Exclusive: Iraqi finance committee deputy calls for diversification away from US dollar

May 10 2023

The Cradle speaks to Iraqi parliamentarian Hussain Mouanes on the various economic, financial, and political challenges facing Sudani’s government.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Zaher Mousa

Parliamentarian Hussain Mouanes is a member of the Finance Committee in the publicly-elected Iraqi Council of Representatives. He has been politically active through many different stages of Iraq’s recent history, including the Baathist era, the US occupation, and the war against ISIS.

Before 2003, Mouanes was persecuted and imprisoned multiple times for his political activism by the government of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. He joined an Iraqi resistance movement after the illegal US invasion of Iraq and, after the rise of ISIS, initially joined the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) to organize against the terror group.

Despite his past political and military engagements, it is Mouanes’ recent experience as an elected politician, member of the Democratic Political Framework, and leader of the Rights Movement (Harakat Huquq), which has catapulted him into the national spotlight. His political cadres were previously members of Kataib Hezbollah, a faction known for its hostility toward the policies of the US, Israel, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

These details are significant in the context of the new Iraqi government – led by Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani – the first in two decades that is not packed to the rafters with Iraq’s old political elite.

Today, other figures are emerging in this theater, including Mouanes, who has overnight become a prominent political figure in contemporary Iraqi politics – not least because he filed a high-profile lawsuit against former PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi for his negligence leading up to the January 2020 assassinations of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi PMU Deputy Leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Iraq’s parliament just passed its first federal budget under the six-month old Sudani administration, which for the first time covers a three-year period instead of the traditional one year of previous budgets. This is part of a slew of economic and political changes promised by the prime minister, who appears to be tackling all of Iraq’s chronic problems at the same time.

In his interview, from his unique vantage point as a deputy in the parliament’s finance committee, Mouanes addresses those challenges, denounces his country’s enforced dependence on the US dollar, and candidly weighs in on both the good and bad policy directions being undertaken in Iraq today:

The Cradle: Does the federal budget presented in the parliament today actually address the necessary measures to reform Iraq’s economic system?

Mouanes: The Iraqi economic system has been built incorrectly. It has moved away from banks and financial institutions toward the bankers managing it. Iraq has been and continues to be a slave to the US dollar, even though every country’s economic strength depends on the strength of its currency.

Reforming and strengthening the economy starts with the federal budget. However, we face far greater challenges, such as reforming existing financial legislation like the Securities Commission Law, laws for private banks, and the Central Bank.

These laws must be in line with the global economic situation. The Financial Management Law should govern the budget, but instead, it is governed by the budget. The Parliamentary Finance Committee is seeking to establish a real political and economic system built on legislation, not on constant and continuous exceptions. For example, according to the Financial Management Law, the country’s deficit ceiling should be 3 percent, but the current budget allows it to swell to 18 percent.

The Cradle: Introducing a federal budget law covering three years – instead of one year – of government spending is a major change in the way the state deals with the economy, isn’t it?

Mouanes: Yes, but only if it includes actual programs, not a recurring annual budget under the pretext of escaping from political blackmail in a political system built on quotas. As a parliamentary financial committee, it is not clear to us what is meant by the three-year budget because the tables that we received cover only one year, and there is no evidence that it is a three-year budget except for some items related to oil prices.

Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani and Minister of Planning Muhammad Tamim justified this by saying that limiting the budget schedules to one year is to ensure that projects do not stop. In this case, I agree with them. But the committee’s point of view is that the budget figures should be updated annually, which means a re-vote on the budget in Parliament.

The Cradle: There is much debate about the government’s attempt to appease protesters by employing them in the public sector. This has led to an increase in the number of public sector employees by about one million people within the first six months of the current Iraqi administration. Is this a correct policy?

Mouanes: No, it was not the right policy, and it stems from the despair of state-building. These measures reflect incorrect state-building practices and must be addressed. The government’s birth was abnormal, forced by the failures of previous administrations and the country’s widespread demonstrations.

However, the public sector cannot employ everyone. We need to explore alternative options, and our committee is working to include legislation in the budget that encourages people to seek jobs in the private sector.

Dependence on employment in the public sector burdens the state: take the operational budget, for instance, where 90 percent of its revenues are spent on salaries. This is not right and must stop. While, in the past, large public sector employment was necessary, continuing to rely on it when our needs have changed is a problem. It is necessary to look at the long-term interest of citizens and diversify their opportunities in various private sector jobs, because today, the public sector is simply unable to absorb anymore.

The Cradle: It is assumed that the measures taken by the current government are the result of a political agreement between the government coalition and the Rights Movement (Harakat Huquq), which you lead. Is there such an agreement?

Mouanes: The Rights Movement is not part of Iraq’s governing coalition or the Coordination Framework, nor is it part of the ministerial composition. Let it be clear that we will continue to criticize government performance, because we believe that improving the political process requires an active opposition bloc that challenges poor policies. The Rights Movement is keen to be the basis for such opposition.

The Cradle: Regarding the national interest in political agreements, should the agreement between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on oil sales be evaluated based on broader criteria than the decision of the current political forces?

Mouanes: The agreement has not yet been presented to parliament, and it is vague. We support a comprehensive solution to this issue in accordance with the Iraqi constitution. The Rights Movement will not allow the interests of the central, southern, and western governorates to be neglected for the sake of political favors, and I expect that the agreement will not last long if it does not comply with the constitution and existing laws.

The Cradle: Would you consider adopting a law to grant amnesty to those sentenced to prison and abolishing the Accountability and Justice Commission, which denies members of Saddam Hussein’s regime participation in political life and repatriates the displaced?

Mouanes: These demands must be discussed, and if an agreement is reached, we will deal with them in accordance with the constitution and laws. But the way in which the general amnesty is being promoted is incorrect.

Amnesty for those not involved in terrorism must be offered in a way that does not provoke Iraqis who are still suffering from the crimes that befell them. With regard to the Accountability and Justice Commission, it will be transformed into a judicial body after the termination of its work. But we believe that it is necessary to activate and expand the law banning the Baath Party to ensure that this party is not revived.

The Cradle: Is there any push to remove the current speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Mohammed al-Halbousi?

Mouanes: Halbousi’s dismissal requires political will. There is a popular demand within the Sunni political blocs for his dismissal. Among the Shia political blocs, too, there are those who believe that there are Sunni personalities who are excluded from the political arena and should be allowed to play their rightful roles. Let’s be frank, the discussion of Halbousi’s dismissal is related to competition between political blocs, not to public sentiment, and it is clear that there is no real political desire for that. So this is not an issue at this time.

The Cradle: What about the corruption allegations targeting Halbousi and his party in Anbar, such as the seizure of millions of meters of government land? You were involved in this operation, so what is your take on it?

Mouanes: This case is very important. It is more than the theft of money, rather, it represents the establishment of a political project. We are talking here about a crime greater than the “theft of the century” (a corruption scandal involving more than $3 billion).

There is another corruption file related to some areas of Fallujah that we will announce soon. This is not targeting a specific person as much as it is targeting corruption, and we will expose any corruption file, even if it is in our own areas. We are determined to prevent the waste of public money and honor our oath in parliament.

The Cradle: There seems to be a political dispute between PM Sudani and Speaker Halbousi. Do you think that there is a possibility that the latter could be dismissed?

Mouanes: Disagreement is normal, and there are efforts to end it, and it seems that things are going toward reconciliation. But let me make it clear that we are with Sudani in that the executive and legislative branches should not encroach on one another. We will stand in the face of any intrusion from any side.

The Cradle: We have heard about Iraq’s efforts to move away from the domination of the US dollar. How can this be achieved?

Mouanes: The current system of selling oil and transferring 100 percent of those revenues to the US Federal Bank – under the pretext of protecting Iraqi funds – is unsustainable. We need to develop real economic foundations to advance our country and break free from the dollar’s hegemony.

It is clear that Iraq is economically dominated by the US, and our government does not truly control or have access to its own money. This is evident in the new banking restrictions on Iraqi dollar bank accounts, any and all banking transactions in dollars, and America’s imposition of an electronic platform to register all Iraqi currency exchanges. 

Currently, most of Iraq’s foreign investment generation is limited to the lucrative energy sector, ignoring other vital sectors such as agriculture, industry, and tourism. It is time for Iraq to diversify its sources, basket, and storage of currency, especially given that the whole world is moving in this direction.

The Iraqi dinar must be strengthened and consolidated within Iraq as the primary currency used in transactions and ultimately be part of the basket of international currencies. As an oil-rich country that exports about four million barrels daily, we have a strong financial situation that can be leveraged to increase the value of the dinar in the market.

We believe that it is crucial to move away from the hegemony of the dollar, especially as it has become a tool to impose sanctions on countries. It is time for Iraq to rely on its local currency or at least diversify its sources of income.

The Cradle: Do you think Sudani’s efforts to replace ministers, governors, and hundreds of senior positions in the government will be successful?

Mouanes: One advantage of not being tied to any political agreement is that we have the freedom to make decisions without any alliance commitments. Sudani has set standards in his government program and identified shortcomings in the performance of some governors and ministers, and it is his responsibility to make changes.

It is normal for some political blocs to resist these changes as they try to maintain their entitlements. We have always advocated for ministers to be selected by the prime minister and not by their political blocs. Therefore, I believe that Sudani’s efforts to make changes are right, and we support him as long as we know the reasons behind the changes.

Sudani has assured us that he is not restricted by party or sectarian affiliations and that his changes will affect everyone who proves negligent. However, we reject any external international interference in Iraqi affairs or in the process of changing ministers. If such interference occurs, the prime minister should take a firm stance against it, as we entered the political process to lift tutelage and stop its imposition on the country.

The Cradle: Do you think the American delay in inviting Sudani to Washington indicates US suspicion toward him and his political program? Is this good or bad for Iraq?

Mouanes: The prime minister should assert his position in meetings as he represents the face of our country. We do not view the American people as enemies, but we are opposed to reckless US policies that impact Iraq’s interests adversely.

The government has the right to communicate with those it deems to be in the general interest of Iraq. However, the importance of Sudani’s visit to the US depends on its purpose. Is it just a ceremonial visit, or to discuss critical issues facing Iraq? And will Iraq benefit from the discussion of these issues with the Americans?

Given the ongoing US presence in Iraq, we do not see the importance of a Washington visit as much as a visit to Beijing, for example, as strengthening and diversifying relations with China would be more economically beneficial for us. Ultimately, the decision is up to the prime minister for the best interests of Iraq.

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

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.

Deputy FMs of Turkey, Syria, Iran, Russia to Meet Next Week

March 8, 2023

Iran FM Hussein Amir Abdollahian in a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu

Source: Agencies

The Islamic Republic of Iran warns all states to act intelligently towards the behavior of the fake Israeli regime and not to allow Zionists to set their feet in the Caucasus region, Iran Foreign Minister underlined.

Hussein Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday.

Amir-Abdollahian expressed his sympathy and solidarity with the Turkish people and government over the recent deadly earthquake.

From the first hours of the earthquake, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and the President issued strict orders for solidarity and help to the Muslim people of Turkey, he said, adding that the Red Crescent of Iran, the Army, and the IRGC entered the earthquake-affected areas, and offered services and provide accommodation, and medical assistance.

“Today we had important talks about the importance of developing economic and trade relations,” Amir-Abdollahian said, adding that in the past years, Iran-Turkey trade volume has witnessed an increase due to the will of the leaders of the two countries.

“One of our main concerns is environmental and water issues, and we agree on the importance of continued access of Iran and the people of the western regions of the country to the Aras River,” he also noted.

“When it comes to regional transportation corridors, including the corridors between Iran and Turkey, we emphasize regional partnership instead of the regional competition,” he also said.

Iran, Turkey entitled to defend themselves against terrorists

Referring to the high-level security cooperation between Iran and Turkey regarding the issue of the fight against terrorism, Amir-Abdollahian said, adding, “We consider Turkey’s security as our security.”

