Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mistresses (Hot Mess Karen)

Halle Berry won the Academy Award for "Monster's Ball." Wednesday night, she stars in CBS' summer TV series Extant, the producer is Steven Spielberg.

"Mistresses" airs Mondays on ABC.  I cover Karen and Joss.


She's with Justin Hartley's character again.  She's not doing anything kinky yet (remember, he's into putting women in high heels that he selects for them to wear during sex) but they did find a set of silver at an estate sale or something.

She goes to show her partner (and soon-to-be-ex-brother-in-law) Harry only to learn he's moving back to Australia.  She's sad but thinks he has a real offer.  He doesn't.  It's basically a hotdog stand.  So she's attempting to convince him to stay.

Dr. Karen Kim.  She continues to do the escort thing.  Her patient, remember, is an escort and has talked about her work -- sparking something in Karen.

Last week, we saw Karen go off with one of the men she picks up -- implication being she finally slept with one.

This episode, she slept with a different guy.  He played one of Sally Fields' sons on "Brothers & Sisters," I believe.

She used the name Rebecca with him.  She also fell hard for him.

And then tossed his business card.

She told April she really felt something for him.

And April told her, last week, this was going to happen.  (April did not say "I told you so," for any wondering.)

She tried to find the guy but had no luck.

However, at the end of the episode, she's leaving a bar and going to her car when she sees Jacob -- her former business partner who reported her to the board for sleeping with her patient, remember?

Since then, they've had a flirtation of sorts -- wouldn't you? (I'm being sarcastic) -- and it looks like that is starting up again.

I covered the previous episode with "Mistresses (a little freak never scared Joss)" while Ruth covered it with "Mistresses (Karen gets a pick up)."

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

Tuesday, July 8, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri is said to have lost the support of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, two DC neocons push for Ahmed Chalabi as Iraq's next prime minister, the Senate Armed Services Committee gets their third closed door briefing on Iraq in the last few weeks, and much more.

Heads up (no, it's not about Iraq, I'm promoting a friend's show).

Academy Award winning Best Actress Halle Berry's new TV show Extant debuts Wednesday night on CBS. 

While eyes turn to Steven Spielberg's latest TV venture,  Iraq is yet again becoming an issue in elections in the US.  The mid-terms will be in November.  Tom Robb (Journal and Topics) explores some of the US House races out of Illinois.  The results are rather depressing.  US House Rep Tammy Duckworth shares her opinion which doesn't depress because Tammy Duckworth did not run as an antiwar candidate. (Her stance has been well known since she ran for Congress in 2006.  The antiwar candidate in that 2006 Democratic Party primary was Christine Cegelis.)   She's fine with advisors but "I'm against U.S. boots on the ground beyond that."  That's perfectly in keeping with Duckworth's position since she first went for public office.  Jan Schakowsky, however, has always self-presented as against the war on Iraq.  (This, of course, was before Jan condemned Progressive Democrats of America in June 2011.)  From the article:

“The President -- as I did -- opposed the Iraq invasion in the first place, and he kept his promise to the American people that he would withdraw our troops from combat. Tragically, the al-Maliki government has been unwilling to work with Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds to build a unified, effective government to provide peace and stability in their nation. American troops cannot solve that problem,” Schakowsky said. “The United States can play a support role -- working with our allies to pursue diplomatic solutions. However, it is abundantly clear that our efforts should be focused on ending military engagement in Iraq.”

That passes for antiwar today.  One doubts Schakowsky would feel the same about Bully Boy Bush using US troops in "a support role -- working with our allies to pursue diplomatic solutions."  Schakowsky should also be asked to explain who "our allies" in Iraq are because the US isn't working with the Kurds and, thus far, has done little but prop up Nouri al-Maliki who created the current crises.

