Iraq Gets A New Leader

After many months of confusion and chaos in the Iraqi government….they have a new PM, Mustafa al-Kadhimi……who is he?

Iraq’s new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took office after the country’s parliament approved a new government on Wednesday following nearly six months of political wrangling.

The parliament approved 15 ministers out of a prospective 22-seat cabinet in a vote of confidence. Five candidates were rejected while voting on two ministers was postponed, leaving seven ministries still empty, including the key oil and foreign affairs positions.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/mustafa-al-kadhimi-iraq-prime-minister-200507062954351.html

The PM comes to power while the nation and the world are fighting this pandemic…..the Iraqi economy is in freefall for several reasons…..

Former head of intelligence Mustafa al-Kadhimi has taken office as Iraq’s new prime minister.

He comes to power six months after mass protests against appalling social conditions, government corruption and the entire political setup forced the resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi. This was the first time since the 2003 US-led war that a government had been forced to resign due to popular pressure.

Al-Khadimi is Iraq’s third prime minister-designate assigned by President Barham Salih since Mahdi’s resignation. His two predecessors, Muhammad Tawfiq Allawi and Adnan al-Surf, both failed to win parliamentary support for their cabinets. Mahdi quit his post as caretaker prime minister at the beginning of March, the day after Allawi admitted defeat, leaving Iraq without a functioning interim government.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/08/iraq-j01.html

Of course the oil situation will prove more problematic that the virus…….

The problem for Iraq is simple but insoluble: it is running out of money as its oil revenues fall off a cliff, following the collapse in the oil price brought about by the cataclysmic economic impact of coronavirus. It derives 90 per cent of government revenues from the export of crude oil, but in April it earnt just $1.4bn when it needed $5bn to cover salaries, pensions and other state expenditure.

It cannot pay the 4.5 million people on the government payroll and another four million receiving a pension. This may not seem like exciting news compared to an uptick in Isis killings or the potential ravages of Covid-19, but it may prove more profoundly destabilising than either.

https://outline.com/aJwPNT

Without cash to pay the workers then labor unrest will make the government unstable again…..and then Iraq is caught between the US and Iran……

“This government came as a response to the social, economic and political crises our country is facing,” al-Kadhimi told lawmakers Thursday. “It is a government that will provide solutions, not add to the crises.”

Iraq is facing a coronavirus-fueled financial crisis, crumbling infrastructure battered by years of war and scant investment, ongoing political instability and the threat of a resurgent ISIS testing its beleaguered security forces.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/new-iraqi-leader-caught-between-iran-and-the-us/ar-BB13K7P5

Iraq is still just as messed up as it was before…..the longer the virus hangs on the more revenue will be lost from oil……the more loss will fuel civil unrest…..which will eventually bring down the government.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Iraqi Elections

May of 2018 will see the electoral process put to work in Iraq…..

Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi is presenting himself as a viable Shi’a reformist alternative to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in the upcoming Iraqi legislative elections slated for May 12, 2018. Allawi is setting internal conditions to recreate his strong 2011 bid to secure the premiership. Allawi, a secular Shi’a politician, seeks to reunite the Sunni political leadership under a secular platform akin to the Iraqiyya coalition that won 92 seats in the Iraqi Council of Representatives under his leadership in 2010. Allawi will likely leverage his opposition to the expansion of Iranian influence in Iraq, reformist stance, and support for the Kurdistan Regional Government to draw Shi’a Sadrist and some Kurdish support in the post-election premier selection phase. Allawi can then maximize on his strong ties with Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, to augment his premiership bid.

Allawi maintains friendly ties to the U.S and rejected Iranian influence in Iraqi affairs. Allawi also maintains strong ties to the KRG; he stressed the resolution of the Arbil-Baghdad disagreements must be constitutional and within the framework of a united Iraq. Allawi also maintains strong ties with U.S regional partners in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ayad-allawi-sets-conditions-recreate-2011-premiership-bid

Elections are not necessarily going to be a good thing for Iraqis……so much has happened to Iraq I am not convinced that elections are the answer to the ever mounting problems.

How About a Federalized Iraq?

I am slowly returning to my main focus…..conflicts and their resolution….it has been a long thoroughly hilarious 6 months…..now back to work.

We invade then occupied Iraq in 2003….after the major hostilities were over there were some that were calling for a federal republic for Iraq….among those was VP Joe Biden…..most people scoffed at the idea for various reasons…..I for one was not convinced that it would be a good idea….but as time went on I came around to the idea.

