Friday, January 27, 2017

Missy Comley Beattie

Missy Comley Beattie (COUNTERPUNCH) takes on the nonsense of last weekend:

Cut now to the January 21, 2017 Women’s March. This event was covered from start to finish by members of the U.S. press. Reporters engaged participants, interviewed, asking why they were there and what’s next.
A friend who went to D.C. to attend the march was exuberant. I asked if she’d have gone if Hillary Clinton had won the election. She said yes. I countered, “No, if Clinton had won there wouldn’t have been a protest march.”
Instead there would’ve been a celebratory assembling of vagina voters. Despite Hillary Clinton’s warmongering. Despite the blood dripping from her hands for foreign policy catastrophes in Libya, Syria, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, and Yemen.

Good for her.

It is a strong piece.

I will forgive her.

We can all be wrong.

She was about Barack Obama.

She was a hugely important voice to me during the Bully Boy Bush years.

Then she became a supporter of then-Senator Obama and it was like, "Who is this?"

She deeply disappointed me.

But that is life.

And I can always forgive a mistake (I make a ton).

I cannot forgive whoring.

She only made a mistake.  She did not whore.

A lot of people did.  They tossed their ethics aside and their beliefs.

I cannot forgive those people.

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

Friday, January 27, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, the refugee issues continue, The Mosul Slog continues, and much more.

Let's start with immigration.

PRI offers:

"I'm scared. The chance to see my family reunited again is very slim now," she says. "People like me and my family who helped and supported America, I believe we should be reunited. The history of the United States is to support people and help them, not to separate the families."
Marcolla was just 18 and living in Baghdad shortly after American tanks rolled into the Iraqi capital in 2003. She was recruited to work for the US military. Her role caught the attention of Iraqi militants. They sought revenge. They burned down Marcolla's house, kidnapped her father and murdered her husband. 

Fearing for her life, she applied for a US visa. And in 2013, after seven years of waiting, she received the permission she'd been waiting for. But Marcolla had to leave her parents and siblings behind, even though she says they too were in danger because of her service with US troops. 

Is she scared?


She should be outraged.

It shouldn't have taken 7 years and it's cute how PRI is only now interested.

This has been an ongoing problem.

Dropping back to the April 3, 2009 snapshot:

Starting with the topic of Iraq refugees, Fahed Khamas has been expelled.  Alsumaria reports Switzerland expelled him yesterday and notes "he used to work as an Iraqi interpreter with the US military in Baghdad" and he stated elements in Iraq had made threats on his life.  Meanwhile Assyrian International News Agency reports, "The International Federation of Iraqi Refugees has called a protest on 16-17 April in Geneva about the plight of Iraqi refugees. It says: The situation of the Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, Iran and Europe is a tragedy. Many thousands of Iraqi refugees have resorted to begging, prostitution, selling their internal organs to avoid destitution."  At the center-right Brookings Institution, Roberta Cohen contributes a lengthy article on Iraqi refugees (here for HTML intro, here for PFD format article in full) entitled "Iraq's Displaced: Where to Turn?" Cohen opens by sketching out how refugees were an Iraq 'industry' when Saddam Hussein was in power but the US war on Iraq "far from resolving the problem, however, made it worse. It catapulted the country into a near civil war between Shi'a, who had largely been excluded by Saddam Hussein's regime, and Sunnis who until then had dominated the government."  Combining external refugees (2.7 million) with internal ones (2 million), Cohen notes that "4.7 million people out of a total population of 27 million -- remained displaced."  While their numbers have increased, the sympathy for them throughout the world appears to have decreased and Cohen postulates that this is due to the fact that their displacement (due to the Iraq War) is "seen as a problem largely of the United States' making and one that the United States should therefore 'fix'." It's felt, she continues, that the US and the oil-rich government in Iraq should be footing the bill for host countries such as Jordan and Syria. "Even though Iraq's budget surplus from oil revenues is projected to be $79 billion by the end of 2008," Cohen writes, "the Shi'a-dominated government of Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has delivered only minimal amounts of funding to neighboring states for the refugees.  Some believe it is because many of the refugees are Sunni and Christian or because the refugees humiliated the government by departing. Still others argue that support for the refugees will discourage their returning home.  Nor has the government been forthcoming with support for its internally displaced population, again dampening other countries' willingness to contribute." The post-9/11 world is noted by Cohen.  Tuesday Senator Bob Casey Jr. chaired a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing on "The Return and Resettlement of Displaced Iraqis" and one of the witnesses appearing before the subcommittee was Ellen Laipson of the Henry L. Stimson Center who noted that the 'security' measures post-9/11 were harming Iraqi refugees.  Cohen notes the "intense screening" refugees have to go through from the US Department of Homeland Security and that the number of Iraqi refugees the US accepted while Saddam Hussein was Iraq's president was much greater than the number the US has currently accepted.  Cohen notes the stereotypes of Iraqi refugees which include that, struggling for cash, they "could easily fall prey to militant groups" and how those stereotypes harm their attempts at garnering asylum.  These stereotypes are re-enforced (I'm saying this, Cohen touches on it but doesn't state it -- see page 314) when those attempting to help refugees make the case that, if you don't, there will be "security consequences."  Cohen quotes Brookings' Elizabeth Ferris arguing that if aid is not provided "there is a very real danger that political actors will seek to fill the gap."  Cohen notes that the bulk of Iraqi refugees are not the perpetrators of violence but refugees because they have been targeted with violence.
Cohen notes countries neighboring Iraq already had taken in Palestinian refugees and there were concerns re: large influxes of refugees as to cohesive societies.  Palestinian refugees from Iraq suffer, Cohen argues, because neighboring countries already which might take them in already have a large Palestinian refugee population with Jordan listed as having 70%.
The claims that these refugees are 'temporary' and will soon be returning is explored by Cohen who notes the small number of returnees to Iraq and cites the UNHCR for explaining that those who did return did so "because their resources or visas ran out in Syria and Jordan."  Cohen notes the 'guest'-like status of refugees in Syria and Jordan where they do not "have a clear legal status".  Neither Syria nor Jordan signed onto 1951's Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees so they do not recognize this agreement popularly known as the "Refugee Convention" which requires rights such as the right to work.  The agreement also recognizes the rights of refugee children to education and Syria does have free access but the bulk of Iraqi children are not enrolled.  Jordan officially allows all Iraqi children to attend public schools; however, 1/5 of the Iraqi refugee children is the number enrolled.  In both countries, they also have more medical needs than are being met. Not noted in the report is that having 'guest' status means a number of refugee children may not be enrolled for the reason that the parents are attempting to stay off the grid -- especially important in Syria where you are required to leave every six months and re-enter the country.  Staying off the grid allows them to avoid that.  (PDF format warning, click here for Bassem Mroue's AP article on this six month policy at Refugees International.)  Cohen notes how the economies in Syria and Jordan (mirroring the economices worldwide) have begun to slide and there is a growing hostility to the refugees in both countries where they are [unfairly] blamed for the economy.  She notes that the UNHCR maintains their request that neither Syria or Jordan forcibly deport any Iraqi refugees.
Cohen documents the US government's refusal to take responsibility for the Iraqi refugee crisis such as the State Dept's Ellen Sauerbrey telling Congress in 2007 that the situation was a "'very top priority' for the United States, but [she] expressed little urgency about expediting refugee resettlement.  As former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton explained it, sectarian violence, not American actions, created the refugee problem so it was therefore not the United States' responsibility" and Cohen quotes Bolton's pompous comments, "Our obligation . . . was to give them new institutions and provide security.  We have fulfilled that obligation.  I don't think we have an obligation to compensate for the hardships of war."  Bolton -- and this is me, not Cohen -- should have been required to explain how the "sectarian violence" he credits for creating the refugee crisis came about because the US seeded and grew it.  Back to Cohen.  She notes fiscal year 2006 saw the US admit a paltry 202 Iraqi refugees, while in 2007 the figure rose to the still tiny 1,608.  Cohen doesn't note it but neither of those figures met the target goal the administration had itself set for admittance of Iraqi refugees.  Fiscaly year 2008 saw 12,000 Iraqi refuees admitted. While the US does grant refugee status to those admitted and Syria and Jordan do not, note the difference in numbers with Jordan and Syria both having over 750,000 each by the most conservative estimate (that's me, not Cohen).  Cohen notes that Syria and Jordan are said to need $2.6 billion in aid for their refugees but that the US in 2008 was offering a meager $95.4 million. [Me, under Barack, it should be noted, that figure is the meager $150 million and that's for the Iraqi refugee crisis period -- not just for Syria and Jordan -- neither of whom will directly receive any funds from the US.].  Cohen contrasts that meager $95.4 million with the $70 billion the Congress granted for the US military effort in Iraq for fiscal year 2008.  Cohen notes that al-Malikis government gave $25 billion to neighboring states towards the costs of sheltering Iraqi refugees.  (That is a shameful figure.) She tosses out that the Bully Boy Bush administration might have been less than eager to help Iraqi refugees due to the fact that doing so might be seen as admission of the failures of the Iraq War to create "peace and stability in Iraq" and she notes Barack Obama, campaigning for president, promised an increase to $2 billion in aid for the Iraqi refugees.  (In the words of Diana Ross, "I'm still waiting . . . I'm waiting . . . Ooooh, still waiting . . . Oh, I'm a fool . . . to keep waiting . . . for you . . .")
Cohen then turns to the issue of the internally displaced and notes "radical Sunni and Shi'a militias who drove the 2006-07 sectarian violence were tired to political parties, police and army units.  The Ministry of the Interior is still widely reported to be infiltrated by Shi'a militias, which assaulted and expelled people from their homes, sometimes in police uniforms.  In such a political environment, it is not surprising that the government has failed to exhibit the will, resources or skills to deal with the needs of the displaced.  In the Ministry of Displacement and Migration, it is not unusual to find staff that sees the displaced only from the perspective of their own ethnic or religious group." Cohen observes that when displaced, Sunnis and Shi'ites tend to relocate to an area where their sect is dominant while Iraqi Christians flee "to parts of Ninewah province and Kurds to the northern Kurdish areas." A large percentage (40%) state they do not intend to return to their homes. As with external refugees, Iraq's internal refugees "face extreme hardship, many with urgent needs for shelter, food, medicine, clean water, employment and basic security."  Cohen observes, "Thus far, the national government has not demonstrated that it has the skills, resources, or political will to take care of its displaced population or provide the security, access to basic services, and livelihoods needed for the return of large numbers to their homes."  Cohen notes that while the government provides no assistance "radical sectarian Sunni and Shi'a groups" rush to fill the void. Robert Cohen offers several proposals for helping both the external and internal refugees and you can read her report for that (and we may or may not note them next week).
Sahar S. Gabriel is an Iraqi media worker for the New York Times who was granted refugee status in the US.  She (at the paper's Baghdad Bureau) reports on her initial impressions of the US:
After spending 21 hours waiting in airports and 13 hours in flying I arrived at the windy city of Detroit, Michigan.           
It is raining, always a good sign to me. My sister and I put on our gloves and jackets as we get off the plane. While I follow the baggage claim sign, I keep repeating to myself: "Don't panic, but you've made it." I am now on the other side of this war. The less violent side.            

