Thursday, September 27, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Barack continues to campaign on taking 'all' troops out of Iraq, the White House continues to negotiate with the Iraqi government to send US troops back into Iraq, Nouri's targeting Iraqi activists, the amnesty bill didn't get passed today despite all the promises, assailants target an Iraqi prison, and more.
Yesterday afternoon, Joe Hamilton explains to the Muskegon Chronicle editors why he's supporting Barack, "But I'd maintain that if the only thing that Barack Obama accomplished in foreign policy during his entire time in office was the end of U.S. military involvement in Iraq, then that alone makes his presidency significant, historic and well worth voting for. Yesterday Jack Burgess (Ironton Tribune) explained, "He's brought the troops home from Iraq on schedule, in spite of pressures from some in the military and Republicans such as Sen. John McCain, his opponent in 2008, who said he didn't care if our troops remained there for 100 years." Last week, Tonja Adams insisted to the Wisconsin State Journal, "Thankfully, President Barack Obama brought our troops home from Iraq and will bring more home from Afghanistan in 2014."
Currently, there are approximately 15,000 U.S. forces in Kuwait, but the number is likely to decrease to 13,500. Kuwaiti bases such as Camp Arifjan, Ali Al Salem Air Field, and Camp Buehring offer the United States major staging hubs, training rages, and logistical support for regional operations. U.S. forces also operate Patriot missile batteries in Kuwait, which are vital to theater missile defense.
In addition, last December, for NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams, Ted Koppel addressed the US presence after what Barack called a "withdrawal" but the Defense Dept called a "drawdown" (the terms have different meanings):
MR. KOPPEL: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?
AMB. JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.
The media just doesn't like that truth. They prefer the lie that everyone came home.
And now they prefer not to talk about what's taking place between Iraq and the United States right now: Discussions between the two governments to get US troops back on the ground in Iraq. In exchange for allowing US troops back into Iraq in significant numbers, Al Rafidayn reports, the Iraqi government will get many things including weapons which can shoot down any thing entering Iraq's air space. You may remember that Iraq has airspace issues. And even the Iraqis currently in the US training to fly in Iraqi skies are not going to change that. 2014 was the 'hoped for' date when bandied around by the Bush administration as when Iraq could patrol their own skies.
For details on the negotiations, Al Rafidayn cites an MP and the New York Times, Tim Arango's article, which contained this: "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions." Though Tom Hayden wrote six paragraphs for The Nation about Arango's article he only focused on one sentence ("At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General [Robert] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."). He ignored the sentence that preceded that in Arango's article: "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result int he return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions."
When you've built your campaign on 'ending' al Qaeda (by US forces killing Osama bin Laden) and yet al Qaeda most likely was behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Libya, that false claim to have brought all the troops home from Iraq and ended the US military involvement, seems like it's a major news story, a very big story, that the US government is negotiating with the Iraqi government to redeploy troops into Iraq.
but forgot to inform readers that Barack was in talks to send significant numbers of US troops back into Iraq.
The return of US troops, Al Rafidayn reports, is wanted by the White House in part because Iraq has been unable to stop Iranian flights to Syria. In addition, they want it due to fears that, in the words of Sheikh Hamid al-Hayes, that rebel fighters are grouping in units with al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
Alsumaria reports that the former governor of Basra, Mohammed Misbah Waili, was assassinated today (the firearm had a silencer). The latest day's violence includes a prison attack BBC News reports assailants using bombs and guns attacked a Tikrit prison. AFP quotes a police Lieutenant Colonel stating, "A suicide bomber targeted the gate of the prison with a car bomb and gunment then assaulted the prison, after which they killed guards" and a police Colonel stating, "The prisoners killed one policeman and wounded (prison director) Brigadier General Laith al-Sagmani, the gunmen took control of the prison, and clashes are continuing." Kitabat states two car bombs were used to blow up the entrance to the prison and gain access and they also state 12 guards have been killed. Reports note the riot is continuing. Alsumaria reports four guards have died, 1 police officer and the injured include two soldiers and the prison director al-Sagmani. There's confusion as to whether a number of prisoners were able to escape in the early stages after the bombing and during gunfire. Reuters goes with "dozens" escaping which is probably smarter than the hard number some are repeating. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports 5 police officers killed and another two injured -- the numbers are going to vary until tomorrow, this is ongoing -- and state over 200 prisoners escaped with 33 of them already having been recaptured. If you skip the English language media, what's not confusing is why it happened and why it was able to happen. Alsumaria reports that there are approximately 900 inmates in the prison and that many have death sentences. Alsumaria does even more than that. It notes the recent prison violence throughout the country and ties it into the death sentences. These aren't just happening at random, this is about the many people being sentenced to death -- a fact the English language press either doesn't know or doesn't think people need to know.
