Gen. Joseph Votel, U.S. Special Operations, to command CENTCOM?

The top U.S. Commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, talks to Iraqi police and army commanders during a patrol with the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Muqdadiyah

General David Petraeus in Muqdadyah July 26 2008

baghdad_ethnic_2003_sm

The White House will nominate a veteran Special Operations commander to lead U.S. Central Command,Senior officials approved Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who has headed U.S. Special Operations Command since Aug. 2014, as the White House nominee to command CENTCOM,Votel’s nomination, must be approved by the Senate.   The elevation of Votel to lead Central Command leaves Gen. John Campbell as the odd man out for the moment. Campbell, the top commander in Afghanistan, was a critical voice last fall in convincing Obama to abandon his pledge to withdraw American forces from the country by the end of his presidency.

[April 7 2016 King of  Clubs al Douri: he is back  –with Saudis ]

Izzat Ibrahim al Douri has appeared in footage on al-Hadath TV wearing the green military uniform of Saddam’s Baath Party. The comments he made about the war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been leading a military intervention since March 2015 against the Iranian-backed Houthis, provided a rough time-frame. “In Yemen, there are two ways to expel the Persians (Iranians) and liberate it: the first way … is to force Iran and its agents to comply with the (U.N.) Security Council resolutions,” Douri said in the video. “The second course is to escalate the pursuit of Iranian agents to end all their abilities and potential.”
Iraq said in April 2015 that Douri had been killed in a military operation and Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia, later said it had conducted DNA tests to prove Douri’s death. Photographs of a man bearing some resemblance to him were circulated at the time, though Baghdad had previously announced Douri’s death several times in error.
His video may signal a new positioning. With his support for Saudi Arabia, which is also technically part of the US-led anti-Isil coalition, he may be indicating that he no longer supports the jihadists. Instead, he expresses support for the battle against Iranian-backed Shia rebels in Yemen – a battle also currently being led by Saudi Arabia
his alleged death

[September 8 2015 Central Command on key Daesh command base airstrike ]

[August 26 Central Command ‘reworked’ assessments of success against IS]

Stuart E. Jones, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, greets U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he arrives in Baghdad, Nov. 15, 2014.

Stuart E. Jones, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, greets U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he arrives in Baghdad, Nov. 15, 2014.

At least one civilian Defense Intelligence Agency analyst told the authorities that he had evidence that officials at United States Central Command — the military headquarters overseeing the American bombing campaign and other efforts against the Islamic State — were improperly reworking the conclusions of intelligence assessments prepared for policy makers, including President Obama, the government officials said.
Fuller details of the claims were not available, including when the assessments were said to have been altered and who at Central Command, or Centcom, the analyst said was responsible.
more happy talk

[June 1 Deficiencies of the Iraqi army reflect the realities of the society]

Islamic State fighters always have ammunition, they have backpacks of food and water, they maneuver to contact, seemingly aware of the maxim that the best way to stop someone from shooting at you is to shoot at them, and they integrate heavy, medium and light weapons together in a way that close resembles the American military’s combined arms doctrine, with the role of air support played by armored Humvees loaded with explosives and driven by suicide bombers.

The problems of the Iraqi Army reflect the problems of Iraq where Shiites and Sunnis don’t agree on what it means to be Iraqi and where the Kurds unanimously don’t want to be Iraqi at all. The deficiencies of the army cannot be corrected because they reflect the realities of the society.

[May 26 Ramadi:Al Asad Air Base, north-west of city blocked from Baghdad]

The fall of Ramadi meant that 3,000 American troops situated at Al Asad Air Base, north-west of the city, were now effectively cut off from the rest of Anbar province. it was highly unlikely the terrorist group’s fighters would move to seize Camp Taji training base. The Iraqi military is massing around Habbaniyah base, “Defence planning includes detailed threat and risk assessments that are designed to ensure that [MNF] personnel are as well protected as possible.”

another time

[May 24 ] the Iraqi Army repositioning was because of a sandstorm, you understand]

Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahab al-Saadi, center
The Iraqi forces in Ramadi believed that because the weather was what it was, that they would not be able to receive air power support, ‘Weather did not impact our ability to conduct air strikes, but we are coming to the understanding that the commander on the ground believed otherwise and that was one of the factors that contributed to his decision to reposition’

[May 3 House bill arming Sunni insurgents angers Moqtada el-Sadr]
One of the best-known Sahwa leaders in Anbar, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, was killed in a bomb attack near his home in September 2007, days after he met visiting US President George W Bush. One of the best-known Sahwa leaders in Anbar, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, was killed in a bomb attack near his home in September 2007, days after he met visiting US President George W Bush.

On April 29 , influential Shiite cleric Moqtada el-Sadr threatened to attack U.S. interests if the provision in the $715 million defense bill to train the Iraqi army passed. The measure has also been loudly condemned by the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.
Back in 2007, the military success of the famous “surge” in Iraq was due largely to the fact that many Sunni tribal leaders finally turned against al-Qaeda and began cooperating with the American army. This so-called Sunni Awakening was a key part of the tenuous peace achieved a year later.
It was a fragile peace, however, and eventually it broke down thanks to the lack of a serious political effort to include Sunnis in the central government.
Monday 11 June 2007 20.40 EDT The US military has embarked on a strategy in Iraq by arming Sunni insurgents in the hope that they will tackle the extremist al-Qaida in Iraq.
The US high command this month gave permission to its officers on the ground to negotiate arms deals with local leaders. Arms, ammunition, body armour and other equipment, as well as cash, pick-up trucks and fuel, have already been handed over in return for promises to turn on al-Qaida and not attack US troops.
The US military in Baghdad is trying to portray the move as arming disenchanted Sunnis who are rising up in their neighbourhoods against their former allies, al-Qaida and its foreign fighters.
[April 23 Anbar Sunni tribes of Albu Fahd, Albu Anwan, Albu Daib, Abu Risha fighting in Ramadi]

Apr 23, 2015 Members of Anbar provincial Council stated on April 22, that Ramadi clans are fighting alongside the security forces, urging the Defense and Interior ministries to supply tribal fighters with arms and ammunition to continue to fight.
, “the clans and fighters from sons of Ramadi are backing the security forces in the military operations to liberate and restore all the areas controlled by the ISIS group, the tribes of Albu Fahd, Albu Anwan, Albu Daib, Abu Risha and other tribes did not come out of Ramadi and remained so as to fight in defense of the city of Ramadi against terrorist and criminal groups.”

