‘We Don’t Want Your Bases’—Iraqi Vice- President Warns US Army to Back Off

Feb. 23, 2017 photo, U.S. Army soldiers stand outside their armored vehicle on a joint base with Iraqi army south of Mosul, Iraq
© AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed

‘We Don’t Want Your Bases’: Iraqi Vice-

President Warns US Army to Back Off

 

The Iraqi army and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), not the US, should take the credit for the recent liberation of Mosul from the Daesh terrorist group, Iraqi Vice-President Nouri al-Maliki said on Friday.

Iraqi Vice-President Nouri al-Maliki has hit back at US attempts to claim the credit for the recent liberation of Mosul, emphasizing the leading role that the Iraqi army and people’s militia played in the operation to free the city of Daesh terrorists.

“They [the United States] say – and I regret this and reject this – that the victory is their achievement because they led this war, but really this is a victory of the Iraqi army. Yes, they supported us with their aviation, but the main credit belongs to the Iraqi soldiers, the people’s militia, Iraq’s air force,” Maliki told RIA Novosti.

Al-Maliki also reiterated Baghdad’s gratitude to the People’s Mobilization Forces (PMF) for helping to defeat Daesh, and the government’s opposition to the establishment of US bases on Iraqi soil.”The US doesn’t have the right to say that people’s militia, which is comprised of the sons of Iraq, of whom 20,000 have been killed and wounded, are terrorists. If it weren’t for the people’s militia, there wouldn’t be any Sunnis or Shiites left.”

“Iraqi society is against foreign bases on our territory… I told the Americans, ‘It’s not in your interests to return to Iraq in order to establish military bases again,'” al-Maliki said.

Nikolai Sukhov, researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Eastern Studies and Vice-President of the International Middle Eastern Studies Club, told RIA Novosti that al-Maliki’s statement is a reflection of an anti-American mood in Iraqi society.

“Such statements are a reflection of prevailing anti-American sentiments in the country, which have remained since the American act of aggression which overthrew Saddam Hussein and plunged the country into chaos.”

“Different groups in society may relate to the Saddam regime differently, but many see that over the past decade the country has become fragmented and destroyed. Many people have suffered great hardships, lost loved ones. Anti-American sentiments exist both among Shiites and Sunnis. Being the Vice-President of a country where the majority of people hold anti-American sentiments, he can’t say anything else,” Sukhov said.

The operation to liberate Mosul was launched in October 2016 and was declared victorious by Iraqi President Haider Abadi on July 9. Mosul, formerly Iraq’s second city, was overrun by Daesh terrorists in 2014 and was a key stronghold for the Islamists.Al-Maliki said that Iraqi forces are still fighting some remaining terrorists and the huge task of rebuilding the city is just beginning.

“The armed forces tried not to destroy the city more than was necessary in order to complete the operation, everyone knew the battle could drag on, eventually it lasted nine months. We could have surrounded the city, but the problem was that its inhabitants would have starved. Frankly, the military losses are huge — about 20,000 dead and wounded in the armed forces and police. The victory is not conclusive; there are still some small pockets in the city where terrorists are hiding and there are sleeper cells in Diyala too,” the Iraqi Vice-President said.

Turkish and Iranian Proxy Forces Exchange Fire In Mosul

In-fighting erupts between Iraqi forces in

Mosul, casualties reported

 

 


In-fighting erupts between Iraqi forces in Mosul, casualties reported

Iraqi forces are trying to clear Islamic State (IS) fights from areas of northern Iraq, March 9, 2017. (Photo: Hadi Mizban / AP)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Clashes broke out on Thursday between the Iraqi Nineveh Guards and the Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Mosul. Several injured were sustained, security sources said on Friday.

The Nineveh Guards is an Iraqi Sunni battalion supported by Turkey while the PMF is a Shia force backed by Iran.

Security sources told Kurdistan 24 the clashes erupted Thursday evening northeast of Mosul in the al-Thaqafiya complex neighborhood, near the Mosul University.

According to the sources, clashes ensued after a confrontation between the groups lead to fist fights. The fighting escalated when they opened fire on each other, injuring several troops on both sides. Kurdistan 24 could not confirm the exact number of the casualties.

It is the first case of in-fighting between the Iraqi forces since the full liberation of Mosul from the Islamic State (IS) was announced on July 10, 2017.

Many political analysts have previously warned the defeat of IS in Mosul would usher in an era of rivalry between separate forces hoping to gain more power and influence in the area.

Witnesses told Kurdistan 24 the clashes provoked panic among the local population, causing many to close their shops.

There were also reports of forces arriving in the area in a bid to manage the situation.

According to local sources, clashes broke out after a group of Nineveh Guards tried to intervene and mediate a dispute between two PMF factions, which led to the shooting. Kurdistan 24 could not independently verify the accuracy of the information.

The Nineveh Guards is comprised of Sunni volunteers and ex-army officers led by the former Governor of Mosul Atheel al-Nujaifi.

The Hashd al-Shaabi is a Shia militia force established at the end of 2014 following the emergence of IS and the fall of Mosul. The group was primarily created to protect Shia shrines in southern of Iraq from the attacks carried out by the jihadist group.

Both the Nineveh Guards and the PMF were supposed to remain outside of Mosul, Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi often stated.

Many Sunni leaders are wary of the widespread accusations against the PMF, the latter denying committing abuses during the military operations to retake Fallujah, Tikrit, Baiji, and Ramadi in the past two years.

 

Editing by G.H. Renaud

Son of Taliban Chief (Replacement Mullah To Mullah Omar’s Replacement) Dies In Kamikazee Suicide-Attack

 

Taliban Civil War Continues To Rage In Helmand, As Mullah Rasoul and Mullah Habitullah Trade Suicide-Bombs

Pentagon/CIA Repackages Afghan Govt. Terrorist Force As “The Renouncers”–(updated)

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – The son of Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada died on Thursday carrying out a suicide attack in the province of Helmand in southern Afghanistan, one of the insurgent movement’s main spokesmen said.

Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, died driving a vehicle laden with explosives into an Afghan military base in the town of Gereshk, north of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, the Taliban’s main spokesman for southern Afghanistan, said.

He said Abdur Rahman had been a madrassa student but had wanted to carry out a suicide attack. “He succeeded in his mission last Thursday,” he said.

Taliban fighters drove three captured Humvee vehicles into checkpoints during heavy fighting around Gereshk on Thursday.

One senior Taliban member, close to Haibatullah’s family, said Abdur Rahman had enrolled as a suicide bomber before his father became leader of the Taliban last year and had insisted on continuing after his father took office.

Mullah Haibatullah took over leadership of the Taliban after his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour died in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in May, 2016.

“Before this, a number of close relatives and family members of previous supreme leaders had conducted suicide bombings but Sheikh Haibatullah has become the first supreme leader whose son sacrificed his life,” the senior Taliban member said.

A government official said security authorities were investigating the incident and could not confirm that Mullah Haibatullah’s son had been killed.

The incident in Gereshk came as fighting in Helmand, source of most of Afghanistan’s opium crop, has intensified in recent days following the end of the harvest season.

The insurgents control much of the province and threaten Lashkar Gah but government forces, backed by U.S. airstrikes, have launched an operation to drive them back from around the provincial capital.

In addition to the fighting in Helmand, there have also been reports of heavy fighting in other areas of the country, from Kunduz and Baghlan province in the north to Farah province in the west.

Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Michael Perry

Trump Allegedly Closes CIA Gun-Running Program In Syria, Possibly Opening the Door For Something New

Senator says dropping CIA program in Syria

may boost Russian-US cooperation

Kosachev noted that Washington accuses Russia of meddling in the Syrian conflict while it has “a program on equipping the opposition in a sovereign country with the goal of toppling the Assad regime”

 

MOSCOW, July 20. /TASS/. A decision to shut down the US Central Intelligence Agency’s program to equip and train moderate opposition in Syria opens new opportunities for Russian-US cooperation in war on terror, Russian senator Konstantin Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday.

“Certainly, this is the long-awaited and excellent news. No doubt, such a turn creates new opportunities for Russian-US cooperation in anti-terror in that country,” said Kosachev, who heads the Russian Federation Council’s (upper house of parliament) International Affairs Committee.

Kosachev noted that Washington accuses Russia of meddling in the Syrian conflict while it has “a program on equipping and military training the opposition in a sovereign country with the goal of toppling the Assad regime.”

On July 19, US President Donald Trump decided to shut down the CIA’s covert program to arm and train the so-called moderate opposition in Syria fighting against government forces, the Washington Post wrote citing US officials.

Turkish State News Reveals Positions and Strengths of Illegal US Military Bases In Syria

US increases military posts supporting

PKK/PYD in Syria

 

 

US increased number of military posts in PKK/PYD-held territories in Syria to ten

US increases military posts supporting PKK/PYD in Syria

 

By Levent Tok, Mohamad Misto and Selen Temizer

Al-HASAKAH/ISTANBUL

The U.S. has increased the number of military posts in the terrorist PKK/PYD-held Syrian territories to ten.

According to Anadolu Agency reporters, a U.S. military point has recently been established in PKK/PYD-held areas in northern Syria.

Washington had set up two airbases in PKK/PYD-held Rmeilan district in the northeast of Al-Hasakah province in October 2015 and Harab Isk village in southern Kobani in March 2016.

While the Rmeilan airbase is large enough for cargo planes to land, Harab Isk base is only used by military helicopters.

While a part of the U.S. military aid to PKK/PYD goes through Iraqi border by land, the other part is shipped to the region through the Rmeilan airbase.

These “field-type” military points are usually hidden for security reasons, making it hard to be detected, according to Anadolu Agency reporters.

Apart from the military points, the U.S. also uses some other places which are hard to be detected like residential areas, PKK/PYD camps, easily transformed factories as operational points.

The U.S. forces keep the construction of operational points hidden by declaring some areas as “prohibited area” in northern Syria, the reporters say.

There are contact officers for airstrikes and artillery shelling, military consultants, training officers, operational planning officers and military units to engage in active conflicts in eight military points.

The equipment in the military points includes artillery batteries with high maneuverability, multi-barrel rocket launchers, various mobile equipment for intelligence and armored vehicles such as “Stryker” for general patrols and security.

Military points in Al-Hasakah

There are also three military points in Al-Hasakah, the latest of which was established in the northern district Tal Baydar.

According to the reporters, 100 U.S. Special Forces soldiers have been deployed to Tal Baydar within the scope of the fight against the Daesh terrorist group.

There are also foreign soldiers from the U.S.-led coalition stationed in the old farm district of Tal Tamir, which is located south of Resulayn near the Syrian-Turkish border.

There are also 150 U.S. Special Forces units in Ash Shaddadi district, south of Al-Hasakah, with a view to backing PKK/PYD during anti-Daesh operations.

Military points in Manbij

The U.S. has established two operational posts in Manbij in 2016 when PKK/PYD captured the district.

One of these posts is located in Ayn Dadad town in the district, which can be used by U.S. Special Forces for patrols against the Free Syrian Army (FSA) units rescued during the Turkish Euphrates Shield Operation.

The other military unit is located in Usariye town, west of Ayn Dadad with the purpose of protecting PKK/PYD units against FSA.

Military points in Raqqah

There are also three military posts in the northern province of Raqqah.

Along with U.S. special forces units, French special forces are stationed in a military post located in Mistanur hill, south of Kobani.

Around 200 U.S. soldiers and 75 French special forces units are also stationed in the PKK/PYD base in Ayn Issah town in northern Raqqah.

A military post in the town of Sirrin in Kobani is also used for airbornes. PKK/PYD is supplied with military equipment and ammunition through this post.

This post also serves as a communication center of the anti-Daesh coalition and used for disrupting Daesh communications.

PYD, the Syria offshoot of the terrorist organization PKK, is in control of Al-Hasakah in the east, northern Raqqah, Manbij, to the east of Aleppo, Afrin and Tal Rifaat districts.

Recognized by the U.S. as an ally in the fight against Daesh, PKK/PYD militants run under the name of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) in the war-torn country.

Despite the fact that the militants were given SDF uniforms, some of them wear uniforms with banners of Abdullah Ocalan, jailed head of PKK terrorist organization in Turkey.

NY Times Rewrites History Again

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

NY Times Rewrites History Of Iraq War, Painting U.S. As Noble Democracy-Lover, Iran As Sinister Imperialist

The New York Times’ Tim Arango took what could have been an interesting topic for war journalism—Iran’s increased role in Iraq—and morphed it into a revisionist history of American and Saudi involvement in the Middle East. In doing so, Arango paints the U.S. as a noble, freedom-loving nation on a mission to improve the lives of average Iraqis, and Iran as a sinister imperial force working to expand its sphere of influence across the region.

Arango sets the table by citing examples of Iranian influence in Iraq, framing the disparate motives at work. He suggests that the U.S. invaded Iraq for pro-democratic purposes, while Iran’s response to this unilateral invasion (which its government, of course, vehemently opposed) is portrayed as sinister and plotting:

When the United States invaded Iraq 14 years ago to topple Saddam Hussein, it saw Iraq as a potential cornerstone of a democratic and Western-facing Middle East, and vast amounts of blood and treasure — about 4,500 American lives lost, more than $1 trillion spent — were poured into the cause.

From Day 1, Iran saw something else: a chance to make a client state of Iraq, a former enemy against which it fought a war in the 1980s so brutal, with chemical weapons and trench warfare, that historians look to World War I for analogies. If it succeeded, Iraq would never again pose a threat, and it could serve as a jumping-off point to spread Iranian influence around the region.

There’s so much unmitigated ideology at work in these two passages, we need to take a minute to break it down. Let’s begin with the controversial assertion that the “[U.S.] saw Iraq as a potential cornerstone of a democratic and Western-facing Middle East.”

