dimanche 30 août 2009

Iraqi Journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi to be released next month

Iraqi who threw shoes at Bush to be released early
KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer

August 29, 2009

BAGHDAD – An Iraqi journalist imprisoned for hurling his shoes at former President George W. Bush will be released next month after his sentence was reduced for good behavior, his lawyer said Saturday.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi's act of protest during Bush's last visit to Iraq as president turned the 30-year-old reporter into a folk hero across the Arab world, as his case became a rallying point for critics who resented the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation."Al-Zeidi's shoes were a suitable farewell for Bush's deeds in Iraq," Sunni lawmaker Dhafir al-Ani said in welcoming the early release.

"Al-Zeidi's act expressed the real will and feelings of the Iraqi people. His anger against Bush was the result of the suffering of his countrymen."The journalist has been in custody since the Dec. 14 outburst, which occurred as Bush was holding a news conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Maliki, who was standing next to Bush at the time, was said to have been deeply offended by the act.Al-Zeidi was initially sentenced to three years in prison after pleading not guilty to assaulting a foreign leader.

The court reduced it to one year because the journalist had no prior criminal history.

Defense attorney Karim al-Shujairi said al-Zeidi will now be released on Sept. 14, three months early."We have been informed officially about the court decision," al-Shujairi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

"His release will be a victory for the free and honorable Iraqi media."Judicial spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar said he had no immediate information about the release because it was a weekend.

Followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who were among the leaders of many of the demonstrations demanding al-Zeidi's release, welcomed the decision to free him early."We believe that al-Zeidi did not commit any crime but only expressed the will of the Iraqi people in rejecting the U.S. occupation," Sadrist lawmaker Falah Shanshal said.

"Al-Zeidi's image will always be a heroic one."

The bizarre act of defiance transformed the obscure reporter from a minor TV station into a national hero to many Iraqis fed up with the U.S. presence.

Thousands demonstrated for al-Zeidi's release and hailed his gesture. A sofa-sized sculpture of a shoe was erected in his honor in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, but the Iraqi government later ordered it removed.

Neither leader was injured, but Bush was forced to duck for cover as the journalist shouted in Arabic: "This is your farewell kiss, you dog! This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."

The case's investigating judge has said the journalist was struck about the face and eyes, apparently by security agents who wrestled him to the ground and dragged him away.

Al-Zeidi's family has said he was also mistreated while in custody, although the government has denied the allegation."We thank God that he will be released, although we still fear for his safety since he is still in the prison," his brother Dargham said.

"He will be released full of pride and strength from all the love he has received from the Iraqi people and international organizations and figures who advocate freedom."

Associated Press Writers Sameer N. Yacoub and Sinan Saleheddin contributed to this report.

samedi 29 août 2009

Amid violence, Iraqi archbishop ‘more pessimistic than ever’ about Christians’ future

Archbishop Louis Sako
Kirkuk, Iraq, Aug 27, 2009 / 08:24 pm (CNA).- Louis Sako, Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, has said that Iraqi Christians are facing “bad days” as “ineffective” security cannot prevent criminality and violence targeting Christian minorities. Many of the Christians who remain are in such fear that they too want to leave Iraq, he said.
The future of Christianity in Iraq, even in the short term, now “hangs in the balance,” Archbishop Sako said in a phone interview with the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
Christians lack the protection of militia and have become “easy targets” for criminals, he reported.

Violence and the lack of jobs and services have encouraged many Christians to leave. There are now only 300 Christian families in southern Iraq and less than 400,000 Christians in Iraq as a whole. Within the past decade, their numbers have declined by 750,000.

In the northern city of Mosul, a former Christian heartland, many Christian families are “too afraid to come back.”
At one point in the interview, Archbishop Sako warned of rising extremism.

“Iraq is going to a narrow form of Islam,” he commented.
“I feel more pessimistic now than ever before. We do not have the same hope that we had before,” he told ACN. “In fact I am not seeing any signs of hope for the future. Our whole future hangs in the balance.
“We are experiencing bad days. Every group involved in criminal activity seems to be active.”

Archbishop Sako called Iraq’s security system “ineffective” and “unprofessional.”
“The government and the police are doing their best but they are incapable of controlling the situation,” he reported, saying that Christians are generally being attacked not because they are Christian but because they are seen to be defenseless.

Even one crime, abduction or killing makes the whole community want to move, he reported.
The archbishop spoke from Kirkuk, ten days after a Christian father of three was shot dead and a doctor was abducted on his way home in the city.

The turmoil is not localized to one part of Iraq.
“Every day, there are explosions – in Baghdad, Mosul, so many different places,” he added.
In July, militants attacked seven churches in Baghdad, killing and injuring dozens. Last week nearly 100 were killed in a series of attacks.
“Living in this climate, the Christian people are afraid. They are really worried. Despite what we tell them, encouraging them to stay, they want to leave,” Archbishop Sako said.

He reported that the people have lost patience with the country’s politicians. The prelate also called on Western countries to pressure Iraqi political groups to reconcile and try to reduce conflict and restore law and order.

“There can be no proper security without a real reconciliation. The only people who seem to be benefiting from the situation at the moment are the criminals. This has got to change,” he explained.

Archbishop Sako noted the crucial importance of interfaith work for coexistence between Christians and Muslims. While the archbishop is involved in initiatives in Kirkuk, such as hosting a Ramadan dinner this weekend, they are generally not replicated elsewhere in the country.
The work is small scale and involves individuals rather than the large groups crucial for attitude changes.

Church leaders and Christian politicians are also not doing enough to cooperate to confront common problems, Archbishop Sako told ACN.

mercredi 26 août 2009

More than 20 Iraqis brought to Ankara for treatment

Twenty-six Iraqi citizens who were wounded in a string of blasts mainly targeting government buildings in Baghdad on Aug. 19 were brought to Turkey on Monday and are being treated at a hospital in Ankara, the Prime Ministry Directorate General for Emergency Management announced on Tuesday.
The wounded Iraqis have been accompanied by a 20-member group of relatives, the announcement briefly said.

At least six blasts struck locations near government ministries and other targets at the heart of Iraq's Shiite-led administration on Aug. 19, weeks after US combat troops withdrew from urban centers in June, thrusting Iraq's security forces into the lead role. More than 100 people were killed, with more than 500 wounded.

The Turkish Embassy in Baghdad, which is located 400 meters away from the Finance Ministry, which was one of the targets in the blasts, was lightly damaged due to the bombings. Nobody was killed or wounded at the embassy. Soon after the blasts, President Abdullah Gül called his Iraqi counterpart, Jalal Talabani, expressing Turkey's readiness to move whenever required and to lend all kinds of support.

Turkey has so far provided medical care to hundreds of Iraqis injured in insurgent attacks in recent days near the northern city of Mosul, which the US military has called the last urban stronghold of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

lundi 24 août 2009

Can Iraqis move past sectarian divides?

Can Iraqis move past sectarian divides?
By Roger Hardy
BBC Middle East analyst

Amid rising levels of violence and political uncertainty, is it realistic for US President Barack Obama to go ahead with his planned withdrawal from Iraq?

The clock is ticking.

By August of next year, all American combat troops are due to be withdrawn from Iraq - and the remainder by the end of 2011.
That's the Obama plan. And that's what American voters signalled they wanted when they elected him president.
But are the Iraqis ready to run their country and take charge of their security?

"Iraq today," says Anas Altikriti, a Sunni Islamist, "is half-way between either being on the verge of collapse or on the verge of salvation."
Interviews with Iraqi political figures suggest that Iraqis want the Americans to go, but are far from certain about what will happen if they do.

A new kind of politics
Iraq is between elections.
The last ones - local and provincial elections - were held in January of this year. The next ones - parliamentary elections - are due to take place in January 2010.
That may be five months away, but the politicians are already in electioneering mode.

The lesson of the provincial elections, says Rend Rahim, former Iraqi ambassador to Washington, is that voters are tired of sectarian politics.
She thinks the Islamist parties - both Sunni and Shia - can see which way the wind's blowing, but are still "unable to break out of the shackles of sectarian politics".

Nationalism is now a vote-winner. And one of the first to sense this was Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.
Long regarded as a Shia Islamist, Mr Maliki has successfully rebranded himself as a nationalist strongman.
He wants to build on that success in the elections in January.

Driving a wedge
Whatever the voters may want, the old ethnic and sectarian divides - between Arab and Kurd and between Sunni and Shia - persist.
And in the run-up to the elections, extremist groups have an incentive to drive a wedge between the different communities.
Al-Qaeda and other groups are thought to be behind the recent spate of bombings in the capital, Baghdad, and in the volatile northern city of Mosul.
“ Some in Washington argue that only when American troops start coming home will the squabbling Iraqi factions get serious about reconciliation ”
They have been emboldened by the fact that, at the end of June, American troops withdrew from the cities - leaving their security in the hands of the Iraqis.
Maysoon Damluji, a well-known women's rights activist, is a member of parliament for Mosul representing a secular liberal party, the Iraqi National List.

Traditionally, she says, the city's diverse communities - Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Turkomen, Christians and others - were able to co-exist.
But now "people have resorted to their tribal, ethnic and religious backgrounds" and this is creating a lot of tension.

Although Mosul lies south of the largely autonomous Kurdish area of northern Iraq, a power struggle is under way between Kurds and Arabs in the city.
The veteran Kurdish politician Mahmoud Othman sees no easy solution to the problems that divide the Kurds of the north and the Maliki government in Baghdad.
The north has been semi-autonomous for so long, he says, that "a whole generation has been brought up which has no relation with Baghdad".
The young speak Kurdish rather than Arabic and so, not surprisingly, feel more Kurdish than Iraqi.

Reading Obama's mind
Despite talk of reconciliation, the old rifts persist - and if the current level of violence continues, that will make it even harder to heal them.
Some in Washington argue that only when American troops start coming home will the squabbling Iraqi factions get serious about reconciliation.

But Maysoon Damluji argues that, by itself, that is not enough.
Reconciliation is not just about easing sectarian tensions, she says. It's about "bringing all Iraqis into the political process" - and, beyond that, providing more jobs for young men and women.

Mahmoud Othman thinks President Obama may be having second thoughts about his withdrawal timetable.

Anas Altikriti, the Sunni Islamist, distrusts American intentions.
Iraqis were overjoyed, he says, when during his election campaign then-Senator Obama pledged a full withdrawal - then dismayed when that was redefined to mean a phased withdrawal.

Rend Rahim, in contrast, thinks that, barring some catastrophe, the withdrawal will go ahead as planned.
The challenge then, she says, will be for Iraqis to reach a consensus on what sort of country they want to live in.

Roger Hardy's full Analysis programme will run on the BBC World Service on Monday 24 August at 1041 and 2241 GMT.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/08/23 15:07:14 GMT


dimanche 23 août 2009

'Peshmerga's zijn racistisch'

Kerkuk, 22 augustus 2009 -

Volgens de Arabieren en Turkmenen in Kerkuk doet het voorstel van VS-generaal Raymond Odierno om Koerdische Peshmergatroepen de betwisten gebieden zoals Kerkuk te laten beschermen, de onenigheden tussen de verschillende volkeren die er wonen alleen maar verergeren.

"Het voorstel van het commando van de Amerikaanse troepen onder leiding van Raymond Odierno maakt de onenigheden tussen de verschillende groeperingen in Kerkuk moeilijker en zwaarder," volgens Sheikh Hasan Saleh, de fractievoorzitter van de Arabieren in de provinciale raad van Kerkuk (Kirkuk). Saleh riep zelfs het Iraakse leger op om de controle in zijn geheel over te nemen tussen Bagdad en de Koerden territoriaal betwiste gebieden die "door de racistische Peshmerga-troepen lijden".

Een woordvoerder van het Turkmeense Front, Ali Hashim Muxtaroglu vond dat het voorstel van Odierno het verdrag tussen Bagdad en Washington ondermijnt. "En het stationeren van Peshmerga-troepen daar is een reden voor de verslechtering en vermoeilijking van de situatie in die gebieden," aldus Muxtaroglu.

Mohammed Kemal, van de Koerdische lijst in Kerkuk is het daar niet mee eens en zei over het onderwerp: "Het weigeren van het voorstel van Odierno van de kant van de Arabieren en Turkmenen is zonder enkel wettelijk bewijs. In het bijzonder stelt de wet dat Koerden hun troepen in die regio's kunnen stationeren," aldus Koerdisch politicus Kemal.
© Rudaw / Radio Sewa

Rising Islamophobia blamed for hate crimes against Turks in Europe


The death of Turkish citizen Mikail Tekin in a Belgian prison has led to tension in Belgium and Turkey. Many Belgians protested the incident.

The violent deaths of two Turkish citizens in Belgium and three others in the Netherlands earlier this month have stirred up controversy among the Turkish public, which feels that anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim hate crimes have started to take a toll on their countrymen in Europe.

Arzu Erbaş Çakmakçı, 33, was stabbed to death on Aug. 11 in Amsterdam by an unknown assailant outside the daycare center she owned. Although the motive for her murder remains a mystery, it is suspected that it could have been a xenophobic attack. In the same city, another Turkish citizen, 30-year-old Ufuk Kayakuşu, who owned a cleaning company, was found stabbed to death in his home on Aug. 14.
The death of a Turkish citizen, Mikail Tekin, 31, in Belgium's Jamioulx Prison on Aug. 8, apparently after being subjected to torture as indicated in his autopsy report, sparked outcry among the Turkish public, prompting a diplomatic protest by Ankara to Belgian officials. Tekin had originally been detained after a brawl with traffic police.

In another Belgian city, Gent, Turkish citizen Mustafa Çiçek, 32, was shot to death in his home after returning from a vacation with his wife in Turkey. The couple was attacked by two masked man.

These crimes are still being investigated by the authorities to determine whether they qualify as hate crimes; the verdict is still pending. Though some of them may be ordinary crimes, the back-to-back heartbreaking news has caused public outrage and put pressure on Turkish officials to act on it.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the Çakmakçı family personally to offer his condolences and said he would discuss the matter with his Dutch counterpart in response to the grieving father's plea to have the perpetrators punished. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu placed a call to his Belgian counterpart, Yves Leterme, saying he expects the utmost care in the investigation of Tekin's death.
Recep Karagöz, the deputy secretary-general of the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER) sees an increasing trend of xenophobic and hate crimes across Europe. “The anti-Muslim rhetoric taken up by government officials in some countries has fueled these incidents, and they are the ones who should take the blame for them,” he told Sunday's Zaman.

Karagöz explained that most hate crimes in Europe have nothing to do with ethnicity, but rather these crimes target Muslims. “If you look at Germany, the bulk of Muslims are Turks, so it was natural for them to carry a bull's eye on their backs. When you cross the border over to France, the target will be immigrants from North Africa. Though the ethnicity changes, they share the common trait of being Muslim,” he noted.

Bülent Aras, a professor of international relations from the Ankara-based Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) agrees with Karagöz in that Turks are considered Muslims and vice versa. “I remember the alley where Tunisian immigrants live in Paris was called the Turkish neighborhood,” he told Sunday's Zaman. “This is plain and simple Islamophobia,” he underlined.

Stressing that Europe had failed spectacularly in the integration of immigrant communities, Aras argued that unlike the United States, Europe has real issues with multi-ethnicity and officials are having difficulties finding a compromise under increasing domestic pressure.
“When you add the toll of the recent global economic crisis on national economies, you will end up with more hate crimes in these countries,” he said, explaining that immigrants groups are often blamed for rising unemployment and cracking the social security safety net.

Çakmakçı's murder was a case in point, and it looks very much like a hate crime against Muslims. She was a successful headscarved businesswoman in Amsterdam and was running the Moeders Schoot childcare center, which 350 children attended, in the Geuzenveld district of the city. Her father was quick to pinpoint spreading racism and xenophobia in the Netherlands as the motive for her stabbing.

Human rights advocate Karagöz says he has difficulty understanding how hate crimes can spread like cancer in a country which champions human rights and advocates the promotion of those rights in the international arena. “I guess the Dutch authorities have now realized that they also have xenophobic problems in their own backyards,” he said.

The rise in hate crimes targeting Muslims is becoming a concern for many international human right groups as well. The US-based Human Rights First (HRF), which closely monitors hate crimes and discrimination, underlines that attacks on Muslims and those who are perceived as Muslims are sharply increasing. In recent reports, the HRF pointed out that governments are not doing enough to address the problem and in some cases use anti-Muslim rhetoric to capitalize on the overall climate of fear and misunderstanding of Muslims and Islam.

Amid increasing violence against Muslims in Europe, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has decided to open a representative office and appoint an ambassador to Brussels to fight against Islamophobia in Europe more effectively. “This office will provide the West and Islam with the opportunity to work coherently,” said Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the Turkish secretary-general of the organization, to Sunday's Zaman in June.

The office will cooperate with the European Parliament and the European Council to develop initiatives for interfaith and intercultural dialogue and institute contacts with nongovernmental organizations. The office will also be effective in efforts aimed at preventing discrimination against Muslims and fighting anti-Islamic propaganda. “Of course fighting anti-Islamic propaganda is one of the main aims of the office. Intercultural and interfaith dialogue constitute the priorities of the office in Brussels,” İhsanoğlu said.

The positions of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who have both been particularly vocal in their opposition to Turkey's accession to the European Union, does not help either. Although Merkel and Sarkozy refrained from making anti-Muslim remarks, far-right parties in other member countries have aggressively campaigned against the predominantly Muslim country's membership aspirations as part of a broader agenda against the “Islamization” of Europe.

For example, the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), a far-right political party that is the third largest group in the country's Parliament, used opposition to Turkey's eventual EU membership as a major tool during its European Parliament election campaign back in June. The FPÖ's campaign materials were heavily loaded with religious discourse.

23 August 2009, Sunday

vendredi 21 août 2009

Uyğur şəhidlərinin 40-ı mərasimi aksiyası /Stokholm

Uyğur şəhidlərinin 40-ı mərasimi aksiyası /Stokholm

20.VIII.2009. /GAK

Uyğuristanda (Şinyanq Uyğur Avtonom Rayonu) yerli uyğur türklərinə qarşı çin polisinin qətliamında şəhid olmuş uyğur-soydaşlarımızın 40-ı mərasimi və şəhidlərin xatirəsini yad edib Çin Hökümətini məhkum etmək üçün Stokholmda yaşayan uyğur, (Quzey və Güney) Azərbaycan və Türkiyə türkləri və Stokholmlular tərəfindən, cümə günü 20 avqust 2009 tarixində saat 14.00-dan 18-dək mərkəzi meydan olan Sergels Torg’da etiraz aksiyası keçirildi. Aksiyada, uyğur icmaları ilə yanaşı, İsveç parlamentinin deputatı Mehmet Kaplan, Güney Azərbaycan Konqresinin birinci məsulu Abdulla Əmir Haşimi (Cavanşir), Sosialist Ədalət Partiyasından Per-Oke Vesterlund, “İslam Toplumu Milli Görüş”ün İsveç nümayəndəliyinin sədri Yavuz Selim Çelik, Türk İşçi Dərnəkləri Federasiyasından Mustafa Sönməz, İsveç-Uyğur Komitəsinin sədri Mahinur Həsənova, AzadTribun saytının məsulu Babək Azəri, “Ərk” dərnəyindən Səttar Sevigin, “Bütöv Azərbaycan” dərnəyindən Teymur Eminbəyli, “Haray” dərnəyindən Bəhmən Nəbizadə və digər azərbaycanlılar iştirak etmişlər.

Çıxış edənlər, Çin hökümətinin, uyğur türklərinə qarşı apardığı assimilasiya siyəsətini qəti pislədilər və uyğurlara qarşı tətbiq olunan qeyri-insani və şiddətli siyasətə dünya ictimaiyyatının biganə qalmamasını tələb etdilər. Mitinq iştirakçıları, "Qatil Çin!", "Uyğur!", "Hardadır ədalət? Haradadır insan haqları?", "Faşist Çin!", "Haradadır Avropa Birliyi? Haradadır Birləşmiş Millətlər Təşkilatı?", "Uyğur xalqı, ana-dilinə qadağa qoyulması ilə barışmayacaq!”, “Biz ancaq öz fundamental insani və milli haqlarımızı istəyirik!” və s şüarları izdihamla hayqıdılar.

Güney Azərbaycan Konqresi tərəfindən çıxış edən soydaşımız, Güney Azərbaycanlıların indiki vəziyyəti ilə uyğur xalqının durumunu müqayisə edərək, dünyada gedən hər cürə irqçilik siyasətini istərsə İran, istərsə Çində, məhkum edilməsini tələb etdi.

Mitinqin sonunda, şəhidlərin ruhuna fatihə oxunaraq, uyğurları dəstəkləyən təşkilatlara, mitinq təşkilatçıları tərəfindən təşəkkür edildi.

Aksiyadan, GAK tərəfindən hazılanmış şəkillər və AzadTribun.Net tərəfindən hazırlanmış video fraqment bu keçiddə təqdim olunur:

Ayda AMIR HASHIMI Responsible for International Relations
Congress of South Azerbaijan, http://www.guneyazerbaycankonqresi.com/

Nechirvan Barzani plans trip to Baghdad

Nechirvan Barzani plans trip to Baghdad

Erbil - The current Kurdish Premier Nechirvan Barzani is planning a high-level delegation amidst rumours he could become the new Iraqi deputy prime minister. Nechirvan Barzani will visit Bahdad, after the Iraqi premier Nouri al-Maliki will return from Syria. Awsat al-Iraq reports they will discuss disputes between the government in Baghdad and Erbil.

Also the Kurdish FM Falah Mustafa Bakir will travel with Nechirvan Barzani to speak about security issues, Peshmerga-troops, disputed regions and oil rights.

On Thursday Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki approved the resignation of the Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih and it was announced that Salih would form the new Kurdish government.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) won the absolute majority in Parliament during the elections on 25 July. According to the agreement between the two parties, the Prime Ministry will be given to the KDP. Therefore, the agreement suggests that Salih will be the new prime minister.

Salih will replace KDP member Nechirvan Barzani.The new Parliamentary Speaker Kemal Kerkuki told Rudaw that if Nechirvan Barzani would be a very good Iraqi vice-premier, if Barham Salih would become the new PM. “It’s a very good matter, because we need a powerful person in Baghdad.”

jeudi 20 août 2009

Mübarek Ramazan Ayı Hoş Geldin - Ramadhan Kareem

Mübarek Ramazan Ayı Hoş Geldin

Happy Ramadhan Kareem

Bon mois beni du Ramadan

As salamu'aleykom wa rahmatulah wa barakatuh, Ramadhan kareem aleykom

Fi amanillah

mardi 18 août 2009

Iraq's Kurdish Government Negotiating Cabinet Posts; Kurdish Forces Accused of Torture

GMT 8-18-2009
Assyrian International News Agency

North Iraq (AINA) -- Rudaw newspaper reported that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have not made a final decision about each other's share in the new cabinet.

Reportedly, there are several options: one is that the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister/PUK Vice Secretary-General Dr. Barham Salih will be KRG Prime Minster for two years, and current KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani will either replace Dr. Salih and become Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister or become a second KRG vice president (in this scenario, the KRG presidency will have two vice presidents). Rudaw reported that KDP member Mohamed Mahmud will be IKP Speaker, PUK member Dr. Arsalan Bayeez will be IKP Deputy Speaker, and KDP member Farsat Sofy will be IKP Secretary. PUK Politburo member Saedy Pira stated that in the following days both politburos will meet and make a final decision.

Four Party Coalition Will End

Chawder newspaper reported that the coalition of four political parties (Kurdistan Islamic Union, Kurdistan Islamic Group, Social Democratic Party, and Toiler Party) will end and will not run in the upcoming elections as one list. The newspaper reported that the two Islamic parties will no longer form coalitions with secular parties.

Asayeesh Reported to Torture Prisoners

Chawder newspaper reported that according to a report published by the Ministry of Human Rights for April, May, and June 2009, the Kurdish secret police, Asayeesh, in Bardarash Sub-district used torture against four prisoners. In related news, Rozhnama newspaper reported that one prisoner was beaten by four police officers at the Sulaimanyah Police Station. Also Rudaw newspaper reported that the Youth Empowerment Organization published a report, in which it said that police and Asayeesh are still using torture against prisoners in many forms from assault to rape. The report added that human trafficking is present in Kurdistan Region.

Fayli Kurds: Asking for Election Quota

Rozhnama newspaper reported that Fayli Kurds will request to have a quota in the upcoming national elections in January 2010. On Friday, Fayli Kurds held a meeting and announced their list for the upcoming elections under the name of "General National Conference of Fayli Kurds," headed by Sheikh Mohamed Naemany.

Copyright (C) 2009, Assyrian International News Agency.

lundi 17 août 2009

Turkmen join Arabs to stop referendum in Iraq

Turkmen join Arabs to stop referendum in Iraq
Monday, 08. 17. 2009

KIRKUK, Iraq- Arab and Turkmen politicians in Iraq’s northern Kirkuk province have banded together to try to block an impending referendum on the future status of the disputed oil-rich region.

Kurds, reckoned to form the majority of the province’s 900,000 population, are eager to press on with the vote in the hope of removing direct control of the area from Baghdad and including it in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.

Political stalemate meant that Kirkuk took part neither in Iraqi provincial elections earlier this year nor Kurdish ones last month, but leaders of the province’s minority Arab and Turkmen communities believe they may have found a way of breaking the deadlock.

They are seeking a national vote on a proposal to scrap the already-delayed Kirkuk referendum.

The Arab and Turkmen leaders have pledged to back proposed amendments that would remove Article 140 of Iraq’s 2005 constitution, which required a referendum over the status of Kirkuk and a census to take place by the end of 2007.

Neither has taken place and the minorities say their validity has timed out.

If approved by lawmakers, the proposed amendments could be put to a nationwide plebiscite next January in tandem with the scheduled Iraqi general election, according to the state-run Al-Sabah newspaper.

The amendments are among around 100 changes to the constitution suggested by a parliamentary committee, the newspaper said.
“This issue is not in the hands of the Iraqi government or the regional government of Kurdistan, but is the responsibility of the federal parliament and it is the parliament that will decide,” said Hassan Torman, vice-president of the Turkmen al-Aadala party.

If the amendments go to a universal vote, an absolute majority of Iraq’s electors must back them for the measures to pass.

However, if two-third majorities reject the changes in at least three of Iraq’s 18 provinces, they will fail, a clause which gives the autonomous Kurdish region and its three provinces an effective veto over any amendments.

And the Kurds, whose peshmerga forces already have a heavy presence in Kirkuk alongside the Iraqi army, are insisting the provincial referendum should still go ahead.
“Article 140 is constitutional and the Iraqi government is obliged to implement it,” said Sherzad Adil, a senior Kurdish member of the provincial assembly.
“The delay in implementing it is the fault of the governments that followed the former regime and we hope the problems will be solved before the next (general) election” in January, he said.

The Arab and Turkmen-backed amendments will retain references to “normalisation” of Kirkuk, a term meaning the resettlement of Kurds expelled from their homes by executed former dictator Saddam Hussein in a campaign of Arabisation.
“We must continue to compensate those who were displaced” by the Arabisation policies on humanitarian grounds, said Mohammed Khalil al-Juburi, head of the provincial council’s Arab bloc.

Arabs and Turkmen nevertheless say that Kurdish population figures have been boosted by many moving to the province in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion that overthrew Saddam.

Peshmerga have expanded their areas of control in Iraq. The region’s three provinces comprise around 40,000 square kilometres, but peshmerga have advanced into an additional 35,000 square kilometres, today’s disputed areas, and have major presences in Kirkuk, Nineveh and Diyala provinces.

In a visit to the autonomous region on August 2, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that Article 140 was “constitutional” but added that “the ultimate goal is to find a solution that preserves the various components of Iraqi society… in the framework of the Iraqi state.”

At stake is control over the estimated 7.9 billion barrels of reserves in the massive Kirkuk oil field, the third biggest deposit in Iraq which overall has the world’s third largest reserves.

Source: Khaleej Times Online - Turkmen join Arabs to stop referendum in Iraq

samedi 15 août 2009

Turkey’s Mesopotamian vision


Gürkan Zengin

Earlier this week, we were in Baghdad with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and had a chance to observe the current state of Turkish-Iraqi relations.

Given the fact that the likelihood of an armed conflict was considerably high in 2007, it is really surprising to see this perfect harmony in relations attained in the hot summer days of 2009. Not only was successful crisis management implemented by Turkey, but also the good-intentioned and cool-headed approach adopted by the Maliki government in Baghdad was effective in the transition from crisis to vision.
The High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council, established between the two countries in 2008, was a major indicator of this transition. Signed in Baghdad, the agreement setting up this committee provides for the integration, not mere cooperation, between the two countries. Thanks to this agreement, Turkish-Iraqi relations have gone beyond ordinary bilateral relations and acquired an institutional character. As a matter of fact, eight major ministers from the two countries gather twice or thrice every year. And at least once, a sort of joint cabinet convenes under the chairmanship of the two prime ministers.

Speaking on the matter, Davutoğlu explained: "We intend to undertake such an enormous project that these two countries, which are natural extensions of each other in terms of sharing the same basin, can fully integrate in infrastructure, energy, transportation and commerce. In determining which ministries should be among these eight major ministers, we took into consideration those capable of realizing this vision."

Indeed, this perfect harmony between Turkey and the central government in Baghdad lays the ground for the novel Mesopotamian vision among Turkey, Iraq and Syria and signifies a vision that has the potential to give back to Mesopotamia its past grandeur.

One of the fundamental legs of this vision might be the revival of the İstanbul-Basra railway project. This project was discussed once again during the last meeting, and we can say that there is almost complete agreement on it. Davutoğlu expounds that this vision will also be beneficial to the European Union. "Connecting Turkey and Iraq via a railway means that the EU is connected to Basra. In other words, a train will be able to depart from Belgium and arrive in the Gulf without a problem. In the past, the Spanish, the Portuguese and the British would have to go around the Cape of Good Hope to access the Indian Ocean. Now, we will provide a shortcut."

No one should be surprised to see a natural gas pipeline laid parallel to the existing Kirkuk-Yumurtalık oil pipeline in addition to the interconnectedness of the transportation lines of Turkey and Iraq. (Obviously, this can come true if the political tension in the region is eased. Considering these developments together with the Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline, one feels nothing but extreme enthusiasm over the potential.)

During this visit by Davutoğlu to Baghdad, the Turkish side submitted its projects to Iraqi officials. During the next month, eight Iraqi ministers will develop their own projects and visit Ankara. In late October or early November, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will pay a visit to Baghdad for a meeting chaired by the two prime ministers.

Can the Mesopotamian vision be implemented?

Bilateral relations between Turkey and Syria are just perfect. A similar description can also be used for relations between Ankara and Baghdad. There is no major obstacle in sight for Turkey to implement this vision as a catalyst. The implementation of this vision will be beneficial to all countries in this region called Mesopotamia, a stretch of land that always acted in unity in the past.

We see that Turkey's target of having zero problems with neighbors has largely been attained. Turkey's new target with respect to its immediate region is as Davutoğlu puts it, "maximum relations with neighbors." The Mesopotamian vision will be a major ingredient of this target.

This last visit to Baghdad has shown that this vision, developed in Ankara, was found acceptable by Baghdad and Damascus. The weakest link in its implementation seems to be the Barzani administration in Arbil.

15 August 2009, Saturday

vendredi 14 août 2009

Attack against Turkmen existence in Iraq: Tazehurmatu

by Hasan Kanbolat, Director of ORSAM

As the guest of honor in the conference named “The role of Turkmens in a New Iraq,” held in Baghdad on June 20, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said, “Turkmens were forced to change their identity due to pressure from the Baath regime,” and noted that they “have made great sacrifices for their country.”

While he underlined that these kinds of problems needed to end, he announced that foreign military forces would not be allowed in Iraqi settlement areas and warned that violence could increase because of some circles that did not want foreign forces to withdraw while emphasizing the country's need for unity and collaboration. A leading member of the Islamic Revolutionary High Council and representative of the Shiite Alliance, Shaikh Taqi al-Mawla said Turkmens wanted to adopt a more important role and asked that Turkmens be given their constitutional rights. Also pushing for the districts of Tal Afar and TuzKhurmatu to gain the status of “province,” al-Mawla said Kirkuk belonged to all Iraqis.

Just hours after talking about the possibility of an increase in violence, Tal Afar and TuzKhurmatu gaining “province” status and about oil-rich Kirkuk, a place Kurds want to dominate, a bomb exploded in downtown Tazehurmatu. A suicide truck bomb exploded as worshippers left the Shiite Rasul al-Azam mosque, killing 70 people and wounding close to 200 people.

Tazehurmatu is a predominantly Shiite Turkmen district. Turkmens from Tazehurmatu are intellectual people who have protected their Turkmen identity. The rate of female participation in politics and elections in Tazehurmatu is much higher when compared to other parts of Iraq. Just recently, a march was held in Tazehurmatu protesting the increasing presence of Kurds in the area. Tazehurmatu is an area where only one ethnicity (Turkmen) and one sect (Shiism) is prevalent, making it an ill-suited place to start an ethnic or sectarian conflict.

The real issue, however, is that Tazehurmatu is a border district to Sulaimaniya, which belongs to the Kurdish administration and is within range of Kurdish regional expansion. This is a known scenario. In the past, the same situation emerged in the predominantly Turkmen district of Tal Afar. In a conflict sparked between the Sunnis and Shiites in Tal Afar, which falls under the jurisdiction of the province of Mosul, 3,000 people were killed, 6,000 were injured and around 5,000 families (30,000-35,000 people) fled the area; the economy collapsed. The same game that was played in Tal Afar is being played in Tazehurmatu. The game is starting conflict to foment violence and instability and thereby ruining the economy and forcing the Turkmens to flee. In this way a Turkmen presence is removed in an area that has the potential to become a province and is in close proximity to the Kurdish administration.

The bloodiest attack of this year in Iraq was the attack in Tazehurmatu. But the incident did not get the attention of the world media it deserved. Although Tazehurmatu is a Turkmen-rooted settlement area, the attack did not get much attention from Turkey, which is actually a very sensitive country when it comes to the Palestine issue in the Middle East. When a Palestinian suffers the slightest injury, everyone in Turkey takes a stance. However, Turkish people and politicians have not shown the same sensitivity to Iraq and the Iraqi Turkmens as they show to the Palestinian cause and Gaza. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's visit to Iraq, which was scheduled to commence on June 22, has been postponed indefinitely. Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal has said he will visit Iraq in the fall. Visits by these two leaders are going to be a ray of hope for Iraqi Turkmens, who sincerely believe in the unity and democratization of Iraq.

*This article was first published in Today's Zaman on 23 June 2009.

June 24 2009
Hasan Kanbolat, Director of ORSAM

jeudi 13 août 2009

Iraq aims to ban dual citizenship for top officials

Wed Aug 12
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq's cabinet has approved a bill to require all top government and security officials to renounce any foreign citizenships they hold or to step down, the government spokesman said on Wednesday.

The bill, which must be approved by parliament, would apply to the president, prime minister, speaker of parliament and their deputies, as well as key ministers and army and police commanders, Dabbagh said in a statement.

The ministers affected are those of the interior, defence, finance, oil and foreign affairs.

"Those that wish to keep their foreign nationality would have to give up their government positions," Dabbagh said.

Many senior positions in Iraq are filled by former exiles who returned to the country from abroad after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

More than half of ministers hold dual nationalities. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090812/wl_mideast_afp/iraqpolitics

Turkey's exports to Iraq to surge by 80% in 2009

August 13, 2009

Turkish exports to Iraq would surge to 7 billion U.S. dollars by the end of this year, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported Wednesday, quoting Turkish state minister for foreign trade. That would be a nearly 80 percent increase from the 2008 export volume to Iraq, which stood at 3.9 billion dollars. The reconstruction process in Iraq means more projects and business opportunities for Turkish firms, State Minister Zafer Caglayan told reporters after his meeting with Libya's Secretary of the General People's Committee for Public Works Muhammad Matuq.

Speaking about his recent trip to Baghdad this week together with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Caglayan said more than 500 Turkish companies have completed construction projects worth 7 billion dollars in Iraq, according to the agency.

Turkey and Iraq have agreed to set up a special industrial zone at the border and a joint logistics center with participation of Syria as the third party, while officials of the two countries were working on the signing of a free trade agreement, said the state minister.

During his trip to Iraq on Tuesday, Caglayan said Turkey and Iraq hope their annual trade volume could be increased to 20 billion dollars by 2010 from the current 7 billion dollars. The two sides discussed trade, water shortage and security cooperation during their meeting, said Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari at a press conference Tuesday.

Source: Xinhua

Copyright by People's Daily Online, All Rights Reserved


Four Kerkuk songs, please click on the links below

Quatre chansons de Kerkuk, veuillez cliquer sur les liens ci-dessous

Lütfen Eke tiklayin.

4 You Tube Kerkük Türküsü

Kerkük Türküsü Sinan Sait ve Nermine Memedova - Evlerinin ogu yonca

Kerkük Türküsü Sinan Sait ve Nermine Memedova - Altun uzuk yesil kas

Kerkuk Turkusu Sinan Sait ve Nermine Memedova - Her gun aksam olu dallam

Kerkük Türküsü Sinan Sait ve Nermine Memedova - Meni gordu guldu yar


Bir Ocak Turkmen Kultur Dernegi / Chicago

lundi 10 août 2009

Attack on the village of KHAZNA, north of Mosul

Note: Contrary to what Prof Juan Cole writes (see hereunder), the Shabaks are not a 'Kurdish people', Shabaks are a Turkic people!!!

Over 40 Dead in Morning Bombings in Baghdad
Monday, August 10, 2009
Iraq woke up to a bloody Monday morning, with three major bombings that left more than 40 dead according to Middle East Online writing in Arabic. The biggest attack was on the village of Khazna north of Mosul, where two truck bombs killed 25 persons, wounded 70, and leveled 35 houses!

This attack was not just mindless violence. Khazna is inhabited by the Shabak, a Kurdish people with their own dialect and their own form of religion, a form of folk Shiism. An attack on Khazna at the present juncture suggests an attempt by the Sunni Arab guerrillas based in Mosul to ethnically cleanse Shiites in Ninevah Province, and possibly to begin the long-feared Arab-Kurdish civil war.

Iraqi Kurdistan's Downward Spiral

by Kamal Said Qadir
Middle East Quarterly
Summer 2007, pp. 19-26

Many Western commentators say Iraqi Kurdistan is a beacon of democracy in an otherwise uncertain Iraq.[1] As much of the rest of Iraq descends into violence if not civil war, it is tempting for U.S. officials to point to the placidity of northern Iraq as a rare success. In many ways, Iraqi Kurdistan's progress since 1991 is remarkable. But while Kurdish officials and their growing coterie of U.S. consultants praise the region's progress, an increasing culture of corruption, nepotism, and abuse-of-power has both eroded democracy and, increasingly, stability.

Iraqi Kurdistan: From Bust to Boom
The backsliding is disappointing given once high hopes. After decades of struggle, Iraqi Kurds won de facto autonomy in northern Iraq in 1991. As the Kurdish uprising collapsed, Turkish, U.S., British, and French forces established a safe haven around Zakho and Duhok protected by a no-fly zone; this later expanded to include Erbil. In a failed bid to starve Iraqi Kurds into submission, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein ordered the Iraqi administration to withdraw from the region. Kurdish parties filled the vacuum, establishing an area of self-rule approximately the size of Denmark. On May 19, 1992, the Kurdish parties held elections resulting in a coalition between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party (PUK). Their alliance broke down in 1994 because of disputes about property ownership and revenue embezzlement at the lucrative Ibrahim Khalil-Habur customs post on the Turkish border. The resulting civil war killed or displaced thousands and caused a partition of territory between the PUK and KDP.

There was renewed hope in the wake of Saddam's fall that the bifurcated Kurdistan Regional Government could fortify its democracy. Such hope was dashed. On January 30, 2006, Kurdish authorities held new elections—the two dominant parties ran on the same list so as not to compete—and divided power equitably according to their leaderships' pre-election agreement. KDP leader Masoud Barzani assumed the presidency of the Kurdistan region, and his nephew Nechervan Barzani became prime minister, overseeing a unified, albeit inactive, parliament. They preside over more than forty ministers, all of whom receive hefty salaries, perks, and pensions.

Because Iraqi Kurdistan lacks a constitution, Barzani and other senior political leaders can exercise unchecked, arbitrary power. The absence of accountability and a free press has enabled corruption, abuse, and mismanagement to increase.

Nepotism is widespread. Not only is the prime minister the nephew of the president, but the president's son, Masrour Barzani, a scarcely-qualified 34-year-old, heads the local intelligence service. Another Barzani son is the commander of the Special Forces. And Masoud Barzani installed his uncle, Hoshyar Zebari, as Iraq's foreign minister when the political party heads were distributing patronage. Other relatives hold key positions in ministries or executive offices. PUK leader Jalal Talabani has only one wife and two children and so has less patronage to distribute. Still, one son oversees PUK security and the other is the Kurdistan Regional Government's representative to the United States. When the major Iraqi political parties divided up the ministry portfolios in Baghdad, Talabani awarded the PUK's slot to his brother-in-law. Another brother-in-law is the Iraqi ambassador in Beijing.

Other Barzani and Talabani relatives have monopolized telecommunications, construction, and trade. Those who have no relatives in power sit at the bottom of every hierarchy. Merit is seldom a factor in promotion. While it is possible for non-family members to become ministers, they must have a long record of submission to the Barzani or Talabani families. Many Iraqi Kurds welcomed Iraq's liberation, calculating that the presence of U.S. forces would also help solidify democracy in the Kurdistan region. They now question whether more than 3,000 U.S. troops sacrificed their lives to enable oligarchy.

Political Parties
Is Iraqi Kurdistan beyond reform? Not necessarily, but the entrenched parties have created a system which immunizes them from accountability and competition. The two major parties are modeled in both structure and role on Saddam's organization of the Baath Party. A small coterie of decision-makers presides over a large network of patronage and intimidation. The analogy is not loose: Documents recovered after Saddam's fall and published recently by two independent Sulaimanya-based Kurdish newspapers, Awene and Hawlati, show extensive ties between leading figures in the Barzani family and the Iraqi dictator.[2] There were relations, too, between the PUK commanders and Saddam's security services, although more subdued.[3] While some contacts were understandable, for example, in order to coordinate electricity distribution between areas of Baathist and Iraqi Kurdish control,[4] documents surfaced after Iraq's fall which showed extensive intelligence sharing and business relationships between Nechervan Barzani, for example, and Saddam Hussein's sons.

Just as under Saddam, in Iraqi Kurdistan today, political party control extends down into the high schools and universities. Student unions are financed by political parties and act as their extensions. The KDP and PUK student groups act as eyes and ears for the security services of the two parties. They observe students and professors and submit reports of activities to their supervisors. Membership is often a prerequisite for academic degrees, foreign scholarships, employment, and promotions. It is not uncommon for the student with the highest grade point average to be passed over for scholarships or even valedictorian status should he or she not be a party member.

Smaller political parties have failed to act as a check over the larger parties. Several are co-opted, with their personnel given lucrative positions or even ministerial portfolios in exchange for silence. Others are intimidated. On December 6, 2005, a KDP mob stormed the office of the Kurdistan Islamic Union in the Duhok governorate and shot and killed its candidate. While new parties might form, the KDP and PUK can control their licensing through the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Abuse of Power
Abuse of power is one of the main characteristics of the Kurdistan Regional Government's administration. Iraqi Kurds speak often of arbitrary arrest, torture, and enforced disappearances. Awene, one of the two independent newspapers in the region, reported an incident in which a driver, who was stopped for a routine traffic violation in Erbil, seriously wounded the policeman. Other police officers arrested the shooter and brought him to the hospital with their wounded colleague. A short time later, ten armed men in the uniform of the KDP's Zervani peshmerga unit stormed the hospital to remove the suspect, a member of their unit, in order to prevent the judiciary from processing him on a charge of attempted murder. In the process of their raid, the KDP's peshmerga wounded a civilian but suffered no consequences as this second victim was not a party member.[5]

The legal system of the region is both chaotic and compromised. There are five parallel judicial systems in Iraqi Kurdistan: the regular courts, state security courts to try political offences, military courts with jurisdiction over peshmerga forces, separate KDP and PUK party courts known as Komalayati (social) courts, and special tribal courts with jurisdiction only over the members of a certain tribe. With the exception of the regular courts that apply Iraqi laws, all the other courts are, in fact, illegal. Their judgments are arbitrary and often contradict the law. Komalayeti courts insure impunity for their members. For example, after a regular court sentenced PUK member Salih Muzali to life in prison for the murder of two sisters, PUK leader Jalal Talabani intervened to transfer the case to the Komalayati court, which set him free after the victims' families accepted a payment of US$170,000 "blood money."[6] Human rights organizations protested this intervention for his release.[7] According to Awene, sixty-eight suspects in crimes such as murder and robbery remain at large and under the protection of the KDP, PUK, and Socialist Party of Kurdistan.[8]

Politicians also intervene in judiciary staffing. Judicial appointments require prior approval by the leadership of the dominant parties. In an interview on the fifth anniversary of 9-11, Rizgar Hama Ali, the first judge to preside over the special Iraqi tribunal to try Saddam Hussein and the current member of the court of cassation in Iraqi Kurdistan, expressed reservations about the independence of the judicial system in Iraqi Kurdistan and suggested political party interference in judicial affairs "seriously endangers the integrity of courts."[9]

Rather than protect citizens, the courts have become a tool for political parties to harass and oppress them. I know. I suffered their arbitrary and politically-motivated judgments firsthand. On October 26, 2006, I was abducted by the KDP secret service and detained for nearly six months for publishing articles on corruption of the Barzani family and the ties between the late Mulla Mustafa Barzani—Masoud Barzani's father—and the Soviet KGB.[10] The investigative judge acted as a representative of the secret service and not of the judiciary. When I refused to sign a confession prepared by the KDP—nothing I had written was untrue and so I saw no reason to repudiate it—a KDP security official told me that the investigative judge could order torture to gain confessions from detainees. After two weeks, I did sign the confession after being deprived of water and food for several days. I was tried on December 19, 2006, before the state security court in Erbil. I did not receive prior notification of the trial which, at any rate, lasted less than fifteen minutes. I had no access to a lawyer and was not allowed to produce evidence. A security forces officer entered the courtroom to give the chief judge a letter. The judge sentenced me to thirty years in prison for having published two articles on the Internet. I was told later that the letter contained instructions as to the verdict and sentence.

Illegal treatment is, unfortunately, the rule rather than the exception in the Iraqi Kurdistan region's detention centers. Disappearances remain rife. The parliament's human rights committee acknowledges at least twenty-one disappearances since 2003.[11] Western human rights experts say that hundreds remain detained without trial in Kurdish prisons.[12] Local papers have reported unlawful detentions as recently as September 2006.[13] Appeals to Talabani and Barzani by relatives of persons detained by the political party militias, and subsequently disappeared, remain unanswered.

Torture is common. Ali Bapir, the head of the Islamic Group, told Hawlati, the region's other independent newspaper, that Kurdish security forces have crippled several dozen detainees in prison during torture sessions.[14] These prisons are funded indirectly by U.S. aid. One of my torturers told me that he was trained by U.S. experts in investigative techniques, but he seemed to prefer his own methods saying, "U.S. investigative methods cannot be effective in Iraqi Kurdistan."

Unfortunately, those techniques that Kurdish interrogators prefer sometimes culminate in murder. Since the establishment of Kurdish administration in 1991, there have been hundreds of unsolved political killings. Disappearances peaked during the 1994-97 Kurdish civil war.[15] The major political officials have refused calls to account for many of these summary executions or to return the bodies. Rather, summary detention and extrajudicial execution have continued, albeit with less frequency. In April 2002, for example, PUK security forces abducted Muhammad Ahmed al-Zahawi, a former member of the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization in Kalar.[16] The Kurdistan Human Rights Organization had become a thorn in the government's side for its frequent abuse-of-power law suits against government officials.
He is not alone. Lawyers and judges who try to defend the victims of human rights violations or prosecute perpetrators in the region sometimes themselves become targets. Assailants have gunned down several judges who have investigated financial crimes and the drug trade.[17] More recently, after an Erbil lawyer, Razwan Osman Ceco, successfully prosecuted a civil suit against a KDP military commander accused of forcibly seizing private property, the KDP militia twice attacked him, leaving him with severe injuries.[18] In another case, PUK security forces arrested lawyer Bakhtyar Hama Sa‘id in Sulaimanya on August 13, 2006, as he prepared the defense for arrested demonstrators. The PUK only released Sa‘id a week later after the lawyers' union staged a strike.[19]

Civil Society
While the judicial system may be broken, the problem runs deeper. Often, outside groups can provide a check upon abuse of power. This is what the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization tried to do. But independent civil society organizations are few and far between. Most organizations remain under the yoke of the two major political parties; they are often run by senior party members and serve as extensions of the political parties.[20] Would it be possible to establish a truly nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Duhok, Erbil, Sulaimanya or, for that matter, Kirkuk? Probably not. The PUK and KDP use legal and financial means to control civil organizations. In many cases, they control licensing. In other cases, they dominate ostensibly independent organizations with personnel appointments. Union leaders, for example, are often senior party members.[21] Independent NGO personnel—including those run by Europeans—say local administrations seek to force them to hire party members.

Nor is the press able to act as a check on political abuse. While there are now two nominally independent papers, their financial situation is shaky. There is no guarantee that they will continue to publish. The parties often seek to co-opt critical journalists with bribes or positions at higher paying party organs. While journalists may in theory be able to publish a wide range of opinion, in practice, party officials harass them with often arbitrary lawsuits. If they anger party officials and, for example, write about corruption within the Barzani family as I did, they may face criminal prosecution. Iraqi Kurdish law still employs the former Baath regime's criminal code. Article 433 equates almost any criticism with defamation. The PUK targeted editors at Hawlati after it accused PUK prime minister Omar Fattah of abuse of power.[22] Security forces have assaulted other journalists. On March 12, 2006, PUK security beat Rahman Garibi, correspondent for Radio Azadi, as he covered anti-corruption demonstrations erupting in Halabja. In another case, the KDP's security service beat Al-Jazeera's Erbil correspondent.[23] While independent Kurdish Internet sites such as Kurdishmedia.com, Kurdistan-Post.com, Dengekan.com and eKurd.net provide a vibrant outlet for independent commentary, their reach in Iraqi Kurdistan is limited so long as electricity is spotty. Many poorer residents in Iraqi Kurdistan cannot afford private generators and, at any rate, such generators cannot run continuously.

Corruption is endemic. Especially since Iraq's liberation, the region has been awash in foreign money and aid projects. There have been hundreds of construction projects since 2003, and two international airports in Erbil and Sulaimanya have opened.[24]

Nevertheless, the economic growth has been hampered by the ruling families' stranglehold over the economy. They treat the treasury, built with customs and tax revenues, as personal slush funds. There is little transparency to differentiate between public, political party, and private family property. Outside a narrow circle of family members, there is no knowledge of how the budget is spent. On June 23, 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority transferred to Iraqi Kurdistan $1.4 billion dollars remaining from its allotment of the oil-for-food program. Much of the money has, apparently, disappeared.[25] While the Iraqi Kurdish government may have spent some on public projects, much more appears to have vanished into individual bank accounts. The ruling families further involve themselves in major businesses. Family members or proxies act as silent partners in telecommunications, construction, and import-export businesses. Through arbitrary privatization conducted by government decree, they appropriate public property and valuable real estate. Talabani's oldest son Bafil, for example, now runs the Sulaimanya tobacco factory. Few if any large businesses can operate in the region without taking the political leaders' family members as ghost partners. Since returning to Iraqi Kurdistan in 1991, the Barzani family has amassed a fortune estimated at over $2 billion.[26]

Land speculation has exacerbated the situation. The post-liberation construction boom has led land prices to skyrocket. The cost of housing in Sulaimanya is not dissimilar to that in Washington, D.C. Political party members have granted prime real estate to their supporters and family members for free or at below-market prices. Real estate development—construction of hotels or apartment buildings, for example—can provide the recipient of the land grant with a multimillion dollar profit. On December 7, 2005, the PUK-led government in Sulaimanya transferred a large property belonging to the municipality of Sulaimanya to the PUK-owned Nizar construction and trade company by simple decree.[27] In another case, the KDP-led government transferred the ownership of nine publicly-owned parcels of real estate and buildings in the Erbil governorate by decree to the KDP politburo for a nominal price.[28]
All of this makes everyday life unaffordable for ordinary residents. Because of inflation, it is not uncommon, for example, to see families living in incomplete houses. Others are forced to squat in corrugated tin structures.

Corruption and mismanagement has undermined stability. During commemorations on March 16, 2006, marking the eighteenth anniversary of Saddam's chemical weapons bombardment of Halabja, protests erupted against corruption and deteriorating basic services. The PUK security forces killed one demonstrator, injured six others, and arrested forty-two, half of whom appear to have been tortured while in custody.[29] PUK security forces later attacked demonstrators in Chamchamal, Kifri, Shoresh, and Darbandikhan.[30]

Security remains a major problem in Iraqi Kurdistan. Although Islamist groups have existed in Iraqi Kurdistan since the 1950s, apparent Iranian backing enhanced their threat after 1991.[31] While their first targets were leftist activists and secular intellectuals, by 2001, they had begun to establish permanent bases. On February 18, 2001, Islamists assassinated Fransu Hariri, the speaker of the KDP's parliament and the highest-ranking Christian in the government, and on April 2, 2002, they tried to assassinate PUK prime minister Barham Salih. Islamists in the Kurdish parliament have called for Kurdish authorities to adopt Shari‘a (Islamic law) and abandon secularism.[32]

Penetration by foreign intelligence services, especially the Iranian VEVAK and the Qods Force, might also undercut local security. Chako Rahimi, a senior member of the Iranian Kurdistan Democratic Party and the head of the party's security department, told Awene in an interview that the Iranian secret service, Ettela'at, had assassinated more than 204 members of his group in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991 and that the Iranian secret service maintains more than fifty safe houses in Sulaimanya, a city controlled by the PUK which is headed by the current Iraqi president Jalal Talabani.[33] The latest victims of Iranian terrorism in Iraqi Kurdistan were two members of the Kurdistan Revolutionary Union-Iran (KRU-I), who were shot in the PUK-controlled border town of Penjwen in June 2006. KRU-I speaker Shwane Mahmudi blamed Iranian intelligence.[34] It is doubtful such assassinations could occur without at least tacit PUK permission. While the security threat is real, both political parties amplify it to silence opponents, simply by accusing them of being Islamist activists.

During my trips in Iraqi Kurdistan, I see how grateful ordinary Kurdish citizens are to the U.S. government and American people for the establishment of the safe haven in 1991, the no-fly zone, and Iraq's liberation. But the mood is changing. Today, the Kurdish parties misuse U.S. assistance and taxpayers' money. Rather than support democracy, the Kurdish party leaders use their funding and their militia's operational training to curtail civil liberties. What angers Kurds is the squandered leverage. Instead of demanding rule-of-law, the White House has subordinated democracy to stability not only in Baghdad and Basra, but in Iraqi Kurdistan as well. Rather than create a model democracy, the Iraqi Kurds have replicated the governing systems of Egypt, Tunisia or, perhaps even Syria.

It is true that such abuse of power is not rare in the Middle East, but Iraqi Kurds want more. They have listened to the rhetoric of the White House but see corruption in the Kurdistan region enabled, at least indirectly, by the United States. On Kurdish party-controlled television, they watch U.S. diplomats dining with KDP and PUK leaders at their palaces and private resorts. When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or other senior U.S. diplomats visit, they do not challenge the Kurdish leadership on human rights abuses. Kurds wanted real democracy, like that in the U.S. and other Western democracies and not Potemkin democracy.

Ultimately, Washington may pay a price for not holding Iraqi Kurds to a higher standard. While Erbil and Washington enjoy an alliance of convenience today, interests change. Undemocratic regimes in the Middle East are, at best, inconsistent allies.

Kamal Said Qadir is an Iraqi Kurdish writer based in Vienna, Austria. He was detained by KDP security forces on October 26, 2005, for criticizing corruption within the KDP but was released following an international campaign.

[1] For example, see Sverker Oredsson and Olle Schmidt, "Kurdistan—A Democratic Beacon in the Middle East," Kurdistan Development Corporation, Dec. 2004.[2] Hawlati (Sulaimanya), Oct. 11, 2006.[3] Awene (Sulaimanya), Sept. 12, 2006.[4] "Jalal Talabani: ‘No Grounds for a Relationship with Baghdad,'" Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2002, pp. 19-23.[5] Awene, June 27, 2006.[6] Salih Muzali interview, Awene, July 25, 2006.[7] Rebwar Fatah, "Kurdish Women's Blood for Cash Affair: Mahabad's Ordeal," KurdishMedia, July 10, 2006.[8] Awene, June 20, 2006.[9] Rizgar Hama Ali interview, iraqikurdistan.blogspot, Sept. 11, 2006.[10] "Walamek bo barez Masoud Barzani," The Kurdistan Post, Oct. 2, 2005; Kamal Berzenji, "Our Last Stake: The Post U.S.-Controlled Iraq and the Kurds," KurdishMedia, Apr. 21, 2003; Kamal Said Qadir, "The Barzani Chameleon," Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2007, pp. 87-8.[11] Awene, Oct. 31, 2006.[12] The New York Times, Dec. 26, 2006.[13] Hawlati, Sept. 13, 2006.[14] Hawlati, June 14, 2006.[15] "Iraq, Regional Country Index, Middle East and North Africa," Amnesty International Annual Report, 1998, accessed Feb. 14, 2007.[16] "Iraq," Amnesty International Annual Report, 2003, accessed Feb. 14, 2007.[17] "Iraq: Human Rights Abuses in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991," Amnesty International Special Report, AI Index: MDE 14/01/95, pp. 91-4.[18] Hawlati, June 21, 2006.[19] Hawlati, Aug. 23, 2006.[20] Kamal Mirawdali, "Civil Society and the State: The Case of British Voluntary Sector," KurdishMedia, May 28, 2006.[21] Kyle Madigan, "Iraq: Corruption Restricts Development in Iraqi Kurdistan," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Apr. 29, 2005.[22] "Iraq: Journalists from Kurdish Weekly Face Arrest, Trial," news alert, Committee to Protect Journalists, May 2, 2006.[23] Awene, Mar. 21, May 30, 2006.[24] The Kurdish Globe (Erbil), Aug. 8, 2006.[25] Los Angeles Times, Nov. 22, 2005.[26] The Daily Star (Beirut), Nov. 18, 2005.[27] Awene, Nov. 21, 2006.[28] Hawlati, Sept. 6, 2006.[29] Awene, Mar. 21, 28, 2006.[30] Awene, Aug. 8, 2006.[31] Awene, Oct. 25, 2006.[32] Awene, Nov. 14, 2006.[33] Chako Rahimi interview, Awene, Oct. 17, 2006.[34] Awene, July 11, 2006.


Mahmut Uğur Karadağ

Yine vuruldu Türkmen, yine kan yine figanYine evler yıkıldı, bellidir kimdir yapanTazeden sonra Kerkük, Taleferde her gün kanBu bitmeyen yaslarda, kana battı ŞerihanEvet, kardeşler, bizi parçalamak istiyenler, onu buna vurup milletimizin billeşmesini engellemek için ve bizi güçsüz bırakmak için akla gelen veya gelmeyen her yöntemi kullanıyorlar, katliamlar düzenliyerek mezhep kavgasına itmek istiyolar, amma iyi anlasınlar ki bu yöntemleri kullanmak ancak ancak çocukları aldatır, bizlerin bir oluşum olduğumuzu bilmeleri lazım, Türkmen nerede olursa olsun ne mezhebinde olursa olsun Türkmen kalacatır ve düşmanlarımızın gözlerine diken olacaktır. Ey milletimin önde gelen sorumluları bu katliamlardan ders alınız bizi parçalamak isteyen ağyarların kalblerine ok sıkınız birleşmeye atılınız, ey milletini satmayan partiler bir araya geliniz Musulda Arapların birleştiği gibi sizde bütün Türkmenelinde birleşiniz, yetsin artık bu ayrılık bakınız parçalanmanızın sonucu budur işte, Türkmenleri yok etmek isteyenler sizin bu parçalanmanızdan istifade ederek halkımızı hem öldürüyorlar hemde düşmanlığı araya salmak istiyorlar, bu sefer Şerihan yarınsı ALLAH korusun bakalım hangi yöremiz, arkadaşlar yamyamlar bile birleştiler biz bir asil millet olarak niye birleşmiyelim. Ey ITC sorumluları ey partilerin sorumluları yeter biribirinizi suçlamak, yeter sizlere yalvarışımız, dilimiz kurdu söylemekten, cümlelerimiz bitti yazmaktan, sizler hale SİL BAŞTAN oynuyorsunuz, aklı olan her Türkmen anlamalıdır şimdi ya birleşmelisiniz veyada günlerimiz kanla ve figanla geçecek, ya birleşmelisiniz veyada Irakta üçüncü oluşum değil azınlık bile olamayız, ya birleşmelisiniz veyada gelecekte evladlarımızın ve torunlarımızın lanetlerine uğrarsınız, ya birleşmelisıniz veyada sayenizde ÇAMUR TÜRKMENLER BAŞINA. Birleşmeseniz düşmanlarımızdan AFERİM alacaksınız oda mübarekiniz olsun.

vendredi 7 août 2009

Iraqis speak of random killings committed by private Blackwater guards

Suhad Abul-Ameer, mother of Ali Husamaldeen, who was killed by members of Blackwater, carries his picture as she prays at her house in Baghdad

From The Times
August 7, 2009
Iraqis speak of random killings committed by private Blackwater guards

Oliver August in Baghdad

Guards employed by Blackwater, the US security company, shot Iraqis and killed victims in allegedly unprovoked and random attacks, it was claimed yesterday.
A Virginia court also received sworn statements from former Blackwater employees yesterday alleging that Erik Prince, the company’s founder, “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe”.
They also accused the company of following a policy of deliberate killings and arms dealing and of employing people unfit or improperly trained to handle lethal weaponry.

In Baghdad yesterday, some Iraqis said they believed that the case was a last chance for justice and an opportunity for America to divorce the behaviour of its military from the private guards.
Farid Walid, who was shot in Nisour Square two years ago during a massacre that killed 17 Iraqis, said: “Everybody here knows of cases where Blackwater guards shot innocent people without a second thought. They are a symbol of the occupation. Nobody will forget. But Iraqis might think at least a little differently of America if the killers are put in prison.”

Mr Walid is among several Iraqis behind an attempt to take Blackwater to court in the US, helped by an American lawyer, Susan Burke, and her local legal team.

Umm Sajjad, whose husband was allegedly shot by Blackwater guards, said: “The US forces have come to our neighbourhood many times and they never harmed anybody. It was Blackwater that wanted to harm people.”

Her husband was working as a security guard at the Iraqi Media Network, a state broadcaster, when a Blackwater convoy passed them one day in 2007. She says that without warning, the Iraqis were fired upon and three of them were killed. The Blackwater convoy never stopped or sent anyone to check what happened.

Umm Sajjad said: “I was told that there was no exchange of fire or any other reason to provoke them to shoot at my husband and his colleagues. They were on a high building but they didn’t have weapons in their hands.”

Other families have tales of shootings allegedly committed by Blackwater, which has since changed its name.

Abu Suhad lost his daughter in 2007 when she was driving her car near the Iraqi Foreign Ministry in central Baghdad. He said: “Eyewitnesses told me that four white Blackwater cars went by her. Three were already past when the last one shot her in the head at close range and killed her. The eyewitnesses said they were very bewildered why they shot her. The bullet came from the driver’s window, which means that he got next to her when he shot her. The bullet entered from under the ear and left from the upper side of her skull. There were bits of her hair and skin on the car roof.”

Mr Walid remembers the Nisour Square shooting on September 16, 2007 — for Iraqis one of the blacker days of the US occupation. Claiming to have come under fire, Blackwater guards stopped in the middle of a large roundabout and began shooting in all directions.
“I left my car and ran away to hide in a petrol station, which was made of concrete. The shooting was so heavy it was like rain,” he said. “I saw lots of people getting shot. The driver who had been in front of me died and his wife fell out of the car. Her child was killed as well. The shooting went on for about ten minutes.”

Iraqis still find it hard to believe that companies such as Blackwater were given such free rein. Until the start of this year its employees were immune from prosecution in the country.
In another alleged incident involving the company, Ali Husamaldeen was walking in Wathba Square, central Baghdad, on September 9, 2007, when he was felled by a single gunshot. Passers-by reported a Blackwater helicopter overhead, from which they say the fatal shot was fired. According to his mother, Umm Ali, her son was unarmed and in no way a threat.
Leqaa al-Yaseen, an MP, said: “I believe the US authorities have the main responsibility for what happened because Blackwater came to Iraq with their permission. Regarding Blackwater smuggling weapons into Iraq, that suggests the US forces didn’t know about it at the time. But I think they did know.

“The tragedies that happened to our Iraqi people at Nisour Square and other places are not separate from the US forces in Iraq. The US Government is trying to avoid responsibility by blaming private companies.”

Officials in Baghdad have told The Times that they are continuing to investigate allegations similar to those made in the US against Blackwater.

Major-General Fathel al-Barwari, commander of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces, said he was gathering evidence of illegal weapons trading by the company. As a result, Blackwater could also face criminal prosecution in Iraq, where it is now banned, but other companies connected to Mr Prince still operate.

Tahseen Al-Shekhli, for the defence ministry in Baghdad, said: “If the allegations of illegally smuggling weapons into Iraq are proven, the Iraqi authorities will definitely take legal measures against this company.”

The Iraqi Government has tightened up rules for private security companies in recent years.