Wednesday, March 4, 2015

But they're on the ground





They clearly are on the ground.

What happened to Barack's June promise otherwise?

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 
Tuesday, March 3, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Senate expresses concern over the cozy relationship between Iran and Iraq, Turkey sends weapons to Baghdad, the Secretary of Defense calls out a CENTCOM background briefing, and much more.



February 19th, "CENTCOM whispers about an upcoming assault on Mosul which may involve US troops."  That's when an official with CENTCOM spoke on 'background' with the US press about the then-planned upcoming attack on Mosul which has been held by the Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) since June.  As we noted then:


This was not a private conversation.
It was a background briefing.
Here's how that works, the Pentagon is the john insisting on his fantasies being played out and the press are the whores working to make the fantasy come true.



While we emphasized the aspect that US troops would be utilized -- despite US President Barack Obama insisting last June that US troops would not be sent back into Iraq to be ground troops in combat -- most went with the official declaring the assault would begin in March, April or May . . .

This has resulted in a large amount of criticisms.

Strangely, Barack hasn't been asked about it.

Strangely, he's not offered an opinion.

For once in his time as President, Mr. Know It All hasn't had an opinion to share -- this from the man who's weighed in on everything from reality TV to Kanye West.

At today's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, the background briefing to the press was raised and the new Secretary of Defense Ash Carter labeled the briefing an error and a mistake.


Senator Tom Cotton: I have to go back to something that we were discussing a few series ago about the leak of our plans to Mosul.  I believe, Secretary Carter, you said you were looking into it.  I know General Dempsey that you said you were looking into it.  I-I-I don't understand what would take so long to get to the bottom of. I mean, this was not a leak.  I mean it was a planned conference call with members of the media, if I understand the reporting correctly.  Do I misunderstand something here?

Secretary Ash Carter: No, that's my understanding as well.  And I just say two things about this whole incident.  The first is, Senator, that when a-a-a operation is mounted against Mosul or anywhere else, uh, it needs to be a success and it needs to be Iraqi-led and supported by us and it needs to be successful.  And that -- It's a little bit like the conditions-based point that Senator --

Senator Tom Cotton:  Mr. Secretary, I agree fully.  I agree fully.  I don't -- I don't understand why announcing any timeline would have contributed to any idea it would have been a success nor do I understand why it would take so long to understand why an organized conference call with the media was held. 

Secretary Ash Carter: I'll say something about that and let the Chairman who's also spoken about that to General [Lloyd] Austin [CENTCOM Commander] about that.  That clearly was not neither accurate information nor had it been accurate would it have been information that should be blurted out to the press.  So it's wrong on both fronts -- on both scores.  And the only thing I'll say is that we try as aaaaaaaaaaaa [he stretched "a" out and we're noting it that way to capture it correctly] -- as the Department of Defense  of  a democracy to be as open as we can.  So there are lots of people out there talking all the time about what we're doing and every once in a while somebody gets out in front of their skis but I also even as we make sure that this particular incident doesn't happen again, uhm, I-I-I think that it's important that we be open as a Department -- not with military secrets and not with war plans -- which is the mistake made in this case -- but we do try to keep the country informed about what we're doing. It's about protecting them, it is a democracy, and so openess is important but it has to have limits when it comes to security matters and those limits obviously weren't respected in this case.


Robert Burns (AP) observes, "The episode is remarkable in at least two respects. It was unusual for the U.S. military to disclose in advance the expected timing of an offensive as well as details about the makeup of the Iraqi force that would undertake it. And it was curious that a secretary of defense would wait nearly two weeks after such a briefing to denounce it publicly for having spilled military secrets."


If the briefing was wrong, maybe it's equally wrong to inaccurately portray Carter's remarks.  This outlet did just that.  Above is what was said.

If you're going to put words in between quotation marks, you need to make sure they're accurate.  And while mishearing a word or two is always possible for anyone, recreating and restructuring public remarks is not reporting.


With the Secretary of Defense now calling out the briefing, it's probably past time that the White House was asked for a formal comment.


Today's hearing touched on many things as it reviewed the military's 2016 Fiscal Year requests and took testimony from Carter and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey.  Senator Jack Reed is the Ranking Member of the Committee and Senator John McCain is the Chari of the Committee.


One of the biggest issues in Congressional discussions of US President Barack Obama's goals with regards to Iraq has been the issue of US troops.

Barack's June promise of no ground combat troops has given way to the White House insisting that an Authorization of the Use of Military Force from Congress must give Barack the right to put US troops on the ground in Iraq and in combat.  Secretary of State John Kerry was the first to make the request to Congress -- that was December of last year, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

We'll note this exchange from today's hearing.


Senator Tim Kaine:  [. . . ]  the issue of ground troops as part of the ISIL AMUF and in listening to the Chairman about this what I've realized is my concern is not really about language and it's not really about sort of the Constitutional allocation of power.  It's really about the definition of the mission.  And I'd like to ask you a question on this.  We have heard in the last two weeks -- and three weeks --  in meetings with the Foreign Relations Committee by first  King Abdullah [II] of Jordan and the Sheikh [Hamad bin Khalifa Al] Thani, the Emir of Qatar last week about the battle of ISIL in the region.  And both of them said to us essentially US ground troops isn't a good idea because 'this has got to be our fight against our terrorist threat.  We want your help.  We want you to be deeply involved. But if it gets pitched as the US against ISIL -- or even as the west against ISIL -- then it takes on a fundamentally different tenor and it becomes kind of a recruiting bonanza for ISIL.'  And, you know, King Abdullah, in a very courageous way, and sadly we met with him on the very day that it was revealed that the Jordanian pilot was so horribly murdered -- burned -- he said, 'This is our fight and we've got to show the world that this is our fight.  And if we're willing to do it then we need all kinds of help from you.  But we've got to be upfront that this is our fight.  We didn't -- The United States did not create ISIL.  It didn't create this extremist ideology. It was birthed in our region by people claiming the mantle of the religious tradition that we honor and perverting it for a bad end.'  So both of them have sort of guardedly advised us against ground troops.  But toward the big picture goal that this battle against ISIL has to be the region policing itself not the US trying to counter them.  What is your response as we think through this military mission? What is your response to that sentiment?  And again, it's not about draftsmanship or the allocation of power, it's about who, you know -- isn't there a compelling need for the region to show that it will battle its own threat and if so we'll help them rather than have it be the US' burden?

General Martin Dempsey:  Senator, that's exactly how the campaign is designed. It's designed to leverage a coalition of regional partners assisted by those outside the region but very much relying on those in the region to lead the effort. Requiring the government of Iraq to lead the effort especially in terms of reaching out to form a coalition in Iraq of Sunni tribal leaders and Kurdistan Peshmerga.



Who does Dempsey thinks he's kidding?

John T. Bennett (Defense News) concluded a recent column on Iraq and claims being made with the following: "Of course, we've heard rose-colored assessments about Iraq from US lawmakers and military commanders before. Did those pan out?"

No, they didn't.

And for Dempsey to claim that the regional issues were at the forefront of the US effort is ridiculous and a flat out lie.  Germany, France, Canada and the various other western countries whose officials and leaders Barack's Envoy John Allen has met with (usually accompanied by the State Dept's Brett McGurk) are not regional -- not of the Middle East.

What's been done since August is non-stop meeting with western governments to try to shore up support (Australia is foolishly sending in 300 more US troops, they've announced this week) for some sort of 'international' fighting coalition.


