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.

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.


What Is Turkey’s Aspirations?

Now that ISIS has been handed their butts Turkey has expanded their use of force in Syria and Iraq….most of the violence is aimed squarely at the Kurds in the region.

Understandable since Turkey has had a hard on for the Kurds in the region for several decades…..but beneath the obvious I have seen some opinions that Turkey is trying to bring back their glory days of the Ottoman Empire and their attacks on the Kurds is to remove any opposition that might interfere with their plans.

A European think tank, Geopolitical Futures has issued a paper on Turkey’s Middle East aspirations…..

The central question in Turkey’s invasion of Afrin has been whether it is a limited operation that will stop in northwestern Syria, or the first stage of what will become deeper Turkish involvement in the Middle East. Given that Turkey is intent on clearing the threat from its border, and that Kurdish forces extend far beyond the northwestern enclave of Afrin, there’s little reason to think that Turkey will stop after subduing Afrin.

There is, however, another threat that is forcing Turkey to take foreign military action: Iran. One of Turkey’s greatest historical adversaries, Iran has emerged from the Syria conflict in a relatively powerful position. One aspect of its qualified success has been the ability of the Bashar Assad regime, with Iran’s backing, to hold onto power and reconquer much of the territory it had lost in the civil war. Turkey sees a pro-Iran, Assad-led Syria on its border as a direct threat, which is why it looked the other way earlier in the war when Islamic State recruits crossed the border from Turkey to fight Assad.

Keep in mind that Turkey is also attacking the Kurds in Iraq… this is a NATO country, Turkey, and their violence against another country is a violation that could force the rest of NATO into a conflict they may not want.

All this brings into being a new term….Neo-Ottomanism

Neo-Ottomanism has been used to describe Turkish foreign policy under the Justice and Development Party which took power in 2002 under Erdoğan, who subsequently became Prime Minister. Neo-Ottomanism is a dramatic shift from the traditional Turkish foreign policy of the Kemalist ideology, which emphasized looking westward towards Europe with the goal of avoiding the instability and sectarianism of the Middle East. The shift away from this concept in Turkish foreign policy under Turgut Özal‘s government has been described as the first step towards neo-Ottomanism

The Ottoman Empire was an influential global power which, at its peak, controlled the Balkans, most of the modern-day Middle East, most of coastal North Africa (at least nominally), and the Caucasus. Neo-Ottomanist foreign policy encourages increased engagement in these regions as part of Turkey’s growing regional influence.


With some analysis one can see the possibility that Turkey is trying to relive the glory days of the Ottomans……slowly but steady……this will not benefit the world.

Closing Thought–20Mar18

15 years ago we went to war with Saddam in Iraq and after winning the war we fucked up the peace and allowed the insurgency turn into ISIS and as they say the rest is history.

I have been a critic of our policies about the Middle East….but I will put my opinions aside and let some other opinions come to the forefront…..

The Cipher Brief asked its experts in the intelligence, diplomatic and military to assess the war’s impact. Their conversations are adapted for print below.

Rob Richer, former chief of CIA’s clandestine operations in the Middle East and South Asia, during the Iraq war

In the most basic of assessments, we accomplished our tactical goal of removing Saddam from power. In retrospect, and based on the comments of senior Iraqi officials from Saddam’s regime, the United Nations sanctions were being felt and, in their words, capitulation to full UN inspections and other International demands was not far away.

Then there is “Curveball” the intel asset that was used to start and justify the invasion of Iraq……

As US secretary of state, Colin Powell gathered his notes in front of the United Nations security council, the man watching — Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known to the west’s intelligence services as “Curveball” — had more than an inkling of what was to come. He was, after all, Powell’s main source, a man his German handlers had feted as a new “Deep throat” — an agent so pivotal that he could bring down a government.

As Curveball watched Powell make the US case to invade Iraq, he was hiding an admission that he has not made until now: that nearly every word he had told his interrogators from Germany’s secret service, the BND, was a lie.

15 years and NO end in sight…..

We were always caught in the middle. We still are. As a young man, a new lieutenant, and a true believer, I once led a US Army scout platoon just south of Baghdad. It was autumn 2006, and my platoon patrolled – mainly aimlessly – through the streets and surrounding fields of Salman Pak. To our north lay the vast Shia heartland of East Baghdad, to our south and east, the disgruntled and recently disempowered Sunnis of the rural hinterlands. Both sides executed teenagers caught on the wrong side of town, leaving the bodies for us to find. Each side sought to win American favor; both ation of Iraqried to kill us.

Most Americans know now that they were lied to to gain support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq….after all that in what shape is the country?

How many young Americans need to die or be maimed before we call the situation and bring our troops home?

Yemen War Update

Recently Congress attempted to flex its muscle and invoke the AUMF in the Yemen War fiasco….

On February 28, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 54, a resolution that seeks to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. Even before the resolution was introduced, the Department of Defense responded with the extraordinary claim that Congress lacked the legal authority to “override the President’s determination as Commander in Chief” and end the United States’ involvement in the conflict.

To catch my reader up on the situations……March of 2015, a coalition of nine Arab governments, led by Saudi Arabia, began a bombing campaign in Yemen. The Saudi airstrikes were aimed at restoring to power the internationally recognized government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who had been deposed by an armed rebel group known as the Houthis.

Since 2015, the United States has been refueling Saudi planes in mid-air before their bombing runs into Yemen. As of last October, the military reported that the U.S. had provided over 80 million pounds of fuel, and refueled over 10,400 in “the Horn of Africa region.” (This total includes support for U.S. and allied counterterrorism operations as well as the Saudi coalition’s war in Yemen. The number of airstrikes by the Saudi coalition is orders of magnitude higher than the number of reported U.S. counterterrorism strikes, so refueling for Saudi planes for operations in Yemen likely constitutes a large share of the total). The war has killed thousands of civilians and contributed to epidemics and widespread food shortages.

The M-IC when it heard about the attempt by Congress went into “get tough mode”…….

The multi-trillion-dollar military-industrial-counterterrorism complex (MICC) has a business model for scuttling legislation that would end or curtail the involvement of the United States in military operations overseas.This typically involves leaking classified falsehoods, i.e., a false statement that the executive branch has classified to prohibit disclosure to the general public on the theory that disclosure might damage the national security of the United States (Executive Order 13526). Typically they will purport to demonstrate catastrophic danger or damage to the United States if Congress ends a use of the United States Armed Forces (USAF) in a designated conflict. Leaks like these will tend to fall into the hands of favored columnists like David Ignatius of The Washington Post or Tom Friedman of The New York Times.

The issue is dead!  The M-IC has defeated any effort to end a barbaric war that is causing a humanitarian crisis….death, destruction, disease, and so much more….but to preserve their profits the M-IC will continue to fuel the crisis on the Arabian Peninsula…..

In a surprising admission on Tuesday, the head of U.S. Central Command — which oversees U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia — admitted that the Pentagon doesn’t know a whole lot about the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen that the United States is supporting through intelligence, munitions, and refueling.

This is NOT what the US is suppose to stand for…but these days it is all we have.

Update to the update……..

Senate Joint Resolution 54, which would force the end of the US involvement in the Saudi War in Yemen, continues to face mounting opposition from the administration. Defense Secretary James Mattis is the latest to express opposition to the bill, in a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Mattis argues that the US support for Saudi Arabia is “non-combat support,” and that without it, Saudi Arabia would kill even more civilians in their airstrikes. This is a bold prediction given the outrageous number of civilians the Saudis are killing already.

Mattis further claims that the Saudis are engaged in a “legitimate exercise of self-defense,” another outrageous claim that other administration officials have made. This is based on the Shi’ite Houhis firing missiles at the Saudis, though presenting this as a pretext for a war of self-defense is preposterous, since the missiles were fired years after the Saudi invasion began.

Mattis does concede the point in his letter that there is no legal authorization for US involvement in the Yemen War, but insists Congress should “not impose restrictions” based on the war’s plain illegality under the War Powers Act.

Exact timing for the vote on S.J. Res 54 is still not certain, though proponents of the bill are hopeful that the vote will come early next week. Those wishing to contact their senators to urge them to support SJ Res. 54 should call 1 (202) 899-8938.

The US War Powers Act requires that Congress authorize any US military operations of the sort being carried out in Yemen. Since 2015, the US has conducted mid-air refueling for Saudi warplanes, and committed warships to the naval blockade which is fueling starvation across Yemen.


