organization:iraqi government

  • A New Era Beckons for Iraqi-Saudi Relations

    Iraq is witnessing a rare moment of confidence. The defeat of the Islamic State in the country, along with the Iraqi government’s proactive measures to prevent conflict from erupting over territorial claims by separatist Kurds, has helped Iraq start to pull itself out of the abyss. An important but frequently overlooked subplot of this story is that Iraqi-Saudi ties are warmer than they have been in three decades — the partial result of a U.S. policy gambit.

    The recent thaw in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq marks a key policy change. The United States and Saudi Arabia see the need for a strong Iraq to counter Iran’s expansionism and to bring a semblance of stability to a conflict-prone region. America’s policy towards Iraq now relies heavily on forging a strong Saudi-Iraqi partnership, which relieves the U.S. government from having to fund Iraq’s rebuilding. America’s new approach envisages closer security and economic cooperation between Iraq and its Gulf neighbors, working together to reverse the destructive sectarianism of the past few years. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has capitalized on this change, turning it into an opportunity to seek regional support to address his country’s urgent reconstruction needs.

    For war-ravaged Iraq, Saudi Arabia’s engagement bodes well. Iraqi leaders believe the relationship could lead to much-needed aid to rebuild its war-devastated provinces and stabilize Sunni-dominated areas of the country. Saudi Arabia, for its part, may share some of these goals, but its long-term vision is to fundamentally shift Iraqi politics away from being dominated by Iran. If rapprochement focuses on long-term partnership rather than merely diplomatic tête-à-tête, a new Saudi-Iraq relationship could fundamentally transform the region. Revitalized relations could strengthen the prosperity of both countries and help bring Iraq closer to its Arab kith with a view toward building a new security and economic environment in Iraq and the Northern Gulf. Any real change of the type envisaged by this new relationship will have to benefit ordinary Iraqis, something that could be realized by supporting Iraq’s rebuilding efforts and civil society sector.

  • Endtimes in Mosul - The Unz Review

    Nobody knows for sure how many civilians were killed in the city as a whole. For long periods, shells, rockets and bombs rained down on houses in which as many as a hundred people might be sheltering. ‘Kurdish intelligence believes that over forty thousand civilians have been killed as a result of massive firepower used against them,’ Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s former foreign minister, told me. People have disputed that figure, but bear in mind the sheer length of the siege – 267 days between 17 October 2016 and 10 July 2017 – and the amount of ordnance fired into a small area full of people. The Iraqi government ludicrously claims that more of its soldiers died than civilians, but refuses to disclose the number of military casualties and has banned the media from west Mosul. On his website Musings on Iraq, Joel Wing gives a figure of 13,106 civilian fatalities based on media and other reports, but adds that ‘the real number of casualties from the fighting in Mosul is much higher.’ The Civil Defence Force, looking only for bodies that relatives have located, is still delivering between thirty and forty of them to the city morgue every day. The UN says that out of 54 residential areas in west Mosul, 15, containing 32,000 houses, were completely destroyed; 23 areas lost half their buildings; and even in the 16 areas that were ‘lightly damaged’ some 16,000 houses are in ruins.

    All the people I was in contact with inside the IS-held part of the old city are dead. Ahmed Mohsen was wounded by a drone and then killed by an IS sniper; his mother and sister have disappeared and are presumably dead. I was also in touch with Rayan Mawloud, a 38-year-old businessman with a wife and two children who had a trading company based in a shop in one of Mosul’s markets. He came from a well-off family and his father had a fleet of trucks that used to carry goods to and from Basra and Jordan. When the attack on Mosul began, a friend of Rayan’s says that he spent his savings buying food to give not just to his relatives ‘but also to many people whom he did not know’. Rayan, knowing that his family would probably be shot by IS snipers if they tried to escape, took the opposite decision to Ahmed Mohsen and stayed with his family in their house. It was hit in an airstrike on 23 June, killing his wife and five-year-old son. He remained in the part of the house that was still habitable, but it was hit by another airstrike on 9 July. He was severely injured and died three days later.

    #Mossoul #Irak #civils #victimes_civiles

  • Iraqi government ’made a mistake’ by attacking Mosul before capturing Isis sanctuaries

    “There is no reconciliation [between Sunni and Shia],” says Mr Karim and this provides fertile ground for Isis to recruit fighters. The number of these may be growing in places like Hawija and Tal Afar west of Mosul as Isis loses ground elsewhere. He adds that “the Prime Minister [Haider al-Abadi] issues directives saying that places have been liberated and their people can go home, but nothing happens.” He suggested that the motive was “to make these areas pure” or, in other words, cleansed of Sunni Arabs who might support Isis or some similar militarised Sunni fundamentalist movement.

    #dirigeants_arabes #indigents_arabes

  • Iraq: Militias Held, Beat Villagers. Recruited Children as Fighters From Camp for Displaced People

    (Erbil) – Iraqi government-backed Hashad al-Asha’ri militias detained and beat at least 22 men from two villages near Mosul. The militias also recruited at least 10 children in a camp for displaced people as fighters against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
    #enfants #enfance #enfants-soldats #ISIS #EI #Etat_islamique #Irak #camp_de_réfugiés #IDPs #Hasansham

  • Baghdad Wall

    The Baghdad Wall is the name being given by some media outlets to a 5 km long (3 mile) wall being built by the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army around the predominantly Sunni district of Adhamiya in Baghdad, Iraq. Construction of the 3.6 m high (12 ft) concrete wall began on 10 April 2007.

    Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the senior spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq, was reportedly[1] unaware of the construction of the Baghdad wall, saying on 18 April 2007, “We have no intent to build gated communities in Baghdad. Our goal is to unify Baghdad, not subdivide it into separate [enclaves].”

