Monday, June 26, 2017

Only the lonely can play

It's like I told you, only the lonely can play.




The Motels.

I forgot them completely until today's snapshot.

I loved "Only The Lonely."

I loved Martha Davis.

What a voice.

It's just gorgeous and she's got her own phrasing that's so unique.

There are few people that you hear and can't say, "Oh, they're copying ____" or "Oh, they owe a debt to ______."

But Martha Davis is a completely unique singer.

And her voice was made for songs like "Only The Lonely."

I love how she sings.  :D




"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Monday, June 26, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, The Mosul Slog continues, Brett McGurk says a lot but none of it about diplomacy, and much more.



ALJAZEERA reports:

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters launched a string of counterattacks in a western Mosul neighbourhood, setting off clashes that continued overnight, Iraqi officials said on Monday.
An unknown number of suicide bombers and gunmen targeted the Hay al-Tanak and Yarmuk neighbourhoods, and set fire to houses and cars in Tanak, military officials told news agencies.
The area had been declared free of ISIL in May.
Several people are reported to have died in the attacks, which sowed panic among residents who had returned to the area, and prompted hundreds of families to flee overnight.



Yes, The Mosul Slog continues.

Day 246 of The Mosul Slog.

And, yet again, press reports circulate that it will be over shortly.

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports this morning, "The battle to take full control of Mosul from ISIS will be over in a few days, a general said Monday as Iraqi forces searched neighborhoods of west Mosul they retook weeks ago after a surprise jihadist attack on their rear that left several dead."



Searched neighborhoods of west Mosul they retook weeks ago . . .


How it repeats.

Over and over.

Here's the White House's special envoy Brett McGurk, speaking last week, trying to explain ISIS:


  
So what is ISIS? It is the largest, most sophisticated, and most global terrorist organization the world has ever seen.
Only two years ago, it controlled what was effectively a quasi-state, its so-called caliphate, with territory the size of Lebanon spanning across Iraq and Syria.
It controlled millions of people, entire cities, dual capitals in Raqqa and Mosul, generating revenue through oil and gas, taxes, antiquities trade, hostage taking, of more than a billion dollars per year.
It enslaved thousands of young girls, committed acts of genocide against minority groups, Yazidis and Christians, and sought to destroy our common human heritage, from Palmyra in Syria, to the Ninewa plains in northern Iraq.
It also established franchises, seven in all, from Sinai just to our west, to Afghanistan, Libya, and Nigeria, all with central direction and planning from ISIS’s capital in Raqqa.
And it sought to spread terrorism to all of our homelands, directing attacks from Raqqa … in Paris, Istanbul, and Brussels, and inspiring them from London, to Berlin, to Garland, Texas.
Its manpower at its height in 2015, while hard to pinpoint specifically, was in the upper tens of thousands – hard core fighters, at least.
The figures we can pinpoint are staggering: more than 40,000 foreign fighters, Jihadists, flooded into Syria between 2013 and 2016 from over 100 countries all around the world. The world had never really seen anything like it – the supercharged global Jihad.
General Gilead, many of us in this room, were extremely alarmed by this phenomenon as early as 2013. Many of us in Washington, some of my former colleagues here, were also discussing it with extreme concern.
Foremost attention among many, however, in those years, I think we have to be honest, there was a belief, by some, that this flood of Jihadist fighters could somehow be tamed and contained – after Bashar al-Assad was removed from power. I think that was a false assumption and it carried some tragic consequences.
The flood of extremist fighters and weapons into Syria combined with the crimes of the Asad regime created an explosive environment for al Qaeda, from which ISIS sprung.
ISIS rapidly spread, in 2013, across eastern Syria, killing anyone who sought to confront it. It spread openly into Iraq in early 2014, capturing Fallujah, and laying siege to Ramadi in Anbar province.
Suicide attacks in Iraq nearly all of whom at the time were committed by foreign fighters, people coming from around the world into Syria and Iraq to blow themselves up – rose from five to ten per month in 2012 to sometimes 60 per month in 2014, targeting markets, mosques, soccer games, local officials – mayors, town councils – and security personnel.
In June, 2014, Mosul, a city of nearly 2 million people, fell to ISIS; and its leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi, declared a caliphate from the grand Mosque of Al Nuri in Mosul’s old city. And late yesterday, as Iraqi Security forces closed in on that mosque, about 100 meters away, ISIS blew it up. A mosque which sat there since the 12th century, ISIS blew it up. The last month in Mosul is really telling. Summer of 2014, Baghdadi announces from that mosque that he’s the caliph creating a caliphate—the caliph proclaims his legitimacy by this ability to protect people in his so called caliphate. All of this was a false lie. But that’s what he said in the summer of 2014.
In the last month, as Iraqi Security forces closed in on that last district in Mosul, ISIS has killed any civilian trying to leave. They used a hospital on some high ground, just north of the old city, as a killing tower—with snipers killing any civilians trying to leave. We’ve actually been accused, our forces, of using white phosphorus for example, in Mosul. And I defer to our military professionals, but they use white phosphorus not to target anybody, not to kill anybody, but as a shield to allow civilians to escape. We were somehow declared of using this ammunition which was harming civilians. In fact, we were helping civilians escape as ISIS sat in a tower—a hospital which we did not want to target—and killed anyone that tried to leave. And last night they blew up the mosque in which Baghdadi declared his caliphate, I think it was a very significant moment here in the last 24 hours.
But back in 2014, if you rewind the tape, this announcement of a caliphate accelerated recruitment from around the world, with thousands of men, women, and even children, traveling through Turkey and into Syria through established smuggling networks.
About a month later in July 2014, ISIS broke through the western Iraqi border at al Qaim and approached Baghdad down the Euphrates valley, and also in the north along the Tigris valley.
Near Tikrit that summer in 2014, ISIS terrorists rounded up One Thousand Seven Hundred young Iraqi military cadets, and murdered them one-by-one, and they filmed the scene on YouTube.
I was in Iraq at the time. Newspaper headlines declared Baghdad was about to fall. There were reports of an ISIS “zero hour” in the capital and it was causing a panic among the population. We in fact reduced our embassy personnel and dusted off contingency evacuation plans given the uncertainty.
President Obama early in this crisis asked for my recommendation among others, some that are in this room, Elissa Slotkin among others, about what we should do. And our only response was we had to fight back – and fight back soon because there we had no other choice.
But we had to fight smartly, not with U.S. forces in Iraqi and Syrian towns and villages; but by strengthening local forces – Syrians and Iraqis – to take on the fight themselves, combined with devastating air power, and importantly with a political strategy that empowered people at the local level to secure their own communities, with a government in Baghdad that was responsive to its people.
We had to rally the world – particularly the Muslim world – to take on the fight themselves, combating ISIS’s poison in the mosques and online and in the media 24/7.
We had to ensure that what came after ISIS was more stable, creating the conditions for people to return to their homes and rebuild their devastated communities.
And we had to prepare a campaign that targeted ISIS financing, foreign fighter networks, global affiliates, and propaganda.
In the summer of 2014, that seemed a nearly impossible task –the Iraqi Security Forces had just completely and totally collapsed and we had almost nobody to work with on the ground in Syria--but we got to work.
We built a global coalition against ISIS, that is now the largest of its kind in history with 71 members, including 67 nations, plus NATO, INTERPOL, the EU, and the Arab League.
Early on, we organized this grand coalition around five specific lines of effort, each focusing on a particular aspect of the ISIS problem and pooling global resources to confront it:
First, we provide military support to our partners on the ground;
Second, we work to stop the flow of foreign fighters, by securing the border between Syria and Turkey and severing the international networks.
Third, halting ISIS access to financial support;
Fourth, we address the humanitarian and stabilization in areas cleared of ISIS to allow the population to return;
Fifth, we combat ISIS’s poisonous ideology.
The first airstrikes by our coalition were launched in September, 2014. There have been nearly 30,000 since, it’s been the most precise air campaign in history, and combined with aggressive and innovative global initiatives along each of the lines I just mentioned.

And while this war is far from over, the results to date are promising. 



Are the results promising?


Many observers note the destruction of Mosul.

That's promising?





Brett outlines a now three year program above.

But where's the diplomacy?

Where's the work beyond military?


Nothing has been done.

At some point, you have to argue that this was intentional.

The Islamic State rose in Iraq because then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki was persecuting the Sunnis.

Has that persecution ended?

No.

Even now there are reports -- and photographs -- of Sunni civilians being tortured and killed.

When does that get addressed?

Smart people argued the time to address it was years ago.

But, under Barack Obama, the White House rewarded Nouri.


Even when the voters gave him the heave-ho in 2010, Barack still supported Nouri for a second term and had US officials ont he ground in Iraq negotiate The Erbil Agreement to give Nouri a second term.


ISIS didn't rise in a vacuum.

The conditions that allowed it to take root still exist.

So now what?


Sarhang Hamasaeed and Michael Yaffe (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) offer:

That will require sustained attention to the "Three Rs:" Relief, Reconstruction and Reconciliation, all of which are needed concurrently. Relief means not only continued humanitarian aid but also security assistance to protect reconstruction and reconciliation and to facilitate the return of 3 million displaced people.
Political and social reconciliation, in turn, will be needed to prevent violence and reprisals and make way for sustainable reconstruction. The U.S. should develop a plan to help resolve fundamental national and regional political issues that will allow Iraq's constellation of groups to co-exist in peace.

Already, unity is fraying among forces that stood against ISIS. Sinjar, Tel Afar and Tuz Khurmatu have emerged as flashpoints of incipient conflict. Wrangling between the Kurds and Baghdad over oil, territory and Kurdish independence continues as regional powers such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey— as well as Iraqi groups — jockey for influence. Since the ISIS onslaught in 2014, for example, Popular Mobilization Forces militias, most supported by Iran, have established offices all over Iraq — 16 just in one town south of Mosul, Iraqis tell us — in a bid to gain control in areas recaptured from ISIS. As next year's parliamentary elections approach, they'll be well positioned to buy cooperation, exert authority and support to candidates, further solidifying their grip.



Maybe the time to start this sort of work was in 2014 and not in a mad rush to beat the next election?



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Friday, June 23, 2017

They are children too

After three years away from home we asked the children what do they miss the most back in Mosul,here are the answers in their own voices.


I don't get how we, as a country, spent 8 years in denial about what we were doing to Iraq.

And the denial continues.

Iraq is not an empty land.

There are people there and, yes, that includes children.

Would you want your children living through a never-ending war?

And experiencing bombings and shootings daily?

Even if you 'survive,' how do you survive?

You're whole childhood has been violence and death.

How is that a childhood?

And we, Americans, are responsible for the violence.



"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, June 23, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, a judge weighs in on Iraqi Christian refugees in the US, The Mosul Slog continues and much more.



Starting with the topic of refugees . . .


Replying to 
From Syria to Libya to Iraq and beyond, millions of refugees wouldn't have fled if the US, the UK and co. didn't destabilize their homelands
 
 


They didn't create themselves.

Before the start of this decade, the Iraq War had already created the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948.

And that's only continued through this day.

Some of the displaced stay in other parts of Iraq.

Some leave for other countries.

Those who turn to other countries arrive hoping they've found a place where they can create a home.


For a number of Iraqi Christians, the US may not be that place as they've been informed that they are being deported.

Some hope emerged yesterday.


BREAKING: Detroit judge temporarily halts deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians who fear torture if sent back.
 
 

A Detroit judge has temporarily halted deportation of 100+ Iraqi Christians who fear persecution if returned. ICYMI:
 
 


US judge halts deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians
 
 



Federal judge temporarily blocks Iraqi Christians’ deportation
 
 






Meanwhile, it's day 247 of The Mosul Slog.




Mosul to be liberated in a few days as [the Islamic State] on the verge of defeat says Iraqi PM
Thousands of civilians trapped in Mosul as fighting continues
Mosul's Old City is being reduced to rubble. More than 100 thousand people are believed to be trapped as the battles continues. Iraqi PM says forces will retake Mosul within days.
 
 



Of course, prime minister Hayder al-Abadi has been making the "within days" claim for 247 days, over eight months.

247 days.

And the operation only kicked off after Mosul had been occupied by the Islamic State for over two years.


The Islamic State seized control in June of 2014.


The liberation has resulted in increasing the refugee population and civilians being targeted.




This is what, the Iraqi army, U.S and France allies in the region is doing...
 
 






Iraq's late for provincial elections.  They were supposed to be held in April.

National elections are to be held next year -- or supposed to be.

Protests are taking place over the Independent High Electoral Commission.

Which is a good thing.

It's impacted each election negatively.

And usually the complaints are on hold until after the election is days away.



What's happening? ماذا حدث؟
 
 



These protests could make a difference.

Meanwhile, the violence continues.


XINHUA reports, "Six civilians were killed and 11 wounded on Friday when four suicide bombers attacked the town of al-Baghdadi in Iraq's western province of Anbar, a provincial police source told Xinhua."  AFP notes that the death toll has now increased to nine.














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