“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."

Monday, June 01, 2015

'The US cannot defeat Isil, Iran cannot defeat Isil. They need to come together against a common threat'

Americans cannot save Ramadi from Isil, Iraq's strongman militia leader says

In an interview with The Telegraph, Hadi al-Ameri says fall of Sunni Anbar's provincial capital will not divert him from his anti-Isil strategy

Hadi Al-Ameri, Leader of the Poplar Mobilization units or
Hadi Al-Ameri, Leader of the Poplar Mobilization units or "Hashed Al Sha'abi"  Photo: David Rose/The Telegraph
Iraqi forces will make no immediate attempt to recapture the city of Ramadi from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), the country’s most powerful military chief told The Telegraph, contradicting political leaders. 
In an interview behind the front lines of the fight against Isil north-east of the city, Hadi al-Ameri insisted the fall of Ramadi would not make him change his long-term strategy to defeat Isil. 
Mr Ameri is leader of the Hashed al-Sha’abi, or Popular Mobilisation Units, the coalition of militias which are now doing most of the fighting against Isil outside Kurdish areas since the collapse of the army. 
He has been leading an operation to isolate Isil from major centres of population along Iraq’s central spine, and to cut off Isil supply routes through the desert - an operation with no clear time scale. 
Badr Brigade forces who are in the middle of an operation to retake a large area of Nebai province (David Rose/The Telegraph)
He said the idea that Ramadi could or should be counter-attacked immediately, as the prime minister and other leaders have promised, was “laughable”. “Anyone who tells you we can retrieve Ramadi without this current operation is a liar,” he said. 
Before it fell on May 17, Ramadi, the capital of largely Sunni Anbar province, had been fought over by army and police units on one side and Isil on the other since early 2014. 
The defeat was a political disaster for the United States, which had provided air cover. Iraqi officials said the Americans had insisted on leaving the defence of Ramadi to local Sunni tribes, the army and the US-led coalition, rather than sending in the Hashed al-Sha’abi, which mainly comprises Shia militias allied to Iran
The Americans said they feared that allowing the militias to retake a Sunni area would risk sectarian reprisals and strengthen support for Isil, a Sunni supremacist group. 
The failure of the American strategy has greatly strengthened the hands of the Hashed al-Sha’abi and Mr Ameri, their charismatic leader, fast becoming one of Iraq's most powerful men. 
Badr Brigade forces who are in the middle of an operation to retake a large area of Nebai province (David Rose/The Telegraph)
Unlike the army, the Hashed have won a series of victories against Isil, including retaking key towns north of Baghdad like Dhuluwiya and Tikrit. 
In his interview, Mr Ameri made no bones about the implications of Ramadi’s fall
che said, asking why he should waste the lives of his men on a swift attempt to retake it for political reasons. 
“We don’t want to shed the blood of our youth so cheaply for people who say they don’t want us,” he said. “It’s a lesson to them, that they should learn they cannot save Ramadi, and the Americans cannot save Ramadi. Now they know that there is no force that can save Ramadi except for the Hashed.” 
Mr Ameri rose to become leader of the Badr Organisation, the leading militia in Hashed al-Sha’abi, after years in exile from Saddam Hussein-era Iraq, which he spent in Iran. He, along with the Badr, fought on the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and he remains close to Tehran and in particular Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite force the Al-Quds Brigade, whom he referred to as “Brother Qassem”. 
General Soleimani is a bogeyman to America, for his creation of the militias that fought the American and British presence in Iraq after the invasion of 2003, at a cost of hundreds of lives. 
But many Shia Iraqis have come to see him and Iran as a more reliable weapon against Isil than the western coalition. 
Together, Mr Soleimani and Mr Ameri have devised a more successful counter-insurgency strategy than the American policy, of supporting the institutionally weak army and loyal Sunni tribes with air power, has proved. 
Instead of attempting a swift assault on Ramadi, Mr Ameri’s forces are working their way north-east of the city, dividing areas of the desert into blocks in order to isolate individual Isil units. 
These blocks are then intended to become a buffer protecting Iraq’s main road north and its towns and cities, like Samarra, seat of one of the Shia world’s most important shrines, Saddam Hussein’s birthplace Tikrit and Baiji, home to Iraq’s biggest oil refinery and currently the site of a major battle
Badr Brigade forces who are in the middle of an operation to retake a large area of Nebai province (David Rose/The Telegraph)
He said the second priority of his strategy was to cut off the “Dejla Arm” - the road running west across the desert to the north of Baghdad and the other major Anbar city in Isil hands, Fallujah. The aim there is to protect the capital from attacks. 
Only once those two priorities have been met will he turn to the liberation of Anbar, though moving north to protect the main roads should also ultimately serve to cut off supplies lines between Mosul and Ramadi and Fallujah. 
In the desert west of Nebai, the area where he had set up his encampment, his men were pushing forward at a rate of 12 miles a day, they said, at the same time securing oil pipelines the jihadists had tapped into. 
Isil was retreating in the face of Hashed’s numerical superiority, they said, launching skirmishing raids to try to keep links to each other as they are split up. These had failed, said Talib al-Attabi, a Badr commander. 
Nearby lay the wrecks of oil tankers, some still burning, which the jihadists had abandoned the day before. Mr Attabi insisted local Sunnis were being treated with respect, even the wives and families of known Isil fighters. 
Human rights groups have recorded numerous violations, and on Saturday night a video surfaced online purporting to show another, particularly notorious militia, hanging an Isil fighter, possibly already dead, over an open fire to “roast”. However, many anti-Isil Sunnis see no option now but to join forces with the Hashed, putting their own tribal militias under its umbrella. 
Mr Ameri’s strategy runs the risk of looking as if he is effectively partitioning Anbar and other Isil-held territory off from the rest of Iraq. He said he did not know when any attempt to retake Anbar would begin. Fighters are pouring in to defend those areas near Ramadi, like the Habbaniyah air base and the towns of Khaldiya and Husseibeh, still in government hands. 
Hadi Al-Ameri, Leader of the Poplar Mobilization units or "Hashed Al Sha'abi" (David Rose/The Telegraph)
Mr Ameri said his strategy with Isil was to constantly encircle their positions to disrupt their operations. But that was not the same as a direct attack. 
"This is not part of the plan to liberate Anbar - we can talk about that if we are successful here," he said. "We have to separate military work from political work. The political pressure is to liberate Ramadi - but the military work on the ground has to be separate." 
Commanders like Mr Attabi said Mr Ameri’s strategy was to surround Fallujah, known since American attempts to subjugate it as a centre of militancy, before moving on Ramadi. “If you want to kill the snake, hit its head,” Mr Attabi said. 
The strategy may be sound counter-insurgency, but it will also allow more time for pro-Iranian political forces to gather strength. Mr Ameri answers directly to the more pro-Western prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, who has led calls for Ramadi to be retaken quickly
The prime minister had signed off on his alternate strategy, Mr Ameri said. “We send the key points of the operation to the prime minister, and he agrees them,” he said. “Mr prime minister is a civilian. It is not his job to lay our plans.”


  1. June 1 Casualty Update:

    American Casualties - 0

    1. Excellent.

      Have a good day, Rufus.

      I mean that, too.

    2. Put that up on Wio. You are not putting it up here.

    3. :)

      Too close to home ?

      Rang a bell ?

    4. No, not nearly close enough, about seven thousand miles off my interest area.There is no advertising on this site. Where do you get the audacity and the gall to think you can post an advertisement for some Zionist cause that I oppose?

  2. The United States military could easily enough take out ISIS, I believe, if we'd just finally quit fooling around, really really unleash the Air Force, and consider the whole ISIS area as having declared total war on us.

    They are not, after all, at least yet, the Japanese, or the Germans of WWII.

    Cheers !

    early start to a long day

    Have a good one !

    1. (I've been in a hell of a good mood lately)

    2. Bush signed the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq that required all U.S. troops to leave the country by the end of 2011.

      Maliki refused to give immunity to any troops remaining after that date so Obama carried out the agreement that Bush signed.

      Obama won a landslide victory in part by promising to end involvement in Iraq, what a large majority of the American people elected him to do. The American people recognized the Neocon lie and the folly of Bush to fall for it. Obama is guilty of not showing more resolve and going with his gut to get out and stay out of the ME.

    3. I don't know; once ISIS beheaded those Americans, I'm not sure Obama could have "done nothing."

      As it is, he chose a very low-cost, low-casualty (0, so far) option that has been effective in helping to stop their momentum, and start to roll back some of their gains.

    4. Iraqi politics, however, as I said earlier, can drive a sane person batshit crazy, if you pay them too much attention. :)

  3. California obtained 25% of its electricity from Renewables*, yesterday.

    *does not include large hydro


  4. Personal Income Up 0.4% in April.

    Prices flat at 0.0% YOY Prices Up 0.1%

    Income and Outlays

  5. Construction spending is showing life, up 2.2 percent in April which is well above Econoday's consensus for plus 0.7 percent and Econoday's high-end forecast of 1.6 percent. Spending on residential construction rose 0.6 percent with strong gains posted for both single-family and multi-family homes. The gain here is no surprise and follows April's big surge in housing starts & permits.

    Private non-residential spending looks very strong in this report, up 3.1 percent and led by gains out of the power and office sectors. Pubic spending is also strong led by an outsized gain for highways & streets and including a large gain for educational building. The gain in public spending came entirely from the state and local governments as federal construction spending declined for a second straight month.

    Adding to the positive news is a big upward revision to March, now at plus 0.5 percent from an initial reading of minus 0.6 percent which will help boost the next revision to first-quarter GDP. And construction should give a badly needed lift to second-quarter growth which isn't getting much help from the consumer, evidenced by this morning's personal income & outlays report, nor from manufacturing, underscored by mostly soft readings in both this morning's PMI index and ISM index.

    Bloomberg Economic Calendar

  6. Deuce has become an out an out Obama apologist.


    And his paragraph above has the usual special pleading.

    Guy would make a passable defense attorney.

    The mid east is in total chaos, and it wasn't 7 years ago when Bush was in office, but yet, it is all Bush's fault.

    Lordy, as Quirk might say.

    Work day over, nap time here.

    1. But first, in what a guy like me would call a real glimmer of hope -


      Fed Up With Islam and Sectarianism, Some Iraqis Embrace Zoroastrianism

      Confused and disheartened by the religious and ethnic divides in Iraq, Kurds, especially, are turning to a faith that dates back 3,500 years.

      By Alaa Latif

      SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq — One of the smallest and oldest religions in the world is experiencing a revival in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. The religion has deep Kurdish roots—it was founded by Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, who was born in the Kurdish part of Iran 3,500 years ago, and the religion’s sacred book, the Avesta, was written in an ancient language from which the Kurdish language derives.

      In this century, however, it is estimated that there are only around 190,000 believers in the world. After Islam became the dominant religion in the region during the 7th century, Zoroastrianism more or less disappeared.

      Until—quite possibly—now.

      For the first time in over a thousand years, locals in a rural part of Sulaymaniyah province conducted an ancient ceremony on May 1, whereby followers put on a special belt that signifies they are ready to serve the religion and observe its tenets. It would be akin to a baptism in the Christian faith.

      The newly pledged Zoroastrians have said that they will organize similar ceremonies elsewhere in Iraqi Kurdistan and they have also asked permission to build up to 12 temples inside the region, which has its own borders, military, and Parliament.

      Zoroastrians are also visiting government departments in Iraqi Kurdistan and they have asked that Zoroastrianism be acknowledged as a religion officially. They even have their own anthem and many locals are attending Zoroastrian events and responding to Zoroastrian organizations and pages on social media...............

      Alas, the revival's heart is beating, just barely, and not vibrantly, in, of course, Kurdistan.

      Would that it were in Iran, and ISISland, and Shia Iraq.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. .

      I'm thinking of reintroducing a modified version of the ancient Mithraic cult. Since the cult centers on bull and the Persian name 'Mithras' means contract or agreement, I figure it would be right up my alley, in my sweet spot so to speak.

      I have been accused of old school thinking so I have decided to inject some 21st Century thinking. The cult itself has potential but probably needs to be modernized. For instance, in order to get around Peta protests and local ordinances, we will probably have to skip the sacrifice of an actual bull and the baptism in blood. Instead, I plan a symbolic sacrificing of the 'cosmic bull' using a goat skin and a few demijohns of wine which will be easier to clean up and likely supply some dynamite visions.

      We have already started the marketing. The "Cosmic Bull" statues should be arriving any day now and the video game is in the works.


    4. Excellent on the early marketing effort.

      How much for your bull ?

      All in all an appropriate enough choice to substitute for Islam, but, as Mithraism is often associated with the Roman Legions, how about something a little more peaceful, some variety of Hinduism, perhaps ?

      Anyway, I fully support your efforts and wish you the very best.

      Go for it !!!

    5. .

      I'm am going with the peaceful version, Persia 4000 years ago. I'm going old school. The Romans were Johnny-come-lately's.


    6. Good enough then.

      I'm with you all the way.

      We could combine the efforts and take a stab at syncretism, a kind of Mithraic Zorostrianism, but just as you like.

  7. Heh

    May they all GLOW IN THE DARK

    Good News – ISIS Digging Through Ruins of Syrian Nuclear Reactor

    June 1, 2015 by Daniel Greenfield

    Maybe as soon as Kerry recovers from his French bike accident, he can get right on negotiating a nuclear accord with ISIS that will let it keep its nuclear materials if it pinkie swears not to make it into a bomb.

    It’s working with Iran. Isn’t it?

    Syrian residents from villages near the destroyed Syrian nuclear site, Al-Kibar, around 60 kilometers from Deir A-Zor report that members of Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh) have been excavating the destroyed Syrian secret nuclear facility.

    Syrian Rebels took over the area from Assad’s forced in 2013, and a year later, Islamic State took it over from the Syrian Rebels.

    Residents who visited the area also report seeing empty metal barrels, and are now afraid that more radioactive material has been released.

    Islamic State may be looking for radioactive materials to make a dirty bomb, or perhaps they may even believe they might find a nuclear bomb underneath the rubble.

    The latter is unlikely, the former is however entirely possible. And this isn’t the only WMD facility ISIS has taken over. It’s taken over a few in Iraq that ‘didn’t exist’.

    ISIS won’t get a nuke or a full-fledged weapon of any kind out of it, but they can make a variety of dirty bombs and that’s bad enough. The question is where they intend to use them.

    Before Obama decided to finally pay attention to ISIS, the Iraqis were clamoring for chemical weapons detection tech to stop a Sarin attack from ISIS. So ISIS has been at this for a while. Eventually it may pay off.

  8. .

    Prepare for an ISIS Humvee dealership coming to a neighborhood near you.

    Iraq's security forces lost around 2,300 Humvees to ISIS when they retreated from Mosul last year, according to the country's prime minister.


    However, the State Department last year approved the potential sale to Iraq of 1,000 Humvees with increased armor, machine-guns, and grenade launchers for an estimated $579 million, according to a report by AFP.


  9. .

    Every week there are generals and admirals from the Pentagon on Capital Hill poor-mouthing and demanding more money for equipment.

    Pentagon officials told NBC News they did not keep an inventory of Iraqi gear.