This was the public relations talking point the U.S. gave for invading Iraq, but was it true? Does Arango provide any evidence or link to an analysis that shows it to be true? Dove beauty products tells me their mission is to empower women, but it seems far more likely it’s really to sell soap and that this line is marketing pablum. This is a distinction a freshman PR student can make, but evidently not Arango who, for some reason, thinks the same administration that repeatedly lied about Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction and Saddam’s links to al Qaeda was on the up-and-up about the pro-democracy motives behind their devastating invasion.

If one wants to know what role democracy played in Bush administration officials’ decision, perhaps Arango could have asked Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s national security advisor, secretary of state and key architect of the war. In an interview with ABC in 2011, Rice was crystal clear that “we didn’t go to Iraq to bring democracy to the Iraqis. And I try in the book to really explain that that wasn’t the purpose.”

So, did the U.S. see Iraq “as a potential cornerstone of a democratic and Western-facing Middle East?” Or did it really not care either way?

As I noted in FAIR last month, nominally down-the-middle reporters are allowed to mind-read U.S. policy makers’ motives so long as they conclude that those motives were noble and in good faith. Never are reporters allowed to ascribe sinister motives to U.S. officials—this is only permissible when covering America’s enemies— which Arango does in the next paragraph, insisting that “from Day 1, Iran saw something else: a chance to make a client state of Iraq.”

Note that the U.S. did not seek to make Iraq a “client state,” but rather a “democracy.” Big bad Iran however (which not only had nothing to do with the invasion and openly opposed it), was plotting all along to exploit the U.S. invasion to establish a puppet regime. It’s a masterful work of 180-degree reality inversion.

The second thing wrong with the opening frame is that Arango mentions the “4,500 American lives lost” and the “$1 trillion spent” but makes no mention of the 500,000 to 1 million Iraqis killed. He mentions the use of chemical weapons but doesn’t say who used them—it was Iraq, not Iran. He also omits the country that supplied them to Saddam: the United States.

Throughout the piece, Arango couches subjective opinions on Iran’s sinister motives as something “analysts” say or believe. Yet the only analyst he actually interviews, Ali Vaez, works at the U.S-government-funded International Crisis Group and provides a vague quote about the Iran-Iraq war shaping Iran’s leadership.

Everything Iran does is painted as proactive, sinister aggression and everything the U.S. and Sunni monarchies do is done in reaction to this aggression. Take this dubious passage: “[Iran]’s dominance over Iraq has heightened sectarian tensions around the region, with Sunni states, and American allies, like Saudi Arabia mobilizing to oppose Iranian expansionism.”

So here we have “Sunni states, and American allies, like Saudi Arabia” “mobilizing to oppose” “Iranian expansionism.” There is no “Sunni expansionism” or “American expansionism” or “Saudi expansionism”—“expansionism” (whatever that means) is the purview of Iranian aggressors. Saudi Arabia flooding Salafist fighters into post-invasion Iraq is never mentioned. Saudi and Qatari backing of Salafist militias in Syria since at the very least 2011 is never mentioned. The U.S. invasion is not framed as “expansionism.” Iran always draws first blood, while Gulf monarchies, painted as the besieged victims of the Shia empire, are always reacting, “mobilizing to oppose Iran expansionism.”

The Times’ flubbed analysis has to be seen within the wider context of American designs in the region. Arango’s article serves primarily to advance the “Shia crescent” concept pushed by Gulf monarchies, neocons, Israel, and liberal foreign policy hawks. This narrative conjures a specter of Iranian influence from Tehran to Beirut, with total regional domination on the horizon. Stopping this sinister plot is the primary pretext for increased military involvement of the U.S. in eastern Syria, where American special forces have set up a de facto base and attacked Syrian and Iranian military assets. It’s also Israel’s justification for its stepped-up military activity in Syria, where it has been backing anti-Hezbollah, anti-government rebels in Southern Syria. The Times article, whether by accident or intent, props up the entire moral and political framework for increased U.S. militarism in Syria and Iraq as territorial ISIS faces its final months.

The problem with Arango’s analysis is not that Iran’s increased role in Iraq isn’t a story; it certainly is. It’s the revisionist notion that Iran had hatched a devious plot from “day one” of the U.S. invasion rather than react to shifting forces on the ground from an instinct to survive—especially after watching its two neighbors get invaded by the U.S. and its arch regional enemy, Saudi Arabia, fund and arm Salafist mercenaries throughout the Middle East. Throw in the absurd, debunked notion the U.S. was motivated by a desire to spread democracy and what you have is a deeply cynical piece of pro-Pentagon myth-making, instead of an informative look at Iran’s increased regional influence.

Adam Johnson is a contributing analyst at FAIR and contributing writer for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @AdamJohnsonNYC.