Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's not enough but its something

James K. Sanborn (Marine Times) reports:

But with 34 active duty Marine suicides in 2014 and two weeks left in the year, suicide remains a serious problem throughout the Defense Department.
"During the holiday season, leaders at every level need to re-engage and identify those who will benefit from the many resources available in order to help eliminate suicide from our ranks," reads Marine administrative message 648/14, signed Dec. 14 by Maj. Gen. Michael Regner, the staff director of Headquarters Marine Corps.
The new MARADMIN serves as a reminder of current resources available to those who are struggling as well as the duty of Marines and their commanders to watch out for each other.

It's something.

It's not enough.

But it is something.

It be great if the Senate would join the House in passing the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act.

Even that wouldn't qualify as enough.

But it would be something.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, December 17, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue,  the targeting of religious minorities continues, look which senator refused to call it out, a lot of spin on Iraq insists things are improving, reality argues otherwise, and much more.

We'll start with a letter senators have sent to Secretary of State John Kerry.  From Senator Roger Wicker's office:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, today led a bipartisan effort calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to assist religious minorities facing persecution in Syria and Iraq, such as Christians and Yazidis, to find refuge in the United States. The Senators also urged the State Department to provide these minorities with better access to U.S. humanitarian aid.

“The oppression of Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq has led to an unspeakable humanitarian crisis,” Wicker said. “Tens of thousands have had to flee their homes to seek sanctuary from the Islamic State – whose savage treatment of these people is well-documented. The United States has historically protected minorities facing similar circumstances. We should do so again now.”

“We have an obligation to stand up for human rights,” Brown said. “The U.S. has pledged humanitarian assistance for relief in Iraq and Syria, and that should include refugee assistance for persecuted religious minorities facing persecution.”

The Senators’ letter specifically calls for “the creation of a Priority 2 (P-2) group under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for religious minorities from Iraq and Syria.”

This new classification would provide a process for Christians, Alawites, Druze, Yazidis, and others to be considered for resettlement in the United States. In the past, this designation has been used for groups of humanitarian concern, including religious minorities from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, and Iran.

Wicker and Brown were joined in their letter by Senators Dan Coats, R-Ind., Carl Levin, D-Mich., James Inhofe, R-Okla., John Thune, R-S.D., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

The full text of the letter:

December 16, 2014

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry,

We write to encourage you to take expeditious action to protect Christians and other vulnerable religious minorities from the unprecedented level of violence in Iraq and Syria.

The creation of a Priority 2 (P-2) group under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for religious minorities from Iraq and Syria would provide a structured process for Christians, Alawites, Druze, Yazidis, and others to be considered for resettlement in the United States. This designation has been used for groups of humanitarian concern, including religious minorities from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, and Iran.  Although the Administration has announced that it will create more places for Syrian refugees, we have not stated that religious minorities such as Christians will be considered for admission to the United States.

Religious minorities also have difficulty accessing humanitarian assistance due to the hostility and discrimination that they face from other citizens, including other refugees.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has acknowledged that religious minorities avoid camps for this reason. As such, we encourage you to direct the U.S. Agency for International Development to ensure that religious minorities have sufficient access to the nearly $2 billion in aid that the United States has pledged for humanitarian relief efforts in Iraq and Syria.

Religious cleansing has reached historic levels in the Middle East.  Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, President Bashar al-Assad, Syrian rebels, and terrorist groups have targeted religious minorities for violence.  In Iraq, Christians, Yazidis, and Mandeans have lived in fear of terrorist groups for the last decade.  Now, the brutal Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has openly vowed to end the existence of religious minorities in the Middle East. Accordingly, we urge you to act swiftly to help protect religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.

Thank you for your consideration.


Senator Roger Wicker
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Dan Coats
Senator Carl Levin
Senator James Inhofe
Senator John Thune
Senator Marco Rubio
Senator Rob Portman
Senator Mark Kirk

You notice anything?

I did immediately.

Where's the Senate fraud?

Where's Rand Paul?

Where's God's personal friend Rand Paul?

In the December 10th snapshot, we noted the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing which featured Rand Paul's embarrassing grandstanding and his incessant caterwauling about Syrian Christians (while ignoring Iraqi Christians).

We called it because it came off fake ass.

And I could have been wrong in that call.

But where's Senator Rand Paul's signature on the letter?

Staying on the topic of fake ass, the Wall St Journal's round up of corruption reporting includes one on Iraq:

Iraq’s prime minister is quoted saying he’s willing to be assassinated, if that’s what it takes to effectively fight corruption. (NY Times)

That's from Tim Arango's report we've noted already this week.

Haider al-Abadi only looks more ridiculous when he makes statements like that.

In 2016, the United States will vote on a new American president.

That person will be sworn in during the month of January 2017.

And that person (and his or her family) will move into the White House.

You can find similar situations in other countries with elected leaders.

Where does Haider al-Abadi live?

Not in the home of the prime minister.

In August, he was named prime minister.

But the previous one refuses to vacate the home.

Thug Nouri al-Maliki continues to live in the home of the prime minister.

Haider, that's corruption.