When prisoners escape, as some have, without being caught, it makes a lot of sense when you grasp that they are seen as persecuted. They're not the deadly evil suddenly let loose and roaming through a town that's going to cause people to pick up the phones and call the authorities. These are people that many Iraqis feel didn't get a fair trial or received an unduly harsh sentence. The refusal for this part of the story to be reported goes a long way towards explaining the confusion over what's been taking place in Iraq for months with these increased attacks on prisons.
Already the English-language press is obsessed with the Islamic State of Iraq -- a violent group that may be responsible. And they may be. July 22nd, the Islamic State of Iraq released an audio recording announcing a new campaign of violence entitled Breaking The Walls which would include prison breaks and killing "judges and investigators and their guards." (They also threatened to attack America on US soil.) They've had great success since then in launching deadly attacks. And one of the reasons for their success is Nouri al-Maliki. The Islamic State of Iraq is using violence which appalls many Iraqis but for reasons that a number of Iraqis can identify with.
Saturday, Al Mada noted that Iraqiya is calling for Nouri to release the imprisoned who have not been found guilty and to do so in the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan. This follows Imam Mahmoud al-Issawi's call during Friday prayers for the government to release the detainees being held who have not been found guilty. In the 2011 protests that took place throughout Iraq, this was a repeated demand and Nouri led people to believe in February 2011 that his 100 days (give him 100 days and he'll fix everything!) would result in this. It never did. And he's been silent in the face of the calls from Imam Mahmoud al-Issawi and Iraqiya. Today Alsumaria reports that Nineveh Governor Ethel al-Nujaifi announced the release of 18 detainees. al-Nujaifi, the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, may have especially enjoyed making that announcement when Nouri has no similar announcement to make. The two are political rivals and back before Nouri spent all his days trying to hold onto his post of prime minister, he repeatedly attempted to force al-Nujaifi to step down as governor.
Not only has Nouri resisted such calls, his political slate State of Law is the one that's repeatedly thrown up road blocks in Parliament when it comes to the still not passed amnesty law.
All Iraq News notes the Parliament met today to vote on a number of bills including a bill about credit, a bill abaout infrastructure and a proposed amnesty law. So determined is State of Law to block the law that they're willing to spread rumors about Nouri's new bestie Saleh al-Mutlaq. Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that the morning found Deputy Prime Minister al-Mutlaq (a member of Iraqiya -- at least in name) denying charges from State of Law that he was making back door deals to get the amnesty bill passed. All Iraq News adds that the vote on the amnesty bill was only scheduled for today due to demands from Moqtada al-Sadr and his bloc.
The amnesty bill did not get passed today. As noted September 25th, "How bad are things in Iraq? They need an infrastructure law to authorize spending but . . . Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that there are MPs -- including Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc -- that want additional guidelines written in because they see it as likely that Nouri could use the $40 billion to grab even more power and to militarize Iraqi society. Things are so bad that members of Parliament have to attempt to write into the infrastructure budget guidelines to prevent Little Saddam from misusing the money in his effort to grab even more power." Mustafa Habib (Niqash) explains a variety of objections to the bill with two MPs going on the record but it's this last objection, that no one wants to own up to, that's the real issue:
And behind the scenes, further reasons were given for the antipathy being directed at a legislation the country really seems to need badly: the upcoming elections. Al-Maliki is not a popular man – a large group of MPs have recently tried to oust him from his position. And with upcoming elections, they're worried that his main motivation with a law like this – which relates to many things that the Iraqi voters need and want – is to increase his own popularity with electors, without concern for consequences.