Iraqis did not have much input back in those days….was going to be up to the US and its allies to decide the course for a new government for Iraq.

My op-ed on this subject are pressed below…….

Source: Rethink Iraqi Federalism – In Saner Thought

I bring up this bit of Iraqi history for good reason….it seems that the tribes of Anbar province are thinking that federalism would be a good idea at this time…..

For much of Iraq, the ISIS war is seen as just a continuation of the sectarian warfare between Sunni Arabs and Shi’ite Arabs which has raged in the country since the US occupation. Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated government has long sought to dispel this notion by recruiting Sunni allies.

They haven’t had much success, but the Sunni Arab tribal factions they have managed to recruit are seen as key allies against ISIS. At the same time, the tribal leaders warn that Iraq needs massive reforms, not just a military victory, to end these conflicts.

The Lions of the Tigris faction are urging federalization as a solution to the ongoing tensions. They are far from the first to suggest this, but as allies in the current war, they may have the government’s ear more than some others.

(antiwar.com)

With the divides in the country…Kurds, Sunni and Shia, federalism may be the only way to bring stability in Iraq again.

But because it has worked well for the US does not mean that it will be so for Iraq…..there are so many other situations developing in the country that could prove hazardous to the federal experiment……problems like the Assyrians, Chaldeans and Yazidis…just to mention a few.

Where’s The Iraqi News?

AS the battles rage across Iraq….the military and militias are attempting to put an end to ISIS in Iraq…..the conflict has had many set backs in recent years….but with the help of US and its allies the conflict is swinging in the direction of the Iraqis.

I usually get some first hand news out of Iraq for I still have a few friends that I made when I worked in the country in the 1980’s and they, when possible, keep me informed and I then try to pass on to my readers the news that seems to escape the MSM of the West.

Recently, for about a  month, my friends have been slow to get me any news….at first I thought it was because they might be in danger and were laying low to avoid any complications.

Over last weekend I finally got to hear from one of my friends and he said that ALL news about the conflict was being censored in many ways….especially on bloggers and people not associated with the government….

He then sent me a piece written up in a region news source……

The Iraqi government is keeping an eye on local and foreign media outlets that are covering security events in the country, especially the war against the Islamic State (IS), namely in the battle to liberate the city of Mosul.

On Dec. 3, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) rectified its previous report on the violence against civilians in Iraq, following the criticism of the report by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, which requested it to be amended. UNAMI admitted that the number of casualties mentioned in the report was incorrect and was not collected from reliable sources.

This was not the first time that media outlets or humanitarian organizations corrected their reports following requests by Iraqi authorities. Since the launch of the Mosul operation, the Iraqi government is keeping an eye on media outlets and humanitarian organizations covering the battle of Mosul to prevent them from publishing false reports.

Appears the Iraqis have learned a lesson well from their American friends….that on how to control the info on the battles as they rage….

Iraq: On the Edge of Chaos

Iraq is far from the minds of most Americans….that is until some Terrorist group does something that shocks the piss out of them…..and then once that blows over they go back to worrying about that that has not happened yet…and may well never happen.

There is more going on Iraq than most Americans think……the Iraqi army is promising to free Fallujah….then there were the protests in the Green Zone about the poor government they have….and most MSM did not give it the coverage it deserved….

This were just a few of the more recent incidents……there is a bigger problem lurking in Iraq…..and in the long run will force the US to get more involved…..

There is an excellent analysis on the situation in Iraq…..I do not agree with some parts of the analysis but all in all it covers the events well…..

The recent storming of Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone by protesters led by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr brought to the surface a long-standing dilemma: the system which has governed the country since 2003 is in need of radical reform, but because the ruling political class has in many ways come to embody the system, it is highly resistant to genuine change. Street protests and recalcitrant politicians have created a combustible formula, paralysing state institutions and threatening to bring them down. Meanwhile, the security situation is dire, as evidenced by a series of attacks in Baghdad this week claimed by the Islamic State.

Three dynamics are at play. The first is the dysfunction of the post-2003 political system. Ostensibly designed to ensure fair ethnic-sectarian representation in state institutions, in practice it allows political parties defined by ethnic-sectarian identities to control them. Second is the mounting loss of popular trust in these parties and anger over their poor performance. Third is the fracturing of the political leadership, especially among and within the largest Shiite political forces — the Daawa Islamic Party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), and Sadr’s own al-Ahrar — which has been accelerated by the popular discontent and the system’s shortfalls.