U.S. and coalition Fighter, attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 16 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
— Near Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL command and control facility.
— Near Fallujah, five airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL building.
— Near Ramadi, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL sniper position, an ISIL house rigged with explosives, and an ISIL vehicle.

more king of clubs

[April 21 King of Clubs found dead on battleground, body displayed]

The body of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who spent 24 years as Saddam’s deputy on the Revolutionary Command Council, was discovered on a battlefield after he was killed by Iraqi soldiers and allied Shia militiamen. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a former top deputy to Saddam Hussein and more recently a key figure in Sunni extremist groups battling the Iraqi government, Al-Douri was killed in an operation by Iraqi security forces and Shia militia members in the Hamrin Mountains between Tikrit and Kirkuk, Iraq,, Al-Douri was the highest-ranking member of Hussein’s regime to evade capture — the “King of Clubs” in a deck of playing cards used by American troops read more

[March 13 Iraqi army attempting to keep rockets out of range of Baghdad]

Stuart E. Jones, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, greets U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he arrives in Baghdad, Nov. 15, 2014.

Stuart E. Jones, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, greets U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he arrives in Baghdad, Nov. 15, 2014.

APRIL 13, 2015. The US ambassador to Iraq, Stuart E. Jones, met with Anbar tribal leaders and provincial officials April 11 and expressed his dissatisfaction that Shi’ite militiamen were in the thick of a local offensive against extremists of the Islamic State near the provincial capital, according to two participants in the meeting. Unless they withdrew the militias, the ambassador warned, the United States would not be able to launch airstrikes to support the Iraqi forces there. “The American ambassador told us that the Americans will not carry out airstrikes if the popular mobilization stays in Anbar, and we understood him,” said Sabah Karhot, head of the Anbar Provincial Council and one of those at the meeting. He said that all of the popular mobilization forces, as the largely Shi’ite militias are formally known, were taken out of the fighting around Ramadi, the Anbar provincial capital, beginning April 10.
U.S. and coalition military forces Airstrikes reported April 11
— Near Hit, an airstrike struck a checkpoint.
— Near Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and a fighting position.
— Near Huwayjah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

Smoke billows from what is believed to be an oil field which was set alight by Islamic State (IS) group militants in the Mkeishifa area, south of the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, as government forces, supported by Popular Mobilization units, try to retake the area from Islamist rebels on April 9, 2015

Smoke billows from what is believed to be an oil field which was set alight by Islamic State (IS) group militants in the Mkeishifa area, south of the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, as government forces, supported by Popular Mobilization units, try to retake the area from Islamist rebels on April 9, 2015

[March 18

A masked insurgent prepares a rocket to be launched at a U.S. base in Ramadi, Iraq, Tuesday Sept. 28, 2004. On his mask is written “there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet”. Anbar accounted for more than 40 percent of all American combat deaths in Iraq between 2004 and 2006.

“There used to be one or two rocket attacks every week, four or five rockets at a time,” in attacks on the Baghdad suburbs.”Iraqi army’s 6th Division, is attacking IS gunmen, some from Anbar Sunni tribes, in Karmah, Iraq, near the western edge of Baghdad to push beyond the range where they could fire Grad rockets into two Shiite neighborhoods of the capital . So far, they have succeeded in this modest-sized city less than 10 miles from the Islamic State stronghold of Fallujah in Anbar province, much of which is under extremist control. “We took this area five days ago, and are preparing to push further.”
Anbar province — which comprises nearly a third of Iraq’s land mass and extends from the western edge of Baghdad to the borders of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia — could present an even bigger challenge than the north. Much of the province has fallen to the Islamic State, including Fallujah, which the insurgents have held since January 2014.
More than 90 percent of Anbar’s estimated 2 million people are marginalized Sunnis, many of whom oppose the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government. Other Sunni tribesmen there have turned against the Islamic State.

[March 15 Ayn Al-Assad base receives supplies by air from Jordan, not Baghdad say locals]

An Anbar leader of the Jaghaifa tribe said the US Ayn Al-Assad base receives military aid and supplies, as well as other logistics, by air from Jordan, not Baghdad. This is because of geographical proximity, and because the route is safer than flying over six towns controlled by the Islamic State group (IS), including al-Karma, Fallujah and Hayt.
The small seven square kilometre US base includes one of the three fighter jets runways in Ain al-Assad, one of which is out of service. It is equipped with rooms, halls and houses for around 400 US military personnel , that are surrounded by barbed wire fences. “The base has three US army helicopters; one is Chinook for transporting troops and two are Apache combat helicopters,” They do not leave their base except to train Iraqi troops or for workouts and other activities.

[ February 14 U.S. Apache Helicopters combat IS at al-Baghdadi]

Two U.S. Army Apache helicopters take off from Camp Victory, BIAP, Baghdad Province, Iraq in 2008.

Two U.S. Army Apache helicopters take off from Camp Victory, BIAP, Baghdad Province, Iraq in 2008.

UPDATED: 06:17 EST, 14 February 2015.: U.S. has retaliated by bringing in helicopter gunships to support Iraqi ground forces battling ISIS militants in al-Baghdadi, drawing them closer to combat with the terrorist organization.
more helo

An enormous installation, spread out across the desert of restive Anbar Province, covers about as much territory as Boulder, Colorado. The strike on the Ain al-Asad base, which is currently being plummeted with rocket fire, came after insurgents from the Islamic State took Al-Baghdadi, a neighboring town only nine miles away from the base
Robert Baer, a former CIA officer, told CNN.’The Iraqi army is not up to the task. And without the United States Air Force and the military on the ground, a lot of these … bases would be overrun.’ No American troops were injured during the ISIS attack early February 13.

another time

[February 13 Fighting in al-Baghdadi, reaching Ain al-Asad air base five km southwest of the town]

reports of ineffective indirect fire in the vicinity of the base

reports of ineffective indirect fire in the vicinity of the base

‘They were immediately engaged by members of the Iraqi army, the 7th Infantry of the Iraqi Army, and all were killed,’ said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby of the ISIS militants.
Pentagon spokeswoman Navy Commander Elissa Smith confirmed the fighting in al-Baghdadi. She said there had been no direct attack on the air base, Ain al-Asad air base five km southwest of the town,adding: “There were reports of ineffective indirect fire in the vicinity of the base.”
Militants from the jihadist group had attacked the Ain al-Asad base February 13. A U.S. defense official said the Iraqi forces had stopped the attack and re-secured the facility. “Coalition forces were several kilometers from the attack and at no stage were they under direct threat from this action,” the official said.

About 320 U.S. Marines are training members of the Iraqi 7th Division at the base, which has been struck by mortar fire on at least one previous occasion since December. Iraq’s Defense Ministry said on its website the Iraqi army killed eight assailants near the base, which is about 85 km (50 miles) northwest of Ramadi.
Sheikh Omar Alwani, a tribal leader based in Anbar’s provincial capital of Ramadi, said his fighters in al-Baghdadi had reported that the Islamic State reached within two miles of Ayn al-Asad before being pushed back by Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters backed by coalition airstrikes.

The attack began with a double suicide bombing at the town’s police station at 5 a.m., he said. Sulaiman al-Kubbaisi, a spokesman for Anbar’s provincial council, said security forces managed to retake some ground in the town by nightfall, with Islamic State fighters still holding the town’s council building. Coalition airstrikes had assisted in pushing back the militants, he said.
more

[January 22 Raghad Saddam Hussein: These are victories of my father’s fighters and my uncle Izzat Al-Douri]

Raghad Saddam Hussein,  46-year-old, daughter of Saddam Hussein, now in Jordan where she has lived as a 'guest' of the royal family since leaving Iraq - and is being funded by her hosts,   Baathists have even been helping ISIS take control of towns in northern Iraq. She expressed delight after militants captured Tikrit, her father’s hometown, last year, telling Jordanian newspaper Al-Quds: 'These are victories of my father’s fighters and my uncle Izzat Al-Douri.'

Raghad Saddam Hussein, 46-year-old, daughter of Saddam Hussein, now in Jordan where she has lived as a ‘guest’ of the royal family since leaving Iraq – and is being funded by her hosts, Baathists have even been helping ISIS take control of towns in northern Iraq.
She expressed delight after militants captured Tikrit, her father’s hometown, last year, telling Jordanian newspaper Al-Quds: ‘These are victories of my father’s fighters and my uncle Izzat Al-Douri.’

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was the king of spades

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was the King of clubs

helo

[December 24 2014 Ayn al-Asad gets Apache helicopters]

Two U.S. Army Apache helicopters take off from Camp Victory, BIAP, Baghdad Province, Iraq in 2008.

Two U.S. Army Apache helicopters take off from Camp Victory, BIAP, Baghdad Province, Iraq in 2008.

Sky News Arabic cited an anonymous security source on December 23 as saying that 300 soldiers and advisors and three Apache helicopters were dispatched to the base in Baghdadi. A number of U.S. military advisors are stationed in the Ayn al-Asad facility.

The news of the reinforcements comes after reports of attempts by Islamic State (IS) militants to assault and overrun the Ayn al-Asad base.

[December 18 First clash between U.S. trainers and IS]

An American force has fought its actual first battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria “ISIS” organization during a counter-attack that was carried out by tribal forces

and other force of the Iraqi army near Ein al-Asad base, west of Anbar, in an attempt to remove them from the base of which includes about 100 US adviser in it.

A field commander of the Iraqi Army in Anbar province, said that “the US force equipped with light and medium weapons, supported by fighter force model” F-18 “, was able to inflict casualties against fighters of ISIS organization, and forced them to retreat from the al-Dolab area, which lies 10 kilometers from Ain al-Assad base .

US troops have entered with its Iraqi partner, according to Colonel  Salam Nazim, in line against ISIS elements and clashed with them for more than two hours, to succeed in removing them from al-Dolab area, and causing losses in their ranks, at a time American fighter jets directed several strikes focused on ISIS gatherings that silenced their heavy sources of fire. “He points out that the clashes took place between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Sunday night [December 14].

Sheikh Mahmud Nimrawi, a prominent tribal leader in the region, said that “US forces intervened because of ISIS started to come near the base , which they are stationed in so out of self-defense , they responded , welcoming the US intervention, which I hope will “not be the last.”

[December 11 U.S. Forces-trained sunni tribesmen, Army attack in big Hit/Anbar offensive; Two high ranking Iraqi officers were killed and ten people, including eight officers, were wounded]

Iraqi Armed forces launched a military operation against ISIL earlier in the morning which aimed to free the city of Hit from ISIL control, . Colonel Haitham Al-Deleemi and Brigadier General Abbas Ayid Amir, both from the same Iraqi army brigade, were killed in the clashes,” . Two high ranking Iraqi officers were killed and ten people, including eight officers, were wounded in the clashes,
ISIL retook control of the Al-Dolab region in the western province of Anbar in Iraq on December 11, forcing Iraqi soldiers to retreat. Al-Dolab is located seven miles west of Hit city in the western Iraqi province of Anbar. “ISIL surprised the Iraqi forces with a large group of tanks and armored vehicles which moved west from Hit city to the Al-Dolab area in a counter-attack. The maneuver forced the Iraqi forces to retreat towards Baghdadi, a town located 13 miles west of Hit city,”

 Brigadier Haytham Al-Juburi

Brigadier Haytham Al-Juburi

8:22 PM . In this first attempt to penetrate into Hit, the joint forces were unable to advance into the town. The commander of a special forces regiment of the 7th Brigade, Brigadier Haytham Al-Juburi was killed in the fighting.

