vendredi 19 septembre 2014

dimanche 14 septembre 2014

US used ISIL to separate oil-rich Kirkuk, Basra from Iraq: Analyst

US used ISIL to separate oil-rich Kirkuk, Basra from Iraq: Analyst

The United States used the ISIL terrorist group to “destabilize” the Middle East region and separate oil-rich Kirkuk and Basra from Iraq, a political commentator says.

Dean Henderson, author of “Big Oil and their Bankers,” said Thursday the creation of ISIL (or ISIS) was “by design,” because the United States and its regional allies “wanted to lop off Kurdistan as a separate country, using ISIS to destabilize the area.”

“They want Kurdistan to be a separate nation because Kirkuk oil field is in that area and it’s a very large oil field and they also want Basra lopped off from Iraq eventually because of the south Ramallah oil field in that area,” Henderson told Press TV in a phone interview.

“It’s not going to happen,” he said. “Because the Iraqis had the sense to get this government in place quickly and they have aligned themselves with the Kurds and I don’t think they are going to allow for that to happen.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry travelled to Iraq and met with new Iraqi authorities in Baghdad just after Iraqi lawmakers approved a new government headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Kerry’s visit comes as the Iraqi army, backed by Kurdish Peshmarga forces, local tribesmen and volunteer forces, is fighting the ISIL terrorist group which has seized large swaths of land in both Iraq and Syria.

“ISIS, in a nutshell, is another failed foreign policy of the Obama administration,” Henderson said. “It is a sign of a dying desperate empire trying to hang on to control over the world.”

The United States and some of its regional allies, chief among them Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been supporting militant groups in Syria to fight the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Last year, ISIL exploited the chaos of the Syrian conflict to capture a vast expanse of territory there before sweeping into neighboring Iraq.

Shiite Turkmens in Iraq alienated by Turkey

Shiite Turkmens in Iraq alienated by Turkey

   Shiite Turkmens in Iraq alienated by Turkey
Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen patrol in the Shiite Turkmen town of Amirli on Sunday.(Photo: AP)
September 13, 2014, Saturday/ 17:00:00/ AYDIN ALBAYRAK / ANKARA

Turkey's “indifference” to the plight of Turkmens in Iraq seriously risks pushing Shiite Turkmens away from Turkey, as Turkey did not move to protect them against the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“All Turkmens are angry at Turkey, but the Shiite ones are even more so, as Turkey did not offer them protection from ISIL,” said Serhat Erkmen, head of the Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies in 21st Century Turkey, when speaking to Sunday's Zaman.  
Although the terrorist ISIL, which has the backing of some Sunni groups in Iraq, has been cruel to members of all religions in their bloody campaign in the country since early June, those Sunnis who bowed to the terrorist organization managed to save their lives. The radical Islamist organization has so far been brutal to members of other sects of Islam and other religions.
When Tal Afar, a Turkmen city with a population of nearly 400,000 in northwestern Iraq, was confronted with immediate ISIL occupation in mid-June after Mosul fell into ISIL hands, Turkey did not lift a finger to offer Turkmens protection from the terrorist organization. Turkey just provided humanitarian aid to Turkmens who had to flee to the mountainous or desert area around in fear for their lives.  
Hundreds of Turkmens, possibly more, were killed in the ISIL attack on Tal Afar, while most of the city's population, around half of whom were Shiite Turkmens, fled the city. Turkmen girls captured by the terrorists were reportedly raped or sold at the market by ISIL terrorists, as was also the case for Yazidi women later.
“Turkey has long somewhat kept its distance from us, but it had never ignored us as much as it does today,” said Erkmen, who is also a professor of international relations at Ahi Evran University, quoting Shiite Turkmens.
The Turkish government explains its position with the fact that 49 Turkish citizens, most of whom served in Turkey's Mosul consulate, have been held captive by ISIL since the terrorist organization invaded Mosul in June.
Despite being warned about the approaching ISIL threat ahead of the fall of the northern Iraqi city, the Turkish government reportedly instructed Consul-General Öztürk Yılmaz to remain in the consulate in Mosul.
“Shiite Turkmens feel anger and resentment toward Turkey,” Mahir Nakip, a Turkmen scholar from Kirkuk who is based in Turkey, told Sunday's Zaman.
Noting that Turkmens demand that Turkey offer them not only humanitarian aid, but also political support, he added, “A significant number of Shiite Turkmens don't feel affection for Turkey anymore.”  
Possibly nearly half a million Turkmens are displaced in Iraq because of the ISIL threat. As Turkey did not allow Turkmens to seek shelter in Turkey, in contrast to Yazidis, most Shiite Turkmens migrated to the Shia-dominated south of the war-torn country. They reportedly struggle to live in very difficult conditions.  
Turkey, a secular country, has a Sunni-dominated population and the Turkish government has also been criticized for adopting a sectarian policy in Iraq. ISIL's advance in Turkey's southern neighbor was even described by some leading government officials, who have thus far avoided calling ISIL a terrorist organization, as Iraqi Sunnis' reaction to being excluded from the administration of the country, as if to legitimize ISIL.
ISIL activity is seen as an attempt to carve out a Sunni region of Iraq while driving away Turkmens and other religious minorities in the region stretching from Mosul province in the north to Bagdad.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu once claimed in August, when he was minister of foreign affairs, that the clashes in Tal Afar were not just fighting between ISIL and Turkmens, but that Sunni and Shiite Turkmens were also clashing among themselves. Davutoğlu was possibly referring to a few radical Sunni Turkmens in Tal Afar who joined ISIL.  
“Most Shiite Turkmens have adopted an anti-Turkey attitude, as they believe Turkey is behind ISIL,” Riyaz Sarıkahya, a Kirkuk-based leader of the Turkmeneli Party, told Sunday's Zaman.
Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said when Tal Afar was under ISIL siege that there were Sunnis and Shiites there, implicitly bringing to the fore the sectarian issue in the ISIL attacks.
Shiite Turkmens have also been deeply frustrated by the Turkish government's “sectarian” discourse. “They [Shiite Turkmens] perceived that [Erdoğan's remark] as a reference to their sectarian identity. They will never forget that,” Erkmen commented.
Turkmens are in a particularly vulnerable position in the face of ISIL attacks, as the towns they live in stretch from northern Iraq toward Bagdad, precisely the area in which ISIL is active in the country.
“Turkey has not backed us politically. This is what saddens us most,” Sarıkahya added.
Until recently, Amirli, a Shiite Turkmen town with a population of around 15,000 that is near Bagdad, remained under siege by ISIL for around a month-and-a-half. The townspeople defended themselves, under very tough conditions, against the ISIL terrorists until, at long last, the Iraqi central army, supported by US air forces, Kurdish peshmerga forces and military units from some other countries such as Iran broke the ISIL siege.
Reportedly, Turkey just sent humanitarian aid to the town after the siege was broken. Turkmens were once again deeply frustrated at not seeing Turkey at their side when they were struggling for their lives.   
“Shiite Turkmens now feel closer to the central Iraqi government, which is dominated by Shiites, and to Iran, as it was those two who rushed to help them,” Erkmen said.  
It has been three months since Turkmens were driven from their homes by ISIL forces, but the Turkish government has not even managed to establish a campsite to provide shelter for Turkmens in Iraq, let alone in Turkey. The Cumhuriyet daily reported in mid August that there was no trace as yet of a refugee camp having been established by Turkey in the Kurdish region, despite an earlier report by the state-run Anatolia news agency that Turkey was building a camp near the town of Dohuk in the Kurdish region.

Iraqi Turkmen Dissatisfied With New Central Gov't

Iraqi Turkmen Dissatisfied With New Central Gov't

2014-09-10 19:28:48
Turkmen Front leader says they are under represented in Abadi cabinet, with only one ministerial seat.
Iraqi Turkmen Front leader and Kirkuk deputy Arshad al-Salihi is disatisfied with the newly-formed Iraqi government claiming they are under-represented with only one ministerial seat.

His remarks came after the new government, led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, was officially established on Monday after receiving a vote of confidence from the Iraqi parliament.

"Only one seat was allowed for a Turkmen minister in the new cabinet. The Turkmen people of Iraq were once again disregarded during the formation of the government," claimed Salihi.

He said Turkmen Muhammad Mahdi al-Bayati from a Shiite group, the Badr Organization, won the seat of the Human Rights Ministry in the government only after the Iraqi Turkmen Front put pressure on the the Shiite-dominated Iraqi National Alliance, an electoral bloc of politicians from Iraq's leading Shiite parties.

The Turkmen leader called upon al-Abadi to allocate one more ministerial seat to the Turkmen Front.

He further argued that the demand from Iraq's Muttahidun Coalition leader and former Sunni Parliamentary Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, to have a Turkmen vice presidential seat was ignored.

Salihi said the Sunni Arab coalition, which gained 77 MP seats in April 30 elections, "regret" that Turkmen have only one minister in the new government.

"After this phase, Turkmen politics in Iraq must reform and reconsider the coalitions it allies with," he added.

The Iraqi Turkmen leader stressed that Turkmen won 12 seats in the 2010 general elections in Iraq. "Only nine seats in the April 30 elections is a political loss for the Turkmen people," he concluded.

In the new central government of Iraq, 17 ministries were given to Shiites, seven to Sunnis, and four to Kurds, while one ministry was given to minorities during Monday's long debate at parliament.

The new Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi, was named as prime minister by President Fuad Masum on August 11 and was assigned to form the new government of Iraq, ending former PM Nouri al-Maliki's eight-year rule. - Irak

samedi 6 septembre 2014

Iraqi Shiite forces reinvigorated after Amerli victory

Iraqi Shiite militia fighters fire their weapons as they celebrate breaking the siege of Amerli by Islamic State militants, Sept. 1, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal)

Iraqi Shiite forces reinvigorated after Amerli victory

AMERLI, Iraq – Thick black smoke rose from some of the houses in the distance. The rocket and bullet casings lying by the side of the highway attested to the fight for control over the area. Young Shiite men armed with a variety of weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, manned makeshift checkpoints along the road to the “liberated” town of Amerli. Such was the scene that greeted visitors arriving in the vicinity of Amerli and Sulaiman Bag, in the northern part of Saladin province, some 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Baghdad.
After successfully breaking the Islamic State’s siege on the Shiite Turkmen town of Amerli, Iraqi forces are looking to make further advances.
Author Mohammed A. Salih
Posted September 5, 2014

At the entrance to Amerli, children waved Shiite flags at the vehicles entering their dilapidated town. It was a genuine expression of joy at having survived what would have surely been a brutal fate if the fighters of the Islamic State (IS) had succeeded in setting foot in this town populated by Shiite Turkmen.

Armed men affiliated with a number of Shiite groups — some wearing camouflaged military uniforms and others black fatigues — roamed the streets hoisting the flags of their respective organizations on their vehicles, many of which did not have license plates. Among the groups that helped take Amerli were the Badr Brigades, the League of the Righteous, Hezbollah Battalions and Peace Brigades. It was at times difficult to tell who was who. Military humvees provided by the US government to the Iraqi army carried Iraqi and armed groups’ flags.

Fighters from the Hezbollah Battalions set up base at a building formerly used by the government's office of agriculture. The group, whose flag bears striking similarities to Lebanese Hezbollah's banner, once fought both the US military and Iraqi security forces, but has joined forces with the army and other Shiite armed factions to fight their common enemy: Sunni extremists. The men, visibly tired by the fight, rejoiced in their victory over IS, a rare occurrence in the bloody conflict between the Sunni jihadists and the Iraqi army and allied Shiite forces.

“The people of Amerli have implanted fear in the heart of IS,” said Abu Abdullah, a tall, thin man with a blonde beard wearing military fatigues. “Amerli and its surroundings are now free of terrorists.”

Some of the men here were involved in the successful Aug. 31 assault on Amerli by Shiite armed groups, Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga forces that broke the IS siege of some 80 days. Others were part of the resistance inside Amerli. Less than 48 hours after the siege was lifted, no traces were left of peshmerga inside the town. The closest peshmerga post was a checkpoint on the road connecting Touz Khormatu to Sulaiman Bag, several miles away.

The residents of Amerli still appear traumatized from the siege, which was intended to break their resolve and force them into surrendering or starving to death. They call what unfolded a “heroic resistance” and are proud of not having blinked in the face of what they described as a 360-degree siege.

“We were badly short of food and medicine, drank dirty water from the wells and were shelled all the time,” said Sheikh Abbas al-Amerli, a local tribal chief who, like many residents, took up arms to defend his town. “But we did not surrender. We defended our honor.” The fighters denied that aid delivered by the Iraqi military to the town during the siege included military supplies.

Exact figures are not available, but staff at a rundown health center said that several pregnant women and their babies died because of a lack of doctors, medicine and supplies to ease their deliveries. Those who died during the siege were laid to rest in unmarked graves, no more than a pile of earth, in a cemetery on the edge of town.

Truck after truck have been entering the town of nearly 15,000 people to deliver assistance, including much-needed flour for bread, bottled water, which one resident described as a “luxury,” and packaged food. Many of the trucks had flags from Shiite armed groups, and their contents were distributed by armed men. At least four trucks from the Turkish Red Crescent were idle at the entrance of the town shortly before sunset, waiting to be allowed in to distribute their cargo.

Shiite armed men openly boasted of burning the houses of those who cooperated with IS in the nearby village of al-Habash and the district of Sulaiman Bag, both of which have a significant number of Sunni residents. The locals who worked with IS apparently left with the retreating jihadists. At the entrance to Sulaiman Bag and Habash, men at the checkpoints warned visitors to be careful because of possible roadside bombs and warned them not to veer off onto unpaved roads.

The fight in Amerli might be over, but the Shiite groups here plan to march farther. “We cleansed three villages of IS terrorists today,” said Adnan, a militiaman from the nearby town of Touz Khormatu who came to Amerli with the Peace Brigades, which are affiliated with the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. “We will not stop until we have cleaned up all surrounding villages and will then go to Mosul.”

The battle for Mosul might not happen anytime soon, for IS has proven capable of slowing if not bogging down its enemies on different fronts. Regardless, armed Shiite groups, reinvigorated by their most dramatic success in the conflict thus far, are yearning to charge ahead.

At least one person, however, had reason to be unenthusiastic about events that transpired in Amerli, although not for the obvious reason. One pale-looking boy wearing an FC Barcelona jersey said he was saddened because he had been unable to watch the Catalan team's matches. “We didn’t have electricity,” said 11-year old Salam in a feeble voice. The boy then rushed away to collect some ice after spotting a truck pulling over to deliver aid to residents.

Read more:

jeudi 28 août 2014

Iraq forces ready bid to break jihadist siege of Turkmen town

Iraq forces ready bid to break jihadist siege of Shiite town

Kirkuk (Iraq) (AFP) - Iraq was massing Forces Wednesday for an operation to break a two-month jihadist siege of a Shiite Turkmen town north of Baghdad, amid growing fears for residents short of supplies.
According to a civilian volunteer commander, thousands of Shiite militiamen from groups including Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Badr Organisation are gathering in the Tuz Khurmatu area, north of Amerli, in preparation for a battle to break the siege.The planned counter-offensive around the Salaheddin province town of Amerli comes amid reports that US President Barack Obama is weighing a decision to authorise air strikes and aid drops in the area to help thousands of trapped civilians.
And an army lieutenant general said that security forces were mobilising in the Jabal Hamreen area, south of Amerli, to launch an attack.
Iraqi aircraft have begun targeting positions of Islamic State (IS) jihadists around the town, carrying out nine strikes on Tuesday, an officer said.
Time is running out for the town's residents, who face danger both because of their Shiite faith, which jihadists consider heresy, and their resistance against the militants, which has drawn deadly retribution elsewhere.
There is "no possibility of evacuating them so far", and only limited humanitarian assistance is reaching the town, said Eliana Nabaa, spokeswoman for the UN mission in Iraq.
UN Iraq envoy Nickolay Mladenov has called for an urgent effort to help Amerli, saying residents face a "possible massacre" if the town is overrun.