Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Kurds seen behind attacks on Christians in Iraq

GMT 10-29-2008 21:21:36
Assyrian International News Agency

Baghdad -- Kurdish involvement is suspected in the recent wave of violence against Christians in Mosul, Gulf News has learnt.

"Investigations have been completed and proved the involvement of Kurdish militias in the displacement and killing of Christians," Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki reportedly said during a discussion with Iraqi lawmakers, according to Osama Al Nojaifi, a deputy in the Iraqi parliament.
Al Nojaifi said Al Maliki had ordered Kurdish units in the Iraqi army out of Mosul but was reluctant to officially announce details of the investigations for fear they would destabilise his government.

Mounting pressure

There is mounting pressure on Al Maliki from the Vatican and some Western countries to hold the perpetrators accountable for the killings, according to sources.
"There are strong doubts about the involvement of Kurdish militia in the killings of Christians in Mosul and we have information that 7-10 Kurdish officers were arrested for alleged involvement in these operations.

"We ask Al Maliki to expose these militias and the political parties who stand behind them," said Lewis Marcos, a prominent Christian member of the municipal council of the Hamdania district in Nineveh province.

The Christian clergy in Iraq remained determined to bring out details of those behind the violence despite fears that its insistence could cause a rift in Iraq, said Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk.

The commander of Kurdish forces in Mosul, Lieutenant General Riyadh Jalal Tawfiq, however, rebuffed the charges. "I haven't heard of such accusations, but it is not true. Kurds have nothing to do with the violence against Christians."

Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan region, also rejected the accusations.

By Basil Adas


IRAQ: Concern over reports of child trafficking

An increasing number of children are at risk of being trafficked abroad, local NGO says

BAGHDAD, 29 June 2006 (IRIN) - Local officials and aid workers have expressed concern over the alarming rate at which children are disappearing countrywide in Iraq's current unstable environment.“At least five children are disappearing every week,” said Omar Khalif, vice-president of the Iraqi Families Association (IFA), an NGO established in 2004 to register cases of missing children. “And the number could be much higher as we don’t have access to government statistics.

In some cases, we’ve received information that they were trafficked to Europe through neighbouring countries.” According to local investigators and the IFA, unconfirmed information suggests that children are being sold to many countries in Europe, particularly the UK and the Netherlands.

However, there is no detailed information on who is buying them and for what reason.
Officials confirm that there are organised international gangs carrying out the trafficking in collaboration with Iraqis who are arranging the abductions from their own country.

Desperate families will often approach the IFA weeks after the disappearance of a child because police – who are usually contacted first – are unable to locate the child in most cases. “My three-year-old daughter was abducted by armed men,” said Baghdad resident Sahar Ibraheem. “We thought it was a kidnapping, but we later received a letter saying that someone had given our child to a rich family in Europe.”

Interior Ministry officials said they had also received numerous complaints from local families about missing children. “It’s a very complicated situation,” said Fatah Hussein, a senior ministry official. “False documents are being used, and we know that many families who cannot have children look to Iraq and Afghanistan for children because it’s cheaper.

Some children are sold for US$5,000, others for 10 times this.” In some instances, families voluntarily sell their children because they need the money. “Sometimes we receive claims from relatives or friends that children have been sold by their own fathers,” said Hussein.

“We can’t do anything in such cases, because it was their decision.”One Baghdad family interviewed by IRIN said that unemployment and poverty had pushed them to sell their child in order to support the rest of the family. “It’s hard to watch your children without anything to eat,” said Abu Karam, a father of nine who sold one of his children for US$60,000. “We sold our child to a foreign family because they paid very well, and he’ll have a good life there. In the meantime, the other children will have some thing to eat.”

UNICEF has begun discussions with the ministries of labour and social affairs to address the issue. “The protracted and escalating civil unrest in Iraq is having an extremely adverse impact on Iraqi civilians,” said UNICEF-Iraq Child Protection Officer Patrizia Di Giovanni. “On a daily basis, Iraqi children are directly and indirectly affected by ongoing violence.”


Turkey celebrates 85th Anniversary of Republic Day

Turkey became a republic on October 29, 1923.

This formally declared the dissolution of Ottoman Empire; and Turkish State became a republic under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Republic Day is celebrated across Turkey every year with formal ceremonies.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Turkish army launches air operation against PKK bases in northern Iraq

Turkish warplanes bombed Tuesday terror organization PKK positions in northern Iraq with the backing of artillery fire from Turkey, the army said in a statement posted on its website. (UPDATED)

The jets struck PKK targets in the Hakurk, Avasin-Basyan and Zap regions in northern Iraq, the statement said.

"The planes returned safely to base after successfully completing their mission," it added.

Turkey, provided with intelligence by the United States, has stepped up its campaign to crackdown on the PKK both inside Turkey and in northern Iraq, after the terror organization increased its attacks on Turkish soldiers, as well as civilians.

OIL FOR SOIL: A Grand Bargain on Iraq and the Kurds


Oil for Soil: A Grand Bargain on Iraq and the Kurds

Kirkuk/Brussels, 28 October 2008: Rising acrimony over disputed territories will undermine still fragile progress in Iraq unless a package deal is reached over oil, revenue sharing, federalism and the constitution.

Oil for Soil: Toward a Grand Bargain on Iraq and the Kurds,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, offers a bold proposal for resolving the long-festering conflict over Kirkuk and other disputed territories that threatens to disrupt Iraq’s relative peace.

“In its ethnically-driven intensity and its ability to drag in regional players such as Turkey and Iran, the Kirkuk issue can have a devastating impact on efforts to rebuild a fragmented state”, says Joost Hiltermann, Crisis Group’s Middle East Deputy Program Director. “This conflict potentially matches or even exceeds the Sunni-Shiite divide that spawned the 2005-2007 sectarian war”.

Despite some progress, Iraq’s legislative agenda is bogged down primarily by a dispute over territories claimed by the Kurds as historically belonging to them – territories that contain as much as 13 per cent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves. Stymied in their quest to incorporate these territories into the Kurdistan region by constitutional means, due mainly to the suspicions of Iraq’s Arab majority that their real goal is independence, Kurdish leaders have signalled their intent to hold politics in Baghdad hostage. At the same time, the Iraqi government’s growing military assertiveness is challenging the Kurds’ de facto control over the territories.

The current piecemeal approach should be discarded in favour of a grand bargain involving all core issues: Kirkuk and other disputed territories, revenue-sharing and the hydrocarbons law, as well as federalism and constitutional revisions. A sober assessment of all sides’ core requirements suggests a possible package deal around an “oil-for-soil” trade-off: in exchange for at least deferring their exclusive claim on Kirkuk for a decade, the Kurds would obtain demarcation and security guarantees for their internal boundary with the rest of Iraq, as well as the right to manage and profit from their own mineral wealth.

This package demands painful concessions from all sides, which they are unlikely to make without strong international involvement. The UN mission (UNAMI) will need stronger backing from the U.S. and its allies. Washington should make it a priority to steer politicians toward the grand bargain, while securing it through political, financial and diplomatic support.

“There is little time to waste. As U.S. forces are set to draw down, Washington’s leverage will diminish, as will chances for a workable deal”, warns Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East & North Africa Program Director. “The likeliest alternative is a new outbreak of violent strife over unsettled claims in a fragmented polity governed by chaos and fear”.

Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels) +32 (0) 2 541 1635Kimberly Abbott (Washington) +1 202 785 1601To contact Crisis Group media please click here*Read the full Crisis Group report on our website:

The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation covering some 60 crisis-affected countries and territories across four continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.

Sunday, 26 October 2008



We demand that the Government kick the US invader out of Iraq!

Kurds behind violence against Assyrians in Mosul: Iraqi MP

GMT 10-25-2008

Baghdad (AINA) -- Iraqi Parliament member Osama Al Najifi said to the Iraq News Agency on Saturday that Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki has confirmed that Kurdish political parties are carrying out the violence against Mosul's Assyrian community (AINA 10-16-2008).

