Clear and kind of soothing this early Tuesday on California’s north coast with a half moon hanging quietly high in the southern sky.
Weather here the last couple of weeks has been gorgeous — not so for northeastern Nebraska yesterday, where two giant tornadoes swirled side-by-side, nearly destroying one town, killing three people and injuring a couple of dozen.
Meanwhile, the weather in Baghdad, Iraq, ain’t pretty either — 104 degrees with an UV index of “extreme.”
(Illustration found here).
And with a huge chance of flames soaking up the air. Also present is another index — fear.
One of the best at covering shit like this, Patrick Cockburn, relates the horror of Iraqi life:
Iraq could soon see sectarian slaughter similar to that which took place at the time of the partition of India in 1947.
Pictures and evidence from eye witnesses confirm that Isis massacred some 1,700 Shia captives, many of them air force cadets, at the air force academy outside Tikrit, which proves that Isis intends to cleanse its new conquests of Shia.
Sunni cadets were told to go home.
If the battle moves to Baghdad, then the Shia majority in the capital might see the Sunni enclaves, particularly those in west Baghdad, such as Amiriya and Khadra, as weak points in their defences, and drive out the inhabitants.
In a misguided effort to sustain the morale of people in the capital, the government closed down the internet at 9am.
It had already closed YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
The excuse is that Isis uses them to communicate, but this is extremely unlikely since Isis has a more professional communications system of its own.
Since there is little confidence in the news on government-run television stations, or provided by official spokesmen, the internet shutdown is creating a vacuum of information filled by frightening rumours that are difficult to check.
The result is an atmosphere of growing panic in Baghdad with volunteers from the Shia militias being trucked to Samarra, north of the capital, to stop the Isis advance.
The cost of a bullet for an AK47 assault rifle has tripled to 3,000 Iraqi dinars, or about $2.
Kalashnikovs are almost impossible to buy from arms dealers though pistols can still be obtained at three times the price of a week ago.
In the Shia holy city of Kerbala, south-east of Baghdad, the governor has asked volunteers to bring their own weapons to recruitment centres.
Many civilians are leaving Baghdad and the better-off have already gone abroad.
The head of an Iraqi security company told me: “I am off to Dubai on an unscheduled holiday to see my daughters because all the foreigners I was protecting have already left.”
The price of a cylinder of propane gas, used by Iraqis for cooking, has doubled to 6,000 Iraqi dinars, because it normally comes from Kirkuk, the road to which is now cut off by Isis fighters.
Asked about the cause of defeat, one recently retired Iraqi general said: “Corruption! Corruption! Corruption!”
He said it started when the Americans told the Iraqi army to outsource food and other supplies in about 2005.
A battalion commander was paid for a unit of 600 soldiers, but had only 200 men under arms and pocketed the difference which meant enormous profits.
The army became a money-making machine for senior officers and often an extortion racket for ordinary soldiers who manned the checkpoints.
On top of this, well-trained Sunni officers were side-lined.
“Iraq did not really have a national army,” the general concluded.
Really, what happened? Maybe this — in May 2003, as the flowers of liberation came floating down, Paul Bremer, the US head-honcho in Iraq dissolved the Iraqi Armed Forces and everything/anybody associated with it, leaving 350,000 to 400,000 soldiers out of work, along with 2,000 government employees.
Via CNN from them days:
The official, who did not want to be identified, said personnel dismissed by the order would be given a termination payment equivalent to a month’s salary.
“The Coalition Provisional Authority plans to create, in the near future, a New Iraqi Corps.
“This is the first step in forming a national self-defense capability for a free Iraq,” the senior official said.
“Under civilian control, that Corps will be professional, non-political, militarily effective and representative of all Iraqis.”
And for more jokes…
The big news this morning, of course, is President Obama’s move to beef up the US embassy in Baghdad with support troops and some Special Forces guys, but no fighting again — National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden: “The president was very clear that we will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq.”
Famous last words, or what?