Monday, 28 March 2011

Altunköprü katliamı anma töreninde: Kürtler Türkmen ögrencilere saldırdı

Irak’taki etnik gruplara arasındaki kardeşlikten sürekli dem vuran Kürt partileri, Türkmenlere karşı olan tahammülsüzlüklerini bir kez daha sergilemekten çekinmediler.


Kerkük Teknoloji Enstitüsünde bu sabah Türkmen öğrenciler tarafından organize edilen Altunköprü Katliamının 20. yıl dönümü anma etkinliklerine Kürt grupların sözlü ve fiziksel saldırıları sonucu büyük bir kavgaya dönüştü. Görgü tanıklarından edinilen bilgilere göre olay yerine gelen polislerin de Kürt grupların bu saldırısına engel olmak için pek istekli davranmadığı yönündedir.

Çok sayıda öğrencinin yaralandığı olayda asayişi sağlamakla görevli olan polislerin saldırıya seyirci kalması Kerkük’teki güvenlik güçlerinin çoğunlukla Kürt Peşmergelerin kontrolünde olmasına yorumlandı. Bölgedeki kaynaklardan alınan bilgiye göre, geçtiğimiz günlerde, Halepçe Katliamı anma etkinlikleri Kürt gruplarca abartılı bir şekilde kentin birçok kamu kuruluşlarında çeşitli etkinliklerle anıldığı ve gösterilerin olaysız son erdiği bildirilmektedir Alınan son bilgilere göre, Kürt partilerine mensup gruplar olay sonrasında Kerkük Teknoloji Enstitüsü önünde gövde gösterisinde bulundukları ve Kentteki tansiyonun giderek yükseldiği yönündedir. Bölge sakinlerinin olayların kontrolden çıkmasından korktukları gelen haberler arasındadır.

Türkeş MUHTAROĞLU

Sunday, 20 March 2011

American Teams Predicted Causes Of Protests In Iraq




American Teams Predicted Causes Of Protests In Iraq
Some of the major reasons why Iraqis have taken to the streets in the last couple weeks and protested against their government are the lack of services, unemployment, and corruption. Right before the demonstrations started, the fifteen U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) issued a report on Iraq’s Kurdistan and fifteen other provinces. They found that almost every one of the country’s governorates could not provide stable services, and were failing at developing their local economies. The PRTs have been evaluating Iraq’s provinces since 2006.


In January 2011, they used a new method called the Stability Development Roadmap (SDR) that was based upon public opinion of whether there would be civil unrest. That foreshadowed what would actually break out across the country the next month. The SDR looked at five specific areas: basic services, government effectiveness, political effectiveness, economic development, and rule of law. Each could receive one of five rankings: very unstable, unstable, moderately stable, stable, and very stable. Most governorates received very unstable or unstable ratings in each category.

Click in image above for larger view (Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction)
For basic services, 15 out of 16 provinces had the lowest rating. The one exception was Muthanna, which received an unstable. Services include things like water, sewage, electricity, etc. Nine of those 15 governorates received very unstable in every service asked about by the PRTs. For those surveyed the biggest issue didn’t appear to be the actual state of services, but the lack of any improvement in them.Government and political effectiveness were one to two steps better than services. In governance, 15 of the 16 areas received an unstable ranking, with one, Najaf, getting a moderately stable. In politics, Baghdad, Ninewa, Salahaddin, Tamim, and Wasit were rated unstable, while Anbar, Babil, Basra, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala, Kurdistan, Maysan, Muthanna, Najaf, and Qadisiyah were moderately stable.

Many provincial governments were perceived as being divided, which hindered their ability to make decisions, but that was not seen as a possible cause of civil unrest by the PRTs. Economic development was seen as lacking. Maysan received a very unstable, Kurdistan was moderately stable, and the fourteen others were unstable. Some of the outstanding problems were unemployment, the collapse of Warka Bank, the largest private bank in Iraq, and lack of irrigation for farming.

The jobless rate was perceived as the greatest threat to stability. Rule of law showed the greatest variety. Anbar had the highest ranking in any category with stable, while Ninewa was at the bottom with very unstable. Babil, Baghdad, Basra, Karbala, Maysan, Muthanna, Najaf, Salahddin, and Wasit had unstable, while Dhi Qar, Diyala, Kurdistan, Qadisiyah, and Tamim were rated moderately stable.

The biggest issue raised by those polled was corruption. The PRTs were not sure whether that issue would lead to public discontent however. The biggest concern for Iraqis was the treatment of prisoners. Torture, abuse, and poor conditions are widespread throughout the country.


The SDR proved prophetic in some cases, and off in others. Services received the worst ratings, and unemployment and prisoner mistreatment were also singled out, and marchers mentioned all those in February. On the other hand, the political situation was not seen as destabilizing and given the best rankings, but many demonstrators have demanded that their local politicians resign because of their failure to govern.

The PRTs were concerned about social unrest, and just the month after the rankings were released the nation exploded in protests in several different cities and provinces. Overall, the American teams did a pretty good job at noting the seeds of discontent in Iraq.

SOURCES


McCrummen, Stephanie, “In Iraq protests, a younger generation finds its voice,” Washington Post, 3/17/11Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction,” Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 1/30/11

Published in MusingsonIraq

Friday, 18 March 2011

De middenklasse in Irak vernietigd en wat daar aan te doen

Gepubliceerd op DeWereldMorgen.be (http://www.dewereldmorgen.be)
De middenklasse in Irak vernietigd en wat daar aan te doen
door christophe callewaert
do 10.03.11

In de afgelopen acht jaar werden in Irak honderden academici vermoord. Zij waren geen toevallige slachtoffers van het heersende geweld in het land, maar doelwit van een gerichte en systematische campagne om de Iraakse staat te vernietigen, zeggen onderzoekers. In Gent komen specialisten uit de hele wereld bijéén om zich te buigen over die humanitaire catastrofe.
MENARG (Middle East and North African Research Group) van de UGent, het BRussells Tribunal en tal van andere organisaties haalden het kruim van Irak-specialisten naar de Aula in Gent.

Drie dagen lang hebben ze het over de “minst bekende humanitaire crisis” (in de woorden van de Hoge Commissaris voor de Vluchtelingen bij de Verenigde Naties António Guterres).
Het cijfermateriaal is onthutsend. Het Brussells Tribunal verzamelde 449 dossiers over vermoorde academici. Het aantal leraars in Bagdad daalde met 80 procent. In de twee jaar na de start van de oorlog in Irak werd 84 procent van de hogeronderwijsinstellingen geplunderd, vernield of in brand gestoken. Meer dan 335 studenten en personeelsleden kwamen om of raakten zwaar gewond door bomaanslagen op de Universiteit Al Mustansiriya in Bagdad. Ongeveer 40 procent van de Iraakse middenklasse vluchtte het land uit.


Volgens de onderzoekers is de vernietiging van het academische leven in Irak geen neveneffect van de oorlog. “Dat is de officiële theorie van de Iraakse regering. De academische wereld werd net als de rest van Irak slachtoffer van het etnisch en sektair geweld na de oorlog. Ons onderzoek leert ons dat de academici als groep een doelwit van geweld zijn”, zegt Pedro Rojo die verschillende boeken schreef over Irak.


Wie zat of zit er dan achter dat geweld? Pedro Rojo: “Enerzijds zijn dat milities die bij de regering horen. Zij willen het onderwijssysteem vernietigen. Daarnaast is er ook de (Israëlische veiligheidsdienst, nvdr) Mossad die wetenschappers viseerde die een hand hadden of kunnen hebben in de productie van massavernietigingswapens.”

Waarom?
Maar waarom wil iemand het onderwijssysteem vernietigen van een land? Volgens de Amerikaanse professor Raymond Baker ging het om 'state ending'. Het doel van de oorlog was de vernietiging van de Iraakse staat. De moorden op academici zijn een onderdeel van de oorlogsstrategie.

Ex-humanitair coördinator van de VN in Irak Hans von Sponeck ziet die poging om de Iraakse staat te vernietigen al eerder beginnen. “Het begon al in 1990 met de sancties nadat Irak Koeweit was binnengevallen. Het olie-voor-voedselprogramma had adequaat kunnen zijn, maar het mocht niet. De VN werd gewoon misbruikt als een instrument om Irak te vernietigen. Ze hadden op zijn minst het lager onderwijs kunnen sparen, maar ook dat mocht niet. Toen had ik door dat ze het oude Irak wilden kapot maken om een nieuw Irak te creëren”, zegt von Sponeck die in 2000 ontslag nam.

De onderzoekers willen in Gent niet alleen aanklagen, maar ook oplossingen zoeken. “We hebben een netwerk van Iraakse en Europese onderzoekers nodig die via grondig onderzoek de situatie in Irak in kaart kunnen brengen”, zegt Pedro Rojo. “Het volstaat niet om te zeggen dat er nu democratie is in Irak en dat we het land kunnen heropbouwen. De moordenaars zwaaien nog altijd de plak. De straffeloosheid is het probleem.”

Ook von Sponeck pleit voor objectief en eerlijk onderzoek. “Niet-ideologisch en zonder verborgen agenda. Zo kunnen andere mensen de Iraakse zaak beter verdedigen. Op dit moment komen overal in de Arabische wereld jonge mensen op straat. Een ideaal moment om hen die objectieve informatie te geven”, zegt von Sponeck.

De Arabische opstanden stemmen hoopvol. De Iraakse schrijfster Haifa Zangana heeft zelfs hoop voor haar geboorteland. “De voorbije twee maanden waren er voortdurend betogingen. Zelfs in streken waar nooit eerder betoogd werd zoals in de Koerdische provincies. De mensen komen op straat met een regenboog van eisen. Maar de repressie is genadeloos. Er werden al 31 betogers gedood. En in de Westerse media is er een totale blackout. Alsof er geen bezetting meer is en de democratie opnieuw bloeit in Irak.”

In de afgelopen acht jaar werden in Irak honderden academici vermoord. Zij waren geen toevallige slachtoffers van het heersende geweld in het land, maar doelwit van een gerichte en systematische campagne om de Iraakse staat te vernietigen, zeggen onderzoekers. In Gent komen specialisten uit de hele wereld bijéén om zich te buigen over die humanitaire catastrofe.
Newsletter image:
Iraq looted
Bron-URL: http://www.dewereldmorgen.be/artikels/2011/03/10/de-middenklasse-in-irak-vernietigd-en-wat-daar-aan-te-doen

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Turkey's foreign affairs minister says mideast revolutions are vital to restore a common destiny of the masses

'Naturalising the flow of history'

16 March 2011, Wednesday


Turkey's foreign affairs minister says mideast revolutions are vital to restore a common destiny of the masses.

The wave of revolutions in the Arab world was spontaneous. But it also had to happen. They were necessary in order to restore the natural flow of history. In our region - west Asia and the south Mediterranean - there were two abnormalities in the last century: first, colonialism in the 1930s, 40s and 50s that divided the region into colonial entities, and severed the natural links between peoples and communities.
For example, Syria was a French colony and Iraq a British one, so the historical and economic links between Damascus and Baghdad were cut.

