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6/18 Iraq Watch: U.S. Plans Nearly $1 Billion Arms Deal, 300 US Troops to Iraq
Iraq Watch: Projects of Peace NO War Network
Lee Siu Hin: July, 2003 "Report from Baghdad"US just aftermath of invade and occupied Iraq
U.S. Plans Nearly $1 Billion Arms Deal with Iraq
"The United States plans to sell nearly $1 billion worth of warplanes, armored vehicles and surveillance aerostats to Iraq.
The deal includes 24 AT-6C Texan II light-attack aircraft, a turboprop plane manufactured by Beechcraft that has .50 caliber machine guns, advanced avionics and can carry precision-guided bombs, the Pentagon said.
The aircraft and related equipment and services are valued at $790 million.
The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency informed Congress on Tuesday of the planned sale, which will go ahead unless lawmakers block the deal.
"The proposed sale of these aircraft, equipment and support will enhance the ability of the Iraqi forces to sustain themselves in their efforts to bring stability to Iraq and to prevent overflow of unrest into neighboring countries," the agency said in a notice.
The sale is the latest in a series of U.S. weapons deals with Iraq as Baghdad seeks to bolster its armed forces amid rising violence linked to al-Qaida militants and sectarian divisions between the Shiite-led government and disgruntled Sunnis.
Iraq has previously agreed to purchase 36 U.S. F-16 fighter jets.
This week's deal also included 200 "up-armored" Humvee vehicles with machine gun mounts, worth $101 million.
The vehicles will help "Iraq's ability to defend its oil infrastructure against terrorist attacks," the agency said.
And Iraq purchased seven aerostats, airships or tethered balloons that rely on a buoyant gas, to provide surveillance for military installations and key infrastructure, it said.
The aerostats and deployment towers were worth about $90 million."
Source: Agence France Presse
14 May 2014
Obama Orders nearly 300 US Troops to Iraq
"President Barack Obama has informed the US Congress under the War Powers Act that he is ordering at least 275 US soldiers and Marines deployed to Iraq as the country descends into a full-fledged civil war.
The troops are ostensibly being sent to protect the giant US embassy in Baghdad and assist in a possible emergency evacuation of thousands of American functionaries stationed there. The administration already ordered a partial evacuation sending thousands of officials to other parts of Iraq and the region.
There is already a sizable Marine contingent at the embassy, not to mention large numbers of heavily armed military contractors, making it highly likely that the troops are being deployed for other purposes. This includes organizing a defense of the Iraqi capital under conditions in which Iraqi government security forces have repeatedly collapsed in the face of an onslaught by Islamist fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other Sunni insurgents.
Washington has insisted that the forces it is sending in are not combat troops, while acknowledging that they are nonetheless “equipped for combat.”
Meanwhile, the White House has organized a meeting with the top Democratic and Republican leaders of both the House and Senate today for consultations on Iraq. The private meeting between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (Republican-Ohio), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Democrat-California), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat-Nevada) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) is likely in preparation for a more aggressive US intervention.
Despite ruling out any US “boots on the ground,” there is increasing discussion of dispatching Special Forces units to Iraq—who again would be equipped for combat but would not be “combat troops” by Washington’s definition.
“The White House is considering sending a small number of American Special Forces soldiers to Iraq in an apparent attempt to help the government in Baghdad slow the nation’s rampant Sunni insurgency,” the Associated Press reported, citing unnamed US officials familiar with the discussion. One of the officials said that the proposal would involve up to 100 Special Forces troops.
The Obama administration has repeatedly touted as its greatest foreign policy achievement the final withdrawal of US troops from Iraq in December 2011. The pullout was conducted on the timetable set by the previous administration of George W. Bush and finalized only because of Washington’s failure to secure a status of forces agreement guaranteeing US troops immunity from prosecution for war crimes.
Now, two and a half years later, a civil war that stems wholly from US imperialism’s destruction of Iraqi society and its interventions elsewhere in the Middle East is prompting it to send troops back in and contemplate fresh violence against the shattered country.
The White House and the Pentagon are also considering launching drone missile strikes and other air strikes against the insurgents. The Obama administration has already ordered the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush and five other warships into position in the Persian Gulf for a possible attack on Iraq.
An indication of the thinking in circles close to the administration came in a report released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress, a Washington think-tank. The group is headed by Neera Tanden, who was the domestic policy director for the Obama campaign, and includes a number of other prominent Democrats, including former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta and ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.
“In Iraq, the United States should prepare for limited use of US—and if possible allied—air power on ISIS targets to degrade their ability to further destabilize the country and to protect US interests,” the report states.
It likewise urges “more robust efforts to train and equip” the so-called “moderate” Sunni Islamist insurgents in Syria combined with “limited air strikes” in that country as well.
Since last week’s fall of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, the situation has continued to deteriorate for the US-backed regime of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Heavy fighting was reported Tuesday for control of the city of Baquba, less than 40 miles north of the capital, Baghdad. Insurgents also overran Tal Afar, a strategic city in northwestern Iraq near the border with Syria, where ISIS is one of the main fighting forces in the US-backed war for regime change against President Bashar al-Assad.
The fighting in Baquba brought another indication of the growing threat of a sectarian-based civil war erupting even more explosively than the one triggered by the US occupation in 2006.
Shiite militiamen defending the city’s jail against Sunni forces are reported to have carried out the mass execution of some 42 prisoners, who were said to be Sunnis, arrested on suspicion of supporting the insurgency. The massacre follows a number earlier reports of the ISIS executing large numbers of captured troops and police, particularly in the city of Tikrit.
There have also been reports from Baghdad of apparent sectarian revenge assassinations of Sunnis by Shiite gunmen. The bodies of a Sunni prayer leader and two of his assistants were found in a Baghdad morgue Tuesday, four days after they were reportedly kidnapped by militiamen. Four more bodies, presumed to be those of Sunnis, were found with multiple gunshot wounds on Tuesday, and there were reports that Sunnis living in Baghdad are having x’s scrawled on their homes, a warning that they must leave or die.
The Obama administration, according to the Washington Post, is pressuring Prime Minister Maliki to shift from the Shiite sectarian policy that he has pursued over the past eight years and adopt “a more inclusive power-sharing arrangement” that would draw in Sunni and Kurdish elements.
In an apparent response to the pressure from Washington, Maliki appeared Tuesday beside a Sunni politician, Usama al-Nujaifi, who was speaker of the Iraqi parliament before it was dissolved recently, and the former prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jafaari, in a call for national unity and for “defending the state and protecting its sovereignty and dignity.” Iraqi observers recalled that a similar statement was issued during the sectarian bloodbath of 2006, with no discernible effect.
Behind all of the hysteria generated about the ISIS establishing a terrorist base in Iraq, the reality is that the relatively small number of radical Islamists have been able to advance across the so-called Sunni triangle of northwestern Iraq only because they have been joined by a popular Sunni insurgency, led in many cases by former officers in the Iraqi army that was disbanded by Washington after it toppled the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein. The insurgency is driven by bitter resentment over the systematic exclusion of Iraq’s Sunni population from political power and the use of the security forces to violently suppress peaceful protests.
This policy has been pursued by Maliki since he was first installed as prime minister under the US occupation in 2006 and then re-elected in 2010, thanks in large measure to the Obama administration’s pressure to deny the office to the largely secular Iraqi National Movement, which gained the most votes.
Now there are signs that the Obama administration may be maneuvering to push Maliki aside and bring in a new US puppet ruler. Asked Monday whether US Secretary of State John Kerry believed that Maliki should not be the country’s prime minister, a State Department spokeswoman said, “He leaves it in the hands of the Iraqi people, so we’ll see what happens.”
US imperialism has been the principal instigator of sectarianism in the region, from its divide-and-conquer strategy in the war and occupation in Iraq, to the fomenting of sectarian civil war to topple Assad in Syria. Its cynical support for Sunni Islamist insurgents in Syria, while backing a Shiite sectarian regime across the border in Iraq to suppress these very same forces, has brought the entire Middle East to what a United Nations panel on Syria warned Tuesday was the “cusp of a regional war.”
This assessment was borne out Monday in Maliki’s bitter denunciation of Saudi Arabia and other US allies among the Persian Gulf monarchies for funding and supporting the ISIS.
On the other hand, the former Qatari ambassador to the US, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, a prominent member of the ruling family in Qatar, the home of the US Central Command, warned on his twitter account that “Any intervention in Iraq by the west to prop up criminal Malki in Iraq will be seen by the whole Sunni Arabs and Muslims as war against them.”
Khalifa went on to state, “It is wise for the west to stay clear of Iraq by not intervening unless they can help force Malki out of power and keep Iran out of Iraq.”"
Bill Van Auken
18 June 2014
Obama Responds to Iraq Debacle with Military Escalation
"In the face of the unfolding debacle for the United States in Iraq, the Obama administration is preparing yet another escalation of violence. Like all of the other actions taken by American imperialism in Iraq and the broader Middle East, this too will lead to nothing but more death and destruction.
The humiliating collapse of the US-backed military forces in Iraq in the face of an offensive by the Sunni-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has put that tortured country once again in Washington’s gunsights.
The Pentagon announced Saturday that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had ordered the aircraft carrier George H. W. Bush into the Persian Gulf, accompanied by two other warships. President Obama has declared that some form of military action is imminent, saying Friday, “there will be some short-term, immediate things that need to be done militarily.”
The possible operations reportedly range from shipping emergency supplies of weapons and ammunition to Iraqi forces, to drone missile attacks, to air and missile strikes from US naval forces in the Persian Gulf.
While the White House has publicly ruled out the dispatch of ground troops, a Pentagon spokesman pointed out that there are 35,000 US soldiers, sailors and airmen in the Middle East who provide unstated “options” for the commander-in-chief. Numerous commentaries urging the deployment of US Special Forces or combat “advisers” with Iraqi units have appeared in the American press.
A further military intervention will do nothing more than intensify a catastrophe for which the US and its allies are entirely responsible.
Iraq has been devastated by a quarter century of imperialist violence and oppression: two wars that killed one million people, an economic blockade that killed another half million, and the installation of the corrupt, sectarian police state of Nouri al-Maliki.
One of the cradles of human civilization going back to ancient Mesopotamia has been destroyed as a functioning society. The disastrous situation that now exists is the product of the tragic encounter of the Iraqi people with American imperialism.
One should neither underestimate the cruelty of the American ruling class, nor overestimate its intelligence. The foreign policy of the United States is a mass of contradictions, within which it is difficult, if not impossible, to discern any rational plan.
The Obama administration is now threatening to carry out military strikes against Islamic fundamentalist forces armed with weapons that were acquired, in part, in Syria, with the encouragement of the United States, as part of a supposed “revolution” against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. At least for the time being, in opposing these forces in Iraq the US is allied with Iran, a country it has repeatedly threatened with war.
Every one of the military operations the United States has launched—in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya—has ended in disaster.
The one consistent element in US foreign policy is ruthless plunder in the interests of the American ruling class, combined with a total lack of accountability. No one has been held responsible in the White House, which has directed one war after another; the military brass, which has carried the wars out; Congress, which has sanctioned them; or the media, which has promoted them.
Now that the popular hatred of Maliki in the Sunni-populated third of the country has erupted in violent rebellion, the Obama administration and its apologists are seeking to blame the US puppet for the debacle.
The New York Times, which played a key role in promoting the Iraq war lies, has taken the lead in this campaign, publishing two columns Sunday, one by Nicholas Kristof and the other by Thomas Friedman, absolving the United States for the worsening catastrophe in Iraq.
Kristof writes: “The debacle in Iraq isn’t President Obama’s fault. It’s not the Republicans’ fault. Both bear some responsibility, but, overwhelmingly, it’s the fault of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri Kamal al-Maliki.”
Friedman pronounces: “Maliki had a choice—to rule in a sectarian way or in an inclusive way—and he chose sectarianism. We owe him nothing.”
What a grotesque exercise in buck-passing! Who installed Maliki? His regime was the culmination of the supposed transformation of Iraq into a “democracy.” His election was hailed as a great success, first by George W. Bush, who launched the war, and then by Obama, who completed it on the schedule laid down by his predecessor.
The US military and media suppressed reports of Maliki’s repressive methods.
Throughout, the United States deliberately encouraged sectarian divisions.
The resurgence of violent conflict in Iraq has produced the spectacle of discredited war criminals offering their prescriptions for the best policy to be pursued by Washington in the Middle East. Thus, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who left office as a political leper, made a series of press appearances on the weekend calling for military intervention in Iraq. He denounced as “bizarre” any suggestion that those who organized and led the US-British invasion and conquest of Iraq in 2003 had any responsibility for the disaster now unfolding in the country and region.
The only thing that can be called “bizarre” is that Blair has not yet gone before a war crimes tribunal, along with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice and all their successors in the Obama administration.
What terrifies Blair and his political counterparts in the US, along with their media stooges, is the prospect of someone stating the obvious—that it is indeed their fault. They are criminally responsible for a war that has produced tens of thousands of casualties among US and allied forces and killed over one million Iraqis.
If the perpetrators of these crimes believe that their actions have gone unnoticed, or that they can, by sleight of hand, remove themselves as targets of the groundswell of popular outrage being created by their policies—above all in the United States—they are hopelessly deluded."
16 June 2014
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Every one of the military operations the United States has launched—in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan—has ended in disaster - Collage
Clockwise from top left:
â—Œ Libya Misrata City in the Aftermath in 2011 and in 20017
â—Œ Iran Before and After 2003
â—Œ Afghanistan City after US Invasion
â—Œ Afghanistan Town after a US strike
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Civil War Escalates in Iraq Amid Reports of Sectarian Massacres
"The Sunni extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), supported by Sunni-based tribal militias, continued its offensive over the weekend to incorporate large areas of north-western Iraq into the territory it already controls in neighboring Syria and Iraq’s western Anbar province.
The events of the past week have starkly exposed the ethnic and sectarian fracturing of Iraq that the US deliberately fomented during its occupation from 2003 to 2011 and which has been further exacerbated by the instigation of a sectarian civil war in Syria by the Obama administration and its regional allies.
Heavy fighting has been underway since Sunday in Tal Afar, a city located just 60 kilometers to the east of the Syrian border and 40 kilometers west of the major city of Mosul. In a massive blow to the Iraqi government, ISIS fighters, who moved into Iraq from their bases in Syria, captured the Sunni suburbs of Mosul last week.
Tal Afar has a majority ethnic Turkmen Sunni population. It was a centre of resistance to the US occupation after the 2003 invasion and was subjected to a brutal counter-insurgency operation by the US military and Shiite government troops in September 2005. Much of the city was destroyed and 90 percent of its 300,000 citizens forced to flee. It was later rebuilt but, like most ethnically and religiously mixed areas of Iraq, it has been wracked by continuous sectarian conflict since 2006, with the Sunni population accusing the government and the security forces of persecution.
There are no detailed reports of casualties from the weekend fighting. Reports indicate that government artillery and helicopters fired into residential areas, prompting the entry into the city by ISIS and Sunni militias. Thousands of civilians fled, joining the estimated 500,000 refugees who fled Mosul.
The predominantly Shiite Iraqi army units holding the city have reportedly mounted strong resistance, unlike the virtual disintegration of government forces when ISIS entered Mosul and advanced south to seize Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home city, and towns as close as 80 kilometers to Baghdad. Towns in the eastern province of Diyala, which borders Iran, have also been taken. By some estimates, as many as 90,000 troops and police deserted their positions in the face of the ISIS-led offensive.
The humiliating collapse of the US-trained and equipped security forces in the north provoked a panicked reaction within the Shiite ruling elite represented by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. The leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued an appeal last Friday for men capable of bearing arms to volunteer to fight.
Thousands of Shiite militiamen, linked with either the governing parties or the movement headed by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, deployed from Baghdad to occupy Samarra. The city, 125 kilometers to the north of the capital, is the site of the one of the most important Shiite shrines, the Al-Askari Mosque.
The bombing of the mosque’s historic golden dome by Sunni extremists in 2006 triggered a frenzy of indiscriminate violence against Sunnis by Shiite militias. The US occupation forces tacitly supported the mass killings that took place, as a means of terrorizing the Sunni-based resistance.
Iraqi army units, reinforced by the Shiite militias, have begun counter-attacks to push ISIS and Sunni forces back toward Mosul. In blood-curdling speeches, Maliki vowed to recapture all lost territory. Leading Sunni political figures, however, including former Vice President Tariq al Hashemi, who fled Iraq under threat of arrest by Maliki, hailed the defeats suffered by the Shiite government as a “revolution” against a tyrannical regime. Scenes of popular celebration were broadcast from Mosul and Tikrit.
ISIS-linked sources claimed over the weekend to have executed 1,700 Shiite soldiers, police and government officials captured in the Tikrit area. The claims were accompanied by images of terrified prisoners standing in front of shallow trenches and facing what appeared to be a firing squad of ISIS fighters. Other images show mounds of bodies tossed into trenches.
While still unconfirmed, Shiite extremists will use the claims of such criminal atrocities to inflame sectarian passions, creating the danger of a new wave of murderous pogroms against the Sunni civilian population in Baghdad and other areas.
Open warfare could also break out between Maliki’s government and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), which rules the majority Kurdish northern provinces as an autonomous zone. As Iraqi security forces collapsed in the north last week, Kurdish troops occupied the city of Kirkuk and Iraq’s northern oil fields. Kurdish forces are also massed in the eastern districts of Mosul and may seek to control areas of the city now held by ISIS.
The Kurdish move to establish a grip over Kirkuk follows an increasingly bitter standoff over the KRG’s efforts to independently export oil produced within its borders, with the assistance and support of Turkey. The KRG now has control over Iraq’s entire northern oil production, either to use as a bargaining chip to insist that Baghdad bow down to its demands, or to enhance the economic foundations of a separate Kurdish state.
Iraq’s descent into civil war and toward possible breakup also raises the prospect of open intervention by various regional powers.
Turkey, which has considerable economic interests in the stability of the Kurdish region and in the expansion of Kurdish control over oil resources, has threatened to send troops into northern Iraq to prevent attacks on Turkish citizens. On Sunday, it raised concerns over the fate of the Turkmen population of Tal Afar now living under ISIS rule.
Iran, which closely supports Maliki and the Iraqi Shiite parties, has already indicated it would deploy military forces into Iraq if Sunni extremists threatened Shiite religious sites. The Wall Street Journal, among other media outlets, has published unconfirmed claims that Iranian troops have crossed into Iraq to reinforce the Iraqi military.
The Sunni monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are the main financiers and arms suppliers of the Sunni rebels in Syria, are making little secret of their sympathy for the escalation of the Syrian conflict into a so-called Sunni revolution in Iraq against another Iranian-backed Shiite government.
The Obama administration’s response to the catastrophic consequences of the US invasions and intrigues in the Middle East is to prepare to unleash more death and destruction. The aircraft carrier George HW Bush and support ships have deployed into the Persian Gulf to provide “additional flexibility should military options be required.”"
16 June 2014
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â—Œ ISIS militants with captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq.
â—Œ The soldiers were executed where they lie in a shallow ditch.
â—Œ A picture circulated by jihadists shows ISIS militants standing next to captured vehicles left behind by Iraqi security forces at an unknown location, thought to be Tikrit.
â—Œ An image grab taken from a propaganda video uploaded on June 11, 2014 by jihadist group the Islamic State of al-Sham (ISIS) allegedly shows militants gathering at an undisclosed location in Iraq's Nineveh province.
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