Al Mada reports on the concentrated efforts to arrest Facebook activists who took part in the Friday protests that swept Iraq in 2011. A lot of people don't know about those protests because the White House didn't want you to and a lot of 'news' outlets worked overtime to minimize the story (take your bow, New York Times -- you attacked the protesters -- the ones who were beaten and kidnapped by Nouri's forces, what a proud moment for the paper) or just ignore it (most major dailies not named the Washington Post, most US broadcast outlets who aren't CNN or NPR).
Nouri was the White House's . . . Well, not friend. You invite friends into your home. And Barack wouldn't leave the campaign trail this week to meet with Nouri in NYC which is why Nouri cancelled his trip and planned address to the UN on Saturday. Nouri was the White House's best bet -- according to foreign policy nitwit posing as a guru Samantha Power. And so the White House didn't just demand a second term for Nouri despite the poor showing for State of Law in the 2010 elections (defeated by the brand new Iraqiya despite Nouri and his goons refusing to allow certain Iraqiya candidates to run for election, despite the targeting and murders of some members of Iraqiya in the weeks leading up to the elections, despite Nouri's non-stop speeches telling Iraqis that Iraqiya was a band of terrorists), they went so far as to negotiate a contract, the Erbil Agreement, assuring the political blocs it was not only legal, it was legally binding. Even more importantly, they promised the Kurds and others that this US-brokered contract had the backing of the US government meaning it would be followed. The White House gave the word of the US government. And then Nouri used it to become prime minister and tossed aside all the points in the contract he agreed to for that second term (such as the creation of an independent national security commission, finally implementing Article 140 of the Constitution which was supposed to take place in 2007, etc.)/ And all the promises the US government made? Amnesia on the part of the White House as the political blocs have demanded that the Erbil Agreement be honored.
So when you're Nouri, hoping to ride it out through 2014 when, right now, you plan to run for a third term, you launch one power grab after another. In the US, for example, Barack Obama is President. Secretary of Defense is Leon Panetta. In Iraq, Nouri is prime minister. And Minister of the Defense. And Minister of the Interior so he's over the police. And Minister of National Security. He was supposed to nominate people to those positions and they were supposed to be approved by Parliament. If he wasn't able to do that in 30 days, per the Constitution, he not only didn't advance from prime minister-designate to prime minister, someone else was namded prime minister-designate and given 30 days to put together a Cabinet.
The White House could protect him to a degree. Not from the 2011 protests. They could only encourage the press not to cover them, not protect Nouri from them. Iraq was only one part of the region facing protests. And in some countries, the protests were toppeling leaders. Nouri was scared.
He announced he would not seek a second term. Then the promise was taken back less than 24 hours later, since then not only has his attorney announced that he can seek a third term, it's been announced a third term would be best for Iraq.
Here's how Press In My Pocket works when you're a US puppet. All outlets report that you won't seek a second term. They then write editorials about how great that is of you and how you're showing leadership and how wonderful you are. And those editorials appear after your spokesperson says you are not promising to seek a second term. Not only does that not make the editorials, you don't report it. Name the foreign wire service that reported it because it's a lot easier to name the only English language outlet that reported that then all the US outlets which refused to do so.
Afraid that he was going to be toppled and knowing that the press could amplify not just the protests but how deeply unpopular he was, Nouri didn't just put out that he wouldn't seek a third term, he also begged the Iraqi people to leave the streets and given him 100 days. At the end of 100 days, he would have ended corruption, he would have addressed the lack of basic services, he would address unemployment, he would address the many who had 'disappeared' in the Iraqi 'justice' system.
Anyone who has watched Nouri closely since the US first installed him as prime minister in 2006 knows his modus operandi: Stall. Promise anything and then stall. Your opponents will grow weary, fighting for justice can be weary, and you just wait them out.
So Nouri did nothing to improve the lives of the Iraqi people which means it's time to round up those who might protest him again. Al Mada speaks with young activists in Nineveh Province where arrrests have been non-stop and they tell the paper about how the crack down is targeting youth activists and bloggers. In Mosul, the people talk about how these activists are arrested with no arrest warrants, how 'terrorist acts' are their protests actions on Facebook. Since last Thursday, Nineveh Province Council Member Abdul Rahim al-Shammari explains, hundreds of people have been arbritrarily arrested who wonders where the arrest warrants are? The arrests are by the Federal Police, not the province police. The federal police are controlled by the Minister of the Interior. Who's that again?
