Tags: Reidar Visser Iraq Analysis, Sadrist demonstrations
Posted by Reidar Visser on Sunday, 29 May 2011 19:44
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki created headlines last week when he was quoted by some media sources as having said that the Iraqi parliament “has no right to legislate”. Recently, there has been an angry rebuff from parliamentary speaker Usama al-Nujayfi of Iraqiyya who identified legislation as the core task of the parliament. Some politicians are complaining that “relations between the legislature and the executive are deteriorating”, and the quarrel comes at a time when agreement between Maliki and Nujayfi remains key to getting the security ministries passed and having an honest debate about the question of the US presence in Iraq after 2011.
The reason for the misunderstanding is probably that Maliki’s statement may have been an attempt at paraphrasing ruling 43 by the Iraqi federal supreme court of 12 July 2010. In the case leading up to that ruling, the previous Maliki government had complained about parliament’s passage of a law passed by parliament that cut ties between the municipality and public works ministries and the governorates. Maliki’s lawyers furnished a multitude of legal arguments in defence of their case, but above all they focused on article 60 of the constitution. That article identifies two ways of initiating a legislative project (mashru): Either it must come from the cabinet, or it can be presented to parliament by the president. On the other hand, a proposal (muqtarah) for a law can be initiated by members or committees in parliament, but Maliki’s lawyer made the case that the two categories – project and proposal – are two entirely different things, and that a proposal must be developed into a project, by the executive, before it can be considered by the parliament.
In its ruling back then, despite the constitution being far from unequivocal on the issue (article 80 speaks about a right for the executive to “propose projects”, thereby fudging the two concepts), the federal supreme court basically adopted the arguments of Maliki’s lawyers word by word and declared as unconstitutional the law that had been challenged by the government. It seems pretty obvious that Maliki’s recent comments must have related to this ruling. It does not mean that parliament has no legislative power whatsoever, as Nujayfi seemed to indicate, but rather that legislative projects must be initiated by the executive. Parliament remains at liberty to make substantial changes to the law projects, and has indeed done so in the past, for example with the provincial elections law on 22 July 2008, and more recently, in changes to the immunities of state officials. But according to the current opinion of the federal supreme court, each new law must originate as a legislative project from the executive (incidentally this is one of the few remaining areas of real presidential power after the removal of the presidential veto.)
In comparative perspective, this kind of executive–legislature relationship is unusual but not entirely unheard of. For example, in the European Union – admittedly a somewhat exotic specimen in the family of democracies and a confederation more than a federation – the parliament has no right to initiate a process of legislation, since member countries see this as potentially undermining their “minority rights”. Also, in several presidential systems in Latin America, the parliamentary initiative is restricted to certain areas of legislation, and may for example not include budgetary or military and security affairs. Iraq may be closer to the EU example, since cabinet decisions in Iraq require some kind of minimum consensus whereas a strong president in Latin America (Brazil and Chile are among the examples) can make decisions on his or her own.
Unless the Iraqi parliament moves forward on the legislative project of creating a new federal supreme courtthat can come up with a new constitutional interpretation, it will have to live with a situation in which legislation starts with the executive. What both executive and legislature need to think about in Iraq these days are increasing signs of political mobilisation on the margins of parliament: The Sadrist demonstrations on Thursday, variously estimated at between 20,000 and 50,000 participants, surpassed any “Arab Spring” demonstrations in scale. As such, they served as a reminder of the possible implosion of the “moderate centre” in Iraq – whatever that may exactly mean – unless this centre stops bickering over useless details about vice-presidents and their prerogatives (and most recently, rank) and starts focusing and acting instead on those big issues in Iraqi politics that really count.
Tags: Attacks on journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan, Human rights in Iraqi Kurdistan
HRW: Kurdish Government Not Better Than Saddam Hussein’s
28/05/2011 04:02:00 By WLADIMIR VAN WILGENBURG
Human Rights Watch (HRW) severely criticized the human rights situation in Kurdistan on Tuesday, and claimed that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG ) is not much better than the former government of Saddam Hussein.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government promised a new era of freedom for Iraqi Kurds, but it seems no more respectful of Kurdish rights to free speech than the government that preceded it,” said Sarah Leah Whitson,Middle Eastdirector at Human Rights Watch. She refused to comment further on her comparison between the former and current governments.
Tags: Origin of Sumerians
Tags: Attack on Libya
Welcome to the violent world of Mr. Hopey Changey
26 May 2011
When Britain lost control of Egypt in 1956, Prime Minister Anthony Eden said he wanted the nationalist president Gamal Abdel Nasser “destroyed… murdered… I don’t give a damn if there’s anarchy and chaos in Egypt”. Those insolent Arabs, Winston Churchill had urged in 1951, should be driven “into the gutter from which they should never have emerged”.
The language of colonialism may have been modified; the spirit and the hypocrisy are unchanged. A new imperial phase is unfolding in direct response to the Arab uprising that began in January and has shocked Washington and Europe, causing an Eden-style panic. The loss of the Egyptian tyrant Mubarak was grievous, though not irretrievable; an American-backed counter-revolution is under way as the military regime in Cairo is seduced with new bribes and power shifting from the street to political groups that did not initiate the revolution. The western aim, as ever, is to stop authentic democracy and reclaim control.
Libya is the immediate opportunity. The Nato attack on Libya, with the UN Security Council assigned to mandate a bogus “no fly zone” to “protect civilians”, is strikingly similar to the final destruction of Yugoslavia in 1999. There was no UN cover for the bombing of Serbia and the “rescue” of Kosovo, yet the propaganda echoes today. Like Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Gaddafi is a “new Hitler”, plotting “genocide” against his people. There is no evidence of this, as there was no genocide in Kosovo. In Libya there is a tribal civil war; and the armed uprising against Gaddafi has long been appropriated by the Americans, French and British, their planes attacking residential Tripoli with uranium-tipped missiles and the submarine HMS Triumph firing Tomahawk missiles, a repeat of the “shock and awe” in Iraq that left thousands of civilians dead and maimed. As in Iraq, the victims, which include countless incinerated Libyan army conscripts, are media unpeople.
