The Battle for Kirkuk Has Begun!

Three weeks ago, in the run up to the independence referendum called by Masoud Barzani, I wrote:

One of the major issues in play here is who controls Kirkuk. When my teammates and I conducted our tribal study and social history in 2008, with in depth interviews of over 50 sheikhs, imams, political, and business leaders in central Iraq (predominantly from Mada’ain Qada, but also including interviewees from across Baghdad Province, and a few from Diyala and Wassit Provinces) Kurdish independence was only brought up by about five or six of our interview subjects. But when it was brought up we were told that any attempt to declare an independent Kurdistan, especially if the attempt included taking Kirkuk, would be unacceptable. We were specifically told by several sheikhs that this was one issue that would unite Sunni and Shi’a Iraqi Arabs and could lead to an Iraqi-Arab versus Iraqi-Kurdish civil war.

The Iraqi army launched an operation to retake Kurdish-held positions around the disputed oil city of Kirkuk on Friday amid a bitter row with the Kurds over a vote for independence last month.

A senior Kurdish official said thousands of heavily armed fighters had been deployed to resist the offensive “at any cost” and called for international intervention with the federal government in Baghdad to prevent the confrontation worsening.

The Iraqi army and the Kurdish peshmerga have been key allies of the US-led coalition in its fight against the Islamic State (IS) group and the threat of armed clashes between them poses a major challenge for Western governments.

Ethnically divided but historically Kurdish-majority Kirkuk is one of several regions that peshmerga fighters took over from the Iraqi army in 2014 when the jihadists swept through much of northern and western Iraq.

Baghdad is bitterly opposed to Kurdish ambitions to incorporate the oil-rich province in its autonomous region in the north and has voiced determination to take it back.

Al Jazeera reports:

“Thousands of heavily armed peshmerga units are now completely in their positions around Kirkuk,” a top aide to KRG President Masoud Barzani posted on social media on Friday.

“Their order is to defend at any cost,” Hemin Hawrami wrote on Twitter.

The Iraqi Kurdish/Iraqi Arab civil war has begun. This was both predictable (see my September post) and preventable. No one was so naive as to think that the Iraqi Kurds would not declare independence when the fight against ISIS was over. Everyone knew it would happen. Doing it now was just strategically stupid. It will divert attention and resources allowing ISIS to regroup. It will provide openings for the Russian and Iranian backed Assad government to advance their interests. The US led coalition against ISIS is facing a strategic nightmare: a civil war among their host country allies.

112 replies
  1. 1

    No one was so naive as to expect the Iraqi Kurds to declare independence when the fight against ISIS was over.

    I thought you were saying that was what you expected.

  2. 2
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Wording issue. That is exactly what I expected. I’ll edit for clarity.

  3. 3
    Amir Khalid says:

    Once again, the US winds up having allies on both sides of a fight.

  4. 4
    Cermet says:

    So very glad the weapons of mass destruction were found and taken care of; makes the thousands of amerikan lives lost and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost as well – not counting destabilizing the critical power balance that prevented civil wars from happening – was so worth while – wait …oh, shit.

  5. 5
    The Moar You Know says:

    The peshmerga have been doing our heavy lifting there for years. At this point, well, we could help them but won’t, so we really just need to pack up and leave at this point.

    My money is on the Kurds long-term, by the way.

  6. 6
    Chris says:

    Oh, shit.

  7. 7

    @Adam L Silverman: cool. Thanks for the post, I was just talking to a Turkish friend about this last night.

  8. 8

    I’m sure Donald Trump has the depth of knowledge and expertise to handle this crisis…

  9. 9
    Peale says:

    I suppose a wiser country might use the civil war as an excuse to stay out of it, but like every uninvited dinner guest, our country stay at the table even when its apparent that the hosts we’ve intruded on are about to file for divorce papers and we’ve intruded on a late stage fight.

  10. 10
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Take a look and let me know if it makes sense to anyone other than me now.

  11. 11
    Karmus says:

    “May you live in interesting times.” I guess, like Peak Wingnut, there is no Peak Interesting.

  12. 12
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Radical Viking Terrorism!

  13. 13

    @Adam L Silverman: If you want to maintain that sentence structure I would move the negation to ‘declare’, i.e. “To expect the Iraqi Kurds to not declare”.

  14. 14
    Wjs says:

    Years ago Senator Joe Biden was ridiculed for suggesting a three way partition of Iraq that would have created a Kurdish homeland and would have allowed us to leave the country (maybe).

    Adam, please add the Turkish view of all of this if you think it useful. Thank you.

  15. 15
    Gravenstone says:

    Putin must be so proud. Stirring shit seems almost effortless these days.

  16. 16
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Try it now.

  17. 17
    Corner Stone says:

    My God. This Q&A by Trump is bonzo bonkers.

  18. 18
    Lyrebird says:

    @Adam L Silverman: reads fine now

  19. 19
    catclub says:

    @The Moar You Know: well, my money would be on the kurds as long as we supply them with arms and money.
    It sure looks like no one else is doing that – although Israel and Russia are possible candidates.

    I wish we could trade the kurds for Turkey in NATO, but I don’t think it is going to happen.

  20. 20
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    All the British and French boundary lines after the Great War sucked ass.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Wjs: Please see the post I did right before the referendum:
    https://www.balloon-juice.com/2017/09/25/todays-independence-referendum-in-iraqi-kurdistan/

    If the Kurds go through with actually declaring independence then Turkey will mobilize against them.

  23. 23
    Brachiator says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    The Iraqi Kurdish/Iraqi Arab civil war has begun. This was both predictable (see my September post) and preventable.

    Was there anybody in the State Department or other US agencies working to try to defuse this situation?

    I can’t recall Trump or anyone in the administration being asked about it. And of course, in his recent speech, Trump seemed only to care about having ISIS “on the run” for the first time ever.

  24. 24
    catclub says:

    @Wjs:

    the Turkish view

    at the moment the US and Turkey are at serious diplomatic loggerheads. Turkey published (secret?) locations of US bases in Turkey.
    US is backing to various extents Kurdish fighters – presumably from bases located in Turkey.
    Turkey has arrested various Turkish employees of US embassy. Us has cut off all visa processing in Turkey.
    Turkey then cut off all visa processing in US.
    Turkey holds a US citizen ( pastor) hostage in hopes of trade for Fethullah Gulen.

    Turkey and Saudi Arabia (and Israel) are always in running for least helpful ‘US Ally’ .

    ETA: Oh I forgot: Turkey implicitly (explicitly) backed ISIS for a good long while. But went to war against Kurdish fighters.

  25. 25
    Roger Moore says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Still too many negatives, IMO. You really meant that everyone paying attention expected them to declare independence after defeating Daesh, but they’re crazy to do it before.

    I kind of wonder if there’s deeper logic to it based on (historically justified) worries about being abandoned by the US when they’re no longer immediately useful. If they wait until after Daesh is defeated, the US could easily abandon them, just as we did when they were fighting against Saddam after the first US/Iraq war. By declaring independence now, they’re implicitly threatening to abandon the fight against Daesh unless everyone else interested in fighting Daesh backs them up.

  26. 26
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    So please tell me again how the Great Mesopotamian Adventure was supposed to bring stability to Iraq?

  27. 27
    Betty Cracker says:

    Strategic nightmare? Well, it’s a good thing we have shrewd, knowledgeable leaders in charge. Oh wait…

  28. 28
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Lyrebird: Thanks. 52nd time is the charm!

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @catclub: Saudi Arabia: 9/11. No one in DC blinks.

  30. 30
    pinacacci says:

    Kurd sellout watch part the thousandth.

  31. 31
    Corner Stone says:

    @pinacacci: “My God! That’s George H.W. Bush’s entrance music!!”

  32. 32
    catclub says:

    @Brachiator:

    Was there anybody in the State Department or other US agencies working to try to defuse this situation?

    Yes. Useless Tillerson was working on it – day late and a dollar short in getting the Kurds to postpone the vote. Who knew that State department staff to speed things along would make any difference? Link at Bloomberg View

  33. 33

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes: Not just the Great War. What about the Radcliffe line? Dude couldn’t even bother to visit the places he was dividing. I am sure the lines were drawn after the Great War with the same care and attention.

  34. 34
    andy says:

    The Iraqi Kurdish/Iraqi Arab civil war has begun. This was both predictable (see my September post) and preventable. No one was so naive as to think that the Iraqi Kurds would not declare independence when the fight against ISIS was over. Everyone knew it would happen. Doing it now was just strategically stupid. It will divert attention and resources allowing ISIS to regroup. It will provide openings for the Russian and Iranian backed Assad government to advance their interests. The US led coalition against ISIS is facing a strategic nightmare: a civil war among their host country allies.

    And we’re so damn lucky we have a steady hand at the wheel, amirite? The right wing loves to talk about how they love our boys and girls in uniform, let’s see how fast they forget their names now that The Leader has stuck them in the grinder with those other people we don’t have to care about.

  35. 35
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Wjs:
    There’s no way Turkey would agree to nationhood for the Kurds because a sovereign Kurdistan would wind up with a big chunk taken out of Turkish territory. Same goes for Iraq. That’s why Biden’s proposal was a non-starter.

  36. 36
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @catclub: Russia and Iran have long standing relationships with the Barzani clan. The Soviets actually made Barzani’s grandfather King of Kurdistan in the late 1930s in what is now northern Iran.

  37. 37
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Brachiator: I have no idea.

  38. 38
    Josie says:

    @Roger Moore: I can’t imagine, given our history with them, why the Kurds would be hesitant to trust us when they are no longer useful to us.

    /snark

  39. 39
    trollhattan says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    Perhaps best to write it as “allies.”

    With friends like these….

  40. 40
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Well this is reassuring:

  41. 41
    trollhattan says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Whiskey, democracy, sexy!

  42. 42
    jo6pac says:

    isis does what Amerika wants

    https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201710131058214697-us-daesh-syria-iraq/

    There is out in internet space a film clip by tv 2 of israel show the isis training right on their border.

  43. 43
    Rommie says:

    @Roger Moore: This is what I was pondering as well. Given past history, and *especially* the people currently in charge of US Policy, I’m not sure it can be a surprise they are doing it now. They may think it’s the strategically sound move for themselves, and all the other players can go eat sand.

  44. 44
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jo6pac: Actually Syrian officials have been claiming since last January that Syrian Intelligence had so fully infiltrated ISIS that Syria controlled ISIS’s targeting.

  45. 45
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Oh dearie me.

  46. 46
    Yutsano says:

    @Amir Khalid: I could be generous and say he meant the Dutch part of the Virgin Islands…but Holland doesn’t have a president.

  47. 47
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @trollhattan: More like Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

  48. 48
    Fair Economist says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Actually Syrian officials have been claiming since last January that Syrian Intelligence had so fully infiltrated ISIS that Syria controlled ISIS’s targeting.

    Syria lies a lot, more than most countries. Given that over the past year Daesh has continued to bomb Syria and Lebanon, and has killed a significant number of Syrian troops, I call BS.

  49. 49
  50. 50
    Spanky says:

    @Betty Cracker: I assume you’ve got that gif bookmarked at the top of your browser. If not, it should be. You’ll be using it a lot.

  51. 51
    A Ghost To Most says:

    According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Jaguars owner Shahid Khan had a few things to say about the NFL in general and President Donald Trump specifically in the wake of the firestorm the president created after calling ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” for protesting police brutality at NFL games.

    Speaking at the forum, Khan, the NFL’s only non-white owner who also happens to be a Muslim, explained the difficulties he had in purchasing an NFL franchise, including an ill-fated attempt to buy the LA Rams when they were still in St. Louis.

    “You’ve got a bunch of 85-year-old guys who don’t think they’re racist, but they are racist,” Khan stated, with his spokesperson later clarifying his comments saying Khan was relaying what “others were telling him back then, not what he personally thought.”

    Go Jags!

  52. 52
    Rob in CT says:

    Christ, what a shit-show.

  53. 53
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Fair Economist: I’m not saying I’m buying it. I’m just saying they’re claiming it.

  54. 54
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @A Ghost To Most: The league will now quickly move to vote to strip him of his franchise and force a sale. To an 85 year old white guy.

  55. 55
    trollhattan says:

    @A Ghost To Most:
    Now that’s a voice needing to be heard. Bet Jerry Jones looooooves sitting next to him at owners’ meetings.

  56. 56
    NorthLeft12 says:

    Last I heard, there are some Canadian “advisors” working with the Kurds in that area. Here is an article from the Canadian perspective; https://www.opencanada.org/features/kurdish-independence-closer-ever-canada-needs-prepare-response/

    Who knew that fighting a war half way around the world with allies all fighting for different reasons and for different results could be so hard?

  57. 57
    trollhattan says:

    @Adam L Silverman: @Amir Khalid:
    “Had a nice phone call from the queen of all the Russias, lovely woman, great family, and she assures me they’re doing everything possible to kill the disaster that is Obamacare, believe you me.”

  58. 58
    But her emails!!! says:

    @catclub:

    well, my money would be on the kurds as long as we supply them with arms and money.
    It sure looks like no one else is doing that – although Israel and Russia are possible candidates.

    Why would we need to supply the Kurds with additional arms? They’ll probably end up with all the barely used equipment they could possibly ever use when the Iraqi Army turns tail and runs.

  59. 59
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    The league will now quickly move to vote to strip him of his franchise and force a sale. To an 85 year old white guy……who is also a Deadbeat Donald supporter/racist.

    I followed the Jags for awhile as my AFC team because I always pull for the underdog. But I gave up on them for the extended incompetence of the management and awful results on the field. And that is coming from a guy who was [still kinda am] a Detroit Lions fan.

  60. 60
    MJS says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I initially read that as Barzini, from The Godfather.

  61. 61
    Yutsano says:

    @NorthLeft12:

    And that is coming from a guy who was [still kinda am] a Detroit Lions fan.

    And they say Canadians can’t be masochists…

  62. 62
    rikyrah says:

    Sean Hannity Feels Empowered to Act Like Trump
    by Martin Longman October 13, 2017

    I sure am glad it’s Friday. I know it has been a demoralizing week in politics when something like this fails to bring a smile to my face and winds up just making me more dispirited about the state of the nation:

    Fox News host Sean Hannity fanned the flames of his feud with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) late Thursday, saying he has “done nothing” in Washington and to “call me when you repeal ObamaCare loser.”

    Hannity and Sasse have gone back and forth over President Trump’s criticism of news outlets and his recent tweets suggesting television news outlets’ licenses be evaluated and possibly revoked.

    The latest jab by Hannity was in response to Sasse suggesting he supports the Constitution and Hannity does not. Sasse’s comment was made after Hannity said he regretted supporting Sasse as a candidate because of his Trump criticism.

  63. 63
    But her emails!!! says:

    On a more serious note. Adam, I though that the Kurds made up a sizable contingent of the Iraqi Army. Is that correct and if so how does that end up shaking out?

  64. 64
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Also stupid for Iraq. Kurds will kick they ass.

  65. 65
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @But her emails!!!: They do. Not sure of the numbers now, but back in 2008 somewhere around 45-50% were Peshmerga. Specifically, Talabani’s Peshmerga and Peshmerga from clans loyal to the Talabanis. Talabani and Barzani divvied up things after 2003. Barzani would stay in the north and run the regional government. Talabani would go to Baghdad, serve as the senior of the three vice presidents. That way they could work both sides. And it provided a de facto resolution to their dispute over who was in charge of Iraq’s Kurds – the Barzanis or the Talabanis.

  66. 66
    rikyrah says:

    Trump loves to hate the Iran deal, despite not knowing what it is
    10/13/17 12:56 PM—UPDATED 10/13/17 01:04 PM
    By Steve Benen

    There’s never been any ambiguity about Donald Trump’s disgust for the international nuclear agreement with Iran – to my mind, perhaps the most impressive U.S. diplomatic achievement since the end of the Cold War. There’s quite a bit of uncertainty, however, as to whether he knows what the Iran deal actually is.

    The Republican has called the deal “terrible” and “horrible.” As a candidate, Trump declared, “My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.” Just one month into his candidacy, he said the Iran deal “poses a direct national security threat.” Two weeks later, Trump added that the international agreement “will go down as one of the dumbest [and] most dangerous misjudgments ever entered into in [the] history of our country.” After wrapping up the GOP nomination, he went so far as to say the deal is likely to “lead to nuclear holocaust.”

    As president, Trump has gone into “meltdown” mode when his own team has told him that the policy is actually working as intended, because the facts were simply inconceivable to him. He knows the policy is a disaster, so when reality points in a different direction, Trump finds it necessary to reject reality.

  67. 67
    Jeffro says:

    Sorry I missed the earlier thread…informative and gut-busting in places at the same time! Not sure I could have made it through the president’s* news conference or the Q&A, that’s for sure.

    Seems like this pretty well sums things up: Four Huge Risks From Trumpov’s Temper Tantrum Over Iran

    The president’s “fit” over certification and his refusal to certify at a time when Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA contains four major risks, of which Corker and other constructive Republicans are certainly cognizant. (Corker hinted that his preference was not to go the decertification route. However, he said, his job is to “deal with circumstances as they are.” In less diplomatic terms, he is trying to maneuver around a president who for emotional reasons wants to be seen as getting out of the deal.)

    First, Iran could declare that we have committed an anticipatory breach, seek U.N. sanctions and/or attempt to isolate the United States diplomatically. It is unlikely, however, that Iran would then proceed with its nuclear program, which would risk reimposition of sanctions and/or military action by Israel or the United States.

