Baghdad

As predicted, Andrew Little grandstands over Iraq deployment

First,?Andrew Little was against the Iraq deployment:

In his reply to the Prime Minister’s statement, Labour leader Andrew Little said Labour could see no case for sending troops to Iraq.

He said it was clear Islamic State was brutal. “There wouldn’t be a New Zealander who has seen those images whose stomachs have not been turned. But let’s be clear what we’re dealing with. They call themselves, Islamic State, but they are not a state. They run across borders, they are cultural, ethnic, religious and driven by a number of motivations.”

He said it was a “depository of the dispossessed, the extreme and yes, the evil, but it is not a conventional enemy”.

Mr Little said it was clear the Government had made its decision some time ago “and I venture to suggest it was taken for a range of reasons that have not been outlined today.”

He doubted Mr Key’s assurances the training forces would be “behind the wire”. He said there was little doubt the troops would be exposed to the wider combat and there was little to gain.

“After 10 years of training of the Iraq Army by the US Army, what impact will we have? What can we hope to achieve? We think be sending a very modest force, we are going to achieve what the US Army has not been able to achieve in 10 years? We will not fix the Iraqi Army. It is broken, it is corrupt.”

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Photo Of The Day

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Baghdad Country Club

It takes Real Balls to Play here

?The Who?s Who of Baghdad?s Green Zone Ate Steak and Drank Fine Wine at a Bar that Billed It?self as??An Oasis of Calm.?

So, many?Western visitors to Iraq in the past decade have thrown their heads back after a near-miss with a roadside bomb and thought,?I need a drink right now.?That was where the Baghdad Country Club came in.

?The management is happy to secure any firearms, grenades, flash bangs or knives in the club armory.”

Saturday night in Baghdad, and Heidi, the barmaid at the Baghdad Country Club, is worried about the beer. On a busy night, she might serve 800 cold ones to the diplomats, security guards, and construction workers who frequent the Country Club, a white cinder-block house with blue trim on a residential street in the Green Zone.

The BCC, as its known, gets its alcohol from suppliers outside the walls, but insurgents are targeting the crossings on either side of the Tigris River. On this Saturday, a truck bomb on a bridge has locked up traffic on the west bank of the Tigris, delaying the delivery of the night’s beer supply. Heidi, a recent college graduate from Florida, wonders whether the war will eventually collapse on the Green Zone, the way it did on the U.S. embassy in Saigon. But she doesn’t let that occupy her for long. Looking down at the empty glass in her hand, she smiles and says, “Let’s do a shot…

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Kiwi-trained troops helped liberate Ramadi from Daesh

Gerry Brownlee is chuffed? – our troops helped to train the Iraqi soldiers who took Ramadi off Daesh.

Iraqi troops trained by New Zealand soldiers were among those who took the city of Ramadi from Islamic State, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

Victory in Ramadi, which was seized by IS in May, is the first major triumph for Iraq’s mainly US-trained army since it collapsed in the face of an assault by the hardline Sunni militants 18 months ago.

The city, 130km west of Baghdad, was taken earlier this week.

“The success of these troops results from their commitment to the training programme they have been involved in. New Zealand and Australian trainers can take some pride over the successful action by the recruits,” Mr Brownlee said on Thursday. ? Read more »

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USA unlikely to get more of our troops in Iraq, but Key refuses to completely rule it out

Obviously Te Ururoa Flavell is still resisting joining the fight against Daesh. It is his party that John Key is nervous of when it comes to committing to getting stuck in to Daesh.

The Prime Minister isn’t ruling out sending SAS troops to fight Islamic State in Iraq.

The United States has requested an increased commitment from New Zealand, but John Key is apprehensive.

United States Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter is stepping up the fight against Islamic State by putting troops on the frontline to fight.

“The United States is prepared to assist the Iraqi army with additional unique capabilities to help them finish the job,” Mr Carter says.

The American Special Forces troops will accompany Iraqi forces in the battle to take back the city of Ramadi. ? Read more »

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The ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ says destroy them

Don’t listen to me, listen to someone who is daily witnessing the horrors of Islamic terrorism and the totalitarianism of ISIS.

There used to be 1.5 million Christians in Iraq but now there are only 260,000, he says. Some are calling it genocide. Surely he no longer believes that negotiations with Isis?could work? White stares at me from behind owlish spectacles. ?Can I be honest? You are absolutely right. You can?t negotiate with them. I have never said that about another group of people. These are really so different, so extreme, so radical, so evil.?

So what is to be done? ?We must try and continue to keep the door open. We have to show that there is a willingness to engage. There are good Sunni leaders; they are not all evil like Isis.?

But surely there is only one logical conclusion to be drawn? He sighs, and answers slowly. ?You are asking me how we can deal radically with Isis. The only answer is to radically destroy them. I don?t think we can do it by dropping bombs. We have got to bring about real change. It is a terrible thing to say as a priest.

?You?re probably thinking, ?So you?re telling me there should be war?? Yes!?

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Decapitation strike kills a few, but top bad wog escapes

This is what I would call a good start.

A number of senior leaders in Isis have been killed in an air strike after the Iraq’s Air Force claimed to have hit a military convoy carrying the jihadi leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Iraq.

A military statement had earlier claimed the strike had taken place in the Iraqi province of Anbar but admitted it was unclear if al-Baghdadi had been killed.

Local residents and several hospital sources told Reuters that the Isis leader was not among the casualties from the convoy air strike.

It is thought Iraqi jets targeted the convoy as it was travelling for a meeting close to the Syrian border in Western Anbar today.

The location of the meeting was also targeted by the Iraqi Air Force, who claimed ‘many of the group’s leaders were killed and wounded’. ?? Read more »

David Shearer’s hypocrisy on Iraq

David Shearer got a few headlines this week by saying that the danger around John Key’s visit to Taji in Iraq has been exaggerated by the media.

Unsurprisingly, people paid attention to what Shearer said. After all, he’s been to Iraq since the U.S. invasion and has a long career working in conflict zones, so you’d think he’d know what he was talking about.

Interestingly enough, Shearer’s claim that Iraq wasn’t that dangerous is a relatively new claim by him. You see, back in May, Shearer claimed that Kiwi troops in Iraq were at quite high risk, pointing out that it would be easy for ISIS to fire rockets ?at planes coming in and out of Taji, as well as the base itself. In fact, back in 2008 a rocket attack hit a compound he was in, killing two of his colleagues.

Taji base is big enough to have a landing strip, which is the preferred mode of transport given how vulnerable the road network is.

Kiwi troops would have several rings of security around the base – a level of security that is intense but necessary, Shearer said.

In Taji rockets would be getting fired at planes and because of the size of the base it’s an easy target to fire rockets at and then disappear, he said.

“The third threat would be the people you are training turning on you and the fourth one, my understanding, is that there’s likely to be militia coming onto the base as well.”

“Although they’re fighting the same fight that we are, they’re not necessarily very welcoming of foreigners being in Iraq.”

“I’d say it’s a very dangerous situation.”

Shearer said the situation had been made worse by Prime Minister John Key advertising that troops are there working alongside the United States and Australia as part of a “deal with the club”.

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SAS wanna-be Ron Marks once again touts bad intel

The man who likes to fail to correct anyone who says he served in the NZSAS is tilting at windmills again.

NZ First’s Ron Mark believes more troops are being trained for deployment to Iraq, but the Government says it doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

“We understand preparations are being made to deploy an extra platoon of infantry, about 30 personnel, to assist with security at Taji,” Mr Mark told reporters today.

About 150 Defence Force personnel are based at Taji camp near Baghdad, helping train Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State.

Mr Mark questioned Prime Minister John Key in Parliament about the extra platoon.

“I have no knowledge of that at all,” Mr Key said. ? Read more »

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Matti Friedman on the Media?s Obsession with Israel

This speech by Matti Friedman, a journalist, explains much about the manipulation by media organisations against Israel.

It is being liberally published and has appeared at Honest Reporting and Quadrant Online.

I doubt it will get published in any mainstream media here, so I will.

Read it and understand how you are being manipulated, particularly over issues concerning Israel. It is quite long but very revealing.

One night several years ago, I came out of Bethlehem after a reporting assignment and?crossed through the Israeli military checkpoint between that city and its neighbor,?Jerusalem, where I live. With me were perhaps a dozen Palestinian men, mostly in their?thirties ? my age. No soldiers were visible at the entrance to the checkpoint, a?precaution against suicide bombers. We saw only steel and concrete. I followed the?other men through a metal detector into a stark corridor and followed instructions?barked from a loudspeaker ? Remove your belt! Lift up your shirt! The voice belonged to?a soldier watching us on a closed-circuit camera. Exiting the checkpoint, adjusting my?belt and clothing with the others, I felt like a being less than entirely human and?understood, not for the first time, how a feeling like that would provoke someone to?violence.

Consumers of news will recognize this scene as belonging to the Israeli occupation of the?West Bank, which keeps the 2.5 million Palestinians in that territory under military rule,?and has since 1967. The facts of this situation aren?t much in question. This should be an?issue of concern to Israelis, whose democracy, military, and society are corroded by the?inequality in the West Bank. This, too, isn?t much in question.

The question we must ask, as observers of the world, is why this conflict has come over?time to draw more attention than any other, and why it is presented as it is. How have?the doings in a country that constitutes 0.01 percent of the world?s surface become the?focus of angst, loathing, and condemnation more than any other? We must ask how?Israelis and Palestinians have become the stylized symbol of conflict, of strong and?weak, the parallel bars upon which the intellectual Olympians of the West perform their?tricks ? not Turks and Kurds, not Han Chinese and Tibetans, not British soldiers and?Iraqi Muslims, not Iraqi Muslims and Iraqi Christians, not Saudi sheikhs and Saudi?women, not Indians and Kashmiris, not drug cartel thugs and Mexican villagers.

Questioning why this is the case is in no way an attempt to evade or obscure reality, which is why I opened with the checkpoint leading from Bethlehem. On the contrary ? anyone seeking a full understanding of reality can?t avoid this question. My experiences as a journalist provide part of the answer, and also raise pressing questions that go beyond the practice of journalism.

I have been writing from and about Israel for most of the past 20 years, since I moved?there from Toronto at age 17. During the five and a half years I spent as part of the?international press corps as a reporter for the American news agency The Associated?Press, between 2006 and 2011, I gradually began to be aware of certain malfunctions in?the coverage of the Israel story ? recurring omissions, recurring inflations, decisions?made according to considerations that were not journalistic but political, all in the?context of a story staffed and reported more than any other international story on earth.?When I worked in the AP?s Jerusalem bureau, the Israel story was covered by more AP?news staff than China, or India, or all of the fifty-odd countries of sub-Saharan Africa?combined.

This is representative of the industry as a whole. ? ? ? Read more »

A good politician

A straight forward apology and carrying the cost.

Iraq’s transport minister apologised for a row in which a Lebanese airliner en route to Baghdad was ordered to turn back mid-flight to pick up his son.

Hadi al-Ameri pledged to turn his son in if an Iraqi investigation found he had carried out any wrongdoing and insisted he would personally bear the costs of the Middle East Airlines flight having to turn around while travelling from Beirut to Baghdad.? Read more »

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