagan:
analysts were not that impressed by the arms sale to remedy Iraq's
worsening security situation. . Kim Kagan, president of the Institute
for the Study of War, a longtime advocate of an aggressive security
policy in Iraq, said she thinks the administration is continuing to
confuse materiel assistance for bona fide military cooperation. "The
U.S. does not seem to be imposing pressure on Prime Minister Maliki to
refrain from using his security forces for political ends, such as
suppressing the Sunni protest movements, the camps of which the [Iraq
Security Forces] have surrounded over the past several days," she told Foreign Policy via
Also sharing today? Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) offers this take on Iraq:
In March 2003 the majority of Iraqis from all sects and
ethnic groups wanted to see the end of Saddam’s disastrous rule even if
they didn’t necessarily support the US invasion. But the government now
in power in Baghdad is as sectarian, corrupt and dysfunctional as
Saddam’s ever was. There may be less state violence, but only because
the state is weaker. Its methods are equally brutal: Iraqi prisons are
full of people who have made false confessions under torture or the
threat of it. An Iraqi intellectual who had planned to open a museum in
Abu Ghraib prison so that Iraqis would never forget the barbarities of
Saddam’s regime found that there was no space available because the
cells were full of new inmates. Iraq is still an extraordinarily
dangerous place. 'I never imagined that ten years after the fall of
Saddam you would still be able to get a man killed in Baghdad by paying
$100,’ an Iraqi who’d been involved in the abortive museum project told
It's a shame that appears buried inside a Patrick Cockburn report as opposed to opening a report or even being the sole focus of a report.
It's Friday in Iraq. Last week, the ongoing protests hit the one year mark. They've been ongoing since December 12, 2012.
Nouri responded by (again) declaring them terrorists and announcing his planned assault on Ramadi's sit-in. Sunday, W.G. Dunlop (AFP) reported Nouri has declared the sit-in in Ramadi is a 'terrorist' cell:
The protest site is located in the Anbar city of Ramadi, but is nowhere near where the clashes took place.
say clearly and honestly that the sit-in site in Anbar has turned into a
headquarters for the leadership of Al-Qaeda," Maliki, a Shiite, said in
remarks broadcast Sunday on Iraqiya state TV.
Tuesday, December 24th, Nouri had his forces cut off roads leading out of Ramadi and to surround the protest yard. All Iraq News reports that Nouri's forces withdrew from the protest yard but Iraq Times noted that this was followed by an air drop of leaflets and that Nouri's
forces were receiving support from the US military. Leaflet droppings
advising to protesters to leave are a lot like the 2003 pre-invasion
leafleting the US government did over Iraq.
Did that send the protesters into hiding?
That's Samarra today.
And that's 16-year-old Ahmed Bahaa killed in Anbar today by Nouri's forces.
That's what Barack's backing. That's what the White House is giving arms for.
The murder of Iraqis whose only crime is exercising their legal rights.
Here's Ramadi's sit-in today.
Iraqi Spring MC reports helicopters were flying over the Ramadi square.
Al Mada reports that Maliki was denounced at Anbar protests for his threats (we'll get to today's threats in a moment) and that he was denounced for his militias which are not held accountable for their terrorism. In Samarra, Nouri was denounced for arming and paying Shi'ite militias to terrorize and kill Sunnis while at the same time Nouri insists that he's fighting terrorism.
Only one English-language outlet reports on today's protests. Omar al-Jaffal (Al-Monitor) files a major report which includes:
Mohammed al-Bajari, the official spokesman for the sit-in in
Fallujah, said, "The sit-ins will continue." He added, "The protesters
will not leave the sit-in squares until their legitimate demands are
met, oppression ends and the innocent people are released from prison."
Bajari clarified that the protesters "will not comply with the orders
of political parties or failed politicians, [nor will they respond to]
threats by militias." He alluded to preparations for "civil
disobedience and internationalizing the issue via international courts."
Bajari noted, "Those present in the squares have tribal connections,
which would exacerbate the crisis in the event that the protests were
subjected to any attack." He stressed, "[The right to] peaceful sit-ins
are guaranteed by the constitution. Citizens have the right to protest
as long as the constitution guarantees this right." He also pointed
out, "Any [measures that are] non-peaceful will lead to bloodshed."
Bajari explained, "The Glory and Dignity Army was only formed in the
city of Ramadi. It does not direct weapons at the army or the police,
but rather at militias — which I won't name — that are trying to
eliminate the sit-ins."
This week also saw AFP's WG Dunlop do media rounds. Sometimes billed as "William," sometimes as "Will." It was "Will" who went on NPR's Morning Edition this week. Has anyone ever been duller or less informed? He only came to life when talking about the lack of electricity. But he was on to talk about violence. He didn't mention the slaughter in Hawija. He didn't mention the slaughter of journalists. He didn't do much of anything but promote AFP's 'count.'
For years, we noted the Iraqi government's count was an undercount. As I would point out, UN friends would pass that along. Finally, in 2012, Prashant Rao began a count at AFP.
The good from that was it demonstrated the Iraqi government was lying about the deaths. And, to his credit, Prashant worked that into a report.
But the bad is that not everyone fills out the count each day. And the other bad is, they only report deaths that the police tip them off to.
Iraq Body Count should be considered the standard because they have been doing their job since the start of the illegal war and they continue to. They base their count on media reports.
I'll trust the media over Iraq's police force.
If Dunlap's going to be a guest discussing violence, he needs to note the shortcomings of the AFP count. To Prashant's credit, he publicly allowed that they did not get all the deaths due to their method for recording deaths.