Yemen–Looking For The Solution

Another morning of doctors…..I may not be around much today…..hopefully everyone will have a good Friday.

The US has been entangled in the events in Yemen since the attack on the USS Cole….first we set about trying to find and punish those that planned the attack and after we have been fighting the Houthi tribesmen along with the Saudis.  This little conflict is causing a massive humanitarian crisis……starvation, epidemics, death and destruction…..

The US Senate has stepped up to try and end the US involvement in Yemen….surprise, surprise….it is a bi-partisan endeavor…..

Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) unveiled the bipartisan Senate resolution which aims to force an end to the US military involvement in the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen.

The bill makes use of the 1973 War Powers Act, which allows any legislator to introduce a resolution which would compel a withdrawal from any conflict that was not specifically authorized by Congress in any Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Neither of the two extent AUMFs have anything to do with the attack on Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthi movement.

This is the first time the Senate will have ever made a War Powers challenge to a conflict. A previous effort at such a legal challenge in the House was derailed by the leadership, and replaced with a “non-binding” resolution noting the Yemen war was unauthorized, which overwhelmingly passed.

Centcom commander Gen. Joseph Votel confirmed to the House Armed Services committee only the day prior that the US does not have an AUMF for Yemen, and that America’s involvement is solely a function of having sold the arms to the Saudis in the first place, and promising to “provide support” for those arms.

Yet legally, Congress is supposed to have the war-making powers, and this Senate effort stands to be the first time in recent history that Congress looks like they might be reasserting that authority.


The US is fighting in too many countries ans this one is one that we need to remove ourselves from……

As early as the next few days, the Senate will have its best opportunity so far to end US support for Saudi Arabia’s devastating war in Yemen — a war that has sparked a humanitarian catastrophe that puts millions of lives at risk.

The vehicle for congressional action is a bipartisan bill introduced last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut. The bill would end US refueling and targeting assistance for Saudi Arabia’s bombing, aimed at Houthi rebels in Yemen, unless such actions are authorized by Congress
This is a good start….but it needs to be expanded to include the AUMF and the War Powers Act…..
The Senate started the ball rolling and now the House seems to want to join in……

Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), hosted a bipartisan hearing on the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that for 17 years has been used to exercise executive military action abroad under multiple presidential administrations.

The hearing focused the congressional caucus members’ desire to repeal the 2001 AUMF, hold a congressional debate and vote on a new authorization. The hearing was composed of members from both the House Liberty Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The caucuses say the vote on war isn’t a partisan issue.

“The overly broad and outdated AUMF represents a critical deterioration of congressional oversight of military operations,” a press release from Rep. Amash for the ad-hoc hearing read.

Republicans and Democrats join forces to call for repeal of 2001 AUMF war making powers

The old college try…..finally a glimmer of spines peeks out of the cowardly Congress…..I wish them luck.

Syria–What To Do?

We don’t hear much about our war in Syria these days…we are too busy watching the revolving door of the Trump White House to be bothered with the armed conflicts of the Middle East.

Let me catch you up a bit….recently the US attacked a position in Syria that killed many Russian citizens, some say they were mercenaries, but that matters not….this situation could explode in our face…..

Recent escalations in Syria, including the US strike on pro-regime forces in Deir ez-Zor — which killed Russian combatants — is raising speculation about potential fallout from Moscow’s strategy in Syria and possible escalation between the Russian and American militaries.

The strike occurred Feb. 7, yet the exact number of Russians killed in the fight with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces has ranged in various news sources from 10 to 200 soldiers and mercenaries in Russia’s employ. The number of US airstrikes also has remained as a matter of speculation.

If we are not careful we could stumble our way into another war…..

One of the interesting aspects of the Trump era is the extent to which our political culture is obsessing over marginalia while truly significant events transpire largely out of sight and out of mind. For example, late last year the Iraqi government announced the defeat of the ISIS caliphate within Iraqi borders — a significant moment, no doubt — but that same day Donald Trump got in a Twitter spat with the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel over the crowd size at a Pensacola rally. Guess which event got more coverage?

Part of this dynamic, of course, is the president’s fault. He should have trumpeted the allied victory and charted the road ahead. The caliphate was in ruins, but ISIS still exists. Where do we go from here? And part of this is the media’s fault. It’s just easier to follow the president’s lead. After all, that’s where the clicks are. It’s harder to look at the world and discern which stories truly matter.

While the US and Russia are facing off…..a game of who will blink first…..silently ISIS is making a comeback (and you thought it was over)……

Abu Fadi, was killed 10 days ago in a fight with Isis in eastern Syria when the vehicle he was in was hit by a heat-seeking missile. “He was driving a bulldozer which was building an earth rampart when Isis hit it with a missile we call a ‘fuzia’,” said Baran Omari, the commander of his unit in the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

“Isis attacked us in the village of Bagin in Deir Ezzor province [in eastern Syria],” he explained, adding that his men had been able to kill those who fired the missile. He described Khalaf, who was about 50 when he died, as a very brave man because he had the peculiarly dangerous job of constructing tactical earth fortifications in the middle of battles.

While the different armies are all battling one enemy or another…..Turkey vs Kurds, US vs whoever they can drone attack, Russia vs the “other guys” and Syria fights everyone…..the country is not bad enough the Trump WH is considering expanding the US footprint in Syria……

The White House is said to be considering a new round of military action against the Syrian government sometime soon, with recent media reports of chlorine gas exposure in Eastern Ghouta serving as a pretext for the attacks.

President Trump has requested the Pentagon to provide him various options for such a military attack, nominally to “punish the Assad government” over the unproven allegations of chlorine gas attacks.

That would be the second time in less than a year this has happened, as in April, 2017 the US fired a flurry of 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Shayrat air base, which at the time they said was over claims of chlorine gas attacks as well.


There was never any concrete proof of the allegations which served as a basis for the April attacks, which means that while there’s no solid evidence for these new allegations, that is unlikely to be an obstacle to a new US attack.

There were reports as recently as Friday that the Trump Administration wanted such attacks to be “equal to or greater than the one used last year,” and while that’s clearly not set in stone, such an attack is likely to further cement the US as being in open warfare against the Syrian government.

Do we really need another enemy?  Do we really need yet another war?

Does the US really need to stay in Syria?

It is difficult to overstate how chaotic, violent, and intractable the situation in Syria has become. Regional powers such as the Syrian regime, Russia, Iran, and Turkey—along with hundreds of rebel groups—employ armed forces or violent militia in search of competing objectives. But not every intractable situation demands the blood of our servicemembers and treasure of our taxpayers be spent trying to solve it.

In this cesspool of violence—before creeping into full-blown occupation and nation-building, a proven no-win situation for the U.S.—Washington should immediately redeploy U.S. Forces to higher priority missions actually related to our core interests.

The US needs to just do what it needs to do…..pull the troops out and save lives.

Closing Thought–02Mar18

Could This Be A Step Closer?

Recently in Syria the US engaged some hostiles in Syria and those troops were Russian in origin…..some say mercenaries but they were Russian citizens……

France 24 published an interview last week with a man it described as a Russian paramilitary chief who provides Russian citizens access to mercenary work in Syria in which he said his countrymen had been galvanized by reports that they were taking an embarrassing loss to US forces.

“Each week I receive five or six new requests,” the man said. “Some call me by phone; others come to see me.”

He said that about 100 people in Russia’s Yekaterinburg region, where he is based, were “planning to go to Syria.”

The man said that after reports that US forces earlier this month crushed an advance of fighters loyal to the Syrian government — troops said to have contained hundreds of Russians — he had seen a change in the volunteers.

“Now it’s more about getting revenge than it is about money,” he said.

The US is selling this attack as self-defense…….

U.S. Military Battle with Possible Russian Mercenaries: ‘Our Strikes Were Done out of Self-Defense’

The Pentagon is reiterating that a battle in Syria that allegedly left some number of Russian mercenaries dead was purely an act of self-defense on the part of U.S. forces. Indeed, the Pentagon still does not know exactly who it is that American forces targeted during their retaliatory strike on Feb. 7.

This could be a diplomatic nightmare but we will never know because we have very few diplomats left……could this spiral out of control of tit for tat attacks?

Keep in mind that the US and Russia and confronting each other in the Baltics, Eastern Europe and Southern Europe….would not take much for this to become a major international problem.

On to the weekend and some much needed enjoyment…..thanx guys….chuq