[December 11 earlier ISIL militants evacuated armored vehicles and tanks from Hit city ; Col. Al-Deleemi killed]

Sunni tribesmen

Sunni tribesmen

BAGHDAD Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:45am EST The army, backed by Sunni tribal fighters and security forces attacked Islamic State fighters in the Euphrates River town of Hit, also in Anbar, but witnesses said the militants repelled them, seizing vehicles and shooting down a drone.
11 December 2014 14:11 (Last updated 11 December 2014 14:13)
“Colonel Haitham Al-Deleemi, a military commander, was killed during the operation,” Malullah Al-Abeedy, a government official, told The Anadolu Agency.
Iraqi armed forces started a military operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the western province of Anbar on Thursday. The operation aims to retake the city of Hit controlled by ISIL. Pro-government tribal fighters and police forces are supporting Iraqi army forces, a local government official said.

11 December 2014 16:43 (Last updated 11 December 2014 16:47) “ISIL militants moved with a group of armored vehicles and tanks from Hit city while taking Al-Jazeera road and managed to trap 450 fighters after controlling the Mahbubiya and Gurna areas,” the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Anadolu Agency. ISIL launched a counter-attack on Thursday, resulting in it controlling two areas in the western Iraqi province of Anbar. The areas are close to Baghdadi town, located around 13 miles west of Hit city in Anbar governorate. ISIL besieged around 450 Sunni tribal fighters in the region, a security source said.

[December 5 A major military campaign against Daesh in Hit, Anbar province]
In Hit, there are now massive troop concentrations around the town’s perimeter, and reports indicate that the major military campaign is on the verge of being launched. Sabah Karhut, chairman of the Anbar Provincial Council likened the Sunni tribal force to Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga army, which has been fighting ISIS since early August. Shiite militias have also been formed by the Baghdad government to fight the militants in the Iraqi capital and other Shiite-dominated areas. Most Arabic-speaking people have always referred to ISIS as Daesh.”Daesh” is the pronunciation of the acronym for ISIS in Arabic (Dawlat Al Islam fi Iraq Wa al-Sham)

[December 3 Back to Muqdadiya, shades of U.S. forces 2008 – Iranian jets join in.]

Iranian McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II jet, over Diyala Province November 30

Iranian McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II jet, over Diyala Province November 30

Four Iranian jets attacked Islamic State positions during an offensive in Iraq last month to retake two towns, Saadiya and Jalawla, less than 20 miles from the Iranian border in the eastern province of Diyala, Kurdish commanders have acknowledged receiving weapons and other aid from Iran in the battle to take back the two towns. Kurdish officials said there were no U.S. airstrikes during the offensive.
Fighting alongside Iraqi army units was the Badr Organization, a powerful Shiite militia in Iraq that is backed by Iran. The militia’s chief, Hadi Amiri, who is also transportation minister in the current Baghdad government, led the militiamen into battle, the Badr Organization said.
{December 1]
Diyala Province December 1 – The security forces have surrounded a number of villages north of al- Muqdadiya  and preparing to enter these villages and eliminate all the ISIL terrorists there.

An Iranian McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II jet has struck Islamic State targets in the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala.  At least one F-4 is seen conducting a bombing run against ground targets , in footage shot by regional media which erroneously identified the aircraft as an Iraqi fighter

During the Persian Gulf War, most Iraqi pilots and aircraft (of French & Soviet origin) fled to Iran to escape the bombing campaign because no other country would allow them sanctuary. The Iranians impounded these aircraft after the war and returned seven Su-25s in 2014. Iraq has also taken delivery of five Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot attack aircraft from Russia and Belarus.

The top U.S. Commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, talks to Iraqi police and army commanders during a patrol with the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Muqdadiyah, in the Diyala province July 26, 2008. Sunni Islamist al Qaeda has sought to stoke tensions in Iraq's ethnically and religiously mixed northern cities, such as Diyala

The top U.S. Commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, talks to Iraqi police and army commanders during a patrol with the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Muqdadiyah, in the Diyala province July 26, 2008. Sunni Islamist al Qaeda has sought to stoke tensions in Iraq’s ethnically and religiously mixed northern cities, such as Diyala

A U.S. soldier from the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment holds his weapon next to a villager during a joint operation with Iraqi police near Muqtadiyah in Diyala province July 24, 2008.

A U.S. soldier from the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment holds his weapon next to a villager during a joint operation with Iraqi police near Muqtadiyah in Diyala province July 24, 2008.

[October 26 Nineveh militia aims for twelve thousand troop strength]

Atheel Nujaifi,  governor of Nineveh province


Atheel Nujaifi, governor of Nineveh province: Liberation of Iraq sought in talks to expand the strength of the National Guard and support the liberation of Mosul

According to MP Khalid al-Obeidi, before he assumed the office of the Ministry of Defense, who visited the camp after it opened, and said at the time, that it is expected to reach a troop strength of twelve thousand fighters in the first stage, with military and logistical support from the federal government and the international coalition, while the next step will be to open the door to volunteers from the people of Nineveh province to participate in the re-occupation of Mosul after being trained in the new camp.

[September 29 39-member council competes with Atheel Nujaifi, governor of Nineveh province, but no militia yet]

Nineveh Province police

Nineveh Province police

“It is clear that we, the people and leaders of Mosul, must take a lead role in liberating our city,” says Bashar Mahmoud, an ethnic Kurd who heads the provincial council. “We must have military officers and experts who know and understand our people.”

The formation of such a militia would dovetail with efforts by an international coalition that includes the US, the UAE, the Iraqi government, Iraq’s Kurdish leaders and other Arab countries to defeat ISIL

There are already deep divisions between the Mosul politicians over their contribution to the coalition effort. The 39-member council has been at odds with Atheel Nujaifi, the governor of Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital. He has been promoting his vision for forming his own local militia to remove ISIL from Mosul in Arab and foreign media.

Members of the council have threatened to exclude Mr Nujaifi from the planning efforts, accusing him of attempting to wrest control of the decision-making process.

[September 24 Sunni tribes rejecting the expansion of ISIS’s authority; Iraqi Shiite Army reordered after Saqlawiya/Riviera camp lost]

Lieutenant Gen. Bob Cone, USF-I deputy commanding general for operations and III Corps commanding general, meets with Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan, Iraqi Ground Forces commander,

Lieutenant Gen. Bob Cone, USF-I deputy commanding general for operations and III Corps commanding general, meets with Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan, Iraqi Ground Forces commander,

Last week in Fallujah, fighting that led to the death of around 12 people from both sides after Sunni tribes rejected the expansion of ISIS’s authority within the city and their interference in people’s social life. Sunni tribal rebels represent the majority in the city, nevertheless ISIS seems to be in control and the rise of foreign jihadists in Fallujah began to provoke “tribal and social tensions.”
Iraqi Prime Minster Haider abolished the Office of Commander-in-Chief and ordered the retirement of Gen. Abboud Qanbar, acting secretary-general of Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, and Gen. Ali Ghaidan, former commander of Iraq’s land forces and ordered the arrest of two military officers in command of Saqlawiyah military base in Anbar, which took heavy casualties in an ISIS attack on September 21, “officials have confirmed 300 troops killed and about 500 unaccounted for”.

[September 23 Saqlawiya camp near Fallujah surrounded, stormed, few escape -FOB Riviera for 2007 U.S. Marines]

Soldiers, officials and tribal sources gave differing accounts of what happened on September 21 when the militants stormed the camp at Saqlawiya that they had been besieging.

Soldiers, officials and tribal sources gave differing accounts of what happened on September 21 when the militants stormed the camp at Saqlawiya that they had been besieging.

Marines with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment conduct a foot patrol to assess the damage after a car bombing near Forward Operating Base Riviera in April 2007 -

Marines with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment conduct a foot patrol to assess the damage after a car bombing near Forward Operating Base Riviera in April 2007 -” forward operating base. FOB Riviera was ten klicks west of Fallujah, nestled into a small town named Saqlawiyah, near a sharp bend in the Euphrates River.”

Sunni fighters inflicted heavy losses in a chaotic raid on Saqlawiya camp just an hour’s drive from Baghdad,. The insurgents sent a Humvee vehicle rigged with explosives into the camp. Guards mistakenly assumed that an army driver was at the wheel. An estimated 1,000 soldiers in Saqlawiya, only about 200 had managed to flee. Islamic State insurgents had gained control of Sijir, near Falluja, a week ago, allowing them to surround the Saqlawiya base. An army convoy sent in to break the siege on September 21 was ambushed by Sunni fighters. Many soldiers were killed, others were taken prisoners and a few managed to flee.

A remote camera screen grab provided by the French Army shows two Rafale jet fighters flying over Iraq on September 19. French President Francois Hollande announced that the fighters had carried out their first airstrikes in northern Iraq.

A remote camera screen grab provided by the French Army shows two Rafale jet fighters flying over Iraq on Friday. French President Francois Hollande announced that the fighters had carried out their first airstrikes in northern Iraq.

07:25 EST, 19 September 2014
An Iraq military spokesman said four French airstrikes hit the town of Zumar, killing dozens of extremist fighters. Four French airstrikes have killed dozens of fighters from the Islamic State after targeting a logistics depot in northern Iraq.
President Francois Hollande said Rafale fighters ‘entirely destroyed’ the complex.
Zumar and surrounding towns have remained heavily contested by Islamic State fighters, even though Iraqi and Kurdish security forces have managed to make headway in nearby regions with the support of US airstrikes.

Thursday, September 18, 2014: A Kurdish commander said some 50 members of the Islamic State (IS) have been killed in the US[French?] jets’ bombings on the jihadist group around Zomar in Iraqi northern province of Mosul.
Speaking with Xendan website Rashid Saber said two large group from the militants arrived from western Mosul and sheltered in two buildings that were bombed by US planes and according to reports 50 IS militants have been killed and dozens of others have been injured.

[September 18 Allied support against ISIL: one reconnaissance, one ECM and lots of promises]

An active electronically scanned array (AESA), also known as active phased array radar (APAR), is a type of phased array radar whose transmitter and receiver functions are composed of numerous small solid-state transmit/receive modules (TRMs).

An active electronically scanned array (AESA), also known as active phased array radar (APAR), is a type of phased array radar whose transmitter and receiver functions are composed of numerous small solid-state transmit/receive modules (TRMs).

No.2 Squadron personnel prepare the E-7A Wedgetail aircraft at RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle for operational deployment.

No.2 Squadron personnel prepare the E-7A Wedgetail aircraft at RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle for operational deployment.

Australia: On Sunday, the Australian government responded to a request by the United States and said it is preparing to deploy to the United Arab Emirates up to eight Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 combat aircraft, an E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft and a KC-30A multirole tanker and transport aircraft. Australia will also help to stem the humanitarian crisis. Australia will send military advisers to Iraq.
Australian combat troops will not participate in ground fighting.
Great Britain: United Kingdom would help arm Kurdish forces, support the Iraqi government, keep supplying humanitarian help and coordinate with the United Nations to battle ISIS.
“This is not about British combat troops on the ground,it is about working with others to extinguish this terrorist threat.”

