This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Iraq remains largely ignored in the US -- especially with regards to the wave of activists being assassinated, more problems with the national elections in Iraq are already emerging, and much more.
Opening with this from one of the nation's oldest political journals:
What are we still doing in Iraq?
Brett McGurk, the Biden administration’s senior Middle East policy official on the National Security Council, traveled to Baghdad last week to speak with Iraqi prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi about that very question — specifically, the future of U.S. troops there. The Iraqi prime minister’s office reflected on the meeting shortly thereafter, writing that the session “emphasized implementing the outcome of the strategic dialogue between Iraq and the US, especially with regard to the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq.” A month earlier, Washington and Baghdad restarted their bilateral dialogue, a key agenda item of which is the removal of U.S. combat forces from the country pending further negotiations. While the exact time frame for a full U.S. troop withdrawal is still open to debate, the Biden administration seems to be inching in the right direction: Getting its forces out of an area where they long ago accomplished their goals.
As of today, there are roughly 2,500 U.S. troops deployed to Iraq — down from nearly 6,000 in 2016. Those forces are responsible for implementing a training-and-advising program that aims to ensure the Iraqi security forces can execute operations against the Islamic State on their own.
In reality, however, the U.S. military is spending about as much time ducking rocket fire from an alphabet soup of Shia militias. The attacks on Iraqi military bases and airports that house U.S. personnel or contractors have gotten so frequent that a week free of rocket fire is almost considered an abnormality.
According to a count by the AFP news agency, around 30 rocket, mortar, or bomb attacks on U.S.-linked facilities and coalition troop convoys have occurred since President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. This includes an attack last weekend, in which a drone carrying explosives targeted the Ayn Al Asad air base in western Anbar province, which caused damage to the facility. On March 3, a barrage of about ten rockets was aimed at the same base, causing an American contractor to have a fatal heart attack. Just a week earlier, the Biden administration dropped seven GPS-guided bombs on Shia militia facilities close to the Iraqi–Syrian border in retaliation for another rocket strike in Irbil that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a U.S. service member.
Good for THE PROGRESSIVE, right? Finally, it's getting off it's lazy ass and moving away from their 'lifestyle' pieces that they pass off as commentary on politics and issues.
Good for them.
At last they're once again contributing meaningful to the national dialogue about a serious issue. War and occupation is back on their radar --
Oh, wait, it's not THE PROGRESSIVE.
Well, that's okay. THE NATION has been a publication since the 1800s
Good for THE NATION. Finally grasping that they had their highest circulation when they covered the war. Maybe they're trying to do it to save their own asses?
I mean Katha Pollitt should have been fired long ago. And I've done enough Zooms with groups of color recently to grasp that Katha's day of reckoning will soon be upon us. She's a racist and she always has been. She belittled the NAACP in the '00s when they rightly complained about represeentation on TV. She's also the woman who belittled and attacked Alice Walker's writing. This is a pattern with her and young African-American owmen have grown up with it and they're tired of it.
Oh, the little White girls love to buzz around Katha. She's the Charlotee Rae on their own person FACT OF LIFE but a lot more people are outraged by her and by her racism that has been evidnet since the 1980s. So yes, things will probably get very uncomfortable for Katha and for THE NATION as a result.
But whatever the reason, THE NATION finally stepped up on Iraq. So good for them and --
Oh, it's not THE NATION either.
IN THESE TIMES?
THE NEW REPUBLIC?
It's Daniel Depetres writing for THE NATIONAL REVIEW. That's right.
On our side, no outlet can get serious. But we do love all those lifestyle pieces, right? What would we be without all that garbage?
A hell of a lot more informed. Good for THE NATIONAL REVIEW for publishing the piece. Sad for those of us on the left that we can't point to any of our publications who will tackle the issue.
So much isn't tackled. I'm still waiting for the big write up on Ihab Jawad al-Wazni from a US publication. Big media, small media, corporate media, begger media. They won't touch it.
Ihab Jawad al-Wazni is a major topic on Arabic social media. He's a major topic in Iraq. The Middle East outlets can and have reported on him. But most Americans don't know about him because US outlets won't touch the story.
Mustafa Makki Karim, 24, fled Baghdad for the relative safety of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region last year following a spate of death threats by pro-Iran groups for his role in the protest movement that erupted against government corruption and incompetence in October 2019.
During the unrest that followed, the young activist earned the moniker “Joker” for the clown mask he wore to hide his identity as he and his “Armored Division of Tahrir” defended their camp in Baghdad’s Victory Square.
“I left my life, my family, my friends, my future for my country and for the souls of the people we lost,” Karim told Arab News from the safety of his Irbil bedsit. He took a bullet in his leg and lost sight in one eye after Iraqi troops fired birdshot into the crowd.
Now Karim and others like him have been forced into hiding — nursing injuries he sustained in clashes with security forces and militia thugs, fearful for those who chose to remain behind.
Their fears are hardly unfounded. On May 9, Ihab Al-Wazni, a coordinator of protests in the Shiite shrine city of Karbala, was killed outside his home by men on motorbikes. A vocal opponent of corruption and Iran’s influence in Iraq, Al-Wazni was a key figure of the protest campaign.
October 2019 marked the beginning of the biggest grassroots social movement in Iraq’s modern history. Fed up with a corrupt ruling elite, seen as beholden to foreign powers, the young Iraqis who came of age following the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein marched in their hundreds of thousands in cities across the country, demanding the overthrow of the post-2003 order.
Scenes of defiance played out in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, with pitched battles between protesters and security forces on the adjoining bridges leading to the fortified Green Zone, where government officials and foreign diplomats watched with unease.
Around 600 people were killed as a result of their association with the protest movement — many on the streets during rallies, others targeted on their doorsteps away from the rallies.
According to Amnesty International, the global human rights monitor, hundreds of people were killed by live ammunition, military-grade teargas canisters and other weapons deemed inappropriate for civilian crowd control. Many soldiers and police officers were wounded by lumps of concrete and petrol bombs thrown by protesters.
Yet no coverage in the US. Katha Pollitt's too busy doing those 'hard hitting' looks at the guy who wrote the biography on Phillip Roth. (Since we're noting that man, didn't read the book, don't plan to, but I do not support the publisher pulping the book -- that's censorship. And we can say all that in a single sentence. Unlike Katha who takes a tiny topic and tries to expand it into a column -- she fails just like when she tries to expand her tiny mind.)
There are real issues going on in this world and THE NATION and THE PROGRESSIVE and so many others can't be bothered with it. YES! -- isn't it CIA funded. Oh, wait, did I speak out of turn? Are we not supposed to note that? Just like I've sort-of bit my tongue since 2008 about the 'slut for her country' who spread far and wide around the globe? I know she's CIA. A member of the House of Lords told Elaine and I long before YES! was even an idea. She was a loud, trashy and ugly woman. We knew her as such. Elaine was dating the British politician. We were in London and she squeals -- in that loud way that always gives Americans a bad name overseas -- and came . . . lumbering? Is that what we call it? Towards us and Elaine and I were rolling our eyes when the Member of the House of Lords let it slip that she was CIA. She spread for God and country, apparently, throughout the world. And any man who took that one must have been very, very hard up.
Where are the pieces on Iraq? Is everyone co-opted by the US government? I don't know. But I know YES! is nothing we will ever promote.
Please understand what is happening in Iraq right now. Ihab Jawad Al-Wazni, an activist who was against corrupt government, was shot outside of his home by an unknown gunman. This is not the first time it had happened, many activists since October 2019 were being targeted+
And killed. Protests are breaking out because of this and I’m fearing that the same thing that happened last year will happen again. Where many people were being killed and tear gased by the government. Please read these articles and educate yourself. I don’t know
This isn’t talked about that much and there is a chance that what had happened last year will happen again.
just be beware and be educated about this. I have family in Iraq and I fear that something bad will happen to them. if you have any additional info, feel free to tell me.
The protesters managed to force out a prime minister. Now Iraq gears up for new elections and already problems are emerging. Neil Joseph Nakkash (NEWSWEEK) notes:
Recently, Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) canceled election participation for citizens abroad, disenfranchising nearly 1 million Iraqi citizens in advance of early parliamentary elections set for October.
In a public statement, IHEC announced that the ruling comes as a result of "several technical and financial, legal, and health obstacles" that could prevent applicants abroad from receiving their biometric voting cards by Election Day.
The commission's decision was met with mixed reactions, with many Iraqis in support. They argue that citizens in diaspora should not be making decisions for a country they do not reside in—a belief popularized since 2003 due to the corruption and failures of expatriates, who played a dominant role for Iraqis in the U.S.-led invasion and subsequent formation of the current government and constitution.
Winding down, we'll note Crescenzo Vellucci (THE DAVIS VANGUARD) reports:
Omar Ameen finally gets his day in court this Thursday in his fight to avoid being deported to Iraq, where he’ll face, according to his supporters, sure torture and death.
But Ameen already had his day in court last month, when a federal judge in Sacramento ruled he should be released from U.S. custody immediately.
Instead – –wronged by the Trump Administration for years, according to a federal judge – the Biden Administration’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immediately picked him up to be deported.
So, Ameen, who supporters at a Sacramento news conference pointed out Tuesday, spent his 1,000th day in custody Tuesday, away from friends and family.
But this Thursday in U.S. Immigration Court in Van Nuys, Ameen hopes to finally get his – another – day in court.
“Today marks 1,000 days of Omar’s detention. 1,000 days of fear of being returned to torture and death. 1,000 days falsely accused. 1,000 days of a nightmare, falsely accused of terrorism, falsely accused of murder, of belonging to ISIS,” said Assistant Federal Defender Rachelle Barbour
Speaking of the federal case that temporarily won Ameen the promise of freedom in April, Barbour said “we had obliterated the US. evidence. They’re case was based on false witnesses, and they counted on the court to believe them. But the judge didn’t believe them.”
The following sites updated: