RSS

Tag Archives: Iraq

Kurds face transformation of Iraq’s political map as they lose territory in face of government advance

The Kurds may have lost 40 per cent of the territory they previously controlled over the last two days as they withdraw from areas long disputed with Baghdad. Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are pulling back from a great swathe of land in northern Iraq stretching from Syria in the west to Iran in the east.

It is becoming clear that the two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), both agreed at a meeting on Sunday that they had no choice but to withdraw from Kirkuk and other disputed territories. They knew that they were too weak to fight the Iraqi security forces and they had no allies to whom they could appeal for help. Kurdish leaders are now blaming each other for the debacle, which will go down as one of the great disasters in Kurdish history.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-kirkuk-battle-withdrawal-peshmerga-baghdad-latest-advance-disaster-a8006036.html

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 18, 2017 in Middle East

 

Tags:

Iraq seizes Kirkuk from Kurds leaving two US allies locked in conflict and bringing end to move for independence

Elite Iraqi security forces have captured the Kurdish government headquarters buildings in the centre of Kirkuk with the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordering the Iraqi flag to be raised over Kirkuk and other disputed territories. An Iraqi Oil Ministry official said that it would be “a very short time” before the Iraqi military seized all the oilfields in Kirkuk province.

The century-old movement for Kurdish independence has suffered  a calamitous defeat as Iraqi military forces retake the Kirkuk oil province, facing little resistance so far from the Peshmerga fighters. Kurdish officials accuse part of the forces belonging to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the two main Kurdish parties, of “treason” in not resisting the Iraqi assault.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/iraq-kirkuk-forces-seize-defeat-kurdish-independence-latest-a8003821.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 18, 2017 in Middle East

 

Tags:

Underground in Raqqa

Shortly before the siege of Raqqa began in June, Islamic State officials arrested Hammad al-Sajer for skipping afternoon prayers. Hammad, who is 29, made a living from his motorbike: he carried people and packages, charging less than the local taxis. IS had arrested him a number of times before – mostly for smoking cigarettes, which were banned under IS rule – but he had always been released after paying a fine or being lashed. Attendance at prayers was compulsory and he had missed the Asr, the afternoon prayer, because a passenger had made him wait while he went into his house to get money for his fare after a trip to Raqqa’s old city. Hammad expected to be fined or lashed, but this time he was sentenced to a month in prison. Except it turned out not to be prison. On his first morning, ‘militants blindfolded us and took us in a vehicle to a place that seemed to be inside the city because it took no more than ten minutes to get there.’Hammad and the other prisoners, all of them local men, were taken to an empty house. In one of the rooms there was a hole in the floor. Rough steps led down about sixty feet before the tunnel flattened out into a corridor, which was connected to a labyrinth of other tunnels. A fellow prisoner, Adnan, told Hammad that IS had started work on what was effectively a subterranean network a year and a half earlier. In other words, construction began in 2015, after IS’s spectacular run of victories ended and it started its long retreat in the face of Kurdish offensives backed by coalition firepower. To escape the aerial bombardment, IS decided to disappear underground, digging immense tunnel complexes underneath its two biggest urban centres, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, to help it defend itself when the final assaults came.

Source: Patrick Cockburn · Underground in Raqqa · LRB 19 October 2017

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 18, 2017 in Middle East

 

Tags: ,

Isis is facing near total defeat in Iraq and Syria – but it has been beaten and come back before

Isis has fought desperately and skilfully to hold the Syrian city of Raqqa, under siege by Kurdish-led forces for more than four months, but will soon lose it in the latest defeat for the Islamic fundamentalist movement. Little is left today of the Caliphate declared in 2014, which once ruled most of western Iraq and eastern Syria.

Isis battled far longer than anybody expected for Mosul and Raqqa, but had to fight on multiple fronts against its many enemies and, above all, against the immense firepower of the US, Russian and allied air forces as well as conventional artillery. It was only by pounding large parts of both cities into rubble that the Iraqi security forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been able to prevail.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 12, 2017 in Middle East

 

Tags: , ,

Why referendums – like with Brexit, Kurdistan and Catalonia – are always doomed to fail

Brexit, Krexit and Crexit: Britain leaves the EU, Kurdistan declares independence from Iraq, Catalonia secedes from Spain – three massive political changes either underway or put on the political agenda by recent referendums. Three very different countries, but in all cases a conviction among a significant number of voters that they would be better off on their own outside any measure of control by a supranational authority like the EU or a nation state like Iraq or Spain.