Nouri is not the prime minister and he needs to vacate the home immediately.

Haider's either too much of a chicken or in league with Nouri.

(A video of the two emerged last week that records how close the two actually are.)

Tim Arango's article notes Nouri continues to occupy the residence of the prime minister.

The Iraqi people foot the bill for that housing occupation.

That's corruption.

And if Haider can't even weed that out, lots of luck seeing him punish those officials who've stolen money from Iraq (that would also include Nouri).

Tim Arango's article also noted Nouri's plane but insisted he'd surrendered the private jet.

No, he hasn't.

It's parked at Baghdad International airport but it's not been handed over -- and this point has been firmly established repeatedly by both Iraq Times and Kitabat.

I have no idea whether or not Ibrahim al-Jaafari is a fake ass but he's a joke.

In December 2005, Iraqis voted.  No one was named prime minister-designate for months because the Iraqi Parliament wanted to name Ibrahim al-Jaafari to the post but Bully Boy Bush and his administration didn't want that.  They didn't care for al-Jaafari, they feared his personal militia, didn't want him to have a second term as prime minister, etc.

So they forced the pockmarked faced thug Nouri off on Iraq.

Ibrahim never really stood up to Nouri in the eight years that followed despite the hopes of Ibrahim's followers that their leader would discover a spine.

Now Ibrahim has a post.

Foreign Minister!

Yeah, it is a huge step down.

All that's left below it is parking valet.

Hoshyar Zebari held the post for 8 years.  It's photo ops and nothing more.

Xinhua reports of Jaafari:

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government has been in power for only months' time, and the city of Mousl is still in the hands of the IS militants, yet Iraq has made "great" progress in political reforms and the security situation is improving, he said, adding that the IS terrorists have started to pull back.

That's a sweet little dream.  It's not reality but fairy tales have lulled many at bedtime.

In the real world, Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) notes:

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is boosting its presence in Iraq’s restive Al-Anbar province in a bid to turn Baghdad’s attention away from the liberation of Mosul, a senior Iraqi military commander said on Wednesday.
The senior Iraqi military officer, who spoke on the condition that his name and rank would not be disclosed, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the battle for Mosul, which government forces are presently gearing up for, would be “critical” to the defeat ISIS. Mosul, the provincial capital of neighboring Nineveh governorate, has been under ISIS control since June.

“We can say that the fate of ISIS is tied to the result of the battle of Mosul, more than any other battle, whether in Iraq or Syria,” the officer said. 

And AFP reports, "ISIS militants forced Iraqi forces to retreat Wednesday after fierce fighting in the city of Beiji, close to the country’s biggest oil refinery, a local official and tribal leader said."

  • And then there's this:

  • The link goes to a Reuters report by Ned Parker and Ahmed Rasheed who are both strong reporters and have many Iraq bylines to point to with pride.

    I wouldn't include the latest article on a list of pride.

    Six paragraphs before what the picture captures is touched on?

    And an article that buries the main point?

    In addition, there's what reads like the acceptance of murder.

    Suspects who are tortured -- which is what Parker and Rasheed are reporting though they refuse to name it -- and then murdered?  That's not democracy.  And if you can't report what's happening, if that's beyond your scope, you pick up the phone and dial Dr. Who's It at Generic University who teaches on ethics and human rights and get a quote from him or her explaining how repugnant and offensive the slaughter of suspects is.

    If the thugs had done the same thing in Iraq to a collie and it had been reported, I believe there would be global outrage.

    How sad that when it's done to humans, there's an acceptance and willingness to move on to the next topic.

    At the Boston Globe, Stephen Kinzer observes, "In Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has failed to achieve any of the goals we set when we first invaded. Both countries are consumed by violence and terror. This is the very definition of defeat. Yet even President Obama, who did not launch these wars, seems reluctant to end them by saying simply, “We can’t win, so let’s admit it and withdraw.” Whatever the reality, Americans do not like admitting that we can lose at anything. Yet persisting in lost causes weakens us as a nation. Our enemies gleefully wear us down while our friends lament our shortsightedness."


    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    How low can Ro go?

    TV Newser reports:

    Only 13,000 viewers in the key A25-54 demo tuned into Ronan Farrow‘s MSNBC show Monday during the 1pmET timeslot. The last time MSNBC was under 13,000 for the timer period was back on Feb. 17, 2005 when the network drew 11K viewers in the key demo.

    So he's a failure like his mother.

    Or, for that matter, his grandmother.  Maureen O'Sullivan had a successful film career (unlike her daughter) but she bombed on NBC's Today show.  So it's fitting that her grandson would bomb on MSNBC.

    You think MSNBC's going to wait until after Christmas to give Ro-Ro his heave ho?

    Better question, what idiot thought Mia's fey son could handle a hard hitting political show?

    New content at Third:

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Tuesday, December 16, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government remains in no rush on assisting Iraq, the Sunnis don't have to choose between an Iraqi government that targets them and the Islamic State, the so-called Human Rights Ministry of the Iraq government spins a fantastic tale they can't back up (watch to see who runs with it as fact), US Senator Tom Coburn is called out by veterans, and much more.