If you're not getting that point, let's look at two Tweets from McGurk:

Turkish C-130 planes landed at Baghdad airport to bring military support and equipment to the Iraqi Armed Forces.
0 replies 87 retweets 22 favorites





So Turkey, a regional player, is sending some equipment.

Again, Turkey is regional.


Australia and New Zealand sending troops?

Neither western country is of the region.

But that is where McGurk and Allen have placed the emphasis -- on the west.


As for Dempsey's claim that Iraq's leading the effort?  That was laughable even setting aside the issue of Iran.  But it's a flat out lie that the Baghdad-based government is "reaching out fo form a coaltion in Iraq of Sunni tribal leaders and Kurdistan Peshmerga."

The Sunni tribal leaders, especially in Anbar Province, repeatedly and publicly note that the Baghdad-based government refuses to supply them with weapons.

The Kurdish government of northern Iraq has repeatedly requested -- including to members of Congress -- including to ones present for Dempsey's ridiculous lie today -- that the US government supply them with weapons because Baghdad just isn't passing the weapons on.

There is no progress from Baghdad.

Except new Prime Minister Hadier al-Abadi's decision to get deeper in bed with the government of Iran.

From today's hearing.



Chair John McCain: Today in Tikrit, Secretary Carter, the Shi'ite militia with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader -- among others -- and Iranian air is now attacking Tikrit -- the hometown of Saddam Hussein, as we recall.  And the majority of that effort with a couple of thousand of Iraqis are being undertaken by the Shia militia. The same militia that we fought against in the surge.  The same militia that according to estimates manufactured the IEDs which are -- which directly resulted in the deaths of some thousand or two young Americans.  Are-are you concerned that Iran is basically taking over the fight and, according to the Wall St. Journal this morning, we are observing that operation.  Does that ring an alarm bell with you, Mr. Secretary?


Secretary Ash Carter:  It-it-it does.  It does.  Our approach to, uh, combating ISIL in Iraq is to work with the Iraqi security forces and a, uh, multi-sectarian government that takes a multi-sectarian approach to defeating ISIL and retaking its own territory.  Sectarianism is what brought us to the point where we are.  And so I do look at it with concern.  We're watching it very closely.  The, uh, Shi'ite militias involved also the Iraqi forces involved -- some Sunni forces involved. Uh-uh, I would note that there have -- Some Sunni tribal leaders in Tikrit -- and this is important -- have signaled their support for this offensive.  And if that's true, it's good news because that suggests that this is not purely a Shi'ite on Sunni thing. But this is the problem that brought Iraq low.  So I am -- So I am looking at it with great concern.


Chair John McCain: And of course we -- There's well documented human rights violations -- significant -- by Shi'ite militias on Sunni as we all know.


If Carter's comments seem confusing above, they were confusing to listen to.

He's saying that Sunni tribal leaders said they support the attack on Tikrit.  Then he's saying "if that's true."  Didn't he just say it was?


Yes, he did.  But what he meant to say was that he had heard reports that the Sunni tribal leaders had said that.

This is not me interpreting him or saying, "What he really meant was . . ."

The issue came up nearly an hour later during Senator Joe Donnelly's round of questioning.  Responding to Donnelly, Carter replied, "Well that's exactly the concern.  They did, as we understand it, make a statement today, the tribal leaders, that they supported the offensive I hope that's true because what's very important is that we all be behind defeating ISIL and that sectarianism not raise its ugly head again because that's what brought us to this place in the first place."

That's why Carter stated "if true" earlier in the hearing when referencing comments (or alleged comments) of unnamed Sunni tribal leaders.


On the issue of Iran leading Baghdad's charge on Tikrit, Mark Thompson (Time magazine notes):


American concern is justified: having Iranian-backed Shi’ite forces storm largely-Sunni Tikrit risks turning the conflict against the Sunni ISIS forces into a sectarian conflict that could balloon into a civil war. “It’s absolutely key that [the Iraqi government] make sure that they have provisions in place to accommodate the Sunnis,” Army General Lloyd Austin, chief of the U.S. Central Command, told the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday. “That lack of inclusion is what got us to this point, and I think the only way that we can ensure that we don’t go back there is if we have the right steps taken by the government.” Fewer than 1,000 of the 30,000 fighters battling ISIS for Tikrit are Sunni tribal fighters, according to Iraqi estimates.
The populations of both Iran and Iraq are primarily Shi’ite. Since Saddam’s hanging in 2006, the Sunnis of western Iraq have been treated poorly by the Shi’ite-dominated government in Baghdad. Many Sunnis welcomed ISIS’s move into the region last year, when it killed more than 1,000 Iraqi Shi’ite troops who had been stationed at a base known, when the Americans were there, as Camp Speicher. Some of the Shi’ites attacking Tikrit are bent on revenge for the slaughter, which could exacerbate intra-Muslim tensions.


And for any taking issue with my wording ("the issue of Iran leading Baghdad's charge on Tikrit"), they should refer to today's report by Nafiseh Kohnavard (BBC Persian):


Shia militia sources in Iraq have confirmed that Gen Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force is personally taking part in leading the operation.
[. . .]
As sources on the ground have told BBC Persian, a number of IRGC officers were involved at a command level before the operation was officially launched.

Iranian authorities are yet to comment officially but Iran's Fars news agency, considered to be very close to the Revolutionary Guards, has extensively reported on the role of Gen Soleimani in the operation.


Iraq War veteran Joni Ernst was elected to the Senate last November.  She noted Iraq in today's hearing.


Senator Joni Ernst:  I do want to talk a little bit about -- we've talked about this all day -- with the Shia militia, I know Senator McCain had spoken about this earlier.  In the Fiscal Year 15 budget we had $1.6 billion that we used for the Iraq Train and Equip Fund and that was to train and equip the Iraqi security forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga and Sunni tribes and, of course, other local forces.  Now in this Fiscal Year 16 budget, you're requesting $700 million for this fund.  And I do support this effort.  I think we should be training and equipping the Kurdish Peshmerga, I think they've been important allies in the fight against ISIL and others.  But what I am concerned about is the relationship between the Iraqi security forces and Iran which has been the sidebar topic of many conversations today and the Shia militia forces.  Now during the Iraq War, IEDs were huge concerns to American troops.  And I think, as Senator McCain had alluded to, there were some types of IEDs -- EFPs -- Explosively Formed Projectiles that were used.  They were devastating to our men and women, left many Gold Star families out there.  We know that those EFPS, a lot of them came from Iran.  And so right now what I'd like to hear from you is: Are American tax dollars going to the Shia militia that once were fighting against American soldiers?   And how -- how can we assure the American tax payer that these dollars going to this fund to train and equip Iraqi forces will not be used against us as we move forward? Secretary Carter, if you can address that --

Secretary Ash Carter:  Thank you.  Thank you. And then Chairman Dempsey.  Well first of all, I share your concern about the Shi'ite militias and the face of sectarianism looming again in Iraq which -- as you know extremely well from your own service -- is-is the principle challenge that the government of Iraq faces going forward.  Our training and equipping is to Iraqi security forces through the government of Iraq.  And our assistance to the Peshmerga is also through the government of Iraq.  That reflects the view that a multi-sectarian Iraqi government is the best way to keep Iraq together and defeat ISIL in Iraq and ultimately drive them out of the country.  But I say I share your concern because what we've seen in the last few years has been sectarianism eroding the Iraqi security forces and that's why they collapsed in the face of ISIL.  So I absolutely share your concern.  And about EFPs, you know that extremely well from your own service.  We've had that experience before and General Dempsey who was there also in Iraq so let me ask him to join in as well.