In a Foreign Policy column The Week has reprinted, Zaid Al-Ali reminds 2010 offered a great deal of promise:

Iraqis were demanding more from their politicians than mere survival. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki established a new political alliance, the State of Law alliance, which campaigned on a platform of re-establishing strong state institutions, reducing corruption, and providing adequate services to the people. The Iraqiya alliance, another large and newly formed coalition, backed a similar platform. The tantalizing prospects of establishing a new political environment and creating a stable state seemed within reach.
It never happened. Rather than consolidating these gains, several factors began working against Iraq's national cohesion as early as 2010. Maliki's government used "de-Baathification" laws, introduced to keep members of Saddam Hussein's regime out of government, to target his opponents — but not his many allies, who also had been senior members of the Baath Party. The 2010 government formation process turned out to be yet another opportunity for politicians of all stripes to grant themselves senior positions which they could use to plunder the state. When tens of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets in February 2011 to protest corruption, they were branded terrorists and were attacked and beaten by security forces and hired thugs. Dozens were killed and thousands arrested and tortured until the protests fizzled. Meanwhile, though terrorist groups were not operating as openly as before, hundreds of civilians continued to be killed every month, particularly in Baghdad, denying Iraqis in many parts of the country even a brief period of normalcy.
At that time, Maliki began referring to himself publicly as Iraq's preeminent military leader. When the 2010 electoral results did not conform to his expectations, he demanded a recount in his "capacity as commander in chief." When he forced senior anti-corruption officials from their positions, he once again inappropriately invoked his military credentials. He called officers on their mobile phones to demand specific actions or that individuals be arrested, circumventing the chain of command. After the new government was formed in November 2010, he refused to appoint ministers of the interior and of defense, preferring to occupy both positions himself. He appointed senior military commanders directly, instead of seeking parliamentary approval as required by the constitution.
There was also much talk about the prime minister's special forces, including the Baghdad Operations Command. Groups of young men were arrested in waves, often in the middle of the night, and would be whisked to secret jails, often never to be seen again. Former Army officers, members of the Awakening, activists who complained too much about corruption, devout Iraqis who prayed a little too often at their local mosques — all were targeted. Many were never charged with crimes or brought before a judge. Under the pretext of trying to stop the regular explosions that blighted Baghdad, these individuals were subjected to severe abuse.

Thug Nouri has harmed Iraq repeatedly.  He is a lousy leader whose word means nothing.  Whether he's promising his rivals a power-sharing government or telling the press, in 2011, that he wouldn't seek a third term, his word means nothing.

Ali Mamouri (Al-Monitor) reports today on Nouri's most recent broken promise and how it led to the failure of last week's session of Parliament:

The main reason for the lack of agreement is Maliki’s insistence on retaining his post for a third term. On July 3, the former parliament speaker and the former president of the United for Reform coalition Osama al-Nujaifi announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy for parliament speaker to facilitate the task of forming the government. Maliki had conditioned waiving his candidacy for the premiership on Nujaifi waiving his candidacy for parliament speaker. But after Nujaifi agreed to the condition, Maliki reneged, and that blocked a solution to the crisis.
Regarding the first session of parliament, Sistani’s official representative said that it was “an unfortunate failure. And we hope that the political blocs will intensify dialogue to get out of the current crisis at the earliest possible opportunity.”
But after the session was adjourned for the second time, and for a month, despite the challenges facing the country, Sistani had to take a stand against Maliki. A source close to Sistani’s office told Al-Monitor that “what was attributed recently to Sistani about the fact that there were no red lines on any candidate for prime minister, is unfounded.” This means that Sistani has drawn red lines on some of the candidates.

The loss of Sistani, if true, is a body blow to Nouri's political career.

Nouri's corrupt and dishonest.  On top of that, he's a thug who tortures Iraqis, throws them in secret prisons and much more.  Nouri fled Iraq decades ago after his efforts against Saddam Hussein failed.  He spent his decades in exile railing against Saddam Hussein but the reality is that Nouri wasn't against what Hussein did.  No, Nouri was fine with it, he just wanted his sect to be the one doing the torturing and other crimes.

