mardi 27 juillet 2010

The Turkmen Reality in Iraq, by Ershad Al-Hirmizi

The Turkmen Reality in Iraq
By Ershad Al-Hirmizi

Please click on the link below:

Ethan McCord recounts aftermath of Iraqi Civilian Massacre

Innocence Lost: Ethan McCord Recounts Aftermath Of
Iraqi Civilian Massacre UNPC 7/24/2010

Video of testimony of one of the US soldiers in the Wikileaks video of Apache attack on Iraqi journalists

lundi 26 juillet 2010

IRAQ: The Donkey Party, by Layla Anwar

The Donkey Party
By Layla Anwar

July 25, 2010

This is serious stuff...not satire at all.

While some have been converting to Paul the Octopus sect, in the wake of his World cup football predictions, am happy to announce that am converting or more aptly joining the Donkey party of Iraq - called in Arabic Jamiat Al Hameer Al Iraqiya. The Iraqi Donkey's Association also known as the Abu Saber Party.

The headquarters of this party which has been approved by the Kurdish Regional Government - probably the only intelligent thing this latter has done - are in Suleimaniya.

But this is no chauvinistic party and is not limited to "Kurdistan". The founder Omar Glul, secretary general of the Party is nicknamed Abu Saber. Abu Saber is also a name given to Donkeys in Iraq. Saber comes from Sabr and Sabr means Patience...Abu Saber means the Father of Patience and who better represents that than a Donkey ?!

The HQ are located in a 5 stars hotel in Suleimaniya. And this party has found much support and mobilization amongst the Iraqi population, in particular its intellectuals who pride themselves to be "original donkeys". And am happy to be one of them.

The Donkey Party branches are called stables and its manifesto is very simple.

The founder affirms that we should all live like donkeys - zmal in Iraqi, because at least Donkeys don't kill one another for power, money or politics...and Donkeys don't lie.

I've said before on this blog that I have never been a member of any party quoting G. Marx - I will never join any club that will accept me as a member...but I am making an exception, and am hoping that the Iraqi Donkey party will honor me and accept me as a loyal lifelong member...

Abu Saber - the Donkey - is running for office on the next round of elections in "Free and Democratic" Iraq - Please show full solidarity and vote for him.

Long live the Donkey Party of Iraq - Long Live Abu Saber.

vendredi 23 juillet 2010

Invisible Holocaust: Iraqi Sanction Criminals Seek Reprise in Iran

Written by Chris Floyd
Tuesday, 20 July 2010

In the last decade of the 20th century, a nation often hailed (not least by itself) as the "world's greatest democracy" directed a program of savage economic warfare against a broken, defenceless country. This blockade, carried out with an exacting bureaucratic coldness, killed, by very conservative estimate, at least one million innocent people. More than half of these victims were young children.

Dead children. Thousands of dead children. Tens of thousands of dead children, Hundreds of thousands of dead children. Mountains of dead children. Vast pestiferous slagheaps of dead children. This is what the world's greatest democracy created, deliberately, coldly, as a matter of carefully considered national policy.

The blockade was carried out for one reason only: to force out the broken country's recalcitrant leader, who had once been an ally and client of the world's greatest democracy but was no longer considered acquiescent enough to be allowed to govern his strategically placed land and its vast energy resources.

The leadership of both of the dominant power factions in the world's greatest democracy agreed that the deliberate murder of innocent people -- more people than were killed in the coterminous genocide in Rwanda -- was an acceptable price to pay for this geopolitical objective. To them, the game -- that is, the augmentation of their already stupendous, world-shadowing wealth and power -- was worth the candle -- that is, the death spasms of a child in the final agonies of gastroenteritis, or cholera, or some other easily preventable affliction.It is, by any measure, one of the most remarkable -- and horrific -- stories of the last half of the 20th century, outstripped in that period only by China's 'Great Leap Forward' and by the millions killed in the conflicts in Indochina in which the world's greatest democracy played such an instrumental role.

Yet it remains an "invisible war," as Joy Gordon calls it in the title of her new book on the United States and the Iraq sanctions. Not only that, the perpetrators of this Rwanda-surpassing genocide walk among us today, safely, serenely, in honor, comfort and privilege. Some of them still hold powerful positions in government. If their savage war was invisible, then so is the innocent blood that smears them from head to foot.

Andrew Cockburn has written an excellent -- and greatly detailed -- review of Gordon's work in the latest London Review of Books, drawing upon his own extensive experience in Iraq as well as the extensive evidence of the book. The review is worth excerpting at length, although there is still much more in the original piece, which you should read as well.

Cockburn writes:

... The multiple disasters inflicted on Iraq since the 2003 Anglo-American invasion have tended to overshadow the lethally effective ‘invisible war’ waged against Iraqi civilians between August 1990 and May 2003 with the full authority of the United Nations and the tireless attention of the US and British governments. ...Even at the time, the sanctions against Iraq drew only sporadic public comment, and even less attention was paid to the bureaucratic manoeuvres in Washington, always with the dutiful assistance of London, which ensured the deaths of half a million children, among other consequences. In her excellent book Joy Gordon charts these in horrifying detail....

The sanctions were originally imposed on Iraq after Saddam -- who had been given the famous "green light" by the envoy of the American president -- invaded Kuwait. The sanctions were said to be a measure short of war, to force him to withdraw; later they became a tool of war when the fighting started. And afterward they became an extension of the war by other means. But in all cases, as Gordon and Cockburn note, they were above all a weapon to destroy the civilian infrastructure and economy of Iraq.

Cockburn writes:
... The war, when it came, was directed as much against Iraq’s economy as against its army in Kuwait. Key features of the bombing campaign were designed – as its principal planner, Colonel John Warden of the US air force, explained to me afterwards – to destroy the ‘critical nodes’ that enabled Iraq to function as a modern industrial society. The air force had dreamed of being able to do this sort of thing since before the Second World War, and Warden thought the introduction of precision-guided ‘smart bombs’ now made it a practical proposition. Iraq’s electrical power plants, telecommunications centres, oil refineries, sewage plants and other key infrastructure were destroyed or badly damaged. Warden, I recall, was piqued that bombing in addition to his original scheme had obscured the impact of his surgical assault on the pillars supporting modern Iraqi society.......The first intimation that the blockade would continue even though Iraq had been evicted from Kuwait came in an offhand remark by Bush at a press briefing on 16 April 1991. There would be no normal relations with Iraq, he said, until ‘Saddam Hussein is out of there’: ‘We will continue the economic sanctions.’

Officially, the US was on record as pledging that sanctions would be lifted once Kuwait had been compensated for the damage wrought during six months of occupation and once it was confirmed that Iraq no longer possessed ‘weapons of mass destruction’ or the capacity to make them.

A special UN inspection organisation, Unscom, was created, headed by the Swedish diplomat Rolf Ekeus, a veteran of arms control negotiations. But in case anyone had missed the point of Bush’s statement, his deputy national security adviser, Robert Gates (now Obama’s secretary of defence), spelled it out a few weeks later: ‘Saddam is discredited and cannot be redeemed. His leadership will never be accepted by the world community. Therefore,’ Gates continued, ‘Iraqis will pay the price while he remains in power. All possible sanctions will be maintained until he is gone.’

This is the blood-and-iron voice of the man retained by the Progressive Peace Laureate in the White House to run his war machine as it churns through human bodies around the world, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Colombia and dozens of other countries: a war machine of official armies, secret militias, death squads, robots and mercenaries.

Back to Cockburn:
Despite this explicit confirmation that the official justification for sanctions was irrelevant, Saddam’s supposed refusal to turn over his deadly arsenal would be brandished by the sanctioneers whenever the price being paid by Iraqis attracted attention from the outside world. And although Bush and Gates claimed that Saddam, not his weapons, was the real object of the sanctions, I was assured at the time by officials at CIA headquarters in Langley that an overthrow of the dictator by a population rendered desperate by sanctions was ‘the least likely alternative’. The impoverishment of Iraq – not to mention the exclusion of its oil from the global market to the benefit of oil prices – was not a means to an end: it was the end.

We are of course seeing this same dynamic at work today, as Gates and a new temporary emperor work the same scheme, with the same aim, on yet another recalcitrant nation unfortunately possessed of a strategic location and vast energy resources. Even the same sham justification is being used: the non-existent threat of non-existent weapons of mass destruction. But why not? As long as the rubes keep falling for this shtick, the masters of war will keep using it.

Cockburn continues:
Visiting Iraq in that first summer of postwar sanctions I found a population stunned by the disaster that was reducing them to a Third World standard of living. ... Doctors, most of them trained in Britain, displayed their empty dispensaries. Everywhere, people asked when sanctions would be lifted, assuming that it could only be a matter of months at the most (a belief initially shared by Saddam).

The notion that they would still be in force a decade later was unimaginable.

The doctors should not have had anything to worry about.
Resolution 661 prohibited the sale or supply of any goods to Iraq ... with the explicit exception of ‘supplies intended strictly for medical purposes, and, in humanitarian circumstances, foodstuffs’. However, every single item Iraq sought to import, including food and medicine, had to be approved by the ‘661 Committee’, created for this purpose and staffed by diplomats from the 15 members of the Security Council. The committee met in secret and published scarcely any record of its proceedings.

Thanks to the demise of the Soviet Union, the US now dominated the UN, using it to provide a cloak of legitimacy for its unilateral actions.

The 661 Committee’s stated purpose was to review and authorise exceptions to the sanctions, but as Gordon explains, its actual function was to deny the import of even the most innocuous items on the grounds that they might, conceivably, be used in the production of weapons of mass destruction. An ingenious provision allowed any committee member to put any item for which clearance had been requested on hold. So, while other members, even a majority, might wish to speed goods to Iraq, the US and its ever willing British partner could and did block whatever they chose on the flimsiest of excuses. ...

Thus in the early 1990s the United States blocked, among other items, salt, water pipes, children’s bikes, materials used to make nappies, equipment to process powdered milk and fabric to make clothes. The list would later be expanded to include switches, sockets, window frames, ceramic tiles and paint.

In 1991 American representatives forcefully argued against permitting Iraq to import powdered milk on the grounds that it did not fulfil a humanitarian need.

Later, the diplomats dutifully argued that an order for child vaccines, deemed ‘suspicious’ by weapons experts in Washington, should be denied.Throughout the period of sanctions, the United States frustrated Iraq’s attempts to import pumps needed in the plants treating water from the Tigris, which had become an open sewer thanks to the destruction of treatment plants.

Chlorine, vital for treating a contaminated water supply, was banned on the grounds that it could be used as a chemical weapon. The consequences of all this were visible in paediatric wards. Every year the number of children who died before they reached their first birthday rose, from one in 30 in 1990 to one in eight seven years later. Health specialists agreed that contaminated water was responsible: children were especially susceptible to the gastroenteritis and cholera caused by dirty water.

All very terrible, of course. But what about the UN "Oil for Food" program that was eventually set up to provide a trickle of goods into Iraq in exchange for some of those coveted energy resources?

As Cockburn notes, while the "invisible war" of sanctions that killed half a million children is now simply a non-event in the American consciousness, the Oil for Food "scandal" -- Saddam gaming the system to enrich himself while his people suffered -- still looms large for the apologists for the 2003 war of aggression. This, they say, was the real scandal, not all those dead babies.

Under the terms of the programme, much of the money was immediately siphoned off [by the US-led blockaders] to settle what critics called Kuwait’s ‘implausibly high’ claims for compensation for damage from the 1990 invasion and to pay for the Unscom inspections and other UN administrative costs in Iraq.

Although the arrangement did permit some improvement in living standards, there was no fundamental change: the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan reported in November 1997 that despite the programme, 31 per cent of children under five still suffered from malnutrition, supplies of safe water and medicine were ‘grossly inadequate’ and the health infrastructure suffered from ‘exceptionally serious deterioration’.

It was possible for the Iraqis to wring some pecuniary advantage from the Oil for Food programme by extracting kickbacks from the oil traders whom it favoured with allocations, as well as from companies, such as wheat traders, from which it bought supplies.

In 2004, as Iraq disintegrated, the ‘Oil for Food scandal’ was ballyhooed in the US press as ‘the largest rip-off in history’. Congress, which had maintained a near total silence during the years of sanctions, now erupted with denunciations of the fallen dictator’s fraud and deception, which, with alleged UN complicity, had supposedly been the direct cause of so many deaths.

Gordon puts all this in context. ‘Under the Oil for Food programme, the Iraqi government skimmed about 10 per cent from import contracts and for a brief time received illicit payments from oil sales. The two combined amounted to about $2 billion … By contrast, in [the first] 14 months of occupation [after the 2003 invasion], the US-led occupation authority depleted $18 billion in funds’ – money earned from the sale of oil, most of which disappeared with little or no accounting and no discernible return to the Iraqi people.

Saddam may have lavished millions on marble palaces (largely jerry-built, as their subsequent US military occupants discovered) but his greed paled in comparison to that of his successors.

As we have noted here often before, the Americans and British leaders who imposed the killing sanctions knew very well, for many years, that Iraq had no WMD at all -- or even any WMD development programs. They knew that by the time of the 2003 invasion, these WMD programmes (which had once been supported with secret cash, credits and "dual-use technology" by none other than George Herbert Walker Bush) had been mothballed for 12 years. I was talking about this, in print, back in 2003 -- even Newsweek was reporting on it, just weeks before the war! -- but, merely being the truth, there was really no place for the story in the American political mind, or the national memory.

So Cockburn and Gordon do us good service by detailing the story again. They also add one of the most damning aspects of the story: the frantic efforts by Bill Clinton -- yes, the good old "Big Dawg" of our modern progressives -- to suppress the truth and keep the murderous sanctions, and the drive toward war, going strong:

The economic strangulation of Iraq was justified on the basis of Saddam’s supposed possession of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Year after year, UN inspectors combed Iraq in search of evidence that these WMD existed. But after 1991, the first year of inspections, when the infrastructure of Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme was detected and destroyed, along with missiles and an extensive arsenal of chemical weapons, nothing more was ever found. Given Saddam’s record of denying the existence of his nuclear project (his chemical arsenal was well known; he had used it extensively in the Iran-Iraq war, with US approval) the inspectors had strong grounds for suspicion, at least until August 1995.

That was when Hussein Kamel, Saddam’s son-in-law and the former overseer of his weapons programmes, suddenly defected to Jordan, where he was debriefed by the CIA, MI6 and Unscom. In those interviews he made it perfectly clear that the entire stock of WMD had been destroyed in 1991, a confession that his interlocutors, including the UN inspectors, took great pains to conceal from the outside world.

Nevertheless, by early 1997 Rolf Ekeus had concluded, as he told me many years later, that he must report to the Security Council that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and was therefore in compliance with the Council’s resolutions, barring a few points. He felt bound to recommend that the sanctions should be lifted. Reports of his intentions threw the Clinton administration into a panic. The end of sanctions would lay Clinton open to Republican attacks for letting Saddam off the hook. The problem was solved, Ekeus explained to me, by getting Madeleine Albright, newly installed as secretary of state, to declare in a public address on 26 March 1997 that ‘we do not agree with the nations who argue that, if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted.’

The predictable result was that Saddam saw little further point in co-operating with the inspectors. This provoked an escalating series of confrontations between the Unscom team and Iraqi security officials, ending in the expulsion of the inspectors, claims that Saddam was ‘refusing to disarm’, and, ultimately, war.

There you have it. Clinton did not want the sanctions to end; he did not want to stop throwing the bodies of dead children on the stinking slagheap. As always, when one supposed "benchmark" has been met -- in this case, the elimination of WMD and WMD programs -- the rules are simply changed.

We see this too with Iran. Obama puts forth what is purported to be a major "diplomatic" solution to have Iran ship its nuclear fuel to Brazil and Turkey for processing. This was, of course, a hollow gesture, meant to show how intransigent and untrustworthy Iran really is; the nuke-hungry mullahs would naturally reject the deal. But when Iran made an agreement with Brazil to do exactly what Obama requested, this was immediately denounced -- by Obama -- as .... a demonstration of how intransigent and untrustworthy Iran really is.

Meet a benchmark, and the masters simply change the rules. That's how it works until they get what they want: regime change in strategic lands laden with natural resources.

Cockburn points out another effect of sanctions that is almost always overlooked:
Denis Halliday, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq who resigned in 1998 in protest at what he called the ‘genocidal’ sanctions regime, described at that time its more insidious effects on Iraqi society. An entire generation of young people had grown up in isolation from the outside world.

He compared them, ominously, to the orphans of the Russian war in Afghanistan who later formed the Taliban. ‘What should be of concern is the possibility at least of more fundamentalist Islamic thinking developing,’ Halliday warned. ‘It is not well understood as a possible spin-off of the sanctions regime. We are pushing people to take extreme positions.’

This was the society US and British armies confronted in 2003: impoverished, extremist and angry. As they count the losses they have sustained from roadside bombs and suicide attacks, the West should think carefully before once again deploying the ‘perfect instrument’ of a blockade.

But of course, as we've often noted here, this seems to be exactly what they want: a steady supply of extremists who can be relied upon to keep stoking the profitable fires of Terror War: flames which in turn feed the monstrous engines of the War Machine and its Security offshoot -- both of which long ago devoured the remnants of the American republic, and are now metastasizing with dizzying speed, almost beyond human comprehension.

Dead children. Thousands of dead children. The mountain, the slagheap gets higher and higher. And still the people sleep ....

mercredi 21 juillet 2010

OCHA : Aid agencies worried by lack of humanitarian funding for Iraq and its consequences for the Iraqi people

Aid agencies worried by lack of humanitarian funding for Iraq and its consequences for the Iraqi people
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

July 20, 2010

Six months after launching the 2010 Iraq Humanitarian Action Plan (IHAP), many of Iraq's humanitarian needs remain unaddressed and the lack of donor funding towards the IHAP means that much needed UN and NGO assistance has been unable to reach vulnerable Iraqis.

During last week's launch of the IHAP Mid Year Review in Geneva, it was revealed that only 12 percent of new funding has been received from donors to Iraq. This lack of funding (only $22.3 million received out of the $187.7 million required) has real consequences for the most vulnerable within the Iraqi population.

"Food distributions to 800,000 pregnant and nursing women and malnourished children have had to be suspended," said WFP's Representative for Iraq, Edward Kallon. "Food distribution to 960,000 school-going children has also been suspended."

The livelihoods of 500,000 drought affected people in Suleymaniyah and Dahuk governorates are threatened and some have started to become displaced.

The plan to support 22,500 vulnerable IDP families with emergency shelter provision compliant with Sphere standards will now have to be suspended. Thousands of households will therefore be left to continue living in desperate shelter conditions, unable to be protected from often severe climatic conditions and vulnerable to sickness through inadequate water and sanitation provision.

At the beginning of 2010, eight UN agencies, seven NGOs and IOM developed the Iraq Humanitarian Action Plan (IHAP) to address the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable people in Iraq.

"We appeal to donors not to give up on their commitment to the Iraqi people and to help pave the way for Iraq's future development," urged Christine McNab, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

To view the full Mid Year Review of the Iraq Humanitarian Action Plan 2010, please visit:
257762005A8F18/$FILE/IRAQ%20HAP_MYR_2010.doc ...

For further information, please call:

Richard Guerra, OCHA-Iraq, +962 6 553 4971 Ext. 1332, mobile +962 79 770 60 11, ;

OCHA press releases are available at

Iraqi Turkmens commemorate the 51st anniversary of the 1959 Kerkuk Massacre

In this photo from left to right: Dr. Hasan Aydinli, Mr. Ersat Salihi and Mr. Hasan Turan

18th July 2010
Beverwijk, The Netherlands

Please see:

ITF E.U. representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli visits Mr. Mohammed Al-Doreky, Ambassador of Iraq to the Kingdom of Belgium

On 17th June 2010 Dr. Hassan AYDINLI, ITF EU Representative and Mrs. Merry FITZGERALD of Europe-Iraqi Turkmens Friendships Association, paid a visit to his Excellency Mr. Mohammed AL-DOREKY, Ambassador of Iraq to the Kingdom of Belgium.

The purpose of Dr. AYDINLI’s visit was to update the Ambassador on the situation of the Turkmens in Iraq and to inform him about their claims and expectations.

Dr. Hassan AYDINLI presented several books to the Ambassador, namely:

- Mr. Erşat HÜRMÜZLÜ’s book : “The Turkmen Reality in Iraq”

- Mr. Suphi SAATCI’s book: “Kirkuk”

- Mr. Maher Al-NAQIB’s book: “Kerkuk”

The Ambassador showed great interest in these books and thanked ITF Representative for updating him regarding the situation of the Turkmens and Kerkuk.

The Iraqi Turkmen Front celebrates its 15th year, by Hasan Kanbolat


4th May 2010

The Iraqi Turkmen Front celebrates its 15th year, by Hasan Kanbolat

The Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITC) is celebrating its 15th year. The ITC, which heads the political struggle of Iraqi Turkmen, has succeeded in emerging and standing tall in the Turkmen community, which has a very recent history vis-a-vis a political struggle in Iraq.

It has also succeeded in steering clear of factional and ethnic conflict in Iraq. The ITC maintains its political existence through peaceful means in the Iraqi Parliament. For this reason, I would like to congratulate the chairman of the ITC, Sadettin Ergeç; Turkey representative Sadun Köprülü; UK representative Sundus Abbas; Germany representative Ganim Osman; Belgium representative Hasan Aydınlı; Syria representative Suphi Nazım Tevfik; and North America representative Asıf Serttürkmen, and everyone else involved in this project.

The ITC has succeeded in what many political organizations in Iraq have not been able to do and remained standing throughout all three elections. It participated in two elections that took place in 2005 and emerged from the Jan. 30, 2005 elections, which it entered as the Iraq Turkmen Front under the leadership of the ITC, with 93,408 votes, securing three seats.

During the Dec. 15, 2005 elections, the ITC, which entered the elections alone outside of Mosul, garnered 87,993 votes and one seat. And through the coalition it formed with the Iraqi Accord Front in Mosul, secured two deputies.

During the 2010 elections, the ITC’s coalition formed with the Al-Iraqiya List won it 127,989 votes and five seats. The ITC also cleared the way for female politicians in Iraq, which is a male-dominated society. To this end, female ITC candidates Jala Naftaji and Müdriki Ahmet won seats as deputies following the March 7, 2010 elections.

The ITC was established on April 24, 1995. The first headquarters was located in Arbil. The Arbil-centered ITC had 17 offices, one television and one radio station. In the Third Turkmen General Assembly, which took place in 2003, the ITC headquarters were moved from Arbil to Kirkuk. Then in 2005, all of the ITC’s offices in Arbil were seized.

The founding chairman of the ITC was Turhan Ketene. Sinan Çelebi (the current minister of industry and trade in the regional administration of northern Iraq) in 1996 and Vedat Arslan (the former minister of industry and trade in of the regional government in northern Iraq), then Sanan Ahmet Kasap, also known as Sanan Ahmet Ağa, in 2000 and Faruk Abdullah in 2003 followed suit as the ITC chairman. Since 2005, the role of the ITC chairman has been held by Ergeç.

The decisions made by the ITC are reached during conventions held every other year, which have more recently been held every third year. This is also where the ITC chairman is elected. It is during these conventions that the Turkmen National Parliament’s 71 members are elected. The ITC has six foreign offices located in Turkey, England, Germany, Belgium, Syria and North America. Furthermore, located in Iraq, it has over 100 communication offices in cities such as Baghdad, Mosul, Salahaddin, Diyala, Wasit, Arbil, Sulaymaniyah and Duhok.

The ITC organization is made up of the chairman, executive council, the Turkmen Parliament, regional directorates, administrative and finance chambers, public relations office, health chamber, education and culture chamber, non-governmental organization, information chamber, political chamber, security chamber, foreign relation chamber and elections chamber.
It can be said that the ITC, in terms of its organizational structure and purpose of establishment, functions as a supra-party structure, responding to all of the needs of the Turkmen through its services. In this context, the ITC provides educational, cultural, social and economic aid, health services and supports other Turkmen civil and political organizations.

The ITC is one of the pillars in the democratization of Iraq. The organization, which has been an exemplary formation for Turkmen of the Middle East, is necessary for Iraq and the Middle East at large.

04 May 2010, Tuesday;jsessionid=3D5431B1FDBB0DFF34AC925345E07F0C?haberno=209212

samedi 17 juillet 2010

IRAQ: Seeping sewage hits Fallujah residents’ health


that's America's legacy to Iraq

Iraq: Seeping sewage hits Falluah resident's health

BAGHDAD, 14 July 2010 (IRIN) - The city of Fallujah, about 60km west of Baghdad, still has no functioning sewage system: Waste pours onto the streets and seeps into drinking water supplies.

The city’s infrastructure was in ruins after two fierce battles between US forces and Sunni militants in 2004. In a bid to garner local support for the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, US officials pledged to build a sewage treatment plant at a cost of US$35 million.

Work began in July 2004 and was supposed to be completed in 18 months, but continuing violence, design changes and the replacement of incompetent contractors delayed the project and costs ballooned to over $100 million.

Six years on and with US forces preparing to withdraw from Iraq next month, not a single house is connected to the system. The US army has decided to hand over the partially finished project to a local contractor with the promise of providing the necessary funding to complete it.

"The project is in its final stages and is expected to be handed over by the end of this year," Sheikh Hameed al-Alwan, head of Fallujah local council, told IRIN. "But unfortunately the plant will work only partially as its backbone, which is the main pipeline that sends all the waste to the main processing unit, will not be constructed because of the lack of funds."

Without this vital pipeline, the plant will serve only a fraction of the city’s 580,000 residents, al-Alwan said, adding that the worst affected would be those in suburban areas. “Our only hope is that the Americans can secure the money to complete it, especially after the Iraqi government has said it does not have enough to allocate to it.”

Foul smells

Foul-smelling sewage has run through the rutted and pockmarked streets of Fallujah for more than three years. Residents currently depend on underground septic tanks which are in many cases leaking waste onto the streets from where it eventually ends up in the River Euphrates, a main drinking water source for Fallujah and other downstream cities.

Abdul-Sattar Kadhum al-Nawaf, director of Fallujah general hospital, said the sewage problem had taken its toll on residents’ health. They were increasingly affected by diarrhoea, tuberculosis, typhoid and other communicable diseases.

Al-Nawaf said that although he did not have specific numbers, 10-15 percent of patients at his hospital had water or sewage-related diseases.

Experts say the Fallujah plant is just one of many abandoned, incomplete or hastily finished projects around the country.

Anbar-based analyst Khudhair Jassim Ali, who lectures at the university, said that a lack of funds, corruption and a lack of cooperation between the government and companies working on projects have delayed badly needed infrastructure projects.

"The government should follow up with these projects to take over from those parties that will leave Iraq, whether US forces or NGOs. It should fill the gap.”



Thomas: Our initial reaction to this flotilla massacre — deliberate massacre, an international crime — was pitiful. What do you mean you regret something that should be so strongly condemned, and if any other nation in the world had done it, we would have been up in arms?
What is this sacrosanct ironclad relationship where a country that deliberately kills people and boycotts — and we aid and abet the boycott?

The fact that no other journalist even thought of questioning the US relationship to Israel and to wonder what their reaction would have been had this been perpetrated by any other nation shows how biased and bought the mainstream media has become.

mardi 13 juillet 2010

Flashback: Human Shields founder and former US Marine Ken O'Keefe BBC Hardtalk Jan. 2003

Ken O'Keefe faced Tim Sebastian in a classic Hardtalk in which he predicted virtually all that would happen in Iraq two months before the invasion/occupation. He discusses renouncing his US citizenship, Hawaii, Saddam Hussein, US terrorism, US taxes and US & British criminality in general.

samedi 10 juillet 2010

Temperatures soar to 51 centigrade in Baghdad as electricity supplies worsen

By Fatima Kamal

Azzaman, July 10, 2010

Temperatures in Baghdad hit 51 centigrade in the shade on Saturday and the heat wave is forecast to continue for a few more days, Iraqi meteorologist Mahmoud Latif said.

“This the temperate we have in the shade,” the meteorologists add. “We are one centigrade above the middle boiling point and in the shade.”

Temperatures will certainly break the 51-centigrade barrier, unprecedented in Baghdad’s scorching heat, outside shaded areas.

The heat wave comes amid reports of fresh attacks targeting high-voltage pylons in several areas in the country. At least six such pylons have been destroyed, according to Adel Hameed of the Ministry of Electricity.

Hameed said the ministry has mobilized its resources to repair the damage and that two pylons have already been reconstructed.

Meantime, the health authorities advise Iraqis not to walk under the sun unprotected.

“We advise the citizens not stay under the sun for long periods of time and try to drink as much fluids as possible,” Dr. Karima Mousa said.

vendredi 9 juillet 2010

Le nouveau mystère de Halabja

Par Gilles Munier

Sur France-Irak Actualité :

Bien que le massacre de Halabja ait été pendant plus d’une décennie un thème de propagande anti-Saddam Hussein, le procès de l’affaire s’est tenu en catimini (1), si bien que personne ne sait réellement ce qui s’est vraiment passé les 17 et 18 mars 1988, dates de la bataille. En 2005, l’arrestation, puis la libération, maquillée en évasion, de Tarik al-Azzaoui, accusé d’être le pilote ayant gazé le village kurde, sont curieusement passées inaperçues en Occident.

Pilote sur Mig 21 et Mirage F1 au début de la guerre Iran-Irak, Al-Azzaoui qui se déclare « Turcoman d’origine arabe », rejette l’accusation (2). Gravement blessé en décembre 1984, lors de l’éjection de son appareil en feu, il ne pouvait plus voler sur avions de chasse et poursuivait sa carrière comme instructeur. Son carnet de vol ne comporte pas de mention de mission les jours de la bataille. Il passait donc le week-end en famille et affirme n’avoir entendu parler du gazage qu’en 1991 pendant la courte occupation de Kirkouk par les peshmergas.

Après la chute de Bagdad, Al-Azzaoui assurait la maintenance de la base aérienne de Kirkouk pour le compte de la Compagnie Parsons. C’est là que, le 3 février 2005, un capitaine américain le livra à l’Asayish, agence de renseignement kurde. Mis au secret à la prison Gushti, à Soulimaniya, dans une cellule de 90 cm sur 190, torturé des jours durant sans que personne ne lui présente de preuve de ce dont on l’accusait, il finit par signer la confession réclamée. Non seulement les juges du « Haut Tribunal irakien » refusèrent d’enregistrer que ses aveux avaient été obtenus sous la torture, mais ils le menacèrent de nouveaux interrogatoires musclés s’il niait les faits dont on l’accusait, et l’obligèrent à déclarer qu’il ne voulait pas d’avocat.

Le 28 octobre 2007, Seif al-Din Ali Ahmed, directeur de l’Asayish à Soulimaniya, l’informa que le Président Talabani le libérait, mais refusa de lui délivrer un document attestant de son innocence. En décembre, la rumeur courant qu’il s’était évadé et qu’on le recherchait, il quitta l’Irak avec sa famille. Malgré la publication sur le site kurde Avene, en avril 2009, de la lettre ordonnant sa libération (3), il s’estime en danger. Réfugié en Europe, Tarik al-Azzaoui veut bien témoigner devant un tribunal international, mais à condition de ne pas être ensuite extradé en Irak. Il sait qu’au Kurdistan, son cas fait polémique : le Goran, scission de l’UPK, parti de Talabani, affirme que ce dernier a négocié sa libération avec des parlementaires arabes en échange de sa réélection à la présidence de la République.

Note :
(1) Lire : Halabja, procès en catimini, par Gilles Munier
(2) An interview with combat pilot who is wanted for genocide in Halabja (PDF)
(3) Copie de la lettre adressée par Jalal Talabani au directeur de l’Asayish à Soulimaniya

Paru dans Afrique Asie – juillet 2010

mardi 6 juillet 2010

Iraqi Kurdistan: Girls and Women Suffer the Consequences of Female Genital Mutilation

© 2009 Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch
Related Materials:
“They Took Me and Told Me Nothing”
Q&A on Female Genital Mutilation
Questions and Answers on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Iraqi Kurdistan

FGM violates women’s and children’s rights, including their rights to life, health, and bodily integrity. It’s time for the regional government to step up to the plate and take concrete actions to eliminate this harmful practice because it simply won’t go away on its own.

Nadya Khalife, Middle East women’s rights researcher
Kurdistan Regional Government Should Outlaw the Practice

June 16, 2010
(Arbil) - A significant number of girls and women in Iraqi Kurdistan suffer female genital mutilation (FGM) and its destructive after-effects, Human Rights Watch said today in a new report. The Kurdistan Regional Government should take immediate action to end FGM and develop a long term plan for its eradication, including passing a law to ban the practice, Human Rights Watch said.

The 73-page report, "‘They Took Me and Told Me Nothing': Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan," documents the experiences of young girls and women who undergo FGM against a backdrop of conflicting messages from some religious leaders and healthcare professionals about the practice's legitimacy and safety. The report describes the pain and fear that girls and young women experience when they are cut, and the terrible toll that it takes on their physical and emotional health. It says the regional government has been unwilling to prohibit FGM, despite its readiness to address other forms of gender-based violence, including domestic violence and so-called honor killings.
"FGM violates women's and children's rights, including their rights to life, health, and bodily integrity," said Nadya Khalife, Middle East women's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. "It's time for the regional government to step up to the plate and take concrete actions to eliminate this harmful practice because it simply won't go away on its own."

Human Rights Watch researchers conducted interviews during May and June 2009, with 31 girls and women in four villages of northern Iraq and in the town of Halabja. Researchers also interviewed Muslim clerics, midwives, healthcare workers, and government officials. Local nongovernmental organizations say that FGM may also be practiced among other communities in the rest of Iraq, but there are no data on its prevalence outside the Kurdish region.

The prevalence of FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan is not fully known as the government does not routinely collect information on the practice. However, research conducted by local organizations indicates that the practice is widespread and affects a significant number of girls and women.

The evidence obtained by Human Rights Watch suggests that for many girls and women in Iraqi Kurdistan, FGM is an unavoidable procedure that they undergo sometimes between the ages of 3 and 12. In some cases documented by Human Rights Watch, societal pressures also led adult women to undergo the procedure, sometimes as a precondition of marriage.

Human Rights Watch met Gola, a 17-year-old student from the village of Plangan. Gola told Human Rights Watch, "I remember my mother and her sister-in-law took us two girls, and there were four other girls. We went to Sarkapkan for the procedure. They put us in the bathroom, held our legs open, and cut something. They did it one by one with no anesthetics. I was afraid, but endured the pain. I have lots of pain in this specific area they cut when I menstruate."

Young girls and women described how their mothers had taken them to the home of the village midwife, a non-licensed practitioner. They were almost never told in advance what was going to happen to them. When they arrived, the midwife, sometimes with the help of the mother, spread the girl's legs and cut her clitoris with a razor blade. Often, the midwife used the same razor to cut several girls in succession.

Doctors in Iraqi Kurdistan told Human Rights Watch that the most common type of FGM believed to be practiced there is partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or prepuce, also known as clitoridectomy. Health care workers said that an even more invasive procedure was sometimes performed on adult women in hospitals. The practice serves no medical purpose and can lead to serious physical and emotional consequences.

The previous regional government took some steps to address FGM, including a 2007 Justice Ministry decree, supposedly binding on all police precincts, that perpetrators of FGM should be arrested and punished. However, the existence of the decree is not widely known, and Human Rights Watch found no evidence that it has ever been enforced.

In 2008, the majority of members of the Kurdistan National Assembly (KNA) supported the introduction of a law banning FGM, but the bill was never enacted into law and its status is unknown. In early 2009, the Health Ministry developed a comprehensive anti-FGM strategy in collaboration with a nongovernmental organization. But the ministry later withdrew its support and halted efforts to combat FGM. A public awareness campaign about FGM and its consequences has also been inexplicably delayed.

The new government, elected in July 2009, has taken no steps to eradicate the practice.

The origins of FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan are unclear. Some girls and women interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they were told that it is rooted in a belief that anything they touch is haram, or unclean, until they go through this painful procedure, while others said that FGM was a traditional custom. Most women referred to FGM as an Islamic sunnah, an action taken to strengthen one's religion that is not obligatory.

The association of FGM with Islam has been rejected by many Muslim scholars and theologians, who say that FGM is not prescribed in the Quran and is contradictory to the teachings of Islam. Women and girls interviewed said they had received mixed messages from clerics about whether it was a religious obligation. Clerics interviewed said that when any practice interpreted as sunnah endangers people's lives, it is the duty of the clerics to stop it.
Health care workers interviewed gave mixed responses both about their concerns about the harm FGM causes and about their obligation to raise awareness about the dangers of FGM.

Two studies have been conducted recently to try to determine the prevalence of the practice. In January 2009, the former Human Rights Ministry conducted a study in the Chamchamal district with a sample of 521 students ages 11 to 24. It found that 40.7 percent of the sample had undergone the procedure - 23 percent of girls under age13, and 45 percent of those ages 14 and older.

In 2010, the Association for Crisis Assistance and Development Co-operation (WADI), a German-Iraqi human rights nongovernmental organization, published the results of a study conducted between September 2007 and May 2008 in the provinces of Arbil and Sulaimaniya, and the Germian/Kirkuk region. Interviews with 1,408 women and girls ages 14 and over found that 72.7 percent had undergone the procedure - 77.9 percent in Sulaimaniya, 81.2 percent in Germian, and 63 percent in Arbil.

The wider age range of girls and women interviewed may account in part for the higher overall percentages. The percentage was 57 percent for those ages 14 to 18 in this study.

Human Rights Watch called on the regional authorities to develop a long-term plan that involves government, health care workers, clerics, and communities in efforts to eradicate the practice. The strategy should include a law to ban FGM for children and non-consenting adult women; awareness raising programs on the health consequences of FGM; and the mainstreaming of FGM prevention into policies and programs for reproductive health, education, and literacy development.

The government also should work closely with communities and people of influence in those communities to encourage debate about the practice among men, women, and children, including awareness and understanding of the human rights of girls and women, Human Rights Watch said.

"The government not only needs to take action to end this practice, but to work for public affirmation of a new standard - not mutilating their girls," Khalife said.

"FGM is a complex issue, but its harm to girls and women is clear," Khalife said. "Eradicating it in Iraqi Kurdistan will require strong and dedicated leadership on the part of the regional government, including a clear message that FGM will no longer be tolerated."

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dimanche 4 juillet 2010

The chairman of the Israel Corporation Idan Ofer visited Iraqi Kurdistan

Idan Offer
Photo by Motti Kimche

June 25, 2010

SULAIMANIYAH, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Idan Ofer, the chairman of the Israel Corporation, visited Sulaimaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan a month ago - reports the French Jewish website JSS and Intelligence Online. JSS revealed that Ofer, accompanied by six businessmen, flew from an unidentified European city on May 27 to meet with senior Kurdistani officials, including Vice President Kosrat Rasul Ali and Prime Minister Barham Salih. The visit was to show support for the Kurdish people and help develop economic ties between Kurdistan and Israel.

Ofer is interested in investing in developing oil installations in Kirkuk, reported JSS, as well as building refineries in conjunction with European and Asian partners. Kurdish officials view worsening Turkish-Israeli ties as an opportunity to strengthen their relations with Israel.

Ofer's spokesman said he does not comment on Ofer's schedule or private affairs.- Idan Ofer Chairman since 1999. Prior to being elected Chairman of Israel Corp., Mr. Ofer spent a total of 15 years in Hong Kong, Singapore and the US where he was active in the shipping and offshore oil storage industries. Mr. Ofer serves as Chairman of Better Place and director of numerous Ofer Group companies. He is also engaged in a variety of venture capital and energy projects. Mr. Ofer holds a BA from Haifa University in Economics and Shipping and studied at the London School of Business where since 1999 he holds a Fellowship.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, haaretz com israelcorp com

Kurdish separatism is a threat to the future of the Middle East


Turkey is one of the few democratic countries in the Middle East. With the advent of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, Turkey made major improvements on human rights and democratization.

Turks and Kurds in Turkey have benefited from the consolidation of democracy in the Middle East. The recent rise of terrorist attacks by the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Turkish military and civilian targets carries major risks of destabilizing the region. There are several domestic, regional and international reasons for the recurrence and the timing of these events.
Who is the PKK and what does it demand? The PKK is an acronym for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Kurdish. It was founded by Ankara-trained Abdullah Öcalan in 1978 and began to use terrorist attacks in 1984 for the first time. It aspires to establish an independent Kurdish state based on communist ideology in the area comprising parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Financially it relies on illegal drug and human trafficking between Iran and Europe.

The early 1990s were the most troublesome period for PKK terrorism due to its internal struggles and instability in Turkey as well as the negative international situation. This was because the PKK movement found fertile ground in northern Iraq after the First Gulf War because Saddam Hussein’s forces were kept out of the north and the two other major Iraqi groups were fighting each other.
On the one hand, Hafez al-Assad’s Syria was supporting the PKK to pressure Turkey on border and water issues. It almost sparked a war between the two countries. However, subsequent events resulted in the capturing of PKK leader Öcalan by Turkey in 1999. It was a major blow to the PKK, which the US, the EU and Turkey consider a terrorist organization.

Unlike before, the AK Party improved Turkey’s human rights record and democratic standards. This also helped the Kurds with the opening of a Kurdish TV channel and Kurdish departments at universities. However, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s effort was hampered by Turkish and Kurdish nationalists both adopting a hard-line stance. The major nationalist party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), rejected any bargain or dialogue, fearing that these concessions might lead to the dismemberment of the country. Similarly, Kurdish activists rejected the improvement of ethnic rights without involving Öcalan.

As it often happens, radicals of any kind do not like a middle ground. The continuing terrorist attacks create an emotional environment which results in any democratic initiative being framed as leeway for terrorism. Despite the fact that the Constitution bans any ethnic-based or religious-based parties, the ethnic Kurds had space for themselves within the democratic discourse. However, the political wing, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), of the Kurdish movement did not distance itself from the PKK and terrorism. Therefore, the BDP accepted nothing less than the unimaginable release of PKK leader Öcalan.

BDP limiting itself
Not distancing themselves from violence also limits the BDP’s popularity even among Kurds as it won about 15 percent of the Kurdish vote since most Kurds still vote for the AK Party. In other words, the Kurdish region is the main battleground for the separatist PKK and the pro-integration AK Party. While the former wants a further division in the already divided Middle East, the latter seeks integration within the country and with its neighbors, including Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Iraq and its Kurdish region are considered for such regional integration. The separatist Kurds, not all of them of course, want to dismantle the current Turkish, Iranian, Syrian and Iraqi territories and establish a communist Kurdish state in their place.

The foundation of a Kurdish state is an impossible project, but it is sufficient to create problems in the region. Such a state has no chance of survival, as Kurdish leaders of northern Iraq (e.g., Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani) have realized, but they continue to play the PKK card for an increased role in Iraq. In recent months their relations with Turkey have improved significantly, but they have to put more pressure on the PKK that is stationed in northern Iraq. Frequent terrorist attacks help hard-liners and make a peaceful solution impossible in addition to poisoning relations with neighbors.

Because of the escalation of terrorism in Turkey, Erdoğan’s AK Party may lose its majority in the upcoming elections next year. The sole alternative would be a coalition between the conservative nationalist MHP and the secular nationalist CHP. Their nationalist policies may alienate the moderate Kurds and even escalate ethnic tension, spreading to Iraq and destabilizing the whole region. Because the PKK is positioned in the mountainous north, the rise of terrorist attacks can force Turkey to turn to Iraq.

The escalation of terrorism and ethnic conflict in Turkey would create a big mess in the conflict-torn Middle East. The West must put more pressure on radical Kurdish activists operating in European cities by cutting the financial and human support they provide to the PKK. Similarly, the US must put more pressure on Kurdish leaders Barzani and Talabani not to allow the PKK unhindered operation in northern Iraq.

Like the Egyptian president who convinced al-Assad not to host the PKK leader in 1999, Arab governments can help Turkey overcome this terrorism by standing by the people of Turkey. Otherwise, the peaceful and rational Turkish experience led by the AK Party in the region will leave the ground for a nationalist government that might destabilize Iraq and damage relations with Kurds, Arabs and the West. Conflicts all around the greater Middle East can hurt and damage even the most stable countries in the globalized world.
*Ahmet Uysal is an associate professor at Eskişehir Osmangazi University’s department of international relations.

02 July 2010, Friday

samedi 3 juillet 2010

Article 140 Returns to the Iraqi Political Agenda

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 30 June 2010 1:34

Amid an increasing number of meetings between State of Law and Iraqiyya, it is interesting that there is increasing debate about the stance of the two sides on an issue that could potentially unite them: Article 140 of the constitution relating to so-called “disputed territories”, including most importantly Kirkuk.

Some of this discussion has reflected continued disappointment among Iraqi nationalists about what was perceived as a “soft” (i.e. pro-Kurdish) stance by the State of Law alliance (SLA) headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki during the debate on the election law last autumn, when their failure to argue for more robust measures against perceived Kurdish heavy-handedness in controlling the elections in Kirkuk was seen as a reversion to the “old politics” of 2005-2007 with Shiites and Kurds united in an ethno-sectarian alliance against Sunnis. However, there are now also growing signs of another – and opposite – trend within State of Law: Attempts to reassure voters that there will be no “sell-out” as far as Kirkuk is concerned, which is pretty much what many Iraqiyya politicians also demand.

One example of this is Sadiq al-Kaabi of State of Law, who recently told reporters that SLA would rather be in the opposition than do a bargain on 140. Kaabi, who currently has a leading position at the new Najaf airport, has an interesting background: Like many in Daawa, he spent long years in exile, but instead of staying in Iran, he completed his education in Cairo and Beirut, thus clearly preferring the environment of the Arab world. In the 1990s he lived in Syria (also like Nuri al-Maliki).

There is nothing new in this. After all, divisions within the old all-Shiite alliance precisely on issues like 140 and Kirkuk were instrumental in bringing about its demise, with Fadila and Sadrists joining Iraqiyya and Hiwar in the 22 July front, and with Maliki adopting many items on the 22 July agenda when he eventually chose to challenge the more pro-Kurdish ISCI in the January 2009 local elections. But it is interesting that these issues should come to the forefront again at this particular time, after de-Baathification had threatened to kill any prospects of the kind of inter-sectarian alliances based on Iraqi nationalism that were seen in 2008 and 2009.

Zionist Pirates - by Latuff