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What You Need to Know as the U.S. Begins Bombing in Iraq

What You Need to Know as the U.S. Begins Bombing in Iraq

Written by Hayes Brown.

The United States on Friday morning announced that it had launched the first in a series of promised airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), recommitting the U.S. — though at a much smaller scale — to another military conflict in Iraq.

President Obama late Thursday night announced that his administration had determined that the strikes would come, if it appeared that U.S. military advisers positioned in Iraq were under threat from ISIS’ continuing advance. The Pentagon on Friday confirmed that the first such bombing had commenced as ISIS’ forces moved towards Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq. ISIS has been pushing closer and closer to the area in recent days, taking over Iraq’s largest dam in the process.

Since beginning their all-out assault against the Iraqi government last fall, ISIS has proved far more resilient than many expected. First they managed to capture and hold the city of Fallujah, the city that saw some of the worst fighting during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Then in June, the group and the loose coalition of Sunni militants allied with them swept into Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, sending the Iraqi security forces fleeing. Though it appeared for a time that Kurdish peshmerga, the local security forces, would be able to hold back ISIS’ advance, this weekend saw the first large-scale defeat of the fighters, leaving ISIS that much closer to controlling all of northern Iraq and fulfilling their dream of forming a new caliphate in the region.

Earlier this summer, President Obama informed Congress that he was deploying several hundred U.S. military personnel to Iraq to advise the Iraqis on how best to halt ISIS’ conquest. In addition to providing extra training, the American troops would be also protecting the U.S. embassy and searching for potential airstrike targets should Obama greenlight military action against ISIS as he had previously threatened. “We’re laying down a marker here,” a senior U.S. official said on Thursday night of the new campaign against ISIS’ positions. “Just their presence…and the potential threat they pose could lead us to take action if targets present themselves.” With the first strike against ISIS artillery positions outside of Erbil, the targeting appears to have become much easier.

Meanwhile, ISIS has been systematically targeting both Shiites, who are a majority in Iraq overall but a minority in the north, and minority religious groups writ large. Though female genital mutilation can’t be counted among the atrocities they’ve committed, the fact is that their actions have caused a massive refugee crisis in the region to become even worse. At least ten thousand Christians were forced to abandon their homes in Mosul, despite their families living there for centuries. And most recently members of the Yazidi faith, a small monotheistic religion with the majority of its practitioners living in Iraq, have been forced to escape into the neighboring mountains or face death.

The Yazidi sheltering on Mount Sinjar — whose number may be up to 30,000 — had for days been without food or water before Turkey and the United Nations were able to begin evacuation. As the second part of the U.S. military’s new mission in Iraq, President Obama authorized a set of humanitarian air drops to provide aid to the Yazidi. “We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide,” Obama said in announcing the mission. “That’s what we’re doing on that mountain.”

But now, aid might not be the only thing dropped in defense of the Yazidi. “I’ve therefore authorized targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there,” Obama continued. But the president was quick to deny that this was the beginning of a wider war against ISIS in Iraq. “As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” he said. “And 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.”

This post originally appeared on ThinkProgress.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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8:10PM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

(cont...)

He will not accept the ceasefire, he will crush Gaza even more until soldier returned.

3 August – Israel announces the missing soldier is dead, killed in action during the Friday bombing. Funeral held. Later that day Lt. Col. Peter Lerner admits they knew on Friday 1st at the time of the battle that he was dead. This was a case of Israel’s Hannibal Directive, a military policy whereby if a soldier is being captured, they kill him rather than let him be captured. There was no warning to the local civilian population of the bombing, and to ensure their 1 soldier was not captured alive they killed over 100 civilians in the area during the bombing. The directive had already been activated earlier when Hamas claimed to have captured another Israeli soldier in mid-Gaza but israel insisted they knew he was dead, and may have been used on other occasions during this war (as previously). The local commander gives the order and soldiers are aware of this directive.

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/hadar-goldin-hannibal-directive

6 August – during 3 day ceasefire, Israel finally announces that they captured Qawasmeh (re. kidnapping of 3 teens) on 11 July.

I accept this not a full account – it is a mere summary of some of the main points. But I think it can be enlightening to see the timeline of events and what was being said and done so you get a fuller picture.

8:06PM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

(cont...)

15 July – Hamas offers Israel a 10 year truce. Israel not interested.

25 July - Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld tells media that Hamas did not kidnap 3 teens.

1 August – a ceasefire is due to start in morning, both sides try to gain advantage in lead-up to deadline in Rafah area (normal military activity, all armies do it), close combat ensues, 2 Israeli soldiers are killed, 1 disappears, possibly captured. Israel alleges they saw him being taken into a tunnel. They bombed the tunnel as well as whole area around. Israel blames Hamas for the capture, demands his return, cancels the ceasefire until the soldier is returned. (POWs are usually returned at the end of hostilities). Hamas denies any knowledge of it, cannot contact militants in area, can only assume all dead.

2 August – The choreography begins. Under pressure from Egypt to restart the ceasefire, Israel announces a statement from Netanyahu later that evening. Anticipation among media he will announce a further ceasefire. Announcement keeps being delayed, amid tense atmosphere and media hopes, cameras go to home of missing soldier where his entire family stands in front of the house surrounded by all their neighbours; tearful mother demands Netanyahu not stop the war until her son comes home, all of Israel re-booted with anger against Hamas, call to flatten Gaza. Cameras go to Netanyahu. He will not accept the ceasefire, he will crush Gaza even more until soldie

8:03PM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

(cont...)

A gag order is imposed on the media and Netanyahu launches the “Bring Back Our Boys” campaign, imposes vicious, brutal crackdown on West Bank, arresting hundreds, searching and ransacking thousands of buildings, several Palestinians are killed by Israel forces and settlers. Netanyahu threatens war against Hamas, and ramps up war fever among Israeli public. Netanyahu’s “WMD” is cast.

15 June – Haaretz reports Pardo’s comments in cabinet.

Date? - Kidnap car found burned out, evidence of blood and shooting. Israeli yellow number plates.

30 June – bodies are found under rocks. Nearly 3 weeks after they were killed, the bodies were in perfect condition, no sign of decay, no maggots. (Very strange – where had they been kept?)

1 July – Israel launches 34 air strikes on Gaza. This continued daily. Many killed. Hamas did not respond.

6 July – Israel bombed a tunnel, killing 6 Hamas men.

7 July – Hamas retaliated.

8 July – Full war on Gaza from air, land and sea.

11 July – Israel captures Qawasmeh, one of the guys they suspect involved in kidnapping. He is not Hamas. He and a few relatives are something of a rogue element, and are known to often do things which actually harm Hamas and other Palestinian groups. (They wouldn’t be the first that Israel had used as agents, it’s a common practice). Israel keeps his capture secret.

8:01PM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

(cont...)

Now let’s look at the specific events that led to the current war;

2014 – end April – Palestinian Authority, Fatah, PLO, Hamas, PIJ, and all other factions announce reconciliation agreement with on a Unity/Consensus government to be announced shortly. Israel immediately condemns the agreement, condemns Hamas, and warns Palestinians that if they don’t cancel this agreement the Palestinians “will pay the price”.

2 June 2014 – Palestinians form Unity/Consensus government of technocrats, no Hamas in it, and that new (long overdue) elections will be held within a year. Hamas accepts terms set by The Quartet (UN, EU, America, & Russia), and agreement is welcomed internationally (with caution in the case of America). Again Israel condemns it, condemns Hamas, and threatens Palestinians with repercussions if they don’t break the agreement.

5 June – Mossad Chief, Tamir Pardo, puts a scenario to Israel’s security cabinet meeting, where he prognosticates about 3 teenagers being kidnapped from a settlement.

