Iraq, The Rebuilding of a Nation In the Wake of Sixteen Years of US Sponsored Terrorism and Destruction

By Tom Peyre-Costa and Edu Montesanti,

Global Research, December 13, 2018

An Interview with the Norwegian Refugee Council

Iraq, which in the years of Saddam Hussein (1979-2003) lived a long period of prosperity and social stability, then recognized by the UN as one of the Arab countries that most respected religious diversity, has now become one of the most devastated nations in the world since the 1991 Gulf War, followed by the criminal US-imposed economic embargo which among many other catastrophes resulted in the death of more 200,000 children.

The second US invasion and occupation in 2003 was illegal, based on proven lies, undertaken without a UN mandate and in violation  of international law and the UN Charter, not to mention the US Constitution. 

If all this were not enough for Iraq, after the second invasion by those who promised the Arab nation freedom and security, Iraq was subjected to the  attacks of US sponsored terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) for almost four years, from 2014 to 2017, not to mention Obama’s bombing raids against civilian infrastructure, implemented as part of a fake counterterrorism mandate. The unspoken objective was to destroy.  

Since 2003, more than one million Iraqis have been killed.  Both Al Qaeda and ISIS-Daesh are supported covertly by the US, funded by Saudi Arabia.

The underlying objective was to destroy Iraq, destabilize and divide the Middle East, which encompasses more than 60 percent of the World’s reserves of crude oil. 

Tom Peyre-Costa, a spokesperson and activist at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), details in the following interview the work of his organization especially in Iraq, and discusses the challenges of the Arab country to get out of a quagmire that seems endless – which the American regime historically best does in foreign lands.

“Displaced Iraqis feel abandoned one year after the announced defeat of IS,” Peyre regrets acknowledging the Iraqi government’s effort, while pointing out weaknesses and neglect of Baghdad to some degree, at this stage of Iraqi reconstruction. “Displaced Iraqis feel abandoned one year after the announced defeat of IS.”

The NRC is present today in 31 countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali and Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, Colombia, Honduras, Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, Greece, Ukraine, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, USA, United Kingdom.

As a non-profit NGO, the NRC is funded by voluntary donors – the main ones are Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union Humanitarian Aid, UN Refugee Agency, UKAID, and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Below, the full interview with the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Tom Peyre-Costa.


Edu Montesanti: How do the 900 NRC specialists, scattered on 200 missions around the world, work?

Tom Peyre-Costa: Our experts work for NRC’s various core competencies: camp management, food assistance, clean water, shelter, legal aid, and education.

Edu Montesanti: Does the NRC face dangerous situations in the countries where the organization works?

Tom Peyre-Costa: Given the current unrest in conflict-affected states like the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Syria, some level of exposure to risks is inevitable, and may even be necessary to get the job done.

But the imperative that drives aid workers is to help people in need.

Edu Montesanti: Iraq is a particular case, a shattered country that suffered as a result of the attacks of the Islamic State throughout the national territory as of December of last year, as well as is still suffering the grave consequences of the US invasion and occupation in 2003, also posing a considerable risk to the NRC, right?

Tom Peyre-Costa: In Iraq, the war against the Islamic State (IS) group may be over but there are still numerous attacks in the country. They are even rising in Kirkuk governorate for example.

We, NRC, have a professional staff dedicated to security to mitigate the risks as much as possible, but it will never be reduced to zero.

Edu Montesanti: About running a risk, do you have any personal experience to share?

Tom Peyre-Costa: I am lucky enough to never have been put in a difficult situation. As I recall, the most recent situation was recording videos in Sinjar when there was sporadic shooting in the area.

But this is common in Iraq and can be for various reasons: celebrations, intimidation, protests etc…

Edu Montesanti: Sinjar seems a singular case in Iraq, Tom, according to your experience in the country. “Unlike elsewhere in Iraq, reconstruction never even started,” you wrote in November, referring specifically to Sinjar.

Explain the scenario in this Iraqi province.

Tom Peyre-Costa: Sinjar is singular by its recent history and the Genocide perpetrated against Yazidis. And as said indeed, reconstruction has not even started 3 years on. More than 200,000 people, mostly Yazidis, remain displaced in northern Iraq and abroad, with no homes to return to.

Those who decided to return lack the most basic things to live such as water. Most of the residents from Sinjar are still displaced in camps and cannot come back because of this situation.

Edu Montesanti: How much political corruption influences this situation involving the Yazidis, and what are the Iraqi government’s great challenges to overcome this situation?

Tom Peyre-Costa: I can’t speculate on corruption and political influences, what I can tell you is that it is essential that the government and the international community understand the extent of the needs and do more to respond to them.

The Iraqi government must overcome religious/sectarian divisions, many of which have widened during the recent conflict, especially when it comes to providing aid to its own population.

Edu Montesanti: Comment on the NRC work among the Yazidis, in Sinjar.