Gen Martin Dempsey:  I'll just, I'll express my own concern as well  And I think if General Austin were -- I guess he is going to be here actually -- he would tell you that the reason his campaign is deliberate is that one lines of  effort  -- I mentioned there were nine -- is Iraqi governance.  And if the central government of Iraq does not achieve -- let's call it reconciliation -- because that's probably the right word --  with the Shia and the Kurds, then it does put our campaign at risk and so I am concerned about that. As far as the weapons that we've been issuing to the ISF as well as to the Peshmerga through the government of Iraq, we've got confidence that those are going into the right hands.  Some of the weapons you've seen in the hands of the Shia militias -- you can see it on YouTube and on Twitter and other places -- are things that were procured by the Iraqis through our foreign military sales process that they bought years -- probably a couple of years ago -- two or three years ago.  But we're monitoring it as well as we can.

Carter and Dempsey repeatedly noted how the Islamic State came to the position of power it currently holds in Iraq.

This is in stark contrast to the stupidity Noam Chomsky offered on Democracy Now! or that Amy Goodman offers daily.

Neither of the two bothered to cover the crimes of Nouri al-Maliki, their hands are bloody, their silence ghastly.

So now they try to cry 'original sin' or some such b.s.

I get it.

It gives them tingles to call out Bully Boy Bush.

Doesn't matter to them that he left office in January of 2009.

Doesn't matter to them that the Iraqi people voted Nouri out as prime minister in 2010 but Barack went around a democratically held election and used a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement) to give thug Nouri a second term.

Doesn't matter than in that second term, everyone was targeted.  Elected officials were put on trial, their homes surrounded by military tanks, their homes stormed by Nouri's forces in the dead of night.

None of this matters.

They just keep repeating, "It was wrong to invade Iraq."

No, it was illegal.

It was illegal to invade Iraq.

They're such cowards they can't even get that right.

But in 2010, the Iraqi people risked a lot to try to change their course and instead of encouraging that, instead of fostering their attempt at building unity, Barack Obama stomped it out and stuck them with a despot who'd already been exposed for running secret prisons where prisoners were being tortured.

That's who he put in charge.

So excuse me, Noam and Amy, until you can tell those truths, why don't you find another topic to whore on because the people of Iraq have suffered enough.

Your craven devotion to Barack and the revisionary history it's leading too helps no one.


As Victoria Fontan (Rudaw) points out today, "What seems to escape the mind of every self-appointed Islamic State specialist is that ISIS was not born in a vacuum. The population support it fed on as it took one Sunni town after another was based on years of brutal sectarian reprisals by the then Maliki government, a government supported by the United Nations and the US government until the siege of Mosul."



David Francis and Sabine Muscat (Foreign Policy) offer this on Iran's leadership role and the US lack of one:

Iraq repays DoD’s Mosul leaks with a surprise of its own. Iraqi officials were angry after the Pentagon released details on plans without Baghdad’s approval to retake Mosul. They returned the favor Monday with an unexpected offensive to retake Tikrit from the Islamic State. FP’s Kate Brannen and Lara Jakes on the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, “which the Defense Department says is providing no support to the Tikrit operation. After conducting more than 2,000 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, the absence of the United States from the Tikrit fight is telling and speaks to how little influence the United States may have on this complicated battlefield.”



We need to note a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing from last week.  I'll try to pull it in tomorrow -- it'll probably be brief.  We'll probably mainly focus on one aspect and probably only quote Ranking Member Richard Blumenthal.

Blumenthal also serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and right now we'll note this from the hearing today:


Senator Richard Blumenthal:  I want to focus on the connections between DoD and the VA.  Having now seen it from the perspective of the VA, the Veterans Administration in my position as Ranking Member I'm struck by the need for better information, the electronics -- health electronic record have been a point of contention. but so have the formulary issue, the drug formulary issue.  There are a variety of area where there needs to be better coordination.  That is a Washington word -- coordination, collaboration.  But can you see ways that we can improve the flow of information and the help that veterans get -- particularly our veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury as you know, both Chairman McCain and I have addressed in the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act that recently passed.  But that's just a beginning, juts a down payment.  And I wonder what more we can do in that area?  And I know we've talked about that a little bit and I wondered if you could address that in the context of the budget?

Secretary Ash Carter:  I can discuss that and thank you for that and accordingly the time I've been here I've tried to see and assess -- I have a great partner in the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and I've talked to him.  And, uh, to the soldier, sailor, airman and marine, they don't -- they shouldn't have to worry that there are two cabinet Departments that are responsible for taking care of them. They shouldn't have to worry about that.  We should have to make it knit together.  And you mentioned IEHR the Integrated Electronic Health Record -- program, formulary issues, pharmacies and what they call drugs and so forth and so yes we do need to stay closely knitted and we will.  I wanted to particularly note your work on PTS simply because that's one of these things we have learned through sad experience over the last decade or so is a serious thing but also can be treated.  And I think you have been the one championing -- and I thank you for that -- making sure that veterans who came along before there was this awareness and before there were these treatments are given the benefits of this awareness and are given the benefits of these treatment.


The IEHR needs to be noted pretty much anytime it comes up in a Congressional hearing -- because it comes up so little.  This was supposed to have been taken care of -- developed and implemented -- in Barack's first term.  It's supposed to allow a record to be created -- medical record -- for someone when they enlist -- a record that can follow them to their later veteran status.

This record would help in numerous ways -- most obviously it would lessen the veteran's fight for a disability claim to be recognized fully.  Former US House Rep John Hall grasped this and actively led on it within Congress and in terms of getting the point out to the press.  Since he left Congress, it's been an issue that rarely receives serious attention in the press.


Xiang Bo (Xinhua) notes some of today's violence in Iraq, "Islamic State (IS) militants on Monday executed 32 security members in Iraq's western province of Anbar, a provincial security source said.
The 32 young men were shot dead in the morning in Jubba area, just near the town of al-Baghdadi, some 200 km northwest of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity."









Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Idiot of the Week

As an African-American, there are certain White 'activists' or writers that I'm leery of.

Why?

They rush to call other people racist.

And maybe they didn't really do anything racist?

(Like the Academy Award nonsense which was a case of hippie-bashing and not racism.)

Paul Street's one of those.

It's like he can't call out Barack without tossing in a "these Whites are racist" post every few weeks.

Paul's a real bitch.

And he makes that clear in his new article where he applauds himself  and a few select others:


In reality, a considerable number of Left thinkers and activists tried to caution progressives and serious liberals off “the Obama Kool Aid” from 2005 through the 2008 election. Those voices included John Pilger, Adolph Reed, Jr, Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon, Michael Hureaux, Doug Henwood, Margaret Kimberly, Juan Santos, Greg Guma, Marc Lamont Hill, Pam Martens, Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair, Kim Peterson, David Peterson, Chris Hedges, Lance Selfa, Joshua Frank, Jeremy Scahill, John MacArthur, Ken Silverstein, and numerous others in such journals as Black Agenda Report, Z Magazine, ZNet, Dissident Voice, Harper’s, Left Business Observer, The Progressive, Truthdig, AlterNet and Socialist Worker.

Jeremy Scahill was a puppet of Samantha Power and lied for Barack while attacking Hillary.  (It was over Blackwater.  Jerry Sca wanted the candidates to agree not to use Blackwater and Hillary agreed but Barack didn't so Jerry then found a new way to smear Hillary -- who'd done what he wanted) while cheering on Barack.