Nouri's focus in his exile years was on Saddam Hussein being 'evil.'  But not on 'evil' actions, just on a natural 'evil' that Hussein possessed.  When Nouri was hanging with terrorists in Iran, he gave several speeches which 'explained' Saddam Hussein was evil because he was (a) Sunni and (b) secular.

Nouri's objections to Saddam Hussein's actions were not the actions themselves.  No, Nouri only objected to the target of the actions (Shi'ites).  Granted, in the three speeches I've seen copies of, Nouri was speaking to Shi'ite radicals who were fueled on hatred of all things Sunni so one could argue Nouri had merely tailored his remarks to fit and win over the crowd.

It's also true that if he were faking his remarks back then, he could have, as he repeated them over and over, taken on those prejudices and hatreds. That would certainly explain his use of the term "terrorist" as a generic for any and all Sunnis -- from vice presidents to peaceful protesters.

Mustafa Habib (Niqash) offers a look at how Nouri al-Maliki has circumvented the Iraqi Constitution:


Part of the reason for this is because since al-Maliki has been in the Prime Minister’s seat, the job of Prime Minister has taken on more and more significance and more and more power. For years, his opponents, who include leading figures within the Shiite Muslim political scene, have criticised him for monopolizing power, for making all decisions by himself and for never consulting other parties in Iraq. It is for this reason that al-Maliki has been described as a dictator.
And it is for this reason that everybody wants his job, rather than any other. Since 2003, when Saddam Hussein’s regime was ended by a US-led invasion, the major roles in Iraq’s Parliament have been distributed evenly between the three major population groups – Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims and the Iraqi Kurds.
As British newspaper, the Guardian explained recently: “By convention in Iraq, the prime minister's position goes to the Shia, the speaker's position goes to the Sunnis, while the president goes to the Kurds”.
And now there are four main reasons as to why the Prime Minister’s job is the most powerful. They are political, constitutional, and personal and have to do with the way the Iraqi parliament has been working.
Firstly, the Iraqi Constitution actually gives the President of Iraq very important powers, some of which the Prime Minister doesn’t have. Executive power isn’t actually limited to Iraq’s Prime Minister. And those who say that the post of President of Iraq is just symbolic are wrong.

However because Iraq’s President has failed to follow through with the powers the Iraqi Constitution gives him, the Prime Minister has taken over some of the powers given that role.
Iraq’s current President is Iraqi Kurdish politician, Jalal Talabani. However Talabani suffered a stroke in late 2012 and has been in a hospital in Germany for over 18 months. His deputy, Vice President Khodair al-Khuzaei, has taken up some of Talabani’s duties. However al-Khuzaei, a Shiite Muslim politician, is in al-Maliki’s party and is well known to be an ally of his.
The Iraqi Constitution could also be seen to be at fault when it comes to al-Maliki’s power grabs. The Constitution doesn’t specify clearly enough which powers the Prime Minister, along with other ministers and leading political figures, should have. 
Al-Maliki has used the imprecise wording in the Constitution to ride roughshod over various ministries. For example, Article 78 of the Constitution says “the Prime Minister is the direct executive authority responsible for the general policy of the State and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He directs the Council of Ministers, presides over its meetings, and has the right to dismiss the Ministers, with the consent of the Council of Representatives”.
Al-Maliki has used his power over his own cabinet to dismiss various ministers and then take up their powers himself.  In their places, he appointed members of his own party. He also decided who should hold the most important posts within the security services and he has replaced officials in those services at will, without any parliamentary supervision.