"The prime minister showed me a document which he said proves the involvement of Kurdish militias in threats and killings against the Christian Assyrians in Mosul," stated Al Najifi, and said the prime minister told him "Your accusations against the Kurds have proven true." He notified the Iraqi News Agency that the committee charged with investigating the attacks on Assyrians in Mosul has clear proof of Kurdish involvement.

Al Najifi joined Assyrian MP Yonadam Kanna in calling for second Army Unit in Mosul -- composed mostly of Kurds -- to be replaced (AINA 10-24-2008). On October 19 Yonadam Kanna, a native of northern Iraq, said 90% of the attacks occurred in the areas which are under the control of the second army unit in Mosul.

Nuri Al Maliki hinted at Kurdish involvement earlier in the week when his office issued a statement on the events in Mosul, saying "political interests are behind what has taken place" (AINA 10-24-2008). The Iraqi parliament is expected to disclose the results of the investigation committee during the coming week.

Copyright (C) 2008, Assyrian International News Agency.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Les Bardes d'Asie Centrale

Tawus Annamyradova voix et dotar Turkménistan

Uljan Baïbusynova, Ardak Issatayeva voix et dombra Kazakhstan

Nodira Pirmatova voix et dotâr Ouzbekistan

Zalina Kasymova kyl qiyak, komuz, guimbardes Kirghizstan

le samedi 15 novembre à 17h

Du Kazakhstan à l'Ouzbékistan, cinq jeunes femmes offriront un parcours musical au cœur de l’Asie Centrale.
Cinq divas aux voix d’or qui, issues de la vie nomade, ont parcouru steppes et montagnes avant de se sédentariser. À la ville, elles ont transporté les épopées et traditions musicales dont elles sont héritières. S’accompagnant des instruments à deux ou trois cordes emblématiques de leur pays, elles offriront un florilège des chants classiques ou populaires des bardes et chamanes.
L’occasion de goûter des répertoires très variés, dans la pure tradition ou revitalisés par la jeunesse d’une nouvelle génération.

Jacqueline Magnier

Pour en savoir plus :

télécharger le fichier PDF (112 Ko)

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

A private Turkish University opens in northern Iraq

As relations normalize between Turkey and the Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq, Turkey has followed in the footsteps of the US, France and Lebanon in establishing a university there.

Diplomatic relations between Ankara and Arbil, the capital of the northern Iraqi administration, were almost frozen after the foundation of the regional Kurdish government there and Massoud Barzani's election as its president. Recently the relations have seen a period of thaw, and some of the walls between the two parties have been brought down, Barzani explained yesterday after his meeting with Turkey's special envoy to Iraq, Murat Özçelik.

Ankara emphasizes the importance of "silent diplomacy" with the Kurdish administration in this regard.

Along with the breaking down of walls has come the building of bridges between Turkey and its northern Iraqi neighbors. Ishik University, newly opened by the Turkish Fezalar Educational Co. in Arbil, is one of those bridges. Fezalar has been active in education in the region for 14 years and has 10 schools in Arbil, Sulaimaniya and Kirkuk. The university is now accepting student registration, and classes will begin in mid-November.

The idea to open a university came from the families of students who had attended other Fezalar schools, said Talip Büyük, the corporation’s general manager, at a press conference on Tuesday in Arbil. “We have had 788 students graduate from our schools, and for a few years the families have been strongly encouraging us to open a university,” he added.

Eventually Fezalar decided to raise the topic with the Kurdish administration’s education officials, who backed the proposal. During the press conference Büyük spoke of the success of the Fezalar schools and noted that Fezalar students won medals at several international intramural scientific competitions.

Local Kurdish media showed great interest during the press conference and in particular asked whether the university’s opening would contribute to improving relations with Turkey. In response, Büyük emphasized that the institution’s aim was to focus on scientific educational and success. His words were echoed by Professor Salih Hoşoğlu, chosen to be the university rector, who said that their main mission was to educate students at world standards.

“We are pleased with the success of all Fezalar schools and believe that Ishik University will also be successful,” said Himdad A. Muhammad, the Kurdish regional administration’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research director of private education. As for relations with Turkey, he said: “These are political issues and we are dealing with scientific studies and education. But we are happy with the latest developments. We hope the opening of this university will contribute to the improvement of relations.”

University to open with four departments

The university will have four departments: dentistry, engineering, economics, and administrative sciences and education. Rector Hoşoğlu explained that there would be English preparatory classes to fulfill the requirement that foreign universities in northern Iraq offer education in English. “Demand from students to enroll at Ishik is high, and we need to open evening programs to meet it,” Büyük said, mentioning also that the university would only be accepting students with the highest scores on the ministerial higher education entrance exam.

22 October 2008, Wednesday

Draft Agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi Administrations

AFSC has posted the latest draft agreement between the U.S.
and Iraqi administrations (in English):

World Commission for the Solidarity with the Iraqi War Prisoners

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Press Release
The World Commission for the Solidarity with POWs and detainees in Iraq (WCSPD) will be holding a press conference in Brussels-Belgium, Tuesday November 4th, at 10:30 a.m.

The following Iraqi intellectuals and activists will participate & speak at the press conference:

Mr. Abdul-Jabbar Suleiman Al-Kubaisy
Mr. Qais Mohammed Al-Nori
Mr. Ahmed Karim
Mr. Sobhi Toma
Mr. Baqir Al-Sarraf
Mr. Awni Al-Qalamchi
Mr. Saad Kiryakos

During the conference films and documents will be showing to reveal the brutal practices of the American occupation authorities and the practices of the Vichy-like Iraqi government security apparatuses.

Also, the participants will unveil the hideous torturing methods to which the Iraqi POWs and detainees are subjected to.

The conference will be held at:

International Press Center
Résidence Palace
Rue de la Loi 155
1040 Brussels
Tel. 022352102

* The World Commission for the solidarity with the Iraqi war prisoners & detainees in prisons and detention Centers in the occupied Iraq- WCSPD

Monday, 20 October 2008

EU Agency to examine PKK's drug trade connections

The European Union has long known that the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is involved in the drug trade to finance its terrorist operations, but the union is only now beginning to investigate in full detail the connections the terrorist organization has with the international drug trade.

The EU's European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is setting up a unit to investigate the PKK's drug trade activities in the southeastern town of Gaziantep, due to this town's proximity to the actual narcotics routes of the PKK.

The EMCDDA, which recently reviewed in-depth reports submitted to it by Turkey's parliamentary commission on narcotics research, decided to act, EMCDDA head of unit Alexis Goosdeel announced last week during a visit to Turkey. The commission's report included claims that there are various narcotics available for sale in front of Gaziantep schools for as low as YTL 5 and that Gaziantep housewives hand out various drugs when they visit each other's homes.

Goosdeel, who came together with members of the commission on narcotics research Thursday, stated here that Turkey has very recently signed all protocols necessary for the completion of its membership in EMCDDA, which he hoped would be ratified by Parliament soon. Once the protocol gets Parliament's approval, Turkey will be receiving 100,000 euros from the EU annually for use in the fight against the drug trade.

Speaking on the details of the Gaziantep project, Goosdeel said: "We have had a series of meetings with academics and experts to develop a national drugs report for Turkey. In the upcoming days, we will have another meeting on how we can collect data on drug treatment and substance demand indicators. We will first do research on addicts in Gaziantep and compile communicable disease figures among drug users. I have already signed the papers for this study."

Goosdeel also assured commission members that there was no data tying substance abuse surveys in schools to increases in student interest in illegal narcotics, known as "the boomerang effect." He said similar surveys have been conducted by EMCDDA in 38 other countries, with no finding supporting the idea that answering surveys on drug use could encourage substance abuse amongst youth.

In response to deputies' questions on the softer policies assumed by some European countries toward the PKK, a major drug organization in the region, Goosdeel stated that those countries have to assume a more effective stance against the PKK.

