A single mother and her daughter are among thousands of Iraqis who fled to Damascus in the years before the Syrian civil war. They applied for asylum in the US, where they have family - but when the US closed its embassy they became stuck, like many others, in a city descending into chaos.Sabria Al-Dulaimi remembers the boiling heat of Baghdad on 12 July 2009 - the day she left home. She and her then 17-year-old daughter Ansam Noaman went to her uncle's house to see their family for the last time. The goodbyes continued at the bus terminal, from where they took a 12-hour car ride to Damascus. Sabria remembers that everyone was crying. She felt heartbroken.
What will become of the Iraqi refugees?
It's really surprising how so many just don't give a damn.
Senator Barack Obama pretended to give a damn.
Back when he needed Senator Ted Kennedy on his side.
But Ted is dead and Barack is president.
He doesn't give a damn about the refugees.
Not unless they're in a new country he wants to go to war with.
He'll blather on about obligations and human rights with regards to Ukraine.
But he doesn't give a damn about the Iraqi refugees that, in 2007, he said needed our urgent help.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Starting with the news that Western 'news' outlets still refuse to convey. Saturday, Moqtada al-Sadr led a protest.
That's Dar Addustour.
That's Al Mada.
Moqtada al-Sadr returned to Iraq on Friday. Western media avoided that as well. Look at the photos, note the massive turnout.
Then note the massive silence from US outlets -- three days of silence now.
There's the reality of news and then there's the manufactured crap the Western media tries to shove down your throat.
Believe it or not, I try to be nice. There's zero Iraq news today in the US media. Zero. So since I'm sent an interview Joel Wing (Musings On Iraq) gave last week on Iraq, I think, "Fine, we'll work sections of that in throughout the snapshot." But then I listen and it becomes ever clear how damaging Joel Wing remains.
If you're an analyst, you're an analyst. You don't get to be analyst and psychic. So maybe in your analysis, you might first want to consider not, in the third month of the year, announcing that there will at least 800 deaths every month this year. And, no, you don't "think" that, you suspect, you guess, but you don't "think" that because that's no factual, it's you peering into a crystal ball.
There's more than enough going on in Iraq without attempting to guess what the death toll will be in November.
Phillip Smyth: Can you describe the bad decisions that you mentioned the prime minister had taken that led to increased violence? And also what the government has been doing to try and deal with or respond to the worsening situation?
Joel Wing: You know there -- If you want to go to the immediate situation, it basically was in Anbar. You know, Maliki to try to, uh, make some deals with the protest movement there, sort of half-hearted, sometimes more intent on it. Didn't really work out. al Qaeda ambushed, uh, some uh Iraqi army officers [mumbles -- learn to speak into the microphone clearly] out there, wiped out the whole leadership. Uh, the whole country rallied behind the government , it was one of those rare moments when you had nationalism there. The army launched this big, huge campaign in Anbar to go hunt down al Qaeda and then Maliki decided, "Well look, everybody's rallied behind the government," he went after the protest movement. He cut a deal, uh, with Anbar Provincial Government which is important because the politicians in Anbar [mumbles]. They shut down the main protest site there in Ramadi. They arrested Parliamentarian Ahmed Alwani from the [Iraqiya, Joel Wing, he is a member of Iraqiya] who was one of the leaders of the protest movement and that basically set off the fighting. Maliki just, he wasn't happy with just going after the Islamic State, he decided to go after his political enemies too. And once he shut down the protest site, there's fighting that day with tribal people and then when they tried to arrest the Parliamentarian Ahmed Alwani, there was a big shoot out with his bodyguards and that basically was what started the fighting in Anbar and that brought all the insurgent groups out of the woodwork and tribes turn against the government as well. So that's the immediate situation.
I'm familiar with linear time lines. I'm not sure what to call the 'facts' that Wing provided. To term it a mosaic timeline would lend it too much credence and possibly imply some level of artistry.
Here's linear: The sun rises in the morning. Around noon, it's moved overhead. It retreats at nightfall.
This is not linear: Uh, the sun, uh was directly overhead and, uh, rose, uh, but, uh, went somewhere after it got dark.
In his telling, Ramadi's protest camp was shut down and then Ahmed al-Alwani was arrested and . . .
We have to deal with chronology because it does matter.
December 28th, the following went up here:
From the top one above:
At dawn today, on Nouri al-Maliki's orders, an MP's home was raided with the intent of arresting him. Nouri is the chief thug and prime minister of Iraq. Possibly, the real intent was to kill the MP -- that would explain a dawn raid on someone's home.
That's Ahmed al-Alwani, via All Iraq News, being arrested.
Alsumaria reports that his home was stormed by Nouri's SWAT forces at dawn and that 5 people (bodyguards and family) were killed (this included his brother) while ten family members (including children) were left injured.
al-Alwani's a Member of Parliament and he's a Sunni. Nouri is a Shi'ite.
More importantly, al-Alwani is a member of Iraqiya -- the political slate that defeated Nouri's State of Law in the March 2010 parliamentary elections. (The people of Iraq did not vote for Nouri. He has a second term as prime minister only because his buddy Barack demanded The Erbil Agreement be drafted -- going around the Iraqi Constitution, every principle of democracy and the will of the Iraqi people.)
Nouri's long targeted Iraqiya.
In December of 2011, he went after Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq -- Sunni and (then) a member of Iraqiya -- and Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi -- Sunni and a member of Iraqiya.
Let's be really damn clear, Ahmed al-Alwani was not "arrested."
You don't "arrest" a Member of Parliament without removing their legal immunity. You can say he was falsely arrested. I'd still quibble with you about a dawn raid being an arrest.
It's funny that Joel Wing's unaware that al-Alwani's brother was killed in that raid -- funny until you grasp how little Joel Wing knows.
So that's December 28th.
Joel has this following the shut down of the Ramadi protest camp but it came before. The 'shut down' (slaughter) took place December 30th. From that day's snapshot:
Here are three plain speaking outlets -- two western and Rudaw. Kamal Namaa, Ahmed Rasheed, Alexander Dziadosz and Andrew Heavens (Reuters) report, "Fighting broke out when Iraqi police moved to dismantle a Sunni Muslim protest camp in the western Anbar province on Monday, leaving at least 13 people dead, police and medical sources said." Rudaw explains, "As Iraqi forces launched a reportedly deadly crackdown on a months-long protest in the city of Ramadi in the predominantly Sunni Anbar province, Sunni MPs reacted by announcing mass resignations as other leaders called on protesters to resist and soldiers to disobey." Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) observes, "Today, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki underscored how little he’s learned, responding to a sit-in protest in Ramadi with heavy-handed police action that killed at least 17 people, 12 of them unarmed civilians."
If you need more than me, here's Human Rights Watch: "Government security forces had withdrawn from Anbar province after provoking a tribal uprising when they raided a Sunni protest camp in Ramadi on December 30, killing 17 people."
He didn't speak of the the April 23rd massacre of the sit-in in Hawija which resulted from Nouri's federal forces storming in. Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk) announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault. AFP reported the death toll rose to 53. UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).
Let's deal with facts now.
Joel Wing: Uh, the whole country rallied behind the government , it was one of those rare moments when you had nationalism there. The army launched this big huge campaign in Anbar to go hunt down al Qaeda and then Maliki decided, "Well look, everybody's rallied behind the government," he went after the protest movement.
Nouri al-Maliki had the whole country behind him?
Presumably, Joel means in December but we'll be kind and consider any month in 2013 for a moment.
How stupid is he, honestly?
Moqtada was at odds with Nouri all year, Ammar al-Hakim was as well (though lower keyed), the Kurds were at odds with him, all Sunni politicians except Saleh al-Mutlaq were at odds with him -- and Saleh was sometimes at odds with Nouri.
So when did that happen? It never happened. There was never a broad-based support for Nouri's government -- and certainly not for Nouri personally. We've long noted here how badly he polled (outside of US government propaganda polls). He is not liked by the people. More Iraqis are against him than are for him.
So Joel Wing's ridiculous lie that Nouri had all this support behind him in December is just appalling.
Joel Wing: You know there -- If you want to go to the immediate situation, it basically was in Anbar. You know, Maliki to try to, uh, make some deals with the protest movement there, sort of half-hearted, sometimes more intent on it. Didn't really work out.
No, he didn't try.
That was a demand of the protesters. In Iraq, Nouri has allowed people to be held in detention centers and prisons without any warrants. They've never been charged. Or, especially in the case of women, they're called "terrorists" because they're the wife, daughter, mother, sister, etc. of some man suspected -- suspected -- of terrorism but Nouri's forces couldn't find the man so they instead grabbed a family member.
Nouri made a for show 'effort' in February 2013. The press covered three 'releases.' But they refused to release a list of the people being allegedly released -- not to the press, not to the governors of the provinces. And worst of all, women included in a photo op for the press? They didn't make it back to their families. Where they ended up, no one knows.
To Joel Wing's credit, pressed on it in the interview, he will allow that no one knows how many were released.
But why does he have to wait to amplify that?
He's already put out that Nouri's made concessions.
He made none.
He held a series of photo ops in February to get good publicity.
Nouri lies, he always lies.
Joel Wing does as well. He wants to offer that Nouri made another concession to the protesters, he would do away with the Justice and Accountability Commission.
We called that nonsense out in real time.
A) The protesters don't give a damn about JAC. Politicians do. JAC determines who can and who cannot run for public office. This isn't a demand of the protesters.
Where in there is the Justice and Accountability Commission?
It's not. It wasn't one of their main concerns.
B) Nouri promised the US government he would do away with the JAC in order to keep US service members on the ground and to keep US dollars flowing into Iraq. That was in 2007. If he broke that promise, why would anyone he would keep it years later?
Again, I saw the e-mail this morning, made a point to stream it tonight. The plan was to use excerpts and weave it through the snapshot.
Joel Wing gets his feelings hurt very easily.
It's not about him, which he can't seem to understand or grasp.
When he distorts reality -- out of stupidity or a natural tendency towards deceit, I don't know -- it hurts.
The Iraqi people are struggling enough as it is without his distortions.
When he claims Nouri had the support everyone?
What a lie.
When he 'softens' reality by lying, he does real harm.
Nouri's attacking Anbar, he commands the military but Joel Wing would rather say, "The army launched this big, huge campaign in Anbar . . ." No, Nouri al-Maliki did.
I don't know why someone excuses Nouri.
Wing's perfectly content to savage and attack Ayad Allawi.
He doesn't have the facts there either.
Maybe he will in a few years?
For example, in 2009 and 2010, we were speaking of the national identity issue and how it was growing in Iraq. We didn't have anybody amplifying us.
Now what we saw and documented is accepted fact . . . So much so, that Joel Wing's now hopped on that bandwagon.
Four years later.
Presumably, in four years he'll be able to analyze Allawi and Iraqiya better and not merely resort to expressed hatred.
For the record, I'm accused of hating Nouri.
And I do.
I didn't at first. I knew he was paranoid when he was named prime minister on behalf of Bully Boy Bush in 2006. I knew that because that what US intelligence had gathered and that's why he picked to rule Iraq. His paranoia was supposed to make him more pliable.
I thought he was a dumb stooge -- and turns out, he is.
But it's his attacks -- especially in his second term -- on various communities in Iraq and the fact that he didn't win a second term, that the people rejected him, that made me feel no need to be neutral.
I'm sorry when you're using your ministry -- the one you never nominated anyone to head so you could control it -- to whip up sentiment against Iraq's Emo youth community? When you're forces are killing them and going into schools and telling students that they suck blood?
You don't deserve neutrality.
When you're thugs are gluing the anuses shut of suspected gay men, you don't deserve neutrality.
When you're conducting a never ending war on women?
You don't deserve it.
al-Hakim is the CIA favorite for the upcoming elections (he's also gotten a few promises from the White House). I don't play favorites with him -- and no one's ever accused me of it. I'm constantly accused of playing favorites with either Ayad Allawi, Massaud Barazani or Moqtada al-Sadr.
With regards to Allawi, he won the 2010 elections. The country would have been better off with him as prime minister. He won because of what Iraqiya stood for: National identity and one Iraq.
That would have helped the country immensely. Noting that is not playing favorites.
Massaud Barazni is the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government. He emerged as the leader Jalal Talabani (a Kurd and the President of Iraq) should have been. Outside Iraq, Barzani was a minor player. He stood up to Nouri and became a figure on the world stage, an important figure.
Noting that is not playing favorites.
This one makes the most sense to me, the accusation of favorites.
Moqtada was primarily a thug.
One who would have faded by the end of 2008 if Condi Rice, especially Condi, hadn't been so determined to make him the world's enemy.
We have called out Moqtada for years here.
So the last three or so years where Moqtada gets praise?
It can be confusing, I'm sure. But I've written about that repeatedly. When he returned to Iraq, it was a more mature Moqtada.
Was it a sincere one?
I have no idea.
It appears sincere.
But the reality is, Moqtada matured.
E-mails from two State of Law MPs also accuse me of backing and favoring Osama al-Nujaifi (and the two say this is something with every Sunni Speaker of Parliament).
But all of those people?
We're just covering them here. If they were in a four-way race for Prime Minister, I wouldn't endorse anyone because for the Iraqi people to decide their fate.
All we are is a critic, observing the events from afar.
As a critic, Nouri's a tyrant. If you don't get that, you haven't been paying attention for the last eight years, let alone to what's going on in Anbar today.
You can't use collective punishment or target hospitals and be seen as a leader because you are a War Criminal. The law defines you as such.
It's really amazing that Nouri is committing War Crimes and Joel Wing offers excuses for Nouri and minimizes what Nouri does but makes time to express hate toward Ayad Allawi.
Jalal Talabani is worthless. We noted that here repeatedly until his stroke and then we were a little kinder and then we stopped being kind because the Talabani family was deceiving everyone.
December 2012, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke. His family lied repeatedly about what happened and CNN broke the news that it was a stroke. The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot). Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital. Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany. He remains in Germany currently.
No one outside the family (and his medical team) has been able to speak to him. Efforts by Iraqi elected officials and even officials in Jalal's own political party have been rebuffed.
Saturday, Alsumaria reported that his doctors said today his condition is improving. Yeah, they keep saying that. For over 14 months now.
Today in Najaf, Osama al-Khafaji and Amjad Salah (Alsumaria) report, Qais al-Khazali, Secretary General for the League of Righteous, declared his objection to the lack of details regarding Talabani's state of health. He cites this (and his objection to Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi) as being among the reasons he is heading a list of 300 candidates for Parliament.
Yes, the League of Righteous are terrorists. That's why the leaders of the organization were imprisoned until US President Barack Obama let them go, negotiated a release -- the leaders are let go and, in return, they release the British hostages. We noted it here in real time. We were backed up when the leaders went public to the press about how they didn't feel Barack was living up to his part of the bargain. A second round of negotiations with the White House led them to release the last British corpse they had.
If you forget that they are a Shi'ite miliita, it's rather amazing that they are allowed to run when so many 'reasons' are created to prevent various Sunnis from running.
Osama al-Khafaji and Amjad Salah (Alsumaria) report that Ayad Allawi held a press conference in Baghdad where he decried the efforts to exclude and called for the doors to be open for all who wished to compete in the democratic process.
Let's turn to deaths.
Starting with a natural causes death. Tareq al-Shibli has passed away. He's an Iraqi artist who was important enough to be noted on the Iraqi Embassy in the US's webpage:
Iraqi music has its historic roots in ancient traditions but has continued to evolve through various eras. From creation of the oldest guitar in the world and the invention of the lute, to adding a fifth string to the rhythms and the various Iraqi maqams, Iraqi music proves to be an important part of the country's culture.
Renowned Iraqi composers include Abbas Jamil, NazimNaeem, Mohammed Noshi, Reza Ali, Kamal Al Sayid, Kawkab Hamza, Talib Ghali, Hameed Al Basri, Tariq Al Shibli, Mufeed Al Nasih, Jaffer Al Khafaf, Talib Al Qaraghouli and many others.
Popular Iraqi singers in the twentieth century include Nazem Al-Ghazali, Dakhil Hassan, Zohoor Hussein, Fuad Salem, Hussein Nema, Riaz Ahmed, Qahtan Al Attar, Maida Nuzhat, Anwar Abdul Wahab, SattarJabbar, Kazem Al Saher amongst others.
Another popular singer is Seta Hagopian -- an Iraqi dubbed "Warm voice of Iraq." She was among the many artists who worked with Tareq al-Shibli. Her well known song "Bheda," "Droub el Safar (Zghayroun)" and "Dinya" were co-written by al-Shibli.
Kitabat reports that Tareq al-Shibli's death was announced today after a he struggled with an incurable disease. (Not named in the report, it was apparently cancer -- he had tumors in the last years of his life.) Al Mada notes he composed many masterpieces that will live on in popular memory. They report that he was born in 1939 (in Basra -- Seta Hagopian was also born in Basra). He started in music by singing (1956) and then by being a musician (especially with the violin) and then a composer.
Moving to violent deaths, Nouri's bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhood today have killed 1 child and 1 woman while leaving five more family members injured and a military bombing in Anbar last night left four civilians injured. Al Mada notes that Parliament will attempt to discuss the Anbar assault.
Through Sunday, Iraq Body Count counts 530 violent deaths so far this month.
Sunday was the 16th which means there are fifteen more days of death left to count.
Including today which saw corpses dumped across Iraq and the targeted included a Shabak and a doctor.
National Iraqi News Agency reports an eastern Mosul roadside bombing left 1 person dead and another injured, Joint Operations Command announced they killed 4 suspects in Anbar, the Ministry of the Interior announced they killed 8 suspects in Anbar, 1 person was shot dead in Abu Ghraib, a Ramadi suicide bomber took his own life and the life of 1 Iraqi soldier while leaving four more injured, 1 Shabak was shot dead in Mosul, 1 suspect was shot dead in Mosul, Zahid Ismail ("director of the Office of the Turkmen Front in Mosul") was shot dead near his al-Rashidiya home, a Babil battle left 2 rebels dead, a Balad Ruz motorcycle bombing left 1 police member dead and four more injured, and a Wahed Huzairan roadside bombing left three family members injured. All Iraq News adds 4 corpses were discovered in Haditha (all four were kidnapped yesterday). Ghassan Hamid and Mohammed Shafiq (Alsumaria) report a doctor was shot dead in his clinic west of Mourl. Safaa Abdel-Hamid and Mohammed Shafiq (Alsumaria) report 3 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
To keep the killing going, Barack Obama continues to arm Nouri. The US Embassy in Baghdad proudly announced the latest weapons the White House has secured for Nouri:
March 16, 2014
The United States continues to accelerate delivery of weapons and ammunition to Iraq consistent with our Strategic Framework Agreement and long-term security partnership. These deliveries are made in response to specific Iraqi requests and pursuant to a holistic counter-terrorism policy that incorporates political, economic, and security measures. On the security side, it is essential that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are equipped with modern and effective weaponry given the serious threat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) now poses to Iraq and the region.
The United States is determined to help the ISF respond to this threat and protect the population in coordination with local leaders and tribes. Earlier this month, the United States delivered nearly 100 Hellfire missiles together with hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition and M4 rifles. These deliveries addressed a critical assessment of needs conducted jointly by Iraq and U.S. security experts, and were the latest in a series of deliveries bringing critical supplies to Iraq.
Since mid-January, more than eleven million rounds of ammunition, thousands of machine guns, sniper rifles, M16s and M4 rifles, thousands of flares, grenades and other weapons have been delivered to the ISF. Additional deliveries are scheduled in coming weeks, pursuant to the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program with attendant transparency and accountability measures.
The United States looks forward to working closely with Iraqi leaders and military commanders to determine and address additional critical equipment needs over the coming weeks. We will also continue to encourage all Iraqi leaders to work together to effectively implement the holistic counter-terrorism strategy in Anbar province, as reflected in the Council of Ministers February 18 program – with a focus on mobilizing the population against ISIL and other extremist groups.