Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie as the iconic character from Sleeping Beauty, will cross the $600 million mark at the global box office on Wednesday after five weeks in release, an impressive feat considering it is a female-fueled property. It's the No. 4 title of the year so far behind X-Men: Days of Future Past, which has earned $713.9 million to date, Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($711.2 million) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($702.7 million). To boot, Maleficent is the year's top-grossing original title.
Good for Angelina and good for movies. Angelina carried that film and maybe it will mean more films geared around women.
I'm really not feeling it for X-Men. If Bryan Singer wants me to buy a ticket to the next one, he better find female characters -- and strong ones who are active and hold their own.
Since Disney's bought Marvel, the X-Men films have devolved and suck.
We've gone from Storm and Jean to nothing and Jennifer Lawrence (same thing as nothing).
I can't believe that X-Men got away with this crap, this summer.
The only reason to see the film was Hugh Jackman.
And I like Michael Fassbender in most films -- loved him in 'The Counselor' -- but he's awful as Magneto.
Swiping from Third's "Highlights," here are the community posts on movies from last week:
"Begin Again," "Transformers: Age of Extinction," "Iraq and Pretty Maids All In A Row" and "James Bond news" -- Betty, Stan and Mike go to the movies.
And Trina reviewed "Begin Again" Monday.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
First off, US President Barack Obama is polling very poorly these days. Cedric and Wally noted it in their joint-post this morning:
Alsumaria notes it here. And, possibly as a result of this latest poll, two White House friends asked if I would note this. The White House has created a webpage for people to follow what is going on in Iraq -- US efforts and otherwise. I said I would note it and I have -- however, a page they're pushing that hasn't updated since June 19th? Not sure how that's going to restore any confidence in the White House.
What is The Huffington Post?
It has no consistency whatsoever. Two idiots were whining -- and you know their idiots because Bernie Sanders has since linked to them -- about the 'groovy' men who were right about Iraq all along. Ava and I took on the idiots nonsense in "TV: The useless huffing and puffing of flaccid men" Sunday at Third. The HuffyPost whined about one man after another being blocked out and we explained why the HuffyPost chose bad people to root for. We'll use Kent Conrad here as an example:
They started with former US Senator Kent Conrad. He, they informed you, was one of 21 senators to vote against the Iraq War.
They then thunder over the refusal of networks to book Kent!
Oh, the horror.
Poor Kent Conrad!
Not booked for TV because he took a stand against the Iraq War.
Or maybe not booked because he's off putting on TV?
His voice irritates.
But the Huff Post never wants to offer facts, mind you.
So they pretend that Kent's being overlooked because he was right.
Was he right about Countrywide Financial?
Because that is why he left the Senate, didn't run for re-election, remember?
Yes, a Democratically controlled ethics panel did say he hadn't broken the law.
But the financial scandal touched him since he was pro-Countrywide and they'd been so very generous to him with loans.
It's called corruption and most hosts would be leery booking someone like Kent Conrad as an 'expert.' That'd be like booking pedophile Scott Ritter.
And then there's that other detail: "former" senator.
Today, on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News and CNN, Iraq will be addressed by the following officials: US President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey, Senator Joe Manchin, Senator John Barrasso, US House Rep. Peter King, U.S. House Rep. Mike Rogers, and former NSA director and CIA director Michael Hayden.
Please note, all members of Congress?
They're currently serving.
No Congressional member invited on is a 'former' member of Congress except maybe Barack who is, after all, a sitting president.
So Kent Conrad, who left the Senate in disgrace, who chose not to run for re-election because of the Countrywide scandal?
He's really not the ingredients for a solid argument.
So HuffPost is now in the position that Congressional members receiving favors from banks is a good thing? Didn't Arianna entitle one of her books Pigs at the Trough and weren't those pigs supposed to be seen as a bad thing?
Regardless, the bad piece Ava and I took on was two (bad) writers arguing their personal faves were being shut out while those who helped the war -- booster, supporter, planner, whatever -- were getting media attention today and invited to pen columns and appear in the media.
Can we have a little consistency? Is that too much to ask?