"Unfortunately, such organizations do not know any boundaries when it comes to crime. It is possible to see such examples in other places. Unfortunately, there is such a problem [of some EU countries covertly protecting the PKK] this should be reviewed carefully, given the PKK's drug trade activity. Everyone should fight such organizations with sincerity," he said.

Iraq Veterans Against the War protest on 15th Oct 2008

To watch the video please click on:

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Private Military Contractors Writing the News?

The Pentagon's Propaganda at Its Worst

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet

Posted on October 17, 2008,
Printed on October 19, 2008

Less than a week after the Washington Post reported that the Department of Defense will pay private contractors $300 million over the next three years to "produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to 'engage and inspire' the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government," Virginia Sen. Jim Webb wrote a strongly worded letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. "I have serious reservations about the need for this expenditure in today's political and economic environment," he wrote. "Consequently, I am asking that you put these contracts on hold until the Armed Services Committee and the next administration can review the entire issue of U.S. propaganda efforts inside Iraq."

Such a review, if it were to happen, would be a formidable undertaking, one that would have to start with the declaration of the "War on Terror" itself. It's a project the Bush administration has always approached as a PR campaign as much as a military one. Who can forget former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card's explanation for the need to introduce the Iraq War to Americans in September: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." And remember the short-lived attempt by administration officials to re-brand the "War on Terror" by renaming it the "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism"? (Reports at the time were that administration officials worried that the original phrase "may have outlived its usefulness," due to its sole focus on military might.)

Regardless of what you call it, the so-called "War on Terror" has cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in propaganda costs alone. As with so much of modern war-making, most of this work is carried out by private military contractors. With the word "Halliburton" now shorthand for waste, fraud and abuse for many Americans, taxpayers' tolerance for war profiteering has reached new lows -- especially when private military companies operating with no oversight undermine the very "hearts and minds" that mission propaganda is supposedly meant to advance.

Selling the War to Americans
Perhaps one of the Bush administration's most egregious PR undertakings in the war on Iraq was revealed this spring, when the New York Times blew the lid off the Pentagon's military analyst program, in which more than 75 retired military officials were recruited to spout pro-war rhetoric on major networks in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. These "message force multipliers," as they were branded, were provided with thousands of talking points by the Department of Defense starting in 2002.

In one memo, dated Dec. 9, 2002 and titled "Department of Defense Themes and Talking Points on Iraq," a quote from Paul Wolfowitz -- "We cannot allow one of the world's most murderous dictators to provide terrorists a sanctuary in Iraq" -- was followed with a bullet point: "Saddam Hussein: A Global Threat."

The investigative piece by the Times said the project "continues to this day," seeking to "exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air."
"Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks."

It would be hard to overstate the implications of such a program, particularly for a country that claims to be a beacon of democracy.

Although the Pentagon was said to have suspended its PR briefings of retired military officials shortly after the Times story broke, since claiming that its inspector general is conducting an investigation, in reality there has been precious little fallout. However, in one promising move, earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission sent five letters of inquiry to TV military analysts in an apparent probing of the program. According to one report, "at issue is that some of them were also linked to Pentagon contracts, raising the issue of conflict of interest.

In its letter signed by the chief of the investigations and hearings division enforcement bureau, the FCC suggests that TV stations and networks may have violated two sections of the Communications Act of 1934 by not identifying the ties to the Pentagon that their military analysts had." Diane Farsetta at PR Watch, who has written extensively on the Pentagon's pundits, particularly their work on behalf of defense contractors, says, "the good news is that that's (a first) step toward conducting an investigation."

Profiting off the "War of Ideas"
Beyond the Pentagon's pundit "scandal," the fact that propaganda contracts continue to be awarded to the very companies that have previously been implicated in ethical breaches for disseminating unattributed U.S. propaganda abroad is reason enough to renew alarm. More than the dollar amount, what is outrageous to Farsetta about the most recent propaganda contract is that it is "blatantly illegal." "If you look at this most recent contract," she explains, "one of the 'strategic audiences' is U.S. audiences." According to federal law going back to World War II, she says "no taxpayer money can go to propagandize U.S. audiences."

The Washington Post story describes the contract as the latest in a series of cutting-edge PR initiatives undertaken since 2003 that represent a revolution in what it calls "the military's role in the war of ideas." "Iraq, where hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on such contracts, has been the proving ground for the transformation."

"The tools they're using, the means, the robustness of this activity has just skyrocketed since 2003. In the past, a lot of this stuff was just some guy's dreams,'" said a senior U.S. military official, one of several who discussed the sensitive defense program on the condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon still sometimes feels it is playing catch-up in a propaganda market dominated by al Qaeda, whose media operations include sophisticated Web sites and professionally produced videos and audios featuring Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants. "We're being out-communicated by a guy in a cave," Secretary Robert M. Gates often remarks.

The new contract was awarded to four companies, most of whom Farsetta refers to as "the usual suspects," including Lincoln Group, the Pennsylvania Avenue company that in 2005 was found to have planted articles written by U.S. military officials in Iraqi newspapers without attribution. (Although the group was cleared of any illegalities, even then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recognized the potential breach, remarking, "Gee, that's not what we ought to be doing."

Selling the War to Iraqis

The main target audience for the $300 million contract is Iraqis. But, different from earlier propaganda efforts, the content is not simply meant to convince them of the noble intentions of their American occupiers. "Originally, the major focus was all about the U.S.," says Farsetta. "The message then was, 'Hey, you're free now,' but over time it has shifted to more 'make sure you support your own government, your own police.'"

Indeed, the Washington Post quoted an unnamed official who described one component of the program:

"There's a video piece produced by a contractor showing a family being attacked by a group of bad guys, and their daughter being taken off. The message is: You've got to stand up against the enemy." The professionally produced vignette, he said, "is offered for airing on various (television) stations in Iraq. They don't know that the originator of the content is the U.S. government. If they did, they would never run anything.

"If you asked most Iraqis," he said, "they would say, 'It came from the government, our own government.'"

A pretty blunt admission, to be sure, and one that lays bare the dubious ethical nature of the program (not to mention the extent that the military recognizes Iraqis' antipathy for the U.S. government).

But it's not the first time the U.S. government has sought to play hand puppet with Iraqi media. Last spring, the NSA obtained and made public a document, along with a PowerPoint presentation, that revealed the Pentagon's plans in the run-up to the war to create a "Rapid Reaction Media Team." Jim Lobe, D.C. bureau chief of InterPress Services, covered the revelation in May 2007; as he wrote, the proposal was for a "six-month, $51 million budget for the RRMT operation, apparently the first phase in a one- to two-year 'strategic information campaign'":

Among other items, the budget called for the hiring of two U.S. ''media consultants'' who were to be paid $140,000 each for six months' work. A further $800,000 were to be paid for six Iraqi "media consultants" over the same period.

Both the paper and the slide presentation were prepared by two Pentagon offices -- Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, which, among other things, specialize in psychological warfare, and the Office of Special Plans under then undersecretary of defense for policy, Douglas Feith -- in mid-January, 2003, two months before the invasion, according to NSA analyst Joyce Battle.

''The RRMT concept focuses on USG-UK pre- and post-hostilities efforts to develop programming, train talent, and rapidly deploy a team of U.S./UK media experts with a team of 'hand selected' Iraqi media experts to communicate immediately with the Iraqi public opinion upon liberation of Iraq,'' according to the paper.

The ''hand-picked'' Iraqi experts, according to the paper, would provide planning and program guidance for the U.S. experts and help ''select and train the Iraqi broadcasters and publishers ('the face') for the USG/coalition sponsored information effort.'' USG is an abbreviation for U.S. government.

In a rather extraordinary quote, the document boasted, ''It will be as if, after another day of deadly agit-prop, the North Korean people turned off their TVs at night, and turned them on in the morning to find the rich fare of South Korean TV spread before them as their very own."

Circumventing Congress
In the United States, few lawmakers have had a chance to scrutinize this latest deployment of public funds for propaganda. (Like so many other contracts awarded to private defense corporations, this one was awarded with no Congressional approval.) But Webb's letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggests that it could become an issue.

At a time when this country is facing such a grave economic crisis, and at a time when the government of Iraq now shows at least a $79 billion surplus from recent oil revenues, in my view it makes little sense for the U.S. Department of Defense to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars to propagandize the Iraqi people. There is now an elected government in Iraq, which is recognized to have the power and authority to negotiate a long-term security agreement with the government of the United States. Clearly that government is capable, both politically and financially, of communicating with its own people in the manner now contemplated by these DOD contracts -- and without being accused by adversaries of being a foreign government that is fulminating internal conditions through propaganda.

Laudable as his efforts to reign in contractors may be -- much of Webb's letter was devoted to military contractors more generally, and Blackwater specifically -- his letter made no mention of the myriad ethical questions raised by the propaganda contract. To name a few, says Farsetta, "the fact that the media produced is overwhelmingly not attributed to the U.S. government;" "the fact that one of the 'strategic audiences' listed in the contract is 'U.S. audiences,' in apparent violation of U.S. law;" and "the difficulties in holding private contractors operating in war zones accountable to any standard (ethical, performance or otherwise)."

Webb, who first learned about this contract as did most Americans, from the Washington Post, has called for a thorough review of the Pentagon's "strategic communications" initiatives, including Congressional hearings." Were this to happen, says Farsetta, "I would love for those hearings to include representatives from foreign governments and civil society groups where the U.S. has major propaganda operations, including Iraq and Afghanistan. The heads of firms like the Lincoln Group, L-3 and Rendon should also testify, under oath."

But, she says, "What really bothers me is that Webb's using the "we've given Iraq so much and now it's time for them to step up" argument. That argument never fails to amaze and anger me.

We bombed them in 1991, then for more than a decade placed them under such devastating sanctions that hundreds of thousands of children died, then bombed them more ferociously over a longer period of time. Yet some politicians have the gall to complain that the Iraqis aren't doing enough now? That's not to mention that the argument assumes that Iraqi leaders have the same priorities as U.S. officials. Personally, I say we need to get our propaganda and troops out of Iraq and pay them reparations."

The 'Ombudsman' was a creation of the Ottoman Empire

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn : the ombudsman was a creation of the Ottoman Empire.


Question to Mr. Olli Rehn: In your speech in İstanbul last week, you said the ombudsman was a creation of the Ottoman Empire.

Yes, this is correct. The position was imported by the then Swedish King Charles the XII in the 18th century, in 1713, after he spent some time in Turkey. He recognized this Ottoman institution and imported it to Sweden, where it became one part of the very strong constitutional state and the legal tradition of Sweden. My country was then a part of Sweden so I know it also through this background. After centuries of development, it came to its current state. For instance, the European Union has an ombudsman for affairs related to the European Union. In Turkey, I would see that it could certainly strengthen citizen rights and facilitate better coexistence of different lifestyles in the spirit of democratic secularism.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Thousands of followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada Al Sadr demonstrate against US occupation

Baghdad: Thousands of followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada Al Sadr took to the streets on Saturday in a demonstration against a pact that would allow US forces to stay in Iraq for three more years.

At the demonstration across town, marchers waved Iraqi flags and chanted "Yes, yes Iraq! No, no to the occupation!"
A white-turbaned cleric read out what he described as a letter from Al Sadr calling on parliament to vote down the pact.

"I reject and condemn the continuation of the presence of the occupation force, and its bases on our beloved land," the letter said, calling the pact "shameful for Iraq".
Marchers set fire to a US flag.

Thousands of Iraqis are marching against US Occupation

Thousands of people are marching in Baghdad this Saturday to protest a proposed
U.S.-Iraqi security agreement that would extend the presence of U.S. troops in the
country after the end of the year.
Protesters shout:

"End the U.S. occupation of Iraq!"

'No, no, America!'"




Friday, 17 October 2008

Kurdish suspects arrested for attacks on Assyrians in Mosul

Six Arrested for Attacks on Assyrian in Mosul
GMT 10-17-2008

Assyrian International News Agency

Mosul (AINA) -- A spokesman for Iraq's defense ministry confirmed on Friday the capture of six men suspected of perpetrating attacks on the Assyrians in Mosul. Sources have told AINA that four suspects are residents of the Kurdish region and are affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (headed by Massoud Barazani) in northern Iraq, as shown by their ID cards. The affiliations of the two other suspected is not yet known. American forces in Mosul declined to comment on the arrests.

The number of Assyrians driven out of Mosul in the past two weeks has risen to 15,000, or about 2500 families (AINA 10-16-2008). Threats, intimidation and murder by unidentified groups have instilled fear and panic in the Christian Assyrian community, causing a massive exodus into the Assyrian villages in the Nineveh Plain. Thirteen Assyrians have been killed in the past four weeks. At least three Assyrians homes were bombed on Saturday. Letters have been left instructing the Assyrians to leave the city immediately or face reprisal.

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) issued a formal condemnation on Wednesday on the attacks against the Assyrians and rejected accusations it has any involvement. Several observers in Iraq have accused the Kurds of carrying out the attacks in Mosul for political reasons ahead of coming elections (AINA 10-17-2008).

The Nineveh Plain area, east of Mosul, is heavily populated by Assyrians and other non Muslim, non Kurdish minorities. The KRG has announced it wants to annex the Nineveh Plain as well as other parts of the Nineveh province.

Cholera disease spreading to the north of Iraq

IRAQ: Cholera deaths rise to eight as disease spreads
15 Oct 2008 09:39:40 GMT 15 Oct 2008

BAGHDAD, 15 October 2008 (IRIN) - About 500 confirmed cholera cases have been registered in Iraq since the latest outbreak of the disease on 20 August. Eight people have died, a government spokesman said on 14 October.

"So far there have been 479 cases in 12 provinces: Babil 230 cases, Baghdad 73, Diwaniyah 61, Basra 50, Karbala 39, Najaf nine, Anbar eight, Maysan three, Arbil two, Samawa two, Kut one and Diyala one," said Ihsan Jaafar, director-general of the public health directorate and a spokesman for the ministry's cholera control unit.

Jaafar told IRIN cholera-related deaths had reached eight, with two new death cases in Qadissiyah and Babil provinces south of Baghdad.

Those who have died of the disease are a 10-year-old girl, a 61-year-old man, a child over five in Babil Province, two children under five in Qadissiyah Province; a three-year-old boy in Maysan; and an adult and a child in Baghdad.

Spreading north?

There is evidence of the disease spreading north: two cases were confirmed in Arbil, a city some 350km north of Baghdad. The disease was previously confined to central and southern Iraq.

"We are continuing to intensify our measures in all fields such as raising awareness among residents, and monitoring restaurants and food and drinks-related factories and stores; we have already closed a number of them and destroyed tonnes of material," Jaafar said.

According to Richard Finkelstein, co-author of Medical Microbiology, cholera occurs primarily during the summer months, possibly reflecting the increased presence of the organism in rivers and lakes during these months, as well as the enhanced opportunity for it to multiply in unrefrigerated foods.

The Iraqi Health Ministry and the World Health Organization have blamed the country's rundown water and sanitation infrastructure for the outbreak.

Cholera is a gastro-intestinal disease typically spread by contaminated water. It can cause severe diarrhoea, which in extreme cases can lead to fatal dehydration. Treating drinking water with chlorine and improving hygiene conditions can prevent the disease.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

About that budget surplus in Iraq...

Severns Guntzel, Electronic Iraq,
Oct 14, 2008

We've heard a lot about Iraq's $79 billion budget surplus--which always seems to raise eyebrows but never the question: how exactly has Iraq found itself with a surplus? Iraq's Finance Minister explains. This is from a United Press International report:

Speaking with the Council on Foreign Relations, Iraqi Finance Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh said August reports of a budget surplus of as much as $79 billion through 2008 fail to take into account the true nature of the Iraqi financial system."The surplus or the excess in money that people talk about is money that was not spent (in August)," he said. "We are spending it now through the budget process."

The minister said the budget surplus is at the Iraqi Central Bank and not the development fund for reconstruction in New York. Solagh said the Central Bank deposits, which total no more than $30 billion, are used to back the Iraqi currency."It is not surplus; it is the federal reserve," he said. "It is the reserve of Iraq. That means we cannot have a fixed currency without it."

Association of Muslim Scholars issues fatwa prohibiting long-term pact

October 13, 2008
BAGHDAD / Aswat al-Iraq:

The Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS – Sunni organization) on Monday issued a fatwa prohibiting signing the long-term Iraqi-U.S. security agreement, accusing governmental officials and lawmakers who would approve it of betrayal, according to a release issued by the association.

“The long-term security pact between Iraq and the U.S. administration occupying the country, if it is signed, is considered religiously prohibited and obsolete, and creates no commitments that Iraqis should abide by,” said the release that was received by Aswat al-Iraq.

“The Iraqi politicians who are in the executive (government) or legislative (parliament) authorities who would pass this treaty are considered careless regarding the interest of the Uma (Muslim’s nation), the prophet (Mohammed) and Muslim Iraqis and others,” it said.

“This agreement includes concessions made by Iraqis, government and people, in all directions to their enemies, the American occupiers and their allies,” it added.

“It also embraces a military alliance with an occupying non-Muslim country; therefore it is religiously prohibited and obsolete,” it noted.

“In Islam, Muslims are not allowed to form military alliances with non-Muslims to battle Muslims,” it asserted.


Monday, 13 October 2008

Kurdish groups behind attacks on Assyrians in Mosul: Iraqi MP

GMT 10-12-2008 Assyrian International News Agency
Baghdad (AINA) -- Osama Al Najifi, a member of Iraq's parliament, told the Iraqi Independent Press Agency on Sunday he holds the Iraqi government responsible for what is happening to the Assyrian Christians in Mosul, and accused the "Kurdish militias" for carrying out the acts of ethnic cleansing.

Al Najifi, a native of Mosul, claimed the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Kurdish Asayesh intelligence service are carrying out the attacks under the cover of the Iraqi military.

He pointed out the military forces in Mosul are completely infiltrated by the Kurdish militia. Al Najifi said the Kurds carry out the attacks against the minority groups in order to Kurdify the city and change its demographic balance.

Osama Al Najifi is a Sunni Arab and has a long record of defending the rights of the minorities in the Iraqi parliament.

He emphasized that the Kurdish parties have had de facto control over Mosul for more than one year and are trying to control the city and change its demographic identity to serve Kurdish interests.

Al Najifi also blamed the Iraqi government for being absent from Mosul, accusing the "big parliamentary groups" of making political agreements which are preventing the national government from having control over the province of Nineveh and its provincial capital Mosul.

PKK claims deadly attack on police bus in Turkey

The terror organization, PKK, claimed responsibility Sunday for a machine-gun attack on a police bus in southeastern Turkey last week that claimed five lives.

Wednesday's attack in southeastern province of Diyarbakir was a "successful action" by the PKK terrorists, AFP quoted a statement posted on the terrorist organization's web site as saying.
The police bus came under fire just as parliament in Ankara extended by a year the government's mandate to order cross-border military action against PKK hideouts in neighboring northern Iraq.

The police have detained nine people in connection with the incident, among them three alleged PKK terrorists believed to have taken part in the attack.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

The Anti-Muslim Smear Machine Strikes Again?

by Isabel Macdonald

October 11, 2008
In the midst of remarkably cynical election-time mud-slinging, the Obsession campaign is truly in a class of its own.

Over the past weeks, 28 million copies of the anti-Muslim propaganda film Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West have been delivered to the doors of newspaper subscribers in swing states.
The 2006 documentary, which has been a mainstay of David Horowitz's "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week," describes "radical Islam" as a menace comparable to Adolf Hitler that, according to the film's website, "is threatening, with all the means at its disposal, to bow Western civilization under the yoke of its values."

For the groups behind the film's distribution, the goal seems pretty clear: Scare the holy hell out of millions of voters in swing states about a possible Muslim takeover of the U.S. It's hard to see the targeting of electoral battlegrounds as anything other than an attempt to help John McCain get elected--perhaps by capitalizing on the widespread whispering campaign that Obama is a "secret Muslim."

And one has to admit that the Obsession campaign's marketing plan has been quite slick. After all, what better way to disseminate hate propaganda than under the unassuming guise of a documentary film delivered in Americans' daily newspapers? A plan that, sadly, many newspapers were all too happy to go along with for the sake of corporate profits.
While a handful of newspapers--the Greensboro, N.C., News & Record, the Detroit Free Press, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch--have taken the ethical stance of refusing to carry the DVD (the News & Record called it "fear-mongering and divisive"), some 70 papers, including the New York Times, have delivered it to their subscribers as a paid advertising supplement.

There has really just been one small glitch in the plan: The public doesn't seem to be buying it.
Newspapers that carried the DVD have faced floods of complaints from readers, and the past week has seen protests and press conferences denouncing the film.

The problem, it would appear, is that many readers simply do not accept the notion their newspaper should provide a cover for hate propaganda.
As one Durham, N.C., News & Observer reader put it, "I cannot believe that I was sent the hate-inflaming, fear-mongering video disk Obsession in my newspaper! What will you enclose next? KKK robes?"

The public, it turns out, is a much a tougher sell than the corporate media. Major corporate media outlets have for years been citing the anti-Muslim pundits featured in Obsession as "experts."

For example: Steve Emerson has been invited regularly on NBC and described as an "anti-terror expert," despite the fact his research has been repudiated many times over. This is an "expert" who initially blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on Middle Eastern terrorists, and who is now going around claiming that the Bush State Department is collaborating with extremists.

And then there's Daniel Pipes. While he's repeatedly been cited by the media as an "expert" on Islam and the Middle East, he has warned that "the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims" entail "true dangers" for American Jews, and led a witch hunt against a public school official who was slated to run an Arabic-language charter school in New York City.

Just a month before a critical election, there are no signs that the anti-Muslim mud-slinging campaign is going away. In fact, the secretive nonprofit called the Clarion Fund behind the Obsession campaign just came out with a brand new DVD, The Third Jihad, featuring Mark Steyn--who, as FAIR's new report documents, has warned of the "demographic decline" posed by Europe's emerging Muslim population, and suggests there are lessons for Europeans in the Balkan example of ethnic cleansing.

You can read all about Emerson, Pipes and Steyn in a new report that's just been released called "Smearcasting: How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry and Misinformation" . The report profiles 12 top anti-Muslim pundits, including prominent talkshow hosts Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

The media's long record of failing to challenge (and often enabling) anti-Muslim smears should leave us quite worried about how this final leg of election '08 will play out: Will the media continue to provide a platform to the anti-Muslim smear machine, or will they uphold standards of responsible journalism?

Isabel Macdonald is Communications Director for FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting)

Former German MP slams US Iraq occupation

Jürgen Todenhofer
German writer

Mon, 06 Oct 2008 10:59:45 GMT

Former member of the German parliament Jurgen Todenhofer has criticized the Iraq war and claims that the US manipulates the media to its benefit.
Dr. Todenhofer, who traveled the world to Iraq last year, is the author of two bestseller about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In his latest book “Why Do You Kill, Zaid?” the author tells the story of a young man who joins resistance groups after US military forces arrest and murder his brother.

Todenhofer's book is an attempt to shed light on the other side of the story of the Iraq war. It reports how Iraqi people talk about the war, when there are no heavily-armed US soldiers in the vicinity. The author also raises doubts about official figures on civilian casualties in Iraq. Todenh0fer suggests the figure could be even as high as 200 casualties every day.

