Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The very disappointing John Kerry

At, Justin Raimondo has a column entitled "John Kerry: Clueless Buffoon" and this is the opening of it:

Oh, the burden of empire! It weighs so heavily on John Kerry’s shoulders:

"Secretary of State John Kerry attested Tuesday to the massively complex challenges Washington faces in Ukraine, Russia, Iran and the Middle East, declaring ‘it was easier’ during the Cold War.

"In a candid moment during a State Department speech, the top US diplomat said changing global power dynamics made a quaint memory of the early East-West stalemate, when American children would ‘crouch under our desks at school and practice’ safety steps for a possible nuclear attack.

“’During the Cold War… it was easier than it is today – simpler is maybe a way to put it,’ Kerry told aid and development experts.

“’The choices were less varied, less complicated, more stark, more clear: Communism, democracy, West, East, the Iron Curtain.’”

Yes, those were the Good Old Days – when children in the schoolroom cowered beneath their desks – and we almost went to war with the nuclear-armed Soviet Union over missiles in Cuba which posed no more threat than missiles outside Moscow. Does "quaint" even begin to describe that vintage scene? It’s all so Currier & Ives.

We were the Good Guys and the Russkies were the Bad Guys – and never the morally equivalent twain shall meet! If only we could get back to those halcyon days, everything would be "simpler," says Kerry.

Those were not good days.  (Mr. Raimondo is being sarcastic, he knows they were not good days.)

How frightening it is that this is our State Department.  C.I. has written repeatedly about how the State Department has been militarized and how Mr. Kerry bellows and yells and snaps in Congressional hearings (and I have seen it twice myself).

But this is a new low.

To have Mr. Kerry offer nostalgia for that time period.

For those of us who did have to 'duck and cover' in school, there were actual drills?  I would not wish that on children today; however, I am sure the government is planning something similar to those drills to try to frighten the American people.

Mr. Kerry has been a huge disappointment and the State Department is solely about war today.  Any notions of diplomacy have floated away.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, campaigning continues, USAID calls out War Crimes (but not in Iraq, of course), Stephen Beecroft may be leaving Iraq, today's is the one-year anniversary of Nouri's assault on the protesters in Hawija, War Criminal Tony Blair still thinks the world needs him, and much more.

Seven days from now, Iraq is supposed to hold parliamentary elections.  NINA notes that today US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft declared that elections would be taking place April 30th.   Osama al-Khafaji and Ghassan Hamid (Alsumaria) have noted that there are 9032 candidates competing for 328 seats.  Reidar Visser (Gulf Analysis) examines the candidates who aren't running because they were disqualified:

Firstly there are lists of those excluded, around 400 names, which appeared in four separate batches released by the de-Baathification committee in early February . Second, there is a list of those excluded with reference to criminal charges (the first three batches along with the criminal  charges list is here; the separate fourth list is here). Thirdly, there is a list of those who were reinstated from the first two batches of de-Baathification subsequent to the appeals process (in some sources this has erroneously been described as a fifth exclusion batch). Importantly, the lists of those subject to de-Baathification give candidate names only, not list affiliation. It is therefore very difficult to pin down their party affiliation, especially so since many of them are not very prominent figures. Advanced name searches on them on Google in Arabic will rarely return any hits at all, even if a liberal number of name combinations is attempted. However, there remains a key to establishing some links between individual candidates and lists for at least a part of the material. This relates to the 52 reinstated candidates, who appear in the final list of election candidates and can therefore be identified by party affiliation.  Also, although no list of those reinstated in cases not relating to de-Baathification has been published, for the smaller number of reinstated candidates who were initially excluded with reference to the “good reputation” requirement it is possible to search through the final candidate list with the names of everyone who had been reported as excluded. It is noteworthy though, that in both categories – de-Baathification and “good reputation” – a large number of reinstated candidates appear to have opted to remain off the list, despite having regained the right to stand as candidates. One possible explanation, especially for candidate far down on the list, is that their lists may have deemed them to be more of a burden than an asset following the suspicions unleashed by their initial disqualifications.

As has been the case with every provincial election and every parliamentary election since the illegal war allegedly 'liberated' Iraq, campaign season means politicians get targeted.  Today? Alsumaria reports four homes were blown up in Sulaiman Bek, including one belonging to a candidate with Ayad Allawi's coaltion.   All Iraq News notes an attack on "some cars carrying leaflets [. . .] for Deputy Premier, Salih al-Mutleq" in Tikrit.

While violence has become an expected occurrence at election time, this year's elections will see a new development.  This election, Iraq is debuting electronic voter cards and not the ration cards that they used in past elections.  Monday Duraid Salman and Tarek Ammar (Alsumaria) reported that the Independent High Electoral Commission notes that 85% of the new electronic cards that will be required for voting have been distributed.  The elections are next Wednesday and they still haven't distributed all the cards?  You can't vote without the card this go-round.

US Ambassador Beecroft met today with Sarbast Rashid Mustafa who chairs the Independent High Electoral Commission.  The US Embassy in Baghdad released the following:

Ambassador Beecroft Praises IHEC’s Efforts in Preparation for National Elections

April 23, 2014
U.S. Ambassador Stephen Beecroft and U.S. Embassy staff met on Tuesday April 22 with Mr. Sarbast Rashid Mustafa, the Chairman of the Independent Higher Electoral Commission (IHEC) and Mr. Muqdad Alsharify, the Chief Electoral Officer of IHEC.
Chairman Mustafa and CEO Alsharify outlined for the Ambassador the extensive plan that IHEC has in place for the national election on April 30.  The Ambassador emphasized his appreciation for the professionalism and thoroughness of IHEC's work under often very difficult circumstances and offered his condolences for IHEC employees who have been killed or injured as a result of this essential work.
The Ambassador expressed the expectation of the United States that the electoral process would reflect the will of the Iraqi people and that the Government of Iraq would take every measure to ensure that Iraqi citizens would be able to exercise their right to vote in a secure and fair environment.  He relayed that he is confident that IHEC would succeed in its mission of achieving a result that would be credible and represent the democratic decision of the Iraqi people.
The United States has consistently emphasized with Iraqi officials from across the political spectrum of the importance for the election to take place on time and has fully supported the independence of IHEC as defined in the Iraqi constitution. 

Chairman Mustafa extended his appreciation for the technical support provided by the U.S. Government for conducting transparent and credible elections in Iraq.

On the topic of Stephen Beecroft, Laura Rozen (Backchannel) reports the word is Beecroft will be nominated to be the US Ambassador to Egypt shortly.

That would be a deeply stupid move.  So it's probably going to happen.  If it does, we'll go into how stupid it is.  Until then, we'll just note the rumor.