In the “rebel” east, the terrorising and killing of black African immigrants is not news. On 22 May, a rare piece in the Washington Post described the repression, lawlessness and death squads in the “liberated zones” just as visiting EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, declared she had found only “great aspirations” and “leadership qualities”. In demonstrating these qualities, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the “rebel leader” and Gaddafi’s justice minister until February, pledged, “Our friends… will have the best opportunity in future contracts with Libya.” The east holds most of Libya’s oil, the greatest reserves in Africa. In March the rebels, with expert foreign guidance, “transferred” to Benghazi the Libyan Central Bank, a wholly owned state institution. This is unprecedented. Meanwhile, the US and the EU “froze” almost US$100 billion in Libyan funds, “the largest sum ever blocked”, according to official statements. It is the biggest bank robbery in history.
The French elite are enthusiastic robbers and bombers. Nicholas Sarkozy’s imperial design is for a French-dominated Mediterranean Union (UM), which would allow France to “return” to its former colonies in North Africa and profit from privileged investment and cheap labour. Gaddafi described the Sarkozy plan as “an insult” that was “taking us for fools”. The Merkel government in Berlin agreed, fearing its old foe would diminish Germany in the EU, and abstained in the Security Council vote on Libya.
Like the attack on Yugoslavia and the charade of Milosevic’s trial, the International Criminal Court is being used by the US, France and Britain to prosecute Gaddafi while his repeated offers of a ceasefire are ignored. Gaddafi is a Bad Arab. David Cameron’s government and its verbose top general want to eliminate this Bad Arab, like the Obama administration killed a famously Bad Arab in Pakistan recently. The crown prince of Bahrain, on the other hand, is a Good Arab. On 19 May, he was warmly welcomed to Britain by Cameron with a photo-call on the steps of 10 Downing Street. In March, the same crown prince slaughtered unarmed protestors and allowed Saudi forces to crush his country’s democracy movement. The Obama administration has rewarded Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive regimes on earth, with a $US60 billion arms deal, the biggest in US history. The Saudis have the most oil. They are the Best Arabs.
The assault on Libya, a crime under the Nuremberg standard, is Britain’s 46th military “intervention” in the Middle East since 1945. Like its imperial partners, Britain’s goal is to control Africa’s oil. Cameron is not Anthony Eden, but almost. Same school. Same values. In the media-pack, the words colonialism and imperialism are no longer used, so that the cynical and the credulous can celebrate state violence in its more palatable form.
And as “Mr. Hopey Changey” (the name that Ted Rall, the great American cartoonist, gives Barack Obama), is fawned upon by the British elite and launches another insufferable presidential campaign, the Anglo-American reign of terror proceeds in Afghanistan and elsewhere, with the murder of people by unmanned drones – a US/Israel innovation, embraced by Obama. For the record, on a scorecard of imposed misery, from secret trials and prisons and the hounding of whistleblowers and the criminalising of dissent to the incarceration and impoverishment of his own people, mostly black people, Obama is as bad as George W. Bush.
The Palestinians understand all this. As their young people courageously face the violence of Israel’s blood-racism, carrying the keys of their grandparents’ stolen homes, they are not even included in Mr. Hopey Changey’s list of peoples in the Middle East whose liberation is long overdue. What the oppressed need, he said on 19 May, is a dose of “America’s interests [that] are essential to them”. He insults us all.
Tags: Facism, John Pilger, US-UK Imperialism
Behind the Arab Revolt Is a Word We Dare Not Speak
by John Pilger
Recently by John Pilger: The Revolt in Egypt Is Coming Home Shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I interviewed Ray McGovern, one of an elite group of CIA officers who prepared the President’s daily intelligence brief. McGovern was at the apex of the “national security” monolith that is American power and had retired with presidential plaudits. On the eve of the invasion, he and 45 other senior officers of the CIA and other intelligence agencies wrote to President George W. Bush that the “drumbeat for war” was based not on intelligence, but lies. “It was 95 per cent charade,” McGovern told me. “How did they get away with it?” “The press allowed the crazies to get away with it.”
“Who are the crazies?” “The people running the [Bush] administration have a set of beliefs a lot like those expressed in Mein Kampf … these are the same people who were referred to in the circles in which I moved, at the top, as ‘the crazies’.” I said, “Norman Mailer has written that he believes America has entered a pre-fascist state. What’s your view of that?” “Well … I hope he’s right, because there are others saying we are already in a fascist mode.”
On 22 January, Ray McGovern emailed me to express his disgust at the Obama administration’s barbaric treatment of the alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning and its pursuit of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. “Way back when George and Tony decided it might be fun to attack Iraq,” he wrote, “I said something to the effect that fascism had already begun here. I have to admit I did not think it would get this bad this quickly.”
On 16 February, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech at George Washington University in which she condemned governments that arrested protesters and crushed free expression. She lauded the liberating power of the Internet while failing to mention that her government was planning to close down those parts of the Internet that encouraged dissent and truth-telling. It was a speech of spectacular hypocrisy, and Ray McGovern was in the audience. Outraged, he rose from his chair and silently turned his back on Clinton. He was immediately seized by police and a security goon and beaten to the floor, dragged out and thrown into jail, bleeding. He has sent me photographs of his injuries. He is 71.
During the assault, which was clearly visible to Clinton, she did not pause in her remarks. Fascism is a difficult word, because it comes with an iconography that touches the Nazi nerve and is abused as propaganda against America’s official enemies and to promote the West’s foreign adventures with a moral vocabulary written in the struggle against Hitler. And yet fascism and imperialism are twins. In the aftermath of world war two, those in the imperial states who had made respectable the racial and cultural superiority of “western civilization,” found that Hitler and fascism had claimed the same, employing strikingly similar methods. Thereafter, the very notion of American imperialism was swept from the textbooks and popular culture of an imperial nation forged on the genocidal conquest of its native people. And a war on social justice and democracy became “US foreign policy.”
As the Washington historian William Blum has documented, since 1945, the US has destroyed or subverted more than 50 governments, many of them democracies, and used mass murderers like Suharto, Mobutu and Pinochet to dominate by proxy. In the Middle East, every dictatorship and pseudo-monarchy has been sustained by America. In “Operation Cyclone,” the CIA and MI6 secretly fostered and bankrolled Islamic extremism. The object was to smash or deter nationalism and democracy.
The victims of this western state terrorism have been mostly Muslims. The courageous people gunned down last week in Bahrain and Libya, the latter a “priority UK market,” according to Britain’s official arms “procurers,” join those children blown to bits in Gaza by the latest American F-16 aircraft. The revolt in the Arab world is not merely against a resident dictator but a worldwide economic tyranny designed by the US Treasury and imposed by the US Agency for International Development, the IMF and World Bank, which have ensured that rich countries like Egypt are reduced to vast sweatshops, with half the population earning less than $2 a day.
The people’s triumph in Cairo was the first blow against what Benito Mussolini called corporatism, a word that appears in his definition of fascism. How did such extremism take hold in the liberal West? “It is necessary to destroy hope, idealism, solidarity, and concern for the poor and oppressed,” observed Noam Chomsky a generation ago, “[and] to replace these dangerous feelings with self-centered egoism, a pervasive cynicism that holds that [an order of] inequities and oppression is the best that can be achieved. In fact, a great international propaganda campaign is under way to convince people – particularly young people – that this not only is what they should feel but that it’s what they do feel.”
Like the European revolutions of 1848 and the uprising against Stalinism in 1989, the Arab revolt has rejected fear. An insurrection of suppressed ideas, hope and solidarity has begun. In the United States, where 45 per cent of young African-Americans have no jobs and the top hedge fund managers are paid, on average, a billion dollars a year, mass protests against cuts in services and jobs have spread to heartland states like Wisconsin.
In Britain, the fastest-growing modern protest movement, UK Uncut, is about to take direct action against tax-avoiders and rapacious banks. Something has changed that cannot be unchanged. The enemy has a name now.
February 25, 2011
John Pilger was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been a war correspondent, filmmaker and playwright. Based in London, he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism’s highest award, that of “Journalist of the Year,” for his work in Vietnam and Cambodia. His latest book is Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire. Copyright © John Pilger 2011
Tags: Human Rights Watch, Journalist repression in Iraqi Kurdistan, Media in Iraq
Iraqi Kurdistan: Growing Effort to Silence Media
Journalists Beaten, Sued, Detained, Threatened With Death
Human Rights Watch
HRW, May 24, 2011
(New York) – Kurdistan regional government officials and security forces are carrying out a growing assault on the freedom of journalists to work in Iraqi Kurdistan, Human Rights Watch said today. Regional officials should stop repressing journalists through libel suits, beatings, detentions, and death threats, Human Rights Watch said.
Kurdistan authorities have repeatedly tried to silence Livin Magazine, one of Iraqi Kurdistan’s leading independent publications, and other media. The international community should end its silence and condemn these widening attacks, Human Rights Watch said.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government promised a new era of freedom for Iraqi Kurds, but it seems no more respectful of Kurdish rights to free speech than the government that preceded it,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “In a time when the Middle East is erupting in demands to end repression, the Kurdish authorities are trying to stifle and intimidate critical journalism.”
On May 17, 2011, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of regional president Massud Barzani brought a defamation lawsuit against the Livin editor-in-chief, Ahmed Mira, for publishing an article about an alleged plot by the KDP and its ruling alliance partner, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), to assassinate opposition leaders. According to court documents obtained by Human Rights Watch, the KDP is seeking total damages of one billion dinars (US$864,000) and an order to shut down the magazine by revoking its license.
The court documents say the party is suing Mira because the Livin article “not only has no basis in truth but is a threat to national security [and] a violation to the dignity and glory and the great achievements” of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Earlier in May, the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, the PUK leader, filed his own lawsuit over the same article. Mira told Human Rights Watch that, as a result, police detained him and a Livin reporter, Zhyar Mohammed, for five hours on May 5.
“Such libel suits by Kurdistan government officials are nothing more than a thinly-veiled effort to punish critics and create an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship,” Whitson said. “The attacks by Barzani and his colleagues on independent journalists do more to undermine Kurdish ‘dignity’ and ‘glory’ than anything in the media reports.”
A Livin reporter told Human Rights Watch that when he called Sheikh Jaffar Mustafa, Minister of Peshmerga (Kurdistan security forces), on April 24, Mustafa threatened Livin’seditor, Mira, with death. The reporter had called Mustafa and taped the conversation because he wanted to get an official comment on an unrelated matter. The reporter said that Mustafa was upset over an unflattering article in the magazine that compared Mustafa to the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak. Mira said he decided to report the threat to the regional government’s prime minister rather than make it public or go to the police, which he believed would be ineffectual and put him at further risk.
“Immediately after the death threat by Sheikh Jaffar Mustafa, I informed KRG Prime Minister Dr. Barham Salih and asked for his help,” he said. “I have a recording of the threat and can prove it, but unfortunately, the prime minister has not made any efforts to investigate a death threat by a member of his own cabinet.” Mira said that, as a result, he published an article about the death threat on May 7.
Human Rights Watch called on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to investigate the alleged death threats against Mira, and to remove Mustafa from his position and prosecute him in a court of law if the allegation is found to be substantiated
Livin, an independent magazine established in 2002 in Sulaimaniya that publishes three times a month, is widely circulated in Kurdistan and frequently publishes articles openly critical of the two ruling parties. Several of its writers have also been threatened or arrested or have fled the country. In 2008, Soran Mama-Hama, an investigative reporter with Livin, was assassinated outside his parents” home in a Kurdish-controlled section of Kirkuk after writing about the suspected involvement of Kurdish officials in prostitution rings.
Kurdistan authorities have carried out a series of attacks on protest organizers and other journalists since quashing protests in Sulaimaniya on April 18. The threat of attacks and arrests has sent some into hiding.
In Sulaimaniya on the night of May 11, security forces detained and beat a Kurdistan News Network reporter, Bryar Namiq, breaking his hand. Namiq told Human Rights Watch on May 16:
Two journalists, afraid to be named for fear of reprisal, told Human Rights Watch on May 18 that eight men in civilian clothes chased after them in late April in Arbil. The men appeared in two vehicles on the street just before the journalists were supposed to meet with a regional official who had asked for a meeting with some members of the media. The journalists believe that the men were plainclothes security forces who were aware of the meeting and were trying to kidnap them.
Soran Umar, a protest organizer and freelance journalist, has been in hiding since April 19. “I have not slept at home since then,” he told Human Rights Watch on May 17. “My sin is that I am criticizing the undemocratic acts of KRG and the two ruling parties, that is all. The security forces have tried to kidnap me, and they have ordered my arrest. They even tried to kidnap my son.”
A freelance photojournalist, Zmnako Ismail, who actively covered the Sulaimaniya demonstrations, is also in hiding. “I have been followed many times, and I am in danger of being arrested and beaten,” he told Human rights Watch on May 14. “That’s why I only travel in one taxi, with a driver I trust, and can’t go to public places. My Facebook page and email accounts have also been hacked, and I cannot use them. This has happened to others involved in the demonstrations.”
Another journalist who has written articles critical of the regional leadership and has received several anonymous threats told Human Rights Watch in late April, “Many of my Facebook friends told me that security forces called and threatened them, saying they had better take me off their Facebook ‘friend list,’ and many of them have.”
Since February 17, the local press freedom group, Metro Center to Defend Journalists, has documented more than 200 cases of attacks and harassment of Kurdish journalists, and Reporters Without Borders has tallied 44 physical attacks against media workers and outlets and 23 arrests.
“What kind of a future does the Kurdistan government promise for its people when it is stuck in the bad old ways of this region of beating and attacking journalists?” Whitson said. “Kurdistan leaders have a particularly strong duty to respect the rights and freedom of their people, given all they have suffered in past decades.”
Human Rights Watch called on the international patrons of the KRG – particularly the United States and European countries – to condemn the blatant disregard for press freedoms by the regional government.
The US State Department, which has supported the rule of law and press freedoms throughout the country and which still has considerable influence, has been largely silent about the recent serious human rights violations against journalists and protesters. The fact that the United States led the multinational force effort to oust former president Saddam Hussein partly on grounds of his abuses against Kurds, shows a particular responsibility to ensure that Kurdistan regional officials respect the rights of its citizens, Human Rights Watch said.
“Eight years after the United States removed Saddam Hussein in the name of protecting the rights of Kurds, it is standing by silently as the government it helped to install in Kurdistan abuses and represses the population,” Whitson said. “US President Obama noted in his speech on May 20 the flourishing democracy in Iraq, but the reality is that government-sponsored fear and repression continue to fester there.”
A Climate of Fear for Kurdistan Journalists
Lawsuits Against Livin Magazine: Iraqi and Kurdistan Law
Osman Sdiq, lawyer for Livin Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Ahmed Mira, told Human Rights Watch that the KDP defamation suit against Mira is likely to be filed under Iraq’s 1951 civil code, which has no cap on the amount of damages that can be demanded or awarded, rather than under the 2008 regional press law passed by the Kurdistan Regional Government or the 1969 penal code.
The regional press law limits damages on publication-related offenses, caps penalties, and prevents authorities from shutting down media organizations. However, it is not widely applied, and courts have allowed several cases to be filed under the far more repressive Iraqi 1951 civil code and 1969 penal code.
Under the civil code, a person, including a journalist, can be held liable for “moral injury,” which includes “any encroachment (assault) on the freedom, morality, honor, reputation, social standing, or financial position (credibility) of others.” Under the penal code, which provides for hefty fines and jail time, it is a crime to “defame another” or “publicly insult” any public institution. The broadly worded provisions in both codes on the content of speech do not accord with international human rights protections for expression.
Article 38 of Iraq’s Constitution guarantees “in a way that does not violate public order and morality” all means of freedom of expression as well as freedom of press, printing, advertisement, media, and publication.
It is well established under international human rights law that politicians and other public figures are subject to, and must tolerate, wider and more intense scrutiny of their conduct. According to the Siracusa Principles on the Limitation and Derogation Provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, restrictions on freedom of expression “shall not be used to protect the state and its officials from public opinion or criticism.”
In 2000 the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression outlined a list of minimum requirements that civil defamation laws must satisfy to comply with article 19 of the ICCPR, so as not to improperly restrict freedom of expression. They include:
Neither civil nor criminal defamation laws in Iraq fully meet the requirements of international law. Neither requires damages to be proportional to the actual harm caused; and they do not contain an exception for articles published in “good faith.”
With regard to threats against journalists, Article 6 of the ICCPR requires all government bodies in Iraq to respect the right to life. This also means that law enforcement agencies should take reasonable steps to protect people who they know to have received serious threats to their lives, and that the authorities should ensure that all unlawful killings are investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted.
