January 18, 2014
Nouri's assault on Anbar Province continues and while Nouri has the US government's backing, it's not translated to big success for Nouri. World Bulletin reports, "Rebel groups have tightened their grip on Falluja, defying the
Shi'ite-led Iraqi government's efforts to persuade local tribesmen to
expel them from the Sunni Muslim city, residents and officials say. Despite an army siege, fighters and weapons have been flowing into
the city, where U.S. troops fought some of their fiercest battles during
their 2003-11 occupation of Iraq." Cheng Yang (Xinhua) adds of Falluja, "The city has no electricity for several days as large
parts of the electric power grid were destroyed by the bombings, the
source added." The electric power grid was destroyed? It's a shame Western media doesn't consider that worth reporting.
Violence continued today. National Iraqi News Agency reports 7 Baghdad bombings and a mortar attack left 16 people dead and fifty-two injured, an armed attack in Mosul left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and one more injured, 2 Kirkuk bombings left 3 people dead and seven more injured, 3 car bombings "west of Baghdad" (al-Utaifiyya) killing 5 people and leaving twenty-one injured, a Suq al-Shiukh shooting left an Education Department employee injured, All Iraq News reports 1 corpse was discovered in the streets of Mosul. EFE adds, "A security official told Efe that the army bombarded the
neighborhoods of Al Naima and Al Yaguifi in the city of Fallujah,
leaving two civilians dead and eight wounded. After this attack,
which caused material damage to several homes, there was a massive
displacement of the population for fear that new clashes might break out
between the two sides." RT notes, "A spate of armed attacks across Iraq, including car bombings, has left at least 30 dead and scores injured." AP also goes with at least 30 dead. Through Friday, Iraq Body Count counts 660 violent deaths in the month so far.
The assault on Anbar has ended the violence in Iraq -- not even in Anbar. World News Bulletin provides this perspective, "Last week Falluja community leaders nominated a new police chief and
mayor. The militants responded by blowing up the police chief's house on
Tuesday and briefly kidnapping the mayor. Both men have since fled
north to Iraqi Kurdistan." Press TV speaks with Linh Dinh about events in Iraq:
Linh Dinh: Nouri al-Maliki is asking for more US weapons to help put down Sunni rebels who are gaining strength in Iraq's civil war. This move, this request, weakens his government's legitimacy further. al-Maliki came to power under the US occupation and although American ground troops are no longer there he is still dependent upon American weapons and money to wage war against his own people. See al-Maliki is a Shi'ite and his main opponents in Iraq are the Sunnis who by and large do not accept his US-backed government. .. But even without his support from the US, al-Maliki might still lose to the rebels for his government is illegitimate and corrupt and his army weak and demoralized. In a remarkable development, the poorly armed Sunni rebels have just retaken Falluja.
And Iraqi novelist and activist Haifa Zangana (MWC News) observes:
The Maliki government has been harvesting over $100bn a year
for some time now, from the nation's oil wealth. That amounts to about
$20,000 a year per average Iraqi household of 7 people, except that
Iraqis are left deprived of basic commodities. The wealth is squandered
or stolen, a situation illustrated by Transparency International
as: "Massive embezzlement, procurement scams, money laundering, oil
smuggling and widespread bureaucratic bribery have led the country to
the bottom of international corruption rankings, fuelled political
violence and hampered effective state building and service delivery."
Terrorism thrives through official corruption, since any officer has a
price for letting go of a car or a convict. The officers themselves pay
to get their positions, and they have to cover the costs for acquiring
them. The Maliki regime blames all terrorist acts on al-Qaeda, and
recently on Daaish. Iraqis, however, suspect an abundance of diverse
actors according to where and when a terrorist act is committed,
including the regime itself, its security officers who strive to
increase their funding and its officials who resort to covering up
tracks, burning documents and eliminating rivals.
Al-Maliki also selectively chooses not to mention the regime's own
militias: Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Iraqi Hezbollah, the Badr brigades, factions
of the Mahdi army and the Mokhtar army. The latter's leader has bragged
on Baghdadiya TV, about their responsibility for several attacks. No
investigation has been done and no one was arrested. There is also
hardly any mention of the Iraqi Special Forces
inherited from the occupation, especially trained by Colonel James
Steele under US ambassador John Negroponte and attached now directly to
Above all, there is no mention of the plethora of foreign-led special
operation agents, private security contractors, and organized networks
of professional killers, some of whom, many Iraqis believe, are
protected by the regime, in the shadow of the US' biggest embassy in the
world, in the fortified green zone in Baghdad. Added to this list is
Iran and its using of Iraq as a battle ground to settle scores with the
US, or making their presence felt in the ongoing bargaining about its
If the White House wanted to help the Iraqi people, they wouldn't be arming Nouri, they'd be demanding he honor the power-sharing agreement (The Erbil Agreement).
In addition to the violence already noted, NINA reports that "12 prisoners escaped from al-Ahdath prison in Topchi." Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) adds:
Baghdad police officials
said that gunmen broke out 23 prisoners from the Tobchi juvenile prison
in Baghdad and that two police officers were killed and three wounded.
But that report was contradicted by Labor Minister Nassar al-Rubaie, who
said on state TV that no prisoners escaped. The Labor Department runs
the juvenile prison.
By around midnight, 13 of the 23 escapees had been captured in three neighborhoods of Baghdad, police officials there said.
With all of this taking place, you might think Nouri would avoid picking fights to add to the turmoil. You would be wrong. AFP notes, "Iraq threatened to boycott Turkish companies and cancel contracts with
Turkish firms in an intensifying row over moves to export oil from its
northern Kurdish region, in remarks released Saturday." Yes, Nouri can't stop picking fights. But not just with Turkey, also with the KRG. Press TV notes, ""Baghdad has again threatened Ankara over
its oil deals with Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Iraq’s Oil Minister
Abdel-karim al-Luaybi has warned that his government will cancel all the
current contracts with Ankara if it allows Kurdistan's oil to be
exported to international markets." Al Mada notes that Nouri's move is seen as a threat and the Kurdistan Alliance sees it as Nouri creating another crisis while he claims to be attempting to focus on Anbar.