Huff Post was insisting over the weekend that the pro-war voices needed to be shut out today. So today they run garbage written by dimwit Ibrahim al-Marashi?
For those who don't know or just don't remember, al-Marashi wrote the Middle East Review of International Affairs article "Iraq's Security & Intelligence Network: A Guide & Analysis." This ended up as part of Colin Powell's blot. His 2003 UN speech arguing for war on Iraq lifted who passages of al-Marashi's article -- without crediting them as borrowed. So even a dim bulb at Huffington Post should be able to grasp that al-Marashi's work argued for war on Iraq and was used by the US and British government to argue for war on Iraq.
So why, today, is Huffington Post running al-Marashi's ""?
I'm not saying he should be shut out of the conversation. But I haven't called for any to be shut out except those who lied (getting it wrong is not the same as lying).
Again, is consistency from Huffington Post too much to ask for?
The article in question is laughably bad and entitled "These Are the Three Most Common Myths About What's Happening in Iraq."
In the first 'myth,' this writer whose work was an embarrassment in 2002 and 2003 wants to take on history. Robert Fisk and others -- including many historians -- have made the argument regarding the WWI partitioning of Iraq and its possible consequences. I've never made such an argument. I'm happy to entertain one but I'm just not that interested or vested in it. I don't dispute it or slam those who are interested in that argument. And I certainly wouldn't call it a myth.
Then the idiot wants to take on the 'myth' of sectarian divisions.
That's not a myth and he's an idiot.
Shi'ites were persecuted under Saddam Hussein. Like many, I stupidly ignored that during the first years of the Iraq War. As more and more Iraqi Shi'ites contacted this site over the years, I realized that I was the one in the wrong. Saddam's government included many Shi'ites. There's no way the system couldn't, they were the majority of the population (and still are). But there were those -- especially those who did not embrace secularism -- who felt persecuted and were persecuted.
The US deepened the divisions. Laura Flanders loved to go into that when she had her radio shows. By asking who was a Sunni and who was a Shia, the US military was reinforcing a division.
You know what?
That's a minor thing.
You can blow it off as 'dumb foreigners' if you're an Iraqi.
Here's where the US deepened the division: Installing Shi'ites opposed to Hussein who had fled the country. Nouri and so many others returned with chips on their shoulders, scores to settle and grudges to f**k. These people, installed into the government by the US, went about staging holy wars. If they had a real beef, (a) grown ups learn to get over it and (b) Saddam Hussein was executed.
So why does Nouri still target and attack the Sunnis.
As Lily Tomlin's wise Edith Ann once observed, "To get back is to go back."
The third myth?
The idiot wrote:
Maliki became prime minister in 2006 because the U.S. believed he would be a compromise candidate that could reconcile Iraq's factions. Calls, particularly in the U.S., for Maliki to step down would not resolve the current crisis, as there are no guarantees that his successor will resolve political differences between Iraqis.
Ironically, America's stance has made it harder for Maliki to step down. The Iraqi elections do not elect the prime minister but rather the party that choses the prime minister.
Let's deal with the last sentence first. They do not, the elections, elect "the party that choses the prime minister." This is bad interpretation of the Iraqi Constitution, first and foremost. Second of all, this argument (well made or poorly) became null and void by a court decision in 2010. It is now the post-election period in which alliances are made and formed and the group that does that successfully is the one who gets first show at prime minister-designate. (Not even prime minister, but, hey, when have we ever expected idiots writing for The Huffington Post to actually possess a functioning knowledge base?)
Let's go back to the first part:
Maliki became prime minister in 2006 because the U.S. believed he would be a compromise candidate that could reconcile Iraq's factions. Calls, particularly in the U.S., for Maliki to step down would not resolve the current crisis, as there are no guarantees that his successor will resolve political differences between Iraqis.
That's not the argument being made and I know since I put it forward here on April 12th and put it forward to members of Congress, two think tanks and White House friends in the days after.
What is termed 'al-Qaeda' in Iraq is actually a group of bodies. Their only common issue at present is opposting to Nouri's rule.
Want to break them up right now? Pay attention, Barack -- remove Nouri from power.