Todenhofer claims that the Pentagon prevents journalists from entering conflict areas and says that if the true face of the US military presence in Iraq were to be revealed, the majority of the world would support Iraq's militants against the occupation.

Earlier this year, the 67-year-old German writer bought three full pages in the New York Times in an attempt to educate Americans about the conflicts that their government manufactures around the world. "Why do you kill, Zaid?" attempts to give a fresh perspective on the Muslim world and reveal the true nature of the devastating and costly US endeavor in Iraq.

The royalties from the book will be donated to a children's home in Afghanistan and a hospital for children in Congo.

Friday, 10 October 2008


HEYET Net – In the press statement numbered 581 General Secretariat of AMSI clarified that these actions are not approved by Islam and its tolerant teachings as it is also incompatible with national unity.

The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI) asserted that those suspicious publications made Iraqis in certain times to be cautious on the parties and others who want to create chaos and disrupt the conditions for influential parties in the region associated with the occupation, its presence.

At the statement AMSI announced that: “unfortunate news about the dropping mentioned leaflets to the region where Christian citizens live in Mosul City was including a threat to their existence and remaining them to choose three orders: Islam or jizya or murder.

With our imaan (belief) such publications do not come from a genuine Iraqi resistance to the occupation and the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq announce the following:

First; such acts are not approved by the Islam and its tolerant teachings under which Muslims and other religions lived in tolerance, peace and security in the history of mankind. The minorities are under this umbrella. In contrary to this; today’s politician under the occupation violated minority rights, fully canceled the article in the legislation affecting them miserable, covers only those instincts as if this country is only for them.

Second; it is inconsistent with the requirements of true national unity sought by good seekers of our people to achieve, which took off seems clear, and like many of the evil guys to achieve.

Third; it is detrimental to the genuine Iraqi resistance and its liberation project. This resistance has limited this time to expel the occupation, to liberate Iraq from its clutches and followers.

Fourth; these suspicious publications are used to made, at certain times and drops the other, to create chaos, confusion and conditions for the influential parties in the region, linked to the occupation, its presence or absence.

In any case, the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq keeps itself away from those who stand behind these publications, from whichever sides they were, and whatever pretext they invoked.

Finally, AMSI requests our dear Christian citizens to not weaken their moral and national position before such desperate attempts, although they were hardier and closer to their country.
AMSI prays Allah Almighty to expel the enemies of Iraqis and their deception…Indeed He is the best listener…
AMSI General Secretariat
8 Shawwal 1429 / 7 October 2008

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Idea of a Jewish people invented, says historian

Israeli Bestseller Breaks National Taboo

Idea of a Jewish people invented, says historian
by Jonathan Cook
"No one is more surprised than Shlomo Sand that his latest academic work has spent 19 weeks on Israel's bestseller list – and that success has come to the history professor despite his book challenging Israel's biggest taboo.
Dr. Sand argues that the idea of a Jewish nation – whose need for a safe haven was originally used to justify the founding of the state of Israel – is a myth invented little more than a century ago.

An expert on European history at Tel Aviv University, Dr. Sand drew on extensive historical and archaeological research to support not only this claim but several more – all equally controversial.

In addition, he argues that the Jews were never exiled from the Holy Land, that most of today's Jews have no historical connection to the land called Israel and that the only political solution to the country's conflict with the Palestinians is to abolish the Jewish state.
The success of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? looks likely to be repeated around the world. A French edition, launched last month, is selling so fast that it has already had three print runs........

The problem with the teaching of history in Israel, Dr. Sand said, dates to a decision in the 1930s to separate history into two disciplines: general history and Jewish history. Jewish history was assumed to need its own field of study because Jewish experience was considered unique."There's no Jewish department of politics or sociology at the universities. Only history is taught in this way, and it has allowed specialists in Jewish history to live in a very insular and conservative world where they are not touched by modern developments in historical research."

I've been criticized in Israel for writing about Jewish history when European history is my specialty. But a book like this needed a historian who is familiar with the standard concepts of historical inquiry used by academia in the rest of the world.""

A shattering moment in America's fall from power

The global financial crisis will see the US falter in the same way the Soviet Union did when the Berlin Wall came down. The era of American dominance is over

John Gray
The Observer,
Sunday September 28 2008

Article history
Our gaze might be on the markets melting down, but the upheaval we are experiencing is more than a financial crisis, however large. Here is a historic geopolitical shift, in which the balance of power in the world is being altered irrevocably. The era of American global leadership, reaching back to the Second World War, is over.

You can see it in the way America's dominion has slipped away in its own backyard, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez taunting and ridiculing the superpower with impunity. Yet the setback of America's standing at the global level is even more striking. With the nationalisation of crucial parts of the financial system, the American free-market creed has self-destructed while countries that retained overall control of markets have been vindicated. In a change as far-reaching in its implications as the fall of the Soviet Union, an entire model of government and the economy has collapsed.

Ever since the end of the Cold War, successive American administrations have lectured other countries on the necessity of sound finance. Indonesia, Thailand, Argentina and several African states endured severe cuts in spending and deep recessions as the price of aid from the International Monetary Fund, which enforced the American orthodoxy. China in particular was hectored relentlessly on the weakness of its banking system. But China's success has been based on its consistent contempt for Western advice and it is not Chinese banks that are currently going bust. How symbolic yesterday that Chinese astronauts take a spacewalk while the US Treasury Secretary is on his knees.

Despite incessantly urging other countries to adopt its way of doing business, America has always had one economic policy for itself and another for the rest of the world. Throughout the years in which the US was punishing countries that departed from fiscal prudence, it was borrowing on a colossal scale to finance tax cuts and fund its over-stretched military commitments. Now, with federal finances critically dependent on continuing large inflows of foreign capital, it will be the countries that spurned the American model of capitalism that will shape America's economic future.

Which version of the bail out of American financial institutions cobbled up by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is finally adopted is less important than what the bail out means for America's position in the world. The populist rant about greedy banks that is being loudly ventilated in Congress is a distraction from the true causes of the crisis. The dire condition of America's financial markets is the result of American banks operating in a free-for-all environment that these same American legislators created. It is America's political class that, by embracing the dangerously simplistic ideology of deregulation, has responsibility for the present mess.

In present circumstances, an unprecedented expansion of government is the only means of averting a market catastrophe. The consequence, however, will be that America will be even more starkly dependent on the world's new rising powers. The federal government is racking up even larger borrowings, which its creditors may rightly fear will never be repaid. It may well be tempted to inflate these debts away in a surge of inflation that would leave foreign investors with hefty losses. In these circumstances, will the governments of countries that buy large quantities of American bonds, China, the Gulf States and Russia, for example, be ready to continue supporting the dollar's role as the world's reserve currency? Or will these countries see this as an opportunity to tilt the balance of economic power further in their favour? Either way, the control of events is no longer in American hands.

The fate of empires is very often sealed by the interaction of war and debt. That was true of the British Empire, whose finances deteriorated from the First World War onwards, and of the Soviet Union. Defeat in Afghanistan and the economic burden of trying to respond to Reagan's technically flawed but politically extremely effective Star Wars programme were vital factors in triggering the Soviet collapse. Despite its insistent exceptionalism, America is no different. The Iraq War and the credit bubble have fatally undermined America's economic primacy. The US will continue to be the world's largest economy for a while longer, but it will be the new rising powers that, once the crisis is over, buy up what remains intact in the wreckage of America's financial system.

There has been a good deal of talk in recent weeks about imminent economic armageddon. In fact, this is far from being the end of capitalism. The frantic scrambling that is going on in Washington marks the passing of only one type of capitalism - the peculiar and highly unstable variety that has existed in America over the last 20 years. This experiment in financial laissez-faire has imploded.While the impact of the collapse will be felt everywhere, the market economies that resisted American-style deregulation will best weather the storm. Britain, which has turned itself into a gigantic hedge fund, but of a kind that lacks the ability to profit from a downturn, is likely to be especially badly hit.

The irony of the post-Cold War period is that the fall of communism was followed by the rise of another utopian ideology. In American and Britain, and to a lesser extent other Western countries, a type of market fundamentalism became the guiding philosophy. The collapse of American power that is underway is the predictable upshot. Like the Soviet collapse, it will have large geopolitical repercussions. An enfeebled economy cannot support America's over-extended military commitments for much longer. Retrenchment is inevitable and it is unlikely to be gradual or well planned.

Meltdowns on the scale we are seeing are not slow-motion events. They are swift and chaotic, with rapidly spreading side-effects. Consider Iraq. The success of the surge, which has been achieved by bribing the Sunnis, while acquiescing in ongoing ethnic cleansing, has produced a condition of relative peace in parts of the country. How long will this last, given that America's current level of expenditure on the war can no longer be sustained?

An American retreat from Iraq will leave Iran the regional victor. How will Saudi Arabia respond? Will military action to forestall Iran acquiring nuclear weapons be less or more likely? China's rulers have so far been silent during the unfolding crisis. Will America's weakness embolden them to assert China's power or will China continue its cautious policy of 'peaceful rise'? At present, none of these questions can be answered with any confidence. What is evident is that power is leaking from the US at an accelerating rate. Georgia showed Russia redrawing the geopolitical map, with America an impotent spectator.

Outside the US, most people have long accepted that the development of new economies that goes with globalisation will undermine America's central position in the world. They imagined that this would be a change in America's comparative standing, taking place incrementally over several decades or generations. Today, that looks an increasingly unrealistic assumption.
Having created the conditions that produced history's biggest bubble, America's political leaders appear unable to grasp the magnitude of the dangers the country now faces. Mired in their rancorous culture wars and squabbling among themselves, they seem oblivious to the fact that American global leadership is fast ebbing away. A new world is coming into being almost unnoticed, where America is only one of several great powers, facing an uncertain future it can no longer shape.

John Gray is the author of Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (Allen Lane)

The Turkmen of Erbil: Captives in their city

The Turkmen of Erbil: captives in their city

Iraqi Turkmen Human Rights Research Foundation

Date: October 08, 2008
No: Rep.28-J0808

William R. Hay, an English political officer, ruled the Erbil region from 1918 to 1920. He commented on the population of the city as follows:1

“The only two Turkish speaking populations which concern us closely are Erbil and Altun Kopri”. “One mahalla or quarter of the town (Erbil) is purely Kurdish, and in the rest the lower classes resemble the Kurds in appearance and dress. All can speak Kurdish fluently, but the language of their homes is Turkish. In the upper town which contains 6000 inhabitants, the purest Turkish element is found” “Starting from with the Nebi Yunus on the bank of the Tigris opposite Mosul, and running down through Erbil, Altun Kopri, Kerkuk, Kifri and Kizil Rabat to Mendeli we find a line of towns with Turkmen speaking inhabitants”

The Kurdish arrival to the region is portrayed by Hay on several occasions:2, 3

“Dizai tribe descended from the hills about 3 centuries ago, and occupied a few villages round Qush Tappah. In the middle half of the 19th century they started to expand, and rapidly covered the whole country up to Tigris. In the late 1920s, they constitute one third of the Erbil district population.” “It is reported that less than a century ago trees and shrubs were plentiful on the slopes of Qara Choq Dagh; when the Kurds came, however, they were quickly taken for fire woods and no trace of them now remains”

Today Erbil is a heavily populated city and has been declared capital of the Kurdish region. No less than one third of the city’s population is Turkmen. Under the aggressive hegemonic policy of Kurdish tribal parties, the Turkmen of Erbil are marginalized, intimidated and exposed to suppression and assimilation.

The Turkmen parties got only 2000 votes in the Iraqi general election in Erbil. Seats in the city council are shared between members of two Kurdish parties; the KHP & KUP. Policy dictates that appointment of governmental offices and positions are to be made to members of Kurdish political parties only, thus depriving the Turkmen who are not members of Kurdish parties from governmental posts. The estimated number of employees in Kurdish region is about a million.4

Turkmen are being discriminated against and are seldom appointed to hold governmental offices or in the university in Erbil. Those who want to be appointed must show allegiance to the Kurdish parties and support their party’s ideology.

In April 2005, Kurdish security agents broke in to Turkmen institutions and took over 24 buildings: Nine primary and four secondary schools, the buildings for education, health, information, Turkmen Unions and syndicates, Turkmen House, Shifa dispensary, the Turkmen Radio and Television, Turkmeneli print house, the building of headquarters of the Iraqi Turkmen Front in Erbil, the building of Iraqi Turkmen National Party and the building of the Turkmeneli party.

The educational quality in the Turkmen schools was deliberately worsened which lead to a decrease in the number of students; the student registration have been stopped in 2008. The name of the Turkmeneli Television and Radio were changed and are now used as propaganda instruments by those Turkmen that work for the Kurdish parties and whom are paid by the Kurdish authorities. The Turkmeneli newspaper has not been published in Erbil and the Turkmeneli print house has been out of use. The Turkmen department of the Institution for Teachers was closed. Turkmen publications are not allowed to be sold in shops and put in the libraries. Cafés and public houses can not operate Turkmen TV and radio and can not keep the Turkmen publications, such as newspapers in their premises.

Suppression and intimidation
The suppressive policy of the Kurdish administration hinders the appearance of Turkmen civil society activists and stall establishment of Turkmen civil society and political organizations. The Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) is the only Turkmen organization which could resist the suppressive policy of the Kurdish authorities, but its functioning is severely restricted. The ITF is not allowed to realize political, social and cultural activities only inside the small buildings of the organization. Governmental buildings cannot be rented. Those who present logistic support to Turkmen organizations will be intimidated. During election campaigns Turkmen were allowed hang their posters and flags only on their own buildings.

The daily critics to the Turkmen organizations, by the newspapers of which the majority are controlled by the Kurdish political parties puts continuous psychological stress on the Turkmen of Erbil and particularly, on the small numbers of the politicians and activists who could resist the suppression.

Mr. Nadhim Abd al-Karim al-Saig was the chief of the news division of the Turkmeneli Radio and television which was taken over by Barzani’s administration. Resisting the intimidations and threats of the Kurdish authorities, he is active in different fields: media, politics and civil society. He was arrested by Kurdish Peshmerge militia on 30 Augustus 2008 in the center of Erbil city, when he photographed the entrance of the Erbil citadel, which is located in the center of the city and officially considered a historical landmark. When they found a number of Turkmen newspapers with him, he was taken to a center of Peshmerge militia. There he was exposed to a harsh interrogation. He was accused of spying and taken to the inspection department of the Peshmerge headquarters. The authority which received him asked those who brought him if any one knew of his arrest. They answered that his son was with him. It is worth noting that there are thousands of missing persons in the vast regions which controlled by KDP and KUP. The investigation continued for 2 hours and the investigators were a colonel and other with higher rank. He was cursed at, insulted, harshly beaten and accused of different charges. He was put in a prison, where about 40 other prisoners were being detained and he was threatened to be questioned even more harshly. In contrary, the second interrogation was much calmer and he was asked to abandon writing against the Kurdish administration. Later on, he was released and asked not to talk to any one and write about his arrest.

This is one of the many suppressive methods, which the Turkmen of Erbil are exposed to since the institution of the Save Haven in 1991, to intimidate the Turkmen of Erbil. These have decreased severely the engagement of the Turkmen of Erbil in the cultural, social and political activities. The small number of the Turkmen activists who resists the intimidation of the Kurdish authorities lives in fear of arrest, exposure to persecution, disappearance and assassination.

1. William R. Hay, “Two Years in Kurdistan 1918 – 1920”, (William Clowes and Sons, Limited, London and Beccles 1921), P. 81 – 83
2. Ibid., P. 77
3. Ibid., P. 19
4. Judit Neurink, “another copy of Saddam Regime”, July 2007,

Posted on SOITM website

"Invasion of the Sea-Smurfs"

By Amy Goodman
08 October, 2008

Democracy Now!

A little-noticed story surfaced a couple of weeks ago in the Army Times newspaper about the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team. “Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months,” reported Army Times staff writer Gina Cavallaro, “the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.” Disturbingly, she writes that “they may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control” as well.

The force will be called the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive Consequence Management Response Force. Its acronym, CCMRF, is pronounced “sea-smurf.” These “sea-smurfs,” Cavallaro reports, have “spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle,” in a combat zone, and now will spend their 20-month “dwell time”—time troops are required to spend to “reset and regenerate after a deployment”—armed and ready to hit the U.S. streets.

The Army Times piece includes a correction stating that the forces would not use nonlethal weaponry domestically. I called Air Force Lt. Col. Jamie Goodpaster, a public-affairs officer for Northern Command. She told me that the overall mission was humanitarian, to save lives and help communities recover from catastrophic events. Nevertheless, the military forces would have weapons on-site, “containerized,” she said—that is, stored in containers—including both lethal and so-called nonlethal weapons. They would have mostly wheeled vehicles, but would also, she said, have access to tanks. She said that any decision to use weapons would be made at a higher level, perhaps at the secretary-of-defense level.

Talk of trouble on U.S. streets is omnipresent now, with the juxtaposition of Wall Street and Main Street. The financial crisis we face remains obscure to most people; titans of business and government officials assure us that the financial system is “on the brink,” that a massive bailout is necessary, immediately, to prevent a disaster. Conservative and progressive members of Congress, at the insistence of constituents, blocked the initial plan. If the economy does collapse, if people can’t go down to the bank to withdraw their savings, or get cash from an ATM, there may be serious “civil unrest,” and the “sea-smurfs” may be called upon sooner than we imagine to assist with “crowd control.”

The political and financial establishments seem completely galled that people would actually oppose their massive bailout, which rewards financiers for gambling. Normal people worry about paying their bills, buying groceries and gas, and paying rent or a mortgage in increasingly uncertain times. No one ever offers to bail them out. Wall Street’s house of cards has collapsed, and the rich bankers are getting little sympathy from working people.

That’s where the sea-smurfs come in. Officially formed to respond to major disasters, like a nuclear or biological attack, this combat brigade falls under the U.S. Northern Command, a military structure formed on Oct, 1, 2002, to “provide command and control of Department of Defense homeland defense efforts.” Military participation in domestic operations was originally outlawed with the Posse Comitatus Act in 1878. The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, however, included a section that allowed the president to deploy the armed forces to “restore public order” or to suppress “any insurrection.” While a later bill repealed this, President Bush attached a signing statement that he did not feel bound by the repeal.

We are in a time of increasing economic disparity, with the largest gap between rich and poor of any wealthy industrialized country. We are witnessing a crackdown on dissent, most recently with $100 million spent on “security” at the Democratic and Republican national conventions. The massive paramilitary police forces deployed at the RNC in St. Paul, Minn., were complete overkill, discouraging protests and conducting mass arrests (National Guard troops just back from Fallujah were there). The arrest there of almost 50 journalists (myself included) showed a clear escalation in attempting to control the message (akin to the ban on photos of flag-draped coffins of soldiers). There are two ongoing, unpopular wars that are costing lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. Nobel-winning economist Joe Stiglitz estimates that Iraq alone will cost more than $3 trillion.

In December 2001, in the midst of restricted access to bank accounts due to a financial crisis, respectable, middle-class Argentines rose up, took to the streets, smashed bank windows and ultimately forced the government out of power, despite a massive police crackdown and a failed attempt to control the media. Here in the U.S., with the prospect of a complete failure of our financial system, the people have spoken and do not want an unprecedented act of corporate welfare. We don’t know how close the system is to collapse, nor do we know how close the people are to taking to the streets. The creation of an active-duty military force, the sea-smurfs, that could be used to suppress public protest here at home is a very bad sign.

Amy Goodman has recently been awarded the Right Livelyhood Award, regarded as the alternative Nobel Prize
Also Read
America! Be Truly Afraid
By Rand Clifford
A truly frightening article, delineating a possible scenario about to be unravelled in America

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Turkey Steps up New Campaign Against PKK in Northern Iraq

Turkish dead laid to rest

Turkish warplanes bombed suspected Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) positions in northern Iraq on Monday, Oct. 6, three days after a PKK attack on a border post killed 15 Turkish soldiers.

According to a statement released by the Turkish General Staff, the warplanes bombed PKK positions in the mountainous Avasin region of northern Iraq.

"The planes returned safely to base after successfully completing their mission," the statement said. Turkish jets also attacked positions in the same area on Sunday night.

The attack on Friday night on the Aktutun border post in the south-eastern province of Hakkari that left 15 soldiers and 23 PKK separatists dead has shocked Turkey and led to the General Staff on Sunday announcing that it was to relocate five military border posts.

A spokesman for the military said the administration of the Kurdish autonomous area in Iraq had not helped in the fight against the PKK, despite overtures by Iraq's Kurdish President Jalal Talabani.

After the attack Talabani called his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul to propose a meeting of high-ranking security experts from both sides, suggesting Iraqi willingness to help Turkey de-escalate the situation.

The Turkish Air Force has conducted a number of airstrikes against PKK targets in northern Iraq since a week-long cross-border incursion into northern Iraq was launched in February.
Ankara blames the separatist group for the deaths of more than 35,000 people since the early 1980s when the PKK began its fight for independence or autonomy for the mainly Kurdish-populated south-east of Turkey.

Turkish dead laid to rest as tensions heighten

The 15 Turkish soldiers killed in Saturday's attack on an Iraq border post were borne to their graves on Sunday by a crowd of thousands shouting angry slogans against the perpetrators - the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK.

The attack, which claimed 38 lives in total, was launched by the guerrilla group, which operates from inside Iraq, after a week of Turkish air force raids on their positions.
Turkish government and military leaders have vowed to escalate the campaign against the PKK.
"We will now conduct our campaign against terrorism even more decisively," said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after he broke off his journey to Central Asia in response to the attack.

But Turkey cannot win the war against the PKK by military force alone.
One day before the Aktutun border post attack, the worst PKK assault this year, the Turkish air force had bombarded suspected PKK positions in the Qandil Mountains of Iraq, close to the Iranian border.
At the same time, the attack on the troops stationed at Aktutun was about to be launched, although they didn't know it. According to Turkish media reports, more than 300 PKK fighters assembled for the raid on the border post.

At daybreak on Saturday they opened fire with heavy weapons from Iraq as other fighters moved in on the ground. The battle at Aktutun lasted for five hours. It was the fifth attack on the post since 1992. Turkey hit back with combat helicopters and special forces.

After the attack, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, himself a Kurd, called his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul to propose a meeting of high-ranking security experts from both sides, suggesting Iraqi willingness to help Turkey de-escalate the situation.

However, Turkish daily Millyet commented on Sunday that "long- range weapons cannot be brought into position without those responsible for security in Iraq noticing."

Also under question is the value of US support in informing Turkey of PKK movements within Iraq.

The Turkish parliament is due to vote Monday on whether to allow the army to extend its mandate for operations in northern Iraq for a further year.

The approval of the mandate was not in doubt even before Saturday's attack, as evidently Turkey's operations in northern Iraq had not brought the PKK to its knees.

In February, Turkey launched a ground offensive in Iraq, although US criticism brought it to a rapid end.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has suggested the military struggle against the PKK be conducted together with economic and political means. "Only this way can terrorism be stopped," he said.

The PKK is considered by the United States and the European Union to be a terrorist group.
DW staff (nda)