John MacArthur behaved similarly.

Palestinian hater Noam Chomsky, mentioned earlier in the article, also urged people to vote for Barack.

The Progressive?

What a liar Paul Street is.  Truthdig?  They're still whoring.

US Socialist Worker?

Nothing but whores.  (Yes, I mean Lance Selfa and others.)

Paul Street's a liar and an idiot.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


 
Monday, March 2, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi and Iran launch an attack on Sunni-dominant Tikrit, they do so without US help, Amy Goodman clears a few moments to provide misinformation about Iraq (again), and much more.



The assault on Tikrit has begun.

Sunday, Dominic Evans (Reuters) reported that "Iraq's army and Shi'ite militia" were attacking Tirkit.


Nancy A. Youssef (Daily Beast) reports that the forces are being aided by the Iranian government but not the US one:

The U.S.-led coalition forces that have conducted seven months of airstrikes on Iraq’s behalf did not participate in the attack, defense officials told The Daily Beast, and the American military has no plans to chip in.
Instead, embedded Iranian advisors and Iranian-backed Shiite militias are taking part in the offensive on the largely Sunni town, raising the prospect that the fight to beat back ISIS could become a sectarian war.
The news is the latest indication that not all is well with the American effort against the terror group. On Friday, U.S. defense officials told The Daily Beast that a planned offensive against the ISIS stronghold of Mosul had been indefinitely postponed.

Jim Michaels (USA Today) adds, "Iran provides artillery and other support for a military offensive in Tikrit, according to a senior U.S. military official. He did not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak publicly about Iran's role."  Zaid Sabah and David Lerman (Bloomberg News) note:



Naim al-Aboudi, a spokesman for the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, one of the main forces fighting around Tikrit, said that “the U.S.-led coalition has never decisively ended any battle.”
“We don’t trust the coalition and we don’t need their help,” he said by phone. 



Meanwhile Luis Martinez and Martha Raddatz (ABC News) offer, "A U.S. official told ABC News that this appears to be more of a 'tactical operation' and that Iraqi military elements involved do not appear to be well-coordinated."


Iranian help is not just support from afar in Tehran, it's on the ground in Iraq.  Paul McLeary (Defense News) notes, "Twitter came alive on Monday with photos of Iranian Quds Force commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani who is again in Iraq, directing Shia militias in their fight against IS militants."



The assault's just begun.  Already the warning signs are flashing bright red.  Bobby Ghosh (Quartz) reports:



There’s already cause for alarm. Early reports indicate that Shia irregulars are leading the assault on Tikrit, under the supervision of Hadi al-Amiri, nominally Iraq’s transport minister, but better known as the leader of the Badr Organization, an Iran-backed militia notorious for brutal torture and murder of Sunnis.

Apparently unsatisfied with having a surrogate in the battlefield, Tehran has also despatched to Iraq’s Salahuddin province—of which Sunni-majority Tikrit is a part—the notorious Qassem Suleimani, the general who supervises most of Iran’s proxies, from Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, to the Houthis in Yemen.

One of the world’s most dangerous men, Suleimani has had the freedom of Iraq for over a year, building and reinforcing Shia militias that have been murdering and terrorizing Sunnis with almost as much enthusiasm—if not with quite as much efficiency—as ISIL has been slaughtering civilians.



Mark Thompson (Time magazine) notes Haider spoke today:

He addressed the Iraqi people in a televised address Monday. “Today, God willing, we start an important military campaign to liberate the citizens of Salahuddin province which includes Samarra, Dhuluiya, Balad, Dujail, al-Alam, al-Door, and Tikrit and other areas in the province from ISIS,” al-Abadi said. 

More than just being suspicious of Haider, the Sunnis in Tikrit are right to be suspicious of the 'liberation' being attempted by the Shia forces.


Sheren Khalel and Matthew Vickery (Middle East Monitor) speak with a man, Kareem Abbas, whose Diyala Province village was 'liberated' by Shia forces:


According to Abbas, the massacre didn’t start until the day the Islamic State was pushed out. The Badr Brigade, an Iranian-funded Shiite militia with a force between 10,000 and 15,000, advanced on his village, and forced the Islamic State out of his hometown in a move the Iraqi central government called liberation.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented several cases of kidnap and summary executions by the Badr Brigade in Diyala province.
“Iraqi civilians [in Sunni areas] are being hammered by ISIS and then by pro-government militias in areas they seize from ISIS,” Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East and Africa director, said in a statement.
Visibly upset with hands shaking, Abbas tells MEE that on that first day militiamen gathered the villagers together, crosschecking their identification with names of known Islamic State fighters. Terrified, Abbas and other adult male villagers co-operated with the armed men.
“But then a man with a facemask approached the fighters,” Abbas explains. “He started screaming at them ‘Are you really doing this? We know they [the villagers] are not with the Islamic State. We are here to kill.’”
According to Abbas, the masked man raised his gun to the nearest villager and fired several shots at point blank range into the man – the rest of the militiamen started shooting indiscriminately. 




Dominic Evans (Reuters) quotes Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declaring Sunday of the Sunnis in Tirkist, "This is their last chance. If they insist on staying on their wrong path they will receive the fair punishment they deserve because they ... stood with terrorism."


With those kind of remarks, do you really think the Sunni population is safe in Tikrit?



UNAMI issued the following cautionary statement today:


Baghdad, 2 March 2015 – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, urges all armed forces in Tikrit to do their utmost to spare civilians and to protect their security and safety in line with international standards. 


“Military operations reinforced by international and Iraqi air support must be conducted with the utmost care to avoid civilian casualties, and with full respect for fundamental human rights principles and humanitarian law”, Mr. Mladenov noted.  He also called on the Government and the international community to take urgent action to ensure that desperately needed humanitarian aid is provided and to ensure that all those who fled from ISIL can safely return to their homes.


Also issuing a statement was the Association of Muslim Scholars (statement via BRussells Tribunal):


The Association of Muslim Scholars in its Statement No. 1056 ,  issued on the 1st March 2015 charges the current government as well as the religious “marijiya”in  Nejaf  with the responsibility for the crimes committed by the sectarian militias.
The Association reiterated the truth of the fact it had previously stated that Abadi’s government is nothing but an extension of Maliki’s government in committing sectarian crimes  and that they are both Qassim Sulaimani’s diligent pupils, and part of his tools for putting into effect the Iranian project in the region.
AMSI attributed to eye witnesses in Al Muqdadiya in Diyala that the so called “popular mobilization militias” with the government police force in the area bombed the Tawfiq Ajjaj Mosque, after using it as a headquarters, in addition to last Thursday in the Al Hussayniya area, north of Baghdad, 19 extra judicial executions and kidnappings of displaced people from the Yathrib area in Sallahudeen were carried out by sectarian militias in the presence and full view of government security forces.

Finally, the Association  charged the current government, with full responsibility for these hideous crimes,  as well as the religious “marjiiya” in Nejaf,  for it is the “marjiiya” that called for the formation of the “popular mobilization militias” in the first place, and did not take any steps and precautions to keep them under control and prevent them from committing such crimes against innocent civilians.



Ben Wedeman and Mariano Castillo (CNN) note, "Iraqi forces approached Tikrit from several fronts, Iraqiya TV reported, engaging with ISIS north of the city at al-Alam and south of the city at al-Dour."

If you read "state TV" in a report, they're talking about Iraqiya.  This is not the political slate that won in 2010 -- Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi.


The best English language overview of Iraqi TV is probably still [PDF format warning] "Confusion, Contradiction and irony: the Iraqi media in 2010."  The paper was written by NPR's Deborah Amos for Harvard's Joan Shorenstien Center on the Press.  From Deborah Amos' paper:



The dramatic conclusion of the parliamentary vote also played out on Iraqi TV screens when Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al‐ Maliki, appeared on the state‐run broadcasting service to announce he was challenging the results. Maliki’s political coalition had won 89 seats in parliament, well short of the winning formula of 163 seats. Maliki refused to accept that an alliance led by challenger Iyad Allawi had won more parliamentary seats than his bloc had.
These two Iraqi politicians shared similar backgrounds: a lifetime of working to overthrow Saddam Hussein, membership in underground political organizations, and being a part of Iraq’s majority Shiite community. Each had returned to Iraq when the Americ an military toppled Saddam. But in the 2010 national election, they had taken different political roads.
In the 2010 campaign, Maliki’s party was primarily a sectarian political list of Shiite candidates with a few Sunni political figureheads. In contrast, Allawi’s political coalition was a cross‐sectarian list. While Allawi is a Shiite, he headed a party consisting of Sunni political leaders from western and northern Iraq and some Shiite politicians who believed it was time to move beyond sectarian politics if Iraq is to achieve national unity.
In Iraq’s short history of free elections, Shiite candidates have a demographic advantage. Shiites are approximately 60% of the population, and Iraqis voted almost exclusively along sectarian lines in the 2005 national elections and the 2009 provincial vote. Maliki also had a media advantage. The state‐run national news network did not accept paid campaign advertisements, but freely broadcast extensive reports of Maliki’s election appearances and campaign speeches in evening news bulletins. On the eve of the vote, state TV broadcast a documentary highlighting the Prime Minister’s visit to security checkpoints around the capital. Maliki is widely credited with an improvement in the day‐to‐day security in the capital and in the south, but his pre‐election inspection of the security checkpoints was seen as a long campaign ad.
According to domestic media monitoring reports of state ‐ run television, Al ‐ Iraqiya, Maliki’s political coalition received by far the “highest positive coverage” when compared with all other political parties in the campaign.  When it came to the vote, Allawi demonstrated that sectarian voting patterns could be broken. A small percentage of Shiites voted for a party that included Sunnis on the ticket which helped deliver the two‐seat lead.  Prime Minister Maliki charged widespread fraud and demanded a recount to prevent “a return to violence.” He pointedly noted that he remained the commander in chief of the armed forces.
Was Maliki threatening violence? Was he using the platform of state ‐ run media to suggest that his Shiite ‐ dominated government would not relinquish power to a Sunni coalition despite the election results? His meaning was ambiguous, but his choice of media was widely understood to be part of the message. Iraq’s state run news channel, Iraqiya, is seen as a megaphone for Shiite power in Iraq, which is why Maliki’s assertion of his right to retain power raised international concerns.




Deborah is also the author of  Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East -- a book on the Iraq War that was a little too real for War Porn fluffer Thomas E. Ricks so he left it off his top ten books on Iraq -- but then none of his ten picks focused on the Iraqi people, did they?


Still with violence, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 171 dead from violence in Iraq today with another 210 inured.  February ended last Saturday.  UNAMI has issued their totals for February:


Baghdad, 1 March 2015 – According to casualty figures released today by UNAMI, a total of 1,103 Iraqis were killed and another 2,280 were wounded in acts of terrorism and violence in February*.  The number of civilians killed was 611 (Including 30 civilian police), and the number of civilians injured was 1,353 (including 29 civilian police).

A further 492 members of the Iraqi Army (including Peshmerga, SWAT and militias fighting alongside the Iraqi Army / Not including casualties from Anbar Operations) were killed and 927 were injured.  
Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate with 1,204 civilian casualties (329 killed, 875 injured).  Diyala recorded 73 killed and 69 injured; Salahadin 39 killed and 54 injured; and Ninewa 40 killed and 17 injured. 
According to information obtained by UNAMI from the Health Directorate in Anbar, the Governorate suffered a total of 372 Civilian casualties (81 killed and 291 injured).  This included 23 killed and 196 injured in Ramadi and 58 killed and 95 injured in Fallujah.
“Daily terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIL continue to deliberately target all Iraqis.  There are also concerning reports of a number of revenge killings by armed groups in areas recently liberated from ISIL.  I look forward to the results of the investigation initiated by the Government in the recent reported massacre which took place in Diyala province,” the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov said.
He also underlined that an exclusively military solution to the problem of ISIL is impossible.  “I therefore welcome the consistent calls for unity by the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament.  Any effort to achieve unity through reconciliation must be based on the Constitution and the full participation of political, religious and community leaders from across Iraq,” the SRSG further stated.
*CAVEATS: In general, UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in conflict areas.  Figures for casualties from Anbar Governorate are provided by the Health Directorate and are noted above. In some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents.  UNAMI has also received, without being able to verify, reports of large numbers of casualties along with unknown numbers of persons who have died from secondary effects of violence after having fled their homes due to exposure to the elements, lack of water, food, medicines and health care.  For these reasons, the figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum.




 In other news, Xinhua reports, "Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said on Monday that Turkey will consider taking part in military operations by U.S.-led coalition forces to retake control of Mosul from jihadists in Iraq."  This appears to be more than the arms and supplies spoken of on Sunday.  Taking part in military operations usually means bombing or ground forces or something similar.



The issue was raised in today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Marie Harf.


QUESTION: What about the statements made by Turkish officials that they are willing to help the Iraqi forces militarily to retake Mosul?


MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen those either. Obviously, we are very focused on working with the Iraqi forces to continue training them, to keep getting them better equipped and better trained. Obviously, any operation on Mosul would be drive by Iraqi timing and what makes sense operationally.


QUESTION: Do you welcome any move by Turkey?


MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen the comments, so I’m not going to welcome something I haven’t seen details of.



From spin to whoring, no whore like a Goody whore.  Remember that boys and girls.


Yes, Amy Goodman decided to 'talk' Iraq again.

"Noam Chomsky is our guest for the hour, the world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author of over a hundred books, MIT professor emeritus."

But there ain't no whore like a Goody whore.

She's got him for an hour on the so-called "war and peace report" and she waits on Iraq and when he's in the middle of providing a superficial and embarrassing answer, she cuts in with "We have 20 seconds."

For the hour!

But only limited time to discuss Iraq -- 20 seconds!

For the hour!


What a whore.


And Noam really needs to stop talking about things he knows nothing about.

He wants a public life because he's lonely (he's now a widow).  That's fine.

But talk about what you know.

And Noam knows plenty.

He just doesn't know s**t about Iraq and needs to find another topic.

Noam, you're too old for the Circle Jerk.

Patrick Cockburn is a lousy reporter.  This is the man, remember, who reported an Iraqi woman who had been stoned to death was "hanged."


Patrick Cockburn is loathed on Arab social media due to his bias against Sunnis.  The plus of this is he now is forced to acknowledge Sunnis in the commenatires he files.


Noam's got enough Arab problems of his own (Palestinian activists find him -- at best -- useless).  He really shouldn't try to Circle Jerk with Patrick Cockburn and the rest.


NOAM CHOMSKY: The U.S. wants to destroy ISIS, but it’s opposing every force that’s fighting ISIS. So, the main state that’s opposed to ISIS is Iran. They support the Iraqi government, the Shiite government. But Iran is, you know, on our enemies list. Probably the main ground forces fighting ISIS are the PKK and its allies, which are on the U.S. terrorist list. That’s both in Iraq and in Syria. Saudi Arabia, our major ally, along with Israel, is both traditionally, for a long time, the main funder of ISIS and similar groups—not necessarily the government; rich Saudis, other people in the emirates—not only the funder, but they’re the ideological source. Saudi Arabia is committed, is dominated by an extremist fundamentalist version of Islam: Wahhabi doctrine. And ISIS is an extremist offshoot of the Wahhabi doctrine. Saudi Arabia is a missionary state. It establishes schools, mosques, spreading its radical Islamic version. So, they’re our ally. Our enemies are those who are fighting ISIS. And it’s more complex.
ISIS is a monstrosity. There’s not much doubt about that. It didn’t come from nowhere. It’s one of the results of the U.S. hitting a very vulnerable society—Iraq—with a sledgehammer, which elicited sectarian conflicts that had not existed. They became very violent. The U.S. violence made it worse. We’re all familiar with the crimes. Out of this came lots of violent, murderous forces. ISIS is one. But the Shiite militias are not that different. They’re carrying out—they’re the kind of the—when they say the Iraqi army is attacking, it’s probably mostly the Shiite militias with the Iraqi army in the background. I mean, the way the Iraqi army collapsed is an astonishing military fact. This is an army of, I think, 350,000 people, heavily armed by the United States and trained by the United States for 10 years. A couple of thousand guerrillas showed up, and they all ran away. The generals ran away first. And the soldiers didn’t know to do. They ran away after them.


I'm sorry, did Noam just spit on the Arab world?

Yeah, he did.

And that's what happens when Patrick Cockburn is your go-to.

Elderly Noam is off his rocker.

The Islamic State took root for one reason -- Nouri al-Maliki's second term which was nothing but war on the Sunnis -- Sunni civilians, Sunni politicians, Sunni forces (the Sawha).

During all of this Noam said nothing.

For four years as this went down, he said nothing.

And now he wants to offer that "the Shiite militias are not that different."

Not that different?

They attacked Sunni women and children, they attacked gays and lesbians (and those who were not gay and lesbian but suspected of being it), they attacked reporters, they attacked . . .

Who didn't they attack?


And they got away with it.

That includes the Shi'ite thugs who make up the League of Righteous.

It was Alissa J. Rubin and company at the New York Times, not the 'sainted' Paddy Cockburn, who reported on US President Barack Obama making a deal with that group of terrorists, freeing their leaders from prison.

Like Cockburn, Democracy Now! has never talked about that reality.

They've never gone into The Erbil Agreement.

They've never done reporting of any consequence.

In fact, Friday, December 27, 2013, the Goody whore brought on Raed Jarrar to talk about Iraq.  He never mentioned the protests that were going on.  She never mentioned them.

As Ava and I pointed out Sunday, December 29, 2013:



It was so bad, it was embarrassing.
It was like sitting in an English Lit grad course where the topic was Edith Wharton and Raed's entire contribution was what he had gleaned from watching Martin Scorsese's film of The Age of Innocence.
It was Friday.  Protests in Iraq.
Never mentioned.
Even though the previous Sunday Nouri had threatened the protesters.
Even though he had attempted to attack them on Tuesday but a flurry of political meetings forced him to pull his forces out of Ramadi's sit-in sqaure.
Even though on the Friday Raed 'shared,' Nouri had already gone on Iraqi TV and announced that this had been the last Friday protest and that he would burn down the protest tents in Anbar.



I think that had been up for an hour before a friend who's in Beggar Media (meaning they're always asking you to donate) called and said (paraphrase), "So what if she didn't discuss the protests?  She discussed other things.  The protests aren't that important."  Could the New York Times have said it better?

These are protesters in Falluja on Saturday, December 28, 2013 -- the day after Goody's report.






They were protesting the Saturday dawn raid that Nouri's forces carried out on an MP.  MP Ahmed al-Alwani was illegally arrested.  But there's more.  Alsumaria reported that his home was stormed by Nouri's SWAT forces at dawn and that 5 people (bodyguards and family) were killed (this included his brother) while ten family members (including children) were left injured.

As conservative Max Boot (Commentary) put it, "If it’s the end of December or the beginning of January, it must be time for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to arrest another prominent Sunni politician."


The useless toy 'radicals' of the left refused to call out thug Nouri.  They crowned him a hero and acted as though he were Stalin and it was time for them to blindly worship yet again.

Barack was looking the other way too.  So they looked the other way for him.

Couldn't point out the reality that Nouri didn't win a second term as prime minister or that it was created for him by Barack.


Doing so would have made the crimes in Iraq look even worse if they were traced from thug Nouri back to the man who demanded Nouri get a second term as prime minister.


















Sunday, March 1, 2015

What sucks more than Netflix?

I'll answer the question in a moment.

First off, I say great speech by Patricia Arquette.  We'll be dealing with that at Third (I hope) and I'm saying we call it "All the bitches attack Patricia."

Betty and C.I. caught something the rest of us missed.

And it's time to the double standard bitches used to attack Patricia Arquette.

"Arrow"?

Another useless episode.

Another wade through forty or so minutes of nonsense and then in the film minutes get something worth watching -- namely Brandon Routh's character (a) goes to bed with Felicity (they make out when she notes that he's not wearing a shirt and they kiss) and (b) wakes up with an epiphany and puts on his costume and is able to fly.  So now he just needs how to shrink down.

I'd really prefer he get his own series -- and I'd watch it.

I don't want "Arrow" turning into "Smallville"

My DVD player died and I was asking around to everyone about what to get to replace it, what brand?  I knew I would be upgrading to BluRay but other than that . . .

As usual, C.I. heard. I had avoided bothering her because I knew she would make a point to not just offer advice but to gift me and I really didn't want her thinking, "Oh, he asked me so I'd buy one for him."

But she gifted me with a really great Sony one.

And I'd never hooked up my TV to the internet.

I know people who do that with their X-boxes but I've never done that (I'm also not a gamer).

So after I've got it unpacked and hooked up, I call her to thank her and she asks me if I've done the WiFi and I haven't because I don't know how.

So she talks me through that -- it took me about 80 minutes, believe it or not.  That did include adding my HuluPlus account and my Netflix account.

And there was a free trial to Prime so I grabbed it to check out Amazon Prime.

What is worse than Netflix?

Amazon Prime.

Why would anyone waste their money?

It's not as bad as I thought it was.

When you browse prime you're basically looking at 300 movies (many of which show up in the same genre categories).

I was grossly disappointed with the lack of classic movies and noted that to C.I.

And that's when I learned something I wouldn't have otherwise known.

If you have Prime, you may or may not know this.

But you can also "search" and if you "search" you can find a lot more than what they show.

I searched Natalie Wood and sadly didn't find anything.  But I searched Humphrey Bogart and all his movies popped up with a note that "Dark Passage" (with Lauren Bacall) was available for rent but free to Prime members.  And you can find movies that way.

But I'm really not impressed with Prime.

And on the screen of your TV?

They don't even have a genre for "classics."

I'll be cancelling it at the end of my free trial.


Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"



Saturday, February 28, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, a lot of gabbing over the attack on the Mosul Museum but not any real analysis, Barack's desire for combat troops gathers more attention, is the Islamic State just desperate for more press or are they carrying out large acts as part of a farewell to Mosul, and much more

A friend who's a TV actress can talk Iraq every few months.  Whenever there's a story, for example, about how zoo animals are hunted in Iraq, she's all over it.  She's outraged.  She's angry.  Her speech can go on for 90 minutes -- and it is a speech, it's not a conversation.

