Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jon Stewart can't leave soon enough

David Zurawik (Baltimore Sun) notes how the media backed off of Hillary after stale comedian Jon Stewart came to Hillary's defense:

As soon as Jon Stewart ripped cable and network news on his Tuesday night show for giving what he saw as ridiculously over-the-top coverage to Clinton and her “road trip” stop in a Chipotle at the expense of GOP Senator Marco Rubio’s announcement of his candidacy, it seemed to instantly become the conventional social media wisdom.
And, as a result, you could see coverage getting less intense by the next day, with cable correspondents looking almost apologetic for doing their job in staying all over Clinton and her so-called “road trip” to meet “everyday people” in Iowa.
But Stewart was wrong about the Clinton coverage, and the press should not be insecure about chasing her Scooby Doo van down the road or showing overhead security-cam shots of her and an aide in Chipotle.
The coverage might seem excessive as Stewart shows video and leads the audience toward laughter at the press. But she is the front runner’s front runner, and the press needs to scrutinize her as hard as it can – if for no other reason than to see if she can handle the heat.

Someone needs to tell Monkey Boy to stick to the yucks.

He's been as damaging to our political discourse as was CrossFire.

In fact, he's become guilty of all he once slammed CrossFire for.

The media's doing their job.

Jon Stewart's retirement can't come soon enough.

The Centrist Stewart long ago became an embarrassment.

I hope he grasps that there is no future left for him.  This was his high moment and he used it for little but to advance a bunch of War Hawks and liars.

FYI: This is one of two posts I've got tonight:

  • Jon Stewart can't leave soon enough
  • CounterPunch is the new Mad magazine

  • The other is actually something I wrote Wednesday that should have posted then but went into my draft folder instead and I only saw that it wasn't published tonight.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Saturday, April 18, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Erbil is attacked, journalist Ned Parker endures fresh attacks (this time from Haider al-Abadi's love slaves), Haider fails again, and much more.

    Patrick J. McDonnell and Nabih Bulos  (Los Angeles Times via News) report that a car bomb detonated in Iraq on Friday.

    Among the things making this bombing different?

    It took place in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government -- known as "the other Iraq" because of the much lower level of violence.

    Another thing making this bombing different was the apparent target: The US Consulate in Erbil.

    The US  State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted:

    Re: VBIED in near US consulate, we appreciate rapid response of KRG authorities and now working w/them to investigate the attack. 1/2
    70 retweets 24 favorites

    2/2 All Chief of Mission personnel accounted for & no reports of injuries to these personnel or local guards. Closely monitoring situation.
    37 retweets 15 favorites

    At the State Dept press briefing on Friday, spokesperson Marie Harf stated:

    I know a lot of you have questions about Erbil, so I just wanted to give you some information at the top. A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device was detonated directly outside an entry point on the perimeter of the U.S. consulate in Erbil today. AT 10:44 a.m. Eastern, the duck and cover protocol was activated at the U.S. consulate. All chief of mission personnel have been accounted for. There are no reports of injuries to chief of mission personnel or to the local guards.
    Host nation fire assets responded to extinguish the fire. Local authorities have also responded and are securing the area. We appreciate the rapid response of the Kurdistan Regional Government authorities to this matter, and we will work with them to investigate the incident to determine the facts behind the explosion.

    During the press briefing, a few questions were asked:

    QUESTION: Was there any intelligence or any sense that something of this nature could happen inside Erbil?

    MS HARF: I’ve --

    QUESTION: It’s very out of character for this city.

    MS HARF: I think that Iraq remains a dangerous place – many parts of it do. So I’m not going to get into specifics, but we know that the security environment there is quite a challenging one and obviously take a number of security precautions when it comes to our people and our facilities.

    QUESTION: Is there any early consideration of changing the travel patterns of consulate staff?

    MS HARF: Well, I’m not sure why an explosive device outside the consulate would change travel patterns, given this happened outside the consulate. But there’s already a high level of security at the consulate, at our embassy in Baghdad. Obviously, this is something we take very serious in Iraq.

    QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

    QUESTION: Can you say how many personnel, roughly, work out of the consulate?

    MS HARF: We don’t generally give those numbers, for security reasons.

    QUESTION: Yeah. I figured that.

    MS HARF: But good try. (Laughter.)

    QUESTION: Any idea of responsibility?

    MS HARF: We do not have any details on who’s responsible at this time.

    Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "The attack was the first direct assault on U.S. facilities in Iraq since the Islamic State took control of much of the northern and central areas of the country last summer, and only the second bombing in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government, a city considered so safe that the United States moved many of its diplomats here from Baghdad when the Islamic State captured the city of Mosul and threatened Baghdad last year."

    That was far from the only violence on Friday.  Xinhua reports the latest on the failed leadership of Haider al-Abadi:

    In Iraq's western province of Anbar, the IS militants in the morning advanced in the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, and managed to seize the Grand Mosque area in central the city and came close to the heavily fortified government compound in central Ramadi, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
    The troops, government-backed Sahwa paramilitary groups and allied Sunni tribesmen fought back and after fierce clashes they pushed back the extremist militants from the Grand mosque area, but the IS militants were still fighting about 500 meters away from the government compound, the source said.

    Later in the day, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of Iraqi armed forces, ordered to send reinforcement troops immediately to support the troops in Ramadi to prevent the fall of the city, Saad Maan, the Interior Ministry spokesman said.

    How does that qualify as a Haider failure?

    The Islamic State is going to attack where ever it wants.

    Ramadi was a likely target and you didn't have to be a psychic to see that.

    However, that's not why it's Haider's failure.

    Dropping back to Wednesday's snapshot, this is why it's Haider's failure:

    This morning, Arwa Damon (CNN -- link is video and text) reported on the situation in Anbar Province's Ramadi noting that deputy provincial council head Falih Essawi is issuing "a dire, dire warning" as the Islamic State advances.

    Arwa Damon:  ISIS forces, it seems, early this morning managing to enter the outskirts of the city of Ramadi from the east.  This now means that ISIS is fighting on the east.  ISIS advanced from the north -- taking over three towns from the outskirts there over the weekend.  The routes to the south already blocked off.  The city basically under siege except for the western portion that is still controlled by forces, by government forces, but that is wavering as well.

    Sky News notes the three areas taken, "The militant group took the villages of Sjariyah, Albu-Ghanim and Soufiya, in Anbar province, which had been under government control, residents said." Nancy A. Youssef (Daily Beast) observed:

    Pentagon officials stopped short of saying the city was on the brink of falling. But they didn’t sound confident it would hold, either.
    “The situation in Ramadi remains fluid and, as with earlier assessments, the security situation in the city is contested. The ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] continue to conduct clearing operations against ISIL-held areas in the city and in the surrounding areas of Al Anbar province,” U.S. Central Command spokesman Army Maj. Curt Kellogg, a said in a statement, using the government’s preferred acronym for ISIS. The Coalition continues to coordinate with ISF forces and provide operational support as requested.”

    AFP's Jean Marc Mojon and Karim Abou Merhil sound out various Middle East experts about the prospects for victory in Anbar.  We'll note this section:

    “Anbar, and especially Fallujah, is like Asterix’s village,” said Victoria Fontan, a professor at American University Duhok Kurdistan, referring to an unconquerable town in the French comic book series.
    The province is packed with experienced fighters and while some Sunni tribes have allied with the government, others are fighting alongside ISIS or sitting on the fence.
    Local knowledge is seen as key to retaking territory along the fertile strip lining the Euphrates, where ISIS has inflicted severe military setbacks to the police and army since June.

    Iraqi Spring MC notes this takes place as calls for reinforcements of government troops to be sent to . . . Baiji.

    That's in northern Iraq, Salahuddin Province.  These reinforcements are being sent in to protect . . .  Well, not people.  There are people in Ramadi who need protection.  But the government forces going to Baiji are going to protect an oil refinery. 

    That's why it's Haider's fault.

    The events of Wednesday?

    That should have meant immediately sending reinforcements to Ramadi.

    An attack on a refinery?

    He didn't hesitate to send reinforcements to Baiji on Wednesday.

    But he waited until Friday to send them to Ramadi?

    That's Haider's failure of leadership.

    Thursday, Haider was in DC, speaking at an event hosted by CSIS and insisting that it was his job to protect Iraqis.

    But Wednesday, he didn't order reinforcements to Ramadi.

    And Thursday, he didn't order reinforcements to Ramadi.

    And while he dithered the people suffered.  Loveday Morris (Washington Post) reports:

    Thousands of families fleeing Iraq’s western city of Ramadi choked checkpoints leading to Baghdad on Friday, after an Islamic State advance spread panic and left security forces clinging to control.

    A column of traffic several vehicles wide snaked for miles at a checkpoint in Sadr al-Yusufiyah, on the edge of Baghdad province, as minibuses, cars and trucks picked up families who crossed by foot carrying their possessions in bags and wheelbarrows. Suhaib al-Rawi, the governor of Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital, described it as a human disaster on a scale the city has never witnessed.

    On Thutsday, he couldn't or wouldn't order refinforcements.

    But he could tell those gathered at the CSIS event that this violence was all about a message and his visit to the US, "When they lost Tikrit and lost the whole of  Salahuddin [Province] they want  to send another message I think it's timed with my visit to the US.  They want to show that despite the support Iraq is receiving, 'we are there to cause damage and we are still there.'  They want their voice to be heard.  That's what they're doing."

    Is that what they're doing?

    I think the world's more concerned with what Haider's doing and, this week, it wasn't protecting the Iraqi people.

    He was too busy mocking journalism at Thursday's event.

    He's helped this week by faux journalist Arianna Huffington who

    She prints the garbage of Luay al-Khatteb and Abbask Hadhim which includes:

    The recent departure of Ned Parker, the Baghdad bureau chief of Reuters, is a case in point. Reuters announced that Parker "left Iraq after he was threatened on Facebook and denounced by a Shi'ite paramilitary group's satellite news channel, Al Ahad TV, in reaction to a Reuters report last week that detailed lynching and looting in the city of Tikrit." While no threat should be taken lightly, it is hard to say that what the satirical talk show host said was a threat to Mr. Parker or the agency. From reviewing the segment in question, it appears clearly that the host, Wajih Abbas, was reading a published request that the Iraqi government expel Mr. Parker because "he writes articles for the Western public opinion defaming the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU)." He then reads verbatim a letter he received about Reuters from an Iraqi living in the U.S. without any comments enticing violence against the agency or its bureau chief. In an interview with him, Mr. Abbas told the authors that he did not threaten anyone: "All I did was reading a letter sent to me saying Mr. Parker equates Da'ish (ISIS) with the Hashd (PMU), and asked that the government should not accept this and should expel him, which is our right," Mr. Abbas said. We did not have access to the Facebook threat which Reuters cited in its article; we tried to contact Mr. Parker to discuss the nature of the Facebook threat, but we couldn't get an answer. Later on, Parker was interviewed by NPR to explain why he had to flee Iraq, except this time his statement alluded to blaming Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi's recent speech prior leaving to Washington DC, as well as highlighting the accusation on Al Ahad TV for mobilizing a campaign against him and Reuters. Nonetheless, the Iraqi government was very responsive to the alleged threat on Mr. Parker by enforcing further security to Reuters's fortified compound while investigating the case. After careful review and examination of PM Abadi's segment as well as the one of Al Ahad TV, we found no evidence of any threat.

    I've seen the same clip that they're writing about.

    It was a threat.

    And it wasn't read calmly or in an amused manner.

    It was a threat.

    The only thing that confuses me about the Huffing Post piece is why two whores have their name on it?

    For those of us attending Thursday's event, we're well aware that the whores 'writing' is nothing more than repetition of the crap Haider churned out.

    It's a shame the whores weren't there.

    They could have been rebuked the way Haider was.

    Despite Luay's whoring, Ned Parker did not leave Iraq blaming prime minister Haider al-Abadi.

    He wasn't even aware of it which is why Ned has the date wrong.

    He thinks the verbal attack on journalism took place on Thursday.  It took place on Wednesday.

    As the only   person in the world who reported on Haider's public attack on journalism -- yes, that's me -- I damn well know when it took place.

    Ned Parker was not aware of it when it took place.

    He had many other things to focus on that day which included doing his job -- he edited reports that day -- and also enduring the attacks on television.

    Haider was in rare form, wishing publicly, he stated this at the event, we've already reported it unlike the lazy whores, that he hopes to have the power to curb the press (foreign press -- he's already curbed much of the Iraqi press) the way the US government did with the embed program.

    He made jokes, he belittled Ned Paker.

    Ned Parker is a serious journalist and he's the one who exposed Nouri al-Maliki's torture sites.

    Ned Parker doesn't flinch at empty words.  He's covered Iraq for over a decade.

    He covered Iraq when Nouri was attacking the press -- and suing the Guardian -- and he didn't flee Iraq or sacrifice journalistic ethics to be safe.

    How dare anyone belittle him or any other journalist in a War Zone who is actually trying to tell the truth?

    There were two reasons Ned left Iraq: his own safety and the safety of others working for Reuters.

    And to pretend otherwise, is shameful.

    To attack him or belittle him for this is shameful.

    To pretend that Haider is a friend of the press?

    I love BRussells Tribunal but they're a little cultish about Haider.

    The reality is, he's already Nouri al-Maliki.

    He's Nouri's friend (though that won't stop Nouri from trying to unseat him) and he carries out the same programs.

    He's a change!

    People need to wake the hell up.

    He's done nothing.

    He's flapped his gums and made pretty statements that are supposedly so important.

    But if you declare, on September 13th, for example, that you are going to stop the Iraqi military bombings of occupied homes in Falluja, then that means you have to stop it.

    Haider declared he had.

    But September 14th, the bombings continued.

    And have ever since.

    And these are War Crimes.

    Legally defined War Crimes.

    I'm not the BRussells Tribunal.

    I'm not going to gouge at my own eyes so I can be blind and have hope.

    Haider's a thug and a bully.

    Pretending otherwise?

    Oh, that worked out great with Nouri, didn't?

    The world humored thug Nouri and he attacked women, and he attacked gays and lesbians, and he attack religious minorities, and he attacked peaceful protesters, and he attacked Sunni politicians, and he attacked ...

    We don't have room to list all he attacked.

    But we don't have to.

    We paid attention in real time -- check the archives.

    We documented the slide to chaos as it happened.

    We predicted the rise of the Islamic State years before it happened.

    Because I'm a psychic?

    No, because I studied revolutions, rebellions and uprisings in grad school.

    What was going on in Iraq?

    It was obvious where it would lead.

    And we noted that here.

    We noted it when Barack Obama overturned the votes of the Iraqi people.

    They were now disenfranchised.

    We noted it when the politicians attempted to use Constitutional measures to address Nouri's crimes --- Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds banding together -- and the US (via Jalal Talabani) stripped them of that right.

    We noted it when the people took to the street and Nouri began physically assaulting these peaceful protesters.

    I don't have to be a psychic to grasp that when you strip people of their vote, when you take power from their political leaders and when you assault peaceful protesters, you've left them with nothing.

    There are no more non-violent tools.

    This is not an earth shattering insight.

    This is basic political science.

    It's also basic that ignoring a corrupt leader never makes a situation better.

    If they are not pressed to make improvements, they don't make them.

    The US government loved Saddam Hussein.

    He terrorized the Shi'ites and they were okay with that.  He attacked the Kurds and they were okay with that.

    True, he wanted to go off the dollar system and that did cause concern, but almost everything else the US government repeatedly and consistently looked the other way on.

    They did the same for Nouri until his actions brought the country to the brink.

    And now we're all supposed to trust that somehow, some way, with Haider, this do nothing approach will work?

    First off, there should be no F-16s delivered to Iraq.

    Haider has attacked the Iraqi people.  Per US law, the White House is not authorized to arm or fund Haider.

    Samantha Power is a blow hard and a War Hawk.  But it would be a public service if at least one member of the press could get her to comment on Iraq at length.

    Her 'never again' stance wrongly led idiots (Davey D, you're on that list -- so is Jeremey Scahill) to think she was a woman of peace.

    She was not.

    She is not.

    Libya should have settled that for all the idiots who chose to ignore Edward S. Herman's repeated  analysis of Power.

    But Power will again present herself as for human rights -- she's not.

    And her refusal to call out the use of Shi'ite militias in Iraq goes to that.

    There will never be peace in Iraq with Shi'ite militias terrorizing the people.

    And this raises other issues.

    Samantha Power was clearly not a person of peace but she was applauded as such by many 'left' journalists (Scahill was practically her love slave) and by many activists.

    So maybe the reality is we don't want peace?

    Maybe the reality is we want credit for working towards a peace that will never come.

    I'm not talking about the US government.

    Clearly, the US government doesn't want peace in Iraq.

    If you identify the need for a political solution and then fail to work on that all these months later (Barack said it was the only answer back in June), then clearly you don't want peace.  You want chaos and instability because they allow you to control the country and its resources, the region and its stability.

    When Henry Kissinger told the Kurds to fight back, he didn't want the Kurds to actually win and once a signal had been sent to Saddam, Henry and the Nixon White House wrote off the Kurds.

    This is not speculation.

    This is documented in the Pike Report Congress wrote.

    Rebecca just noted how the Chair of the Joint Chiefs, Gen Martin Dempsey, declared this week that it didn't matter if Ramadi fell.  Stan noted how, since August, the White House has spent over $2 billion on fighting (with combat, not with diplomacy) the Islamic State.

    And there is no political solution.

    The US government is putting no effort into working towards a political solution.

    $2 billion down the drain in the time since Haider became prime minister -- not even a year -- and the only 'answer' the White House is more of the same.

    Clearly, peace is not the goal.

    You don't waste that kind of money and that kind of time, don't insist publicly that it doesn't mater if Ramadi falls if peace is your goal.

    That's the White House, that's the government.

    But I'm talking the US peace movement.

    Or what passes for it.

    I've yet to see Medea Benjamin or any of the other self-appointed leaders do a damn thing that was for peace.

    I see them pull stunts that get press attention.

    I see them brag about these stunts.

    I just don't see them working for peace.

    I see them working very hard to pretend that they're better than other people.

    I just don't see them working for peace.

    At the Thursday morning event, Haider insisted, "We must not only win the war – we must also win the peace. Together, we must take action against the political, economic and social problems that give rise to violent extremism, so that terrorism on the scale of Daesh will never re-emerge to threaten our nation and our neighbors again.[. . .] Let me be as clear as I can be: Our government’s highest priority is reducing ethnic sectarian tensions and divisions in Iraq. And we have nurtured close working relationships with parliament and Iraq’s community leaders and religious institutions to ensure an outcome that is favorable to all our people."

    Yeah, well when do you plan to get to work on that?

    Because he hasn't done a damn thing to improve the situation in Iraq and weeks have turned to months and he's proven to be a liar and a failure.

    As for Ned Parker, he reported the truth.

    That's usually enough of a 'crime' to get anyone in trouble.

  • This is the Reuters report that prompted death threats against Iraq bureau chief , forcing him to leave

  • That's what it's about and if you can't tell the truth, at least the world a favor and sit your tired ass down and stay there in silence.

    Arianna Huffington, count your blessings.  This snapshot was finished eight hours ago but I held it because it included exposing the real you.  That's what a friend -- or in this case, former friend -- can do.  This time I paused.  Next time I might not.  Time or just not caring might force me to post reality.  So think about that before you allow your 'brand' to be used to attack someone like Ned Parker.

    Because next time, I might not  be saying, "Think of her children.  Think of her children.  Think of how humiliated they would be."

    Instead, I might just say, "She's a grown up.  She's responsible for her actions.  She gets what she gets."


    arwa damon
    nancy a. youssef

    CounterPunch is the new Mad magazine

    I've been laughing all day.

    See I subscribe to CounterPunch (as I've noted here for years).  You only get the real crazy in the print edition.

    The winner for laugh out loud funny?

    Seth Sandronsky.

    He feels, wait for it, Van Jones has a blind spot.

    Van Jones is a corporatist tool.

    He is nothing more, he is nothing less.

    When people can't admit that reality, they just don't want to see.  They would rather be blind.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Wednesday, April 15, 2015.   Chaos and violence, 3 villages fall to the Islamic State as a US official insists momentum is on the US government and coalition's side, Valerie Plame wants to run with the Kool Kids and tosses aside her brain to do so, Buzzfeed doesn't grasp why Haider al-Abadi is insisting there are no "militias," and much more.

    Yesterday, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met first with US Vice President Joe Biden and then with US President Barack Obama.  Today, he continued meeting with US officials.

    Senator John McCain is the Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  His office issued the following statement today:

    Apr 15 2015

    Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement on his meeting today with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi:
    “Today, I had a productive meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. I am grateful for his steady leadership at a perilous time for his country. We discussed a range of issues related to our common fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including the role and conduct of Iranian-backed militias inside Iraq, political inclusion of Iraq's Sunni population, and the progress and development of Iraqi Security Forces into an integrated multi-sectarian organization. As I discussed with Prime Minister Abadi, in order to defeat ISIL, I believe the United States should provide further military assistance to Iraq and deploy additional U.S. personnel, including forward air controllers to strengthen our air campaign.”

    McCain's answer is usually, "Send in the troops."  That's never worked with Iraq so far.

    I don't care for McCain and he's being kind of stupid.  I like Valerie Plame but sometimes she's kind of stupid as well.

  • Yeah, Wolfowitz did promise that.

    What's your point?

    That he was wrong?

    Well he's a liar.

    What does that have to do with more millions of US taxpayer dollars being gifted to Iraq right now, the millions Barack announced yesterday?

    Iraq is not Ethiopia.

    Nor is Iraq   one of the world's neediest countries.

    Oh, did oil prices drop?

    So what does that mean for Iraq?  Only 20 billion brought in over the next months instead of $40 billion.  With a population of approximately 30 million people Iraq really doesn't need to be begging.

    Or wouldn't need to be begging were it not for all the government corruption.

    And that's where Valerie's a disappointment.

    Unlike Valerie, I turned down the CIA.

    She went to work for them.  And this is best she can offer?

    An obvious faux fact check of a statement over a decade ago?

    Like I said, I like Valerie but she can be real stupid sometime.

    In future Tweets, she might try using her considerable brain and actually offering something of value.

    Earlier this month, Susanne Koelbl interviewed Haider for Der Spiegel.  The corruption was noted:

    SPIEGEL: Iraq is at war, but it is not the only crisis affecting the country. Many residents of Baghdad use the word "thieves" when they talk about your politicians. How corrupt is your government?

    Al-Abadi: We have problems and the way I am dealing with them is to start by admitting them. Corruption is a huge issue. It has to do with the society, which has changed -- both during the times of Saddam Hussein's regime and after. Also, the sanctions had an adverse effect on society in nurturing this culture of corruption. During the 1960s or 1970s, bribery was very rare in Iraq. The number of government employees was very small and usually they were the elite. But then they incorporated millions of people into the government -- not to better run the state, but to control the people. We are in the process of implementing a number of processes and procedures that aim to curb the extent of corruption.

    SPIEGEL: One of your first actions after you took office was to close the office of your predecessor's son, who is said to have provided huge government contracts to people who were ready to pay the most for them. Young college graduates claim they had to pay officials $10,000 to $20,000 in order to obtain government jobs. Why should Iraqis have any faith in this government?

    Al-Abadi: We need to flip the system. Four years ago, the government tried to stop the corruption at the Passport Office, where people pay $400 to $500 just to get their passport issued. Every day they were arresting so many people and it did not have much of an effect. But if you ease the procedure, for instance making the document available online, it puts an end to it altogether. I don't want to fill our prisons with people who ask for petty cash while we are facing this major terrorist threat to the country. I want to keep these prisons for the actual criminals who are killing people or for people who are stealing vast amounts of money from the people. I want to change how we run the government in Iraq.

    For those who don't follow Iraq closely, the predecessor is Nouri al-Maliki.  His son is Ahmed al-Maliki who was likened to Uday Hussein.  Ahmed was most recently in the news last December when he was reportedly detained in Lebanon -- a country he was visiting after he'd had billions of dollars transferred from Iraq's banks to a Lebanese bank and, when detained, was carrying the US equivalent of $1.5 billion dollars.

    Newsweek (re)posts a problematic column penned by Hardin Lang and Peter Juul.  (Problematic?  Even a cursory read of McClatchy Newspapers reporting from Iraq over the last four weeks would have prevented many of the factual errors in the column.)  We'll avoid their shaky factual ground and instead zoom in on their conclusion:

    One option might be a more formal recognition of the de facto decentralization resulting from the conflict with ISIS. Such an outcome will be hard to engineer in the post-Saddam Iraqi political system. But it is incumbent on Iraq’s allies to help find a solution that gives Sunni Arabs a home in Iraq’s body politic and a solution that gives the state its best chance of hanging together. Abadi’s visit allows the Obama administration to raise these concerns at the highest level.
    Last summer, the Obama administration used the promise of military assistance to remove then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from power. Today, the United States and its coalition partners can use the same leverage to help Abadi rebuild the authority of the Iraqi government and fend off challenges from Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

    The only successful path to an enduring victory over ISIS requires the Iraqi government to survive the forces tearing at it from all sides. Abadi’s visit represents an opportunity for the United States to give his government the leverage it needs to withstand the storm.

    That would be one way of describing a political solution.  In June of last year, Barack said that was the only thing that could solve Iraq's crises.  Yet it's the only thing the White House avoids working on.

    The State Dept issued the following today:

    Today Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to the State Department to brief senior diplomatic representatives from among the 62 members of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. This plenary session was an opportunity for Coalition partners to reaffirm our support for Iraqi-led efforts to reclaim territory from ISIL, and our support for the Iraqi people as they are rescued from ISIL control and forge a more inclusive and durable political order.
    Deputy Secretary Blinken thanked Coalition partners for their extensive contributions toward the Coalition’s goal of degrading and defeating ISIL, echoing President Obama’s assertion that while the fight against ISIL is far from over, the momentum is heading in the right direction. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL General John Allen briefed on progress across multiple Coalition lines of effort, and provided a readout of last week’s Coalition Small Group meeting in Jordan. Building on those conversations, Coalition partners discussed how to further strengthen, accelerate, and integrate contributions to Coalition efforts.
    This was the third Washington plenary session of Coalition ambassadors.

    Oh, goody.  Another meet-up for war, war, war.

    But no meet-up for diplomacy.

    "The momentum is heading in the right direction"?

    Really because Judy Woodruff declared on this evening's NewsHour (PBS -- link is text, video and audio), "Fighters with the Islamic State group gained new ground today in Western Iraq."

    He made those comments after today's big news was already in the news cycle.

    This morning, Arwa Damon (CNN -- link is video and text) reported on the situation in Anbar Province's Ramadi noting that deputy provincial council head Falih Essawi is issuing "a dire, dire warning" as the Islamic State advances.

    Arwa Damon:  ISIS forces, it seems, early this morning managing to enter the outskirts of the city of Ramadi from the east.  This now means that ISIS is fighting on the east.  ISIS advanced from the north -- taking over three towns from the outskirts there over the weekend.  The routes to the south already blocked off.  The city basically under siege except for the western portion that is still controlled by forces, by government forces, but that is wavering as well.

    Sky News notes the three areas taken, "The militant group took the villages of Sjariyah, Albu-Ghanim and Soufiya, in Anbar province, which had been under government control, residents said." Nancy A. Youssef (Daily Beast) observed:

    Pentagon officials stopped short of saying the city was on the brink of falling. But they didn’t sound confident it would hold, either.
    “The situation in Ramadi remains fluid and, as with earlier assessments, the security situation in the city is contested. The ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] continue to conduct clearing operations against ISIL-held areas in the city and in the surrounding areas of Al Anbar province,” U.S. Central Command spokesman Army Maj. Curt Kellogg, a said in a statement, using the government’s preferred acronym for ISIS. The Coalition continues to coordinate with ISF forces and provide operational support as requested.”

    AFP's Jean Marc Mojon and Karim Abou Merhil sound out various Middle East experts about the prospects for victory in Anbar.  We'll note this section:

    “Anbar, and especially Fallujah, is like Asterix’s village,” said Victoria Fontan, a professor at American University Duhok Kurdistan, referring to an unconquerable town in the French comic book series.
    The province is packed with experienced fighters and while some Sunni tribes have allied with the government, others are fighting alongside ISIS or sitting on the fence.
    Local knowledge is seen as key to retaking territory along the fertile strip lining the Euphrates, where ISIS has inflicted severe military setbacks to the police and army since June.

    Iraqi Spring MC notes this takes place as calls for reinforcements of government troops to be sent to . . . Baiji.

    That's in northern Iraq, Salahuddin Province.  These reinforcements are being sent in to protect . . .  Well, not people.  There are people in Ramadi who need protection.  But the government forces going to Baiji are going to protect an oil refinery.

    Saif Hameed, Isabel Coles and Giles Elgood (Reuters) explain:

    The new Anbar campaign was intended to build on a victory in the city of Tikrit, which Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite paramilitaries retook this month.
    But the Sunni jihadists have struck back in Anbar as well as Baiji, where they blasted through the security perimeter around Iraq's largest refinery several days ago.

    Meanwhile, Iraqi Spring MC reports, just to the east of Ramadi, 3 Sahwa have been killed by the Islamic State today.  Also today in Anbar Province, Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports, "In Soufiya, the militants bombed a police station and took over a power plant. The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing for their own safety, said airstrikes were trying to back up Iraqi troops. Iraqi security officials could not immediately be reached for comment."

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 290 violent deaths throughout Iraq today.

    From the factual to the whatever, Hayes Brown (Buzzfeed) is probably a typical American journalist -- over inflated ego and underfed brain.  He makes that clear with the following:

    There are currently dozens of groups fighting against ISIS in Iraq, some of which are committing human rights abuses, but please don’t call them “militias,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Wednesday.
    “Militias, according to the [Iraqi] Constitution, according to us, are the enemy of the state,” he said in a small roundtable with reporters. “Militias are an organization who are outside the state who carry arms, not under the control of the state,” he said. “They are not allowed.”
    (A quick Google search shows that a common definition of a militia is “a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.”)

    Hayes is such a dupe and such a stupe.

    Let's drop back to the March 24th snapshot:

    The assault is a failure.  And with MP Shakhawan Abdullah telling Rudaw reports, "At least 30,000 soldiers and military experts from the Islamic Republic of Iran are fighting ISIS militants in Iraq"?
    It really doesn't make Iran look very powerful or able to carry out a ground war.
    And what does it say about thug Hadi al-Ameri?
    He commands the Badr militia.
    But the Shi'ites also an MP and Minister of Transportation.
    Which is confusing because to run for office, political entities in Iraq were supposed to give up their militias.
    But the Badr brigade is run by al-Ameri who somehow (illegally) serves in the Iraqi government.

    Hayes has missed a great deal. To run for office, politicians were told that their political parties had to give up the militias.  (Badr is the militia for the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq led by Ammar al-Hakim.)

    Not to do so would mean they couldn't hold office.

    Haider al-Abadi grasps that -- he's a member of Dawa (not the leader, somehow Nouri remains leader of the party).  He's run in these elections.

    He knows that, as prime minister, if he calls these militias, a lot of people are going to be out of office.  So he rushes to insist that these militias are something other than militias.

    Like Hillary Clinton is something other than Hillary:

  • Betty teamed up with Cedric and Wally for a joint-post today about an idiotic column at CNN that insisted Hillary Clinton should not be called Hillary -- not even by Hillary's campaign or by Hillary herself.

    The idiot guest posting at CNN feels its sexism.  (Is it sexism when we refer to Bill Clinton here as "Bill" or Barack Obama as "Barack"?)

    The columnist has her panties in a wad over this "Hillary" usage.  It would not, she insists, happen to a man.


    Did she think General Dwight Eisenhower's last name was "Ike"?

    Ike was the nickname used in the drafting him to run for president campaign as well as in his successful presidential campaign.  "I like Ike."

    Didn't harm him any.

    I'm far more bothered by pieces that refer to Hillary as "Mrs. Clinton."

    Hillary has name recognition that puts her ahead of every other candidate or potential candidate so far.

    "Hillary" is her brand.

    CNN shouldn't run such idiotic columns.

    Lastly, yesterday the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following statement:

    Anfal Campaign

    April 14, 2015
    U.S. Embassy Baghdad
    Office of the Spokesperson
    For Immediate Release                  

    Today marks the anniversary of the Anfal -- Saddam Hussein’s brutal campaign against the Kurdish people in Iraq in which thousands of innocent Iraqis were slaughtered, and thousands more were wounded, maimed, or expelled from their homes.  We honor those who were killed or injured as a result of the Anfal, and pledge to stand with all Iraqis and the Kurdish people as they strive to build a brighter future for themselves and their descendants.

    arwa damon
    nancy a. youssef

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015


    In a fair world, we'd not just be allowed to vote for leaders, we'd also have the power to determine how our taxes were spent.

    We'd vote on that as a nation.

    Did we want to turn it all over the military-industrial-complex?

    Or do we want to use it to fund new highways, public hospitals, libraries, things we can really use?

    As our leaders continue to fail us one election cycle after another, I'd like to see a Constitutional amendment that put us over the budget by putting it all to a vote.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Tuesday, April 14, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi comes begging to DC, a media whore thinks Judith Miller's current embarrassments means he can slink back in, and much more.

    On a day of fakery, it's only fitting that one of the all time biggest US fakes attempted to return to prominence.

    Who are we talking about?

    In April of 2000, Norman Solomon noted this gas bag in a "Media Jeopardy" column:

    Although he represented "the left" for six years on CNN's "Crossfire" program, this pundit identifies himself as "a wishy-washy moderate."

    Who is Michael Kinsley? 

    Yes, we're talking about Michael Kinsley -- Michael "I'm not really a liberal but I played one on TV."

    And he did.  On CNN's Crossfire.

    He faked his way through a lot of things.  At the end of 1999, Norman Solomon awarded Kinsley an 'honor:'

    Take It on Faith Award: Michael Kinsley. In a Time magazine essay, Kinsley -- who works for two of the planet's most powerful communications firms, Microsoft and Time Warner -- sought to persuade readers that the World Trade Organization is a fine institution, despite protests. Kinsley's Dec. 13 piece ended with these words: "But really, the WTO is OK. Do the math. Or take it on faith."

    Norman Solomon, in his book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, it was pretty much a requirement that a useless gas bag like Michael be included:

    "The president's ability to decide when and where to use America's military power is now absolute," Michael Kinsey observed as the invasion of Iraq ended in (temporary) triumph.  "Congress cannot stop him.  That's not what the Constitution says, and it's not what the War Powers Act says, but that's how it works in practice."

    Staying with the Iraq War, the Times of London broke the news on The Downing Street Memo.

    And in the US, the response from most news outlets was silence.

    Or in MK's case, ridicule.

    Bob Somerby (Daily Howler) observed in June 2005:

    Maybe now you’ll start to believe the things we’ve said about Michael Kinsley and, by extension, about the fops who are runing our mainstream press corps. In Sunday’s Post (and Los Angeles Times), Kinsley writes an astonishing column about the Downing Street memo. Do a gang of millionaire fops drive our discourse? In case you didn’t know that already, Kinsley sets out to prove it—in spades.
    As noted, Kinsley discusses the famous Downing Street memo; in it, a top adviser to Tony Blair seems to say that President Bush had decided on war with Iraq as early as July 2002 (and was “fixing” the facts and the intel accordingly). The memo appeared on May 1 in the Times of London; concerned citizens have been dissecting it from that day to this, even as the Washington press corps struggled to avoid all discussion. (Panel discussions about Kerry’s grades at Yale were far more germane.) But good news! The great Kinsley has finally read the whole memo! Drink in the sheer condescension as he explains why he did:
    KINSLEY (6/12/05; pgh 1): After about the 200th e-mail from a stranger demanding that I cease my personal coverup of something called the Downing Street Memo, I decided to read it. It's all over the blogosphere and Air America, the left-wing talk radio network: This is the smoking gun of the Iraq war. It is proof positive that President Bush was determined to invade Iraq the year before he did so. The whole "weapons of mass destruction" concern was phony from the start, and the drama about inspections was just kabuki: going through the motions.
    At the Times, Daniel Okrent always seemed to think it was beneath his dignity to receive e-mails from the herd, and Kinsley betrays the same condescension, grumping about the effort required to get him to do his job. Only after receiving demands from hundreds of “strangers” did he do what any citizen would; only then did he bother to read “something called the Downing Street Memo,” the locution he uses to show his disdain for the people who asked him to function. And if you don’t find yourself struck by Kinsley’s bald condescension, we hope you’ll find yourself insulted when you read his account of the memo’s contents. “I don’t buy the fuss,” Kinsley writes. Then he starts to explain why that is:
    KINSLEY (2): Although it is flattering to be thought personally responsible for allowing a proven war criminal to remain in office, in the end I don't buy the fuss. Nevertheless, I am enjoying it, as an encouraging sign of the revival of the left. Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes a certain amount of ideological self-confidence. It takes a critical mass of citizens with extreme views and the time and energy to obsess about them. It takes a promotional infrastructure and the widely shared self-discipline to settle on a story line, disseminate it and stick to it.
    There you start to have it, readers! If you think the Downing Street memo may show or suggest that Bush was determined to invade Iraq early on, you have “a paranoid theory” and “extreme views”—and “the time and energy to obsess about them.” (This distinguishes you from Kinsley, who didn’t have the time or energy to read the memo until forced.) Indeed, throughout his piece, Kinsley keeps saying that you’re an “extremist” with “extreme views” if you’re bothered by this memo’s contents. Maybe now you’ll believe what we’ve told you about this bizarre, fallen man.

    In her book Watchdogs of Democracy: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public, the late Helen Thomas made room for Kinsley:

    Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley decided that the classified minutes of the Blair meeting were not a "smoking gun."  He felt it was nor proof that Bush was determined to invade Iraq a year before he gave the green light.  "I don't buy the fuss," Kinsley said. 

    FAIR issued an action alert on the topic and noted:

    Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley opted for sarcasm over serious discussion, deriding activists in a June 12 column for sending him emails “demanding that I cease my personal cover-up of something called the Downing Street Memo.” Kinsley kidded that the fuss was a good sign for the Left: “Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes ideological self-confidence.”
    What does Kinsley mean by paranoid? Criticizing the Times for not giving the story much attention would be accurate: Prior to the Bush-Blair press conference, a Nexis search shows one story about the Downing Street minutes appeared in the paper nearly two weeks after the story broke (5/12/05), and that columnist Robert Scheer mentioned it a few days later (5/17/05).
    In fact, Kinsley’s mocking seemed to serve no purpose, since his fallback position is a familiar media defense: We all knew the Bush administration wanted war, so this simply isn’t news. As Kinsley put it, “Of course, you don’t need a secret memo to know this.” As for “intelligence and facts…being fixed around the policy,” Kinsley eventually acknowledged that “we know now that this was true.”

    So, to follow Kinsley’s logic: People who demand more Downing Street coverage have developed a “paranoid theory” that accurately portrays White House decision-making on Iraq. His only quarrel with what he calls a “vast conspiracy” pushing the mainstream media to take the memo more seriously is that the activists think such information is important, and should be brought to the attention of the public, whereas Kinsley–and apparently many others in the mainstream media–doesn’t “buy the fuss.”

    We need to note the realities of the hideous Michael Kinsley but we don't have time to include everyone.  He was widely called out.  One person we'll note is David Swanson who probably did more to raise awareness of the Downing Street Memo than anyone else in America.

    As part of the continued failure of Vanity Fair, they've added Kinsley to their staff.

    Worse, they let him weigh in on Iraq today,

    In many ways, "How the Bush Wars Opened the Door for ISIS" is the sort of crap that any idiot who ignored Iraq for the last 12 years could have churned out in their sleep.

    Any idiot.

    But Michael Kinsley is a special kind of idiot.

    Which is how he manages to write:

    And yes, the number of Americans in Iraq is relatively trivial, but President Obama has already agreed under pressure to increase troop levels, just long enough, you understand, to help wipe out the latest—and, seemingly, the worst—malefactor, the terrorist group known as ISIS.

    Is it trivial to you?

    Was it hard to tear away from your porn and type that sentence?

    In the November 10, 2014 Iraq snapshot, we dealt with Richard Brunt's lies about US troops being out of Iraq:

    Well just because you're letting the precum pool in your pants doesn't mean you need to share your erotic fantasies with the rest of us.

    Brunt's so busy jizzing while moaning Barack, he actually writes, "Obama brought soldiers home from Iraq."


    For example, he brought these two home last month -- in body bags.

    That's Lance Cpl. Sean P. Neal (photo from Facebook).   We noted his death in October 25th snapshot.

    That's Cpl Jordan Spears (photo from Marine Corps).  Last month, he was reclassified as the first death in 'Operation Inherent Resolve.'

    [. . .]

    But this week, DoD issued the following:


    Release No: NR-599-14
    December 02, 2014

    DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty

      The Department of Defense announced today the death of an Airman who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
    Capt. William H. DuBois, 30, of New Castle, Colorado, died Dec. 1 when his F-16 aircraft crashed near a coalition air base in the Middle East. He was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

    For more information media may contact the 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office at 803-895-2019.  

    Those three deaths?

    They aren't trivial to the service members' family and friends.

    They shouldn't be trivial to the country but Micheal Kinsley's a very busy stooge and he clearly has other concerns.

    A non-trivial press would have noted these three American deaths in Barack's war on the Islamic State.

    And would have noted them today as Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with US Vice President Joe Biden . . .

    Prime Minister Al-Abadi met with Vice President Biden this morning to discuss strengthening of bilateral relations
    36 retweets45 favorites

    and with US President Barack Obama.

    Prime Minister Al-Abadi meets President Obama to discuss efforts to enhance Iraq's capabilities to defeat Daesh
    53 retweets48 favorites

    The whole world knew what Haider wanted out of the meet-up.  From yesterday's snapshot:

    Saturday, Arshad Mohammed and Phil Stewart (Reuters) broke the news that on his visit to DC, Haider al-Abadi intends to ask for more weapons and needs them on credit.  Dar Addustour adds that Haider intends to ask the US government for money to rebuild areas 'liberated' from the Islamic State.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports Haider's wish list includes the White House accelerating the delivery of the Apache helicopters and the F-16 warplanes. AFP notes Haider also intends to ask for more US air strikes.

    And what did Barack want?

    He apparently never defined his wants.  Maybe that's why he so frequently comes out the loser in any negotiation?

    AP reports Haider's getting $200 million in reconstruction funds.

    If there were any strings on that donation/grant, the press hasn't reported on it.

    The only glimmer of hope came at the end of the brief remarks Barack and Haider made to the press:

    Q    But would you give them additional weapons, Mr. President, like Apache helicopters and drones and F-16 that the Prime Minister has been asking?  At least it’s been reported as asking.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I think this is why we are having this meeting to make sure that we are continually improving our coordination to make sure that Iraqi security forces are in a position to succeed in our common mission.

    So at least Barack didn't hop directly into the backseat with Haider.

    There may be hope yet.

    Jason Ditz ( observes, "The US has struggled to justify its repeated influxes of military aid to Iraq, both because of the Iraqi military’s tendency to lose billions of dollars worth of advanced US weapons to ISIS control, and because of Iraq’s increasingly checkered human rights record."

    During their brief press conference, Barack spoke far more than Haider.  We'll note this section:

    PRESIDENT OBAMA:  This is something that we discussed extensively.  I think that, as I’ve said before and I will repeat, we expect Iran to have an important relationship with Iraq as a close neighbor.  And obviously the fact that Iraq is a Shia-majority country means that it will be influenced and have relations with Iran as well.  And at the point in which Daesh or ISIL was surging and the Iraqi government was still getting organized at that point, I think the mobilization of Shia militias was something that was understood to protect Baghdad or other critical areas. 
    Once Prime Minister Abadi took power, once he reorganized the government and the security forces, once the coalition came in at the invitation of and in an agreement with a sovereign Iraqi government, then our expectation is from that point on, any foreign assistance that is helping to defeat ISIL has to go through the Iraqi government.  That’s how you respect Iraqi sovereignty. That’s how you recognize the democratic government that was hard-earned and is being upheld in the work that Prime Minister Abadi is doing in reaching out to all the various factions inside of Iraq.

    And so I think Prime Minister Abadi’s position has been that he welcomes help, as you just heard, but it needs to be help that is not simply coordinated with the Iraqi government but ultimately is answerable to the Iraqi government and is funneled through the chain of command within the Iraqi government. 

    This did not sit well with everyone.

    Al Mada reports Ammar al-Hakim reacted to those comments by declaring they would gladly take money from DC but they didn't need any advice on the militias.

    Ammar is the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq -- one of the larger Shi'ite groupings.  ISCI has always had close ties to Iran.  Not only did Ammar and his father Abdul Aziz al-Hakim seek asylum in Iran while Saddam Hussein was president of Iraq but Abdul elected to spend the last year and a half of his life (while dying of lung cancer) in Iran where he died on August 26, 2009.

    Ammar's gotten increasingly hostile towards the US government in the last six months or so leading to speculation that he feels wrongly looked over for the post of prime minister. He's been the choice of many in the US intelligence community for some time but he's never managed to pull support from other areas -- Big Oil, the 'diplomatic community,' etc.

    It could also be that Ammar's simply tired of the US government and its overstayed welcome.  It could be that simple.

    But regardless of why, Ammar has clearly soured on the US government.

    Today, Barack declared, "We discussed how we can be supportive of the progress that's being made in shaping an inclusive governance agenda.  I emphasized that the United States’ prime interest is to defeat ISIL and to respect Iraqi sovereignty, and that will continue to be our policy."

    How inclusive is that government going to be without the support of Ammar al-Hakim?

    He's a key Shi'ite figures and represents a large number of Shi'ites.

    So how did the US government ever think it was okay to be estranged from Ammar?

    It appears that all these months of focusing on bombings and getting other countries to send troops to Iraq at the expense of working on actual diplomacy is finally starting to bite the administration in its collective ass.

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 160 violent deaths in Iraq today.