Monday,  Duraid Salman (Alsumaria) reported on allegations that Nouri's SWAT forces are forcing voters in Diyala Province to hand over their election cards so that they can be used for voter fraud.  Joel Wing (Musings On Iraq) notes some of the problems with the electronic cards:

Apathetic Iraqis and problems with the voter rolls offer loopholes for political parties to exploit the new cards. Shafaq News for example interviewed a member of the Election Commission in Kirkuk who said that voting cards were going for as much as $500 a piece. The article claimed that people who were not going to vote were willing to sell their cards. With voting participation at 50% out of approximately 20 million registered voters that provides a huge pool of people to purchase cards from. In another example, Niqash ran an article in April that included a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan who said that parties in the northern region were buying up voting cards as well. Another area of potential abuse is the fact that Iraq does not have up to date voter information. There has not been a census for decades because of the political differences between the ruling parties. Instead the Election Commission relies upon information provided by the Ministry of Trade and the food ration system that it operates. There are plenty of reports about the problems this presents. The IHEC for instance, announced in March that it had withdrawn 32,000 voting cards that it found were for the deceased or duplicate names. There are likely several thousand more of these types of wrongly issued cards still out there, because of the flawed nature of the voting rolls. Ironically the Election Commission went with these cards to try to cut down on fraud and cheating. In October 2013 it signed a $130 million 5-year deal with a Spanish company to create the voting cards. They have to be produced with one other piece of identification for anyone to vote. If parties are dishing up hundreds of dollars however to buy them they will have the money to forge other ID’s as well. These are obviously huge problems which the IHEC is aware of, but has limited time and money to try to fix especially since the balloting is only days away. 

Barbara Slavin can be a real idiot.  If her recent ridiculous piece hadn't been at the Voice of America, I would have linked to it.  I wouldn't have called her the names that many Americans would have -- I would have just called her stupid and grossly insensitive (her piece was 'get over it, America, Iran can pick whomever they want for an ambassador).  She's a stupid woman and a deeply troubled one whose personal demons effect her work.  At Al-Monitor, she writes an embarrassing and vapid piece following her soft-ball interview with Iraq's Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily.  We'll note this from the article:

After the 2010 elections, it took Iraqis nine months to form a new government and this could happen again, with Maliki serving in an acting capacity, said the ambassador, who comes from Maliki's Dawa Party. “The key challenge is that most of the political blocs don’t have clear red lines, which creates confusion and misreading of each other,” he said. “You may have prolonged government formation after. Historically it wasn’t quick. But the concept of time is not as crucial for us as in the Western concept.”
Among the tough decisions on hold until after elections: agreement on how much of their oil Kurds can export through Turkey and how much revenue they will get from the central government. Faily said the Kurds are not the only ones who are looking for more resources from Iraq’s oil wealth. “We get more calls from the governor of Basra than from the KRG on this issue,” he said.
At the same time, Faily said that oil remains the “gel” for society and could keep Iraq from fragmenting into three or more pieces. “There is enough oil there for everybody to be prosperous,” he said.

Slavin's a disaster as a reporter.  She can take dictation, that's about all she can do. That and normalize the notion that months is acceptable for forming a government.  No, it's not.  The process is supposed to take mere weeks for a prime minister-designate to be named and then he or she has 30 days to form a Cabinet.

It is a sign of failure of the democratic process that the government is unable to do their damn job.  This actually happened in 2006 as well.

That's a detail a reporter would know, Babs.  Parliamentary elections took place in December 2005.  Nouri is named prime minister-designate in April of 2006 and becomes prime minister at the end of May 2006.

She also doesn't question Faily's claim that, "There is enough oil there for everybody to be prosperous" when the reality is that vast numbers of Iraqis live in poverty.

At The Hill, the European Parliament's Delegations for Relations with Iraq's President Struan Stevenson explains:

The election is being held while he is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and all military and security forces are under his personal command without any legal check. For more than four years he has directly controlled the ministries of Interior, Defence, Security and Communications, in total breach of the Erbil Agreement; he has filled all key posts with his own men, and through influencing the judiciary has trampled on its independence and brought Iraqi judges under direct political control. In a similarly contemptuous and illegal move he has repeatedly refused requests to appear before the elected parliament and provide explanations for his authoritarian behaviour.
Last year, the Iraqi parliament adopted a resolution whereby none of the three key posts of prime minister, president and speaker of parliament, could be occupied by any one person for more than two consecutive 4-year terms. However, through influencing the judicial system, he declared this law unconstitutional, despite the fact that the constitution does not bestow such authority on the judicial system.

Also weighing in today is Harith Hasan al-Qarawee of the Carnegie Middle East Center:

The prime minister emphasized Shia dominance in state institutions and has changed the dynamics of Shia politics. In his second term, Maliki took advantage of deficits in power-sharing agreements. Using the powerful patronage available to him as chief executive, he pursued a policy of “divide and rule” in dealing with other parties. He filled vacant positions in the military and administration with his loyalists and augmented the powers of his office and of networks related to him personally, thereby creating a kind of “shadow state” within the government. He gave more influence to independent commissions such as the de-Baathification committee, the Communication and Media Commission, the Iraqi Media Network, the Central Bank of Iraq, and the Commission of Integrity. He managed to greatly subjugate the federal court and forge an alliance with its chief that helped him encircle his opponents and weaken their ability to check his power through the parliament. The fact that Iraq is a rentier state and the Iraqi economy is largely dependent on oil revenue has also tended to empower the executive branch and those forces that seek to establish a more centralized state. 

Maliki’s ability to consolidate power sent warning signals to his Shia rivals and forced Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the ISCI, and Sadr to overcome the traditional competition between their families and work together to face Maliki. Sadr has become a fierce critic of the prime minister and described Maliki’s actions as “dictatorial.” In 2012, Sadr expressed unusual defiance when he aligned with the Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani and Sunni forces to initiate a move to unseat Maliki through a vote of no confidence. However, even then, Sadr kept within the communal power-sharing framework by announcing that Kurds and Sunni Arabs accepted that the new prime minister should also come from the Shia alliance.3  Although the move to force Maliki out of power was aborted due to Iranian opposition and the reluctance of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to support it, Sadr continued his criticism of the Shia prime minister and promised his followers that he would not support the prime minister’s efforts to win a third term.

Over on the right is neocon Kimberly Kagan's Institute For The Study Of War and, writing for them, Ahmed Ali argues:

Maliki’s State of Law Alliance (SLA) did not fare well in the provincial elections in 2013, causing Maliki to re-think his 2014 campaign. SLA member Salman al-Musawi stated on March 10, 2014 that the SLA is not dependent on political blocs in order to secure Maliki a third term, but rather is dependent on his popularity among voters.1 This message demonstrates a broader trend of targeting local communities for votes in the 2014 elections. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s SLA will again compete internally for Iraqi Shi‘a votes with the Citizens’ Bloc of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and the Ahrar Alliance, representing the Sadrists. This internal Shi‘a competition may cause the national elections to serve as a referendum on Maliki’s continued rule. 
The vote among Iraq’s Arab Sunnis may be split among Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi’s Mutahidun (United) for Reform, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Arabiyya alliance, and Ayad Allawi’s secularist Wataniyya Alliance. The Kurdish PUK and the KDP will also compete separately for the first time in several northern provinces for the Iraqi Kurdish vote. Rather than ethno-sectarian unity, 2014 pre-elections behaviors bear a new quality of principled pluralism.

