“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

"There is no one coming to help."

40,000 Iraqis stranded on mountain as Isis jihadists threaten death
Members of minority Yazidi sect face slaughter if they go down and dehydration if they stay, while 130,000 fled to Kurdish north

The Guardian, Wednesday 6 August 2014 09.51 EDT

Tens of thousands of members of one of Iraq's oldest minorities have been stranded on a mountain in the country's north-west, facing slaughter at the hands of jihadists surrounding them below if they flee, or death by dehydration if they stay.
UN groups say at least 40,000 members of the Yazidi sect, many of them women and children, have taken refuge in nine locations on Mount Sinjar, a craggy mile-high ridge identified in local legend as the final resting place of Noah's ark.
At least 130,000 more people, many from the Yazidi stronghold of Sinjar, have fled to Dohuk, in the Kurdish north, or to Irbil, where regional authorities have been struggling since June to deal with one of the biggest and most rapid refugee movements in decades.
Sinjar itself has been all but emptied of its 300,000 residents since jihadists stormed the city late on Saturday, but an estimated 25,000 people remain. "We are being told to convert or to lose our heads," said Khuldoon Atyas, who has stayed behind to guard his family's crops. "There is no one coming to help."
Another man, who is hiding in the mountains and identified himself as Nafi'ee, said: "Food is low, ammunition is low and so is water. We have one piece of bread to share between 10 people. We have to walk 2km to get water. There were some air strikes yesterday [against the jihadists], but they have made no difference."
At least 500 Yazidis, including 40 children, have been killed in the past week, local officials say. Many more have received direct threats, either from the advancing militants or members of nearby Sunni communities allied with them. "They were our neighbours and now they are our killers," said Atyas.
"It's not like this is a one-off incident," said the Unicef spokeswoman Juliette Touma. "We are almost back to square zero in terms of the preparedness and the supplies. Enormous numbers of people have been crossing the border since June.
"The stresses are enormous; dehydration, fatigue, people sometimes having to walk for days. The impact on kids is very physical, let alone the psychological impact.

The Kurdish minority Yazidis have long been regarded as devil worshippers by Sunni jihadists who have targeted them since the US invasion. As the extremists' latest and most potent incarnation, the Islamic State (Isis), has steadily conquered Iraq's north, the small, self-contained community has been especially vulnerable.
Isis forces advanced across north-western Iraq almost unchecked since a small band of hardliners stormed Iraq's second city Mosul on 10 June, sending the Iraqi army fleeing and crumbling the central government's control.
Flush with weapons looted from Iraqi arsenals, Isis sacked Tikrit and advanced on Kirkuk. With new recruits lured or pressganged along the way, it has captured five oilfields and three cities, an 800-mile stretch of border with Syria. It has menaced Baghdad and is now within striking distance of Iraq's two largest dams.
"The situation is slowly tipping in their favour," said Dr Hisham al-Hashimi, Iraq's leading expert on Isis. "They won't take the dam near Mosul, but Haditha [at the centre of Iraq's water and energy supply grid] will be very hard to defend.
"They are very close to Baghdad airport. If they breached the perimeter, even with a symbolic attack, it would be enormous propaganda value for them."
Iraq's beleaguered military has been unable to muster a meaningful push-back against the jihadists and is under intense pressure to support the Yazidis with air strikes and food drops. A series of spectacular defeats has seriously eroded its credibility. Baghdad claimed on Wednesday that its military had carried out an air strike on a Mosul prison which killed scores of jihadists and freed an unknown number of prisoners. The area was impossible to access and the numbers of fatalities could not be verified. However, witnesses reported damage to the prison and relatives rushed to the gates in the hope of rescuing detained family members.
Kurdish Peshmurga troops, long regarded as a more formidable fighting force, had been defending Sinjar, but they too were forced to withdraw as Isis advanced. Kurdish officials say their forces were seriously outgunned by the jihadists, who were using heavy weapons looted from Iraqi bases.
The same weapons are being used to consolidate Isis's hold on much of western Iraq. The group has significantly boosted its numbers by tapping into Iraq's estranged Sunni population, which has been marginalised by the Shia majority government since the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein more than 11 years ago.
"I would say there are now between 30,000 and 50,000 of them," Hashimi said. "Of those, I would say 30% are ideologues. The others have joined out of fear or coercion."
The once dominant US military and powerful embassy now play next to no role in Iraq, with Iraqi militias reporting to Iranian generals increasingly taking the lead in the fight against the jihadists.
"Iraq is spiralling out of control," said Ali Khedery, the former longest-serving US official in Baghdad. "The centrifugal forces are spinning so quickly. They are on one timeline and Washington is on another. I am beyond concerned."
Khedery, who reported to five US ambassadors and three US central command generals and is now chairman of the Dubai-based consultancy Dragoman Partners, said: "Everybody is retreating to their corners. And there is no credible international actor that I can see that is trying to bring it together again.
"It definitely is an existential threat to the Iraqi government and I think it represents yet another manifestation of the disintegration of Iraq as we know it.
"Iranian overreach, the genocide in Syria, [Nouri] al-Maliki's consolidation of power in a very sectarian way have all led to the disillusionment, the disenfranchisement of the Sunni Arabs who have fatally, but perhaps understandably, chosen to consummate a deal with the devil. Now we are locked in a race to the bottom."

Additional reporting by Saud al-Murrani


  1. (Reuters) - An Iraqi government air strike on a Sharia court set up by Islamic State militants in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul killed 60 people on Wednesday, the office of the prime minister's military spokesman said.

    The Islamic State judge who ran the court was among those killed, the spokesman said. The Sunni militants routinely hand down sentences such as beheadings.

    Hospital officials and witnesses said earlier that the air strike had killed 50 people in a makeshift prison set up by the Islamic State, which seized large chunks of Iraq in June.

  2. Most of those who fled Sinjar are from the minority Yazidi sect, which melds parts of ancient Zoroastrianism with Christianity and Islam. They are considered by the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State to be devil worshippers and apostates.

    The dramatic advance of the extremist Sunni fighters has torn the ethnic and religious fabric of the country, with Christians and Shiites also uprooted from cities and towns.

    The Islamic State's takeover of Sinjar, the first major setback for Kurdish forces protecting the country's north, sent about 200,000 people fleeing, according to the United Nations. Some 147,000 have arrived in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, flooding refugee camps.

    Most of those stranded on Mount Sinjar have run out of battery life on their phones, but the few that still could communicate gave grim updates.

    On Tuesday, 10 children and one elderly woman died, while on Monday seven children had perished, said 23-year-old Shihab Balki, who was trapped with his mother, sister and four brothers.

    "I saw their bodies with my own eyes."

  3. Air power is no good if you don't have the troops to send in behind the strikes. The Shia, right now, don't seem to have the 'troops.'

  4. It's a tough deal, but there's nothing we can do (short of sending a 100,000 troops back over there.)

  5. .

    I have been gobsmacked by how 10,000 of these pricks can run wild through 3 countries and meet so little resistance. I still suspect their momentum will quickly be halted when they face a modern military force. However, who that will be I don't know. Every country over there is blaming the other for supporting IS.

    While I have been against the US getting involved in the 'wars of choice' we have been involved in over the past decade and a half, defending and ally is to my mind a little different. Iraq under Milaki is not an ally to the US; however, if IS were to attack Jordan and were to any degree successful I suspect the US would join the fight to one degree or another depending on the circumstances.



    1. Terror. I wondered about why all those iraqis threw down their guns untill I tortured myself having to sit through those videos.

  6. .

    Obumble, go to the last stream and see my response to your Bolton post.


    1. Quart, why waste my precious time?

      The reason ISIS was doing so well is because they were in their own territory.

      They are not going to 'take' Baghdad.

      The can rough up the Kurds a little.

      B-52 time.

      But that too is not going to happen.

      All this is brought to us by Obama.

  7. Barack Obama is apparently very angry with Bibi Netanyahu.

    We have known for some time, via hot-mic and other methods, that neither he nor his secretary of state much care for the Israeli prime minister. But – perhaps exacerbated by a multiplicity of foreign and domestic policy failures, plus atrocious poll numbers, including a recent CNN poll showing Romney beating him handily were the election held today – Obama seemed more irked than usual.


    The standard excuse is that if Hamas is obliterated, what replaces it will be even worse. Oh, really? ISIS or similar may be waiting in the wings to step in, but it’s doubtful if Israel (given its huge 87 percent public support for the current war) will ever let something like that happen, at least in the near future.


    Fortunately, if Obama follows through on his threats, veiled or otherwise, about restricting Israeli arms, he and his party will probably suffer mightily for it in November. Unfortunately, that is not near punishment enough.

    Dangerous Enemy

  8. Those people would not be on that mountain tonight if we had not blindly followed Bush and the Neocons on the crusade and the mission. We hanged Saddam. He would not have allowed this to happen. We owe those people, certainly more than we owe some others.

    1. There might be a little hyperbole going on there, Deuce.

    2. Nicaraguan Rum, does it to every time.

  9. 31 cases of attempted illegal voter impersonation uncovered

    out of One Billion Ballots.

    31 / 1,000,000,000 = 0.000000031


  10. QuirkWed Aug 06, 06:54:00 PM EDT

    Bolton is a neocon nutjob.

    Every program I have seen him on lately from CNN to FOX (I doubt he would go on MSNBC) have been ragging on him for his part in supporting the Bush Iraqi fiasco. He like so many of the other neocons choose not to talk about that period. When questioned, his usual comment amounts to 'that was then and this is now.'

    Anyway, saw him on with either Megan Kelly or Jake Tapper and he was talking about the Gazan war. Somewhere in the conversation he said 'Israel was our most reliable ally in the ME', something we hear here often from the Lobby. He was a bit gobsmacked and thrown aback when the host had the temerity to question that statement and asked 'is Israel really a reliable ally to the US?' [The question was asked within the context of the current frayed diplomatic relation between the US and Israel.] This question has also been asked here a number of times. However, Bolton had to answer it so he did unlike the lobby here which when asked the question were unresponsive other than to attack the people raising the query.

    It took Bolton a couple seconds to respond but when he did his answer was as unresponsive as that of the Lobby here. He said (paraphrased but pretty much dead on) 'Israel is a modern western style democracy. It is economically sound and technologically advanced. It has one of the most powerful militarys in the world. When a peace accord is reached there it will be a centerpiece and example in the ME.'

    Typical bullshit. Even if all of that is true (except obviously the part about the peace agreement, let's not go crazy) it doesn't answer the question.

    How has Israel been the US' most reliable ally in the ME.

    The answer to the question should be right on the tip of the tongue of every supporter of Israel; yet, it is as if they have never thought about it but rather just assumed it was true.


  11. What has Israel ever done for the US that they were not paid for?

    1. They "remodeled" one of our ships.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Will the IDF be sending air support to help the Yazidis? The Israelis are always tryng to hang guilt on the US for not coming to the rescue of the Jews in Europe. Where are the Jews in Kurdistan? That would be a help.

    1. Do you ever think before you type?

      "Will the IDF be sending air support to help the Yazidis?" That's a fair question, don't have an answer.

      "The Israelis are always tryng to hang guilt on the US for not coming to the rescue of the Jews in Europe." Now that's a quote for the blooper real... Really? Give me a break... That's amazing in crassness...

      Where are the Jews in Kurdistan? That would be a help.

      Jews of Kurdistan (Hebrew: יהודי כורדיסטן‎, Yehudei Kurdistan, lit. Jews of Kurdistan; Aramaic: אנשא דידן‎, Nashi Didan, lit. our people; Kurdish: Kurdên cihû) are the ancient Eastern Jewish communities, inhabiting the region known as Kurdistan in northern Mesopotamia, roughly covering parts of Iran, northern Iraq, Syria and eastern Turkey. Their clothing and culture is similar to neighbouring Kurdish Muslims and Christian Assyrians. Until their immigration to Israel in the 1940s and early 1950s, the Jews of Kurdistan lived as closed ethnic communities. Kurdish Jews largely spoke Aramaic, as a lingua franca, with some additionally speaking Kurdish dialects, in particular the Kurmanji dialect in Iraqi Kurdistan. Today, the large majority of Kurdish Jews and their descendants live in Israel.

      the ESCAPED to Israel... What? You mean there are Jews living in Israel NOT from EUROPE! The shock!

      When did the 1st Kurdistan Jews locate to Israel?

      Immigration of Kurdish Jews to the Land of Israel initiated during the late 16th century, with a community of rabbinic scholars arriving to Safed, Galilee, and a Kurdish quarter had been established there as a result.

      Now what about in modern times...

      The vast majority of Kurdish Jews were forced out of Iraq and evacuated to Israel in the early 1950s, together with the Iraqi Jewish community. The vast majority of the Kurdish Jews of Iranian Kurdistan relocated mostly to Israel as well, in the 1950s.

      FORCED OUT by the Moslems.... TO Israel....

      Thanks Arabs!

    2. So to recap, in the 16th century, Kurdish Jews relocated BACK to their homeland in Israel.

    3. So the IDF will be there or not?

  13. Surely, it is their humanitarian duty as they gladly preach to everyone else that it was their humanitarian duty to help them.

  14. Humanity and humanitarian duty has a universal tone to it, don’t you agree or are you tone deaf?

  15. This is the time and Kurdistan is the place to man up and show us how it is done.

  16. We have heard you talk the talk , now how about a little stroll with some of those fancy jets you got for free.

  17. “In one day, they killed more than two thousand Yazidi in Sinjar, and the whole world says, ‘Save Gaza, save Gaza.’”
    The poignant lament of an Iraqi named Karim, quoted in this short story, captures the helpless frustration of many minorities facing existential danger in areas controlled by ISIL, the terrorist group, while much of the world has been transfixed by the war between Israel and Hamas. While both Israelis and Palestinians have carelessly bandied about the word “genocide,” it is a real threat for the communities in ISIL’s crosshairs.
    A quick recap: Before the latest conflict started in Gaza in early July, ISIL had attacked parts of northern Iraq and was threatening Baghdad. Since then it has consolidated its hold on large swathes of northern Iraq and eastern Syria. By some reckoning, it now controls an area the size of Britain. The group has, it would seem, put off the idea of a frontal attack on Baghdad, but while shoring up the defenses of the Iraqi capital, the government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has been unable to reclaim much territory from ISIL. Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, is in effect the group’s capital.
    In the past couple of weeks, ISIL has sought new territory, making a successful foray into areas where ethnic Kurds are a majority. These include the city of Sinjar, west of Mosul. Islamist groups associated with ISIL have also pushed into Lebanon.

  18. ISIL, a death cult led by self-appointed “Caliph” Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, hates pretty much everyone who doesn’t agree with his particular, perverted interpretation of Islam.

    That includes fellow Sunni Muslims, be they Arab or Kurd. And ISIL fighters seems to take special, sadistic relish in slaughtering Shi’ites, whom they regard as apostates. The Shi’ites are the majority in Iraq as a whole, and dominate the central government in Baghdad, are a minority in the north, where ISIL is now rampant.

    1. Hamas and ISIL are cut from the same cloth..

      Your pals.

    2. The problem is the Hamas and ISIS interpretation of Islam is mainstream, taken right out of the book, the more violent passages overthrowing the earlier more peaceful ones, like one of our Supreme Court decisions.

    3. Well here is the big chance for your Israeli pals to take a piece out of ISIS. Call it Operation St. Louis and show the World how it is done. Show them how you and your team would have done it in the time, because now is the time. You are in the neighborhood and you have all the guns you always said you never had when you needed them back in the day when no one helped you. This is your chance. Save them. Act. Do something. Too busy? Pretend they are Jews. Maybe that will help.

      You’ll do nothing because it isn’t your problem. Sound familiar?

  19. The trapped peoples of the north

    Many Shi’ites can flee—some already have—southward, and find refuge among family and those of their own sect; many of my Shi’ite friends in Baghdad are currently sheltering northerners sent to them by religious organizations. Kurds, likewise, have been streaming into the Kurdish-dominated areas to the north and west of ISIL-controlled territory. Yet another minority, the Assyrians, most whom are Christians, have also fled south, and now await succor from the West, especially from groups of well-established Iraqi Christians in the US, who themselves fled previous spasms of persecution.
    But other minorities, just as vulnerable to the wrath of ISIL, have neither international support nor nearby refuge. And ISIL seems to have identified them for special persecution.
    The Yazidis: Numbering roughly 500,000, and concentrated around Sinjar, this group is ethnically Kurdish and adheres to a faith that has some aspects of ancient Zoroastrianism. Many Iraqi Muslims refer to Yazidis as “devil-worshipers,” because one of the faith’s foundational narratives of a fallen angel is similar to that of shaitan (or Satan) in Islam. When I traveled to Sinjar in 2003, my Iraqi colleagues, Sunni and Shi’ite alike, used the term “devil-worshipers” as a joke, even a term of endearment. ISIL, however, is taking the false claim of satanism as deadly serious. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of Yazidis have already been killed and tens of thousands have been driven into the mountains around Sinjar, where they are exposed to the elements as well as ISIL execution squads.

  20. The Shabak: Also concentrated around Sinjar, the Shabak are about one-tenth as numerous as the Yazidis, and even more vulnerable.

    Their faith doesn’t lend itself to easy definitions, since it is comprised of several micro-sects with elements of several religions, including Islam, Christianity and the Yazidi faith. Some Shabak identify as Shi’ite; that makes them double-heretics for ISIL, which has taken to kidnapping Shabaks from their villages and neighborhoods in Mosul.
    Shi’ite Turkmen: Ethnically connected to Turks, Iraqi Turkmen are a large minority, with estimates ranging up to 3 million people. They are for the most part Muslims, with Sunnis slightly outnumbering Shi’ites. Historically, Turkmen have enjoyed a stronger position than most minorities; they have been represented in the higher echelons of the government and military. But the Shi’ites among them have run afoul of ISIL, which has destroyed their places of worship. To complicate matters, many Turkmen are wary of the territorial ambitions of the Kurds, and now find themselves caught between the two.
    Leaders of all these minority groups have sent increasingly desperate pleas—to the Maliki government, to the US, to the UN—for help. But while some appeals have gone viral online, and the UN has engaged in its usual pro-forma hand-wringing, the SOS has gone largely unanswered as the world focused on Gaza. Now that the ceasefire there appears (fingers crossed) to be holding, there’s no excuse not to respond.


  22. Then there are the Saudis...

    Saudi men have been banned from marrying women from three Asian and one African country as the Gulf state toughens the rules restricting marriage with foreigners, a local daily said.

    Marrying women from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Chad is no longer permissible, Makkah newspaper reported.

    It said the total population of these communities in Saudi Arabia has exceeded 500,000 people, citing unofficial statistics, implying that this might be the reason.

    The paper said the new restrictions are now stipulated in the application forms that any Saudi wishing to marry a foreign woman should present to authorities.

  23. So, if there are 500,000 of the one group, and 3,000,000 of the other, and soever how many millions of the Shia, etc.

    Why don't they Protect Themselves. Fighting back is considered legal when you're being butchered.

    I'm sorry, I've had all of their middleeastern bullshit I can stand.

    I don't want no more.

    1. Such a compassionate soul....

      Your grasp of what living as a true minority within an Islamic territory is comical.

      Amazing hypocrisy you exhibit.

    2. Ah, Caliban returns.

      Rufus the trash mouth.

      Rufus the disgusting.

  24. Hussam Qawasmeh, from Hebron in the West Bank, is said to have admitted helping to plan the kidnappings, obtaining funding for the operation from the Islamist group and burying the teenagers' bodies in a plot of land he had bought several months previously.


    Yuval Diskin, a former head of Shin Bet, Israel's internal security organisation, said in a recent interview that he thought the Hamas political bureau was "taken by surprise" by the abduction.


    The Qawasmeh family is part of an enormous, elite clan based primarily in Hebron and numbering up to 17,000 members.

    Israeli Teenagers

  25. Replies
    1. .

      Clapton's got a great album out right now,

      Eric Clapton and Friends: The Breeze (An Appreciation of J.J. Cale)

      <a href=">Songbird: Willie Nelson</a>


  26. Deuce ☂Wed Aug 06, 08:53:00 PM EDT

    What has Israel ever done for the US that they were not paid for?


    This is really stupid.

    The author is given one week to think it over.

    1. Then I will enlighten the man.

    2. Enlighten yourself, but please don’t share it. Your previous episode of sharing the inner Bob have been somewhat disastrous and have left the rational side of the EB so gobsmacked a new word was made in your honor, Bobsmacked.

    3. .

      The Lobby made the statement that 'Israel is the only reliable ally the US has in the ME'. I asked how they have been a reliable ally. I made the point in saying that I was serious and wanted to know. Perhaps, I am wrong. Perhaps, there is something significant and important that Israel, as an ally, has done for the US.

      The answer I got from you was that I was insane to ask the question. The answer I got from WIO was equally unresponsive. Now. you say the question itself is stupid.

      They say there are no stupid questions. Were you intellectually inclined, you might know that rather than need to have it explained to you.

      I'm still waiting for for the answer.

      Until you give one, I have to assume that

      1. You are unwilling to defend WiO's statement out of spite.

      2. You have always just assumed Israel was a great ally and are flummoxed by the question.

      3. You have thought about it and have come up empty.

      You do not think, Bob, you merely emote.

      Think about it some more and come back to me when you have something.


  27. Ha ha !

    August 6, 2014
    Wow! France 24 TV reporter changes his tune, exposes human shield strategy of Hamas after being used as one
    By Thomas Lifson

    On more than one occasion, international media reporters working in Gaza have stood before the cameras showing the devastation from an Israeli strike only to have a rocket unexpectedly fired nearby toward Israel as they speak. This tends to prove the Israeli case that Hamas is using Gazans as human shields, and puts the onus of violating the rules of war on Hamas.

    Some reporters, such Finnish TV’s Aishi Zidan, have become furious when their disclosures of Hamas firing rockets from amidst civilians are picked up and used to support Israel. Others however, seem to learn from their experience. Consider the case of France 24 TV reporter Gallagher Fenwick. In the midst of his initial report, focused on the plight of Gazans under attack by Israel, he experienced a nearby rocket being fired:

    But in a later report, perhaps after thinking things over, he returned to the very same site, excerpted the rocket launch in his previous report, and then made the point that Israel was defensively attacking places being used to attack it. He even took the trouble to show a UN flag flying over the facility.

    Some media members learn from their experiences, others remained mired in their propaganda efforts.

    Hat tip: The Right Scoop

    Would being used as a human shield wake up Quart and his buddy Rufus 'Blow Me' Trash Mouth?

    It is an interesting question, and while I don't know the answer for certain, it might do some good for Quart. Rufus seems so unaware of his surroundings he might not even notice.

    For instance, he repeatedly curses in public as if he is alone in his own living room, and not presenting a thought (?) to the whole world.

    Certainly would be entertaining to watch, as long as neither was injured.

  28. What Would Hamas Do If It Could Do Whatever It Wanted?

    Understanding what the Muslim Brotherhood's Gaza branch wants by studying its theology, strategy, and history

    Jeffrey Goldberg Aug 4 2014, 2:54 PM ET

    You already know the answer, don't you?

    Only rat would be thrilled by what Hamas would do if it could do whatever it wants. (until they got to Phoenix)