Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, An Interview With Prof. Joseph Sassoon

April 30, 2013 at 1:13 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, An Interview With Prof. Joseph Sassoon

 Posted by Joel Wing – Musings on Iraq
Saddam Hussein's Baath party
Professor Joseph Sassoon was originally born in Baghdad, and later moved to England where he received his education. He is currently a Professor at the Center for Contemporary Arabic Studies at Georgetown University. In 2012, he published Saddam Hussein’s Ba’th Party, Inside an Authoritarian Regime. Using thousands of Iraqi documents seized by Kurds after the 1991 Gulf War, and the U.S. led Coalition following the 2003 invasion, along with interviews of former Iraqi officials Professor Sassoon was able to study the intricate party apparatus of the Baathist regime under Saddam Hussein. He noted how Saddam studied the previous Iraqi governments so as to not repeat their mistakes, and also used a carrot and stick approach of not only threats and repression, but incentives and rewards to maintain control of the country. Below is an interview with Professor Sassoon about his book, and his thoughts on Baathist Iraq.
1. It’s always been said that Saddam Hussein had a keen understanding of Iraqi politics and society, which allowed him to stay in power for so long. Part of that was due to Saddam’s studying of Iraqi history. You wrote that he looked at the previous Iraqi governments, and the failed 1963 Baathist Coup. What lessons did her learn from them?
Saddam Hussein was determined that no opposition would be able to reach power. After the rise of the Baath in 1963 and their ousting nine months later, the Party dedicated significant efforts to understand the reasons for failure. Controlling the security apparatus; infiltrating the army, and to a certain degree weakening it, and owning the resources to allocate rewards to supporters were all part of the lessons learnt.
2. Was the Iraqi public also shaped by this history of coups, and what role did that play in Saddam’s dictatorship?
In July 1968, when the Baath came for the second time to power, the Iraqi public was desperate for security and stability as the country witnessed multiple coups d’état and disturbances throughout the 1960s. Thus, the public was initially receptive to the notion that there would be continual stability and economic growth as promised by the Baath leadership.
3. Saddam eventually put the lessons he learned into practice. One result was the Baath Party’s penetration of society. Can you explain how it went about doing this, and perhaps provide some anecdotal stories?
The Party was the main vehicle for penetrating society. The penetration took numerous forms: on one hand recruiting as many new members, particularly young men and women was made a top priority, and indeed it was successful as there were branches in every corner of the country and a wide range of activities for members at all levels. But penetrating society meant also controlling it, and this took the form of written forms that every citizen had to fill in about himself/herself and their families which were later stored in their files. Military officers and even security officers had to receive approval before marrying, which gave the security apparatus the ability to collect more information about the spouses and their respective families.
4. Another issue was the Baath Party’s ability to recruit people throughout different generations. You found some records from 2002 just before the U.S. invasion about party membership. What was Iraq’s population at that time, how many were in the Baath Party, and how many had real authority?
A great deal of pressure was brought to bear on citizens to join the party and some became members under duress, but many joined voluntarily, through conviction or from a desire to benefit from being a Baathist. The documents abound with evidence of citizens applying to join or rejoin the party. The vast majority of party affiliates, however, played little active role because of the party’s rigid hierarchy; only the top three levels of membership were effectively involved in executing policies. Active members were subjected to frequent evaluation, and promotion required passing special “training” courses, immersion in the “cultural” aspects of the party, and demonstrating the potential to serve in a more senior rank. Even so, a complex web of checks and counterchecks ensured that the privileged few could not become too powerful. The number of party card holders reached about 4 million by the end of 2002. Thus, out of an estimated population of 25 million in 2002, those affiliated with the Baath Party constituted about 16.5 percent, a very high number indeed especially compared to Communist countries where the average membership was between 8 to 10 percent. But, a closer look at the statistics shows us a fundamentally different conclusion: the upper echelons of the party represented only 14.5 percent of the overall affiliates and about 2.4 percent of the overall population in 2002.
5. Saddam also singled out women to be recruited into the party. Why did he do this, what kind of rights did he give them, and how did that eventually change over time?
Saddam Hussein was secular, and this is important to keep in mind. In the 1970s, he advocated the rights of women and encouraged them to be active in education and jobs. He wanted to get their support as they constituted half the population. Indeed, women progressed and achieved almost the highest standard in education in the 1970s. During the 8 year war against Iran (1980-1988), women assumed important functions as many men were recruited to the front. Unfortunately by the end of the war, two events shaped his attitude: the rise of unemployment and the delisting of more than half a million soldiers and their return to the civilian life; and more importantly the rise of Islamism and Khomeinism. Saddam decided to accommodate both factors at the expense of the rights of women.
6. That ties into another of Saddam’s tactics, the use of carrots and sticks and divide and conquer policies. The repressive measures were what Iraq was famous for, but Saddam could not rule simply through that. Can you give some examples of the rewards that the party offered, which led to so many people supporting the government?
The Baath managed to co-opt a large number of individuals by making it advantageous, both to those who became part of the organization and even to those who were outside it, to continue supporting the regime. This system co-opted a large segment of the population into dependence on rewards. Tens of thousands of Iraqis were the recipients of different medals, badges, certificates, and insignias during the Baath rule. All signified status and privileges, which in turn corresponded to whatever medals or badges the recipient had, and the more medals accumulated, the higher the rewards. The most coveted medal or identity card, however, was called “Identity Card of the Friends of Mr. President Leader Saddam Hussein, May God Protect him.” The front of the card displayed the holder’s personal details, but intriguingly, the back featured a headline called imtiyazat(privileges), followed by seven items such as adding five points to the average of examinations of the friend’s children; help in getting accepted to universities for the member and his family; easier access to deal with government bureaucracy, and last but not least an annual gift of two summer suits, and two winter suits to be made available from the presidency of the republic!
7. It’s also important to not forget how ruthless the Baathist government could be. Could you explain how the regime used collective punishment as one means to deter dissent and resistance?
Given the numerous real and imaginary enemies that flourished under systems like the Baath, a central task of the leadership was to decide who its enemies were. During the Baath regime’s thirty-five-year rule, its enemies ranged from communists, Kurds, Iranians or those of Iranian origin to members of the Dawa Party, prominent Shia religious leaders, ex-Baathist Party members, and Baath members who at some point had planned or conspired to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Whether in Iraq or similar dictatorships, the regimes “sought merely not to restrain or annihilate their actual enemies, but to destroy even the potential for resistance and dissent.” Instilling fear, however, was the fundamental condition for success. Fear was cultivated through sending a plethora of messages, to the party elite as well as to the population at large, that dissent would not be tolerated. The Iraqi people were keenly aware of the repercussions of resisting the regime. As in Stalinist Russia, Mao’s China, or North Korea, family members were considered guilty by association, and were used to inculcate fear or to break down the will of opponents or those considering opposing the regime. Families of “traitors” were severely punished either directly or indirectly through rejection from military colleges, universities, jobs, or even denial of requests to travel abroad.
8. Another issue was coup proofing the regime. How was that done?
Coup proofing was done by creating a system, along the lines of Stalinism, of political commissars who were part of every military unit, and acted as the eyes and ears of the regime. They even intervened in military decisions to the frustration of professional soldiers and officers. But the system worked: the army was prevented from launching any coup, and most senior officers were shuffled regularly to prevent them from accumulating any power.
9. The government was always afraid of plots, internal opposition groups, and foreign influences. It tried to counter them with the security services, and informers. How extensive was this system?
The system of informants is very much alike any other authoritarian regime.  Gathering information on as many people as possible was an important element in creating the impression of ubiquity of the security apparatus. There were four main agencies of security in addition to a few smaller and specialized ones. There was an overlapping in the functions of these services to prevent any specific service from accumulating too much power.
10. Many people have called Baathist Iraq a totalitarian regime, but you disagree. Can you explain why?
The Baath regime in Iraq shares many characteristics of a totalitarian regime, but I do not believe it was totalitarian. First, unlike other totalitarian regimes, there was no real control of the economy as the private sector functioned, and even thrived for most of the period under study. There was no massive industrialization or dramatic changes to the allocation of economic resources. Furthermore, unlike Nazism or Stalinism, the Baath ideology was very weak, and in fact one could argue that from the mid-1980s until the 2003 invasion, the cult of personality of Saddam Hussein was the main thrust of the ideology.
11. Many in the West used to compare Saddam and the Baath Party to Hitler and the Nazi Party claiming that Baathist ideology originally took a lot from Germany. You noted that the party was actually more like the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Can you elaborate upon that?
Saddam Hussein, similar to other tyrants, learnt from each other. He was very impressed by Stalin. He copied many of his methods and believed, like Stalin that people respect power, and no one apart from him should control power. Both tyrants rotated many of their senior colleagues and aides whenever they suspected them of gaining too much influence.
12. That ties into contemporary times with deBaathification. Some have argued that the Baath Party is inherently evil and any kind of affiliation with it should be the basis for exclusion in the new Iraq, while others have argued that working with the Baath Party was a necessity of succeeding in Iraqi society under Saddam. What is your opinion on the matter?