On the left, James Petras (Global Research) notes:

Beginning with the US invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 and continuing under its proxy vassal Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens have been tortured, jailed and murdered. Iraq’s ruling junta, has continued to rely on US military and Special Forces and to engage in the same kinds of military and police ‘sweeps’ which eviscerate any democratic pretensions. Al-Maliki relies on special branches of his secret police, the notorious Brigade 56, to assault opposition communities and dissident strongholds. Both the Shi’a regime and Sunni opposition engage in ongoing terror-warfare. Both have served as close collaborators with Washington at different moments.
The weekly death toll runs in the hundreds. The Al-Maliki regime has taken over the torture centers (including Abu Ghraib), techniques and jails previously headed and run by the US and have retained US ‘Special Forces’ advisers, overseeing the round-up of human rights critics, trade unionists and democratic dissidents.

That's not about the campaign per se but in the US the left -- or the hustler left -- doesn't give a damn about Iraq.  I'm left, I care about Iraq, but supposedly The Progressive, The Nation, blah blah blah are left and they can't be bothered with Iraq.  (If Joel Wing or Reidar Visser see themselves as left, my apologies to them.  Although both have bent to Nouri's will too often for my tastes, I don't see them as right or left but more centrist analysts.)   But Petras' remarks are about the election in that he's focusing on the state of Iraq at a time when parliamentary elections are just around the corner.

The Middle East Institute's Fanar Haddad has published a paper today entitled "Sectarian Relations and Sunni Identity in Post-Civil War Iraq."

For example, many have fairly asked why Iraqi state television, namely Al Iraqiya, airs the confessions of dozens of (Sunni) terrorists but never of a (Shi‘i) militia commander? For that matter, why are different terms applied to Sunni and Shi‘i militant groups, namely terrorists and militias, if not to deny any moral equivalence between them? A remarkable example of double standards is how the state deals with the Mahdi Army and other Shi‘i militant groups: why is it that an organization heavily involved in the civil war, and parts of which are responsible for atrocious crimes, is allowed to hold public events and rallies with state approval? And why is the extension of similar courtesies to any Sunni militants unthinkable? Such questions reinforce the con-viction that the new Iraq directly or otherwise targets Sunni Arabs. Te depth of Sunni feelings of encirclement is perhaps best illustrated in the claim made by some that they had personally seen banners in Baghdad on 9 April 2003 displaying the slogan “No Sunnis after today.”

The above is especially worth noting when Nouri continues to target Iraq's Sunni population.

For example, it was exactly one year ago that the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija took place with Nouri al-Maliki's federal forces storming in on the peaceful protesters.   Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

While the State Dept refused to confront Nouri or even call him out after the massacre, the BRussells Tribunal carried a translation of one activist who was an eye-witness to what went down:


I am Thamer Hussein Mousa from the village of Mansuriya in the district of Hawija. I am disabled. My left arm was amputated from the shoulder and my left leg amputated from the hip, my right leg is paralyzed due to a sciatic nerve injury, and I have lost sight in my left eye.
I have five daughters and one son. My son’s name is Mohammed Thamer. I am no different to any other Iraqi citizen. I love what is good for my people and would like to see an end to the injustice in my country.

When we heard about the peaceful protests in Al-Hawija, taking place at ‘dignity and honor square’, I began attending with my son to reclaim our usurped rights. We attended the protests every day, but last Friday the area of protest was besieged before my son and I could leave; just like all the other protestors there.

Food and drink were forbidden to be brought into the area….

On the day of the massacre (Tuesday 23 April 2013) we were caught by surprise when Al-Maliki forces started to raid the area. They began by spraying boiling water on the protestors, followed by heavy helicopter shelling. My little son stood beside me. We were both injured due to the shelling.

My son, who stood next to my wheelchair, refused to leave me alone. He told me that he was afraid and that we needed to get out of the area. We tried to leave. My son pushed my wheelchair and all around us, people were falling to the ground.

Shortly after that, two men dressed in military uniforms approached us. One of them spoke to us in Persian; therefore we didn’t understand what he said. His partner then translated. It was nothing but insults and curses. He then asked me “Handicapped, what do you want?” I did not reply. Finally I said to him, “Kill me, but please spare my son”. My son interrupted me and said, “No, kill me but spare my father”. Again I told him “Please, spare my son. His mother is waiting for him and I am just a tired, disabled man. Kill me, but please leave my son”. The man replied “No, I will kill your son first and then you. This will serve you as a lesson.” He then took my son and killed him right in front of my eyes. He fired bullets into his chest and then fired more rounds. I can’t recall anything after that. I lost consciousness and only woke up in the hospital, where I underwent surgery as my intestines were hanging out of my body as a result of the shot.

After all of what has happened to me and my little son – my only son, the son who I was waiting for to grow up so he could help me – after all that, I was surprised to hear Ali Ghaidan (Lieutenant General, Commander of all Iraqi Army Ground Forces) saying on television, “We killed terrorists” and displaying a list of names, among them my name: Thamer Hussein Mousa.

I ask you by the name of God, I appeal to everyone who has a shred of humanity. Is it reasonable to label me a terrorist while I am in this situation, with this arm, and with this paralyzed leg and a blind eye?

I ask you by the name of God, is it reasonable to label me a terrorist? I appeal to all civil society and human rights organizations, the League of Arab States and the Conference of Islamic States to consider my situation; all alone with my five baby daughters, with no one to support us but God. I was waiting for my son to grow up and he was killed in this horrifying way.
I hold Obama responsible for this act because he is the one who gave them these weapons. The weapons and aircrafts they used and fired upon us were American weapons. I also hold the United States of America responsible for this criminal act, above all, Obama.

A ridiculous official made a ridiculous statement today.  USAID's  Nancy Lindborg declared on tonight's NewsHour (PBS) that the Sudanese government is "targeting women and children.  That's a War Crime."

Is that a War Crime?


What about the above, Nance?  Huh?  UNICEF counts 8 children dead.  What about that?

Or how about the targeting of civilians in Falluja.  It's been going on for months now, Nouri's ordered residential neighborhoods in Falluja bombed.  NINA notes that today's bombings left five civilians injured.  Is that not a War Crime because it meets the legal definition of a War Crime.

Whores like Nancy always want to scream "War Crime!" if it'll help them start a war.

But to scream it about Iraq?

Useless Nancy knows if the government admits it's a War Crime, the US government, all aid to Nouri's thuggish government ceases and that's the real point that  USAID doesn't want to talk about.

In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports security sources say they killed 9 suspects in Saqlawiyah, Baghdad Operations Command announced they killed 5 suspects, a Mada'ain sticky bombing killed 1 person, a Mosul car bombing left 8 people dead and forty-five injured, 1 Sahwa was shot dead in Arab Jabour, Joint Operations Command announced they killed 39 suspects,  a Mosul roadside bombing left 3 police members dead, a Muqdadiyah attack left Ahmed al-Harbi dead (he was a member of Diyalal Provincial Council and a member of Iraqiya) and four of his bodyguards injured, 5 people were kidnapped in Haditha  and a Dorah roadside bombing killed 1 person and left two more people injured. Alsumaria reports an attack on a Sulaiman Bek police station left seven police members injured, All Iraq News notes 1 police member was shot dead in Tikrit and a Dijail bombing left 1 boy dead and four other people injured.  WG Dunlop (AFP) notes, "Bomb targets Iraq minister's convoy as attacks kill three people "

 Mehdi Hasan (Huffington Post UK) explains:

I wanted to begin this piece with the sentence "Tony Blair is back". But, of course, our former prime minister has never really been away. Not for him a quiet life of self-portraits and coin tosses. Blair, unlike his ol' partner-in-crime George W. Bush, has spent his 'retirement' agitating for military action against Syria, calling for regime change in Iran, dodging citizen's arrests over his illegal invasion of Iraq and making the case for Tory-style austerity at home. Oh, and don't get me started on all those awkward rumours about the former PM and the former Mrs Murdoch.
This morning, the ex-Labour-leader-turned-Middle-East-peace envoy turned up at Bloomberg's HQ in London to deliver a keynote speech on the threat from Islamist extremism. It was a classic from the Blair-as-liberal-hawk meets Blair-as-expert-on-Islam genre; a collection of half-truths, belligerent threats, sweeping statements and ill-informed generalisations.