    The White House issued the following today:

    Joint Statement by the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq

    President Obama welcomed Haider Al-Abadi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq, and the accompanying delegation to Washington from April 13-16, 2015.  The President and the Prime Minister met today at the White House to reaffirm the long-term U.S.-Iraq strategic partnership based on mutual respect and common interests and their shared commitment to the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.  The President expressed his strong support for the progress that the Prime Minister and the Iraqi government have accomplished since the two leaders last met seven months ago. 
    Working Together to Destroy ISIL
    President Obama and Prime Minister Al-Abadi reviewed progress in the campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.  The two leaders honored the sacrifices of Iraqis from all communities in the fight against ISIL and expressed appreciation for the significant contributions of more than 60 partners in the global coalition to counter ISIL.  Over 1,900 U.S. and coalition strikes in Iraq have played a critical role in halting ISIL’s advance and supporting the Iraqi Security Forces in liberating significant Iraqi territory once held by ISIL.  The Prime Minister praised the performance of the Iraqi Security Forces, including the volunteer fighters in the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Peshmerga forces, and local tribal fighters.  Prime Minister Al-Abadi thanked the President and the American people for the critical support provided to Iraq, including the important work of U.S. service men and women currently stationed in Iraq and the region, and both leaders reaffirmed the core security partnership between their two countries. 
    The President and Prime Minister discussed next steps in the campaign to counter ISIL.  The Prime Minister stressed the importance of stabilizing areas liberated from ISIL control, and ensuring the full transfer of authority to local officials and local police; the maintenance of civil order; the protection of civilians; the peaceful return of displaced residents; and the restoration of government services and the economy.  The Prime Minister emphasized that the Government of Iraq has zero tolerance for human rights abuses and requested assistance from the United States and the coalition to enable immediate and long-term stabilization in areas liberated from ISIL.  The Prime Minister underscored the integral role that local populations are playing in liberating their own areas and, accordingly, stressed the importance of enrolling additional tribal fighters in the fight against ISIL as part of the Popular Mobilization Forces.  President Obama pledged to continue to support Iraqi Security Forces and tribal engagement initiatives with U.S. training and equipment.  He specifically welcomed the recent decision by the Iraqi government to supply thousands of rifles and other equipment to tribal fighters in eastern Anbar province, building on the successful model at Al Asad airbase in western Anbar, where U.S. advisors are enabling tribal operations against ISIL in coordination with Iraqi Security Forces.
    The two leaders underscored the threat that terrorism poses to Iraq, the region, and the global community.  Both leaders emphasized the importance of implementing of UNSC resolutions 2178 and 2199.  They also discussed the critical importance of addressing the sources of extremism and violence, including additional combined efforts in these areas over the coming weeks, and the President noted that the Prime Minister would continue discussions on the military campaign against ISIL in his meetings with the Secretary of Defense on April 15, in addition to the coalition plenary meeting on the same day. 
    Strengthening a Unified and Democratic Iraq
    Prime Minister Al-Abadi updated the President on political developments in Iraq, including his cabinet’s efforts to implement the ambitious national program set forth upon the formation of the government.  He noted parliament’s passage of a national budget, Iraq’s first in years with cross-sectarian support, with key provisions on oil exports and revenue sharing with the Kurdistan Regional Government.  Prime Minister Al-Abadi affirmed his priority remains the passage of legislation that was outlined in the national program.  The President welcomed the progress that has been made to date, and called on all political blocs to make the compromises necessary for full implementation of the national program.
    More broadly, the Prime Minister outlined his vision of a more decentralized model of governance, as called for under the Constitution of Iraq, a model that he asserted was an essential element of the broader strategy for progress in Iraq.  He detailed the government’s program to devolve security and service delivery to the provincial and local levels.  In this light, he noted efforts to empower local government in the stabilization of liberated areas.  He also highlighted the importance of the National Guard in providing more authority over security to the residents of Iraq’s provinces and to ensuring that Iraq’s security forces are broadly representative and close to the communities they are sworn to protect and defend.  The President expressed support for the strategy outlined by the Prime Minister and committed to provide all appropriate assistance and support, as called for in the Strategic Framework Agreement, to strengthen Iraq’s constitutional democracy.
    Enhancing Opportunities for the Iraqi People
    The President and the Prime Minister both noted that our two nations must continue to enhance broad bilateral cooperation under the Strategic Framework Agreement.  The Prime Minister outlined the range of Iraq’s challenges resulting from the global decline in the price of oil, the humanitarian crisis, and Iraq’s fight against ISIL.  Prime Minister Al-Abadi outlined his government’s strategy to shore up the Iraqi economy, including revitalization of Iraq’s energy infrastructure and reforms to mitigate corruption and reduce wasteful spending.  The two leaders agreed that international support for Iraq’s fight against ISIL could be leveraged toward enhancing Iraq’s integration with the global economy. 
    President Obama noted that economic cooperation is central to the long-term U.S.-Iraq partnership.  The President congratulated the Prime Minister on Iraq’s recent record high oil exports, the highest in more than thirty years, and they affirmed that they will work together to expand Iraqi oil production and exports in the future.  The President said he had directed Vice President Biden to convene, on April 16, a Higher Coordinating Committee meeting of the Strategic Framework Agreement to focus specifically on economic issues, including bilateral trade, energy cooperation, private sector reform, and Iraq's fiscal stability.
    President Obama and Prime Minister Al-Abadi both reaffirmed the need to address the humanitarian situation in Iraq, where more than 2.6 million Iraqis have been internally displaced since January 2014.  President Obama noted his recent decision to provide nearly $205 million dollars in additional humanitarian assistance to Iraqis in the region and to support Iraq’s response to the Syrian crisis, bringing the U.S. contribution to help displaced Iraqis to more than $407 million since the start of fiscal year 2014. 
    Reinforcing Regional Cooperation
    President Obama expressed his strong support for increased cooperation between Iraq and regional partners on the basis of mutual respect for sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs.  The Prime Minister updated the President on his consultations with regional capitals and his efforts to enhance regional diplomatic representation in Baghdad.  The President confirmed the importance of establishing a strong diplomatic presence in Baghdad by all regional Arab states.
    The two leaders agreed that there are no military solutions to the region’s conflicts.  To this end, Prime Minister Al-Abadi welcomed the framework for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between the P5+1 and Iran regarding Iran’s nuclear program as a means towards greater peace and stability in the region.  Both leaders affirmed that a strong U.S.-Iraq relationship was critical for regional security and in the long-term interests of both countries. 

    This visit provides an opportunity to review the important progress that Iraq and the United States have made together and to discuss ways to further enhance cooperation across the full spectrum of the strategic partnership.  The rapid and extensive response by the United States to the current challenges facing Iraq has highlighted the robust and steadfast relationship between our two countries, and the President and the Prime Minister agreed on the importance of continuing to strengthen this enduring relationship.

    jason ditz