    However, a news release on the same day from the Multi-National Corps-Iraq announced that “the wall [in Adhamiyah] is one of the centerpieces of a new strategy by coalition and Iraqi forces to break the cycle of sectarian violence.[2] Planners hope the creation of the wall will help restore law and order by providing a way to screen people entering and exiting the neighborhood — allowing residents and people with legitimate business in, while keeping death squads and militia groups out.”[3]

    Dawood al-Azami, acting head of the Adhamiya council, said on 21 April that construction of the wall had begun before the council had approved the American proposal: “A few days ago, we met with the U.S. army unit in charge of Adhamiya and it asked us, as a local council, to sign a document to build a wall to reduce killing and attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces. I told the soldiers that I would not sign it unless I could talk to residents first. We told residents at Friday prayers, but our local council hasn’t signed onto the project yet, and construction is already under way.”[4]

    On 22 April, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for the building work to cease. Subsequently, on 23 April, an estimated 7,000 Iraqis engaged in a peaceful demonstration against the wall, several carrying banners reading (in English) “No to the sectarian barrier.” [5]

    Following the demonstration, the U.S. military issued a statement that “the construction of the wall is under review” and that they would “coordinate with the Iraq government to establish effective appropriate security measures.” However, at a news conference later on the same day, spokesmen for the U.S. and Iraqi military stated that they had no plans to stop building temporary separation barriers, with Brigadier General Qassim Atta describing the media reports that the Iraqi Prime Minister was protesting about as “groundless.”[5]

    At the news conference, Brigadier General Atta said: “The prime minister is in agreement with the work of the security forces and the issue of security barriers. We will continue to set up these barriers in Adhamiya and other areas.” According to Atta, the barriers — which were to consist, he said, of sand barriers, trenches, barbed wire and concrete barriers constructed from moveable sections each weighing 6.3 tonnes (6.9 short tons) – would be only a temporary measure, to secure specific areas of Baghdad, and would be moved once each area was considered secure.[5]

    One wall was dismantled in Baghdad in September 2008.[6] In June 2009, the Iraqi government announced it would begin dismantling the remaining walls in Baghdad.[7]

    #Baghdad_Wall #Mur_de_Baghdad #Iraq #us_army

  • Mosul dam engineers warn it could fail at any time, killing 1m people | The Guardian

    Iraqi engineers involved in building the Mosul dam 30 years ago have warned that the risk of its imminent collapse and the consequent death toll could be even worse than reported.

    They pointed out that pressure on the dam’s compromised structure was building up rapidly as winter snows melted and more water flowed into the reservoir, bringing it up to its maximum capacity (...)

    The engineers warned that potential loss of life from a sudden catastrophic collapse of the Mosul dam could be even greater than the 500,000 officially estimated, as they said many people could die in the resulting mass panic, with a 20-metre-high flood wave hitting the city of Mosul and then rolling on down the Tigris valley through Tikrit and Samarra to Baghdad.

    One of the Iraqi engineers, now living in Europe, described as “ridiculous” the Iraqi government’s emergency policy of telling local people to move 6km (3.5 miles) from the river banks.

    #guerre #infrastructures #barrage #catastrophe_annoncée #Irak #it_has_begun

  • Iraq begins construction on #Baghdad wall

    The Iraqi government has embarked on the construction of a wall around Baghdad to protect the capital from terror attacks that have been ongoing since 2003 and to isolate it from hotbeds in the northern and western parts of the country. Sunnis object to the move, fearing the wall will deepen internal divisions.
    #Irak #murs #barrières #Bagdad
    cc @reka @albertocampiphoto @marty @daphne @clemencel

  • The Liberation Of Iraq’s Ramadi And What Comes Next

    Both the taking of Ramadi by the Islamic State and its recapture by the Iraqi forces were a long time coming. IS attacked the city for almost a year, while the operation to free it took five months. The aftermath of securing the area, re-establishing governance and services will take even longer. Despite these difficulties the liberation of Ramadi was a huge setback for the militants proving that they lack the resources to hold urban areas in Iraq, and a boost for the Iraqi government that was severely criticized for losing the city in the first place.

  • Ankara retire une partie de ses troupes stationnées près de Mossoul :

    Turkey is withdrawing some of its troops stationed at a base in Iraq, the country’s state-run news agency says.
    Anadolu quoted military officials as saying a 10- or 12-vehicle convoy had left Bashiqa camp and was moving north.
    Turkey has deployed troops near the city of Mosul, which is controlled by the jihadist group Islamic State, since 2014 to train Iraqi Kurdish forces.
    But the arrival of 150 personnel earlier this month was heavily criticised by the Iraqi government.
    Baghdad said the deployment had been carried out without consultation and violated national sovereignty and international law.
    But on Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu’s office said it had decided to reorganise its military personnel at Bashiqa following talks with Iraqi officials.
    Monday’s troop movement was part of the “new arrangement”, a Turkish military source told the Reuters news agency.
    It is unclear whether the withdrawn troops are returning to Turkey or will remain in Iraq.

  • Who’s Buying ISIS’ Oil? | Alternet
    By Vijay Prashad / CounterPunch
    December 10, 2015

    On December 2, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Anatoly Antonov made a strong statement about Turkish complicity with ISIS. The charge sheet is long and detailed. It mentions many aspects, but the most incendiary is the accusation about “ISIS oil.”

    ISIS controls Iraqi oil fields near Mosul. They have been making millions of dollars each day by selling oil from these fields. How does ISIS get the oil from the fields in Mosul to the market?

    What ISIS has done is to use the old networks that have smuggled oil from the Kurdish Regional Government without any consideration given to Baghdad’s sovereignty over that oil. This had been a point of contention for decades, since the Kurdish region began to exercise autonomous control of the north. Kurdish oil was sold to smugglers who would cart them in tankers across the border into Turkey. In Turkey the trucks would run the length of the country to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. From Ceyhan, which is a port run by the Turkish government, the oil is purchased by transporters whose ships go to Malta, where the oil is transshipped to destinations such as Ashdod (Israel). This has long been a bone of contention between the Iraqi government, the Kurdish Regional Government and the Turkish government. It was documented by Tolga Tanış in his book Potus ve Beyefendi (2015). Tanis accuses Berat Albayrak, son-in-law of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, of involvement in this illegal scheme. ISIS has merely replaced the Kurdish Regional Government in the new arrangement.

    #Pétrole #EI #ISIS

  • Poutine, âme d’airain, forêts de pins, guerre et paix | Par M.K. Bhadrakumar – Le 19 octobre 2015 – Source mkbhadarkumar | Traduit par jj, relu par Diane pour le Saker Francophone

    (...) Ma seconde considération était que la Russie a encaissé le coup du lapin de la nouvelle guerre froide et il est important d’obtenir une sensation de première main sur la façon dont il a réussi à surmonter le coup – et, enfin, à inverser la marée – de la stratégie de confinement tentée par les États-Unis. Bien sûr, il a dû sembler évident pour l’administration de Barack Obama, tout au long de l’affaire, que le projet d’isoler une grande puissance comme la Russie était voué à l’échec. Mais alors, Obama a été béni par le don de l’éloquence et a presque réussi à faire croire à un monde crédule qu’il était sérieux au sujet de l’aventure dans laquelle il se lançait. En fait, dans le processus, quelque chose a changé dans la mentalité russe. L’airain est entré dans son âme, et cela se reflète dans la conduite de la Russie sur la scène mondiale.

    Nous avons entendu tellement de lamentations américaines sur une Chine s’affirmant avec autorité. Mais nous n’avions pas encore vu à l’œuvre ce qu’est l’affirmation de soi tant que vous n’avions pas vu le retour de la Russie sur la scène mondiale. Est-ce une bonne chose ? Je pense que oui. Parce que, l’affirmation de soi de la Russie est une garantie de paix. L’équilibre stratégique mondial est extrêmement important pour maintenir la paix et seule la Russie peut fournir les bases de équilibre. Encore une fois, les règles de conduite internationale fondamentales doivent respecter le droit international et la Charte des Nations Unies. Le système international ne peut plus du tout être dominé par une superpuissance. L’insistance de la Russie sur ces règles de base introduit un mécanisme de correction bien nécessaire dans le système international d’aujourd’hui. (...)

    Putin makes his move on Syria
    M K Bhadrakumar in Sochi
    October 22, 2015 16:59 IST

    The sudden, unexpected meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Moscow late Tuesday, October 20, focused on the diplomatic push to kickstart a political process, according to prominent Russian experts here.

    As a top Russian diplomat, Ambassador Alexander Aksenyonok (who was involved in the negotiations over the Dayton Accord) told me in Sochi today, October 22, Moscow is keen on a political settlement in Syria “as early as possible — which is also our exit strategy.”

    From all accounts, the meeting in Moscow on Tuesday took place in an exceptionally warm, friendly atmosphere. Assad had come at short notice at Putin’s invitation. The two leaders held delegation- level talks as well as a restricted meeting.

    The official transcript by the Kremlin quoted Putin as saying to Assad, ’On the question of a settlement in Syria, our position is that positive results in military operations will lay the base for then working out a long-term settlement based on a political process that involves all political forces, ethnic and religious groups.’

    ’Ultimately,’ Putin added, ’it is the Syrian people alone who must have the deciding voice here. Syria is Russia’s friend and we are ready to make our contribution not only to the military operations and the fight against terrorism, but also to the political process. We would do this, of course, in close contact with the other global powers and with the countries in the region that want to see a peaceful settlement to this conflict.’


    Russia, Iran hold common views on Syria
    M K Bhadrakumar – October 23, 2015

    Sochi – It turned out to be a real treat that the speaker of the Iranian parliament who is on a visit to Russia, Ali Larijani (a key figure in the foreign and security policymaking in Tehran) flew down to Sochi from Moscow and joined President Vladimir Putin on the podium Friday evening to address the Valdai Club members and have a Q&A with us, lasting nearly three hours. Syria, Ukraine, missile defence and Russian-American relations — it could have been predicted that these would be the areas of interest for the audience, which was almost entirely western.

    The ‘hot topic’ of course was Syria, given President Bashar al-Assad’s sudden visit to Moscow on Tuesday evening. (See my column in Rediff Putin make his move on Syria.) The salience that came through is that there is no daylight possible between the Russian and Iranian positions on Syria. Whereas, speculations were rife lately in the western (and Israeli) media that Russia and Iran are not on the same page regarding the future of Syria, and that it is a matter of time before the contradictions would surface.