Iraq War supporter John McTernan squealed at the Guardian and jizzed in his pants as he pictured Tony dominating the world -- or at least dominating John McTernan. Remember, John, agree to a safe word first.
AP briefly covers the speech and notes, "Blair’s political legacy in Britain is tarnished by his decision to lead the country into the divisive invasion of Iraq in 2003."  No he can't escape the past.  He seems to think the world has forgotten or is so in need of his help that they'll overlook his past.   Kounteya Sinha (TNN) notes Blair called for the United Kingdom and the United States to join with Russia to combat what he termed "radical Islam."  Cedric's "Tony Blair and Radical Islam: A dialogue" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! THE TONY BLAIR-RADICAL ISLAM DIALOGUES!" this morning offered:


Seumas Milne (Guardian) offers:

The neocons are back. That toxic blend of messianic warmongering abroad and McCarthyite witch-hunting at home – which gave us Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo and the London bombings – is coursing through our public life again. Yesterday the liberal interventionists' hero, Tony Blair, was once more demanding military action against the "threat of radical Islam".
Reprising the theme that guided him and George Bush through the deceit and carnage of the "war on terror", the former prime minister took his crusade against "Islamism" on to a new plane. The west should, he demanded, make common cause with Russia and China to support those with a "modern" view against the tide of political Islam.

Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) explains the Royal United Services Institute has issued a study, "In a passage with added piquancy given Tony Blair's appeal to western leaders on Wednesday to counter more vigorously the threat of Islamic extremism, the study says there is no longer any serious disagreement over the fact that Britain's involvement in the invasion of Iraq served to channel and increase the radicalisation of young British Muslims."

Tony Blair, who left Iraq overrun with fundamentalist terrorists and backed Saudi fundamentalists, says we need to fight Islamic extremists

The Daily Mail states, "Tony Blair today admitted that his military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan has made the West less inclined to tackle radical Islam."  

In his speech, he did mention Iraq -- four times.

1) "We have been through painful engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq."

2) "But wherever you look – from Iraq to Libya to Egypt to Yemen to Lebanon to Syria and then further afield to Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan – this is the essential battle."

3) "We change the regimes in Afghanistan and in Iraq, put soldiers on the ground in order to help build the country, a process which a majority of people in both countries immediately participated in, through the elections. But that proved immensely difficult and bloody."

4)  "In saying this, it does not mean that we have to repeat the enormous commitment of Iraq and Afghanistan."

Four times and nothing of value.  Four times and no accountability.  He felt the need to offer his overview on
five countries specifically but Iraq wasn't one of them.  Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Iran, Blair wanted to discuss.  Iraq?  He wasn't so keen on the topic.

That's strange because he could have talked about Iraq and noted today's one year anniversary.

It was exactly one year ago that the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija took place with Nouri al-Maliki's federal forces storming in on the peaceful protesters.   Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

That bloodbath captures modern Iraq where, if you speak out, Nouri will have you killed.  If your parents speak out -- as 8 children learned last year -- Nouri will have you killed.

That's the state of Iraq where thug Nouri is attempting to go for a third term as prime minister.

Again, Tony Blair didn't reflect on Iraq.  He chose five countries and Iraq wasn't one of them.

He had nothing to say that the world needed to hear. But his yacking may have been intended to serve as a distraction, preventing people from focusing on other things.  Jack Sommers (Huffington Post) reports:

A former minister in Tony Blair's government has said the report of the official inquiry into the Iraq War must be published immediately, after prolonged delays.
Former MP Lord Morris, who served as attorney general between 1997 and 1999, said the delays in publishing the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry were "a national scandal" and said there was "a real danger" it would still not be public by the 2015 general election.

Matt Chorley (Daily Mail) adds:

Mr Brown launched the inquiry by Sir John Chilcot in June 2009, soon after becoming Prime Minister.
The inquiry last took evidence from a witness three years ago.
There is mounting speculation that the process of declassifying documents, including Mr Blair’s correspondence with President George W Bush before the war, has stalled.

Last week Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg expressed his frustration at the lengthy delays and suggested Mr Blair is to blame – a claim denied by the former prime minister’s office.
Today Lord Morris, who spent two decades on the Labour frontbench, warned there is ‘now the real danger is that the publication will run into the 2015 election’.

Blair appeared on Sky News today (link is text and video) and insisted to Sarah Hewson that he had nothing to do with the delay and stated, "It is the responsibility of the people who run the inquiry."  Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) observes:

If you unpick the central allegation that is implicit in blaming Blair for the delay, it is that he is using his influence to encourage the Cabinet Office to block disclosure of what he said and wrote to George Bush. He is entitled to take the view that such disclosure is not going to happen and that in failing to move on, the Inquiry is respsonsible for the delay. Therefore the question “are you responsible” is always going to result in a denial that is worthless. No-one has actually asked him whether he is encouraging the Cabinet Office to suppress certain documents.

chris ames

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Josh Marshall is a sexist piece of trash

Josh Marshall has attacked Sharyl Attikisson.

He has done so in sexist terms.

Big surprise.

He is a sexist and he is a piece of trash.

He supported the Iraq War.  That tells you everything you need to know about him.

He is upset because Ms. Attikisson, an investigative reporter, said on CNN Sunday that Media Matters might have been paid to run the attacks on her.

David Brock started Media Matters.  Here is Wikipedia on Mr. Brock:

Three years later, Brock surprised conservatives by publishing a somewhat sympathetic biography of Hillary Clinton, titled The Seduction of Hillary Rodham. Having received a $1 million advance and a tight one-year deadline from Simon & Schuster's then-conservative-focused Free Press subsidiary, Brock was under tremendous pressure to produce another bestseller. However, the book contained no major scoops. In Blinded by the Right (2002), Brock said that he had reached a turning point: he had thoroughly examined charges against the Clintons, could not find any evidence of wrongdoing and did not want to make any more misleading claims. Brock further said that his former friends in right-wing politics shunned him because Seduction did not adequately attack the Clintons. He also argued that his "friends" had not really been friends at all because of the open secret that Brock was gay.[6]

In July 1997, Brock published a confessional piece in Esquire magazine titled "Confessions of a Right-Wing Hit Man," in which he recanted much of what he said in his two best-known American Spectator articles and criticized his own reporting methods.[7][8] Discouraged at the reaction his Hillary Clinton biography received, he said, "I . . . want out. David Brock the Road Warrior of the Right is dead." Four months later, The American Spectator declined to renew his employment contract, under which he was being paid over $300,000 per year.