The second abnormality was the cold war, which added a further division: countries that had lived together for centuries became enemies, like Turkey and Syria. We were in Nato; Syria was pro-Soviet. Our border became not a border between two nation states, but the border between two blocs. Yemen was likewise divided.

Now it is time to naturalise the flow of history. I see all these revolutions as a delayed process that should have happened in the late 80s and 90s as in eastern Europe. It did not because some argued that Arab societies didn't deserve democracy, and needed authoritarian regimes to preserve the status quo and prevent Islamist radicalism. Some countries and leaders who were proud of their own democracy, insisted that democracy in the Middle East would threaten security in our region.

Now we are saying all together: no. An ordinary Turk, an ordinary Arab, an ordinary Tunisian can change history. We believe that democracy is good, and that our people deserve it. This is a natural flow of history. Everybody must respect this will of the people.

If we fail to understand that there is a need to reconnect societies, communities, tribes and ethnicities in our region, we will lose the momentum of history. Our future is our sense of common destiny. All of us in the region have a common destiny.

Now, if this transformation is a natural flow of the history, then how should we respond? First, we need an emergency plan to save people's lives, to prevent disaster. Second, we need to normalise life. And finally, we need to reconstruct and restore the political systems in our region, just as we would rebuild our houses after a tsunami.

But in order to undertake that restoration, we need a plan, a vision. And we need the self-confidence to do it - the self-confidence to say: this region is ours, and we will be the rebuilders of it. But for all this to happen, we must be clear about the basic principles that we have to follow.

'Trust the masses'

First, we need to trust the masses in our region, who want respect and dignity. This is the critical concept today: dignity. For decades we have been insulted. For decades we have been humiliated. Now we want dignity. That is what the young people in Tahrir Square demanded. After listening to them, I became much more optimistic for the future. That generation is the future of Egypt. They know what they want. This is a new momentum in our region, and it should be respected.

The second principle is that change and transformation are a necessity, not a choice. If history flows and you try to resist it, you will lose. No leader, however charismatic, can stop the flow of history. Now it is time for change. Nobody should cling to the old cold war logic. Nobody should argue that only a particular regime or person can guarantee a country's stability. The only guarantee of stability is the people.

Third, this change must be peaceful - security and freedom are not alternatives; we need both. In this region we are fed up with civil wars, and tension. All of us have to act wisely without creating violence or civil strife between brothers and sisters. We have to make this change possible with the same spirit of common destiny.

Fourth, we need transparency, accountability, human rights and the rule of law, and to protect our social and state institutions. Revolution does not mean destruction. The Egyptian case is a good example: the army acted very wisely not to confront the people. But if there is no clear separation between the military and civilian roles of the political institutions, you may face problems. I am impressed by Field Marshal Tantawi's decision to deliver power to the civilian authority as soon as possible.

Finally, the territorial integrity of our countries and the region must be protected. The legal status and territorial integrity of states including Libya and Yemen should be protected. During colonialism and cold war we had enough divisions, enough separations.

This process must be led by the people of each country, but there should be regional ownership. This is our region. Intellectuals, opinion-makers, politicians of this region should come together more frequently in order to decide what should happen in our region in the future. We are linked to each other for centuries to come.

Whatever happens in Egypt, in Libya, in Yemen, in Iraq or in Lebanon affects us all. Therefore we should show solidarity with the people of these countries. There should be more regional forums, for politicians and leaders, for intellectuals, for the media.

Usually the "Middle East" - an orientalist term - is regarded as synonymous with tensions, conflicts and underdevelopment. But our region has been the centre of civilisation for millennia, leading to strong traditions of political order in which multicultural environments flourish. In addition to this civilisational and political heritage, we have sufficient economic resources today to make our region a global centre of gravity.

Now it is time to make historic reassessments in order to transform our region into one of stability, freedom, prosperity, cultural revival and co-existence. In this new regional order there should be less violence and fewer barriers between countries, societies and sects. But there should be more economic interdependency, more political dialogue and more cultural interaction.
Today the search for a new global order is under way. After the international financial crisis, we need to develop an economic order based on justice, and a social order based on respect and dignity. And this region - our region - can contribute to the formation of this emerging new order: a global, political, economic and cultural new order.

Our responsibility is to open the way for this new generation, and to build a new region over the coming decade that will be specified by the will of its people.
Ahmet Davutoglu is Turkey's minister of foreign affairs.

This article was first published by The Guardian.
Adapted From El-Jezeera English

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Kurds, Turkmen to share Iraq Kirkuk local appointments

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 11:30 GMT


Kurds and Turkmen in Kirkuk revealed that they have agreed to share local positions in the province following the resignation of governor Abdul Rahman Mostapha and head of Kirkuk provincial council Rizkar Ali.

Kurdistan Alliance MP Alaa’ Talabani told Alsumaria News that Hassan Torhan is the Turkman candidate most likely to head Kirkuk provincial council while MP Najm Din Karim will be appointed as governor. Karim is a senior official in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan led by Massoud Barazani. The general directors in the province will be changed as well, MP Alaa’ Talabani said.

إقرأ هذا المقال باللغة بالعربية
http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/Iraq-News/1-61655-Kurds%2C-Turkman-to-share-Iraq-Kirkuk-local-appointments.html

Kerkük Kalesi 2011

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Children of War - Iraq





Children of War American arms pacified Fallujah—and may have poisoned a generation
By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos


Photo above: FALLUJA, IRAQ - NOVEMBER 12: (R to L) Yousif Hamed, age 4 years old, his brother Anas Hamed and his sister Inas who suffer from birth defects are pictured on November 12, 2009 in the city of Falluja west of Baghdad, Iraq


The American Conservative, March 14, 2011
In this year’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama declared, "the Iraq war is coming to end"—at least for Americans, leaving "with their heads held high" because "our commitment has been kept."

For millions of Iraqis, however, the war is far from over—in fact, for a growing number of families in cities that were nearly destroyed during the years of insurgency and counter-insurgency, the crisis is only beginning. Whether we take responsibility for our role in it will determine whether we can hold our "heads high" in foreign policy ever again. As one Iraqi-American told TAC, "just because we don’t pay attention, doesn’t mean the rest of the world isn’t paying attention."

According to studies and eyewitness accounts over the last few years, Fallujah, an Iraqi city that was practically obliterated by U.S. heavy artillery in two major offensives in 2004, is experiencing a staggering rate of birth defects among its local population. The situation echoes similar reports from Basra that began to circulate after the first Gulf War in 1991.

The litany of horrors is gut-wrenching: babies born with two heads, one eye in the middle of the face, missing limbs, too many limbs, brain damage, cardiac defects, abnormally large heads, eyeless, missing genitalia, riddled with tumors. Upon touring a clinic in Fallujah in March of last year, the BBC’s John Simpson reported, "we were given details of dozens upon dozens of cases of children with serious birth defects … one photograph I saw showed a newborn baby with three heads." Later, at the main U.S.-funded hospital in the city, "a stream of parents arrived" with children who had limb defects, spinal conditions, and "other problems." Authorities in Fallujah reportedly warned women to hold off on having babies at all.

Dr. Ayman Qais, the director of Fallujah’s general hospital, told The Guardian that he was seeing two affected babies a day, compared to two a fortnight in 2008. "Most [deformities] are in the head and spinal cord, but there are also many deficiencies in lower limbs," he said. "There is also a very marked increase in the number of cases of [children] less than two years with brain tumours. This is now a focus area of multiple tumours."

The pictures and video available with a quick Google search are simply shocking.
But there is nothing simple about this issue. On one hand, it is widely accepted among scientists, doctors, and aid workers that war is to blame. The presence of so much expended weaponry, waste and rubble, massive burn pits on U.S. bases, and oil fires has left a toxic legacy that is poisoning the air, the water, and the soil in Iraq. Add highly controversial armaments that the U.S. has only hinted at using in this war—such as depleted uranium—and you get a potentially radioactive landscape giving rise to doomed children and stillborn babies.

"I think we have destroyed Iraq," says Dr. Adil Shamoo, a biochemist at the University of Maryland who specializes in medical ethics and foreign policy. Shamoo, an Iraqi-American, believes it’s "just common sense" to link Iraq’s troubled health situation to the relentless bombing of its towns and cities and the polluted aftermath of fighting and occupation.
The Department of Defense disagrees, rejecting claims that the military is to blame for chronic illnesses, birth defects, and high rates of cancer among the local population and its own service members exposed to the same elements in theater. (DoD officials did not return calls and e-mails to respond to the specific charges made in this story.)

Meanwhile, the Iraqi government has done little to address the public-health crisis in Fallujah and elsewhere. Authorities cannot afford, and seemingly lack the will, to clean up the festering pollution around the country’s population centers while many Iraqis still clamor for clean drinking water and basic medical supplies.

"It’s not even on their radar," offered Geoff Millard, an Iraq War vet who was about to embark this winter on an aid mission with Iraqi Health Now, which raises money for hospitals, clinics, and refugee camps. "If you have a mature democracy with a stable government, you can start to think about the environmental impact. You don’t talk about environmental impact when there are death squads roaming the streets."

Nevertheless, a joint study by Iraq’s environment, health, and science ministries last summer found 40 sites in the country that are contaminated with high levels of radiation and dioxins—residue, the study claims, from three decades of war. Critics believe there are hundreds of other locations just like these.

Areas around urban centers like Fallujah and Basra accounted for 25 percent of the contaminated sites. The pollution of Basra dates back to at least 1982, when Operation Ramadan, the biggest land battle of the Iran-Iraq War—in which the U.S. was on Iraqside, supplying Saddam Hussein with billions in weapons, "dual-use" materials, training, and support—shook the desert outside the city. But in the 20 years since the first Gulf War, Basra has seen a marked increase in childhood illnesses. According to researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health, the rate of childhood leukemia doubled in Basra from 1993 through 2007.

"This is a serious public health crisis that needs global attention. We need independent and unbiased research into the possible causes of this epidemic," declared American environmental toxicologist Mazhgan Savabieasfahani, co-author of the most recent report on birth defects in Fallujah.

But fathoming the source of this scourge is hard; Iraq is a quick study in environmental malpractice. For example, reports indicate that waste from heavy industry, tanning and paint factories, and hospitals—even raw sewage—is still being dumped into the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and seeping into drinking water. Yet there is little doubt about the toll that 30 years of war and economic sanctions has taken here. Looking at the photographs of babies barely recognizable as human, of toddlers frighteningly tiny, limp from their own deformities, the toll of war and the conditions it creates is evident.

What Happened to Fallujah?

In December, a report in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health declared that since 2003 "congenital malformations" were observed in 15 percent of all births in Fallujah in 2010. Heart defects were the most common, followed by neural tube defects, which cause irreversible and often fatal deformities such as anencephaly, in which the infant is born with parts of the brain and skull missing.

By comparison, major birth defects affect only an estimated 3 percent of every live birth in the U.S. and an average of 6 percent of all births worldwide.
The December study focused on births in Fallujah General Hospital during the first half of 2010. In May, it found that 15 percent of all 547 deliveries presented birth defects. That month there were also 76 miscarriages, 60 premature deliveries, and one stillbirth. Researchers saw similar numbers in the first four months of 2010.

The study explored the health histories of four families in Fallujah—four fathers, each with two wives, and their 39 offspring. Of the children, three were miscarried, three were stillborn, eight had birth defects and skeletal malformations, and three—by the same mother and father—had leukemia. All of these abnormal births occurred after 2003, save for one child born with leukemia in 2002 and two miscarriages for one mother in 1995.

"The timing of the birth defect occurrences suggests that they may be related to war-associated long-term exposure to contamination," the report states. "Many known contaminants have the potential to interfere with normal embryonic and fetal development." The report also suggests that metals such as depleted uranium associated with "augmented" and "targeted" weapons "are potential good candidates to cause birth defects," but the authors insisted further research was needed to establish a direct cause.

Another recent article, "Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009," published in the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health last July, undertook a door-to-door survey of 4,843 Fallujah residents in 711 houses. Acknowledging that such surveys have their limits—responses cannot be independently verified, for example—the authors nonetheless highlighted three compelling findings, including a significant 18 percent reduction in the male births in the group after 2004 and a spike in infant mortality—13 percent of live births from 2009 to 2010, compared to 2 percent in Egypt and 1.7 percent in Jordan. Lastly, the frequency of cancers related to radiation exposure, particularly leukemia, between 2005 and 2010 was "alarming" in comparison with national rates in Egypt and Jordan. (The study noted that Iraq still doesn’t keep official cancer statistics.)

"The results reported here do not throw any light upon the identity of the agent(s) causing the increased levels of illness and although we have drawn attention to the use of depleted uranium as one potential relevant exposure, there may be other possibilities," wrote the authors. Indeed, other possible contaminants are manifold—but depleted uranium has long been a prime suspect.

Depleted Uranium

Depleted uranium (DU) is a dense, highly toxic, radioactive heavy metal that is regularly used by the military for shielding and penetrative capabilities. The Army’s Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles have it in their armor and in their ammunition.

In addition to their long-range penetration abilities, DU-tipped weapons can cause further damage by instantaneously setting their targets on fire. According to GlobalSecurity.org: "On impact with a hard target (such as a tank) the penetrator may generate a cloud of DU dust within the struck vehicle that ignites spontaneously, creating a fire that increases the damage to the target."

After battle, the carcasses of tanks and remains of exploded or unexploded DU munitions produce radiation, while tiny particles of heavy metal get into the dust and can travel long distances in the air. This dust can be deadly when inhaled, doctors and environmental scientists say.

While minimizing the external radiation dangers of DU, a 1994 U.S Army Environmental Policy Institute study conducted in the wake of fears that Gulf War soldiers had been contaminated in "friendly fire" incidents acknowledged that "toxicologically, DU poses a health risk when internalized" and that "using DU on the battlefield poses potential environmental consequences." It ultimately recommended, however, further study and risk-management, rather than forgoing the use of DU altogether.

The U.S. left an estimated 320 metric tons of DU on the battlefield after the first Gulf War. DU rounds conferred a distinct advantage over the Iraqis, destroying some 4,000 of their tanks, many which still pollute the desert landscape. "The invisible particles created when those bullets struck and burned are still 'hot.’ They make Geiger counters sing, and they stick to the tanks, contaminating the soil and blowing in the desert wind, as they will for the 4.5 billion years it will take the DU to lose just half its radioactivity," wrote Scott Peterson in the Christian Science Monitor.

Later Peterson documented evidence of DU in Baghdad after the 2003 war, checking "hot spots" around battle debris with a Geiger counter. He noted that the Air Force had admitted that its A-1 "Warthog" planes had shot 300,000 rounds during the "shock and awe" phase of the invasion. Typically, the "normal combat mix" for the 30-mm cannon on the A-1 is five DU bullets to one high-explosive incendiary round.

"The children haven’t been told not to play with the radioactive debris," Peterson wrote. He saw only one site where U.S. troops had put up handwritten warnings in Arabic for Iraqis to stay away. "There, a 3-foot-long DU dart from a 120 mm tank shell, was found producing radiation at more than 1,300 times background levels. It made the [Geiger counter] staccato bursts turn into a steady whine."

Getting an accurate picture of how DU has been used by American forces in Iraq since 2003 has been impossible. But the military hasn’t always been so tight-lipped. On the eve of the war, noted California-based researcher Dan Fahey, the Pentagon was engaging in its own pro-DU propaganda. "The campaign had two goals: to justify the use of DU munitions as a military necessity, and to dismiss concerns about the health and environmental effects of use," wrote Fahey in 2005.

Indeed, in a March 18, 2003 press briefing, two days before the invasion, Col. James Naughton of the U.S. Army Material Command boasted that Iraqis "want [DU] to go away because we kicked the crap out of them" in the tank battles of 1991."Their soldiers can’t be really amused at the idea of going out in basically the same tanks with some slight improvements and taking on Abrams again."

The bragging stopped after "shock and awe." Officials now merely insist that DU exposure is not responsible for serious health problems in Iraq. When confronted with the evidence of birth defects in Fallujah, Pentagon spokesman Michael Kilpatrick told the BBC last year, "no studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues."

The Pentagon is backed up by selected studies, like the one conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2010, which examined soil, water, and vegetation in four areas—including Basra but not Fallujah—and concluded "the radiation doses from DU do not pose a radiological hazard to the population at the four studied locations in southern Iraq." The report takes for granted that DU was indeed used throughout the war theater.
Interestingly, both the IAEA and the Army have acknowledged the importance of handling weapon fragments and vehicle scraps as radioactive waste. "They specifically told us not to climb on tanks that have been shelled," says Geoff Millard, who got a brief warning about DU as a young soldier in 2000.

The exact composition of the munitions expended during the fighting in Fallujah in late 2004 remains unknown. But the scale of the pollution can be gauged by the magnitude of the bombardment. According to Rebecca Grant, writing for Air Force Magazine in 2005, the U.S. conducted relentless air assaults in the First Battle of Fallujah from March through September 2004 and launched a second phase that November. She describes a "steady pace of air attacks" in a mostly urban "manhunt" using AC-130 gunships and fixed-wing aircraft, even after commanders were told early on to scale it back due to political considerations over collateral damage. F-15 jets would swoop down and strafe insurgents to provide ground cover while Marines called in strikes on cornered insurgents from GPS-guided missiles like the new 500-lb GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition), which could "pluck" buildings "right out of the middle of very populated areas."

What Grant’s account does not include is the use of DU and even white phosphorous, which, when it comes into human contact, sizzles flesh right off the bone. A year after doctors in Fallujah began reporting the telltale burns, a Pentagon spokesman admitted to the BBC that that white phosphorus was indeed "used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants" in 2004. (Initially, the military had insisted it was only used for battlefield illumination.)

"When they went in they basically pulled out all the stops," said investigative journalist Dahr Jamail, who was on the ground in Fallujah in late 2004. He told TAC that he is not surprised by the birth defects in Fallujah today, having seen the aftermath of presumed DU use in "massive quantities."

As for its effect on reproductive development in Fallujah, there is no consensus among researchers, but there is plenty of material to pore over. Critics among the scientific community can point to a decade of studies about DU’s detrimental effects upon health, including a 2006 report that found DU exposure led to gene disruption in laboratory rats and similar experiments suggesting exposure could lead to low birth weight and skeletal malformations.

Other Contaminants

The problem with trying to identify a primary contributor to birth defects in Iraq is that the country is a cauldron of contamination. Aside from the polluted water, there are the ubiquitous toxic plumes from burning waste on U.S. bases, as well as oil and gas fires dotting the landscape. (No fewer than 469 incidents of oil and gas blazes, mostly from insurgents blowing up pipelines, were recorded between 2003 and 2008.) Military researchers have also been looking to heavy metals—both naturally occurring and otherwise—in the dust kicked up in the desert after so many battle-driven ruptures of the earth.

Saddam himself used chemical weapons against his own people and allegedly directed his men fleeing the 2003 invasion to sabotage the old water treatment plant at Qarmat Ali, just north of Basra where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet, by littering it with an anti-corrosive powder containing huge amounts of hexavalent chromium, a chemical known to cause cancer.

Some of the Oregon National Guard soldiers who later worked and lived at the plant—assured by defense contractor Kellogg, Brown, and Root that Qarmat Ali was safe—are now so sick they can barely walk. "This is our Agent Orange," veteran Scott Ashby told The Oregonian in 2009, referring to the herbicide sprayed by U.S. forces over huge swaths of the Vietnamese countryside from 1961 to 1971. A 2003 Columbia University study estimates upwards of 4.5 million people were exposed; the Vietnamese government has estimated 480,000 deaths and 500,000 born with birth defects as a result. American veterans had to sue to get attention for illnesses relating to AO exposure.

In a sense, what is happening throughout Iraq today is the 21st-century’s Agent Orange. As in Vietnam a generation earlier, Americans have rushed to the emotional exits in Iraq, chalking the war up to a blunder best resigned to the history books. Ignoring the "steady whine" of their moral Geiger counters, the U.S. public neatly tucks away photographs of deformed Iraqi babies next to the fading memories of Vietnamese children and American veterans scarred by battlefield chemicals. Collective denial has turned out to be empire’s best friend, as a Southeast Asian foreign-policy disaster has given way to a 30-year catastrophe in the Middle East.

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance reporter and a columnist for Antiwar.com.

Monday, 14 March 2011

THE MURDER OF THE IRAQI EDUCATION INDIGHTED INTERNATIONALLY IN GHENT

Bert De Belder, coordinator of Intal and Medical Aid For the Third World



Opening session of the seminar on education in Iraq


March 14, 2011

From March 9 to 11 a prestigious international seminar on education in Iraq in time of war and occupation took place in Ghent University. Organised by the BRussells Tribunal and the Research Center for the Middle East and North Africa from the Ghent University (MENARG), this initiative brought together up to 200 Iraqi and international experts on education and culture, and activists from all over the world.

Prof. Sami Zemni of Ghent University outlined at the opening session a very bleak picture of education in Iraq. A recent UNESCO report states that five of the 30 million Iraqis today are illiterate - even though the country in 1982 from the same UNESCO had received a prize for eradicating illiteracy! 40% of Iraqi children leave school at an early age because of the war: they must work to increase family income, or they are displaced with their families, or it's not safe for them to go to school. More than 400 academics have been murdered in a systematic campaign.

U.S. officials like Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Defense Secretary) called this unashamedly a policy of "state ending", the blunt destruction of each state they target. This policy also resulted into a lamentable state of public services: electricity, sewerage, water supply. Health care is a catastrophe. Prof. Saad Naji Jawad (Baghdad University) gave the audience some staggering figures. In a recently released report from the Iraqi Health Ministry it is said that since the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 between 8000 and 9000 doctors have fled the country. More than 2000 doctors have been murdered.

A forgotten scandal

Hans von Sponeck was appointed in October 1998 as United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, at that time suffering heavily under Western imposed sanctions. In protest, he resigned in February 2000, and since then he has been very active as an author, speaker, professor and activist against the occupation of Iraq. Hans von Sponeck called the situation in Iraq a "forgotten international scandal ", and stressed that "all elements of international law as it has developed over 150 years, have been violated." Eight years of war and destruction have turned Iraq into "the largest garbage belt in the world" with masses of destroyed ordnance, unexploded ordnance and mine fields. And the country seems to have also thrown the education of its people in the dustbin. Von Sponeck cited an Oxfam report: "92% of Iraqi children are suffering from learning difficulties."

The former UN chief blamed the United States and Britain for this disastrous situation, but underlined that we all have a responsibility not to forget Iraq. Also Saad Naji Sawad emphasized to move beyond criticism, and to suggest also solutions and take action.

And that is exactly what the BRussells is doing for many years with brio. In this case defending the Iraqi education with a Ghent Charter in defence of Iraqi academia, immediately signed by the rectors of five Belgian universities, and a string of national and international personalities.

An Arab revolt, also in occupied Iraq

Like Cairo (Egypt) also Baghdad has its Tahrir Square. On Friday, March 4, 10.000 to 12,000 people protested in the streets against corruption and repression of the Al Maliki government. Yahya Al-Kubaisa is a young Iraqi professor in Amman (Jordan), but he follows events in his country closely. He tells me that the popular uprising in Iraq is unique, "the most important qualitative change in Iraq since 2003". And like a real professor, he systematically identifies the reasons for it:

"1. It is the first time that the younger Iraqi generations are on the streets.

2. The movement is nationwide. The whole country expresses the same demands, aimed against the national government. That goes against the sectarian image and efforts in trying to dividing Iraq along sectarian lines.

3. Protests take place throughout Iraq, in 16 of the 18 Governorate (provinces, ed).

And 4. Actually it's the first time since the '60s that you can speak of spontaneous and peaceful civilian demonstrations."

I ask about the demands of the demonstrators, and they appear to be strikingly parallel to that in Tunisia or Egypt. Yahya Al Kubaisi: "I would rank the demands in four categories. There are slogans for better public services (water, electricity, health care). The demonstrators are also carrying slogans against widespread corruption. People want more jobs. And finally, the protesters want more freedom and are opposed to violations of human rights. These demands are not necessarily present everywhere at the same time or location. And out of cautiousness they are not packaged as demands for the fall of the regime, but for the "reform" of the regime. "


Original article: http://www.intal.be/nl/article/de-moord-op-het-iraakse-onder
wijs-internationaal-aangeklaagd-gent
translated by Dirk Adriaensens, member of the BRussells Tribunal executive Committee.

If you live in the U.K. Please ask your MP to sign the Early Day Motion: HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION OF IRAQI TURKMEN

More signatures are needed!

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Human Rights Situation Of Iraqi Turkmen

EDM number 968 in 2010-2011, proposed by Mike Hancock on 08/11/2010.
Categorised under the topic of Human rights.


That this House is concerned about the human rights situation of the Iraqi Turkmens, the third largest ethnic group in Iraq, who mainly live in the northern provinces, such as Kirkuk; condemns the ethnic cleansing and assimilation policy of Iraqi Turkmens by both Saddam Hussein's government until 2003 and the Kurds since 2003, who claim the Iraqi Turkmens' lands which are rich with oil, gas sulphur, uranium and phosphorus; notes that the census in Iraq delayed for the third time since 2007 is now due to be held on 5 December 2010; worries that the inclusion of the questions on ethnicity and mother tongue in the census will divide Iraqi people instead of uniting them and might create new outbreaks of violence in this country; further condemns the treatment of the Iraqi Turkmens as the lower class in Iraq in comparison with the Arabs and Kurds; believes all ethnicities in Iraq should possess equal rights; welcomes the work of the Iraqi Turkmen Front to promote the human rights of Iraqi Turkmens such as the right to participate in the forming of the new government and the right to have justice, equality, fairness and an end to the discrimination and violence; and calls on the Prime Minister and the Government to raise the issue of Iraqi Turkmens' human rights with the government of Iraq.


This motion has been signed by a total of 22 MPs.
MP
Date
Constituency
Party
Type
Mike Hancock
08/11/2010
Portsmouth South
Liberal Democrat
Proposed
Michael Connarty
08/11/2010
Linlithgow & Falkirk East
Labour
Seconded
Bob Russell
08/11/2010
Colchester
Liberal Democrat
Seconded
Mark Durkan
09/11/2010
Foyle
Social Democratic and Labour Party
Seconded
Stephen Williams
09/11/2010
Bristol West
Liberal Democrat
Seconded
John McDonnell
09/11/2010
Hayes & Harlington
Labour
Seconded
Jim Shannon
10/11/2010
Strangford
DUP
Signed
John Leech
10/11/2010
Manchester, Withington
Liberal Democrat
Signed
Marsha Singh
11/11/2010
Bradford West
Labour
Signed
Peter Bottomley
11/11/2010
Worthing West
Conservative
Signed
Tessa Munt
12/11/2010
Wells
Liberal Democrat
Signed
John Hemming
15/11/2010
Birmingham, Yardley
Liberal Democrat
Signed
Kelvin Hopkins
15/11/2010
Luton North
Labour
Signed
Tom Clarke
16/11/2010
Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill
Labour
Signed
Margaret Ritchie
18/11/2010
South Down
Social Democratic and Labour Party
Signed
Tom Blenkinsop
18/11/2010
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland
Labour
Signed
Roger Williams
19/11/2010
Brecon & Radnorshire
Liberal Democrat
Signed
Virendra Sharma
22/11/2010
Ealing, Southall
Labour
Signed
Daniel Rogerson
29/11/2010
North Cornwall
Liberal Democrat
Signed
Mark Williams
30/11/2010
Ceredigion
Liberal Democrat
Signed
Alasdair McDonnell
09/12/2010
Belfast South
Social Democratic and Labour Party
Signed
Simon Hughes
21/12/2010
North Southwark & Bermondsey
Liberal Democrat
Signed
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Iraqi Kurdish protesters to press demands for freedoms and transparency

By Basel al-Khateeb
Azzaman, March 11, 2011

Tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds have risen against their factional leaders, demanding transparency and more freedoms.

The demonstrations have so far concentrated in the Kurdish Province of Sulaimaniya but anger and resentment of policies pursued by the Kurdish region’s government are triggering unrest across the current Kurdish administration.
The Kurdish autonomous enclave comprises two more provinces – Dahouk and Arbil – besides Sulaimaniya.

The Kurdish administration is often cited in Western media as an example of democratic rule in Iraq, but that is more words than deeds.

The two Kurdish factional leaders – Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish region’s president and Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president – are alleged to have been immersed in corruption and favoritism.
Both leaders have their own security and intelligence agencies as well as heavily armed militias who could almost do what they want with impunity.

Some angry protesters have upped their pressure to the extent of shouting slogans for the removal of Barzani, who heavily relies on his Barzani tribe for influence.
The unrest has adversely affected foreign investment and the presence of foreign firms in the region.

The Kurdish budget, mostly based on 17% of total Iraqi oil earnings, is bigger than a country like a Syria with a population of more than 25 million people.

The Kurdish region’s population is estimated at 3.5 million.
But many Kurds live in abject poverty and the gap but the haves and the have-nots is widening.

Moreover, there is no budgetary transparency and even the parliament is in the dark on allocations that are earmarked on factional basis.

In Sulaimaniya, the protesters have camped in a square called al-Saray which has turned into something like the Egyptian Square of Liberation.

Sit-ins are scheduled in other major Kurdish cities as young protesters are relying on new media and the Internet to spread their word.

Angry demonstrations have swept other towns with sizeable Kurdish communities such as the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Barzani was forced to deployed thousands of his militia in Kirkuk to pre-empt an attempt by young Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen to organize large-scale demonstrations against his rule.

http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2011-03-11%5Ckurd.htm

Iraq: ‘We have no freedom or justice’

Sunday, March 13, 2011
By Tony Iltis

Thousands of protesters took to the streets across Iraq on March 4, defying a curfew and repression to demand democracy and economic justice, the March 5 Los Angeles Times said.
The protests followed the February 25 “Day of Rage”, in which demonstrations occurred in at least 17 separate cities and towns. At least nine protests were killed by security forces, the February 26 Sydney Morning Herald said.

During the “Day of Rage”, soldiers guarding the bridge to Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone were pelted with shoes. The Green Zone is home to Iraq’s official government and the real source of power in the country: the US embassy and the main US military base.

For weeks, ongoing protests have hit Iraq — demanding the democracy supposedly brought by the US-led occupation and against terrible social conditions Iraqis have faced since the 2003 invasion.

Predictably, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has blamed al-Qaeda and supporters of Saddam Hussain for the protests.

However, Samir Adil, the president of the Iraq Freedom Congress (IFC) — one of the groups behind the protests — painted a different picture.
Adil told Green Left Weekly: “Many groups, especially leftist organisations, organised the protests.”

Adil said: “The IFC was established on March 19, 2005. The main goal of this organisation is to end the occupation and establish secular, non-sectarian government defining the Iraqi people by human identity.

“On February 11, we started demonstrations saying: we don’t want this government. After eight years we haven’t gotten anything: no stability, no security. There has been the killing of more than 2 million people during these years, with 4 million refugees inside and outside Iraq.
“The US administration promised the Iraqi people the sky will rain democracy and prosperity. Well, after eight years we have nothing. There is no democracy. The democracy’s just inside the militias, inside the pro-US organisations.

“This is the whole situation in Iraq, unfortunately there is a blackout of media, especially in the West.

“We have thousands in prison. Every day, there are kidnappings, assassinations and executions.”
Adil told GLW the protests were inspired by the upsurge of pro-democracy protests across the Arab world.

“The issues affecting Tunisia and Egypt also affect our society. That is why we started these demonstrations.
“But the situation in Iraq is different from Tunisia, because in Tunisia and Egypt there is a government, there is a state, there is a system of law. Even if you reject this law, there is a government you can fight with.

“But in Iraq, you don’t have a government, you have militias.”

“At the last election the majority of people — opposite to what was said in the propaganda of the Western media — boycotted the election because they said we don’t see a party that represents our interests [rather than promoting] sectarian or ethnic divisions.”
Iraq has been dominated by religious sectarian militias since the 2003 invasion. “Since 2003, many, many militias were formed in Iraq,” Adil said. “Different kinds of Shi’a militias, different kinds of Sunni militias …

“Some of the Shi’a militia went into the interior ministry, others into the defence ministry.
“Now the society is under the control of militias.

“This is a fake government. If you go to south Iraq, there’s a different law to middle Iraq, which is different to north Iraq. In the west, there’s a different law.

“Every party has control in some area and all of it is controlled by militias.”
Adil said sectarian divisions and domination by militias was the result of deliberate US policy.
“We didn’t have this problem before the occupation,” he said.Adil was a staunch opponent of Saddam Hussein. “I’m one of the people who worked against Saddam’s government. I was in jail in 1992, where they tortured me. But Saddam’s government wasn’t a sectarian government.
“Saddam would torture and deny freedom to people equally. There was no Sunni or Shi’a division.

“The first government established by [US official put in charge of post-invasion Iraq] Paul Bremmer, called the governing council and said: ‘You are Shi’a, you are Sunni, you are Kurdish, you are Turcoman’.

“This was the first state to divide Iraqi society this way. But, because the history of Iraqi society is a secular history, they couldn’t transfer this division to the social conditions in Iraq.
“Even now, it never happens that neighbours kill each other. The opposite has happened: neighbours protect each other.

“Those same militias attacked workplaces to spread this division, but they failed because Iraqi society has a history of secularism.

“But I can’t give a guarantee. If the situation continues, there’s no guarantee that it will not become like Lebanon or Kosovo.

“Now that this kind of poison has been put in our society, if it is not removed quickly it’s going to infect society.
“For that reason, we are working hard day by day. Because of this, our organisation is threatened by the militias and the government.
“In 2006, we raised the slogan: ‘No Sunni, no Shi’a, We are all human’. We mobilised people around this slogan and we established a safety force.
“Because of this, the occupation forces attacked our offices many times and assassinated the leader of the safety force.”

The dire economic conditions created by the invasion and occupation in Iraq are far worse than what exists in most other Arab countries.

“Many people cannot go to university”, Adil said. “One problem is that there is no income for most people.

“The second problem is no security [because] the occupation divided society into a sectarian society … some people cannot go to university because they are scared of the militias.
“There is a lack of social services and of clean water. We have just one-to-two hours of electricity per day.
“We have an unemployment rate of 28%. This is the official government statistic — I believe it is higher.
“We now have an illiteracy rate of 25%. In the 1980s, there was no illiteracy in Iraq.
“There are mountains of garbage [on the streets].
“The incidence of cancer is phenomenal in our society, because US forces have attacked the Iraqi people at two different times with depleted uranium.
“The first was in the 1991 Gulf War and the second during the 2003 invasion. If you go to the south of Iraq, especially Basra City, many, many people have got cancer. Iraq is now the worst country in the Middle East for this disease.

“We have a lack of medical care and medicine. Plus, they use depleted uranium and there is no clean water. There is also pollution. All of this has increased the number of people who get this kind of disease.”

Western economic interests are responsible for much of the injustice that is fuelling protests across the Arab world. In occupied Iraq, this connection is very clear.
“The US occupation destroyed everything, but they have many economic projects,” Adil said. “They bring the International Monetary Fund [IMF] to Iraq, even though Iraq is a rich country from oil.

“Two years ago, we had a US$50 billion budget surplus. But the government is going to take a $3.6 billion loan from the IMF.

“This is the US project: they want to create a ‘free market’ in Iraq, they want privatisation.
“Now in the public sector there is no freedom of trade unions. There is no freedom to demonstrate or strike. No freedom to sit-in.

“There is no freedom to organise your own group or trade union in the public sector.
“Four years ago, a front was established by the IFC, leaders of the oil workers’ union and other sectors against the draft oil and gas law. We successfully stopped this draft law.

“The minister of oil took a decision to capture our leaders. But we launched a big international campaign, inside and outside Iraq, which stopped this.
“But now there are many companies [in Iraq], such as BP, Halliburton and others. They want everything to be under their control.

“Now we are struggling and mobilising people to face these economic projects in Iraq.”

When the protests started on February 11, the IFC received threats. “These demonstrations are shaking the government and now it is threatening the demonstration with its militia. They said if you go to this demonstration we’re going to kidnap you and attack the demonstration.
“These threats did not come from government officials, but from the militias that belong to the parties in government.”

Adil was concerned that the protests could become the target of government-instigated terrorist attacks.

“I called our comrades and said, ‘Be careful, maybe they’ll send you a car bomb, and they’ll kill many people and say this is al-Qaeda. Or maybe they’ll shoot you and say this is al-Qaeda or some other people’.”

He told GLW that most of the violence attributed to shadowy terrorist groups was either carried out or facilitated by the pro-US militias who run Iraq.
He cited the church bombing on October 31, 2010.
“It is not al-Qaeda,” he said. “This is the government propaganda, educated by the US administration.”
“I don’t defend al-Qaeda, which is a symbol of the criminal underworld. But in Iraq, al-Qaeda failed.
“This is the militias — especially those of parties in the government. They give the chance to groups like al-Qaeda to do those kinds of crimes.

“There is a hegemonic project in Iraq to impose this kind of sectarian division. For that reason they attacked the church, attacked the Christian people.

“Before that, they attacked the Shi’a. And before that, they attacked the Sunni.
“They want to send a message. This message is to scare people and impose their rule on society.”
·
From GLW issue 872
http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/46987

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Protests held in several Iraqi cities

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Protesters gathered in several Iraqi cities today, with the largest demonstration held in the Kurdish town of Sulaimaniyah, where some 4,000 people called for the dismissal of the regional administration.

One protester in Sulaimaniyah tried to set himself ablaze, but other demonstrators extinguished the flames before the man suffered major injuries.

Protesters in Sulaimaniyah carried pictures of demonstrators killed in recent weeks and called for the dismissal of regional President Masud Barzani.

There was also a large protest on Tahrir Square in Baghdad, where demonstrators accused security forces of beating protesters at a rally at the end of February.
There were also demonstrations in Najaf and Basra.

Saturday, 12 March 2011RFERL

Friday, 11 March 2011

Azerbaijan Embassy - Press Release

Azərbaycan Respublikasının Səfirliyi / Avropa Birliyi yanında Numayəndəliyi
Ambassade de la République d’Azerbaïdjan / Mission auprès de l’Union Européenne
Ambassade van de Republiek Azerbaidzjan / Missie bij de Europese Unie
_________________________________________________________________________
Avenue Molière 464, B-1050 Brussels – Tel.: +32(0)2 345 26 60 – Fax: +32(0)2 345 91 58 – e-mail: office@azembassy.be

11 March 2011


PRESS RELEASE

On 8 March 2011 the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia deployed in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan once again violated the ceasefire. As a result, Fariz Badalov, a 9-year old resident of the village of Orta Garvand in the Agdam district of Azerbaijan, was killed. The fatal shot was fired from an Armenian sniper’s position at the village of Shikhlar of the Agdam district occupied by the Armenian troops since 1993. It was the only shot fired from the Armenian positions on that day, which rules out a theory of an accidental shot. Observing a child through an optical sight of his rifle the sniper knew that this is a noncombatant target, but this did not stop him from pulling the trigger.

Targeting the civilian population, and the children in particular, is a grave violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law, including the provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. This barbaric practice contravenes the UN Security Council Resolution 1314 “On the protection of children in armed conflicts”, which was adopted in 2000 and reaffirmed the “strong condemnation of the deliberate targeting of children in situations of armed conflict and the harmful and widespread impact of armed conflict on children, and the long-term consequences this has for durable peace, security and development”.

The Armenian side never showed respect to these provisions. One has only to recall that among 613 persons killed by the Armenian forces in the act of genocide against the population of an Azerbaijani town of Khojaly in February 1992 there were 83 children, including newborn infants. The Armenian forces continued to deliberately target the civilian population, including the children, even after the ceasefire was reached in May 1994. As a result of numerous violations from the Armenian side many Azerbaijani farmers, shepherds, and schoolchildren were killed or injured.

The killing of a 9-year old child happened only two days after a joint meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia held in Sochi. This fact confirms a destructive position of the Armenian side. Provocative acts of this kind undermine a fragile process of peace negotiations and create a serious obstacle for a building of confidence between two sides. Peace and confidence cannot be achieved in the conditions of a continued military occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan and displacement of Azerbaijani population.

In this connection the Republic of Azerbaijan is calling upon the international community to condemn this killing of a child, as well as to encourage Armenia to put an end to the provocative actions, and instead to negotiate in good faith with a view to achieving a soonest and durable solution to the conflict on the basis of the norms and principles of international law.

Monday, 7 March 2011

A Middle East without borders? OPINION


Could the short-lived United Arab Republic serve as an example of cross-border union? [GALLO/GETTY]


A Middle East without borders?
The nation state is ripe for change and people power offers new opportunities for mapping the future of the region.
Mohammed Khan
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2011 15:00 GMT


The modern geography of the Middle East was carved out by British and French colonialists whose sole interest was in sharing the spoils of war between themselves and in maintaining their supremacy over the region in the early part of the 20th century.

The contours of the region, with its immaculately straight lines (see maps of Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Sudan) are much the same today as when they were first drawn up, despite decades of cross-border encroachment and conflict.Never has an imported concept been so jealously guarded by ruling families and political elites in the Middle East as that of the nation state, together with the holy grail of international relations theory, state sovereignty.

The artificialness of the borders in question is not in doubt. Take a look at any map of the Middle East prior to the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France (when the division of the region was finalised with no consideration for the thoughts of the people that lived in it) and you will be hard pressed to find many physical boundaries between, say, Syria to the north-east and Morocco to the west.

What you may find, however, are free-flowing train routes spanning the region. A relic of the old Hejaz Railway, which connected Damascus to Medina, still stands (dilapidated) in the centre of the Syrian capital.

It once transported pilgrims to the Muslim holy city in modern-day Saudi Arabia without the need for cumbersome visas and frustrating bureaucrats. But that was obviously some time ago.

Trial and errorOver the course of recent history, Arab leaders have attempted to foster closer unity in the Arab world whether in the form of the 22-member Arab League - "to safeguard the independence and sovereignty [of Arab states]" - or the six-state Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) - as a political, economic and security union in response to the Islamic revolution in Iran.

However, the sanctity of the state itself, and its borders, has been absolute within these blocs.

Possibly the greatest experiment in cross-border union, one which admittedly lasted barely three years, began in 1958, when under a wave of Nasserism sweeping the region, Egypt and Syria (and for a very short period, Iraq) established the United Arab Republic (UAR).

Gamal Abdel-Nasser's demagoguery and penchant for power, however, and the subsequent economic tumult felt in Syria, soon saw an end to that project in 1961.Theoretically, Egypt and Syria became one, as part of the UAR. Under a single leadership (with devolved power), the UAR was supposed to foster a spirit of togetherness and spur other countries in the region to join up and expand the union.

That the project failed was in no way a reflection of the Egyptian and Syrian peoples' desire to forge a single alliance. Together with the then Yemen Arab Republic, the formation of a United Arab States was also mooted.

That was the last we heard of a pan-Arab national project.
Arguably, the 1990s and the 2000s were the decades of cross-border post-nationalism, especially with the rise of Islamic movements as major political actors whose ideology was premised on Islamic ideals that transcended national borders.

Analyse closely the manifestos of some of these movements, however, and also consider their specific origins, and it soon becomes clear that their political ambitions were, and are, ingrained firmly in the states in which they emerged.

As such, the Islamic Salvation Front was a dominant actor in Algeria and Algeria alone, while the Muslim Brotherhood's focus is on political reformation in Egypt. The Brotherhood's offshoots are similarly specifically state-centric.

These movements may well have ideological underpinnings that aim to replicate the glory days of the early Caliphates or the Ottoman Empire, but realism has dictated that they focus their energies within specific national confines. This is unlikely to change anytime soon.

All for one
Given this recent history, then, is the idea of a borderless Middle East still viable? It may well be when you consider that the globalised nature of the world, in its present form, has thrown up possibilities in the region that would have been inconceivable barely a few years back.

More precisely, the political convulsions that the region is undergoing right now have revealed glaringly the extent to which the problems and, potentially, the solutions to the Arab world's ills are remarkably similar. The political, economic and social suffocation that the people of Tunisia and Egypt have endured, before popular revolutions swept the countries' dictators from power, were near identical. The political, economic and social ailments suffered in Libya, Algeria, Bahrain, Yemen and now Oman are of the same vein.Obviously, the causes of political unrest across these states are much more nuanced and cannot be reduced to generalisations.

However, the future, unsurprisingly, is with the youth, the very demographic that is taking the lead in battling corruption and autocracy and one that is communicating, encouraging and helping others across borders in the spirit and language of togetherness.

Sure, this does not by itself denote that borders are now irrelevant. What it does suggest, however, is that political and economic issues and opportunities cannot be dealt with simply within the confines of borders any longer. The pent-up frustrations of the Arab youth, the economic inequalities, the demands for better representation extend across the entire region.

A single voice is emerging in search of a single value: Freedom.

A single political authority is certainly not about to emerge out of the current political turmoil. But such an authority is not necessary. An appropriate governance model for the Arab world to emulate would be that of the European Union (EU). The 27-nation political and economic union is borderless in the sense that its people can live, work and travel in member countries without much hindrance.Sovereignty is still paramount in the EU but the federalisation of political and economic power is to the benefit of hundreds of millions of Europeans. Granted, the recent economic and financial crisis has called into question the viability of the EU, or more specifically, the single European currency, but the political will remains resolute in defence of the union.

We can probably find a plethora of reasons why a real political and economic union would not work in the Arab world. Take a look at the GCC, for example, a bloc of around 40 million people: After a decade of trying, it is still unable to form a currency union. How are we then to expect over 200 million people to agree on a federally-based political and economic union?

But, this would be to dismiss the thrust towards a common set of goals in the Arab world. Borders are increasingly irrelevant in this new equation. The means of mass communication, interdependency, pan-regional media, ease of access through improved infrastructure, the identification with a cause rather than a country, all suggest that the political awakening in the region may be conducive to a completely different set of political and economic realities.

The nation state as we know it, as it was imposed on the region by colonial powers, is ripe for change. The unleashing of people power has now opened up new possibilities for mapping the Arab world's future. While protesters across the region have been waving their respective national flags, the cause for which they are fighting and risking their lives extends well beyond their immediate borders.


Mohammed Khan is a political analyst based in the UAE.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Death threats and targeted physical attacks on journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan

Death threats and targeted physical attacks on journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan
1 March 2011 by KB

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) wrote [yesterday] to KRG President Massoud Barzani, voicing deep concern about the deterioration in the situation of journalists there since 17 February. The situation for journalists in Kurdistan has never been great. In November 2010 RWB released a mission report entitled Between Freedom and Abuses: The Media Paradox in Iraqi Kurdistan that explored tense relationships that exist between the government and journalists, saying that there remains a profound lack of understanding between authorities and media professionals, as neither camp seems to accept the role of, or necessity for, the other.

The RWB letter:

HE Massoud Barzani
President of the Kurdistan Regional Government
Office of the President
Erbil

Paris, 28 February 2011

Dear President Barzani,

In a report released on 3 November, Reporters Without Borders said there was more press freedom in Iraqi Kurdistan than in surrounding regions and that the situation had improved considerably in the past 10 years. However we would now like to share with you our deep concern about the deterioration in the situation of journalists in your autonomous region since 17 February.

During the past 10 days, our organization has registered many physical attacks by the security forces on journalists covering the current demonstrations. Many journalists have also told us that they have received explicit death threats. Please find enclosed a list of these incidents, which is not exhaustive.

As president of the autonomous regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan, Reporters Without Borders urges you to do everything in your power to end these media freedom violations and to ensure that the safety of all journalists is guaranteed. We would also like these incidents to be investigated, especially the arson attack on the privately-owned TV station NRT on 20 February.

We thank you in advance for the attention you give to our request.

Sincerely,

Jean-François Julliard
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general

A non-exhaustive list of incidents targeting media personnel during the past 10 days
* 27 February – incidents at Erbil

Allan Sahebqrran, a reporter for the newspaper Hawlati, was attacked by men in civilian dress, who slashed his face.

“I was outside the headquarters of the Erbil governorate with other journalists,” he said. “People in civilian dress ordered us to leave. At first they said they were police. Then they said they worked for the Asayesh [intelligence services]. We also saw their cards. We were then followed by 12 plainclothes members of the security forces. When we got to the centre of Erbil, they hit me. Some of them filmed what was happening while the others kept on hitting me. I filed a complaint and was able to recover my camera from the Asayesh a bit later but I did not get my mobile phone back. My neck still hurts.”

Shwan Sidiq, a reporter for Civil Magazine, told Reporters Without Borders that a man in civilian dress prevented him from taking photos of a demonstrator who had been injured in Erbil.

Garmiyani Hamay Pur, a journalist with the satellite TV station KNN, said KNN cameraman Rahman Nariman was attacked in Kalar by members of the security forces of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), one of the two main parties that form the coalition government. His camera was taken and shots were fired at him.

Hemn Karim, the editor of Fshar, and Salman Kochari, a reporter for Standard Magazine, told Reporters Without Borders they had received death threats.

* 26 February, a series of incidents, above all at Kalar (100 km south of Sulaymaniyah)

Garmiyani Hamay Pur, a KNN journalist based in Kalar, told Reporters Without Borders that the security forces banned him from filming. “I was told that the security forces had been ordered to hit journalists who covered the demonstrations. As a result, now only the partisan media can film during marches.”

Kawa Garmiyani, a reporter for the newspaper Awene, was physically attacked by masked gunmen who seized his camera and recorder while covering clashes between police and demonstrators earlier in the day in Kalar.

Speda TV journalist Sarkawt Salam and a photographer, Sangar Hamid, were attacked by gunmen. “We were attacked without any reason while covering the demonstration,” Salam told Reporters Without Borders.

Hawlati reporter Soran Ahmed was accosted in Sulaymaniyah by members of the counter-terrorist forces led by Pavel Talabani, the son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who heads the other main ruling party in Kurdistan, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). “They confiscated my camera and mobile phone,” he told Reporters Without Borders. “They also took my press card and the card issued by the Union of Journalists.”

Irfan Ahmed, Anwar Arab, Salam Haji and Nasih Abdulrahim were arrested by security forces while covering a demonstration in Halabja (80 km east of Sulaymaniyah). They were taken to the mayor’s office and were released an hour and a half later.

Freelance journalist and writer Soran Omar said he had received many threatening SMS messages from different phone numbers after giving an interview on the TV station Payam. “I think even Sulaymaniyah is not a place for independent journalists,” he told Reporters Without Borders. He requested protection from the authorities and contacted the mobile phone company Asia Cell to request the identity of the owners of the SIM cards from which the threats were sent.

Bestun Jallayi, the Speda TV bureau chief in Kalar, said he received a threatening SMS message in the evening. “Wait for death’s flood,” the SMS said.

Someone hacked into the Facebook pages of two influential writers and intellectuals, Mariwan Wrya Qani and Aras Fatah, after they voiced support for the demonstrations. The Kurdistanpost.info news website was also blocked.

*25 February, many journalists report receiving death threats

Niyaz Abdulla, an Erbil-based reporter for Radio Nawa, told Reporters Without Borders she was threatened by security forces while outside the Erbil governorate’s headquarters to cover a demonstration by young people in support of the Sulaymaniyah demonstrators. KDP supporters insulted her and threatened her with violence. When she left, she was followed by plainclothes officers until she found a taxi.

“Nowadays there is no point filing a complaint against the security forces,” she said. She also said that security forces confiscated a camera from a journalist working for the newspaper Rudaw.

Latif Fatih Faraj, a journalist with PUK links who heads the Journalists Union in Kirkuk said: “I had just returned home after taking part in a live KNN programme on the demonstrations in Sulaymaniyah and other cities when I got a phone call. Describing himself as an important politician, the caller said he was going to kill me for criticising the KDP, which is led by Massoud Barzani, the autonomous Kurdistan region’s president. His number? 0770 39 705 98.”

The head of the KDP in Kirkuk denied that his party could be responsible for such threats. “So I called the PUK, the Asayesh and the police,” Faraj added. “The police offered to put me under the protection of bodyguards but I refused. My brothers and cousins are with me, to protect me if anything happens to me.”

Members of a group of journalists based in Erbil were threatened after expressing support for the demonstrations in Sulaymaniyah. One of them, writer and political analyst Salah Mazen, wrote on Facebook: “Someone called me last night and clearly advised me not to participate in the demonstrations organized in Erbil. He said if I wanted to demonstrate, I should just go to Sulaymaniyah. He said, word for word: ‘If you value your life and love your children, stay quietly at home or leave Erbil for Sulaymaniyah.’”

Shawqi Kanabi, the head of the KNN bureau in Erbil, told Reporters Without Borders he had been warned that the station’s bureau could be attacked if it filmed the demonstrations in Erbil.

Freelance journalist Barzan Ali Hama was forced to leave Erbil after organizing a petition signed by a number of journalists that urged the region’s parliament to find a solution to the current crisis and to ensure that those responsible for shooting on demonstrators were brought to justice. Several of the signatories, who asked not to be identified, withdrew their support after receiving threats from KDP supporters.

Kaywan Hawrani, a freelance journalist based in Halabja, has also had to flee. One of his friends said: “Kaywan was one of the organizers of the 23 February demonstration in Halabja during which a policeman was injured. Soon after the demonstration, the police began to arrest the organizers. Kaywan fled the town. The police are looking for him.”

Meanwhile, a representative of the opposition party Goran said during a special parliamentary session on 23 February that six Peshmergas [Kurdish fighters] who were responsible for the arson attack on the privately-owned TV station NRT on 20 February were currently hospitalised because of the burns they sustained during the attack.

“We now know the people who were responsible for this attack but we have obtained no clear response from the interior ministry and intelligence services.” He said. According some rumours, two of the Peshmergas involved were sent to Turkey for treatment because of the gravity of their burns.

* Incidents already mentioned in a previous release

* 21 February

Ageed Saleem, an NRT reporter in Duhok, said he was threatened by a leading KDP member.

* 20 February

Criminal raid of Naliya Radio and Television (NRT), a new satellite TV station based in Sulaymaniyah.

KNN reporter Bryar Namiq was badly injured by police and members of the Asayesh.

KURDIU reporter Balen Othman was attacked and his camera was destroyed.

Goran Othman, a journalist with the Islamic Group news website, was attacked.

Shaswar Mama, an NRT reporter in Raniya, was accosted by members of the security forces.

KURDIU reporter Mukhlis Ahmed was attacked in Raniya.
Following its coverage of the previous day’s events in Sulaymaniyah, staff at the newspaper Hawlati received a threatening phone call saying they should evacuate their Erbil office.

* 19 February
Police prevented many journalists from covering protests at the University of Sulaymaniyah.

Asayesh beat Hawlati reporter Ara Ibrahim using batons.

Police attacked a KNN TV crew.

Aras Muhammad, the head of Arasta magazine and Sound Radio, was injured by members of the Asayesh.

Hardi Salami, a reporter for the satellite TV station Gali Kurdistani, sustained a leg injury.

Payam reporter Wrya Ahmed sustained injuries to the hands and legs when he was attacked by police.

The Sulaymaniyah security committee also demanded university academic and intellectual Faruq Rafeeq’s arrest after he said, while taking part in a demonstration in Sulaymaniyah on 17 February: “Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, should apologize for the incidents and deaths caused by members of his party. Those who fired the fatal shots and those who gave them their orders should be arrested and brought to justice. And finally, the Peshmergas should leave the city.”

* 18 February

Lutfi Doski, a Duhok-based KNN reporter, was prevented from filming the premises of the Gorran party in Duhok.

An NRT team was prevented from filming demonstrations.

Reporters for the newspaper Chatr were forced to delete the photos they had taken of the demonstrations.

Reporters for the newspaper Hawlati were prevented from filming incidents taking place in Sulaymaniyah.

* 17 February

Radio Gorran was prevented from broadcasting.

Police prevented KNN reporters from filming the incidents.

Shwan Muhammad, the editor of the newspaper Awene, was insulted by Peshmergas.

Rahman Gharib, the head of the press freedom organization METRO and a reporter for Sumariya News, was attacked.

KNN programme director Namo Namiq was detained for several hours.

Radio Nawa reporter Bilal Muhammad was attacked and prevented from covering the incidents.

Saman Majed and Bwar Jalal, reporters for the PUK’s satellite TV station Gali Kurdistan, were attacked.

Sherko Salayi, a reporter for CNN in Arabic, was attacked.

Hemin Abdul Latif, reporter for the Destur news website, was badly injured while photographing demonstrators attacking the local headquarters of the KDP.

The Erbil headquarters of the KNN TV and radio station were set on fire.

Ari Muhammad, a photographer with the Metrography agency, was injured.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Thursday, 3 March 2011

الوهم الكردي في كركوك

الوهم الكردي في كركوك

د.إسماعيل عيسى ألبياتي

المقدمة
إن إحدى معضلات الدولة العراقية الحالية، هي استمرار الأكراد بإثارة موضوع كركوك واعتبارها جزءً من المنطقة الكردية،أو منطقة كردستان .وبالرغم من إن قانون إدارة الدولة العراقية ، الذي أقره مجلس الحكم الانتقالي، قد أرجأ حل مشكلة كركوك باعتباره حالة خاصة،والى حين استكمال المصادقة على الدستور الدائم للدولة العراقية ،مع بقاء حدود المحافظات العراقية الثمانية عشرة من دون تغير،وكذلك عدم إمكانية دمج محافظة كركوك مع أي محافظة أخرى أو إقليم فيدرالي. الاّ ان القيادة الكردية المتمثلة بالسيدين مسعود البارزاني وجلال الطالباني، تؤكد دائما على ان كركوك هي جزء من المنطقة الكردية.فتارة هي أشبه بقلب كردستان النابض، وتارة اخرى، قدسها الذي لايمكن المساس به. علما ان كركوك لم تكن جغرافيا وتاريخيا واجتماعيا ضمن المنطقة الكردية،أو بأكثرية كردية في أي وقت من الأوقات
تاريخ كردستان المتداول
استخدم مصطلح كردستان (منطقة الأكراد) ولأول مرة في زمن السلاجقة الأتراك عام 1157م، عندما اقيمت مقاطعة بأسم كردستان مركزها "بهار" في شمال غربي همذان، محاذية لأذربيجان في ايران. فهي تمثل الجزء الشمالي من جبال زغاروس، أي منطقة شهرزور التي تشمل مقاطعة كردستان الإيرانية الحالية وكذلك محافظة السليمانية الحالية في العراق
إن مساحة كردستان أخذت تتوسع بمرور الزمن والى يومنا هذا على حساب مناطق جديدة تقطنها شعوب أخرى: نحو الجنوب إلى مناطق بختيار واللور ونحو الشمال إلى بلاد الأرمن واذربيجان ونحو الغرب إلى منطقة الجزيرة "شمال وادي الرافدين" لتشمل ديار بكر والعمادية والموصل واربيل وكركوك وأطلقوا حديثا تسمية "كردستان الجنوبية" على سهل نينوى الكلدواشوري الأصيل، حتى وصلت حدود خريطتهم أخيرا إلى مشارف مدينة الكوت .وفي كل توسع كانوا يعتبرون المناطق الجديدة جزأ من كردستان،رغم وجود أقوام أصليين قاطنيين في تلك المناطق
في عام 1349م أي بعد مرور قرنين من تسمية مقاطعة كردستان نرى مساحةكردستان حسب ما ذكره المؤرخ حمد الله مصطفى قد توسعت لتشمل مناطق جديدة في الشمال والجنوب. وفي عام 1596م توسع المؤرخ شرف الدين في كتابه "شرف نامة" في تعريف منطقة كردستان جنوبا لتشمل مقاطعة لورستان كافة. وفي عام 1682 يأتي المؤرخ الشلبي ليتوسع في تعريف مساحة كردستان شمالا لتشمل الجزء الكبير من أرمينيا ثم يتوسع إلى الغرب نحو منطقة الجزيرة في شمال الرافدين لتشمل ديار بكر والعمادية والموصل واربيل وكركوك ثم نحو الشمال الغربي إلى أذربجان الغربية.وقد لعب التحالف الطائفي بين الترك السنة والكرد السنة دورا كبيرا في إنشاء بعض الأمارات الكردية،ومن أشهرها الإمارة البابانية في السليمانية عام 1515 م وامارة أخرى في ديار بكر ، لغرض مجابهة الشيعة المتمثلين في أيران و المسيحيين في شمال الرافدين. فليس غريبا أن نجد السليماتية منطقة كردية خالصة.لكن كركوك بقت بعيدة عن الوجود الكردي وظلت محافظة على طابعها التركماني. فالتشبث في توسيع منطقة كردستان بالشكل الحالي هو حق غير تاريخي أو جغرافي، وهو طموح غير مشروع لأنه يقوم على حساب أقوام أخرى، ويستلب حقوق جماعات كانت تستوطن المنطقة منذ قديم الزمان، ولها تاريخ عريق فيها، فالإدعاء أن كركوك التاريخية هي جزء من كردستان المتداولة هو دعوة باطلة لأن كركوك لم تقطنها يوما أكثرية كردية أبدا
لمحة قصيره عن تاريخ كركوك
كركوك من المدن العراقية القديمة التي جاء ذكرها في الألواح الكلدانية والآشورية قبل أكثر من أربعة آلاف سنة،تحت اسم أربخا، وفيها شيد القائد سلوةس الأغريقي قلعته ،على انقاض قلعة الآشوريين الشهيرة الماثلة الى الآن.وقد جاءت تسمية كركوك ، منحوتة عن كلمة كرخ سلوق ، أي مدينة سلوق. ولما انتشرت الديانة المسيحية في وادي الرافدين، أصبحت كركوك مركزا ثقافيا مسيحيا للسريان،وسميت بيت كرماي، أي بيت العظام ، نسبة إلى المجزرة التي كان ضحيتها بضعة الاف من المسيحيين في القرن الرابع الميلادي في عهد الفرس الساسانيين ، وظلت مركزا إشعاعيا للثقافة المسيحية على طوال فترة الفتوحات الإسلامية

بعد ازدياد النفوذ التركي في العراق، لاسيما عند وصول ( القا ئد طغرل بك) فاتحا بغداد على رأس السلاجقة الترك عام 1115م ، أصبحت مناطق شمال الرافدين كالموصل وأربيل وكركوك من مراكز النفوذ التركي، فأقام فيها التركمان الدول والإمارات ،مثل إمارة الموصل وأربيل وكركوك.ونشأت علاقة حميمة بين رؤساء دولتي (الخروف الأبيض والخروف الأسود التركمان) والمسيحيين في كركوك واربيل، فأعتنق قسم منهم الدين المسيحي.وظلت هذه المناطق تحت حكم التركمان زهاء قرنين من الزمان ولحين زحف العثمانيين الى بغداد وإقامة الإمبراطورية العثمانية عام 1515م،حيث خضعت جميع الزعامات التركمانية المحلية لحكم العثمانيين فأنخرط التركمان في الحياة المدنية وأصبحوا جزءا مهما من التركيبة السكانية. وطيلة قرون حكم العثمانيين الأتراك بقت كركوك مركزا ثقافيا تركمانيا يزود الإمبراطورية العثمانية بالعسكريين والموظفين المدنين والمثقفين ،كما ظلت على هذا المنوال خلال الحكم العراقي الوطني في مستهل حياته السياسي
التركيبة السكانية لكركوك
الوقائع التاريخية تؤكد إن كركوك كانت مركزا للتركمان ولقرون طويلة،بعد إن كانت مركزا للسريان في انتشار المسيحية،حيث عاش فيها التركمان،الكلدواشوريون،اليهود،بعض الأكراد والعرب. وأثار التركمان لا تزال شاخصة في كركوك الى يومنا هذا، فالمقابر العديدة ،الموزعة في المدينة ،أكثرها تركمانية، إلا مقبرة واحدة حديثة، بدأ الاكراد يدفنوا بها موتاهم بعد الثلاثينات من القرن الماضي. والأدباء والشعراء والفنانون ولحد عام 1980 كانوا كلهم من التركمان، واذا كان هناك شاعر كردي، فقد كتب بالتركمانية أكثر مما كتب بالكردية. إن أسماء الأحياء والأسواق القديمة جميعها بالتركمانية، والصحف والنشرات والمجلات وحتى جريدة الوقائع المحلية، كانت كلها تصدر بالتركمانية. كذلك المحاكم هي الأخرى كانت تجري مرافعاتها بالتركمانية، أما المتصرفون ( المحافظون) الذين اداروا كركوك خلال العهد الملكي ولعام 1959والذين جاؤا عن طريق الانتخابات، كانوا من التركمان عدا ثلاثة محافظين من الأكراد تم تعيينهم في ظروف سياسية خاصة
رغم صفحات التاريخ،وصدق الآثار والشواهد التي تؤكد إن غالبية سكان كركوك، كانوا من التركمان ولفترة قريبة ،يبقى وهم الأكراد في أن غالبية سكان كركوك كانوا من الأكراد في يوم ما. لكن ،لا نعرف متى ولماذا؟ والبعض يعزو ذلك إلى أن 90% من عمال شركة نفط كركوك كانوا من الأكراد في عام 1957 . (وهم يعرفون جبدا إن ذلك حدث لأسباب سياسية بحتة،لأن التركمان سببوا مشاكل كثيرة للشركة حال تأسيسها ،لمناهضتهم الكبيرة للإنكليز ،مما سبب في إبعادهم من العمل في الشركة).ولنفس السبب نجد إن 90% من العاملين في شركة نفط خانقين في عام 1957 كانوا من المسيحيين،ولكن لم يدع المسيحيون في ملكية نفط خانقين أبدا، وان نسبتهم في خانقين كانت قليلة وتكاد لا تذكر
ومن الأدلة الدامغة لبيان التركيبة السكانية لكركوك ،يكون العودة إلى بعض السجلات العثمانية المحايدة التي نظمت لأغراض إدارية صرفة،في وقت لم تكن فيه أي أهمية تجارية للنفط
سجلات التوثيق العثمانية الخاصة بلواء كركوك
إن مجرد العودة إلى سجلات التوثيق العائدة للدولة العثمانية والمحفوظة في المديرية العامة للوثائق الرسمية في الجمهورية التركية،تعطيك صورة واضحة دقيقة ونزيهة عن التركيبة السكانية في لواء كركوك، ففي الصفحة (83) من سجل التوثيق رقم 111 و 285 الذي نظم في عهد السلطان سليمان القانوني عام 1548 م لغرض جباية الضرائب ،وسوق الأفراد إلى الخدمة العسكرية ،نجد أسماء البالغين من الرجال الساكنين في كركوك وأقضيتها ونواحيها وقراها،وهي مصنفة على أساس الديانة وعددهم 7320 رجلا،منهم 6990 مسلما ،و 180 مسيحيا،و 150 يهوديا،وباستخدام الاستقراء العلمي للأسماء ومدلولاتها القومية،نجد بين المسلمين آنذاك 6558 تركمانيا, و 54 كرديا و 23 عربيا، فما بالها اليوم نتقلب إلى شاكلة أخرى ،والشواهد لا تزال فيها شاخصة بينة
إن نسبة الأكراد القاطنين في مدينة كركوك ولحد عام 1927 كانت قليلة جدا،لكن الصناعة النفطية التي بدأت ذلك العام فيها هي التي استقطبت الكثير من العرب والأكراد لغرض العمل في حقولها. ثم توالت الهجرات العربية والكردية بعد عام 1930 لتأخذ طابعا سياسيا، واصبحت كركوك مسرحا للصراعات القومية
طموح الأكراد في كركوك
إن طموح الأكراد في المناطق النفطية من كركوك، بدأ يزداد مع أزدياد أهمية النفط في الأسواق العالمية،بعد عام 1925 ، وأخذ الملا مصطفى البارزاني يدق على وتر "كركوك كردستانية" منذ ذلك الحين، على الرغم من ان نسبة الأكراد كما تشير الدلائل لم تكن حتى عام 1958 أكثر من 10-15% من نسبة السكان داخل مدينة كركوك .إلا أن تأثيرهم السياسي المسلح بدأ يزداد مع قيام ثورة 14تموز عام1958 م. فلأول مرة في تاريخ العراق ،يقر الدستور العراقي المؤقت، الذي صاغه عسكريون ومتعصبون قوميون ، بوجود القومية الكردية جنبا إلى جنب مع القومية العربية، في المشاركة في الوطن العراقي. وقد ساعد التحالف الذي قام بين القيادة الكردية والحزب الشيوعي العراقي، في مستهل الحكم الجمهوري ،في فرض السيطرة على مدينة كركوك ،وأحداث مجزرة كركوك عام 1959 خير دليل على ذلك

لقد عانى التركمان والأكراد الأمرين في عهد صدام حسين من تهجير وترحيل وإعدامات وسجون.ولكن الجريمة الكبرى التي ارتكبها نظام صدام في حق التركمان هي بدعتها للأستمارة الأحصائية التي تسأل المواطن (هل أنت عربي أم كردي) في إحصائياتها ، وبذلك ساهم صدام حسين بطمس الهوية التركمانية في كركوك وغيرها من المناطق التركمانية أكثر من سابقيه.ولدى سقوط حكم الطاغية،أستبشر الناس خيرا، وتاملوا أن تلك المهازل التي كانت تجري يومذاك ،قد زالت إلى غير رجعة.لكن للأسف الشديد،إن ما حدث في كركوك خلال الأنتخابات الأخيرة، لم يكن يختلف عما كان يحدث سابقا ،فقد اخترقت شروط الانتخابات في كركوك، بشتى الأشكال وتحت حماية وتوجيه البشمركة الكردية المسلحة،فكانت هذه البادرة دليلا شاخصا على سؤ نية الأكراد تجاه كركوك ، حيث أدلى الكثير من الأكراد لأصواتهم لمرات متكررة. وانتقل الآلاف من الأكراد من اربيل والسليمانية للتصويت في كركوك، كما تم يوم التصويت فتح مراكز انتخابية إضافية في المناطق الكردية لم تكن سابقا مدرجة في الخطة. ومن اجل فسح المجال أمام
الكرد للإدلاء بأصواتهم في تلك المراكز، تم سحب آلاف الاستمارات الانتخابية من مراكز التركمان ووضعت في خدمة المراكز الدخيلة. بينما نفذت في وسط النهار الاستمارات الانتخابية من مراكز التركمان، ولم يعد بامكان الحاضرين التصويت، فخسروا آلاف الأصوات نتيجة هذه الممارسة المتعمدة، ولم تجد الاعتراضات نفعا، والاحتجاجات التي رفعت الى المفوضية العليا المشرفة على الانتخابات والتي ثبتت رسميا آنذاك
فوهم الأكراد بكركوك قد دفعهم لتشجيع مئات الألاف من الأكراد للهجرة إليها، وهم لم يمتوا أي صلة بكركوك.،كما شاعت ظاهرة شراء البطاقات التموينية من الناس الفقراء لقاء مبالغ مغرية،لغرض إعطائها إلى أكراد قدموا من الخارج لا علاقة لهم في كركوك ،لاعتبارهم من أهل كركوك الأصليين.وفي الشتات تدفع المنظمات الكردية الأكراد المهاجرين،لتسجيل نفسهم وعوائلهم ضمن سجلات كركوك،وكذلك يتم تسجيل مواليد جدد من اطفال الأكراد من مناطق خارج كركوك ضمن سجلات كركوك.كل ذلك تمهيدا لزيادة نسبة عدد الأكراد في التعداد السكاني القادم لغرض تقرير مصير كركوك وكما تكرره وتريده القيادات الكردية. ذلك التعداد السكاني المرتقب ،والذي يريدون من الآن أن يبنوه على الزيف والتمويه.وفي الشتات دفعت المنظمات الكردية المهاجرين الأكراد إلى تسجيل أنفسهم وعوائلهم ضمن سجلات كركوك للغرض ذاته

إن مسألة تغير المناهج الدراسية في كركوك إلى كردية،وتعين مسوؤلي الدوائر من أكراد قادمين من السليمانية واربيل بكفاءات حزبية ومخابراتية وليس بمؤهلات أكاديمية وعلمية ، وتشكيل معظم المجالس البلدية من اعضاء الأحزاب الكردية أو من يواليهم ،وأغتيال كل من مدير تربية كركوك ومدير شرطتها التركمانين ،وقتل العديد من التركمان والعرب وأزاحتهم عن الطريق تحت مسميات قوى الأرهاب ، هي للأسف أساليب لا تختلف إطلاقا عن أساليب صدام حسين التي مارسها لصهر القوميات غير العربية والتي عانى منها الأكراد أكثر من أي قومية أخرى ولعهد قريب،ويبدو إن الأكراد لم يأخذوا دروسا وعبر من تلك الممارسات الخاطئة التي جلبت علينا وعليهم كثيرا من الويلات والمآسي . فيريدون اليوم ممارستها بأساليب وحيل لن تخدم أبدا مسيرة بناء المجتمع الذي يحلم به كل العراقيين
حل مسألة كركوك
إن حل مسالة كركوك يكمن في تركها لأهلها الأصلين، والعودة إلى حدودها وحالتها قبل عام 1970 ،والامتثال لبنود قانون إدارة الدولة العراقية وليس بالتجاوز والاستعلاء أو اللف على بنوده ،واستغلال ضعف الحكومة المركزية وإحراجها في ظرف اشد ما تكون إلى المساعدة ،وذلك بالمبالغة في عدد الأكراد المرحلين والمهجرين،وهم على أي حال معروفين من قبل أهل كركوك الأصلين،وقد عاد أكثرهم واستلموا املاكهم وأراضيهم حال سقوط الطاغية

فكركوك تمثل الموزائيك العراقي البديع بألوانه الجميلة، من عرب وأكراد وتركمان،وكلدوأشورين ,وأرمن، عاشوا لقرون طويلة في أخوة ومحبة لم تفرقهم فارقة إلا عند احتدام الصراع العربي الكردي بشأن تعريب وتكر يد كركوك طمعا في ذهبها الأسود وليس حبا في سواد عيونها،وما على الأحرار من العراقيين والقائمين على أمرهم إلا دعم مؤسسات المجتمع المدني في هذه المدينة وإبعاد الهيمنة الحزبية من إرهاب الناس وإفساح المجال للمواطنين لممارسة حقوقهم وواجبا تهم بحرية وأمان،ولن يتم هذا بإثارة النعرات القومية أو بطرد العرب من المدينة وإحلال أكراد مكانهم لا علاقة لهم بكركوك مطلقا،فإذا كان صدام قد أخطأ بحق العرب ،فان العرب في كركوك ما هم إلا ضحية هذا الخطأ.فلا نريد اليوم ضحايا جدد من الكرد يحلون على كركوك مثلما حل العرب سابقا. ولا بد لكركوك إن تعيد مجدها التليد ولكن بلباس مدني وحضاري جديد سداه المحبة ولحمته التعاون،فكركوك لها كل المقومات أن تكون محافظة فدرالية لوحدها ترتبط مباشرة بالمركز، تعود مواردها النفطية لجميع العراقيين ويستحق أن يعيش أبنائها بأطيافهم المتنوعة برخاء وهناء بعيدا عن التعصب والإرهاب الذي يسعى إلى تخريب العراق

الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية
Aysaalbayaty@yahoo.com