Thursday, July 20, 2017

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, July 20, 2017.


Since the discussion of human rights abuses -- War Crimes -- entered the press conversation regarding Mosul last week, there has been silence from the US government.

Turns out not all leaders of government are being silent.  REUTERS reports:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to investigate alleged human rights abuses that occurred during military operations to regain control of the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants.
Merkel telephoned al-Abadi to congratulate him on the victory of U.S.-backed Iraqi forces in Mosul, calling it a "big step forward in the fight against Islamic State," her spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

The German leader also encouraged Abadi to investigate claims of human rights abuses that emerged after the military operations, Seibert said.

Hayder al-Abadi is the prime minister of Iraq.

He has not set a good example and his record is appalling.

This was noted by Human Rights Watch yesterday:


International observers have discovered an execution site in west Mosul, Human Rights Watch said today. That report, combined with new statements about executions in and around Mosul’s Old City and persistent documentation about Iraqi forces extrajudicially killing men fleeing Mosul in the final phase of the battle against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), are an urgent call to action by the Iraqi government.
Despite repeated promises to investigate wrongdoing by security forces, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has yet to demonstrate that Iraqi authorities have held a single soldier accountable for murdering, torturing, and abusing Iraqis in this conflict.

“As Prime Minister Abadi enjoys victory in Mosul, he is ignoring the flood of evidence of his soldiers committing vicious war crimes in the very city he’s promised to liberate,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Abadi’s victory will collapse unless he takes concrete steps to end the grotesque abuses by his own security forces.”



Despite repeated promises . . .

That is his record.

The same one as Nouri al-Maliki had before him.

Merkel has called out the abuses.

The US government has not.

Gwynne Dyer (RED DEER ADVOCATE) observes:

The shooting was still going on down by the river last week when Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi dropped by and prematurely declared that the battle for Mosul was over. He was misled by the various Iraqi army, police and militia units who were competing with one another to declare victory first, but now it really is over – and there is little left of Mosul.

The siege began on 17 October of last year, so it lasted nine months – longer than the Battle of Stalingrad. It probably killed more civilians, too, because the US-led air forces were used to compensate for the shortage of trained and motivated Iraqi ground forces.


On the issue of media coverage, Adam Johnson (FAIR) offers an analysis which includes:

Earlier this week, human rights group Amnesty International issued a lengthy report accusing US-backed forces of “repeated violations of international humanitarian law, some of which may amount to war crimes,” in Mosul, Iraq, causing the deaths of at least 3,700 civilians. Neither this report, nor the broader issue of the civilian toll in the US war against ISIS, has come close to penetrating US corporate media.
The only major radio or television outlet to report on Amnesty’s claims was NPR (7/12/17). While traditional print outlets, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, did run Reuters (7/11/17) and AP (7/12/17) articles, respectively, on the report, neither covered it themselves. Neither Amnesty’s charges, nor the broader issue of civilian deaths in Mosul,  garnered any coverage in television news, with no mention on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN or MSNBC.

The expulsion of ISIS from Mosul by the US-led coalition did receive coverage, but the US role in killing civilians was uniformly ignored.



Amnesty International actually issued the report two weeks ago (this snapshot was the first time we mentioned it).

The silence isn't just over broadcast media, it's also in State Dept press briefings.  Mosul was frequently mentioned

The Amnesty report?

Nope.

The abuses?

Nope.

These are not broadcasts.

No reporter can whine, "My producer wouldn't air it."

This is when reporters can ask anything.

And they chose to ignore the issue.

They refused to press the US government on what was taking place.

It's exactly these moments that go to why the press is not respected.

They are pretending to do so much but they do so little.


Let's not this upcoming event.

Latest news from Burn Pits 360
View this email in your browser

Research | Outreach | Advocacy
 
Copyright © 2017 Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you submitted your contact information via the Burn Pits 360 website.

Our mailing address is:
Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization
P.O Box 1475
RobstownTX 78380

Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Yesterday, his office issued the following statement on Senator John McCain:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today released the following statement regarding U.S. Senator John McCain, R-Ariz.:

“John McCain is an American hero and one of the greatest Americans of my generation. He, Cindy and the entire McCain family are in my prayers. God bless John McCain.”