There is no doubt that the senior leadership of the Baath committed many crimes against the Iraqi people. The problem, post the 2003 invasion, was that deBaathification encompassed large segments of the population. This in turn led to the collapse of the state as many of those Baahists occupied senior positions in the government bureaucracy. Iraq lost its senior managers, and then lost its middle-class mangers with the deBaahification leading to chaos and insecurity.
13. Some have argued that Saddam didn’t really rule through the Baath Party as much as he did through his family and tribe from his home province of Salahaddin. Was that a true characterization of the situation?
For Saddam, the most important factor was complete loyalty to him. He was willing to rely on anyone who showed that kind of loyalty. Yet, at the same time, there was no mercy for anyone showing any inclination of disloyalty, be it from his own family, his tribe or his party. The party apparatus played a critical role in maintaining the regime for 35 years.
14. Sectarianism plays a large role in Iraqi politics today, and many point to Saddam Hussein’s rule as the origins of it. Do you believe that to be true?
One could say that the Shi‘is have always been discriminated against by Iraqi governments since the creation of the state in 1932. Under the Baath, this took a different character first with the expulsion of many Shi‘is to Iran in the 1980s,and then culminating in the terrible revenge taken by the Republican Guard after the 1991 intifada in the South. Having said that, and in spite of the fact that the Baath party was obsessive about collecting information on every citizen, yet, there was one question that was never asked on any form and that was about sect. Forms tended to ask two questions: religion and nationality, so you could be a Muslim and Kurd or Christian and Arab. I think that it is important to understand that Saddam Hussein’s regime defined Iraqis not as much by their religion, but more by their support and loyalty to the party unlike the situation after 2003. Kurds, Shi‘is, and Christians were all part of the system, and were involved in its operations and intelligence services. Therefore, while sectarianism existed under Saddam Hussein’s regime, particularly after 1991, it never became part and parcel of daily life as it is currently in Iraq.
15. Saddam eventually developed a cult of personality around himself. When and why did that come about?
The cult of personality played an important role in the durability of the regime. It allowed Saddam to detach himself from the responsibility of any failures, and created an aura the great leader, the father of the nation, and the leader that the people of Iraq waited for hundreds of years. The cult began in the late 1970s, gathered momentum in the 1980s and throughout the 1990s until the collapse of the regime in 2003, was the dominant ideology in the country.
16. Part of Baathist ideology was to create a socialist state. That didn’t quite happen. What kind of economic system did develop in Iraq?
Socialism is one of the mottos of the Baath Party both in Iraq and in Syria, but it was not seriously implemented. Economic management was focused on dealing with the immediate issues rather than planning for a long term. One has to recall that the 1970s, Iraq was enjoying tremendous growth, oil prices quadrupled after the 1973 October War, and accumulated large reserves. The 1980-88 war depleted Iraq of its reserves, and turned it into a debtor country with weak infrastructure. Then came the First Gulf War (1990-91), which decimated the country, and this was followed by severe sanctions. Thus the leadership was intent on facing those serious economic issues, and the private sector was allowed to grow to overcome those economic difficulties.
17. The sanctions imposed on the country after the 1990 invasion of Iraq devastated the economy. How did Saddam use it to his advantage?
Although the Iraqi population at large suffered from the sanctions, the regime was not seriously affected. In essence, the sanctions probably expanded the role of the Iraqi state and increased regime stability. As a result of the success of the rationing system, the Baath party managed to increase its support and empathy among the civilian population during the thirteen years of harsh sanctions.
18. Today Iraq is ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. There was a lot of corruption in the 1990s under sanctions as well. Can you explain what the government’s stance towards it was?
In the dire circumstances of the sanctions in the 1990s, corruption spread into every facet of life, particularly after 1996, when Iraq began selling oil under the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food Programme. Estimates of illicit income from surcharges on oil sales and bribery ranged from $270 million to more than $7 billion. Today, in Iraq, while violence has been reduced to a level that allows a semblance of normality, Nouri al-Maliki’s government,according to a recent report of International Crisis Group (ICG), has “allowed corruption to become entrenched and spread throughout its institutions.” As the ICG Report clearly indicates, the Iraqi government’s interference in and manipulation of corruption cases for its own political advantage has led to a serious deterioration in the running of government institutions. The Report characterized the spread of corruption within the country’s institutions as a virus, and warned that the government’s paralysis is contributing to “the proliferation of criminal elements and vested interests throughout the bureaucracy.” Today, corruption permeates every facet of decision-making in Iraq, thus preventing the country from taking advantage of the huge oil wealth accumulated in the last few years due to rising oil prices. Corruption existed in Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s Baath party and gained momentum during the sanctions. But at no point during the thirty-five years of authoritarian regime was corruption as rampant and endemic as it is today.
Sassoon, Joseph, Saddam Hussein’s Ba’th Party, Inside an Authoritarian Regime,  Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, Sao Paulo, Delhi, Tokyo, Mexico City: Cambridge University Press, 2012