    The White House pretends they're doing something -- anything -- in Iraq.

    Not only is their no plan, there's no sense of urgency.

    From today's Pentagon press briefing by spokesperson John Kirby.

    Q: John, thanks.
    Could you bring us up to date on Iraq? The flow of troops that are going to be going in now that the funding has been approved? Can you give us an idea of sort of the pace and over what time period can we expect to see those -- that additional -- those 1,400?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: The Iraqi train and equip fund, as you know, is part of the NDAA. It has not been signed yet into law. That said, we do know it's -- we're grateful for the support that we got from Congress, and we know it's coming.
    There have been no -- they are -- we are still working through sourcing solutions on all of or as many of those troops as possible. So, no troops have been given orders to go yet, nor have any actually started the process of deploying. But the sourcing solutions are being worked out.
    And as I said last time, General Austin has taken advantage of resources that he has in the region already to begin to set the stage for that. So, he's done a couple of things. He's got a small number that are already doing some advise and assist operations and missions. They're in Anbar, a small number, 50, 60, something like that.
    And then he has another nearly 200 or so that are beginning to -- to build out the infrastructure and set the conditions so that when we fall into those four other locations to do more hands on training with Iraqi brigades, they'll -- they'll be ready.
    So, while no training has started yet, no formal training, we are doing advise and assist in keeping with that program, and are getting ready and setting the stage for the trainers that will follow. And I would like to add, you know, as I said before, that many other nations are -- are planning to contribute trainers as well. This won't be a U.S. mission.

    Q: But what's the target? I guess at least, you know, general target date for when that training -- the troops might be in and the training might start?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'm not aware of a specific date on the calendar, that it will be ready to start, and I -- my guess is it won't be a shotgun start, Lita. We'll -- we'll start it when and where we're able to over the next few months.
    But I think it's going to be a period of several months before we're actually ready to, you know, to get it launched and get it going.

    Q: Several months for the first -- for the beginning of it?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: I think so. I think so. But again, we'll -- we'll keep you updated. As I said I would last week, we'll keep you updated as -- as we know. And certainly when units are deployed, you'll know because we always inform you and the public about that. So once we're in that -- at that position, we'll -- we'll be able to talk to it.

    Do that, keep us updated.  On how, some day real soon, the administration's start date will arrive.

    Boot licker Roger Shanahan (Interprter) thinks time is a luxury the US government has:

    In Iraq, the US finds itself in the rather unusual situation where ISIS has all the watches but the Coalition has all the time. While ISIS consists mostly of Iraqis, it also has a growing number of foreign fighters in its ranks. If the Shi'a-dominated Iraqi forces who were in charge before ISIS swept in were seen as occupiers in the Sunni heartlands, the rule of ISIS is now starting to be viewed as something similar, and perhaps worse.

    The Coalition does not have all the time -- no one does.

    The reality is, as DoD has admitted, the Islamic State has now adapted to the bombings.  That's the whole 'plan' so to pretend the US is in the lead with 'all the time,' is just ridiculous.

    It's also ridiculous to assume that the Islamic State is going to send Sunnis into the arms of the Shi'ites.

    Nothing the Islamic State is doing is that shocking to the Sunnis.

    It's frightening to the rest of the world but, for example, raping and torturing women?

    Real sorry you just woke the f**k up today but the Sunnis have been dealing with that for years.  It was one of the main things fueling the protests that kicked off in December 2012.

    But Barack Obama was still playing footsie with thug Nouri al-Maliki so the world looked the other way.

    But Sunni women and girls were being tortured and raped in Iraqi prisons and jails.

    And when it did become a big issue in Iraq -- and only in Iraq because US Senator Barbara Boxer and all the other fake asses suddenly worried about Iraqi women -- Nouri's response was a for show release or 'release' of a few women.

    And the western press that did cover the for show incident were far too squeamish and delicate when it came to rape to even properly cover that.

    We can go down the list piece by piece, the offenses of the Islamic State currently (in a few isolated areas they control) and the widespread offenses by the government of Nouri al-Maliki for eight long years.

    The alleged difference between the two -- the Islamic State and the government of Iraq -- that boot lickers like Rodger see aren't necessarily seen by the Sunnis.

    Barack kept chirping "political solution" which didn't mean what so many fools seem to think it did.

    It meant a Sunni buy-in of the government.

    That required massive changes.  Rodger thinks a new prime minister was the trick.


    Rodger's a stupid idiot.

    We said, before Nouri was forced out, that a new prime minister would not be the answer but would provide Iraq with some time to rebuild, a restart.

    And we didn't just say that when Barack stopped backing Nouri.

    We said it before the April parliamentary elections.

    A new prime minister provided a brief chance to restart, to show a new Iraq.

    Haider al-Abadi has been prime minister since August and he's done damn little.

    Don't throw out the Kurd and Baghdad oil deal.  Not only is it a victory for the Kurds but that wasn't really the issue.

    So when Brett McGurk stroking himself before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the oil deal, he's not just lying about the 'victory,' he's lying about what it means.

    Because of Massoud Barzani, KRG president, the Kurds are getting much of what they want.

    But they weren't going to split off anyway, not this year or next.

