lundi 30 novembre 2009

Turkmens continue to be targeted in Iraq - Cui bono?

Hazim Yılangöz from Bayraktar-Çayırlılar family, one of the oldest families in Iraq has been killed

Aged 54 and father of eight Yilangöz was attacked by an unknown person in front of his home early in the morning. Having been seriously wounded he died in the car which was taking him to the hospital.

Yavuz Efendi, Musul's ITF Representative, had been killed three days before in Musul.

Les Turkmènes continuent à être la cible des attentats
En Irak, les attentats et attaques visant les Turkmènes, se poursuivent

Posted 29.11.2009 18:38:18 UTC
Updated 29.11.2009 18:38:18 UTC

Hazim Yılangöz faisant parti de la famille Bayraktar-Çayırlılar, l'une des familles turkmènes les plus enracinées d'Irak, a été tué.
Agé de 54 ans et père de 8 enfants, Yılangöz a été attaqué par une personne dont l'identité n'est pas connue, devant chez lui dans les heures matinales.
Blessé grièvement au torse et à la jambe, Yılangöz est décédé sur la route lorsqu'il était acheminé à l'hôpital.
Lors des funérailles de Yılangöz, les attaques et attentats visant les Turkmène ont été condamnés.

Yavouz Efendi, un des autorités du front turkmène irakien, avait été tué il y a 3 jours à Mossoul.

dimanche 29 novembre 2009


June 11, 1995 front page of Baghdad Observer with articles stating Iraq was free of WMD.
Click the image to enlarge it

by Malcom Lagauche

November 29, 2009

In Britain, hearings are being held about the lies leading up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. At first, the commission members attempted to whitewash all the incidents. But, parents of those killed in Iraq have put enough pressure on the commission to get at least some truth out. In the past week or so, they have changed their tune and have admitted to much of what we already knew, but it’s the first time public figures of the government of Britain are telling a portion of the truth. There is so much pressure being put on them, that they have opened up subjects, albeit mostly to save their own careers. The publicity being given these hearings is loud enough that if the commission members kept on lying, their falsities would be published in every newspaper in the country.

However, there is still one issue they evade: the fact that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) since 1992. Their statements say that they ignored information that Iraqi WMD may be degraded by 2002 and they would be of no use. Another swerve is that they say that Iraq lacked the delivery systems for WMD and could not use them. They still will not admit there were no WMD in Iraq and it was irrelevant whether the Iraqis had proper delivery systems. If there is nothing to deliver, the question of delivery is null and void.

The front page of the Baghdad Observer of June 11, 1995 is just one of the items that proves Iraq had no WMD. It shows a picture of Saddam Hussein in the middle, flanked by two articles ("Iraq’s Cooperation with UN Must Be Rewarded" and "Iraq Pins Hope on Next SC Report to UN Council") in which it is clearly stated the Iraq said all its WMD were destroyed. However, even this message has been tweaked by current journalists, historians, and politicians. After the embarrassment of not finding even one gram of WMD, the new story line was that Saddam hoodwinked the world by keeping them thinking Iraq had WMD when it didn’t. If this was the case, I doubt the two articles of the front page of the Baghdad Observer would display Saddam with two articles discussing the destruction of the country’s WMD in 1991 and 1992.
When one looks back at statements and articles by Iraqis during the period of 1991 to 2003, it is uncanny how accurate they were. On the other hand, much of what the U.S. put forward has been shown to be outright lies.

For instance, in October 2002, the U.S. issued a document called "Key Judgements: National Intelligence Estimate." It concluded that Iraq was constantly developing its stockpile of WMD and, at times, maintained that the 2002 inventory of Iraqi WMD may be larger than that of the country prior to 1991. The report included many doomsday scenarios.

This document was publicised world-wide. Virtually every daily newspaper in the U.S. carried it, or excerpts from it. Many foreign countries saw it as well and it helped convince some leaders who were on the fence about whether to support a war or not to come aboard the U.S. ship. In looking at the document today, one would have a hard time finding even one bit of truth. Even U.S. administration officials admitted it was way off; after the illegal invasion, of course.

On the other hand, in November 2002, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri, sent a letter to the Unite Nations refuting the report. Then, he gave in detail the standing of Iraq in regards to its WMD. He mentioned when they were destroyed and how programs were never re-started. The U.S. called the letter a big lie and condemned the Iraqis for again trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the world. In looking at the letter today, it is extremely accurate in every detail.
Sabri's letter received little attention, other than the obligatory denouncement by the U.S. Few people read it.

When Iraq and the U.S. shared diplomatic ties in the 1980s, Nizar Hamdoon was the Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. In Washington, he was well-regarded and built many friendships. In the 1990s, with no diplomatic ties between the two countries, Hamdoon was called back to action and served as the Iraqi Ambassador to the U.N. In 2000, he was replaced and called back to Baghdad to serve in the Foreign Service.

Hamdoon was very visible in the U.S. and many people remember him from television appearances, although he was usually lambasted by interviewers. His was a lonely job. On July 4, 2003, a few months after the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq, Hamdoon died of cancer.

Let's to back to the latter part of 1998. The U.S. was accusing Iraq of concealing the most deadly chemicals on Earth and in December, Clinton ordered the bombing of Iraq and called the procedure Operation Desert Fox. Most people remember this as the "Iraq/U.N. standoff." Even the method of removing the inspectors from Iraq was a lie. The U.N. ordered the inspectors from Iraq a few days before the bombing, yet the U.S. always stated that Saddam Hussein kicked them out.

During this time, Nizar Hamdoon wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times called "A Black Cat in a Dark Room." The paper carried it, yet few people took it seriously. Go back to the time and refresh your memory and you will see how exact and precise Hamdoon was in his assessment. He did not lie, yet few listened. He clearly stated that Iraq was free of WMD.

by Nizar Hamdoon

Much has been said and published about recent standoffs between Iraq and the United Nations arms inspectors. But those criticizing Iraq for suspending its cooperation with the United Nations special commission on arms inspection, better known as Unscom, give no recognition whatsoever to the underlying reason that led Iraq to adopt this position. It is time to set the record straight.

First, the whole world knows by now that Iraq has lost well over a million of its people as a direct result of the sanctions that have been in place for eight years. A former president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, was chillingly correct when he called sanctions a "peaceful, silent and deadly remedy." U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright herself characterized them as "the toughest multilateral sanctions in history." Many critics seem to think the government of Iraq is supposed to stand idle while watching a whole generation of its people melt away like snowflakes.

Second, Iraq has complied with all the fundamental requirements of disarmament in Security Council Resolution 687. Unscom itself admitted this reality in its April 11, 1997 report to the Security Council when it said, "The accumulated effect of the work that has been accomplished over six years since the cease fire went into effect between Iraq and the coalition is such that not much is unknown about Iraq's proscribed weapons capabilities." But the United States and Britain refuse to recognize this fact. Their role in preventing the Security Council from closing the clearly done nuclear file a few months ago is a case in point.

The disagreement between Iraq and the inspectors is not on existing weapons. No weapons or sites have been discovered by the Unscom inspectors on their own since 1991. Those that have been found have been produced by the Iraqi government itself. Rather, the recent disputes involve paper documentation that precedes the gulf war. Those issues can be pursued in the context of the already established ongoing monitoring regime.

There are two main questions that need to be asked when assessing Iraq's compliance with disarmament requirements: does Iraq still possess proscribed weapons or the means to produce them, and is the monitoring process working? The answer is no to the first, yes to the second. Unscom's allegations about documentation are nothing but excuses to manufacture a crisis whenever one is needed to prolong the sanctions.

Iraq has said all along that there must be a creative way to reconcile the two goals: the need for more documentation and the easing of the suffering of the Iraqi people. Unscom, unfortunately, is insisting on everything or nothing.

Iraq will never be able to satisfy Unscom because it is being asked to prove the negative: that it does not have any more weapons. There is, of course, no way Iraq can prove that it has nothing if it has nothing. How many more Iraqis will have to die because Richard Butler's team has not yet found another document, which cannot be located because there is no such document in the first place? The inspectors are searching for a black cat in a dark room where the cat does not exist.

Third, many American officials have stated that even if Iraq complies with the Security Council's resolutions, the United States will not approve the lifting of sanctions. The declared goal of Washington is to remove the current government of Iraq. We wonder of this goal is in line with the letter and spirit of international law and the United Nations resolutions. Iraq continues to believe that the resolutions are used by the United States as a cover for an illegal political agenda. The allocation of money to the Central Intelligence Agency for subversion in Iraq is just a unit in this series. One might wonder why Iraq should continue being part of this futile and endless game.

Fourth, Ms. Albright claims that every Iraqi receives a daily ration basket equivalent to the recommended caloric intake of the average American. Perhaps she needs to review the latest reports by the United Nations and other organizations which state that millions of Iraqi children and women are still suffering and that the oil-for-food program is not adequate. For instance, the 1998 World Disaster Report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies described Iraq as a country under siege and said 16 to 27 percent of the population is malnourished.

Finally, many high-ranking American officials keep speaking about Iraq as being a threat to American interests and the region. We would like to assure these officials, and through them the American people, that Iraqi is eager to live in peace with its neighbors and the world. But Iraq will not submit to intimidation, bullying and coercion. Peace will come only through dialogue based on mutual respect for the principles of independence, sovereignty and the observance of international law.

The Mother of All Battles is available. To order, please click on this link:

East and West Scramble for Turkmenistan's Riches

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov
Photo: Dmitry Kstuyukov AFP/Getty

Friday, Nov. 20, 2009
East and West Scramble for Turkmenistan's Riches
By Simon Shuster / Ashgabat

At the crossroads between east and west in the desert nation of Turkmenistan, a quiet battle is under way for natural gas, oil and influence, and the U.S. and Europe are losing out to China and the Muslim world. There's a lot at stake: the Central Asian country has the world's fourth-largest reserves of natural gas and substantial oil reserves, putting it in the same energy league as Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq. Plus, its position just north of Afghanistan could be hugely beneficial to NATO as it seeks more reliable supply routes to its troops on the ground there. But the West isn't being welcomed with open arms. "They just don't understand us," one businessman tells TIME in the capital, Ashgabat.

Turkmenistan is open for business like never before. After falling out with its close ally Russia earlier this year, the country has taken unprecedented steps to encourage foreign investment. Last month, the government hosted a landmark investment conference in Ashgabat, inviting hundreds of representatives from oil, gas and other companies to meet with government officials to discuss possible business ventures. It was also the first time in a decade that foreign journalists were permitted to travel freely in the country. (See pictures of Russia celebrating Victory Day.)

All of this would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan became one of the most closed-off places in the world under the helm of Saparmurat Niyazov, who christened himself Turkmenbashi, leader of all Turkmen, and fostered a bizarre personality cult in the country. During his 16-year reign, he renamed the months after himself and his mother, required that all children read his philosophical tome Ruhnama and filled the country with impressive golden statues of himself. Economically, mostly Muslim Turkmenistan remained heavily dependent on its gas sales to Russia, its main source of income.

But the special relationship between Turkmenistan and Russia unraveled in April when a natural gas pipeline suddenly exploded. Earlier in the year, the price of gas in Europe dropped sharply, making it no longer profitable for Russia to buy fuel in Turkmenistan and resell it to Europe. Then, mysteriously, the pipeline that delivers gas from Turkmenistan to Russia blew up. Turkmen officials blamed Russia, claiming it had shut the valve on its end, causing pressure to build up and the pipeline to burst, in order to avoid honoring its gas contracts. Moscow strongly denied responsibility. The cost to Turkmenistan in lost gas revenues has been a staggering $1 billion per month. (Read: "Europe Tries to Break Its Russian Gas Habit.")

For the rest of the world, the dispute presented a golden opportunity. The Middle East didn't waste time, stepping in with loans and development projects — or as one Western observer put it, "a rain of dollars." In June, the Islamic Development Bank — a lender in which Saudi Arabia, Libya and Iran hold the three largest stakes — agreed to build a railroad connecting Turkmenistan and Iran, the first direct rail link between the Islamic Republic and Central Asia. "As of today, our relations with the Islamic bank have really been activated," Tuvakmammed Japarov, the country's deputy prime minister for the economy, tells TIME. In December, he adds, Turkmenistan will meet with other Arab funding institutions "to discuss a range of other projects."

Iran has also stepped in to fill Russia's shoes as a natural gas middleman. A new gas pipeline connecting Iran and Turkmenistan is expected to open in December, nearly doubling the gas trade between the countries to 700 billion cubic feet a year. Because Iran already has one of the world's largest gas reserves, most of the imported Turkmen gas would be resold for profit. Not to be outdone, China signed a 30-year deal with Turkmenistan in June to buy up to 1.1 trillion cubic feet of Turkmen gas annually, starting in 2011. Work is expected to be completed on a 4,300-mile-long pipeline connecting Turkmenistan and western China in December. ("How Badly Would Sanctions on Gas Imports Hurt Iran?")

Meanwhile, the West finds itself standing on the sidelines. Since 2002, U.S. officials have tried to secure the right to truck food and other supplies from Europe to its troops in Afghanistan via Russia and Turkmenistan, but have been consistently rebuffed. The U.S. has only been given permission to fly humanitarian supplies through Turkmen airspace — but no military hardware. Earlier this year, Gen. David Petreaus, chief of the U.S. Central Command, met with Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who became Turkmenistan's new President when Niyazov died in 2006, but was unable to persuade him to open his country even a crack to the U.S. military.

Europe has also had its eyes on Turkmenistan's gas as a way of lessening its dependence on Russian fuel. But a plan by several European countries to build a natural gas pipeline through southeastern Europe and Turkey has been delayed for years by wrangling over financing and the route. The Nabucco pipeline, as it's known, will eventually link up with another planned pipeline connecting Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan beneath the Caspian Sea. But, at the current pace, construction may not be completed for years. (Read: "Why Europe Can't Abandon Russian Gas.")

The West has other problems to contend with, too. At the October investment conference in Ashgabat, several businessmen said a major obstacle was the fact the Turkmen have little time for Western values of democracy and free-market economics. Berdymukhamedov's regime is one of the most dictatorial in the world, keeping tight reins on the media and political opposition and allowing only the barest beginnings of private enterprise. "The reaction to our proposals is always, 'Thanks but no thanks,'" says one Western diplomat, who requested anonymity for fear of hurting his operations in the country. "It comes down to trust, and this is not a society that is used to having discussions around a table." Another Western official compares Turkmenistan to tightly controlled, oil-rich Kuwait. "They don't need our money, and they don't want us meddling here," the official says.

But given how much natural gas and oil Turkmenistan has under its desert sands, the U.S. and Europe look determined to keep trying to get a foot in the door. Just how they can achieve this in a crowded marketplace — and without a warmer welcome from the wary Turkmen — remains to be seen.
· Find this article at:

samedi 28 novembre 2009

It's the feast of 'Eid al-Adha and Kerkuk has been without electricity since three days...

The appalling situation in the "oil rich city of Kerkuk"

It's the Muslim feast of 'Eid al-Adha, but the people of Kerkuk have been without electricity for the past three days.

We've been on the phone with our relatives in Kerkuk and they tell us that they haven't had any electric power for the past three days!

This is 'liberation'.

The situation is going from bad to worse for the inhabitants of Kerkuk since the US Occupation and since the Kurdish militias took control of the city in April 2003.

Turkish Language and the Native Americans

Traces of the Altaic Words "ATA", "APA", "ANA" and Their Derivatives in the Languages of Some of the Native Peoples of Americas

By: Polat Kaya

[This paper is revised from Polat Kaya, "Search For a Probable Linguistic and Cultural Kinship Between the Turkish People of Asia and the Native Peoples of Americas", Belleten, Cilt: L, Sayi 198, Aralik 1986, Turk Tarih Kurumu Basimevi, Ankara.

Also catalogued in Canadiana, Canada's National Bibliography with the same title as above under Comparative Linguistics, 497, P. Kaya, C87-7257-9 MRDS Pt. 1]


Turks and Native Americans

Russel Means, Member of Lakotah Indian Tribe (Interview)

Native American actor and activist Russell Means on American Indian rights and quest for a new homeland.

Riz Khan - The first American

Interview of Russel Means, Member of LAKOTAH Indian Tribe

Watch part I

Watch part II

jeudi 26 novembre 2009

UK Inquiry: Blair Conspired with Bush as Early as February 2002 to Plot Iraq Invasion. Dave Lindorff

2009 November 25
by kanan48
Via: This Can’t Be Happening.

Most Americans are blissfully in the dark about it, but across the Atlantic in the UK, a commission reluctantly established by Prime Minister Gordon Brown under pressure from anti-war activists in Britain is beginning hearings into the actions and statements of British leaders that led to the country’s joining the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Even before testimony began in hearings that started yesterday, news began to leak out from documents obtained by the commission that the government of former PM Tony Blair had lied to Parliament and the public about the country’s involvement in war planning.

Britain’s Telegraph newspaper over the weekend published documents from British military leaders, including a memo from British special forces head Maj. Gen. Graeme Lamb, saying that he had been instructed to begin “working the war up since early 2002.”

This means that Blair, who in July 2002, had assured members of a House of Commons committee that there were “no preparations to invade Iraq,” was lying.

Things are likely to heat up when the commission begins hearing testimony. It has the power, and intends to compel testimony from top government officials, including Blair himself.

While some American newspapers, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, have run an Associated Press report on the new disclosures and on the commission, key news organizations, including the New York Times, have not. The Times ignored the Telegraph report, but a day later ran an article about the British commission that focused entirely on evidence that British military leaders in Iraq felt “slighted” by “arrogant” American military leaders who, the article reported, pushed for aggressive military action against insurgent groups, while British leaders preferred negotiating with them.

While that may be of some historical interest, it hardly compares with the evidence that Blair and the Bush/Cheney administration were secretly conspiring to invade Iraq as early as February and March 2002.

Recall that back in the fall of 2002, the Bush/Cheney argument to Congress and the American people for initiating a war against Iraq was that Iraq was allegedly behind the 9-11 attacks and that it posed an “imminent” danger of attack against the US and Britain with its alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Of course, such arguments, which have subsequently been shown to have been bogus, would have had no merit if the planning began a year earlier, and if no such urgency was expressed by the two leaders at that time.

Imminent, after all, means imminent, and if Blair, Bush and Cheney had genuinely thought an attack with WMDs was imminent back in the early days of the Bush administration, they would have been acting immediately, not secretly conjuring up a war scheduled for a year later. (The actual invasion began on March 19, 2003).

As I documented in my book, The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), there is plenty of evidence that Bush and Cheney had a scheme to put the US at war with Iraq even before Bush took office on Jan. 20, 2001. Then Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill in his own tell-all book, The Price of Loyalty, written after he was dumped from the Bush Administration, recounts that at the first meeting of Bush’s new National Security Council, the question of going to war and ousting Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was on the agenda. Immediately after the 9-11 attacks, NSC anti-terrorism program czar Richard Clarke also recalled Bush ordering him to “find a link” to Iraq.

Meanwhile, within days, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was ordering top generals to prepare for an Iraq invasion. Gen. Tommy Franks, who was heading up the military effort in Afghanistan that was reportedly closing in on Osama Bin Laden, found the rug being pulled out from under him as Rumsfeld began shifting troops out of Afghanistan and to Kuwait in preparation for the new war.

It is nothing less than astonishing that so little news of the British investigation into the origins of the illegal Iraq War is being conveyed to Americans by this country’s corporate media—yet another example demonstrating that American journalism is dead or dying.

It is even more astonishing that neither the Congress nor the president here in America is making any similar effort to put America’s leaders in the dock to tell the truth about their machinations in engineering a war that has cost the US over $1 trillion (perhaps $3 trillion eventually when debt payments and the cost of veterans care is added in), and over 4000 lives, not to mention as many as one million innocent Iraqi lives.

mercredi 25 novembre 2009

We Are All War Criminals, by Dahlia Wasfi

November 24, 2009 "Information Clearing House" --

Our nation is still recovering from the November 5, 2009, shootings at Ft. Hood in Killeen, Texas. We are waiting for some sense of normalcy to return after such a shocking event. How unbelievable it is for this tragedy to occur; after all, our occupations had been going so well until this point. Just ask the Iraqi people. Wait, scratch that. Ok, ask the Afghan people. Nevermind. Just ask U.S. veterans. Oh boy. If we ask the people who are living the horrors, then maybe what happened at Ft. Hood isn’t so shocking at all. What is surprising is that we haven’t seen more of the same.

In the first ten months of 2009, ten soldiers based at Ft. Hood killed themselves; that was the second-highest for the nation, behind the sixteen suicides at Kentucky’s Ft. Campbell. In January 2009 alone, twenty-four soldiers across the country killed themselves.

"This is terrifying," an Army official said. "We do not know what is going on." Well, let me help you out, random Army official. When you issue illegal orders for people to go commit atrocities overseas (because that’s the best word to sum up what’s happening in Iraq and Afghanistan), and they fail to refuse said orders in compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, you end up with people in trouble, people with PTSD.

Some of them turn their trauma inward, self-destructing and committing suicide. Some of them express their trauma outward, committing homicide.

One report documents Former Pfc. Johnathon Klinker, 22, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing his 7-week-old daughter, Nicolette, in October 2006. Another report tells of the murder spree by three Iraq veterans at Ft. Carson, which included the death of a 19-year-old nursing student who was stabbed six times after the trio ran her over with their car in October 2007. And now, you have Major Nidal Hasan, who may have been experiencing secondary PTSD (not to mention degradation by his brothers-in-arms for his ethnicity and religion). THAT is what is going on; it’s all connected to our illegal occupations.

We hear reports now that the military is not taking care of its soldiers. According to allegations from clinical psychiatrist Dr. Kernan Manion—who believes he was dismissed for his complaints—Marines at Camp Lejeune are getting poor care for their PTSD. And it’s not much better in the Army, according to veteran, Sgt. Chuck Luther, who was discharged after twelve years of service with a “personality disorder” instead of being diagnosed with and receiving benefits for PTSD.

Here’s what I want to know: WHY ARE WE SURPRISED? Do we not know how this story ends, with a quarter of the homeless population on America’s streets comprised of veterans? Do we not recognize the brutality and dehumanization—of recruits and the “enemy” (whatever the flavor of the month is)—that is the foundation of basic training? Do we really think the military and government are going to one day take care of the US armed forces, when they send them overseas to die for corporate profit? I wouldn’t put my dog’s welfare in the hands of an Army drill sergeant; Americans are handing over their flesh and blood to them. Yes, there is a recession and jobs are scarce, but the military is made up of less than 1% of the U.S. population. There are a whole lot of people who are struggling economically and not choosing to enlist. We are in some serious denial here.

But the denial isn’t just a civilian disorder. As Luther describes on his website, he “was deployed to Taji, Iraq from October 2006 to July 2007. SGT Luther unknowingly suffered PTSD after living in the combat environment.” He was “living” in the combat environment. How innocent that sounds. Under further probing, Luther describes “Violence breeds violence. I was trained to be very violent in combat as a scout ... we killed or detained Iraqis before anyone else got there.” Before there could be any witnesses to your crimes. From the Bible, Galatians VI (King James Version), “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Yes, Luther is suffering now. And only he and his fellow scouts know the misery and pain they brought to who knows how many families who did nothing to us. If you break into someone’s home, it is not “self-defense” to attack the people who live there. It is assault and battery. It is terrorism. It is murder. Power of pride? I don’t think so.

And because these crimes are committed in all of our names, we are all the war criminals. We load the weapons; the soldiers and Marines do our dirty work. November 5, 2009, was sort of a “take your family to work” day at Ft. Hood. Military families got to see first-hand the environment where their loved ones earn a paycheck. All of us had a brief glimpse into the horrors that we visit on Iraqi and Afghani families everyday.

But we were lucky, for it wasn’t quite the same. The victims weren’t raped before they were murdered; their bodies were not set on fire after their last breaths were taken. The victims’ children were not tied up while their fathers were detained before they were shot. Ft. Hood soldiers were not stacked into naked pyramids and tortured to death, nor were there families killed in their homes by airstrikes. That is the reality of occupation, and none of us are without blood on our hands—civilian or military. American soldiers and Marines are not guiltier than the rest of us, but they sure as hell aren’t any more innocent. If we want the madness to stop, we all must stop the madness.

Dahlia Wasfi is an activist and speaker, currently working on a book. She supports the rapid redeployment of all overseas American military personnel back to the U.S., specifically to the offices of Goldman Sachs, AIG, and the Federal Reserve, where they should remain until they receive the benefits they were promised. Her website is

mardi 24 novembre 2009

Cumhurbaşkanı Gül'den Irak Türkmen Cephesi'ne Başsağlığı

24 Kasım 2009, Salı.

Cumhurbaşkanı Gül'den Irak Türkmen Cephesi Başkanı Sadettin Ergeç'i Arayarak başsağlığı dileklerini iletti Cumhurbaşkanı Abdullah Gül, Irak Türkmen Cephesi Yürütme Kurulu Üyesi ve Musul İl Başkanı Yavuz Efendioğlu'nun dün akşam silahlı bir saldırı sonucu hayatını kaybetmesi nedeniyle, Irak Türkmen Cephesi Başkanı Sadettin Ergeç'i arayarak, Cephe mensuplarına, Irak Türkmen halkına ve rahmetlinin ailesine başsağlığı dileklerini iletti.

lundi 23 novembre 2009

Iraqi Turkmen Front Mosul Head assassinated

Yavuz Efendioğlu, President of the Iraqi Turkmen Front in Mosul, was assassinated at his house on Sunday.

Yavuz Efendioğlu was known for his efforts to protect the unity and unitarian structure of Iraq.

The incident was met with reactions among Iraqi Turkmen, and condemnation from Turkey.

According to Turkmen officials, unidentified men arrived at Efendioğlu's house Sunday night and asked his son that they wanted to see his father and shot him dead when he answered the door. The attackers fled the scene immediately.

Efendioğlu, who had been an executive member of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) for 4 years, devoted himself to protect unity and unitarian structure of Iraq.

Efendioğlu was considered to run for parliamentary elections in Iraq to be held soon.

Iraqi Turkmen community has condemned the attack, and demanded the government to find the attackers.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has phoned Iraqi Turkmen leaders and extended his condolences.

Irak Türkmen Cephesi Musul İl Başkanı Şehit Edildi

Irak Türkmen Cephesi Musul İl Başkanı Şehit Edildi

22 Kasım 2009, Pazar

Irak'ın kuzeyinde bulunan Musul kentinde Irak Türkmen Cephesi (ITC) İl Başkanı Yavuz Efendioğlu, uğradığı silahlı saldırı sonucu hayatını kaybetti.

Akşam saatlerinde meydana gelen olayda ITC Yürütme Kurulu Üyesi ve Musul İl Başkanı Yavuz Efendioğlu, evinin önünde kimliği belirsiz kişilerin silahlı saldırısına uğradı.

Saldırıda, vücudunun çeşitli yerlerine isabet eden kurşunlardan dolayı kan kaybeden Efendioğlu, olay yerinde hayatını kaybetti. Musul güvenlik güçleri, olayla ilgili faillerin bulunması için çalışma yürütürken, Ocak ayında ülke genelinde yapılacak genel seçimler öncesi etnik grup temsilcilerine yönelik saldırılarda artış olması endişelere yol açtı.


dimanche 22 novembre 2009


It is with great sadness that we have just learned that
Mr. Yavuz Efendioğlu, ITF Musul Representative
has been assassinated in front of his home.

We offer our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues

Musul ITC sorumlusu YAVUZ EFENDİOĞLUNU akşam vakti kapısı önünde öldürüldü

vendredi 20 novembre 2009

Azer Hasret's blogs


If you are interested in the Turkic World
do visit:
Doğudan Batıya Türk Dünyasının Birliyi Uğrunda!

and :

Yedi Devlet bir Millet Kültür ve Dayanışma Derneği

jeudi 19 novembre 2009

Turkmen representative Orhan Ketene on Al-Jazeera

For those who missed it:

Turkmen representative Orhan Ketene on Al-Jazeera's Inside Iraq programme

Improved democracy?

This week the Iraqi parliament passed a crucial election law after weeks of deadlock. In other countries, a new election law may be only an internal affair. In Iraq, it is different.

Without the new law, parliamentary elections scheduled for January could not take place and US troop withdrawal may have been postponed. Now, elections are to be held on January 12, 2010.

Just five days after the original date, but the law remains controversial. The oil-rich city of Kirkuk in Northern Iraq is at the heart of the debate. Kurds consider Kirkuk a Kurdish city and want it to be part of their self-ruled region in northern Iraq.

Arabs and Turkmen vehemently disagree. They want control to be with the central government in Baghdad and some accuse Kurds of deliberately changing demographics in their favour.

The new law benefits the Kurdish community, but analysts say all sides had to compromise. The US President hails the law as a milestone, but what does it mean for Iraqi politics? Is it a move towards more democracy or yet another proof of sectarianism?

Inside Iraq discusses with guests Orhan Ketene, a speaker of the Turkman Front, Mundher Adhami, an Analyst, King's College, and Firyad Rawandouzi, a Kurdish MP.

mercredi 18 novembre 2009

Irak Türkmen Cephesi Hurmahanı Saldırısını Kınadı.

18 Kasım 2009, Çarşamba

ITC bir kınama mesajı yayınladı

Kerkük'te bulunan (Hurmahanı) İmam Ahmet semtinde meydana gelen patlamanıyı Irak Türkmen Cephesi olarak şiddetle kınıyoruz. Saldırıda 6 masum Türkmen şehit oldu, 3 kişinin Dede aşiretinden olduklarını belirlendi.

Aynı zamanda yetkili mercilerden canilerin bir an önce tespit edilip tutuklanmalarını talep ediyoruz, Irak'ta yapılacak olan seçimlerin güvenli bir şekilde yapılabilmesi için bu tür terör olaylarını önlemek gerekmektedir.

Irak Türkmen Cephesi olarak şehitlerimize rahmet ve yaralılarımıza acil şifalar dileriz.

Enformasyon Şb. Tarafından Türkçeye Çevrilmiştir.

Video - Dispatches: Inside Britain's Israel Lobby

Channel 4 UK - Broadcast November 16, 2009

November 17, 2009

Dispatches investigates one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain, which is working in support of the interests of the State of Israel.

Despite wielding great influence among the highest realms of British politics and media, little is known about the individuals and groups which collectively are known as the pro-Israel lobby.

Political commentator Peter Oborne sets out to establish who they are, how they are funded, how they work and what influence they have, from the key groups to the wealthy individuals who help bankroll the lobbying.

He investigates how accountable, transparent and open to scrutiny the lobby is, particularly in regard to its funding and financial support of MPs.

The pro-Israel lobby aims to shape the debate about Britain's relationship with Israel and future foreign policies relating to it.

Oborne examines how the lobby operates from within parliament and the tactics it employs behind the scenes when engaging with print and broadcast media.

Please wait a moment for video to load.

mardi 17 novembre 2009

Azerbaijan National Revival Day - Jazz mugham concert in Brussels

Dr. Hassan Aydinli with the brilliant pianist Shahin Novrasli * (third from the left ) and two of his talentful musicians

On the occasion of Azerbaijan's National Revival Day

H.E. the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the Kingdom of Belgium, Head of the Mission to the EU Mr. Emin Eyübov and Mrs Emin Eyübov

H.E. Head of the Mission of Azerbaijan to the NATO, Ambassador Kamil Khasiyev and Mrs. Kamil Khasiyev

invited ITF Europe Representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli and Mrs. Merry Fitzgerald to attend the Jazz-Mugham concert of Shahin Novrasli at the Palais des Beaux Arts.

At the reception Iraqi Turkmen Front representatives had the opportunity to speak with both Azerbaijani Ambassadors and with Mr. Ayaz Gojayev, Second Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Belgium and Luxembourg, Mission to the European Communities

and also with

H.E. the Ambassador of Turkey to the Kingdom of Belgium Mr. Murat N. Ersavcı and Mrs. Zeynep Ersavcı,

the Turkish Consul in Brussels Mr. Mehmet Poroy and Mrs. Ayşegül Poroy.

H.E. Saymumin Yatimov, Ambassador of Tajikistan to the Kingdom of Belgium, Head of the Missions of Tajikistan to the EC. NATO and UNESCO

Mr. Ayhan Demirci, Azerbaycan Belçika Dostluk Cemiyeti

Ms. Amanda Akçakoca, Policy Analyst and Programme Executive at EPC (European Policy Centre)

See article in Yenihaber:
Azerbaycan rüzgarları estirdiler

*About the pianist Shahin Novrasli:
He was born in Baku in 1977 and began learning music at a very early age. By the time he was eleven he had already played at the Azerbaijan State Philharmonia, as a soloist with the Symphony Orchestra.
At the insistence of his teachers, he continued his education at the Bulbul Music School, applying himself to serious study of classical music. At the age of 18, Shahin Novrasli performed Rachmaninov’s 2nd Concerto and received the jury’s highest marks.
While studying at the Baku Music Academy, this young musician dedicated himself totally to classical and jazz music. From that time owards he has been continually involved in international tours and festivals.
see Shahin Novrasli's website:

Turkey’s democratic initiative welcomed in troubled Kerkuk

Sivan Abdullah (L), a Kurd, and Ihsan Yemenji, a Turkmen, have called each other brothers for 17 years.

A government initiative to solve the decades-old Kurdish issue through democratic reforms has been welcomed in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, the control of which is disputed among Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens.

Residents believe the democratic reform efforts will reduce the sympathy in the city for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Before the planned Iraqi general elections in January of next year, there is growing enthusiasm among Kirkuk residents regarding Turkey’s democratic initiative. People in Kirkuk, which was once a main source of conflict between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds running northern Iraq, are now optimistic that Ankara’s Kurdish initiative will have positive repercussions in the disputed city as well.

Turkmeneli Party Deputy Chairman Ali Mahdi, who is also a member of the city council, told Today’s Zaman that improved relations between Turkey and Iraqi Kurds will benefit the Turkmens in Kirkuk as well and asked Turkish officials to visit Kirkuk, recalling a recent visit by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to Arbil.

For Islamic Party of Kurdistan Deputy Chairman and Kirkuk City Council member Ibrahim Khalil Rashid, the democratic initiative is undermining support for the PKK in Kirkuk. “The democratic initiative is very vital for Turkey. If it ends with peace, it will be quite good. It will also positively affect us. The initiative is being closely monitored here, too. We are watching developments. Now there is much support for Turkey.

Previously, there was support for the PKK, but not now; people have started to ask: ‘Turkey has provided a chance for you to return to Turkey. There is a democratic initiative about the situation of Kurdish people. Why aren’t you returning and laying down your weapons?’” he said.
Jamal Ja’fari, a Turkmen resident of Kirkuk, believes that Turkey’s democratic initiative will also positively affect the Turkmens’ situation in the city. “Peace in Turkey means peace here,” Ja’fari said.

Turkey has threatened in the past to wage war on the Iraqi Kurds if they forcefully attempt to control Kirkuk and damage the interests of the Turkmens, who share close ethnic ties with Turkey. Kurds claim the control of the city, saying Kirkuk historically belongs to the Kurdish region. Arabs and Turkmens, however, dispute the Kurdish claims.
Kurdish resident Silvan Abdullah said he believed the initiative will have repercussions not only in Turkey but all over the world. “It may also benefit our neighbors and the peace within Kirkuk. In fact, we do not have any problems with Turkmens living here,” Abdullah said.

17 November 2009, Tuesday


lundi 16 novembre 2009

A Weak Attempt at Rebuttal: Galbraith (2009) Is Contradicted by Galbraith (2006)

Posted by Reidar Visser on November 16, 2009

The NYT has previously been generous in offering space to Peter Galbraith and may have felt it had some explaining to do to its readers. The above example is from 9 July 2006.

“Innuendo.” “Absurd.” “Offensive.” Those are the words employed by Peter Galbraith over the weekend in an attempt to dismiss the charge that he had an impact on the shape of Kurdish demands in Iraq’s constitutional negotiations back in 2005. After a front-page, above-the-fold story in the New York Times last week, the Tawke-gate saga has for the first time attracted the attention of US mainstream media in a big way and Galbraith is gradually becoming more talkative.

Galbraith now maintains that his role for the Kurds back in 2004 and 2005 was that of a mere facilitator who had no impact on the formulation of Kurdish goals and ambitions as such – which in his view means that it was also unproblematic for him to simultaneously have a consultancy contract with the Norwegian oil company DNO, which began operating in the Kurdish areas of Iraq at the time. He has added that the fact that his “business arrangements” were known to the Kurdish leadership meant it was unproblematic for him to sit in on key meetings related to the constitutional process in the summer of 2005. Galbraith stresses that he “did no drafting”.

The fundamental problem for Peter Galbraith is that there exists a detailed published account that tells a very different story. Moreover, this source is authored by someone who was extremely close to those events back in 2004 and 2005 and probably knew a lot about what was going on – Peter Galbraith himself. In his book The End of Iraq, published in 2006, Galbraith recounts in considerable detail how he not only made an impact through shaping Kurdish demands, but also how almost all of his suggestions were verbatim inserted in the Kurdish negotiating proposal of February 2004 that later was to have such a great impact on the Iraqi constitution that was eventually adopted in 2005.

On p. 160 of his book, Galbraith describes his own arrival on the scene in 2003 as follows: “While they had secured support from the Iraqi opposition for federalism, the Kurds had yet to think through some practical issues. What powers would belong to Kurdistan and what to the central government in Baghdad…Who would control the police and security forces? And there was the all-important issue, who would own the oil of Kurdistan?”

Galbraith then goes on to bemoan the “conceptual problems” of the Kurdish leaders before he describes the liberating effect of memos written by himself from the summer of 2003 onwards. His choice of verbs tells the whole story: “I urged”… “Kurdistan should”… “I argued”.

Among his demands was the following: “Kurdistan should, I argued, own and manage its own oil resources”. Summing up his contribution, Galbraith remarks on p. 161: “These ideas [referring to his own proposals] eventually became the basis of Kurdistan’s proposal for an Iraqi constitution”. The reader clearly gets the impression that Galbraith’s role was a decisive and even a transformative one – an interpretation that makes sense also on the basis of a comparison with the previous and much less radical constitutional proposal by the Kurdish leadership from 2003 (where in article 59.4 Baghdad was given control of “all kinds of armed forces”, and in article 59.11 the oil sector was similarly described as the prerogative of the central government).

Later, on pp. 166–67 of his book from 2006, Galbraith describes how his own more detailed proposal in early 2004 was more or less copied wholesale by the Kurds to form their negotiating position as defined in February 2004. He summarises his paper Special Provisions for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq which is also reproduced in toto in an appendix to the book on pp. 225–29.

These proposals – which included the key distinction between existing and future oil fields that would later enable stronger regional influence over new oilfields in the 2005 constitution and which forms the basis for the current dispute between Baghdad and the Kurds over oil – was “accepted” by the Kurdish leadership, and then forwarded to the CPA, “as a submission by the Kurdistan National Assembly”!

According to Galbraith, his own proposals became the Kurdish proposal in all its details save for one extremely minor “amendment”: “Kosrat Rasul…wanted to clarify that deployment of the Iraqi Kurdistan National Guard should not only be approved by the Kurdistan National Assembly, but should only occur a the request of the federal government in Baghdad”. All the rest had been penned by Galbraith.

As to the influence of this “proposal” on the constitution of 2005, Galbraith is once more an excellent source. On p. 168 of The End of Iraq, he explains, “Masud Barzani took the initiative to organise a Kurdish delegation and negotiating position that would achieve each objective outlined in their February 11 proposal [which Galbraith had formulated in its entirety] and then some.” Galbraith’s book is also informative when it comes to his own role in radicalising the Kurdish position during late 2004 and 2005, especially on p. 171: “In September 2004, the Referendum Movement organisers [who campaigned for a referendum for Kurdish independence] asked me to meet with them… As we sipped Turkish coffee, we discussed how other independence movements had promoted their own causes. I recalled that at least one independence movement conducted an unofficial referendum on the same day as the country’s general election, setting up informal polling places near the official ones.

The Referendum Movement leaders thought this was an interesting precedent but doubted that the Kurdish authorities would allow it. I explained that in a democracy the authorities could not prevent such expression of free speech as long as the organisers did not interfere in the official voting”. As is well known, the referendum was indeed held along the lines suggested by Galbraith. Not bad for an “adviser”?

In a key paragraph of his book on p. 169, Galbraith summarises the way in which many elements of the “Kurdish” proposal of 11 February 2004 actually found their way into Iraq’s 2005 constitution. For example, he writes, “as the Kurds proposed in February 2004 the regional governments have exclusive control over future oil fields.”

Note, however, how different this sentence looks when we insert in brackets the information given by Galbraith himself elsewhere: “As the Kurds proposed in February 2004 [entirely on the basis of my own proposal, as described in my book The End of Iraq on pp. 166–67] the regional governments have exclusive control over future oil field [in one of which I hold a business interest through DNO, as I explained to The Boston Globe on 15 October 2009].

Because of these contradictions, Galbraith is today trying to describe exactly the same relationship using very different words: Three days, ago, on 13 November, he told The Brattleboro Reformer (a local newspaper in Vermont) that “I gave them advice and the end result that they achieved was identical to what was already proposed in February 2004 [emphasis added]”.

What Peter Galbraith does not admit in 2009 is what he boasted of in 2006, namely that 99% of the February 2004 proposal was his own work and not that of any Kurdish leader.

In retrospect, it may seem odd that Galbraith should have chosen to publish a book in 2006 that would implicate him so clearly in an unacceptable mixing of roles in business (DNO), constitutional consultancy (for the Kurds) and Iraqi policy advocacy (at home in the United States).

However, the book from 2006 was a reflection of its time. Iraq seemed to be heading downhill back then, and Galbraith was probably convinced the country would break apart (as per his suggestion). Accordingly, he was not only extremely forthcoming with information concerning his own role; he actually appeared to be glowing with the pride of a would-be Kurdish T.E. Lawrence.

What he failed to realise was that Iraq was a little more resilient than the pessimistic title of his book suggested.

In other respects, there is not much that is new in Galbraith’s latest attempts at rebutting the NYT article. He still has the audacity to suggest that the fact that he informed “Kurdish leaders” exonerated him from any possible conflict of interest!

What about the rest of the Iraqis who participated in the negotiations, did they know everything as well? And what about those in the drafting committee who did not belong to KDP/PUK and SCIRI/Daawa and were excluded from the “leadership meetings” in early August 2005, where key decisions were made, and where Galbraith himself participated repeatedly?

Iraq’s former ambassador to the UN, Feisal Amin al-Istrabadi has said it best: “You don’t let Firestone draft the constitution of Liberia. You don’t let Shell draft the constitution of Nigeria. We shouldn’t have had an oil company [i.e. Norway’s DNO] drafting the Iraqi constitution.”

Finally, in a welcome development, the editorial board of the NYT has ruled that Galbraith did indeed have a conflict of interest which should have been disclosed when he wrote op-eds in the paper in favour of the soft partition policy in Iraq.

This should make it clear once and for all that there is more to this case than the primitive Norwegian “conspiracy” alleged by some Vermont newspapers, according to which the whole affair has been fabricated by all-powerful Norwegian trolls bent on revenge for the Eide/Galbraith dispute in Afghanistan.

vendredi 13 novembre 2009

What all Iraqis should know about the Fortune of Jalal Talabani

الى جميع العراقيين
تعرفوا على ثروة جلال الطالباني بالأرقام والأدلة

What all Iraqis should know about the fortune of Jalal Talabani

Galbraith Was Paid by DNO when He Sat In on Sensitive Constitutional Drafting Sessions in 2005

Posted by Reidar Visser on November 12, 2009

In many ways, today’s story in The New York Times on Tawke-gate serves to corroborate the account of events already conveyed earlier by Norway’s Dagens Næringsliv (DN). In particular, the impression that it was the Norwegian oil company DNO (rather than the KRG) that awarded a stake in the Tawke oilfield to Peter Galbraith back in 2004 is strengthened in the article, and there are interesting remarks by Abd al-Hadi al-Hassani, one of the few officials close to the Maliki administration who has had the courage to comment publicly on the affair so far. Also, it is refreshing that the NYT, which in the past has given ample space to Americans advocating a soft partition of Iraq, has chosen to publish this kind of critical perspective on one of the leading intellectuals of the soft partition crowd.

Perhaps the single most significant piece of new information in the story is the confirmation that Peter Galbraith, whose consultancy work for DNO in 2004 has previously been revealed by DN, also received payment from DNO in 2005, “throughout the constitutional negotiations in 2005 and later.” On this aspect, Iraq’s former ambassador to the UN, Feisal Amin al-Istrabadi comments to the NYT as follows: “The idea that an oil company was participating in the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution leaves me speechless”. Istrabadi emphasises that DNO in practice had “a representative in the room, drafting.”

It is often not realised how secretive and closed those final negotiations of the Iraqi constitution in August 2005 really were. A good description has been offered by Jonathan Morrow of the USIP:

“After August 8, constitutional negotiations took place in a series of private, ad hoc meetings between Kurdish and Shiite party leaders – the “Leadership Council,” as it was termed by the international press, or more informally by Committee members, “the kitchen” (matbakh). In its basic form, the Leadership Council consisted of SCIRI leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, Shiite Dawa party leader Prime Minister Jaafari, Kurdish PUK party leader President Jalal Talabani, and Kurdish KDP party leader Masoud Barzani. These meetings took place at irregular intervals at a number of private residences and compounds in the International Zone. These were meetings at which the Sunni Committee members had no right of attendance, to which they frequently requested attendance, but were not often invited. The expectation was quite clear: the Shiite and Kurdish parties would agree to a constitutional text, which would then be presented as a fait accompli to the Sunni Arabs, who would be asked to take it or leave it.”

Someone who was admitted to these meetings, however, was Peter Galbraith, the paid DNO consultant and stake-holder in the Tawke oilfield. Again, according to Morrow, “the Kurdish parties were able to invite into the ad hoc meetings experienced non-Iraqi international negotiators and constitutional lawyers, including former U.S. diplomat Peter Galbraith and University of Maryland Professor Karol Soltan, to advance the Kurdish case.”

It seems Galbraith was doing more than just “advancing the Kurdish case”: The Iraqi constitution adopted in October 2005 for the first time establishes a regional role in administering the country’s oil sector, more or less on the lines advocated by Galbraith in a policy paper from early 2004. It is noteworthy that the KDP draft constitution for Iraq from 2003, by way of contrast, accorded exclusive sovereignty to Baghdad in administering the oil sector. Today’s revelation that Galbraith also received payment from DNO, a foreign oil company, when he was sitting in on those sensitive Iraqi constitutional meetings in August 2005 where the regional role in the oil sector was established, takes the whole Tawke-gate affair to unprecedented levels of scandalousness.

Turkmen Speaker in Al-Jazeera "Inside Iraq" Programme

Turkmen Speaker in Al Jazeera

Turkmen opinion on the latest Election Law in Iraq will be explained by Orhan Kettaneh from Istanbul in Jasim Azzawi´s “Inside Iraq” program.

Representing the Arab view will be Dr. Munthir Al-Adhami from London.

The view of the Kurds will be presented by Feryad Rawanduzi from Beirut.

The programme will be broadcast several times, so many people get a chance to see it.

Here are all timings according to GMT:

17:30 GMT (19:30 in Turkey- 20:30 in Kerkuk)
22:30 GMT (24:30 in Turkey- 1.30 in Kerkuk)

03:00 GMT (5:00 Turkey, 6:0 Kerkuk)
08:30 GMT (10:30 Turkey, 11:30 Kerkuk)

06:00 GMT (8:00 Turkey, 9:00 Kerkuk)
12:30 GMT (14.30 Turkey, 15:30 Kerkuk)

01:30 GMT (3:30 Turkey, 4:30 Kerkuk)
About a week after first broadcast, the show can also be viewed online on Al- Jazeera website:
(in the Programmes section)

It can be viewed also in Youtube under “Inside Iraq” title.

Disillusioned with Europe, Turkey looks East

Nostalgia for the Ottomans
Disillusioned with Europe, Turkey Looks East

By Daniel Steinvorth in Istanbul

As European opposition to EU membership for Turkey grows, Ankara is looking to forge closer ties to its neighbors. Turkey wants to once again become a leading power in the Middle East -- but its relationship with Israel may suffer as a result.

He was the last heir to the throne of the Ottoman Empire, a major power that controlled large parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for centuries. But Prince Osman Ertugrul Osmanoglu was a prince without a country, and he was stateless for much of his life. When Turkish officers proclaimed the republic in 1924, they expelled Osmanoglu and his entire family. It wasn't until 2004 that the exiled prince was granted Turkish citizenship.

The prince died in Istanbul on Sept. 23, at the age of 97, and the republic that had once banished him became reconciled with Osmanoglu. The guests at the funeral service included four cabinet ministers from the conservative Islamic AKP government, a deputy minister, several members of parliament, Istanbul's governor and the city's chief of police. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also sent his condolences -- privately. It was a rare show of republican appreciation for Turkey's Ottoman legacy.

Many Turks today believe that true greatness lies in the imperial past -- and that this past is no longer to be found exclusively in the West. Europe, with its fondness for criticizing Turkey, is increasingly become yesterday's ideal. "Neo-Ottomanism" is in vogue in Turkey, as evidenced by an exhibition at a new history museum that opened in Istanbul at the beginning of the year, a museum commission by Erdogan when he was still the mayor of Istanbul. An enormous panorama painting at the museum depicts the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453, complete with a soundtrack of cannon thunder and war cries piped through the loudspeakers.

Evoking Past Glories
This nostalgia for the Ottoman past is in keeping with an about-face in politics that is becoming increasingly obvious. Turkish politicians are now evoking -- and glorifying -- the Ottoman era as a time when their country was still a respected hegemonic power in the Middle East and Caucasus region. It is a role that Ankara wants to play again today -- perhaps one it is already playing.

Turkey has in fact turned its attention to the east once again, opening up channels of communication and embarking on an approach to diplomacy that goes beyond the usual friend vs. foe dichotomy. In short, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu hopes to solve the conflicts in the region with a "zero problems" policy. He intends to act as a mediator whenever possible, and he hopes that by the end of a reconciliation process with its neighbors, Turkey will emerge as the strongest nation in the Middle East, both economically and politically.

The initiatives have been coming hard and fast. In early October, the foreign ministers of Turkey and Armenia signed a protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations. However, the two archenemies will have to first overcome substantial obstacles. Turkey's "brother" nation, Azerbaijan, is threatening to block the peace process unless Armenia relinquishes control over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan. Armenians living abroad, in particular, insist that Ankara must first recognize the Armenian genocide during World War I before the borders are opened. Despite these obstacles, Turkey and Armenia want to continue negotiating.

Ankara has also recently begun talks with another difficult neighbor. The de facto Kurdish state in northern Iraq -- a safe haven for Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels and long the principal adversary of the Turkish military -- is worried about being left alone with Shiite and Sunni Arabs in a disintegrating Iraq. Instead, Iraq's Kurds have sought to establish ties with Turkey.

Two weeks ago, Davutoglu flew to Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, where he announced Turkey's plans to open a consulate. A journalist traveling with Davutoglu said she was astonished to see a Turkish foreign minister sitting in a limousine flying a Kurdish pennant, and that it upends everything that was official Turkish policy in the past.

Opening the Border

So far, however, the neighbors with whom the Turks have formed their closest ties are the Syrians.

In mid-October, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem met Davutoglu and his large entourage at Oncupinar on the Turkish-Syrian border. The two men cheerfully pushed aside a barrier marking the border, in a scene meant to emulate the opening of the Hungarian-Austrian border in September 1989.

In the late 1990s, the two countries were still on the verge of war, because of Syria's support for the PKK extremists. Today their armed forces conduct joint maneuvers, while their foreign and defense ministers meet as part of a "strategic cooperation council." As journalist Zeynep Gurcanli wrote in the influential Turkish daily Hürriyet, Turkey has never cooperated this closely with any other country. Could Ankara's current efforts eventually lead to a "Middle Eastern Union" modeled after the European Union?

The end of the decades-long dispute between Turkey and Syria is seen as a true success for Davutoglu -- and for the Syrians, who are overjoyed at the upgrading of their country after being ostracized in the West. But Damascus is also pleased for another reason. At almost exactly the same time as the Turkish-Syria rapprochement was happening, Turkey's relations with another country suddenly went into a nosedive.

For "technical reasons," as the Turkish government initially claimed, Turkey decided to exclude Israel from its international military exercise "Anatolian Eagle." Erdogan later explained the real reasons for the decision: Ankara could not allow fighter jets that had also been used in missions against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to fly over Turkish airspace. The Turks' decision to conduct joint military exercises with the Syrians while putting their often-cited "strategic partnership" with Israel on ice shows how deep the shift in Ankara's foreign policy already is.
It also reflects a domestic idiosyncrasy: Because the conservative Islamic AKP government has strengthened its positive relative to the secular military, it can now conduct a more self-confident foreign policy. It no longer needs to show so much respect for the Turkish-Israeli alliance, which in reality was always a project of the elite.

Displays of Displeasure

However, Ankara's spat with Israel had already begun before the Gaza war that so outraged the Turkish public. The army, too, is upset with Israel, says Haldun Solmazturk, a retired Turkish general, because there have been no reliable agreements with the Israelis for a long time, and because the Turks feel that the Israelis have treated them condescendingly.

The Israelis' Gaza offensive was the straw that broke the camel's back, triggering a display of displeasure with Israel from the Turkish side. During the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in early 2009, Erdogan vented his anger on Israeli President Shimon Peres. His rant brought him fresh popularity at home and in the Arab world, where he has since been called the "Conqueror of Davos."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad now considers the Turkish prime minister a good friend, and the feeling -- to the West's chagrin -- is mutual. The government in Tehran is being treated unfairly, Erdogan said before his most recent state visit to the Islamic Republic. The West, according to Erdogan, ought to give up its own nuclear weapons because threatening Iran with sanctions.

Western diplomats could hardly believe their ears. Was the only Muslim member of NATO siding with Tehran in the dispute over Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions? Wasn't this -- especially after Erdogan's anti-Israeli tirade -- even more evidence that Europe had in fact already lost Turkey, and that Ankara is looking to the east instead?

Erdogan's chief foreign policy adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, finds such charges peculiar. Even the West, he says, is not unfamiliar with the concept of pragmatic, interest-based politics. "When the Americans open up to Russia, it's hailed as a new era in diplomacy," he says. "But when Turkey opens up to Iran, people ask themselves whether we are changing our axis." Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad paid a second visit to Istanbul last Sunday, where he attended a summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Another summit guest, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been condemned by the international community over war crimes in Darfur, did not attend, even though he had been expressly invited by the Turks. "A Muslim cannot commit genocide," Erdogan had earlier said, dumbfounding the West once again.

A Benefit for Europe

Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bagis is nonetheless unwilling to concede that Turkey is turning away from the West. He insists that the successes of Ankara's diplomacy with the East should be seen as a benefit for Europe.

The West, says Bagis, consistently describes Turkey as a bridge between East and West. But how, he asks, can a bridge stand on only one strong pillar?

"The good news is that Turkey is not turning away from the West," says Burak Bekdil, a critic of Erdogan. "The bad news is that it isn't turning toward the West any more, either."

But should this come as a surprise? The French and Austrian governments are firmly opposed to Turkey's bid to join the EU. Meanwhile in Germany the majority of people are disillusioned with EU expansion.

In Germany's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the image of the bridge is even seen as an expression of distance. If it were to become a full-fledged EU member, says new Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, Turkey could no longer perform the function of a bridge. After all, he said, a bridge doesn't belong to either side.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan


jeudi 12 novembre 2009

UN calls organizing Iraq elections a "Herculean task"

The UN special representative Iraq elections must be credible and held on time.
By Jane Arraf Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the November 11, 2009 edition

Baghdad - The United Nations special representative to Iraq appealed on Tuesday to Iraqi officials to meet a series of deadlines in what he called the "Herculean task" of holding national elections in a little more than two months.

"Now there are less than 10 weeks available to organize these elections, which is truly a Herculean task," Ad Melkert told a news conference at the Independent High Election Commission (IHEC). "I hope everyone is aware IHEC is under tremendous pressure to deliver credible elections in a very short period of time."

The Iraqi parliament pushed a final deadline to the brink last week, passing an election law after weeks of negotiations that will allow parliamentary elections to be held in January as mandated by the Iraqi constitution.

Mr Melkert said officials were considering holding the poll on Jan. 18 to ensure it took place before the start of 40 days of mourning observed by Shiite Muslims to commemorate the killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad. Advance voting for Iraqi security forces, who will be out in full force on election day, is expected to be held on Jan. 15.

The vote will be the first national election since the US handed over control of security here to Iraq with the passage of a bilateral security agreement late last year.

Political coalitions have until Friday to register and individual candidates until Nov. 16, election officials said.

In what is shaping up to be one of the most logistically complicated polls overseen by the UN, Melkert also urged patience in awaiting the final election results. Iraqi politicians passed an election law only after agreeing to a complicated formula for voting in Kirkuk and other areas claimed by Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen. In addition, there are new formulas for determining what percentage of the vote is needed for candidates to be awarded one of the 323 seats in parliament.

Nineteen million Iraqis are eligible to vote this time, including three million citizens who were too young to take part in 2005 parliamentary elections. It's expected to take days to count the ballots from the 52,000 polling stations across Iraq.

"Every time there is a strong learning process from a previous occasion and some things are in better place than they were before, at the same time the law has changed in a number of ways and time is very, very short," says Melkert, a former member of parliament in the Netherlands.

Melkert, standing next to senior IHEC officials, also urged the current Iraqi parliament to hold off on any calls for change in the election body until after the election – a reference to a parliamentary inquiry called to investigate charges of corruption.

Un journaliste violemment agressé au Kurdistan irakien

Un journaliste violemment agressé au Kurdistan

Détails de l'incident
Nabaz Goran, Rédacteur en chef
Disponible en :
English Français
(RSF/IFEX) - Nabaz Goran vient de quitter Erbil (Hawler en kurde), capitale du Kurdistan irakien, pour trouver refuge à Suleimanieh. Il a déclaré à Reporters sans frontières ne jamais vouloir revenir dans cette ville. Ce journaliste de 32 ans est directeur de publication du journal bimensuel indépendant en langue kurde "Jihan" ("Monde"). Il a été violemment agressé, le 29 octobre dernier, par des inconnus, appartenant vraisemblablement au KDP (Parti démocratique kurde).

Il a porté plainte auprès de la police. "Mais je ne me fais pas d'illusion, la police est aux mains du KDP", a-t-il confié à Reporters sans frontières.

"Nabaz Goran est une des figures emblématiques du journalisme d'investigation au Kurdistan irakien. Son agression révèle l'extrême difficulté pour les journalistes de la sorte de faire leur travail dans une région où les tensions politiques entre le KDP (Parti démocratique kurde) et le PUK (Union patriotique du Kurdistan) sont très fortes à la veille des élections législatives.

La police doit tout mettre en oeuvre pour que les agresseurs soient identifiés, ainsi que les commanditaires de cette lâche agression", a déclaré l'organisation.

"Le 29 octobre 2009, dans l'après-midi, je sortais du bureau dans le quartier d'Iskan à Erbil, lorsque trois inconnus se sont approchés de moi, me demandant si j'étais Nabaz Goran. J'ai répondu par l'affirmative, et alors ils m'ont attaqué. L'un d'eux était armé d'un objet métallique contondant qu'il a utilisé pour me frapper à la tête et au visage, les deux autres me rouant de coups de poing. Ils n'arrêtaient pas d'insulter ma mère et mes soeurs", a déclaré le journaliste à Reporters sans frontières, s'exprimant avec difficulté du fait de ses douleurs.

Pour lui, l'identité des agresseurs ne fait aucun doute, tout comme les motivations de ces derniers. "Le KDP, dirigé par Massoud Barzani, est clairement derrière cette agression. Les raisons sont également très claires : je suis un journal indépendant qui critique les partis et les hommes politiques, n'hésitant pas à révéler des affaires de corruption.
Et ça, ils ne le supportent pas.

Le KDP contrôle Erbil.

Dans cette ville, personne n'aurait pu faire ça sans avoir un soutien ferme de la part des autorités, et donc du KDP. Je vis dans une région où les hommes politiques ne comprennent ni la démocratie, ni l'importance d'avoir des médias libres", a ajouté le journaliste, très ému.

C'est la deuxième fois que Nabaz Goran est agressé. Il a également fait l'objet d'une dizaine de poursuites judiciaires. La dernière en date a été déposée par Chnar Sa'ad Abdulla, ministre des Martyrs. Cette attaque a été vivement condamnée par l'ensemble de la profession.

D'après Ahmed Mirra, directeur de publication de "Leven", la plus importante publication en langue kurde, dans une interview au quotidien "Ach-Charq Al-Awsat", "cette agression vient souligner l'extrême difficulté, pour les journalistes, de travailler au Kurdistan aujourd'hui, et des dangers qu'ils encourent.

De tels agissements ont pour but de faire taire la presse libre qui combat les autorités au quotidien". Le journaliste rappelle le lourd tribut de ses collègues du Kurdistan irakien. Ainsi, Soran Mama Hama, tué en juillet 2008 à Kirkouk.

Ahmed Mirra rappelle également la plainte déposée par le gouverneur de la province, Massoud Barzani, contre son journal, suite à la publication d'un article révélant le salaire de M. Barzani et autres privilèges.

A noter que le numéro 94 du journal a été interdit de distribution.

En Irak, les plaintes contre les journaux se multiplient. Le 8 novembre 2009, des députés irakiens ont décidé de porter plainte contre le quotidien "Al-Mada", suite à la publication, la veille, d'un article de Ward Badr As-Salam intitulé : "Les Parlementaires en dessous de zéro", dans lequel le journaliste critiquait les privilèges des parlementaires. "Cette action en justice est très préoccupante, car elle traduit une certaine intolérance à la critique. Nous demandons aux députés de retirer leur plainte", a déclaré Reporters sans frontières, qui a envoyé ce jour un courrier en ce sens au président de la Chambre des représentants.
Reporters sans frontières
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris France
rsf (@)
tél: +33 1 44 83 84 84
téléc: +33 1 45 23 11 51