IRAQI POLITICS IN A STORM, HEADING TOWARDS INSTABILITY AND CHAOS

Posted on  by Elijah J Magnier

By Elijah J. Magnier:  @ejmalrai

Following Iraqi president Barham Saleh’s nomination of Adnan al-Zarfi (Zurufi or Zurfi) as the new Prime Minister, Iraq has entered a critical stage.  The Shia block is divided. The 30 days given to al-Zarfi to nominate his cabinet will lead either to a quorum of the parliament recognising his new cabinet and in consequences to a bloody future that could lead to unrest and even partition of Iraq or absence of a quorum. Why did President Saleh nominate al-Zarfi?

In 2018 Speaker Mohamad Halbousi proposed Barham Saleh as President. The proposal was adopted by “Al-Fateh”, the largest Shia coalition, with the agreement of the Sunni. Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani and US presidential envoy Brett McGurk were against the nomination of Saleh. It was Iranian IRGC Major General Qassem Soleimani who pushed for Barham Saleh to become president. Saleh, upon his nomination, promised Soleimani to be “better than Mam Jalal” (Uncle Jalal Talibani, one of Iran’s closest allies). Once Saleh was elected, he was asked by the “Al-Fateh” coalition, to nominate Adel Abdel Mahdi as prime minister, and he complied.  One year later, Abdel Mahdi was asked by the Marjaiya in Najaf to resign in response to street demonstrations demanding reforms, necessary infrastructure and better job opportunities.

Soleimani met with Shia leaders who all agreed– with the exception of Hadi al-Ameri, who wanted to be the Prime Minister of Iraq – to nominate Qusay al-Suheil. Al-Fateh forwarded the name to President Barham Salih who refused to appoint al-Suheil and went to Erbil for a few days, enough time for the street to reject the nomination. It was Sayyed Moqtada al Sadr – who rejected the nomination of al Suheil – who then contacted President Saleh and informed him that he represented the largest coalition, called “Sairoon”. Saleh, who feared Moqtada’s reaction, sent a letter to the parliament and the constitutional court asking them to define the “largest coalition”. None managed to respond clearly to this request.

The Iraqi constitution’s definition of the “largest coalition” is elastic and subject to interpretation. President Barham Saleh maliciously threw this apple of discord between the parliament and the constitutional court. It was Nuri al-Maliki who in 2010 introduced a new definition of “large coalition” to beat Ayad Allawi, who had managed to gather 91 MPs and was eligible to form a government. Al-Maliki formed a broad coalition after the MPs took their oaths and established that he was leading the largest coalition, as defined by the final alliances formed after the parliamentary elections, rather than by the poll results.

President Salih told Soleimani that the Shia coalition was divided and that he was not in a position to decide. At the same time, Salih accommodated the Americans who saw that Soleimani’s candidates were failing to win consensual approval. Iran’s Shia allies were effectively contributing to the failure of Soleimani’s efforts to reach an agreement among Shia over a PM nominee.

By forwarding his resignation on November 29, 2019, to President Salih, Adil Abdel Mahdi made it clear he no longer wished return to power. On February 1, Salih nominated Mohamad Allawi on Moqtada al-Sadr’s demand. Moqtada was given the leading role in choosing a candidate following the US assassination of Soleimani at Baghdad’s airport. This leadership was agreed to in Tehran by General Ismail Qaaani, who believed Moqtada should lead all groups because he was the main instigator of the protests. Even if the people in the street no longer welcomed Moqtada, he remained the only one capable of clearing the road and allowing the formation of a new government. Iran’s priority was for the parliament and the government to concentrate on the withdrawal of all foreign forces, led by the US.

Mohammad Allawi failed to achieve a parliamentary quorum because he behaved condescendingly towards some of the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds. Allawi believed that Moqtada’s support was sufficient and that all the other groups and ethnicities would have to accept his choice of ministers. Allawi presented his resignation to Salih on March 2.

According to article 73/3 of the Iraqi constitution, the sole authority for nominating a prime minister belongs to the president, who has 15 days to select a candidate. However, President Salih gave the Shia 15 days to choose a candidate. A coalition of seven members representing all Shia groups was formed—they presented 17 candidates. Three names were offered: Naim al-Suheil, Mohamad al-Soudani and Adnan al-Zarfi. Naim al-Suheil received the most votes but was rejected by Faleh al-Fayad. 

Although al-Zarfi is a member of the al-Nasr party led by former PM Haidar Abadi (al-Nasr was formed in 2018), Nuri al-Maliki pushed hard for al-Zarfi (also a member of al-Da’wa party) and sent him to Beirut to convince the Lebanese to bless his nomination. Iran was against the designation of a US national (al-Zarfi holds a US passport). Confronted by Iran’s rejection, Al-Maliki managed to convince Moqtada al-Sadr to nominate al-Zarfi. Al-Maliki managed even if al-Zarfi was the one who fought against Jaish al-Mahdi – with US support – in Najaf in 2004, persecuted Moqtada in the city and expelled him to Baghdad. Moqtada al-Sadr – who recently refused any prime minister holding dual nationality – put his signature on the agreed paper offered to Salih along with Nuri al-Maliki, Haidar Abadi and Sayyed Ammar al-Hakim as per the newly claimed “largest coalition”.

It was a golden opportunity for Salih, with the absence of Soleimani, to please the Americans, the Kurds, the Sunni and a large group of Shia. Salih used his constitutional authority to nominate al-Zarfi as a prime minister. It will be a blow to Iran if al-Zarfi manages to form his government and present it to the parliament.  With the support of such a large coalition of Shia-Sunni-Kurdish MPs, he will no doubt reach the necessary quorum.

One of the main reasons Moqtada al-Sadr supported al-Zarif (apart from al-Zarif’s promise to satisfy Moqtada’s requests in the new cabinet) is the birth of a new group called “Osbat al-Thaereen” (the “Movement of the Revolutionary Association” – MRA). This group claimed twice its responsibility for bombing al-Taji military base where the US and other members of the coalition have a permanent presence. Sayyed Moqtada rejects any attacks on US forces and prefers acting through diplomatic channels (via the parliament). Many Iraqi groups close to Iran swore to seek the withdrawal of the US forces mainly due to the Pentagon’s refusal to discuss a full removal of troops. The US is only willing to relocate troops. Moreover, the US is reinforcing its presence in crucial bases in Iraq (K1, Ayn al-Assad and Erbil) and is about to bring the Patriot interception missile system to its bases in Iraq, without Iraqi government consent.

If al-Zarfi manages to get parliament approval, he may seek to avoid any withdrawal negotiations with the US. He would also merge Hashd al-Shaabi and attempt to disarm the Iraqi groups close to Iran. But al-Zarfi is not in a position to seek a change of the parliament’s decision related to the US withdrawal. That issue will concern the newly elected parliament. However, al-Zarfi, like any new prime minister, is expected to gather a large number of MPs in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, enough to seek the prolonged presence of the US forces in Iraq.

Osbat al-Thaereen warned the US forces in Iraq.

This scenario is only applicable if al-Zarfi manages to reach the parliament in 30 days with a new cabinet and to retain his allies, notably the Shia. Iran will do everything possible to make things difficult for al-Zarfi. The ex-governor of Najaf was accused of burning the two Iranian consulates in Karbala and Najaf last year and is expected to follow the path of his al-Nasr coalition leader (former PM Abadi) in respecting US sanctions on Iran. That would be devastating to Iran’s economy, already suffering from the harshest US sanctions ever.

Al-Zarfi as prime minister will be a major blow to Iran and to those who support its objectives and ideology in Iraq. The coronavirus will not keep Iran away from the Iraqi theatre; Iran will not allow Iraq to fall under US control. If al-Zarfi comes to power, the stability of Iraq will be shaken, and partition will be back on the table. An era of instability can be expected in Mesopotamia under an Iraqi prime minister considered to be an ally of the US, particularly following the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.

Proofread by:  C.G.B

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Nasrallah: Iran’s strike is the first step towards the expulsion of all US forces from the Middle East

February 11, 2020

Source

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on January 12, 2020, commemorating the martyrdom of Hajj Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Translation: resistancenews.org

Transcript:

[…] My third point concerns the response (to the assassination of Soleimani), or the just retribution (which must be inflicted on the United States), which I mentioned last Sunday after His Eminence the Leader (Khamenei), (political and military) Iranian and Iraqi officials, and Resistance movements throughout the region. All aspects of this issue need to be highlighted.

It can be formulated in one sentence: the response to the American crime that caused the martyrdom of Hajj Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, as well as the brothers who accompanied them, is not a simple operation. It is a path, a long journey that we have initiated, and that must lead to the expulsion of the American military presence from our region, from the whole Middle East, or, as His Eminence the Leader (Khamenei) names it, the region of Western Asia. This will be the response. The response is not a single operation. What happened at the American base of Ain al-Assad is just a slap, and it is not the answer to the martyrdom of Qassem Soleimani. And anyone who views the attack on Ain al-Assad as the Iranian response is completely mistaken. It is only a slap, as defined by His Eminence the Leader, inflicted on American forces and bases, a slap that is part of this long process. It’s just a thunderous start, a thunderous military start. It is a powerful first step that has shaken (American imperialism), on the long road of the retaliation to this crime, which is one of the greatest crimes committed by the United States in our region. And as I said, this must lead to the expulsion of American troops and the end of the American military presence in our region.

I want to talk a little bit about this slap. Then, I will talk about this path (which should lead to the end of the US military occupation of the Middle East).

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First, this slap… When the Aerospace forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps targeted, a few days ago, in the middle of the night… Of course, the main target was the Ain al-Assad base. In Erbil, they only fired one or two missiles, and the message was merely psychological. But the real military target was the Ain al-Assad base. Several missiles traveled hundreds of kilometers and struck the heart of the base, as recognized by the United States’ Defense Secretary, and hit their targets. This event was enormous and constituted a veritable earthquake. It placed the whole region… We followed the events overnight, and during all the following day, and the whole region was on the brink of war.

I want to talk a bit about the impact of this slap, this strike. Of course, since the early hours, some US media, and also the media in the Gulf and the Arab world, who are more American than the Americans themselves, have started to prepare the ground for the American reaction. From that moment, I understood that Trump was going to swallow the insult and would do nothing, I understood that he was going to pipe down. When they started to insist emphatically on the fact that there were no dead or injured soldiers, to diminish the importance of the slap and to disparage it (they are accustomed to do that), I understood that Trump would not do anything.