Terrorists based in Iraq’s Kurdistan region and ISIL terrorists based in Afghanistan are among common concerns of Tehran and Ankara, he stressed.

Under international law, Iran and Turkey reserve the right to defend against any terrorist act or group, he noted.

Zionists serious threat to regional peace, stability

Amir-Abdollahian also reiterated Tehran’s position about Zionists’ presence in the Caucasus region, saying, “We consider the presence of Zionists in the region as a serious threat to the peace and stability of the region.”

The Islamic Republic of Iran warns all parties to act intelligently towards the behavior of the fake Israeli regime and prevent  Zionists from setting their feet on the region, he underlined.

Referring to the recent agreement reached between Ankara and Baghdad, he said that Iran welcomes participation in any quadrilateral meeting of Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Syria.

“We also reached a consensus on holding the tripartite meeting between Iran, Turkey, and the Republic of Azerbaijan,” he also added.

Deputy FMs of Turkey, Syria, Iran, Russia to meet next week

Cavusoglu, for his part, said that his Iranian counterpart Amir-Abdollahian wanted to join the talks between Turkey, Syria, and Russia, and Turkey happily agreed.

“Astana is the only surviving format (to address) Syria anyway. Now we are planning a meeting between the four foreign ministers,” Cavusoglu added.

“Russia offered to host a preliminary meeting for the preparations of this four-way meeting. This meeting will be held at the level of deputy ministers next week in Moscow,” he also said.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Turkish diplomat thanked Iran and its people for their continuous support for the quake-hit people of Turkey.

After the earthquakes in Turkey, Iran acted quickly by sending tents, relief teams, and setting up field hospitals, he said.

Kurdish parties behind attack on Iranian MoD complex: Nour News

Feb 1, 2023

Source: Nour News

By Al Mayadeen English 

Iran’s Nour News reveals that elements from Iraqi Kurdistan collaborated with a foreign intelligence service in executing the Isfahan attack.

Picture from the drone attack on the complex of Iran’s Ministry of Defense in Isfahan. (Reuters)

In an exclusive report, Iran’s Nour News, which is affiliated with Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said the small-scale UAV used in the attack on the Ministry of Defense workshop complex in Isfahan was assembled and used in an equipped workshop, with the assistance of trained forces, after being transferred to the country by Kurdish opposition groups.

According to the news outlet, parts of small-scale UAVs, as well as explosive materials, entered Iran with the support and guidance of Kurdish opposition groups based in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

Read next: Iran summons Ukrainian envoy for expressing joy over Isfahan attack

Additionally, upon orders from a foreign security service, and after receiving parts of the UAVs and explosive materials, the group smuggled them from one of the inaccessible routes in the northwest of Iran, and delivered them to a liaison in one Iran’s border cities, according to the outlet. 

It adds that the parts and materials were assembled in an equipped workshop using trained forces, and were used for the sabotage attack against the workshop complex.

Read next: Iranian TV: Isfahan military complex suffered only minor damage

A few days earlier, the Iranian Defense Ministry announced that it successfully thwarted a drone attack on a defense industrial complex in the central Iranian province of Isfahan.

In a released statement, the Ministry said one of three Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) attacking the defense equipment manufacturing complex in Isfahan was downed by a defense system stationed inside the facility.

According to the statement, two other MAVs exploded after being caught in traps set by the system, pointing out that the unsuccessful attack failed due to the preparedness of the defense system stationed in the region.

Videos circulating on social media showed the moment the complex’s defense system repelled the attack.

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Russian-Turkish Partnership in the Area of Another Turkish-Syrian Crisis


Alexandr Svaranc
In today’s geopolitical dynamics, Russia and Turkey maintain a relevant regional presence in strategically important regions of the Near and Middle East, where the interests of the two powers can combine and diverge. However, the ruling elites have a high sense of maintaining a balance of power, respecting national interests, avoiding the prospect of radicalization of conflict situations and seeking decoupling to strengthen regional peace and mutually beneficial cooperation.

It should be recognized that the administrations of Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have so far succeeded in finding relatively acceptable solutions to crisis situations through constructive dialogue, guiding the diplomacy of the two countries towards finding joint solutions on the same issue of Syria, overcoming the burden of historical stereotypes and building a new example of a worthy partnership.

In this context, Russia and Turkey have established a number of effective negotiating platforms (in particular the Astana, Sochi and Geneva summits in multilateral and bilateral formats). Russia understands the concerns of Turkish partners on key issues of Turkey’s national security (including ethnic separatism, external threats to territorial integrity and international terrorism). Russia, given its economic, resource, technological, intellectual and military-industrial strength, does not set out to suppress its important geographical neighbor. On the contrary, Moscow is developing a high level of strategic partnership in all the aforementioned areas, making a significant contribution to stabilizing Turkey’s financial and economic situation and strengthening its defense potential, and expects to expand trade with the ambitious goal of reaching USD 100 billion.

The stability and progress of each country depends not least on border security and the normalization of relations with its immediate neighbors. The political course of Turkey’s ruling Justice Party, led by its charismatic leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, proclaimed the “Zero Problems with the Neighbors” strategy in the early 2000s. For the Republic of Turkey, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023, the tradition of a post-imperial state remains high, where the complex history of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I was partly transformed into a painful relationship with many of its neighbors, who regained or lost their independence on the wreckage of the collapsed state.

Of course, the declaration of the said strategy without taking into account current realities cannot simultaneously succeed on all directions of Turkey’s borders and requires time and painstaking diplomatic work on bilateral and multilateral levels. At the same time, Turkey has had a number of positive achievements in shaping better relations with Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria and African countries. There is every reason to believe that Ankara is also interested in restoring full-fledged friendly relations with such a key country in the Arab East as Syria.

The peculiarities of the US regional policy in the Middle East have led to widespread destabilization in a number of Arab countries, to the negative phenomenon of the growth of radical Islamic movements with their institutionalization as Al Qaeda and ISIS (both terrorist groups banned in Russia), which eventually led to the chaos in a large part of the Levant. Accordingly, the destabilization of the political situation in the same Syria has provoked ethnic and religious strife, triggered a wave-like flow of a large army of refugees mainly to neighboring Turkey, and caused a significant social and economic crisis which took a heavy toll on the Turkish economy.

For Turkey, the politicization of the Kurdish issue within and near its national borders is an objective concern, forcing the authorities to pursue a tough course to prevent another territorial redistribution and, as a consequence, new social cataclysms in the Near and Middle East. Both Turkey and its reliable partners have to contend with these challenges.

The Russian peacekeeping operation in Syria since fall 2015 has set a new precedent for eliminating the US foreign monopoly in this region. With the arrival of the Russian Air Force, conditions have developed on Syrian territory for more effective interaction with key states in the Near and Middle East (in particular Turkey and Iran) to curb the threat of international terrorism emanating from ISIS (terrorist group banned in Russia) and to find political ways to resolve the accumulated differences in the Syrian-Turkish agenda, combining them with effective peacekeeping operations.

Turkey, which has problems with Kurdish separatism, is very sensitive to attempts to activate the Kurdish militant movement in Syria. This is why, after the Syrian Kurds declared political autonomy in 2014, Ankara recognized the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a terrorist organization and ally of the PKK, which is banned in Turkey, and the fighting wing of the PYD, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), as a military opponent. Partly due to the Russian presence in Syria, a number of Turkey’s limited military operations in the north have become a reality in order to avoid the creation of quasi Kurdish independent territorial entities capable of intensifying terrorist and separatist threats to Ankara. In particular:

– Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016-2017 (as a result, the cities of Jarablus and al-Bab were subjected to military mop-ups, 2,000 square kilometers of Syrian territory came under Turkish control with the formation of a security buffer zone there);

– Operation Olive Branch in 2018 to prevent the Kurdish-populated cantons of Jazira, Kobani and Afrin from uniting and the Kurds from reaching the Mediterranean Sea (Afrin ended up under full control of Turkish forces);

– Operation Peace Spring in October 2019, with Turkish military and pro-Turkish Free Syrian Army (FSA) units advancing deep into northern Syria, taking control of new population centers – Ras al-Ain and Tel Abyad, cutting the strategic M-4 highway. Thanks to effective negotiations between the Russian and Turkish leaders in Sochi on October 22, 2019, new zones of influence in north-eastern Syria were secured, with the status quo maintained in Turkish-occupied areas and the withdrawal of all Kurdish groups from the entire border with Turkey 30km inland, as well as the establishment of Russian-Turkish patrols in the area.

It should be noted that from operation to operation, Turkey has built up its military forces from special forces units to the use of armored vehicles, artillery and air force with a combination of infantry from the same FSA units, gaining new experience in combat operations in this theater.

In November 2022, with air strikes against Kurdish military bases (in Kobani, Aleppo, Raqqa, al-Hasakah), Turkey announced a new “Operation Claw-Sword” in northern Syria. The formal occasion was the terrorist act of November 13, 2022 in Istanbul’s Istiklal Square, which the Turkish intelligence services recognized to be organized by Kurdish insurgents (in particular the PKK and a Kurdish fighter executor from Syria). Ankara aims to implement a declared plan to establish a 30-kilometer security zone along the entire border with Syria.

Erdoğan has announced his intention to conduct a ground operation involving regular army forces alongside the air operation. He also criticized Russia to a certain extent. Turkey’s leader believes that Moscow has not fully met its obligations under the 2019 Sochi agreements to withdraw Kurds from the 30-kilometer zone. However, the creation of the same “Idlib Security Zone” with Russian participation was, infamously, prevented by the fact that the US refused to withdraw its forces from the zone with the support of local Kurdish forces.

Russia and Turkey have gone a long way towards an effective partnership in the Syrian crisis. Of course, every time Moscow and Ankara make progress in finding new solutions to stabilize the situation in northern Syria, the US, aware of the loss of its own hegemony in the region, finds another form of torpedoing the Russian-Turkish agreements. Accordingly, the Russian-Turkish effective partnership is perceived in Washington as a kind of attack on America’s monopoly and a breakdown of NATO unity, plagued by equally obvious internal contradictions.

Meanwhile, Russia-Turkey relations are progressing with strong results to show for it. Thus, according to Mehmet Samsar, Turkish Ambassador to Russia, the trade turnover between Russia and Turkey by the end of 2022 could be close to USD 50 billion, an increase of USD 15 billion over 2021. The scope of this partnership is expanding: from a gas pipeline to a nuclear power plant, from military and technical cooperation to joint actions for regional peace, from a grain deal to a gas hub. Turkey remains one of the few NATO countries that has not supported total sanctions against Russia in the context of the special military operation in Ukraine, pursues a traditionally pragmatic policy and maintains its role as a reliable partner and effective mediator in relations with its northern neighbor.

The author believes that, in the new year too, the Russian-Turkish situational alliance that has developed in recent years will maintain its momentum of growth, trust and optimization of new opportunities. The coming year 2023 will prove to be a time of intense and important political, economic, military and cultural events in the lives of the two countries. In particular, the next presidential election in Turkey, the launch of ambitious new economic projects (the gas hub, the unblocking of important regional communications, the prospect of a second nuclear power plant near Sinop on the Turkish Black Sea Coast), the establishment of stability in the safe corridor on the Turkish-Syrian border, the approach of peace in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, etc. All this points to a broader agenda of Russia-Turkey relations, where the parties can complement each other and interact effectively.

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Iran’s 2022: Riots, Drones and Diplomats!

January 4, 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen English

By Karim Sharara 

Between the riots in Iran, the war in Ukraine, and the talks to revive the JCPOA, Iran has certainly had a busy year. Perhaps it would be good for us to look over the year from an eagle’s eye view so that we can get a feel of how 2023 might play out in Iran.

Between riots, drones, and diplomats, 2023 looks like it’s going to be one heck of a year, both for Iran, and the world.

This was certainly a busy year for the world. We left 2021 pondering on the prospects of a possible JCPOA revival (though to be fair, I did say it was highly unlikely it would happen at the time), looking forward to the winter Olympics, and thinking about what would unfold in the newest episodes of Boris Johnson and the party bunch.