Writing again for Esquire in April 1998, Brock apologized to Clinton for his contributions to Troopergate, calling it simply part of an anti-Clinton crusade.[2] He told a more detailed story of his time inside the right wing in his 2002 memoir, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, in which he settled old scores and provided inside details about the Arkansas Project's efforts to bring down Clinton. Later, he also apologized to Anita Hill.

In 2001 Brock accused one of his former sources, Terry Wooten, of leaking FBI files for use in his book about Anita Hill. Brock defended his betrayal of a confidential source by saying, "I've concluded that what I was involved in wasn't journalism, it was a political operation, and I was part of it. . . . So I don't think the normal rules of journalism would apply to what I was doing."[9] Also in 2001, only months before Brock finished production of his book, "Blinded by the Right," he was committed to the psychiatric ward of Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington.[10]

Brock directly addressed the right-wing "machine" in his 2004 book, The Republican Noise Machine, in which he detailed an alleged interconnected, concerted effort to raise the profile of conservative opinions in the press through false accusations of liberal media bias, dishonest and highly partisan columnists, partisan news organizations and academic studies, and other methods. Also in 2004, he featured briefly in the BBC series The Power of Nightmares, where he stated that the Arkansas Project engaged in political terrorism.

About the same time he founded Media Matters for America, an Internet-based progressive media group "dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media."

He lied for the right-wing and did it for money.

It is not surprising that he would be accused now of lying for money again.

He is not a media critic, he is a partisan.  He is not left, he is Democrat.

Mr. Marshall supported the Iraq War in part because Democratic Party officials did.

Ms. Attikisson is not crazy.

She said Mr. Brock might have been paid.

And he might have been.

I find it hilarious that we are taking the word of David Brock when he spread the rumors about Michelle Obama ranting about "Whitey" on a videotape.  Here is Larry Johnson (No Quarter):

Calling David Brock an ally of Hillary is akin to calling George W. Bush an acquaintance of Barbara Bush. Brock is a direct action arm of the Clintons. Let me tell you how I know. It involves the infamous “whitey tape.” 

As most readers of NoQuarter know, I was an ardent supporter of Hillary in 2007 and 2008. I had a chance to brief her on some issues surrounding the war in Iraq. I found Hillary very intelligent and very well informed. But that was then. Her subsequent abysmal behavior as the Secretary of State during the Benghazi incident ended any chance that I would ever support her for any role in which the lives of American military, diplomats or intelligence officers are on the line. Hillary cannot be trusted to protect Americans.

Following the briefing I provided Hillary in 2007, I found myself becoming an unofficial member of the Clinton for President team via my friendship with Sid Blumenthal. I have enormous respect for Sid and his wife. They are good people. And they are loyal to the Clintons. Sid would call me from time to time with suggestions of articles I could write or pieces that could be run on this blog ( I was more than happy to help. I believed then (and have been vindicated by the passage of time) that Barack Obama was just a pretty face with no significant experience who would be a terrible President.

I did what I could to write articles to help Hillary win the nomination. I was under no illusion–my blog, relative to her campaign, was a zit on a gnat’s ass. But my writings did attract a following. Then came a fateful phone call from Sid Blumenthal in late May. He told me of a tape that David Brock had “discovered.” I had met Brock previously at the Blumenthal home watching election returns in 2006. Following the initial conversation with Sid Blumenthal, I did speak with Brock, who told me about the woman who knew who had seen and heard the videotape of Michelle Obama using the derogatory phrase, “whitey.”

Why has Josh Marshall not attacked Mr. Brock for the above?

Because they are both partisan whores.  Like two dogs sniffing each others butts, Mr. Marshall and Mr. Brock look out for each other.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today: 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, campaigning continues, some Iraqi politicians turn to unconventional campaign aids, others are targeted, what are the conditions for being the President of Iraq (because those are conditions for being prime minister), Nouri continues to terrorize the civilians of Anbar, Daniel Ellsberg loves to play like he's brave (while showing no bravery at all in the present era), and much more.

Ammar al-Hakim is the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council.  Alsumaria reports that he declared today that Iraq has reached a turning point.  He was speaking in Babylon Province about the planned April 30th parliamentary elections.  He noted the coalition he'd joined with, the Citizens Coalition, wanted to build university to continue the production of knowledge and culture and to improve the quality of life for Iraqis in the streets and in their homes.  They are on the cusp, al-Hakeem declared, and they can proceed to a fair state with confidence in the judiciary, the government institutions and an equitable distribution of the walth.  Or they can remain with "red tape," with neglected cities, with expanding violence and the continual shedding of blood.

The status quo is Nouri.  That's what al-Hakim's speech is rejecting.

The status quo is Nouri and, whether it's out of personal elections hopes or not, politicians are rejecting him.

Sunday, Aswat al-Iraq quoted the country's Shi'ite Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi declaring, "Maliki does not regard himself responsible for the deterioration in the country, but he shoulders the greatest responsibility."  He also criticized Nouri's campaign stops this month saying that Nouri's main focus should be to "create a secured stability."  Osama al-Nujaifi is the Speaker of Parliament in Iraq and the head of the Mottahiddon list. NINA quotes him declaring today:

Our former attitude of patience that we committed to,was motivated to the preservation and unity of the nation and the people for fear of plans of sectarians who carry out a well-known regional and international schema .  But today we will firmly repeal and strongly deter the hand that turn the executive power to merely sentences of mass executions of innocent citizens , as well as the hand that transform army’s sacred tasks of defending people and nation’s boarders to a force to crush the people , to dispersion and humiliate citizens , violate the sanctity of the Iraqi family and imprison innocent women in detention and rape them stressing the necessity to detain such a hand in accordance with the will of the whole people,the will of the constitution and the will of the right.

Osama al-Nujaifi is the brother of Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi (one of the many politicians Nouri al-Maliki loathes and has attempted to have removed).  With Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi in exile, Osama al-Nujaifi is the highest ranking Sunni politician in the Iraqi government.

Myriam Benraad (World Politics Review) examines the campaign field in Iraq and notes:

Three main forces are thus left competing within the Shiite political arena: Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, the Sadrist current and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), run by Ammar al-Hakim. These forces follow quite opposed ideological and political agendas and are themselves riddled with internal rivalries and disagreements.
Since Muqtada al-Sadr’s decision to withdraw from politics in February, debates have been ongoing as to the future of his movement. While some argue that Sadr’s abrupt move put an end to Sadrism, others believe that it is only a tactic for the popular Shiite leader to reposition himself ahead of the polls, both on the national scene and among his supporters. Lending credibility to the latter hypothesis, Sadr has remained politically active in spite of his announcement and is still the sharpest critic of Maliki, whom Sadr has called both a dictator and a tyrant. Sadr has also dissociated himself from other figures within his movement allegedly involved in cases of political and financial corruption.
[. . .]
The ISCI-dominated Citizen Coalition, which unites 18 other parties, ranked second in the 2013 provincial elections and today seeks to regain the standing it lost after its electoral failure in 2010. The list comprises a number of influential candidates, including Ahmed al-Chalabi. It primarily focuses its program on state reform, and has preferred a more moderate and conciliatory outlook in order to appeal to broader sectors of the Shiite population. It presents itself as a reliable successor to Maliki, but one that will not repeat the latter’s political mistakes. Contrary to Baghdad’s policy of recentralization of national political power, the ISCI favors more decentralization and hopes to garner greater support from Iran.

