The US Army Smuggles 45 Tankers of Stolen Syrian Oil into Iraq



The US Army continues to plunder the Syrian oil to deprive the Syrian people of their own fuel in continuing the anti-Semitic Antichrist agenda carried out by the ‘liberals’ of the ‘free world’ led by NATO, the ‘defensive’ alliance.

An additional 45 oil tankers were smuggled by the US Army and its Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists out of Syria into neighboring Iraq yesterday, Saturday 03, June 2023.

Local sources reported that the tankers loaded with stolen Syrian oil from the Syrian oil fields in Hasakah province, northeast of Syria, were smuggled by the US Army and its local Kurdish proxy forces into northern Iraq through the illegal Mahmoudiya border crossing in the Yarubiyah countryside in the same Syrian province.

The former leader of the US-led NATO ‘defensive’ alliance, US former president Trump repeated more than once that he’s ‘keeping the Syrian oil’ arrogantly stating ‘he likes oil’ in a repetition to a similar saying of the disgraced former US president and war criminal George W. Bush when he blatantly said ‘the USA is addicted to oil’ justifying the US invasion of Iraq and its occupation of that oil-rich country.

The US Army, or any other NATO armies or their allies was sent to Syria to combat ISIS or to fight terrorism, terrorism, especially that of ISIS and al Qaeda thrives wherever the US Army is deployed, without fail, terrorism is only defeated when the US Army ‘stops combating terrorism!’

Several leaders of the NATO ‘defensive’ alliance did not hide their evil agenda for stealing Syrian oil and wheat, saying they use it as leverage against the Syrian government bragging about the harm and suffering their illegal policies in Syria inflicted on the millions of the Syrian people.

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The stealing of Syrian oil is a daily practice by the US Army and its proxy terrorists in northern Syria, there are dozens of tankers carrying stolen Syrian oil and lorries carrying stolen Syrian wheat smuggled by the leader of the so-called ‘free world’ to the US military bases in northern Iraq and from it to Israel, ISIS (ISIL – Daesh), and other entities funded by the US taxpayers across the region.

We, at Syria News, do not have the resources to report on the US Army’s theft of Syrian oil every day but we try our level best to bring it to the notice of our readers whenever it’s possible hoping one day the citizens of the member states of NATO, the ‘defensive’ alliance, especially the US taxpayers and voters would hold their officials to account for these crimes committed in their names and using their hard-earned taxes which in normal countries would have been used to better their own lives instead of destroying the lives of innocent people across the globe.


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Railway of Resistance: A grand project to connect Iran, Iraq, Syria

May 19 2023

Beyond its positive economic implications, the railway project connecting Iran, Iraq, and Syria will be a geopolitical game changer by connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Mohamad Hasan Sweidan

Sir Halford John Mackinder, one of Britain’s most prominent theorists in the field of geopolitics, discusses the significance of land connectivity between nations in his 1904 essay called The Geographical Pivot of History.

Besides introducing his notable Heartland Theory, Mackinder argued that advancements in transportation technology, such as the development of railways, have altered the balance of power in international politics by enabling a powerful state or group of states to expand its influence along transport routes.

The establishment of blocs, like the EU or BRICS, for instance, aims to enhance communication between member states. This objective has positive implications for the economy and helps reduce the risk of tensions among them.

The cost of such tensions has increased considerably, given the growing benefits and common interests achieved through strengthened ties between nations. Consequently, reinforcing connections within a specific region has a positive impact on the entire area.

Therefore, any infrastructure project between countries cannot be viewed solely from an economic standpoint; its geopolitical effects must also be highlighted.

West Asia connected by railway

In July 2018, Saeed Rasouli, head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (RAI), announced the country’s intention to construct a railway line connecting the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, the Iran-Iraq-Syria railway link. This ambitious project would run from Basra in southern Iraq to Albu Kamal on the Iraqi-Syrian border and then extend to Deir Ezzor in northeastern Syria.

Undoubtedly, this project strengthens communication between the countries of West Asia and increases the need for other powers to collaborate with this important region, which is strategically located in parts of Mackinder’s “Heartland” and Nicholas Spykman’s “Rimland” of Eurasia.

Moreover, in accordance with Mackinder’s proposition, it can be argued that this railway project holds geopolitical significance for the three involved countries – Iran, Iraq, and Syria – and for West Asia as a whole.

The concept of a railway link between Iran and Iraq emerged over a decade ago. In 2011, Iran completed the 17-kilometer Khorramshahr-Shalamjah railway, which aimed to connect Iran’s railways to the city of Basra. Subsequently, in 2014, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Tehran and Baghdad to construct the Shalamjah-Basra line.

As per the agreement, Iran was responsible for designing and building a bridge over the Arvand River, while the Iraqi side pledged to construct a 32-kilometer railway line from the Shalamjah border to the Basra railway station within Iraqi territory.

Final destination: Syria

On 14 August, 2018, Iran announced its intention to further extend the railway from its territory to Syria, with Iraq’s participation. This move aimed to counter western sanctions and enhance economic cooperation.

The railway project would begin at the Imam Khomeini port on the Persian Gulf, located in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan province, to the Shalamjah crossing on the Iraqi border. From there, the railway traverses through the Iraqi province of Basra, crossing Albu Kamal on the Syrian border and ending at the Mediterranean port of Latakia.

Iranian official sources stated that this railway would contribute to Syria’s reconstruction efforts, bolster the transport sector, and facilitate religious tourism between Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Iran would bear the costs of the project within its own territory, while Iraq would contribute its share up to the Syrian border.

During the visit of former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Iraq in March 2019, a memorandum of understanding on the project was signed between Tehran and Baghdad. However, despite the agreements, the Iraqi side has faced economic challenges and a lack of funds, resulting in a delay in the construction of the railway.

Proposed railway links between Iran, Iraq, and Syria

Three Sections

The railway project can be divided into three sections: The first section links the Imam Khomeini Port to the Shalamjah crossing on the Iraqi border. According to the Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mehrdad Bazrpash, the railway line in Iran has been completed and has reached the zero border point.

The second section will link the Shalamjah Crossing to Basra in southern Iraq, then extend to Baghdad, Anbar province, and finally, the Syrian border. The financing of this section, according to the agreement, falls under the responsibility of the Iraqi government. The commencement of this phase is expected soon.

The third section, within Syria, encompasses two routes: The northern route extends between Iraq’s al-Qaim and Syria’s Albu Kamal, then heads west towards the Syrian port of Latakia. The southern route runs from the al-Qaim crossing on the Iraqi-Syrian border to Damascus via Homs.

It should be noted that although the shortest route to Damascus is through al-Tanf, due to the presence of the illegal US occupation forces there, the longer Homs-Damascus corridor was adopted. This also ensures the passage of railways through a greater number of Syrian cities.

Economic significance

Although the rail line between Iran and Iraq will only span 32 km and cost approximately $120 million, divided equally, its significance extends far beyond its length. It will serve as the sole railway connection between the two countries and play a crucial role in improving communication throughout the wider region by linking China’s Belt and Road Initative (BRI) lines to Iraq via Iran.

Once completed, the project will enable Iraq to easily connect to Iran’s extensive railway network, which extends to Iran’s eastern border. This linkage will open pathways for Baghdad to connect with Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Far East.

Moreover, in the future, the project positions Iraq as a transit route for trade between the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region and Central Asia, as well as Russia. Incidentally, Iran and Russia have just inked an agreement to establish a railway connecting the Iranian cities of Astara with Rasht, as part of the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

The railway line also contributes to the promotion of religious tourism among the three countries, which are home to several important Shia shrines. In September 2022, more than 21 million people from around the world, including 3 million Iranians, visited Iraq for the annual Arbaeen pilgrimage in the holy city of Karbala. This figure is likely to increase significantly with a rail link, leading to increased revenues for the Iraqi treasury.

Furthermore, the project serves as a means to bypass western sanctions and external pressures on the three countries, particularly Iran and Syria. It strengthens the independence of these nations and reduces the likelihood of foreign powers interfering in the economic relations of the project countries.

Obstacles to project implementation

Despite the signed agreements, the Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus railway project has faced mixed reactions in Iraq, leading to a lack of enthusiasm for moving forward with the rail link. Only last month, the Ministry of Transport issued a clarification regarding its rail link with Iran, stressing that the project is related to “passenger transportation only.”

Iraqi politicians have expressed concerns that the rail link with Iran could hinder their country’s Dry Canal project, which aims to connect the port of Faw in Basra province to the Turkish and Syrian borders.

They believe that the Grand Faw Port is strategically positioned as the closest point for sea cargo to Europe, potentially bringing economic benefits and employment opportunities. These concerns arise from the fear that the Imam Khomeini port in Iran could gain increased importance, diminishing the significance of the Faw Port.

But Iraqi concerns actually present an opportunity to link Iran to the Dry Canal, enhancing the strategic importance of both projects and bolstering Iraq’s position as a regional trading hub. In the near future, communication and cooperation between these neighbors will be crucial in thwarting external efforts to impede the economic interdependence of the three countries.

A promising journey

The tripartite railway link project holds immense significance as it connects these countries within a larger network, resembling the historical Silk Road that facilitated trade between the east and the west for centuries.

The railway project has the ability to initiate a major transformation in West Asia if it materializes and expands further afield to countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Lebanon.

Their participation would not only reduce tensions among regional states but also yield positive economic outcomes and bolster tourism, particularly religious tourism, and foster stronger inter-regional ties.

By connecting key players in a geopolitically strategic region, the Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus rail link has the potential to lay the foundation for a new West Asian paradigm that promotes connectivity, stability, and prosperity.

As seen by the recent Iran-Saudi and Syria-Saudi rapprochement agreements, the region is in a collaborative mood, actively seeking economic development instead of conflict. With China and Russia – two powers at the forefront of Eurasia’s biggest interconnectivity projects (BRI and INSTC) – brokering and impacting many of these diplomatic initiatives, expect railways, roads, and waterways to begin linking countries that have been at odds for decades.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

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Sayyed Nasrallah: Al-Quds A Red Line. The ‘Israeli’ Game in Palestine, Lebanon or Syria might lead To A Regional War

April 15, 2023

Translated By Staff

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Friday a speech in the festival held to celebrate International Al-Quds Day 2023.

At the beginning of his speech Sayyed Nasrallah reminded that “The April 1996 understanding established the foundations for the era the resistance’s victories against ‘Israel’.”

He further explained that “Al-Quds Day is a day for Palestine, its sanctities whether Islamic or Christian and a day for unity in support for the oppressed Palestinian people.”

“Al-Quds Day is a day of solidarity for the honorable people of the world with Palestine, Al-Quds and its oppressed people,” His Eminence stated, noting that “The victory we will achieve is thanks to the peoples and the leaders’ shouldering of their responsibilities towards Palestine.”

In parallel, the Resistance Leader underlined that “The ‘Israeli’ entity declared alert on all fronts and is suffering fear and anxiety, while the axis of resistance is on top of relief.”

To the daring Palestinian people, women and men, Christians and Muslims, Sayyed Nasrallah assured that his Hezbollah “will support you and you are not alone.”

According to His Eminence, “There are major developments that took place on the international level and within the Zionist entity; and when we assess this, we find that our axis is in a positive situation.”

“Another evidence on the US retreat is its defeat in Afghanistan,” he stated, pointing out that “The American defeat in Afghanistan triggered a regional earthquake, and its consequences are appearing successively.”

On another level, Hezbollah Secretary General underscored that “The US had to retreat in Venezuela after its economic and political blockade on the country.”

In addition, His Eminence revealed that “Gulf officials told us that they are convinced that the US can’t be relied upon to protect a regime or a country.”

“Bilateral relations and dialogue between the countries of the region shape its security and stability,” he emphasized, recalling that “Some Arab countries’ normalization with ‘Israel’ came as an implementation to US order, not as some ‘Israeli’ officials claim.”

Sayyed Nasrallah went on to say: “The NATO war with Russia, and the US confrontation with China regarding Taiwan make the US busy and ‘Israel’ concerned.”

“The unfolding international transformation has great advantages for the Axis of Resistance,” he confirmed, noting that “Today, the axis of resistance emerged strong and effective in face of the US wars in the region during the past decade.”

Hailing the recover of relations between Syria and a number of Arab countries and the return of the political relations, His Eminence stressed that “Turkey wants to have ties with Syria yet the Syrian leadership is setting normal conditions for restoring such ties.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also welcomed the atmosphere emanating from Yemen and Saudi Arabia that
“calls for optimism, and makes us happy.”

“All the upcoming developments from Yemen and Saudi Arabia raise hope,” he said, reiterating that “We have been calling for ending the war on Yemen since day one of the aggression.”

To the Iraqi people, Popular Mobilization Units, and resistance factions, the Resistance Leader affirmed “We harbor great hopes on you.”

Meanwhile, Sayyed Nasrallah viewed that “The Saudi-Iranian deal has positive impact especially on the level of curbing normalization with the ‘Israeli’ entity.”

“Some have been talking of the formation of a Sunni-‘Israeli’ axis, or an Arab-‘Israeli’ axis against Iran, but this has failed,” he assured, pointing out that “The real support for the resistance is Iran under the leadership of Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, and thus and this is why it was blockaded and battled.”

Moving to internal “Israeli” arena, His Eminence explained that “The so-called ‘Israeli” judicial reform revealed all the divisions in the ‘Israeli’ entity, and it is a non-bloody war of abolition led by Netanyahu and his extremist team.”

“The division in ‘Israel’ would have turned into a bloody war had it not been for the American intervention and the visits of its officials,” he asserted, unveiling that “There is a dangerous and horrible backtrack of the fighting spirituality for the sake of the ‘Israeli’ entity.”

As His Eminence praised the Palestinian Resistance in Occupied Al-Quds and the West Bank, Sayyed Nasrallah mentioned that “There is a heroic resistance in the West Bank and al-Quds, sacrifice, martyrdom, and insistence to be present in the Aqsa Mosque; this is a major development.”

Commenting on the recent rockets that were launched from South Lebanon towards the Occupied Palestinian territories, he described the incident as “a major one given the ongoing situation since 2006.”

“We believe that the policy of silence terrifies and concerns the enemy,” he stated, noting that “The enemy that threatens the Lebanese people and bombs Syria must remain concerned and terrified; this cements the balance of deterrence and the rules of engagement.”

In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah confirmed: “The balance of deterrence made the ‘Israeli’ response limited and ridiculous.”

“The ‘Israelis’ thought that they made an achievement by not attacking Hezbollah after the shelling that was launched from South Lebanon,” His Eminence said, noting that “The ‘Israelis’ didn’t bomb any infrastructure belonging to Hezbollah, it only bombed a banana field.”

He underscored that “The ‘Israeli’ told its people lies and everybody knows that what was bombed is not a Hezbollah site; this reflects its weakness. Among [‘Israeli’ PM Benjamin] Netanyahu’s lies were that [Yaair] Lapid’s government has signed a deal with Hezbollah, which everybody knows that this is a lie.”

To Bibi, Hezbollah Secretary General sent a sounding message: “Netanyahu threatens the resistance and we threaten him too… and days will decide… Any security incident that takes place in Lebanon will be answered without hesitation.”

Regarding the developments along the Syrian border, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that “When the Syrian Army is deployed along hundred kilometers-long fighting line, don’t ask them to open another front.”

“The Syrian stance towards the ‘Israeli’ hostilities might change at any moment,” he said, noting that “What happened in the past week regarding the drones in South Syria is a signal that the Syrian stance would possibly change.”

Back to the Palestinian front, Sayyed Nasrallah acknowledged that “The West Bank is the shield of al-Quds with its patience, steadfastness, resistance, and tolerance.”

“For the Palestinian people to remain defiance in the West Bank and al-Quds, we must support them with money and arms… When we say the “West Bank is al-Quds Shield”, this equals that it is duty to support the West Bank,” His Eminence affirmed, noting that “The ‘Israeli’ game in al-Quds, Lebanon or Syria might lead the region to a bigger war.”

In addition, he warned that “The enemy’s foolishness, especially in the past few months, would push the region to a war.”

To the ‘Israelis’, the Resistance Leader threatened: “Beware! Al-Quds is a red line!”

“Lebanon, which made its victory in 2000, is with all the honorable and free people; we are with Palestine and won’t abandon it,” Sayyed Nasrallah concluded.

The repercussions of the Saudi and Iranian agreement are rapidly emerging
Al-Hadath Studio with the speech of the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on International Al-Quds Day
In conjunction with International Al-Quds Day.. Military alert and strict security measures for the occupation forces
The paths of Jerusalem
An American movement towards Riyadh coincided with the presence of the Saudi negotiating delegation in Sanaa!
We will go into the sea towards Jerusalem… Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Gaza
A review of units of the naval forces on the coast of Hodeidah on the occasion of International Quds Day

قبل اجتماع خليجي ـــ عربي حول سوريا…. المقداد يصل إلى السعودية

الأربعاء 12 نيسان 2023



واستقبل المقداد في مطار جدة نائب وزير الخارجية السعودي وليد الخريجي. ووفق وكالة «سانا» السورية، فإن الزيارة تأتي «بناءً على دعوة من الأمير فيصل بن فرحان وزير الخارجية في المملكة العربية السعودية، لإجراء مباحثات حول العلاقات الثنائية بين البلدين الشقيقين والقضايا ذات الاهتمام المشترك».

أمّا وكالة «واس» السعودية، فأعلنت أن دعوة المقداد إلى المملكة تهدف إلى التباحث في «الجهود المبذولة للوصول إلى حلٍ سياسي للأزمة السورية يحافظ على وحدة سوريا وأمنها واستقرارها، وتسهيل عودة اللاجئين السوريين إلى وطنهم، وتأمين وصول المساعدات الإنسانية إلى المناطق المتضررة في سوريا».

وكان المتحدث باسم وزارة الخارجية القطرية، ماجد الأنصاري، قد كشف عن لقاء سيجمع وزراء خارجية العراق والأردن ومصر ودول «مجلس التعاون الخليجي» في مدينة جدة السعودية يوم الجمعة المقبل، لـ«التباحث في الوضع في سوريا، وهناك تطورات كثيرة في ما يتعلق بالوضع في سوريا ووجهات النظر العربية تجاه عودة سوريا إلى جامعة الدول العربية».

ويأتي الاجتماع قبل القمة العربية التي ستنعقد في السعودية الشهر المقبل، وما يتردّد عن نيّةٍ سعودية لدعوة الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، علماً أن عضوية سوريا في «الجامعة العربية» مُعلّقة منذ عام 2012.

وفي وقت سابق، بدأت السعودية وسوريا مباحثات تتعلّق باستئناف الخدمات القنصلية، وفق ما أفاد مسؤول في وزارة الخارجية السعودية.

وكان الأسد قد زار خلال الشهرين الفائتين سلطنة عُمان والإمارات، مع الإشارة إلى أنهما أول زيارتين إلى بلدين عربيين، منذ اندلاع الحرب في سوريا.

وصل إلى السعودية اليوم وزير الخارجية السوري فيصل المقداد في زيارة رسمية، تسبق الاجتماع الخليجي الذي سيعقد في المملكة بعد غدٍ الجمعة، لبحث عودة سوريا إلى «جامعة الدول العربية».

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Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Turkiye: Truces, not peace

April 04 2023

As reconciliation efforts sweep through West Asia to mend ties between old foes, the new China- and Russia-brokered deals will not usher in real peace until the US stops prolonging conflict.

By Hasan Illaik

The mid-March Moscow summit between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was notable for being publicized in advance. Since the outbreak of the Syrian war, Assad’s foreign visits have not been publicly revealed until after they have occurred. This small but significant detail suggests the Syrian president has a newfound confidence in the political and security conditions outside his national borders.

While the participants kept a tight lid on leaks, informed sources from both Moscow and Damascus disclosed to The Cradle that the Syrian and Russian presidents discussed the following issues:

Economic ties: With a focus on Syria’s energy sector, Putin expressed Russia’s readiness to invest in the production of electricity in the Levantine state, which post-conflict, suffers from a 75 percent deficit in production. Putin also expressed Moscow’s willingness to help Syria meet its vital grain needs.

Relations with Turkiye: While in Moscow, Assad reportedly refused to hold a four-way meeting between the deputy foreign ministers of Syria, Turkiye, Russia, and Iran. The Syrian president reiterated that Turkiye occupies Syrian lands, and negotiations between the two countries cannot advance from the security to the political level without a clear and public pledge from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to withdraw his military forces from the occupied territories, and open the main roads linking Syrian provinces – particularly the Latakia-Aleppo road, known as the M4 highway.

However, Moscow pressed its case, and reportedly reached an agreement between Damascus and Ankara stipulating that their negotiations would continue and move to the political level, with the main item on the table being Turkish withdrawal from Syrian lands. The basis for a much-awaited summit between Assad and Erdogan will be discussed at a later date.

The sources say that, for domestic political purposes, Erdogan needs to meet Assad before Turkiye’s May presidential elections, to convey to voters that he seeks to stop the war at his country’s southern borders, intends to repatriate the approximately three million Syrian refugees back home – a hot topic for voters – and to assure the Turkish Alevi electorate that he is not hostile to their sect, to which his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu belongs.

Relations with Saudi Arabia: Putin, who has been leading the mediation efforts to normalize Saudi-Syrian relations, briefed Assad on the results of his talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). According to official sources in Damascus and Moscow, Putin’s initiative has made progress in reactivating critical communication between Damascus and Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s strategic shifts

On 23 March, 2023, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the start of talks with Syria to reactivate consular work, which is a prelude to the return of normal diplomatic relations between the two countries, as reported by Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Sources speaking to The Cradle have confirmed that any potential progress in Syrian-Saudi relations are the result of these Russian mediation efforts, and are unrelated to the game-changing Saudi-Iran agreement struck in Beijing on 10 March. The sources believe that a meeting between Riyadh and Damascus may occur after the end of the month of Ramadan.

While the success of Saudi-Iran negotiations under Chinese auspices, and the potential breakthrough in Saudi-Syria relations under Russian sponsorship, suggest a strategic eastward turn for the kingdom, sources close to Riyadh emphasize that there is no change in the Saudi-US relationship.

While Riyadh’s relations with Washington have experienced declines in the past, recent shifts in the global political, economic, and military landscapes have prompted MbS to diversify his country’s partnerships, while preserving the strategic alignment with Washington.

Yemen: Riyadh’s regional albatross

Today, the Saudi crown price is pursuing a “zero problems” policy with neighboring countries. After failing to “transfer the [regional] battle into Iran,” and after his war on Yemen transformed Yemeni Resistance movement Ansarallah from a small organization into a regional force, MbS has realized that his domestic economic, financial, and entertainment mega-projects are doomed without ensuring calm on the kingdom’s borders.

Therefore, since late 2022, he began earnest negotiations with Iran, responded assertively to Russian efforts to mediate with Syria, and began direct talks with Ansarallah in their Sanaa stronghold. The discussions reportedly made significant progress, then stalled in January over several key points, including Riyadh’s “inability” (or unwillingness) to lift the siege on Yemen, the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, and agreement over an internal political solution to the Yemeni crisis.

As things stand, Riyadh claims that it “cannot force its partners” in the aggression – the UAE and US, in particular – to withdraw their forces from Yemeni territory.

Several Ansarallah allies have assessed that the Saudis want to end the war, but have been prevented from doing so by the US, UK, UAE, and France. However, this estimate changed after Saudi Arabia retracted a number of the pledges it made in the negotiations.

After initially ceasing restrictions on the port of Hodeidah, the UN has returned to obstructing the arrival of some ships to the port. The siege renewal coincided with a visit by US Ambassador to Yemen Stephen Fagin to the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) personnel in Djibouti which is tasked with inspecting ships bound for Hodeidah.

In a renewed escalation of tensions, Ansarallah threatened to expel the UN mission in Sanaa within 72 hours if a container ship seized by inspectors in Djibouti was not released. Indeed, before the deadline expired, the UN released the ship.

Although the threat coincided with the US ambassador’s provocative visit, and while it appears that the Americans were trying to undermine the Saudi-Ansarallah understandings, Yemeni sources tell The Cradle that the obstruction of the ships was not exclusively a US decision, but also a Saudi one.

Furthermore, the UN explicitly informed the Sanaa government that the detention of ships proven to be weapons-free was carried out by a decision of the “coalition leadership” – that is, from the Saudis.

So what is Riyadh up to, and who is really obstructing a final solution to the war in Yemen? Is it the Saudis or the Americans?

Sources close to the Sanaa government say that “a comprehensive US-Saudi consensus” still exists over Yemen. The two allies may differ sometimes, but until now, they say:

“Washington and Riyadh still agree on calming things down in Yemen, while keeping the blockade in place. They also agree that Yemen should not be an independent and strong country, capable of controlling its resources or exploiting its geographical location, because that entails strategic risks for Saudi Arabia’s regional role, and for US and Israeli interests in West Asia, the Horn of Africa, and the Red Sea.”

The sources add: “Saudi Arabia and America cannot afford to grant Ansarallah conditions that would enable it to accumulate additional strength and a larger and more effective arsenal.” Simply put, the duo are not seeking an actual end to the war, but are instead pursuing a drawn-out truce.

MbS wants some calm to ensure that missiles and drones do not rain down on his ambitious entertainment and development projects, while the US and the UAE want to keep Yemen fragmented, persist in the theft of its vital oil resource, and at the same time, hold Ansarallah (in northern Yemen) responsible for managing a country that continues to buckle under siege.

Truces, not peace – yet

In short, from Yemen in the south, to Iran in the east, and Syria, Iraq and Turkey in the north, West Asia has entered the post-Arab Spring phase, where once-battling neighbors are seeking to reconnect.

This is a phase governed by ‘armistice agreements’ between countries that have fought each other, directly or via proxies, for more than a decade. Armistice agreements, it should be noted, are not peace treaties, and what this suggests is the continuation of the US-style legacy of “managing conflict,” and never actually ending it.

As multipolarism beckons the world around, it is yet to be seen if Chinese and Russian efforts to stabilize the region in order to advance sweeping connectivity, economic, and development projects will be able to overcome the old “conflict management” and “forever wars” paradigm of the declining unipolar order.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

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96,000 Iraqis jailed without warrants during US occupation: UN

4 Apr 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

When the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances sent a delegation to visit Iraq in November 2022, it received a large number of testimonies from victims of suspected forced disappearances.

An Iraqi artist paints a mural based on the US Statue of Liberty and a widely published photograph of an abused detainee at the Abu Ghraib prison on 23 May 2004 in Baghdad, Iraq (AFP)

A United Nations report published on Tuesday stated that US-led occupation forces in Iraq jailed 96,000 Iraqis without warrants in both US- and UK-administered jails for over a decade since the 2003 invasion. 

“It is alleged that detainees were arrested without a warrant for their involvement in insurgency operations, while others were ‘civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time’,” the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances said.

The committee further noted that when it sent a delegation to visit Iraq in November 2022, it received a large number of testimonies from victims of suspected forced disappearances.

The UN estimates that between 250,000 and a million people have “disappeared” in Iraq since 1968, a period that spans the rule of Saddam Hussein, the invasion of the US and its allies, and the years of insurgency led by terror organizations, including ISIS.

According to figures from Iraq Body Count (IBC), 209,982 Iraqi civilians were killed between 2003 and 2022. 29,526 civilians were killed in 2006 alone, making it the bloodiest year for the Iraqi civilian death toll.

The medical journal The Lancet estimated civilian deaths at 600,000.

As for Iraqi national military forces and national and local police forces, 48,719 were killed in the period between March 2003 and August 2021. 

The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, an interdisciplinary think tank affiliated with Brown University, published a 27-page research paper that investigated the total costs of the US war in both Iraq and Syria, under the title Blood and Treasure: United States Budgetary costs and human costs of 20 years of war in Iraq and Syria, 2003-2023. 

The estimated $2.89 trillion cost of the conflict and the over 500,000 lives lost in Iraq and Syria are both examined in the paper. Additionally, it states that this budgetary sum accounts for expenses spent up to this point, which are projected to total $1.79 trillion, as well as expenses for veterans’ care through 2050.

Between 550,000 and 580,000 people have been killed in Iraq and Syria, the current theaters of the American so-called Operation Inherent Resolve, since the US invaded Iraq in 2003, according to the paper, with many more likely succumbing from indirect causes like preventable diseases.

Read more: US tortured Iraqis in Abu Ghraib and got away with it: Reports

Failed Assassination Attempt by Car Bomb Explosion in Damascus


A loud sound of an explosion shook the Syrian capital Damascus this evening turned out to be a failed assassination attempt by a car bomb in the Damascus upscale Mazzeh residential neighborhood.

Two people were injured in the blast that destroyed the targeted car completely and at least two cars parked next to it, local sources said.

A spokesperson for the Damascus Police Command said in an early statement carried by the Syrian news agency SANA:

“An explosive device exploded in a civilian car in the eastern Mezzeh area, which led to its burning and the fire spread to two other cars next to it.”

The police spokesperson concluded: “the damage was limited to material and no injuries were recorded.”

The video is also available on RumbleBitchute,

In a later update, Syrian media spoke of two injuries in the explosion and were rushed to the nearby hospital for treatment.

Some experts suggest that the explosion blew up prematurely and failed to assassinate the targeted figure, yet to be known who it was.

By the time of this report, there is still no news on the targeted person by this heinous terrorist attack, all analysts, however, accuse the US-led forces in the region of committing this attack, these include Israel’s Mossad, infamous for its cheap assassinations, the CIA, al Qaeda Levant, ISIS (ISIL – Daesh) operating out of the US Army protected zone in the Syrian Al Tanf desert region. Other suspects within the same US-led circle are the Saudi, French, and Qatari ‘intelligence’ agents.

NATO has escalated its terrorist attacks against Syria in the past month after the devastating earthquake of the 6th of February fearing the trend by different countries, regional and from far away, to restore their ties with the Syrian government through the humanitarian earthquake relief efforts.

Car explosion in Mezzah Damascus failed assassination attempt

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Biden’s junta explicitly stated its instructions to its vassal states, especially the European countries and the Gulfies its objection to any normalization in diplomatic ties with Damascus, the US fading empire has not achieved its goals in Syria yet and therefore the war of terror and blockade on the Syrian people must continue, in their view even while the US economy rapidly collapses and their proxy terrorist Nazi war and NATO expansion against Russia in Ukraine is being lost.

Israel’s repeated bombing, the Turkey-sponsored al Qaeda terrorist attacks in the northern region, the Turkish madman Erdogan’s heinous crimes against humanity by cutting the water of the Euphrates flowing into Syria and Iraq, the US-sponsored Kurdish SDF separatists raids against the Syrian towns and villages in the northeast of the country, and the US army’s increasing their theft of Syrian oil and food, all are coordinated through the ‘inclusive’ White House promoting its so-called western values.

See Also

Amman Hosts 5-Party Meeting on Syria’s Return to Arab League

 April 30, 2023

Foreign Ministers of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan will meet on Monday in Amman to discuss Damascus’ return to the Arab League.

In a statement, Jordanian Foreign Ministry announced it will host the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Republic of Iraq, the Arab Republic of Egypt, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, as well as the foreign minister of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The official spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs, Ambassador Sinan Al-Majali, said that the meeting comes as a continuation of the consultative meeting that took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and based on rapprochements made by these countries with the Syrian government. The Jordan initiative wants a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

The top diplomats called for an end to the crisis in Syria, on April 18, after the foreign ministers from Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states met in Jeddah. The group agreed on a “vital and leading Arab role” after years of failed efforts to solve the conflict.

Following the meeting, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wrote in a statement, that “they have exchanged viewpoints on the efforts being exerted to reach a political solution for the Syrian crisis in a way that puts an end to all its repercussions and preserves Syria’s territorial unity, security, stability and Arab identity and brings it back to its Arab fold.”

On the 18th of April, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud visited Syria in the first official visit since the outbreak of the 2011 war.

Source: Agencies

The Collapse of U.S. Policy in the Middle East


Now, it is abundantly clear that the United States’ dishonest and aggressive Middle East strategy, which is at odds with the aspirations of the Arab world, has utterly failed. The establishment of a multipolar world by Russia, China, and Iran was a significant milestone in this process. The convergence of these three nations and the global support for this new diplomatic triangle have been impossible for the United States and its allies to prevent.

Around the world, anti-Russian sentiment is being stoked to confront the White House’s growing Russophobia, Sinophobia, tightening of unlawful sanctions measures, and even outright terrorism: the illegal undermining of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea and the apparent planning of similar terrorist activities against the TurkStream in particular (the activation of flights of the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drones in the Black Sea, one of which crashed on March 14, can confirm this).

The US intelligence agencies continue to seek to arm ISIS (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) fighters, particularly at the US military base Al-Tanf in Syria, in order to exacerbate the chaos in the region. According to incoming information, the Islamists would soon get several dozen four-wheel drive pickup trucks equipped with heavy machine guns, BGM-71 ТOW and NLAW missile defense systems, 9K38 Igla, and other weapons.

While American hegemony, which Washington has been actively trying to impose on the world in recent years, is being eroded with each passing day, the concept of a multipolar world promoted by Russia and China is being further strengthened. Beijing’s efforts to mediate the dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia were also a crucial stage in the process. This is supported even by American media, which saw the announcement of the restoration of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran as a direct challenge to Washington’s quest for dominance in the Middle East and around the globe. The signing in Beijing on March 10 of a peace treaty between the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and his Saudi counterpart and the decision to open Embassies within two months show the intention and willingness of Middle Eastern states to solve pressing regional problems without American involvement, to seek ways out of existing conflict situations, the vast majority of which were created and fomented by the White House.

The situation in Iraq, which was invaded by the US and its allies without the consent of the UN Security Council 20 years ago, is a stark example of how Washington’s policies and authority have collapsed. The United States, which had promised to create a “free nation,” has reduced this nation to corruption and the ruins of what was once a powerful, affluent state, and has thrown it into an economic and political catastrophe. The US invasion, civil war and rampant terrorism killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. By international agreement, the United States and its allies’ attack was unleashed to enable the Anglo-Saxons’ unchecked looting of Iraq’s economy and oil fields. According to Orientalists, it was this policy that led to a surge of sectarian conflict, rampant terrorism and a series of civil wars throughout the Middle East. The US intervention, like with past armed aggressions by Washington in recent decades, has shown America’s dedication to militarily interfering in sovereign states and utterly eliminating their statehood, which is openly despised in the Middle East.

Washington made contempt for the interests of the countries in the region the defining feature of its policy in the rush to bolster its global hegemony following the fall of the Soviet Union. And this position was reinforced by the unrelenting US military presence in the region, the continuing attachment of Middle Eastern companies to Western markets, and the regional elites to the “democratic and financial values” of the United States. Following the election of US President Donald Trump, the White House began to focus primarily on the needs of Israel, so that the idea of the Abraham Accords, without resolving the Palestinian issue, began to be misrepresented in Washington as the ideal way to befriend Jews and Arabs on the grounds of instilling fear of Iran.

The White House therefore experienced Iran’s diplomatic successes in collaboration with Russia and China as well as the “treachery” of former American allies, the Saudis, with great agony. Furthermore, Washington’s realization of the decline in American influence in the region was a dreadful wakeup from its previous Middle East slumber.

The United States is currently unable to manage the Middle East crises and build a consensus among the region’s nations due to Washington’s deadlocked relations with the major Persian Gulf powers. This became particularly clear after Russia launched its special operation in Ukraine: except from Israel’s modest actions, not a single nation in the area has applied even the most rudimentary sanctions against Moscow. Concurrently with Trump’s 2015 decision to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran, relations between Washington and Riyadh have deteriorated significantly in recent years, and against this backdrop the Saudi government has been forced to worry about both their own security and efforts to bring about peace in the region.

As a result of the US credibility being completely called into question by the White House’s tardy backing of the sheikhs’ activities in the adjacent Yemen, Riyadh is now looking for ways to resolve the conflict through direct communication with Tehran. And these contacts proved to be very effective, with Iran agreeing to stop clandestine arms shipments to the Houthi militia in Yemen as part of a historic agreement with Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic relations. The region’s nations have a chance to move toward peace on their own, without relying on Washington. And since Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has invited Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi to visit Riyadh, these actions will undoubtedly be quite spectacular in the near future.

In light of these circumstances, there is growing discussion in the area about the necessity for the United States to end its aggressive actions in the Middle East and sail back home before a regional wave of protest in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and many other nations forces it to do so.

Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

Iraq and Syria Survived the U.S.-NATO Attack and the Destruction

March 24, 2023


By Steven Sahiounie

March 2003 and March 2011 have a great deal in common, but that is not where the story begins, Steven Sahiounie writes.

The 20th anniversary of the U.S. attack on Iraq for regime change coincides with the 12th anniversary of the U.S. attack on Syria for regime change. March 2003 and March 2011 have a great deal in common, but that is not where the story begins.

The destruction of two nations, sitting side by side in the Middle East, began in 1996 with the strategy paper called “A Clean Break”, written by the man known as “The Architect of the Iraq War”.

“A Clean Break” was authored in part by Richard T. Perle, an American Jew from New York. Being born a Jew is not paramount to this story, but being an Israeli agent is. There should be a test when working on sensitive and top-secret plans for the U.S., that your allegiance is sworn to the U.S. and no other country on earth. Perle was an American, but his allegiance lay elsewhere.

Perle delivered the paper to Benjamin Netanyahu, who had just been elected as Prime Minister of Israel. The paper presents the reasons for the U.S. to attack and destroy Iraq and Syria. After President Bill Clinton took office, the paper was presented to him for action, but he declined. But, by the time of the 9/11 bombing of the WTC in NYC in 2001, the time was ripe to dust off the paper and Perle and his associates found President George W. Bush a willing partner.

Perle was the chairman of the Defense Policy Board, which was responsible for developing reasons for the U.S. to attack other countries. The Pentagon does not develop policy, they simply are asked to report if a planned attack can be carried out successfully, or not. There is an old saying, “A soldier’s job is not to question why, a soldier’s job is to do or die”. Wars and attacks by the U.S. cannot be blamed on the Pentagon, that blame must rest on the Oval Office, the State Department, the CIA, and the Defense Policy Board.

The 9/11 attack was carried out on the orders of Osama bin Laden, a Saudi national living in Afghanistan, and a leader of Al Qaeda, a terrorist group following the political ideology of Radical Islam, which is the same ideology as the Muslim Brotherhood, with hundreds of followers in the U.S.

The trick was how could the Bush administration connect Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein, the leader of Iraq? The director of the CIA, George Tenet, repeatedly told Bush that there was no connection.

The second strategy of the Bush administration, was to build the case for invading Iraq based on Saddam Hussein having “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (WMD). The CIA was able to support that premise, not based on any facts, but based on the idea that Hussein might have WMD. When Tenet was asked about the WMD, he replied “We will find it when we get there.” That proved to be wishful thinking, as no WMDs were ever found by thousands of armed and highly skilled U.S. soldiers who combed every nook and cranny in Iraq, for years.

So how did the U.S. public and Congress come to believe the Bush administration’s lies? That was accomplished by the U.S. mainstream media. The Bush administration spoon-fed false information to key journalists in the most reputable media outlets. The journalists were unable to personally verify the information on WMD, and they refused to reveal their sources who were the highest-ranking officials in the U.S. government. Without the complicity of the media, the case for going to war in Iraq could never have been believed.

The events leading up to the first day of the bombing in Baghdad were unfolding so rapidly, that the ‘red flags’ of doubt were overlooked. Hans Blix was returning to his hotel in Baghdad when Bush announced to the world on TV that he would order the beginning of the bombing in 24 hours. Blix was blindsided when confronted by a microphone thrust in his face at the entrance of the hotel. At first, he didn’t believe the Bush order, and reiterated the results of his visits to numerous sites in Iraq, that Hussein had no WMD, they had been destroyed previously.

But, that never stopped the bombing from commencing on time. While the bombs were falling across Baghdad, Blix was back in NYC delivering his detailed report to Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General, which made the case that the Bush attack was based on a lie. All of this was covered in the media, but it was too late to stop the war machine.

The U.S. was not alone. The UK and many of the NATO allies signed up for the Bush war on Iraq. All of them bear responsibility for their participation in an unjustified war that cost millions of lives. The U.S. coalition partners blame their decision to participate on the fact they believed in U.S. intelligence, and they believed in the lies. Another factor in their decision to follow the U.S. lead was the fact that the U.S. had been the sole ‘Super Power’. Those days are over, as the international community recognizes the new multi-polar world.

When Perle penned “A Clean Break” in 1996 for the leader of Israel, the attack on Syria was included, sort of a ‘2 for 1’ idea. Take out both Iraq and Syria at the same time, and Israel will be a safer place. Once Donald Rumsfeld became involved in planning the 2003 attack on Iraq, he counseled against including Syria. His decision was based on knowing two countries’ destruction is too big of a goal to be accomplished. He decided to focus on destroying Iraq only.

Syria was not attacked, and the war next door did not spill over the border. Syria accepted 2 million Iraqi refugees, and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt came to Damascus in 2009 and met President Assad because of his open-door Iraqi refugee policy.

The plans to destroy Syria began in the 1996 paper by Perle, and by March 2011 the President Obama administration had already started on their plans to create a ‘new Middle East’ and Obama utilized NATO to assist in the attack, invasion, and occupation of Libya. The U.S.-NATO attack on Libya was the precursor to the attack on Syria which used Syrian followers of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and later were replaced by international terrorists following Radical Islam, such as Al Qaeda and finally ISIS.

Today, Iraq lies destroyed. It has never been reconstructed. Large areas still have no water, electricity, or medical care. The infrastructure of Iraq is broken. The Iraqi constitution was drafted by the invaders and has set the parliament up as a sectarian and ethnic quota system. In the U.S., it would be unthinkable to base elected offices on religion or ethnicity, but it was the U.S. invaders who developed the Iraqi constitution which has locked the country into an unworkable system of corruption based on who your parents were, and where did they live. The U.S. also insisted the Iraqi form of government be a Parliamentary system, which has kept the country locked into chaos as there is no central leader who can get things done, unlike the U.S. Presidential system.

Syria resisted the U.S.-NATO attack and the people fought back. Now, after 12 years there exists a possibility that brighter days are ahead for the Syrian people and the hope of reconstruction. In Iraq, there is also hope that the suffering they endured at the hands of brutal invaders, who committed atrocities against civilians, can be relegated to the pages of history, and a new chapter in security and prosperity can begin.

Iraq War 20 Years On… Collective Western Amnesia Over Anglo-American Crime of Century

March 24, 2023


The morally bankrupt Western media lied to start the Iraq War as they did dutifully about starting other wars for their imperial masters. Twenty years after, the Western media are at it again.

This week, March 20, saw the 20th anniversary of the U.S.-British war launched on Iraq. The war resulted in over one million deaths and a decade of brutal military occupation. It spawned sectarian civil war, millions of displaced and destitute, and terrorism that engulfed the entire Middle East, as well as large swathes of Africa and Asia. Iraq and several other ancient nations have been destroyed because of the Anglo-American war. And it was a war based on flagrant American and British lies over alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The 20th anniversary of the U.S.-British war on Iraq, which was also supported by NATO partners, should be an occasion for proper accounting with Nuremberg-standard war crimes prosecutions of American and British political and military figures. Persons such as George W Bush, the former U.S. President, and Tony Blair, the ex-British premier, should be facing jail time for capital crimes. The current U.S. President Joe Biden should also be in the dock since his role as a senior Senator at the time was crucial in enabling the war. Also up for indictment are several Western media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post which promulgated the lies that made the case for war.

Despicably, the man who shed so much light on the crimes, publisher Julian Assange, is the one who languishes in a prison torture dungeon.

Twenty years on, there is an eerie sense of collective amnesia among Western politicians and media over the colossal war crimes associated with Iraq. It’s almost as if it did not happen. The Western protagonists and their propaganda outlets have gotten away with mass murder.

This week marked another odious anniversary, which shamefully, was met with the same Western silence and indifference. On March 24, 1999, the U.S.-led NATO military alliance unilaterally began bombing former Yugoslavia for 78 consecutive days. Thousands of civilians were killed in a military assault on that country – under the cynical pretext of “humanitarian protection” – which was not approved at the time by the United Nations. The bombing campaign was conducted, like the Iraq War only four years later, on the basis of unilateral action by Washington and its Western allies.

Lamentably, a glance at the calendar would throw up countless such vile anniversaries of unlawful American and Western military aggression. March 19, for example, marked the NATO bombing of Libya in 2011.

In a powerful essay by Ron Ridenour for Strategic Culture Foundation we are reminded of the extraordinary warmongering record of the United States and its imperialist partners. In terms of the number of countries invaded and the consequent death toll, including from the first use of atomic bombs, the U.S. is certainly “exceptional” for all the wrong reasons.

Yet what makes the record all the more horrendous is the impunity. The collective amnesia towards the Iraq War is perhaps the most damnable symptom of impunity in recent decades. It also exposes the rank hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of the so-called “rules-based global order” that Washington and its Western minions continually spout about. The “rules-based global order” is an Orwellian blandishment for lawlessness and predation by rogue regimes that trample all over the United Nations Charter and international law.

The chronic impunity that the United States has come accustomed to in the murderous pursuit of its imperialist objectives means that it never stops its rogue state rapacity. It’s a repeat offender because it never has been held to account. There is an analogy here with the way Washington relentlessly abuses the privileges bestowed on the dollar as a global reserve currency. Washington parasites off the globe by printing dollars and levying undue rights for unearned services and goods. The racket never seems to stop because there is no accountability.

Likewise, the warmongering of the United States never ceases. The blood lust of its capitalist power and imperialist needs never ceases. The criminality is permitted because in large part the Western media serve to cover up the crimes with fabricated excuses and lies. The wars in Korea and Vietnam in the 1950s and 60s were whitewashed as “crusades against communism” instead of being reported as the genocidal imperialist rampages that they were. The impunity from those enormous crimes then led to more wars and crimes. The Iraq War fits into this rolling context.

But there is also the historical factor of the Soviet Union and the supposed victory of the Cold War by the United States. Without a checking counterforce, the U.S. rulers became consumed with the arrogance of presumed “unipolar” dominance. It is no coincidence that after 1991, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States embarked on an even more licentious pursuit of imperialist wars and the tyrannical notion of “rules-based global order”. There came in short order a state of permanent war on the planet by the U.S. and its Western allies. The wars and covert interventions led by the United States in Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Georgia and Ukraine, among other places, were all commensurate with the self-ordained right of expansion by the NATO alliance toward Russia. The same U.S.-led military expansionism is underway toward China.

This is the proper context by which the current war in Ukraine should be understood and assessed. As well as the relentless militarist build-up against China in the Asia-Pacific.

The United States and its NATO allies are fueling a conflict in Ukraine by pouring endless amounts of weapons into that country. The latest step to further escalation is Britain announcing it is supplying depleted uranium artillery shells to Ukraine. These toxic weapons were used by the U.S., Britain and NATO forces in former Yugoslavia and Iraq which have resulted in unprecedented cancer deaths and birth defects among civilian populations. Again, the crime of impunity is followed by more crime.

The morally bankrupt Western media lied to start the Iraq War as they did dutifully about starting other wars for their imperial masters. Twenty years after aiding and abetting the crime of the 21st century, the Western media are at it again. These organs and their grinders are trying to tell the world that Russia is an aggressor in Ukraine and that Russia and China are posing “a threat to Western democracy”.

In a state visit to Moscow this week, China’s President Xi Jinping and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin declared the need for earnest diplomacy to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. The Western powers and their media lackeys reacted by disparaging any such diplomacy and instead sought to vilify Russia and China as being somehow villains against global security.

It’s quite easy to tell who the real villains and liars are. The Iraq War is one of many such touchstones.

Selling the Iraq War: a How-to Guide

MARCH 23, 2023

George Tenet, Colin Powell and John Negroponte at UN Security Council session on Iraq, 2003.


The war on Iraq won’t be remembered for how it was waged so much as for how it was sold. It was a propaganda war, a war of perception management, where loaded phrases, such as “weapons of mass destruction” and “rogue state” were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us.

To understand the Iraq war you don’t need to consult generals, but the spin doctors and PR flacks who stage-managed the countdown to war from the murky corridors of Washington where politics, corporate spin and psy-ops spooks cohabit.

Consider the picaresque journey of Tony Blair’s plagiarized dossier on Iraq, from a grad student’s website to a cut-and-paste job in the prime minister’s bombastic speech to the House of Commons. Blair, stubborn and verbose, paid a price for his grandiose puffery. Bush, who looted whole passages from Blair’s speech for his own clumsy presentations, has skated freely through the tempest. Why?

Unlike Blair, the Bush team never wanted to present a legal case for war. They had no interest in making any of their allegations about Iraq hold up to a standard of proof. The real effort was aimed at amping up the mood for war by using the psychology of fear.

Facts were never important to the Bush team. They were disposable nuggets that could be discarded at will and replaced by whatever new rationale that played favorably with their polls and focus groups. The war was about weapons of mass destruction one week, al-Qaeda the next. When neither allegation could be substantiated on the ground, the fall back position became the mass graves (many from the Iran/Iraq war where the U.S.A. backed Iraq) proving that Saddam was an evil thug who deserved to be toppled. The motto of the Bush PR machine was: Move on. Don’t explain. Say anything to conceal the perfidy behind the real motives for war. Never look back. Accuse the questioners of harboring unpatriotic sensibilities. Eventually, even the cagey Wolfowitz admitted that the official case for war was made mainly to make the invasion palatable, not to justify it.

The Bush claque of neocon hawks viewed the Iraq war as a product and, just like a new pair of Nikes, it required a roll-out campaign to soften up the consumers. The same techniques (and often the same PR gurus) that have been used to hawk cigarettes, SUVs and nuclear waste dumps were deployed to retail the Iraq war. To peddle the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell and company recruited public relations gurus into top-level jobs at the Pentagon and the State Department. These spinmeisters soon had more say over how the rationale for war on Iraq should be presented than intelligence agencies and career diplomats. If the intelligence didn’t fit the script, it was shaded, retooled or junked.

Take Charlotte Beers whom Powell picked as undersecretary of state in the post-9/11 world. Beers wasn’t a diplomat. She wasn’t even a politician. She was a grand diva of spin, known on the business and gossip pages as “the queen of Madison Avenue.” On the strength of two advertising campaigns, one for Uncle Ben’s Rice and another for Head and Shoulder’s dandruff shampoo, Beers rocketed to the top of the heap in the PR world, heading two giant PR houses: Ogilvy and Mathers as well as J. Walter Thompson.

At the State Department Beers, who had met Powell in 1995 when they both served on the board of Gulf Airstream, worked at, in Powell’s words, “the branding of U.S. foreign policy.” She extracted more than $500 million from Congress for her Brand America campaign, which largely focused on beaming U.S. propaganda into the Muslim world, much of it directed at teens.

“Public diplomacy is a vital new arm in what will combat terrorism over time,” said Beers. “All of a sudden we are in this position of redefining who America is, not only for ourselves, but for the outside world.” Note the rapt attention Beers pays to the manipulation of perception, as opposed, say, to alterations of U.S. policy.

Old-fashioned diplomacy involves direct communication between representatives of nations, a conversational give and take, often fraught with deception (see April Glaspie), but an exchange nonetheless. Public diplomacy, as defined by Beers, is something else entirely. It’s a one-way street, a unilateral broadcast of American propaganda directly to the public, domestic and international, a kind of informational carpet-bombing.

The themes of her campaigns were as simplistic and flimsy as a Bush press conference. The American incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq were all about bringing the balm of “freedom” to oppressed peoples. Hence, the title of the U.S. war: Operation Iraqi Freedom, where cruise missiles were depicted as instruments of liberation. Bush himself distilled the Beers equation to its bizarre essence: “This war is about peace.”

Beers quietly resigned her post a few weeks before the first volley of tomahawk missiles battered Baghdad. From her point of view, the war itself was already won, the fireworks of shock and awe were all after play.

Over at the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld drafted Victoria “Torie” Clarke as his director of public affairs. Clarke knew the ropes inside the Beltway. Before becoming Rumsfeld’s mouthpiece, she had commanded one of the world’s great parlors for powerbrokers: Hill and Knowlton’s D.C. office.

Almost immediately upon taking up her new gig, Clarke convened regular meetings with a select group of Washington’s top private PR specialists and lobbyists to develop a marketing plan for the Pentagon’s forthcoming terror wars. The group was filled with heavy-hitters and was strikingly bipartisan in composition. She called it the Rumsfeld Group and it included PR executive Sheila Tate, columnist Rich Lowry, and Republican political consultant Rich Galen.

The brain trust also boasted top Democratic fixer Tommy Boggs, brother of NPR’s Cokie Roberts and son of the late Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana. At the very time Boggs was conferring with top Pentagon brass on how to frame the war on terror, he was also working feverishly for the royal family of Saudi Arabia. In 2002 alone, the Saudis paid his Qorvis PR firm $20.2 million to protect its interests in Washington. In the wake of hostile press coverage following the exposure of Saudi links to the 9/11 hijackers, the royal family needed all the well-placed help it could buy. They seem to have gotten their money’s worth. Boggs’ felicitous influence-peddling may help to explain why the references to Saudi funding of al-Qaeda were dropped from the recent congressional report on the investigation into intelligence failures and 9/11.

According to the trade publication PR Week, the Rumsfeld Group sent “messaging advice” to the Pentagon. The group told Clarke and Rumsfeld that in order to get the American public to buy into the war on terrorism, they needed to suggest a link to nation states, not just nebulous groups such as al-Qaeda. In other words, there needed to be a fixed target for the military campaigns, some distant place to drop cruise missiles and cluster bombs. They suggested the notion (already embedded in Rumsfeld’s mind) of playing up the notion of so-called rogue states as the real masters of terrorism. Thus was born the Axis of Evil, which, of course, wasn’t an “axis” at all, since two of the states, Iran and Iraq, hated each other, and neither had anything at all to do with the third, North Korea.

Tens of millions in federal money were poured into private public relations and media firms working to craft and broadcast the Bush dictat that Saddam had to be taken out before the Iraqi dictator blew up the world by dropping chemical and nuclear bombs from long-range drones. Many of these PR executives and image consultants were old friends of the high priests in the Bush inner sanctum. Indeed, they were veterans, like Cheney and Powell, of the previous war against Iraq, another engagement that was more spin than combat .

At the top of the list was John Rendon, head of the D.C. firm, the Rendon Group. Rendon is one of Washington’s heaviest hitters, a Beltway fixer who never let political affiliation stand in the way of an assignment. Rendon served as a media consultant for Michael Dukakis and Jimmy Carter, as well as Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Whenever the Pentagon wanted to go to war, he offered his services at a price. During Desert Storm, Rendon pulled in $100,000 a month from the Kuwaiti royal family. He followed this up with a $23 million contract from the CIA to produce anti-Saddam propaganda in the region.

As part of this CIA project, Rendon created and named the Iraqi National Congress and tapped his friend Ahmed Chalabi, the shady financier, to head the organization.

Shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon handed the Rendon Group another big assignment: public relations for the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. Rendon was also deeply involved in the planning and public relations for the pre-emptive war on Iraq, though both Rendon and the Pentagon refuse to disclose the details of the group’s work there.

But it’s not hard to detect the manipulative hand of Rendon behind many of the Iraq war’s signature events, including the toppling of the Saddam statue (by U.S. troops and Chalabi associates) and videotape of jubilant Iraqis waving American flags as the Third Infantry rolled by them. Rendon had pulled off the same stunt in the first Gulf War, handing out American flags to Kuwaitis and herding the media to the orchestrated demonstration. “Where do you think they got those American flags?” clucked Rendon in 1991. “That was my assignment.”

The Rendon Group may also have had played a role in pushing the phony intelligence that has now come back to haunt the Bush administration. In December of 2002, Robert Dreyfuss reported that the inner circle of the Bush White House preferred the intelligence coming from Chalabi and his associates to that being proffered by analysts at the CIA.

So Rendon and his circle represented a new kind of off-the-shelf PSYOPs , the privatization of official propaganda. “I am not a national security strategist or a military tactician,” said Rendon. “I am a politician, and a person who uses communication to meet public policy or corporate policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior and a perception manager.”

What exactly, is perception management? The Pentagon defines it this way: “actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives and objective reasoning.” In other words, lying about the intentions of the U.S. government. In a rare display of public frankness, the Pentagon actually let slip its plan (developed by Rendon) to establish a high-level den inside the Department Defense for perception management. They called it the Office of Strategic Influence and among its many missions was to plant false stories in the press.

Nothing stirs the corporate media into outbursts of pious outrage like an official government memo bragging about how the media are manipulated for political objectives. So the New York Times and Washington Post threw indignant fits about the Office of Strategic Influence; the Pentagon shut down the operation, and the press gloated with satisfaction on its victory. Yet, Rumsfeld told the Pentagon press corps that while he was killing the office, the same devious work would continue. “You can have the corpse,” said Rumsfeld. “You can have the name. But I’m going to keep doing every single thing that needs to be done. And I have.”

At a diplomatic level, despite the hired guns and the planted stories, this image war was lost. It failed to convince even America’s most fervent allies and dependent client states that Iraq posed much of a threat. It failed to win the blessing of the U.N. and even NATO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington. At the end of the day, the vaunted coalition of the willing consisted of Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia, and a cohort of former Soviet bloc nations. Even so, the citizens of the nations that cast their lot with the U.S.A. overwhelmingly opposed the war.

Domestically, it was a different story. A population traumatized by terror threats and shattered economy became easy prey for the saturation bombing of the Bush message that Iraq was a terrorist state linked to al-Qaeda that was only minutes away from launching attacks on America with weapons of mass destruction.
Americans were the victims of an elaborate con job, pelted with a daily barrage of threat inflation, distortions, deceptions and lies, not about tactics or strategy or war plans, but about justifications for war. The lies were aimed not at confusing Saddam’s regime, but the American people. By the start of the war, 66 per cent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and 79 per cent thought he was close to having a nuclear weapon.

Of course, the closest Saddam came to possessing a nuke was a rusting gas centrifuge buried for 13 years in the garden of Mahdi Obeidi, a retired Iraqi scientist. Iraq didn’t have any functional chemical or biological weapons. In fact, it didn’t even possess any SCUD missiles, despite erroneous reports fed by Pentagon PR flacks alleging that it had fired SCUDs into Kuwait.

This charade wouldn’t have worked without a gullible or a complicit press corps. Victoria Clarke, who developed the Pentagon plan for embedded reports, put it succinctly a few weeks before the war began: “Media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception.”

During the Vietnam War, TV images of maimed GIs and napalmed villages suburbanized opposition to the war and helped hasten the U.S. withdrawal. The Bush gang meant to turn the Vietnam phenomenon on its head by using TV as a force to propel the U.S.A. into a war that no one really wanted.

What the Pentagon sought was a new kind of living room war, where instead of photos of mangled soldiers and dead Iraqi kids, they could control the images Americans viewed and to a large extent the content of the stories. By embedding reporters inside selected divisions, Clarke believed the Pentagon could count on the reporters to build relationships with the troops and to feel dependent on them for their own safety. It worked, naturally. One reporter for a national network trembled on camera that the U.S. Army functioned as “our protectors.” The late David Bloom of NBC confessed on the air that he was willing to do “anything and everything they can ask of us.”

When the Pentagon needed a heroic story, the press obliged. Jessica Lynch became the war’s first instant celebrity. Here was a neo-gothic tale of a steely young woman wounded in a fierce battle, captured and tortured by ruthless enemies, and dramatically saved from certain death by a team of selfless rescuers, knights in camo and night-vision goggles. Of course, nearly every detail of her heroic adventure proved to be as fictive and maudlin as any made-for-TV-movie. But the ordeal of Private Lynch, which dominated the news for more than a week, served its purpose: to distract attention from a stalled campaign that was beginning to look at lot riskier than the American public had been hoodwinked into believing.

The Lynch story was fed to the eager press by a Pentagon operation called Combat Camera, the Army network of photographers, videographers and editors that sends 800 photos and 25 video clips a day to the media. The editors at Combat Camera carefully culled the footage to present the Pentagon’s montage of the war, eliding such unsettling images as collateral damage, cluster bombs, dead children and U.S. soldiers, napalm strikes and disgruntled troops.

“A lot of our imagery will have a big impact on world opinion,” predicted Lt. Jane Larogue, director of Combat Camera in Iraq. She was right. But as the hot war turned into an even hotter occupation, the Pentagon, despite airy rhetoric from occupation supremo Paul Bremer about installing democratic institutions such as a free press, moved to tighten its monopoly on the flow images out of Iraq. First, it tried to shut down Al Jazeera, the Arab news channel. Then the Pentagon intimated that it would like to see all foreign TV news crews banished from Baghdad.

Few newspapers fanned the hysteria about the threat posed by Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction as sedulously as did the Washington Post. In the months leading up to the war, the Post’s pro-war op-eds outnumbered the anti-war columns by a 3-to-1 margin.

Back in 1988, the Post felt much differently about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. When reports trickled out about the gassing of Iranian troops, the Washington Post’s editorial page shrugged off the massacres, calling the mass poisonings “a quirk of war.”

The Bush team displayed a similar amnesia. When Iraq used chemical weapons in grisly attacks on Iran, the U.S. government not only didn’t object, it encouraged Saddam. Anything to punish Iran was the message coming from the White House. Donald Rumsfeld himself was sent as President Ronald Reagan’s personal envoy to Baghdad. Rumsfeld conveyed the bold message than an Iraq defeat would be viewed as a “strategic setback for the United States.” This sleazy alliance was sealed with a handshake caught on videotape. When CNN reporter Jamie McIntyre replayed the footage for Rumsfeld in the spring of 2003, the secretary of defense snapped, “Where’d you get that? Iraqi television?”

The current crop of Iraq hawks also saw Saddam much differently then. Take the writer Laura Mylroie, sometime colleague of the New York Times’ Judy Miller, who persists in peddling the ludicrous conspiracy that Iraq was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

How times have changed! In 1987, Mylroie felt downright cuddly toward Saddam. She wrote an article for the New Republic titled “Back Iraq: Time for a U.S. Tilt in the Mideast,” arguing that the U.S. should publicly embrace Saddam’s secular regime as a bulwark against the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran. The co-author of this mesmerizing weave of wonkery was none other than Daniel Pipes, perhaps the nation’s most bellicose Islamophobe. “The American weapons that Iraq could make good use of include remotely scatterable and anti-personnel mines and counterartillery radar,” wrote Mylroie and Pipes. “The United States might also consider upgrading intelligence it is supplying Baghdad.”

In the rollout for the war, Mylroie seemed to be everywhere hawking the invasion of Iraq. She would often appear on two or three different networks in the same day. How did the reporter manage this feat? She had help in the form of Eleana Benador, the media placement guru who runs Benador Associates. Born in Peru, Benador parlayed her skills as a linguist into a lucrative career as media relations whiz for the Washington foreign policy elite. She also oversees the Middle East Forum, a fanatically pro-Zionist white paper mill. Her clients include some of the nation’s most fervid hawks, including Michael Ledeen, Charles Krauthammer, Al Haig, Max Boot, Daniel Pipes, Richard Perle, and Judy Miller. During the Iraq war, Benador’s assignment was to embed this squadron of pro-war zealots into the national media, on talk shows, and op-ed pages.

Benador not only got them the gigs, she also crafted the theme and made sure they all stayed on message. “There are some things, you just have to state them in a different way, in a slightly different way,” said Benador. “If not, people get scared.” Scared of intentions of their own government.

It could have been different. All of the holes in the Bush administration’s gossamer case for war were right there for the mainstream press to expose. Instead, the U.S. press, just like the oil companies, sought to commercialize the Iraq war and profit from the invasions. They didn’t want to deal with uncomfortable facts or present voices of dissent.

Nothing sums up this unctuous approach more brazenly than MSNBC’s firing of liberal talk show host Phil Donahue on the eve of the war. The network replaced the Donahue Show with a running segment called Countdown: Iraq, featuring the usual nightly coterie of retired generals, security flacks, and other cheerleaders for invasion. The network’s executives blamed the cancellation on sagging ratings. In fact, during its run Donahue’s show attracted more viewers than any other program on the network. The real reason for the pre-emptive strike on Donahue was spelled out in an internal memo from anxious executives at NBC. Donahue, the memo said, offered “a difficult face for NBC in a time of war. He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration’s motives.”

The memo warned that Donahue’s show risked tarring MSNBC as an unpatriotic network, “a home for liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.” So, with scarcely a second thought, the honchos at MSNBC gave Donahue the boot and hoisted the battle flag.

It’s war that sells.

There’s a helluva caveat, of course. Once you buy it, the merchants of war accept no returns.

This essay is adapted from Grand Theft Pentagon.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3

Response to be swift if ‘Israel’ attacks anyone in Lebanon: Nasrallah

22 Mar 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah touches on numerous domestic, regional, and international issues, from the Israeli occupation to Palestine and Yemen.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah making a public address on March 22, 2023 (Al Mayadeen)

    The incident that took place earlier in the month in Northern occupied Palestine caused confusion for the Israeli occupation, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday.

    The Israeli occupation forces had revealed that they suspected that Hezbollah was behind the security incident in northern occupied Palestine, during which it is alleged that “someone infiltrated the northern borders and detonated an explosive device.”

    The IOF described a “dangerous security incident” in northern occupied Palestine, and indicated that “the security issue was caused by a side bomb that was detonated on Route 65 at the Megiddo junction.”

    In a speech delivered during the memorial ceremony for the deceased founder and chairman of Al-Qard Al-Hassan Foundation, Hussein Al-Shami, Sayyed Nasrallah explained that “Hezbollah’s silence regarding the incident is part of its strategies in the battle against Israel.”

    “Let the Israelis investigate the incident, and when they have results, their findings will be built upon,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, explaining the resistance’s silence regarding the operation by underlying that Hezbollah was not obliged to comment on every incident.

    Addressing Israeli Security Minister Yoav Gallant, Sayyed Nasrallah said, “Do whatever you want, you can attempt the impossible, and your threats will yield no results.”

    “The Israelis were right in assuming that Hezbollah was behind the operation since they perceive it as not afraid of going to battle,” he explained.

    “What the enemy is threatening could be the very reason for its demise,” the Hezbollah leader asserted. “The Resistance in Lebanon stands by its word, and any Israeli attacks on Lebanon, regardless of the location or figure, Lebanese or foreign, will be met with a swift and decisive response from the resistance, and this must be understood.”

    “Waging war against Lebanon might lead to an all-out regional war, and this is something the Israelis are afraid of. The threats the Israelis are making might be the very thing that prevents this entity from making it into the 80-year mark.”

    “The maritime borders issue proved that the enemy fears going to war with Lebanon, and their threats could be the root cause of their demise,” the Hezbollah chief said. “Israel is afflicted today and the entity never went through so much despair, frustration, and weakness […] The Israeli government is one of corrupt and extremist madmen.”

    “The fools in the Israeli government are revealing the truth about the entity that others are trying to conceal, and when the enemy’s leadership is of this level of ineptitude, we must know that the end is near,” he said.

    Fearing pivot eastward nonsensical

    Sayyed Nasrallah underlined that the rising USD rate in Lebanon was illogical, and the state is responsible for curbing scalping.

    “The economic situation requires dialogue, but certain parties are rejecting this at a time when exchanging blame will yield no results,” the resistance leader explained. “The grey area between the Lebanese politicians is becoming very narrow, but there is no reason not to call for dialogue to discuss the economic and financial situation.”

    Moreover, Sayyed Nasrallah underlined that China was ready to offer a hand to Lebanon to get it out of its economic slump. “There is a consensus that improving the living conditions in Lebanon is linked to improving the economy, and China is ready to provide assistance in this regard.”

    “The world is pivoting eastward, like Saudi Arabia, which invited the Chinese President to Riyadh and held conferences that no one held it accountable for,” the Hezbollah chief stressed. “Fearing Lebanese-Chinese collaboration is nonsensical, and such a decision requires political decisiveness and courage.”

    Furthermore, he explained that there are various countries all over the world that are on the verge of collapse, with many of them risking collapse very soon, calling for the people to come together and help each other, especially in light of the holy month of Ramadan. “Hezbollah, using its full capabilities, is standing by the people, and that will always be its role.”

    Touching on the election of a Lebanese President, Sayyed Nasrallah said developments were taking place at a slow pace; however, “efforts are still ongoing to elect a Lebanese President.”

    Additionally, the resistance leader denied there being any appendage to the Saudi-Iranian agreement regarding Lebanon, Yemen, and other countries.

     High hopes for Yemen solution

    Talking about the latest developments in Yemen, Sayyed Nasrallah said that “as a result of the regional circumstances and the failure of the aggression on Yemen, there are high hopes for a solution.”

    “What we heard about a prisoner swap deal in Yemen brings joy to every honorable heart,” he added.

    “Since the first day of aggression on Yemen, we have stood beside the Yemeni people, and this is a stance that we take pride in,” the Hezbollah chief underlined. He further hoped for the situation to get better and culminate in the ending of the aggression and blockade on Yemen.

    Iraqi resistance, Iran resilience undermined US in region

    On the 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, Sayyed Nasrallah explained that the invasion of Iraq was a prelude to invading six other countries, including Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Somalia, and Libya.

    “Iraq was liberated with the blessing of the valiant Iraqi resistance that was fighting the invaders and occupiers who came to stay in Iraq, but they left after 8 years after the Resistance exhausted the American occupation forces. It was not due to the efforts of the takfiris who sowed death in mosques.”

    “The Iraqi resistance and Iran’s steadfastness are what led to the failure of the US project for the region,” noting that “the Iraqi people still have many challenges when it comes to confronting American influence.”  

    “The fate of the country is upheld”… Nasrallah: There is no justification for not calling for dialogue!

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    Multipolarity was triggered by the 2003 US invasion of Iraq

    March 20 2023

    Twenty years after the unlawful and destabilizing US-led invasion of Iraq, Washington must face the ultimate consequence of that war: UNSC powers China and Russia laying the foundation for a genuine, UN Charter-based system of multipolarism. 

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By Karin Kneissl

    On the night of 19-20 March, 2003, the US air force began bombing the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. The EU and NATO were deeply divided on whether to join the aggression: While newer NATO members from Central and Eastern Europe were in favor of the war, European heavyweights Paris and Berlin opposed it.

    The Iraq war also marked the onset of diplomatic coordination between Moscow and Beijing at the UN Security Council (UNSC). The two countries began in 2003 to apply similar voting patterns in the Council, first on Iraq, then on Libya in 2011, and over Syria in several key votes. That early Russia-China UN coordination has, 20 years later, transformed into a determined joint policy toward “guarding a new world order based on international law.” 

    Looking back at March 2003 from the vantage point of March 2023, the invasion of Iraq unleashed geopolitical consequences far beyond the obvious ones, like the proliferation of terrorism, a decline of US power, and regional chaos. In 2003, a foundational, global shift in the balance of power was surely the last possible consequence envisioned by the war’s planners in Washington and London.

    Disconnecting the dots

    The destruction of Iraq, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army by the first “US Consul” Paul Bremer in May 2023, the outflow of refugees to neighboring states such as Syria and Jordan, and the exponential growth of extremism and terror attacks are among the consequences of this misguided war.

    The flimsy reasons for the war, such as non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and Baghdad’s alleged support of terror groups like Al Qaeda, were debunked extensively in the following years. By the spring of 2004, evidence was already rife – whether from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or from the CIA’s Iraq Survey Group (ISG) – that Iraq had no WMD program at all.

    Rarely before had disinformation campaigns – what is now commonly referred to as “fake news” – been so meticulously executed. The “with us or against us” narrative had firmly taken hold: Western think tanks were out in full force promoting regime change and “democracy” (not a stated goal of the US-led invasion) in Iraq, while those who opposed it were labeled anti-Israel or anti-America.

    Despite unprecedented, massive public protests across western capitals in opposition to the Iraq war, the US and its allies had already set in motion their considerable war machine, led by figures such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar.

    A false narrative linking Baghdad and the September 11 attacks had already been well-seeded, despite there being no connection whatsoever between the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the bombers. It should be noted that there were no Iraqi or Afghan citizens among the terrorists who piloted the 9-11 planes, who were predominantly Saudi nationals.

    Unfinished Business

    In the autumn of 2001, war scenarios for an invasion of Iraq and regime change were already being laid out in Washington. Johns Hopkins University dean Paul Wolfowitz – an avid supporter of regime-change and US military expansion into Iraq – was named deputy secretary of defense in February 2001, a full seven months before the 9-11 attacks. Wolfowitz’s working hypothesis was that Iraq, with the liberalization of its oil industry, would be able to finance a post-war reconstruction from its own petroleum exports.

    The group around Vice President Dick Cheney, which included Wolfowitz and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, was influential in shaping President George W. Bush’s position on Iraq. Unlike his father, George H. Bush, who was an experienced CIA director and analyst, the younger Bush lacked a distinct personal worldview on foreign policy, which he outsourced to his hawkish coterie.

    Nevertheless, he was determined to finish what he saw as his father’s “unfinished business” from the 1991 ‘Gulf War’ aimed at expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait. That conflict was executed under a UN Security Council resolution, authorizing legal measures against Iraq as a state, but which did not constitute a war under international law.

    In 1991, only Jordan‘s King Hussein took a position supporting Saddam Hussein, with all other nations backing the coalition assault against Baghdad. The US government adhered to the UN resolution, which aimed to restore Kuwait‘s territorial integrity – but not to overthrow the Iraqi government.

    Instead, the US supported Iraqi Kurds in the north of the country and encouraged them to revolt against Baghdad. The Iraqi army crushed that rebellion, as it did an uprising in the Shia-dominated south. Perhaps the rebels had hoped for more concrete military aid from the US, but regardless, Hussein remained firmly in power despite military defeat elsewhere.

    From Washington’s perspective, the US had failed to unseat Hussein, and within the Bush family, there was a desire to settle a score. For George W. Bush, the invasion of Iraq provided an opportunity to step out of his powerful father’s shadow by executing the elusive regime-change goal. The September 11 attacks provided a justification for this obsession – what remained was to connect Iraq to the US terror attacks and galvanize public and political support for a war, both domestically and internationally.

    The UN Security Council in turmoil

    In the run-up to the Iraq invasion, there was a great deal of division among UN Security Council (UNSC) members. US Secretary of State Colin Powell presented questionable evidence of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, while the foreign ministers of Germany and France publicly opposed the aggression, for which they occasionally received applause in the Council.

    China and Russia, who vehemently opposed the war, began coordinating their decisions and responses, in part because of their respective oil interests in Iraq. This cooperation between Moscow and Beijing set the stage for a coordinated multilateral approach between the two nations. Both governments understood that a war would open Pandora’s box, leading to the collapse of Iraqi institutions and resulting in widespread regional disharmony.

    Unfortunately, this is precisely what happened. The subsequent years saw weekly attacks, an expansion of Salafi terror groups like Al Qaeda, the rise of ISIS in 2014, and perpetual internal Iraqi conflict. Anyone familiar with the country‘s conditions was aware of the looming catastrophe when the illegal invasion of Iraq began on 20 March, 2003.

    China and Russia and the multipolar order  

    Twenty years to the day, Chinese President Xi Jinping will embark on a three-day state visit to Moscow, and the focus will extend beyond bilateral energy relations, which have been a consistent priority since 2004.

    As previously stated in their joint declaration in Beijing in February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart aim to coordinate their foreign policy and advance it together. Their discussions may also touch on the Ukraine dossier, although media expectations in the west may be overestimated.

    It may be pure coincidence that the meeting coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Yet it also highlights how extensively Russian and Chinese strategies have intertwined over the past two decades.

    Today, increasingly, “orientation comes from Orient.” Cooperative geostrategic leadership and sound alternative propositions to resolve global conflicts are being shaped in Beijing and Moscow – because the old centers of power can offer nothing new.

    Twenty years after the US invasion of Iraq, a failed ‘war on terror,’ the proliferation of extremism, millions of dead and displaced in West Asia, and never-ending conflict, China and Russia have finally teamed up to systematically advance their view of the world, this time with more resolve and global clout.

    As catastrophic as it was, the Iraq war ended the practice of direct US military invasions, ushering in a war-weary era that desperately sought other solutions. That global division of opinion that began in 2003 over Iraq is, 20 years later, being institutionalized by emerging multipolar powers that seek to counter forever wars.

    The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

    US tortured Iraqis in Abu Ghraib and got away with it: Reports

    17 Mar, 2023

    Source: The Intercept

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    CIA agents, military intelligence, military police, private contractors, special operations forces, and ordinary troops perpetrated treatment that can no longer be hidden behind euphemisms: it was torture.

    A detainee in an outdoor solitary confinement cell talks with a military policeman at the Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq, June 22, 2004 (AP)

    Marking the 20-year anniversary of the start of the US invasion of Iraq, Photo Editor of The Intercept Elise Swain shed the light on tens of thousands of Iraqis who were interrogated and detained in the early years of the war, where CIA agents, military intelligence, military police, private contractors, special operations forces, and ordinary troops perpetrated treatment that can no longer be hidden behind euphemisms: it was torture.

    The shocking images published in 2004 from Abu Ghraib prison– one of the world’s worst, most notorious detention facilities under the US occupation of Iraq– showed humiliated, naked prisoners leashed, electrocuted, beaten, and piled in pyramids, with smiling military service members laughing and giving a thumbs-up over their bodies.

    As the scandal came to widespread public attention, senior officials presented Abu Ghraib as a one-time occurrence, the result of “a few bad apples.”

    “We do not torture,” President George W. Bush claimed. Even after the CIA’s covert prison network was revealed, Bush and his defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, continued to violate the Geneva Conventions.

    Those in positions of power who played dumb while making torture a policy escaped accountability, as is customary in the US, the report argues.

    Even after the CIA’s covert prison network was revealed, Bush and his defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, boldly continued to violate the Geneva Conventions.

    Despite all of this, there have been no criminal court indictments, personal or professional ramifications, travel limitations, or sanctions flowing up the chain of command.

    “If the US is truly ever interested in rectifying the horrific violence that it unleashed on Iraq, it could start by apologizing to and compensating the survivors of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison,” Maha Hilal, the director of the Muslim Counterpublics Lab and author of “Innocent Until Proven Muslim,” said as quoted by The Intercept. “Until it does, U.S. gestures towards justice in any capacity will remain symbolic and disingenuous.”

    Military contractors, who were complicit in and actively involved in interrogations and torture, walked away untouched.

    One tiny piece of horrors

    Like all legal cases, this is just one tiny piece of the horrors of the invasion and the occupation which displaced and killed many thousands of Iraqis,” Baher Azmy, legal director of the CCR, said as quoted by The Intercept. “High-level Bush administration officials have not been held accountable for the lies and the murderous violence that they subjected the Iraqi people to. So, this is just one small part of the legal story.”

    According to a Red Cross analysis, the majority of the individuals jailed across Iraq following the war were innocent. 70 to 90 percent of “persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq” were captured by mistake, as per the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    “I believe that achieving justice begins with revealing all the details about the torture and acknowledging them on the part of the United States, then giving reparations to the survivors who were tortured unjustly, for no reason,” Salah Hasan, a plaintiff in the CCR suit who survived Abu Ghraib, said as quoted by The Intercept.

    One of those who filed a lawsuit, Hasan was arrested in November 2003 and brought through numerous detention facilities under US supervision, hooded and tied, before arriving in Abu Ghraib.

    Hasan was stripped naked, held standing and hooded for hours, and restrained. Over the course of over two months, he described being kicked, beaten, deprived of food, and locked naked in complete isolation for the majority of his confinement.

    Additional Abu Ghraib images were subsequently revealed more than a decade after the scandal broke. An American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit compelled the Military to turn over further proof of Iraqi atrocities; the additional 198 images provided were “the most harmless of the 2,000 that were withheld,” as per ACLU.

    Covering crimes

    Censorship of this type – to conceal US crimes, specifically torture — has occurred numerous times. The full findings of the Senate investigation on CIA torture were never unmasked. The ACLU National Security Project chastised the Pentagon for continuing to hide evidence.

    What the United States government can get away with is still impacted by the long-standing precedents of torture without trial.

    “Though the Obama administration’s policy was to look forward,” Yumna Rizvi, a policy analyst for the Center for Victims of Torture, said as quoted by The Intercept, “the reality is that the lack of accountability has created an inability to move forward and essentially paralyzed the U.S. on many issues, including those related to the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo detention facility.”

    “The United States of America should reconsider its policies, and at the very least, clean up the mess left behind,” Hassan said. “The U.S. must admit that it deceived the Iraqi people. But it is clear this is not in its consideration at all.”

    Read more: Exclusive: Iranian father reveals painful abuse in Abu Ghraib prison

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    The clash of two cities: Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, and the future of Iraq’s Kurdistan

    March 16 2023

    The most successful Kurdish political experiment in West Asia is unravelling due to increasing divisions between the KDP and PUK, the two biggest political parties in Iraqi Kurdistan.

    From right to left: Kurdistan Democratic Party leader (KDP) Masoud Barzani, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party leader Bafel TalabaniPhoto Credit: The Cradle

    By Zaher Mousa

    Iraq’s Kurds, as with other mainly Iranic populations across western and southern Asia, are busy preparing to celebrate Nowruz on March 21, the Persian new year which marks the beginning of Spring.

    But this year’s festivities will be marred by a conflict raging between political and military forces in the city of Sulaymaniyah – stronghold of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) – and between Sulaymaniyah and Erbil – stronghold of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP ). To complicate matters further, Iraq’s central government in Baghdad has been drawn into this conflict with the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

    These fiery disputes have burned through the patience and loyalties of Iraqi Kurds, who have watched their political representatives lock horns over virtually everything: the relationship with Baghdad, oil production and revenues, the public sector salary crisis, the conflict between Turkey and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, and disunity within the region’s vital institutions in their respective strongholds. 

    Kurdish internal ‘division and discontent’

    Last February, an opinion poll conducted by Erbil-based research firm Sheekar Research, which is funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy, revealed that just over half of respondents (50.7 percent) believe they would be better off if the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was dissolved and central authority from Baghdad was re-established.

    The reasons cited by polls participants were the KRG’s deteriorating financial and service conditions, general administrative failure, and widespread corruption. In the PUK’s stronghold,, 64 percent of respondent supported dissolving the Kurdish administration, and 59 percent said they would not participate in demonstrations urged against the federal government in Baghdad.

    The survey polled 1,000 people across Iraqi Kurdistan, and included a high proportion of the region’s government employees.

    Respondents were also asked about how they view recent decisions by the federal supreme court against the KRG. Last February, the Baghdad court ruled that Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil and gas law was unconstitutional, which threw its contracts with international oil companies into legal jeopardy.

    A plurality of survey respondents (46 percent) viewed the court’s decision as “illegal” and “issued against” Iraqi Kurdistan. Yet, most respondents either supported (10 percent) or expressed neutrality (42 percent) over the rulings, as they felt the court was primarily punishing the KDP and PUK.

    The survey also asked who shoulders the responsibility for the KRG’s apparent weakness in Baghdad. A fifth of respondents (21 percent) blamed the KDP and the PUK, while a further 47 percent blamed all Kurdish political parties – including the ruling duopoly and opposition groups. One-third of respondents were unsure.

    The poll, published by the semi-official Iraqi newspaper Al-Sabah and other Iraqi and Arab newspapers, led to an escalation of tension between Baghdad and the KRG. Iraqi government Spokesman Basim al-Awwadi called the Al-Sabah report an ‘opinion piece’ that did not represent Baghdad’s view.

    However, the head of the Kurdish opposition New Generation Movement (NGM) bloc, Sarwa Abdel Wahed, confirmed in a television interview that the federal government had been subjected to significant pressure from Kurdistan to retract the poll and apologize for its publication.

    Power struggle within the PUK

    Since the late 1970s, Sulaymaniyah has been a political and military stronghold for the PUK, which had been founded by former Iraqi president (2005-2014) Jalal Talabani in 1975. After Jalal’s death in 2017, his wife Hero Ibrahim assumed party leadership for three years before that position became violently contested between his son Bafel Talabani (head of Kurdistan’s counter-terrorism affairs) and his nephew Lahur Jangi Talabani (heads one of Kurdistan’s two intelligence services).

    In February 2020, the PUK’s leadership council elected both men as co-chairs of the party. The partnership did not last long. An assassination attempt against Bafel and two party leaders ended in accusations against Lahur for the poisonings.

    In July 2021, Bafel ousted Lahur from the co-presidency, stripped him of his posts, dismissed officials loyal to him, and had Sulaymaniyah’s judiciary issue an arrest warrant for him and his two brothers.

    But Lahur’s popularity among the region’s security and military institutions was something Bafel had not yet addressed, and security tensions broke out in the city. Violent clashes between the two parties erupted repeatedly, culminating, most notably, in the assassination of Officer Hawkar Al-Jaf in Erbil on July 10, 2022. Meanwhile, accusations against Lahur for planning assassination plots and establishing armed groups continued.

    The most recent political agitation took place on 14 March, when KDP sources announced an assassination attempt against Wesi Barzani, the youngest son of its former president Massoud Barzani, the single most influential figure in the KRG. The KDP accused Bafel Talabani of the attack because Erbil backs his cousin Lahur in their conflict.

    Since the outbreak of the PUK’s war of succession, the KDP in Erbil – its historical partner in governing the Kurdish region – has supported Lahur Talabani. This unvoiced loyalty was demonstrated by KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani – after the killing of Officer Al-Jaf – when he demanded pro-Bafel security service leaders be arrested in Sulaymaniyah. Furthermore, Erbil’s judicial authority has supported Lahur’s appeal against the procedures that led to his dismissal from the PUK’s co-chairmanship.

    Bipartisan disputes

    The succession dispute, however, is by no means the only major impediment in the relationship between Iraqi Kurdistan’s two most important cities and political parties. They also have acute differences over the KRG’s election law and the falsification of voter data, which has led to the postponement of the region’s parliamentary elections for over a year.

    The two parties also differ on their relationship with the PKK in Qandil mountains and the Kurdish, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria. The PUK supports the activities of the PKK, while a Turkish-KDP alliance to siphon off Iraqi oil has the Barzanis at odds with the PKK, designated by Ankara as a Kurdish terrorist group.

    The dispute between the two parties further intensified over the selection of a candidate for Iraq’s presidency (which is reserved for a Kurd) after the country’s 2021 elections. The position has been filled by either Jalal Talabani, Fuad Masum, or Barham Salih since 2003 – all PUK politicos – in exchange for KDP candidates being assigned the presidency of the Kurdistan region.

    On October 13, 2022, Iraq’s parliament elected Abdul Latif Rashid as president of the republic after a bitter struggle with the KDP’s Masoud Barzani, who tried to nominate his uncle Hoshyar Zebari, a former foreign minister (2004-2014) and the regional interior minister, Rebar Ahmed Barzani.

    As a result of these differences, KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani – younger brother of Bafel – and his party’s ministers boycotted the meetings of the regional government. Baghdad is now trying to heal the rift between Sulaymaniyah and Erbil by increasing the Kurdistan region’s share of state revenues and finding a solution to the unlawful sale of Iraqi oil by the KRG.

    In this context, Baghdad has referred a draft law to Iraq’s parliament to create the Halabja Governorate in Kurdistan. This will increase the number of governorates in the KRG to four (Erbil, Dohuk, and Sulaymaniyah), will lead to greater financial allocations for the Kurdistan region in the federal budget, and  strike a more equitable budget balance between the two parties.

    Can Kurdistan ever be united?

    Keeping the Kurdistan region united and cohesive is a major US objective in Iraq, and is repeatedly emphasized by Washington. Efforts are currently underway to find a solution to the dispute between Baghdad and Erbil over the KRG’s unlawful sale of Iraqi oil outside of central government authority. In both 2022 and 2023, the Federal Court issued decisions obligating the KRG to hand over oil revenues to Baghdad, and invalidating the unlawful oil and gas law in force in Iraqi Kurdistan.

    The political agreement which was struck to form the government of Iraq’s current Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani, includes the enactment of a federal law that regulates the process of extracting and selling oil and gas; the implementation of the constitution’s Article 140 (determining the administrative authority over disputed Iraqi areas); resolving the issue of internally displaced people (900 thousand are displaced in Iraqi Kurdistan); and the implementation of the 2020 “Sinjar AgreementSinjar Agreement” between Erbil and Baghdad to remove the PKK from the Sinjar district in the Nineveh Governorate.

    The prime minister’s visit to Erbil this week was an effort to resolve outstanding issues and bridge gaps between competing Kurdish agendas. Sudani met with officials from the two rival parties and the opposition NGP to gain approval for the federal general budget for the years 2023, 2024, and 2025, before referring the bill to Parliament.

    Sudani aspires to strengthen his position as prime minister by satisfying all parties, including those in the KRG, whose political parties collectively represent 59 of Iraq’s 329 parliamentary seats. He has moved quickly. On 13 March, Sudani announced an agreement to end the dispute over the oil revenues – on the same day the KRG’s Ministry of Finance received 400 billion dinars (around $274 million) from Baghdad to pay government employee salaries.

    While the agreement details are still “unclear,” political sources say its most prominent breakthrough appears to be the payment of KRG oil revenues into the Iraqi financial system, via a designated account in the Iraqi Trade Bank. This will – for now at least – allow Baghdad to see, but not touch, KRG energy revenues.

    According to the sources, these measures come in response to conditions set by the US in advance of Sudani’s scheduled visit to Washington in the next few days.

    The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

    اتفاق السعودية وايران ينظّم المنافسة المستمرة: ملف لبنان رهن تغيّر مقاربة الرياض

    ملف الرئاسة رهن تغيّر سعودي لا إيراني

    الإثنين 13 آذار 2023

     ابراهيم الأمين

    فوجئ كثيرون، في المنطقة والعالم، بالبيان الختامي للمحادثات السعودية – الإيرانية برعاية صينية. البعض لم يكن على علم بأصل التفاوض الجاري منذ مدة غير قصيرة، وفوجئ باتفاق سيُعمل على تنفيذه خلال أسابيع. فيما يتصرف آخرون بشيء من الخشية من أن يحمل الاتفاق مفاجآت ليست في الحسبان، ومتناقضة مع السياسات التي كانت تعتمدها السعودية خصوصاً.

    أهمية الاتفاق بين البلدين أنهما يمثلان مركز الصراع على ملفات المنطقة، وأن الطابع التنافسي طغى دائماً على علاقاتهما حتى عندما كانت في أفضل أحوالها. وهو امر تعزز بعد سقوط نظام صدام حسين، وتغييرات المشهد اللبناني بعد اغتيال رفيق الحريري، والتطورات التي عصفت بكثير من الدول بعد 2011. وقد تواجه الطرفان بشراسة في ساحات عدة، من العراق إلى سوريا والبحرين واليمن وصولاً إلى لبنان وفلسطين، وزاد الوضع تعقيداً بينهما إثر تولي محمد بن سلمان السلطة الفعلية في السعودية.

    من الأفضل العودة إلى أهداف كل طرف كي تكون مراقبة الاتفاق أكثر واقعية، وحتى لا يذهب أحد بعيداً في التحليلات أو التمنيات، خصوصاً أن مسائل كثيرة عالقة في المنطقة يعتقد كثيرون أن حلها رهن اتفاق البلدين. وهذا تقدير خاطئ، ليس لعدم رغبة الطرفين في المساعدة على فضّ النزاعات، بل لكون الأطراف الأخرى، الإقليمية والدولية، تملك من القوة والنفوذ ما يمكّنها من عرقلة التفاهم، وتفجير ساحات كثيرة، وصولاً إلى تفجير الاتفاق نفسه.

    منذ تولي آل سلمان الحكم في السعودية وإمساكهم بمفاصل القرار فيها، تصرّفت الرياض كطرف قادر على المبادرة إلى خطوات كبيرة تعزز نفوذها في المنطقة. وهي قبل أن تشن حربها المدمرة ضد اليمن، شاركت بفعالية في تعزيز الاختلال الأمني والسياسي والاقتصادي في العراق، وفعلت الأمر نفسه في سوريا عندما انخرطت في معركة إطاحة النظام، كما لعبت دوراً كبيراً في الانقلاب الذي قاده الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسي في مصر. وكذلك الحال في فلسطين. فإلى البرودة التي سادت علاقتها بالأردن والسلطة الفلسطينية، قادت السعودية معركة قاسية ضد ابرز قوتين في المقاومة، معتبرة ان حماس تمثل امتداداً لحركة الإخوان المسلمين، وتصرفت مع الثانية على أنها ذراع إيرانية. وفي البيت الخليجي، قبضت الرياض على مركز القرار في البحرين مانعة أي مصالحة وطنية، وعاقبت قطر وحاصرتها، وكبّلت حكام الإمارات والكويت، وحاولت مراراً فرض ضغوط على سلطنة عمان. وتمثّلت ذروة هذه السياسة في حرب وحشية وعبثية ضد الشعب اليمني، قامت على حسابات خاطئة من كل النواحي، وأدركت السعودية بنتيجتها أن الولايات المتحدة والغرب الأوروبي لن يتوليا هذه المهمة عنها.

    مطالب وهواجس سعودية

    بعد كل ما حصل، تريد السعودية تحقيق الآتي:

    أولاً، توازن فعلي مع الدور الإيراني في العالم العربي، وتوازن أكثر فعالية على صعيد إدارة ملف التدفق النفطي عبر الممرات البحرية.

    ثانياً، الخروج بمكاسب من حرب اليمن، من خلال اعتبار إيران طرفاً يمكنه المساعدة على تحقيق تسوية تجعل السعودية طرفاً رابحاً أمام الحوثيين وبقية الأطراف اليمنية.

    ثالثاً، تفاهم يعطي الرياض حق الفيتو في العراق، من خلال تفاهم مع السلطات العراقية، وليس عبر نفوذ المملكة على بعض القوى والشخصيات العراقية.

    رابعاً، عقد مصالحة مع الدولة السورية، مع محاولة لجعل دمشق أقرب إلى السعودية، سواء في ملف اليمن، أوفي الموقف من حركات الإخوان المسلمين وقوى المقاومة، باعتبار أن ذلك سيؤدي حكماً إلى إضعاف نفوذ إيران في سوريا، وتالياً في لبنان وفلسطين.

    خامساً، التوقف عن لعب دور الثري الذي تُفرض عليه خوات في لبنان وفلسطين ومناطق أخرى. السعوديون مستعدون لإنفاق الكثير، لكنهم يريدون مقابلاً واضحاً، وهم أعطوا من يسعى إلى التحالف معهم درساً من خلال طريقة تعاملهم مع ابنهم «المدلل» سعد الحريري.

    سادساً، تريد السعودية أن تثبت للغرب، وللإدارة الأميركية الحالية خصوصاً، أنها لم تعد البلد الذي لا يحرك ساكناً من دون موافقة أميركية، وأنها تجيد قراءة المتغيرات العالمية، وتريد انتزاع هامش حقيقي في السياسة والأمن والاقتصاد، من خلال طريقة تعامل مختلفة مع الأطراف الدولية المؤثرة، وفي مقدمها الصين.
    على هامش هذه المطالب الجوهرية، يمكن إيراد كثير من النقاط التي يجري تقديمها كمواد سجالية يومية، من نوع أن تكبح إيران جماح حكومات وقوى محور المقاومة، وأن تضغط لإسكات قوى بارزة من أنصار الله في اليمن إلى حزب الله في لبنان إلى قوى المقاومة في فلسطين. كما يمكن، أيضاً، طرح الكثير من العناوين التفصيلية، من بينها مثلاً ملف الانتخابات الرئاسية في لبنان.

    الاسد وضع استراتيجية تمنع ابتزازه: علاقات ثنائية ومصالحات موضعية مع العرب

    … ومطالب وهواجس إيرانية

    أما من جهة طهران، فإن الأمور واضحة أيضاً، وتتمثل في الآتي:

    أولاً، كسر العزلة المفروضة على إيران بسبب السياسات الأميركية التي تنصاع لها دول كثيرة في المنطقة من بينها السعودية، وألا يكون هذا الكسر سياسياً فقط، بل اقتصادياً أيضاً. وهي ترى في السعودية دولة كبيرة في الإقليم، لها قدراتها الكبيرة، بما يساعد طهران في تحقيق هذا الهدف.

    ثانياً، احتواء الحملة التي تصوّر الجمهورية الإسلامية رأس حربة في معركة شيعية ضد السنة في العالم الإسلامي. وهي تدرك أن للسعودية دورها الكبير في هذا السياق، خصوصاً بعد الوهن الذي أصاب مصر من جهة، وتراجع قوة الإخوان المسلمين في المنطقة، وبعد تطبيع العلاقات بين دول وقوى عربية وإسلامية مع إسرائيل.

    ثالثاً، تسعى إيران إلى عزل برنامجها النووي عن أي ملفات أخرى تتعلق بعلاقاتها مع دول الجوار. وهي أكّدت دائماً للسعودية وغيرها، واستعانت بأطراف عدة من بينها الصين، لتوضيح أن برنامجها النووي وبرامجها للصواريخ الباليستية لا تستهدف دول الجوار وفق الدعاية التي يروّجها الغرب.

    رابعاً، تريد إيران تحقيق استقرار مستدام في منطقة الخليج، وهو أمر يحتاج إلى تسوية واقعية مع السعودية، تمكّنها من إشهار وتطوير علاقاتها الجدية مع بقية دول الخليج. كما تدرك طهران أن الرياض قادرة، بقوة، على المساعدة في تحقيق استقرار جدي في العراق وسوريا، وحتى في ساحات حليفة لها، كلبنان وفلسطين.

    خامساً، تهتم إيران ايضا، بتطويق التدخل السعودي في شؤونها الداخلية. خلال جلسات التفاوض، عرض الإيرانيون على نظرائهم السعوديين الأدلة التي تثبت تورط السعودية استخباراتياً وتمويلياً وإعلامياً في الأحداث التي تشهدها إيران بين فترة وأخرى. علماً أن طهران تتفادى حمل هذا القميص علناً، كما تفعل الرياض بالحديث عن تدخل إيران في شؤون دول المنطقة، وهي لا تريد مساعدة السعودية أو غيرها في معالجة مشاكلها الداخلية، بقدر ما تريد من هذه الأطراف عدم التورط في مثل هذه الأحداث، لأنه سيكون لهذا التدخل ثمنه الكبير مع الوقت.

    سادساً، تعتقد إيران أن لتطوير العلاقات مع السعودية تأثيراً كبيراً على النفوذ الأميركي في المنطقة، ويمكن أن يؤخر – أو ربما يعطل – المساعي لضم السعودية إلى برنامج التطبيع مع العدو، وهي تراهن على أن ابتعاد الرياض عن مشاريع التطبيع سيكون له أثره على الدول التي انخرطت في هذه المشاريع، وتشعر اليوم بأنها لم تجنِ أي مكاسب منها.

    أي نتائج متوقعة؟

    من خارج الدولتين، ثمة حسابات ورهانات وتوقعات تتعلق بتداعيات الاتفاق على ملفات المنطقة. وفي هذا المجال، يبدو واضحاً من معطيات وصلت الى جهات معنية، بأن ايران لم تدر ظهرها لمطلب المساعدة في معالجة ملف اليمن. لكن ما لا يعرفه كثيرون، هو انه خلال جولات التفاوض المباشر بين السعوديين وأنصار الله، سواء في صنعاء والرياض او تلك التي تحصل برعاية مسقط، باتت السعودية تدرك الهامش الضيق الذي يمكن لايران ان تتحرك فيه في اليمن، وأنه لا يمكنها ان تفرض على انصار الله خيارات تتناقض مع رؤيتهم. ولذلك سارعت الى عرض مشروع اتفاق يسمح لصنعاء السير قدما في مشروع حل. وفي هذا السياق، فقط، يصبح لايران دور جدي في تعجيل الامر.

    أما في سوريا، فلم تبادر ايران أساساً الى حض دمشق أو منعها من اعادة التواصل مع أحد. لكن الرئيس بشار الاسد نفسه، وهو من له مصلحة باعادة الحرارة الى علاقات بلاده مع كل العالم، وضع استراتيجية تهدف، أولاً، إلى تعطيل اي محاولة لابتزازه. ولذلك، لا يبدي حماسة كبيرة للعودة الى جامعة الدول العربية، ولا يطرح الامر كحاجة ملحة. لا بل ان الاسد الذي يعرف تماماً محدودية تأثير الجامعة، يفضل السعي الى علاقات ثنائية ذات فعالية مع الدول العربية البارزة. وهو قادر على صياغة علاقات قوية مع السعودية ومصر والاردن والامارات، من دون ان يضطر الى علاقات مع قطر ودول اخرى تورطت بقوة في الحرب ضده. أضف إلى ذلك أنه يرغب في اعادة تنظيم العلاقات الثنائية، من دون رهن ذلك بطلبات منه في ملفات اخرى. فهو لا يجد نفسه معنياً بموقف يناسب السعودية في اليمن، ولن يقبل نقاشا حول حزب الله في لبنان. وحتى في ملف الاخوان المسلمين الذين خاض معهم حرباً شرسة، فإنه يميز أولوية الملف الفلسطيني. فهو لم يقبل مصالحة حماس ليحوّلها ورقة مساومة مع الاخرين. أما في العراق، فيرى الاسد نفسه طرفاً معنياً لا طرفا ثانوياً، وكذلك الأمر في لبنان، لكنه لا يجد نفسه مضطراً الآن لتحمل هذا العبء فيما اولويته اعادة اعمار سوريا وتنظيم موقعها في المنطقة.

    وعليه، فان من ينتظر من اتفاق بكين نتيجة مباشرة على صعيد المعركة الرئاسية في لبنان، يكون قد قرأ بصورة خاطئة الاتفاق. لا السعودية ستغيّر موقفها الآن، ولا ايران تعتقد ان عليها الضغط على حلفائها في لبنان. وبالتالي، فان الخطوة المنتظرة تتعلق بمراجعة مرتقبة من الرياض لكل ما قامت به في لبنان طوال عقود عدة، وخصوصا في العقد الاخير.

    فيديوات ذات صلة

    مقالات ذات صلة

    The Demise of Mesopotamia: The Geopolitics of Water. The Desertification of Iraq

    March 12, 2023

    Part I

    By Prof Souad N. Al-Azzawi

    Global Research,

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    First published on April 8, 2022



    The decades following World War II witnessed massive investments in large dams and water reservoirs. The number of large dams increased globally from 5,000 dams in 1950 to around 50,000 in 2017, and irrigated areas doubled from 140 million hectares to 280 million hectares.

    The development of public irrigation and hydropower energy, and their associated dams, was central to Cold War geopolitics and national state policies. Throughout the Cold War, water became more involved in both building up and demolishing regimes, supporting, and undermining political legitimacy, and empowering and disempowering social groups.

    Today, over 263 international watercourses generate about 60% of global freshwater flow, cross the territories of 145 countries, and are home to around 40% of the world’s populationConflicts over shared river waters cannot be interpreted without understanding the political power relations and the significance of upstream-downstream positioning of the competing or conflicting states.

    For thousands of years being Mesopotamia (the land between two rivers), today’s Iraq faces water scarcity and desertification due to the continued reduction of the Tigris and Euphrates water flow into Iraqi territory. This is largely due to upstream developments on their headwaters in Turkey and Iran, and the steepening effects of climate change. In 2018, the UN Environment Program warned that Iraq was losing around 25,000 hectares of arable land.

    The construction and operation of about 100 large dams and reservoirs on the Tigris and Euphrates headwaters in both Turkey and Iran in less than four decades, has drastically impaired the flow of the two rivers and caused severe land and environmental degradation including the desiccation of wetlands in Iraq.

    In this article, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers mean annual flow rate records from the Ministry of Water Resources in Iraq (1960-2018) have been analyzed in correlation with dates of upstream dams filling and operation of tens of large dams in Turkey.

    Conclusions indicate significant correlation that caused serious impacts including the desiccation of about 65% of the marshland’s areas in southern Iraq since the seventies to date, with continues degradation of valuable agriculture land into desertification, and other related environmental and socioeconomical aspects.


    About 96.3% of water on earth is saline. Freshwater including ice caps, lakes, rivers, groundwater, soil moisture, and atmosphere vapors covers only 2.7% of the Earth’s surface. River’s freshwater is only 0.0002 of total water on earth [.1 ]. Rivers are important natural corridors for the flows of energy, matter, and species, and are often key elements in the regulation and maintenance of landscape biodiversity [2]. With time and population explosion and drought, fresh water becomes a critical asset to meet food, water demands, development, and national security of nations.

    The decades following World War II witnessed massive investments in large dams and water reservoirs. The number of large dams increased globally from 5000 in 1950 to around 50 000 in 2017. Irrigated areas also doubled from 140 million ha. to 280 million hectares. The development of public irrigation and hydro energy and associated dams was central to Cold War geopolitics as well as to wider national state policies. [3].

    As a strategic asset, water is no longer linked only to environmental issues and food security issue’s but also plays a critical role in regional security arrangements. States view water as a means for political leverage and as a source of power.

    There are over 263 international watercourses generating about 60% of global freshwater flow which cover almost half the earth’s land surface. They cross the territories of 145 countries and are home to around 40% of the world’s population.[4]

    Shared rivers between two or more riparian states poses different levels of disputes over river water shares. Conflicts over shared rivers waters cannot be interpreted without understanding the power relations and the significance of upstream-downstream positioning of the competing or conflicting states [ 5]. In arid and semi-arid regions like the Middle East water represents a source of state power, and water scarcity is highly impacting development and national security [5].

    Today Iraq faces water scarcity and desertification after continuous reduction of Tigris and Euphrates water inflows due to upstream damming of their headwaters in Turkey, Iran.

    Water shortages are further aggravated by the steepening effects of climate change. The UN Environment Program reported in 2018 that Iraq is  losing around 25,000 hectares of arable land annually.[6].

    The construction and operation of more than 100 large dams, reservoirs, and hydroelectric power plant (HEPP) in less than four decades on Tigris and Euphrates headwaters in Turkey, Iran, has impaired the flow of the two rivers and caused sever land and environmental degradation in Iraq.

    Since the 1970s, Turkey has pursued an ambitious Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), or “Guneydogu Anadolu Projesi” (Turkish). The project involves the construction of 90 dams, and 60 hydro-electrical power stations [7 ], water diversion tunnels, and irrigation infrastructure on Tigris and Euphrates headwaters, with storage capacity exceeding 114 BCM. Full implementation of (GAP) facilities will harness nearly 70-80 percent of the Euphrates River water flow into Iraq and Syria [8].

    Throughout the Cold War, water has become more involved in both building and demolishing regimes, supporting, and undermining political legitimacy, and empowering and disempowering social groups [9].

    This paper presents an overview of how Cold War politics after World War II evolved to create tensions and potential conflicting situations between riparian countries within the Tigris and Euphrates basins.

    As a NATO active member, Turkey received political, financial, and technical support to accelerate the construction of GAP mega dams without negotiating protocols with downstream riparian countries or conducting comprehensive environmental impact assessments to define the effects of these dams on them, as required by international water laws [10].

    Tigris and Euphrates rivers mean annual flow rate (MAFR) records from the ministry of water resources in Iraq (MoWRI), Appendix A, table I, [14] [16], have been analyzed in correlation with dates of upstream dams filling and operation in Turkey and Iran, to identify the real impacts of these developments on the acceleration of the desiccation of the marshlands southern Iraq through the nineties to date.

    With partial implementation of the GAP project, Iraq is already going through significant water scarcity, desertification [6], and the desiccation of about 65% of major areas of the marshlands after the diminishing of flood waves, major water recharge of these wetlands [11].  It’s been predicted that both Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq might diminish by the year of 2040’s [12].

    Water resources status of Iraq

    Before the 1970s the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq were considered semi-natural [8]]. Both rivers are international rivers shared mainly by four countries (Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran). Most headwaters of both rivers are in Turkey and Iran’s highlands. Tables 1 and 2 pertain to the major hydrological parameters of both Tigris and Euphrates drainage basins.

    Since about 79% of water resources of the two rivers in Iraq originate mainly from Turkey and Iran’s highlands [8], a significant decline in total annual inflow of Euphrates in Iraq started in the mid-1970s, right after the construction and the operation of the Keban dam in Turkey and Tabqa dam in Syria.

    Table 1: Main Hydrological parameters of Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq.

    Figure 1: Tigris and Euphrates River basins across riparian states [15].

    Early 1980s to the present the total annual water inflow of both Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq have been going through continuous decline (figure 2), due mainly to the construction of the Southeast Anatolia Project, and other water developments in Iran, Syria, and Iraq.

    The first stage of GAP project includes the building of 22 mega and large dams and 19 hydropower plants with storage capacity of (>114 BCM) on the Euphrates and Tigris (Table 3), which exceeds the natural annual flow volume of the two rivers [8].

    Figure 2: Decline of mean annual flow of both Tigris and Euphrates water last five decades. Source of data MoWRI in references [14][16].

    Another important source of surface water in Iraq is Shatt al Arab River. This river forms from the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers near the city of Qurna in southern Iraq, figure 3 . Downstream of Qurna city to the Arabian Gulf, the length of the river is 192 Km [17]. The area draining to the Shatt al Arab river is shared between Iran and Iraq. In addition to the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, the Karkheh and the Karun tributaries originate from the Zagros highlands in Iran contribute water to Shatt al Arab main channel in Iraq [8].

    Mean annual inflow of Shatt Al Arab during (1947-1960) from Tigris and Euphrates was about 23 BCM in Maqal (Makal) district close to Basra city center (figure 3 )[18], increases to about 37.5 BCM further south after Karun tributary discharges about 14.4 BCM of its water into the river [18].

    Last two decades, the contribution of Tigris, Euphrates, and Karun rivers inflow into Shatt Al Arab have been gradually declining. The flow rate of the river dropped to historical level of 45 CMS (Cubic Meter Per Second) reported in (2011), compared to 919 cms in (1977-1978) [19]. Shatt Al Arab annual flow rate decline is also related to the construction of large dams and reservoirs upstream in Turkey and Iran on both Tigris and Euphrates headwaters [8] figure 4.

    Figure 3: Shatt Al Arab River through Basra city [17]

    Figure 4: Shatt Al-Arab mean annual flow rate at Makal district in Basra.[18]

    Iran on other hand constructed 37 dams on Tigris tributaries, Karun, and Karkha rivers originating from the Zagros and Touros highlands in Iran since the seventies [20] [21].

    Syria also constructed three large dams on Euphrates since mid-seventies [8]. Iraq built 5 large dams at same period [8] , in addition to the construction of 17 dams last decade on Tigris tributaries within Kurdistan Region of Iraq ( KRI) last decade, with 24 more dams under construction currently [22 ]. Mean annual water inflow of both Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq during the sixties was around 83 BCM, figure 2. In four decades, mean water inflow dropped to 47 BCM. With climate changes, and full implementation of GAP project, further reduction is expected to the depletion of both rivers in Iraq around 2040’s according to (UN-IAU Interagency information and analysis unit) (Report, 2010 [12].

    The Southeastern Anatolia Development Project

    The Southeastern Anatolia Development (GAP) is part of a more comprehensive project intends to build 1,783 dams and hydro-electric power plants (HEPP) in Turkey by 2023 in addition to over 2,000 existing ones, which will affect millions of people [23] inside Turkey, and more than 30 million people downstream in Syria and Iraq.

    The following section is a general historical review of the politics accelerated the development of the GAP project last four decades, starting from the construction of Keban dam, first mega dam constructed on Euphrates River headwaters in Turkey.

    1. Keban dam

    In 1962 the Turkish parliament allocated funds for a feasibility study for the construction of a dam at Keban city on the headwaters of the Euphrates River. That same year, a contract was signed with EBASCO Services Inc., an American engineering firm founded by the General Electric Company in 1905 [24].

    The project Feasibility report released in October 1963.” EBASCO recommended the construction of the dam at Keban in a 350-page “economic feasibility” report. The project technical document supposed to come with technical details about the proposed design and the cost of the dam, but, the report was more as a political document [24]. It was an analysis of the whole Turkish economy and society. It offered a technocratic vision for the country’s future rather than the project region only. The study was produced as a prospectus for international capital, it was less about the development of Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia and more about the social and economic development of Turkey’s largest cities in the west [24].

    In 1965, Turkey began construction of the Keban dam. Ankara obtained funding for the dam from the United States and several West European countries led by West Germany and the contracted consortium of West European companies to complete the dam.

    The total aid for the project totaled some $135 million US Dollars [24]. Keban and Al-Tabqa dam in Syria were both completed and started filling the reservoirs (1973-1974) [25]. Filling the (31 BCM) storage capacity reservoirs of Keban and Tabqa dam reservoir (11.6BCM) during (1973,1974, 1975) caused significant decline of (MAFR) of Euphrates river in Iraq to (15.31, 9.02, 9.42 BCM)( MoWRI in Table I, Appendix A). Comparing these records to Euphrates average annual flow rate (1930-1970) of 30 BCM (Appendix A, Table I) before the construction of Keban and Tabqa dams. This decline caused serious damages to downstream riparian countries (Syria and Iraq) at the time, but the damages in Iraq were more severe.

    Permanent Impacts of operating Keban dam is about 25% reduction of the annual inflow rate of the Euphrates in Iraq [26]. This reduction and control of the river flow ended most of the spring season flood waves [8].

    Amidist most critical conflicts of the Cold War, right after filling of Keban dam, with the world’s oil crises early seventies of last century, the nationalization of Iraqi oil in 1973 [27], EBASCO report recommendation for Turkey’s economic development , and total political, technical, and financial support of the NATO countries during the construction of  Keban dam,  all opened the door widely for Turkey to further extend the development of Southeastern Anatolia region through  what today called the Southeastern Anatolia project (GAP).

    2. Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) was launched in 1977 and introduced by Turkey’s State hydraulic works (DSİ) through bringing together various programs on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, creating a regional project that covers nine provinces of an area about 74,000 km² [28]. The completed project aims to have built a total of 90 dams and 60 hydroelectric power plants, generating 27 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and irrigate 1.7 million hectares of surface area to grow cash crops and promote agro-industries such as food processing for export [28].

    Phase one of the Southeastern Anatolia project include the construction of twenty-two large and mega dams, nineteen hydraulic power plants, and huge water conversion tunnels, figure 5 shows the locations of main GAP dams [29]. Without environmental impact assessment, planning, design, and construction of the project were singly decided by Turkey without negotiations with other downstream riparian states (Syria and Iraq) [10] as required by 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses, and other related water laws [30].

    Turkey’s stand on this issue is based on the principle of the Harmon Doctrine, whereby the upstream riparian country owns the water and controls its distribution, [31]. The problem with the Harmon Doctrine, “not only do the vast number of water treaties bear witness against this Doctrine, but all the international and federal judicial tribunals that have experience with international water problems have rejected it; all the learned associations, institutes, and other bodies which have studied these problems have rejected it in their statements of principles”, [32, page 142].

    The International water law (IWL) as a process dismantled absolute sovereignty theories Including: Absolute territorial sovereignty theory; Absolute territorial integrity theory. As McCarthy, 1996, stated “The Harmon Doctrine … buried, not praised”)[32].

    The three foundation pillars of IWL:

    • The equitable and reasonable utilization principle;
    • The no-harm rule; and
    • The principle of co-operation [32 ].

    Hence the GAP project stands against all these principals in every single step of its planning, design, construction, and operation.

    While the decision to build a dam is often seen as a sovereign decision, the decision of external agencies to support a dam depends on whether the proposed project complies with that agency’s policies and guidelines”. Such policies, argues by the world commission on dams (WCD), “should incorporate aspects of notification to riparian States, the desirability of ‘consent’ or ‘no objection’ from riparian States and independent expert assessment of social, ecological, and heritage and cultural impacts on downstream riparian states[10].

    Figure 5: Major GAP constructed dams and their distribution along Tigris and Euphrates headwater in Turkey [29].

    The world commission on dams (WCD) Policy Principle 7.5, Strategic Priority 7, states: “Where a government agency plans or facilitates the construction of a dam on a shared river in contravention of the principle of good faith negotiations between riparian’s’.  [10].

    The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund refused to fund any part of the GAP after funding the construction of the Karakaya Dam (1983-1988) due to concerns over social and environmental impacts, as well as protests from governments in Iraq and Syria [10].

    During the eighties, Initial Goals of GAP projects were mainly limited to developing irrigation and industrial zones. In 1989, Turkish state officially established the Southeast Anatolia Regional Development Administration.

    The law governing the Administration demonstrated how the Turkish government saw this project as involving more than simply economic development. The GAP scheme engaged the entire landscape of Southeast Anatolia, including political, social, cultural, and environmental spheres.

    Law decree 388 (1989) defined the Administration’s duties. GAP Regional Development Administration published the goals of the project as: 1. generation of hydroelectric power; 2. development of regional agriculture through irrigation. 3. development of a regional agro-industrial base; and 4. formulation of a mid- to long-term solution to Kurdish ethnic separatism [24] [ stahle page 228].

    To Europe and America, the GAP mega dams project was not about safeguarding foreign policy interests, such as containment of the Soviet Union and the extension of communist ideology in the middle east only, rather, the dams were a key component in producing a particular economic order, and opening overseas markets to exports, maintaining a specific technical and industrial base in the donor country (like Turkey) [24].

    In a report titled “THE EUPHRATES TRIANGLE, Security Implications of the Southeastern Anatolia Project” of the U.S. National Defense University ,1999 [31], statements clearly defined the U.S.-NATO stance on the construction of GAP project, such us;

    “A secure and stable Turkey is in the U.S. national interest. Turkey is the southern bastion of NATO, and it borders on three states that may pose a threat  to the United States–Iraq, Syria, and Iran.”

    Also, that;

    “the NATO southern flank, with Turkey in particular, still faced severe regional instability. For this reason, SACEUR designated southeastern Turkey as one of several areas within Allied Command Europe that would continue to receive priority military planning efforts.”

    In the recommendation section of the same report:

    ” U.S. policy in the region has been to maintain close ties to Turkey, shaping the environment with international assistance, arms control, nonproliferation initiatives, and isolation of rogue states that support terrorism or violate international law.”

    These states were previously identified in the same article as( Syria, Iraq, and Iran) [31].

    Water in such context should not be considered as a source of conflict only, but as a mean that can be used during the conflict. Turkey have been using water to serve political aims, causing significant threat to riparian countries and the population’s human security [9] (Laura Meijer).

    To the US and NATO powers, supporting the construction of GAP projects politically and financially with their negative impacts on Turkey’s downstream riparian countries (Syria, Iraq,) was more of goal and political strategy to isolate and end their social regimes. Even if that support means the destruction of river’s basins ecological, cultural, and socioeconomical systems.

    As Kibaroglu, 2014 stated;

    “While the Cold War deepened the tensions over water, Turkey joined NATO whilst Syria and Iraq kept close ties with the USSR” [33]. Other political issues are related to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and the territorial dispute between Turkey and Syria over the Hatay province which was a major source of tension between the two countries until 2005.” [34].

    Reconstruction of the project never stopped, with no environmental or social impact assessments at local or regional levels [10].

    Environmental Impact assessments are an international requirement for such strategic projects. They are usually conducted to define the impacts of the (dams in this case) on the whole river basin including hydrological, geomorphological, ecological, connected wetlands, and socioeconomic status of all cities   downstream in riparian countries and the suggested alternatives to eliminate these impacts.

    To earn back international funds after the controversial (Ataturk) dam had been built and start filling the reservoir in 1990, the Turkish government further developed the project into a new international interest called “sustainable human development”.

    The original design was expanded to include schools, roads, health care centers, housing, women’s projects, and tourism. This way the project earned back the international funding including the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Development (UNDP) ,table 3 shows the countries and organizations financially supported GAP project.

    Table 3: Foreign Countries and organizations financially supported the GAP projects till 2002 [35 ][36].

    Entities of the United Nations  supported and funded parts the project, table 3, knowing that sustainability of a river basin including human development is determined by whether the river system can support the long-term ecological and socioeconomic functions of the river basin as a whole [37], and not only part of the basin within the Turkish territories.

    No detailed technical reports from these organizations or Turkey exploring the impacts of GAP mega dams on whole rivers basin including ecological and socioeconomic impacts on downstream riparian countries before constructing them [10].

    UNEP and other UN organizations dealt with what they called (drying marshlands issue for security reasons) in southern Iraq with many studies during the 1990s. Most of these studies were local, not regional to cover the impacts of constructing all these dams and hydropower stations on the whole Tigris and Euphrates basins including wetlands.

    Other related research conclusions built on processing enhanced Landsat and other remote sensing images without enough ground truth data and rate of flow records.

    The GAP project created international conflicts regarding water sharing and escalated tensions among Turkey, Syria and Iraq as the three riparian states of the Euphrates and Tigris basins.

    Turkey has for a long time rejected the notion of sharing rivers in an equitable and fair manner as stipulated by international law. It was one out of three countries voting against the 1997 UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses which establishes the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization, of not doing harm, of cooperation between riparian countries, and of notification and consultation [38].

    According to international law experts, these principles form part of the customary law also binding those countries that have not ratified the relevant conventions. The obligation to inform and consult with riparian countries at an early stage and to conclude an agreement before a project is realized is also part of the World Bank Safeguard Policies [23].

    Impacts of GAP Projects on the Desiccation of Wetland in Southern Iraq

    [Desiccation is defined as the “Removal of Moisture”]

    Marshlands are mainly located in southern Iraq and are directly connected to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, figure 6 [39]. They are in Nasiriya, Basra, Diwaniya, and Umara governorates.

    Before the intensive construction of dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers headwaters in Turkey highlands early seventies of last century, area of the marshes (Ahwar) was highly variable annually and seasonally, ranged from (8000-20000 Km²) [40]. In summer (June-October) and dry years, the area become only 25% of the area in flood season (3500 Km²) [41] due to decline of the two rivers MAFR and high evaporation rate. Many marshes in the area are seasonal and disappear in summer. Others are permeant like the following:

    The Euphrates river Marshes: including Al Hammar permanent largest marsh with many other small seasonal marshes. In flooding season, they were all look connected, and are recharged mainly from Euphrates River and flowing water from central marsh westward in dry season. Al Hammar marsh area range between (1250-2500) Km² [40]. The American company T.A.M.S.(Tippet-Abbott-McCarthy, Stratton) estimated area of Al Hammar in 1954 about (1250) Km² [40].

    The central marshlands: located between Tigris and Euphrates rivers including Abi Zarak and Chibayeesh marshes. Extending from Shaikh Saad city in Missan to Qurna in Basra, with an area of 4000 Km² in flood season to less than 1920 Km² in dry season, recharged from west Tigris and east Euphrates distributaries [41].

    Hawaiza marsh extends from Iranian to Iraqi territories. Area of Hawaiza inside Iraq is about (2500-3000 Km²) in flooding time, to about (950 Km²) in summer, and (650 Km²) in dry years[19]. Inside Iran  the extension of Hawaiza is called (Hoor Alazim) , with an area of (  1250  Km²) in flood season [42 ]. Major recharge of Huwaiza in Iran was from Karkha river until 1998, before operating Karkha2 dam with an annual flow of 3.2BCM [42 ]. From Iraqi side recharge of Hawaiza is from Tigris River distributaries during flood seasons [40].

    1. Impacts of GAP Development on the Desiccation of Marshlands in Iraq:

    Streams and rivers are hydrologically connected to downstream water features like wetlands and floodplains via channels that convey surface and subsurface water either year-round in perennial flow or seasonally [43]. Water structures like dams on any river affect the frequency, duration, magnitude, timing, and rate of change of connections between headwater streams, and downstream water.

    They cause fragmentation of longitudinal connections between headwater streams and downstream waters, including the deltaic wetlands. The impacts of changing streamflow are numerous, including altered flow regime, stream geomorphology, habitat, and ecology [43]. Wetlands in southern Iraq have been subjected to serious stresses after the building of tens of dams on both Tigris and Euphrates within three decades. These dams altered their hydrological, ecological, geomorphological, socioeconomical, and environmental systems due to the elimination of seasonal flood waves major water recharge of the marshlands, and the significant decline of Tigris and Euphrates mean annual flow rate (MAFR). This alteration was more profound after the construction and operation of the GAPS dams in Turkey since the seventies of last century to date [44].

      Figure 6: Marshlands and diversion canals in southern Iraq, modified after (Abdullah, A. 2016)[39].

    One of the important impacts of this flow impairments is the desiccation of marshlands in southern Iraq [26]. Acceleration of this desiccation occurred during the nineties, when Turkey filled and operated 22 dams and hydroelectrical power stations on Tigris and Euphrates rivers headwaters in one decade only, (Appendix B, table II) [45].

    As a result the MAFR of both rivers dropped drastically (Appendix A), figure 2.  At that time, Iraq was under the economic sanctions, facing severe shortages of food and necessary chemicals for water purification plants, Iraq considered Turkey’s action (being a NATO member) as an assault to deprive Iraqi population access to fresh water for domestic and agriculture uses [10]. Such an action would raise the already high economic sanctions human casualties to a genocide level [46]. As a result, mid-nineties the Iraqi government constructed four freshwater diversion canals through the marshlands to supply potable water for Nasiriya and Basra cities population. These canals caused further dissection of the marshlands as will be explained later in this article.

    In the next section the Tigris and Euphrates rivers mean annual flow rate (MAFR) records from the ministry of water resources in Iraq (MoWRI), Appendix A, table I, [14] [16], have been analyzed in correlation with dates of upstream dams filling and operation in Turkey and Iran, to figure out the real impacts of upstream developments on the acceleration of the desiccation of the marshlands through the nineties to date.

    2. Desiccation of Hammar and Central Marshlands during the nineties of last century: Early seventies to 2002, Turkey constructed, and operated 32 dams and hydroelectrical power stations on Tigris and Euphrates headwaters with total storage capacity of (99.520 BCM) [45]. Twenty-two of these developments including Ataturk mega dam, with collective storage capacity of (56.969BCM) started filling and operating during the nineties of last century, Appendix B [45]. Thirteen of them with storage capacity (51.664 BCM) were filled and operated on Euphrates River, the other 9 with storage capacity of (4.55BCM) were on Tigris River, Appendix B, table II.

    Hammar and Central marshlands are mainly connected and recharge from the Euphrates River and some of Tigris distributaries in case of central marshes [40] . To maintain an area of about 7000 Km² as before the construction of GAP projects, about (14-15 BCM) of water inflow is needed annually to recharge them from Euphrates River in Nasiriya city, the entrance to these marshes [11] [41] [47]. This amount historically was available from seasonal (March-May) flood waves of the river [47], figure 7.

    These flood waves disappeared after controlling river flow by the dams on headwaters [11].  The relatively high flow water release from dams on headwaters in Turkey shifted from spring to summer season (June – September) to meet peak electricity demands [11]. Highest evaporation rate in Iraq is during summer [41].

    Figure 7: Elimination of spring high flow (flood waves) of Euphrates River in Nasiriya City the entrance to Marshlands. (Flow records from ref. 11).

    Mean Annual Flow of Euphrates measured in Husaiba station on Syrian/Iraqi borders before building the dams (1930-1973) is about 30 BCM [14]. During the filling and operating of Ataturk dam (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994), and six other smaller dams on Euphrates, Appendix B, table II. The reservoir level of Ataturk dam reached 535m a.s.l in March 1994 [48]. Mean annual flow of Euphrates River at Husaiba city on the Syrian/Iraqi borders during these years were (8.9, 12.4, 12.15, 12.37, and 15.29 BCM) [MoWRI), Appendix A, table I [14], figure 8.

    It is well documented that until the seventies, the Euphrates river was losing about 50% of its mean annual flow rate or about (14-15) BCM of between Heet city close to Syrian/ Iraqi borders to Nasiriya city (Entrance to Marshlands) [40], mainly to meet domestic and agricultural demands for all cities along Euphrates river banks [11].

    The Euphrates annual flow rate less than 15 BCM on Iraq/Syrian borders means that there is not enough water to recharge the Hammar and Central Marshlands in southern Iraq for five years (1990-1994), figure 8.

    The situation further deteriorated with an annual evaporation rate of 2895 mm/year in Nasiriya [49], which means annual water losses of about (8.26 BCM) from both marshlands water surfaces.

    Figure 8: Euphrates River mean annual flow rate in Iraq (1990-2003), showing periods of no recharge to Hammar and Central marshlands during the nineties (Water records, Appendix A)  

    Estimations of changes of Hammar and Central marshlands areas through the period (1973-2018) are shown in Figure 9 .

    Data of the graph are taken from remote sensing interpretations in published articles and reports listed in table 4. From the graph we notice that from 1973-1990, Hammar and Central marshlands lost about 2000 Km² of its area, after the construction and operation of (Keban, 1973; Karakaya, 1986; Hancagiz, 1988; Hecihider,1989) on the Euphrates headwaters in Turkey (table); Qadisya dam in Iraq, 1986; Tabqa dam,1973 and Baath dam,1988 in Syria[8][45].

    From table II, Appendix B, between 1998- 2002, other seven GAP dams and hydro electrical power stations on Euphrates River headwaters were filled and operated (Kahta, Camgazi, Gayt, Ozluc, Karkamis, and Berecik)[45 ] , with operating Tishreen dam in Syria 1999, figure 8. Euphrates MAFR measured on Iraqi/Syrian borders during the years of (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002) were (27.9, 18.61. 17.23, 9.59, 10.67 BCM) consecutively (Appendix A, table I). For the reason mentioned previously, throughout this period and from figure 9, Hammar and Central marshlands lost an extra 600 Km² from its area and  ends up to about  750 Km² in 2002 [26].Mid-nineties the Iraqi government constructed and operated four freshwater diversion canals (al EZZ, Taj al Marek, Wafaa al Qaed, and Um al Marek canals) within the marshlands area. Most of these canals started operating from 1994-1998 [55]. The construction of these fresh water diversion canals caused further 1300 Km² reduction of the area of Hammar and Central marshlands, figure 9, as explained in the next section.

    Figure 9: Desiccation of Hammar and Central marshes due to continues decline of Euphrates and Tigris annual flow rate after the construction and operation of GAP dams.

    3. Desiccation of Hawaiza marsh: this marsh is located east of Amara city southern Iraq on Tigris River. It extends from Iranian territories (called Howr Al-Zim) to Iraqi territories [42].  During the seventies extension of this marsh in Iraq was about (2435Km²) in flood seasons [Nomas, 19 ] and about 950 Km² in summer and 650 Km² in dry years [Nomas, 19], in Iran its area was about (641-1250 Km² ), figure 3 , but both parts are one hydrological and ecological unit [40].

    Until 1998 the Karkha river was the major source of water that recharged the Hawaiza marsh from the Iranian side. From the Iraqi side the marsh is recharged by Tigris distributaries Kahala, Musharah, and Majaria canals mainly during floods time [21].

    Hawaiza marsh was also affected by the construction and operation of 9 dams and hydroelectrical power stations with total storage capacity of (6.383 BCM)  on Tigris river headwaters in Turkey during the nineties, Appendix B, table II.  Five of them were filled and operated from (1997-2000) [45 ].  Iraq filled and operated the Udhaim dam (1.5 BCM) in 1999[9]. Iran filled and operated two dams, one of them is the Karkha2 dam in 1998, with storage capacity (5.6 BCM) [56].

    Tigris river MAFR measured in Kut city (180 Km) south of Baghdad, during the period of (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001), were ( 39.85, 18.88, 18.85, 21.13 BCM) Appendix A, table I. Historical mean annual flow rate of Tigris in Kut city from records of the Ministry of Water Resources in Iraq for the period (1933-1973) is about (49.20 BCM) Appendix A. During the seventies, more than 10 BCM out of the 49 BCM was recharging Hawaiza and central marshes during flood season [57].

    Karkha2 dam in Iran was constructed during (1992-1998) on Karkha river, a tributary of Tigris River originates from west Iranian highlands and ends up in Hawaiza marsh in Iran ( Al Azim marsh), figure. The dam reservoir capacity is 5.9 BCM [42].

    Starting from 1998-2000, filling then operating the dam from Karkha river cut off an annual recharge to Al Azim /Hawaiza marsh [42]. Mohsen Saeedi et al, in a published an article [42 ] wrote; “Hoor-Al-Azim/Al-Havizeh reached its minimum surface area at year 2000 and lost ~84% of its area following the exploitation of Karkheh dam in 1998”.  He proceeded that “ by disturbing the water inflow to the Hoor-Al-Azim, Karkheh dam exploitation is  the  main  parameter  which caused surface  area  reduction in  Al-Azim/Al-Havizeh wetland[58 ]”.

    From 2000 to 2014 a sign of revival is observable over the wetland area so that its area augmented to 1714 km2, but still the total loss of wetland is ~55% from 1973 to 2017[42]. Hawaiza marsh lost about 2000 Km² from its area within Iraqi territories mainly due to dams filling and operations all during the nineties.

    4. Impacts of constructing freshwater diversion canals southern Iraq (1994 -1998) on further desiccation of marshlands

    After the military operations of Gulf war 1, 1991, with the intended destruction of the public services and the civil infrastructure by American coalition including electricity, water supply and wastewater treatment plants, Irrigation and drainage pumping stations, bridges, food storages [59] [60].

    Economic Sanctions imposed on Iraq prevented repairing all the destroyed infrastructure specifically those required spare parts like pumps and chemical reagents, including electricity installations, water purification and sewage treatment plants, and water networks [59]. Harvard Study Team in their visit to Iraq observed that; “people collecting water from broken pipes surrounded by pools of murky water or even directly from drainage ditches”[60]. Loss of electricity had also caused Baghdad’s two sewage treatment plants to stop working and spilling raw sewage into the Tigris River. In neighborhoods in both Basra and Baghdad, whole streets were blocked by pools of foul-smelling water [60] [Starving Iraq].

    Without public potable water supply, people had to use raw water directly from rivers for a while. About (50000) mostly under five children died in 1991 only [60]. The impacts of economic sanctions were severe specifically among population in south of Iraq [60]. Because of lack of clean water, food, and medicine, WHO supported data indicated that “Mortality in under-fives had risen 600% between 1990 -94, while there has been a 500% rise in low-birth-weight infants, and a doubling of the infant mortality rate of Baghdad over the same period”. Former UN official Denis Halliday resigned his job in Iraq because he considered sanctions against Iraq amount to ‘genocide’ [46].

    During this period only about 40% of Euphrates River MAFR entered the Iraqi territories because of the filling and operation of Ataturk and eleven other dams in Turkey, Appendix B, table II. The release of sewage water discharges to the river caused further deterioration of water quality.  Large areas of marshlands connected to Euphrates River were desiccated due to decline in MAFR with serious deterioration of their water quality, figure 10. In 1994, Al-Imara and Jawad from Marin science Centre in Basra University published a paper presents the results of Physio-chemical properties of water sampling program conducted in December of 1991 [61] (during the filling of Ataturk dam [62].  The sampling program were conducted before the construction of any freshwater conversion canals through the marshlands by the Iraqi state companies, and covered water courses from Qurna to Arabian Gulf [61]. Measured salinity of Euphrates water samples at Qurna before confluence with Tigris River and after flowing through marshlands was (5280) part per million (ppm). According to WHO water quality standards, this salinity value is not suitable for human use [63], also not acceptable for agriculture, animal, or industrial uses. Salinity values from Tigris- Swaib canal (after exiting Huwaiza marsh) was 5020 ppm; Hartha, 6200 ppm; Garmat Ali, 6500 ppm; Basra, 6370 ppm [61 ]. Al these and other water parameters values give clear indication of what southern Iraqi cities were going through with the continues deterioration of surface water quality to meet population water demands through the economic sanctions.

    Figure 10: Correlation of filling and operating GAP project dams on decline of Euphrates River MAFR and the dissection of marshlands southern Iraq. [ 45].

    To prevent further casualties because of the inability to purify and supply clean water, four artificial water diversion canals were constructed by Iraqi state companies and operated from (1994-1998) [55]. The canals were designed to prevent mixing of what remained of Tigris and Euphrates fresh water with polluted and saline marshlands water, and to convert some of Tigris flood water to Euphrates River south Basra city to supply potable and irrigation water to highly populated villages and cities of Nasiriya, Shatra, and Basra. These projects are:

    1. Al- Ezz river: Recommended by American’s consultants (Tippets Abbott McCarthy Stratton),1958 [64].  This artificial canal was constructed mid-1993 and operation started 1994-1995 [65]. Its an open channel designed to transfer fresh water from Beterra’a and Great Majar distributaries of Tigris river south western Omara city to Euphrates river main channel south of Qurna city with mean flow rate of 256 cms [65] ,figure 3 . Main function of the project was to prevents mixing of Tigris distributaries fresh water with saline water of the central marshlands, and to transfer more fresh water to Euphrates River south of Nasiriya city to meet water demands of tens of populated Basra villages after four years of drastic decline.
    2. Wafaa Al Qaed Canal: after the American occupation of Iraq in 2003, the under occupation assigned government changed the name of this canal to (al Bada’a Canal), figure 5. An Italian company designed this canal during the eighties [66], and the construction were executed by state Iraqi companies and took three years during economic sanctions. The canal operated in 1997 [64]. The length of this open channel is 238.5 Km, built to transfer (21 cms) fresh water from Tigris (Gharaf) distributary to Nasiriya and south of Basra cities [66].

    This canal is still supplying fresh water to the cities of Nasiriya, Shatra, and Basra till this day. Practically it is the only source of fresh water currently in Basra after the shutdown of ten water purification plants on Shatt Al Arab waterway due to sea water intrusion last decade [67].

    After all criticism and accusations of the American’s propaganda during the economic sanctions that these canals are constructed to dry up the marshlands for security reasons, the occupation assigned Iraqi government after 2003 had to keep these canals to supply fresh water to about 2.5 million of Basra and Nasiriya population [67][68]. For Eighteen years the authorities couldn’t solve the problem of supplying potable water to villages of Nasiriya and Basra residents other than this canal. In 2018, about 118000 of Basra residents were hospitalized from drinking polluted water supplied from Shatt Al Arab water purification plants [68].  The minister of water resources in July 16, 2020 [69] announced that PM council approved turning al Bada’a (Wafaa Al Qaed) open canal into more efficient closed conduit canal for water supply! One should ask; Why keep this canal if it was constructed to dry up the marshlands???

    1. Taj Al Marek Canal (Saad Canal): is an open channel constructed in 1993 and start operating in 1994 after closing Musandeck Weir which converts water to central marshlands [ 70]. Located east of Tigris River, about 5 Km away from Omara city. The canal length is (36.5 Km), transfer 400 cms of Tigris flood water to Sanaf marsh which is connected to Huwaiza marsh [70]. From south Hawaiza marsh water flows to Shatt Al Arab through two small canals (Swaib and Kasara) [40].
    2. Um Al Marek Canal: constructed in 1994, west of Euphrates 10 Km from Nasiriya city [70]. The canal is 108 Km length, built to transfer what remained of Euphrates fresh water to supply potable and irrigation water to all villages along the way to Rumaila city east of Basra [70].

    It’s worth mentioning that all these diversion canals except the Ezz canal, are still operating currently because there are no other alternatives to supply fresh water for tens of populated villages of Basra, Omara, and Nasiriya cities.

    The construction and operation of these four canals also caused further desiccation of about 1300 Km³ of central marshlands between 1994-1998, table 5, figure 9.

    From previous data we conclude that about 4200 Km² of the marshlands southern Iraq desiccated due to the decline of the mean annual flow of Euphrates and Tigris after the construction and operation of more than 31 of GAP dams and HEPP from 1973-2002. The construction of four freshwater diversion canals through the marshlands in Iraq caused further desiccation of about 1300 Km² during the nineties of last century. Also, the filling operating of Karkha dam in Iran caused the desiccation of about (1500 Km²) of Hawaiza marshland between 1998-2001. Total desiccated marshland areas by end of Nineties were (7000 Km²) out of original area 8350 [ 16] Km². Remaining of the marshland area was (1350 Km²). After 2003, elimination of Ezz canal passing through central marshlands recovered only about 1000 Km².  Studying all scenarios of recovery and flooding last two decades, still the current area of the marshlands is only (2500 -3000 Km²), figure 11 , simply because there is no enough water to revive them.

    Figure 11: Recovered marshlands areas from 2009-2018.

    5. Construction of the Third River in Iraq: The Main Outfall Drain (MOD) is considered one of the largest water development projects in Iraq. Its an open channel extends 565 Km between Tigris and Euphrates rivers from north of Baghdad to Shatt Al Basra canal west of Basra city [FAO 2008[47]. From Shatt Al Basra canal, through Khour al Zubair estuary the MOD water final destiny is discharged to the Arabian Gulf (figure 5 ).  The MOD main functions is to collect drainage water from irrigated agricultural lands between Tigris and Euphrates Rivers to minimize water logging and soil salinity, and to protect water quality of the two rivers through receiving polluted agriculture and municipalities waste water effluents of all cities along the project (Baghdad, Al Anbar, Wasit, Diwaniya, Hella, Karbala, Najaf, Nasiriya, and Basra) [71] .It’s also designed to act as a barrier against the expansion of sand dunes towards cities and irrigated land. Southern part of the project designed to serve as a navigation waterway for inland transportation to the Arabian Gulf [71] Figure (5). Kolars, 1994 wrote about MOD “This Impressive canal is intended to remove excess drainage water from area between twin rivers into the Gulf near FAO peninsula after transferring it by siphon across the Euphrates River near Nasiriya” [72].

    History of Great Outfall Drain project

    After Gulf war 1 in 1991, and during the economic sanctions, the American media, researchers, and UN organizations waged an aggressive campaign against Iraq after the special rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights in Iraq, addressed the U.N. secretary general to charge Iraq of violating the rights of people in southern Iraq, whom the U. S. called Violation of Marsh Arabs rights by building the third river [73]. In an article published in EIR, 1992, Marcia Merry in November 20.1992[73]  criticized the UN special rapporteur charges document about the MOD and wrote: “ In this document, no mention was made of the major hydrological problem aggravating the Iraqi marshlands, namely that Turkey has been holding back a large volume of the flow of the Euphrates River, by operation of the Keban and Karakaya dams, and the filling of the huge reservoir behind the new Ataturk Dam.”[73].

    It was clear later that this whole campaign, like others related to false claims of WMD and nuclear activities of Iraq, all associated with the American administration decision to invade and occupy Iraq in 2003.

    The MOD project was suggested and designed by American and British consulting firms since the fifties of last century [73]. Most stages of the project were executed by other foreign companies over four decades before the economic sanctions, and that it has nothing to do with intentional desiccation of marshlands or the force migration of Marsh Arabs!

    Historical review of planning and construction (MOD) in Iraq [73] [74] [75] [76]:

    1913: British engineer William Wilcox studied problems of Mesopotamia water resources under Ottoman Empire rules and suggested the construction of whole drainage network discharge its water into a main drain 160 Km length discharge its water close to Dalmaj Marsh [73].

    1952 & 1958: The American consultants Tippet Appet McCarthy proposed solutions for problems of soil salination, and water logging related to irrigation and proposed drainage network corresponding to Tigris and Euphrates irrigation network, including a main drain collecting excessive irrigation water starts from Balad northern of Baghdad to Nasiriyah (the path of the current MOD), and discharge the drainage water in the marshlands [74].

    1963: United Kingdom consultants (Sir M. McDonald and Associates) approved the construction of the (MOD) to collect drainage discharges from agriculture land between Tigris and Euphrates starts from Mussaaib main drain to west Shatra, then further south the main drain discharges drainage water into Hammar marsh [74].

    1965: Main contracting company from Holland built 60 Km drain from Shatra city to Hammar marsh.

    1970: decision was made by Iraqi government to extend the (MOD) to the Arabian Gulf.

    1971: establishment of the (Construction of Third river state organization).

    1973-1977: The construction of first stage of (MOD) from great Mussaaib drainage network to Shatra Drain, 156 Km length, 60 m width, under the consultation and machinery supplies of (USSR Sulkhozprom Exports) [73]

    1977-1981: Construction of the second stage of the MOD by (USSR Sulkhozprom Exports).

    1980-1982: Contract with USSR Sulkhozprom Company to restudy middle part of (MOD). This part is 187Km from north Dalmaj lake to Nasiriya to use it for navigation.

    1981-1983: contract with Holland Nedeco consulting to study north part of MOD [75].

    1982-1986: contract with German companies Philip Holtzman and Polonsky to construct middle part of MOD from north Dalmaj lake to Shat al Basra canal [74].

    1984: Contract with Brazilian company Mandis Josior   to construct southern part MOD infra structures (main pumping station and related buildings, the Siphon under Euphrates River to prevent mixing MOD water with Euphrates water, emergency spillway, new Euphrates cross section above the Syphon, railroad, six car bridges and navigation spaces. The company couldn’t finish the projects on time and left in 1990 with the start of economic sanctions on Iraq.

    1987: Contract with Yugoslavian Arco project to construct the navigation Lock on Shatt al Basra. The project stopped in 1990.

    25/ 5/1992: Iraqi national campaign to finish connecting the MOD by state construction companies during economic sanction [74]. Even though most literature state that 1992 is the construction of MOD project were done [47], the actual date was end of 1993[74][76]. The construction of the siphon with the pumping station near Nasiriyah City caused about one and half year delay in operating the project. This siphon is designed to isolate MOD drainage water from Euphrates River with pumping station. Because of economic sanctions, Iraq couldn’t import these pumps [71]. Design modifications was necessary to allow gravitational flow through MOD intersection with Euphrates River to bypasses maximum discharge of (80-110 cms) instead of the designed discharge of 220 cms [71].

    7/12/1993: Construction were done, and the project started partially operating [74] [76] about early 1994. That’s why FAO stated that MOD carried about 17 million ton of salts to the Arabic Gulf in 1995[47] and not in 1993.

    After the American occupation of Iraq in 2003, with the new assigned government, the whole attitude towards the MOD have changed. In 2008, Noori al Maliki, the under-occupation PM of Iraq gave short speech during the inauguration of MOD siphon pumping station at Nasiriyah city emphasized that “MOD project represents an inflection point in building the new Iraq!!”, and that “Iraqis efforts from all parties, NGO’s, tribes, and armed forces all worked together to accomplish this murical!!” [77].

    The same MOD was a criminal act committed by Iraqi government during the Nineties [78 ], turned into a miracle development after regime change under the American occupation of Iraq. Since 2010, MOD water have been used to save Hammar marshland from drying [73].

    Final Remarks

     From the data presented in this article and related references we conclude that:

    • The (GAP) is a water-based development on the headwaters of the two international rivers  Tigris and Euphrates in Turkey shared by four riparian states. The project was planned and partially constructed through the cold war period without consultation or negotiation with downstream riparian countries sharing the same river basin. American and NATO countries financially and technically supported the project even though it goes against major environmental and international water laws principles.
    • With its mega-dams, the project design serves Turkey’s local and regional political interests including the formulation of a mid- to long-term solution to Kurdish ethnic separatism, and as part of NATOs ‘interest to destabilizing downstream riparian’s regimes (Iraq and Sirya)) through controlling their water, food security, and the socioeconomic development. Since early seventies more than 40 dams and HEEP stations have been constructed and the planed target number is close to 90 dams and 60 HEEP.  currently the project is drawing up to about 60% of natural flow of Euphrates in Iraq, and 50% of the natural flow of the Tigris River [ESCWA 2013, page 79 [8]. Full operation of the project expect to withdraw about 80% of Euphrates and 60 of Tigris.
    • In planning and constructing the GAP- mega dams, Turkey have not taken into consideration the fact that the wetlands in southern Iraq are an integrated feature of the whole basins, as much as any other wetland withing the Turkish territories. Hydrological, ecological, and geomorphological preservation of wetlands connected to Tigris and Euphrates rivers (as required by RAMSAR protocol Turkey signed in 1994 [23] is the responsibility of all riparian countries sharing the two rivers’ basins. Harnessing about two third of the two rivers water inflow into Iraqi territories reduced total area of the marshes by same proportion of water inflow reduction.
    • The whole situation concerning the desiccated marshlands in southern Iraq during the nineties presented to the whole world with most misleading and data manipulation by the American and western media and researchers. In facts same countries helped planning, financially and technically supported the construction of the GAP mega dams responsible of desiccation of about 65% of southern Iraq marshlands areas since the seventies till now. The campaign was part of the political agenda related to the preparations of invading and the occupation of Iraq.
    • In the western media campaign, the area of the marshlands during the nineties were considered (10000-20000 Km²) to exaggerate (the crime that have been committed) against this natural feature by Iraq [78]. In the report submitted by Iraqi government after occupation to include these marshlands as a site under the UNESCO, with help of the IUCN, 2015, total area of marshlands is considered only (5260 Km²)[54 ]. This way when the media write that more than 50% of the marshlands were recovered after Iraq’s occupation [78], in reality recovered marshland area last eighteen year is not more than 30-35% of the early seventies area, which was (8300 Km²) [16], table 6 and figure 11. The situation is expected to get worse after the full implementation of the whole GAP projects [26].
    • The high interest in the marshlands issue in Iraq during the economic sanctions is not strictly related to persevering these natural water bodies, knowing that in the Mississippi River coastlands delta in USA, large areas of wetlands have been destroyed because of oil and gas exploration and production with land use changes [79]. More than 25% of the 3.8 million hectare coastland wetlands have and still being lost last few decades [79]. Major interest in the Marshlands in southern Iraq is also related to the fact that most of Iraq’s huge oil reservoirs and reserves are under these lands, figure 12  [80]. In fact many environmental groups in Iraq published many news reports warned that foreign oil companies are drying large areas of the marshlands in 2015, and polluting its fresh water in the oil exploration and production operations [81 ] [82 ] [83] , yet we didn’t notice same outrage by western governments and media.

    Figure 12: Oil reservoirs under marshlands southern Iraq [78].

    • Concerning the migrating  of Marsh Arabs issue [73], It is interesting to know that those (Marshlands Arabs) kept migrating since the eighties to date due to war operations and the continuous decline of marshlands water areas, depth, and quality [84] [85].The International Organization on Migration (IOM) in 2019 published a report with numbers of families migrated from marshlands in Nasiriya, Umara, and Basra [84]. The report cleared out that as of January 2019, 100 locations were identified as facing water scarcity, 58 locations in Missan Governorate, 22 in Muthanna, 11 in Basra and 9 in Thi-Qar. And that 5,347 families were displaced from the four governorates of Missan, Muthanna, Thi-Qar and Basra [85].  Figures of the report show that most of these migration locations are within Marshland areas and villages, figure. These migration waves never stopped specially through the nineties (when Turkey filled and operated 13 dams and HEPP of GAP project in one decade, including Ataturk mega dam). This migration continued after 2003, according to published reports of their suffering from lack of services and increase of marshes water salinity to more than (6000- 10000) ppm [87]. Water salinity more than 5000 ppm kills their animals (buffalos or Jamose), major source of their living [86]. After 2003, the Americans and UN organizations switched the cause of migrations from force migration by Iraqi government into (migration from drought related water scarcity).
    • Serious environmental impacts have resulted from impairment of downstream natural flow of Tigris and Euphrates rivers by GAP projects including the increase of losing about 250 Km² of Iraq’s fertile land annually to desertification [87], that means about 750000 Hectare of good agriculture land have already been lost to desertification last three decades. In addition to other serious ecological and socioeconomic impacts.
    • Iraq is facing higher frequency of dust and sandstorms from 24 day/year in (1950-1990) to 200-220 day/year in (2008-2009) [87].
    • The destruction of thousands of years old date palm forests along Tigris and Euphrates floodplains with major reduction of the numbers of date palm trees from about 32 million during the sixties to only 13.9 million in 2011 [88].  Main reason is the recession of the Mesopotamian floodplain area associated with the decline of the two rivers main annual water flow  in Iraq, and the elimination of seasonal flood waves by dams controlled flow. These seasonal flood waves used to wash the soil from accumulated salts and recharge floodplains shallow ground water aquifers necessary to maintain dates growth in certain time span.
    • The amount of surface water share available per person annually in Iraq fell from (1540) to (870.8) m³/year [16] in only less than one decade, figure 13.

    Figure 13: Decline of surface water share/ person /year from (2009- 2018)[16]


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    Prof Souad N. Al-Azzawi, award-winning Iraqi engineer and environmentalist, distinguished scholar, (former) professor of environmental engineering at the University of Baghdad.

    She is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).


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    [61] Al-Imara F.J.M. and Jawad A. M., 1994. Physico-Chemical Parameters of Southern Iraq Water, Northwest Arabian Gulf. Marina Mesopotanica, Vol.9 (1): Pages 1-12. Basra Marin Center. Basra, Iraq. Page 4.

    [62] Kliot, N., Water Resources and Conflict in the Middle East, London: Routledge, 1994, p. 118

    [63] WHO, 2011. Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality FOURTH EDITION. World Health Organization. ISBN 978 92 4 154815 1.

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    [65] Nomas H. B. and Ramadan B. Y., 1998. Evaluation of Ezz River in Preserving and Develop Water Resource in southern Iraq. Journal of Education College. Mustansiriya University. Number 1. Baghdad. Iraq.

    [66] Nomas H. B. and Hashim A. A. 2021. The Al Bada Canal water project: Its Construction Aspects and importance for Drinking water Supply projects of Basra Province. Journal of Education college, Wasit University. Vol. 1. No.44. Aug.2021. Pp. (205-235). In Arabic.

    [67] Almukhtar S., Hamdan A.N.A., and Scholz M. 2020. Assessment of the Effluents of Basra City Main Water Treatment Plants for Drinking and Irrigation Purposes. Water, 12 (12) , e3334. doi:10.3390/w12123334. file:///C:/Users/souad/Downloads/water-12-03334-v2%20(5).pdf.

    [68] Al-Rubaie A., Mason M., and Mehdi Z. 2021. Failing Flows: Water Management in Southern Iraq. LSE Middle East Centre Paper Series | 52. July 2021. Middle East Centre.

    [69] Minister of Water Resources Received the Approval of PM Counsel to Convert Bada Canal from Open Canal to Closed one. Water Resources Ministry Website, July 20, 2020. In Arabic.ز

    [70] Nomas H. B., 2005.  The potential water supply for the Rehabilitation in the Southern marshes of Iraq. Marina Mesopotamica, 20(1): 105-126. University of Basra, Basra, Iraq. In Arabic.

    [71] AL- MALLAH, I. A. 2014. Assessment of the Environmental, Hydrological and Hydrogeological changes of the Main Drain, Iraq. PhD Thesis. College of Science. University of Basra. Basra, Iraq. 280 pages.

    [72] Biswas, A.K. edit. 2014. Middle East from Euphrates-Tigris to Nile. Water Resources Management Series. OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1994. Page 84.

    [73] Merry, M. (1992), ‘Iraq builds Third River Project despite no-fly zone’, EIR, 19:46, November,

    [74] Al-Jabari M.H. and Al-Nofel B. F. (2001).  Saddam River (The Miracle River). General Cultural Affairs House, Baghdad, Iraq.156 pages (In Arabic).

    [75] NEDCO. 1983. Tigris Euphrates Main Outfall Drain Project (North of Hor Dalmaj). Netherland Engineering Consultants Final Report, submitted to Ministry of Irrigation. Republic of Iraq.

    [76] AL-Amar H. A. S. 2017.  A Study the Concentration of Heavy Metals in Water of the Al-Massab Al-Aam Channel (Middle Sector) in Iraq. International Journal of Chem Tech Research. Vol.10 No.2, pp 594-603, 2017. ISSN: 0974-4290, ISSN(Online):2455-9555. Page 595.

    [77] Prim Minister Inaugurates the MOD pumping Station in Nasiriya. Press release, from the Cabinet Media Office. Monday Dec.1st. 2008.

    [78] Dellapenna J. W., 2007. Ecocide and genocide in the Iraqi Marshlands. WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, Vol 104, © 2007 WIT Press., ISSN 1743-3541 (on-line). doi:10.2495/RM07038.

    [79] Koa J.Y. and Daya J. W. 2004. Impacts of Oil  and Gas Activities on Coastal Wetland Loss in The Mississippi Delta. Ocean & Coastal Management 47 (2004) 597–623. Available at:

    [80] Fanak/ Water, 2017. Marshlands in Twenty’s Century. May 30, 2017. In Arabic. Online.

    [81] Majed Al-Brekan, 2012. “Oil Projects Drying the Marshlands”. Al Hurrah News. May 17. 2012. [In Arabic]. Online.

    [82] Al MADA PAPER, 2015. Jasim Al Asadi: Deduction of Areas from Marshlands for Oil Explorations. Online, Dec. 17. 2015. 12:01:00. AM. [ In Arabic].

    [83] Alsamaraie, 2014: Scientific Study Warns from Further Environmental Pollution in Basra Marshlands Because of Oil Projects. [In Arabic]. Online.

    دراسة علمية تحذر من تفاقم التلوث البيئي في أهوار البصرة نتيجة المشاريع النفطية | محليات (


    [84] IOM, 2019. Water Quantity and Water Quality in Center and South Iraq: A PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF DISPLACEMENT RISK I. International Migration Organization.


    [86] Hussain al Amel, 2021. Environmental Organization Suggests Solutions for Increase of Marshlands Water Salinity. Al MADA Paper. Online, Aug. 03, 2021, 11:35:32. Thee Qar. Iraq..

    [87] Ministry of Environment , 2016. State of Environment in Iraq. Report 282 pages. Page 4. Republic of Iraq.

    [88] Al Ogaidy K. H. 2011. Towards Better Future for Dates and Palms in Iraq.

    Featured image: Painting by Abdul-Qadir al-Rassam depicting a scene in Southern Iraq


    Appendix A: Table I

    Appendix B: Table II [45]

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    رحلة صالح مع «السيد» في مطاردة الانتحاريين التكفيريين

     الإثنين 6 آذار 2023

    ابراهيم الأمين


    في أيلول 2014، استخدمت الجماعات التكفيرية في سوريا العمليات الانتحارية وسيلة أساسية لتوجيه ضربات إلى بيئة المقاومة وجمهورها رداً على الدور المركزي لحزب الله في الحرب السورية. وكانت تلك الجماعات تدور في فلك تنظيم «القاعدة»، قبل أن تأخذ مسميات مختلفة، من بينها «جبهة النصرة» التي استقطبت قيادات كثيرة في التنظيم الأم، وتنافست مع تنظيم «داعش» على آخرين.

    كان عالم هذه المجموعات ضيقاً للغاية في بلادنا. وحتى المقاومة لم تكن تخصص له حيّزاً كبيراً من عملها. لكن ذلك تغيّر جذرياً بعد اندلاع الأزمة السورية وتفاقم الأوضاع في لبنان والعراق. وحتّمت شراسة المعركة على الأرض، طريقة مختلفة وأكثر سرعة في العمل. وكان الشهيد مصطفى بدر الدين يتولى المسؤولية المباشرة عن عمل هذه المجموعات. وهو، عندما تولى القيادة الميدانية في سوريا، شكّل فريق عمل ذا معرفة وخبرة بالساحتين السورية والعراقية من جهة، وعلى تواصل وتنسيق مع أجهزة وقوى معنية في البلدين، إلى جانب العلاقة العملانية مع قائد فيلق القدس الشهيد قاسم سليماني.


    اختار الشهيد ذو الفقار الحاج صالح بناء على تجربة سابقة، وعلى أدوار أدّاها في مراحل مختلفة من عمل المقاومة في لبنان، وفي برامج دعمها لقوى المقاومة خارج لبنان. ساعد الحاج صالح «السيد» في أمور كثيرة، وتولّى عمليات التنسيق المنهكة، سواء داخل الجسم أو مع الأصدقاء والحلفاء. وكان صالح، المعروف بهدوئه، يشارك في النقاش وفي وضع تصورات وخطط للعمليات وكيفية توفير مستلزماتها العملانية، مع ما يعنيه ذلك من إنجاز عملية التنسيق ذات الدور المركزي، خصوصاً أن الحرب في سوريا، كما في العراق، تطلّبت وجود مقاتلين من قوى عدة، ومن جنسيات مختلفة، وكانت هناك حاجة إلى تبادل الخبرات من جهة، وإلى عمليات فرز للاستفادة إلى الحد الأقصى من الموجود، وتقليل حجم التضارب أو الخسائر.

    في تلك الفترة، عمل الحاج صالح مع الشهيد ذو الفقار على تنسيق مهام والقيام بخطوات في إطار الحرب المفتوحة ضد الجماعات التكفيرية. لم تكن هذه المعركة محصورة في المواجهات العسكرية، بل تطلب الأمر قفزة نوعية في العمل الأمني، لتحقيق هدفين: الأول وقائي يستهدف خرق هذه المجموعات وتوفير مصادر بشرية من داخلها للتعرف إلى هيكلياتها وتفكيرها وآلية عملها، والثاني إحباط عملياتها لا سيما ضد المدنيين من خلال التعرف إلى طريقة التخطيط للعمليات ذات الطابع الأمني.


    وقد أُتيح للحاج صالح أن يكون شريكاً وشاهداً على عمليات التخطيط. وإذا كان دوره التنسيقي أساسياً في إنجاح العمل، فإن ثقة ذو الفقار به، معطوفة على ثقة جيل من القادة العسكريين والأمنيين في المقاومة، لا سيما بعد عمله مع الشهيد عماد مغنية، سمحت له بالعمل على مشاريع كثيرة، من ضمنها متابعة الجهود الخاصة بحماية المقرات والقواعد العسكرية التي أقامتها المقاومة داخل الأراضي السورية. وهو بقي يساعد ذو الفقار حتى استشهاده، فأُسندت إليه المسؤولية المباشرة والكاملة عن عمل الوحدة 9000 المعنية بالعمل الأمني في سوريا، والمتخصصة في مكافحة الاختراقات من جهة، وفي الفصل وحماية الجسم المقاوم والمساعدة على تأهيل كوادر انضمت إلى قوات الحزب في سوريا، إضافة إلى التنسيق مع الأجهزة الأمنية والعسكرية السورية والمتابعة اللصيقة لملف التجسس الإسرائيلي الذي نشط بقوة في الساحة السورية، مستغلاً الفوضى التي تسبّبت بها الحرب، ومكملاً لما تقوم به أجهزة استخبارات العدو في لبنان وفي بلدان أخرى من بينها العراق وإيران.


    في خضم هذه المواجهة، قررت المقاومة تحقيق اختراقات فنية وبشرية لجسم الجماعات التكفيرية، وتمكّنت خلال وقت قصير من الوصول إلى عناصر فاعلة، بعضها مقرر وبعضها تنفيذي في جسم هذه المجموعات. وكانت مهمة الفريق العامل تحت إشراف السيد ذو الفقار، وكان الحاج صالح واحداً منهم، تنفيذ خطة لتوفير حماية خاصة للمتعاونين مع المقاومة من الطرف الآخر، وصولاً إلى تنفيذ عمليات وهمية لإقناع قيادات الجماعات التكفيرية بمصداقية هؤلاء الأشخاص لتعزيز موقعهم داخل هذه الجماعات. وقد أتاحت هذه المهمة الوصول إلى مراكز عمل المجموعات المعنية بالتفخيخ وتجهيز الانتحاريين وتوجيه ضربات قاسية إليها، سواء عبر عمليات خاصة قامت بها مجموعات من المقاومة، أو بتوجيه ضربات بالمسيّرات عندما كانت الظروف الميدانية تعيق المواجهة المباشرة.

    في أيلول 2014، انتشر عبر وسائل الإعلام اللبنانية والعربية والدولية خبر مفاده بأن سيارة يقودها انتحاري هاجمت حاجزاً عسكرياً يقيمه عناصر من حزب الله في نقطة قريبة من الحدود مع لبنان. وجرى التداول بمعلومات عن سقوط قتلى وجرحى خلال الهجوم. لكن بخلاف التفجيرات الأخرى، لم يكن بمقدور أحد الوصول إلى موقع التفجير ولا التصوير أو الاطلاع على حقيقة ما حصل تلك الليلة.

    نجح في اختراق المجموعات التكفيرية لتوفير مصادر بشرية من داخلها وإحباط عملياتها

    يومها، نفّذ فريق الشهيد ذو الفقار، وبينهم الحاج صالح، عملية وهمية قضت بنشر مقاتلين للحزب قبل نقطة التفجير المزعوم، وتسريب الخبر إلى وسائل إعلام في لبنان، فيما تولى أمنيون تسريب معلومات عن سقوط قتلى وجرحى، قبل أن تعلن «جبهة النصرة» تبنّيها للعملية التي استهدفت حزب الله. حصل الشخص الذي كان مكلفاً أساساً القيام بهذا العمل على تنويه من قيادة الجماعة الإرهابية، ما أتاح له مواصلة العمل والحصول على كم من المعطيات سهلت للمقاومة إعداد برنامج للمواجهة انتهى بعملية عسكرية واسعة أنهت وجود كل هذه الجماعات على الحدود مع لبنان.

    كان الحاج صالح واحداً من فريق لا يزال الأحياء فيه يعملون بصمت، تماماً كالصمت الذي سكنه لسنوات كثيرة، وهو الذي لم يكن يهتم فقط بالأمن العسكري، بل حرص على منع عمليات استغلال الحرب السورية من قبل مافيا كان بينها لبنانيون حاولوا انتحال صفة القرب أو الانتماء إلى المقاومة. وفي كتابه الكثير من الحكايات التي لا

    نعرف متى تقرر المقاومة الحديث عن تفاصيلها…

    صالح، شأنه شأن الكثيرين من المجاهدين الذين لا يتعرف الناس إليهم إلا شهداء… وله بقيته في الأرض وبين البشر، وله من يحفظ الدرس والمهمة من دون حياد!

    من ملف : رجال في الظل

    مقالات ذات صلة

    The School of Soleimani: From Birth until Martyrdom

    Feb 3, 2023

    By Al-Ahed News

    The book has so far been available in the markets in four languages…

    “Soleimani’s School: From Birth in Kerman until Martyrdom in Baghdad…” is the title of a book penned by Pakistani author Sayyed Hassan Reza Naqavi. First published in Urdu, Persian, then English, the Lebanese capital Beirut hosted the ceremony to sign the Arabic version of the book.

    The event, which was held at the Cultural Counsellorship of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Lebanon, was first addressed by the publisher, the manager of al-Walaa Publishing House Hassan Khalifeh.

    “Qassem Soleimani has passed through the borders of geography and entered the hearts and minds of people. He is a one-of-a-kind man within the Axis of Resistance. And a good proof on being a global hero is that a Pakistani author pens a book in Urdu about his life. This book is definitely useful for whoever desires to learn about the aspects of the life and the leading role of martyr Soleimani in making victories,” Khalifeh underlined.

    Before signing the book, the author remarked that Martyr Qassem Soleimani was not only admired by Muslims, but also valued and appreciated by the Christians and the Druze. “Given what I’ve read about the past three decades, I didn’t find any person, except for religious clerics, who served Islam and humanity as Hajj Qassem Soleimani.”

    All walks of life in Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq considered him part of them, Naqavi explained.

    During a conversation with al-Ahed News, the author emphasized that he was inspired to write the book about the life of the former commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard [IRG] Quds Force by the personality of Martyr Qassem Soleimani himself, given the fact that he reads and writes about history of different figures in different countries, which clearly displayed the martyr’s uniqueness.

    Mr. Naqavi detailed the distinction of martyr Soleimani by listing some of the characteristics conveyed in his personality. “I had seen Islam and resistance, his role in helping the poor and vulnerable people, his anti-US and anti-‘Israel’ policies in the region, and his struggle for Islam and the Islamic Revolution, and for saving the lives of people in Syria and Iraq from Daesh [Arabic for ‘ISIS/ISIL’].”

    The course of writing the first-published version of the book took the author almost two years during which he cited several sources and reports, and interviewed different Iranian figures whether from the political and military fields who mainly contributed to collecting the information found in this book.

    Sayyed Naqavi didn’t spare the opportunity to express for our website his love the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah. “When I was 9-yo in Pakistan, the picture of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah was hung in our home. And after the July 2006 war, we published about the “Manifest Victory” and celebrated it in Pakistan, and displayed an exhibition about Hezbollah’s victory in the war against ‘Israel’.”

    Iran’s Cultural Counselor in Lebanon, Sayyed Kumail Baqer, for his part, described the meeting held to sign this book as a good proof to display who is Hajj Qassem Soleimani and the school he left behind. The meeting attended by people of different nationalities is a good proof that Hajj Qassem Soleimani is an international personality who was a main pillar in the formation and devotion of this front.

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