Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Friday, August 8, 2014
President Obama authorizes airstrikes ( to protect US personnel ??? ) if ISIS advances on Kurdistan capital of Erbil ( and when ISIS advances on Baghdad too ??? ) and humanitarian aid in Kurdistan area ( trapped Yazidis on a mountain ) - August 8 , 2014 -- ( but somehow insists he will not be dragged into another War ??? ) , Were those Turkish jets helping the KRG yesterday ? Exxon evacuates staff from Kurdistan ( and shorly thereafter those airstrikes were authorized in Kurdistan ) ...... Meanwhile Maliki still clinging to the Prime Minister post ......
“People are starving and children are dying of thirst,” Obama said, adding that ISIS is intent on committing genocide against the isolated Iraqis. “I have said before the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world,”the president said. “So let me be clear about why we must act and act now.” With “innocent people facing violence on a horrific scale,” Obama said America “cannot turn a blind eye.”
“I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home and that’s what we have done,” Obama said. “As commander-in-chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. So even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.”
The president ended by heralding the United States’ “leadership” in the world and stressed that “America has other tools in our arsenal than our military.” He said “we can also lead with the power of our diplomacy, our economy, and our ideals.”
“But when the lives of American citizens are at risk, we will take action. That’s my responsibility as commander-in-chief,” Obama continued. “And when many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action. That is our responsibility as Americans.”
Here is what ISIS controls...
His additional comments:
*OBAMA SAYS MILITARY ACTION WOULD BE TO PROTECT AMERICANS
*OBAMA SAYS MILITARY AUTHORIZED TO STRIKE ON ADVANCES ON ERBIL
*OBAMA SAYS U.S. ACTING TO PREVENT ACT OF GENOCIDE
“I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” he said.
*OBAMA SAYS `TODAY AMERICA IS COMING TO HELP' IN IRAQ
10Y Yields are at 2.37% - and it appears the safe haven buying began when the press conference was announced...
The world will not blame the Iraqi government if the children and women huddled atop Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq die of hunger and exposure. Nor will Pope Francis blame Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki if the Islamic extremists attacking the country slaughter the 40,000 Christians and other minorities who have fled to the mountaintop. The fact is that the world, from the pontiff in the Vatican to the coal miner in West Virginia, will blame President Obama.
That is why the president found himself under such intense pressure to act on Thursday, facing calls from around the world to marshal American might in a way to both rush humanitarian aid to the refugees in Iraq and punish the forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who are trying to kill them.
It was notable that the pope's plea for help was not directed at Iraq's putative government. "His Holiness addresses an urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway, to act to protect those affected or threatened by violence and to provide aid, especially for the most urgent needs of the many who have been forced to flee and who depend on the solidarity of others," said the statement issued by the Vatican on Thursday.
While the president was huddled with his military advisers in Washington assessing his options before making his decision, he could not help but feel the pressure. And perhaps no one could better understand that pressure than a man who routinely attended such meetings under three presidents and famously codified the "Pottery Barn Rule" prior to the launch of the Iraq War in 2003. According to author Bob Woodward, Colin Powell told President George W. Bush: "You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You'll own it all." He distilled the rule as "You break it, you own it."
A decade later and after millions of American dollars, thousands of casualties, and seemingly hundreds of different policies, Iraq is very much broken. Even though he has boasted of "ending" the U.S. role in the war and even though he didn't create the situation, Obama very much owns the mess. And he finds himself on a timetable not of his choosing and very much at odds with his policy.
That policy has been clear ever since ISIS started gobbling up Iraqi territory and terrorizing the Iraqi people, meeting only ineffective response from the Iraqi military supposedly trained by the United States: First, force Maliki to reform his government, broaden his sectarian appeal, and send a signal to all of Iraq that Baghdad could represent and protect them all. Only then could military help come from the United States.
But this situation, which the White House concedes is an immediate humanitarian catastrophe with lives hanging in the balance, cannot wait for Maliki to get his politics together. As reporters repeatedly reminded press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday, these people are already dying.
That forced Obama to square his aversion to using military force abroad with his humanitarian urges.After the United States stood idly by in 1994 during the Rwandan genocide, President Clinton promised the world that "never again" would the United States be blind to genocide. Obama's instincts were to keep that promise. But those instincts seemed to be at war with his desire to stay out of foreign wars. That brought renewed attention to the conditions the president laid out in 2011 to justify involvement in Libya's civil war.
In an address to the nation from the East Room on March 18, 2011, the president said he was impelled to act by a situation similar in many respects to the current crisis in Iraq. "Here is why this matters to us," he said then. Without international action, he said, there would be "atrocities against his people."He added, "Many thousands could die. A humanitarian crisis would ensue. The entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners. The calls of the Libyan people would go unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun. Moreover, the words of the international community would be rendered hollow." He concluded, "And that's why the United States has worked with our allies and partners to shape a strong international response at the United Nations."
That speech is as close as it gets to outlining an Obama Doctrine for humanitarian situations. It is another reason why the pressure on the White House is so intense. The world knows that the United States "broke" Iraq and "owns" the mess, and is waiting to see if the Obama Doctrine that applied in 2011 still applies today.