    Second, Russia and China could certainly side with Iran, refuse to return to negotiations and go full speed ahead with financial investment and aid for Iran. That would in essence thwart the attempt to improve/change the JCPOA and also humiliate the United States.

    Third, and most worrisome, this president whom we have come to see as erratic, unhinged and reckless could provoke Iran, provide ample evidence for the claim that we are the international scofflaws and, yes, put us on track for a military faceoff with Iran.

    Fourth, with some justification, Democrats could refuse to go along with the amendments to the JCPOA and publicly challenge the president to fish or cut bait (i.e. live up to the deal as is or pull out in January by allowing sanctions to be reimposed). Their attitude could well be that they will not save the president from his own destructive unilateralism; if he wants to wreck the JCPOA, it will be on his head. That’s a dangerous game of chicken but not an impossible result of Democrats’ building anger over Trump’s attempts to destroy just about everything associated with the Obama administration without offering constructive policies of his own (e.g., the Affordable Care Act, Paris climate agreement, DACA).

    In a perfect world with a competent and sane president, we would leave the JCPOA in place and move aggressively on non-nuclear items to pressure Iran, improve our regional alliances and gather support to fend off Iran’s regional aggression. Instead, because of Trump’s emotional meltdown, we are in a position in which everything must fall perfectly in place — Trump must control his impulses, Congress must act in bipartisan fashion, Iran must not get the diplomatic upper hand, etc. — to get an improved JCPOA even as there is a very significant risk this will unravel the entire JCPOA and set up a second nuclear confrontation. If, for example, Trump tomorrow fired national security adviser H.R. McMaster and/or other key players who “contain” the president, does anyone have confidence this strategy would not blow up the JCPOA?

    Corker was asked if he thought the president had his mind set on exiting the JCPOA despite this entire process. He did not answer directly. “We have provided a route to overcome deficiencies [in the JCPOA] and to keep the administration in the deal.” To be fair, no one can say what the president will do an hour from now, let alone in January.

    Elections have consequences, and we now see that they can be potentially catastrophic.

    Could we get a little more reporting and focus on how the only consistent thing about Trumpov is his animus towards Obama? That’s really it. He’s the uber-example of GOP spite for progressives, regardless of the circumstances or consequences. If Obama came out tomorrow and said he just couldn’t stand eating fried turds, Trump would order a side of them with his next burnt steak-n-ketchup (probably that very night).

  68. 68
    Jeffro says:

    Oh, whoops, linky here: Four Huge Risks

  69. 69
    Calouste says:

    @Adam L Silverman: The moron in the adult day care center will be in the market. Probably itching to sign an executive order to take the team from the current owner.

  70. 70
    But her emails!!! says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Interesting. So do we know where the Talabanis and their allies fall in this, because that would seem like an important detail. If they are opposed, that could spell big problems for Iraq as a huge segment of the army could defect to the other side, possibly in the middle of the battle. Alternately, the Talabanis could use this as an opportunity to crush the Barzani’s.

  71. 71
    Roger Moore says:

    @rikyrah:

    He knows the policy is a disaster, so when reality points in a different direction, Trump finds it necessary to reject reality.

    This sounds like a reasonable summary of his general attitude toward all policy issues. He knows what the truth is, so don’t try to confuse him with any of those pointless facts.

  72. 72
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @But her emails!!!: I’ve not seen a lot of reporting on the Talabanis as this has been covered. The question right now is what the Iraqi Kurds in the Iraqi Army are going to do.

  73. 73
    Roger Moore says:

    @Jeffro:

    the only consistent thing about Trumpov is his animus towards Obama

    Nonsense. There’s also the grifting, the bigotry, and the authoritarianism.

  74. 74
    Roger Moore says:

    @Calouste:

    The moron in the adult day care center will be in the market.

    Him and what money?

  75. 75
    El Caganer says:

    @Adam L Silverman: “There he goes/movin’ across the water. There he goes/turnin’ my whole life around….” – Robbie Robertson

  76. 76
    Elie says:

    Wow.

    Adam. given your post yesterday on the state of the US Army and given previous knowledge on the state of the US Navy, I would say we are in a pretty severe mess and apparently headed for more, given our illustrious leadership. I dunno but I can’t remember when this country has been in such chaos at home and abroad. All this by design of a crackpot that the white folks (yes, the majority of you did vote for him) chose — against all practical, common sense.

    While the stock market is up these days, I would say that the long term prognosis for our economic and political wellbeing is guarded at best. Worst, we have no idea how to stop this guy and his ork army of doom. NFL owners think that somehow demanding that everyone stand for the national anthem is going to result in peace in the locker rooms. I would not bet on it. They should have kept quiet and let it fade away but instead, they have now thrown down a gauntlet that not only the players, but black people who heard and saw what they said, will not forget easily. Tell you what, I am gonna find something better to do with my time at game time.

    The best it seems is being done is a lot of white elite handwringing but to be sure, the white GOPers show no sign of any spine or any desire to truly serve their country. Cowardice and mendacity. Three generals who at least reportedly are sane, have decided that the best idea is to enable this creep so that he can accomplish his goal to tear this country up, rather than all walking away and telling the nation why.

    White people are gonna blow up this imperfect but aspiring dream of a country and nobody can stop them.

  77. 77
    But her emails!!! says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Given that the Kurds in the Iraqi Army are for the most part aligned with the Talabanis, wouldn’t that make these highly correlated questions? The position of the Talabanis is likely to have a big impact on the actions of the Kurds in the army.

  78. 78
    Yutsano says:

    @Roger Moore: You know, a lot of people thought he was rejected from NFL ownership because they didn’t want to put up with Dolt45’s antics. I’m wondering now if it’s because they took one look at his financials and saw the shell game.

  79. 79
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Elie: There is an important and legitimate strategic and policy debate, to be had internally to the US, with our allies, and even to an extent with our peer competitors about revising the global system. Similarly there’s an important and legitimate debate about rebalancing the power dynamics between the branches of the Federal government and what federalism and a federalist system mean in a 21st Century American economy. They are also long over due discussions. Neither of these things are happening. Rather we’re getting both processes without any discussion, planning, or deliberation. And the result of that is chaos.

  80. 80
    But her emails!!! says:

    @Yutsano:

    Why pick one?

  81. 81
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @But her emails!!!: Yes they would. But I’m not in Iraq, despite my repeatedly volunteering to go back and help. So I have no idea unless it is being reported in the news.

  82. 82
    Roger Moore says:

    @Yutsano:

    I’m wondering now if it’s because they took one look at his financials and saw the shell game.

    I’m inclined to think it was both. His record in the USFL is unlikely to recommend him to them, either.

  83. 83
    rikyrah says:

    @Elie:

    NFL owners think that somehow demanding that everyone stand for the national anthem is going to result in peace in the locker rooms. I would not bet on it. They should have kept quiet and let it fade away but instead, they have now thrown down a gauntlet that not only the players, but black people who heard and saw what they said, will not forget easily.

    Uh huh
    Uh huh

  84. 84
    JMG says:

    @Yutsano: In the 1980s, the Patriots desperately tried to sell the franchise to Trump as the Sullivan family who owned it were about $100 million in debt. Trump turned it down because, he said, he didn’t want to take on that debt. It’s just as likely he knew he couldn’t stand the NFL financial check. Them, you have to show your tax returns.

  85. 85
    germy says:

    @JMG: Mueller has seen the tax returns, I assume.

  86. 86
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @Jeffro:

    Second, Russia and China could certainly side with Iran, refuse to return to negotiations and go full speed ahead with financial investment and aid for Iran. That would in essence thwart the attempt to improve/change the JCPOA and also humiliate the United States.

    I think it would reasonable to include Europe in with Russia and China. This is a very large financial opportunity that the Europeans will not want to miss out on.
    And also, I don’t see that the other countries are “siding” with Iran. They are actually siding with the agreement that they signed on to. I would be very shocked if Europe dropped out of the agreement without hard evidence that Iran was not living up to their commitments. I know Republicans will hate to admit this, but in this case the facts will have an Iranian bias…….so to speak.

  87. 87
    sharl says:

    @Betty Cracker: This is such an awesome .gif, and unfortunately is appropriate for so many news items these days.

    ETA: Or, what Spanky at #50 said.

  88. 88
    Elie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    You helped me see that and frankly, I am just sick to my stomach that we won’t be able to keep more chaos and possibly even worse from happening. There is no one in charge of sanity — at least no one who can enforce it. We are going to have to find our way the hard way. I want to be confident but frankly I am scared right now….

  89. 89
    clay says:

    @Jeffro:

    Could we get a little more reporting and focus on how the only consistent thing about Trumpov is his animus towards Obama?

    I hate to tell you this… but Chris Chinchilla had a CNN column about this very thing today.

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/13/.....index.html

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    NorthLeft12 says:

    @Yutsano: I am also a life long [since 1965] Toronto Maple Leafs fan. Yeah, I sure can pick’em.

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    Yutsano says:

    @germy: The IRS won’t ever officially admit handing them over, but tax records are subject to subpoena. If Mueller has them (it’s fair to assume he does) they would have been handed over quietly.

    The first two pages of his 1040 will be boring. I want to see the K-1s and the associated real estate forms.

    @NorthLeft12: ALLEZ LES HABS!!!
    (Je suis Québecois. I’m genetically obligated.)

  92. 92
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Elie:

    White people are gonna blow up this imperfect but aspiring dream of a country and nobody can stop them.

    You are absolutely right about the first part of this sentence and I am praying that there is some chance that you are wrong about the second. However, since the onus is on white folk to stop the White Tantrum shit show, I am not sanguine.

    The whole history of this country has been a struggle between the “liberty (and land, and jobs, and civil rights, and you name it) for me and not for thee” impulse among whites – men, mostly, but white women have been shown, time and again, to be too willing to be enablers – and the pushback coming from minorities saying, “no, ‘liberty and justice for all’ should actually MEAN liberty and justice for all, damn it.”

    I know we’ve been at places that have been just as dark if not darker in our history, and I am not giving up the fight, but I am feeling so very low about the future of this country right now, I can hardly bear it.

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    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Yutsano: He could be like me, and be both a Bills and Capitals fan. Now that is suffering. At least Lions fans have the Red Wings.

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  95. 95
    Yutsano says:

    @Miss Bianca: This is going to sound weird and counterintuitive, but this whole Dolt45 thing (which had several factors) is really white supremacy getting in its last gasp. White supremacy isn’t sustainable in the rapidly changing demographics in this country. And while things are indeed changing (the Confederate statues coming down, the slow dawning on even white folks that maybe systemic racism isn’t just minorities complaining) the ones who can’t or won’t adapt to it are trying to assert their last gasps of power. It’s South Africa just before apartheid fell. There were more and more severe restrictions until the system imploded.

    I am with you. This country has been through some terrible periods. But if we look at this from the perspective of Harding on steroids, then yes we will survive. And we have better institutions now than when that first major mishegas happened. It’s not going to be easy and yes it’s probably going to take at least a decade to fix. But unless the Moron in Chief does something REALLY stupid, we’ll get through this.

  96. 96
    A Ghost To Most says:

    The 2017 Values Voter Summit is as disturbingly anti-gay as expected.

    BuzzFeed editor David Mack tweeted a photo of a pamphlet that was distributed on the first day of the three-day D.C. gathering, attended by conservatives since 2006 to “preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government that make our nation strong.”

    The pamphlet, written by MassResistance, a “pro-family activist organization that educates people to help them confront the attacks on the traditional family, children, religion, and society” that is listed as an exhibitor at the event, is titled “The Health Hazards of Homosexuality.” It’s promoting a book by the same title published by MassResistance in February that apparently includes topics like “why homosexuality is a public health issue” and “the ‘born gay’ myth.”

    I wish a motherfucker would try to give me a copy of that. They will be picking themselves up off the ground. My son’s life is hard enough without christian fascists spewing this filth.

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    Chris Fisher says:

    Well, Iranian intervention in the conflict should provide us with a lovely casus belli for kicking off our next great Middle Eastern adventure that just happens to eliminate another potential check and rival for our “friends” in Saudi Arabia.

    So anyone know who NATO backs in the case that two member-states start shooting at each other? Just in case the Turks also get involved?

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    Mike in DC says:

    If the Kurds in Syria and Iraq join forces, that’s going to take a long time to dislodge or defeat them, even if the Turks intervene. Would the Saudis assist them, considering their issues with Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey?

  99. 99
    Chris says:

    @NorthLeft12:

    I think it would reasonable to include Europe in with Russia and China.

    The French, British, and German governments have all come out today in opposition to scrapping the deal. Even the British want no part of Washington’s bullshit this time around.

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    p.a. says:

    Thank dog Milo Minderbinder is in charge at State. Or the White House. Or… by dog its gvt of Milo, by Milo, for Milo.

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    Elie says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    I hear you 100%. I stand ready to do whatever — I just don’t know what that is yet. And I am sooooo angry that the brave and hard work of so many, white, black and brown — over the years and years of hard won progress — over the deaths of little girls, and brave civil rights workers from all over this country — that the thought that their blood may have been she in vain — just makes me ache and insist with determination that this will not be the case.