###




The following community sites updated:














  • iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq





    Wednesday, July 19, 2017

    Burn Pits 360 July 27th Congressional briefing






    Latest news from Burn Pits 360
    View this email in your browser

    Research | Outreach | Advocacy
     
    Copyright © 2017 Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization, All rights reserved.
    You are receiving this email because you submitted your contact information via the Burn Pits 360 website.

    Our mailing address is:
    Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization
    P.O Box 1475
    RobstownTX 78380



    Iraq snapshot

    Wednesday, July 19, 2017.  Oh, look, it's another 'turned corner'! -- let's all try to pretend we don't remember where this leads to.


    Joseph Pennington sees a 'turned corner' in Iraq.

    Yet another one.

    We've been here before, many times before.

    Has Pennington?

    From his US State Dept bio:

    Joseph S. Pennington
    Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq
    BUREAU OF NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS
    Term of Appointment: 12/2015 to present
    Joseph Pennington, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, began his current assignment as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq, in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, in December 2015. He also served as Director of the Office of Iraq Affairs after returning from a two-year assignment (2013-15) as Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil, in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.
    Mr. Pennington served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic (2010-13) and held the same position in Yerevan, Armenia (2007-10). He worked as the U.S. Embassy Spokesman in Ankara, Turkey (2002-06), political-economic officer in Naples, Italy (2001-02), and headed the U.S. Embassy Branch Office in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina (2000-01). He served as an economic officer at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo (1999-2000), and as political-economic officer at the U.S. Consulate in Adana, Turkey (1995-98). Mr. Pennington has also worked in the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs and at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
    Mr. Pennington is a graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), where he earned a B.A. in political science. He subsequently earned an M.A. from Columbia University in New York City.


    It would appear he should know better.

    Then you read his column for USA TODAY and are left scratching your head.

    Everything is coming up roses in Mosul, Pennington repeatedly insists -- apparently the State Dept doesn't subscribe to any news feeds.

    And, goodness, everyone worked together.

    Strange, the list Pennington offers does not include Iran.

    This despite Shi'ite militias -- now folded into the Iraqi forces -- insisting in one interview after another that they take their orders from Iran.

    Pennington's helped by an inability to grasp or maintain facts.

    He shows no awareness of what led to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq.

    And he concludes:

    Optimism about Iraq’s future shouldn’t blind us to the considerable challenges it faces. The country needs to heal and overcome sectarian divisions. Iraq’s economy, after years of war and low oil prices, needs reform. Corruption discourages private sector initiative. ISIS will persist as a terrorist threat long after it no longer controls territory.
    But these problems can be addressed now that the ISIS “caliphate” has been defeated. Iraq boasts the world’s second largest oil reserves and has shown itself to be a resilient democracy.
    With the continued support of the United States and international community, Iraq is positioned to emerge in the post-ISIS era stronger and more unified than ever before.

    These problems can be addressed now?

    Now that ISIS has been defeated?

    Now?

    I sat through the 2007 and 2008 Congressional hearings on corruption in Iraq.

    Including when a Congress member attacked a witness' character and stormed out slamming a door behind him.

    They thought they could address the corruption then.

    They didn't though.

    And the Islamic State was no where around.

    Sectarian differences?

    As 2011 ended, the US government agreed to look the other way as the Iraqi government -- then headed by Nouri al-Maliki -- terrorized Sunnis of all walks of life -- up to and including targeting the then-Vice President of Iraq (Tareq al-Hashemi).

    This gave rise to the Islamic State.

    But the persecution was ignored.

    Hell, it was tolerated by Barack Obama whose 'big move' as president while Nouri was prime minister was fobbing a phone call from Nouri off on Joe Biden (Nouri was calling after the 2012 elections took place to congratulate Barack on being re-elected).

    The problems that Pennington is convinced can now be addressed have gone unaddressed under two previous administrations.

    Is that going to change now?

    FIRST POST reports:

    Iraq's prime minister has acknowledged that human rights violations were committed during the battle to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group, but says they were "individual acts."

    Hayder al-Abadi is a lot like Nouri al-Maliki.  Not just because they're friends, from the same political party (Dawa) and the same political coalition (State of Law) but also because, like Nouri, he's always promising to investigate some crime or punish the criminal but it never happens.