But if we want to be objective and consider somewhat the real importance of this slap, we must establish the following points.

First, this slap, this major military strike, demonstrates unparalleled courage on the part of the Iranian leaders and the Iranian people, who supports his leaders. This courage is indescribable. Who are we talking about? They fired missiles at an American base, at American forces. As all (serious) experts and analysts have pointed out in the past few days, such a thing has not happened since the end of the Second World War. We are talking about a State, not an organization, a group, a Resistance movement. Because it has already happened that a non-State group strikes the Americans, like the attack (that killed 241 American officers and soldiers) against the headquarters of the Marines in Beirut in 1983 (attributed to Hezbollah). But it is very different when we speak (not of a clandestine organization but) of a State, which has institutions, leaders, an army, (Revolution) Guards, refineries, factories, airports, ports… A State has a lot to lose, as they say. This act and this decision express an incommensurable and unprecedented courage and audacity. Who dares to do such a thing all over the face of the Earth? In the whole world, who dares to attack the Americans directly and brazenly? Since the Second World War, no one has dared to stand up to the Americans and strike them openly, firing missiles at one of their bases. Who dares to do such a thing?

Especially that during the previous days, the American officials threatened (of violent reprisals in the event of Iranian response). And you remember Trump’s Tweet: if you hit us or do anything, I will immediately respond, violently and firmly, by destroying 52 Iranian strategic sites, including cultural ones. But he swallowed everything he said. These threats were clearly present on the minds of Iranian leaders when they made this decision.

Therefore, the first element established by this slap and this strike is the unequaled courage and boldness of the Iranians manifested by this act, which marks a rupture and confirms a whole new stage (in History). The message to the United States and its allies in the region is that it faces officials, a regime and a people of tremendous courage. If Washington imagined that the Iranians were afraid, weakened, had backed away, had become cowardly,and felt defeated, they received a scathing denial. This was perhaps Iran’s strongest decision since the death of Imam Khomeini, may God have mercy on him (not to say since the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in 1979). But in all truth, one can consider this grandiose act only as a summit of courage. We know very well (in Hezbollah) what it means to make a decision of this nature, which can lead to dangerous reactions, even war, to (regional or perhaps global) war.

The second point is that this strike or slap revealed the power of Iran’s military capabilities. Because there were always people who denigrated this capacity. There are, in truth, people who are pathetic non-entities and who take pleasure in their state, and belittle themselves, having no self-esteem, but they do not accept to see strong, dignified, powerful and capable people in this (Arab-Muslim) Nation, people who actually do what they say and achieve everything they promise. They don’t accept it because they’re just the opposite of that. This strike exposed the truth of Iran’s military capability. The missiles are 100% Iranian made. They were not bought from US arms manufacturers and paid hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from the pockets of the Iranian people (unlike Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, especially in their war against Yemen). These missiles are Iranian-made, and the experts are Iranian, with no need for any foreign experts. The targets were determined by the Iranians, as was the entire technical process. The launches were carried out by Iranian officers and soldiers, and not by mercenaries hired in the United States or other countries (United Kingdom, France, Israel…) as do other States (in the region). The decision was Iranian, as are the weapons and the execution of the operation.

And the missiles hit their targets precisely. All the missiles hit the base successfully. Some talk about 13 missiles, the US Secretary of State for Defense talks about 11 missiles that struck inside the base, fired from hundreds of kilometers away. What does this mean for the United States? All American bases in the region are within range of Iranian missiles, and can be struck with great precision. And it should be known that the Islamic Republic of Iran has missiles even more precise than those which it used for this operation, but it did not resort to them, because it keeps them in reserve (for later).

And despite their high alert, maximum alert, and the fact that they expected an imminent response from Iran, the Americans failed to intercept any of these missiles. And this all their bases are in the same situation. This is a message to all those who are plotting with the United States against Iran. And this is a very strong message to the Zionist entity, which still believed it could play with Iran. It is a message to Netanyhau, who has always dreamed of sending his air force to bomb the Iranian nuclear installations. But the military and security officials within the Zionist entity always opposed him. He wanted to achieve a feat, but this imbecile does not know his limits and does not know to which abyss he is leading his entity. The message of this strike is a very strong message to the Zionists. When they hear threats from His Eminence the Leader, may God preserve him, or from Iranian officials against the Israeli entity, they must take these threats very seriously. This has been understood and stated by Israeli analysts and experts over the past few days. The missile strike hit the Ain al-Assad base in Iraq, but the mourning was in the Zionist entity, because they understood that this is what awaits them if they dare to attack Iran, plot against Iran or threaten Iran. Because Iran has this capacity and this power.

This is why, my brothers and sisters, this strike is huge and of paramount importance. Whether US soldiers got killed & wounded or not, this will be revealed in the coming days. The CNN reporter yesterday saw the scene and showed a spectacle of desolation, saying it was caused by a single missile. We could see a huge destruction in this base. Even if most of the soldiers had gone to take refuge in the shelters, weren’t there guards, soldiers at the observation and defense posts? We’ll see (if there are victims). However, the scale of the military damage is colossal. We are talking about (the destruction of) extremely sophisticated radars, equipment, planes, installations… Anyway, whether or not there are victims, this strike alone, in itself, the way in which it was carried out has all the importance that I have just emphasized.

One of its effects is to have broken America’s prestige. The prestige of the United States was shattered by the strike against the base of al-Assad, whether in the eyes of their friends or in the eyes of their enemies. Yes, the Americans kept a low profile, they lowered their heads and piped down! During the last days, yes, the American soldiers stood on a foot and a half (ready to run away), and we are talking about the United States, o people (reference to earlier words of Nasrallah following the assassination by Israel of two Hezbollah fighters in Syria, mocking the fear of Israeli soldiers while awaiting the inevitable response)! This is what Iran has achieved in the past few days. And that’s why in Israel, one of the mourning topics that gets a lot of attention is that according to some rumours, Trump prepares to withdraw from Iraq and the region, and leave Israel alone (against their enemies). Today, within the Zionist entity, all the talk is about this nightmarily prospect. The prestige of the United States has been shattered.

And what has been the response of the United States? They swallowed the insult. Under what pretext? ‘Be happy o Americans, no one got killed (proclaims Trump).’ But who are you? You are the United States! It’s an American base! Thousands of American soldiers hid, dispersed, ran all over the place, rushed to the shelters, moped in fear and terror for hours! Missiles hit your base, and a State claimed responsibility for these strikes! Your equipment, your radars, your planes have been destroyed! And after all that, you stay quiet? Trump swallowed the insult.

Just see the pictures. We in Lebanon have a long experience in this area. Go and see the footage from Trump’s press conference on January 8 in the morning. The Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Defense Secretary and the commanders of the United States armed forces were standing, and Trump arrived. What did their faces express? Did they express a victorious America? A powerful America? America in a position of strength and arrogance? An America that has just defeated its enemies? Or was it, on the contrary, a scene of mourning in the White House? Just look at their faces! Review the images, and observe their faces (carefully)!

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And when Trump talked about the situation, he immediately went in another direction. ‘As long as I am President, Iran will not have nuclear weapons. They will never get nuclear weapons.’ What a joke! Iran has no desire for nuclear weapons! Who is he kidding? He talked about something else, and he swallowed the insult. He made it clear that the United States would not use a military response but economic sanctions.

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Why? Why is that? Simply put, o my brothers and sisters, because Iran is powerful. Because Iran is brave. Because Iran is capable. What prevented Trump (from retaliating) ? I’m sure that when they met that night, the military said to him: if you decide to strike Iran, you must know that they have already pointed their missiles at all our bases and that all of them will be struck (immediately, which will cause thousands of victims among our troops). And the Iranians have let the Americans know, via intermediaries, and have also publicly announced that if the United States retaliates, they will immediately strike all American bases in the region as well as Israel. And the US military told Trump that they are unable to defend their bases, as the example of Ain al-Assad has shown, and that things would certainly escalate to war. And who claims that Trump is willing to head for war? (Nobody!)

I add to that the extraordinarily massive funeral (of Soleimani) in Iran. Its importance should not be underestimated. This is part of the message of colossal power sent (by Iran to its enemies). The decision to retaliate is not only that of the Leader or of political and military decision-makers, it is a decision of the entire Iranian people! This is what the Iranian people have longed for. The Iranian people was ready for war to defend his honor, and to avenge the blood of his eminent and grand martyr, Hajj Qassem Soleimani.

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And that’s why, in all simplicity, Trump piped down, he swallowed his pride and backed away. And he made a speech devoid of any threat. And of course, he repeated his lies: ‘I call on Iran to negotiate (with the United States). I call on Iran to cooperate…’ And who expressed himself in these terms? The one who the previous night received 11 huge missiles on his forces at the base of Ain al-Assad. ‘I call on Iran to cooperate on our common interests such as the fight against ISIS.’ You hypocrite, you pretend to want to fight ISIS when you have just murdered the two biggest commanders in the region who have fought and inflicted countless defeats on ISIS? While ISIS celebrated their death so gleefully?

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Trump again declares to the Iranian people: ‘I only wish prosperity for you.’ But what a shameless liar! Are you pretending to want prosperity for the Iranian people when you impose on him sanctions and a state of siege, the most severe siege in the history of Iran? And he said again, not during this press conference, but in meetings and interviews later, he repeated his lies to the Americans. Because he has to put forward a good reason (for what he did). The Americans asked him where he led the country, what situation he put them in, and he had to justify his assassination of Soleimani & Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis with a pretext. Anyway, because my state of clergyman does not allow me to show you or describe the images, I invite you to watch the cartoons published by the Washington Post. These cartoons are a commentary on the Iranian missiles launched against the Al-Assad base and Trump’s stance. Look at them.

In order to put forward an (admissible) pretext, he claims that he ordered the murder of Soleimani because he was about to blow up American embassies in the region. Liar! He lies to his people! And it is well known that he is the greatest liar in the history of the United States of America. All American Presidents were liars, but the biggest liar in their history is unquestionably Trump. In no case did Hajj Qassem Soleimani plan to attack American embassies. Never in his life, never ever. It was not part of his plans, or even of his ideas. It never crossed his mind (because embassies are civilian and therefore illegitimate targets). These are Trump’s lies that seek to cover up the real reasons for the crime he perpetrated.

Trump Soleimani WPo

Anyway, this silence of the United States after this (humiliating) slap from Iran is also a lesson addressed to all (the other countries) so that they be courageous, have confidence in their capacities and their power and have faith, and realize that as great and tyrannical the power of the United States can be, there are safeguards, limits, circumstances to which even American decision-makers must submit. It is therefore a mere slap in the path that we have just taken, and which should lead to the expulsion of all the American forces from our region.

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I will now very quickly address the last point of my speech, namely the next steps that should lead us to this lofty goal. And I’m going to talk about two things in particular, very briefly.

The first point is related to Iraq. Why Iraq? Because it is the battlefield in which the crime was committed. After Iran, the first place that should be concerned with the response against the United States is Iraq. Here are the reasons in order of priority:

1 / because the crime was perpetrated on Iraqi territory, in the shadow of Iraqi sovereignty (which has been flouted), on the road to Baghdad airport;

2 / because the crime also targeted a very high ranking Iraqi commander, an official leader, the deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Units (Hashd al-Cha’bi); he is a commander of the official Hashd al-Cha’bi force (integrated into the Iraqi national army);

3 / because the crime targeted Hajj Qassem Soleimani and his Iranian brothers who defended Iraq and sacrificed themselves for the Iraqi people.

Iraq is therefore the first country, after Iran, which has the duty to respond to this crime. The first response took place during the (mass) funeral of the martyrs, and in the position expressed by religious leaders, scholars, politicians, religious education establishments and the Iraqi people.

The second response was the stance of the head of the Council of Ministers and the Iraqi Parliament, who demanded the departure of the American forces.

And by the way, I hope that Mas’oud Barzani (Kurdish separatist leader) will be grateful for the benefits brought by Hajj Qassem Soleimani, which he acknowledged many years ago. Today, you need to (publicly) acknowledge these benefits. When ISIS was on the verge of reaching Erbil (in Iraqi Kurdistan), when all of Kurdistan was on the verge of falling into the hands of ISIS, and you contacted all your friends to help you, but they forsake you, you then contacted the Iranians, who from the second day, as you acknowledged, sent you Hajj Qassem Soleimani with his brothers. And I add that he was accompanied by Hezbollah brothers, who went with him to Erbil. And they all told me that Mas’oud Barzani was trembling, his two hands were literally trembling with fear and terror. But it was the rapid presence of Hajj Qassem Soleimani and the Islamic Republic of Iran at your side that repelled this danger which threatened you all, and which has never been seen in the history of Kurdistan.

Today, you have a duty to acknowledge these benefits and to participate in the response alongside other leaders in the Iraqi government, the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi forces.

Be that as it may, the authentic response, one of the most important elements of the authentic response, is to expel American forces from Iraq. The Iraqi Parliament has already taken a step in this direction, and we are grateful for that, because it is a grandiose, capital, courageous, bold and important decision. The head of the Council of Ministers, Sayed Abd al-Mahdi, who follows the implementation of this decision with courage and sincerity, and publicly asked Pompeo to send a delegation to negotiate the stages of the withdrawal of the US forces, all this is closely followed by the leaders, officials and people of Iraq. And if this is followed up seriously, the departure of American troops will be an inevitable certainty, and the best response to this infamous crime. This is what Hajj Qassem and Abu Mahdi aspired to: they wanted to see Iraq liberated from the occupation, cleansed of all the terrorist forces which are protected by the officers of the occupying US forces and their helicopters, that move the leaders and ISIS commanders from one province to another (to save them). It was their highest hope. And this responsibility falls on the Iraqi people. And if the Americans do not go out voluntarily, the Iraqi people will know how to force them out, as will the factions of the Resistance.

Of course, we must know that the American administration will do everything possible to delay the implementation of this historic decision by the Iraqis, by playing on internal dissension, reviving sedition, threatening sanctions and confiscation of Iraq’s property and deposits that are in the United States. The United States puts the Iraqi people before two choices: ‘Either you force me out and I will punish you by confiscating your money, or I will continue to occupy you and plunder your oil and your choices.’ So choose, o Iraqis. This is what Trump wants for Iraq. He wants your oil, he wants your sovereignty, he wants to take over your country. It will be up to the Iraqis to choose.

The second and final point of my speech is the steadfastness of the Resistance Axis on its path. After the slap of Ain al-Assad, and, with the Grace of God, and the developments under way in Iraq, I consider that the Resistance Axis must start to act. We must start to act. What we all said a few days ago (we vowed to expell the US forces from the region) is not an empty promise. It was not a vain statement meant to boast, to absorb the blow that was dealt to the Resistance Axis or to cheer up people. Never. The Axis of Resistance is serious, sincere and pragmatic in achieving the grandiose goal it has set for itself. And the days, weeks and months to come will demonstrate this unequivocally. I said it was a long way. It is a difficult road. The Americans must withdraw from their bases; their soldiers, their officers and their warships must leave our region. They must leave (voluntarily). The alternative… I’m going to speak the opposite of what I said last Sunday. I said that they came to our region in a vertical position (and would leave in a horizontal position, in coffins).

Sayyed Nasrallah

Now, I tell them this: either you get out voluntarily on your two legs, in a vertical position, or you will leave in a horizontal position (in coffins). This is the alternative available to you. And this is a final and irrevocable decision of the Resistance Axis. It’s just a matter of time. There will be no hindsight on this issue. Anyone who imagines that this grandiose event, this grandiose martyrdom, this pure blood which has been unjustly shed, will be forgotten after a few months or a few years, is greatly mistaken. Never. We are talking about the start of a new phase, a new stage, a new era in the region. And the days to come will let you see it with your own eyes (our first actions to kick US forces out will be visible to all). I don’t need to dwell on this any further.

This is the responsibility of the (Arab-Muslim) Nation, of the whole Nation. I know with certainty that today, our peoples have the height of soul, spirit and aspiration required, they have a high forehead, courage and are daring without limits, they have a disposition to sacrifice and a lucid conscience. It is the case everywhere in our Arab-Muslim world. The current dangers are well understood by all, (as is the need to uproot them definitively by expelling the American occupier, who is the main cause of most if not all of our problems).

The American administration and the American murderers will pay the price for this crime and all the other crimes they have committed and continue to commit in our region and in our countries. They will pay dearly for it, and they will find out that they were wrong in their calculations.

After the martyrdom of Hajj Qassem Soleimani and Hajj Abu Mahdi, I listened to statements by Trump, Vice President Pence, the Secretary of State, the Defense Secretary, the National Security Advisor and of the United States Congress who all claimed that the world is a safer place after the assassination of Soleimani. You are deluding yourself! You are grossly mistaken! And you will soon realize it. You will realize it by the blood (of your soldiers & officials). You will soon find out. Which world is safer? The world of those whose territory is occupied? The world of the oppressed? The world of peoples? The Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan, Pakistani, Yemeni, Bahraini people, the peoples of the region? Are you talking about these people? Certainly not. You talk about the world of the Zionists, the world of the occupiers, the world of the despots and the tyrants. The days to come will reveal to you that after the martyrdom of Soleimani, the world will be very different (from what it was): there will be no more security for the tyrants, murderers, criminals and despots.

I will stop here for today. […]

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الشعب العراقي في مواجهة دولة «بريمر»

يناير 6, 2020

د. وفيق إبراهيم

للمرة الأولى منذ الاحتلال الأميركي للعراق في 2003، يتكشف ان الدولة التي ضغط لإنشائها المندوب الأميركي “بريمر”، هي مجرد آلية شكلية مصابة بعطل بنيوي بالولادة وغير قابل للاصلاح او المعالجة.

لقد بذل الأميركيون جهوداً جبارة لبناء دولة عراقية تشبه النماذج الكونفدرالية التي يحتاج أي قرار فيها لموافقات كبيرة من المؤسسات الدستورية وتتطلب في البعض تأييداً يفوق الثلثين في مجالسها النيابية وحكوماتها ورؤساء بلدياتها. وهذا يعني استحالة صدور أي قرار إلا بالاتفاق المسبق والعميق بين قادة المذاهب والقوميات بما يؤكد عجز هذا النوع من الدول الاتفاق على القرارات الوطنية الكبرى. وهذا يعني شللاً في إنتاج المواقف التاريخية الكبرى مع الميل الى المساومات بين القوى السياسية للتحاصص الداخلي فقط، في الوظائف والأموال العامة والتعيينات.

هذا حال العراق الذي اجتاحه الأميركيون قبل سبعة عشر عاماً من دون إذن أممي متذرعين بوجود اسلحة دمار شامل على اراضيه، فقضوا على نظام صدام حسين سافكين دماء مئات آلاف العراقيين ومؤسسين هذه الدولة الضعيفة التي فرضوا عليها بموجب سيطرتهم على موازنات القوى، توقيع معاهدة تجعل احتلالهم شرعياً للعام 2011، فانتهت هذه المهلة ولم يخرجوا إلى أن اكتشفت دولة “بريمر” العراقية الحل الناجع فأجبرت حكومة العراق على توقيع اتفاق جديد يسمح للقوات الأميركية بالبقاء لتدريب القوات العراقية ورفدها باستشارات ونصائح في اوقات المحن.

ضمن هذا السيناريو الدقيق عمل الأميركيون على السيطرة على الجيش العراقي ومجمل القوى الأمنية، ولم يكتفوا بذلك، ساعين الى التفتيت بمستويات متعددة: سياسي طائفي وآخر داخل كل قوة مذهبية بمفردها، وثالث قومي وعرقي، وذلك لصنع المزيد من الفرقة بين الكتل السياسية الشيعية والسنية من جهة والشيعية الشيعية والسنية السنية من جهة أخرى مع خلافات عربية كردية مشجعين الإرهاب على قتل المسيحيين والايزيديين ما أحدث خللاً سياسياً وطنياً ادى الى اضعاف الأقوياء والأقل قوة في آن معاً حتى بدا أن القوى الوحيدة هو ذلك الأميركي المتحكم بمفاصل القوة، فهو محتل ومستشار وسياسي وإعلامي يلعب على نيران الفتنة الداخلية ولص يسرق نفط كردستان وكركوك ويسوّقه في تركيا، بما يؤدي الى انتفاع ثلاثي في هذه الثروة العراقية: آل البرزاني المتحكمون بالسلطة في كردستان واردوغان البراغماتي الذي لا يريد دولة كردية، لكنه يأكل من نفطها، والأميركيون أصحاب الرعاية والتنسيق الذين يحمون مقابل حصة من نفط العراق.

بشكل يشابه ما يفعلونه دائماً مع الإمارات والسعودية وقطر والكويت أي: ادفع تسلم.

كما ذهبوا في مناطق الوسط الى حدود دعم كل التيارات الانفصالية والعشائر مستعينين بخدمات الأحزاب الإسلاموية الموالية لتركيا، وادوار السعودية والإمارات في التأثير على عشائر الأنبار وبعض احزاب الوسط عبر تزخيم شعار العداء لإيران وتصوير العراق على أنه ساحة للنفوذ الفارسي المجوسي كما تقول إشاعاتهم اليومية.

ولم ينسوا جذب بعض القوى الشيعية التي تريد الإمساك بالحكم على غرار سائرون جماعة مقتدى الصدر وطموحات عراقيين شيعة آخرين، مستعدين لبيع سراويلهم مقابل رئاسة الحكومة.

فأمسك الأميركيون بهذه الطريقة بالكثير من الأحزاب في كردستان والوسط والكلدان والصابئة والايزيديين وبعض قوى الجنوب والعاصمة.

بذلك استطاعت دولة “بريمر” لعب دور مرجعية لا يمكن لأي قرار وطني ان يعبر إلا بإذنها، واداء دور المنظم للأحجام والحائل دون وصول قوة الى درجة تستطيع فيها إلغاء الآخر.

انها اذاً دولة مشلولة وعاجزة تراقب “بصمت العاجزين” ولادة مشروع سياسي أميركي جديد يريد تحويل العراق الى جدران تمنع تطوير العلاقات التنسيقية مع سورية وتلغي أي دور سياسي او اقتصادي لحدودها مع إيران، ولو استطاعت إلغاء انظمة الزيارات الدينية لمراقد الأولياء والأئمة بين العراق وايران لما تلكأت لحظة واحدة.

لذلك يذهب الجنون الأميركي هذه المرة الى حدود اغتيال قائدين أمنيين من الدرجة الاولى، أحدهما رجل أمن إقليمي تاريخي له مكانة متقدّمة في محور المقاومة في لبنان وسورية والعراق وإيران واليمن وفلسطين، والشهيد الثاني نائب رئيس الحشد الشعبي في مواجهة الأميركيين.

هذا إذاً اغتيال له أبعاد سياسية عراقية لكن جغرافيته العراقية تتطلب رداً سياسياً حازماً من الدولة العراقية اولاً، ولن تستطيع التقدم بشكوى لمجلس الامن الدولي بسبب الفراغ السياسي في المؤسسات الدستورية، فبرهم هارب الى باكستان والحلبوسي صاحب الآراء الرمادية وعاد عبد المهدي المستقيل الذي لم يعد باستطاعته حتى جمع وزراء من حكومته. هذا الى جانب أن حكومة تصريف الأعمال الحالية لا قدرة قانونية لديها على إنتاج موقف وطني.

فهل يعجز العراق عن تأمين بديل من مؤسساته الدستورية المشلولة؟

إنه الشعب العراقي بكامل أطيافه الذي ملأ بغداد والنجف بالملايين المستنكرين لاغتيال القائدين. هي الآلية الشجاعة وعلى رأسها مفتي السنة والشيعة المنلا الذي يجهر مطالباً بإخراج الأميركيين. هؤلاء هم القادرون على إصدار فتوى شعبية تعلن انتهاء مفاعيل كل المعاهدات والاتفاقات مع الأميركيين على أساس حظر كامل لأي تفاعل مع القواعد العسكرية الأميركية ومعاملتها كمراكز تنتهك سيادة العراق وصولاً الى حدود إعلان الكفاح الشعبي لطرد هذا الاستعماري.

المطلوب إذاً أن يلعب الشعب العراقي دوراً في إعادة بناء عراق داخلي موحّد وعراق إقليمي قادر على التنسيق مع سورية لبناء أقوى معادلة ممكنة منذ سقوط النظام العربي القديم على يد الرئيس المصري السادات في 1979.

فهل يتحوّل الاغتيال الأميركي للشهيدين الى مناسبة لطرد الأميركيين من العراق وسورية؟هذا ممكن بالقوة الشعبية وحلف المقاومة ورفع شعار يقوم على المساواة بين الشعوب في سورية والعراق ولبنان وفلسطين على أساس المساواة في السياسة والاقتصادي والاجتماع بمنأى عن التباين الديني والعرقي، لذلك فالمأزوم اليوم هم الأميركيون الذين يفقدون آخر أوراقهم في المنطقة بما يبشر بفجر جديد لشعوب مضطهدة منذ ألف عام وأكثر.

Syria, Washington and the Kurds. “The Rojava Dream is Dead”

By Prof. Tim Anderson

Global Research, December 31, 2019

American Herald Tribune

With the defeat of ISIS and Nusra, the exposure of the ‘White Helmets’ and the various Chemical Weapons stunts, and with the collapse of ‘Rojava’, Washington is fast running out of options in Syria. Syria is winning, but the big power has not yet given up. Knowing that it is losing, it still acts to prolong the endgame and punish the Syrian people.

***

We are sitting at a joint military command center in Arima (northern Syria, just west of Manbij) with three Syrian Arab Army (SAA) colonels and two uniformed Kurd SDF ‘koval’ (comrades). There are Russians here too, but they do not enter our conversation. Yet even in the friendly chat, as we wait for permission to travel on to Manbij and Ayn al Arab (Kobane), some tensions are apparent.

Sharing coffee and food, both the SAA officers and the SDF comrades acknowledge they are fighting and dying together against an invading Turkish army and its proxy militias. The frontline is just a few kilometers away.

When I ask what differences there are between DAESH, Nusra and the ‘Free Army’, they all respond derisively.  “There is no difference, it is a money game, the fighters go back and forwards depending on the pay rates”. “Any difference between groups in the numbers of foreigners?” I suggest. “No difference”, they repeat. SDF Comrade B passes me a recent video of ‘Free Army’ fighters at Tal Abiad, to the north-east, protesting conditions and demanding their return to HTS/Nusra controlled Idlib.

But we all know they fight for a different cause. The SAA officers are fighting for a liberated and united Syria, while the SDF comrades still dream of an independent ‘Kurdistan’ by cutting out parts of contemporary Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Separatist Kurds collaborated with US occupation forces in pursuit of their ‘Rojava’ dream (western Kurdistan), even though Washington never really supported the project. Many Syrians see them as traitors. But the SAA is patient, dealing with one enemy at a time, and at the moment the enemy in north Syria is Erdogan.

The ‘Rojava’ dream is effectively dead. As both Afrin (in March 2018) and Manbij (in October 2019) demonstrated, no Kurdish militia can defend itself from Ankara, which correctly sees any ‘Rojava’ statelet as a stepping stone for the bigger game, a large slice of Turkey. Protection by US occupation forces could not last forever. Moreover, Kurdish groups have no exclusive historical claims over any parts of northern Syria. Many others live there. In much of north Syria Kurds are a small minority.

Despite these tensions a close, even affectionate relationship remains in the room. The SAA colonels are all older men, in their 40s and 50s, while the SDF comrades are younger men, around 30 years old. Colonel H offers more coffee to Comrade A while Comrade B tells of Kurdish conquests. “We lost 850 martyrs liberating Manbij”, he says, and “2,000 in Kobane”. And what about all those in your prisons? one of the colonels asks. “They are reformatories”, Comrade B replies.

Aleppo and Manbij dcc6a

*(Between Aleppo and Manbij there is a switch from checkpoints controlled by the Syrian Arab Army to those controlled by the Kurdish SDF, even though the SAA and Russia now secure most of these ‘SDF controlled’ areas)

What Comrade B does not say about the “liberation” of Manbij is that (1) the 2016 battle was effectively a transfer of the city from one US proxy (ISIS/DAESH) to another (SDF), and (2) there were very few Kurds in that mostly Arab city. After the major battles, many from surrounding areas fled to the city, swelling its population. A recent estimate puts its population at 700,000, of which 80% are Arab (Najjar 2019). Of the rest there are other non-Arab minorities, including Assyrians, Circassians and Armenians. There is no real social base for a separatist Kurd regime in Manbij.

Yet even after the departure of US occupation forces from this part of northern Syria, and even though the Syrian and Russian presence constrains Turkish ambitions, the SDF has been allowed to maintain its former administration of both the city and the region.

The bizarre and unsustainable nature of this regime is made apparent when Nihad Roumieh, my Syrian journalist colleague, asks one of the colonels to show us where we are. Colonel A happily rolls out a military map, with friend and enemy troop placements. The first thing apparent is that six Syrian armored units protect Manbij, to the north. Second, although Syrian forces have resumed control of more than 200km of the northern border, it is depressing to see how much of northern Syria remains occupied by Erdogan and his proxies.

The picture seemed even more grim when we later spoke with a Manbij councilor and his lawyer friend. They complained of many held in prison and tortured, under the SDF regime. They said there were only two Kurd villages in Manbij.

Nevertheless, it seems that a transition is taking place. Over November-December both Syrian and Russian flags were raised over previous SDF positions in Hassakah, Ayn al Arab, Jarablus and Tal Jemaa (Syrian Observer 2019; Semenov 2019; SOHR 2019), with suggestions that the SDF was involved in negotiations with Damascus “to reach conclusive solutions”. However, SDF leader Mazloum Abadi said that the group wanted “Syrian unity … [with] decentralized self-administration” including maintenance of the separate SDF militia (Syrian Observer 2019). Damascus is unlikely to accept such terms.

*

The claim for a Kurdish homeland in Syria is no indigenous movement, claiming the return of ancestral lands. Nor does the debate over Kurds as historical migrants (in Yildiz 2005) or long-standing inhabitants (Hennerbichler 2012: 77-78) resolve the question. While Kurdish languages are of Iranian origin, and the longer history passes through Mesopotamia (Iraq) and the Ottoman Empire, Kurds are certainly part of the native Syrian population.  However at 1.5 million Syria hosts the smallest group in the region, with around 20 million in Turkey (Gürbüz 2016: 31) and another 6-8 million each in Iran and Iraq.

The idea of a ‘Rojava’ statelet in Syria has been compromised in three ways. First, the Kurdish groups in the north and north-east Syria are only one of several groups (amongst Assyrians, Circassians, Armenians and Arabs), and in some areas small minorities. Second, the Kurdish separatist movement in Syria has been over-determined by the politics of and migration from Turkey. ‘Rojava’ was seen as the stepping stone for a larger ‘Kurdistan’ project, driven from the north. Third, intervention by the imperial power raised separatist expectations and has damaged Kurdish relations with other Syrian groups.

In the longer history of Syria, a traditional refuge for minorities, there have been many Kurds, including famous personalities, who did not buy into the separatist dream.

Sheikh Mohammad al Bouti

Two of them are buried inside the grounds of the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus: the 12th-century ruler Sala’addin and the Quranic scholar Sheikh Mohammad al Bouti (murdered by Jabhat al Nusra in 2013). Many Syrians of Kurdish origin embraced the idea of a wider identity. Before the 2011 conflict Tejel (2009: 39-46) classified Syrian Kurdish identities as comprising Arab nationalist, communist and Kurdish nationalist, with Syrian Kurd leaders Husni Za’im and Adib al-Shishakli campaigning for a non-sectarian ‘Greater Syria’.

The Turkish Kurd influence began early in the 20th century, as Kurdish culture was repressed by the post-Ottoman Turkish state. Turkish Kurds first took refuge in Syria, including in Damascus, after their failed rebellion in 1925. The very idea of a Syrian Kurdish party first came in 1956 from the Turkish refugee Osman Sabri; and another Turkish refugee Nûredîn Zaza, became president of that party (al Kati 2019: 45, 47).

There were multiple splits in subsequent years. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) emerged in the 1980s as a branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), loyal to its leader Abdallah Öcalan, who in 1996 acknowledged that “most of the Kurds of Syria were refugees and migrants from Turkey and they would benefit from returning there” (in Allsop 2014: 231). Many of the claims about ‘stateless’ Kurds in Syria have to be read in light of this Turkish influx. However, Öcalan departed in 1998, as part of Syria’s Adana agreement with Turkey (al Kati 2019: 49-52).

The big powers, conscious of the potentially divisive role of separatist Kurds, have used them for decades, to divide and weaken Arab governments. US regional allies Israel and Iran (pre-1979) joined in, with the Shah in 1962 ordering his SAVAK secret police to help finance the Kurdish insurgency in northern Iraq, so as to undermine Baghdad. The Israelis joined in two years later. The CIA offered further help to the Barzani-led Kurds in 1972. One result was that Iraq was unable to join the Arab resistance against Israeli expansion in 1967 and 1973 because a large part of its military was deployed in northern Iraq (Gibson 2019).

The US-led war on Syria in 2011 presented new separatist opportunities. Peoples Protection Units (YPG) were reactivated in 2012, at first with support from Damascus so that Syrians in the north could fight ISIS. However, the US occupation of parts of north and east Syria in late 2015 led to the reorganization of many YPG units into the US-sponsored ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) (Martin 2018: 96). These were sometimes referred to as a ‘Rojava’ force, while at other times the Kurdish component was played down.

According to one US military report in 2017 the SDF in Manbij was only 40% Kurd (Townsend in Humud, Blanchard and Nikitin 2017: 12), addressing the embarrassing reality that Manbij had a very small Kurdish population. In late 2016 US Col. John Dorrian, gave a higher overall Kurd estimate, saying that the SDF “consists of approximately 45,000 fighters, more than 13,000 of which are Arab” (USDOD 2016). Many of the latter came from the fragments of earlier US proxy militia in Syria.

Syrian Colonel Malek from Aleppo confirmed to me that the bulk of SDF members were always Kurdish, including many from Iraq and Turkey. The size of the non-Kurd and foreigner contingents varied according to the money on offer. A report from the London based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) recognized that both the YPG and SDF ground forces remained largely arms of the Turkish PKK (Holland-McCowan 2017: 10).

The failure of the September 2017 separatist referendum in Iraq dealt a serious blow to the regional project. The KDP and PUK put aside their rivalry to hold an independence referendum (having already pushed for and gained federal status) even though it was not authorized by Baghdad. The proposal was said to have gained 92% approval, but was immediately rejected by the Iraqi Government and Army, which drove Peshmerga forces out of Kirkuk in just a few hours (Gabreldar 2018; ICG 2019). For the first time in decades the Iraqi Army took control of the NE region. Baghdad was showing a political will that had been lacking for many years.

In Syria, US forces did nothing to stop the YPG’s ethnic cleansing of non-Kurds in areas to which they laid claim. In October 2015, the western aligned group Amnesty International accused the YPG (just before the US rebranded them as the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’) of forcibly evicting Arabs and Turkmens from areas they took after displacing ISIS. Amnesty produced evidence to show instances of forced displacement, and the demolition and confiscation of civilian property, which constituted war crimes (AI 2015). Similar accusations had come from Turkish government sources (Pamuk and Bektas 2015) but also from refugees who said that ‘YPG fighters evicted Arabs and Turkmens from their homes and burned their personal documents’ (Sehmer 2015; Al Masri 2015).

However, after the US forces became direct patrons of the SDF in late 2015, a UN commission, co-chaired by US diplomat Karen Koning AbuZayd, continued its quest to place most of the blame for abuses on Syrian Government forces. The Commission accused the YPG/SDF of forcibly displacing communities “[but only] in order to clear areas mined by ISIL”, and of forcible conscription, but “found no evidence to substantiate claims that YPG or SDF forces ever targeted Arab communities on the basis of ethnicity, nor that YPG cantonal authorities systematically sought to change the demographic composition of territories” (IICISAR 2017: 111 and 93).What Syria’s Kurds “Think” They are Fighting For Versus Reality

Nevertheless, in 2018 there were ongoing reports of the ethnic cleansing of Assyrian Christians from US-SDF held areas in NE Syria. Young men in the Qamishli area were reported to have been arrested and forcibly conscripted into Kurdish militia, alongside property theft by those same militias (Abed 2018). In 2019 the SDF were reported to have closed more than 2,000 Arabic-teaching schools in the Hasaka region (Syria Times 2019) and to have shot, killed, wounded and jailed displaced people who were trying to escape from al-Hawl Refugee Camp in South-Eastern Hasaka (FNA 2019). Nevertheless, once US forces created and adopted the Kurdish-led ‘SDF’, Amnesty International and the western media muted their earlier criticisms.

Washington in 2012 had looked favorably on the ISIS plan for a “Salafist principality”, so as to weaken Damascus (DIA 2012). In September 2016 US air power was used to attack and kill more than 120 Syrian soldiers at Mount Tharda behind Deir Ezzor airport, to help the terrorist group’s (failed) efforts to take over and threaten the city (Anderson 2017). But when Russia, Syria and Iraq began wiping out these Saudi clones, USA forces simply rescued their best commanders and replaced ISIS with a Kurdish-led ‘SDF’ (Anderson 2019: Chapters 5 and 7), once again to undermine and weaken Damascus.

But US occupation forces did not wait around to sponsor the ill-fated Rojava project. In October 2019 President Trump gave the order for a partial withdrawal from northern Syria. Former US diplomat Robert Ford had warned in 2017 that the US would abandon the SDF (O’Connor 2017). So, stripped of US military protection and their main source of arms and finance, the SDF was forced to rapidly put together a new alliance with Damascus and Russia, to prevent annihilation by Erdogan’s forces. The Turkish leader saw the Öcalan-led YPG/SDF as a stepping stone to its larger project in Turkey (Demircan 2019).

Western liberals complained the US was ‘betraying’ its Kurdish allies; but they placed too much faith in romantic myths. Ünver (2016), for example, presented separatist Kurds as recipients of unplanned opportunities in Syria’s “civil war” in an “age of shifting borders”, as though the big power were not once again using the ‘Kurdish card’ to divide and weaken both Iraq and Syria. Schmidinger (2018: 13, 16-17) tried to twist Syria’s historic diversity into an argument for the ‘Rojava’ sectarian division – instead of an inclusive unitary state. But, as has been said many times before, imperial powers never have real allies, only interests. Lebanese Resistance leader Hassan Nasrallah told Kurdish separatists in February 2018: “In the end they will work according to their interests, they will abandon you and they will sell you in a slave market.”

Meanwhile, with Washington’s blessing, Erdogan persists with his plan to control large parts of northern Syria, with the aim of settling many of the refugees in Turkey under a Muslim Brotherhood style regime, controlled by sectarian Islamist militia. Retired Syrian Major General Mohammad Abbas Mohammad told me that Turkey’s leader has not given up his ambition of becoming a modern-day ‘Caliph’ of Muslim nations, and is working to colonise Syrian minds with his constant Islamist slogans.

*

Nevertheless, with the help of its allies, Syria is winning the war. ISIS/DAESH and Nusra are virtually defeated, the ‘White Helmets’ and the Chemical Weapons stunts have been exposed and the Rojava myth has collapsed. But a Washington-driven economic war now targets all the independent countries of the region, aggravating the occupation and the terrorism.

Director of the Syrian Arab Army’s Political Department Major General Hassan Hassan, tells us that the US “has the power to destroy the world, many times over, but it has not been able to turn that power into capabilities.” That is why US wars are failing across the region.

While we are indeed heading for a multi-polar world, he says, we are not there yet. “Syria still faces the unipolar regime”. Erdogan, ISIS, Israel and the SDF are all “puppets” of this dying world order. Authorized by the US, Erdogan still wants to set up a Muslim Brotherhood region in north and east Syria. This is a dying and a “most dangerous” order, General Hassan says. “The US deep state knows that its unipolarity is failing, but that has not yet been announced. The new world system is born, but is not yet recognized. The US wants to prolong this conflict as long as possible, and to punish the Syrian people”.

Euphrates f77f4

(Crossing the huge Furat (Euphrates) river, from rural Manbij to rural Raqqa, north Syria)

In that transitional phase we see collaboration between the SAA and the SDF, the extraordinary anomaly of an SDF-run Manbij and the ongoing experiment of ‘Kobane’, the SDF controlled border town which Syrians call Ayn al Arab.

Traveling from rural Aleppo to rural Raqqa on the M4 highway we cross the Furat (Euphrates) river, a huge, semi-dammed expanse of fresh water which appears particularly sweet between two deserts. Turning north we arrive in Ayn al Arab, at the Turkish border, in less than an hour. Although Erdogan’s gangs are attacking Ayn al Issa, deeper inside Syria on the M4, there is no sign of fighting near Ayn al Arab itself. Major General Abbas says that Erdogan is aiming at narrow incursions, which can later be widened.

This small city of perhaps 45,000 people was evacuated during earlier fighting and still shows signs of great destruction, especially on the eastern and northern sides. Less than a tenth of the size of Manbij it is now said to have a majority of Kurds and the SDF comrades seem well organized. We are taken to their small headquarters, a three-story building, to await further security checks and an escort to one of their schools and one of their hospitals.

At the secondary school, as in the headquarters, they seem wary of a foreigner accompanied by an SAA Colonel and a Syrian journalist. That breaks down a little as I ask about their curriculum and the children, who have clearly gone through substantial trauma. The headmaster says they are developing programs to help students deal with their war experiences. The threat is not over, as Erdogan’s troops, including sectarian Islamist gangs, are only a few kilometers to the north.

The Kurdish nationalist curriculum has made a break with the centralized Arabic-based system set in Damascus. The headmaster explains that their syllabus is carried out 60% in the Kurdish language, 20% in Arabic and 20% in English. For children from Arab families the syllabus is 60% Arabic, 20% Kurdish and 20% English. They speak of four ‘nationalities’ in Kobane: Kurd, Arab, Yazidi and Christian. That is how they see it.

The management of the small hospital is also strongly Kurd nationalist. I ask where they get their support and they mention the Americans and some international NGOs. Of course, there is nothing from Ankara. “What about Damascus?” I ask. “Nothing and we want nothing”, says one of the managers.

That may be true for this hospital. However Syrian colleagues tell that most of the health centers in SDF controlled areas still get finance and supplies from Damascus. So not only is their security guaranteed by the Syrian state, so are most of their social services.

It remains to be seen how much Kurdish autonomy will remain, under a final political settlement. Federation is not part of the discussion, it is clear that Damascus sees that as a path which would dismember and weaken the country. While the SAA and the SDF jointly fight Erdogan’s gangs, Damascus has been calling on Arab leaders in the north and north east, who had collaborated with the US occupation force and the SDF, to return to the Syrian Arab Army. On the other side, SDF Commander General Mazloum Abdi opposes incorporation of the SDF into the SAA (Van Wilgenburg 2019) and wants to hold onto as much local administration as possible (Syrian Observer 2019). The continued US presence and sponsorship of SDF units in Hasaka, Qamishli and Deir Ezzor (Ahval 2019), serves to maintain the illusions of autonomy.

In the Russian media there is some pessimism about an SDF-Damascus reconciliation. One observer suggests that “Russia will eventually force most (if not all) of Turkey’s forces to leave Syria … [but Damascus] and the Syrian Kurds have opposing political and military goals that will not be easily reconciled” (Stein 2019).

However, Damascus has some other cards. The YPG/PKK/SDF grew its influence through US sponsorship and, as that declines, other voices in the north, including Kurdish voices, are likely to re-emerge, especially through the constitutional process in Geneva. Major General Abbas points out that there are now dozens of Kurdish parties in the north east (Syria Times 2018). Given the intransigence of the US-dependent SDF, Russia is said to be recruiting Syrian Kurd youth to a rival group (Duvar 2019), which is likely to be incorporated into the SAA.

In my view, there will likely be some accommodation of Kurdish nationalist demands at the cultural and local administrative levels, but alongside efforts to ensure this does not privilege Kurds above other Syrian groups. That should appear in the amended constitution. The old world order is dying and the new one is still being born. In this transitional world, Washington persists with its losing war, to divide and punish the Syrian people.

*

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Dr. Tim Anderson is Director of the Sydney-based Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies. He has worked at Australian universities for more than 30 years, teaching, researching and publishing on development, human rights and self-determination in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East. In 2014 he was awarded Cuba’s medal of friendship. He is Australia and Pacific representative for the Latin America based Network in Defence of Humanity. His most recent books are: Land and Livelihoods in Papua New Guinea (2015), The Dirty War on Syria (2016), Global Research, 2015, now published in ten languages; Countering War Propaganda of the Dirty War on Syria (2017) and Axis of Resistance: towards an independent Middle East (2019).

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واشنطن تبحث عن بدائل لداعش وأخواتها من كابول الى بغداد

سبتمبر 4, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

تحاول واشنطن عبثاً تأخير إعلان هزيمتها التاريخية المدوية امام مشروع المقاومة…! وذلك من خلال تبديل أسماء ميليشياتها، بعد توالي الهزائم عليها في أكثر من عاصمة عربية وإسلامية، ظناً منها انّ تبديل الجلد كفيل بإطالة عمرها الاستعماري.

وكما بدأت غزوها الحديث لبلادنا عبر الحرب بالوكالة من أفغانستان ها هي تحاول الهروب المنظم من أفغانستان…

1 ـ يعود تاريخ العمل السري للمخابرات المركزية الأميركية في أفغانستان الى حقبة الوجود العسكري السوفياتي في هذا البلد، خلال عقد الثمانينات من القرن الماضي، حيث كانت سي أي آي هي الجهة التي تقدّم الدعم اللوجستي فيما تقدّم السعودية الدعم المالي للمجموعات الجهاهدية الأفغانية آنذاك. وكان أسامة بن لادن هو المنسّق الرسمي لنشاطات المجموعات الأفغانية التي تقاتل القوات السوفياتية.

2 ـ بدأت وكالة المخابرات المركزية الأميركية، بالتعاون مع الاستخبارات العسكرية الباكستانية وبتمويل سعودي أيضاً. بإنشاء ميليشيا مسلحة جديدة، تحت قيادتها وإدارتها المباشرة، وذلك مع بدء انسحاب القوات السوفياتية من أفغانستان سنة 1989.

تلك الميليشيا التي كانت قد أعدّت مسبقاً، أيّ قبل الانسحاب السوفياتي، في مدارس باكستان الدينية المموّلة من آل سعود، وهي حركة طالبان، التي كانت تدعو لـ الجهاد العالمي مما أدخلها في نزاع مسلح مع المجاهدين الأفغان انتهى باستيلاء حركة طالبان على الحكم في أواسط تسعينيات القرن الماضي.

أيّ انّ الولايات المتحدة، بالتعاون مع آل سعود، قد زرعت بذور الفوضى الشاملة الحروب الأهلية والإرهاب في أفغانستان منذ أواخر ثمانينيات القرن الماضي، خاصة أنها أفشلت محاولة دبلوماسية، قامت بها منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية على سبيل المثال، وهدفت الى إقامة حكومة متفق عليها بين الاتحاد السوفياتي والمجاهدين وملك أفغانستان السابق، الملك محمد ظاهر شاه، ورئيسة الوزراء الباكستانية آنذاك، بنظير بوتو.

فالولايات المتحدة، عبر المخابرات المركزية الأميركية، كانت هي من أفشلت هذا الاتفاق الذي تمّ التوصل إليه بعد اتصالات وجهود مضنية مع الأطراف المعنية وفي ثلاث قارات من قارات العالم.

3 ـ والآن ومع قرب التوصل الى اتفاقية وقف لإطلاق النار، بين الولايات المتحدة وحركة طالبان، تمهّد لانسحاب القوات الأميركية وقوات حلف الناتو من أفغانستان، فإنّ من الضروري الإضاءة على السياسة الميليشياوية، التي تواصل الولايات المتحدة تنفيذها في هذا البلد، من خلال إنشائها لتنظيمات مسلحة جديدة ميليشيات منذ احتلالها لأفغانستان في شهر تشرين الأول 2001.

4 ـ وأشهر هذه التنظيمات وأكثرها قوة وتسليحاً هو تنظيم: قوات حماية خوست Khost Protection Force والتي تدار عبر غرفة عمليات لها في قاعدة المخابرات المركزية الأميركية التي تسمّى: قاعدة شابمان CIA s Camp Chapman والموجودة في مقاطعة خوست الأفغانية، جنوب شرق العاصمه كابل.

علماً انّ إجمالي تعداد هذه الميليشيات، التي تموَّل وتدار بالكامل من قبل المخابرات الأميركية، قد وصل الى ثلاثة عشر ألف رجل منتشرين في معظم أنحاء أفغانستان.

5 ـ أما عن علاقتهم بالاتفاق، المزمع إعلانه قريباً بين الولايات المتحدة وحركة طالبان، فهو طرح موضوعهم، من قبل المفاوض الأميركي سلمان خليل زاد، على طاولة البحث مع طالبان، حيث طلب خليل زاد ضمانات من طالبان لأمنهم بعد انسحاب القوات الأميركية. وهو الأمر الذي ترفضه طالبان، حتى الآن، مما يؤخر الإعلان عن الاتفاق، أملاً من الطرف الأميركي في التوصل الى صيغة ما، تحافظ على عنصر التفجير هذا الميليشيات لاستخدامه مستقبلاً، الى جانب فلول داعش، التي نقلتها طائرات سلاح الجو الأميركي من سورية والعراق ونشرتها على حدود أفغانستان مع إيران وجمهوريات الاتحاد السوفياتي السابقة شمالاً.

6 ـ إذن فالولايات المتحدة الأميركية، وكما يتضح من المشار إليه أعلاه، تقوم بإنشاء تشكيلات مسلحة وزرع بذور الفوضى والحروب قبل ان تنسحب من أيّ مكان. فما يعيق انسحابها من سورية والعراق، هو استكمال تدريب وتسليح القوات العميلة، سواء في شمال شرق سورية أو في مناطق أخرى، والتي يجري تدريبها وإمدادها بالسلاح في قاعدة التنف في سورية وفي قواعد أميركية أخرى في الأردن، كما في قاعدة عين الأسد غرب بغداد وفِي قواعد ميليشيا البرزاني الكردية والتي يشرف على تشغيلها وتحريكها ضباط من الاستخبارات العسكرية الإسرائيلية.

7 ـ وهذا بالضبط هو العامل الذي يحدّد موقف المراوغ الأطلسي، أردوغان، في ما يتعلق بمحافظة إدلب وغيرها من المحافظات السورية المحتلة أميركياً أو تركياً. انه أمر عمليات القيادة المركزية الأميركية للمنطقة الوسطى، ومقرّها قاعدة العيديد في قطر، الذي يقضي بإيجاد الترتيبات الضرورية، للحفاظ على المجموعات المسلحة، في سورية والعراق كقوات احتياط، يمكن للولايات المتحدة وحلف شمال الأطلسي ان يناوروا بها، في الزمان والمكان الذي يقرّرونه مستقبلاً.

وبكلمات أكثر وضوحاً فإنّ ذلك يعني: الحفاظ على هذه العصابات المسلحة، سواءً في العراق، حيث يقوم الجيش الأميركي بهذا الدور، أو في سورية حيث يتشارك الأميركي والتركي تنفيذ مؤامرة إطالة عمر العدوان على سورية، من خلال تغليف ذلك بغلاف ما يطلقون عليه الحلّ السياسي، أو في العراق من خلال ما يسمّونه استكمال محاربة داعش ومواجهة تعاظم النفوذ الإيراني في هذا البلد.

8 ـ أما ما يغيب عن بال المخططين الاستراتيجيين الأميركيين فهو عامل الانقلاب الذي شهدته موازين القوى، في المنطقة والعالم، والتي لم تعد تسمح لهم بفرض إرادتهم وهيمنتهم على الشعوب كما كان الأمر في العقدين الماضيين. الأمر الذي يجعل تكتيكاتهم تلك، ايّ المناورة بالعصابات الإرهابية المسلحة هنا وهناك، عاجزة عن تحقيق أهدافهم، وبالتالي فإنّ عليهم البحث عن استراتيجيات تنطلق من موازين القوى الدولية المستجدة والاعتراف بهزيمة مشاريعهم وفتح مسار جديد في سياساتهم، بالعودة الى الأسس والقوانين الدوليهة، التي يجب ان تحكم علاقات الدول بين بعضها البعض، ما يخلق الأرضية لعلاقات متوازنة بين الدول ولاستقرار سياسي على الصعيد الدولي سيمثل القاعدة الصلبة لمسار اقتصادي اجتماعي دولي يمنع إشعال الحروب ويبعد الأزمات الاقتصادية والمالية عن دول وشعوب العالم أجمع. كلّ هذا شرطه استخدام واشنطن لعقلها وهو ما بات مشكوكاً فيه كثيراً في عهد إدارة ترامب المتخبّطة في استراتيجيتها والغارقة في التيه الإسرائيلي .

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

Foreign backed terrorism in Iran: Part two – US/Israeli backed insurgency and separatism in western Iran

April 18, 2019

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

Foreign backed terrorism in Iran: Part two – US/Israeli backed insurgency and separatism in western Iran

In the previous article, we examined the prevalence of US/Israeli backed terrorism in eastern Iran where Baluchi Salafists have received arms and funding from the CIA and Mossad. In this second part of the article series we will examine the US/Israeli support for terrorists and separatists in western Iran among the Kurdish ethnic group.

The Kurdish situation in western Iran

The Kurdish question in Iran is a long running one that stretches back to the WWII era. While Kurdish revolts occurred already during the 1920s these were not motivated out of nationalist sentiment but rather out of tribal opposition to the monarchy’s attempts to centralize the state of Iran. The Qajar dynasty and later the Pahlavi dynasty attempted to consolidate power around Tehran in a time when the Iranian nation was fragmented into areas of tribal and ethnic influence. Simko Shikak was one of the powerful Kurdish chieftains that with Ottoman backing led the first revolt in 1918, against the Qajar dynasty, as the Ottoman’s were fierce rivals of the severely weakened Iranian state, attempted to gain influence over western Iran. Another reason for the Ottoman involvement was motivated by the slaughter of the large Iranian Armenian population in the West Azerbaijan province of Iran. But it was not only the Ottomans that backed these separatist tribal ambitions as Tehran repeatedly called out British influence and support for the tribal rebellions. The British role was mainly motivated by their desire to remove the Qajar dynasty from power and install a new Shah that they could more easily control, thus also triumphing over the Russian Empire in the struggle for influence over Iran.

British intervention in Persia was at its height during the coup d’etat of 1921. Although the coup itself was executed by Persians, it received vital assistance from, and was probably actually initiated by, certain British military officers and officials in Iran, most importantly Major-General Sir Edmund Ironside, Commander of Norperforce, Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Smyth, who was unofficially and “almost secretly” attached to the Cossacks at Qazvin, and Walter A Smart, the Oriental Secretary.

After the coup, Reza Shah Pahlavi, the new Shah of Iran ultimately crushed the Kurdish tribal rebellion and the subsequent ones imitated during 1929 and 1941. It wasn’t until 1946 when the real danger of separatism became prevalent in Iran with the Iranian crisis of 1946 and the aftermath of the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran during WWII. One of the first crises of the Cold War was initiated in 1946 when Stalin refused to relinquish occupied Iranian territory as the Soviets felt that the successor to Reza Shah Pahlavi, his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a staunch anti-communist was a danger to Soviet interests, especially with regards to the Truman doctrine. By mid-December 1945, with the use of troops and secret police, they had set up two pro-Soviet “People’s Democratic Republics” in northwestern Iran, the Azerbaijan People’s Republic headed by Sayyid Jafar Pishevari and the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad under Pesheva Qazi Muhammad and Mustafa Barzani, father to current US puppet Mahmoud Barzani who was the previous president of the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq before last year’s scandalous attempt at independence for the KRG (Kurdish regional government). Though Mustafa Barzani fled Iran and went back to Iraq, so called Marxist oriented parties such as Komala and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDP-I) continued their hostilities not just with the Pahlavi regime but also later on with Islamic Republic after 1979, although these parties moved on from advocating separatism to specific demands and requests. This is due to the relatively low interest in separatism among the Kurdish public in Iran, mainly because of the close cultural, linguistic and historical relations that the Kurdish people and the rest of the Iranian society share.

Kurdish Insurrection after the Islamic Revolution and Israeli activities in western Iran

Since 2004, an armed conflict has been ongoing in the western provinces of Iran between the Iranian government forces and the so called “Party for a free life in Kurdistan” (PJAK). The group is said to be a branch of the PKK terrorist group in Turkey. The group settled in the area controlled by the PKK on the slopes of Mount Qandil, less than 16 kilometres from the Iranian border. Once established at Qandil and operating under the PKK’s security umbrella, the group began conducting sporadic attacks on Iranian border guards and security forces until a ceasefire commenced in 2011.

With the outbreak of the Syrian and Iraqi wars against terrorism, and with Iran focusing heavily on supporting the Syrian and Iraqi governments, the conflict resurged and intensified in 2016, this time with several other Kurdish militant groups also joining in, as US and Israeli support for Kurdish groups across the Middle East escalated. In an obvious show of solidarity with the Zionist state’s growing worries about the JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal), the KDP-I stated that it was returning to militancy after two decades of cessation of hostilities: “Since Iran has signed the atomic [nuclear deal] agreement, Iran thinks whatever they do, the outside world does not care. That is why we were forced to choose this approach,” Hassan Sharafi, the deputy leader of the PDKI said. Conveniently for the Zionist state and Washington, PJAK and leftist group Komalah immediately expressed their support for renewed hostilities and began attacking Iranian security forces respectively in the midst of Iran’s struggle against Takfiri terrorists across the region.

The Zionist state has for long had close relations to Kurdish groups across the Middle East as part of their “Alliance of the periphery” doctrine which calls for Israel to develop close strategic alliances with non-Arab Muslim states in the Middle East to counteract the united opposition of Arab states. After the fall of the Iranian monarchy and with Turkey’s recent Islamic resurgence, the strategy is mainly applied towards the Kurdish people, with Israeli government officials providing extensive support to Kurdish political parties and their aspirations for greater self-government and even independence. The government of Iraqi Kurdistan has maintained open ties with Israel and is an influential lobby for the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between Israel and Iraq. Israel remains today the closest regional ally of the YPG forces in Syria as well as the KRG in Iraq.

Documents leaked in 2010 by Wikileaks prove that Israeli Mossad chief Meir Dagan wanted to use Kurds and ethnic minorities to topple the Iranian government. The Israeli spy service wanted to have a weak divided Iran, like in Iraq where the Kurds have their own government, the spy chief told an U.S. official. According to a memo from August 2007, Dagan described to Under-Secretary of State Nicholas Burns the five pillars of Israel’s Iran policy, among them the desire to spark a revolution. The memo noted, ‘instability in Iran is driven by inflation and tension among ethnic minorities. This, Dagan said, “presents unique opportunities, and Israelis and Americans might see a change in Iran in their lifetimes.”

Dagan noted that Iran could end up like Iraq. “As for Iraq, it may end up a weak, federal state comprised of three cantons or entities, one each belonging to the Kurds, Sunnis and Shias.” He added that Iran’s minorities are “raising their heads, and are tempted to resort to violence.”

“It’s Realpolitik. By aligning with the Kurds Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran,” observed a former Israeli intelligence officer. Interestingly, PJAK themselves claim they receive no support from Washington or Tel Aviv. In an interview with Slate magazine in June 2006, PJAK spokesman Ihsan Warya stated that he “nevertheless points out that PJAK really does wish it were an agent of the United States, and that [PJAK is] disappointed that Washington hasn’t made contact.” The Slate article continues stating that the PJAK wishes to be supported by and work with the United States in overthrowing the government of Iran in a similar way to the US eventually cooperated with Kurdish organisations in Iraq in overthrowing the government of Iraq. Surely by now it is no secret that Kurdish chieftains and officials love to be the staunch vassals of Washington and Tel Aviv.