Niqash is one of the outlets -- one of the few -- that's refused to look the other way in the last four years.  They've documented many ugly realities of Nouri's second term.  Again, they are an exception.  The Independent of London, by contrast, has often come off as Nouri al-Maliki's state-controlled media -- especially when compared to BBC and the Guardian.  Which makes it all the more shocking today that the Independent's Patrick Cockburn (writing at The London Review of Books) offers:

In reality, Maliki stands no chance of serving a third term as prime minister, a post he has held since 2006. His political alliance did well in the parliamentary election on 30 April, when, ironically, he successfully positioned himself as the leader who knew about security and would defend the Shia against Sunni counterrevolution. Discredited by military defeat, he has few allies left in the outside world: even the Iranians, under whose influence he was supposed to be, no longer fully support him. During his eight years in power he created what one former minister calls ‘an institutionalised kleptocracy, more corrupt than anything in central Africa’, which will do everything to stay in power or, at least, avoid prosecution if it has to go. Though Baghdad looks tattered and impoverished, oil revenues run at $100 billion a year, and great fortunes can be made by anyone with the right connections to government.

I firmly believe that Nouri does not deserve a third term and that Iraqis should not have to suffer through a third term; however, I do not share Patrick's confidence that it's not happening.  I hope Patrick Cockburn's prediction is correct.  There are many jockeying to be the next prime minister and Adam Taylor (Washington Post) notes that Ahmed Chalabi has the backing of neocons Richard Pearle and Paul Wolfowitz for reasons unknown:

The reality is that Chalabi lacks popular support, though his political guile and status as a secular Shiite has helped him emerge as one of the few viable candidates for prime minister. Liz Sly, The Post's Beirut bureau chief, explained his appeal this month: He is "a perennial who presents himself as a compromise candidate after every election. He has no real constituency and won only one seat in parliament, but he has the support of the Sadrists and is being regarded by Sunnis as a chance to move away from [Maliki's] Shiite Islamism."

Nouri and other issues were raised in the US State Dept press briefing today that spokesperson Jen Psaki moderated:



QUESTION: Anne Patterson is leading a delegation on Capitol Hill today at 5 o’clock to brief the House. I was wondering if you had anything more on that.

MS. PSAKI: I believe it’s a part of our standard efforts to make sure members of Congress are up to date on our thinking and policy and what’s happening on the ground.

QUESTION: So this is just a routine update?

MS. PSAKI: That is my understanding, yes.

QUESTION: Was there any coordination with the Pentagon, given the Secretary of Defense’s briefing this morning?

MS. PSAKI: Frequently, we have briefings the same day as the Pentagon and – or other officials throughout the Administration. So that certainly is not uncommon. And as you know, all of these senior officials are in regular meetings together about our policy, so I can assure you there’s coordination.

QUESTION: Now, granted that this was closed door and classified, but Senator McCain told reporters afterwards that from his perspective, this Administration does not have a coherent policy on dealing with the Islamic State group. Is that a fair criticism?

MS. PSAKI: I think that’s a common refrain from Senator McCain no matter what the issue is. But I would say, look, every member of Congress has every right to express their view of what our policies are and what they should be and where they see frustrations or where they support us. And that’s the case for Senator McCain or any member of Congress.
In this case, I think our policy is fairly clear. The President has been clear, the Secretary has been clear, that we’re going to take – go after threats where they face us. That includes ISIL and includes other terrorist organizations. But in Iraq, our focus is also on the political process, and that is the only way to have a long-term, sustainable, and successful Iraq. So hopefully, the continued briefings will help shed some light.

QUESTION: Two follow-ups on that. One, has this Administration seen any change in Nuri al-Maliki’s political posture? Is he doing the work that this Administration believes needs to be done in order to make his government more inclusive?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our concerns haven’t changed. But obviously, we continue to encourage all parties to move forward with the government formation process. I think you’ve seen overnight that they have announced that they’ll be meeting on Sunday instead of August. So that was a positive step forward. Obviously, we’d like to see that happen and see the rapid – the – all parties move forward with the rapid creation of a government.

QUESTION: And then in terms of confronting the Islamic State group, Senator Graham said that he could not see any scenario in which the Iraqi security forces, Syrian opposition, even the Syrian Government, would be capable of confronting this organization without the assistance of the U.S. military. In particular, he said he couldn’t see this happening without the use of air strikes. Is this Administration in any way contemplating some sort of very active engagement to confront this organization?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to outline from here what our options may or may not be. Obviously, we have a – always have a range of options at our disposal. Those are decisions for the President to make in consultation with the national security team. Our focus remains on continuing to encourage the rapid formation of the government.