The AREOS Reco NG pod, an integral part of the F3 standard for Rafale fighters,

The AREOS Reco NG pod, an integral part of the F3 standard for Rafale fighters,

France: France has begun reconnaissance flights over Iraq. Two Rafale air force planes took off from an air base in the United Arab Emirates, the ministry said.
France has contributed 18,000 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition. France’s air force was also part of a recent operation in the Iraqi town of Amerli that pushed back ISIS fighters and, along with Australia and Great Britain, has performed humanitarian aid drops in Iraq.
Germany has also said it was sending military assistance to the Kurdish region to fight ISIS. German paratroopers are offering training in the overall effort to fight ISIS.
Canada: more than 50 Canadian special operations troops are being deployed to Iraq as part of an adviser mission but that there would be no direct military intervention by the country, according to CTV.
On Sunday, State Department officials also called out Italy, Poland, Denmark, Albania and Croatia for providing equipment and ammunition in the fight against ISIS. New Zealand, Romania and South Korea were also named for providing humanitarian assistance, with specifics on South Korea giving some $1.2 million.
Turkey: U.S. officials say Turkey has taken steps to cut the flow of money to ISIS and denied entry to or deported several thousand foreign fighters heading to Syria.
Jordan’s key role would be providing intelligence to the WestJordan’s intelligence on ISIS is “second to none.”
Saudi Arabia:Saudi Arabia has offered to train rebels on its soilSaudi Arabia has “always taken initiatives with regard to a firm position towards terrorists and against them. So there is no limit to what the Kingdom can provide in this regard.”
The United States also wants Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt to use Arab television networks to spread anti-ISIS messages and encourage more clerics to speak out against the group.
Saudi Arabia has also put $500 million into the coffers of the U.N. humanitarian aid agencies in Iraq, a senior State Department official said Sunday.
Egypt: Egypt’s grand mufti condemned the terror group, saying that its actions are not in line with Islam.
Qatar: Qatar has flown a number of humanitarian flights, State Department officials said.
Iraqi Kurdistan: Leaders of the semiautonomous region of Iraq are willing to send their Peshmerga forces to fight beyond their borders if there’s a comprehensive international strategy put in place.
A senior U.S. military official “more than one Arab nation” has offered to carry out what the official described as “kinetic” actions, such as airstrikes against ISIS.
They are “indigenous” forces; that is, Syrian and Iraqi troops, including trained Syrian rebels, Iraqi forces, Kurdish forces and Sunni tribes, the officials said.
stop IS

[September 16 Dempsey confident can stop the Islamic State]

 Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Perle, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Kristol


Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Perle, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Kristol

[September 16 2014]Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress on September 16 that he would recommend deploying United States combat forces against Islamic extremists in specific operations if the current strategy of airstrikes was not successful, raising the possibility of the kind of escalation that President Obama has flatly ruled out. The ground forces would likely be Special Operations commands who could call in airstrikes from the ground. He was confident in the ability of the coalition of American, European and Middle Eastern governments to stop the Islamic State.

Washington Post Foreign Service Thursday, September 28, 2006 But in recent days, senior U.S. military commanders have suggested that if the Maliki government fails to take action soon, they may have to step in and pressure the government to go after militias holed up in neighborhoods around Baghdad.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 Posted: 2:12 AM EDT (0612 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush dismissed what he called “revisionist history” about the war in Iraq. The president is still confident a Pentagon-led search will find Iraq’s suspected weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s Saddam Hussein “is no longer a threat to the free world,” he said

July 11th, 2002 Richard Perle [ chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory group, and a former assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan.]: Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder. Now, it isn’t going to be over in 24 hours, but it isn’t going to be months either. And if I had to guess I would guess that a strategy that combines effective collaboration with the opposition and a readiness to send in Americans if necessary is where we’ll wind up.

Deputy Secretary for Defense Paul Wolfowitz in 2002: “It is entirely possible that in Iraq, you have the most pro-American population that can be found anywhere in the Arab world.”

[September 8 IS militants withdraw to areas southwest of Zumar]

A private Peshmerga unit went deeply into Zumar to chase the remaining IS members, while another army unit continued surrounding the region.

Local sources confirmed that IS militants withdrew to areas southwest of Zumar.

More than 100 IS members were captured while some of them surrendered to the Peshmerga.

[August 20 Peshmerga troops have entered Zumar Iraq without US air strikes]

Zumar in distance

Zumar in distance

ZUMAR, Iraq — Peshmerga troops have entered Zumar northwest of Mosul and are engaged in fierce battles with Islamist militants for control of the district,. The operations in Nineveh province over the past week were carried out without the support of US air strikes.

[August 27 Kurdish forces have advanced to the outskirts of Zumar]
Kurdish forces have advanced overnight to the outskirts of Zumar, about 15 km west of the Mosul Dam as part of a push to retake the Syrian border crossing of Rabia.

Peshmerga special forces who retook the Mosul dam last week have been fighting Islamic State group fighters in the vicinity of the dam, and have pushed through two other towns held by the fighters to reach Zumar.

“If the Kurds manage to take Zumar they will disrupt a main IS supply line and route from the group’s base in Mosul.”
by Ted.Regencia August 25 at 4:00 AM

[August 23 Kurdistan forces move past the Mosul dam towards Zumar]

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Mughdeed who commanded the Mosul Dam, seen on August 1

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Mughdeed who commanded the Mosul Dam, seen on August 1

Brig. Hussein Hado,  Peshmerga commander said on August 22 that his forces had expelled IS militants from the villages of Sufya and Khan Sufya near Zumar and Rabia.   Control of Sahrij cuts off Islamist militants in Zumar from Mosul.   After the control of the Mosul road and a number of villages in the area, the IS fighters “are demoralized tremendously” and that the Kurdish forces have advanced 10km towards the town of Zumar.