But here we are now, amid a war in Ukraine, fully-backed and stoked by NATO, a continued escalation of tensions with China, a cost-of-living crisis in the West (alongside an energy crisis), full-on riots that quickly turned into armed attacks on security forces in Iran, and the death of Barbara Walters.

This has certainly been a whirlwind of a year, so perhaps looking into how things progressed, at least as far as Iran is concerned, could help us get a feel for how 2023 might unwind?

Perhaps the easiest place to start would be the beginning. Looking back into the early days of 2022, one main idea was being repeated in Iranian diplomatic circles on all levels for several months: We are very close to reaching a deal, but the move necessitates a serious, realistic decision by the US.

Really, you’d think the US would’ve been able to make a decision by now. But it isn’t about a sovereign decision so much as it was hoping for a repeat of 2015. Meaning a deal that it can go into and leave at will. 

One of the main reasons the Vienna Talks took so long really goes back to a simple principle. Iran had seen firsthand the consequences of US deception: The US signed the JCPOA, did not implement it, and suffered no consequences, then left it unilaterally and still suffered no consequences, and then sanctioned Iran through its maximum pressure campaign and still, suffered no consequences.

Meanwhile, the EU stood idly by, twiddling its fingers, also failing to abide by its side of the bargain, calling on Iran to implement the deal in full.

For a recap of last year: 2021 Roundup: A JCPOA revival in 2022?

So now, the matter was simple, if the US needed to return to the deal, the Iranians needed to make sure that there would be no loopholes that Washington could use to leave the deal without consequences, and moreover, if that were to happen, then Iran also needed to make sure it could easily go back to where things were before the deal, in terms of the nuclear program.

As far as the US was concerned, there were two main issues driving it to drag its feet…The first was the fact that no loopholes meant that it would become more difficult to leave the deal, as it had been hoping for what Alastair Crooke called “A Pop-in, Pop-out JCPOA”, a doggie door if you will.

The second was due to political circumstances: Biden had been afraid of how the outcome of the Midterm elections might play out, and so was working the two sides by making headway in the talks (which explains the recurring statements that a deal was close to being reached) while also looking out for his administration’s and Democrats’ numbers in the Midterms, so it wouldn’t look like they were being weak on Iran, which the GOP could then exploit to boost its Midterm numbers.

One unforeseen event was the riots in Iran. Although they were stoked by the West – primarily the US, which is trying to push for regime change –if it hadn’t been for the riots, the US would have probably agreed to go back to the deal once the Midterms were done. 

But why would the US go back to the deal if it considers it so binding? The reasoning’s pretty straightforward, and also has to do with geopolitical shifts. The disruption of global energy supplies following Western sanctions on Russia has the West scrambling to look for alternatives to Russian gas and oil, and the EU is pushing for Iran to be brought back to the global energy market, while the US is still dragging its feet, ostensibly hoping at the moment for regime change through the Iran riots. 

Iran riots

Ah yes, the Iran riots, which the West rather impetuously calls protests. It’s funny how when some people take to the streets armed with weapons to use against security forces and civilians, they’re called peaceful protests by Western mainstream media who go out of their way to challenge any narrative that brings any evidence showing the violent intent of the rioters to light. 

Can it get any clearer than the interview that famed war hawk and mustache aficionado John Bolton had with BBC Persian’s Rana Rahimpour? 

Bolton, of all people, went out of his way to show that the rioters were being armed by weapons being smuggled from Iraqi Kurdistan, while the BBC Persian host, Rana Rahimpour, of all people, went out of her way to change subjects while also ‘correcting’ Bolton that there was no evidence to the rioters being armed, which led to Bolton replying that they indeed were, as videos on social media clearly showed (You can find the 8-minute video of the interview here, the part I’m referring starts at 5:16. However, it’s in Farsi, so you may want to get your Iranian friend to translate it for you over some Chelo Kebab and Doogh).

Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton said on UK state owned BBC Persian that the Iranian opposition is armed. The BBC Persian host tried to refute him & change the topic.

Meanwhile, the terrorists shoot at the armed forces & send footage to US state owned Persian TV! pic.twitter.com/TWa7Iy4euY— Seyed Mohammad Marandi (@s_m_marandi) November 9, 2022

By the way, this was the same Rana Rahimpour who just a few days earlier had an audio leaked from a conversation with her mother, saying that some media outlets (namely the Saudi-funded Iran International) were clearly working toward an end goal of weakening and dividing Iran.

Or how about the blatant way in which none other than famed media personality, broom-riding extraordinaire, and lover of gingerbread houses, the US-paid, VOA-employed, and friendly neighborhood spider woman Masih Alinejad was pushing for more riots in Iran, and constantly calling for even more sanctions against her own country, whose people were suffering because of the US-imposed sanctions.

The #CIA-backed instigator, #MasihAlinejad, is making a lot of money in exchange for inciting violence in #Iran and even using victims’ mothers to provoke more riots in the country. pic.twitter.com/k4svccmz96— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) November 20, 2022

Perhaps it’s telling that the same countries that have sanctioned Iran for its ‘crackdown’ on ‘protestors’ had earlier resorted to more forceful measures in their crackdown on actual, unarmed protestors in their countries. It may be useful for us to remember Canada and its crackdown on anti-vaccine mandate protestors, which went as far as to freeze their bank accounts. How about Freedom Convoy protestors? Or how about the French police’s violence against protestors and racism against minorities? Or how about Australian police shooting anti-lockdown protestors?

It’s understandable from the Western point of view of course: You see Iranians are so ‘repressed by their government’ that they’re not allowed to leave their homes once they finish working, and by ‘protesting’ they’re actually running and getting their fair share of exercise; but Europeans get enough exercise as it is, so police aren’t actually using violence! They’re sparring with them because they’re so physically fit and need the challenge!

But seriously, let’s keep in mind that the West cannot expect the riots to end and for Iran to go back to how things were before pre-riots. Germany, France, the UK, Saudi Arabia, “Israel”, and the US all stoked the riots, overtly supporting them. Although Iran is very pragmatic, it also possesses a very good collective memory, and diplomatic relations and economic opportunities won’t mean that it will forego hostile actions taken against it.

Of course, that’s not to forget the impact that the war on Ukraine left on Western-Iranian relations, which further cemented Iran’s pivot to the Global South.

The war in Ukraine

Although at the start of the war in Ukraine, relations between Iran and the West went unaffected, they devolved as the war progressed on account of Western accusations that Iran had sent Russia drones for use against Ukraine. The problem for the West wasn’t that Iran denied supply of the drones for use during the war; as far as they were concerned, they were dead set on implicating Iran against Ukraine, regardless of the circumstances, rather it was that the drones were very effective in a battleground the West was using to test out its own arsenal.

Just to be clear, Iran’s stance on the war in Ukraine is still unchanged. It’s only natural that Tehran would want to further its ties with Moscow as part of its strategy to deepen its ties with the Global South and push for a new world order of multilateralism. That doesn’t mean that it ever supported the war in Ukraine, as in fact it said it was against the war, favoring a diplomatic resolution, but made it clear NATO was the party who instigated the war through its attempts to expand eastward.

To put things in perspective, Iran’s ties with Russia will only grow in the future, regardless of the war in Ukraine. The focus on Iran and the Global South creating international and regional institutions to counter US hegemony is only set to increase amid NATO’s policy to create new coalitions and alliances in Central Asia and the Asia Pacific. Moreover, the war in Ukraine served to stretch the US’ forces around the world even thinner, as it continues to make overtures against China in the Asia Pacific, while also announcing support for “Israel” and the normalization process in West Asia, in a bid to create an anti-Iran coalition. This is perhaps best evidenced during a recent June 24, 2022, policy speech made by former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Hudson Institute:

“Moving past our current geo-strategic focus, the United States must help in building of the three lighthouses for liberty. These beacons should be centered on nations that have great strife: Ukraine, ‘Israel’, and Taiwan. They can be the hubs of new security architecture that links alliances of free nations globally, reinforcing the strengths of each member state, in time, linking these three bastions with NATO, as well as the new and expanded security framework for the Indo-Pacific will form a global alliance for freedom. This will benefit America.”

Although it might be a bit difficult to hear someone who used the words ‘lie, cheat, and steal’ in the same context as a mugger would talk about “lighthouses for liberty”, this person — by a rather strange twist of fate and improbable circumstances, without a doubt due to a great disturbance in the force brought on by the birth of the antichrist — was a decision-maker in the former US administration, and apparently what he says has some measure of weight.

Maybe it is also telling, in this regard, that Pentagon upgraded its security ties with “Israel”, making it a full military partner, meaning that “Israel” has been transferred to CENTCOM, in a development that hasn’t happened in the US military establishment since 1948 (go figure, Pompeo might have been right!).

The Pentagon announcement made it clear that both were preparing for a potential war against Iran by both elevating “Israel’s” position and paving the way for a regional alliance against Iran.

“The easing of tensions between ‘Israel’ and its Arab neighbors subsequent to the ‘Abraham Accords’ has provided a strategic opportunity for the United States to align key partners against shared threats in the Middle East. ‘Israel’ is a leading strategic partner for the United States, and this will open up additional opportunities for cooperation with our US Central Command partners while maintaining strong cooperation between ‘Israel’ and our European allies,”.

Ok, so where does this leave us next year?

If we ever thought 2022 would be uneventful, then brace yourselves for next year! Russian, Iranian military cooperation is still in its early stages, as is a cooperation between Iran and Asian powers that would prefer a multilateral world order. It is without a doubt that we will see an increase in tensions around the globe, but West Asia hinges on the provocations of a very important actor: The Israeli occupation.

How the Israeli occupation’s incoming government, the most extremist to date, chooses to deal with Palestine and the Resistance Factions will leave a great impact on the region as a whole. 

Sure, we can opine on whether or not the JCPOA might be revived, because it’s still comatose, regardless of what the Americans say in the media; but the most significant variable, and certainly the hottest flashpoint as of the beginning of this new year in West Asia, is Palestine. If the Palestinian Resistance continues its victory streak and manages to pacify the Israeli occupation, then it is assured that “Tel Aviv” will seek to increase its regional power through alliances, while continuing to work for the next few years: Biding time until it overhauls its airforce, waiting for a change in the US administration that places “Israel” higher up on its list of priorities, and attempting to destabilize Iran’s domestic through intelligence, while at the same time attempting to drag the US into a regional war that it is wholeheartedly against.

As for the riots in Iran, they’re not completely over, yes they’ve fizzled out to a large extent, but it wouldn’t be farfetched to expect that Iran may have some changes in store on the domestic scene. That’s not to say the hijab law will be removed because of pressure from the riots, that is a resounding no, but what’s going to change is how the law is enforced.

Aside from the riots, a more interesting development for Iran was certainly the unfolding of Merkel’s confessions on the Minsk agreements. The whole point behind the color revolution that happened in Ukraine and the subsequent Minsk agreements was not appeasing Russia, inasmuch as it was about buying time for Ukraine and disarming Russia. This was the same trap that the Iranian team fell into during the 2015 JCPOA when it agreed to restrict its arms exports for years (five years for heavy arms, and eight for ballistic missiles). Though thankfully, Iran never stopped expanding its drone and ballistic missile program, although it would have been in a more advanced position now had it not agreed to that at the time.

This time, Iran will go into the talks with Merkel and the Minsk accords in mind, and an eye out for Western attempts to disarm it or pull the rug from under its feet.

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Our Agents in Erbil Told Us that Qassem Soleimani Is in the City…The Morale of Our Fighters Collapsed

January 4, 2023 

By Abir Kanso

Explosion Hits US Military Training Center in Erbil

December 18, 2022

Iraqi media reported an explosion in a training center and weapons depot used by American forces to train Peshmerga forces in Erbil.

Iraqi sources early Sunday morning reported that a huge explosion was heard in the Khabat district in Erbil province.

According to Sabereen News, the reason for the terrible explosion has not been determined yet.

Referring to the flight of the American military plane over the incident site, Sabreen News added that the explosion occurred in a training center and weapons warehouse used by the American forces to train Peshmerga forces in Erbil.

No more details have been released about the damage or possible casualties.

Source: Agencies

A US tool against Iran: Kurdish militancy on the Iran-Iraq border

US and Israeli-backed armed Kurdish separatists on the Iraqi border have participated in every incident of Iranian domestic strife, from 2009 to 2022.

December 15 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By The Cradle’s Iraq Correspondent

After hours of traveling around the Iraqi border between the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and Iran, you will come to a single conclusion: “This is a one-sided border.”

Since April 2003, after the illegal US invasion of Iraq, West Asia transformed into a vast playground for an array of foreign states and entities. Among them are Iranian Kurdish separatist parties and organizations stationed in northern Iraq.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) often targets the sites of these armed militias with airstrikes because of the separatist threat they pose. But why are these groups even based in Iraq, and do Baghdad and Erbil play any direct role in hosting militias that target Iranian territory?

These questions persist – unanswered – bar the ever-present Iranian military responses, as in September when the IRGC carried out targeted drone and missile strikes against separatist Kurdish militias for 13 consecutive days.

When the operation concluded on 7 October, the IRGC announced it had achieved its goals,” but warned that it “will resume its operations, if the threat to Iran’s national security returns again.”

Iranian Kurdish separatists

The most prominent of these Kurdish militias is the Kurdistan Free Life Party (Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistanê – PJAK), whose activities against Iranian interested suddenly escalated after the US occupation of Iraq.

After 2004, PJAK appeared for the first time as an armed force, in the same areas controlled by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) led by Abdullah Ocalan. The PKK are primarily based in the Qandil Heights in the far north-east of Iraq, which lies within the Zagros Mountain range that extends deep into Iranian territory.

The “East Kurdistan Forces” are the military arm of the anti-Iran Kurdish militia, and its fighters are estimated to be between 800 and 1,200, most of them from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Iran and various Kurdish regions.

In a series of articles published in The New Yorker in 2006, journalist Seymour Hersh revealed that the US and Israel were training this party and supporting it financially and with intelligence in order to undermine Tehran.

Shortly after its invasion of Iraq, the administration of US President George W. Bush began a covert program to train and equip PJAK, with Israeli assistance. “The group has been conducting clandestine cross-border forays into Iran,” Hersh reported, as “part of an effort to explore alternative means of applying pressure on Iran.”

Taking advantage of social unrest

The recent and on-going unrest witnessed in a number of Iranian cities following the death of the young Iranian-Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, while in police custody on 16 September, provided an opportunity for PJAK and other Kurdish separatist parties to step up their subversive activities.

The Cradle’s Iraq correspondent was able to reach sites targeted by IRGC in the town of Koysanjak (60 km east of Erbil, the capital of the KRI) near the Iranian border, and to approach one of the largest camps of PJAK in one of the town’s valleys, surrounded by a mountain range.

It is almost impossible for journalists to reach these sites, so we had to travel disguised, alongside local villagers and with a Kurdish coordinator who arranged our visit. The militia fighters often shop in villages surrounding the camp.

However, “their goal is not to shop, but to carry out security and intelligence operations that the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party in Erbil turns a blind eye to,” confirms a shepherd who moonlights as a tobacco and fuel smuggler on both sides of the border.

He estimates the number of fighters here to be just over 1,000, The mountains provide a comfortable and secure space to carry out their military activities, which include daily exercises and a live-fire military drill in the Autumn.

‘Dangerous dreamers’

Our source calls the PJAK fighters “dreamers” because their military arsenal dates back to the 1950s, and includes light weapons, explosive devices, mortars, and anti-vehicle mines. “The Americans will not give these people modern weapons,” adds the smuggler, who fought in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and has experience in traversing the rugged border terrain.

Nevertheless, he warns that these people are “dangerous,” with “Eastern Kurdistan Forces” now transitioning to security work and “management of operations” inside Iran. Their work is conducted in cooperation with special forces from the Peshmerga of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the “coalition” forces (which are mainly US troops).

This cooperation is not new, and has accompanied every major incident of internal civil strife witnessed by Iran since at least 2009, including turmoil in 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, and most recently, 2022.

In the past two years, PJAK’s activity has ceased to be purely military, and “we see its fighters accompanying guests. It is true that they disguise themselves, but we are not naive,” the Iraqi source says, adding, however, that the Kurdistan region “will not reap a profit from this game as usual.”

Iraqi Kurdish links to PJAK

Officially, the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which are the two main political parties in the Kurdistan region, deny any connection with PJAK. However, Kurdish leaders acknowledge the existence of “coordination,” “transmission of messages,” and “exchange of information” with the militia group. The KDP has previously called on PJAK and PKK to lay down their arms.

Certainly, it would be difficult – if not impossible – for PJAK to manage activities of this magnitude on Iraqi territory, and to globally market themselves as “freedom fighters,” without the collusion and support of both Kurdish and Iraqi authorities.

A high-ranking Iranian diplomatic source with experience in Baghdad for more than ten years, confirms the existence of a tripartite committee that includes representatives from Tehran, Baghdad, and Erbil to exchange information about the “subversive activities” carried out by PJAK against Iran.

The committee does not, however, hold regular meetings, and the Iranians have become convinced that its trouble-shooting initiatives are not serious because of Baghdad’s ineptitude, and because of the involvement of foreign states in supporting the separatists.

This has prompted Tehran to adopt a policy of “force to deter what threatens its national security,” with one or two officials in the Iraqi state being informed half an hour before any Iranian military strike operations commence.

The diplomatic source, who has military experience, adds: “We constantly monitor everyone who visits PJAK sites, the movements of its fighters, all their steps, and the support they receive. We broadcast recordings of the moment of the bombing to assure the separatists and the intelligence services that support them that we know their locations very well.”

Baghdad turns a blind eye

Yet in Baghdad, official sources deny the existence of a tripartite committee, as well as any prior warning of Iranian airstrikes. In fact, a high-ranking Iraqi officer even informed The Cradle that there are headquarters and safe houses for Kurdish separatists and their leaders in both Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, with coordination between PJAK and the PKK.

There is also evidence that the separatist militias are active in illegal, cross-border activities that generate revenues for PJAK which, in turn, enable it to pay its fighters’ salaries. Baghdad is aware of all this, sources say, but turns a blind eye.

Safe-guarding Iran’s territorial integrity

The high-ranking officer claims, nevertheless, that Iraq’s new Prime Minister Muhammad Shia’ al-Sudani is serious about his initiative to establish a new Border Guards Force stationed between the region of Turkiye and Iran, and to prioritize supporting these forces with human resources, weapons, and modern equipment.

But the source has also expressed pessimism over this border venture, and expects the continuation of PJAK’s activities in the mountainous area they know so well.

He points out that Tehran “will not be convinced of the Iraqi field and military measures. The Iranians know our capabilities. The presence of the separatists at their borders will remain a source of security concern. And they told us that they will not stand hands folded in the face of this threat.”

“Practically,” he concludes, “Tehran is the one that controls the borders in the area of ​​the Jasusan mountain range.”

Needless to say, as a sovereign state Iran will adopt a proactive stance in confronting threats to its national security posed by foreign-backed, separatist groups – even though this may undermine the sovereignty of its weaker Iraqi neighbor.

While it is collectively in the interests of Iran, Iraq and indeed Turkiye and Syria to co-ordinate over this mutual ethno-nationalist, separatist, security threat, Baghdad has been too slow to rise to the challenge.

Instead, we may see this process begin first in the Northeast of Syria, where all four states are currently gathered in heightened concern over militarized Kurdish separatism, its foreign sponsors, and the imminent threat of a military confrontation. 

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

As US looting of Syrian oil continues, Damascus turns to protect crops

13 Dec 2022 22:05

Source: The Cradle

By Al Mayadeen English 

It is no news that the US frequently loots tankers of Syrian oil.

US looting Syrian oil

The Cradle reported on Tuesday, citing official Syrian sources, that the US smuggled a new shipment of Syrian oil from the Al-Hasakah Governorate on December 12.

According to the report, the convoy included 37 tanks carried by US military trucks and headed toward Iraq this morning via the illegal Al-Mahmudiyah border crossing in the far northeastern countryside of Syria.

Just a week ago, the US had looted 66 tankers of Syrian oil from the Jazira region and smuggled them into their occupation bases in Iraq. 

The report states that the lootings are in part fueled by an interruption of oil trafficking operations caused by Turkey’s offensive on the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which are mainly situated in oil-rich regions – in the north.

They may have increased since Turkey began its offensive, but as already known, the lootings have been ongoing for years.

A week ago, reports indicated that Turkish airstrikes targeting the SDF’s main sources of income included two US-occupied oil fields.

According to an investigation by The Cradle, convoys pass weekly back and forth through illegal crossings. These convoys are often found to be guarded by US warplanes or helicopters.

Shepherds in the area reportedly confirmed these claims as they witness the looting and smuggling of oil to Al-Harir military site in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR); a region that is likewise reputed for being a recruitment hub for western spy agencies.

The investigation further reveals that the oil is used to support the activities of the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), as reported by The Cradle.

The sprees also serve the US in maintaining a strong foothold in the region between Baghdad and Damascus, according to columnist Firas Al-Shoufi who conducted the investigation.

On another note, the Lebanese news outlet Al-Ahed News revealed earlier today that the Syrian government is working to protect vast wheat fields in the Al-Jazira region from being plundered or damaged by US troops.

According to the report, the US occupation has been offering adulterated grains to farmers claiming they are of better quality.

But farmers were quick to realize that the seeds had severely damaged their soil as they were found to contain a “high percentage of infection with nematodes.”

The Syrian government sought to respond to this situation by launching a program that sells wheat and barley seeds at affordable prices. 

In a tweet on December 12, the USAID agency blamed the climate for the damage, in an attempt to downplay the US occupation role in damaging Syria’s soil.

What is the US doing in Syria?

Besides being an occupation that backs armed groups for its own operations and agenda in the region, the US occupation forces continue to steal Syrian oil by smuggling it from their bases in Syria to their bases in Iraq.

Convoys of tens of vehicles, including tankers loaded with stolen oil from oil fields occupied by US forces in Syria, are frequently seen crossing toward northern Iraq, in addition to trucks loaded with military equipment.

The US interference in the crisis-stricken Middle Eastern country continues to be exposed, from occupation to military agenda and the theft of oil.

Plundering Syria’s oil resources & depriving Syrians of resources

It is noteworthy that Syrian state media has accused over and over again the US and the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) armed groups of occupying areas in the vicinity of oil-rich fields, smuggling resources to Iraq, and then siphoning them out.

The United States has been for years supporting SDF militias against Damascus, and the US-backed forces are currently occupying parts of the provinces of Al-Hasakah, Deir Ezzor, and Raqqa, where the largest Syrian oil and gas fields are located.

The actions carried out by the United States constitute state piracy with the aim of plundering Syria’s oil resources and depriving the Syrians of their own resources amid a harsh economic situation caused largely by the occupiers, the Americans themselves.

Read more: Syria: sanctions and oil looting cause fuel shortages, 4-day work week

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وليد شرارة  

ترسّخت قناعة في دول المنطقة، بأن الغرب أصبح يعتمد «الورقة الكردية» كوسيلة لزعزعة استقرارها وتهديد وحدتها (أ ف ب)

«نحن حلفاء أميركا الأكثر إخلاصاً في سوريا. لا تنسونا». يعكس هذا العنوان، الذي اختاره مظلوم عبدي، قائد «قوات سوريا الديموقراطية»، لمقاله المنشور في «واشنطن بوست» بتاريخ 3 من الشهر الحالي، المنطق العميق الذي بات يحكم الخيارات الإستراتيجية لقيادات التنظيمات السياسية التي تدّعي تمثيل الأكراد في سوريا والعراق وإيران وتركيا. لا ريب في أن خيار التحوّل إلى قوة وكيلة للتحالف الأميركي – الغربي – الإسرائيلي، تشارك في حروبه المتصاعدة، الحامية أو الهجينة، ضدّ بلدان الإقليم، في مقابل دعمه لتوجّهاتها الانفصالية، لا يلقى إجماعاً البتّة في أوساط الرأي العام الكردي ونخبه السياسية والثقافية. قطاعات معتبرة منهم تعارض مثل هذا الخيار الانتحاري لأنه سيضع الأكراد في مواجهة بقية شعوب المنطقة، وليس الأنظمة السياسية فحسب، ولأنه يضرب عرض الحائط بوشائج الأخوة التاريخية والثقافية – الاجتماعية التي تجمع بينهم وبين هذه الشعوب. إضافة إلى ذلك، هناك الكثير من المعطيات عن وجود خلافات داخل بعض الأحزاب السياسية المشار إليها سابقاً – «حزب العمال الكردستاني» على سبيل المثال -، حول وجاهة خيار الاندراج في إستراتيجية الغرب ضدّ المنطقة، أي أداء وظيفة مطابقة لتلك التي أقيم لأجلها الكيان الصهيوني، انطلاقاً من اعتبارات واقعية في الأساس تذكّر بأن الوجود العسكري الغربي فيها محكوم بالزوال مهما طال أمده، على عكس دول وشعوب المنطقة الباقية على رغم الأزمات التي تعصف بها راهناً.

من المفترض أن يدفع إدراك حقائق التاريخ والجغرافيا، القوى السياسية الحريصة فعلاً على مصالح الشعب الكردي، إلى البحث عن تسويات وتوافقات مع بلدان المنطقة تضمن حقوق هذا الشعب، وتزيل جميع المظالم وأشكال التمييز التي تعرّض لها، من دون تهديد وحدة الكيانات الوطنية القائمة. فعلى الرغم من اختلاف طبيعة أنظمة الحكم في بلدان كسوريا والعراق وإيران وتركيا، ومن الخلافات وحتى الصراعات التي تدور أحياناً بين بعضها البعض، ترسّخت قناعة في أوساط قياداتها ورأيها العام، بأن الغرب أصبح يعتمد «الورقة الكردية» كوسيلة رئيسة من وسائل زعزعة استقرارها وتهديد وحدتها الترابية. لا يعني الكلام المتقدّم رفع المسؤولية عن الأنظمة المتعاقبة في الإقليم عمّا عاناه الأكراد من اضطهاد وتنكيل في حالات عديدة، لكن النقاش ينبغي أن يتمحور حول كيفية توفير الشروط اللازمة لحلول جذرية دائمة تسمح بتغيير الواقع القائم. أمّا الخيار الآخر، أي الاستزلام للغرب المنحدر، والذي تأخذ به التنظيمات الكردية المسلّحة في البلدان الـ4 المشار إليها، فإنه كفيل بتأجيج النزاع بينها وبين هذه البلدان، وحمْل الأخيرة على المزيد من التعاون في ما بينها، للتصدّي لسياسة التخريب والتدمير الغربية وتصفية أدواتها، مع ما قد يترتّب على ذلك من أثمان تدفعها الشعوب، بما فيها الشعب الكردي.

مَن يراهن على «الوفاء» الأميركي مقابل ما قدّمه من خدمات، سيندم ولو بعد حين

فكرة استغلال التناقضات الإثنية والطائفية في المنطقة لإضعاف دولها المركزية بعد الاستقلالات، إسرائيلية في الأساس، ومثّلت جزءاً لا يتجزّأ من «الاستراتيجية الطرفية» التي اتّبعها الكيان الصهيوني منذ خمسينيات وستينيات القرن الماضي، والمرتكزة على السعي للتحالف مع دول الجوار غير العربية، ومع من صنّفهم «أقليات» في داخل البلدان العربية. يشير الصحافي الأميركي، جوناثان رندال، في كتابه الهام «أمّة في شقاق»، إلى أن إسرائيل أقامت علاقات في بداية الستينيات مع الملا مصطفى البرزاني، رئيس «الحزب الديموقراطي الكردستاني»، وقدّمت له دعماً عسكرياً ومالياً كبيراً مع انفجار النزاع بين قواته وبين الجيش العراقي في تلك الفترة، وأن هذه العلاقات شهدت تطوّراً مستمرّاً فيما بعد. غير أن المنعطف الحقيقي في تاريخ توظيف القضية الكردية، كان الدعم النوعي والمتعدّد الأبعاد الذي وفّرته الولايات المتحدة للحركة الكردية في العراق عام 1991، بعد ما سُمّي بـ«حرب تحرير الكويت»، بدءاً بالحظر الجوّي الذي فرضته فوق كردستان، وأتاح تحوّل الأخير إلى إقليم خارج عن سيطرة الدولة العراقية. لقد أشرفت واشنطن على إنشاء شبه دولة كردية في شمال العراق تنامت قوّتها وقدراتها مع مرور الزمن، خاصة بعد الغزو الأميركي عام 2003، والذي كان مقدّمة لإعادة صياغة «الشرق الأوسط» على أسس طائفية وإثنية.

زمرة المحافظين الجدد الصهيونية، التي وقفت خلف هذا المشروع، حاولت تكرار ما جرى بعد اجتياح جيوش الغرب للإقليم إثر الحرب العالمية الأولى، عندما تمّ تقسيمه وزرع إسرائيل في قلبه. اعتبر هؤلاء أن الكيان الكردي الناشئ سيضطلع بمهام وظيفية شبيهة بتلك التي قام بها الكيان الإسرائيلي في سياق عملية التقسيم الجديدة التي خطّطوا لها. وفي الحقيقة، ومن منظور التنظيمات القومية الكردية المسلّحة في البلدان الأخرى كإيران وتركيا، وفي مرحلة متأخّرة سوريا، أضحى هذا الإقليم «قصّة نجاح»، ونموذجاً يُحتذى، وملجأً لبعضها، كالمجموعات الكردية الإيرانية أو التركية، تستخدمه كقاعدة خلفية لعملياتها في تركيا وإيران. التناقضات السياسية والأيديولوجية بين بعض تلك التنظيمات، كـ»حزب العمال الكردستاني» و»الحزب الديموقراطي»، والتي أدت إلى صدامات دموية أحياناً، لم تَحُل دون استبطان الأوّل، وغيره من المجموعات المسلّحة الكردية، لاعتقاد مفاده أن النجاح في تحقيق أهدافها منوط بمدى قدرتها على نسج تحالف مع الولايات المتحدة والغرب. ومن الجدير ذكره، هنا، أن حزب «بيجاك»، الفرع الإيراني لـ»حزب العمال» الناشط ضدّ تركيا، باشر عمله المسلّح ضدّ إيران عام 2004، أي سنة بعد غزو العراق، وأن العديد من قادته وعناصره، كإلهام أحمد مثلاً، انضمّوا فيما بعد إلى «قوات سوريا الديمقراطية»، وساهموا في الدفع نحو توثيق الصلات مع الأميركيين، ومع الإسرائيليين، كما اتّضح في فضيحة تهريب النفط السوري، بعد توقيع عقد لهذه الغاية بين أحمد ورجل الأعمال الإسرائيلي موتي كاهانا (راجع: نفط الشمال السوري بيد إسرائيل!، الأخبار، 15 تموز 2019).

لقد أدّى غزو العراق إلى انتشار مواقع عسكرية ومراكز تدريب للمجموعات المسلّحة الكردية الإيرانية في كردستان، تشنّ منها هجمات على إيران برعاية ومساندة أميركية وإسرائيلية. وقد اتّضح مع الأحداث التي تشهدها إيران أخيراً، حجم الدور الذي تضطلع به هذه المجموعات، وشبكاتها العاملة داخل أراضي الجمهورية الإسلامية. أما «قوّات سوريا الديمقراطية»، فهي استغلّت الحرب الدولية – الإقليمية ضدّ سوريا، ودورها كقوة رديفة للقوات الأميركية في الحرب على «داعش»، لتسيطر على مساحات واسعة من الشرق السوري، وأسهمت في استراتيجية واشنطن لحرمان الدولة السورية من مواردها. استلهمت جميع تلك المجموعات «التجربة الكردية العراقية»، وأهمّ دروسها هو الاندراج في الأجندة الأميركية والسعي إلى بلوغ الغايات الخاصة في إطارها. هي حرصت أيضاً على الإفادة من التناقضات بين دول الإقليم، والتقاطع أحياناً مع بعضها ضدّ بعضها الآخر، للاحتفاظ بمكاسبها وتوسيع هامش مناورتها. لكن المستجدّات المرتبطة بتداعيات الحرب في أوكرانيا على السياق الجيوسياسي الإقليمي، وما نراه من جهود روسية للتقريب بين دمشق وأنقرة، ومن اعتدال في نبرة المعارضة الروسية والإيرانية لتدخّل عسكري تركي ضدّ «قسد» في سوريا، ومن تزامن في توظيف «الورقة الكردية» في إيران وفي تركيا (تفجير إسطنبول)، جميعها عوامل قد تفضي إلى تقاطع أكبر بين دول الإقليم في مواجهة التنظيمات الانفصالية الكردية. مَن يراهن على «الوفاء» الأميركي مقابل ما قدّمه من خدمات، سيندم ولو بعد حين.

من ملف : كردستان الكبرى: الحلم الأسود

كردستان الكبرى: الحلم الأسود

 الخميس 8 كانون الأول 2022

مع تصعيد إيران حملتها ضدّ الأحزاب الكردية المعارضة في شمال العراق، وتلويح تركيا بعملية عسكرية جديدة ضدّ القوى الكردية في شمال سوريا وشرقها، وتتالي الأزمات التي يواجهها حُكم آل برزاني في كردستان، تعود القضية الكردية إلى الواجهة، مُجلّية عقم الرهانات التي لجأت إليها القيادات الكردية على مرّ السنوات الماضية. صحيح أن أبناء هذه القومية عانوا مظالم تاريخية في بعض مناطق انتشارهم، وصحيح أيضاً أن عملية دمجهم في إطار الدولة الوطنية فشلت في كثير من الأحيان، إلّا أن نخبهم وجدت في ذلك مبرّراً للتحوّل إلى مطيّة للولايات المتحدة لتنفيذ مشاريعها في المنطقة، والانخراط في لعبة محفوفة بالمخاطر مع العدوّ الإسرائيلي، عبر تقديم منصّة سهلة للأخير يستطيع من خلالها ضرب القوى والدول المناهضة له. هكذا، كثّرت القوى الكردية أعداءها، ساحبةً الأكراد خلفها نحو حلم تدرك أنه مستحيل التحقق، ومُراكِمةً في رصيدها المزيد من الخيبات والخسارات، إلى حدّ يَصلح معه قول الشاعر الكردي، حسن محمد، في قصيدته السقوط: «وإلى الآن ما زلت أسقط…»

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طهران | تُعدّ إيران دولة متعدّدة الأعراق، يشكّل الأكراد فيها، بعد الفرس والأتراك، المجموعة العرقيّة الرئيسة الثالثة، أو نحو 10% من إجمالي عدد السكّان، بناءً على التخمين الإحصائي. ويقطنون في المحافظات…

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إمارة آل بارزاني: فنّ توليد الأزمات

قبل أيام، سلّمت السويد، تركيا، عضواً في «حزب العمال الكردستاني» يُدعى محمود طاط، كان قد هرب إليها في عام 2015 بعد أن حكمت عليه محكمة تركية بالسجن 6 سنوات و10 أشهر. أمر ما كان قابلاً للتصوّر قبل حرب…

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Raisi Meets Shia, Sunni Clerics of Kurdistan

December 2, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian President Sayyed Ebrahim Raisi held talks with Sunni and Shia clerics in Kurdistan Province during his one-day trip to the western region on Thursday.

The president met the clerics after taking part in the congregational prayers at noon.

During the talks, the clerics spoke about their issues of concern and raised their demands. The president listened to them patiently and issued required orders to address their problems.

Before that meeting, Raisi met with the families of some of the victims of the recent unrest in Kurdistan, including the families of the security forces killed in the violence.

He said that security is a red line for the Islamic Republic, adding that all those who have caused trouble for people during the recent riots should be brought to justice.

Raisi also said that the same movement, which has always been hostile to the Islamic Republic and tried to create insecurity in Kurdistan during the first years after the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, tried to misuse the recent events to again target the security in the province.

But the movement failed in its attempts due to resistance by the people of Kurdistan province, Raisi underlined.

Also, during his trip to Kurdistan, the president inaugurated the project to supply drinkable water to the provincial capital Sanandaj.

The project, which transfers water from Azad Dam to the purification facility in the city, was completed over a course of 20 months.

It is among mega water projects that Raisi’s administration is conducting in urban areas.

US paralyzed by Islamic Republic of Iran’s strategic swing

Monday, 28 November 2022 6:18 PM  [ Last Update: Monday, 28 November 2022 6:21 PM ]

By Pepe Escobar

Iran’s parliament has just approved the accession of the Islamic Republic to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), previously enshrined at the Samarkand summit last September, marking the culmination of a process that lasted no less than 15 years.  

Iran has already applied to become a member of the expanding BRICS+, which before 2025 will be inevitably configured as the alternative Global South G20 that really matters. 

Iran is already part of the Quad that really matters – alongside BRICS members Russia, China and India. Iran is deepening its strategic partnership with both China and Russia and increasing bilateral cooperation with India. 

Iran is a key Chinese partner in the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It is set to clinch a free trade agreement with the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and is a key node of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), alongside Russia and India.     

All of the above configures the lightning-fast emergence of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a West Asia and Eurasia big power, with vast reach across the Global South. 

That has left the whole set of imperial “policies” towards Tehran lying in the dust.

So it’s no wonder that previously accumulated strands of Iranophobia – fed by the Empire over four decades — have recently metastasized into yet another color revolution offensive, fully supported and disseminated by Anglo-American media.

The playbook is always the same. Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei actually came up with a concise definition. The problem is not bands of oblivious rioters and/or mercenaries:  “the main confrontation”, he said, is with “global hegemony.”

Ayatollah Khamenei was somewhat echoed by American intellectual and author Noam Chomsky, who has remarked how an array of US sanctions over four decades have severely harmed the Iranian economy and “caused enormous suffering.”

Using Kurds as expendable assets

The latest color revolution overdrive overlaps with the manipulation of Kurds in both Syria and Iraq. From the imperial perspective, the proxy war in Syria, which is far from over, not only works as an additional front in the fight against Russia but also allows the instrumentalization of highly dependent Kurds against both Iran and Turkey.   

Iran is currently being attacked according to a perverse variation of the scheme applied to Syria in 2011. A sort of “permanent protest” situation has been imposed across vast swathes of northwestern Iran.

What changed in mid-November is that armed gangs started to apply terrorist tactics in several towns close to the Iraqi border, and were even believed to be weaponized enough to take control of some of the towns.  

Tehran inevitably had to send IRGC troops to contain the situation and beef up border security. They engaged in operations similar to what has been done before in Dara’a, in the Syrian southwest.

This military intervention was effective. But in a few latitudes, terror gangs continue to attack government infrastructure and even civilian property. The key fact is that Tehran prefers not to repress these unruly demonstrations using deadly force.

The really critical issue is not the protests per se: it’s the transfer of weapons by the Kurds from Iraq to Iran to bolster the color revolution scenario.

Tehran has issued a de facto ultimatum to Baghdad: get your act together with the Kurds, and make them understand the red lines.    

As it stands, Iran is massively employing Fateh ballistic missiles and Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 kamikaze drones against selected Kurdish terrorist bases in northern Iraq.

It’s debatable whether that will be enough to control the situation. What is clear is that the “Kurdish card”, if not tamed, could be easily played by the usual suspects in other Iranian provinces, considering the solid financial, military and informational support offered by Iraqi Kurds to Iranian Kurds.   

Turkey is facing a relatively similar problem with the Syrian Kurds instrumentalized by the US.

In northern Syria, they are mostly armed gangs posing as “Kurds”. So it’s quite possible that these Kurdish armed gangs, essentially played by Washington as useful idiots, may end up being decimated, simultaneously, in the short to medium term, by both Ankara and Tehran.

If all fails, pray for regime change

A geopolitical game-changer which was unthinkable until recently may soon be on the cards: a high-level meeting between Turkish President Recep Erdogan and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad (remember the decade-long refrain “Assad must go”?) in Russia, with mediation by none other than Russian president Vladimir Putin.

What would it take for Kurds to understand no state – be it Iran, Syria or Turkey – will offer them land for their own nation? Parameters could eventually change in case Iraqis in Baghdad finally manage to expel the US.

Before we get there, the fact is Iran has already turned West Asian geopolitics upside down – via its smart cruise missiles, extremely effective kamikaze drones, electronic warfare and even state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles.

Empire “planners” never saw this coming: a Russia-Iran strategic partnership that not only makes total sense geo-economically, but is also a military force multiplier.

Moreover, that is inscribed in the looming Big Picture on which the expanded BRICS+ is focusing: Eurasia (and beyond) integration via multimodal economic corridors such as the INTSC, pipelines and high-speed rail.   

The Empire’s Plan A, on Iran, was a mere nuclear deal (JCPOA), devised by the Barack Obama administration as nothing but a crude containment scheme.

Trump actually blew it all up – and there’s nothing left: a JCPOA revival, which has been – in theory – attempted for months in Vienna, was always a non-starter because the Americans themselves don’t know anymore what they want from it. 

So what’s left as Plan B for the Straussian neocon/neoliberal psychos in charge of US foreign policy is to hurl all manner of fall guys – from Kurds to the toxic MEK – into the Iran cauldron and, amplified 24/7 by hysterical mainstream media, pray for regime change.

Well, that’s not going to happen. Tehran just needs to wait, exercise restraint, and observe how so much color revolution virtue signaling will eventually fizzle out.

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst and author, focused on Eurasia integration. His latest book is Raging Twenties.

(The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:



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Iran Warns the ‘Israeli’ Regime Citing its History in the Region

November 28, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani advised neighboring countries to revisit their ties with the Zionist entity, not ruling out attacks against the ‘Israeli’ regime given its history in the region.

Referring to the recent anti-Iranian resolution issued at the UN Human Rights Council, Kanaani said the Islamic Republic will never cooperate with a such fact-finding mission on alleged human rights issues.

“Within the framework of its national responsibilities, the Islamic Republic [of Iran] has formed a national committee with the presence of experts, lawyers, and official and unofficial representatives, in the sense that it believes in its inherent and national responsibility,” the spokesperson stated, adding that the country is carrying out duties and comprehensive investigation in this regard.

“Therefore, the hasty use of human rights mechanisms and political approaches are rejected and will not contribute to the concept of human rights.”

The spokesman appeared on Monday with a chemical mask in his weekly press conference in reference to Germany’s support in the war imposed on Iran by Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime [1980-1988] and the provision of chemical weapons by the German government to the Saddam regime.

Saddam Hussein’s regime had no obstacles in using weapons and chemical bombs against the Iranians during the war, Kanaani said, adding that the western governments, including the German government, gave the chemical substances to the Iraqi Baath regime, and many crimes were committed against the people of Iran and Iraq with these weapons and equipment.

“The United Nations has clarified Germany’s role in arming Iraq with chemical substances, Germany has received 139 warnings from the United Nations regarding the sale of biological and chemical weapons,” Kanaani noted.

“The results of UN reports show that Germany has played an important role in this field, and DER Spiegel magazine has also written about this, and we have always witnessed violations of human rights and women’s rights in Germany,” he went on to say.

Meanwhile, in response to a question about the attack on an ‘Israeli’-owned oil tanker, which the Zionists accused Iran of, the spokesman rejected these accusations and said that false accusations against Iran are the goal of the Zionist regime and its other allies and if Iran does something, it is brave enough to take responsibility for it.

On the level of the Kurdistan region, Kanaani said it is part of the territory of Iraq and the Iraqi government is responsible for the security of the border lines shared by the two countries of Iran and Iraq: “We heard the news that the Iraqi government has decided to deploy its official forces on the borders of Iraqi Kurdistan. We hope that this deployment will take place. If the Iraqi government needs technical assistance in this regard, we are ready to help the Iraqi government.”

Regarding the nuclear deal, Kanaani said “The European governments that are part of the deal proved that they want to behave upon the US policies,” adding that “The Americans’ proposal implies that they don’t want to continue the negotiations, but at the same time they keep sending Iran messages.”

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Operation Claw-Sword: Erdogan’s big new game in Syria

November 27, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

Wily Sultan is caught between his electorate, which favors a Syria invasion, and his extremely nuanced relations with Russia

There’s another Special Military Operation on the market. No, it’s not Russia “denazifying” and “demilitarizing” Ukraine – and, therefore, it’s no wonder that this other operation is not ruffling feathers across the collective West.

Operation Claw-Sword was launched by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as revenge – highly emotional and concerted – for Kurdish terrorist attacks against Turkish citizens. Some of the missiles that Ankara launched in this aerial campaign carried the names of Turkish victims.

The official Ankara spin is that the Turkish Armed Forces fully achieved their “air operation objectives” in the north of Syria and in Iraqi Kurdistan, and made those responsible for the terror attack against civilians in Istanbul’s Istiklal pedestrian street pay in “multitudes.”

And this is supposed to be just the first stage. For the third time in 2022, Sultan Erdogan is also promising a ground invasion of Kurdish-held territories in Syria.

However, according to diplomatic sources, that’s not going to happen – even as scores of Turkish experts are adamant that the invasion is needed sooner rather than later.

The wily Sultan is caught between his electorate, which favors an invasion, and his extremely nuanced relations with Russia – which encompass a large geopolitical and geo-economic arc.

He well knows that Moscow can apply all manner of pressure levers to dissuade him. For instance, Russia at the last minute annulled the weekly dispatch of a joint Russo-Turkish patrol in Ain al Arab that was taking place on Mondays.

Ain al Arab is a highly strategic territory: the missing link, east of the Euphrates, capable of offering continuity between Idlib and Ras al Ayn, occupied by dodgy Turkish-aligned gangs near the Turkish border.

Erdogan knows he can’t jeopardize his positioning as potential EU-Russia mediator while obtaining maximum profit from bypassing the anti-Russian embargo-sanctions combo.

The Sultan, juggling multiple serious dossiers, is deeply convinced that he’s got what it takes to bring Russia and NATO to the negotiating table and, ultimately, end the war in Ukraine.

In parallel, he thinks he may stay on top of Turkey-Israel relations; a rapprochement with Damascus; the sensitive internal situation in Iran; Turkey-Azerbaijan relations; the non-stop metamorphoses across the Mediterranean; and the drive towards Eurasia integration.

He’s hedging all his bets between NATO and Eurasia.

‘Close down all of our southern borders’

The green light for Claw-Sword came from Erdogan while he was on his presidential plane, returning from the G20 in Bali. That happened only one day after he had met US President Joe Biden where, according to a presidential Erdogan statement, the subject had not come up.

“We held no meeting with Mr Biden or [Russian President Vladimir] Putin regarding the operation. They both already know that we can do such things at any moment in this region,” the statement said.

Washington not getting briefed on Claw-Sword mirrored Erdogan not getting invited to an extraordinary G7-NATO meeting in Bali, on the sidelines of the G20.

Then-US vice president Joe Biden (L) speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul. Photo: AFP / Bulent Kilic

That meeting was called by the White House to deal with the by-now notorious Ukrainian S-300 missile that fell in Polish territory. At the time, no one at the table had any conclusive evidence about what happened. And Turkey was not even invited to the table – which profoundly incensed the Sultan.

So it’s no wonder Erdogan, mid-week, said that Claw-Sword was “just the beginning.” Addressing AKP party lawmakers in Parliament, he said Turkey is determined to “close down all of our southern borders … with a security corridor that will prevent the possibility of attacks on our country.”

The ground invasion promise remains: It will begin “at the most convenient time for us” and will target the regions of Tel Rifaat, Mambij and Kobane, which the Sultan called “sources of trouble.”

Ankara has already wreaked havoc, using drones, on the main headquarters of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, whose commanders believe the main target of a potential Turkish ground invasion would be Kobane.

Significantly, this is the first time a Turkish drone targeted an area extremely close to a US base. And Kobane is highly symbolic: the place where the Americans sealed a collaboration with Syrian Kurds to – in theory – fight ISIS.

And that explains why the Syrian Kurds are appalled by the American non-response to the Turkish strikes. They blame – who else? – the Sultan for stoking “nationalist sentiments” ahead of the 2023 elections, which Erdogan now stands a great chance to win despite the catastrophic state of the Turkish economy.

As it stands, there is no Turkish troop buildup near Kobane – just airstrikes. Which brings us to the all-important Russian factor.

Manbij and Tel Rifaat, west of the Euphrates, are much more important for Russia than Kobane, because they are both vital for the defense of Aleppo against possible Salafi-jihadi attacks.

What may potentially happen in the near future makes the situation even murkier. Ankara intel may use Hayat Tahrir al-Sham jihadis – which have already taken over parts of Afrin – as a sort of “vanguard” in a ground invasion of Syrian Kurd territory.

Selling stolen Syrian oil to Turkey

The current fog of war includes the notion that the Russians may have sold out the Kurds by leaving them exposed to Turkish bombing. That does not hold – because Russia’s influence over Syrian Kurd territory is negligible compared with the US’s. Only the Americans could “sell out” the Kurds.

The more things change, the more they remain the same in Syria. It could all be summarized as a monumental impasse. This gets even more surrealist because, in effect, Ankara and Moscow have already found the solution for the Syrian tragedy.

The problem is the presence of American forces – essentially protecting those shabby convoys stealing Syrian oil. Russians and Syrians always discuss it. The conclusion is that the Americans are staying by inertia. They do it because they can. And Damascus is powerless to expel them.

The Sultan plays the whole thing with consummate cynicism – in geopolitics and geo-economics. Most of what is unresolved in Syria revolves around territories occupied by de facto gangs that call themselves Kurds, protected by the US. They traffic Syrian oil to resell it mostly to … Turkey.

And then, in a flash, armed gangs that call themselves Kurds may simply abandon their “anti-terrorist” fight by … releasing the terrorists they apprehended, thus increasing the “terrorist threat” all over northeast Syria. They blame – who else? – Turkey. In parallel, the Americans increase financial aid to these armed gangs under the pretext of a “war on terror.”

The distinction between “armed gangs” and “terrorists” is of course razor thin. What matters most of all to Erdogan is that he can use the Kurds as a currency in trade negotiations linked to bypassing anti-Russian embargoes and sanctions.

And that explains why the Sultan may decide to bomb Syrian territory whenever he sees fit, despite any condemnation by Washington or Moscow. The Russians once in a while retake the initiative on the ground – as happened during the Idlib campaign in 2020 when Russians bombed the Turkish military forces that were providing “assistance” to Salafi-jihadis.

A view of the site after attacks carried out by Assad regime in Syria on the city center of Idlib on September 7, 2021. Photo: Izzeddin Kasim / Anadolu Agency

Now a game-changer may be on the cards. The Turkish Army bombed the al-Omar oilfield north of Deir ez-Zor. What this means in practice is that Ankara is now destroying no less than the oil infrastructure of the much-lauded “Kurdish autonomy.”

This infrastructure has been cynically exploited by the US when it comes to the oil that reaches the border with Iraq in Iraqi Kurdistan. So in a sense, Ankara is striking against Syrian Kurds and simultaneously against American robbery of Syrian oil.

The definitive game-changer may be approaching. That will be the meeting between Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad, (Remember the decade-long refrain “Assad must go”?)

Location: Russia. Mediator:  Vladimir Putin, in person. It’s not far-fetched to imagine this meeting paving the way for those Kurdish armed gangs, essentially played by Washington as useful idiots, to end up being decimated by Ankara.

Fresh IRG Attacks Hit PAK Positions in Iraq

November 23, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The Islamic Revolution Guard [IRG] Ground Force started a new round of attacks on the positions of terrorist groups, including PAK [Kurdistan Freedom Party], in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on Tuesday.

The new strikes have targeted the strongholds of the PAK terrorist and separatist group in the Kurdistan Region.

The IRG forces have fired missiles and flown suicide drones to hit the targets on the outskirts of Kirkuk.

The IRG also launched several rounds of military strikes on the positions of separatist groups in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region in the past two months.

The first stage of the attacks began on September 24, after terrorists’ move to ignite riots and unrest along border cities western Iran.

The move by IRG Ground Force to hit Iraqi-based ‘Komalah’ and ‘Democrat’ terrorist groups came after illegal entry by these groups’ armed teams into the Iranian border cities.

The IRG has said, “These terrorists – who are backed by the global arrogance and are based in the Iraqi northern region – were forced to flee the country after accepting heavy casualties.”

The IRG underlined that Iran on many occasions has warned officials of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region about the terrorist groups’ activities in the region but they have failed to pay necessary attention to the warnings and take proper measures to prevent terrorist moves.

It has also described the operations by the Iranian forces as part of efforts to ensure durable security along borders and punish criminal terrorists.

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Attacks on gas field in Iraqi Kurdistan force US contractors to leave

The Iraqi Kurdistan debt currently stands at about $38 billion as oil exports accounted for 85% of the region’s budget

August 30 2022

(Photo Credit: Azad Lashkari/Reuters)

ByNews Desk 

Several missile attacks on a gas field in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) prompted US contractors working on the field’s expansion project to leave, spreading frustration in the region about increasing its revenue and offering a slight alternative to Russian gas.

Reuters published an exclusive story on 30 August claiming the Khor Mor field expansion project was suspended at the end of June following three missile attacks. The project is operated by Pearl Petroleum, owned mainly by Abu Dhabi’s Dana Gas and its affiliate, Crescent Petroleum.

IKR government sources said that workers from Exterran Corp of Texas resumed work last month. However, two more missiles struck the site on 25 July, forcing the company to leave again without setting a return date.

The UK-based agency said that no severe damage was caused by the attacks, as current operations were not halted. However, the expansion project, which includes building a new pipeline to Turkey at a later stage, has been suspended until the region is safe.

Khor Mor is one of the largest gas fields in Iraq, and the plan to expand it aimed to boost production in the face of a massive need to generate electricity and end daily blackouts.

It also aims to export gas to Turkey and Europe once the local market’s needs are met. The project is partially funded through a $250 million agreement with the US International Development Finance Corporation.

Exterran Corp became the third company to suspend operations since attacks began targeting the field on 21 June, after two Turkish sub-companies, Havatek and Biltek, had already suspended operations.

The Khor Mor is located near a buffer zone between the Iraqi army, Kurdish forces, and Shia militias, from which the first rocket attacks were launched.

Earlier in May, an unidentified missile attack launched from Nineveh province targeted an oil refinery in Erbil, causing only material damage.

Due to the lack of cooperation, Reuters reported some areas where neither the Iraqi army nor the Kurdish forces can enter, leaving a security gap that allows armed militias to operate freely.

“Khor Mor has many capabilities for the Kurds. We are under attack from all sides. The future is not entirely clear,” a Kurdish official told Reuters.

The setback for gas plans comes when the oil sector, the region’s financial lifeline, is also in trouble.

Industry and government sources said Exterran Corp had suspended operations for security reasons, and not due to the ruling.

Reuters said that any further delay in investing in the sector would significantly impact the Kurdistan Regional Government, which is facing an economic crisis in an already unstable region due to the instability in Iraq.

Sweden and Finland joining NATO precedes an inevitable financial collapse of the current international system

June 29, 2022


Sweden and Finland joining NATO besides being a provocative act towards Russia, precedes an inevitable financial collapse of the current international system

By Guilherme Wilbert

The Nordic entry into NATO, in the middle of a war, is clearly an act that does not help the peace negotiations that could be underway, but acts as the opposite, putting more wood on the fire for “military-technical” measures (to paraphrase Shoigu, Russian Defense Minister who uses the term when talking about responding to Western provocations).

With the entry of Finland and Sweden barred initially by Turkey, it shows that even a NATO member cares about enemies of its national interests. In Turkey’s case with the PKK, which is a Kurdish political organization seen as terrorist by Ankara and some countries, yet they were (until then) operating freely throughout the Nordic countries with active members of the official Kurdistan party holding protests in public squares in Helsinki and Stockholm.
Just for level of knowledge, Kurdistan is a region that would be home to the Kurdish ethnic group, taking part of Turkish territory up to the North of Iran, which explains Erdogan’s concern with a possible disintegration of Turkish territory if the Kurds were to gain prominence on the battlefields (which in real data would be very difficult since the Turkish army is the strongest in NATO for example).

But this provocation, which will surely be responded to by Moscow, proves the warmongers’ concern with continuing disputes and wars around the world, using Ukraine, which is the most recent case at the moment, as a kind of proxy to weaken Russia, serving only as a spearhead of the American objective, since Zelensky himself and his cabinet acknowledge that they will never join NATO and possibly not even the European Union, if you consider and draw a parallel with the case of Turkey itself, which has been waiting since 1999 for a resolution whether to join the bloc or not.

So, the entrance of the Nordics into NATO does not help Ukraine at all and can even make the situation worse with military-technical measures applied by the Russian Armed Forces perhaps in the decision centers in Brussels or in the Baltics, which would lead us to a nuclear catastrophe since the mentioned countries (Belgium and the Baltics for example) are NATO members and could invoke article 5 of mutual aid in case of “aggression” (See that aggression here is interpreted by Westerners (in an exercise of deduction) as only after the military-technical measure, ignoring what provoked the decision to do so).

Coupled with the desperation to provoke more wars, Western leaders get lost in the real global objective: economic integration and the fight against hunger

While great concern is seen with NATO, with diplomats having used the term “Global NATO” a few times, some primary and more basic goals of the organization’s member nations are put aside to add more gasoline to the fire.

The recent cases of inflation in Western Europe or even in the US precede a global financial collapse that has several causes, with some analysts citing the sanctions on Russia but personally I would go further and cite all of the last 10 years of at least NOTHING-backed dollar printouts that were used to give a supposed liquidity to the economy after the 2008 crash that was a scare felt around the world.

Economics, unlike some sciences, is not as if it can receive arguments and opinions, the theories are very clear and explanatory: by printing too much of your currency, you devalue it. But surely American economists know this and they also know that the coming collapse would affect the entire Globe because unfortunately after World War II, American hegemony was also monetary, with countries to this day using the dollar as an international reserve. In other words, in addition to the overprinting and national devaluation of the currency on American territory, it also devalues in the coffers of the countries that use it as a reserve and this will cause a cascading effect that will further force realpolitik into play and cause more haste in the emerging countries to get rid of the coming bomb.

Unfortunately war-hungry Western leaders are blind to what is coming and is already happening in some parts of the world, either because of irresponsible sanctions or the natural course of the very sequence of American economic mistakes. Because it is very different to sanction Russia compared to sanctioning Iran for example. And this does not mean that Iran deserves to be sanctioned in any way, because I believe that every country should have the right to its nuclear program, at least for peaceful purposes, and this cannot be used as a pretext for sanctions that crush already small economies, such as the example of Iran.

In the case of Russia the conversation is different for numerous reasons, be they military at the nuclear level or at the economic level, because Russia is part of a global production chain which acts as an active player on the macroeconomic stage. For example, the raw material called antimony, which is used in the global defense industry for military equipment of various kinds, is rightly found in excess in Russia and parts of Asia. This is to cite a simple example of an element that is not on the average citizen’s table, for example. In addition to the many important productions that Russia is responsible for.

So, given recent events and the inference for the disastrous future, the international scenario for the Global South forces them towards long term solutions of American de-dollarization and decolonization in the various ways, either by American NGOs that operate in several countries or by the very US culture exporting technologies that function as small fiefdoms of thought, the case of Facebook for example. But the latter is a little more difficult to achieve because it involves a collective societal thought that would require a national unity for the development of regional cultures.

Having said that, a peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia with the Ukrainian loss of the territories that comprise New Russia needs to happen and sanctions against any country need to be lifted for the sake of multipolarity.

The world cannot be guided by one diplomatic corps and one government only because the international scenario is not a movie of one actor, but of several, with several potentials to be developed in different parts of the Globe.

Guilherme Wilbert is a Brazilian Bachelor of Law interested in geopolitics and international law.

كرد سوريا.. في خدمة من؟

الأربعاء 15 حزيران 2022

حسني محلي

السؤال الأهم هو: لماذا تتخذ القيادات الكردية هذه المواقف المتناقضة؟ ولماذا لا تستخلص الدروس من كل أخطائها؟

بعد التهديدات التركية بالتوغل في الأراضي السورية شرق الفرات وغربه، بذريعة طرد مسلحي وحدات حماية الشعب الكردية من الشريط الحدودي مع تركيا، عاد الحديث من جديد عن حوارات كردية مع دمشق بهدف التصدي للجيش التركي في هجومه المحتمل.

قرار وحدات حماية الشعب الكردية لا يتخذ في القامشلي بل في جبال قنديل.

 ومع أن المعلومات ما زالت ضئيلة لجهة نتائج هذه الحوارات، إلا أن الجميع يعرف أن قرار هذه الوحدات لا يتخذ في القامشلي، بل في جبال قنديل، حيث قيادات حزب العمال الكردستاني التركي، الذي بات يسيطر على الحركة الكردية السورية بعد إقصائه الأحزاب والمنظمات والمجموعات الكردية الوطنية وغير الوطنية، بما فيها تلك الموالية لمسعود البرزاني؛ حليف الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان. 

ومع المعلومات التي تتحدّث عن تأجيل العمل العسكري التركي بعد زيارة وزير الخارجية الروسي سيرغي لافروف لأنقرة واعتراضه عليها، تراجعت في الوقت نفسه حدة التصريحات الكردية التي كانت تتحدّث عن ضرورة العمل العسكري المشترك مع الجيش السوري، وهو ما يعكس تناقضات القيادات الكردية بشقّيها: السوري أولاً، والتركي ثانياً. والشق الثاني هو الأهم بغياب إرادة الطرف الأول في اتخاذ القرارات التي تخدم الشارع الكردي السوري أولاً، والدولة السورية تالياً بتوجهاتها الجديدة إلى الحل الشامل لما يسمى القضية الكردية، فقيادات قنديل التي غادرتها بسبب القصف التركي المتوالي ترى في مسلحي وحدات حماية الشعب الكردية، وأغلبيتهم الساحقة من السوريين، ورقة مهمة تساوم بها كل الأطراف الإقليمية والدولية بعد انتكاسات الحزب المسلحة في تركيا.

وقد نجح الجيش وقوات الأمن التركيان المدعومان بآلاف المليشيات الكردية الموالية لها في إنزال ضربات مؤثرة في مسلحي حزب العمال الكردستاني، بعد أن استخدم الجيش طائراته المسيرة بكثرة، في جنوب شرقي البلاد وشمالي العراق، وعلى طول الحدود التركية مع العراق وإيران وسوريا. 

قيادات قنديل وبغياب زعيمها عبد الله أوجلان المسجون منذ شباط/فبراير عام 1999، يبدو أنها قد نسيت أو تناست أن من اختطف أوجلان من العاصمة الكينية نيروبي وسلّمه إلى تركيا، هو الاستخبارات الأميركية بالتنسيق مع الموساد الإسرائيلي.

 كما أنها نسيت أو تناست كيف ارتعشت خوفاً، عندما قال الرئيس الأميركي السابق دونالد ترامب في  29آذار/مارس من عام  2018″إن القوات الأميركية ستغادر سوريا قريباً جداً، وتترك الأطراف الأخرى تهتم بالأمر”، وقصد بذلك الحرب على داعش ثمّ التهديدات التركية باجتياح المنطقة. وهي نسيت كذلك أو تناست أن ترامب هو الذي أشعل الضوء الأخضر للرئيس إردوغان، الذي أمر الجيش التركي بالتوغّل، شرق الفرات، في التاسع من تشرين الأول/أكتوبر عام 2019، (وهو نفس اليوم الذي غادر فيه أوجلان سوريا قبل 19 عاماً بعد أن بقي فيها 15 عاماً)، لتسيطر على الشريط الحدودي، بين تل أبيض ورأس العين (نحو 100 كلم) وتطرد المسلحين الكرد من المنطقة. 

ونسيت كذلك أو تناست أن الجيش التركي كاد يسيطر على الشريط الحدودي السوري مع تركيا سيطرة كاملة، شرق الفرات، لولا تدخّل موسكو وإرسال القوات الروسية إلى المنطقة، وتسيير دوريات مشتركة مع الجيش التركي في المنطقة. 

وهي أيضاً نسيت أو تناست أنها السبب في اجتياح الجيش التركي في كانون الثاني/يناير عام 2018 منطقة عفرين والسيطرة عليها تماماً، بعد أن رفضت التنسيق والعمل المشترك مع الجيش السوري لمنع الجيش التركي من القيام بمثل هذا الاجتياح. 

ولم تستخلص كذلك الدروس اللازمة من حواراتها مع الرئيس إردوغان بهدف حل المشكلة الكردية في تركيا وسوريا معاً، إذ أخفقت كل هذه الحوارات، ليس في حل المشكلة الكردية وحسب، بل في تخلية سبيل زعيم الحزب، عبد الله أوجلان، وهو في سجن انفرادي في جزيرة إيمرالي القريبة من إسطنبول. 

ولم يكتف إردوغان بذلك، بل أمر بوضع الزعيمين المشتركين لحزب الشعوب الديمقراطي (الجناح السياسي لحزب العمال الكردستاني) صلاح الدين دميرطاش، وفيكان يوكساكداغ، وعدد آخر من قيادات الحزب، ورؤساء البلديات والآلاف من أنصار وأتباع وكوادر الحزب في السجون على الرغم من سيطرة هذا الحزب على الشارع الكردي.

وتبيّن استطلاعات الرأي أنه قد يحصل على 12٪ من مجموع أصوات الناخبين في تركيا، وعددهم نحو 60 مليوناً. 

وعودة إلى مواقف قيادات قنديل، يبدو أيضاً أنها قد نسيت أو تناست كيف نسّقت مع أنقرة للعمل المشترك، ما بين عامي 2013 و2015، حيث زار زعيم حزب الاتحاد الديمقراطي الكردستاني السوري صالح مسلم تركيا مرات عدة، والتقى القيادات التركية التي طلبت إليه التمرّد على دمشق، فرفض ليكون ذلك الموقف الإيجابي الوحيد له ولرفاقه، ولكن بعد أن جاءت القوات الأميركية إلى شرق الفرات لتساعدهم في حربهم على داعش، وهو ما استغلته القيادات المذكورة لتدخله في حساباتها الخاصة، التي اعتقدت أنها ستساعدها في إقامة كيان كردي مستقل شرق الفرات.

وأياً كانت التسمية خصوصاً بعدما سارع عدد من العواصم الغربية ولا سيما باريس، وبرلين، ولندن، بل وحتى “تل أبيب” لدعمها وفق حساباتها الخاصة، ومنها تشجيع قيادات “قسد” الكردية على تكريد المنطقة، وتطهيرها عرقياً بسكوت وتواطؤ من القيادات العربية في “قسد”. ومن دون أن تستذكر القيادات المذكورة مواقف واشنطن والعواصم الغربية، التي اعترضت على استفتاء مسعود البرزاني على استقلال كردستان العراقي في أيلول/سبتمبر عام 2017، وهو ما اعترض عليه إردوغان “الحليف الإستراتيجي للبرزاني”.

ويبقى السؤال الأهم وربما الوحيد: لماذا اتخذت وتتخذ القيادات الكردية كل هذه المواقف المتناقضة؟ ولماذا لا تستخلص الدروس اللازمة من كل أخطائها، ومن تاريخ الحركة الكردية في تركيا وسوريا والعراق بل ومن إيران كذلك؟

يتذكر الجميع كيف كان الكرد وما زالوا ورقة تلوّح بها الأطراف الخارجية في تآمرها على دول المنطقة التي دعمت كرد الدول الأخرى، فيما حاربت كردها داخل حدودها. كما استعدى الكرد بعضهم بعضاً في هذه الدول الأربع، ودخلوا في صراعات مسلحة ودموية فيما بينهم، تارة من أجل المصالح والسلطة، وتارة أخرى خدمةً لأطراف خارجية، كما هي الحال في تحالف مسعود البرزاني مع أنقرة، تارة ضد الراحل جلال الطالباني، وتارة أخرى ضد حزب العمال الكردستاني التركي وزعيمه عبد الله أوجلان. ومن دون أن يخطر في بال البرزاني وأمثاله، أن العواصم الإقليمية والغربية لم تفكر، ولن تفكر في حقوق الكرد، بل استخدمتهم وتستخدمهم وستستخدمهم إلى الأبد لتحقيق أهدافها الخبيثة، التي تستهدف دول المنطقة وشعوبها برمتها، وفي مقدمهم الكرد، ومعهم العرب، والفرس، والأتراك، وغيرهم. 

وهذا ما تحقّق للعواصم الغربية والإقليمية بفضل الدور الذي أداه ويؤديه الكرد في العراق، والآن في سوريا التي لولا تآمر القيادات الكردية (الماركسية سابقاً) في شرقها مع المحتل الأميركي والأوروبي، لما وصلت الأمور إلى ما وصلت إليه في المنطقة وسوريا خصوصاً، ولولاها لما تذرعت تركيا بهم لتتوغل في الشمال السوري وتسيطر على 9٪ من مجمل الأرض السورية. 

كذلك فإن الواقع المفروض شرق الفرات بدعم أميركي، هو مبرّر كافٍ لأنقرة لتبقى في المناطق التي تسيطر عليها قواتها بالتنسيق والتعاون مع عشرات الآلاف من مسلحي ما يسمّى “الجيش الوطني” المعارض و”النصرة” وحليفاتها الإرهابية. 

وتتحدث المعلومات هنا باستمرار عن حسابات تركية للاستفادة منهم حين اللزوم ضد الكرد، سواء في داخل تركيا أو في الشّمال السوري، وقد يكون ذلك ما قصده ترامب عندما قال في آذار/مارس عام 2018 “سنغادر سوريا ونترك الأطراف الأخرى تهتم بالأمر فيما بينها”. وفي اتصاله الهاتفي بإردوغان في 24 من كانون الأول/ديسمبر عام 2018 قال: “لقد أنهينا مهمتنا وسوف ننسحب من هناك وسوريا كلها لك”!

ويبقى الرهان في جميع الحالات على التطورات المحتملة ليس في سوريا فقط وتوتّراتها مع تركيا، بل على الخريطة السياسية التي يراهن البعض عليها كنتيجة لزيارة الرئيس بايدن للسعودية في 15 من الشهر المقبل، ولقائه زعماء الخليج، ومصر، والأردن، والعراق، وهو ما سينعكس مباشرة على مجمل معطيات المنطقة، وأهمها: الملف النووي الإيراني، والوضع في سوريا وانعكاسات ذلك على كل الحسابات بصورة مباشرة أو غير مباشرة. فعسى ألا يكون الكرد مادتها الحارقة، التي ستحرقهم، وتحرق كل الذين عاشوا ويعيشون معهم منذ مئات السنين بكل أيامهم الحلوة والمرة. وعسى أن يستخلص حكام دول المنطقة بدورهم، وخصوصاً في سوريا والعراق وإيران الدروس الكافية من كل ما عاشته، وتعيشه دولهم والمنطقة عموماً، ويسدوا الطريق على الأعداء الذين يعرفهم الجميع، وخصوصاً الكرد ومنذ أكثر من مئة سنة على الأقل!

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

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