QUESTION: Sorry. So you say it was a positive step forward for them to move up the resumption of --

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly --

QUESTION: -- I mean, surely --

MS. PSAKI: -- welcome the announcement. But I won’t stop there. We – it will require --


MS. PSAKI: -- a prompt agreement on a new parliamentary speaker, and following that candidates for president and prime minister in order to have a successful creation or formation of a government.

QUESTION: All right. In response to one of Roz’s earlier questions, I mean, what are the odds of you ever agreeing with critics who say that the Administration’s policy is incoherent on any issue?

MS. PSAKI: That’s probably unlikely, but we certainly support freedom of speech here in the United States.


QUESTION: Because there are people that – Iraqis who have accused Mr. McGurk of being one of Maliki’s staunchest allies and that, in fact, his position may have in any way hamstrung your position, so to speak, the Administration’s position in Iraq in pushing forward some sort of reconciliation type of government. Do you agree with that assessment?

MS. PSAKI: I would not, and I’m not sure who the unnamed critics are. There are certainly a lot of unnamed critics out there. I would say that Deputy Assistant Secretary McGurk has been on the ground for weeks now. There’s almost no one in the government who knows Iraq and the political parties and all the leaders better than he does, and he’s been working day and night to move the political process forward. And I’d remind you he’s been meeting with leaders from all – from all sects and it hasn’t been just Prime Minister Maliki and his government. Far from it. He’s had a diversity of meetings, and that, I expect, will continue.

QUESTION: Would you say that he’s a strong advocate of Mr. Maliki?

MS. PSAKI: I would say he’s a strong advocate of a stable Iraq, and he cares deeply about the future of the – for the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: When you are asking all these parties to be part of this process of, let’s say, stable Iraq, what these people are expecting from U.S.? I mean, guarantor is like what – how do you – is – what is the U.S. role in the coming future? I mean, it’s going to be like guaranteeing that these people are sitting together or secure the borders?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s up to the Iraqi people to make the political choices that they need to to move forward. At the same time, we have provided a great deal of assistance. We’ve only expedited that, and we’ve increased that in recent months. That is part of our effort to support Iraq, but we have a stake in a stable Iraq just like we have a stake in a stable region, and that’s one of the reasons we’re so committed to the future of what’s happening on the ground.

QUESTION: But let’s say when we are – U.S. is providing to the Iraqi army things, people looking to it as if it’s – you are supporting Maliki against the others, right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve provided also some support to the Peshmerga. We’ve advocated for a united security force that works with all parties that is united against the shared threat they all face with just ISIL, and that’s the message we’ve been sending.

QUESTION: So there is no U.S. role in the coming future – I mean, the coming Iraq? Or there is a role for it?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

QUESTION: I mean like in 2011 or end of 2012, I mean, it’s like it was decided to leave Iraq and come out of it. Now, it’s getting another involvement, or I assume it’s involvement. Am I wrong?

MS. PSAKI: A little bit. I think we’re not considering putting combat troops back on the ground. That’s not what is under consideration. We do have a stake in a stable and secure Iraq just like we have a stake in the stable and secure region, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve increased our assistance. Iraq will remain a partner, and we’re working to address the short-term threat so we can have a long-term successful Iraq.

The French government noted Iraq today.  KUNA notes:

Political actors from all communities in Iraq must unite to fight the threat of terrorism in that country but also to agree on reforms and the creation of a National Unity Government, a senior official said here.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman, Romain Nadal, indicated that a senior French diplomat had criss-crossed Iraq last week to deliver that same message to all the different communities in the country.
Asked by KUNA if the message was "well-received," Nadal responded that "it (the message) was understood." "The Iraqi political actors must unite and form a national unity government. This message is even more topical today," Nadal said in a briefing.