2013 Iraqi Local Election Results

April 29, 2013 at 12:22 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
2013 Iraqi Local Election Results

The Iraqi people went to polls on 20 April 2013 to designate provincial councils in Iraq. 302 political groups formed 50 coalitions to take part in provincial councils and 8100 candidates competed to take office in provincial councils.The total electoral turnout in 12 provinces where elections were held was 51%. The Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq (IHEC) announced the first election results according to 87% of the votes in 12 provinces on 20 April 2013. You can have access to the early election results of provinces.


 26 April 2013

Anne Nivat : « Les femmes sont exceptionnelles en temps de guerre »

April 29, 2013 at 12:15 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment

Anne Nivat : « Les femmes sont exceptionnelles en temps de guerre »

Par Emilie Poyard – Le 18/03/2013

Anne Nivat Les femmes sont exceptionnelles en temps de guerre
Légende : Anne Nivat et la famille de Nidret Hashim Al-Hurmuzie, à Kirkuk.

Ce soir, ne ratez pas le très bon documentaire d’Anne Nivat, « Irak, l’ombre de la guerre ». La reporter de guerre française est rentrée cet automne d’Irak où elle a retrouvé les familles qui l’ont accueillie depuis 2003, à chacun de ces reportages. La journaliste indépendante, récompensée en 2000 par le prix Albert-Londres, a demandé à tous comment ils ont traversé la guerre. Et comment ils vivent aujourd’hui. Intimiste et incisif, ce film donne à voir les liens qu’elle a tissés avec des Irakiens, qu’ils soient prof, pharmacien, ex-amiral ou prêtre, tout en dressant un portrait du Bagdad d’aujourd’hui. Avec un dur constat : malgré la chute de Sadam Hussein, l’Irak peine à se reconstruire. Interview.

Continue Reading Anne Nivat : « Les femmes sont exceptionnelles en temps de guerre »…

Death toll reached 92 in Iraq, four ministers resigned

April 25, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Updating: 10:19, 25 April 2013 Thursday
Death toll reached 92 in Iraq, four ministers resigned
Death toll reached 92 in Iraq, four ministers resigned
At least 92 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded in Hawijah where the army intervened during public protests. 

World Bulletin/News Desk

Death toll was announced as 92 over the incidents in Hawijah town of Kirkuk in Iraq.

In the past two days, incidents spread after the army forces intervened in a public protest during which 92 people were killed and more than 100 others were wounded.

An ambush on an army convoy near Tikrit with roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades killed three more soldiers. Three more troops were killed in an attack in Diyala province.

Later on Wednesday, clashes erupted in the northern city of Mosul, where gunmen launched an attack after using a mosque loudspeaker to call Sunnis to join their fight. At least three police and four soldiers died in the assault, officials said.

In a separate attack, at least eight people were also killed and 23 more wounded when a car bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad, police and medical sources said.