    The clear priority was the Sunnis.

    But there's been nothing -- oh, wow, a minister post -- tossed to them.

    They've been lied to.

    Haider insisted, September 13th, that the bombing of Sunni homes in Falluja by the Iraqi military was over.

    Nouri started those bombings in January of this year.

    Daily, these bombings have resulted in Sunni civilians being wounded and killed -- and their homes turned into rubble.

    Haider said September 13 that the bombings were over.

    And September 14th, they continued.

    And they continue to this day.

    The only promise he made to the Sunnis and he failed to keep it.

    Asharq Al-Awsat reports today:

    Reconstruction in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, large parts of which remain under the control of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters, will cost more than 18 billion dollars, a local official said on Tuesday.
    Arkan Khalaf Al-Tarmouz, head of the Anbar Reconstruction Committee, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS remains in control of more than 85 percent of territory in Anbar, adding that there has been large-scale destruction across Iraq’s largest province in the fighting between ISIS and government forces.

    “Initial estimates indicate that 40 percent of Anbar’s cities have been destroyed, including major infrastructure and residential areas,” Tarmouz said.

    The bulk of the destruction is coming from the the militaries (Iraq, US, etc) and not the Islamic State.  The Islamic State flies no planes over Iraq, drops no bombs from the air.

    But idiots like Rodger don't just miss that point, they miss the reality that it's not an either/or world.  Sunnis can continue to reject that Iraqi government that attacks them and they can also reject the Islamic State.

    People can, and sometimes do, have two enemies.

    While dumb asses like Rodger ignore reality, others don't.  Noting the efforts to build a Sunni military component, Susannah George (Global Post) also notes the reality of Sunni and Baghad-based government relations:

    When the US announced its intention to support Iraq in its fight against the Islamic State (IS), it did so on the condition that the government undergo serious reforms to reach out to the country’s Sunni population, who were severely marginalized under the sectarian rule of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

    US-backed legislation to create an Iraqi “national guard” — first proposed in September — was aimed at diluting Sunni support for IS by promising Sunni fighters, including tribal forces, weapons and supplies from Iraq’s central government. A former Iraqi National Guard force was absorbed into the army a decade ago.

    It was hoped that these groups would recapture the Sunni areas held by IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in western Iraq.

    But with the Iraqi government failing to make headway in the fight, and the national guard legislation languishing in parliament, the US has begun to work behind the scenes to train and prepare to arm Iraq’s Sunnis on its own.

    There isn't all the time in the world.

    Well there is all the time in the world for Rodger to make an ass of himself.

    But in terms of Iraq, time is limited.  The window for Hadier to show change is closing quickly.

    On the issue of the US training forces, let's go back to today's DoD briefing:

    Q: Back on Iraq, could you give us more details about the train -- training program of the Iraqi forces? How many U.S. members will be involved in that program? And also, if you -- if you -- if you are aware of any contacts between this building, the U.S. military, and the Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq.

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: Okay, Joe, hold on a second. So we talked about the fact that we don't have a -- you know, we don't have the -- to Lita's question, we don't have sourcing solutions on the -- the 1,500 additional. And remember, it could be up to 1,500. It may not be 1,500.
    But the way it'll break down -- and I think I actually put this out when we initially announced this. So you'll have roughly, for the advise and assist mission, about 630 roughly. Again, it may not go that high. Some of those will be enablers. They'll be people that do logistics command and control, intelligence support.
    And then you'll have in the building partner capacity mission, the training mission, about 870 of those. Again, those numbers are flexible because we may not go up to that 1,500. The training hasn't begun yet. Again, my -- I think -- I think I dealt with the status when I answered Lita's question.
    On your other -- on your other question, there's been no direct -- from the few advisers that we have out in Anbar, there's been no direct involvement with Sunni tribal leaders from them. Now, they are advising Iraqi leaders. And one of the things that we're working with Iraqi leaders on is to encourage their outreach to Sunni tribal leaders. But there's been no direct contact out there between the very small number of advanced advisers we have there and Sunni tribal leaders. I -- that said, now, in the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq out of Baghdad, which is -- has had a footprint there since 2011 when -- when we ended our combat operations there in Iraq, they have had some contact with -- as -- as the due course of their duties, they have had some contact with tribal -- Sunni tribal leaders in that part of -- of Iraq. But there's been no direct advising, assisting, training of Sunni tribal leaders.

    Q: But that -- excuse me. Just to follow up, there is a plan to arm the -- the -- the tribal -- the Sunni tribes...

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: It is something -- it is something that we've been in discussion with Iraqi leaders about, and we've stressed the importance of inclusiveness here with Sunni tribal leaders.

    Q: But I mean, there is a U.S. plan to equip and arm the tribes in Iraq.

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: No, as we said before, that that could be one iteration of the plan further down the road. But it wasn't going to be the out -- at the outset. The outset is to train Iraqi brigades, nine, and then three Pesh brigades. That's the focus at the outset.
    We have opened the door. We've said it could be possible that later on down the road, there may be an equipping program or a part of it that would include some equipping of -- of Sunni tribes. But that was something that hadn't been decided yet. It was something under discussion, and we just aren't at that point right now.

    Q: (inaudible) in a briefing at CENTCOM for several reporters here from the Pentagon, the CENTCOM leadership there told us that it was up to the Iraqi government to reach out to the Sunni leaders and not the U.S.
    Is -- is the U.S. going to be involved in -- in trying to revive a Sunni awakening? Or is this going to be up to the Iraqis to do?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: No, Jim, it's, as I said to Joe, this is something we want the Iraqis to do. And we're not in direct communication and coordination with Sunni tribal leaders right now. We want the Iraqis to do that. And frankly, that's part and parcel of the whole advise- assist mission itself is to help them be more inclusive, to be more comprehensive, and to be better at -- at what they're doing in terms of defending their own people out there in Anbar.
    So, there's no plans right now for a -- a new awakening, as you saw during the -- during Operation Iraqi Freedom. We want the Iraqis to do this. But we are encouraging that. We have been encouraging that. We were encouraging Prime Minister Maliki to do that before he left office.

    Q: Since -- since the Sunni -- since some of these Sunni leaders have already made it clear that they still don't trust the Iraqi leadership in Baghdad, do you see a role for the U.S. to serve as some kind of middle man, a mediator?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, you know, now you're asking a question that may be better put to my colleagues at the State Department. I don't see a U.S. military role in that regard. Again, we want to advise and assist them to be more inclusive and for them to be better at what they're doing. And that's where the focus is on, is helping them get to that point where they're more inclusive of Sunni tribal leaders.

    Q: Following up on that, what was Secretary Hagel's assessment of the Iraqi progress on the front that Mick has been asking about, about how well the new government is doing reaching out to the Sunnis?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: Sure. I think the secretary, as he said to you guys when we left Baghdad, he came away from those meetings encouraged that Iraqi leaders understand the importance of doing exactly that, Julian, of being more inclusive and reaching out to the Sunni tribes.

    But the secretary also understands that that requires some energy and some -- and some leadership out there in Baghdad. And again, he's encouraged that they -- that they understand the need for it and that they will exert that leadership. But he knows that this is -- you know, some -- for -- this is a new government, so this is new ground that they have to -- that they have to tread.

    MEE carries a write up which opens, "At least 150 women who refused to marry fighters belonging to the Islamic State (IS) group have been executed in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, the country's Ministry of Human Rights reported."

    Do you believe it?

    Anyone who presents it as fact should be a question mark in your judgment.

    The so-called Human Rights Ministry in Iraq is a propaganda front.  That was true under Nouri, it's been true since Nouri.

    They make statements rejecting claims of abuse by the government that news outlets uncover, that Human Rights Watch uncovers, that Amnesty International uncovers.

    They've yet to expose any crimes committed by the government.

    These days they concern themselves with what they say are the actions of the Islamic State.

    The story may very well be true.

    But it's coming from a propaganda outlet.

    When did these events happen?

    There it gets sketchy.

    Okay, where did they happen?

    Supposedly in Falluja.

    Where the Iraq government is not in control.

    So where did the details come from?

    And the numbers?

    At best, the ministry got some gossip they couldn't confirm.

    But would the Islamic State, if they wanted 'jihad' brides, really target visibly pregnant women?

    They're fundamentalists.

    And yet we're supposed to believe, from the Ministry, that the Islamic State didn't just go after women to force into marriage, they went after pregnant women.

    Extreme fundamentalism sees women as property to be taken by men.  Women have little standing in that view.  In one of the few times, with those types of people, when women do have stature?  When they're pregnant.

    The story doesn't ring true.

    The story was clearly not verified by the Ministry or the Iraqi government -- nor could it be.

    But it is part of an ongoing effort to create alarm by the Iraqi government.

    If the Iraqi government's looking for false tales maybe they could revisit the 90s lie about babies being tossed out of incubators?

    From Iraqi government tales to US government Tweets, US Vice President Joe Biden issued the following today:

    Congrats to my close friend, Tony Blinken, the new Dep. Secretary of State. Admired in every corner of the world. -vp

    98 retweets 123 favorites

    We'll close with this from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:

    Gretchen Andersen
    Press Secretary
    Tel: 212-982-9699

    Washington, D.C. (December 15, 2014) – Due to the action of one U.S. Senator, critical legislation that would address the epidemic of veteran suicide was today blocked in the Senate. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), which spearheaded the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, blasted Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) for objecting to passage of this vital legislation that would support the veterans community. The legislation, unanimously passed last Tuesday by the House, is named after Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Clay Hunt, a Marine who died by suicide in 2011.

    “As parents who experienced the pain of losing a veteran to suicide, it is shocking to see this bill blocked because of one lone Senator’s agenda,” said Susan Selke, mother of Clay Hunt. “Too many veterans are facing the same bureaucratic red tape Clay confronted years ago, and they are looking to our elected leaders for hope. While throughout this process we have been so thankful for the widespread and sincere support from our Congressional leaders, today, once again, vets like my son were failed. I am grieving thinking of those young men and women who will be delayed receiving help because of this inaction. The VA’s mental health care system needs urgent change as more veterans die from suicide than on the battlefield, and Senator Coburn’s action today just delays that reform.”

    “It’s a shame that after two decades of service in Washington, Sen. Coburn will always be remembered for this final, misguided attack on veterans nationwide. It’s sickening to think another 22 veterans will die by suicide today and every day we fail to expand mental health care for our vets. While we appreciate the many Senators who have stood up to support our bill and our nation’s veterans, we join them in expressing our dismay that Senator Coburn would block this fiscally responsible bill,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “While we recognize Senator Coburn’s reputation as a budget hawk, clearly the minor cost of this bill would have a tremendous payoff to help save lives in our community. This isn’t about spending new money – it’s about honoring the commitment we owe to the men and women who put on the uniform. With the suicide crisis continuing, it is unconscionable for a lone Senator to block a fair vote and for Congress to leave Washington without dealing with this crisis. This fight is not over because the suicide crisis is not over. If it takes 90 days for the new Congress to re-pass this bill, the statistics tell us another 1,980 vets will have died by suicide. That should be a heavy burden on the conscience of Senator Coburn and this Congress. Have no doubt, we will be back with reinforcements when the next Congress arrives.”

    IAVA and its members do appreciate the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for bringing the bill to the floor for a vote. IAVA also thanks the Senate sponsors of the bill, Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), as well as all those who signed on to support the measure. A total of 21 co-sponsors — 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats — supported the Clay Hunt SAV Act.

    Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014


  • "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Monday, December 15, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, China wants in on the bombing, Germany wants to send troops, the US government wants to sell their losing as a victory for Haider, Haider just circumvented his oath of office (how long before Nouri uses that to try to displace him?), and much more.

    By the end of the year, every country on the planet may be bombing Iraq.  Jeremy Bender (Business Insider) reports, "Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, has offered to help the Iraqi military defeat the militant group by providing support for ongoing air strikes. However, Chinese assistance would come unilaterally and outside of the framework of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State."  Press TV runs with an Iraqi source:

    Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari says China has extended an offer to help Baghdad fight the Takfiri ISIL militants by carrying out its own airstrikes against the terrorists.
    Jaafari stated that his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi made the offer during a UN anti-terrorism meeting in New York back in September, noting, however, that Beijing will not join the US-led military coalition against ISIL.

    What will be left of the already suffering country as more bombs are dropped on it?

    A crumbling infrastructure already existed before the 2003 invasion.  But that war didn't improve the infrastructure and Nouri al-Maliki's two terms as prime minister were noted for his refusal to initiate public works projects -- much needed public works projects.  If, for example, he had worked on the sewage and drainage issues, heavy rains might not result in standing water up to people's knees in the Sadr City section of Baghdad.

    But there were no improvements and bombs dropped on Iraq won't improve anything either.

    It's a status measure at this point, "Look at me, I bomb Iraq!"

    The government of Iraq should be asking for security deposits and fees for those who want the 'pleasure' of bombing Iraq. The money could be put into a public works fund to address the serious issues in Iraq.

    And on the ground in Iraq?

    The British are coming! The British are coming!

    Jason Hanna, Sweelin Ong and Yousuf Basil (CNN) report:

    The United Kingdom will deploy hundreds of troops to Iraq in the coming year to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces -- the country's latest contribution to the fight against ISIS -- British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon told The Telegraph newspaper.

    And other foreigners rush to go war crazy in Iraq, Christopher Dreier (WSWS) reports:

    The year began with the announcement by senior government politicians that Germany would have to take more responsibility in foreign policy. As the end of 2014 approaches, the intention is now to launch in Iraq a military operation that would violate all the constitutional restraints on such a move and serve as a precedent for the unrestricted use of German armed forces throughout the world.
    On Thursday, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere resolved to present to the cabinet in the middle of next week a draft parliamentary mandate that allows for a huge expansion of the Bundeswehr (German army) deployment in Iraq.
    According to a report in the Bild tabloid newspaper, the draft legislation provides for the posting of more than 100 armed German soldiers in the Kurdish region of Iraq. The combat troops are to be used there to train Kurdish military organisations at war with the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

    As Germany's war machine gears up, so do peaceful Germans.  Anadolu Agency reports 4,5000 people turned out Saturday in Berlin to take part in demonstrations against Germany's deployment of troops to "Afghanistan, North Iraq and some African countries."

    Three outlets attempted to grade the work or 'accomplishments' of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi today.  None did very well.

    Reuters did the worst  and asserted he'd "swept away the divisive legacy of his predecessor."
    All three offered as proof of accomplishment the oil deal between Baghdad and Erbil.
    The Reuters piece came out of the US Embassy in Baghdad.  That was obvious reading it this morning but I've also confirmed it since.
    That the US government would lie is hardly surprising.
    I have no idea what Reuters gets out of it but I hope they got something big.
    Here's reality and we've covered it before: The US government blocked the deal.
    I am no fan of Nouri al-Maliki.  He's the forever thug and former prime minister.  
    I loathe him so much I have to check my anger.
    There's no plus or pleasure for me in noting that Nouri was encouraged not to make the deal.  The US government led him to believe they could assist him in opposing it.  They couldn't.
    The White House didn't want the deal to go through.

    A functioning press would be asking why that was.
    They'd also start to notice how there's not effort to end the war just to widen it and how that effects markets. 
    A functioning press would point out that war, these days and always, is much more than a bomb or bullet and note the pressure being brought on Iraq non-militarily isn't diplomatic but seems geared at 'liberating' Iraq's money as it's pushed towards 'stewardship.'
    The White House blinked.
    That's the reality.
    Massoud Barzani is the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government and he's no Jalal Talabani.  The luckiest thing to happen to the Kurds was when the stroke took Jalal out of commission and his family lied to the Iraqi people in order to keep him from being replaced (and them from being the first family).
    With Jalal out of the picture, who could the White House bribe?
    Jalal's collapsible spine had been well oiled for years and years by US bribes.
    Barzani wasn't 'favored nation' with the US government and wasn't the timid coward Talabani was.
    He knew how to drive a hard bargain.
    When Nouri and the US government attempted to seize the tanker of Kurdish oil off the coast of Texas?
    Talabani would have blinked and fallen to his knees.
    Massoud Barzani cast a wide net for legal opinions, found they had strong legal ground and refused to back down.  (The judge reconsidered her opinion and realized she was in the wrong.  A big blow to the White House but no one wants to tell that story either.)
    Massoud Barzani and the Barzani family refused to back down.  They know this is the time to grab everything they can because the US government has to go along.
    Without the Kurdish peshmerga, Iraq goes under to the Islamic State.
    A year ago, even six months ago, when we pointed out that the Kurds could do what they wanted with their oil, that they had every right to demand their portion of the federal budget, etc, we were treated by two 'analysts' often quoted in the press as idiots.
    We weren't idiots.  All that we said has come to pass.
    Not because I'm a psychic but because I know how to get solid information and, when necessary, will even pay for it.  And I'd met the Talabanis and they were weak.  Meeting the Barzanis testified to that family's strength.  At some point, they might end up co-opted the way the Talabani family long ago was.  But for now, their goal has been the Kurds -- as a people.  And they've accomplished more in the last four years for the Kurdish people in Iraq than has been accomplished in the previous two decades.
    That's why we've been able to note and, yes, chart the accomplishments while others -- that idiot Joel Wing -- were announcing the end of Massoud Barzani.
    Barzani made a demand regarding the oil and refused to back down.  There was disagreement among Kurdish officials.  Hoshyar Zebari was not on board with it until February of last year and he didn't get on board strongly until the late spring.
    But Barzani never blinked and now, as the US government runs around trying to get other countries to put boots on the ground (we'll tell you a little more on that in a moment), they couldn't afford to lose the peshmerge and if there wasn't an Iraq that could responds to the needs of the KRG, it was made clear that the peshmerga could be used solely to protect the northern provinces making up the KRG.
    This had nothing to do -- the agreement on oil -- with Haider al-Abadi.
    This had to do with the White House being forced to drop its longstanding objection.
    It was a Barzani victory and a White House loss.  Naturally, the US government would rather try to sell it as a Haider victory.
    Reuters notes:

    He has dismissed dozens of top army and security officers appointed by former premier Nuri al-Maliki, announced a campaign against corruption in the military, ordered curbs on arrests without a judge's authorisation, and decreed the speeding up of the release of detainees when courts order them to be set free.

    On the dismissals, Nouri went around the Parliament on actions like appointees in the military and did so because he was paranoid and feared a military coup.  So he put people in place who were grossly inept but hugely loyal to him.

    Keeping those people on would do nothing to help Iraq's failing military and it would also make it easier for Nouri to stage a coup.  And for those who didn't get that point when we made it this morning, from Tim Arango's latest report which went online this evening at the New York Times:
    “Maliki is absolutely convinced that he will be back sometime in 2015,” said one Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid angering Iraqi officials.

    Reuters spent a lot of time confusing statements by Haider with actual actions.
    September 13th, found Haider declaring the Iraqi military would stop bombing civilian homes in Falluja (War Crimes, by the way).
    Did those stop?

    They continue daily, they continue wounding and killing Iraqi civilians. 
    Words aren't actions.  Words can be followed by action.  Words can also be followed by no action at all.

    The editorial board of the Post and Courier also offered a grading of Haider -- and there big mistake?
    The Iraqi government has also agreed that the roughly 3,000 American military advisers that President Obama has dispatched to Iraq will be immune from prosecution in Iraqi courts. 
    You caught it, right?

    Let's drop back to the December 8th snapshot:

    We ask that because last week the Associated Press was reporting:

    The US has reached an agreement with Iraq on privileges and immunities for the growing number of troops based in the country, helping in the fight against the Islamic State (Isis) militant group, the new US ambassador said on Thursday.
    Stuart Jones said prime minister Haider al-Abadi has given assurances that US troops will receive immunity from prosecution.

    Yet now, NINA reports:

    Prime Minister Dr. Haidar al-Abadi media office of Dr. Haider Abadi denied news which recently claimed that the Iraqi government would be granted immunity to US troops describing such a news as fabricated .
    The office said in a statement today that the statements attributed to the US ambassador are baseless and exciting surprise .