Source: Iraq: On the Edge of Chaos | Crisis Group

The biggest problem in Iraq seems to be the ineffective government now in place……and there is more to that story nthan we get from the MSM……

The battle to free Fallujah from ISIL has already started. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) estimate the number of ISIL fighters in the city at 700 only. Civilians in Fallujah are estimated to be 60-70,000, and the combined forces for the operation are in the neighborhood of 25,000. But liberating Fallujah will not be easy or quick. ISIL booby-trapped all main accesses to the city and hundreds of buildings, and is determined to cause maximum damage to the ISF. It is important to work on opening safe paths for the civilians in Fallujah and to fully protect those paths to minimize civilian casualties.

Iran’s news-service Mehr agency wrote a story on May 25 about the role of Qasem Soleimani “in leading the battle of Fallujah”. Iraq’s Military Media Service circulated a picture of Soleimani meeting with military commanders in the operational HQ of the campaign to liberate Fallujah. On May 25, Iraq media described the role of Soleimani as follows: Soleimani Leading the Battle of Fallujah”. But Fallujah is in Iraq, isn’t it?

Source: The Dangerous Absence of State Authority in Iraq | Middle East Briefing

There is lots of optimism about the ability of the Iraqi army in its attempt to retake Fallujah from the clutches of the horrendous group, ISIS……but should there be any optimism?

Iraq is embroiled in a major battle against so-called Islamic State as it attempts to retake Falluja, the second largest city under Isis control, which has been a bastion of militant and insurgent groups for more than a decade. The operation follows the group’s loss of Ramadi and a series of other strategically important towns and cities. Since May 2015, Isis has been unable to launch a single successful operation.

The battle for Falluja will almost certainly bring the city back under the control of the government – but at what cost and towards what end? Falluja is a symbol of resistance against occupation for many sections of Iraqi society, particularly among the Sunni Arab population. Even the US, with its powerful armed forces, equipment and intelligence capabilities, struggled to control the city and, in the end, managed only to contain rather than actually eliminate the insurgency and other militant groups during its occupation.

Source: Iraq may retake Falluja – but to defeat Isis it must win back hearts and minds | Ranj Alaaldin | Opinion | The Guardian

I give my readers the heads up whenever I can…..I hope that someday they will not have to kiss their loved ones good-bye and pray that they return intact from their deployments…..

This is a lot of info to take in….but take the time to educate yourself….your family may have to deal with this in the future.

Keep in mind that the US has been f*cking with Iraq for 25 years….and we are NO closer to a solution than we were in 1991.

Just a thought.

Walls Are The “New” Thing?

Today is going to be my post dump day….you see I always have drafts waiting in the wings in case I need them…..and I noticed I had twenty five drafts hanging around waiting for the best moment to post them…..and today is that moment….I need to clear out my drafts to make room for new ones…..

This one is an amusing article I read about a “wall” and since it is a big topic in the Right wing bobble-head sphere I wanted to let my readers know what was happening on the “wall front”……

We will begin with my typical insertion…a historical perspective……..Back in the days of the Mongol invasion China thought it would stop them in their tracks…..then there were the South Africans that build walls to keep the Black population at bay…..today the Israelis are building a wall to keep Palestinians out of their hair and easily controlled…..and now let us not forget the bold idea, that caught on in some circles, offered up by Trump of building a wall to keep people out of our Southern borders……then there is Macedonia that is building a wall to stop immigrants…….that was a quick synopsis of the news of “wall builders”……but it does not end there……oh no……

The Iraqi government has a brilliant plan…….

A spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has confirmed the construction of a security wall around the capital, Baghdad, after the premier apparently dismissed the idea.

Saad al-Hadithi said on Sunday that the wall is being built but stressed that it is “not politically motivated” or aimed at “achieving demographic change.”

Baghdad Operations Command said on February 3 that preparatory work for a security barrier had started without providing further details.

Iraqi Interior Ministry’s spokesman, police Brig. Gen. Saad Maan said the “wall” would include an increased number of checkpoints around Baghdad in an attempt to prevent Daesh Takfiris from smuggling car bombs in.

“It’s not a wall exactly…We have reduced the number of attacks inside Baghdad, but we are working to prevent them completely,” he said.

(PressTV)

Okay what does this accomplish?

Let me see….the Iraqi government is mostly Shia and Shia militias and they do not have the best track record among the other demographics…..

There’s a slow-motion crisis brewing in Iraq — one dramatized by recent events that, over the long term, could make any victory over ISIS illusory.

