Monday 25th of May 2020

15 years since the US war on Iraq...

Moqtada alSadr

Iraqi politicians led by cleric Moqtada alSadr and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi say they have created an alliance that would give them a majority bloc in the new parliament after four months of political uncertainty.

Key points:
  • Alliance of mainly Shiite Muslim politicians, with other religious minorities included
  • Mr Sadr has left out all Kurdish groups and Iran supported runner-up Hadi al-Ameri
  • The alliance comes amid building protests over poor public services and corruption


The new government is tasked with rebuilding the country after a three-year war with Islamic State militants and balancing relations between Iraq's two biggest allies: arch-rivals Iran and the United States.

The alliance announced on Sunday includes 177 politicians from 16 electoral lists, a document published by the state news agency showed.

It is now in the lead position to form a government.

Iraqis voted in May in their first parliamentary election since the defeat of Islamic State's self-declared caliphate, but a contentious recount process delayed the announcement of final results until last month.

Uncertainty over the composition of the new government has raised tensions at a time when public impatience is growing over poor basic services, high unemployment and the slow pace of rebuilding after the war with Islamic State.


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more US troops...

A number of prominent political figures and members of the Iraqi parliament have spoken out against the US’ military presence in the country, with a senior adviser to Iraqi cleric Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr slamming it as an "occupation of the country."

The US is planning to open a new military airbase in Iraq near the town of al-Qa'im in Anbar Province, the local news outlet BasNews has reported. The province borders Syria, where the US Air Force is still conducting airstrikes without the authorization of Damascus and that has led to civilian casualties on multiple occasions. The new base will work jointly with two other bases in the province — Ain al-Assad and Habbaniya

The news comes amid demands by various political figures in Iraq for the US to pull out from the country. In March 2018, the Iraqi parliament asked the government to come up with a deadline for the withdrawal US troops, while Diyaa Assadi, a senior adviser to Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose coalition won in the recent parliamentary elections, has said that the US is seen "as an occupying country."

READ MORE: US-Led Coalition Admits Killing About 940 Civilians in Operations in Syria, Iraq

At the same time, Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai has reported that another US military base is planned for construction in Kuwait. According to the newspaper, it will be a major air hub near the international airport and will serve as a logistical supply point.

The US has been conducting airstrikes in Syria and Iraq since the emergence of Daesh*. Although Washington claims to only be fighting against terrorist groups, many of its airstrikes have led to civilian casualties. While the Iraqi government has given a green light for US forces to conduct operations on its soil, the latter are operating without authorization in Syria, neither from the government in Damascus, nor from the UN Security Council.


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less US troops...

The US promised to "gradually reduce" its presence in Iraq in February after Baghdad declared victory over Daesh (ISIS)* last December, but has declined to withdraw its contingent from the country. In August, the US-led coalition said the estimated 5,200 US troops in Iraq would stay in the country "as long as needed."

Iraqi lawmakers have urged Washington to end what they consider its illegal military presence in their country.

Speaking to Iran's Press TV on Friday, Council of Representatives MP Amer al-Shebli argued that continued US presence was "a violation of the Iraqi sovereignty."

"After ending terrorism, the previous parliament should have taken a serious action to force all foreign forces to leave Iraq," al-Shebli said.


"The presence of US forces in Iraq is illegal," fellow lawmaker Adnan al-Assadi added. "As a member of the parliament's Security Committee, we voice our concern over the presence of the US military and the constant increase in the number of the soldiers. They have thousands of soldiers here. Yet the government says they are advisors," he noted.

"Sovereignty is the most valuable asset in any nation," legislator Kadhim al-Sayadi said. "The sacrifices of the Iraqi people in their fight against Daesh show how important their country's sovereignty is for them. Today, no country will allow foreign military bases on its land."

Other lawmakers said that the US could maintain a military presence in Iraq, but only if it reached agreement with Iraq's parliament and government first. 


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if we wanted to do something...

US President Donald Trump said he's not planning to take American troops out of Iraq as he made his first visit to an active combat zone. His surprise trip also sparked online frenzy after his plane had been noticed over Europe.

Speaking at Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, Trump defended his decision to withdraw troops from Syria last week.

"I think a lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking. It's time for us to start using our head," the president said. 

"In fact we could use this as the base if we wanted to do something in Syria"...


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Read from top. "if we wanted to do something"... What a very casual way to describe "go and kill people"...

We're no longer the suckers, folks... you are...

Trips by US presidents to conflict zones are typically shrouded in secrecy and subject to strict security measures, and Trump's was no exception. Few in Iraq or elsewhere knew the US president was in the country until minutes before he left.

But this trip came as curbing foreign influence in Iraqi affairs has become a hot-button political issue, and Trump's perceived presidential faux-pas was failing to meet with the prime minister in a break with diplomatic custom for any visiting head of state.

On the ground for only about three hours, the American president told the men and women with the US military that Islamic State forces have been vanquished, and he defended his decision against all advice to withdraw US troops from neighboring Syria.

"We're no longer the suckers, folks," he declared.

The abruptness of his visit left lawmakers in Baghdad smarting and drew unfavourable comparisons to the occupation of Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

"Trump needs to know his limits. The American occupation of Iraq is over," said Sabah al-Saidi, the head of one of two main blocs in Iraq's parliament.

Trump, he said, had slipped into Iraq, "as though Iraq is a state of the United States."

While Trump didn't meet with any officials, he spoke with Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi by phone after a "difference in points of view" over arrangements led to a face-to-face encounter between the two leaders getting scrapped, according to the prime minister's office.

The visit could have unintended consequences for American policy, with officials from both sides of Iraq's political divide calling for a vote in Parliament to expel US forces from the country.

The president, who kept to the US air base approximately 100 kilometres west of Baghdad, said he had no plans to withdraw the 5200 troops in the country. He said Ain al-Asad could be used for US air strikes inside Syria.

The suggestion ran counter to the current sentiment of Iraqi politics, which favours claiming sovereignty over foreign and domestic policy and staying above the fray in regional conflicts.

"Iraq should not be a platform for the Americans to settle their accounts with either the Russians or the Iranians in the region," said Hakim al-Zamili, a senior lawmaker in al-Saidi's Islah bloc in Parliament.


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secret french presence...

The official Turkish agency, Andolu, has published the map of the military bases of the French occupation army in Syria.

Since the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon operation against Syria in 2005, and particularly since the beginning of military operations, in 2011, France hoped to restore a mandate on its former colony. This project was made explicit by President François Hollande during a trip to the United Nations in New York.

According to this map, updated on December 28, 2018, there are nine secret French military bases, including one in the governorate of Aleppo, north of Manbij. But the pro-US Kurds have just called Damascus to help against the Turkish army. Currently, Syrian troops are taking control of the region alongside the pro-US Kurds. The French forces will quickly be surrounded by their former allies.


Translation by Jules Letambour.


french syria bases



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largely unsuccessful...

US Army Releases Critical History of the War in Iraq


Two-volume study is over 1,300 pages long


Jason Ditz Posted on January 17, 2019Categories 



Years after its completion, the study “The United States Army in the Iraq War,” has been made available on the US Army War College Publications website. Released in two volumes, the study is around 1,300 pages long

The study was meant to be a critical look at the lessons learned in the US occupation of Iraq, and the failures of US forces in the country throughout the conflict. It was the failures part that made the report highly controversial. 

Though many top Army officials praised the study, completed in 2015, it also declared the war “largely unsuccessful,” and some in senior leadership have been resisting publication for years over fear it makes some involved in the war look bad.

The release of the study also sees the release of more than 1,000 newly declassified documents used in the research. In a newly written forward, Army Chief Gen. Mark Milley is downplaying the study as just an “interim work,” promising a more definitive version at some point in the future. This is likely attempt to deflect any focus on the failures, with the assumption they’ll be covered up in later editions. 



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yankee go home...

The Supreme Leader of Iran has urged the Iraqi PM to expel US “occupational forces,” as Washington keeps seeking excuses to hold ground there after a presence of 16 devastating years and hundreds of thousands of lives lost.

“America’s objective in Iraq is beyond sheer military presence... they are after long-term presence and interests and establishing a government like the military governments that were formed following the occupation of Iraq,”Ayatollah Khamenei told Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in Tehran. “The Iraqi government should do something [to ensure] that American military troops will leave Iraq as soon as possible.”


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US go home...

No other country in the Middle East is as important in countering America’s rush to provide Israel with another war than Iraq. Fortunately for Iran, the winds of change in Iraq and the many other local countries under similar threat, thus, make up an unbroken chain of border to border support. This support is only in part due to sympathy for Iran and its plight against the latest bluster by the Zio-American bully. 

In the politics of the Middle East, however, money is at the heart of all matters. As such, this ring of defensive nations is collectively and quickly shifting towards the new Russo/ Sino sphere of economic influence. These countries now form a geo-political defensive perimeter that, with Iraq entering the fold, make a US ground war virtually impossible and an air war very restricted in opportunity.

If Iraq holds, there will be no war in Iran. 

In the last two months, Iraq parliamentarians have been exceptionally vocal in their calls for all foreign military forces- particularly US forces- to leave immediately. Politicians from both blocs of Iraq’s divided parliament called for a vote to expel US troops and promised to schedule an extraordinary session to debate the matter. “Parliament must clearly and urgently express its view about the ongoing American violations of Iraqi sovereignty,” said Salam al-Shimiri, a lawmaker loyal to the populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Iraq’s ambassador to Moscow, Haidar Mansour Hadi, went further saying that Iraq “does not want a new devastating war in the region.”He told a press conference in Moscow this past week, “Iraq is a sovereign nation. We will not let [the US] use our territory,” he said. Other comments by Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi agreed. Other MPs called for a timetable for complete US troop withdrawal.

Then a motion was introduced demanding war reparations from the US and Israel for using internationally banned weapons while destroying Iraq for seventeen years and somehow failing to find those “weapons of mass destruction.”

As Iraq/ Iran economic ties continue to strengthen, with Iraq recently signing on for billions of cubic meters of Iranian natural gas, the shift towards Russian influence- an influence that prefers peace- was certified as Iraq sent a delegation to Moscow to negotiate the purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system.


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desperately seeking the porcelain to point percy at...

I did not know where to place a eulogy for Clive James. A hard act to follow. But as far as Australians go, Clive was a giant amongst giants who still count John Pilger, Julian Assange and Rupert Murdoch. Les Murray was a bigoted piddly pot in comparison. So, there used to be an Aussie expression, possibly started by Dame Edna Everage's alter ego in the 1960 that said "pointing Percy at the porcelain" meaning having a piss (for males). Urinals in pubs were mostly made of glazed porcelain tiles and you can imagine the rest. Pissing on one's shoes was easy while several patrons were unloading three or four pints of beer in one go, and the smell was never flushed away by the water dripping along the wall at intervals, splashing your trousers and draining through grates covered by artificial yellow sanitising pallets... Most of the cubicles had been vandalised or still full of unflushable crap...


So, having met Clive James in better circumstances, but barely shaking hand and saying "hi", I found the following article in TAC. I had gone off Clive James for his support for that horrible G W Bush's war on Saddam... Pilger and Assange are saints. Murdoch is the devil. James was a confused idiot on this subject, but a glorious Aussie master of words, which for a foreigner like Gus who learned English by listening to the Goons, was a breath of long summer air in the stillness of Norman Lindsay estate if you ever been there amongst the concrete statues of naked women and the light breeze through the she-oaks... Here we go:




RIP Clive James

The Australian journalist, poet, satirist and author left a rich canon of work, for which "all you can do with the talent is envy it."

NOVEMBER 29, 2019|12:01 AM



“My God, how hard it is to die!” Thus murmured General Franco, amid his last excruciatingly protracted illness. But there must have been times when Clive James, diagnosed with leukemia a decade back, wanted to echo Franco’s words. He has now left us, aged 80, only a month after even he perforce called it quits on an authorial career which spanned more than half a century.

Having attempted to sum up Clive James’s achievement in TAC’s May-June 2013 issue, I can do no more now than hint at the overwhelming impact which James had on every young Australian who wanted to purvey serious journalism during the 20th century’s last quarter. We watched his verbal prestidigitation and we marveled, as children marvel at the conjuror who purports to saw in half his female assistant.

Every one of us longed, with almost unseemly desperation, to be Clive James. In my case that craving long ago eased. For me, the shortcomings of James’s Cultural Amnesia made it impossible to keep placing in his worldview the complete trust with which I had hitherto submitted to his didactic authority; and his cheerleading for the “liberation” of Iraq did not help. Yet the news of his demise at Cambridge, on November 24, finds me recollecting the comment with which Peter Townshend mourned the long-expected death of that maniacally self-destructive drummer Keith Moon: “When it happens you just can’t take it in.”

Rather than either repeat my own six-year-old musings or attempt to descant afresh on James’s wider literary significance, I wish here to proffer a small chrestomathy (James surely would have relished the Menckenesque grandiloquism) of his prose and verse at their most virtuosic. From the prose, James’s account (Falling Towards England) of how, amid a King Lear production at London’s Aldwych Theater, his torrential desire to urinate prompted him to reassess the wisdom of his binge-drinking. (Note that in Australian and British English, “piss-artist” means “drunkard” and “pissed” has no American-style connection with anger.)

In the exact center of a very long row of people, by the end of the first act I was ready for a pee. By the end of the second act I was ready for emergency surgery. When the third act followed without a break I knew that something would have to be done, possibly in situ. I held out as long as I could then started crawling across people’s knees. On stage, Gloucester was having his eyes put out. In the circle, there was a man struggling desperately sideways towards the exit through an entanglement of legs, like one of those American footballers in training who have to run very fast with knees high through piles of tires.

I made it to safety approximately in time, but as I stood there – or rather, reeled and swayed there like a man watering his lawn with a hose which had been unexpectedly connected to a powerful artesian well – it began to strike me that the capacity of my bladder was perhaps incompatible with the quantities of liquid I was attempting to put into it. Over the next decade I attempted to solve this problem by forcing even more liquid in, on the assumption that this would enlarge the receptacle. Commonsense, which might have suggested that this was the wrong approach, was vitiated by the method itself. When I finally embraced abstinence it was because of the simple urge to work a longer day. Thus, without joining Alcoholics Anonymous, I was at last able to leave Piss-Artists Notorious.

And from James’s verse, the following stanza, written in 1982 at the news of the Sabra-Shatila massacre, but with (alas) a piercing eloquence undimmed by the passage of 37 years:

The Jews won’t sit still twice for being slaughtered.
The Palestinians will fight to live.
Justice and mercy will be drawn and quartered.
Things will be done a saint could not forgive.
The towns and cities will be bombed and mortared
Until like hot sand they fall through a sieve,
And on the day that blood turns into wine
There will be peace again in Palestine.



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pissing against the green painted iron...

At 11pm on 6 December 1876, policemen patrolling the Champs-Élysées discovered a well-to-do bourgeois in a public toilet, engaged in what they described as “indecent exposure” with an 18-year-old labourer. The older man, it turned out, was the prominent Catholic politician Eugène de Germiny, a bastion of the reactionary right who railed against the government’s secular tendencies and advocated a society based on family, religion and a return to monarchy.

The press immediately called out Germiny’s double standards. Despite his protests – he claimed his adventure was merely “research” – he became a magnet for satire, his political opponents making much of his hypocrisy. The writer Gustav Flaubert described the scandal as a “comfort that encourages the will to live”. Germiny was sent to jail and went into exile on release.

The police logbook detailing Germiny’s arrest is just one of dozens of exhibits that make up a small but fascinating exhibition exploring the secret history of Paris’s public urinals. Curated by photographer Marc Martin, it delivers an extraordinary account of sanitation, censure and sex that has remained largely untold until now. Visually, it’s gripping enough, from the image of Edgar Degas striding out of a pissotière to an overhead street shot by Brassai, and a picture by Henri Cartier-Bresson of US writer Charles Henri Ford zipping himself up. But more than anything, this show is remarkable for the story it tells.

We begin in the early 19th century, when Paris was as notorious for its noxious odours as it was revolutionary upheaval. The streets overflowed with rubbish and horse dung, and anyone caught short in the open simply relieved themselves where they stood. To remedy this, city prefect Rambuteau ordered the construction of colonnes vespasiennes – phallic-looking structures with inbuilt plumbing that allowed Paris’s male population to urinate with relative dignity. Unfortunately, there was no such luck for the rest of the population: though the notion of building conveniences for women was briefly entertained, it was decided they would take up too much space on public thoroughfares. It would be more than a century before Parisian women were granted any such “luxury”



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