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    NorthLeft12 says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Red Wings?!!?? As I commented just above yours, I am a Toronto Maple Leafs fan since about 1965. I did get to watch their last Stanley Cup win. Although admittedly, those memories from fifty years ago are starting to fade.

  103. 103
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Yutsano: Thank you for those words of encouragement. : ) . “South Africa before the fall of apartheid” does feel like where we are at right now, and to be *there* 150 years after the Civil War, 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act? It’s just inexcusable. Infuriating, even. The only thing that keeps me going is the realization that I have an obligation to help clean up this mess.

    ETA: Or what Elie said.

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    Roger Moore says:

    @Yutsano:

    White supremacy isn’t sustainable in the rapidly changing demographics in this country.

    Which is why they’re trying to push on those demographics. They want to block immigration, except possibly of pasty white people from Europe. They want to push up the death rate of poor minorities by blocking healthcare. And they want to drive up the birth rate of whites by making contraception and abortion illegal. Those are all long-term projects, so they’re also going to double down on voter suppression and gerrymandering. I don’t think those Republican plans are unstoppable, but they need to be stopped for the demographic changes you’re talking about to really take hold.

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    Fair Economist says:

    @Chris Fisher: Iran is in a somewhat similar situation to us – they are friendly to both sides and would rather they didn’t fight. Their preferred outcome (no secession attempt) is also the same. The difference is that if they *have* to pick sides, they’ll pick the Iraqis, while it’s not clear who we’d support. Geopolitics would favor supporting the Iraqis but public sympathy is with the Kurds.

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    Mart says:

    Good to know that things in Iraq are finally coming to a nice clean conclusion. Looks like in one more Friedman Unit our men and women will be all packed up; while we are flooded with sweet Iraqi crude. Love it when a plan works.

    Still miffed at the noble peace prize winner for not pulling out and staying out. But if he did, Trump would have to undo it, so we would be in the same place – stuck in our own trap.

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    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    There is an important and legitimate strategic and policy debate, to be had internally to the US, with our allies, and even to an extent with our peer competitors about revising the global system.

    Say what?

    Similarly there’s an important and legitimate debate about rebalancing the power dynamics between the branches of the Federal government and what federalism and a federalist system mean in a 21st Century American economy.

    Say what now?

    Adam I think you just lost 90% of the American public (well, not “lost”-lost: fully half of them just took your words to mean ‘surrender to global elites’ and ‘so long, states’ rights’)

  108. 108
    sharl says:

    I listened to a recent 31-minute interview of a journalist reporting from Kurdistan, and I found it pretty informative. It’s here, and it’s a free excerpt (the full podcasts are behind a subscription paywall). The reporter is Wladimir van Wilgenburg, whose stuff is usually at Middle East Eye.

    This podcast is Radio War Nerd, and the guys behind it are are generally strongly anti-interventionists, but both – especially I think John Dolan (“The War Nerd” himself) have a particular fondness for the Kurds. I’ve seen that fondness exhibited by several leftie anti-interventionist war nerd types, who all kinda love the Kurds and also have a fatalistic sense of doom about what will happen to them when all is said and done.

    On one matter I had commented on here some time ago: Wilgenburg was asked about the attitude of Kurdish leadership and their Peshmerga militia toward the Yazidi, and said the Kurds bore no ill will toward the Yazidi, but desperate circumstances sometimes had prevented the Kurds from being able to protect the Yazidis from the Daesh/ISIS/ISIL. The Yazidis apparently feel otherwise, and are (understandably) unable to forget the horrors that occurred after Daesch overran Yazidi areas, including Sinjar, and their horrible memories and anger won’t likely help the Kurds in their quest for independence.

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    Jeffro says:

    @clay: (gag) Really? Dang it…

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jeffro: That’s why I post here. So 90% of the American public will never see it. Even if they’re looking for it.

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    Roger Moore says:

    @Mike in DC:

    Would the Saudis assist them, considering their issues with Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey?

    I kinda doubt it. Saudis are conservative in the old-fashioned sense of fearing any change as a change for the worse. They are not going to like the idea of separatism because they’re worried about their own country and won’t like the suggestion that it’s fine to break countries up and make new ones.

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    J R in WV says:

    @jo6pac:

    sis does what Amerika wants

    https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201710131058214697-us-daesh-syria-iraq/

    There is out in internet space a film clip by tv 2 of israel show the isis training right on their border.

    So you spell Israeli TV “sputniknews.com” ??? Sounds like Russian TV to me…

    Plus you don’t know American English at all, so how am I to regard your opinion as relevant to mine? Russian Fascists taste like German Nazis..!!

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