This isn’t an isolated problem. Since Shia militias recaptured most of Diyala from ISIS in 2015, they have dominated the province, with minimal oversight from the Iraqi state. As a result, the ultra-sectarian groups have been free to attack Sunni civilians with impunity, making Diyala a dangerous place for Sunnis (a minority by national standards). Analysts disagree about whether it’s an organized campaign of ethnic cleansing, but the effect has been quite clear: Diyala has been depopulated of Sunnis.

Source: The US uses Iraq’s Shia militias to fight ISIS. They just got accused of ethnic cleansing. – Vox

So when the people say that it is not about demographics or ethnicity is that just hot air blown up our butts?

But are they right?

Source: Baghdad Fence: A security measure or a new barrier? – Al Jazeera English

Walls do keep people out….but it also keeps people in…..and at times it could be like shooting ducks in a barrel……walls give a false sense of security….what goes up….can come down……

It may be a popular talking point but is it a viable solution?

Never Ask What Else Could Go Wrong!

Iraq had Saddam to deal with…..then along came Gulf War 1…….and Iraq had to deal with war and then more od Saddam……and then came Iraqi Freedom (which is the most preposterous title ever!)……then there was the occupation and the violence……along came Obama and the troops went home…..enter more violence and a political system that was so screwed up that it was nothing more than a bunch of dudes making money off the US…..and the violence returned……and one morning Iraqis woke up with ISIS breathing down their necks……and the army went on the lame and ISIS started committing crimes against Iraqis unchallenged…..now the Kurds ride in to become the savior of the country from the monsters in ISIS……now the airstrikes return and the fighting is a reminder of days gone by…..and all the time there has been a steady flow of refugees going in one direction or the other…….and someone some where just had to ask the question…..what else could go wrong?

And the answer is………

Newser) – Tense times in Baghdad: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki deployed troops at strategic locations in the Iraqi capital amid a power struggle with newly elected President Fouad Massoum. Maliki accuses Massoum of carrying out “a coup against the constitution and the political process” by failing to nominate him for a third term, despite having the largest bloc in parliament. The New York Times says Massoum will most likely appoint someone from Maliki’s bloc, but not Maliki himself. (Update: He did just that.) “The risk is, if he clings to power, he will control the country by force,” says an unnamed Iraqi politician of Maliki. “This would be a military coup.” More:

  • Maliki is facing many calls to step down, but “it’s not in his DNA to go without a fight,” a CNN analyst says. “This is a man who’s really feeling besieged at the moment. He’s cornered on all sides, if you like. He’s got ISIS on his doorstep, in a military sense. He even had the Grand Ayatollah the other day saying politicians should not cling to their posts. But this is a guy who seizes onto power. He holds it.”
  • John Kerry says the US stands with Massoum and urges the people of Iraq to stay calm amid the political crisis. “We believe that the government formation process is critical in terms of sustaining the stability and calm in Iraq,” he said in a statement. “And our hope is that Mr. Maliki will not stir those waters.”
  • In the north of the country, meanwhile, some 20,000 of the Yazidis trapped on a mountain by fighting have managed to escape as the effects of American airstrikes on ISIS militants became apparent. Kurdish fighters supported by American drones and fighter jets went on the offensive against the militants and managed to recapture two towns, the New York Times reports.
  • Beyond air power, the US has also started directly supplying Kurdish forces with weapons instead of merely aiding deliveries from the Iraqi government, officials tell the AP. It’s not clear which US agency is supplying the weapons.

More agony for the Iraqi people…..something they do not deserve.

Will Maliki go or will Maliki stay?  If he fights this political swing….things will get messy.

My thought is he can be bought…..and that is what the US does best…..buy politicians.

The moral of this post is…..never ask what else could possibly go wrong?

Remember The Surge?

All Middle East……All day!

I bet you are asking……which one?  The Afghan or the Iraqi surge?  Am I right?

For the sake of this post I am speaking of the Iraqi surge……the one that made Patreus a household name.  The one that was really more about the Sunni tribal members that sided with the US forces in the west and north of the country in the battle against militants……how about now?