Tom Peyre-Costa: What NRC does in Sinjar and in Yazidi camps:

  1. We are present both on the ground in Sinjar and in the camps;
  1. We support Yazidi children in the camps to deal with their trauma and psychological distress through educational and recreational activities;
  1. In the displacement camps and since recently in Sinjar, we support families in retrieving essential documentation such as IDs and property deeds, essential to be able to rebuild their houses. We also support the youth with vocational training;
  1. Through our community centre in Sinjar we facilitate and coordinate a comprehensive humanitarian response between humanitarian partner organizations and communities, to ensure urgent needs are met.

Edu Montesanti: While eight million people in Iraq still lack humanitarian aid, NRC estimates, local and foreign governments especially the US-led-coalition which illegally invaded and occupied the country in 2003, should be held accountable for the Iraqi situation today?

Tom Peyre-Costa: The international community must invest as much in the reconstruction of Iraq as they did in the military operations against IS group. Displaced Iraqis feel abandoned one year after the announced defeat of IS.

There is still an immediate need to clear and rebuild houses, schools, and hospitals to allow them to return home. Reconstruction is beyond the capacity of the Iraqi government alone. The needs are immense.

We talk about entire cities and villages destroyed. $88 billion are needed just for the reconstruction of basic infrastructure. The conflict involved many actors from the international community so the support is a collective responsibility. This is the key to a sustainable future.

The Iraqi government has done a lot to facilitate the delivery of assistance to Iraqis in need; however much more needs to be done. It’s imperative that the Iraqi government ensures receive the assistance they need to retrieve their essential document, return home safely and therefore rebuild their life.

This means they need to ease and expedite the process for them to do so.

Edu Montesanti: What are Iraqis’ main needs?

Tom Peyre-Costa: As of today 3.9 million people have returned home and about 1.9 million remain displaced, 1.4 million out of camps, mainly in Ninewa and Anbar governorates. In 2018, more than eight million people in Iraq are still expected to need humanitarian aid according to the most recent Humanitarian Response Plan.

While fighting in Mosul and other areas formerly in the hands of the Islamic state virtually ceased in 2017, the humanitarian needs are immense. Displaced people, particularly in camps, are in need of water and sanitation services as well as medical assistance.

3.2 million children have missed several years of school due to the conflict. They need to catch up classes and psychosocial support to be able to deal with their traumas. Hundreds of schools across the country need to be rebuilt, they need books, desks, stationaries and most of all teachers.

Edu Montesanti: How have government officials responded to these people, and how can these officials better act on this situation?

Tom Peyre-Costa: There is an urgent need to support reconstruction and reconciliation efforts in the country, that should be everyone’s priority. Iraqis who have had homes or property destroyed by the fighting should be compensated for their losses. This is a concrete step the Iraqi government can take to help families rebuild.

National and local reconciliation efforts, supported by the international community, are also needed to help address community and tribal tensions that have been widened by the conflict with IS.

Finally, we need to see an end to collective punishment of families with a perceived association to IS group. A large number of these are female-headed households and children who have not committed crimes but are treated as guilty by association—blocked from returning home, unable to leave camps, or move around the country.

Edu Montesanti: Is discrimination against relatives of terrorists or dead ex-terrorists generalized in Iraq?

Tom Peyre-Costa: No, the situation is not generalized, but there are many reported cases. We need to see the government focusing on individual criminal charges rather than punishing entire families, children, and widows, for a crime they often did not commit.

We trust that the government together with local authorities will support reconciliation efforts at every level, to avoid collective punishment and find durable solutions for the families who are unable to return as they face revenge or community exclusion.

Edu Montesanti: How is the state of mind of displaced Iraqis?

Tom Peyre-Costa: Despite the considerable decrease in violence, return movements are slowing down. The majority of the remaining displaced Iraqis are unwilling or unable to go home within the next year as they have no home to return to, or are not allowed to leave their camp.

Displaced Iraqis feel abandoned by their government and the international community. Most of them have lost hope.

Edu Montesanti: Some fear that ISIS can resurge in the country as terrorists remain in northern Iraq, and in the Syrian border. Do you fear that, too?

Tom Peyre-Costa: We hope it’s never going to happen. Iraqis have endured the most terrible atrocities under IS and are now suffering from the lack of international support. We need to make sure the international community does not forget them.

More support will allow displaced people to return. More support will ensure sustainability and inclusivity. This is the best way to prevent such a catastrophe to happen again.

Edu Montesanti: You have argued throughout this interview that Iraqis suffer from the lack of international support. Is it not because invasions and wars are far more profitable than the rebuilding of a nation?

Tom Peyre-Costa: It is not profitable for the 1.8 million Iraqis still displaced, and the returnees that still live in a dire situation. Many donors are turning away their heads from Iraq, but the needs are still there. The needs to rebuild, stabilize and reconcile society.

It’s not time to abandon Iraqis.


Edu Montesanti is an independent journalist. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Oxfam International


New York’s Attackers

Hussein Samawarchi

About 17 years ago, I received a call asking me to report to duty and was advised to implement security protocol directives upon arrival to the workplace. My superior’s tone was one of urgency; this was, obviously, not a drill. The United States was under multiple attacks. At that point, no one knew how extensive the offensives were going to be or for how long they were to continue.

Uniforms were not to be worn. Even security clearance I.Ds needed to be obscured from the general public. Horror could be seen on the faces of people everywhere even at a distance of approximately 9,000 kilometers from where the events were taking place. The first few hours were ones of popular disbelief. Television stations showed people escaping from the thick toxic smoke and unbearable heat by jumping from incredibly high floors. New York’s terror attacks reverberated globally.

Continuous assessment had to be done so as to control the floating level of security measures being taken. Initial reports gathered from various official and non-official agencies coupled by media coverage were the primary sources of risk calculations. Were there going to be more terror strikes? If so, where?

Before long, major US news networks broadcasted information that should have been normally derived from official statements. Only, they preceded those statements. Eyebrows were raised.

Then, as we watched Fox News which was hosting guests on the phone while showing a live feed, the mentioning of “Middle Eastern terrorists” became a reporting pattern. They started infusing the Middle East in this event within an hour of its occurrence. It was as if the culprit was chosen way ahead of the crime.

Out of all the guest speakers who participated in the coverage, one particular “specialist” sounded very off. He laughed several times during his commentary; his tone did not fit that of a person who should be terrorized or angry.

The pace of events picked up; the towers crumbled down. It was difficult to believe that an aircraft, even if flying on full tanks, could bring down an architectural structure as wide as either of the twin towers; let alone having struck it in the upper floors and not in its base.

The following 24 hours were ones of grief over the number of casualties; the shock of the event kept my colleagues and I from noticing that we hadn’t slept or even rested for a long time. Necessary coordination with various security organizations kept phone lines busy almost continuously; I had never seen a backlog of emails this big before. A relief shift took over and we were free to go to our homes.

The last event of the day for me, which turned out to be the most significant on a personal understanding level of the events, was a little chat I had with a UN liaison officer on our way to the parking lot. I was telling him how the cc camera footage at the departure gates will show the hijackers. His reply was that it would be more beneficial to check the footage of the airport ramp security cameras designated for watching the handling of the four airplanes and also a log of where these airplanes had been technically serviced in the recent hours or days prior to the attacks. He said the same manufacturer of the four airplanes also manufactures highly advanced navigational systems for cruise missiles.

I saw the gentleman again after a few weeks and we touched on the topic. His view was that 9/11 was the perfect excuse for the American military-industrial complex to make an obscene amount of profits. He also pointed out that, as a matter of principle and from an intelligence point of view, the abundance of conspiracy theories that invaded every kind of media confirmed that higher powers were at play; powers that controlled media.

That was all during 2001. Now that all these years have passed and so much more concrete information surfaced, even the most simple-minded spectator of events can deduce who were the real perpetrators of the event that shook America’s public, but not its policymakers. Let us consider the following:

Larry Silverstein, a man known for his strong links with Zionism bought a 99-year lease of the World Trade Center a few months before 9/11. Then he quickly bought insurance against terror attacks. Sounds like the man had inside information about future plans.

Boeing, the company that supplies the air-launched generation of Cruise missiles (AGM-86) with navigation systems is the manufacturer of the four aircraft that acted exactly like Cruise missiles during the attacks. One wonders if the Boeing-757 and Boeing-767 aircraft types can be fitted with upgraded navigational systems designed by the same company. Boeing is said to be owned and operated majorly by Zionist Jews.

The group of men caught celebrating from a distance while the, possibly remotely guided, aircraft hit the WTC were “Israeli”. They were arrested and had their advanced surveillance equipment confiscated. In a television interview after their release, one of them confessed to having been there to “document” the event. How did they know that the event was going to take place?

Osama Bin Laden, the man who assumed responsibility for the terror attacks was a Wahhabi who implicated Arabs and Muslims. The two groups are the historical prime targets of Zionists; he gave them a gift.

Wahhabis have proved to be “Israel’s” biggest regional supporters in the past decade and Bin Laden was the receiver of US financial and military aid for many years during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Would such a man not make any statements that serve the ambitions of his masters?

The second generation of Al Qaida, “ISIS” and Al Nusra, have had their top operatives in Syria airlifted to safety onboard US military helicopters as per CIA orders. These mercenary Wahhabi terrorists are the people who have allegedly executed 9/11.

A thousand conspiracy theories orbit around every one of the above facts. Their abundance causes the public opinion to dismiss the reality as an absurdity; the plain and obvious truth is, therefore, missed. This is the operating style of Zionists whose spokesman, Netanyahu, admitted on video that they control at least 80% of the American public opinion.

Zionists have no problem with casualties to reach their goals. Jews were sacrificed in Europe so as to found a state in their name. Americans were burned alive in the WTC so as to invade Afghanistan. Kuwait was devastated so as to break the Iraqi army.

Going back to the “specialist” interviewed on FOX News during the live feed of 9/11 – the one who seemed to be unmoved and even happy. Watching the video of the coverage again, it was possible to catch his name. He was Harvey Kushner. The same family name as today’s biggest Zionist in Washington DC, Jared Kushner. Coincidence?

If Zionists are ever good at something, it is orchestrating devastating events at humanity-altering levels.

Source: Al-Ahed News

إيران ودرس كردستان العراق الجديد لمن يفهم!

سبتمبر 10, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– فيما الإعلام منشغل والسياسة منغمسة، في استقراء رسائل أحداث البصرة، والاستعصاء الحكومي في العراق، والتصعيد المفتعل في حرب الصلاحيات لتبرير التعطيل في لبنان، وبينهما وفوقهما، بما شهدته قمة طهران ومن ورائها معركة إدلب، التي بدا واضحاً أن كل التهديد والوعيد لا يفتّ في عضد أصحاب القرار فيها، قام الحرس الثوري الإيراني بالإعلان عن استهداف مواقع للجماعات الكردية المسلحة الإيرانية المتمرّدة والمتمركزة داخل كردستان العراق، وهي جماعات ينظمها ويرعاها الأميركيون للقيام بأعمال تخريبية داخل إيران. والحدث كبير جداً ويحمل رسائل تتصل بحجم القرار الإيراني في التعامل مع المحاولات الأميركية لتغيير توازنات النصر في سورية التي تقترب لحظاتها الأخيرة لصالح محور المقاومة الذي تشكّل إيران قوّته الرئيسية وعمقه الاستراتيجي.

– رسالة كردستان العراق ودرسها الأهم، أن إيران التي صمتت عن بعض هذه الجماعات في ما مضى منعاً للتصعيد، واكتفت بالاستعدادات داخل حدودها لمنع تسلل هذه الجماعات، قرّرت مطاردتها وتصفيتها داخل الحدود العراقية في ظل وجود أميركي مباشر في العراق، وفي أشدّ اللحظات العراقية السياسية الداخلية تعقيداً، وتجاذب سياسي داخلي عراقي يتصل بدور إيران، التي يفترض منها مراعاته ويتوقع منها تهيّب القيام بما يثير ضدها بعض المواقف ويستصدر بعض البيانات، فإذ بها تفعل العكس غير آبهة بما سيُقال، لتقول إنه في كل مواجهة تكون أميركا هي الطرف المقابل فيها بصورة مباشرة أو بصورة غير مباشرة، فلا خطوط حمراء تمنع إيران من الذهاب للاشتباك المباشر مهما كانت النتائج، وأنها مستعدّة لتحمل التبعات، وخوض المخاطر.

– هذا يعني مباشرة أن الرسائل قابلة للصرف في ساحتي اشتباك افتراضيتين، الأولى في سورية وفقاً لقراءة ما بعد إدلب، والتبشير الإيراني المتواصل منذ سنتين بدنو معركة الرقة، ومن ضمنها طرد الأميركيين من سورية، وليس خافياً أن العملية التي استهدفت الجماعات الكردية المجهزة لاستهداف إيران، يأتي بعد يومين على قيام جماعات كردية مشابهة يقودها الأميركيون باستهداف الجيش السوري في منطقة القامشلي، والثانية في مضيق هرمز، حيث حذرت إيران من دفعها لإقفاله أمام الصادرات النفطية، إذا جرى تقييد حركتها في أسواق النفط بصورة تصيب وضعها المالي والتجاري بنتائج قاسية، فالتحرك العسكري خارج أراضي إيران، وفقاً لمفهوم أمنها القومي، ودون تنسيق مسبق مع حكومات الجوار المعنية، هو منهج على واشنطن وضعه في الحساب، كلما دنت ساعة الاختبار في الخليج.

– بالتزامن تبدو الرسالة واضحة لجهة عدم ترك المجال للفهم الخاطئ لتعامل إيران وحلفائها مع مساعي الفتن التي يشعلها الأميركيون في العراق ويريدون إشعالها في لبنان، فالاحتواء والامتصاص أسلوبان ناجحان في الأحداث الداخلية العراقية واللبنانية سياسة رابحة لإيران، حيث تحوّلت الفوضى التي أُخذت إليها منطقة البصرة في العراق لإحراق اسم المرشح الذي يدعمه الأميركيون لرئاسة الحكومة، الدكتور حيدر العبادي، وتحميل تيار السيد مقتدى الصدر مسؤولية الفوضى التي استهدفت خصومه والقنصلية الإيرانية، بعدما كان المقصود استهداف تيار الحشد الشعبي ورئيس الحكومة السابق نور المالكي، وتحميلهما مع إيران مسؤولية المعاناة المتراكمة لأهالي البصرة. وفي لبنان فشلت محاولات تحميل رئيس الجمهورية مسؤولية تأخير ولادة الحكومة، وبدا بوضوح أن المسؤولية عند الرئيس المكلف تشكيل الحكومة رغم كل الحشد الذي تمّ استحضاره لافتعال معركة صلاحيات رئاسية. والرسالة، هنا هي لا تسيئوا فهم المرونة، فرسالة القوة في مكان آخر، ولسنا ملزمين عندما تهاجمون بالردّ في المكان والأسلوب ذاتهما، فافهموا الأبعاد والمعاني وضعوها في حساباتكم الأكبر، والأبعد مدى!

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Iraq: Will Tony Blair Finally Stand Trial for His Part in the “Supreme International Crime”? @InstituteGC

Iraq: Will Tony Blair Finally Stand Trial for His Part in the “Supreme International Crime”?

Former British Prime Minister Blair listens to a question during an appearance at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The article below, first published on GR in July 2017, is relevant to the commemoration of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“I think most people who have dealt with me, think I’m a pretty straight sort of guy, and I am.” (Tony Blair, BBC “On the Record”, 16th November 1997.) 

On 30th November last year, Michael Gove, currently UK Environment Minister, pretty well unloved by swathes of the population whatever Ministry he heads, declared, at the post Chilcot Inquiry debate in Parliament regarding Tony Blair’s role in dragging the UK in to a monumental tragedy for which history will not forgive:

“History, I think will judge him less harshly than some in this House do.”

Deciding whether or not to illegally invade Iraq was a “finely balanced act”, fantasized Gove.

It was not. It was a pack of lies, many of which came from the Blair regime, as confirmed by Colin Powell’s delusionary address to the UN on 5th February 2003, in subsequently unearthed correspondence and of course, the Chilcot Inquiry. 

On 15th September 2004, the then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, in an interview with the BBC World Service, asked if the invasion was illegal, stated:

“Yes, if you wish.” He continued without caveat: “I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN Charter. From our point of view and from the Charter point of view it was illegal.” 

Blair, his Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw and his Attorney General Lord Goldsmith did not face a Nuremberg type trial – and surreally, Blair, after his 2007 resignation was appointed Middle East Peace Envoy. Straw and Goldsmith went back to business as usual. 

However, after fourteen years, maybe two million deaths, the decimation by ISIS, the US, and the UK of Iraq’s (Mesopotamia’s) history, culture stewardship and witness, over millennia, to one of the world’s great, ancient civilizations, there is a chance that Antony Charles Lynton Blair, Jack Straw and Lord Goldsmith may yet face a Court of Law. 

File:Chirac Bush Blair Berlusconi.jpg

George W. Bush poses with G8 leaders during the G8 Summit in Evian, France, on June 2, 2003. From left, President Jacques Chirac of France, President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. (Source: White House photo by Eric Draper / Wikimedia Commons)

In April this year the UK Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, intervened in an attempt to halt a private prosecution of the three brought by General Abdul-Wahid al-Ribat, former Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Army under Saddam Hussein’s government.

The Attorney General argued that the basis of the case, the crime of aggression “the supreme international crime” as enshrined in the Nuremberg Tribunals, did not apply in British law and that the former Prime Minister, Blair and his Ministers had:

“implied immunity as former Head of State and government Ministers, therefore offence not made out … Allegations involve potential details being disclosed under the Official Secrets Act for which Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions consent are required.” (1)

The implication seemingly being that those consents would not be forthcoming. 

However, in direct contradiction, relating to the argument regarding the crime of aggression:

“In his 2003 memo on the legality of the Iraq war (Lord) Goldsmith, then Attorney General, appeared to concede the key point of those now seeking his prosecution. ‘Aggression is a crime under customary international law which automatically forms part of domestic law’ “, he wrote in an advice to then Prime Minister Blair prior to the invasion. (2) 

Nevertheless the case was dismissed by the Judge at Westminster Magistrates Court. The legal team for General al-Ribat, led by Michael Mansfield QC and lawyer Imran Khan are not easily deterred. 

Mansfield has been described thus:

“The radical lawyer has become an icon in a disenchanted age … (Mansfield’s) high profile victories take on a hallowed significance: the good guys against the rotten state … with a flourish of his insolence and a refusal to shut up they flock to him … and he looks after them all. The Establishment loathes him.” (Guardian, 25th October 1997.) Imran Khan: “is one of the most highly regarded human rights layers in the country” and “a rebel with many causes.” (The Lawyer, 17th June 2015.) “My objective is to make sure the State is held accountable”, he is quoted as saying. 

This week, on Wednesday, 5th July, General al-Ribat’s case returned to the High Court in an appeal which is being heard by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and Mr. Justice Ouseley. 

The General had been motivated, Mansfield told the Court, by the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry that the Iraq invasion was unnecessary and undermined the United Nations. 

‘Mansfield summarised the report’s findings as:

“Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to the UK, intelligence reporting about [Iraqi] weapons of mass destruction was presented with unwarranted certainty, that the war was unnecessary and that the UK undermined the authority of the UN Security Council.” 

“Nothing could be more emphatic than these findings,” he said. “It was an unlawful war.” 

He further argued that in 1945:

“… when the British prosecutor, Sir Hartley Shawcross, opened the cases against Nazi leaders at the Nuremburg war crimes trials at the end of the second world war, he acted as though the crime of aggression had already been assimilated into English law.” (3) 

James Eadie, QC. representing the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright stated that:

“The crime of aggression is not know to English law” and does not exist in the statute book. 

Sabah al-Mukhtar, of the Arab Lawyers Network, commented of the case:

“This is just looking at whether the first Court was right in refusing to entertain the case. 

“The Magistrates Court dismissed it on the grounds that Tony Blair had immunity and that the crime of aggression was not part of English law. Many think they were not correct on that.” 

The case can be brought in Britain since the British were part of the occupying forces in Iraq, thus General al-Ribat, now living in exile is: “under the European Convention on Human Rights, deemed to have been within the jurisdiction at a relevant time.” 

The High Court’s decision has been reserved to allow a further week for the General’s legal team to make “additional specified submissions.” If the Appeal is not dismissed: “the issue of whether the crime of aggression exists in English law will be sent up to the Supreme Court to decide.” 

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Sir John Chilcot (Source: Iraq Inquiry)

It has not been Blair’s week. In the light of the Court hearing, Sir John Chilcot – who headed the seven year Inquiry in to the decimating attack on Iraq and found that the Blair Cabinet’s decisions on the matter had been “far from satisfactory” – broke a year long silence in an interview with the BBC. 

Asked if the former Prime Minister had been as truthful with him and the public as he should have been, Sir John replied: 

“Can I slightly reword that to say I think any Prime Minister taking a country into war has got to be straight with the nation and carry it, so far as possible, with him or her. I don’t believe that was the case in the Iraq instance.” 

Millions would surely agree, including a swathe of the media, as encapsulated by media correspondent Roy Greenslade (4) exactly a year ago, on the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry. The sub-heading was:

“Without exception, the ‘feral beasts’ of the press tear the former Prime Minister apart over the Iraq invasion, leaving his reputation in tatters.” 

A few front page examples were: “Chilcot Report into Iraq war delivers harsh verdict on Blair” (Financial Times); “A monster of delusion” (Daily Mail); “Weapon of mass deception” (Sun); “Blair’s private war” (Times); “Blair is world’s worst terrorist” (Daily Star) and “Spinning on their graves” (Independent). The Mail cited: “the duplicitous, dishonest, secretive, shallow and incompetent conduct of Tony Blair…” 

In November 2011:

“In Kuala Lumpur, after two years of investigation by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC), a Tribunal (the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, or KLWCT) consisting of five Judges with judicial and academic backgrounds reached a unanimous verdict that found George W Bush and Tony Blair guilty of crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and genocide as a result of their roles in the Iraq War.” (5)

Of relevance to this week’s case may be that: The Tribunal also added several recommendations to its verdict:

1) Report findings in accord with Part VI (calling for future accountability) of the Nuremberg Judgment of 1945 addressing crimes of surviving political and military leaders of Nazi Germany; 

2) File reports of genocide and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague; 

3) Approach the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution demanding that the United States end its occupation of Iraq; 

4) Communicate the findings of the tribunal to all members of the Rome Statute (which governs the International Criminal Court) and to all states asserting Universal Jurisdiction that allows for the prosecution of international crimes in national courts; and

5) Urge the UN Security Council to take responsibility to ensure that full sovereign rights are vested in the people of Iraq and that the independence of its government be protected by a UN Peacekeeping Force. 

It is ten years nearly to the day (27th June 2007) since Blair left Downing Street, left Iraq bathed in blood and tears and walked off to make £millions and a joke of all peace stands for, as a “Peace Envoy.”


South Front

Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bombers carried out massive strikes on ISIS terrorists in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor on November 25 and November 26. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the strikes hit ISIS’ manpower, vehicles and command posts in the Euphrates Valley.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces continued clearing the western bank of the river from terrorists and liberated Gharibah, Dablan, Wadi Fulaytah and Tall Tafran.

On November 26, the Syrian Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA) claimed that “Turkish-backed militants” have shot down three Russian helicopters over the northern Aleppo countryside. An official of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) told ANHA that several Russian pilots and high-ranking officers were killed or injured in the supposed attack on the Russian helicopters.

So far, ANHA has provided no video or photo confirmation of its claims. The militant groups of Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) have not claimed that they downed some helicopters in the area.

According to local sources, three Russian helicopters, a Mi-8AMTSh and two Ka-52, were really spotted in the area. Local militants opened fire on them with light weapons and machine guns.

However, no helicopter was downed. An absence of the official commentary on the issue from the Russian Defense Ministry contributes to this version.

In northeastern Hama, ISIS cells have seized the villages of Rasm Sakkaf, Mu’siwan, ‘Atshanah, Shayhat Hamra and Abu ’Ajwah from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The group expansion in the area came amid an intense fighting between the SAA and HTS in southern Aleppo and northern Hama.

The Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have liberated the area of 14,100 km2 including 175 villages since the start of the anti-ISIS operation in the al-Jazeera region of Iraq. During their advance, government troops have destroyed 11 vehicles, 5 oil tankers, 18 car bombs and 6 motorcycles of ISIS as well as dismantled 1,000 IED planted by ISIS.

The army and the PMU are now consolidating their gains, securing the recently liberated area and re-supplying their troops. As soon as this is done, they will continue their push to liberate the rest of the border area from ISIS.

ISIS-held Pocket In Euphrates Valley Is Close To Collapse Under Tiger Forces Pressure (Map)



Written by Elijah J. MagnierOriginally appeared in Arabic at and in English HERE;

Following the victory of the Syrian army and its allies over the “Islamic State” group in the town of Albu Kamal in the north-east of the country, the road has been opened for the first time since the declaration of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 between Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut and become safe and non-hostile to the four capitals and their rulers.

The United States tried to block the road between Tehran and Beirut at the level of Albu Kamal by forcing the Kurdish forces into a frantic race, but Washington failed to achieve its goals.

US Buffer Zone In Northeastern Syria And Land-Bridge From Tehran To Beirut

Click to see the full-size map

The Syrian Army along with allied forces (the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Iraqi Harakat al-Nujaba’) liberated the city, opening the border with Iraq at al-Qa’im crossing. ISIS militants fled to the Iraqi al-Anbar desert and east of the Euphrates River where US and Kurdish forces are operating.

The United States established a new rule of engagement in the east of the Euphrates, informing the Russian forces that it will not accept any ground forces (the Syrian army and its allies) east of the Euphrates River and that it will bomb any target approaching the east of the river even if the objective of the ground forces was to pursue ISIS.

Thus, the US is establishing a new undeclared no-fly-zone without bothering to deny that this can serve ISIS forces east of the Euphrates and offer the terrorists a kind of protection. Moreover, the US-led international coalition air bombing against ISIS has reduced noticeably.

With this US warning, it is clear that Washington is declaring the presence of an occupying force in Syria, particularly as the presence of the coalition was linked to fighting ISIS as previously announced. Today ISIS has lost all cities under its occupation since July 2014 in Iraq and before this date in Syria. Therefore there is no legal reason for the presence of the US forces in the Levant.

By becoming an occupation force, the US troops expose themselves, along with the proxy Kurds operating under its command, to attacks similar to the one in Iraq and the one in Lebanon in 1982 during the Israeli invasion.

The United States will no longer be able to block the Iraqi-Syrian road (Al-Qaim-Albu Kamal) because it is related to the sovereignty of the two countries. But this does not mean Tehran will use this route to send weapons across Baghdad and Damascus to Hezbollah in Lebanon, for two reasons:

First, Iraq has sovereignty and the Prime Minister Haider Abadi will not allow any Iraqi armed party to keep its weapons because the Iraqi armed forces are responsible for holding security, especially after the defeat of ISIS in all cities.

Abadi’s next step will be to disarm all Iraqi movements and organizations by the year 2018 and most likely after the forthcoming elections in May. According to well-informed sources Iran and the Marjaiya in Najaf (and the majority of the Iraqi parties) want Abadi to be re-elected for another term.

This means that Iraq will not allow its territory to be used to finance non-state actors, even if these have taken part in the elimination of ISIS. Neither will he allow weapons to cross his country to an ally that fought alongside the Iraqi forces – such as Hezbollah – because he is not positioning himself against the United States and the countries of the region. This is not Iraq’s battle.

Secondly, Hezbollah does not need the land route from Tehran to Beirut because the sea and air links with Tehran are open through Syria and from it to Lebanon. Moreover, Hezbollah is no longer in need of additional weapons in Lebanon, especially since the Lebanese-Syrian front is unified against any possible future Israeli war.

As for Syria, the preparations for starting the challenging and complex rounds of negotiation to open the way for political talks have begun in Sochi, Russia. Naturally, these talks are difficult because the United States has demands, as does Turkey, which has shown its intention to stay for a very long in the north of Syria.

In this context, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is ready to prepare for a new constitution, on which work began several months ago. Syrian and international human rights experts and law specialists have been discussing with various groups how to establish new constitutional foundations for Syria, aiming to invite the numerous anti-Damascus parties to lay down their arms and join in the negotiations for the future of Syria.

The only problem remains with al-Qaeda in Bilad al-Sham, and the thousands of foreign fighters in Idlib, waiting for the results of the Turkish-Syrian negotiation.

The war was long and complex, mainly because of shifting alliances. But the peace will be no less complex to construct if future wars based on revenge and a greedy desire for territory are to be avoided.

جسر طهران – بيروت… حقيقي أم وهمي؟

تقرير / منطقة أميركية عازلة شمال شرقي سورية

بعد الانتصار الذي حققه الجيش السوري وحلفاؤه باستعادة مدينة البوكمال السورية شرق البلاد من تنظيم «داعش»، فُتحت الطريق – للمرة الأولى منذ إعلان الجمهورية الاسلامية في ايران العام 1979 – بين طهران وبغداد ودمشق وبيروت وأصبحت آمنة وغير عدائية للعواصم الأربع وحكّامها.

وحاولت الولايات المتحدة قطع الطريق البرية بين طهران – بيروت وإعاقتها عبر البوكمال من خلال دفْع القوات الكردية (قسد) التي تعمل بإمرتها نحو البوكمال في سباقٍ محموم أدى الى فشل واشنطن في تحقيق أهدافها. وقد وصلت القوات السورية ومعها القوات الرديفة (حزب الله اللبناني والحرس الثوري الايراني وحركة النجباء العراقية) الى المدينة وحرّرتْها وفتحتْ الحدود البرية مع العراق، بعدما كانت سيطرت قواته البرية على الحدود من ناحية القائم وطردت «داعش» الذي فرّ رجاله إلى الصحراء العراقية في الأنبار وإلى شرق نهر الفرات حيث توجد القوات الأميركية وتلك الكردية العاملة بإمرتها.

وعملت الولايات المتحدة على إرساء قواعد اشتباك جديدة شرق الفرات، إذ أبلغت الى القوات الروسية انها لن تقبل وجود أي قوى للجيش السوري وحلفائه شرق نهر الفرات وأنها ستقصف أي هدف يقترب من شرق النهر حتى ولو كان الهدف قوات «داعش»، وتالياً فإن أميركا فرضت منطقة حظر طيران من دون الإعلان عنها ولم تُخْفِ حمايتها حتى لقوات «داعش»، وخصوصاً أن وتيرة الغارات الأميركية والتحالف الدولي الذي تقوده واشنطن تراجعتْ في شكل ملحوظ. وبغرض منْع عبور نهر الفرات، تكون أميركا أعلنت عن بقائها في شمال شرقي سورية، الأمر الذي تعتبره دمشق احتلالاً لأن الحرب على «داعش» اقتربت من نهايتها مع خسارة التنظيم كل المدن التي كان يحتلّها في سورية والعراق.

وهذا التوصيف للقوات الأميركية قد يعرّضها ومعها القوات الموالية لها لعمليات شبيهة بتلك التي تعرّضت لها العام 2003 مع بداية احتلالها للعراق وأيضاً العام 1982 في لبنان إبان الاجتياح الاسرائيلي.

ولن تستطيع الولايات المتحدة قفل الطريق العراقي – السوري (القائم – البوكمال) لأن الأمر يتعلق بسيادة البلدين. الا أن هذا لا يعني ان طهران ستستخدم هذه الطريق لعبور الأسلحة الى «حزب الله» لسببين:

اولاً: ان للعراق سيادة وتالياً فإن رئيس الوزراء حيدر العبادي لن يسمح لأي طرف مسلّح عراقي بالوجود في العراق لان القوات المسلحة العراقية كافية للإمساك بالوضع الأمني – خصوصاً بعد إنهاء سيطرة «داعش» على المدن – وتالياً الخطوة التالية للعبادي ستكون سحب السلاح من كل الحركات والتنظيمات العراقية بحلول السنة المقبلة وعلى الأرجح بعد الانتخابات. وعلمت «الراي» أن إيران والمرجعية العليا في النجف وغالبية الأحزاب العراقية تريد التمديد للعبادي لولاية ثانية. وهذا يعني أن العراق لن يسمح بأن تُستخدم أراضيه لتمويل جهات غير حكومية – حتى ولو كانت صديقة وشاركت بالقضاء على «داعش»، مثل «حزب الله» – لانها بهذه الطريقة تضع نفسها بالواجهة ضدّ الولايات المتحدة ودول المنطقة وهذا ما لا تريده بغداد.

ثانياً: لا يحتاج «حزب الله» الى الطريق البرية لأن الخطوط البحرية والجوية مفتوحة عن طريق سورية والداخل اللبناني، إضافة الى ان الحزب لم يعد يحتاج إلى أسلحة إضافية في لبنان، وخصوصاً ان الجبهة اللبنانية – السورية أصبحت موحّدة ضد أي عدوان اسرائيلي محتمل في المستقبل. اما بالنسبة إلى سورية فالتحضيرات لبدء الجولات الصعبة والمعقّدة لفتح الطريق أمام المحادثات السياسية قد بدأت في سوتشي – روسيا، ومن الطبيعي ان تكون هذه المحادثات شاقة لأن الولايات المتحدة لها طلبات وكذلك تركيا التي ثبتت نفسها في المناطق الشمالية لسورية وكأنها باقية لأمد طويل.

وفي هذا السياق فإن الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد مستعدّ للتحضير لدستور جديد بدأ العمل من أجله منذ أشهر وقد عُرض على الخبراء الحقوقيين ويُناقَش مع جهات مختلفة لوضع أسس دستورية جديدة لسورية تجبر الأطراف المتنوعة المشارب على إلقاء السلاح. وتبقى عقدة «القاعدة» في بلاد الشام والمقاتلين الأجانب الموجودين بالآلاف في إدلب على حالها في انتظار القرار التركي – السوري في شأن مصيرهم.

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