jeudi 28 février 2008

Iraqi local election law rejected

Iraqi government leaders have rejected a draft law paving the way for provincial elections, a setback for the process of reconciling Iraqi factions.

The legislation will now be sent back to parliament, which passed it earlier this month after weeks of delays.

The Iraqi presidential council, made up of the president - a Kurd - and Shia and Sunni vice-presidents, said there had been "no agreement" on the measure.

But the three leaders backed the budget and an amnesty law for detainees.
The three laws were approved together as a package on 13 February, after a period of brinkmanship and sectarian wrangling.

The passing of the rejected law, which defines the relationship between Baghdad and local authorities, was the second of 18 benchmarks set by Washington as targets in the process of political reconciliation.

"We believe that the Iraqis will be able to work it out," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.
"While we would have liked to have it go forward without any complications, this is democracy at work," she said.

Three-way wrangling

The presidential council is made up of President Jalal Talabani, Shia Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi.

The 2008 budget and the amnesty measures will now become law.
The $48bn state budget financed mainly through oil revenues was meant to have been agreed before the end of last year.

The amnesty bill will benefit many of an estimated 25,000 detainees held in US and Iraqi prisons, if they have not been charged with or convicted of violent crimes.

A large proportion of detainees are thought to be suspected Sunni Arab insurgents who are held without being charged.

Correspondents say that as the Kurds had wanted the budget to be passed, the Sunni Arabs wanted the amnesty law, and the Shia Muslims were keen to press ahead with provincial elections, passing the laws together had pleased all three groups.

Story from BBC NEWS

Turkey says no timetable for Iraq pullout

By Ahmed Rasheed and Mariam Karouny Reuters
Wednesday 27 February 2008

Baghdad - Turkey said on Wednesday it had "no timetable" to withdraw troops fighting Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq, resisting pressure from the United States and other allies to end the offensive quickly.

Thousands of Turkish troops crossed the border last Thursday to root out PKK fighters. The PKK has used remote mountainous northern Iraq as a base in their armed campaign for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

"Our objective is clear, our mission is clear and there is no timetable until ... those terrorist bases are eliminated," Turkish envoy Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference after talks in Baghdad with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari.

Davutoglu, chief foreign policy adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, was sent to Baghdad to explain Ankara's position on the offensive. He also met top U.S. officials in Iraq, including military commander General David Petraeus.

Acting Iraqi Prime Minister Barham Saleh said a prolonged Turkish operation would lead to "dire" consequences for the region and repeated Baghdad's demand that the incursion end.
"This would be highly destabilizing, it's dangerous to the stability of Iraq and the region as a whole," Saleh, a Kurd, told Reuters on the sidelines of an economic conference.

Turkey's military General Staff said another 77 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels had been killed in heavy fighting since Tuesday night, taking the death toll among the rebels to 230 since Turkey's offensive began.

Military sources in southeast Turkey said several hundred Turkish soldiers were ferried across the border by helicopter into northern Iraq early on Wednesday evening.

They said there were also reports of heavy clashes in the area near PKK camps in Zap and Haftanin early in the evening, with the guerrillas putting up stiff resistance.

The United States and the European Union have expressed concern. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who arrived in Turkey to meet Turkish officials on Thursday, said Turkey must limit its operations to days rather than months.

"It's very important that the Turks make this operation as short as possible and then leave, and to be mindful of Iraqi sovereignty," Gates told reporters in New Delhi before leaving for the previously scheduled trip to Ankara.

"I measure quick in terms of days, a week or two, something like that. Not months."

Weather a Factor

Turkish state-run Anatolian news agency earlier reported troops, backed up by helicopter gunships, had been reinforced along the Iraqi border to stop PKK guerrillas fleeing into Turkey in the offensive, which has been slowed by heavy snow.

Turkish warplanes bombed PKK hideouts in the mountainous Siladze area of northern Iraq, the agency said.

The Turkish General Staff said in a statement that five more Turkish soldiers had been killed since late Tuesday, taking their losses to 24. PKK claims that more than 100 Turkish troops had been killed could not be verified.

Ankara says it is engaged in a legitimate fight against what it and Washington describe as a terrorist organization.

Davutoglu later told Reuters the Turkish government had approached Baghdad several times for help to combat the PKK. He said Iraq was not capable of dealing with the rebels, given its preoccupation with security threats elsewhere in the country.

He said Turkey was focused on destroying PKK camps, adding its troops would not stay a day longer than necessary.

"There are certain difficulties because of weather conditions but we want to finish this operation as early as possible," Davutoglu said.

"It is limited in the sense of geographical scope and time."

On Tuesday, Iraq condemned the incursion and called for the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops.

Gates' visit to Turkey was planned before the offensive began. U.S. defense officials considered cancelling the trip, but decided it was better to bring the Pentagon's message directly to Ankara that Washington wanted the operation concluded quickly, one senior U.S. defense official said.

The United States is providing significant intelligence to Turkey. If Ankara does not heed Washington's call to complete the operation quickly, Washington could curtail or cut off that intelligence flow.

Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since it began its armed struggle for self-rule in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey in 1984.

Turkey says an estimated 3,000 PKK members have used northern Iraq as a base to stage cross-border attacks against Turkish military and civilians.
(Additional reporting by Mohammed Abbas in Baghdad and Kristin Roberts in New Delhi; writing by Paul Tait and Dean Yates; editing by Andrew Roche).

La Turquie accueille six blessés turkmènes du nord de l'Irak pour les soigner


Six Turkmens who were severely wounded in a suicide attack in Tel Afar last week have been transferred to 29 Mayis Hospital in the Turkish capital in order to receive treatment.

ANKARA, 27 février (Xinhua) -- Six Turkmènes qui ont été blessés dans une attaque suicide à Talafar dans le nord d'Irak ont été transférés mercredi en Turquie pour recevoir des traitements, a rapporté l'agence de presse Anatolie.

Les Turkmènes blessés, dans un état critique, sont entrés en Turquie par la porte frontalière Habur à Silopi dans la province sud-est de Sirnak, selon le reportage.

Les six Turkmènes ont été blessés la semaine dernière lors d'un attentat suicide à Talafar et transférés de Zakho pour la Turquie. Ils ont été transportés par trois ambulances à l'Hôpital 29 Mayis de la capitale turque.

UN Mediator: Arab-Kurd Kerkuk Clash is 'Ticking Time Bomb'

Comments re Bill Varner's article:

The author of the article is both ill-informed and biased. He seems to ignore that Kerkuk is the Turkmens' capital city in Iraq.
Anyone with some knowledge of the reality in the north of Iraq knows that the Turkmens are the principal ethnic community to be concerned by the struggle for the city of Kerkuk, not just Kurds and Arabs.

By Bill Varner

Bloomberg --

The struggle between Kurds and Arabs for control of the city of Kirkuk and its oil amounts to a "ticking time bomb" in northern Iraq, according to the new United Nations envoy trying to broker a settlement.

Mediator Staffan de Mistura said in an interview that he has about four months left to solve "the mother of all crises" in Iraq. "If that takes place, we will have contributed substantially to avoiding a new conflict at the worst possible time," he said.

Turkey's military incursion into Iraq last week to fight Kurdish rebels may remind Iraqi Kurds that their designs on more territory and oil have limits. Turkey is concerned that the Kurdish regional government would use Kirkuk and its oil to seek independence, displace minorities in the city and embolden breakaway Kurds on Turkish soil.

The dispute over the estimated 10 billion barrels of crude in the region pits the Kurds' expansion drive against Arab demands to keep central authority over oil -- and Kurds within Iraq. Kurdish leaders have embraced UN involvement as their best, perhaps last, opportunity to secure the legal right to sign oil-exploration contracts in the area.

"The issue of oil jurisdiction is very much alive, and companies deciding whether to sign contracts for exploration are focused on what is happening," said Alex Munton of Wood Mackenzie Ltd., an Edinburgh, Scotland-based oil-company consultant. "It's a very complex challenge because the Kurds have awarded contracts that overlap disputed boundaries."

Contracts Awarded

The Kurdistan Regional Government in November awarded exploration and production contracts to Bermuda-based Gulf Keystone Ltd., Hungary's Mol Nyrt., Austria's OMV AG and India's Reliance Energy Ltd.

De Mistura, in his quest for a political settlement backed by the UN, "has the stature to be very convincing," said Qubad Talibani, the KRG's representative in Washington. His government is determined to overcome Saddam Hussein's campaign to quash Kurdish claims on Kirkuk, a city of about 700,000, through the forced removal of Kurds and settlement of Sunni Arabs throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Resistance is coming from many sides. In Baghdad, Sunni and Shiite parliamentarians have formed an alliance to safeguard the national government's hold on the oil. Turkomans and Assyrians, who together make up about half of Kirkuk's population, have claims on the city that date back centuries.

A Cautionary Message

The Turkish military operation, while not directly related to the Kirkuk issue, sends a cautionary message to the Kurds, according to Ian Lesser, an analyst for the Washington-based German Marshall Fund.

"There may be those in Turkey who would be pleased to see what they are doing in Iraq as putting pressure on the Kurds not to solidify their control over Kirkuk," Lesser said. "But it cuts both ways. Turkey needs a relationship with the Kurds to help control the rebels."

The U.S. persuaded the UN last year to take on the Arab-Kurdish dispute as American officials focused on quelling intra- Arab violence in Baghdad with military reinforcements.

"It is important to get progress on reconciliation, which means agreement among the major players on key issues, one of which is Kirkuk," Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the UN and a former envoy to Iraq, said in an interview.

Drawing a Border

De Mistura wants to use results of the 2005 provincial elections to draw a border between contested Kurdish and Arab lands. The 61-year-old Swede said any formula also must protect the rights of the Assyrians and Turkomans in Kirkuk, and factor in the impact of Hussein's forced Arabization.

After forging an agreement in December to delay a referendum on the status of Kirkuk until June, de Mistura sees mid-year as his deadline to get all the parties to reach agreement.
While Turkish officials support UN mediation, they are concerned that the Kurds have rigged the outcome of any referendum.

"What the Kurdish elements in the area have done in the last two years or three years is to change the demographic composition of Kirkuk," Nabi Sensoy, Turkey's ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview. "

There have been more than 600,000 people who have come and settled in the area." All told, about 1 million people live in Kirkuk and its surrounding area.

The problem with de Mistura's plan for Kirkuk is that he doesn't know Iraq well enough to end such a complicated dispute, according to Feisal al-Istrabadi, a former Iraqi ambassador to the UN.

`He Is Crazy'

"He is crazy if the thinks he will create an internationally recognized border that will calm the situation," he said. "It is not clear that the results of the 2005 elections should tell you anything about what the boundary ought to be, and you have to ask how free and fair those elections were."

Iraq's UN envoy, Hamid Al Bayati, said the timing of a Kurdish-Arab accord is critical because the U.S. presidential election in November might send a Democrat to the White House with a mandate to withdraw American troops in 2009. That would raise the risk of war over the northern oil fields, he said.

De Mistura "is credible and the government supports him, but when he comes with a plan it may be a different story," he said.

EU urged to improve aid to IRAQ

Ana Maria Gomes, MEP

Wednesday 27th February 2008

The EU has been urged to "step up the quantity and quality” of its EU support in Iraq. That is the key message of a report on the EU’s role in the war-torn country which was adopted by parliament’s foreign affairs committee on Wednesday.

The own-initiative report, drafted by Portuguese Socialist deputy Ana Maria Gomes highlights several areas in which it believes EU assistance should be concentrated.

Gomes says the EU has an important role to play in efforts to build a "safe, stable, unified, prosperous and democratic Iraq".

This includes "support for the rule of law and justice reforms, amelioration of the electoral process, and capacity-building in the health care sector".

The report also called on member states to ensure that "substantive EU assistance is directed towards improving public finance management and budgetary control”.

It urges the council to press for improvements in the role of women, children and minorities, and in the campaign against torture and the death penalty.

Committee members also emphasised the need for member states to "ensure the transparency and efficiency of EU assistance for Iraq".

The report also advocates "making the EU code of conduct on arms exports legally binding", and urges the council to help the security situation in Iraq.
The report asks the council to "urge the commission to alleviate the plight of Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria and in other countries in the region and to improve the possibilities for Iraqi refugees to find refuge in EU member states".
The report was approved with 62 votes in favour, none against and 2 abstentions.

It will be put to a plenary vote on 13 March, during the next plenary session in Strasbourg.

mercredi 27 février 2008

The European Union's Role in Iraq

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union has failed to improve the situation in Iraq despite committing more than €800 million (US$1.2 billion) to reconstruction efforts since 2003, a European Parliament report said Wednesday.

The report by the assembly's foreign affairs committee called for the EU to expand its presence in the country, operate on the ground in the Kurdish region, among others, and boost its operations in Basra and Erbil.

"Europe can do much more and much better, namely by ... considerably expanding its presence on the ground and by finding more creative ways to use its resources," said the report, which will now be discussed by the 785-member EU assembly.

It also urged Iraq to seek closer talks with its neighbors over improving stability in the region.

The report came as EU and Iraqi negotiators announced they had made progress in talks to reach a deal on a trade and cooperation.

"I am sure that during this year, we will finish with the agreement," said Deputy Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Hamoud Bidan.

EU officials said they had agreed to terms of the agreement with the Iraqis on transport and human rights, notably that Iraq will sign up to the treaty that set up the International Criminal Court.

The agreement would be the first contractual agreement between Iraq and the EU since the 2003 invasion that deeply divided the 27-nation bloc.

Under the deal, the EU and Iraq would free up trade and extend EU cooperation in areas such as human rights, anti-terrorism, energy, nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the environment.

The closer ties will also offer Iraq more development aid. The next round of talks are planned for June 25.

The EU has spent €818 million (US$1.22 billion) on reconstruction since 2003, in addition to individual contributions from the 27 member states.

EU lawmakers recommended that aid be channeled into justice, human rights, financial and budget management, health and education. They also called for strengthened border controls that would reduce the flow of weapons into the country and for a legally binding EU code of conduct on arms exports.

The EU should improve the possibilities for Iraqis to find refuge in its member states and scrap "arbitrary criteria to granting protection and prevent any forced return," the report said.

Some 40,000 Iraqi refugees were expected to reach the EU in 2007, double the number in 2006 — itself twice as many as in 2005.

Associated Press Writer Jan Sliva contributed to this story.

Peoples Under Threat 2008

All around the world, groups are being targeted for killing because of their ethnic or religious identity.

Peoples Under Threat identifies those peoples or groups that are most under threat of genocide, mass killing or other systematic violent repression in 2008.

Read the Peoples Under Threat briefing (pdf)

This is the third successive year that Minority Rights Group International has compiled the Peoples Under Threat table as a contribution to early warning for civilian protection. To introduce the table this year, MRG's Executive Director Mark Lattimer analyses how instability has crossed international borders over the last year and looks at the links between ethnic or sectarian killing and the spread of violent conflict.

Peoples Under Threat 2008 is being published to accompany the launch of the World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples. As in previous years, it will also appear in the annual State of the World's Minorities, published by MRG in March 2008.

Is war contagious? That's a question posed in a new report that finds a growing number of minority groups at risk of genocide, mass killing or violent repression as ethnic conflicts spill across borders. From the Horn of Africa to Central Asia, minorities are in the firing line.

The study by Minority Rights Group International (MRG) ranks Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and Myanmar as countries where minorities are most under threat, followed by Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Chad.

Some of these hotspots are not surprising. The U.N. refugee body estimates that up to a third of Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan or Syria come from minority communities, including Armenians, Turkomans, Chaldo-Assyrians and Faili Kurds. In Myanmar, the ruling junta has long targeted the Karen, Rohingya and Shan ethnic groups.

But the "biggest risers" on the risk radar are less obvious - countries like Pakistan, Ethiopia and Chad. These nations were deemed safer for minorities when MRG put out its last "People's Under Threat" report in 2007.

As MRG sees it, what's new is the export of the ethnic dynamics of conflict to kin populations across borders.
"So where you have fighting between Arab militias and settled communities in Darfur, we now see exactly the same pattern of attacks and retaliation across the border in eastern Chad," explained MRG director Mark Lattimer.
"Where you have a community caught up in the war on terror in eastern Afghanistan, with operations focused very heavily in the Pashtun community, so we have an exact pattern of conflict replicated across the border of Pakistan."
Ethiopia is a prime example of how the chain reactions of cross-border violence can hit minorities hard. Consider this flow of events.

In December 2006, Ethiopian troops helped Somalia's transitional government oust Islamists from Mogadishu. In the process some 50,000 Somalis fled across the border into Ethiopia. Many brought small arms and bitter tales of Ethiopian acts in Somalia, helping to fuel a long-running insurgency in Ethiopia's Ogaden region.
Attacks by Ogaden rebels prompted Ethiopian forces to launch a major counter-insurgency campaign in Ogaden in June last year. No surprises that allegations soon arose of widespread abuses against ethnic Somali civilians.

According to Lattimer, the U.S.-led "war on terror" has been especially bad news for minorities, with many countries using it as a smoke screen to crack down on smaller groups that don't toe the majority line.

"In a country like Pakistan there's quite clearly the military operations in the North West Frontier Province against suspected Al Qaeda sympathisers which have resulted in mass violations against civilians, demolitions of houses and so forth," he said.

"But there's also a rapidly increasing pattern of violations against Baluchis in Baluchistan where really the links with the war on terror are very tenuous. Basically Pakistan is using the support of the United States and its ongoing military operations as an excuse to crack down on home-grown dissidents."

Below are the 10 countries MRG is most worried about in 2008, along with the minority groups potentially under threat. See also MRG's Global Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples, a new database that promises to be a valuable research tool.
Rank - Country - Group
Darood, Hawiye, Issaq and other clans; Ogadenis; Bantu; Gabooye (Midgan) and other 'caste' groups
Shia, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, Christians, Mandeans, Yezidis, Faili Kurds, Shabak, Baha'is, Palestinians
Fur, Zaghawa, Massalit and others in Darfur; Dinka, Nuer and others in the South; Nuba, Beja
Hazara, Pashtun, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkomans, Baluchis
Kachin, Karenni, Karen, Mons, Rohingyas, Shan, Chin (Zomis), Wa
Congo (DR)
Hema and Lendu, Hunde, Hutu, Luba, Lunda, Tutsi/Banyamulenge, Twa/Mbuti
Ahmaddiya, Baluchis, Hindus, Mohhajirs, Pashtun, Sindhis, other religious minorities
Ibo, Ijaw, Ogoni, Yoruba, Hausa (Muslims) and Christians in the north
Anuak, Afars, Oromo, Somalis, smaller minorities
'Black African' groups, Arabs, Southerners

EGYPT: High rates of trauma, sickness among Iraqi refugees

CAIRO, 27 February 2008 (IRIN) -

Many of the estimated 70,000-150,000 Iraqi refugees in Egypt have developed serious psychological and stress-related illnesses, including cardiac problems, according to Ahlam Tobia, a medical doctor who works with refugees in Cairo.

Abeer Etefa, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesperson, said many of the refugees registered with the agency had chronic diseases such as heart ailments and diabetes. “Stress caused by bad news from back home, by lack of funds, employment or education opportunities, has caused an increase in cases of heart disease and diabetes,” Ahlam said.

Iraqi refugees, she said, had a higher rate of medical problems compared to other refugee populations, such as the Sudanese and Somalis. Iraqi children also had health problems unique to their population, which Ahlam believed were attributable to radioactive waste left over from Iraq’s war with Iran and the first Gulf War in 1991.

Human horror stories exist among Iraqi refugees - from women who have lost their power of speech due to shock, to children with stunted growth, to young boys who are losing their hearing or sight. One person has a congenital disease and is losing mobility due to deteriorating brain membranes, Ahlam said. “In other refugee communities congenital diseases are very rare - maybe we find an abnormality of one in a 100,” she said. “Among the Iraqis, I see them in the tens.”

Psychiatric problems

Psychiatric problems are also a growing cause for alarm within the Iraqi population in Egypt, Etefa said. Post-traumatic stress is increasingly becoming a problem. “There certainly are an increased number of cases that have psychological problems because they are survivors of violence or they were kidnapped,” Etefa said.

These may seem trifling compared to physical deformities, but the mental health of the refugees is a much neglected area. Poverty among the Iraqi refugees is exacerbating their health problems, and the fact that non-governmental organisations - including Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance (AMERA) and Caritas - have limited funds, has meant many have had to fend for themselves.

The UNHCR also has budget limitations, Etefa said. Personal testimony Nada (not her real name), a refugee who arrived in Egypt about two and a half years ago with her husband and four daughters, has been struggling to survive. She and her family decided to move out of Cairo to cut down on costs (she now lives in a town 150km away). As her daughter was born with enlarged kidneys, she has to take her to Cairo for tests and treatment every four to five months - a far cry from the monthly treatment the girl used to receive in Iraq. “We had a lot of doctors in Iraq who could see to her problem. Every month I used to take her to do a test, but here I cannot. We cannot work, and I cannot afford her kidney medicine.”

War-torn Iraq has also brought refugees to Egypt with amputated limbs; others need bullets removing. Some are incontinent due to the things they witnessed in Iraq, said Ahlam.

People with serious, curable illnesses that have no chance of treatment in Egypt are supposed to be referred for resettlement, Etefa said. However, resettlement depends upon third countries’ acceptance of their cases, not on the UNHCR. Refugees who register with the UNHCR are given some assistance, and the organisation generally pays a large portion of the cost of treatment and medication. If surgery or treatment exceeds a certain cost, they cannot be helped by the UNHCR and are referred for resettlement. This is particularly true of cancer patients and cases requiring sophisticated surgery, Etefa said.

“Resettlement is a long process,” Etefa said. “We have really been calling for expediting the process of resettlement because a lot of people have been waiting for a long time.” In 2007, Etefa said, about 22,000 Iraqis were referred for resettlement, but so far, only about one third of them have been resettled.


British watchdog orders gov't to release Iraq war documents

by Phil Hazlewood
Tue Feb 26,

The British government was ordered Tuesday to release the minutes of ministerial discussions about military action in Iraq in the run-up to the 2003 invasion.

In a move likely to stoke up fresh controversy over the divisive war, the information commissioner Richard Thomas said the papers should be released because of the "gravity and controversial nature" of the discussions.

"The commissioner considers that a decision on whether to take military action against another country is so important that accountability for such decision-making is paramount," he said.
"In this case, in respect of the public debate and controversy surrounding the decision to take military action in Iraq, the process by which the government reached its decision adds to the public interest in maximum transparency."

Nearly five years on, Britain's involvement in the US-led military action against former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's regime remains controversial.
Animosity towards the governing Labour Party and the former prime minister Tony Blair lingers because of the now discredited basis for invasion -- Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction -- and the human and economic cost of war.

Thomas's ruling follows a freedom of information request for the minutes of two cabinet meetings in March 2003, where ministers discussed the then attorney general Lord Peter Goldsmith's advice on the legality of war.

Blair's government strongly resisted demands for the advice of its most senior legal adviser to be made public, until a large section was leaked during the 2005 general election campaign.
Goldsmith then denied ministers pressured him into changing his mind to rule that invading Iraq would be legal in international law even without a second United Nations Security Council resolution.

The Cabinet Office has refused to release the minutes, arguing they were exempt because they related to the formulation of government policy and ministerial communications.

Thomas, whose remit is to promote public access to official information and to protect personal data, said the public interest in disclosing the minutes outweighed that of withholding them.

Disclosure would not necessarily set a precedent, he added, but allowed passages that could be deemed damaging to Britain's reputation abroad could be "redacted" or blacked out.

The Cabinet Office, which said it was "considering" the ruling, has five weeks to appeal.

Former international development secretary Clare Short, who resigned from government after the invasion, said the ruling was "very interesting" but feared it may be a "sanitised" version.

"But I think having made this decision, the discussion won't stop there. There will be pressure for more," she told BBC radio.

The smaller opposition Liberal Democrats said the ruling reinforced their call for an independent inquiry into the reasons for war.

The government was last week forced to release an early draft of its so-called "dodgy dossier" written by a government communications advisor.
But officials say the final version -- including the erroneous claim that Iraq could launch WMDs within 45 minutes -- was the work of intelligence agencies alone.

Kurds take time considering Turkmen demands

Kirkuk - Voices of Iraq
Wednesday , 27 /02 /2008

Kirkuk, Feb 26, (VOI) – The Kurdish group in the Kirkuk provincial council asked for more time to respond to demands forwarded by the Turcomans as a prerequisite to end its boycot, including higher positions and the official use of the Turcoman language, a Turcoman member of the council said.

"Members of the Kirkuk Taakhi (Brotherhood) List asked for more timed to discuss the Turcoman demands," Ali Mahdi told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI), noting a second round of negotiations would be held between the two sides on Sunday in order to reach a final settlement of these demands.

The Turcomans suspended their membership in the Kirkuk provincial council, demanding the distribution of top positions among the Turcomans, Arabs and Kurds in the council by 32% for each group, the recognition of the Turcoman language as an official one and removing the "illegal" excesses in the city of Kirkuk.

The Kirkuk provincial council chief, Rizkar Ali, had told VOI that members of the Taakhi list would hold a meeting on Monday with the Turcomans to discuss means to end their boycott of the council.

The Kirkuk local council comprises 41 elected members, 26 of them belong to the Taakhi, the list set up by the two main Kurdish parties – Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barazani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

The Arabs occupy six seats, the Iraqi Turcoman Front (ITF) occupies eight seats while the Islamic Party of Iraqi Turcomans occupies only one.

The Arabs and Turcomans had suspended their membership in the local council in April 2005 over differences with the Kurds but terminated their boycott late last year and received the Kirkuk deputy governor post and other positions after an agreement with the Taakhi list to distribute posts by 32 percent among all lists.

Kirkuk, a potpourri of ethnic Arabs, Kurds, Turcomans, Assyrians and other minorities, lies 250 km northeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.AE

mardi 26 février 2008

While al-Maliki is getting medical treatment in London...

IRAQ: Iraq's health sector under pressure

BAGHDAD, 26 February 2008 (IRIN) -

With scores of doctors killed over the past few years, an exodus of medical personnel, poor medical infrastructure and shortages of medicines, Iraq's health sector is under great pressure, a senior Health Ministry official said on 26 February.

"We are experiencing a big shortage of everything. We don't have enough specialist doctors and medicines, and most of the medical equipment is outdated," said the official who preferred anonymity.

"We used to get many spinal and head injures but were unable to do anything as we didn’t have enough specialists and medicines. Intravenous fluid, which is a simple thing, is not available all the time," the official said. "We have no neurosurgeons in Baghdad which has about five million people. Even with the security gains of the past few months, it is still dangerous for doctors and their families to step out of their houses," he said. He said no new hospitals had been built since 1986, at the height of the Iran-Iraq war.

Since the US-led invasion in 2003, 618 medical employees, including 132 doctors, as well as medics and other health care workers, have been killed nationwide, according to figures from the Iraqi Health Ministry released earlier this year.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of other medical personnel are believed to have fled to Iraq's northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region or neighbouring countries.

Shortage of medicines

On 22 February the health minister highlighted the shortage of medicines: "The Iraqi Health Ministry is suffering from an acute shortage of medicines… We have decided to import medicines immediately to meet the needs," Minister Salih al-Hassnawi told a press conference in the northern city of Arbil.

Al-Hassnawi blamed what he called an "obvious blemish" in the government's 2008 budget with regard to the import of drugs for medicinal purposes. He said the 2008 budget meant total expenditure on medicines, medical equipment and ambulances would amount to only US$22 per citizen.

Expired medicines

Al-Hassnawi also blamed corrupt individuals for importing expired or counterfeit medicines and circumventing ministry testing procedures. "Only a small amount of the imported medicines find their way to the ministry's labs," he said. In the past few days a factory in Kadhimiyah (northern Baghdad) had been found sticking fake expiry dates on already expired imported medicines, he said.


آركيج: المرحلة الراهنة تتطلب جهودا مضاعفة لترسيخ النضال القومي

كركوك/ انجي طارق
ستوكهولم/ (كوردستان بوست)اعتقلت الشرطة النمساوية مسرور البارزاني نجل حاكم الشمال مسعود البارزاني مع خمسة من افراد حمايته بسبب محاولة قتلهم كاتباً كردياَ مقيماً في النمسا.وقال موقع (كوردستان بوست) الكردي الواسع الانتشار الذي اورد النبأ ويبث اخباره من العاصمة السويدية ستوكهولم نقلا عن مراسله في فينا ان افراداً من حماية مسرور البارزاني اطلقوا النار من مسدساتهم على الكاتب الكردي الدكتور كمال السيد قادر الحاصل على الجنسية النمساوية واصابوه بجراح خطيرة. واضاف الموقع ان مسرور الذي يحتل منصب رئيس مؤسسة الاستخبارات في الشمال كان موجوداً مع حمايته لحظة اطلاق النار واعتقل معهم من قبل الشرطة النمساوية.واشار الموقع الى ان صحة الدكتور قادر تدهورت جراء مضاعفات اصابته في الرأس ولم يعد قادراً على الكلام حسب مصادر طبية من داخل المستشفى.يذكر أن الكاتب كمال سيد قادر أحد المعارضين لسلطة الشمال ونشر العديد من المقالات ضد العائلة البارزانية واعتقل أثناء عودته الى شمال العراق قبل اكثر من سنة وحكم عليه بالسجن لمدة ثلاثين عاما لكن ضغوطاً دولية مورست على سلطات الشمال أدت الى الإفراج عنه وعودته الى النمسا التي يقيم فيها

Irak Türkmenleri, katliam endişesi yaşıyor

Irak Türkmen Cephesi Türkiye Enformasyon ve Halkla İlişkiler Sorumlusu Avukat Sadun Köprülü, Türkiye'nin kara harekatını başlatmasından sonra Irak'ta yaşayan Türkmenlerin katliam tehdidi altında olduğunu söyledi.

Bir sivil toplum örgütünün düzenlediği "Kaybolan Kerkük" isimli konferansa davetli olarak Yalova'ya gelen Köprülü, CİHAN'a yaptığı açıklamada, kara harekatı nedeniyle Irak'ta yaşayan Türkmenler'de katliam edilme endişesi olduğunu söyledi. Avukat Sadun Köprülü, "Hava harekatı yapıldığı zaman PKK ve Peşmergeler,Türkmen bölgelerine broşürlerle katliam yapma tehditinde bulundular" dedi.

Kara harekatının Türkiye'nin güvenliği için çok önemli olduğunu söyleyen Köprülü, "Türkiye'nin yaptığı kara harekatı Kuzey Irak'ta yerleşen PKK'nın Türkiye'deki eylemlerini durduracaktır." şeklinde konuştu. Türkiye'nin Kuzey Irak'tan kaçan PKK'lıların Irak devletine sığınmaları konusunda Talabani'ye karşı uyarılarda bulunmasına da değinen Avukat Sadun Köprülü, PKK ile Peşmergelerin iç içe yaşadığını değinerek, şunları söyledi: "Barzani, PKK'ya kucak açtı ve maddi destek verdi. Irak'ta yaşayan Türkmenler olarak bu zamana kadar yapılan baskılar ve katliamlara karşı bir güvence verilmesini istiyoruz.

Irak'ta yaşayan Türkmenlerin Birleşmiş Milletler'in verdiği güvencenin yanında Türkiye'den de güvence verilmesini istiyoruz. Sadece Türk olduğumuzdan dolayı çok zor günler yaşıyoruz." Irak'ta yaşayan Türkmenler olarak baskılara ve katliamlara maruz kaldıklarını belirten Köprülü, "Irak'ta yaşayan Türkmenlere Türk hükümeti ve Türk medyası tarafından destek çıkılması ve yaşanan katliamların dünya gündeme getirilmesi gerekir" dedi.

Irak'ın kuzeyindeki Habur sınır kapısına da değinen Sadun Köprülü, "Habur sınır kapısından en çok yararlanan Barzani'dir. Türkler hiçbir zaman Habur'dan yararlanmadı. Türkmenler olarak Türkiye'den isteğimiz Habur'dan başka Oba köyünden de bir kapı açılmasıdır. Çünkü Türkmenler Habur sınır kapısından geçtiği zaman işkenceye maruz kalıyor. Evlerine gidene kadar 10'dan fazla kontrol noktasından geçiyorlar. Ellerinde Türkçe CD ve kitap bulunan Türkmenler yargılanıp bilinmeyen bir yerlere götürülüyorlar" diye konuştu.

"Atatürk olsaydı Irak Türkmenlerinin durumu böyle olmazdı" diyen Sadun Köprülü, "Atatürk eğer sağ olsaydı Hatay meselesinde olduğu gibi Musul ve Kerkük'ü söz verdiği gibi Türkiye topraklarına katacaktı. Bizler de Hatay gibi Türkiye'ye bağlı, Türkiye'den bir parça olurduk. Bu da bize büyük bir mutluluk verirdi" ifadelerini kullandı. Türkiye'nin Irak'ta yaşayan Türklere destek vermesi, yanlarında olmasını isteyen Köprülü, "Çünkü bizler de sizlerin bir parçasıyız, bizler de Irak'ta Türkleri temsil etmekteyiz. Türkiye'nin bizim çektiğimiz çilelere cevap vermesini istiyoruz. Bizim yanımızda olması, bizimle beraber olması yeterlidir" şeklinde sözlerini tamamladı.



La nuit du 25 au 26 février 1992 l'un des crimes les plus sanglants et atroces contre le peuple azerbaïdjanais – le génocide des habitants innocents de la ville azerbaïdjanaise de Khodjaly dans la région du Haut Karabakh de l’Azerbaïdjan – a été commis par des troupes arméniennes.


16th anniversary of the Khojaly Genocide by Armenian regular troops

On February 25-26, 1992 the Armenian Army captured the Azeri town of Khojaly in northern Karabagh. Over 800 civilians were butchered in cold blood.


British troops 'tortured and killed Iraqi civilians seized after battle'

by Michael Evans, Defence Editor
February 23, 2008

The Attorney-General was urged yesterday to call in Scotland Yard to investigate allegations that British troops tortured and killed a number of Iraqi civilians seized after an ambush at a checkpoint in southern Iraq in May 2004.

Two British lawyers, Phil Shiner and Martyn Day, said there was evidence from Iraqi doctors’ certificates, following examination of 20 bodies, that bodies had been mutilated and that there were signs of torture having taken place. They cited two cases where Iraqis had an eye “gouged out” or “pulled out”, and another where a penis had been severed.

The two lawyers, who are acting for five Iraqis who were detained by soldiers and held in a military camp at Abu Naji, provided details of their witness statements for the first time yesterday.
The Iraqis said they were labourers working in the fields who had been “swept up” in a three-hour battle after a British convoy was ambushed by the Shia al-Mahdi army at the Danny Boy checkpoint, near the town of Majar al-Kabir.

They claimed that they were beaten and abused and that they heard screaming throughout the night of May 14 and 15 and shots that they believed were the sounds of Iraqis being tortured and killed.

Atiyah Sayid Abdelreza, one of the five, who were interviewed in Istanbul, said in his statement: “I never heard anything like that sound before in my life. It shocked me and filled me with such terror.”

Mr Shiner and Mr Day, who have been pursuing a judicial review in the High Court for a public inquiry into the allegations, acknowledged that they did not know for certain whether Iraqi civilians had been tortured and killed at the Abu Naji camp, but that this appeared likely.

Mr Shiner called on Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC, the Attorney-General, to take the case out of the hands of the military and to put Scotland Yard in charge of a new investigation.

Twenty Iraqis were killed and their bodies were handed over to the Iraqi authorities, following the battle at the checkpoint near the town of Majar al-Kabir.

A ten-month Royal Military Police investigation involving interviews with 150 British personnel and 50 Iraqis concluded that all 20 were killed during the battle, and there was no evidence that another nine who had been detained and held at Abu Naji had been abused. The Iraqis suing the Ministry of Defence claim that some of those killed died at the Abu Naji camp.

The Ministry of Defence has vigorously denied the allegations and said that the 20 Iraqis all died during the Battle of Danny Boy and that the injuries were consistent with battlefield wounds. It denied that any of the bodies had been mutilated.

An official said that during the exchanges with al-Mahdi army insurgents, many types of weaponry were used, from bayonets to Challenger 2 tanks. One of the regiments involved had won nine gallantry awards during its six-month tour of Iraq. The MoD said that the Royal Military Police had carried out a robust investigation.

However, Mr Shiner said that the system of using the Royal Military Police to investigate allegations of criminal acts by British troops had failed spectacularly in the case of Baha Musa, who died in British detention in September 2003. Five members of The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment (QLR) and two members of the Intelligence Corps were charged in relation to the death, but all were acquitted except for one, Corporal Donald Payne, of the QLR, who pleaded guilty to inhumane treatment of prisoners.

Mr Shiner, who is also representing the family of Mr Musa in a damages case against the MoD, said: “We call on the Attorney-General to intervene [in the Abu Naji case]. She has overall supervisory control of the Army Prosecuting Authority. We require the Attorney-General to take this matter away from the military and put it immediately in the hands of Scotland Yard.”

The MoD said that the Royal Military Police had reopened its inquiry into the Abu Naji allegations but only in reference to new witness evidence that had arisen during the High Court case brought by the Iraqi families.

The BBC One series Panorama, which spent more than a year interviewing former Iraqi prisoners and battlefield survivors, is to broadcast its findings in a programme on Monday

The witness statements

“The soldiers pushed me to the ground and handcuffed my hands behind my back. One soldier punched me repeatedly in the face. The blows were heavy and painful and I was almost knocked unconscious. I was hit hard behind my left ear with a rifle butt and kicked in the back by more than one soldier. This treatment lasted for approximately 15 minutes."
Hussein Jabbari Ali, 28

“[At the Abu Naji camp] I heard the terrible sound of someone being choked or strangled. This sound was really loud and unmistakable. Almost immediately afterwards there were four to five shots fired in the room."
Hussein Fadel Abass, 24

“The soldiers were shouting at me. When they came close I raised my hands in surrender. They circled me and one of the soldiers kicked me with his boot in my back and I fell on my face. Another put his boot on the back of my head and ground my face into the earth. This caused my face to be cut."
Ahmad Jabbar Ahmood, 27

"Whichever way I turned, they would kick me full in the face. This went on for a long time but time itself seemed to stop for me. The blows just went on and on and on. I felt I was surrounded by and in the hands of absolutely merciless men."
Atiyah Sayid Abdelreza, 22

“I sensed that there were shifts of soldiers with different soldiers whacking me if my head fell to one side if I dozed off. I would get a bang to the back of my head."
Mahdi Jassim Abdullah, 21

Let's talk about Sovereignty, Mr. Zebaree

By Layla Anwar

Sounds like the "Iraqi" puppet, stooges, quislings of a so called government, have just discovered a new word in the English language.
A few days ago, Prime Pimp, Al-Maliki cried about Iraqi sovereignty and today, his aide pimp Hoshyar Zebari, so called Minister of Foreign Affairs is crying out Sovereignty as well.

Hoshyar Zebari, the Kurdish, Zionist, chauvinist, pimp is worried about Iraq's territorial sovereignty and stability!

For God's sake, will someone tell me where did these bastards emerge from?

Let's do a bit of your laundry washing in public, shall we?

Your past is well known. And so are your present "activities."

Employing and favoring Kurdish diplomats to represent Iraq in all the Iraqi embassies worldwide, just like your sectarian pimps favor the Shias to represent Iraq abroad.

You hire staff who do not speak Arabic or English, they in turn, hire translators. Most of them have fake degrees, like the university drop-out that you are.

A drop-out you definitely are. But it goes even further. Your love of Whiskey, Blue labels, Chivaz Regal, and your making a total fool of yourself in public when drunk, with your obnoxious behavior is also a well known fact.

Not only that, what about the presidential suite that you rent in a deluxe 5 stars hotel in London, with the connecting doors ?

And it is common knowledge who sleeps next to your suite Mr. the Minister of Pimps, when you are visiting London. None other but the smelly English assistant you hired in the Embassy there, with a hefty salary of 6'000 sterling pounds a month -- tax free.

Is that why you hired her and make her sleep next to your suite with the connecting doors -- out of concern for Iraq's stability and to refresh your notions of Iraqi Sovereignty a la Anglaise, no doubt!

VIDEO: Turkish incursion in Iraq to combat PKK terrorists

Videos posted by Juan Cole (Informed comment)

Turkey releases film of Iraq incursion 2008.02.25:

Inside Story - Turkey raids into Iraq - 24 Feb 08 - Pt 1:

Discussion between:
Halidun Solmaztürk, Defence Analyst,
Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of Foreign Relations, KRG

Towards reunification of CYPRUS

Cyprus leaders seek fresh talks

The leaders of the divided Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities have voiced optimism that they can make progress towards reunification of the island.

The Cyprus President-elect, Demetris Christofias, said he had asked the UN to arrange a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

Mr Christofias was speaking just hours after his election victory.


25 February 2008
020 7278 6694


Eyewitness from Iraq and Lebanon - don't miss this unique

Five years after the invasion of Iraq, two leading opponents
of the US occupation from the Middle East are coming to
Britain to talk about the reality of the War on Terror on the
ground. The tour starts this Thursday and is a unique chance
to hear leaders of the resistance discuss the war and the
prospects for the opposition movements.

Ibrahim al-Moussawi is editor of the Hezbollah newspaper in
Lebanon, al-Intiqad, and one of the key spokespeople for the
popular resistance to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006.

Hassan Juma'a is President of the Iraqi Oil Workers Federation
and a leader of the campaign to stop the US led privatisation
of Iraqi oil.

Ibrahim Mousawi is defying a campaign by David Cameron to keep
him out of the country.

They will be joined at the first meeting in London on Thursday
by Tony Benn, journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Stop the War
Coalition Convenor Lindsey German.

This meeting is at Friends Meeting House, Euston, London NW1
this Thursday, 28 February at 6.30pm.

After that the tour will go to Bristol (Friday 29 February),
Birmingham and Manchester (Saturday 1 March), Cambridge and
Norwich (Sunday 2 March), Cardiff (Monday 3 March) and
Liverpool (Tuesday 4 March).

For details of these meetings please go to our website at

lundi 25 février 2008

Asayish, the U.S.-backed Kurdish government's security intelligence agency imprisoning and torturing hundreds of men

Families: Loved ones abused, forgotten in Kurdish prisons

Leila Fadel - McClatchy Newspapers

February 24, 2008
HALABJA, Kurdistan

— A picture of a young bearded man hangs in Rabia Fatah's living room, and when she looks at it, she shakes with sobs.

Her son, Dana Ahmed Abdul Rahman, has been in prison for a year and a half. She doesn't know why. She doesn't know when he'll be released. All she has is the photo — and memories of her first visit with him, 50 days after he was hauled away in the middle of the night by the Asayish, the U.S.-backed Kurdish government's security intelligence agency.

"They'd tortured him," Fatah, 60, said, fingering her black dress spotted with blue and white flowers. "His face was as black as my dress."

Dana Ahmed Abdul Rahman is one of hundreds of men who've been tossed into Kurdish jails in what advocates and families charge is a growing human rights crisis. It's in a region that the Bush administration touts as one of Iraq's success stories, where violence is rare and Western investment is rising.

Many of the imprisoned men are affiliated with Islamist political parties, and Kurdish officials say they're being held because of possible terrorist links. But their families and human-rights advocates say they think the arrests are part of a crackdown on Islamists by the region's two most powerful political parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

The men's families allege that the Kurdish regional government, which touts Iraqi Kurdistan as "the other Iraq," where democracy and freedom flourish and security is assured, is repressive and harsh. Comparisons to the regime of Saddam Hussein and his Baath party are frequent.

"What do you think — they won't come after you leave and ask us who you were, what we talked about?" said the brother of one prisoner in explaining why he wouldn't give his name. He said he'd been imprisoned five times during Saddam's rule and three times by Kurdish authorities since 1991, when the United States imposed a no-fly zone over northern Iraq that allowed an autonomous Kurdistan to flourish.

"My brother's in prison. Don't put me in prison, too," he said.
Prisoners' families say that their loved ones are often held in isolation for months, that no legal proceedings are scheduled and that the prisoners are often severely beaten. Prisoners say the jails of the Asayish are jammed, though few are willing to speak openly, even after their release, for fear they'll be snatched up again and sent back.

The central government's Ministry of Human Rights in Baghdad doesn't inspect the prisons and has no authority over them. A spokesman for the regional government's Ministry of Human Rights, Nizam Dlband, acknowledged that some prisoners have been held for months without charges.

But he denied that abuse is routine and said the ministry moves quickly to ensure that innocent people are released and that those facing criminal charges are tried.

"The ministry has not received any proof or evidence or any complaints supported by such evidence to prove that the prisoners were put in solitary cells for such long periods or that they're being abused or tortured," he said. "No one has filed a complaint with us that is supported with such proof, and the allegations have no legal weight without proof."

His denials were echoed by the head of the Asayish in Sulaimaniyah, Wasta Hassan, who said that a judge authorizes all of the arrests.
"Do you think we are monsters?" he said. " We are human beings, and we were in the Baathist regime's jails."

For Abdul Rahman's sister, Farida Ahmed, sitting cross-legged in her family's modest home and offering precious apples and bananas to a guest, the bruises on her brother's face and arms were proof enough.
"I should stay and do something" about her brother's treatment, she said. "But I'm afraid, so I come home and I wait."

Halabja is the Kurdish town where Saddam Hussein ordered a gas attack in 1988 that killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Kurds. Like most adult residents, Farida Ahmed remembers that day. She hid under a blanket in a cave with peshmerga militiamen loyal to Kurdistan's current ruling parties when Saddam's planes attacked.

But the town has soured on its leaders, as shown by a demonstration more than a year ago when angry residents burned a monument to the Halabja dead that sits on the edge of town.
During one session of beatings and interrogation, Abdul Rahman was accused of taking part in the burning, his sister said. But no charges have been brought against him.
Hama Rasheed Hata remembers how he sheltered members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan during Saddam's time. The current president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, was among those he hid, he said.

But that loyalty to Kurdish nationalism did nothing to protect his son, who's been in prison for more than a year without charges, he said. Kamel Hama Rasheed Hata was on a trip to the store when police seized him. His father didn't know what had happened for nine months, until the Iraqi Red Crescent Society delivered a letter to him from his son.

When he finally was allowed to visit, he found his son pale and sickly and too afraid to speak.
"The only thing we want is a legal process. Put him on trial and let a judge decide to keep him in jail indefinitely," his brother, Khalil, said. "It makes me angry that my father did so much for them and now they do this to our family."

In another home, Ahmed Fatah Saeed, 70, asked if talking about his son's arrest would help or make the torture in the prison worse. His son, Hikmat Ahmed Fatah, is a member of an Islamist political party. He was held in isolation for six months before his family saw him. They still don't know why he's been jailed.

"If we think this is worse than the Baathist regime we will never say," said his father. "But when you find out everything you will see they are worse."

Recently released prisoners are loath to talk about their experiences, for fear they'll be returned to prison. One man who agreed to be interviewed did so only after he was promised that neither his name nor the precise dates of his imprisonment appear.

He said that the Asayish imprisoned him in Irbil five times between 1999 and 2006. When he was released the last time, he had to promise never to speak about his imprisonment.

His face is handsome, but his nose is slightly crooked from where a prison guard broke it with a pistol. On the back of his neck, a faded circle remains from a cigarette burn. On his lower back is a thin scar where he said his back was split open by the whack of an iron rod.

During his most recent imprisonment he was put in a tiny room for three months. For two minutes a day he was allowed to leave to go to the bathroom. If he stayed too long, he was dragged out by a prison guard. He was blindfolded while questioned and often struck on his back with cables or iron rods.

Once out of isolation he slept in a room so overcrowded that prisoners had to lie touching one another. Some prisoners were treated worse. One's testicles were tied to a tank of kerosene, and when prison guards wanted an answer, they pulled the tank, he said.

At times, the Red Crescent would visit to check the conditions of the prisons. The men in isolation were hidden, he said.

"It is the same system as the Baathist regime," he said. "You can say that it is worse. The students learned from their teacher."

Read Human Rights Watch's July 2007 report, Torture and Denial of Due Process by the Kurdistan Security Forces, at
(McClatchy special correspondent Yasseen Taha contributed to this report.)
McClatchy Newspapers 2007

Nouri-al-Maliki: living between Baghdad's Fortified Green Zone and London

While Iraqis lack medical care, doctors, medicines, basic necessities and while Iraq is in total chaos the Iraqi "Prime Minister", left for London on Sunday, for a medical “check-up” (he was in London back in December for medical treament). He probably got a big fright when the Green Zone was mortared on Saturday morning!

24-Feb-08 [17:30]
National - PM's trip to London to resume medical examinations – advisor

Baghdad, (VOI) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki left Baghdad on Sunday for London to resume regular medical examinations, the premier's media advisor said.
"Maliki's examinations in London would complete the previous checkup that showed he is enjoying good health. The prime minister is not suffering from any indisposition," Yassin Majid told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI).
"The prime minister, who is accompanied by two physicians who were with him during his first visit to London, will return to Baghdad in a few days," Majid said.
Earlier on Saturday the semi-official TV station al-Iraqiya said that Maliki flew to London for routine medical examinations. The channel did not give more details.
Maliki's first recuperative visit to London was paid on December 29, 2007.

dimanche 24 février 2008

Samarra is a Sunni City with a Shi'ite Shrine at its Heart


back in February 2006 I wrote:


I am filled with great sadness and anger at hearing that yet another mosque has been attacked and destroyed in Iraq. The Askari Mosque, (also called ‘Golden Mosque because of its golden dome) is sacred to both Sunnis and Shi’ite. For the Shi’ite it is an important symbol as it is the burial place of the 10th and 11th Shi’ite Imams (holy descendants of the Prophet): Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-Askari.

The Shi’ite (twelvers) believe that Hasan al-Askari’s ‘occulted’ son: Muhammad al-Mahdi ‘al-muntadhar’(who disappeared in 260/874 in a super natural realm), the Twelfth and final of the Shi’ite Imams or Mahdi, (also called the ‘Hidden Imam’) will return to earth to bring an era of justice and peace, followed by the end of the world.

In the seventies I was fortunate to visit this ancient city of Samarra, which was the capital of the Abassid Empire under Caliph al-Mu’tasim (in the 9th century). From the top of the Malwiya (spiral minaret) which is the symbol of Samarra one has an excellent view over the entire city, it is quite impressive, like all historical sites in Iraq. I recall that when I visited the Askari Mosque I was struck with amazement by its great beauty and by its atmosphere of peace and serenity.

Last year the Malwiya was damaged by American rockets and now the Golden dome of the Askari mosque has been destroyed!

The first question one should ask is: Who benefits from instigating and infuriating Shi’ite against Sunnis and vice-versa?

Surely the answer is: Definitely not the Iraqis, for they do not want a civil war. They have suffered too much already and for too long!

The US and the UK are directly responsible not only for the destruction of Iraqi religious sites (Sunni, Shi’ite and Christian), but for the destruction of the entire country. They conveniently hide behind the al-Zarqawi myth to commit their crimes. How much do they pay their mercenaries to carry out these crimes in order to ignite sectarian war?

There was no al-Qaida and no al-Zarqawi ‘terrorism’ in Iraq before the US, the UK and their accomplices invaded the country. There was no animosity between Shi’ite, Sunnis, Christians, Sabeans and Yezidis in Iraq before they invaded the country.

The US and the UK are directly responsible because they have illegally invaded a sovereign country and destabilized it. They have brought chaos and are responsible for killing over 1.5 million Iraqis (with their criminal economic sanctions and heavy bombings). They are responsible for stealing Iraq’s sovereign resources and for stealing 12 billion US$ (by Bremer). They are responsible for the elimination of Iraq’s academics, for imprisoning, torturing, raping, humiliating, maiming and killing thousands of innocent Iraqis, the enumeration of their evil deeds could go on and on…

There will be no healing of Iraq, no reconciliation, no peace, no reconstruction and no future while these gangsters occupy the country.

The Iraqi people are demanding their immediate departure.

No doubt that when the US-UK are finally kicked out all the puppet/agents who have been put in place by the Anglo-Saxon occupiers will flee back to America and Britain. Shame on them!

Shame on them for conspiring with the enemy, for having betrayed their country and for having participated in squandering its wealth! These ‘puppets’ have proven that they are incapable of running the country, hiding behind their masters’ fortifications in the so-called ‘Green Zone’ and the Iraqi people do not trust them.
Graver still: their lack of leadership and total incompetence is putting the territorial unity of Iraq at risk.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish parties of Barazani and Talabani, with the help of the US and the Israelis, are implementing Zionist-inspired policies in the north of Iraq, to the detriment of the Turkmens, Arabs and Assyrians.

At this crucial moment, when the future of their country is at stake, it is to be hoped that Iraqis will rally together in order to avoid falling into the trap of a sectarian war and that they will unite their efforts to kick out their common enemy: the occupiers.

Iraqi Sunnis and Shi’ite rallying in Kut today (23rd February 2006) under the Iraqi flag, bring a much needed ray of hope.

Merry Fitzgerald
February 23rd, 2006.

samedi 23 février 2008

Irakiens morts à cause de l'invasion anglo-américaine: 1.173.743

Drawing: by Latuff

Iraqi deaths due to U.S. invasion

Seeds of Destruction + Iraq and Washington’s ‘seeds of democracy’

The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation
by F. William Engdahl
Global Research, 2007 ISBN 978-0-937147-2-2

This skillfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread.

"Control the food and you control the people."

This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO. Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms.

The author cogently reveals a diabolical World of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.

Engdahl's carefully argued critique goes far beyond the familiar controversies surrounding the practice of genetic modification as a scientific technique. The book is an eye-opener, a must-read for all those committed to the causes of social justice and World peace.

F. William Engdahl is a leading analyst of the New World Order, author of the best-selling book on oil and geopolitics, A Century of War: Anglo-American Politics and the New World Order,’ His writings have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

What is so frightening about Engdahl's vision of the world is that it is so real. Although our civilization has been built on humanistic ideals, in this new age of "free markets", everything-- science, commerce, agriculture and even seeds-- have become weapons in the hands of a few global corporation barons and their political fellow travelers. To achieve world domination, they no longer rely on bayonet-wielding soldiers. All they need is to control food production. (Dr. Arpad Pusztai, biochemist, formerly of the Rowett Research Institute Institute, Scotland)

If you want to learn about the socio-political agenda --why biotech corporations insist on spreading GMO seeds around the World-- you should read this carefully researched book. You will learn how these corporations want to achieve control over all mankind, and why we must resist... (Marijan Jost, Professor of Genetics, Krizevci, Croatia)

The book reads like a murder mystery of an incredible dimension, in which four giant Anglo-American agribusiness conglomerates have no hesitation to use GMO to gain control over our very means of subsistence... (Anton Moser, Professor of Biotechnology, Graz, Austria).

Iraq and Washington’s ‘seeds of democracy’

By F. William Engdahl,
5 June 2005
(Previously published in Current Concerns)

‘The reason we are in Iraq is to plant the seeds of democracy so they flourish there and spread to the entire region of authoritarianism.’ - George W. Bush

When George W. Bush spoke of planting the ‘seeds of democracy’ few realized he might have had in mind Monsanto seeds.

Following the US occupation of Iraq in March 2003, the economic and political life of that country changed radically. Iraq is under the complete economic control of the occupying power, the United States.

Please click on the link below to read the article


L’agriculture millénaire irakienne détruite par les transnationales agro-alimentaires étatsuniennes

Par Joëlle Pénochet

Le 13 fevrier 2008

Contrôlez le pétrole, et vous contrôlez des nations entières ; contrôlez le système alimentaire, et vous contrôlez les populations. »
Henry Kissinger

C’est au cœur de la Mésopotamie qu’a été inventée l’agriculture - avec un système d’irrigation sophistiqué -, voici plus de dix mille ans. La plaine alluviale exceptionnellement fertile située entre le Tigre et l’Euphrate offre des conditions idéales pour la culture des céréales. C’est là qu’est apparu le blé sauvage dans l’Antiquité. On y faisait pousser presque toutes les variétés connues aujourd’hui dans le monde (plus de 200 000). Les palmiers dattiers, qui fournissaient l’autre ressource vitale du pays, abritaient des plantes potagères très variées.

Les « semences de la démocratie » *

Depuis son invasion en 2003, l’Iraq n’a pas été seulement spoliée par ses agresseurs de sa souveraineté politique, de son patrimoine archéologique, de ses ressources pétrolières, mais aussi de sa souveraineté alimentaire.

En violation de la Constitution irakienne, et des conventions de la Haye et de Genève qui stipulent que l’occupant doit respecter la juridiction du pays occupé, l’administrateur provisoire Paul Bremer (un ancien collaborateur de Kissinger) a édicté, avant l’installation d’un gouvernement fantoche par Washington, cent ordonnances scélérates qui ont force de loi et qui ne peuvent être abolies ni modifiées par aucun gouvernement irakien (article 26 de la nouvelle constitution). Le pays tombait ainsi sous le joug économique total de l’Occupant, qui avait décidé de réformer drastiquement son économie sur le modèle économique néo-libéral américain.

L’ordonnance 81 du 26 avril 2004 a livré le pays en pâture aux nécro-entreprises géantes qui contrôlent le commerce mondial des graines, comme Monsanto (le fabriquant de l’agent Orange), Syngenta et Dow Chemicals. Elle conduit à la destruction irréversible de l’agriculture Iraqienne. L’Afghanistan avait subi le même sort en 2002.

Biopiratage dans le jardin d’Eden

Cette ordonnance, rédigée de façon très perverse, a institué de fait une obligation pour les fermiers irakiens d’acheter chaque année une licence et des semences transgéniques aux multinationales américaines - alors que la juridiction irakienne interdisait toute privatisation des ressources biologiques.

La règle de« Protection des variétés des plantes » (PVP), au centre de cette loi, ne traite pas de conservation de la biodiversité, mais de la protection des intérêts des transnationales semencières américaines (qui, en vertu des ordonnances Bremer, sont exonérées d’impôts, ne sont pas obligées de réinvestir dans le pays et possèdent le droit de rapatrier tous leurs profits). Pour être qualifiées, les plantes doivent être « nouvelles, distinctes, uniformes et stables », des critères que les plantes traditionnelles ne peuvent pas remplir.

Ces sociétés étrangères détiennent un droit de propriété intellectuelle (semblable à ceux que Washington a introduit dans les règles de l’OMC- dont l’Iraq ne fait pas partie) qui leur concède pendant vingt ans le monopole sur la production, la reproduction, la vente, l’exportation, l’importation et le stockage de toutes les semences génétiquement modifiées et les variétés de plantes «similaires».

Monsanto a fait un hold-up sur les semences millénaires de l’Iraq pour les modifier génétiquement et les breveter. Et les agriculteurs sont maintenant contraints de payer pour pouvoir les cultiver (1).

Dans un premier temps, pour faciliter l’introduction de l’agriculture transgénique, le « ministère » irakien de l'Agriculture, à la façon d’un dealer de drogue dure, a distribuées quasi gratuitement les « nouvelles semences » aux fermiers irakiens. Sans leur dire qu’ils entraient ainsi dans un système infernal dont ils ne pourraient plus sortir.

Les fermiers iraqiens rançonnés par les géants semenciers

L’ordonnance 81 a rendu illégales les traditions antiques de sélection des meilleures semences par les agriculteurs pour les réutiliser d’une année sur l’autre, et les échanges entre voisins. (Selon la FAO, 97% des fermiers irakiens réutilisaient encore leurs graines, ou les achetaient sur le marché local en 2002). Par croisements, au fil des générations, ils avaient créé des variétés hybrides adaptées au dur climat de la région.

Les agriculteurs « coupables » d’avoir semé des graines non achetées, ou dont le champ aurait été contaminé accidentellement, encourent de fortes amendes, voire des peines d’emprisonnement, la destruction de leurs récoltes, de leurs outils et de leurs installations!

Le terrorisme alimentaire pratiqué par les multinationales comme Monsanto dans les pays qu’elles colonisent a conduit au suicide de dizaines de milliers paysans du Tiers Monde - ruinés par l’achat annuel de semences transgéniques et des pesticides, herbicides et fongicides très toxiques qui leur sont nécessairement associés. Ainsi, pour la seule année 2003, 17 000 agriculteurs indiens auxquels les banques ne voulaient plus prêter d’argent pour acheter les semences de Monsanto se sont suicidés.

Vers le contrôle total de la chaîne alimentaire par les transnationales américaines

Les bombardements incessants depuis 1991 avec des armes à l’uranium appauvri - qui ont transformé le pays en une vaste déchetterie radioactive - et l’embargo de treize ans, avaient déjà commencé de détruire l’agriculture irakienne - anéantissement du système d’irrigation, du matériel agricole et des palmiers dattiers (2). De 1990 (date de l’instauration des sanctions) à 2003, le volume de la production de céréales avait diminué de moitié. Les troupeaux d’animaux d’élevage ont été décimés.

En plus de subir les exactions quotidiennes des occupants, les fermiers iraqiens, devenus des serfs, sont désormais condamnés à produire des plantes artificielles, destinées pour moitié à l’exportation mondiale (ou aux troupes d’occupation, comme les variétés de blé réservées à la fabrication de pâtes, étrangères au régime alimentaire irakien), au seul bénéfice de Monsanto et consorts. Ceci alors même que la population irakienne meurt de faim (3). C’est pourquoi, à l'instar de leurs homologues afghans, de plus en plus de fermiers désespérés abandonnent la culture des céréales pour celle de l’opium.

Les chimères issues des nécro-technologies représentent un très grave danger sur les plans environnemental, sanitaire, économique et éthique. Elles entraînent une pollution environnementale aussi irréversible que celle qui est provoquée par l’uranium appauvri. Par ailleurs, elles peuvent être utilisées dans le cadre de guerres biologiques ou bactériologiques silencieuses (3).

Les OGM constituent l’une des principales armes des instigateurs du Nouvel Ordre Mondial pour asservir l’une après l’autre les populations du monde entier. L’Iraq est devenue le nouveau laboratoire en grandeur réelle de cet instrument de domination diabolique, et les Irakiens les cobayes.

* Allusion à la phrase de Bush peu après l’invasion : « Nous sommes en Irak pour y répandre les semences de la démocratie de façon à ce qu'elles y prospèrent et se propagent dans toute la région où règne l'autoritarisme." (George Bush).

(1) Des échantillons de chacune de leurs variétés avaient été conservés dans la Banque nationale de semences… d’Abu Ghraib, qui a été détruite par l’Occupant.
(2) Cf.
Non-violence-ecologie-Une-catastrophe-ecologique-passee-sous-silence-la-destruction-des-palmeraies-en-Iraq_a225.html .
(3) En 2004, la police militaire américaine a fermé le journal al Hawza, qui avait publié un article affirmant que Bremer "menait une politique visant à affamer le peuple irakien afin, qu'entièrement occupé à se procurer son pain quotidien, il n'ait aucune chance de réclamer des libertés politiques et individuelles."
(4) Cf. les articles de Mae Wang Ho et Joe Cumming, de l’Institute of Science in Society (ISIS).

Michel Chossudovky: Sowing the Seeds of Famine in Ethiopia,, 10 septembre 2001.
William Engdhal:WTO, GMO and Total Spectrum Dominance , 29 mars 2006.
Ghali Hassan:Iraq’s New Constitution , 17août 2005.
Stephen Lendman:Unleashing GMO Seeds: "Food is Power"
Reviewing F. William Engdahl's Seeds of Destruction, Part 3. 19 janvier 2008.
Agribusiness Giants seek to gain Worldwide Control over our Food Supply, 7 janvier 2008.
Autres documents et articles consultés :L'ordonnance n° 81:
William Engdahl, Iraq and Washington’s ‘seeds of democracy, D. Cook, Plowing for Profits U.S. Agribusiness Eyes Iraq’s Fledgling Markets, In These Times 15mar2005 : ***'s New Patent Law: A Declaration of War Against Farmers Focus on the Global South and GRAIN 15oct04 :
Iraq's Crop Patent Law A Threat To Food Security By GM Free Cymru03 March 2005 ***
Patrick Cockburn, Desesperate Iraqi Farmers Turn to Opium, 24 janvier 2008:

Voir également le dernier livre de William Enghdal: Seeds of Destruction

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© Copyright Joëlle Pénochet, Global Research, 2008
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© Copyright 2005-2007 Mondialisation.

PKK Criminal Networks and Fronts in Europe

PKK Enclaves in Iraq

By Abdulkadir Onay

On February 13, Frank Urbancic, deputy counterterrorism coordinator at the State Department, told CNN-Turk, "The PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] is like the mafia all over Europe." He added that in addition to its terrorist presence in Europe, the PKK has an "octopus-like structure carrying out criminal activity, including drug and people smuggling" to raise funds, as well as "fronts that provide cover to the organization's criminal and terror activities."

The United States and Turkey have recently begun to cooperate with each other against the PKK presence in northern Iraq, but the organization's relatively unnoticed European criminal networks and fronts remain a lifeline that, if unchecked, will allow it to remain well funded and supplied indefinitely. For their fight against the PKK to be successful, Turkey, the United States, and the European Union must tackle the group's European activities.

Criminal Fundraising in Europe

The State Department's April 2007 Country Reports on Terrorism stated that the PKK finances its operations through fundraising and criminal activity in Europe. Similarly, a recent NATO Terrorist Threat Intelligence Unit (TTIU) report found that the PKK is involved in illegal economic operations such as smuggling, tax evasion, and other forms of organized crime, including drug and counterfeit money trafficking as well as illegal foreign currency exchanges. The report also stated that PKK members apply coercion in collecting funds.

According to figures presented at the NATO Reinforced Economic Committee meeting in November 2007, the illicit narcotics industry is the PKK's most profitable criminal activity. The committee's subsequent report found that the PKK is involved in all phases of the narcotics trade, from raw production in Pakistan and distillation in Iraq to street sales and "taxation" of non-PKK-produced drugs in Europe. The report also showed human trafficking as the PKK's second most profitable illicit activity.

Europol has made a similar case about the PKK's criminal activities, offering specific evidence in its April 2007 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report: "Two PKK members were arrested in France in 2006 for money laundering aimed at financing terrorism. At the end of 2005, three members of the PKK were arrested in Belgium and another one in Germany suspected of financing the PKK. In Belgium, the authorities seized receipt booklets indicating that the arrested suspects were collecting 'tax' from their fellow countrymen. The rise of fundraising activities by the PKK in the EU is related to the escalation of the terrorist campaign of Kurdish terrorists in Turkey."

Fronts and Legal Loopholes

In addition to its criminal network, the PKK also uses fronts and legal loopholes to raise funds in Europe. The TTIU report stated that the group raises a total of $50 to $100 million per year. Although the bulk of this amount comes from criminal operations in Europe, approximately $12 to $15 million is raised through legitimate or semi-legitimate commercial activities and donations. According to Turkish authorities, the PKK has a vast network of 400 affiliated organizations in Europe -- about half of which are in Germany -- engaged in these commercial activities. The network includes affiliate or sympathizer organizations such as the Confederation of Kurdish Associations in Europe (KON-KURD, headquartered in Brussels) and the International Kurdish Businessmen Union (KAR-SAZ, in Rotterdam).

The PKK also has a vast European propaganda and fundraising network that includes two news agencies, four television stations, thirteen radio stations, ten newspapers, nineteen periodicals, and three publishing houses. These media organizations are scattered across Europe and range from Roj TV in Denmark to the Firat News Agency in the Netherlands.

Purchasing Weapons

Revenues from the PKK's criminal activities and fronts have long funded the group's weapons purchases in Europe. Between 1984 and 2006, Turkey confiscated a total of 40,045 PKK weapons. The origin of many of the weapons could not be detected due to intentional destruction of identifying marks by producers, smugglers, or the users. Nevertheless, more than 16,000 of them have so far been traced. Some originated in European countries, including Italy, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, and Russia. Moreover, of the 8,015 mines captured by Turkey, 4,857 came from Italy and 2,268 from Russia and the ex-Soviet republics. Such large amounts of weapons, often stored in military depots, normally would not disappear without alerting the authorities.

European Cooperation: Slow but Increasing

The PKK has enjoyed safe conduct in some European countries for quite some time. Today, these nations are beginning to understand the global effects of terrorism and the need for international cooperation, and are accordingly taking steps to ban or restrict PKK activities. For instance, as reported by the Turkish daily Sabah, the British Foreign Office acknowledged in January 2008 that the PKK and its affiliate organizations had been active in Britain and other European countries since 2001. As a result, Britain announced that "foreign terrorist organizations would not be allowed to exploit the territories of the United Kingdom to fundraise any more."

Most European states have also officially recognized the PKK as a terrorist organization (though some, such as Norway, have not yet done so). Accordingly, they are taking some concrete steps against the group. For example, in January 2008, a local Berlin court found a Turkish citizen guilty of leading an underground PKK cell in Bavaria since 1994 and sentenced him to nearly three years in prison.

U.S. Role in Facilitating European Cooperation

According to the European Council's 2002 Framework Decision on Combating Terrorism, member states are obligated to take necessary measures to ensure that any involvement with a terrorist group -- whether it be directing, funding, supplying, or participating -- is punishable by law. Unfortunately, European countries have been slow in implementing this legislation.

In order to be successful, the U.S.-Turkish strategy against the PKK presence in northern Iraq should include strong U.S.-Turkish-European counterterrorism tools to shut down the group's European criminal networks and fronts. In this regard, the United States should bring Turkey and Europe together by facilitating joint work among American, Turkish, and European law enforcement agencies.

Source: Washington Institute, February 21, 2008