    All Iraq News also covers the story, "The Prime Minister, Hayder Al-Ebadi said Monday 'There is no immunity for any foreign fighter and I did not sign any immunity for any US soldier deployed in Iraq'."

    It's amazing the AP filed multiple reports today but never got around to mentioning that their big news last week was now being called into question by statements the prime minister of Iraq is making.
    It's strange because AP and other western outlets have continued to ignore those comments by Haider al-Abadi.
    Let's note Human Rights Watch's alert from Saturday regarding Iraq:

    Iraq’s prime minister should order stays of execution for one rival of former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and an associate of another. The death sentences were handed down after trials in which both defendants alleged they had been subjected to torture and denied access to lawyers during interrogation, highlighting Iraq’s urgent need for judicial reform.

    On October 22, 2014, Baghdad’s Central Criminal Court sentenced Rasha al-Husseini, a secretary to former Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, to death on terrorism charges. The court’s judgment appears to be based entirely on al-Husseini’s confession. Her lawyers allege that security forces psychologically and physically tortured her. On November 23, the same court sentenced Ahmed al-Alwani, a former parliament member, to death on murder charges. Family members told Human Rights Watch they saw torture marks on him before his trial.

    “Iraq’s judiciary is still handing down convictions in politicized trials, fraught with legal irregularities,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Despite promises of reform, the government is sitting idly by while Iraq’s terribly flawed justice system sentences people to death on little or no evidence.”

    Security forces arrested al-Husseini and about a dozen other Hashimi staff members in late December 2011. In March 2012, Human Rights Watch reported evidence that several of them had been tortured. One, a bodyguard named Amir Sarbut Zaidan al-Batawi, died about three months after his arrest. His body displayed signs of torture, including in several sensitive areas. The government denied the torture allegations and did not investigate.

    There are many travesties.  Tim Arango offers a look at how Haider handled the recent decision to order the execution of Sunni politician Ahmed al-Alwani:

    Mr. Abadi swung into action. He immediately contacted Sunni officials and Alwani tribe members, assuring them that there would be no execution. And he urged them to solve the matter by the tribal tradition of paying “blood money” to the families of the victims, two soldiers who were killed in a gun battle when commandos came to arrest Mr. Alwani last year.
    [. . .]
    In the Alwani case, for instance, Mr. Abadi gave private assurances to Mr. Alwani’s tribe and Sunni leaders that there would be no execution. Publicly, however, he supported the independence of the judiciary, saying he had no right to intervene. He even criticized a recent Human Rights Watch report that urged him to order a stay of execution and highlighted claims that Mr. Alwani, who has denied firing the weapon that killed the two soldiers, had been tortured and was refused access to lawyers.

    I'm not really sure how that's a plus.  He could have issued a pardon, he could have rehauled the Iraqi justice system.

    Instead, he took clandestine actions that spared one life while failing to address the real issues that leave so many Sunnis still facing executions for their political alliances.

    I don't see why we applaud that.

    It might be brave action on the part of someone from outside the system but from the person who is supposed to be heading the government?

    Seems pretty weak.

    And I hate to give Nouri fuel, but it's also sort of against the office itself.  Nouri never followed his oath but I'm sure he can grasp how the actions Tim Arango describes went against the oath of office.

    In New Jersey today at Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst, US President Barack Obaa made a few remarks on Iraq:

    In Iraq, local forces have held the line in some places and pushed back ISIL in other places. In Syria, our airstrikes are inflicting heavy losses on ISIL fighters and leaders. Because of you, we have blunted their momentum and we have put them on the defensive. And these terrorists are learning the same thing that the leaders of al Qaeda have learned the hard way: They may think that they can chalk up some quick victories, but our reach is long. We do not give up. You threaten America, you will have no safe haven. We will find you. And like petty tyrants and terrorists before you, the world is going to leave you behind and keep moving on without you, because we will get you. That's thanks to you.

    Now, this campaign in Iraq will take time. But make no mistake, our coalition isn’t just going to degrade this barbaric terrorist organization, we’re going to destroy it. And because this isn’t just a military effort, we’re going to keep working with those in the Middle East who believe in tolerance and opportunity and peace, because that's what the region needs. These terrorists only know how to destroy. And we know how to do something bigger -- how to build the security and peace and justice that we can build with others. But none of that would be possible without you. That’s American leadership. That's the difference you make.

    US troops.

    Barack promised no troops would be on the ground in combat in Iraq.

    Yet last week, Secretary of State John Kerry argued before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the promise remained but that the White House needed Congress to allow, in their write up authorizing the latest wave of the war, US troops to be on the ground in Iraq.


    Unsaid by Kerry, unacknowledged by the White House, their efforts to get other countries to put troops on the ground in Iraq are being met with doubt and questions of why US troops aren't being sent into combat if that's what the White House believes in.

    Reportedly, the hypothetical number of 10,000 is now being tossed around to foreign governments by State Dept officials -- 10,000 US troops that would be sent into combat.

    Finally, Margaret Griffis ( counts 101 dead from violence today with another 34 injured.