Wednesday, September 4, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, one attack may have ugly implications for Iraq’s future, Nouri says Iraq will suffer from an attack on Syria, Barack continues to push for war on Syria, John Kerry is revealed to be a dining buddy of Bashar al-Assad, the US-backed ‘rebels’ of Syria in al Qaeda attacked a Christian village today, and much more.
While Obama has long spoken out against Bashar al-Assad and the use of chemical weapons, it was the president’s apparent off-the-cuff comments one year ago that may now be most responsible for putting the U.S. in a bind.
Obama’s warning in August 2012 that use of a “whole bunch” of chemical weapons would cross a “red line,” triggering “enormous consequences,” went much further than aides had planned, several told the New York Times earlier this year. Some reportedly wished Obama could have taken those words back.
Now, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who has made ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan his signature foreign policy achievement, is at risk of entangling the U.S. in a fresh Middle East conflict.
Because Barack Obama, two years ago, said “Assad must go,” and, one year ago, said any use of chemical weapons crosses his “red line,” Congress has no choice but to plunge America into yet another Mideast war.
Can this be? Are we really, as a nation, required to go to war to make good the simple-minded statements of an untutored president who had no constitutional authority to issue his impulsive ultimata?
Are we really required to go to war to get the egg off Obama’s face?
With obscene imperial arrogance, President Obama proclaimed that the “world” – not he – has drawn a bloody “red line” in Syria. “I didn’t set a red line,” said Obama, at a stop in Sweden on his way to a Group of 20 nations meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. “The world set a red line.”
That’s news to the rest of the planet, including most of the Group of 20 and the meeting’s host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who described Obama’s claims that Syria used sarin gas against civilians in rebel-held areas as “completely ridiculous.” “It does not fit any logic,” said Putin, since Syrian President Assad’s forces “have the so-called rebels surrounded and are finishing them off.”
It’s news to China, which will surely join Russia in vetoing any Security Council motion to provide legal cover for Obama’s aggression. And it’s news to the usually compliant UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who this week reaffirmed that “the Security Council has primary responsibility for international peace and security” and “the use of force is lawful only when in exercise of self-defense in accordance with article 51 of the United Nations Charter and or when the Security Council approves such action.”
It’s news to Great Britain, America’s temporarily wayward poodle, whose parliament rejected any militarily entanglement in Obama’s red line. As esteemed political analyst William Blum points out, 64 percent of the people of France oppose their government’s planned participation Obama’s Battle of the Red Line.
Apparently, a young and impressionable Obama took the 1985 USA for Africa song “We are the World” too literally, and believes that all one need do is sing or shout the words to make it so.
The black misleadership scoundrels are also worthy of scorn in this crime. Van Jones was tossed under the wheels of Obama’s bus yet has sung his praises ever since. As a “left” commentator on CNN he said, “If you kill Assad right now, wonderful.” Jones also claimed that the United States overthrew a dictator in Iran in 1953. Of course Mohammed Mossadegh was democratically elected and Jones was left to feebly explain that he meant to use the word leader.
Jones wasn’t alone in trashing black Americans’ historic opposition to military aggression. We didn’t really need further proof that black politics has reached its nadir under Obama, but Eleanor Holmes Norton provided us with more. The non-voting Washington DC delegate to congress had this to say about why Obama will probably win congressional approval for more death and destruction. “If [Obama] gets saved at all, I think it’ll be because, it’ll be because of loyalty of Democrats. They just don’t want to see him shamed and humiliated on the national stage.” Not satisfied at her public expression of stupidity she had this to say. “At the moment, that’s the only reason I would vote for it if I could vote on it.” So shallow and shameful were Norton’s words that one might be tempted to support the district’s powerless status.
Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) calls out Pelosi’s stupidity:
To the reporters crowding around her, who share the globalist assumptions of the political class, her remarks seemed… well, unremarkable. To ordinary people, however, Pelosi’s smart-as-a-whip grandson posed a very good question, perhaps the only pertinent one in this whole debate: what does the Syrian civil war have to do with us? Which makes one wonder: what was Pelosi thinking as she related a narrative whose real meaning seemed to elude her.
Which brings us rather neatly to the central question underlying the debate over whether to strike Syria: What was the Obama administration thinking when they decided to try to pull this off? Do they live on another planet from the rest of us?
That is really the central issue here. Forget the “weapons of mass destruction:” let’s not even talk about the vague and very shaky “evidence” linking the Assad regime to the use of sarin gas – and it’s probably best to ignore the “moral” arguments users of phosphorus bombs and depleted uranium weaponry invoke when justifying this war. The real question is what kind of mindset are the Nancy Pelosis of this world operating under. It’s not a partisan mindset: the leadership of both parties, as well as the White House have all drunk from the same pitcher of Kool-Aid.
For Congressional advocates for war, international law doesn’t matter. Nor, as Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com), does public opinion appear to matter:
But while the president can count on old-guard hawks to vote yes before they even hear what country they’re voting to lob missiles at, the American public is nowhere near so easy to trick, and despite top officials repeatedly advocating the war in public addresses, the polls continue to show broad, bipartisan opposition among Americans for the conflict.
Nationwide, the administration can’t even crack the 30% mark on selling the war to the public, even with television news networks shamelessly reiterating administration lies about unquestionable “proof” of Assad’s guilt and Secretary of State John Kerry loudly and repeatedly comparing Assad to Adolf Hitler.
Officials are throwing every rhetorical trick in the book at Congress to see what sticks at this point, from Hitler to Iran, and making any empty promises about keeping the war limited to skeptics while talking up escalation to hawks.
There is palpable desperation in the administration’s attempts to sell the war at all costs, and while officials have regularly tried to trick the country into war throughout history, there have been few that have been so flagrant about it. Fortunately, the polls are still not on their side, and the American public appear unwilling to be fooled this time.
Antiwar.com urges all readers to contact their Congressmen and urge them to vote against attacking Syria. Click here for contract information.
Yesterday, MoveOn sent out the following e-mail:
Should MoveOn support or oppose the congressional authorization to use military force in Syria?
Today Rebecca Shabad (The Hill) reports, “The liberal group MoveOn said Wednesday it opposes military action in Syria and will work to defeat it in Congress. The group, which spearheaded liberal opposition to the Iraq War, said it surveyed its 8 million members and found overwhelming opposition to President Obama’s call for Syria strikes.”
I’m honestly surprised by that move — not by the results of the vote but that MoveOn listened to their membership. Maybe if John Kerry would stop repeatedly hissing “Hitler,” he could hear the voice of the people as well? Or maybe the question to ask is WWHB: Who Would Hitler Back?
Today on Morning Edition (NPR — link is audio and transcript), US-backing efforts in Syria were discussed:
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I’m Renee Montagne.
President Obama has promised limited military action against Syria. He says missile strikes are not about regime change and there will be no boots on the ground. But even as the Congress debates the president’s plans for action, the White House is looking at broader options.
NPR’s Tom Bowman reports the president may call on the U.S. military to help build up the Syrian opposition.
TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Right now it’s not the Pentagon but the CIA that’s working with the Syrian rebels, mostly providing training in Jordan. But the president also promised weapons for the rebels back in June and they haven’t arrived. So yesterday at a Senate hearing, Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee put this question to Secretary of State John Kerry.
(SOUNDBITE OF HEARING)
SENATOR BOB CORKER: Why have we been so slow, so inept in so many ways at helping build capacity of this opposition that we have said publicly that we support?
SECRETARY JOHN KERRY: I think, Senator, we need to have that discussion tomorrow in classified session. We can talk about some components of that.
BOWMAN: Classified session, meaning behind closed doors; that’s because the CIA is handling the effort. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Senator Corker the U.S. military is on the sidelines.
Again, WWHB? As Robert Fisk (ZNet) pointed out last week:
It’s full circle for the CIA, back in business with al Qaeda after training and funding them to fight against the USSR military in Afghanistan. The Voice of Russia reports Russian President Vladamir Putin is criticizing the US government for getting in bed with al Qaeda:
“Surely, this lie is not very elegant,” he said. “I watched the debates in Congress. A congressman asks Mr. [US Secretary of State John] Kerry: ‘Is there al-Qaeda there? There has been rumor that they are gaining strength’. He [Kerry] replies, ‘No. I am telling you firmly: there are none of them there’,” Putin said.
Darya Korsunskaya, Steve Gutterman and Timothy Heritage (Reuters) report it this way:
“They lie beautifully, of course. I saw debates in Congress. A congressman asks Mr Kerry: ‘Is al Qaeda there?’ He says: ‘No, I am telling you responsibly that it is not’,” Putin said at a meeting of his human rights council in the Kremlin.
“Al Qaeda units are the main military echelon, and they know this,” he said, referring to the United States. “It was unpleasant and surprising for me – we talk to them, we proceed from the assumption that they are decent people. But he is lying and knows he is lying. It’s sad.”
In fairness to John Kerry, he’s never dined with al Qaeda so he might have trouble identifying them.
In an attempt to help him, let’s note Karin Laub and Sarah DiLorenzo (AP) reported this afternoon that a vicious assault took place on the “Christian mountain village” of Maaloula today. Bashar al-Assad’s forces? No, al-Assad’s government has been secular. So who was it? Barack Obama’s beloved rebels, “rebels from the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group launched the assault on predominantly Christian Maaloula.”
This is who Barack is supporting.
Syria shares a border with Iraq. All Iraq News notes Nouri al-Maliki is planning to deliver a speech on Syria today. Hou Qiang (Xinhua) reports, “Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki on Wednesday launched a new peace initiative to end the Syrian crisis and called on the Arab countries and the world to back his plan.Maliki said at his weekly statement that his nine-point initiative is a modified version of Iraq’s former peace plan, which was rejected by the Syrian opposition last year. The plan includes a series of proposals like stopping arming the both sides of the conflict, withdrawal of all foreign fighters, supporting investigation into the use of chemical weapons and rejection of military intervention in Syria, as well as establishing a fund for the return of Syrian refugees.”
Krishnadev Calamur (NPR) looks at the region and how they view an attack on Syria. We’ll note the section on Iraq:
Iraq has been careful to maintain neutrality in Syria, but its prime minister blamed the recent increase in violence on what was happening next door.
“The internal situation in Syria is playing a major role with what’s happening in Iraq,” Nouri al-Maliki said .
He was also critical of the proposed in Syria.
“The military solution is a dead end that has nothing in it but the destruction of Syria,” he said. “Nothing is obvious on the horizon other than destruction, catastrophe and a civil war that has no winner.”
Maliki previously would further destabilize the region.
In recent years, Iraq has drawn closer to Iran, and, , has granted Iran access to its airspace to deliver weapons and fighters to Assad.
It’s worth pointing out that the Obama administration, in its attempt to make a case for military action in Syria, has insisted it , where the U.S. spent more than eight years until the withdrawal of troops in 2011.
On this, Nouri’s position is the position of a number of Iraqis. But it is not the position of Iraq. The KRG only recently made a statement to the effect of they will stay out of it. The Kurds in Iraq generally speaking support the Kurds in Syria. In Iraq, the Kurds have a semi-autonomous area. In Syria, they do not. The US-invasion of Iraq toppled the presidency of Saddam Hussein and his government which was seen as serving the Sunni population. After the invasion, the (US-installed) Shi’ites took over. They are the majority population in Iraq. In Syria, it’s the other side of the coin with an estimated 74% of the population being Sunni Muslim. Some Sunnis in Iraq support the Sunnis in Syria and some Iraqi Sunnis cross the border to fight in the Syrian War. (Some Iraqi Shi’ites also cross the border to fight in Syria’s civil war.)
The whole point here is that when you step away from leaders, you find a wider view and it’s really simplistic to say: This is the Iraq view.
NPR would have been better off presenting Nouri’s view as Nouri’s and noting that Moqtada al-Sadr and Ayad Allawi are among those in agreement with him. In the Sadr bloc’s statements made yesterday, the Sadr bloc specifically noted that there was a wide range of opinions re: Syria within the National Iraqi Alliance — a Shi’ite alliance of various political groups including Moqtada’s bloc, Nouri’s State of Law, Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s National Reform Trend, Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress, and Ammar al-Hakim’s Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.
According to John Kerry’s testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, he spent the last two years wooing foreign leaders to go to war with Syria. He clearly failed in that time to do his job and overseeing the US mission in Iraq to increase diplomatic ties.
How sad for John if Nouri’s remarks today shake the resolve of other leaders to go to war on Syria. But that is possible and it’s what can happen when you fail to do your job. As Secretary of State, Kerry should have been interacting with Iraq regularly. Didn’t happen.
It’s not just Nouri. Yesterday, Wael Grace (Al Mada) reported that Moqtada al-Sadr’s bloc was saying that a US military attack on Syria would make the already worsening security situation in Iraq spiral out of control. And that is true.
Ayad Allawi’s writing about Syria on his Facebook page and noting that Iraq shouldn’t be expected to stop aid to Syria from Iran. He’s right. Iraq can’t even secure their own air space. They lack the planes and the training.
In the fall of 2011, the State Dept began taking over the US mission in Iraq in preparation of the military drawdown. The Dept has been given billions each Fiscal Year for that. And yet they seem to have no idea of what goes on Iraq or what the sentiment there is.
Iraq is the best argument against attacking Syria.
Not just because we’re seeing similar lies in the effort to sell the attack.
Also not only because Iraq is a testament to how US governmental ‘help’ has made another country worse, not better.
But the main reason is because an attack’s going to make Iraq worse. Attacking Syria means more refugees entering Iraq, means more al Qaeda and other fighters going through Iraq to enter and leave Syria, means the region is in turmoil and brings back the level of fear (which caused great mental stress in Iraq as studies demonstrated) that was present throughout the US occupation. There is no way Iraq wins from an attack on Syria.
Ayad Allawi Tweets that attacking Syria is not a solution (and he links to this NBC report about the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s vote today).
Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports that in anticipation of a US strike on Syria, Sahwas are being deployed to Mosul in expectation of an influx of refugees and, more to the point, to assist if the civil war in Syria spills over — a fear that many Iraqis in the area fear.
Meanwhile NINA reports that a Latifiya home invasion yesterday resulted in the shooting of “members of two families of two brothers, killing six children, two women and two men” before blowing up the home. Kareem Raheem, Isabel Coles and Alison Williams (Reuters) quote family member Haneen Mudhhir stating, “Gunmen broke into our house overnight and shot my father four times in the head, they killed my two brothers, they killed my cousin, they were shooting everyone they saw, I escaped from the back door.” BBC News explains, “Latifiya is in a religiously-mixed region that came to be known as the ‘Triangle of Death’ at the peak of Iraq’s insurgency in 2006 and 2007.” NINA also notes 3 Sahwa were shot dead in Ramadi with another three left injured, a Mosul car bombing claimed the lives of 5 police officers and left four people injured, a Tikrit attack left 1 Sahwa and 1 rebel dead and one rebel injured and two Shawa injured, and 3 Tarmiya bombings claimed the lives of 5 Iraqi soldiers and left seven more injured. “And in the capital’s eastern Basmaya district,” Press TV adds, “unknown gunmen killed a mechanic and his son. ” And in southern Baghdad, NINA reports:
Police source told NINA that an improvised explosive device, emplaced near women beauty salon in Shurta neighborhood, went off wounding the salon’s owner and three other civilians, happened to be nearby, as well as causing damages to the salon.
That attack is very important. al Qaeda may or may not be responsible for that attack but for years they have launched attacks in that area. The attack, if carried out by al Qaeda, may have been an attack on business or anything. But the best guess is it being an attack on women who refuse to live in Iraq as though Iraq is Afghanistan.
Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 187 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month. AFP’s Prashant Rao offers: