Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What’s At Stake in Iraq

Iraq Magnifying Glass - BaghdadThe scourge of unadulterated fascism has once again ravaged Iraq and ruined the lives of countless numbers of innocents. The fusion of cunning Baathist tyranny and Islamist terror has seen a formidable standing enemy in the way of any chance of Iraq becoming a successful multi-denominational polity. Instead those who wish to subjugate Iraqis under the yoke of fascism are out in force in the form of Islamic State (Daesh). Everyone has seen how much they love to broadcast, and in the process document, their grotesque crimes against humanity.

The remnants of the Iraqi Baath Party helped Daesh perpetrate these crimes against the Iraqi people. Their collusion was a result of their mutual disdain over the prospect of an emerging Iraq which is not dominated by a small Sunni clique. Their murderous exploits against Iraq’s Kurds, Shia and Sunnis alike show their desire to terrorize Iraqis and re-subjugate them under an order maintained through coercion, fear and violence.

The Camp Speicher massacre of last summer (and atrocities leveled against communities in Northern Iraq) reminds one of the dark days of Saddam Hussein’s reign. That incident saw mostly Shi’ite prisoners of war being lined up and systematically shot in the head and then dumped into mass graves in scenes reminiscent of infamous Nazi atrocities in the Second World War. Few things are more heartbreaking than seeing fresh mass graves being sown into the earth of Iraq by the forces of Islamist reaction working in tandem with those very Baathists who butchered and subdued Iraq’s Shia Arabs and who bulldozed whole Kurdish communities and gassed and murdered Kurds in the tens-of-thousands.

Amidst these horrors however are the things that make Iraq worth fighting for. The Iraqi government is striving to be a more inclusive institution and the most senior Shia cleric in Iraq is promulgating level-headed secular attitudes in order not to give Daesh and their Baathists backers the pleasure of seeing exacerbated sectarian fissures plunge Iraq into more bloodletting and violence. A state-of-affairs which, for obvious reasons, would benefit those who want Iraq to fail. Because, remember, Iraq has to be an abject failure, and the majority of its people ruthlessly subjugated, for them to succeed in their endeavours.

Which is one of many reasons one welcomes their defeat and their failure. Not only because they are vicious tyrants but because they stand in the way of a very real opportunity for Iraq to reach its very real potential, and in the process thrive to the benefit of both its people and the wider world.

Iraq Newsletter

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Real Life Stories of People Living In Iraq Today!

From time to time we come across a story that shocks us to the core, those videos of people having their heads chopped off. Those videos of people being thrown off of the top of the tallest building in Mosul for the accusation of being Gay.

Life was always tough for Iraqi’s especially the last 13 or so years. The tough times show little sign of easing, at least not any time in the immediate future. All we can do is have hope, if we lose hope we lose everything.

I have been following this Non-Profit organisation for sometime and wanted to share with you some of their stories.

Organisation: Because, I Love Peace

Key Leader: Dr. Sarah AK Ahmed with the support of Canon Andrew White (aka Vicar of Baghdad)

Website: She has a website but it wouldn’t do justice if I gave the link to it since it is not updated often. The updates are regular on her Facebook page: http://ift.tt/1DL1kHn

With that, I would like to share three short REAL LIFE STORIES of three REAL PEOPLE living the REALITY of our 2015 IRAQ.

Story 1 – Because, I Love Peace

Life Story 1 - Because I Love Peace

At Baharka Camp in Erbil love stories always breaks my heart. Abdulla is one of many that ISIS managed to get to his heart in a certain way. Today in our visit Abdulla came and shared his story with the team. Thanks Christian for putting it into words. “Abdullah was engaged to be married to the love of his life. A Mechanic in Mosul, he was saving up to move with his future bride and start a family. During the invasion of Mosul, they were separated. After being beaten bloody, he returned to consciousness only to see his fiancĂ© being dragged away, her fingers broken and ankles crushed. He has been looking for her since. Nearly 8 months have passed and he has yet to hear of her death or release. While he searches, he takes time during the day to assist with deliveries of flour and medical supplies to refugee camps. When asked if he thinks he will ever find her, he states, “She is my life. If I stop looking I will die”, he then returns to loading food onto his truck for the others who have lost everything.” Christian Stephen

Story 2 – Because, I Love Peace

Life Story 2 - Because I Love Peace

Luai is one of the most helpful people I have meet in one of the Christian Centers on the boarder of Erbil. He lives in this compound where the church is paying the rent of 45 houses for around 220 families to live in. We went yesterday and he wanted to share his story to our team. And it was heart breaking. “Luai was forced out of Mosul by ISIS before he could reach his family. His Aunt, who he describes as “my heart”, was taken before he could rescue her. At 62 years of age, she was taken to the ISIS camp and forced to “Marry” the fighters. ISIS militants believe that if they marry a woman before having sex, it is blessed in their gods eyes. She was “married” over 250 times, every 2 hours, with each “Marriage” resulting in brutal injuries. She was eventually released after 3 months of hourly rapes. The reason for her release was, according to the note, that she had lost her mind and was no longer of desire to the fighters. Upon her return, she had no papers, could barely walk, refused to speak as well as having violent traumatic flashbacks. Luai did all he could to bring “his heart” back to health, but she was lost… When asked what he feels, Luai begins to gently shake with rage and tears rim his eyelids. He simply states, “When I find them, I will destroy them. I will drink of their blood.” Christian Stephen

Story 3 – Because, I Love Peace

Life Story 3 - Because I Love Peace

“Saddam was part of the Iraqi army in Mosul when ISIS took over. His two sons were at home while he was fighting. ISIS came to the house and took the two boys. They took the youngest boy and shot him in the head, heart and knees with a pistol as his brother was forced to watch. When Saddam returned to his family, his son was dead and buried in the neighbours bathroom under a makeshift grave. Here, he holds his only surviving son. The surviving son remembers nothing of the event except for the sound of the air releasing from his little brothers body when the bullets hit. Saddam has vowed to kill every last ISIS fighter until either they are all dead, or he is.” Christian Stephen Thank you Christian and Dylan for coming along with me to Erbil to report on all that I have to deal with here, and to make those people heard.

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On Baathist-Islamist Collusion

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Tanzania and Vietnam in 1979, Iraq in 2015

In the war against the infamously notorious Islamic State (referred to herein by the Arab acronym Daesh) we are seeing what many are concluding is the collapse of the Sykes-Picot order. Daesh’s men now walk over the border which used to separate the polities of Iraq and Syria with complete impunity. It’s going to be hard work protecting that border even if Daesh are successfully pushed from all of Iraq.

Dire lessons from Syria for Iraq

One has wondered since Mosul fell last June whether or not the Iraqi armed forces – and the increasingly more powerful militias fighting alongside it – can effectively guard Iraq’s border with Syria considering how porous it is and how effective Daesh can be at hit-and-run attacks.

Without getting too far ahead of oneself, Mosul is after all still, unfortunately, under Daesh’s rule, will it eventually prove feasible for Iraq’s armed forces and/or the Shia militia’s to expand their anti-Daesh campaign into northeastern Syria?

Mosul will be a blow for Daesh if they lose it quickly militarily. And while it may be possible for them to attempt to make a deal with the Iraqis by withdrawing unilaterally, in order to fortify their other positions in Syria, and suddenly reminding Baghdad that the border which it so gleefully dismantled is still a legal obstacle, of sorts, for it.

Okay it’s a doubtful scenario considering it would lose that group face in front of its members and supporters, many of whom are earnest Islamists who are traveling from afar to partake in what they see as a tremendously successful enterprise. Especially so soon after losing Tikrit. But even if they are forced from Mosul soon and back over that invisible line which demarcates the boundaries of Iraq and Syria it will take quite a large logistical effort to prevent that group from re-consolidating its control over the vast swaths of Syria it is still dominating (not to mention Iraq’s own Anbar province which will also take substantial political outreach, military, and militant, efforts to pry from Daesh’s grip over the coming weeks and months) from which to launch attacks against Iraqi and Kurdish targets. So perhaps an extended operation into Syrian territory controlled by Daesh to at least continue to pressure that group on the ground there may very well prove to be a necessity for Baghdad.

Yes in Syria there are the Syrian Kurds who have been very brave and valiant in their fight against Daesh. But the United States doesn’t completely trust them given their connections with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) group which it still holds to be a terrorist organization. And at a time when it is working closely with Turkey to train a new Syrian fighting force in exile, to uproot Daesh from northeast Syria, it is doubtful that their coordination with Syria’s Kurds will amount to anything more than giving them some air support when they can.

In other words there is no fighting force on the ground at present which can take the fight against Daesh to Raqqa. Don’t expect Turkey to do it, unless they are convinced that the U.S. is ready to start targeting the Syrian military and the regime of Bashar al-Assad as well. Also don’t expect this new Syrian fighting force (fittingly enough many detractors of this admittedly questionable strategy point out that after the Iraqi Army acquired billions in both training and hardware they crumbled immediately upon the onset of Daesh’s seizure of Mosul last June) to amount to anything substantial for at least another good year, or possibly even two.

We could possible even see a scenario unfold whereby Iraq, and/or these Shia Popular Mobilization Units, will at least contemplate intervening in Daesh-held Syrian territory to further weaken that group and hinder its ability to endanger Iraq and its people. It can legally do this under the United Nations Charter’s Article 51 given the fact that Syria’s territory is being, and has been, used by this group to attack Iraq.

Two mildly comparable historical precedents both emanate from the tumultuous years of 1978-79. During that period Tanzania invaded Uganda and brought an end to the brutal rule of the Idi Amin regime and Vietnam intervened militarily in Cambodia against the Khmer Rouge.

In both instances those respective states reasoned that it wasn’t feasible to merely try and secure or seal their frontiers but to actually transcend them and confront those regimes directly on their home turf. That’s not of course to say that both were necessarily success stories. Far from it, especially Vietnam’s intervention which quickly devolved into a decade-long occupation.

If the Iraqis are successful in their planned offensive to liberate Mosul, and re-consolidate their control over all of Nineveh, they may deem it fundamentally important to ensure Daesh is forcibly denied its haven in northeastern Syria.

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