Also, four Iraqi ministers resigned to protest the incidents.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salih al-Mutlaq, Minister of Industry & Minerals Ahmad Nasir Dilli al-Karbuli, Education Minister Muhammad Tamim, and Minister of Science & Technology Abd al-Karim al-Samarrai resigned as a reaction to the incidents.       On Wednesday, tribes in Al Anbar city in the west of Iraq decided to set up armed units to protect the protestors.

Thousands of Sunnis have been protesting since December, venting frustrations building up since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the empowerment of Iraq’s Shi’ite majority through the ballot box.

“We are staying restrained so far, but if government forces keep targeting us, no one can know what will happen in the future, and things could spin out of control,” said Abdul Aziz al-Faris, a Sunni tribal leader in Hawija.

Maliki has set up a committee headed by a senior Sunni leader to investigate the violence at the Hawija camp. He has promised to punish any excessive use of force and provide for victims’ families.

Meanwhile, Organization of the Islamic Cooperation released a statement, and condemned the excessive force used by security forces.

According to a written statement released by OIC, Iraqi government was called to protect the unity of the public, follow the route of peace and dialogue, and fulfill the demands of protestors.

It was also added in the statement that opinion leaders and religious officials had to make efforts within the framework of Mecca Agreement which was signed to strengthen unity of Iraqi people.

Iraqi Sunni and Shia leaders signed the Mecca Agreement in October 2006 to stop the sectarian tension and bloodshed in the country.

IRAQ – $84m from Fake Bomb Detector Scam

April 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Zero Tolerance for Corruption

Posted on 25 April 2013


Before the local elections, an art student climbed the tallest building in central Baghdad and hung a banner depicting a giant eye, with the caption “We can see you”, overlooking the Green Zone.

It’s an image that should be in the minds of all who consider bribery to be a perk of the job, or even an entitlement.

This week in the UK, businessman Jim McCormick was found guilty of selling fake bomb detectors to security forces, many of them in Iraq; he made an estimated $84 million from the scam, and was facilitated by corrupt officials who were happy to take his life-changing backhanders. Many others, however, had their lives changed in very different ways, when they fell victim to the bombs that went undetected by McCormick’s phoney devices.

At a different level, there are many who believe it’s OK to accept ‘gifts’ for simply doing their jobs, and they will always have an excuse for it: “everyone else is doing it”, “I need the money”, “other people are taking more”,

But it’s all part of the same amoral culture that must be eradicated from any civilised society. Finding the culprits is one thing, but making the crime of corruption socially unacceptable is another. The people can see you, and ultimately will have zero tolerance for what you do.

The Turkmen base their hopes on resolution

April 19, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment


The Turkmen base their hopes on resolution

The Iraqi Turkmen are also focused on the resolution process. Iraqi Turkmen Front Representative Kazancı: If the peace process is interrupted we will become an open target.

Interpretations in terms of ‘process’ from Iraqi Turkmen… Iraqi Turkmen Front Representative Hicran Kazancı spoke to AKŞAM regarding his expectations in terms of the negotiations and resolution process carried out with Imralı.

Kazancı indicated that they feared that the resolution efforts would be interrupted however, they did not want to lose hope and said, ‘it is the hope of us all that the process achieves success’. The assessment of Iraqi Turkmen Front Representative Kazancı is summarized as follows:

If the RESOLUTION  is interrupted the repercussions of the conflicts will have a negative impact on Turkey as well as the Turkmen living in Northern Iraq. But we do not even want to think about this. Because we have made positive and significant headway with the Kurds in North Iraq. Now when conditions normalize the Iraqi Turkmen will emerge to the forefront. In other words the strengthening of Turkey in the region will be in our favor.

If the process is interrupted the situation will be reversed. We may have a security problem. Since we do not have an armed militia in Kirkuk we have always been an open target there. If the process is unsuccessful we may become a target. A conclusion of the conflict will not only bring stability to Turkey but to the whole region. When the process is normalized in Iraq the Turkmen will become the strongest element.

When the PEACE process is finalized there will be no stopping the rising power of Turkey. With the rise of this power the Iraqi Turkmen will feel more safe over there. The population and presence of the Iraqi Turkmen is dependent on the influence of Turkey in the region. The stronger the influence of Turkey is, the stronger is our population, our presence. For this reason Turkey is the guarantee of our existence.

TURKEY does not act in line with the scenarios drawn by global states any more. It has become a playmaker. For this reason those who objected to the rising power of Turkey always scratched this scab. Used it against Turkey.