Oh, yeah, Nouri. In his power grab, he seized control of the three security ministries. Just two months ago, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."
Ethel al-Nujaifi is the governor of the province and he tells Al Mada that the council of the province has decided -- all voting in agreement -- to launch an investigation into these arrests and the torture of the detainees. He points out that neither the military nor the security forces are a judicial body and they have no rgith to torture. In Baghdad, activists speak of how the security forces spy on them. In Babylon, youth activists are being arrested.
In 2011, the press amplified Egypt while rendering Iraq invisible. The Iraqi people thought it was only a matter of time before the international press paid attention. Especially with all the attacks on journalists as well as activists.
And the people who stood up for Iraq are being rounded up by Nouri's forces. But don't expect the US press to do their job. If they'd done it when it mattered, if in February 2011 or at any point since, the New York Times had reported the truth (I'm talking about reporters -- the editoral board has been much more truthful than the paper's reporters), Hadi al-Mahdi might not be dead.
But the silence from the US media and the lies from the New York Times (they chose to attack the protesters in print) contributed to Hadi's assassination. Nouri knew the world wouldn't care if there was no spotlight on his actions.
And now Nouri goes after more Iraqis but, hey, it helps the White House and their negotiations to get US troops back into Iraq so the New York Times doesn't have time or space to cover what's happening to the youth activists (or any of Nouri's victims).
In what some spinner or fool will surely hail as 'progress,' Iraq's 9th commissioner to the one-time independent Electoral Commission was named today. Alsumaria notes that Turkman Khan Kamal Ali was voted as the ninth member today. It's not progress. Even if the size of the commission is not increased -- as the Iraqi court says it must be -- you've still got Christians who feel they were betrayed and you've still got a commission that has no women on it. Earlier this week, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative in Iraq Martin Kobler made an idiot of himself attempting to find the positive. But it was Kobler who, months earlier, was insisting women must be represented on the commission. (The Iraqi court says that women must make up 1/3 of the commission.)
Iraq's Shi'ite Vice President addressed the United Nations General Assembly today. We have limited space so we'll briefly note some of his remarks.
Vice President Khudier al-Khuzaie: Our renewed ambition in building a modern state where the Iraqi people enjoy freedom, development and prosperity requires us to move towards the establishment of friendly and equal relations with all nations the world over, within a framework of a cooperative international system governed by clear rules that prevent problems and crises which undermine its prosperity and stability. The new Iraq has made its choice by embarking on the path of cooperation and collaboration with the International community on the political, economic and development levels. This has been coupled with significant leaps in our economic growth that will qualify Iraq to return to the space of world economy and merge within the international economic system based on a realistic vision that achieved a number of positive developments over the past years. According to certain indicators, our Gross Domestic Product doubled which in turn doubled the per capita share of the GDP. According to projections by the International Monetary Fund, GDP will reach about 150 billion dollars in 2014. The Iraqi government also succeeded in implementing policies to curb inflation and to control government spending in addition to our success in collaborating with the International community to reduce the debt accumulated by Iraq in the past decades.
Still in the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Her office notes:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2012
Contact: Matt McAlvanah
Mystery Republican Blocks Cost Of Living Adjustment for Disabled Veterans
Secret Republican hold on bill could prevent more money in disability benefits from going to millions of veterans
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee, announced that an as yet unnamed Senate Republican has blocked a traditionally non-controversial bill that would provide over 3.9 million veterans and their survivors with a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for the benefits they receive. The COLA increase, which is designed to offset inflation and other factors that lead to the rising cost of living, was brought to the Senate floor by Senator Murray last Thursday. The bill was cleared by all Senate Democrats but was blocked by at least one Senate Republican that has not come forward to claim responsibility.
"This is stunning" said Senator Murray. "Particularly because we still don't have any indication why someone would block a cost-of-living adjustment for veterans and their surviving spouses, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet. This adjustmentfor our disabled veterans is hard earned and well deserved. My hope is that whichever Senator has decided to hold up this bill will at least come forward to own up to it. That way we can move forward to overcome their oppositions and get our veterans the support they need."
The Veterans COLA will affect several important benefits, including veterans' disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. The COLA rate will match the annual increase provided to Social Security recipients and is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.