Referendums have a lot to answer for: no wonder divided governments, demagogues and dictators have such a fondness for them. They have the appearance of popular democracy and give the impression that important decisions are finally being made by reducing complex questions into an over-simple “yes” or “no”. They make public opinion easy to manipulate because what voters are being asked to assent to is most often wishful thinking and what they are opposing is a rag-bag of unrelated grievances. There are a great many unhappy and dissatisfied people in the three countries which have voted in referendums in the last fifteen months, but no reason to suppose that their vote will make them happier or better off.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-catalonia-referendum-kurdish-independence-always-doomed-to-fail-a7986836.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Europe, European Union, Middle East

 

Tags: , , ,

The Kurdish referendum: Dream of independence and fear of dictatorship

The referendum for independence has enlisted major support from within the Kurdish community, especially after the regional and international powers united against this move. The majority of Kurds believe that they have finally been given the chance to vote for self-determination, ending a forced and abusive incorporation in Iraq in the aftermath of WWI. The Kurdish state, should there be one, will only be meaningful if it is different from the KRG, apart from its flaws and failures in relation to democracy, human rights, and gender equalityOthers believe that, in the current circumstances, the referendum does nothing but deflect attention away from the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) failure to tackle corruption, provide economic security for its people, and build a democratic system.Driven by the breakdown in trust between the KRG and the central government in Baghdad, Massoud Barzani, the disputed “president” of Kurdistan, has “threatened” to organise a referendum for independence several times before.

Source: The Kurdish referendum: Dream of independence and fear of dictatorship | Middle East Eye

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 3, 2017 in Middle East

 

Tags:

The Kurdish referendum has shown a yearning for independence, but also the lack of strength to carry it out

The Iraqi government has banned international flights to the Kurdish capital Irbil from 6pm this Friday, isolating the Kurds in Iraq to a degree they have not experienced since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The isolation is political as well as geographical as traditional Kurdish allies, like the US, UK, France and Germany, have opposed the referendum on Kurdish independence while near neighbours in Turkey, Iran and Baghdad are moving to squeeze the Kurds into submission.

The referendum succeeded in showing that the Kurds, not just in Iraq but in Turkey, Iran and Syria, still yearn for their own state. Paradoxically, the outcome of the poll has demonstrated both the strength of their demand for self-determination and the weakness of their ability to obtain it. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is revealed as a minnow whose freedom of action – and even its survival – depends on playing off one foreign state against the other and keeping tolerable relations with all of them, even when they detested each other. In the past an American envoy would go out one door just as the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards came in the other.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/iraq-isis-kurdistan-kurdish-independence-was-a-miscalculation-a7974646.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 3, 2017 in Middle East

 

Tags:

I’m all for war crimes trials in The Hague – so long as we agree to prosecute every possible war criminal

I like the idea of war crimes trials. Make an example of the monsters, is what I say. “Collar the lot,” as Churchill demanded in a somewhat different context. And if Nuremberg was victors’ justice, I’d prefer the imperfect trials they did hold than the version we would have got if Hitler had won and Roland Freisler, State Secretary of the Reich Ministry of Justice, was still running the Nazi People’s Court.

Right now, it’s becoming quite the thing to demand war crimes indictments all over the place. In the past week, we’ve had TRIAL International demanding that the Swiss judicial authorities act against Rifaat al-Assad for massacres at Palmyra prison in 1980 and at Hama in 1982. Rifaat is the brother of the late Hafez and uncle of Bashar, against whom Amnesty and the UN Commission on Syria would also like to level war crimes charges (according to Carla del Ponte, at least). And now the UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution to collect evidence against Isis for “acts that may amount to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/war-crimes-the-hague-isis-iran-bashar-al-assad-syria-rifaat-criminals-saddam-hussein-a7971666.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 29, 2017 in Middle East

 

Tags: , , , ,

Iraqi Kurds have again made statehood an international issue – but their isolation leaves them vulnerable

The overwhelming vote for Kurdish independence in the referendum in northern Iraq is re-energising Kurdish nationalism and the demand for a separate Kurdish state.

“Bye bye, Iraq! Bye bye, Iraq!”, chanted demonstrators in Irbil, capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), as they danced in the streets after the polls closed.

The impact of the referendum is not confined to Iraq, but is producing outbursts of nationalist enthusiasm in Iran, where thousands of Iranian Kurds marched through the streets of their cities to show their support for the vote. Many wore masks to hide their faces from the Iranian security forces observing the demonstrations.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/kurdistan-referendum-kurdish-risk-isolation-turkey-military-erdogan-iraq-kurds-krg-independence-a7968691.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 27, 2017 in Middle East

 

Tags:

Kurdish independence referendum: Millions vote in poll that could help bring down Iraqi government

Iraqi Kurds go to the polls today to cast their votes in a non-binding referendum on Kurdish independence, which outside powers fear will destabilise Iraq.

The vote is taking place not only in the territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government, which has long been highly autonomous, but in areas in dispute – including the oil-producing province of Kirkuk.

Kurdish President Masoud Barzani says holding the referendum is “risky”, but “we are ready to pay any price for our independence”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-kurdistan-isis-poll-vote-referendum-masoud-barzani-nechirvan-barzani-a7966276.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 26, 2017 in Middle East

 

Tags: