vendredi 19 juin 2015

We are being forced out of Syria: Turkmen leader

We are being forced out of Syria: Turkmen leader

Uğur Ergan - ANKARA


The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is working on a “secret plan” to rid the Syrian-Turkish border of Turkmens, said Ershad Salihi, a leading figure of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) during an interview with Hürriyet. 

“Tel Abyad is a Turkmen region in Syria. First, ISIL was placed here. Turkmens were forced to live under ISIL. Then, using ISIL as a pretext, these places are being handed over to Kurds, with Turkmens being forced out of their homeland,” he said.  “It is certain that this is part of a project to found a Kurdish state in the region,” he added. A similar thing is happening in Iraq’s Telafer, the Turkmen leader said, adding that he would not be surprised if Kurdish forces would attack the Iraqi city, which is under ISIL control, and Turkmens there would also be forced to migrate. “We live in concern,” he said asking for financial support to show their power to the central government in Baghdad.  

“We call on Turkmen business people in Turkey and other countries to support Turkmens in the region,” he said. 

His remarks came after the YPG, joined by some Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces and backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, drew ISIL from the key border town of Tel Abyad, triggering a new wave of refugees.

lundi 15 juin 2015

Ethnic cleansing charged as Kurds move on Islamic State town in Syria

Ethnic cleansing charged as Kurds move on Islamic State town in Syria


McClatchy Foreign StaffJune 13, 2015

Several members of the extended family of Jomah Ahmed, a member of the al Baggara tribe, share a small house a few kilometers from Akcakale, Turkey, after fleeing their home village of Al Fwaida. They were photographed on June 12, 2015. ALICE MARTINS — McClatchy

AKCAKALE, TURKEY — After receiving a crush of 13,000 Syrian refugees in less than a week, Turkey on Saturday closed a key border crossing to Syria and complained that a combined U.S.-Kurdish offensive against the Islamic State was driving Arabs and Turkmens out of Syria.

With Kurdish forces reported closing on Islamic State-controlled Tal Abyad, the Syrian town across from Akcakale, Turkey, the apparently successful offensive against the extremists has laid bare the clash of intereststhat has vexed the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State in Syria.

On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in one of first public appearances since his party lost its majority in parliamentary elections, accused “the West” of killing Arabs and Turkmens in Syria, and replacing them with Kurdish militia affiliated with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK by its initials in Kurdish.

“The West, which has shot Arabs and Turkmens, is unfortunately placing the PYD and PKK in lieu of them,” Erdogan said.

The PYD, or Democratic Union Party, is a Syrian Kurdish political party affiliated with the PKK, which has been declared a terrorist group by both Turkey and the United States. The PYD’s armed wing, the People’s Protection Unit, or YPG, is credited, along with an intensive U.S. bombing campaign, with holding off the Islamic State at Kobani after a four-month siege.

Arabs and Turkmen who’ve fled Syria use more caustic terms to condemn the Kurdish offensive, which also is backed by U.S. airstrikes. They charge that YPG militias have stolen their homes and livestock, burned their personal documents and claimed the land as theirs.

“They forced us from our village and said to us ‘this is Rojava’,” the term the YPG uses to describe a swath of territory it claims across northern Syria, said Jomah Ahmed, 35, a member of the al Baggara tribe. He arrived from the village of al Fwaida with dozens of members of his extended family before Turkey closed the border.

“They said ‘Go to the al Badiya desert, go to Tadmur, where you belong’.” Tadmur, captured last month by the Islamic State, is more than 100 miles to the southeast of Tal Abyad.

Tal Abyad won fame in recent months as one of the most important crossing between Turkey and the Islamic State, which is also referred to as ISIL and ISIS.

It was at Tal Abyad that Hayat Boumedienne, the wife of the shooter who killed four Jews in a Paris grocery in January, disappeared after fleeing France. It was also the place where the Islamic State delivered 46 Turkish diplomats and three Iraqi employees that its fighters had taken hostage during the capture of Mosul in Iraq a year ago.

Akcakale (pronounced ak-CHAK-ah-lee) and the surrounding area has become a key transit point for those seeking to join the Islamic State, despite claims by Turkish officials that they are trying to stanch the flow.

But the push on Tal Abyad by Kurdish forces with U.S. assistance is exacerbating long held ethnic resentments. Kurdish residents of northern Syria have long accused the government in Damascus of taking their land to accommodate Arab settlers. As long as two years ago, Kurdish activists who took power when the government of President Bashar Assad withdrew vowed to push the Arabs out.

Non-Kurdish Syrians say that campaign is now under way. They say that the Kurds are trying to create an autonomous state in northern Syria and that the United States is helping.

“They told us ‘We have been here 20,000 years. You came only recently from the desert. Go back to your desert,’ ” said Ibrahim al Khider, an Arab prince who leads a tribe of 16,000 in Deir el Zour province.

Equally bitter, Tarik Sulo, the spokesman for the Syrian Turkmen community in northern Syria, said the U.S. bombing support and the YPG ground forces “are changing the demography of the area in an ethnic cleansing.” He said Turkmen, an ethnic Turkish minority in Syria, “are losing lands where they have been living for centuries.”

The YPG captured two Turkmen villages on Thursday out of 20 with a total populaton of more than 40,000. On Saturday, its forces were reported to have advanced to the outskirts of Tal Abyad.

During in interview in Ankara, Sulo showed a McClatchy special correspondent a photograph now circulating on social media that shows uniformed YPG fighters forcing an Arab captive to kiss the YPG flag.

The Syrian Opposition Coalition, the exile grouping the United States once recognized as the leading anti-Assad political force, also has accused the YPG of “violations against civilians” in Syria’s Hasaka province. It said these included systematic displacement of civilians, compulsory military service for young residents, and kidnapping civilians “to spread terror among the population.”

The criticism by Arabs, Turkmens and the Syrian opposition points to the tactical nature of the U.S.-directed offensive in Syria. The U.S. has rejected working with moderate anti-Assad rebels and has begun training Syrians for a new force whose principal mission would be confronting the Islamic State.

In the meantime, it has found the YPG to be a willing partner whose success in fighting off the Islamic State at Kobani has become a model of sorts for combat operations in northeastern Syria.

But the U.S.-YPG alliance has triggered harsh criticism from those who say it shows little regard for the politics and history of the region or the sensitivities of NATO ally Turkey, which objected last year when the United States dropped weapons and ammunition to YPG fighters at Kobani.

It also has led to allegations that, with no U.S. troops on the ground to monitor developments, the YPG, which has its own political agenda, has been using the offensive to push an anti-Arab campaign. Local residents have accused the YPG of intentionally misleading American commanders about conditions at the Syrian town of Bir Mahalli in late April. A U.S. airstrike there may have killed more than 50 civilians, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

The U.S. Central Command is looking into the allegations that the U.S. is unintentionally furthering ethnic cleansing.

“As a matter of course, we neither condone any form of ethnic cleansing nor would we willingly support any such activity,” Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, a Centcom spokesman, said Friday. “But we take any such allegations seriously and will look into them.”

He said U.S. and other airstrikes in Syria are intended to help operations in Iraq. He called them “shaping operations, meant to degrade ISIL’s resources and effectiveness, limit their freedom of maneuver and buy Iraqi forces additional time and space to regenerate their combat capability.”

Shrfan Darwish, a YPG spokesman in Kobani, denied that the militia was conducting “ethnic cleansing.” He said Kurds in Kobani gave a warm reception to Arabs who’d fled Tal Abyad after the Islamic State captured the town a year ago.

Serdar Mullah Darwish, a Kurdish journalist in Hasaka province who is not related to Shrfan, told McClatchy that Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State had been joined by some moderate rebels and some Arab tribal forces.

But he said most residents had left the area because of the fighting and implied that Arabs who stayed in Tal Abyad had supported the Islamic State.

“When Kurds fled the city in the summer of 2013, no one said this was the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds, despite the fact that all the fighters in the Islamic State were Arabs,” he said.

But refugees who’ve fled to mainly Arab Akcakale just across the border from Tal Abyad tell a different story.

Ahmed, the al Baggara tribal member from al Fwaida, said Kurdish forces arrested and beat him for two days and invited him to join them in the battle against the Islamic State. When he refused, they expelled him and his family from his village.

But the Salman al Fayyad family, a 14-member extended family, was allowed to stay when they agreed to join the YPG, he said. If the border were open, tens of thousands more would leave, said Abdulhamid al Jasem, 25, Ahmed’s cousin.

The situation is made more complex by the acknowledgment that some residents took part in Islamic State activities when their villages were captured.

“Many of our sons got involved with the Islamic State,” said Abu Khaled, 63, who arrived at Akcakale with his five sons and several dozen grandchildren. “Some joined Quran sessions, and others took up weapons.”

A top rebel military official said
 that if the YPG expulsions continue – some estimates put the number at 40,000 in Hasaka alone – they will become a recruiting tool for Islamic State.

“Until now we don’t know what the coalition wants. Does it intend to fight ISIS or empower ISIS?” said Gen. Ahmed Berri, the deputy chief of staff of moderate rebel forces, using an alternative name of the Islamic State.


Read more here:

samedi 13 juin 2015

Pissed Off Turkmen Want Their Town Back - Iraq’s Shia Turkmen militia counterattack in Bashir

Pissed Off Turkmen Want Their Town Back

Iraq’s Shia Turkmen militia counterattack in Bashir


An Iraqi Turkmen militiaman stands on a black Ford F250 Super Duty and stares off into the distance. Above there’s the hazy midday sun. In front of him, there’s the front line in the war with Islamic State.

Three Islamic State fighters approach the front line — a sandy berm stretching into the distance on either side of the miltiaman’s position. IS is notorious for using teams of suicide bombers, so the Turkmen fighter cannotallow them to get close.

Reaching toward the truck’s mounted KPV 14.5-millimeter heavy machine gun, he racks back the cocking handle, swivels the weapon toward no-man’s land and fires three short bursts.

The militants scatter back the way they came.

It’s early April and beyond the earthen berm, less than a mile away, is the Islamic State-held town of Bashir. The town sits around 10 miles southwest of Kirkuk.

The fighters occupying the front line here are mainly Shia Turkmen from the local area working as part of Iraq’s predominantly Popular Mobilization Forces — also known as the Hashd Shaabi.

In a few days, they will carry out another attack to retake the town.

At top — a Shia Turkmen fighter of the Martyr Sadr Force stands on the roof of his unit’s base near Kirkuk. Above — a Badr Organisation position at the front line outside Bashir. Matt Cetti-Roberts photos

The Turkmen are one of Iraq’s largest minority groups, descended from various waves of migration dating back to the 7th century. Although they inhabit areas across central Iraq, many lived in villages to the south of Kirkuk before Islamic State came.

Bashir is widely considered the heart of the Iraqi Turkmen community. They once constituted 40 percent of its population.

But in 2014, Islamic State swept through Iraq. In June, Bashir fell. Iraqi army troops based at the nearby K-1 Airbase fled, and left their weapons and vehicles behind. The Kurdish Peshmerga rushed in to fill the security vacuum in and around oil-rich Kirkuk.
One of the Iraqi army troops who fled is now back. Maj. Abdul Hussein Abass sits behind a desk inside a base for the Hash Shaabi’s Martyr Sadr Force.

Shia religious flags fly from the roofs of the base’s buildings. “When ISIS took Bashir, 23 people were killed, including women and children,” Abdul says — while surrounded by Turkmen Shia fighters.

“I am from Bashir originally,” Abdul, who is Turkman Shia himself, says. “It’s my neighborhood, so I joined the fight. I am a military man.”

“We are here to protect our land, especially Turkman Shia, [but] we don’t have racism,” Abdul says. “We are all here. There aren’t many of us so we have to work together. Ten Sunni guys joined, we never say no.”

The badge-adorned load carrying vest of a Turkmen Martyr Sadr Force fighter. Matt Cetti-Roberts photo

Abdul says that improvised explosive devices — or IEDs — are a major obstacle to retaking the town.

“When we say we will take Bashir, the fighters move and don’t think there are bombs,” Abdul says. “They are all thinking of the fatwa, it is inside their brain pushing them to this kind of work.”

After his unit evaporated during the Islamic State advance last year, he moved to the Kurdish capital of Erbil and registered to join Unit 16 — the Turkmen Hashd Shaabi formation that covers the area from Tuz Khumartu to Kirkuk.

From there, he helped liberate the besieged Turkmen town of Amerli in September 2014.
A Shia Turkmen fighter of the Martyr Sadr Force stands beneath a portrait of Muhammad Baqir Al Sadr, a Shia cleric executed in 1980 by the Ba’athists, at the unit’s base near Kirkuk. Matt Cetti-Roberts photo

On June 29, 2014, Abdul took part in the first attack on Bashir, where 26 Turkmen died. He tells us that the fighters were not organized properly — unlike now under the Hashd Shaabi.

But this isn’t the first time Bashir’s residents were forced from their homes.

In 1986, Saddam Hussein’s Arabization policy displaced the town’s Turkmen. The plan was to bring in loyal Sunni tribes to areas where minority groups who opposed the regime flourished.

“I remember I was in the sixth grade, I didn’t pass that year of school,” Abdul recalls. “They [the Iraqi army] said the sewage pipes didn’t work so we couldn’t stay in Bashir — then they gave it to to the Sunni Arabs.”

When American forces invaded in 2003, the Turkmen returned from exile to reclaim their homes. Fighting between returning Turkmen and Sunni Arabs eventually saw Saddam’s emigres forcibly ejected.

Many Sunnis remained in the outlying villages and some joined Islamic State. “Whoever was working with ISIS of course can’t come back home [and] has to go to prison, we have names and intelligence of these people,” Abdul adds.

“We are from this land and trying to protect this land. We are trying to defend Bashir, because it is our land, our property,” he says, explaining why only the Shia Turkmen are trying to liberate the town.

He also doesn’t see Unit 16 having a role in any future liberation of Mosul — a majority Sunni city. He believes former residents of the city should be involved in the operation instead.

A militia flag. Matt Cetti-Roberts


Colorful flags of Iraq’s powerful Shia forces flutter along the front line. On the walls of the Martyr Sadr Force’s base are pictures of Muhammad Baqir Al Sadr, a Shia cleric executed in 1980 by Saddam’s Ba’athist regime.

But the Shia militias’ sectarian nature has provoked fears of retribution attacks against Sunnis. Iraq’s mainly Shia Popular Mobilization Forces were brought together by a fatwa — a religious call to arms — by Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani.

In 2014, Iraq’s then-Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki authorized the miitias’ deployment and gave them official backing. The militias have since been at the forefront of victories over Islamic State, beating them back in Diyala province and parts of Salahaddin.
But human rights groups have accused Shia fighters of carrying out sectarian attacks against Sunnis — looting homes, setting property on fire and carrying out executions.

There’s even been recurring friction between the Hashd Shaabi and the Peshmerga, such as Tuz Kharmato. Recent reports emerged that the Peshmerga told 80 members of the Saraya Tali’a Al Khurasani militia to leave Jalawla. In January 2015, the Shia told the Peshmerga to leave.

Abdul denies any problems with his unit. “The media says that Hashd Shaabi murders and loots,” he says. “We took Jedadyah [a village close to Bashir] back and didn’t take anything, but ISIS took everything from there.”

Although his group didn’t loot the town, he says, another unit he won’t name tried, and he sent them away. “I won’t let you take anything from that village, go to get permission from the governor,” he claims he told them.

Two Turkmen fighters of the Badr Organisation ride a motorbike along the front line near Bashir. Matt Cetti-Roberts photo

Shaker Hassan Ali, a Turkman spokesperson for the Hashd Shaabi’s Badr Organization based in their Kirkuk offices has a … different take. He says that Islamic State dressed up as Popular Mobilization Troops and carried out looting as a form of disinformation.

“A man with Hashd Shaabi hasn’t seen his family, he is not going back to take things, he is going to fight and be a martyr — he’s not there to steal,” Ali says.

The Iraqi Shia Badr Organization is one of Iraq’s most powerful paramilitary groups. Originally set up in 1982 and — at that time — led by Iranian officers, they were accused of sectarian killings during the 2006–07 Iraqi civil war.

They now operate under the umbrella of the Hashd Shaabi. Shaker says they have around 5,000 fighters in the Kirkuk area and — he claims — even have Christians and Sunni among them.

“If there had been no fatwa in Iraq it would have been a bad situation,” Shakar says as he sits in a large hall in the Badr’s offices. Today, the organization is having a ceremony to remember one of their colonels who died fighting in Tikrit.

In the dim hall lit by fluorescent tubes, two portraits of a man wearing a uniform photoshopped onto an Iraqi flag sit on a table. His name was Qassim Avaf, a fighter who died in the Turkmen’s first attack on Bashir in June 2014.

The militia found his body in no-man’s land.

Two portraits of Qassim Avaf, a fighter who was killed in the first attack on Bashir in June 2014, are seen on a table in the Kirkuk offices of the Badr Organisation. Matt Cetti-Roberts photo

Another attack

Back at the front line, a group of fighters stand together. Another fighter named Abbas, an officer in charge of around 100 Turkmen, stands with a shotgun over his shoulder.

“Three were injured by mortars,” he says, referring to an Islamic State barrage earlier that day. “Since the first attack on Bashir, 64 fighters have been killed and 103 injured.”

Abbas points to his faith as one reason why he joined the Badr Organisation. But he says he wants to take back the town because it belongs to the Turkmen. “We will fight side-by-side to retake the town ourselves, but we need any help we can get, it’s just us on this front line.”

There haven’t been coalition air strikes on this part of the front line, and in Abbas’ opinion, the U.S.-led coalition only supports the Kurdish Peshmerga. The Badr Organization is one of several groups that the coalition does not support with air strikes because of their sectarian agenda, according to a senior coalition forces officer.

So why hasn’t the Hashd Shaabi taken back the town? Abbas replies frankly that there are too many IEDs.

Shia Turkmen fighters, Abbas at left and Abu Mikhail at right, on the front line close to Bashir. Matt Cetti-Roberts photo

Another fighter, 24-year-old Abu Mikhail, left Bashir nine months ago when the town fell to Islamic State. A former carpenter, he joined the Badr Organization the same month.

“The call of fatwa made us join,” he says. “I fight first for faith, then for my country, and also for my brother who died fighting here to get Bashir back.” A few days after our interview, Abu Mikhail was killed when Islamic State detonated a large car bomb during the Turkmen’s attack on Bashir.

Nearly mile behind the Hashd Shaabi is another berm manned by Kurdish troops armed with ancient Soviet tanks and MTLB armored personnel carriers armed with 14.5-millimeter ZPU anti-aircraft guns.

Capt. Hider Sulaiman is a Peshmerga platoon commander. He stands near a T-62 tank.

The flag of Kurdistan flies from the top of a Kurdish Peshmerga T-62 tank based at a support weapons line around a kilometer behind the Bashir front line. Matt Cetti-Roberts photo

“We work together on this front line,” Hider says.

He adds that both his unit — affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party — and the Badr Organization communicate and work well together.

The presence of the KDP troops working with the Hashd Shaabi may be related to problems between the Popular Mobilization Forces and Peshmerga forces loyal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan — the political party that most of the units in this area belong to.

The Peshmerga are not here to take the village, but to support the Shia Turkmen fighters with heavier weaponry such as artillery. The village is Turkmen, so the job of taking it falls to the Hashd Shaabi.

Hider suggests that there may be as few as 50–60 Islamic State left in the town, and half of them could be snipers.

The militants in the town also use mortars to harass the Hashd Shaabi. “This morning they fired mortars. There is no pattern to their firing,” Hider explains. “Sometimes they shell at 2:00 a.m., sometimes 3:00 a.m., sometimes in the evening.”

Flags bearing names of those killed during the June 2014 attack on Bashir are seen on a wall in the nearby town of Taza. Matt Cetti-Roberts photo

The next attack would take place two days later. The fourth such assault on the town saw 400 Turkmen from all over Brigade 16 — bolstered by other Popular Mobilization forces from the rest of Iraq — attempt to reclaim the Turkmen town.

They failed.

IEDs caused the attack to stall and many — if not all — of the Islamic State insurgents were wearing suicide vests. The militants also drove a large car bomb at the attackers, causing multiple casualties.

The front line is now closer to Bashir, 30 meters in some places, but the town still remains in Islamic State hands.

Note: The article by Dr. Hassan Aydinli, Iraqi Turkmen Front EU Representative, about BASHEER has been posted on the European Parliament's website:

vendredi 5 juin 2015


The humanitarian crisis in Iraq deserves more attention and more support than it is receiving. Millions of people are in trouble, struggling to cope with displacement and the horrors inflicted by combatants during one of the most brutal insurgencies in the world.
Time is running out for Iraq.

Mass displacement and mounting needs
Today, over 8.2 million people in Iraq require immediate humanitarian support as a direct consequence of violence and conflict linked to the take-over of territory by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the counter-insurgency operation launched by the Government and its allied forces.
Since January 2014, 2.9 million people have fled their homes in three mass waves of displacement, and multiple smaller ones.
Displaced families have found safety in villages, towns and cities throughout the country, welcomed generously by communities and supported by the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government.
A nation under threat
The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is a protection crisis above all else. Populations have been subjected to mass executions, systematic rape and horrendous acts of violence. Children have been used as suicide bombers and human shields. Women and girls have been enslaved and subjected to terrible sexual violence.
Civilians who have remained in ISIL areas are at risk of reprisal by combatants as they retake territory from ISIL.
The crisis is impacting virtually all aspects of Iraq’s economy and society, and threatening the major efforts underway to build national reconciliation.
Displaced persons are currently living in more than 3,000 locations throughout the country; more than 90 per cent are living outside of camps, hosted by communities who have done their best to protect and provide for them.
Half of all displaced need urgent shelter support; 700,000 are surviving in unfinished and abandoned buildings, makeshift collective centres and spontaneous settlements.
Health providers are struggling to deliver basic support in areas with high concentrations of displaced people. Water and sanitation systems are in disrepair, increasing the risk of major public health emergencies.
Destitution is widespread, impacting displaced families and host communities alike. Production and supply shortages and localized increases in demand have forced up the cost of basic commodities, including food. At least 4.4 million people are now food insecure.
The most vulnerable pay the highest price
Children are the hardest-hit victims of the conflict, traumatised by violence and destitution, exposed to abuse, suffering from inadequate health care and at risk of poor nutrition. Almost 3 million children and adolescents affected by the conflict do not have access to basic education.
Families are eager to return to their communities but cannot do so without support. They find their communities destroyed, infrastructure and property wrecked and markets abandoned. Booby-trapped buildings and IED-contaminated roads are an additional hazard.
The Government has provided mass relief in the form of cash grants, health and education support, shelter and food, but is faced, for the first time in decades, with a massive fiscal gap resulting from the slump in oil prices and the high costs of the ISIL counterinsurgency.
The immediate humanitarian outlook
Humanitarian needs in Iraq are staggering. Country-wide assessments show that 8.2 million Iraqis, nearly 25 percent of the population, require some form of humanitarian assistance through the end of December 2015.
Nearly 8 million people need protection assistance. Close to 6.7 million require access to essential health services. Of the 7.1 million people requiring water, sanitation and hygiene assistance across the country, 4.1 million are in critical need, their situation likely to become increasingly desperate in the summer months.
The humanitarian partners’ response
Humanitarian partners have played a major role, complementing the support provided by the Government, community groups, religious endowments and the Iraqi people.
Partners have provided food to two million people each month, helped families survive the winter and helped to build 12 formal IDP camps and 30 collective centres.
Health services have reached millions and 5.3 million children have been vaccinated against polio. Emergency cash assistance has been disbursed to tens of thousands of displaced vulnerable people and emergency livelihoods support has kept many Iraqis and host communities from falling into destitution.
Thousands of life-saving kits have been distributed through the Rapid Response Mechanism, reaching people within 48 hours of their displacement.
Schools have been rehabilitated, temporary learning spaces constructed and hundreds of teachers trained.
Aid is being delivered in a more effective and coordinated manner under a contingency plan focusing on those truly in need and whom the Government’s own services cannot reach.
But these efforts are quickly running out of money. Less than 40 per cent of funding required for the 2014-15 Iraq humanitarian response has been received.
Without an immediate injection of funds, more than half of the humanitarian operation will shut down or be curtailed in coming months. Frontline health services have begun shutting down. Water programs and protection activities are also under threat.
2015 Iraq Humanitarian Response Plan
The 2015 Humanitarian Response Plan is an appeal for nearly $500 million USD to cover basic life-saving support over the next six critical months. The response will target the most vulnerable with essential, life-saving support.
The Iraqi Government will pay its share. The entire emergency response has been developed with clear intent to transition from external humanitarian assistance to eventual management by the Government as soon as financially and logistically feasible.
The operation’s five strategic objectives reflect the complex realities humanitarian partners face in Iraq and have been adopted in full recognition of the limits of humanitarian action in a context of volatile all-out armed conflict, extreme restrictions on access, deep-running political divisions and the Government’s paralyzing fiscal gap.
In prioritizing the aims of the operation, the Humanitarian Country Team is privileging the role of protection, recognizing its moral responsibility to maintain assistance to people dependent on aid to survive, elevating the imperative to reach people, even in areas outside Government control, insisting on the need for principled returns and aiming at a realistic exit strategy.

please see:

Video of the Extraordinary Joint Meeting at the EU Parliament : LAUNCH OF THE 2015 IRAQ HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE PLAN

Committee AFET/DEVE - meeting 04/06/2015


Iraq on the brink of humanitarian disaster due to surging conflict and massive funding shortfall warns UN

Photos: taken by Merry Fitzgerald at the Extraordinary Joint Meeting at the EU Parliament on 4th June 2015.
Iraq on the brink of humanitarian disaster due to surging conflict and massive funding shortfall warns UN
10 million people expected to be in need by the end of 2015 
BRUSSELS, 4 June, 2015 – Vital aid operations supporting millions of people affected by the conflict in Iraq risk closure unless funds are made available immediately, the official overseeing humanitarian operations in the country said today. 

With escalating conflict, the United Nations and its NGO partners are asking donors for US$ 497 million to cover the cost of providing shelter, food, water and other life-saving services over the coming six months. The appeal will target communities across broad swathes of the country displaced or affected by the violence between Government forces and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Speaking at the appeal launch at the European Parliament in Brussels, the United Nation’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Ms. Lise Grande said the aid operation was hanging by a thread.

“The crisis in Iraq is one of the most complex and volatile anywhere in the world,” she said. “Humanitarian partners have been doing everything they can to help. But more than 50 per cent of the operation will be shut down or cut back if money is not received immediately”.

The implications of this, Ms. Grande added, would be “catastrophic.”

The humanitarian needs in Iraq are huge and growing. More than 8 million people require immediate life-saving support, a number that could reach 10 million by the end of 2015. 

Violence has already forced nearly 3 million people from their homes, leaving them scattered in more than 3,000 locations across the country. Human rights and rule of law are under constant assault as sectarian tensions sharpen. Mass executions, systematic rape and horrendous acts of violence are rampant.

So serious is the funding shortfall that 77 frontline health clinics have been forced to close and food rations for over 1 million people have been reduced. Without additional funding, many more life-saving services will be withdrawn. 
"The international community must do its absolute utmost to meet the humanitarian needs in Iraq. Along with the life-saving assistance, there is a critical need to focus on access to education, as a way to help save this generation of children marked by conflict and violence," said Chair of European Parliament’s Development Committee Ms. Linda McAvan.

The aid operation is run in close partnership with the Iraqi Government, whose own financial resources have been severely reduced by falling income from oil. Responsibility for the aid operation will transfer to national authorities as soon as financially and logistically feasible. 

"By hosting this event the European Parliament would like to pay tribute to the key role humanitarian aid plays in guaranteeing the security and political stability of Iraq and keeping the country together. We cannot forget that many European countries hold responsibility for the situation in Iraq, so any amount of humanitarian aid is justified in order to guarantee the viability of the state,” said Mr. Javier Couso Permuy, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

mardi 2 juin 2015

Syrian Turkmens left defenseless thanks to Gülenist cruelty

Syrian Turkmens left defenseless thanks to Gülenist cruelty

İlnur Çevik

For years we have been listening to accusations that Turkey has not supported the Turkmens of Iraq and Syria. In the 1990s and early 2000s that was true because past governments as well as the incoming Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government in 2002 had no control over Iraq and it was up to the powerful Turkish military to chart and execute policies regarding Iraq in general, and northern Iraq in particular. So the military rulers of Turkey who worked behind the scenes played a game of intrigue with Iraq's Turkmens rather than helping them in earnest. They had their own Turkmens and thus created divisions among the Turkmen community in Irbil and Kirkuk. They did not leave the Turkmens to set up their own political organizations and run them independent of Ankara. On the contrary, they intervened so much so that a handful of Turkmens who were courted by Ankara receive benefits and others were alienated.

Turkey did not do its homework properly on the Turkmens of Iraq and ended up usually on the losing for the Turkmens as a whole, both Sunni and Shiite. Once the military domination of Turkey's policies regarding Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq ended and the administration of then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gained full control on the Turkish state file of Iraq, especially after 2007 things started to change. Ankara improved its ties with Barzani, but due to past mistakes, could only make minimal headway with the Turkmens. Turkey, through the hard work of Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was then the chief advisor and trouble shooter of Erdoğan while he was prime minister, made inroads in northern Iraq, used the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) more effectively and started to get a better grasp of the situation in the region. Turkey improved ties with Sunni and Shiite Arabs and Kurdish and Turkmen tribes, especially in northern Iraq.

All this proved an asset when Turkey managed to save the employees of its Mosul consulate who were held hostage by the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) through high diplomacy and with the help of Sunni Arab tribes. Then the crisis in Syria erupted, but by then Turkey had better knowledge of the demography of the area as well as the strong tribes that made a difference. Turkey realized that it had to help the Turkmens in Syria, but even then it was too slow to react. However, when Turkey realized the growing menace of the extremist ISIS hordes invading chunks of Syria and butchering people the country took effective countering steps to help the Turkmens. It had already made contacts with the Turkmens through MİT and decided to send equipment to them to help defend themselves both against ISIS and President Bashar Assad's forces. It was also a tactical move to counter the growing influence of the Kurdish militants in the region.

But no one in Ankara dreamed that the Gülen Movement, which by then had fallen at odds with the Erdoğan administration, would take steps that bordered on treason to halt the equipment aid through its network of prosecutors and security personnel. On January 19, 2014, prosecutors and security personnel loyal to Gülen halted the TIR trucks carrying equipment to Syrian Turkmens and tried to defame the government by spreading news that the trucks were carrying weapons for ISIS and that Erdoğan was helping the bloodthirsty ISIS militants. The personnel in the trucks were made to lie on the ground and were about to be taken into custody when local officials intervened and halted the Gülenist operation that amounted to a mini-coup.

Since then the prosecutors and security personnel who undertook this awful act are under investigation and some are in custody. But a few days ago the news was once again rehashed and presented to the public by the left-wing daily Cumhuriyet as it printed photographs of the MİT's trucks and reported that arms were hidden under boxes of medical supplies. The opposition has every right to question the aims and intentions of the government. But no one has the right to play into the hands of Turkey's enemies and moreover deny the right to innocent Turkmens to defend themselves against the ISIS hordes. That goes for the Gülen Movement and for some sections of the Turkish media. Since January 2014, Turkey has been hard-pressed in its efforts to help Syrian Turkmens because of the ongoing controversy, and therefore ISIS has been wreaking havoc in Turkmen areas. Some people deserve the medal of treason. Guess who.