    Indeed, Russia and Iran are pursuing different objectives in Syria insofar as although both are waging a war against the Islamic State [IS] and other extremist groups, Tehran also has an agenda toward Syria in terms of that country being a frontline state in the so-called ‘resistance’ against Israel as well as in terms of Tehran’s nexus with the Hezbollah in Lebanon (plus of course the rivalry with Saudi Arabia.) Again, Russia would have geopolitical considerations in Syria, whereas Iran has its commitments as an Islamic republic to fulfill. Putin made the following specific points:

    – The Russian military assesses that the air strikes in Syria have already yielded some results, although they are ‘insufficient’ and it will still be desirable if ‘all countries’ could work together in the fight against the terrorist groups.
    – Russia hopes that Iran will join the FM level talks between the US, Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. There cannot be a solution on Syria without Iran’s participation.
    – The Syrian army is making progress and this will continue.
    – Moscow is not planning any extension of military operations to Iraq. At any rate, the Iraqi government has not approached Russia so far. For the present, Russia is providing arms and intelligence to Iraq within the framework of the coordination centre that has been set up in Baghdad.
    – Putin had asked Assad whether he’d be open to working with moderate rebel groups to fight the extremists; Assad promised to consider.

    Larijani said:

    – He “totally agreed” with Putin’s analysis on Syria.
    – Iran regards that the Russian military intervention in Syria is legitimate.
    – Compared to the operations against the IS for over the past year and more by the US-led coalition, the Russian operations have proved effective. In fact, Russia has achieved already “much more” than the US-led coalition ever could during the past 18 months.
    – The IS transports its Iraqi oil in trucks moving in long convoys. “Don’t the Americans see these convoys?” The US failed to liberate any IS-held territory in Iraq. It is “playing games” with the IS and is virtually “handing over” Iraqi territories to the IS.
    – The intelligence agencies of “some major powers” have secret dealings with the IS, providing them weapons and so on with a view to use them as instruments to advance their interests. (Putin also indirectly, but forcefully, alluded to this collusion between the US and the IS.) The IS gets huge financial support from regional states.
    – “Long-term strategic bonds” are needed among “responsible countries” so that trust develops amongst them to tackle terrorism.(...)

    Syrian war ends West’s dominance of Middle East
    By M K Bhadrakumar – October 26, 2015

    Three weeks and 5 days into the Russian military operations in Syria, Moscow has achieved the objective of compelling the major external players involved to rethink their established stance on the crisis. Unsurprisingly, new fault lines have appeared in Middle East politics. Last week witnessed a surge diplomatic activity to cope with the new fault lines.

    First, of course, much as the United States dislikes the Russian military role in Syria, Washington and Moscow concluded a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday regarding the ground rules guiding the aircraft of the two countries operating in the Syrian skies so that no untoward incidents occur. In political terms, Washington is coming to terms with a Russian presence in Syria for a foreseeable future. (By the way, an analysis by FT concludes that Russia can easily sustain the financial costs of the military operations in Syria.)

    This, in turn, has intensified the US-Russian diplomatic exchanges on Syria. The US Secretary of State John Kerry met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Vienna on Friday at a meeting that also included the foreign ministers of Turkey and Saudi Arabia to discuss the various approaches to bringing together the Syrian parties to peace talks.

    Kerry disclosed that the discussions may continue in a wider format (possibly including Iran, Egypt and Jordan as well) next Friday, which suggests that there was sufficient meat in the discussions in Vienna to be followed up without delay. Put differently, some sort of coordinated US-Russian moves on Syria in the coming days or weeks cannot be ruled out. (...)

    #Valdai #Larijani

    • Dans le dernier texte MK Bhadrakumar écrit :

      Meanwhile, Egypt and Jordan have edged closer to Moscow. Russia and Jordan have agreed, in fact, to set up a coordination centre to cooperate on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State. This is a signal diplomatic achievement for Moscow since Jordan has been the ‘frontline’ state from where the ‘regime change’ agenda was being pushed into Syria by the US and its allies. In effect, Jordan has pulled out of the enterprise to overthrow Assad.

      As for Egypt, it has spoken in favor of the Russian operations in Syria and has stated that the fight against terrorism ought to be the top priority, and, furthermore, that Syria’s unity and stability is of utmost concern. Egypt’s stance has displeased Saudi Arabia, which explains the hurried trip by Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir to Cairo on Sunday. It appears that Al-Jubeir could not persuade Egypt to fall in line with the Saudi approach, which continues to be fixated on the pre-requisite that Assad must be removed from power and that in any peace process that comes first.

      Ta ta ta ta L’Egypte qui se rapproche de la Russie quitte à mécontenter l’Arabie Saoudite qui doit normalement payer les deux Mistrals, commandés par la Russie, à la France....

  • Russians, Syrians and Iranians setting up military coordination cell in Baghdad | Fox News

    Russian, Syrian and Iranian military commanders have set up a coordination cell in Baghdad in recent days to try to begin working with Iranian-backed Shia militias fighting the Islamic State, Fox News has learned. 

    Western intelligence sources say the coordination cell includes low-level Russian generals. U.S. officials say it is not clear whether the Iraqi government is involved at the moment. 

    Describing the arrival of Russian military personnel in Baghdad, one senior U.S. official said, “They are popping up everywhere.

    Et donc, tout ce petit monde se coordonne à Bagdad, mais il n’est pas certain que le gouvernement irakien soit au courant.

    #c'est_celà !

  • A New Offensive Against #ISIS in #Anbar

    The Iraqi government announced on Monday that it was beginning a major military operation to retake Anbar Province from the Islamic State. While Iraqi forces have been fighting to cut off a supply route, ISIS attacked an Iraqi-held town in an apparent effort to pull Iraqi forces from #Falluja.
    #EI #Etat_islamique #Irak
    #cartographie #visualisation
    cc @reka

  • The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب : US and Iraq : a chronology

    From an alert reader: "In 2010, Iraqi government asked U.S. occupiers to leave Iraq, “Mr. Maliki: I do not care about what’s being said. I care about what’s on paper and what has been agreed to. The withdrawal of forces agreement [Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA] expires on Dec. 31, 2011. The last American soldier will leave Iraq.”

     A few months later in 2011, destabilization of Syria began, which soon spread to Iraq, “Reports were cited that MI6 had cooperated with the CIA on a “rat line” of arms transfers from Libyan stockpiles to the Syrian rebels in 2012 after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.”

    After four years of death and destruction in Syria and Iraq by the same jihadis that the west and its allies created; U.S. has now succeeded imposing on Iraqis that if they don’t obey their occupier and tormentor, then, the west and its allies will continue arm and finance jihadis for years to come. And this is what the U.S. wanted from the beginning, "The expanded footprint for U.S. troops in Anbar province was part of a strategy to set up a series of “lily pad” operations".

    #lily_pads #nénuphars

  • The #Saudis are bombing #Yemen because they fear the Shia #Houthis are working for the Iranians. The Saudis are also bombing Isis in Iraq and the Isis in #Syria. So are the United Arab Emirates. The Syrian government is bombing its enemies in Syria and the Iraqi government is also bombing its enemies in Iraq. America, France, Britain, Denmark, Holland, Australia and – believe it or not – Canada are bombing Isis in Syria and Isis in Iraq, partly on behalf of the Iraqi government (for which read Shia militias) but absolutely not on behalf of the Syrian government.
    The Jordanians and Saudis and Bahrainis are also bombing Isis in Syria and Iraq because they don’t like them, but the Jordanians are bombing Isis even more than the Saudis after their pilot-prisoner was burned to death in a cage. The #Egyptians are bombing parts of Libya because a group of Christian Egyptians had their heads chopped off by what might – notionally – be the same so-called Islamic State, as Isis refers to itself. The Iranians have acknowledged bombing Isis in Iraq – of which the Americans (but not the Iraqi government) take a rather dim view.

    that crazy little thing called.....#Love and f....

  • The Islamic State’s Baathist roots - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

    Indeed, since the IS takeover of Mosul in June 2014, many Sunni Arabs have defected from IS. Former Baathist officers and Sunni tribes that previously looked to IS as a trusted security force for Sunni Arab regions have reacted to IS brutality against Christians and minorities, as well as against key Sunni Arab groups. They are now seeking to create their own Sunni National Guard, or are cooperating with Iraqi security forces, Shiite militias and Kurdish peshmerga to expel IS from its safe havens. Still, IS remains embedded in part of the Sunni Arab community, which may not necessarily support the terrorist group but is still reticent to fight due to ongoing distrust of the Iraqi government and fear of retaliation and retribution. In fact, Sunni Arabs now regard themselves as the biggest victims of IS — stuck between a radicalized terrorist group led by some of their own and a Shiite-led government and Shiite militias they do not trust.

    Read more:

  • Militants in Iraq Siphon State Pay - WSJ

    In debating how to proceed, U.S. officials have weighed a choice with two bad options. If they intervene and try to direct the Iraqi government to stop paying certain employees so as to prevent Islamic State from stealing a portion of the money, they could prevent hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis in Mosul from receiving any pay and potentially trigger a humanitarian crisis. But if they don’t intervene, Islamic State could use the revenue to buy weapons and fortify the city against the expected siege by the U.S. and Iraqi militaries this spring.

  • Al-Azhar, Iraqi government dispute over ‘Shi’a militias’ violations’ - Daily News Egypt

    Could Sunni-Shiite Rift make Tikrit Campaign a Pyrrhic Victory? Al-Azhar and the Shiite Militias | Informed Comment

    The foremost Sunni Muslim seat of learning, al-Azhar University in Cairo, has stirred controversy by issuing a considered legal opinion (fatwa) condemning the Shiite militias or “Popular Mobilization Forces” that are now fighting alongside the Iraq army to take Tikrit back from Daesh (ISIL or ISIS).

  • #ISIS Torches #Oil Field East of #Tikrit as Iraqi Army Pushes #Mosul Offensive Forward

    Iraqi government forces and allied militias gesture as they hold the national flag in the northern part of Diyala province, bordering #Salahuddin province, as they take part in an assault to retake the city of Tikrit from jihadists of the Islamic State of #Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, on March 4, 2015. AFP/Younis al-Bayati Iraqi government forces and allied militias gesture as they hold the national flag in the northern part of Diyala province, bordering Salahuddin province, as they take part in an assault to retake the city of Tikrit from jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, on March 4, 2015. AFP/Younis al-Bayati

    Updated at 3:40 am/pm (GMT+ 2): Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants (...)

    #Ajil #al-Alam #al-Dour #Ben_Hodges #Daesh #oil_field #US-led_coalition

  • #turkey Pushing for Own ‘Popular Mobilization’ Militia in #Iraq

    Turkey is investing in the upcoming battle for the liberation of #Mosul to expand its influence in Iraq. An increasing number of credible reports indicate this course of action, in the aftermath of the operation launched by the Iraqi government to retake Tikrit (the last major stronghold for Daesh before Mosul), with support from the Iranian #Qods_Force led by General #Qassem_Soleimani.

    #Articles #ISIS #syria #Mideast_&_North_Africa

  • War with Isis: The West is wrong again in its fight against terror - Patrick Cockburn

    Underrating the strength of Isis was the third of three great mistakes made by the US and its Western allies in Syria since 2011, errors that fostered the explosive growth of Isis. Between 2011 and 2013 they were convinced that Assad would fall in much the same way as Muammar Gaddafi had in Libya. Despite repeated warnings from the Iraqi government, Washington never took on board that the continuing war in Syria would upset the balance of forces in Iraq and lead to a resumption of the civil war there. Instead they blamed everything that was going wrong in Iraq on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has a great deal to answer for but was not the root cause of Iraq’s return to war. The Sunni monarchies of the Gulf were probably not so naïve and could see that aiding jihadi rebels in Syria would spill over and weaken the Shia government in Iraq.


    But while the US, Arab monarchies, Syrian rebels and Turkey may have overplayed their hands in Syria between 2011 and 2013, last year it was the Syrian government that did the same thing by seeking a solely military solution to the war. It has never seriously tried to broaden its political base at home by credible offers to share power, relying instead on its supporters to go on fighting because they believe that anything is better than a jihadi victory. But these supporters are becoming worn out by the struggle because they see no end in sight. The government has always been short of combat troops, a weakness becoming more apparent as it calls up more reservists and diverts conscripts from entering the National Defence Force militia into the regular army. Government forces have made gains around Aleppo and Damascus, but they are losing ground south of the capital and in Idlib province.

  • Quand les États-Unis envoyaient des milliards de dollars en liquide en Irak, sans pouvoir trop justifier à quoi servait cet argent dont une importante partie a « disparu ». Investigation Into Missing Iraqi Cash Ended in Lebanon Bunker

    Mr. Bowen said that Brick Tracker, his office’s most sensitive investigation, began in 2010 when Wael el-Zein, a Lebanese-American on his staff, received a tip about stolen money hidden in Lebanon. An informant told him about the bunker, which in addition to the cash, was believed to also have held approximately $200 million in gold belonging to the Iraqi government.

    But by this time, official Washington had long since forgotten about the flights from Andrews. The C.I.A. expressed little interest in pursuing the matter, and the F.B.I. said it lacked jurisdiction, Mr. Bowen recalled. And when Mr. Bowen and his staff tried to conduct an investigation of the missing cash in Lebanon, they also met with resistance from the United States Embassy in Beirut.

    Mr. Bowen was not allowed to travel to Lebanon on official business. Two of his investigators who did travel to Lebanon were denied permission from the embassy to see the bunker themselves because it was too dangerous. When Mr. Bowen’s staff members met in Beirut with Lebanon’s prosecutor general, Said Mirza, he initially agreed to cooperate on an investigation, but later decided against it.

    Cette histoire de « bunker secret au Liban » sent vraiment le coup tordu (dans un sens ou dans l’autre). L’article ne tente à aucun moment de dire à qui pourrait appartenir ce bunker, ni même qui contrôle la zone en question, ce qui est très étrange.

    • On sait au moins où est partie une partie de l’argent en 2006,

      US in secret gun deal

      The Pentagon has secretly shipped tens of thousands of small arms from Bosnia to Iraq in the past two years, using a web of private companies, at least one of which is a noted arms smuggler blacklisted by Washington and the UN.

      According to a report by Amnesty International, which investigated the sales, the US government arranged for the delivery of at least 200,000 Kalashnikov machine guns from Bosnia to Iraq in 2004-05. But though the weaponry was said to be for arming the fledgling Iraqi military, there is no evidence of the guns reaching their recipient.

      Senior western officials in the Balkans fear that some of the guns may have fallen into the wrong hands.

      A Nato official described the trade as the largest arms shipments from Bosnia since the second world war.

      The official told Amnesty: “Nato has no way of monitoring the shipments once they leave Bosnia. There is no tracking mechanism to ensure they do not fall into the wrong hands. There are concerns that some of the weapons may have been siphoned off.”

      European administrators in Bosnia, as well as NGOs working to oversee the stockpiling and destruction of weapons from the Bosnian war of the 1990s, are furious that the Pentagon’s covert arms-to-Iraq programme has undermined the disarmament project.

      “It’s difficult to persuade people to destroy weapons when they’re all holding back and waiting for Uncle Sam to arrive with a fistful of dollars,” said Adrian Wilkinson, a former British officer overseeing a UN disarmament programme in former Yugoslavia.

      The international administration running Bosnia repeatedly sought to impose an arms export moratorium, but under US pressure it was suspended several times to enable the arms shipments to go ahead. The British government is funding a programme to destroy 250,000 small arms, a legacy of the Bosnian war, but the project is faltering because people are reluctant to surrender weapons that might mean money.

      Nato and European officials confirm there is nothing illegal about the Bosnian government or the Pentagon taking arms to Iraq; the problem is one of transparency and the way the arms deals have been conducted.

      “There are Swiss, US and UK companies involved. The deal was organised through the embassies [in Bosnia] and the military attaché offices were involved. The idea was to get the weapons out of Bosnia where they pose a threat and to Iraq where they are needed,” the Nato official said.

      Mr Wilkinson said: “The problem is we haven’t seen the end user.”

      A complex web of private firms, arms brokers and freight firms, was behind the transfer of the guns, as well as millions of rounds of ammunition, to Iraq at “bargain basement prices”, according to Hugh Griffiths, Amnesty’s investigator.

      The Moldovan air firm which flew the cargo out of a US air base at Tuzla, north-east Bosnia, was flying without a licence. The firm, Aerocom, named in a 2003 UN investigation of the diamonds-for-guns trade in Liberia and Sierra Leone, is now defunct, but its assets and aircraft are registered with another Moldovan firm, Jet Line International.

      Some of the firms used in the Pentagon sponsored deals were also engaged in illegal arms shipments from Serbia and Bosnia to Liberia and to Saddam Hussein four years ago.

      “The sale, purchase, transportation and storage of the [Bosnian] weapons has been handled entirely by a complex network of private arms brokers, freight forwarders and air cargo companies operating at times illegally and subject to little or no governmental regulation,” says the report.

      The 120-page Amnesty report, focusing on the risks from the privatisation of state-sponsored arms sales worldwide, says arms traffickers have adapted swiftly to globalisation, their prowess aided by governments and defence establishments farming out contracts.

      The US shipments were made over a year, from July 2004, via the American Eagle base at Tuzla, and the Croatian port of Ploce by the Bosnian border.

      Aerocom is said to have carried 99 tonnes of Bosnian weaponry, almost entirely Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles, in four flights from the Eagle base in August 2004, even though, under pressure from the EU, the firm had just been stripped of its operating licence by the Moldovan government because of “safety and security concerns”. Amnesty said there was no available record of the guns reaching their destination.

      Mr Griffiths contacted the coalition authorities in Baghdad, who denied all knowledge of any weapons purchases from Bosnia. The contracts are said to have been arranged by the military attache of the time, at the US embassy in Sarajevo. Bosnian documentation named “coalition forces in Iraq” as the end users for five arms shipments.

      The Amnesty report says the command force in Iraq, the coalition group training Iraqi security forces, and the overseeing US general, had claimed “not to have ... received any weapons from Bosnia,” the report says. Mr Wilkinson said: “What are the control mechanisms? How is it all verified?”

      The fate of the arms cargo appears to have been buried in the miasma of contracting and subcontracting that have characterised the deals.

      The Pentagon commissioned the US security firms Taos and CACI - which is known for its involvement in the Abu Ghraib prison controversy in Iraq - to orchestrate the arms purchases and shipments. They, in turn, subcontracted to a welter of firms, brokers, and shippers, involving businesses based in Britain, Switzerland, Croatia, Moldova, and Bosnia.

      “The [Pentagon] and its principal US contractor, Taos, appear to have no effective systems to ensure that their contractors and subcontractors do not use firms that violate UN embargos and also do not use air cargo firms for arms deliveries that have no valid air operating certificates,” Amnesty said.

      Global traffic in weapons
      A Dutch timber trader is in custody in Rotterdam awaiting trial on charges of complicity in crimes against humanity. Guus van Kouwenhoven was arrested last year, suspected of brokering the supply of large quantities of arms to Liberia from China in breach of a UN arms embargo.

      The case is the first instance of an alleged arms trader facing trial accused of war crimes on an international scale.

      For Amnesty International, the Dutch case highlights the risks emerging from the flourishing trade in largely state-sponsored arms deals where governments increasingly farm out the business to the private sector, which includes brokers, arms dealers, freight companies and shippers.

      The Amnesty study points out that 35 of the world’s wealthiest countries are responsible for at least 90% of the world’s arms trade.

      Since the end of the cold war there have been at least 50 armed conflicts worldwide, mostly in poor, “developing”, countries, while the arms supplies and money fuelling these conflicts stem largely from wealthy countries.

      National and international law is failing to keep up with the globalisation of the arms trade. Arms traffickers are prime beneficiaries of government-to-government business as military industries are increasingly “outsourced”.

      The Amnesty International UK director, Kate Allen, said: “Arms brokers and transporters have helped deliver the weapons used to commit human rights abuses all over the world. Yet only 35 states have laws to regulate brokers. Countries need to get tough ... we need an arms trade treaty to bring the whole industry under controls. The trade is out of control and costing hundreds of thousands of lives every year.”

  • Iraqi Journalist Who Embedded with Shia Militias on Fighting ISIS & Why US Strategy is Bound to Fail

    GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: ... ISIS is not one monolithic organization. The insurgency, the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, as Patrick [Cockburn] knows very well, is not one dominated by ISIS. I went to Ramadi a few times before the fall of Mosul, and let’s remember that the whole Sunni war against the central government had started back in December 2013. So, in 2014, I went to Ramadi, and Ramadi had already fell out of the control of central government. The government had a few bases inside the city, but the streets were controlled by the insurgents. Who were the insurgents? They were a coalition of Baath army officers, former generals, different groups of the insurgency, all having their grievances with the Shia-dominated government in Iraq.

    So, the war that ISIS is waging on—at least in Iraq, on the Iraqi government, is a coalition of many different tiny, little wars. The Sunni insurgents in Ramadi are different from the Sunni insurgents in Diyala. The Sunni insurgents in Mosul are different from the guys in South Baghdad. So, everyone has his own grievances against the central government of Iraq, yet ISIS have managed to include them all and under a single one umbrella. So that is one, you know, very important point.

    If we decide, if you decide, if America decides to fight ISIS as this monolithic organization, it’s bound to fail. You know, fragmented into its own components, what are the people of Ramadi fighting for? When I was in Ramadi in April, it wasn’t a Sunni-Shia war. It was a Sunni-Sunni war—Sunnis allied with the government of Iraq, Sunnis allied with the insurgents. Why these people of Ramadi are fighting against the central government of Iraq? Because the unequal distribution of wealth and economy, you know, amongst the tribes of Ramadi. The people of Diyala and the people of South Baghdad are fighting for a different cause. They’re fighting because they see their area dominated by the Shia, while in Ramadi you don’t see any Shia. So, that’s the main point that I would like to make, is this is not one monolithic war that stretches from the borders of Iran all the way to Lebanon, to Balbec. This is a combination of many different local wars.

  • Syria and Iraq : Why US policy is fraught with danger
    Patrick Cockburn

    En Irak, le nouveau gouvernement est à peine moins sectaire que le précédent,

    The new [Iraqi] government may be less divisive than the old one – it would be difficult to be more – but only to a limited degree.

    ... the Sunni are more terrified of the return of vengeful Iraqi government forces than they are of Isis.

    They have reason to be frightened since revenge killing of Sunni are taking place in Amerli, the Shia Turkoman town whose two-month siege by Isis was broken last month by Shia and Kurdish fighters aided by US air strikes. Mass graves of Shia truck drivers murdered by Isis are being excavated and local Sunni are being killed in retaliation. The family of a 21-year-old Sunni man abducted by militiamen was soon afterwards offered his headless body back in return for $2,000 (£1,240).

    In the 127 villages retaken by the Kurds from Isis under the cover of US air strikes, the Sunni Arab population has mostly fled and is unlikely to return. Often Sunni houses are burnt by Shia militiamen and in one village Kurdish fighters had reportedly sprayed over the word “apostate” placed there by Isis and instead written “Kurdish home”.


    En Syrie, la #CIA, peu convaincue par les « modérés » des wahhabites, a constitué ses propres « modérés »,

    Isis will be difficult to defeat in Iraq because of Sunni sectarian solidarity. But the reach of Isis in Iraq is limited by the fact that Sunni Arabs are only 20 per cent of the 33 million population. In Syria, by way of contrast, Sunni Arabs make up at least 60 per cent of Syrians, so Isis’s natural constituency is larger than in Iraq. Motorised Isis columns have been advancing fast here, taking some 35 per cent of the country and inflicting defeats both on other Syrian opposition fighters, notably Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate, and on the Syrian army. Isis is now within 30 miles of Aleppo, the largest city in Syria before the war.


    The US is now desperately trying to persuade Turkey to close the border effectively, but so far has only succeeded in raising the price charged by local guides taking people across the frontier from $10 to $25 a journey.


    ... Mr Obama (...) will (...) step up a pretence that there is a potent “moderate” armed opposition in Syria, capable of fighting both Isis and the Syrian government at once. Unfortunately, this force scarcely exists in any strength and the most important rebel movements opposed to Isis are themselves jihadis such as #Jabhat_al-Nusra, #Ahrar_al-Sham and the #Islamic_Front. Their violent sectarianism is not very different to that of Isis.

    Lacking a moderate military opposition to support as an alternative to Isis and the Assad government, the US has moved to raise such a force under its own control. The Free Syrian Army (FSA), once lauded in Western capitals as the likely military victors over Mr Assad, largely collapsed at the end of 2013. The FSA military leader, General Abdul-Ilah al Bashir, who defected from the Syrian government side in 2012, said in an interview with the McClatchy news agency last week that the CIA had taken over direction of this new moderate force. He said that “the leadership of the FSA is American”, adding that since last December US supplies of equipment have bypassed the FSA leadership in Turkey and been sent directly to up to 14 commanders in northern Syria and 60 smaller groups in the south of the country. Gen Bashir said that all these FSA groups reported directly to the CIA. Other FSA commanders confirmed that the US is equipping them with training and weapons including TOW anti-tank missiles.

    It appears that, if the US does launch air strikes in Syria, they will be nominally in support of the FSA which is firmly under US control. The US is probably nervous of allowing weapons to be supplied to supposed moderates by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies which end up in the hands of Isis. The London-based small arms research organisation Conflict Armament Research said in a report this week that anti-tank rockets used by Isis in Syria were “identical to M79 rockets transferred by Saudi Arabia to forces operating under the Free Syrian Army umbrella in 2013”.

    In Syria and in Iraq Mr Obama is finding that his policy of operating through local partners, whose real aims may differ markedly from his own, is full of perils.

    • For US, finding right allies in Syria will be tough
      Hannah Allam

      Yet the Syrian Opposition Coalition, the closest thing Obama has to an alternative to the Assad government, called the explosion that killed the jihadists a deliberate attempt to “silence the voice of #moderation.” Only in polarized Syria, with the Islamic State skewing the curve, could such a group seriously be considered mainstream.

      #Syrie #modérés

    • Joshua Landis :

      U.S. intelligence estimates that Syrian rebels are organized into more than 1,500 groups of widely varying political leanings. They control a little less than 20 percent of Syrian territory. Those designated as moderate rebel forces control less than 5 percent of Syria. To arm and fund them without first unifying them under a single military and political command would be to condemn Syria to rebel chaos.

      The U.S. is arming and funding 12 to 14 militias in northern Syria and 60 more groups in the south, according to the head of the Syrian Opposition Coalition. These militias have not, thus far, been particularly successful on the battlefield, and none has national reach. Most are based on one charismatic commander or a single region and have not articulated clear ideologies. All depend on foreign money.

      The vast majority of Syria’s rebel groups have been deemed too Islamist, too sectarian and too anti-democratic by the U.S. — and these are the groups ranged against the ISIL. They span the Salafist ideological gamut, from al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front to the 40,000-strong conglomeration of rebel forces united under the banner of the Islamic Front. Despite U.S. skepticism, some of the Sunni Arab regimes Obama has courted as key allies in the anti-ISIL effort have worked with these groups.

      Gulf countries reportedly poured money into the Islamic Front until the U.S. convinced them to stop. Islamic Front leaders decried democracy as the “dictatorship of the strong” and called for building an Islamic state. Zahran Alloush, the military chief of the Islamic Front spooked Americans by insisting that Syria be “cleansed of Shias and Alawites.” The newly appointed head of Ahrar al-Sham and the political chief of the Islamic Front earned his stripes in the ranks of the Iraqi insurgency fighting the U.S.

      Turkey insists that the U.S. arm these anti-ISIL Islamist rebel groups, including the Nusra Front. Disagreement over which rebels to back is one of the reasons Ankara has refused the U.S. requests to use Turkish territory to train rebel forces and as a base from which to carry out attacks on ISIL. The United States’ principal allies simply do not agree on which rebel forces are sufficiently moderate to qualify for support.