The KRG has even been so generous to offer its territory as a base for Mossad terrorists to launch operations inside Iran. According to several sources, the Mossad operates in the KRG to launch covert operations inside Iran and acquire intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program. “Israeli drones are said to be operating against Iran from bases inside the KRG,” wrote Patrick Seale, a British expert on the Middle East.

The London-based Sunday Times reported that, according to “Western intelligence sources,” during early 2012 Israeli commandos and special forces members carried out missions in Iran that were launched from the KRG. The Zionist terrorists, dressed in Iranian military uniforms, entered Iran in modified Black Hawk helicopters and travelled to Parchin, the site of an Iranian military complex just 30 kilometres southeast of Tehran, and Fordow, an Iranian military base with an underground uranium enrichment facility. The report claims that these forces utilized advanced technology to monitor radioactivity levels and record explosive tests carried out at the military facilities. Whether this report is true or part of a psychological war, I guess we’ll never know.

In addition to all of this, Arab separatism is on the rise in the western Khuzestan province where a large Arab minority reside. The 2018 Ahvaz Military Parade terrorist attack where 29 people were killed was evidence of a recent surge in Arab separatist activities. The Islamic Republic suspects that both Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states offer political and financial support to Arab separatist groups and personalities operating in the West, who in turn funnel the cash to militant networks inside Iran. Suspicions that regional rivals had a hand in the terror attack was intensified by pathetic comments made by Abdul Khaliq Abdullah, a former advisor to the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, that the Ahvaz attack did not constitute an act of terrorism since it was aimed at a military target. The significance of this inflammatory remark lies in Saudi Crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s statement that Saudi Arabia would take the battle “inside” Iran. Since the Saudi monarchy themselves are Zionist agents, we should again look for Washington and Tel Aviv’s hand in this latest campaign targeting yet another minority group in Iran.

The Islamic Republic is under attack from all sides with Washington and Tel Aviv specifically targeting ethnic minorities living in the border areas in the eastern and western regions of Iran. As Washington and Tel Aviv have admitted in the past, a full scale invasion of Iran is highly unlikely due to the size of the country and the large popular support the Islamic Republic enjoys, instead the Zionist Empire has deemed insurgency and fomenting a civil war to be the best way to weaken their adversaries, just like they did in Syria and Iraq. I expect these campaigns to escalate as the Islamic Republic gains more influence across the region and the Zionist Empire growing more and more frustrated each day.

SYRIAN KURDISTAN: FROM “OLIVE BRANCH” TO “FALLEN STATE”

South Front

26.04.2018

Syrian Kurdistan: From "Olive Branch" to "Fallen State"

Kurdish fighters raise flag of PKK leader in centre of Raqqa

Written by Maksim Alexandrov; Originally appeared on warsonline.info; Translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront

Not long ago in Washington at the Institute of National Strategic Studies of the National Defence University the round table on “The Multimodal Threats in the Kurdish Region” took place, a continuation of the “NATO and Regional Military and Political Alliance in 2018” Council.

The organisers of the meeting, taking place on April 9 to 11, were the Institute of National Strategic Studies, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the intelligence community and the commanders of the Special Forces of the US. The main agenda of the event was focused on clarifying the conceptual and analytical foundations of American policy in the framework of topical issues of the “Kurdish question”, the problem of improving the coordination of regional allies, as well as military and political modeling of crisis systems that fall under the topology of “fallen state”.

“Today, the USA, as never before, is faced with the destructive position of the Syrian regime and its allies, the Russian Federation and Iran. We met qualitatively new challenges and hybrid threats to freedom and democracy in Syria (SAR)”, with these words the special representative of the Department of Military and Political Modeling began his presentation, specialist in the field of pre-emptive analysis and the Greater Middle East of the Agency for the reduction of military threats Ray Ross.

During the discussion, experts highlighted the most complex structure of the problems that cause the revision of operational resources, and as a consequence, reducing operational sustainability and “window of response” to the crisis situations. First, such challenges include the issue of harmonisation of positions and approaches.

As an empirical base, analysts cite examples of the destructive positions of the Turkish Republic regarding the “united Kurdish space”, the inconsistent/punctual nature of the work of the UK, France and Germany in providing and preparing the Kurdish militia after the October operations in Iraq’s Kirkuk. During the meeting, the coalition failed to ensure prompt withdrawal of 140 Bundeswehr instructors and 30 specialist of the Special Aviation Service of the British Armed Forces.

Second, comes the imbalance of the asymmetric military and political education within the framework of the international coalition. The fragmentation of Kurdish troops and militia (YPG) during the events related to the referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan and the subsequent military and political crisis, the split of the Peshmerga and other Kurdish armed groups controlled by Erbil; the growth in popularity of the Movement for Change or “Goran”, are a ready counter-rally against ex-President Massod Barzani’s block, the “Democratic Party of Kurdistan” and the “Patriotic Union of Kurdistan”.

As a result, there is a curtailment of the potential of “Kurdish National Councils” in the Syrian Kurdish Supreme Council, in other words, the growing influence of the Democratic Union Party of Salih Muslim, supporter of the autonomy within the SAR, and the national Councils of Western Kurdistan, which may cause a potential strengthening of Moscow’s and Iran’s positions in the region.

The disagreements between the Kurdish and Arab (Sunni, 23 movements) ethnic and religious components are, in particular the revolt of the Arabs in Syria’s Raqqa, armed conflicts within “independent” groups in North-Eastern Syria, caused by both “humanitarian” and military-political aspects, systemic shortcomings of the previous presidential administration to unite the projects of the “Kurdish Zone”, “Syrian Democratic Forces” and the “Free Syrian Army”.

The data formed the need for duplication of “territorial formations” by independent structures, the creation of Kurdish security forces that are not included in the YPG during the last year. Along with this, it allowed partial substitution and assumption of the contingents of the Arab countries in the area of responsibility of the Alliance. Preliminary rounds of talks with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are now been held.

“The newly formed security forces, along with the implementation of substitution approaches are certainly a guarantee for stability and security in the North-East of Syria”, stated Ray Ross.

Third, the current problems required operational support for the concept “Balance of deterrence and engagement”, as described in previous submissions.

Thus, according to analysts, the greatest actual problems are:

  1. Security in the North East of Syria;
  2. Containment of Ankara;
  3. Exclusion of the growing influence of Damascus, Moscow and Tehran;
  4. Revision of the allies system, accompanied by a “balance of deterrence and engagement”.

Thus, the methods to achieve a “balance of deterrence and engagement” through the support and expansion of special measures aimed at the integration of non-system actors of the military and political process are of greatest interest. “We conduct constant monitoring of the military-political process and its dynamics. It has already been six months that we monitor the escalation of the conflict in the north of Syria, which we repeatedly inform our allies, Turkey and other countries. Today within the framework of the modeling, we understand the need to involve all parties in the settlement process. Potentially, it may include the Kurdish Workers’ Party and the Democratic Union”, said the representative of DTRA.

According to data received from the source “occupying a high position” in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since November 2017, personnel changes have begun, accompanied by an intra-party conflict. With the beginning of the Turkish operation “Olive Branch” the group “Will to Freedom” stood out, actively cooperating with the YPG troops, coordinated with the United States and its allies. The unit, numbering up to 5000 personnel, advocates for the change of the party’s leadership course and the formation of the “common Kurdish space”. “However, we must work to ensure that this organisation does not engage in destructive activities on Turkish territories”.

In addition, in the ranks of the PKK, according to intelligence, in December last year a “right-oriented core” was formed, which began the extradition of previously left in Afrin intra-party opponents of the “new forces” with Salih Muslim. “The United States have actively watched this process, today we have a unique opportunity to unite these PKK platforms into a new, powerful force that can affect the entire region. These processes are very complex, but positive for national security”, commented Ray Ross.

During the talks held at the end of December 2017, between the “new forces” and the Democratic Union Party, the parties could not agree on “extradition”, but agreements were reached in exchange for the deployment of seven training camps in North Africa in exchange for full support from the “right forces” in the PKK.

The personnel trained at these facilities were intended for deployment on the neighbouring Turkish territory. However the Turkish side took these processes as a strengthening, an attempt to unite the Kurdish Workers’ Party and on January 20 launched the army operation “Olive Branch”, which ended with the capture of the city of Afrin and the division of the canton into Turkish and Syrian-Russian areas of responsibility.

During the Turkish operation, with the support of the US, talks were held between the YPG and the Afrin security forces on the limited material and technical support, as well as sending a number of volunteer units subordinate to the military council of Manbij. Also, the “special contact mission” guaranteed full support in the case of coordination of the Afrin security forces, the dissolution of the HPX battalion and the “Desert Scorpion” brigade.

De facto, this process should be seen as providing an alternative resource base, aimed at the involvement of the security forces and councils of Afrin in the structure of the YPG and the expansion of cooperation with the International coalition, i.e. the removal of Iran and Russia from the northern province of Aleppo. However, cooperation between Moscow, Tehran and Ankara did not allow the formalisation of this union.

At the same time, analysts noted that the division, the failure of “involvement”, allowed to restore the balance of forces in the “Kurdish zone”, since after the military and political crisis caused by the “collapse” of Iraqi Kurdistan and the departure of Masoud Barzani as President, the “Democratic Union Party” significantly strengthened its position, “threatening the integrity of the Syrian Kurdistan”. However, after the division of Afrin, its potential, through natural processes, decreased, opening up new opportunities for the American side and the security forces that were created.

Thus, turning to the conclusions, we can say that the American side is now involved in the processes of operationalization of the concept of “containment and engagement”, considering factor projects of unification of multidirectional forces through the chaos of existing crisis systems and territorial associations. The growing military presence in the area of Al-Tanf, and the disparate information of the transfer of Arab-Kurdish troops to the area, could potentially mean the unification of the YPG, the security forces and the new Syrian Army into a single structure.

With the completion of operation “Olive Branch”, an extensive media company was launched to discredit the positions of Moscow, Tehran and Damascus in resolving the “Kurdish issue”.

In mid-March 2018 in north-eastern Syria, a “Syrian popular Resistance” was formed, advocating the liberation from occupation by a coalition led by the United States.

On April 15, 2018, the Department of Military and Political Modeling of the US agency for reducing military threats adopted the programme of development of the north-east of Syria, labelling this territory as “fallen state”.

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