12 June – 3 Israeli teens kidnapped in a settlement (where Palestinians are not allowed to go). Netanyahu immediately blames Hamas. Hamas denies any knowledge. The Israelis know almost immediately the kids were probably dead, based on a phone call from one of the lads to police from the car, Hebrew radio playing in background & shots being fired. A gag order is imposed on the media and Netany

7:58PM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

Kimberley J. - “The fault for the conflict in Israel & Palestine falls on both sides. Israel is determined to wipe Palestine off the face of the earth & Hamas is determined to do the same to Israel.”

Without going too deep into the origins of this conflict, or the arguments on both sides, and trying to be brief, I’ll just mention a few things in recent years which haven’t been covered in western media;

2006 – Hamas offers a 20yr truce if a Palestinian state is formed within the 1967 borders, recognition of Israel to be referred to a national referendum – they even wrote all this to Bush 2.

2008 – April – in a meeting with Jimmy Carter, again offered long-term truce with the above terms. This was re-stated in November.

2008-9, Dec-Jan – Israel hammers Gaza, kills nearly 1400 Palestinians.

2009 – Repeated acceptance of 2-state solution within 1967 borders in letter to Ban Ki Moon.

2010 – December – again repeated offer for 2 state solution in 1967 borders.

2012 – Israel again attacks Gaza, more Palestinians dead. November 2012 ceasefire – Hamas agrees to stop firing at Israel, and to do its best to stop other groups from firing, in exchange Israel agrees to lift the siege on Gaza, in place since 2007. Hamas stops all its rockets and is almost totally successful in stopping others. Israel does not lift the siege.

1:56PM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

To Alex - "Linda if you think militant atheism is anything but another brand of ignorant fanaticism" ..etc.
Absolutely. However I'm not a fanatic or militant. The LAST thing I would know about a friend, or care to know, is their religion. Why? It is irrelevant to me. Nobody knows my beliefs in my everyday life, only on forums like this where I feel it is important to express my concerns.
The world is full of Christian hates Muslim, Muslim hates Jew, even sects of the same religion often hate each other. WHY? EXPLAIN please!!! Look at Iraq now, Sunnis, Shiite, they are all Muslim & STILL hate each other. WHY? Again, please explain. It just makes no sense to hate each other based on religious beliefs. I don't hate Catholics or Jews or Hindus but constantly wonder why they hate atheists. What have I personally ever done to them. Nobody ever answers that. They always try to convert me. I don't try to convert them, just ask that they stop hating & killing each other.

1:16PM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

Ernest R. states, "Tammy I. "peace will only be possible when human beings evolve": Evolution can go both ways. For example, Americans, generally speaking, are sadly but provably evolving into a more ignorant and stupider population."

Ernest's words ring true. I will clarify my initial post: Peace will only be possible when humans evolve into more intelligent, open-minded, empathetic and compassionate beings.

It is becoming more and more difficult to hang on to any thread of optimism and hope these days.

1:09PM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

@ Chien-seng T. "For instance, the American Indians are certainly not making much trouble in the USA these days; even getting rich from the gambling and staying drunk". Spoken like a true racist. Refreshing when anti-racists consider facts as racism or anti-Semitism. American Indians are not making much trouble these days, being crushed into submission by concentration camp reserves and physical and sexual abuse in residential schools that finished the job. Staying drunk is pretty much the only escape. Despite the gambling casinos, most live in poverty of a third world level. The parallel with other aboriginals and the Palestine situation is striking. It almost seems that people that steal other people's land find it necessary to despise their victims.

12:51PM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

@ Wesley S. "that was always a multi-national force in the former Yugoslav states". that included soldiers from the Netherlands who meekly allowed Serbs to remove and murder their prisoners. Nothing changed until Clinton's air strikes.

12:19PM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

@ Linda M. "If it isn't one group of fanatics, it's another. Keep these assholes out of our lands". We don't need hatred, but what genius decided that western countries should welcome immigrants who believed they had to murder daughters who dared to dress like others in the country and who believed that their religion had to be forced on every unbeliever in the world ? Many of these immigrants or more usually their children, now form an estimated 15-20% of ISIS, the number one terrorist group in the world, their leader claimed to be American, and their expressed intention is to carry the fight back to their western homes. Like, we needed that ?

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