Benraad's take is that Nouri will win a third term (and that this will be bad for Iraq).  That is a prediction and many events on the ground argue against Nouri winning or even currently being in the lead.

We'll note this Tweet.

  • "This country has not faced up to what we did to Iraq and Afghanistan, any more than we have faced up to slavery." -Daniel Ellsberg

  • We?

    Daniel Ellsberg has never, ever, called out the current administration for demanding that Nouri get a second term as prime minister despite losing the 2010 elections to Ayad Allawi and Iraqiya.

    Daniel Ellsberg has never called The Erbil Agreement -- which went around the people of Iraq and gave Nouri a second term.  Daniel doesn't have that kind of guts.

    He's a fat, overweight and declawed cat barely able to make it to the litter box.  And if that's harsh, so is Daniel's embarrassing refusal to speak out for the Iraqi people and what they have endured since 2010.

    In other words, he should probably just roll over on his back and enjoy the sun because he has nothing to left to share.

    Dexter Filkins, infamous for his propaganda regarding the attack on Falluja in November 2004, has a long article at The New Yorker.  Like Ellsberg, he can't bring himself to mention The Erbil Agreement.  This excerpt covers that time period:

    In parliamentary elections the previous March, Maliki’s Shiite Islamist alliance, the State of Law, had suffered an embarrassing loss. The greatest share of votes went to a secular, pro-Western coalition called Iraqiya, led by Ayad Allawi, a persistent enemy of the Iranians. “These were election results we could only have dreamed of,” a former American diplomat told me. “The surge had worked. The war was winding down. And, for the first time in the history of the Arab world, a secular, Western-leaning alliance won a free and fair election.”
    But even though Allawi’s group had won the most votes, it had not captured a majority, leaving both him and Maliki scrambling for coalition partners. And despite the gratifying election results, American officials said, the Obama Administration concluded that backing Allawi would be too difficult if he was opposed by Shiites and by their supporters in Iran. “There was no way that the Shia were not going to provide the next Prime Minister,” James Jeffrey, the American Ambassador at the time, told me. “Iraq will not work if they don’t. Allawi was a goner.”
    Shortly after the elections, an Iraqi judge, under pressure from the Prime Minister, awarded Maliki the first chance to form a government. The ruling directly contradicted the Iraqi constitution, but American officials did not contest it. “The intent of the constitution was clear, and we had the notes of the people who drafted it,” [Emma] Sky, the civilian adviser, said. “The Americans had already weighed in for Maliki.”
    But it was the meeting with Suleimani that was ultimately decisive. According to American officials, he broke the Iraqi deadlock by leaning on Sadr to support Maliki, in exchange for control of several government ministries. Suleimani’s conditions for the new government were sweeping. Maliki agreed to make Jalal Talabani, the pro-Iranian Kurdish leader, the new President, and to neutralize the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, which was backed by the C.I.A. Most dramatic, he agreed to expel all American forces from the country by the end of 2011.
    The U.S. obtained a transcript of the meeting, and knew the exact terms of the agreement. Yet it decided not to contest Iran’s interference. At a meeting of the National Security Council a month later, the White House signed off on the new regime. Officials who had spent much of the previous decade trying to secure American interests in the country were outraged. “We lost four thousand five hundred Americans only to let the Iranians dictate the outcome of the war? To result in strategic defeat?” the former American diplomat told me. “F**k that.” At least one U.S. diplomat in Baghdad resigned in protest. And Ayad Allawi, the secular Iraqi leader who captured the most votes, was deeply embittered. “I needed American support,” he told me last summer. “But they wanted to leave, and they handed the country to the Iranians. Iraq is a failed state now, an Iranian colony.”

    Regarding the theft of the 2010 election?  Some of us called it out in real time.  I, for example, don't give a damn about Iran or its interference or 'interference.'  I do, however, give a damn about free and fair elections.  The Iraqis risked so much to vote and the chose Allawi.  But the US government refused to back the democratic process.  This sent a message -- an alarming message in a country supposedly moving towards democracy, or in the early stages of democracy, or gifted with democracy or whatever damn lie the US government told that you want to hold onto.

    In the end, the White House didn't give a damn about democracy and this is 2010 so I'm talking about Barack.

    I have no use for Daniel Ellsberg.  I don't give a ___ that he did something four-hundred-and-fifty years ago. I'm living in today.  Dying is taking place today. And if he wants to talk about Iraq, he better find a spine. Otherwise, he needs to crawl back under his rock.

    Not everyone's so afraid to note The Erbil Agreement.  For example,  Anthony H. Cordesman and Sam Khazai pointed out earlier this year in [PDF format warning] "Iraq in Crisis:"

    US officials applauded the 2010 Erbil agreement, and said they were hopeful that such cooperative arrangement would provide a political breakthrough among Iraq’s leadership, and allow them to address the country’s problems. They pointed to the influence the US had in pushing for the outcome, including the adoption of an American suggestion that Allawi head a new, “National Council for Security Policy”.

    And  Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) even reported on it in real time:

    Vice President Biden made numerous calls to senior Iraqi leaders over the past several months and U.S. officials directly participated in top-level negotiating sessions that lasted until just moments before the Iraqi parliament finally convened to approve a new power-sharing government Thursday, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. 

    And back in January,  Ned Parker (POLITICO) wrote an amazing must read on Iraq which included:

    It was the April 2010 national election and its tortured aftermath that sewed the seeds of today’s crisis in Iraq. Beforehand, U.S. state and military officials had prepared for any scenario, including the possibility that Maliki might refuse to leave office for another Shiite Islamist candidate. No one imagined that the secular Iraqiya list, backed by Sunni Arabs, would win the largest number of seats in parliament. Suddenly the Sunnis’ candidate, secular Shiite Ayad Allawi, was poised to be prime minister. But Maliki refused and dug in. 
    And it is here where America found its standing wounded. Anxious about midterm elections in November and worried about the status of U.S. forces slated to be drawn down to 50,000 by August, the White House decided to pick winners. According to multiple officials in Baghdad at time, Vice President Joseph Biden and then-Ambassador Chris Hill decided in July 2010 to support Maliki for prime minister, but Maliki had to bring the Sunnis and Allawi onboard. Hill and his staff then made America’s support for Maliki clear in meetings with Iraqi political figures. 
    The stalemate would drag on for months, and in the end both the United States and its arch-foe Iran proved would take credit for forming the government. But Washington would be damaged in the process. It would be forever linked with endorsing Maliki. One U.S. Embassy official I spoke with just months before the government was formed privately expressed regret at how the Americans had played kingmaker.   

    Four years ago and Americans don't want to own up to what the White House did?  That action set in motion everything that followed -- as surely Bully Boy Bush's illegal invasion destroyed Iraq.

    And Myriam Benraad (World Politics Review) isn't the only one who fears a third term of Nouri al-Maliki will send Iraq into even rockier waters.  NINA reports:

    The spokeswoman of the Watania (National Coalition), Maysoon al-Damalochi confirmed that "if the current Prime, Minister Nuri al-Maliki won a third term, the National Coalition would withdraw entirely from the political process ." 
     Damalochi said in an interview with the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / its details will be published tomorrow, " al-Maliki will not be the head for the next government , because he will not get the full support in this election , as happened in the previous two terms ."

    Two things are worth noting here.

    First, Nouri told AFP in early 2011 that he would not seek a third term.  This was when protests were rocking the region and leaders were facing the threat of being toppled.  Protests were taking place in Iraq as well and there was an attempt to pass a law limiting a prime minister to two terms (a law Nouri publicly stated he favored).  Nouri was fearful of losing his hold on power so he made public statements.  Like so many other promises from Nouri, they were meaningless.  Today, no journalist appears willing to ask Nouri what happened to his promise?

    Second, Nouri may already be barred from a third term by the Constitution.  It prohibits the presidency and it may in fact prohibit those holding the offices of prime minister and  the presidency from third terms.

    We've gone over this before but let's go over it slowly.

    How does one qualify for prime minister?  Not the vote, how does the person whom the president will name qualify?

    Article 77 of the Iraqi Constitution explains that:

    The conditions for assuming the post of the Prime Minister shall be the same as those for the President of the Republic, provided that he has a college degree or its equivalent and is over thirty-five years of age.

    So what are the conditions the presidency?

    All agree this outline in Article 68:

    A nominee to the Presidency of the Republic must be:
    First: An Iraqi by birth, born to Iraqi parents.
    Second: Fully qualified and must be over forty years of age.
    Third: Of good reputation and political experience, known for his integrity, uprightness, fairness, and loyalty to the homeland. 
    Fourth: Free of any conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude.

    That's the Constitution, everyone agrees.

    So clearly the prime minister isn't limited to two terms?

    Not so fast.

    Article 72:
    First: The President of the Republic's term in office shall be limited to four years.  He may be re-elected for a second time only.


    That sounds like a condition.

    Because, for example, Jalal Talabani's been president for two terms now.  If he wanted to go for a third one, he couldn't.


    Because he's had two terms but what is the word for that?

    Why?  Because he's not qualified for the office as a result of having served two terms.

    What does Article 77 say:

    The conditions for assuming the post of the Prime Minister shall be the same as those for the President of the Republic, provided that he has a college degree or its equivalent and is over thirty-five years of age.

    One of the conditions to be President of the Republic is that you've not already served two terms in the office.

    Article 77 says the same conditions apply to the office of Prime Minister.

    Repeating, one of the conditions to be President of the Republic is that you've not already served two terms in the office.

    Can Jalal have a third term as president?  No.  He fails one of the conditions for the post because he's served two terms already.

    If you read the Constitution, it seems rather clear -- it's not as though you're reading tea leaves.  

    Although . . .

    Ibrahim al-Jibouri (Niqash) reports some candidates are resorting to less obvious means to win office:

    Since the early 1970s, magicians and mystics have become more popular and more professional in Iraq. They proclaim themselves semi-religious, calling themselves terms like sayid, sheikh or mullah, all of which denote that they are holy men in Arabic and Kurdish. But of course, with additional, special powers. One local sociologist believes that more locals were seeking help from the magic men in Iraq because of widespread poverty and illiteracy as well as a need to find some sort of hope, or spiritual alternative, after military conflict and economic crisis. Yet their clientele come from all levels of Iraqi society.

    Meanwhile another of Karbala’s candidates, Mahmoud Obeid, says he too is resorting to magic. He has run for office three times already and he’s never been successful – so this time he is enlisting supernatural aid.

    Interestingly enough Obeid sought the help of a magician in India. He says he travelled there and with the help of an Iraqi living there, met with a well known magic man. “I paid the man around US$4,000 so that he would do some rituals on my behalf,” Obeid explains. “But when we left his house we were attacked by a gang of three other men who stole all our money.”

    Obeid, who lost about US$8,000 on his Indian trip, is now using another method to try and secure his place in politics: He is also distributing free meals to poor families in low-income areas.  “This time I really hope I win,” Obeid says.

    Another Karbala candidate, Layla Flaih, says she only decided to compete in these elections because of superstition. “One of my colleagues reads coffee grounds and she advised me to run,” Flaih told NIQASH. “She said I would win. So I submitted my information to IHEC [the Independent High Electoral Commission], which runs the elections even though it’s caused a lot of problems with my family. My husband didn’t want me to run and he has threatened to divorce me.”

    Still on campaign news,  NINA reports the home of Shiekh Saeed Hammoud Derwish was blown up in Ramadi.  He's running for Parliament with the Unity of Iraq Coalition.  Parliamentary elections are supposed to take April 30th.  Already, it's been announced Iraqi refugees in Syria will not be allowed to vote -- as well as Iraqis in parts of Anbar.  This targets Sunni voters as thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki well knows.  (Though the western press is so very kind to Nouri and avoids noting this or even addressing the issue of the refugees -- who will be voting in other countries.)   Alsumaria reports a grenade attack on a Mahmudiya (south of Baghdad) rally of Ahmed Chalabi supporters which left 1 child dead.  And the violence comes eight days before elections are supposed to be held.  NINA reports Ahmed Chalabi was present during the attack but was not harmed.

    Eariler today,  AP noted that a voting center in Daqouq Village was attacked late last night and 10 guards killed.  Is AP leaving out something?  They quote the deputy police chief Tothan Abdul-Rahman Youssef stating that the assailants had stated "they were there to carry out a search."  They stated that to the people they killed, guards in Kirkuk Province.

    Kirkuk knows all about searches and all about who's allowed.  Kirkuk has their own forces, they have Nouri's forces and they have the Peshmerge.  In good times, that's all they have.  In bad times, they have much more including the military.

    So if a group of men showed and stated they were there to conduct a search and the guards initially believed it, isn't it likely that the assailants were wearing some form of uniform?

    Likely and indeed true.  Belfast Telegraph reports, "The gunmen were disguised in military uniforms and told the guards at the polling station that they were there to do a search."

    Of course they did.  They had to.  Guards in Kirkuk Province know what someone who says they're conducting a "search" should look like.  So to pull that claim off, you'd have to be dressed for the part.

    And many conducting violence have dressed for the part.  This has been going on so long that we were making jokes here in 2006 that the greatest 'terrorist' in Iraq must be a seamstress since all these uniforms were being used by fakes.

    Dropping back to December 14th:

    Hey, remember how men in police uniforms or military uniforms commit kidnappings and murders in Iraq? And how outlets like AFP always rush in to insist that these weren't security forces?  Despite the long record of abuse at the Ministry of the Interior?
    Iraq Times reports that the security committee of Basra's Provincial Council announced today that 11 people had been arrested for kidnapping, extortion and armed robbery.
    The 11 accused?
    1's a police officer (lieutenant colonel)  the others are security forces working for the Ministry of the Interior or intelligence agency.
    They are accused of robbing homes and businesses -- sometimes in uniform -- and of going to homes and carrying out kidnappings while in uniforms and pretending they have arrest warrants.
    I'm searching in vain for Reuters, AP or AFP picking up on this story.
    They're damn happy to counter eye witness testimony of police and soldiers carrying out crimes by running with 'Police sources say these were al Qaeda wearing fake uniforms . . .'
    You would assume having pimped the line over and over, they'd be curious about what the Basra Provincial Council announced.

    No, they weren't.

    Many times, the uniforms worn in an attack are the uniforms the assailants wear every day.

    We'll probably go into more of that in the snapshot and the recent press insisting of 'they were militants in stolen uniforms' which bit the press in the ass.

    In the meantime, Alsumaria reports that the Wasit Provincial Council is publicly calling out Nouri's forces for arbitrary arrests in the province.

    Again, elections are supposed to be held in 8 days.

    EuroNews observes, "For a second day running a wave of suicide bombings and other attacks across Iraq have left a trail of dead and wounded."

    Does "other attacks" include Nouri's War Crimes?

    They did continue today as he continued having the residential neighborhoods of Falluja bombed.  National Iraqi News Agency reports he killed 5 civilians today -- "including a woman and a child" -- and that ten more civilians were left injured. Anadolu Agency notes another round of bombings of Falluja housing neighborhoods left 6 civilians dead and five more injured.

    Alsumaria reports Hussain al-Shahristani (Deputy Prime Minister of Energy) declared today that hs is concerned about the innocent blood spilled in Falluja.  He says that Falluja cannot be stormed because innocents would be killed.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mosul roadside bombing left 1 police member dead and five more injured, a Tabaj roadside bombing left six Iraqi soldiers injured, Nineveh Operations Command state they killed 2 suspects, 1 person was shot dead in Tarmiyah, an Edhem roadside bombing left "four government employees" wounded north of Baquba, 2 Mosul bombs left fourteen members of SWAT injured, and 1 corpse was discovered in Mosul (the man had been kidnapped two days earlier).  All Iraq News reports a Balad bombing left 3 farmers dead.

    Iraq has three recurring punchlines.  The first is "Nouri al-Maliki" and can be plugged into any conversation.  The second is "Jalal Talabani is better and will be returning to Iraq soon."  December 2012,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot).  Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  Since the end of December, every few weeks comes a claim of improvement and a claim that Jalal will return soon.  We noted that tired joke circulated yesterday via the governor of Kirkuk.  The third punchline?  "Erbil and Baghdad are close to an agreement."


    For background, you can drop back to the November 11, 2011 snapshot when ExxonMobil and the KRG's deal was upsetting Nouri.  That was November 11, 2011.  In the long space between then and now?  Nouri's whined and whimpered like a helpless puppy, whimpered for the US government to force ExxonMobil to stop doing business with the KRG.  July 19, 2012, when Chevron followed ExxonMobil's lead, Nouri was declaring that the US government was going to side with him on cancelling the ExxonMobil deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government, refer to that day's snapshot.

    Didn't happen (and Kristin Deasy of the Global Post was one of the few to question Nouri's claims in real time).  All Nouri could do was whimper and, for leadership, offer a variation the Dusty Springfield, classic "Wishin' and hopin'" (written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach).  He was reduced to wishin' and hopin' due to the fact that he never got an oil and gas law passed.  He had sworn he would.  He was required to by the Bully Boy Bush benchmarks of 2007.  Remember those?

    The oil and gas law was number three on the list of 18 benchmarks Nouri was supposed to implement in order to continue to receive US funding:

    3. Enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources of the people of Iraq without regard to the sect or ethnicity of recipients, and enacting and implementing legislation to ensure that the energy resources of Iraq benefit Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Kurds, and other Iraqi citizens in an equitable manner.

    Nouri had all but one year of his first term to get through an oil and gas law.  Then Barack got Nouri a second term and he still couldn't get through an oil and gas law.

    Most recently, Nouri's tantrums have revolved around a pipeline by which Kurds will supply Turkey.

    Seven years and the failure of leadership hangs on Nouri.

    Nouri's been attempting to use the 2014 budget as a means to blackmail the Kurdistan Regional Government over the oil issue since he failed to enact any oil and gas law.  We noted this blackmail in the February 21st snapshot:

    Meanwhile Isabel Coles and Jane Bair (Reuters) report that, despite claimes from Hussain al-Shahristani (Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister for Energy) earlier this week, the Kurds have not reached any agreement with Baghdad regarding exporting oil.  KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee is quoted stating, "Absolutely we have not reached any agreement to export oil via SOMO.  The dialogue and discussions are still under way."
    Nouri's failures are many.  He's attempting to coherce the Kurds on the oil by using the 2014 budget as a club.

    February 24th, Press TV reported:

    Baghdad is withholding wages for hundreds of thousands of Kurdish employees in an attempt to apparently punish the semi-autonomous Kurdish region over its controversial oil exports.
    “There is this mindset and now a continuation of this mindset whereby the central government does not believe in the existence of Kurdistan region. If we look back their opposition was contained to the parliament and the government but now we see that their opposition is directly towards the income of the people, which is the wages,” said Kurdish MP Umed Khoshnaw from the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
    Last week, Iraq's Kurdish Deputy Prime Minister Roj Nuri Shawais called on Kurdish ministers in the Iraqi cabinet to resign if Baghdad refused to solve the problem.

    A lot of oil is at stake, a lot of money.  UPI notes the KRG released figures today stating the KRG "Ministry of Natural Resources created gross revenue of around $9.7 billion."  In February, he was offering them 7% of the  national budget if they export 400,000 barrels of oil a day. The 2014 budget?  Yes, that's not an error.  Nouri's government still doesn't have a 2014 budget.  It's April 2014 and they still don't have a budget.  Nouri's blackmail hasn't worked.  Nor has Hussain al-Shahristani repeated bleating that a deal was near.  Rudaw reports al-Shahristani has started another wave of dubious claims:

    In an interview with Sky News Arabia, Iraq's deputy prime minister for energy affairs, Hussein Shahristani, said that the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has given preliminary approval for Kurdish oil exports through Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO).
    He claimed that Erbil had said in a statement that the exports would be within the framework of Iraqi regulations, and that they had not begun yet due to technical reasons. Shahirstani said that Baghdad was waiting for Erbil to commit to that decision.
    However, there has been no indication from Erbil that such an accord has been agreed.

    Earlier this week, Rudaw reported, "Kurdistan Regional Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said Sunday that negotiations with Baghdad to resolve energy and budget issues have made no progress, and warned that Erbil's patience has limits."  Ali Unal (Daily Sabah) reports:

    According to oil expert Shwan Zulal from London-based Carduchi Consulting, more delays means it is more likely to see an independent crude export from the KRG. "Kurdish crude is accumulating and Baghdad is playing politics with the KRG's budget, not sending the right amounts of funds and so on," said Zulal. "The case for independent crude export to decrease reliance on Baghdad for paying the bills is becoming ever stronger and the more delays we see, the more likely that we see an independent crude export from the KRG. Nevertheless, the caveat will be U.S. support for the export, which has not been forthcoming."
    On the other hand, the expert believes a deal with Irbil and Baghdad is not likely in the coming days due to the Iraqi elections which will take place in May. "The deal with Baghdad does not look very promising, especially because the Iraqi elections are under way and the wrangling over the formation of the new Iraqi government will ensue in the coming days and months after the elections," said Zulal.