Campaign of Repression
In March, Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 20 journalists in Kurdistan covering the protests and found that security forces and their proxies routinely repress journalists through threats, arbitrary arrests, beatings, and harassment, and by confiscating and destroying their equipment.
Journalists and protest organizers told Human Rights Watch that on April 18, security forces violently seized control of Sara Square, the center of daily protests in Sulaimaniya, and have prevented any more demonstrations.
On April 27, the KRG released a 19-page report into its investigation into the violence that occurred during the sixty days of demonstrations and found that violence was committed by both security forces and protesters, and that “the police and security forces were poorly trained in handling it appropriately.” The report did not mention any of the violence directed toward journalists, including the vicious attack on the private Nalia Radio and Television (NRT) in Sulaimaniya. During that February 20th attack, dozens of armed men shot up broadcasting equipment, wounding a guard, and then doused the premises with gasoline and set fire to the building, according to the station’s staff. NRT, which broadcast footage of the protests, had begun its inaugural broadcast only two days before the attack.
Anniversary of Sardasht Osman’s Murder
Assailants abducted Sardasht Osman, a 23-year-old freelance journalist and student, on May 4, 2010. His body was found a day later, with signs of torture and two bullets in the head. Friends and family believe Osman died because his writing criticized the region’s two governing parties, their leaders, and the region’s ingrained patronage system.
An anonymous committee appointed by President Masoud Barzani released a report of its investigation on September 15, 2010, which concluded that an Islamist armed group, Ansar al-Islam, was responsible for Osman’s abduction and murder. However, the committee’s 430-word statement failed to substantiate its findings beyond referring to a confession from one of the alleged perpetrators.
Several of Osman’s family, friends, and colleagues told Human Rights Watch at the time that none of the investigators had ever contacted them, and were highly critical of its conclusions. Since then, the regional government has made no announcements on any further investigations, arrests, or prosecutions related to the case.
On May 16, 2011, Osman’s brother, Bashdar, told Human Rights Watch that he has received dozens of anonymous death threats in response to his own work as a journalist since the killing of Sardasht.
Human Rights Watch repeated its call for the KRG to establish an independent and transparent inquiry into Osman’s killing that will lead to the identification and prosecution of all those responsible.
Tags: Iraqi Turkmen Front, ITF, Turkey's policy towards Iraq's Turkmens
THE PERCEPTION OF TURKMEN IN TURKEY
DR. HİCRAN KAZANCI
Iraqi Turkmen Front Turkey Representative
With the dispersement of the Otoman empire many Turkish communities like the Turkmen in Iraq who had been separated from their homelands tried to harmonize with the state they had remained in. The Turkmen have tried to find a place for themselves within the complex structure which is made up of the political history of Iraq plagued with continuous internal political instabilities and wars ever since the state was established.
The Turkmen have always closely monitored Turkey and expected support when confronted with problems. On the other hand, because of the conditions of the state they live in, the Turkmen have been a community which it has been found necessary to monitor and supervise carefully for a long time by Turkey. However, the breaking point in the attitude of Turkey toward the Turkmen in Iraq took place after the war in 1991 and the establishment of the “security zone” in the northern part of the country.
After 1991, Turkey gained the opportunity of establishing close and direct links with the Turkmen in Iraq. The Iraqi Turkmen Front which was established in 1995 with the integration of various Turkmen organizations which had been struggling under different umbrellas to solve the problems of the Turkmen people in Iraq who had been through a turbulent political process were elevated to a different phase. In the 1990’s when the majority of Iraq was surviving under the tyranny of Saddam Huseyin the Turkmen in Iraq had the opportunity to organize in Northern Iraq mainly in Arbil. However, the Turkmen who had organized themselves in order to fight the Saddam Huseyin regime like the other Iraqi opponents were obliged to fight for their very existence in Northern Iraq. That is why most of the Turkmen’s political causes in the 1990’s had be executed on two fronts, against the Kurdish parties in Northern Iraq and Saddam’s regime in Baghdad. In fact the conditions in Iraq made the security dimensions become the center of the stage rather than the civil and political dimensions of the organizing of the Turkmen. At a later time the gaps in the steps taken and the immaturity of the political structure would later make things problematic for the Turkmen.
After the invasion ofIraq, the Turkmen faced a new situation. They tried to participate in the changing process of the political authority in Baghdad, however, because of their organizational problems in addition to the inability to apply an appropriate policy among the opponent groups caused their exclusion in a major way. During this process the General Headquarters of ITF which had executed its political and organizational duties from Arbil for many years moved to Kirkuk. Efforts to include the Turkmen remaining in the regions under the control of Saddam Huseyin into the organization had just been started. However, if a self criticism needs to be made then truth be told and let us admit that the ITF did not manage this process very well. The reason why the organization and the people were unable to achieve the success expected from them was caused by such issues as difficulties in reaching the Turkmen in Mosul and Diyala, the inability of the organization to overcome the clan and sect related and political problems and the feelings of abandonment felt in Arbil. Still, the Turkish public has been sensitive for a long time since 2003 regarding issues concerning Turkmen people. Turkey reacted strongly when the US started operations at Telafar; during the stressful days in Kirkuk, marches to support Kirkuk were carried out in Turkey. However, the environment in Iraqis such that policies are executed mostly based on identity and in this environment the Turkmen were unable to distance themselves from this implementation. It is natural, in fact compulsory to execute a national cause based on identity. However, when a completely reactionary stance is directed under every condition at one of the ethnic groups in Iraq, the inability to calculate strategic interests well has been problematic for the Turkmen.
The ITF has experienced numerous problems within its own organization in Iraq and has been unable to obtain the expected political successes and has also unfortunately limited the groups it could have reached in Turkey. In an environment where ITF could have had the full support of Turkey and the political parties it has focused only on the party line of some parties and limited the support of the grassroots in Turkey. This situation has caused the ITF to reduce its relations to some political parties which has caused both the political circles and the Turkish press to lose interest in the Turkmen Cause.
In fact, the developments in Iraq show that the nature of politics devolves through alliances and wide ranged relations. That is why ITF must possess a more efficient political stance which provides initiatives to all segments of Turkmen, keeps a steady balance between the Kurds and Arabs in Iraq, far from any slogans, realistic. The ITF should transform into a security oriented party organization which spreads to the grassroots when civilian politics are not strong enough, which raises its own leaders and has a say in social, political, strategic and economy affairs. The ITF which has held 5 major Assembly meetings since its establishment needs to renovate itself which is the common outlook of all Turkmen who have dealt with politics in Iraq for some time. For this reason it is expected that ITF proceeds into a reform process within a short time. After all, with its faults and successes, the largest, comprehensive and successful Turkmen political organization established and developed by Turkmen is the ITF. With the reforms planned within the ITF it will be considered a major success that the election success maintained with the number of members of parliament elected in the 2010 elections are reflected in the political equation of the country as a whole. In addition, the success of this reform action will be determined by how well the Turkmen can determine their targets and strategies, whether they can maintain a balance between all the groups in Iraq, whether they can be represented in a more equal way in the party in the Turkmeneli geographical area, how successfully it can pull people who have remained outside politics so far for one reason or another and how well they can pull youth and women into active politics. Of course this situation is of interest basically to the Turkmen. However, it is also a fact that the public interest in Turkey for the Turkmen in issues regarding Iraq have decreased lately. Whereas this interest would be a major moral boost for the Turkmen while they are undergoing a restructuring process.
Tags: Hatay, Lausanne Treaty, Middle East Map, Mosul province, Ottoman Empire
|Is a remake of the Middle East map possible?
by Hajrudin Somun*
|A new political, social and ideological map of the Middle East is already arising following the broad popular movements pushing to change the deeply fortified authoritarian rule in that region.|
|Speaking less metaphorically, however, is it possible that the real Middle East geopolitical map, formed after World War I, can be reshaped as a result of the current uprisings? I doubt I am alone in considering that question in such terms. There are some more or less recent facts, designs, intentions and assumptions that give me good reason to doubt that the present Middle East borders will remain the same in this century as they had been shaped in the previous one.Even for those who have crossed them so often, and almost on foot like myself, many of the Middle East’s borders looked artificial. The new maps were discussed and drawn in London and Paris as the Ottoman Empire was loosing its Arab lands one by one. When it finally collapsed, they were formally approved through international agreements and enforced on the terrain. New regional frontiers were, in fact, the result of old British and French colonial interests, reinforced by newly discovered oil fields. It is always worth recalling how vast and fertile lands around the rivers Jordan, Tigris and Euphrates, together with people living there, were to be ruled by the Arab Hashemite family as a reward for their cooperation in the war against the Turks. One brother was inaugurated as the emir of Transjordan in Amman and another one as the Iraqi king in Baghdad, which he had never even seen before.
It is well known how quickly Great Britain and France cut in pieces their interests in the Near East, which is today more commonly called the Middle East. They divided it into their own mandates, or to use a more polite term, colonies, and left for a later time an issue that has left its mark on almost a century of not only regional but international politics. It was Britain who was given the mandate over Palestine. It was still too early to realize the Balfour Declaration of 1917, with which the British government promised to do the best for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Remnants of the Lausanne Treaty
As one of remnants from the Ottoman era left unsolved by the Lausanne Treaty, the problem of Mosul province, with its large Turcoman community, was forced to wait until 1926 for a solution, when it became part of Iraq, then under British control. Turks insisted that Mosul should be included in the successfully established Republic of Turkey, and it is believed that President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was even ready to fight for it, but he later chose a rather diplomatic way. Elsewhere on the Turkish-Arab frontier, the former Ottoman sanjak of Alexandretta, part of the French mandate of Syria, had been disputed for a decade longer than Mosul. When the majority of its Turkish population proclaimed the independent Hatay State and voted to join Turkey in 1938 it became part of the Turkish state, known today as Hatay. Syrians and other Arabs still call it Iskenderun. It is hoped that Syrians, with the recent developments in the Arab world, will finally forget the ambitions of the Arab nationalistic Baath party that ruled Syria and Iraq for decades for the return of that Turkish province. I still remember what former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, recently exempted from the death penalty by President Jalal Talabani, said in response to my question about the huge map of the Arab world on the wall in his underground office — its was the first days of the Iraq-Iran War of 1980-1988. I specifically pointed my finger at the Iranian Khuzestan and Turkish Hatay provinces that were on the map, and he said, “Yes, of course, all these are Arab lands.”
The map of the Middle East has not been significantly changed after World War II, except in one, but one very particular, case. Jews finally realized the promise given by the Balfour Declaration and established their “national home” in the Biblical lands of Palestine. Israel declared independence in 1948, in good part owing to Arab weakness and disunity. In spite of not being internationally recognized,Israel still considers legitimate the borders that it extended in the third Arab-Israeli conflict, in 1967, and made narrower by peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan after the fourth war with Arabs in 1973. In the meantime, from the Arab world emerged a man that thought he was destined to become a historic leader by occupying foreign territories. It was Saddam Hussein, who invaded the whole of Kuwait and parts of Iran, but failed to extend the frontiers of his own country, Iraq.
Thus, I have been crossing the Middle East’s artificial borders, always keeping in mind a conclusion by Paris’ Le Monde diplomatique that European powers left a lot of “unfinished work” after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In another manner but with similar intentions, the Balkan borders were drawn before and after World War I. Besides the Ottoman Empire, there was another empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, that was falling into ruins. Two Balkan wars introduced the term “Balkanization” into diplomatic terminology. However, I became fully aware of the real meaning of finishing “unfinished work” only during the new Balkan wars, those in the 1990s. Seven new countries emerged from only one, the former Yugoslavia.
Looking at two maps
However, there are two maps that have caused me to more carefully consider arguments that similar processes might occur in the Middle East as well. Both are from reliable sources and not too secret strategic designs by Western powers, led by the US. The designer of the first map was Bernard Lewis. A former British war agent, he later became one of the most celebrated experts on Islamic and Arab history and civilization. However, he greatly harmed the perception and image of Islam in the Western world by glorifying, in Webster Griffin Tarpley’s words, the “most backward and self-destructive tendencies in one and a half millennia of Moslem history.” In the area covered by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Cold War theory the “Arc of Crisis” — stretching from Afghanistan to Turkey and Saudi Arabia — that would be exposed to fragmentation, Lewis developed his own ideas on “the Lebanonization,” or “Balkanization,” of the Middle East after the collapse of communism in his article “Rethinking the Middle East” in 1992. Those ideas were materialized a few years later in a “Lewis map” that started to circulate in the US and NATO strategic and intelligence offices, particularly after the American invasion of Iraq. The country would be broken into three smaller states: a Kurdish one in the north, Sunni in the middle and Shiite in the south. To make a greater Kurdistan, Turkey and Iran would lose a good part of their territories. Iran would come out more badly thanTurkey, because it would be reduced to a renewed Persia, giving its south to an “Arabistan” and the north to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
Afghanistan should be divided as well. If Iran would lose the most, according to that map, Israel would win the most. Following the Biblical promises to Moses, it would get the whole Sinai Peninsula and as far as the north of Lebanon. Palestine is nowhere, of course.
Another hypothetical map of a reshaped Middle East appeared for first time 2006, in the US Armed Forces Journal, together with an article by retired Col. Ralph Peters. He continued in Lewis’s steps, but made a more detailed redrawing of regional borders.
He also broke up Iraq, the plan that had been already advocated by the US Council on Foreign Relations and recently deceased diplomat Richard Holbrooke. He favors Iran more, but still tears off its provinces inhabited by Baluchis, Arabs, Kurds and Azeris. Saudis are given a part of territories in Jordan and Yemen. Contrary to Lewis, he did not expand Israel, but reduced it to its pre-1967 borders. The status of the West Bank and Gaza he left undetermined. Col. Peters considers his map “perhaps draconian,” but an “unavoidable pain” that the Middle East peoples have to endure. It is not an official map, as Turkey protested the inclusion of a good part of its southeast territories in a supposed Kurdistan. It has been used, and probably is still being used as study material in American military institutions and the NATO Defense College.
I am not aware if Israel objected to that map, but its government and conservative circles certainly do not like it. The circulation of a map that returns Israel to its pre-1967 borders could by itself indicate new thinking in the US about the ultimate solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. That thinking finally found an echo last week. May 19, 2011, will be recalled often from now on: Barack Obama was the first US president who dared to say that the borders prevailing prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli War should be the basis for a final Middle East deal. The ongoing uprisings in the Arab world certainly have contributed to such a speedy shift in the US’s policy towards Israel. Revolutionary protests against authoritarian rulers have already provoked inter-Palestinian reconciliation and could bring official recognition of Palestine at the next UN General Assembly session. What is even more necessary is more resolute American pressure on Israel to accept the new base for negotiations on the “two-state” formula and to accept new realities around its borders. Otherwise, they might be changed by other means.
Remaking the maps of theMiddle Eastdrawn almost a century ago, similar to making a new version of an old silent film, would not be easy. Most of the above-mentioned hypotheses might never be realized, and concerning Lewis’s hypothesis in particular, new wars would be waged. Thus, even these ruminations of mine might look like a game for fans of geographical maps. However, who knows? Perhaps the people had similar feelings when, almost a century ago, a parcel containing the Balfour Declaration arrived in the Middle East.
*Hajrudin Somun is the former ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Turkey and a lecturer of the history of diplomacy at Philip Noel-Baker International University in Sarajevo.
Tags: US military bases in Iraq, US Occupation of Iraq
Par Tom Hayden (revue de presse : ZNet – 17/5/11)
C’est une presque certitude : les Etats-Unis ont réussi à obliger l’Irak « à inviter » des milliers de troupes américaines à rester indéfiniment dans le dernier bastion impérial des Etats-Unis dans le monde arabe (New York Times – 12 mai).
Récapitulons : l’administration Bush avait signé un pacte avec le gouvernement irakien dans l’intermède entre les deux administrations et le Président Obama y avait adhéré. Mais, début 2009, Obama y avait ajouté, sans qu’on s’y attende, une promesse de retirer toutes les troupes pour décembre 2011, sans laisser de force résiduelle comme suggéré lors de sa campagne. Le Pentagone avait pressé les Irakiens d’amender l’accord pour permettre la présence d’une base américaine et de troupes.
Une base près des champs pétrolifères
Le Pentagone a gagné. Si ce n’était que l’ouverture d’une autre base au sein des 800 autres éparpillées de par le monde, on pourrait l’accepter avec résignation. Mais, celle-ci place les forces américaines au centre des tensions confessionnelles en Irak, près des champs pétrolifères en cas de troubles. Elle agit comme un contrepoids à un Iran lourdement armé (sans oublier le soutien apporté à un régime religieux autoritaire connu pour sa longue histoire de violations de droits de l’homme).
Peu de voix au Congrès ou dans le mouvement pour la paix se sont élevées, encore moins organisées contre le bastion en cours. Parmi les personnes influentes, seuls les conseillers occasionnels d’Obama au Centre pour le Progrès américain (Center for American Progress) sont connus pour favoriser le retrait total.
Diviser pour régner
Le régime chiite, mis en place par les Etats-Unis, penche déjà vers l’Iran dans le cadre de la géopolitique de la région. Une base US, dit-on, l’empêchera de glisser davantage hors de l’orbite. De plus, le gouvernement composé en grande partie d’opposants arrivés dans les wagons des Américains, craignent un nouveau soulèvement des Sunnites en cas de départ des Américains. De l’autre côté, les groupes de guérilla sunnites appréhendent, eux, un massacre par les forces de sécurité chiites. Les Kurdes veulent que les Américains les protègent des chiites et des sunnites. Cette équation conduit à la plus étrange des formules impériales fondées sur la domination : « si les « civilisateurs » occidentaux partent, les indigènes se battront entre eux ». La règle de diviser pour régner camouflée sous celle du maintien de la paix !
« Les chagrins de l’empire »
Cette stratégie a été développée par Stephen Biddle du Conseil pour les Relations Etrangères (Council on Foreign Relations) depuis de nombreuses années. En mars-avril 2006, il écrivait dans Foreign Affairs :
« Washington doit cesser de déplacer la responsabilité de la sécurité (de l’Irak) sur d’autres et doit au contraire menacer de manipuler l’équilibre militaire du pouvoir entre Sunnites, Chiites et Kurdes pour les obliger à conclure un compromis durable ».
Seul un président visionnaire et ses conseillers peuvent voir les dangers d’être piégés en Irak pour toujours, ce que Chalmers Johnson appelle « les chagrins de l’empire ». Il n’y a aucun signe à l’heure actuelle d’une telle vision.
Traduction : Xavière Jardez
Texte original :
Tags: Brigade de mercenaires, Mercenaries in Iraq, Xe, Xe Services
par Manlio Dinucci – Revue de presse (il manifesto – 18/5/11)
A Zayed Military City, un camp d’entraînement dans une zone désertique des Emirats arabes unis, est en train de naître une armée secrète qui sera utilisée non seulement à l’intérieur du territoire mais aussi dans d’autres pays du Moyen-Orient et de l’Afrique du Nord. C’est Erick Prince qui est en train de la mettre sur pied : un ex commando des Navy Seals qui avait fondé en 1997 la société Blackwater, la plus grande compagnie militaire privée utilisée par le Pentagone en Irak, Afghanistan et autres zones de guerre. La compagnie, qui en 2009 a été renommée Xe Services, (afin, entre autres motifs, d’échapper aux actions juridiques pour les massacres de civils en Irak) dispose aux Etats-Unis d’un grand camp d’entraînement où elle a formé plus de 50 mille spécialistes de la guerre et de la répression. Et elle est en train d’en ouvrir d’autres.
une brigade de plusieurs milliers
A Abu Dhabi, Erick Prince a stipulé, sans apparaître personnellement mais à travers la joint-venture Reflex Responses, un premier contrat de 529 millions de dollars (l’original, daté du 13 juillet 2010, a été rendu public maintenant par le New York Times). Sur cette base a commencé dans divers pays (Afrique du Sud, Colombie et autres) le recrutement de mercenaires pour constituer un premier bataillon de 800 hommes. Ils sont entraînés aux Emirats par des spécialistes étasuniens, britanniques, français et allemands, provenant de forces spéciales et de services secrets. Ceux-ci sont payés 200-300 mille dollars par an, et les recrues 150 dollars par jour. Une fois prouvée l’efficience du bataillon dans une «action réelle», Abu Dhabi financera avec des milliards de dollars la mise sur pied d’une brigade entière de plusieurs milliers de mercenaires. On prévoit de construire aux Emirats un camp d’entraînement analogue à celui en fonction aux Etats-Unis.
Le principal appui de ce projet est le prince héritier d’Abu Dhabi, Cheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, formé à l’académie militaire britannique Sandhurst et homme de confiance du Pentagone, fauteur d’une action militaire contre l’Iran. Le prince et son ami Erick Prince ne sont cependant que les exécutants du projet, qui a sûrement été décidé dans les hautes sphères de Washington. Son but réel est révélé par les documents cités dans le New York Times: l’armée qui est en train d’être formée aux Emirats conduira «des missions opérationnelles spéciales pour réprimer des révoltes intérieures, du type de celles qui sont en train de secouer le monde arabe cette année».
Les “solutions innovantes” de Xe Service
L’armée de mercenaires sera donc utilisée pour réprimer les révoltes populaires dans les monarchies du Golfe, avec des interventions comme celle qui a été menée en mars par les troupes des Emirats, du Qatar et de l’Arabie saoudite au Bahreïn où on a écrasé dans le sang la demande populaire de démocratie. « Des missions opérationnelles spéciales » seront effectuées par l’armée secrète dans des pays comme l’Egypte et la Tunisie, pour briser les mouvements populaires et faire en sorte que le pouvoir reste entre les mains des gouvernements garants des intérêts des Etats-Unis et des plus grandes puissances européennes. Et en Libye aussi, où le plan USA/OTAN prévoit sûrement l’envoi de troupes européennes et arabes pour fournir « l’aide humanitaire aux civils libyens ». Quel que soit le scénario – soit une Libye « balkanisée » divisée en deux territoires opposés dirigés par Tripoli et Benghazi, soit une situation de type irako-afghan à la suite du renversement du gouvernement de Tripoli – l’utilisation de l’armée secrète de mercenaire s’annonce : pour protéger les implantations pétrolifères qui sont de fait aux mains des compagnies étasuniennes et européennes, pour éliminer des adversaires, pour garder le pays dans un état de faiblesse et de division. Ce sont les « solutions innovantes » que Xe Services (ex Blackwater), dans son auto présentation, se vante de fournir au gouvernement étasunien.
Traduit de l‘italien par Marie-Ange Patrizio