The ‘surge’ was a complete success….at least that was story line that the media and the admin wanted to be told…….regardless, we are looking at another incident where the Sunnis are being asked to contribute to the security of the country of Iraq………

As Iraqi forces struggle to retake Anbar from al-Qaeda affiliated militants, the government is turning to the same tactic the US used to end the Iraq war: Allying itself with local Sunni tribal militias. The US is urging Nouri al-Maliki to pass the guns it’s shipping him to the militants, and Maliki is obliging, while promising the militias permanent jobs, pensions, and death benefits for their trouble, the New York Times reports. But the militias say the US made the same promises, only to have Maliki’s government abandon them, and Sunni cooperation in general. They say they’re fighting because they feel obligated to drive al-Qaeda from their cities. “This is our war,” one tribal leader says, “and we don’t want to be accused of working for the government.” Tribesmen also tell the Washington Post that weapons shipments have been sluggish. “If the government was serious about wanting to support the tribes, they could clean up in three days,” said one government official. “All [the tribes] need is fuel, ammunition, and medium-sized weapons.”

Funny how when all starts going to shit the powers that be always turn to the Sunni tribes for help.  But the Sunnis are not a happy group especially with the PM al-Maliki……..

……………we’re supporting the Shiite dictator in Baghdad, Nouri al-Maliki, as he tries desperately to crush a lingering insurgency and al-Qaeda’s creeping hold on portions of southern Iraq. This foolishly ignores the fact that Maliki bears considerable responsibility for Iraq’s continuing descent into chaos. The Sunni-Shia violence in Iraq, as the International Crisis Group (ICG) explained months ago, is “as acute and explosive as ever” primarily because “Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has implemented a divide-and-conquer strategy that has neutered any credible Sunni Arab leadership.” Additionally, many ordinary Sunnis have been radicalized into militants after years of being denied basic rights.

This time the Sunnis will not be ignored after they do their part and as normal are pushed back into obscurity…..the Sunnis will demand more and if not treated properly all progress will be for naught….

Deja vu….all over again!

The $6 Billion Question

Back in the dark ages of TV, the 50’s or 60’s, there was a popular quiz show on the tube, the “$64,000 Question”…and there was always a bit of a mystery on how the people were so smart (there was NO Google)….and there was a movie about a rigged game show, where the contestant had the answers before hand…..anyway, I digress….

Let us move on, shall we?

When the last statue of Saddam was pulled down and the peasants danced, it seems that the Bush admin sent a bunch of cash, ands I do mean cash, into Iraq to help with the recovery that was to follow……this from an article in the LA Times…..

Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time.

This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled all those Benjamins. But despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash — enough to run the Los Angeles Unified School District or the Chicago Public Schools for a year, among many other things.

For the first time, federal auditors are suggesting that some or all of the cash may have been stolen, not just mislaid in an accounting error. Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an office created by Congress, said the missing $6.6 billion may be “the largest theft of funds in national history.”

The question is…..where is the cash…all $6.6 billion?

That is right, Irene……$6.6 billion just up and walked off…….this happened when Crocker was the administrator of Iraq in the interim period before elections for a new government….Crocker?  Yep, the same guy that has been named the ambassador to Afghanistan….yet another country that we are pouring money into by the plane loads……will we see another disappearing act by our cash in that country also?

Someone turned a profit off all that cash….any ideas?

This is how Washington protects the taxpayers contributions to the running of the nation?  We are SO screwed!

Are You Proud Of Iraq Yet?

Daily Agitator

We invaded a country to knock off its leader and to force democracy on a country that is NOT ready for democracy…..we lost over 4000 Americans in that exercise with countless other wounded in ways we may never know….for what?

A democratic government in the Middle East?  To get even with a dictator that had been thumbing his nose at us for a decade or more?  That worked out well…..gave Iran a major role in the region with NBO one to call them out when necessary…..good plan!

Well, the surge went well and the violence is at an all time low (so we are told) and if all goes well we should be out of Iraq next year (if you believe that I have land in Florida I will sell by the gallon)……but an old nemisis has arisen to challenge the US (yet again)……

Sheikh Salah al-Obaidi, a cleric who read a statement to demonstrators on behalf of al-Sadr, raised the prospect of American troops staying in Iraq into next year and beyond.

“What if the invading forces decide not to leave our country? What if they decide to stay? What if American troops and others decide to stay in our lands? …. Will you keep silent? ” al-Obaidi said, reading al-Sadr’s statement to chants of “God is great.”

“If they decide to stay in our country, then we have to do two things: first is to escalate armed resistance and lift the freeze on Mehdi Army,” al-Obaidi said.

Could this be a return to the massive violence of a couple of years ago?  Americans could once again be in harm’s way….if so…how much longer will the American people allow this crap continue?  We are already in Afghanistan for 15 or more years and now Iraq is NOT looking too good for us……how long will we allow this to continue?  When is enough, enough?