That requires no troops. It only requires an honest election (as took place in 2010) and that the results be honored (which did not happen).
If Nouri is not prime minister for a third term, you're going to see the bond that binds the various groups break away.
Violence, once another person is named prime minister-designate, could actually fall as a result.
I was not arguing -- read "I Hate The War" in full as well as what we did the following day at Third in "Editorial: If the US wants to reduce the violence ..." -- that violence would vanish and rainbows would pour out of gun barrels while grenades turned into candy. I was arguing that Nouri's oppression of so many had made him a common enemy. That his track record meant he would not be able to lead the people to a new Iraq. I was arguing that a new prime minister would be a 'reset.' Not a cure, a reset. It would allow a brief window of time for people to wait and see if this was going to usher in an inclusive Iraq or not.
Iraqis who are participating in the violence? The bulk don't want to be. They've been pushed into this by 8 years of Nouri's policies which have targeted them, disappeared their loved ones and so much more.
Nouri gone doesn't mean Iraq finds peace. It could mean, Iraq gets a few weeks -- maybe even a few months -- of lower violence (lower -- I'm not saying violence goes away) as the country has a chance to collectively take a breath.
At Kitabat, Khadr Ramahi argues that Ayad Allawi might be able to pull off the reset.
Unlike the idiot of The Huffington Post, I don't like writing about this.
I'm not a half-wit.
While Prime Minister New could lower levels of violence, Prime Minister New could also do a few weeks or months of pretend actions while he or she uses that time and this pretend move forward to weaken the resistance and pick them off.
I hope that does not happen but it could. The fear of this happening is, in part, behind the reluctance of some to get behind Tareq Najm as the next prime minister-designate (due to his closeness to Nouri). Kitabat notes strong pressure coming down on the Sadrist bloc and Ammar al-Hakim's bloc to accept Tareq for the post.
I wrote what I wrote -- and advocated for it to officials -- because it was before the elections and if the US government had stepped away from Nouri at that point -- even State Dept friends (including two officials who both called May 30th and asked me to walk them through what they'd dismissed in April) -- it could have made a difference in the election.
Nouri refuses to release his death grip on the country and today the violence continues at an alarming rate.
National Iraqi News Agency reports a western Baghdad bombing andansuicide bomber left 4 people dead and twelve injured, a tribal force killed 2 rebels near the border Iraq shares with Syria, security forces state they killed Abu al-Ula al-Shami in Anbar (they say he is a 'terrorist'), a Saqlawiyah battle left 4 rebels dead and eleven more injured, the Army bombed Jurf al-Sakar killing at least 60 people, 1 person was shot dead in southeast Baghdad, and 15 Shabaks were kidnapped to the "southeast of Mosul." Alsumaria notes a Baquba airstrike left 3 suspects dead, two police officers were injured in a Mansuriyya attack, security forces attacked a group of people in Mansouriet killing 2 people and leaving a third injured, 1 sniper was killed in Tabj and two of his associates were left injured, and security forces say they killed 7 suspects and injured eleven more in Alfajh. In addition there were clashes between the military and the followers of Mahmoud al-Sarkhi. al-Sarkhi is a Shi'ite cleric. In Iraq's Insurgency and the Road to Civil Conflict, Volume I, Anthony H. Cordesman and Emma R. Davies write:
On August 16, [2006,] Iraqi security officers raided the office of radical cleric Mahmoud Sarkhi al-Hassani after his followers reportedly tried to assume control of several districts in Karbala. Razouki, a senior official of another Shi'ite group, known as the Fadhila Party, accused al-Hassani's followers of planning to take over religious shrines in the city. The clashes between al-Hassani's followers and Iraqi security forces led to the arrest of 281 members, but al-Hassani's followers later gathered in nearby towns and threatened to march on Karbala.
Rival Shi'ite factions, such as Sadr's Mahdi Army and Fadhila's armed wing, increasingly engaged in open-armed conflicts in Basra. In June, hundreds of al-Hassani's followers attacked the Iranian Consulate after another Shi'ite cleric criticized al-Hassani on Iranian television, describing him as a "fake cleric" and a "pawn of Israel."
His followers are thought to number around 35,000 and they reside in southern Iraq predominately with a sizable portion in central Iraq. He is a foe and rival of Nouri al-Maliki. He is a Shi'ite who opposed the invasion of Iraq and the occupation that followed. He denounces real and perceived attempts by the United States and by Iran to influence and/or control Iraq. He studied under Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr and was once close with al-Sadr's son (cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr); however, the two moved apart around 2006.
al-Hassani also has a problematic relationship with Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In April 2012, Khalid Waleed (IWPR) reported:
“Each cleric has his own followers – that is not in dispute,” Habib al-Khatib, a Sistani representatives, told IWPR, adding that the ayatollah had ordered his followers to pursue “reconciliation with others” and to refrain from violence against fellow-Iraqis.
Sarkhi and Sistani have in the past disagreed on ideological matters, with the former supporting armed struggle against American troops when they were still present in Iraq, and opposing both past governments and elections. Sistani has taken a more moderate position, encouraging his followers to work towards full sovereignty by peaceful means.
The core of the dispute, however, comes down to which of them is the more eminent Shia figure.
Despite Sistani’s position, and undoubted influence, as the senior Shia figure in Iraq, Sarkhi has claimed he is the higher authority.
Sarkhi has spoken out against Iranian influence in Iraq, and played up his own Iraqi origins in contrast to Sistani’s roots in Iran.
For his part, Sistani is thought to be concerned about Sarkhi’s apparent attempt to portray himself as something akin to a Shia saviour.
Sarkhi has never given an interview and remains distant even from his followers. This echoes a Shia prophecy that their redeemer is in hiding and will emerge from seclusion one day to dominate the entire world.
Today, a curfew was imposed on Karbala. NINA reports it is in response to "armed clashes between the followers of the religious authority Mahmoud al-Hassani Sarkhi and the security forces" which left 4 Iraqi soldiers dead and twelve more injured and left 14 of al-Sarkhi's followers dead and twenty-five more injured. All Iraq News notes security forces arrested thirty of his followers today. Al Mada explains that the struggle began Tueday night when security forces began surrounding Sarkhi's compound and that Sarkhi has left the compound and Karbala at some point during today's fighting.
Let's move over to the topic of northern Iraq and the Kurds. The issue was raised at today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki.
QUESTION: Can you give us a readout about the Secretary’s meeting with the Iraqi Kurdish delegation today?
MS. PSAKI: Sure, mm-hmm. He also spoke with President Barzani this morning, so let me just give you kind of an overview of those two. During his – following on meetings that the Secretary had in Erbil just last week, he met this morning with a Kurdish delegation led by KRG President Barzani’s chief of staff, Fuad Hussein, to discuss the crisis in Iraq and the important role that Kurds have to play in assisting the efforts of the central government to manage this current security and political crisis in a way that is beneficial to all Iraqis. The Secretary emphasized to the delegation the critical role that the Kurds play in the government formation process, and with the new Iraqi parliament convened, the need for their full participation to move the process forward to forge an inclusive government that takes into account the rights, aspirations, and legitimate concerns of all of Iraqis – of Iraq’s communities. He also further stressed that formation of an inclusive government in Iraq was vital to uniting the Iraqi people and ridding the nation of the threat from ISIL, including in the Kurdish region. And finally, he underscored the historic relationship the United States shares with the Kurdistan Regional Government and its people, and emphasized our full commitment to that relationship.
The discussion he had with President Barzani was along the same lines in terms of encouraging the urgency – emphasizing the urgency of their participation in the government formation process, the important role the Kurds played moving forward – he raised the important role the Kurds play moving forward, and also emphasized that the focus should be on the existential threat that they all face, and that’s where their focus should be at this important time.
QUESTION: I assumed Dr. Fuad was scheduled to come here for some time, but the call of President Barzani was somewhat – can we assume it was precipitated by the fact that the Kurds walked out of the parliament meeting yesterday?
MS. PSAKI: He’s been in touch with a range of officials, as you know, throughout the last several weeks. So certainly we are aware of those events and encouraging them to participate in the process is part of that, and emphasizing the importance of the plan to reconvene next week is a part of that. But I don’t have any additional information on the timing or the reasoning of the call beyond that.
QUESTION: Did – I mean, I ask about the timing, because, as you noted, he met with President Barzani last week. I’m just wondering what different message he might have had from a week ago to today that would have necessitated a call.
MS. PSAKI: It’s not a different message, but I think consistency, especially in times of crisis, is part of his approach to diplomacy. So that’s what this was a part of.
QUESTION: And did President Barzani or Dr. Fuad commit to attending the July 8th parliament session?
MS. PSAKI: We --
QUESTION: Not themselves personally, but the delegations.
MS. PSAKI: We certainly expect they will, but I’ll let them speak for themselves in terms of their own commitments.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The Kurds, meanwhile, are working on their own country or own state, drawing the borders of this country and preparing for the referendum. Have you discussed this issue with them and what was their reaction to that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’ve heard the Secretary say publicly, but his message privately is exactly the same – that a united Iraq is a stronger Iraq, and the focus should be on the existential threat that all Iraqis face and that people in the region face, which is the threat of ISIL. And we should not give an opening to a horrific terrorist group by being divided at this critical moment. So that’s part of the message that he certainly has conveyed broadly on these issues.
Now, there have been statements made in the past, as you know, for quite some time about their desire for an independent Kurdistan. It’s not new as of the last week. I know you’re aware of that, but it’s important context here.
QUESTION: Today, was prime minister – sorry. Today Prime Minister Maliki and the Iranians saying that they oppose to any kind of secession by the Kurds. So you’re in agreement with them on that?
MS. PSAKI: I think we’ve been very consistent and clear about our view that a stronger Iraq is a united Iraq, a united Iraq is a stronger Iraq.
QUESTION: And do you believe that Kirkuk is still disputed?
MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Do you believe that Kirkuk is still a disputed area?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re certainly aware that the Kurdish – the Peshmerga are there, the Kurdish forces are there. But again, we have been encouraging all parties in Iraq to remain focused on the existential threat they face.
Last night, Rebecca covered Kurdish issues in "kurds and the krg." Among other things, she noted that the governments of both Turkey and Israel had made public statements about being okay with the KRG becoming fully autonomous. It's only the US State Dept that seems to have a problem these days.
*From the June 24th State Dept press briefing:
QUESTION: One way to interpret taking into account the new realities on the ground would be taking into account the Peshmerga’s seizure of Kirkuk. Does the U.S. Government believe that Kirkuk and its oil reserves now belong to the Kurdish Regional Government?
MS. HARF: Well, look, our position on the export or sale of oil inside Iraq, anywhere inside Iraq, is the – has to happen with the appropriate approval of the federal Iraqi Government, that it is, indeed, owned by the Iraqi Government. Obviously, there are – we talked about this in here – whether the – when other people, including the Kurds, have tried to export it absent that approval, and we’ve said, obviously, we don’t support that. But look, the situation on the ground is fluid. Many people, including the Security Council, have called on Baghdad and Erbil to reach an accord on oil – on all pending subjects, including energy.
QUESTION: But that’s been happening for 11 years. I mean – but they’ve been – there have been calls for that for 11 years. It has --
MS. HARF: I’m aware of the history.
QUESTION: It hasn’t happened, and the change on the ground that one would guess the Kurdish leader is talking about is a big one, which is that they now hold what they regard as their historic capital and its oil reserves. And so it sounds like your answer is, no, it doesn’t belong to the KRG, it belongs to a federal Iraqi state for as long as there is one. Is that fair?
MS. HARF: It’s that our position hasn’t changed.
No more pretty. Little pretense that sides aren't and weren't chosen.
Repeatedly, the State Dept has insisted they weren't taking sides on the oil issue and more gifted speakers have been able to walk the line so that there was the possibility that State wasn't choosing sides. Their actions made clear they were backing Nouri but their words gave the indication that maybe that wasn't the case and actions were accidental or the product of chaos and not a plan that State was following.
Then Marie Harf clomps into the room and makes clear, it is an anti-Kurd position and that it always has been.
But a hiccup, this week, a hiccup.
A legal victory for the Kurds. The KRG notes:
On 23rd June 2014, the Court convened a special meeting to address the Minister’s request and, after examining the reasoning behind his request, the Court decided unanimously to reject the request of the Minister “for being contrary to the applicable legal contexts in Iraq.”
It is worth noting here that the Minister’s claims were based on his own interpretation of constitutional provisions to claim that the oil and gas affairs fall within the exclusive powers of the federal government. In so claiming, the Minister was relying on the centralized laws enacted prior to 2003, thus ignoring the fact that current constitutional provisions do not incorporate any oil and gas matters within Article 110, which defines the exclusive powers of the federal government.
With this Court decision, the Kurdistan Regional Government has another important clarification of its acquired rights as stated in the Constitution. The Court ruling was taken by a unanimous decision of all its members, and it explicitly rejected the request made by the Minister. Such a decision by the highest court in the land is binding on the Minister and cannot be challenged in any way.
This is a clear victory for justice and for upholding KRG’s rights, despite the Iraqi Federal Oil Ministry‘s interferences and unjustifiable interventions. This decision clearly demonstrates that the Federal Oil ministry and its marketing arm (SOMO) will also fail on all their reckless efforts on the international level.
This judicial decision by the Supreme Federal Court must be respected, and now we call upon the Federal Oil Ministry, SOMO and all their helpers to abandon their illegal and unconstitutional interventions to prevent oil exports from the Kurdistan Region. They must also cease sending intimidating and threatening letters or making false claims to prospective traders and buyers of oil exported legally by the Kurdistan Regional Government for the benefit of the people of Kurdistan and Iraq.
And that decision came down before Marie's latest flapping of the gums on this issue.
Marie and State should have been aware of the verdict.
They should also be aware that their active support and embrace of Nouri -- which was never backed by the law as they tried to claim -- looks even more repugnant and ill thought.
The Kurds are not only an oppressed people, they've been the ones to attempt to work with the US government for decades -- even though the US government has repeatedly turned on them. What a slap in the face the US government has repeatedly delivered to the Kurds over the oil issue.
Nouri's failure to pass an oil law is the US government's failure since he's repeatedly promised to pass one since 2006 and now, 8 years later, there's still no oil and gas law.
Marie and State should be pressed now, with a legal verdict being delivered, on where they stand? And why this verdict is not supposed to change anything?
Everything above starting with "*" appeared here on Saturday. At what point is the State Dept going to note the legal decision? And more importantly, will they respect it?
At Kitabat today, Qasim Muhammad al-Hassani wants to know who made KRG President Massoud Barzani the protector of the Kurds?
That's an easy one to answer: Jalal Talabani.
The now former president of Iraq, who's still in Germany, made Barzani the protector. He did so in at least three ways. First, he refused to follow doctor's orders and lose weight (he is morbidly obese, even now, after the stroke, he remains morbidly obese) and to eat sensibly. Second, he publicly declared that there would never be an independent Kurdish homeland. That was appalling to the world's Kurdish population. Third, he capitulated to Nouri al-Maliki at every turn.
December 2012, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke. The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot). Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital. Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany. He remains in Germany currently.
The country survived without him. The Talabani family has lied to the Iraq people repeatedly falsely declaring Jalal would be back in a matter of months. They've been making that promise since March of 2013. No one believes them anymore. And, at this point, Jalal's term is over. So it really doesn't matter. The selfish nature of the Talabani family left the country without a President from December 2012 to May 2014. They repeatedly lied and played on people's sympathies to prevent the Constitution from being implemented and Jalal replaced.
Who made Massoud Barzani the protector? Jalal.
Equally true, where Jalal showed weakness, Massoud showed strength. Even before Jalal was in Germany, Massoud Barzani was already becoming a leader on the world's stage.
Alsumaria reports that Barzani has asked Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for help in resolving the ongoing crises and for help moving the political process forward. NINA adds, "President of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani sent on Wednesday a message to the religious authority, Ali al-Sistani, urging him to intervene with the aim not to allow Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in the job for a third term."
Iraq Times reports MP Susan Sa'ad is calling Tuesday's inaction by the Parliament a breach of trust with the Iraqi people. NINA notes:
Head of Motahedoon Coalition / Uniting for Reform /, Osama Nujaifi received on Wednesday afternoon a telephone call from the American Vice-President Joe Biden, during which they discussed the political situation in Iraq and the constitutional requirements that followed the elections. Al- Nujaifi stressed during the interview, according to a statement by his office, his commitment to support the goals of the struggle of the people for they aspire to change in order to find a new strong policies to ensure the lives and the future of the Iraqi citizen.
Meanwhile, All Iraq News reports:
The Head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, Ammar Al-Hakim, called on the political sides to bear their responsibilities and ease the sufferings of the people and leave their disputes and their sectarian rhetoric.
He called in his daily speech of Ramadan holy month "New MPs to devote their job for serving the country and the people to prove their honesty and make the people respect them."
He urged to "From a government by the qualified team that has a clear vision to eliminate crises."
On Monday's CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley noted:
Scott Pelley: The president has just informed Congress that he is doubling the number of US forces headed to Iraq. These new troops are being sent in with helicopters and will be equipped for combat. It was just 11 days ago that President Obama announced that 300 advisors were headed to Baghdad to help Iraq fight an extremist insurgency that threatens to tear the country apart. But he insisted at that time that US forces will not be returning to combat. Apparently now the mission is growing.
Yesterday at the Pentagon, Rear Adm John Kirby gave a press briefing and went through the Iraq numbers:
I want to walk you through sort of what we're doing here and how. So we'll start going through time, but it's important as we go through this that I -- I clearly delineate there are two separate and distinct mission sets, the troops that are being sent to Iraq. First one is security assistance, and the second one is assessment teams and the joint operations center. This is the advisory -- eventually what will become the advisory mission, two distinct tracks here.
So the first order was the on the 16th of June for 270 -- actually, it was up to 275, is what the War Powers Resolution letter said, but roughly 270 is what we ordered up inside the military channels. A hundred and seventy of them got on the ground that same day -- actually, as you know, they kind of flowed in a little bit before the war powers letter went to Congress. So back then, we had a total of 270 authorized, 170 in country.
Next slide. The second order, the second War Powers Resolution letter went on the 26th of June. That authorized up to 300 advise and assess troops, advisers. And on the 27th of June, 180 had been in country. That's -- so you have 90 supporting the joint operations center in Baghdad and another 90 that comprised our assessment and advise teams. That brought the total to 570 authorized, but 350 actually on the ground. Everybody tracking on this so far? I figured if I use slides, I won't get the math wrong.
Next slide. The third order came on the 30th of June yesterday. That was for an additional 200 in the security assistance mission, separate and distinct from the assessment mission, an additional 200, and all 200 of them are now in and around Baghdad.
Additionally, you'll see the 100 up there in the top under the first order. Remember, the first order on the 16th of June was up to 275, but 270 is what we ordered. And we didn't put them all in country. You might remember, we told you that we were going to leave 100 of them or so outside the country in case they needed to be put in. We did put them in yesterday. So that other 100 came from the first order on the 16th of June.
And then so all that comes down to the bottom there, a total of 770 authorized, 650 on the ground. And that's where we are right now. Okay?
Kristina Wong (The Hill) reported yesterday afternoon, "Officials would not say how many of the armed helicopters have been sent to the country, stating only that they will be based in Baghdad and could assist with evacuations of American personnel. The Pentagon also sent over additional surveillance drones." Today on The Lead with Jake Tapper (CNN), Barbara Starr reported on the White House assertion that the US troops are being kept away from combat and instead making assessments from within Baghdad. Retired Col Cedric Leighton tells Starr, "That would be like staying at the Pentagon and assessing the health of the US military just from the Penatgon. It's impossible to do. [. . .] When you only deal with the headquarters level you'll never get the true picture." It would certainly appear that "Barack tells the American people one thing while planning something different."
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