Sunday, July 27, 2014

THIS JUST IN! THE PUT PUT PRESIDENCY!

BULLY BOY PRESS &    CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE


HE'S NOT VERY ENGAGED WITH WHAT'S GOING ON IN GAZA, IRAQ OR UKRAINE.

BUT HE'S A MENACE IN THE SAND TRAP.

REACHED FOR COMMENT, BARRY O TOLD THESE REPORTERS, "PUT PUT FOR THE FUN OF IT.  PUT PUT.  FOR THE FUN OF IT.  PUT PUT."





Wednesday morning, the State Dept's Brett McGurk and the Defense Dept's Elissa Slotkin appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to talk about Iraq.  Thursday, they appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to talk again about Iraq.  We're going to spend another day on the Senate hearing and we'll kick things off with this lengthy exchange.


Senator John McCain: So if we did initiate an air to ground campaign, without including Syria, they would have a sanctuary in Syria.  Would you agree with that?

Brett McGurk: One of the reasons I defer to my colleague Elissa, we're focused on training the moderate opposition and have a face that's able to deny safe haven and deny space to the -- to the ISIL networks in Syria.

Senator John McCain:  Well probably so but the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have both stated publicly that the Iraqi security forces are not capable of regaining the territory they lost to ISIS on their own, without external assistance.  Do you agree with the Secretary of the Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs?

Brett McGurk: The Iraqi security forces have moved, uh, a little bit out of -- We had this snowballing effect out of --

Senator John McCain: Again, asking if you agree or disagree with the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who both stated publicly that the Iraq security forces are not capable of regaining the territory they've lost to ISIS on their own without external assistance?  Do you agree or disagree?

Brett McGurk:  They could not conduct combined operations -- which it would take -- without some enabling support.

Senator John McCain: So, since we all rule out boots on the ground, that might mean the use of air power as a way of assisting them.  Would you agree with that?

Brett McGurk:  Uh, Senator, I just -- uh, all of these options, potential options for the president, are being looked at and, as Elissa said, we're not going to crowd the table --

Senator John McCain: And how long have we been "looking at them," Mr. McGurk?

Brett McGurk:  Uh, well --

Elissa Slotkin: Sir, the assessments came in last week and --

Senator John McCain: So the assessments came in last week.  How long have we been assessing?

Elissa Slotkin:  I think we assessed for two solid weeks.

Senator John McCain:  I think it's been longer than that since the collapse of the -- of the Iraqi military, Ms. Slotkin.

Elissa Slotkin:  I think the president made his announcement on June 19th.  And then he instructed that assessors go to Baghdad.  They flew there and began their assessments immediately.

Senator John McCain: I see.  And so far we have launched no air strikes in any part of Iraq, right?

Elissa Slotkin:  That's correct.

Senator John McCain:  And you stated before that we didn't have sufficient information to know which targets to hit.  Is that correct?

Elissa Slotkin: I think we have adequately improved our intelligence --

Senator John McCain: But at the time, did you believe that we didn't have sufficient information in order to launch airstrikes?

Elissa Slotkin:  I think that we -- given our extremely deliberate process about launching any airstrike we would --

Senator John McCain:  You know, it's interesting.  I asked: Do you think at that we didn't have sufficient information to launch airstrikes against ISIS?

Elissa Slotkin: I think given the standards the United States has for dropping ordinance, no, we did not have the intelligence we would ever want at that time.

Senator John McCain: I find that interesting because none of the military that I've talked to, that served there -- and even those who flew there -- they're absolutely convinced, as I am, that when you have convoys moving across the desert in open train, you can identify and strike them.  We know that they were operating out of bases in Syria -- out in the open, in the desert.  So with those of us who have some military experience in the advocacy of air power, we heartily disagree.  And that isn't just me, it comes from military leaders who served there.   


There are a number of reasons to note the above.  One reason we did?

Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one aspect of the hearing:

Like the rest of the world, the U.S. government appeared to have been taken aback last month when Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fell to an offensive by jihadis of the Islamic State that triggered the collapse of five Iraqi army divisions and carried the extremists to the threshold of Baghdad.
A review of the record shows, however, that the Obama administration wasn’t surprised at all.

I don't like people who lie.

In the House hearing especially, there was a pretense of 'I am so shocked!'  Often with a claim of 'It turns out that late last year, Nouri al-Maliki asked the White House for air strikes.'

John McCain is no friend of the White Houses.  That is a large chunk of his exchange in the Senate hearing.

You can agree or disagree with the points he raises.  But you will notice he does not pretend he is shocked or act like he just learned of Nouri's request from last year for air strikes.

You can refer to the November 1, 2013 snapshot covering Nouri's face-to-face meet up with Barack Obama to grasp that there's no way anyone can pretend to be shocked by today's events.

Yet a number of House members pretended and played -- and lied -- during Wednesday's hearing.  And a number of reporters are eager to join them in pretending and playing.

Another topic that came up repeatedly was Nouri's failures.

For example, former US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey told the Senate Committee on Thursday:

Despite the election of a moderate Sunni Arab speaker of the Iraqi parliament two weeks ago, there is no certainty that Iraqi political leaders and parliament can overcome their deep divisions to create an inclusive new government as rightly demanded by the U.S. Government. For starters, any such government must not be headed by PM Maliki. He has lost the trust of many of his citizens, including a great many Shia Arabs, yet is still trying to hold on to power. In this uncertain situation, while pushing the traditional approach, we must simultaneously prepare to deal with an Iraq semi-permanently split into three separate political entities, and to shape our approach to the Sunni Arab, Shia Arab, and Kurdish populations and to the central government on that basis. 

Nouri "is still trying to hold on to power"?  Michael Gregory and Larry King (Reuters) reported Friday morning that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistanti's Friday message was that politicians must stop "clinging to their posts, in an apparent reference" to Nouri who refuses to step aside.

Jeffrey thinks the answer is "an inclusive new government" and one that "must not be headed by PM Maliki."  In the same Thursday hearing, it was wondered if the State Dept was backing Nouri and at what cost?


Senator Jeff Flake:  Is it possible at all, in the State Dept's view to move ahead with Maliki in charge?  Will there be sufficient trust -- any trust -- in the Sunni population that he'll be inclusive enough?  His government?  Or does our strategy rely on somebody else coming in?


Brett McGurk: Again, it's going to be very difficult for him to form a government.  So they're -- they're facing that question now -- now that the president's been elected to face the question of the prime minister.  Any prime minister, in order to form a government, is going to have to pull the country together.  And so who ever the leader is, it's someone who's going to have to demonstrate that just to get the votes he needs to remain -- or to, uh, uh, be sworn into office.  So that's something that's going to unfold fairly rapidly over the coming days.  Again, there's a 15 day timeline to nominate a prime minister [designate] and then whomever the nominee is then has to form a Cabinet and present it to the Parliament to form a government.

 While Nouri has lost the support of many -- including, reportedly, the support of the Iranian government, the US government continues to support him and not just as evidenced by Brett's slip-up ("he needs to remain") but also by the exchange in Friday's State Dept press briefing moderated by Marie Hark

QUESTION: Right. Yeah, I wanted to ask you if there’s any progress on the forming of the new government. Do you have any updated --

MS. HARF: Well, they selected a president and --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- they have up to 15 day – excuse me, up to 15 days, I think, to name candidates for prime minister. And then after that, I think up to 30 to actually form a government. I can check on the dates. But they have now a speaker, they have a president, and then next up is a prime minister.

QUESTION: Should we read from the testimony that Mr. McGurk did on Capitol Hill that you are losing patience with Mr. Maliki, you’d like to see someone else take his place?

MS. HARF: You ask this question a different way every day. We don’t support --

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. HARF: -- and I’ll give you the same answer, so let’s – for consistency, let’s do that again today. We don’t support any one candidate, any one person to be prime minister. We’ve said it needs to be someone who is interested in governing inclusively. We’ve also said we’ve had issues in the past with how Prime Minister Maliki has governed. But again, it’s not up for us to decide. It’s up for the Iraqis to decide.

QUESTION: Right. But your confidence in Maliki’s abilities to rule inclusively, as you said, is --

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve had issues in the past.

QUESTION: -- not ironclad.


MS. HARF: We’ve had issues in the past.


The State Dept has "had issues"?  With a War Criminal, they've "had issues"?




RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"





Thursday, July 24, 2014

THIS JUST IN! HE NEEDS TO LET HIS HAIR DOWN!

BULLY BOY PRESS &    CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE



THESE REPORTERS SPOKE WITH BARRY O AFTER THE FUNDRAISER AND HE EXPLAINED THE PRECAUTIONS WERE NECESSARY "SO WE COULD LET OUR HAIR DOWN.  WE TALK ABOUT FADED CELEBRITY TOPICS -- LIKE SHOULD WE DO A REALITY SHOW OR NOT?  OR MAYBE IF PARIS OR LINDSAY IS MORE PASSE?  SOMETIMES WE TALK ABOUT HOW TO AVOID PANTY LINES -- WE CAN DO A WHOLE HOUR ON THAT.  IT'S JUST IMPORTANT FOR US TO LET OUR HAIR DOWN, YOU KNOW?"




US House Rep Ed Royce: Never has a terrorist organization itself controlled such a large, resource-rich safe haven as ISIS does today. Never has a terrorist organization possessed the heavy weaponry, cash and personnel that ISIS does today -- which includes thousands of western passport holders. The Iraqi population is terrorized; they have suffered mass executions and harsh sharia law. Last week, the remaining members of the ancient Christian community in Mosul fled on foot in face of ISIS demands that they convert or face death. To be clear, ISIS's take-over has been aided by Prime Minister Maliki’s malfeasance and incompetence. Maliki has disastrously failed to reconcile with key Sunni groups. Many -- including myself and Ranking Member Engel -- urged him to form a more inclusive government so that ISIS could not exploit legitimate Sunni grievances. Maliki has only proven himself to be a committed sectarian; certainly no statesman. It is time for Iraqis to move forward in forming a government that serves the interests of all Iraqis. 

Royce was speaking at today's House Foreign Affairs Committee.  He is the Chair of the Committee, US House Rep Eliot Engel is the Ranking Member.  Appearing before the Committee were the Defense Dept's Elissa Slotkin and the State Dept's Brett McGurk.

We're going to start with Elissa Slotkin:

First, we have added forces to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq. The safety of U.S. citizens and personnel in Baghdad and throughout Iraq is our highest priority. The Department of Defense is meeting all requests from the Department of State for security support to US Embassy Baghdad. As described in the War Powers notifications we transmitted to Congress on June 16 and 26, DoD has sent a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST ), a Crisis Response Element (CRE), and additional military assets and personnel to reinforce security at our diplomatic facilities in Baghdad and the Baghdad International Airport. 

That's from Slotkin's opening remarks and we're going with the written version and not the oral version because that was more clear in writing.

Should something go wrong with regards to US diplomatic staff in Iraq, people will be asking what was going on?  Was there a plan?  Already, the issue of the safety of the diplomatic staff has been an issue.  Speaking on behalf of DoD today. Slotkin conveyed the government's position. 

Whether that's enough or not is something events will most likely determine.

Something that can be determined right now?

That the administration was doing enough or not?  That can be judged right now. Here's Brett McGurk speaking of the days after rebels took Mosul.


Brett McGurk:  Over the next three days, in meetings with our embassy team and video conferences with President Obama and the National Security Council, we immediately prepared and executed our crisis response. We also worked closely with Iraqi officials to organize the defenses of Baghdad and restore some of the confidence that had been battered. Our response to the immediate crisis proceeded along three parallel tracks. First, and most importantly, we worked to ensure the security of our own personnel and facilities. Second, in parallel, we both relocated and surged U.S. diplomatic, intelligence, and military resources to develop strategic options for the President with real-time and accurate information. Third, we worked with Iraqi officials to strengthen their defenses of strategic locations, and set the political process on track, with a focus on forming a new government following national elections. 


Everything the administration has done since 2010 has pretty much been wrong.  That includes US President Barack Obama's weasel words when running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2007 and 2008.  He did not face cheering crowds and garner applause and shouts of joy for declaring, "I will withdraw some troops from Iraq in 16 months, in fact, let's call them 'combat troops,' while I keep many more on the ground in Iraq."

No, what got cheers were his claims that "we" wanted to get the US troops out of Iraq -- all.  16 months was the promise he gave the public. He should have kept it.  He should have ordered an immediate departure from Iraq of all US troops upon being sworn in back in January 2009.  If he'd done that, it would be Bully Boy Bush's (illegal) war.  BBB started it, the American people wanted it ended, Barack could have done that and then, if anything bad happened, he could say, "All I did was end the war."

But he's not very bright nor are his advisers -- and, even worse, than not being very bright?  Being not very bright and falsely assuming you're a genius.  Instead of leaving it Bully Boy Bush's war, Barack wanted to toy with it, wanted to f**k with it, wanted to put his stamp on it.

And he did.  And he owns the illegal war the same as BBB.

No one knows what would have happened if Iraq had been left to move forward on its own at the start of 2009.  But what is known now is that installing Nouri al-Maliki for a second term -- after voters rejected him --  guaranteed Iraq would take the path it currently is on.p

And now Nouri wants a third term.

Grasp that Barack never anticipated that happening.  He's unable to forsee the most basic possibilities.

Remember that, following the 2005 parliamentary elections, Iraq waited several months for a prime minister.  What was the hold up?

Not the Parliament.  They wanted to name Ibrahim al-Jafaari.  He's been the prime minister, then Ayad Allawi.  But the Bully Boy Bush administration -- not one noted for wisdom -- managed to grasp that Iraq -- ruled by a strongman -- could quickly fall back to that pattern.  They nixed al-Jafaari.  But in the next election, even with Nouri losing, Barack and his administration weren't smart enough to grasp that giving Nouri a second term could lead to all the problems Iraq now faces.

They're not very smart and really struggle to anticipate much of anything.  The gang that supposedly moved on three dimensional chess levels?  Turns out they can't even handle tic-tac-toe.

From the hearing . . .


US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: In your excellent opening statement, Mr. Chairman, you had said -- about Mr. McGurk -- that in February you [McGurk] said that we must ensure that ISIL can't gain safe haven in western Iraq and that you were confident that Iraq would deny them this.  We all know how that turned out.  Just a few months later, ISIL took over most of western Iraq.  How could your assessment have been so far off?  How could Iraq lose this territory?  Why didn't we respond to their calls for help?  Your testimony from February shows  that there's some serious disconnect within the administration and the reality of the threat in Iraq.  Or we've just been completely failing in addressing it.  You said in February, that the US began to accelerate some of our foreign military assistance programs and information sharing to get a better intelligence picture of Iraq. Last month, Secretary [of State John] Kerry said nobody expected ISIL to capture Mosul.  Even if  our foreign military assistance had not  quite kicked in yet, shouldn't our information and intelligence gathering efforts have been able to get a better assessment, a more accurate assessment, of Samarra and Mosul?  And it has been widely reported that while taking control of Mosul, ISIL seized rather large quantities of US supplied foreign military assistance and made off with nearly half a billion dollars from the local banks -- in addition to tanks and humvees that were taken.  US officials were quick to deny the claims of ISIL-- that they captured advance weaponry such as Black Hawk helicopters.  Did they capture any caravan aircraft with advanced weapon platforms?  And did they take any other advanced weaponry like MPADS [Man-portable air-defense systems]?  US military equipment and hundreds of millions of dollars aren't the only items that ISIL has seized. The Iraqi government confirmed that ISIL took uranium from Mosul University.  What is the status of that uranium?  What could ISIL use that for?  And on the Christian community, we've seen that the ancient Christian community in Iraq is under seige by these Islamist militants.  Once a vibrant and sizable community, now over 1 million Christians have been forced to flee their homes  and communities or be killed.  Their homes are being marked by ISIL and they are being given an ultimatum to flee, to convert or to be murdered.  In February, you said, Mr. McGurk, that the Christian community had the resources to protect itself and that we had actually made progress.  It's clear that we haven't made any progress.  We cannot protect them.  So what are we doing now to protect the few remaining Christians and their religious sites and artifacts?  As Ranking Member Engel had pointed out,  are we -- on any level -- coordinating with Iran on the -- or Syria -- over our Iraq policy or ISIL and does the administration believe that Maliki must go?  Yes or no?  Thank you, sir, gentle lady.


Brett McGurk:  Let me -- Let me try to address some of these in order.  First, uhm, the discussion we had -- the very good discussion we had back in February was focused on Anbar Province and I'll just bring you up to speed on-on where we are Anbar Province.  At the time, Falluja was in control of ISIL, Fallua's still in control of ISIL.  I made clear then that our advice was 'not to move into Falluja, that it was to set up a coordinate' -- and that coordinate remains in place although it is fairly loose.  Second, we wanted them to hold the provincial capitol of Ramadi.  So far, they are still holding the provincial capitol of Ramadi.  What has changed significantly in Anbar is a very sophisticated attack what happened late last month with an attack on al Qaim the strategic border crossing in Iraq -- which again proves that ISIL is really an army, it's a military capable force, it was a multiple day assault. 



al Qaim?  In June, in two days in June, al Qaim, Rutba, Rawa and Anah were taken by rebels -- all in Anbar. 

Other aspects of Brett's testimony registered as well as evidenced by today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Marie Harf.



QUESTION: Very quickly, the parliament failed today to choose a president. Now the problem if they don’t do it tomorrow, then they will miss the deadline, because next week is the (inaudible).

MS. HARF: Well, they’ve said they will meet tomorrow and will vote tomorrow.

QUESTION: Could you very quickly tell us what Mr. McGurk is doing now?

MS. HARF: Brett McGurk?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: He’s back in the United States.

QUESTION: He’s back in the --

MS. HARF: He was testifying on Capitol Hill today.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: On Afghanistan?

QUESTION: (Off-mike) McGurk.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: He said that ISIS is not just a terrorist organization, but a full army and is more powerful than al-Qaida. Can you comment on that?


MS. HARF: I haven’t seen – I didn’t watch his entire hearing this morning. Let me take a look at what he said. Clearly, they have significant military capabilities, though. That is true.


We'll return to the hearing to note this exchange.



US House Rep Albio Sires: Ms. Slotkin, I have been here since 2006 and I have come to hate the words "assess" and "train."  We seem to be assessing and training Iraqi soldiers, assessing the situation in Iraq and I think the situation is worse than ever.  After spending billions of dollars, we train an army, someone shoots at them, they run for the hills.  Where did we go wrong with these people?  That we put all this money into this training and they can't even defend a section of their own country?  And I just -- it's mind boggling to me.  Now we have this situation where we have ISIL moving in all sorts of directions and I'm concerned that -- in Jordan, for example -- we have 2 million refugees and if we have a situation where they destabilize Jordan, the whole area -- It's just -- It's just a big mess.  What did we do with all that money that we paid to train those people?  Where are these trained people?  And I've been here since 2006 -- and not just this administration.  I'm talking from 2006 on.  Can you just -- Mr. McGurk, could you also assist me in understanding this?

Elissa Slotkin: Sir, let me address the issue of the training.  I think anyone who has watched the news or been part of our efforts in Iraq was disappointed by what we saw in Mosul.  And I think the biggest thing that we looked at and that we were surprised by was the disolving of frankly four Iraqi divisions up and around that area -- and some areas where they did not fight, in contrast to western Iraq where they did put up a fight.  And rather than a lack of capability, I think what we believe happened is that they just lacked either the will or the direction to fight.  So either they saw a snowballing effect, out of fear, stripped off their uniform and turned or they waited for direction from Baghdad that did not come and therefore departed.  We don't believe that they lacked a basic capability.  It's that, at the end of the day, they did not have the will or direction to fight in that part of the area. 





RECOMMENDED:  "Iraq snapshot"




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

THIS JUST IN! BUSTED!

BULLY BOY PRESS &    CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE

FADED CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O IS BEING CALLED A PERV AND THE ONLY SURPRISE THERE IS THAT NO LIVESTOCK ARE INVOLVED.

REACHED FOR COMMENT FADED CELEBRITY AND ONE-TIME FEMINIST GLORIA STEINEM TOLD THESE REPORTERS THAT THERE WAS NOTHING SEXIST ABOUT BARRY O GROPING AND LEERING AT A 23-YEAR-OLD WOMAN, "AND BELIEVE ME, I SHOULD KNOW!  I WAS JUST VOTED SEXIEST SOCIALIST SENIOR AT MY RETIREMENT HOME!"


FROM THE TCI WIRE:


Turning to the persecuted in Iraq, Adam Chandler (The Wire via MSN) notes, "ISIS, which recently rebranded as the Islamic State, has solidified its control over Iraq's second-largest city by imposing Sharia law and expelling Christians who won't convert to Islam. The end of last month marked the first time a mass wasn't held in the city in more than 1600 years."  While Catholic Online notes:

"You have no place here anymore, you have to leave immediately," a member of the Syriac clergy quoted the Sunni militants as telling the monastery's residents.
The monks reportedly pleaded to save some of the monastery's relics. The fighters refused and ordered them to leave on foot with nothing but their clothes on their backs.
Christian residents from the area say the monks walked several miles along a deserted road and were eventually picked up by Kurdish peshmerga fighters who drove them to Qaraqosh.
Five monks have been expelled from Mar Behnam. Christian families in the area said there may have been up to nine people living at the monastery.


Friday, the Islamic State informed the Christians of Mosul there were two choices if they wanted to go on living in Mosul: pay a tax or convert to Islam.  If they didn't want to do either and attempted to remain in Mosul, they would be killed.  The events and threats have been decried by many leaders including the Pope.  Independent Catholic News notes, "Pope Francis has reassured the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church Ignatius Youssef III Younan that he is following news out of Iraq with concern, particularly the dramatic situation of Christians in Mosul who have been threatened with death and seizure of their homes by Islamic militants demanding they leave or convert to their form of Islamic belief. Christians have lived in Iraq’s second largest city for nearly two thousand years; there are few, if any, left now in Mosul."  Also offering promises is the governor of Erbil Province.  AP notes that he (Nawzad Hadi) is promising "to protect fleeing Christians and other minority groups.  The territory is currently home to more than 2 million refugees and internally displaced people from Iraq and Syria, according to the United Nations."  Lebanon's Daily Star adds:

The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order – a collection of former members of the Baath party said to be helping ISIS in its conquests – has disassociated itself from violence against minority groups.
“Our army is an extension of the former national Iraqi army and includes all the factions of the Iraqi people such as Sunnis, Shiites, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen as well as Christians, Yazdis and Sabeans who want to liberate Iraq and relieve it from subordination,” the group said in a message posted on its official website Tuesday.
“We don’t have any connection or coordination with any group ... which calls for dividing Iraq and its people on ethnic and sectarian basis.”

Of course, it's not just the city of Mosul being targeted, surrounding cities and towns have been targeted as well. Jason Motlagh (Bloomberg News) reports on the neighboring city of Qaraqosh where IS has limited the amount of water the city gets:

Outside one of the town’s 12 churches, people queue from 6 a.m. until midnight to get their daily rations from a well. Flatbed trucks are joined by children with pushcarts and riders on bicycles bearing empty jugs. “Our lives revolve around water,” says Laith, 28, a school teacher who returned with his family a day earlier from a suburb of Erbil, the Kurdish regional capital, 45 miles away, to which thousands of threatened Christians have migrated. Though aid agencies have erected several water depots around town, supplies are limited, barely enough to sustain large families in the 100-degree-plus heat. Plans to dig new wells will take at least several months to fulfill.


The attacks come shortly after a major discovery.  Alexandra Di Stefano Pironti (Rudaw) points out:

While the history of civilization is being demolished by war and religious zealots in the rest of Iraq, in the Kurdistan Region archeologists are marveling at a stunning discovery: the remains of a long-lost temple from the biblical kingdom of Urartu, dating back to the 9th century BC.
Kurdish archaeologist Dlshad Marf Zamua, who has studied the columns and other artifacts at the find, told Rudaw these were unearthed piecemeal over the past four decades by villagers going about their lives, digging for cultivation or construction.  
But only recently, after the discovery of life-size human statues and the unearthed columns, Zamua realized that the villagers had stumbled upon the temple of Haldi. That was one of the most important gods of Urartu, an Iron-Age kingdom around Lake Van in the Armenian highlands.


When the Christians in Mosul were threatened, the US State Dept had nothing to say.  After-the-fact?  The State Dept's a non-stop Chatty Cathy as evidenced by spokesperson Marie Harf at today's press briefing.


QUESTION: And just to follow up on Samir’s question yesterday about ISIS in Iraq and persecuting Christians, is there any update from the podium about any special ambassador for international religious freedom that might be able to – better equipped to deal with this kind of issue?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re very well-equipped to deal with this kind of issue. We have a number of people working on it. I don’t have an update for you on that. I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Would you agree that when President Obama goes to the Dutch embassy and signs a book of condolence – largely it’s a ceremonial gesture. Would a nomination – would you agree that a nomination of this position of international – ambassador of international religious freedom, it would set – it’d be better optics, given --

MS. HARF: Why is it related in any way to the President signing a ceremonial book? I don’t see the link, and obviously, we’re committed to religious freedom regardless of whether or not there’s someone in that position.

QUESTION: Because it’s a gesture that says that we care.

MS. HARF: Well, we do care. We care very deeply, and I will see if there’s an update on any sort of nominations for you.

That was it on the topic because the journalist who cooperated with the State Dept on Benghazi, who e-mailed about what questions he'd ask and shared what a waste he thought discussing the Benghazi attack was?  That journalist or 'journalist' wanted to derail the discussion of Iraq.  Who knows, maybe that was worked out in e-mails before the briefing?  Maybe not.


Listen to me, don't walk that street
There's always an end to it
Come and be free, you know who I am
We're just living people

We won't have a thing
So we got nothing to lose
We can all be free
Maybe not with words
Maybe not with a look
But with your mind

-- "Maybe Not," written by Chan Marshall (also known as Cat Power), first appears on Cat's You Are Free.



RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

THIS JUST IN! CLAWS COME OUT AT THE OK CORRAL!

BULLY BOY PRESS &    CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE

FADED CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O OFFERED PECULIAR CRITICISM OF RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN THIS WEEK, "PRESIDENT PUTIN SAYS THAT HE SUPPORTS A FULL AND FAIR INVESTIGATION, AND I APPRECIATE THOSE WORDS, BUT THEY HAVE TO BE SUPPORTED BY ACTIONS."

WTF??????????????

WHAT DID THAT BITCH JUST SAY?

DID MR. PRETTY WORDS JUST TELL PUTIN HE NEEDED TO OFFER MORE THAN WORDS?

OH NO, HE DIDN'T!








Yesterday at the Vatican, Pope Francis weighed in on the issue of the ongoing persecution of Iraqi Christians.  Linda Bordoni (Vatican Radio -- link is text and radio) reports the Pope's remarks included, "Today our brothers are persecuted, they are banished from their homes and forced to flee without even being able to take their belongings!"  The Pope declared that violence is not the way to end violence, that only peace could overcome and triumph over violence.

What's going on? 


Catholic World News notes, "Following an ultimatum from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to leave Mosul, convert to Islam, or be killed, the city’s remaining Christians left for other parts of Iraq."  Dropping back to Friday's snapshot:


Iraqi thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki repeatedly refused to provide Iraqi Christians in Baghdad with the security needed.  This was most obvious in the October 31, 2010 attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad.  Many Iraqi Christians fled the country.  Many of those who stayed moved to northern Iraq which was considered to be more tolerant of and welcoming to Christians. 
BBC News reports Christians are now fleeing the northern city of Mosul because the Islamic State has declared that Christians have one of two choices -- "convert to Islam or pa[y] a 'protection tax'."  There is the third choice: Do neither and be slaughtered.  They have until Saturday afternoon to leave, convert or face "the sword."


Christians are said to have now fled the city or to be in hiding in it.  AFP reported over the weekend on Fadi who had decided to remain in Mosul with his wife and their son because they lacked the money to relocate elsewhere.  As the bulk of Christians fled, landmarks were seized.  Mohammad Jamal (Al-Monitor) reports, "Crosses were replaced with IS banners, and all churches were either closed or burned down."  AFP adds, "ISIS militants have taken over a monastery in northern Iraq, one of the country’s best-known Christian landmarks, and expelled its resident monks, a cleric and residents said Monday. The fighters stormed Mar Behnam, a fourth-century monastery run by the Syriac Catholic Church near the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh, Sunday, the sources said."


Rudaw adds, "According to information obtained from sources by Rudaw, only 200 of Mosul’s 5,000 Christians still remain in the city." And those who did leave?  Hamdi Alkhshali and Joshua Berlinger (CNN) explain, "Some of the families headed for Irbil -- which is currently controlled by Kurdish forces -- and others toward the Dohuk province. The majority went to Dohuk, which is 140 kilometers (87 miles) north of Mosul."

Nabih Bulos (Los Angeles Times) reports:

"For the first time in Mosul's history, there are no services being held and the church bells are silent on Sunday," lamented William Wardeh, spokesman for the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, a watchdog group. "This is a crime in and of itself."
In recent decades, clerics say, conflict, sectarian strife and other factors have more than halved an Iraqi Christian population that once exceeded 1 million, including various Eastern Rite sects, both Catholic and Orthodox. Many worshipers have immigrated to Europe, North America and Australia.

AP reports thug Nouri issued a statement on Sunday which decried the targeting of Christians and "agression against the churches and houses of worship."  Someone's supposed to take Nouri seriously?  The man who did nothing to provide security for the Christians in Baghdad -- let alone in the rest of Iraq?

Historically, Iraq has long been home to members of the Christian faith.  In fact, prior to the start of the Iraq War (March 2003), it was estimated that Christians accounted for at least two million Iraqis in the country.  Now the number tossed around is approximately 400,000.  Al Arabiya News notesspecific figures with regards to Mosul, "Until their forced exodus over the weekend, Christians had been continuously present in Mosul for about 16 centuries."

Open Doors USA issued the following statement today:

SANTA ANA, Calif. (July 21, 2014) – Dr. David Curry, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, has condemned the latest action of Islamic State militants who ordered all Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul to leave the city over the weekend or face execution.
"The persecution and treatment of Christians in Mosul is unprecedented in modern times,” he says. “This latest forced exodus of Christians further shows why Western governments and the people in the West need to cry out in support for religious freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere. If this does not move us concerning the near extinction of Christianity in the Middle East, it’s likely nothing else can."
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Director of Interfaith Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, adds: “Too many of us thought that forced conversions and expulsions of entire religious communities were part of a distant, medieval past. There was little that we could do to stop this horrible episode. 
“It is not too late to realize that many others –  Christians today, but certainly Jews, Baha'i, Hindus, Muslims and others – are mortally endangered by a potent religious fanaticism that threatens tens of millions, and which still can be resisted.” 
According to Open Doors, the Islamic State gave Christians an ultimatum over the weekend – 1) stay and convert to Islam 2) pay Islamic tax (which is too much for most families to pay) 3) leave Mosul taking nothing but their clothes. Christians who stayed would be executed. 
Most Christians have left Mosul now. At the checkpoints of ISIS, Christians had to leave everything behind (cars, gold, money, mobile phones). The only possessions they could keep were their clothes. They had to walk to safer places, mostly in northern Iraq, while traveling in blistering heat. 
A World Watch Monitor source in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region, said a Christian family in Mosul reported by phone that explosions were heard during the night last Thursday in Mosul. On Friday, as the family attempted to pass through a Mosul checkpoint, ISIS agents forced them out of their car and confiscated their belongings and put them in a separate vehicle. Then the militants drove them several minutes down the road, and ultimately forced them out to continue their journey on foot, according to the source.
Open Doors reports that some churches, many in partnership with Open Doors, have been helping the Mosul refugees. An Open Doors field worker said: “The exodus has stopped. There are no more Christians in Mosul. We now need to pray that they might return one day.”
Earlier last week, the Islamic State marked houses belonging to members of minority communities, including Christians, with the phrase "property of the Islamic State," including inhabited houses.
Iraq is ranked No. 4 on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. For more information on the list, go to www.WorldWatchList.us. 
For almost 60 years Open Doors has worked in the world's most oppressive and restrictive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ's light in these places. Open Doors empowers persecuted Christians in the areas of Bible and gospel development, women and children’s advancement and Christian community restoration. Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
(To set up an interview or for more information, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email jerryd@odusa.org.)


The first wave of ethnic cleansing took place in 2006 and 2007, as Nouri was beginning his first term as prime minister (spring 2006).  So the idea that Nouri's words were sincere?

AP also notes, "The comments from Nouri al-Maliki come a day after the expiration of a deadline imposed by the Islamic State group calling on Christians in the militant-held city of Mosul to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death."

An Iraqi leader speaking sincerely would be one who called out the threats before the deadline for Christians to exit Mosul expired.  A real leader would have stood with the threatened on Friday or Saturday.  Nouri waited to speak until after the bulk of Mosul's Christians had left the city.

Also weighing in on the threats, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:


   
20 July 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today condemned in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of minorities in Mosul and other parts of northern Iraq as a reported deadline passed for individuals to convert to Islam, pay a tax, flee or face possible execution. 
In a statement from his spokesperson, Mr. Ban, who is currently in the Middle East, strongly denounced the actions of the group known as the Islamic State (IS) and its allies. 
“Equally repugnant are reports that Turkoman, Yazidis and Shabaks are facing abductions, killings or the destruction of their property,” Mr. Ban continued, “and that the homes of Christian, Shia and Shabak residents in Mosul have been marked.”
He stressed that any systematic attack on the civilian population due to their ethnic background, religious beliefs or faith may constitute a crime against humanity, “All armed groups, including IS and associated formations, must abide by international humanitarian law and protect civilians living in areas they control.”
Mr. Ban noted that recently “minority communities that have lived together for thousands of years” in Ninewa province, whose main city is Mosul, have come under direct attack and persecution by IS and associated armed groups. 
In the past few weeks, tens of thousands of members of ethnic and religious minority groups have been displaced or forced to flee and seek refuge, while many others have been executed and kidnapped.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, who visited Iraq last week to see the conditions facing some of the displaced families, warned that Iraq risks “full-fledged sectarian war and complete fragmentation” as Iraqis continue to flee their homes and minority groups are targeted. 
The UN will continue to intensify its efforts, in cooperation with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, to address the urgent humanitarian needs, Mr. Ban said, including the minority groups displaced by terrorist threat.


Al-Shorfa quotes the Baghdad scholars and preachers council spokesperson Sheikh Shaker al-Adhami stating, "ISIL is proving day after day that is has nothing to do with Islam, and that its terrorist leaders who are dreaming about power and are afflicted with the desire to spill blood and enjoy the killing of innocent people have exploited [Islam] in the most heinous way."

A lot of people show up to make statements . . . days after the threat was made public.  After the Saturday deadline.





RECOMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"


Sunday, July 20, 2014

THIS JUST IN! THE VICE RISES!

BULLY BOY PRESS &    CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE

FADED CELEBRITY BARRY O'S GIFT OF GAB FADED LONG AGO BUT WHO KNEW HE WOULD GET THIS BAD?

A WHITE HOUSE SOURCE TOLD THESE REPORTERS THAT AFTER BARRY O'S GAFFES, VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN IS BEING CALLED "THE BRAIN."

BIDEN HIMSELF TOLD THESE REPORTERS, "NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE JOE."





Pew Research notes the findings of their latest polls:

As violence and chaos spreads in Iraq, the public is wary of U.S. involvement in the country. A 55% majority says the United States does not have a responsibility to do something about the violence in Iraq; 39% do see a responsibility to act.
Overall public awareness of the situation in Iraq is high: 45% say they have heard a lot about the violence in Iraq and takeover of large parts of the country by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Covering the poll, Aaron Blake (Washington Post) offers, "The poll reinforces that Americans have very little appetite for any significant involvement in Iraq, with just 39 percent saying the United States has a responsibility to do 'something' about the violence there."


Iraqi thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki repeatedly refused to provide Iraqi Christians in Baghdad with the security needed.  This was most obvious in the October 31, 2010 attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad.  Many Iraqi Christians fled the country.  Many of those who stayed moved to northern Iraq which was considered to be more tolerant of and welcoming to Christians.

BBC News reports Christians are now fleeing the northern city of Mosul because the Islamic State has declared that Christians have one of two choices -- "convert to Islam or pa[y] a 'protection tax'."  There is the third choice: Do neither and be slaughtered.  They have until Saturday afternoon to leave, convert or face "the sword."


In response to the threats, Nickolay Mladenov Tweeted the following:



Mladenov is United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative in Iraq.

Hamdi Alkhshali and Shelby Lin Erdman (CNN) explain the warnings/threats were put into writing which was then "distributed in recent days to the leaders of the dwindling Christian minority in Iraq's second largest city." Reuters adds, "A resident of Mosul said the statement, issued in the name of the Islamic State in Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, had been distributed on Thursday and read out in mosques."  Al Jazeera notes that before the last few weeks,  "Mosul's Christian community was estimated at 3,000. Many are believed to have already fled the city as part of an exodus of up to one-third of the population. Churches and Christian-owned shops in the city were reported smashed by those who fled."  Press TV offers, "The United Nations said in a new report on Friday that at least 5,576 civilians have been killed and 11,665 others wounded in Iraq since January."


And the US State Dept issued the following statement:




Press Statement

Jen Psaki
Washington, DC
July 18, 2014
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of ethnic and religious minorities by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). We are outraged by ISIL’s recent announcement that Christians in Mosul must either convert, pay a tax, leave, or face execution in the coming days. We have also seen photos of reportedly Christian houses in Mosul marked with pejorative terms for Christians, as well as reports that Shia and Shabak houses have been similarly marked. ISIL also continues to target Sunni clerics and tribal sheikhs who disagree with its dark vision for Iraq.
These abominable actions only further demonstrate ISIL’s mission to divide and destroy Iraq and contradict Islam’s spirit of tolerance and peaceful co-existence. It should be clear that ISIL is not only a threat to the stability of Iraq, but a threat to the entire region. This growing threat exemplifies the need for Iraqis from all communities to work together to confront this common enemy and to take all possible steps to isolate these militant groups from the broader population.
We encourage government officials in Baghdad and Erbil to take every possible effort to assist Iraq’s vulnerable populations and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions in a manner consistent with the rule of law. The United States stands with all the Iraqi people against the threat from ISIL.


John Kerry is the head of the US State Dept.   Their equivalent in Iraq?  Hoshyar Zebari heads the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  He has been the Minister of Foreign Affairs since July 13, 2003.  July 11th, Nouri began making noises and, as usual, a stupid and craven western press dropped to all fours for Nouri and began treating Nouri's edicts as laws and facts.  From that day's snapshot:


There are reports that Nouri's replaced Zebari.
No, he really hasn't and can't.  Were he to nominate someone -- questionable with Iraq's caretaker state currently -- that person couldn't be confirmed because that requires the Parliament.
Now he did something similar in a previous time when a government hadn't yet formed.  When he did that before, he took someone already confirmed by Parliament to the Cabinet and just taxed that person with additional duties and an additional office.
Deputy Prime Minister Hussain Shahristani has never been confirmed to head a Ministry so it's a stretch to call him "acting" or "interim" anything.  You can call him "illegal" or "unconstitutional."  But that's about it.



Rudaw speaks with Zebari today and the first issue they raise in the interview?


On whether he is still foreign minister of Iraq:

I am still the foreign minister of Iraq.  He (Hussein Shahristani) has been appointed as acting (foreign minister). Based on the Iraqi constitution, removing ministers requires parliamentary approval. The prime minister or the council of ministers have no such authority.



So maybe in the future, the foreign press (including many Americans) could either tell the truth or just sit their tired asses down?  The foreign press has lied about Iraq more than enough at this point in time?



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