    The U.S. military said that by the end of its mission in Iraq it had sold, transferred or disposed of 4.2 million pieces of equipment, ranging from armored vehicles and weapons to building materials and generators. The total value of these hand-me-downs was $580 million, according to The Washington Times.

    The military said that giving the Iraqi government equipment that was usable but surplus to requirements "assisted the theater security cooperation efforts of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) by helping to resource the Iraqi army."

    By leaving these items behind, the military said it saved $1.7 billion in shipping...


    1. .

      Reason number 14 on why we should not be in the ME.


    2. I'd like to have a Humvee, too.

      One with the increased armor, machine-guns, and grenade launchers.

      The wolf population in Idaho would plummet.

    3. .

      Only if you also imported actual sportsmen from outside of Idaho. Otherwise, if the wolf population did plummet it would be because they died laughing.


  10. For Rufus

    Inside the Chinese 'meat festival'

    Rows of pet dogs hanging on hooks and cats skinned ready for the dinner table: Inside China's gruesome annual 'meat festival' that was supposed to have been banned

    The Yulin 'meat' festival is where thousands of dogs and cat are eaten
    Local authority claimed 'festival' was shut down this year after complaints
    But animal rights group investigated ahead of usual start date of June 22
    Found thousands of animals still being taken in tiny cages and killed there
    And most of the cats and dogs being slaughtered are still wearing collars
    They are beaten to death or have throats slit as traumatised animals watch

    By Jay Akbar For Mailonline

    Published: 09:50 GMT, 1 June 2015 | Updated: 17:50 GMT, 1 June 2015

    Thousands of stolen pets are being slaughtered for a Chinese 'dog meat festival' which local authorities said was shut down last year, MailOnline has learned.

    The local government in Yulin, central China, said they banned the decades-old local tradition after two million furious campaigners in China called for an end to the bloody practice.

    But an undercover investigation has found as many as 10,000 helpless animals - many of them still wearing collars having been stolen away from loving homes - are being brought to the city ahead of the festival on June 22.

    Many animals die from shock, starvation and dehydration on the journey. The traumatised ones who do survive are beaten to death or their throats slit in street markets and illegal slaughterhouses, animal rights campaigners told MailOnline.

  11. TSA failed 95% of security tests conducted by Homeland Security recently.

    Fox News

    If I go to Europe I'm going to try to fly El Al.

    1. But it doesn't look like they fly from USA to London.

  12. Governor Kasich of Ohio may be in the Republican race.

    Quirk, have you made up your mind to run yet ?

    The 'metrics' look right to me.

    Remember my advice - if there are over 12 candidates you've got a real chance.

    The last man standing in the circular firing squad.

  13. .

    The ultimate kabuki, the TSA.

    TSA failed 67 of 70 tests run by Homeland security. They failed to catch bombs, guns, and other weapons that were carried by HS personnel.

    A 95% failure rate is higher than the failure rate in 2007 even after supposedly putting in fixes and spending hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The TSA doesn't make you safe. It was installed to make you feel safe. It is the ultimate kabuki. They refuse to profile but they are perfectly willing to search grandmas and five-year olds.


    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


    2. Rest easy, citizens: TSA finds almost 1 in 20 test bombs during screening

      posted at 5:21 pm on June 1, 2015 by Jazz Shaw

      A few weeks ago I had to go back to DC yet again for the Right Online conference and it involved flying in and out of Reagan, as well as Newark. As usual, I stood in the long lines – even with my previous screening check mark on my boarding passes – and went through all the rituals of unloading some of my things and passing through a detector. When I arrived at the hotel I opened my bag to find the usual TSA greeting card indicating that they had searched my checked baggage, no matter how much of a “trusted traveler” I may be at some airports. But through all of that, I had the slight consolation of knowing that our government was on the job. Lots of bad things might happen… I could be delayed. (I was. In both directions.) The weather could be awful. (It was.) The drinks could be horrendously overpriced at the hotel. (Don’t even get me started.) But at least I knew one thing:

      The plane wasn’t going to blow up and fall out of the sky with me in it.

      I expect to put up with a lot of unpleasantness on the plane and that expectation is generally met. But the one thing I don’t want to deal with is a bomb. So I suppose we need to deal with the TSA nonsense because that’s still a win as long as they catch all the bombs.

      Ah, America. So much for that theory.

      An internal investigation by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has revealed some disturbing gaps in the security screening at some of the nation’s busiest airports.

      Investigators with the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General (IG) went undercover and were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95 percent of trials. The IG’s report found that TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 tests.

      The tests were conducted by what the department calls “Red Teams”. The team members pose as passengers who try to beat the system.

      “Red Team testing of the aviation security network has been part of TSA’s mission advancement for 13 years,” explained a Department of Homeland Security spokesman. “The numbers in these reports never look good out of context, but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security.”

      Upon learning of the failures, the spokesman said, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson “immediately directed TSA to implement a series of actions, several of which are now in place, to address the issues raised in the report.”

      I suppose we would need to know the details of how the tests were structured, what they used to simulate the “fake bombs” or threats and all the rest before passing final judgement. But… a 5% success rate? You’re missing 19 out of 20 and that’s really not even a passing grade in soccer. Look, I get that you were probably worked up over the chance to see all the nudie pics of the young women in the screening machine, but after a while even that’s got to get boring. One would imagine that you’ve gotten back to the business of looking at the x-ray scans of the bags and checking for exploding shoes or belts by now. How are we doing this badly?

      More to the point, why would you release this information to the public? Somewhere across the ocean, whoever replaced the members of the Khorasan group (after we killed off the last batch) must be kicking themselves in the butt. Wait… you mean we could have just stuffed them in a suitcase? Abdul! You idiot!

      We seem to keep electing people who don’t have the real world experience to run a lemonade stand. On top of that, they appear to be appointing and hiring folks without much more in the way of critical skills. So… would you rather go back to taking your chances on not being on the plane that blows up and getting through the airport faster? Or should we hire more and better TSA people who might have a shot at finding at least half the bombs?

    3. Might be The Peter Principle at work.

    4. >>The Peter Principle is a concept in management theory in which the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate's performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and "managers rise to the level of their incompetence."<<

      One of the secrets of Quirk's many successes is he takes the opposite tactic - The Paul Principle.

      You fuck up just a little even once you're out of there.

    5. .

      TSA spokesman:

      “The numbers in these reports never look good out of context, but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security.”

      Never look good out of context?

      What planet do these folks come from?


  14. Senator Graham has an interesting story. He and his sister are being interviewed on Fox.

    Their mother and father died a month apart.

    Senator Graham raised his lovely sister.

    He has risen in my estimation.

    No wealth in that background that I can see.

    A bar and a pool room in South Carolina.

  15. .

    This week's story from "The Most Corrupt Administration in History".

    The Environmental Protection Agency is creating a festering “culture of complacency” by dragging its feet on action against employee misconduct, the agency’s watchdog found, leaving the public to wonder if one of the most mission-driven areas of government is running smoothly.

    Employees watching porn on government computers, a senior executive who looked the other way while an employee faked his time sheet, another senior employee who took another paying job while on the federal clock — these are some of the examples Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins Jr. cited last week in a report on the six management challenges facing the EPA this fiscal year...

    Come back next week, same time, same station for more tales from "The Most Corrupt Administration in History".


    1. It's hard on my nerves, and irritating as hell, but I'll tune in.............

  16. Heh

    Deuce has taken down my recommendation to fly El Al.

    Here I am trying to perhaps save the lives of readers, and he takes down my recommendation to fly El Al.

    He is flying lower than Quirk in his 'Low and Slow'.

    Jesus, Deuce, lighten up.

    1. .


      Now, I think he is just jerking you around.


    2. Well, he is making a jerk out of himself.

      Still big storm here, rain and lightning.

      This storm and one more, the crops are made.