[August 20 Kurdistan region special forces  recapture the Mosul dam  with 200 from Iraqi special forces, then scuffle

A Kurdish fighter, in camouflage, scuffles with an Iraqi special forces soldier near Mosul Dam on August 19 a day after a U.S.-backed victory.

A Kurdish fighter, in camouflage, scuffles with an Iraqi special forces soldier near Mosul Dam on August 19, a day after a U.S.-backed victory.

Gen. Mansour Barzani, the Kurdistan region special forces commander who led the operation to recapture the Mosul dam, said he had asked the most prominent Iraqi special forces unit, the Golden Division, to help his troops with the offensive.

“But if they say ‘we controlled this here by ourselves,’ this is a big lie,” he said, speaking from the main bridge over the dam. Asked about the incident at the checkpoint, Gen. Barzani said only: “Some Peshmerga are sensitive about the Iraqi flag. Some 200 men from the most prominent Iraqi special forces unit, the Golden Division, were critical in the final hours of battle at the dam, said Gen. Barzani. Alongside the Peshmerga, the elite Iraqi fighters battled insurgents in fierce and close clashes at the eastern side of the dam for hours on August 18 afternoon.

[August 3 Sunni capture of the Mosul Dam after offensive of barely 24 hours – strong Kurdish resistance only in town of Zumar.]

Mosul Dam

Mosul Dam

Capture of the Mosul Dam after an offensive of barely 24 hours could give the Sunni militants the ability to flood major Iraqi cities, sharply raising the stakes in their bid to topple Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government. Sunni forces seized the Ain Zalah oil field, adding to four others already under their control, and three towns.
They faced strong Kurdish resistance only at the start of their latest offensive when taking the town of Zumar. A Peshmerga official said that the IS militants had broken through the barriers of the Kaske military base near Mosul at 4:00 am on August 3, but that “they were able to hold the base for only a few minutes before a Peshmerga counterattack expelled them.” Kaske was an Iraqi military base that was abandoned by the army in June and Kurdish forces took over the base.

[August 2 Sunni fighters in pickup trucks mounted with weapons attacked Kurd town of Zumar from three directions early]

 Kurdish troops fought off a Sunni attack on an oil facility and a dam

Kurdish troops fought off a Sunni attack on an oil facility and a dam

A Kurdish police official in Zumar Iraq said Sunni fighters in pickup trucks mounted with weapons attacked the town from three directions early on August 2. Kurdish peshmerga reinforcements’ were on the way.’

ARBIL: Kurdish troops fought off a Sunni attack on an oil facility and a dam but lost 14 of their number in intense combat, Kurdish sources said August 2.

Sunnis attacked a peshmerga post in Zumar (August 1) and a fierce battle erupted,” an official in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said. 14 peshmerga fighters were killed, a toll confirmed by a senior officer in the Kurdish force.

Control of Zumar by Sunni fighters would give them access to the small Ain Zalah oil field and a nearby refinery. The insurgents have already seized four oil fields, which help fund their operations.

Shi’ite militias and Kurdish fighters now rival the U.S.-trained and funded Iraqi army in their ability to challenge the insurgents.
The Sunni insurgents have stalled their advance towards Baghdad just before the town of Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of the capital.

[July 27 Inability to recapture Fallujah from Sunnis underlines Shi’ite problem]

Smoke rises from buildings in May after shelling on the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which is currently held by anti-government fighters.

Smoke rises from buildings in May after shelling on the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which is currently held by anti-government fighters.

Residents of Fallujah and the nearby town of Garma said helicopters fired artillery and dropped three barrel bombs on the former and two on the latter. A mid-level security officer in Anbar province has confirmed that barrel bombs have been dropped on Fallujah
The government’s inability throughout the first half of 2014 to recapture the Sunni city of Falluja, just 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, underlines how ill equipped it is to reverse far greater militant gains since then which have displaced more than a million people.
In Samarra, 110 km (70 miles) from Baghdad and one of the most northerly cities under government control, a Reuters photographer saw Shi’ite militiamen on patrol rather than army troops.
“We are better than the army because we are fighting for our beliefs,” said lawmaker Hakim Zamili, who supervised deployment of the Mahdi Army’s “Peace Brigades” militia around Samarra.
A U.S. military official who served in Iraq predicted four “warring statelets” could emerge, based around Shi’ite power south of Samarra, Kurdish control in the northeast, and separate Sunni power centers on the Tigris and Euphrates.

[July 21 Iraq Army attacking to clear Karma, one of the closest districts to the capital Baghdad]

Fallujah, 40 miles from Baghdad

Fallujah, 40 miles from Baghdad

 July 11, 2014 photo, an ISIL terrorist speaks to people at a mosque in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq.


July 11, 2014 photo, an ISIL terrorist speaks to people at a mosque in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq.

Iraqi military sources say the government troops conducted the massive military attack on the al-Karma district near Fallujah city to clear the area of ISIL terrorists.

Karma is one of the closest districts to the capital Baghdad that had fallen into the hands of militants.
Baghdad lost control of portions of its territory, most notably the city of Fallujah, months ago.Extremist militants have controlled the cities of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in Iraq’s mainly Sunni western Anbar province since early January, and last month ISIL terrorists overran vast tracts of Iraq’s north. The takeovers in Anbar province were the first time anti-government forces have exercised such open control in major cities since the bloody fighting that followed the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein.

[July 19 “We believe that they will fight to defend Baghdad”Iraqi security forces stiffen themselves to defend the capital]

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2014 Iraq is again a dangerous, “contested” place,Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said. “There are still innocent Iraqis suffering as a result of ISIL and their activities inside Iraq,” he said.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant still poses a legitimate threat to Baghdad and its environs, the admiral said. “We continue to see Iraqi security forces prepare themselves and stiffen themselves to defend the capital,” he said. “We believe that they will fight to defend Baghdad. We also have seen Iraqi security forces go on the offensive in places like Tikrit, which they are still fighting for right now.” [But see below]

[July 16]
Iraqi forces have withdrawn from the militant-held city of Tikrit after their new offensive met heavy resistance, in a blow to the government effort to push back Sunni insurgents controlling large parts of the country.

[July 1]
The insurgents appeared to have repelled the military’s initial push for Tikrit and remained in control of the city Sunday, but clashes were taking place in the northern neighborhood of Qadisiyah. The US has counseled Iraq against rushing to retake cities, for fear that its army would become bogged down in urban warfare as the US military was during its occupation of Iraq. But the alternative may be to let the insurgents secure their territory and plan an offensive against Baghdad itself.
The United States has deployed 300 more troops to Baghdad in the last two days, with some of them assigned to secure Baghdad’s international airport. Troops were moved to Baghdad after American officials determined that Islamist fighters had consolidated their grip on the western outskirts of the capital in recent days. The movement “convinced us this would be prudent”. Baghdad’s airport would be critical to any evacuation of Americans from the capital, where hundreds remain assigned to the U.S. Embassy, the largest American diplomatic mission in the world.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/in_depth/baghdad_navigator/

http://gulf2000.columbia.edu/iraq.shtml

Green – Shiite majority Red – Sunni majority  2003 Baghdad Ethnic Blue – Christian majority Yellow – Mixed Sunni

Green – Shiite majority
Red – Sunni majority
Blue – Christian majority
Yellow – Mixed Sunni

Majority Sunni areas were Hurriya in the north, Washash, Mansur, and Karkh in the central region, Sadiya in the south, and Adhamiya on the eastern bank of the Tigris River. The majority of the capital however was mixed Sunni-Shiite, especially in the central, southern, and northeastern regions.
Sunnis were reduced to 12% of Iraq’s population because of the fighting. Many became refugees in Syria and Jordan. While the exact percentage Sunnis made up of Iraq and Baghdad are disputed, a general number used in sources such as the CIA Factbook is around 30%. How much they made up of Baghdad before the U.S. invasion is an even harder figure to calculate. In the December 2005 national elections however, the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front and Iraqi National Dialogue Front pulled 22.9% of the vote in the capital, while the Iraqi National List, even though led by a Shiite, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, also draws strongly from Sunnis, got 13.4%. That’s roughly 30% of Baghdad as well. If Izady is to be believed than just over half of the Sunnis fled the country.

[June 27]
de-Baathification: Baathist “return” cocooned within a nationalist uprising?

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was the king of spades

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was the King of clubs

A handful of U.S. intelligence officers predicted a subterranean Baathist “return” cocooned within a nationalist uprising. Failing a unified response by Iraq’s political factions, JRTN may also represent the best chance of stopping ISIS from forming an Islamic caliphate in the heart of the Middle East, led by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. Douri has a patronage network ,the Men of the Naqshbandi.
The Naqshbandi is a Sufi Islamic religious order associated with dervish mystics capable of entering deep trances. A strand of Iraq’s Naqshbandis had uses the movement as a political and business fellowship—somewhat similar to freemasonry—to advance their joint interests. The order cultivated Douri as their sponsor, and he was rushed through the process of confirmation as a Naqshbandi sheikh, officially connecting his spiritual lineage directly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Douri initiated numerous military families into the Naqshbandi order from the 1980s onward. Douri and the Naqshbandi kept a low profile after Hussein’s fall, until he was hung by Shia militiamen on December 30, 2006. Thereafter Douri took full command, publicly announcing the activation of JRTN as a militant group.

[June 21]
Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was the King of clubs in decks of playing cards distributed to U.S. soldiers during the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Among the more noteworthy of the parties aligned with ISIS is the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order. The Naqshbandis, located primarily in Mosul, were formed in 2007 by former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party. al-Douri , Saddam’s former deputy and the head of the Baath party following Saddam’s execution in 2007, is in charge of the group.
On June 15, Isis jihadists, backed by local Baathist remnants from Saddam’s old regime, overran Tal Afar, causing the exodus of most of the city’s Shia community.
It is Baathists from Tal Afar who enabled Isis to take over the town. They have a strong presence and are very well organised. This is the return of Saddam’s men.
ISIS is at least to some degree a creature of Al-Douri or both of them are united by a common backer, likely to be found in Qatar. Tony Blair described “the oil conspiracy theory” as “the most absurd”[2011]. Just because FBI and CIA have failed to find the linkages does not mean they don’t exist. – [Wolfowitz 2003] Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said June 11 that the seizing of northern city Mosul, was a “trick and conspiracy”.

[June 6 2011]

Musa Kusa

Musa Kusa

“No de-Baathification!” William Hague said, before adding, “They now need to publicize that more effectively, to be able to convince members of the current regime that that is something that would work.” Mr. Hague said, the rebels should learn from Iraq’s experience, in which a mass purge of former Saddam Hussein loyalists occurred under the American-backed program of “de-Baathification,” and shun any similar undertaking. The reference was to a policy that many analysts believe helped to propel years of insurgency in Iraq by stripping tens of thousands of officials of jobs. British officials lead the Stabilisation Response Team, a multinational unit assessing what the international community will have to do to ensure order if Gaddafi departs and leaves a power vacuum.
Around 40 diplomats and development specialists are in Benghazi assisting the Transitional National Council.

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About huecri

Publishing on the Web is a fairly iterative process. ...NYT ...Not too long ago, reporters were the guardians of scarce facts delivered at an appointed time to a passive audience. Today we are the managers of an overabundance of information and content, discovered, verified and delivered in partnership with active communities. summer 2012 issue of Nieman Reports from Harvard, --- THE FIX by Chris Cillizza, WAPO blogger, quoting Matt Drudge: “We have entered an era vibrating with the din of small voices,” he said in the speech. “Every citizen can be a reporter.” Later, he added: “The Net gives as much voice to a 13 year old computer geek like me as to a CEO or Speaker of the House. "
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