    Human Rights Watch just issued a press release which opens:

    International observers have discovered an execution site in west Mosul, Human Rights Watch said today. That report, combined with new statements about executions in and around Mosul’s Old City and persistent documentation about Iraqi forces extrajudicially killing men fleeing Mosul in the final phase of the battle against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), are an urgent call to action by the Iraqi government.
    Despite repeated promises to investigate wrongdoing by security forces, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has yet to demonstrate that Iraqi authorities have held a single soldier accountable for murdering, torturing, and abusing Iraqis in this conflict.
    “As Prime Minister Abadi enjoys victory in Mosul, he is ignoring the flood of evidence of his soldiers committing vicious war crimes in the very city he’s promised to liberate,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Abadi’s victory will collapse unless he takes concrete steps to end the grotesque abuses by his own security forces.”
    International observers, whose evidence has proven reliable in the past, told Human Rights Watch that on July 17, 2017, at about 3:30 p.m., a shopkeeper in a neighborhood directly west of the Old City that was retaken in April from ISIS took them into an empty building and showed them a row of 17 male corpses, barefoot but in civilian dress, surrounded by pools of blood. They said many appeared to have been blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their back.
    They said the shopkeeper told them that he had seen the Iraqi Security Forces’ 16th Division, identifiable by their badges and vehicles, in the neighborhood four nights earlier, and that night had heard multiple gunshots coming from the area of the empty building. The next morning, when armed forces had left the area, he told them, he went into the building and saw the bodies lying in positions that suggested they were shot there and had not been moved. He said he did not recognize any of those killed.
    The international observers also saw soldiers from the elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) in the area. They contacted Human Rights Watch by phone from the site and later shared five photos they took of the bodies.
    On July 17, another international observer told Human Rights Watch they spoke to a senior government official in Mosul who told them he was comfortable with the execution of suspected ISIS-affiliates “as long as there was no torture.” The observer said a commander showed their group a video taken a few days earlier of a group of CTS soldiers holding two detainees in the Old City. They said the commander told them that the forces had executed the men right after the video was taken.
    Salah al-Imara, an Iraqi citizen who regularly publishes information regarding security and military activities in and around Mosul, published four videos allegedly filmed in west Mosul on Facebook on July 11 and 12. One video, posted on July 11, appears to show Iraqi soldiers beating a detainee, then throwing him off a cliff and shooting at him and at the body of another man already lying at the bottom of the cliff. Human Rights Watch had verified the location of the first video based on satellite imagery. Other videos showed Iraqi soldiers kicking and beating a bleeding man, federal police forces beating at least three men, and Iraqi soldiers kicking a man on the ground in their custody.
    A third international observer told Human Rights Watch on July 18 that they witnessed CTS soldiers bring an ISIS suspect to their base in a neighborhood southwest of the Old City on July 11. The observer did not see what happened to the suspect next, but said that a soldier later showed them a video of himself and a group of other soldiers brutally beating the man, and a second video of the man dead, with a bullet to his head.

    “Some Iraqi soldiers seem to have so little fear that they will face any consequence for murdering and torturing suspects in Mosul that they are freely sharing evidence of what look like very cruel exploits in videos and photographs,” Whitson said. “Excusing such celebratory revenge killings will haunt Iraq for generations to come.”


    Let's emphasize one paragraph from above:

    Despite repeated promises to investigate wrongdoing by security forces, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has yet to demonstrate that Iraqi authorities have held a single soldier accountable for murdering, torturing, and abusing Iraqis in this conflict.


    Exactly.

    AP reports, "Speaking to The Associated Press, four Iraqi officers from three different branches of the military and security forces openly admitted that their troops killed unarmed and captured ISIS suspects, and they defended the practice. They, like the lieutenant, spoke on condition of anonymity because they acknowledged such practices were against international law, but all those interviewed by AP said they believed the fight against ISIS should be exempt from such rules of war because the militants' rule in Iraq was so cruel."

    War Crimes are War Crimes.

    And ISIS's brutality was the same as others before who have terrorized and occupied cities.