Iraqi refugees in the US have found how quickly initial benefits dry up and how few the opportunities often are -- to the point that some refugees are considering returning for economic reasons only.  And think how sad that is, refugees to the US think they'd have better economic chances in Iraq.  (As noted before, those refugees who want to should be offered jobs at various US bases where they could provide cultural training to those due to ship out to Iraq for the first time -- and to those who've been to Iraq as well.)  If the paper were smart, it would set up a fund for Sahar and any other Iraqi media worker who came to the US because, without them, the paper's coverage of Iraq would not have been as strong as it was and a large number of readers grasp that and would contribute to a fund.  But let's turn to the violent side.

Seven years, the woman told PRI, seven years she had to wait.

And now she's worried?

Or maybe it's just now, with Donald Trump in the White House, PRI is concerned.

For the record, in 2016, the State Dept did not meet their goal on Iraqi refugees.

They never have in the last 8 years.

In Iraq i met Syrian refugees & Iraqis displaced by ISIS. i encountered only kindness. They are victims, not "illegals." They are people.

Then why, Jamie Tworkowski, wasn't it an issue for you until now.  (Trump wants a ban on refugees from Iraq -- among other countries -- during which he wants new guidelines put in place for refugees.)

It wasn't an issue to the press.

It was an issue here.  It remains an issue here.

The woman speaking to PRI has a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Blaming Donald won't address but I'm sure it will let many do-nothings and many say-nothings feel self-righteous.

Barack couldn't meet the quotas for Iraqi refugees but he exceeded expectations on bombing Iraq over the last two years with two billion US taxpayer dollars spent on bombing Iraq and Syria.

There may be a change coming, not a good one.

Gus Taylor and Carlo Munoz (WASHINGTON TIMES) report:

Military advisers close to Defense Secretary James N. Mattis are considering loosening the restrictions on U.S. airstrikes that the Obama administration kept in place in war against the Islamic State in Iraq, according to current and former U.S. officials.
A key tenet of the proposed revised rules of engagement would raise the “acceptable” number of estimated collateral civilian casualties to authorize a U.S. or allied airstrike, sources say. Loosening these restrictions would give American commanders a freer hand in ordering strikes against the Islamic State’s northern Iraqi stronghold of Mosul, which the Trump White House has strongly advocated.

This is a proposal, a consideration.

This has not happened.

Nor should it.

But, more to the point, the argument against this isn't, "Oh, Donald shouldn't increase this!"

The argument against this is, "No civilians deaths are acceptable."

The bombings need to stop.

They are deadly, they are killing civilians and, if nothing else, Americans should care how much tax dollars are being wasted to bomb people.

The Mosul Slog continues.

What day is it now?

Too many to count.

But it's 102.

Remember when liars insisted it would last no more than three weeks?

Back in the day when a reporter called it right and said it was "a slog" and CNN's foolish Elise Labott yelled "NO!" in the middle of the briefing?

What happens after?

Nazli Tarzli (MIDDLE EAST EYE) reports:

A political reconciliation plan, spearheaded by the leader of Iraq’s Islamic Supreme Council Ammar al-Hakim, promises to heal Iraq and unite its warring factions.
Named the "historic settlement, the initiative is built on the areas around which Shia and Sunni political blocs can unite after Mosul’s liberation from the Islamic State (IS) group.
The Islamic Supreme Council is Iraq’s largest Shia political coalition and issues ranging from domestic and regional security, terrorism, and political arrangements are all on Hakim’s proposed agenda.
The terms – if agreed upon – are to be enforced in partnership with the United Nations Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the king of Jordan, among others.
Against the backdrop of relentless fighting, Hakim has praised the stage of political maturity in Shia-Sunni relations, and called on all parties to abandon “their illusions and fears”.
However, not everyone shares Hakim’s conviction – including members of his own alliance.
Some are unconvinced that it can open the way to an equitable Iraq, while others view it with suspicion - and as yet another play for political influence in the post-IS era.

Renad Mansour (THE CENTURY FOUNDATION) opines on the Shi'ite militias:

In January 2017, Amnesty International issued a damning report claiming that PMU groups were committing war crimes.1 In the battle against the Islamic State, such allegations against the PMU are not new. A month before, in December 2016, Human Rights Watch reported that a Sunni PMU associated militia, the Hashd al-Jabour, executed four suspected ISIS affiliates without any judicial proceeding—a war crime.2 Such allegations are also not a recent phenomenon. Long before the formation of the PMU and for much of post-2003 Iraq, international human rights watchdogs3 and media agencies have consistently accused these militias of war crimes.4
Yet, this time, there is something different. The PMU began its official response with a stark declaration: “The al-hashd al-shaabi is not an ally of the Iraqi government, it is a part of the Iraqi government” (emphasis added).5 The distinction signifies a fundamental shift in Iraqi state-building: the central government is no longer looking to integrate or reign in the militias, but rather to recognize (and therefore legitimize) the militias as state entities parallel to the Iraqi Security Forces. To many Iraqis, particularly but not exclusively the majority Shia population, the PMU is a legitimate group of fighters defending their country from ISIS and its brutality.

The question, then, is how to reconcile these two contrasting perceptions of the PMU: a sectarian-motivated Iranian-backed group of militias that commit war crimes versus a state-recognized force defending Iraq from ISIS and other insurgent groups. Answering this question is significant, as even after the liberation of Mosul and the eradication of the Islamic State’s control of Iraqi territory, the PMU will likely remain a permanent fixture. It will not simply integrate or go away.

Turning to the US where the nonsense coming out of the laughable 'Resist' is hilarious.

Joe Berkowitz Retweeted Christopher Hayes
This is how Iraq war was justified: Rumsfeld orders intel officers to produce results proving Bush right. Trump's already doing it for THIS?
Joe Berkowitz added,

No, that's not how the Iraq War was justified.

It was justified via cowardly Democrats, War Hawk Democrats, Republicans (break them up into sub groups as you will), the US press, etc.  Joe Berkowitz pretends to care about Iraq.  We know it's a pretense because (a) he hasn't called for an end to the war and (b) he never brings the topic up unless he can bash Donald Trump.

As for Trump calling the Parks Service Director, that's his right.  He can pick up the phone can call anyone.  If photos exist to prove Donald's point, he has every right to demand their release.  If they don't, I assume no photos will be produced.

Regardless, it has nothing to do with Iraq and is not about how the Iraq War was started.  (Little Joe also forgets the maps drawn up by Cheney and heads of oil corporations -- JUDICIAL WATCH published those years ago).

For a brilliant analysis of last Saturday's fauxtests, please see Ann Garrison's piece at COUNTERPUNCH.

The following community sites -- plus PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated:

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