The dictatorships in the MIDDLE EAST always plant the idea with their people that ’Turkey follows an expansionist policy’. They said, “Turkey wants to confiscate our lands as well’. A great hatred for Turkey was prevalent among the people. However, particularly after the bill of 2003 it was understood that Turkey had no clandestine agenda in terms of the region. The people of Iraq understood this: that the smear propaganda regarding Turkey had no truth to it and that Turkey was not involved in an expansionist policy.

Akşam Newspaper

10 years after the war, Innocent New Lives are Still Dying and Suffering In Iraq. Human Rights NGO new report

April 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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On April 18, HRN released a press release:

Human Rights Now

Immediate Release

10 years after the war, Innocent New Lives are Still Dying and Suffering In Iraq.

Human Rights NGO publish the Report of a Fact Finding Mission on Congenital Birth Defects in Fallujah, Iraq in 2013


This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War. After the war, particularly in the most recent few years, a deeply troubling rise in the numbers of birth defects has been reported by doctors in Iraq, leading to suspicions that environmental contamination from the war may be having a significant negative effect on the health of local people, and in particular infants and children. For instance in Fallujah, the city heavily attacked by the US twice in 2004, the data of Fallujah General Hospital shows that around 15% of babies of all births in Fallujah since 2003 have some congenital birth defect.

Human Rights Now (HRN), a Tokyo based international human rights NGO in consultative status with the UNEconomic and Social Council, conducted a fact-finding mission in Fallujah, Iraq in early 2013 to investigate the situation of the reported increasing number of birth defects in Iraq.

Today, HRN published a report over 50 pages entitled Innocent New Lives are Still Dying and Suffering in Iraq” on this investigation.

Full Report:

Iraq Report April 2013.pdf


Iraq Report April 2013 Appendix-1.pdf

Iraq Report April 2013 Appendix-2.pdf

This is the first investigation conducted by an international human rights NGO on the congenital birth defect issue in Iraq since 2003. Despite the gravity of the situation, there has not been a sufficient investigation of the health consequences associated with toxic munitions in Iraq by the US, UK or any independent international organization such as a UN body.

Through one month period’s extensive investigation, the fact finding team has found an extraordinary situation of congenital birth defects in both nature and quantity. The investigation suggested a significant rise in these health consequences in the period following the war, and HRN found that the rights to health and life of children have been seriously violated in Fallujah, Iraq, and that the epidemic of congenital birth defects in Iraq needs immediate international attention.

The report discloses documentation and photos of over 70 cases of recent birth defects in Fallujah, with the permission of the hospital and the families.  “Although the disclosure of such incidents is an extremely sensitive issue, the families and especially the mothers expressed a strong desire to share their cases in order to highlight the birth defect situation in Iraq. We sincerely hope many people in the world, especially the states concerned as well as relevant international institutions,  know the gravity of the victimization.”, Kazuko Ito, Secretary General of Human Rights Now stated.

An overview of scientific literature relating to the effects of uranium and heavy metals associated with munitions used in the 2003 Iraq War and occupation, together with potential exposure pathways, strongly suggest that environmental contamination resulting from combat during the Iraq War may be playing a significant role in the observed rate of birth defects. However, without sufficient disclosure of information related to toxic weapons used during the conflict, the cause of problem has not yet been identified.

In order to prevent further victimization of the lives of innocent children, it is urgent that a comprehensive investigation into the prevalence of birth defects and toxicity related illnesses in Iraq be conducted, including any correlation between such illnesses to scrap or munitions debris left by the Iraq conflict.  It is essential to investigate the sources and spread of birth defects, identify causes, establish effective public health policies and medical care, and provide appropriate compensation for victims.

Human Rights Now therefore calls on the US and UK governments to disclose all information regarding the types of weapons used during the occupation, quantities fired, and exact firing points, and to take necessary measures to protect the right to health and life of the local people if a pollution problem is indicated.

Furthermore, HRN calls on the Iraqi government to establish an independent commission into investigating serious health problems reported after the war, and the UN Human Rights Council to establish measures for the investigation of all human rights abuses committed during the war, including the use of inhumane and toxic weapons. The outcomes of the WHO investigation into the birth defect issue in Iraq has yet to be publicly released, but in the event of a public health issue being identified, HRN additionally urges the WHO to provide technical assistance and guidance in creating policies and measures to tackle the issue, as well as to consider conducting further investigations to try to better clarify the epidemiological nature of the phenomenon.

Another Hollow Promise By Iraq’s Electricity Ministry, End To Power Shortages By October 2013

April 19, 2013 at 11:07 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment

Another Hollow Promise By Iraq’s Electricity Ministry, End To Power Shortages By October 2013

posted by Joel Wing – Musings on Iraq

Iraq’s Electricity Ministry recently said that it would solve Iraq’s power problems later this year. This was not the first time that it had much such a bold announcement. That was also the reason why the remarks were met with widespread skepticism within the country. Questioning the Ministry’s statement is justified, because it has failed to reach its benchmarks before, and lacks the institutional capacity and support to deal with the daunting task it faces.

In April 2013, the Electricity Ministry promised that Iraq’s electricity shortages would be ended by October. The Ministry was quoted as saying that private generator operators would have to sell their equipment, because they would no longer be needed in just a few months. The Ministry made similar statements back in January, when it said that the country would reach self-sufficiency in power by the end of the year. The next month, Deputy Premier Hussein Shahristani who is in charge of Iraq’s energy policy announced that three new power stations would be opened per month until the electricity problems were solved. These assertions were immediately criticized. A parliamentarian from the oil and energy committee for example, told the press that the Ministry was exaggerating, and that the government continuously claimed that it would solve the electricity crisis soon, but never did. The lawmaker had grounds to be skeptical. The Electricity Ministry was actually misrepresenting its goals. According to its 5-year plan, the government is not supposed to meet demand for power until 2015. Not only that, but Shahristani has openly come out against the Ministry in the past claiming that its predictions should not be listened to, and that its numbers were only theoretical. Iraq is in fact facing large structural and institutional problems that inhibit it from solving its power problems any time soon.

This picture of convoluted power cables in an Iraqi neighborhood is symbolic of the problems that the country faces in resolving its electricity issues (AIN)

There are a number of interconnected issues, which have stalled Baghdad’s plans for resolving its energy needs. First, the country’s power grid needs everything from power stations to generators to transmission lines and more. It is also poorly designed, which leads to up to one-third of the power to be lost before it reaches consumers, the highest rate in the Middle East. That means that simply installing generators or building new stations as the government continuously announces will not end the country’s dilemma. In fact, if the entire system is not repaired and renovated, the Ministry cannot achieve its goal. Second, the authorities have not budgeted enough money for the Ministry. Its 5-year plan calls for $31.8 billion, but in 2011, it only got $3.2 billion for its capital budget. The government has also failed to attract private money for its effort, which means that the federal funds are all that it has available. Third, the Electricity Ministry lacks the capacity to plan, manage, and maintain the infrastructure that it has and wants in the future. That means it can’t handle the large contracts that it is signing. Finally, demand for power has continuously increased since 2003 due to the release of pent up demand after over ten years of sanctions. On top of that, few Iraqis pay their bills, and many that do have subsidized prices. That means there is little real control over consumption. In fact, after the Ministry’s recent remarks, Azzaman reported a run on prices for consumer goods like refrigerators and air conditions. Altogether that means there is little likelihood that Baghdad can solve the country’s power outages this October, or anytime soon. Until it builds up its personnel, emphasizes developing the entire network, gets the necessary funding, and puts a clamp on usage all of its remarks are hollow promises.

Every year the Iraqi government claims that it is close to solving the country’s continuous black outs and electricity problems. Every year it comes up short. The April 2013 announcement that private generators would no longer be necessary by October is part of this long list of promises that will ultimately be broken. Baghdad simply lacks the capacity to adequately plan for such a monumental task, not to mention fund, implement, and then manage and maintain all of the work that needs to be done on the national grid. Until the government addresses its institutional problems it will never be able to resolve this pressing issue, which continues to rank as one of the most important to the public.

ITF EU Representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli attended the Spinelli Debate at the EU Parliament

April 13, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Spinelli debate photo of panel

Isabelle Durant,Vice-President of the European Parliament; Mahmud Gebril, Interim

prime minister of Libya during the civil war; Guy Verhofstadt, President of the ALDE

Group; Néguib Chebbi, Leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (Tunisia)

Has the Arab Spring failed ? Is Europe conspicuously absent ?

10.04.2013 – 18:00 – 20:00 European Parliament

Spinelli debate Arab flags
Néguib Chebbi, Leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (Tunisia)
Mahmud Gebril, Interim prime minister of Libya during the civil war and former chairman of the National Transition Council.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Spinelli MEP, Co-President of the Greens/EFA Group (absent)
Guy Verhofstadt, Spinelli MEP, President of the ALDE Group
Isabelle Durant, Spinelli MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament

MEP Anna Gomez attended the Meeting.

The EU was taken by surprise when the Arab world awoke, as demonstrated by the uncoordinated national responses rather than a European response. This situation highlights the need for a better structured and more focused EU policy approach in order to participate to the emergence of a more stable and democratic Arab world.

Today the Arab world’s new political elites are facing the double challenge of satisfying popular pressure for democratic governance and an economic and social crisis. Have the Arab Spring protests calling for democracy and economic justice, just come and gone?

Spinelli debate full room

Full house for the Spinelli group debate at the EU Parliament in Brussels

The Chair, Mr. Guy Verhofstadt, opened the meeting by welcoming the Tunisian and Libyan guests. He said that Europe should engage more in the Arab world to help the Arab Spring.  He wished for cooperation with the countries around the Mediterranean and said: ‘Let’s create a great Mare Nostrum“.

Ms. Isabelle Durant, Vice-President of the European Parliament said that some call it an ‘Arab Winter’ but that change needs time. She said that revolution unites but that elections divide the people. Counter power is still missing, one must build for the next elections in order to consolidate democracy.

Mr. Mahmud Gebril said that Libya is still in the beginning of its revolution, he reminded the audience that the first 10 years of the French revolution were bloody. He said : We do not have a state yet, we are a stateless society, the tribal structure keeps the country together. In the three North African countries Tunisia, Libya and Egypt the new generation went to the street to have a better world, they have no ideology, they are defending Human Rights and democracy. A national dialogue is needed in the three countries, the EU can play a role. The EU influence in North Africa is diminishing, regrettably.  Illegal migration is a heavy burden on the EU. The African market is going to be the fastest growing market within the next 50 years.  Transfer of technology is important. The integration and participation of the youth is essential for the revolution to succeed. Regarding Syria he said that the Syrian people are paying a very heavy price, there are more than 4 million refugees. More unity is needed within the Syrian revolution, Assad should leave power, but people from the actual government who have no blood on their hands should be maintained. He added: if everybody is included there will be no extremism.

Mr. Néguib Chebbi thanked the EU for their moral support. He said that the economic model had failed under the dictatorial regime in Tunisia. The revolution in Tunisia is not an historical accident,  it is thanks to the young Tunisians that the revolution began. The youths who use new technologies to communicate such as internet and FB went to the street to demand better living conditions and the respect of their human rights. The revolution took the political parties by surprise.  He said he visited the young Tunisians in Lampedusa, he spoke with them and all they want is to work and have their share, therefore the political parties must guarantee the rights of the new generation. Mr. Néguib Chebbi said that the future of the EU and of North Africa is interdependent.

Dr. Hassan Aydinli spoke with MEP Ana Gomez, he updated her on the situation in Iraq and informed her of the latest attacks on the Turkmens.

Principal of Kirkuk Girls High school relieved of her duties because she spoke the Turkmen language

April 11, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment

ITF Turkey Representative Dr. Hicran Kazancı reacted to the Minister of Education of Baghdad

Although 10 years have gone by since the dictator of Iraq was ousted and 10 years have been spent on the path to democratization, democracy is obstructed because there are still those in the Baghdad administration who have not been able to discard their dictator-like and chauvinist mentality.
Regardless of the fact that the Turkmen language is an official language according to the Constitutional Law, on the 9th of April 2013 the principal of the Kirkuk Girls High school, Nursen Abdullah who is of Turkmen origin was relieved of her duties by the Minister of Education of Baghdad Muhammet Timim because she spoke the Turkmen language during the flag raising ceremony, which is an indicator of where the position of democracy in Iraq has reached because of his mentality.
It is thought provoking that the applications regarding the Turkmen take this turn although Turkmen rights have been approved in parliament. We anticipate that all the Turkmen ministers and members of parliament in Baghdad address this issue.
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