    Daniel R. DePetris (HUFFINGTON POST) offers:

    Even with a weakened and beleaguered ISIS, Iraq is far away from being a nation cured of problems. Like as the period immediately after the 2007-2008 U.S. troop surge provided Iraqi political leaders with breathing space to heal the chasm that separated Iraq’s multiple communities, the immediate stretch of time post-Mosul is a chance for the Iraqi government and parliament to begin touching upon their economic and political disparities.
    It is very likely that the U.S. Congress will continue to sustain the Iraq stabilization and counter-ISIS accounts that have been included in annual authorization and appropriations bills for the last several years (the House Armed Services Committee included approximately $1.76 billion for the counter-ISIS train and equip fund). Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford has suggested that a long-term U.S. and NATO training presence in Iraq is an option the Trump administration is seriously considering.

    But leaving aside whether a long-term American military presence in Iraq is desirable, none of it will matter if Iraq’s own are derelict in their responsible of ensuring that the Iraqi people are given an opportunity to rebuild their lives after years of subjugation from a barbaric and brutal terrorist organization. Violence can be decreased, buildings can be rebuilt, and refugees can come home, but economies can’t be fully restored and domestic security can’t be expanded beyond the immediate unless all of Iraq’s political officials — including those in the fractious Iraqi parliament and the provincial councils dotted throughout the country — put serving their constituents above their personal ambitions or sectarian power contests.

    They're all guilty, is that the argument?

    When all are guilty, none are innocent?

    That's a strange world of absolutes and one not reflective in Iraq.

    Nouri, his State of Law and some Shi'ite politicians were the problem.

    Appeasing them, going along with them, was not the answer.

    And the real teamwork took place in 2011 when Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds came together to call for a vote in Parliament -- a no-confidence vote on Nouri.

    Instead of fostering democracy -- the effort was Constitutional per Iraq's Constitution -- the White House leaned on then-president Jalal Talabani (Joe Biden was the main acting agent on this) to stop the process.  Which he did by 'creating' laws that didn't exist.

    Nouri was appeased by Barack because Nouri was prime minister and Samantha Power and others had insisted that he was the only vehicle for US aims in Iraq.

    That's why Barack gave Nouri the second term as prime minister that the Iraqi voters did not give him.


    So let's stop pretending that the problem was that politicians couldn't all get along.

    You had a thug in charge of the government who targeted everyone -- including reporters, including activists, including children -- never forget the massacre at Hawija.


    The April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  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).

    The problem wasn't Iraqi politicians, it was a thug running the government -- who was supported by some politicians.  (And by a US president, Barack Obama.)

    And this isn't just reliving the past here, Nouri wants to be prime minister again.

    Hayder is Nouri-lite and that's all anyone from Nouri's party will be.

    But Nouri himself wants to be prime minister again.

    This is a threat that has not vanished -- a serious and real threat to Iraq's future.

    Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr grasps that and that's why he's been very vocal about Nouri in recent months.  (Not that the western media's paid much attention.)


    Earlier this week, Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reported:

    One week after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed the “liberation” of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, the scale of destruction wrought during a nine-month, US-backed siege is becoming clearer, even as reports mount of collective punishment being meted out to survivors.
    Abadi presided over a victory parade in Baghdad on Saturday in which elements of the security forces marched past the prime minister and other officials in the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone. It is a measure of the state of the country that the parade was not publicly announced because of security concerns, with the media learning about it only afterwards and the population of the city excluded.
    Evidence of the death toll inflicted upon Mosul’s civilian population during the siege—largely the result of unrelenting US-led air strikes and artillery bombardments carried out against crowded neighborhoods, particularly in western Mosul’s Old City—continues to mount.
    Conservative estimates have put the number of civilians killed at over 7,000. The London-based monitoring group Airwars documented the deaths of 5,805 civilians between February and June of this year. There were undoubtedly many more deaths that went unreported, not to mention those killed in the four months preceding this period, as well of those who died in the intense assault waged on the area of the city during the last three weeks of fighting.
    Officials in Mosul report that civil defense workers have already dug some 2,000 corpses from the rubble created by US 500- and 2,000-pound bombs as well as heavy artillery shelling and strikes by attack helicopters.
    It is clear that neither the Iraqi government nor the Pentagon has any interest in clarifying the scale of carnage unleashed upon the city.


    I'd also recommend this Bill Van Auken article which touches on Mosul but is about the ongoing wars and potential ones on the horizon.

    The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, Jody Watley and PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated:














  • iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq