Kerry warns Maliki as PM’s forces position themselves in Baghdad

posted at 8:01 am on August 11, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

It’s no secret how the US feels about Nouri al-Maliki. The Obama administration has sat on its hands while Iraq comes apart at the seams in part because the White House wants to avoid propping up Maliki, who has spent the last three years alienating the Sunnis and Kurds, weakening Iraq to the point of collapse against ISIS. The US wants Maliki out in order to get a government in Baghdad that can re-engage the coalition put together by the Bush administration in the Anbar Awakening so that the Iraqi military can by itself face the threat without forcing the US to intervene militarily beyond a few air strikes.

After Maliki’s surprise address last night, though, the US doesn’t appear to have much sway. The current Prime Minister deployed special forces loyal to himself in Baghdad in what looks very much like a coup to prevent the new parliament from electing his successor:

Special forces loyal to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were deployed in strategic areas of Baghdad on Sunday night after he delivered a tough speech indicating he would not cave in to pressure to drop a bid for a third term, police sources told Reuters. Pro-Maliki Shiite militias stepped up patrols in the capital, police said. An eyewitness said a tank was stationed at the entrance to Baghdad’s Green Zone, which houses government buildings. “We can see unprecedented deployment of army commandos and special elite forces … in Baghdad, especially sensitive areas,” one of the police sources said. The report could not immediately by confirmed by NBC News.

CNN offers this first-person perspective from the capital:

Secretary of State John Kerry warned Maliki against a coup, and lined up behind the new President, Kurdish politician Fuad Masum:

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday warned Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki not to cause trouble as he threw his weight behind newly-elected President Fuad Masum to help fight Islamic militants. …

“We stand absolutely squarely behind President Masum (who) has the responsibility for upholding the constitution of Iraq,” Kerry said in Sydney, where he will attend annual US-Australia military talks.

“He is the elected president and at this moment Iraq clearly made a statement that they are looking for change.”

NBC reported that the US is “watching carefully” what happens next in Baghdad, while thousands of Yazidis escaped from the ISIS noose in the last couple of days. The Kurdish Peshmerga regained some territory as ISIS had to deal with American airstrikes:

The Daily Mail says that the US has begun to bypass Baghdad and send arms directly to the Kurds:

The Obama administration has begun directly providing weapons to Kurdish forces who have started to make gains against Islamic militants in northern Iraq, senior U.S. officials said today.

Previously, the U.S. had insisted on only selling arms to the Iraqi government in Baghdad, but the Kurdish peshmerga fighters had been losing ground to Islamic State (IS) fighters in recent weeks. …

The U.S. officials wouldn’t say which U.S. agency is providing the arms or what weapons are being sent, but one official said it isn’t the Pentagon.

Three guesses who’s arming the Peshmerga, and the first two don’t count. Kerry’s bluster aside, the US has no real influence in Baghdad any longer, which the White House made clear with its earlier unmet demands for political reform as a prerequisite for intervention. Maliki made it official last night. The only option left to the US is to arm the Kurds to get an effective fight against ISIS, and apparently leave Baghdad to Iran. If Masum can wrest power away from Maliki and get a Shi’a PM who can work with Kurds and Sunnis, that would be terrific — but he might have to fight through Maliki’s elite forces and Moqtada al-Sadr’s irregulars to have a chance now, and the US endorsement will hardly be a boon to that cause.

Update: In case you didn’t get it in three guesses …

Expect that to shift to the Pentagon soon enough, though. The US has no particular reason to do this covertly now that Maliki’s attempting to hijack the political process.


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B0tched

Bmore on August 11, 2014 at 8:06 AM

The Obama administration has begun directly providing weapons to Kurdish forces who have started to make gains against Islamic militants in northern Iraq, senior U.S. officials said today.

Previously, the U.S. had insisted on only selling arms to the Iraqi government in Baghdad, but the Kurdish peshmerga fighters had been losing ground to Islamic State (IS) fighters in recent weeks. …

The first intelligent thing we’ve done in this mess so far…

ConstantineXI on August 11, 2014 at 8:06 AM

After Maliki’s surprise address last night, though, the US doesn’t appear to have much sway. The current Prime Minister deployed special forces loyal to himself in Baghdad in what looks very much like a coup to prevent the new parliament from electing his successor:

Given their propensity to drop their weapons and run, and with ISIS nearly surrounding Baghdad, Maliki had better not feel very secure…

ConstantineXI on August 11, 2014 at 8:08 AM

The only option left to the US is to arm the Kurds to get an effective fight against ISIS, and apparently leave Baghdad to Iran.

No sweat! ISIS is the junior varsity.

Happy Nomad on August 11, 2014 at 8:09 AM

No sweat! ISIS is the junior varsity.

Happy Nomad on August 11, 2014 at 8:09 AM

If ISIS is the JV team, then that makes Obama and Kerry the second string cheerleading squad.

ConstantineXI on August 11, 2014 at 8:12 AM

Three guesses who’s arming the Peshmerga, and the first two don’t count.

It’s the Social Security Administration. They’ve got enough ammo to spare some.

trubble on August 11, 2014 at 8:22 AM

Now watch this drive

cmsinaz on August 11, 2014 at 8:28 AM

If ISIS is the JV team, then that makes Obama and Kerry the second string cheerleading squad.

ConstantineXI on August 11, 2014 at 8:12 AM

Second string? You’re in a generous mood this morning.

Seriously, the Dems spent countless hours talking about the intelligence failures leading up to the war with Iraq. At this point, I want to know why the lazy stupid rat-eared bastard ignored the intelligence before he went out there gave his normal sneer and called ISIS as the JV.

Local talk radio this morning had a Goldilocks question. Is what Snuggles doing in Iraq too much, too little, or just right. I think they missed the most relevant response……. TOO LATE.

Happy Nomad on August 11, 2014 at 8:30 AM

America warns and the world yawns.

mitchellvii on August 11, 2014 at 8:31 AM

Maliki mustn his shoes. be shaking i

katy the mean old lady on August 11, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Remember that Cairo speech…

Good times….

Electrongod on August 11, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Good God!!

If Biden thinks Iraq is Obama’s greatest foreign policy accomplishment, I’d hate to hear what he thinks is his biggest failure.

gonnjos on August 11, 2014 at 8:33 AM

If Biden thinks Iraq is Obama’s greatest foreign policy accomplishment, I’d hate to hear what he thinks is his biggest failure.

gonnjos on August 11, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Not closing Gitmo- Duh!

Happy Nomad on August 11, 2014 at 8:36 AM

Face it, here we’ve got a stituation where the US is dealing with a polarizing partisan dictator who has spent years destroying his nation for political and ideological gains. The other actor is Nouri al-Maliki.

Happy Nomad on August 11, 2014 at 8:39 AM

The Obama administration has begun directly providing weapons to Kurdish forces who have started to make gains against Islamic militants in northern Iraq, senior U.S. officials said today.

For the first time in my life, I’m proud of Obama.

OK, I’m just kidding. I’ll never be proud of him. Turning the car key to start the engine and expecting to be praised for it still shows you’re a worthless POS.

UnstChem on August 11, 2014 at 8:42 AM

No sweat! ISIS is the junior varsity.

Happy Nomad on August 11, 2014 at 8:09 AM

If ISIS is the JV team, then that makes Obama and Kerry the second string cheerleading squad.

ConstantineXI on August 11, 2014 at 8:12 AM

Towel Butlers in the locker room…

Key West Reader on August 11, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Face it, here we’ve got a stituation where the US is dealing with a polarizing partisan dictator who has spent years destroying his nation for political and ideological gains. The other actor is Nouri al-Maliki.

Happy Nomad on August 11, 2014 at 8:39 AM

That should appear on tonight’s QOTD thread… Well done! And unfortunately, so true.

Key West Reader on August 11, 2014 at 8:46 AM

If ISIS is the JV team, then that makes Obama and Kerry the skanky second string cheerleading squad.

ConstantineXI on August 11, 2014 at 8:12 AM

FIFY

UnstChem on August 11, 2014 at 8:47 AM

I suppose now the only thing left is for the Kurds to declare themselves Kurdistan and call the U.S.s bluff on that.

Seems like anything goes with U.S. foreign policy right now.

nemo on August 11, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Happy Monday!

rbj on August 11, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Don’t bring a Kerry to a Middle East fight.

Viator on August 11, 2014 at 9:03 AM

In Baghdad we seem to have passed the baton to the Russians:

Deliveries of Mi-35 helicopter gunships and Su-25 fighters that provide close air support for ground troops have begun, added the source. Iraq also has contracts for Mi-28 attack helicopters and mobile Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air and anti-aircraft artillery systems.
Russia’s ambassador to Baghdad, Ilya Mogunov, had previously said he believed up to 10 Sukhoi fighter jets would be delivered by the end of the summer.

http://news.yahoo.com/russia-delivering-weapons-iraq-report-204458029.html

Viator on August 11, 2014 at 9:05 AM

CIA is now providing weapons directly to Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Northern Iraq, officials tell @JimMiklaszewski

— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 11, 2014

About damn time, we should be dropping stuff off by wave after wave of overloaded C-5 Galaxies, the Kurds should reach the point where they have to actually deny more weapons because they don’t have the space.

Bishop on August 11, 2014 at 9:06 AM

Well Kerry can at the least give the guy some tips on how to get away clean after committing treason..

APACHEWHOKNOWS on August 11, 2014 at 9:08 AM

It is possible the CIA and the Joint Chiefs did this without Obama’s OK.

They above all others know what a useless coward he is….

APACHEWHOKNOWS on August 11, 2014 at 9:11 AM

So, now we are arming the future adversaries of Baghdad, the Kurds. I wonder will this will lead?

Nomennovum on August 11, 2014 at 9:17 AM

Send the Kurds guns and whey.The only bunch worth a sh!t.

docflash on August 11, 2014 at 9:21 AM

Best Nobel Peace Prize winner. Ever.

2lbsTest on August 11, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but BO’s position on this situation seems to be that the only reason that ISIS/ISIL/IS has grown so large is because the government of Iraq has refused to afford Sunnis representation, leaving Iraqi Sunnis with no option but to join this group of barbarians. I mean, seriously, WTF?

Syzygy on August 11, 2014 at 9:32 AM

It is possible the CIA and the Joint Chiefs did this without Obama’s OK.

They above all others know what a useless coward he is….

APACHEWHOKNOWS on August 11, 2014 at 9:11 AM

I’ve been saying for months that he’s been sidelined. He’s allowed to golf, attend Beyoncé concerts, and fund raise, but that’s about it. The folks who hired Obama to be President have put him on paid administrative leave.

The big tell is the complete disappearance of the disastrous Iran tilt. Kerry’s recent dumb and moves with the “cease fire” were the last impotent hurrah.

Maliki is weak and desperate. He knows he’s been sidelined. Iran is also panicking as they see their influence in Iraq shrinking, even as their resource commitment increases. The whole stupid farce only worked because the U.S. allowed it. Maliki will be land fill soon. He’s done. He’s been Diemed irrelevant.

Joseph K on August 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

“The Obama administration has begun directly providing weapons to Kurdish forces who have started to make gains against Islamic militants in northern Iraq, senior U.S. officials said today.”

“The history of the failure in war can almost be summed up in two words: too late. Too late in comprehending the deadly purpose of a potential enemy; Too late in realizing the mortal danger; Too late in preparedness; Too late in uniting all possible forces for resistance; Too late in standing with one’s friends.”
- General Douglas MacArthur

The Insouciant Fedster on August 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

If the Russians are delivering helicopters and weapons to Iraq, who’s getting them. The official govt of the day or the former official govt leader? The Russians can screw things up just as good as the vacationer in chief.

Kissmygrits on August 11, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Even with wars raging in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the world did not feel as if it was sliding into chaos under Bush as it seems to be now. You can really see the difference in a “steady” hand versus an absent one.

changer1701 on August 11, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Lurch has only less credibilty in the Administration than Joe.

formwiz on August 11, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Obama’s Dumb and dumber foreign policy.

Krupnikas on August 11, 2014 at 10:17 AM

So the new Kurd guy has to fight ISIS and Maliki? Just great.

Cindy Munford on August 11, 2014 at 10:34 AM

So, now we are arming the future adversaries of Baghdad, the Kurds. I wonder will this will lead?

Nomennovum on August 11, 2014 at 9:17 AM

I’m chuckling. That was a pretty good troll effort. I give you half of … whatever prize you want. (J/K – you get nothing loser.)

UnstChem on August 11, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Fore…….!

d1carter on August 11, 2014 at 11:01 AM

What is Val going to do about this..?

d1carter on August 11, 2014 at 11:02 AM

I know it’s meaningless, but it does send a message, Here’s the complete White House Daily schedule for today.

Presidential Schedule – August 11, 2014

P5:55 pm The President delivers remarks and answers questions at a DSCC event
Private Residence — Massachusetts
Print Pool

pilsener on August 11, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Heh, Kerry warned China on Saturday, Putin on Sunday and Maliki on Monday.

Funny

Schadenfreude on August 11, 2014 at 11:46 AM

Not that I am a fan of Maliki but if I were him I would not listen to Kerry. I am an american for god’s sake and I do not listen to him. Thank god he did not become president. On the other hand if it is Kerry or Obama? The proverbial “Ginger vs. Mary Anne” argument. The humiliation of the United States couldn’t be sadder.

warmairfan on August 11, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Face it, here we’ve got a stituation where the US is dealing with a polarizing partisan dictator who has spent years destroying his nation for political and ideological gains. The other actor is Nouri al-Maliki.

Happy Nomad on August 11, 2014 at 8:39 AM

Thread winner!

Maliki will be land fill soon. He’s done. He’s been Diemed irrelevant.

Joseph K on August 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

ROTF, LMAO! I just hope I’m not the only one, who “got” it.
Now, if he persists in refusing to vacate his former office for the next guy, drone him. It’ll give the next guy the right idea.
Actually, we could have had a favorable SoFA if we’d done that before retreating… but that’s not what Our Glorious Misleader wanted.

ReggieA on August 11, 2014 at 10:19 PM