President Obama announced on Thursday that he has authorized the use of airstrikes in Iraq if they are necessary to protect American personnel. He also stated that humanitarian air drops have been made to help besieged religious minorities in the country.
Speaking from the White House, the president said the air drops – containing food and water – were approved in order to help save thousands of civilians facing “certain death” from Islamic State (IS) militants who have them trapped on a nearby mountain.
Obama stated that the Islamic State has called for the systematic destruction of Christian minorities, as well as the Yazidis – an ethnic Kurdish minority in northern Iraq – and that this declaration constitutes genocide.
“Today, America is coming to help,” he said, noting that although the United States “cannot and should not” intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world, it must act when innocent people are facing violence on a horrific scale.
Moving forward, the president said the United States is prepared to take “targeted military action”in the form of airstrikes if they are deemed necessary to protect American personnel in Erbil – where a US consulate is located – as well as the embassy in Baghdad. Additionally, he mentioned that airstrikes could be used to halt Islamic State convoys if they advance towards Erbil.
"I therefore authorized targeted airstrikes if necessary to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege at Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there," he said. "We can act carefully and responsibly to prevent a potential act of genocide."
“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain, with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help...and when we have the unique capabilities to avert a massacre,then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.”
Specifically, the humanitarian aid consisted of 5,300 gallons of drinking water and 8,000 pre-packaged meals, according to the Associated Press. All of these supplies were delivered by one C-17 and two C-130 cargo planes. The aircraft were escorted by two F/A-18 fighter jets, and lingered over the drop area for under 15 minutes.
Obama also said the US would be working with the United Nations to address the escalating situation in Iraq.
However, he cautioned that he “will not allow” the US to be dragged into another war in Iraq. The US president ruled out the use of combat troops returning to the country, emphasizing that there is no military solution to the problem. What Iraq needs, he said, is political reconciliation on the parts of its own citizens.
The announcement comes as tens of thousands of Yazidis find themselves trapped on nearby mountains and surrounded by fighters of the Islamic State. The militants have continued to make gains in Iraq recently – reportedly capturing the country’s largest hydroelectric dam near Mosul – and have threatened to kill any minorities who do not convert to their strict interpretation of Islam.
Most of the 294 killed today were militants. At least 84 other were wounded. There were two suicide bombings in a Shi’ite neighborhood in Baghdad and another two bombings near a Shi’ite mosque in Kirkuk. Meanwhile, U.S. President Obama authorized humanitarian aid and airstrikes in Iraq.
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to the American people tonight to explain the two-prong operation about to take place in Iraq.
He first said U.S. forces could engage in "targeted airstrikes" should Islamic State militants move towards Arbil or any U.S. facilities elsewhere in Iraq. Americans already in Iraq will continue to advise their Iraqi and Kurdish counterparts.
Secondly, a humanitarian effort to help the Yazidi people will certainly continue, at the Iraqi government’s request. Obama called that situation a potential "genocide" and "violence on a horrific scale."
Foremost, though, what the president wants is "reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces." He believes only that can provide a lasting solution for all Iraqis. He also promised that Americans would not be "dragged into another war" in Iraq.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, denied reports that the United States has already bombed Iraq. Airdrops have begun, though.
A spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairssaid some of the Yazidi people trapped near Sinjar have been rescued and supplies are in place to help them when they arrive at their next destination.
Turkeyallowed about 150 Yazidis with passports cross the border today, but many more are waiting for permission. Turkey has already provided refuge to about one million Syrians. They also say they have airdropped supplies to the Yazidis on Sinjar Mountain. And, Turkish jets have been flying over the region to survey the situation.
Pope Franciscalled on world leaders to help Christians affected by the Islamic State.
Chevron and Exxon are pulling workers out of Kurdistan ahead of any potential takeover by the Islamic State.
Politicians were seen working late into the night to select Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki‘s successor. He still insisted on his right to stand for the post. A former American official, Ali Khedery, explained that “Maliki knows if he steps down, virtually he is a dead man” due to the long list of enemies he has made during his years as premier.
Joseph Thomas, who is the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Kirkuk and Suleimaniyah, said residents left Qara Qosh, Tal Kief, Bartilla and Karamlesh to the militants.
President Obama hasannounced his intentions to commence a US air war in northern Iraq, authorizing airstrikes against ISIS targets in the area, as well as rescue missions to save Yazidis trapped on a mountaintop.
It won’t just be the US and Turkey, either, as France has also pledged non-specific “technical support” to the international war effort to expel ISIS from the region, though at this point French sources say that sending troops is not being considered.
Iran is already involved in the ISIS war, with troops participating in the defense of Iraqi territory. Syria has also carried out some airstrikes against ISIS along what was once the Iraq-Syria border, but now simply straddles the ISIS caliphate.
It’s an unusual collection of nations to be involved in a war, and reflects growing regional concern about the growing ISIS nation, and in particular its recent moves into Iraqi Kurdistan.
Note: Some of the reports this article is based on came out of Iraqi Kurdistan. Though traditionally reliable sources of information, Kurdistan is openly lobbying for US military involvement at this point, and therefore efforts to “manage” information coming out of the region cannot be ruled out.