While the French government held a briefing on Iraq for the press, the US government hid behind closed doors.  This morning, General Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint-Chiefs) and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee.  What did they say?

I don't get to know, you don't get to know.  They testified on Iraq and Afghanistan in a closed hearing, closed to the public, closed to the people.

What exactly do they need to hide on Iraq?

Among other things, the budget request for the operation -- Pentagon spokesperson Jack Kirby noted that at the start of today's Pentagon press briefing (transcript isn't up yet, click here for video).

Someone needs to ask because it's the fourth closed door hearing on Iraq that the Senate Armed Services Committee has held this year.

The first was January 15th.  The second was June 12th.  The third was June 19th.

Four closed door hearings on Iraq, three just in the last few weeks.

What's Congress being told that the American people aren't?

Maybe they could hold an open session to explore what gives US President Barack Obama the right to take actions in Iraq without Congressional authorization?

The Institute for Public Accuracy notes:

The Nation writes: “Left-Right Coalition of 80 House Members Wants Congress to Check and Balance Iraq Intervention.”

PAUL FINDLEY, findley1 at frontier.com
Available for a limited number of interviews, Findley served as a member of United States House of Representatives for 22 years. He was a key author of the War Powers Resolution and a leader in securing its enactment by overriding the veto of President Richard Nixon. He is also the author of six books. The federal building in Springfield, Ill. is named for him. He said today: “Just as with threats to attack Syria last year, an attack on Iraq and/or Syria today would violate the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. As with any president, he [President Obama] commits an impeachable offense if he does not follow the Constitution. Some observers misread a section of the War Powers Resolution as giving the president 60 days to make war without a declaration from Congress. The section cited actually limits even war making in the event of an attack upon the United States, its territories, or armed forces, which is not the case in either Iraq or Syria. In my view, a tight rein on presidential war making is more important today than ever before.” Last year Findley wrote the piece “Obama has no Authority to Attack Syria.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle, who has worked with Findley for many years, is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law and author of Tackling America’s Toughest Questions. He said today: “President Obama has now incrementally introduced about 800 U.S. troops armed for combat into Iraq in three stages, each without Congressional authorization, which clearly violates the terms of the War Powers Resolution. This is precisely what the War Powers Resolution was intended to prevent — another incremental military escalation along the lines of the Vietnam War. The Obama administration has also threatened to bomb Syria as well as Iraq, either one of which would violate the War Powers Clause of the Constitution as well as the War Powers Resolution. It is not legitimate for the president — or members of Congress — to make de facto arrangements that violate the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution.”

Al Jazeera's Dr. Ahmad M. Zaidan (Pakistan's Tribune) offers this take on the US government's aims in Iraq, "Interestingly, Barack Obama asked recently for consultations with Iran about Iraq over superseding Maliki, who is a product of the American invasion of Iraq. This makes it clear that state sovereignty in Iraq is over, even from the American point of view. If that is the case, one wonders why the Americans and the West are asking ISIS and other militants to respect colonial borders between artificial states that are products of the colonial system."

Iraq has to choose a prime minister.  It also has to choose a Speaker of Parliament and a President.  On the last one Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) notes:

Kurdish political parties have narrowed down their candidates to replace outgoing Iraqi President Jalal Talabani while Salim Al-Jabouri, head of the Diyala is our Identity party has pulled ahead in the race for the position of speaker of parliament. The post of prime minister remains the last of the top three executive posts in Iraq that needs to be filled.
Former Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) prime minister Barham Salih looks set to compete with Governor of Kirkuk Najmiddin Karim to be named as the official candidate to replace ailing President Talabani.