And I guess I should be grateful that in a world of apathy -- in the United States of Apathy -- she thinks passionately about Iraq at all.

But, no offense to the big game animals, I'm really more concerned with human life in Iraq.  I didn't notice, for example, anyone getting upset about the slaughter when new buildings or US outposts in Iraq were accompanied by the ritualistic slaughter/sacrifice of an animal.

I bring this up because in Thursday's snapshot we quoted the Metropolitan Museum on the attack on the Mosul Museum.

We could have quoted any number of organizations or what have you.  To me, however, if it's a museum that's attacked, let's listen to what another museum is saying.  And I think it's valid for museums around the world to issue statements.

But there's valid and then there's questionable.

A.R. Williams (National Geographic) reports:

Islamic State militants released a video on Thursday showing the destruction of priceless antiquities in northern Iraq.
Running for more than five minutes, the video records men toppling statues in a museum and smashing them with sledgehammers, and attacking other statues at an archaeological site with a jackhammer.


And I think about it and, yeah, this is something National Geographic should be on, it's their reporting beat.  The Guardian carries a column by Haifa Zangana which notes:

Earlier attacks on Mosul’s heritage by Isis targeted the tomb of Nabi Yunus (the prophet Jonah), and the grave of Abu al-Hassan al-Jazari, a 12th- and 13th-century historiographer known as ibn al-Athir.
The destruction of Mosul’s history is a crime against people who are proud of their education and heritage, and fully aware of the value, for example, of the library of Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria (668-627BC), with its 22,000 cuneiform tablets. Destruction of monuments that have been preserved through 14 centuries of Islam in Iraq is widely abhorred. These actions can be likened to the barbarism of an extreme sect in early Islam that demolished the shrine in Mecca.

And there's no question Iraqi novelist Haifa should be weighing in.  But Pravada's got a report that opens, "Islamic State has committed yet another atrocity, adding vandalism and desecration of world cultural heritage to its list of crimes. UNESCO has expressed outrage over the attack on Mosul Museum and the destruction of statues and other artefacts, and has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council."  And AFP's report notes, "Archaeologists and heritage experts called for urgent action to protect the remains of some of oldest civilisations in the world."  BBC offers, "The reported destruction of the statues follows recent reports that IS burnt down Mosul Library, which housed over 8,000 ancient manuscripts."  And CNN has filed multiple stories including this one.

And we could go on and on with all the outlets filing stories.

But here's the thing, I can remember when Nouri used his Minister of the Interior to go after Iraq's LGBT and Emo and suspected LGBT and Emo communities.

And I can remember the reality -- not spin, not rumors -- of the violent deaths by stoning (often with bricks) or super-gluing the anuses, etc.

And I can remember the US press and the world press ignoring it for weeks and weeks.

I can remember getting traction with friends in the music press (including one who got a deal that I would stop slamming him if his publication tackled the story) and how even that took forever and took a mountain of work.

I love books, I love art, I love film and music but I don't think I value art more than I value human life.

But I'm not sure our modern press can say the same.

Forget the LGBT issue for a moment, it's also true 2010 through 2014 saw a vicious government assault on the Sunnis in Iraq and very few wanted to report on it.  Some, like Patrick Cockburn, did so begrudgingly and minimized while 'covering' it.  (Which is why Patrick Cockburn's reputation is so awful in the Arab world.)

I'm an artist.  I believe in art.  But I believe we can and do create new art every day.  And if you told me a ship was sinking and we could save five people or save Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa which was also on the ship for some reason, I'd say save the five people.

That's not me calling art or culture disposable but it is me noting that people are needed for art: they're needed to appreciate it, they're needed for it to have value.

So it bothers me that when people are being killed by their own government, the world press is happy to take a pass..  But some objects being destroyed gets the attention of the entire world press.

I love animals, I love art.  I just question the priorities of a global press which repeatedly finds ways to be outraged over something other than the deliberate killing of people.

Nearly fifteen months of daily bombings of civilian areas in Iraq -- in Sunni dominate Falluja -- by the Iraqi military -- bombings that have wounded and killed thousands -- has, in nearly fifteen months, received not even 1/4 of the coverage the attack on the Mosul Museum has received in 48 hours.

Again, I question the priorities of the global press.

For decades, the joke was that UPI was the Ethel Mertz of the global press.  These days Ethel Mertz seems quite a bit loftier than any press outlet.

(That reputation preceded the Unification Church's purchase of UPI -- preceded it by decades.  Ethel Mertz is the character Vivian Vance played on I Love Lucy, a character who always enjoyed sharing a juicy tidbit with Lucille Ball's Lucy Ricardo.)


The priorities seem skewed at best.  Like with this [PDF format warning] report by alleged friends like Minority Rights Group International and Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization.  The report supposedly is concerned with War Crimes in Iraq.  I'm supposed to be using this site to promote it.

The fact that I was being asked (strong-armed) into promoting the Friday briefing that the report would be released at while at the same time not being able to see the report myself ahead of time was enough to set my 'Spidey sense' tingling and I said no.

And I've now read the report and I'm glad I said no.

Is that a report?

Because it reads like a cry for war.

I also don't get the bravery or the need to call out the Islamic State.

What's next?  An emergency press release announcing Adolf Hitler was evil?

Watch this: Adolf Hitler should burn in hell!

Do you know I will probably not get one e-mail complaining about that statement.

It takes no courage to call out Adolf Hitler.

It also takes no courage -- if you're outside of Iraq or Syria -- to call out the Islamic State.

But a worthless report of 38 pages goes on and on about War Crimes carried out by the Islamic State while failing to note the War Crimes of the Iraqi government. But haven't they done that for years now?  Ignore the War Crimes?  Ignore Nouri al-Maliki's goons carrying out his orders to attack peaceful protesters?  But suddenly they're concerned about Iraq.

And they've so very big and brave -- what manly men they are, rising from their haunches to bravely call out the Islamic State.

In keeping with their ground breaking announcement that the Islamic State is bad, next week Minority Rights Group International and Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization will announce the shocking and ground breaking news that some children hate broccoli.


During the Bully Boy Bush era, Canada largely and wisely sat out the Iraq War.  These days, it's foaming at the mouth to get in its 'kills.'  Keith Jones (WSWS) observes:

Canada’s Conservative government is steamrolling its new “anti-terrorism” bill through parliament—legislation that tramples on core democratic rights and dramatically augments the power of the state and its national-security apparatus.
The Conservatives, who last fall sent Canada to war yet again, this time in Iraq, are also plotting to involve Canada still more deeply in US imperialism’s global offensive.
In both instances, the government is justifying its actions with the claim that Canada is under attack from Islamist terrorism.
This has been a constant refrain of Prime Minster Stephen Harper and his minsters since the killing of two members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) last October in separate incidents in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and Ottawa.

Harper and his Conservatives seized on these killings—the work of deeply troubled individuals who had no connection with each other, let alone any terrorist group in Canada or the Middle East—to advance a pre-planned right-wing agenda.


Minority Rights Group International and Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization churned out a report that also reads like a War Hawk attempt to spread fear and encourage more violence.  You sort of picture Stephen Harper flipping through with one hand while pulling his pud with the other.


The White House is facing severe criticism for announcing to the press last week that an attempt to drive IS out of Mosul will take place shortly -- no later than May.


Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports there are other objections to the White House announcement which include charges that the administration's underestimated the number of Islamic State fighters in Iraq and the level of their dedication:


With the legitimacy of the group’s cross-border claim of authority at stake, analysts said they found it unlikely that the Islamic State would easily give up control of Mosul or dedicate such a small force to protecting it. Many hundreds of Islamic State troops were committed to the failed effort to capture Kobani, a far less important city on the Syria-Turkey border, and Kurdish forces only 12 miles from Mosul report near-daily attacks by hundreds of Islamic State troops.
“The idea that ISIS will vacate Mosul without a substantial fight is almost laughable,” J.M. Berger, an expert on the Islamic State who’s affiliated with the Brookings Institution’s Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, said in an email. “The timing of the caliphate announcement with the capture of Mosul connects the credibility of the former to their ability to hold the latter in a pretty big way. The caliphate announcement was a clear signal they don’t intend to melt away into the hills.”

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/02/25/257826/islamic-state-experts-worry-us.html#storylink=cpy


The various experts quoted in the article may be correct.

They may be correct in full or in part.

They may also be completely wrong.

I have no idea.

But the attack on the Mosul Museum?

Is the big takeaway there really 'lost cultural heritage'?

For all the hand wringing the press has done, they seem to be missing a point.

That act seems more like a closer.

If you've got a bill of artists performing and Diana Ross is one of them, chances are Diana's closing the concert.  Because she's a closer.  She's a big deal.

The attack on the Mosul Museum could be a closer too.

Meaning the Islamic State, with the announcement from the White House about an impending attack on Mosul, may be resorting to a few last big acts as they prepare to disperse to other areas.

May be.

I have no idea.

I do know that the Islamic State tends to be elusive and while some might argue they need to hold Mosul to prove their strength, it's also true that they've held it for nearly a year and that they could move to another area of Iraq or just move to strengthen their hold in Anbar.

We noted a little while ago that the Islamic State succeeds via fear and that their actions seemed to be getting more and more desperate in order to garner attention and spread fear.

That could be all the attack on the museum was.

But it could also be part of an attempt to pull off some big moments before they begin dispersing in part or in full from Mosul.

It's amazing that so many outlets can 'cover' an event without ever offering possible reasons for the attack.

Or are we so fear-based that we convince ourselves the attack is just part of 'evil'?

The Islamic State has had a game plan from day one.

The White House mistakenly believes dropping bombs is going to take on the Islamic State.  Dropping bombs isn't even playing catch up.


Lying to the American people isn't a way to defeat the Islamic State either.  Thursday's snapshot addressed the fact that the White House clearly plans to utilize US troops in on the ground combat despite Barack Obama's June 'promise' otherwise.  That's why the AUMF if worded the way it is.

We also noted in Thursday's snapshot that it was past time people started giving serious attention to analyzing the AUMF.

Trevor Timm (Guardian) actually does give it serious attention today and notes:


In the Senate hearing this week, the discussion focused on the nebulous language in the White House’s proposed bill and whether the Obama administration actually wants a ground war or not. The President, for months, has been insisting US combat troops would not be fighting on the ground - aside from their comically narrow definition of “combat troops” - but their war resolution paints a different picture. The language says it would “not authorize the use of the United States armed forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.” (emphasis mine)
That means combat troops are on the table, the question is only for how long.

It's Trevor Timm so we're noting the above but before anyone e-mails, Timm's factually wrong.  (Is that redundant?)

Wednesday's snapshot and Thursday's snapshot cover the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that Barack's Special Presidential Envoy for The Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant testified at.  That's John Allen.

I was at that hearing and we reported on it.  I was at other hearings this week that we haven't had time for.  That includes veterans hearings and it includes Tuesday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.  Tuesday is when John Kerry testified.

Timm writes:

 Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to draw a line in the sand at the Senate hearing: “If you’re going in for weeks and weeks of combat, that’s enduring,” he said. “If you’re going in to assist somebody and fire control and you’re embedded in an overnight deal, or you’re in a rescue operation or whatever, that is not enduring.”
Oh really? At the very same hearing, retired General John Allen, special presidential envoy for the global anti-ISIS coalition, said this: “Enduring might be two weeks, it might be two years.”


Kerry was at the Tuesday hearing.  He was not at the Wednesday hearing.  Timm needs to correct his error.  He also needs to pay a little more attention.  The link he offers goes to USA Today where an article clearly notes Kerry testified on Tuesday.


If that's not proof enough, we quoted Senator Barbara Boxer already in our previous coverage -- including this comment she made to Allen:

 I know poor Senator -- Secretary [of State John] Kerry had to hear it over and over from our side yesterday.  But we're very uncomfortable with this language.  And when Senator Menendez was Chairman, he cobbled together a really good AUMF that united all of us on our side because he essentially said no combat troops with these exceptions -- and he put in the kind of exceptions that I think you would agree with -- special forces operations, search and rescue, protecting personnel.  And we would urge you, please, to go back and take a look at it. I just feel very strongly.




I knocked Timm last week for his trouble with the facts.  The policy there is usually you've had three strikes before I call you out.  Timm had his three.  His 'reporting' is problematic and that's because he refuses to nail down the facts.  Kerry did not testify on Wednesday to that Committee nor did he appear at the same hearing as Allen.  These are facts.

You either get them right or you don't.

And it's not just him, it's also the Guardian's editorial oversight -- or lack of it.

If Timm doesn't correct his error soon look for various 'reports' (columns) to repeat the error.

Jessica Schulberg (Huffington Post) reports, "Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) indicated on Thursday that he may move to prevent President Barack Obama from deploying U.S. ground troops against the Islamic State by introducing a funding bill to limit how the money appropriated for the military campaign can be used."


That was at Thursday's House Armed Services Committee hearing.  I wasn't present at that hearing. I'm counting on  Jessica Schulberg to have nailed down her facts (she's never had a problem doing that in any piece of hers I've read).  People reading Timm's piece are counting on him to nail down his facts as well.


We've noted this week how Mosul may be symbolic -- taking it back from the Islamic State -- but that might be all it was.  Walter Smolarek (Liberation) addresses that possibility:


Such a victory would be a much-needed boost to the authority of the central government, led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. It would not, however, settle fundamental questions about the future of Iraq. Recent events have shown that the recapture of Mosul would be little more than a cosmetic sign of Iraqi national unity, which has been shredded by the criminal policies of U.S. imperialism.
Thousands of U.S. troops are deployed across Iraq, and even more may be sent to the country in the lead-up to the offensive. In order to placate both a skeptical domestic population as well as militias that are fighting IS but also fought the U.S. occupation following the 2003 invasion, the U.S. government has insisted that they will not engage in direct combat. Instead, the U.S. military presence, aside from the daily aerial bombardment, is claimed to be solely aimed at reconstructing and advising the Iraqi army.

With Congress considering a wide-ranging war authorization and the steady escalation of the U.S. military presence, the ability of the “advisors” to avoid combat, even if they wanted to, is highly questionable. 





Friday, Alsumaria reported 6 corpses were discovered dumped in Baghdad -- three of the six were brothers, all were shot dead.  They also noted a woman was hanged in Mosul after being accused of helping government security forces (Mosul is occupied by the Islamic State -- and has been since last June), a roadside bombing outside Baquba left 1 police officer dead and three civilians injured, and a Basra home invasion left 3 sisters and their father dead.  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) noted 8 people dead from Baghdad "bombings and mortar strikes."

This morning, Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports 2 Balad Ruz car bombings leaving 11 people dead and another fifty injured while a Samarra suicide car bomber took his own live and the lives of 8 other people with fifteen more left injured.