On the topic of the Kurds, Yavuz Baydar (Today's Zayman) reports:

As the politicians in Baghdad send no clear signals on keeping Iraq unified, Iraqi Kurds are firmly preparing the groundwork for a new state. Much has not been heard beyond the surface of mumblings coming from the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) top figures, and what appears to be timid objections to the build-up to an independent Kurdistan out of a dismembered Iraq may be illusory.
“It now seems safe to say that if the Iraqi Kurdish regional government declared independence, Ankara would be the first capital to recognize it. In today's Middle East, in other words, [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] ISIL is a bigger threat to the Turks than Kurdish independence in Iraq,” wrote Soner Çağaptay, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in Foreign Affairs Magazine.

Rudaw speaks with the Kurdistan Regional Government's Fuad Hussein (chief of staff to KRG President Massoud Barzani):

US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Erbil more than a fortnight ago, where he asked the Kurds to stay with a united Iraq and help Baghdad establish an inclusive government.
However, according to Mustafa, the American tone is now different in some of the meetings.
“Those kinds of statements have always been there,” Mustafa told Rudaw in Washington, referring to a comment by the State Department spokeswoman, who said that America prefers a united Iraq. 
“But what is important is the content,” Mustafa said. “Not only in America, but in many other countries, in Europe, in Arab countries and the international community there has been a change that is more welcoming to the Kurdistan Region.”

The Kurds have a degree of power that other minorities in Iraq don't.  For example, National Iraqi News Agency reports Nouri's airstrikes on Mosul today left 5 people dead and eleven -- including children -- injured.

Thug Nouri al-Maliki claims to be a leader -- one worthy of a third term -- but all he does is kill Iraqis.  For seven months, he has bombed residential areas of Falluja -- killing and wounding civilians.  Now he's expanding his attacks to other areas.

As we've noted for some time, want to bring foreign Sunnis into Iraq to fight?  Keep targeting Iraq's Sunni population with violence.

Rudaw reports:

Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been instructed to “respond appropriately” to any attack on Tuz Khurmatu, an official warned, after Iraqi jets bombed the town center on Sunday, killing four people and wounding 10.
Shalal Abdul, an official from the mostly Turkmen-populated town south of Kirkuk, told Rudaw that the decision to respond to Iraqi attacks on Tuz Khurmatu was taken at an urgent meeting of the Peshmerga forces on Monday.
The Peshmerga strengthened their positions in Tuz Khurtamu and moved into other “disputed territories” outside the official borders of their autonomous northern enclave, after the withdrawal of Iraq’s armed forces from the region last month.

Today's Zaman notes, "Cabbar Yaver, secretary-general of KRG forces (peshmerge), was quoted in Turkish media reports as saying that the Iraqi war planes had targeted civilian areas in the town."
Among the victims of Nouri in the bombings of Tuz Khumatu?  A 12-year-old girl. This is what Nouri does.  Who will protect the Sunnis?  The Kurds have the power base and military to lodge a serious objection and be heard.  (That said, I don't think Nouri's done attacking Tuz Khurmatu.)  Sunni leaders in Anbar and Baghdad objected repeatedly to Nouri's bombings of Falluja (and continue to object) but it hasn't stopped Nouri.

Turning to some of the other violence in Iraq today, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Burhiz bombing left three Iraqi soldiers injured1 corpse was discovered dumped "north of Baghdad," a Kukjeli battle left three Peshmerga injured, and 1 police member was shot dead in Ghazaliya,  Al Bawaba reports a suicide bomber near Samarra left 8 people dead (plus the bomber) and seven more injured.  In addition, Liz Dodd and Ellen Teague (Tablet) report:

Two nuns are among five Assyrians believed to have been kidnapped while visiting a girls’ orphanage in northern Iraq in an area now controlled by the Islamic State.
Sisters Miskintah and Utoor Joseph, part of the Chaldean Daughters of Mary Order that ran an all-girl orphanage in Mosul, had returned to inspect it after the area fell to the Isis terrorist group two weeks ago. They have not been heard from since.
The sisters, along with three other Assyrians they were travelling with, Hala Salim, Sarah Khoshaba and Aram Sabah, are believed to have been kidnapped by Isis.

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