Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

Hobby Lobby Purchased Thousands of Ancient Artifacts Smuggled Out of Iraq – The Atlantic

Hobby Lobby purchased thousands of ancient artifacts smuggled out of modern-day Iraq via the United Arab Emirates and Israel in 2010 and 2011, attorneys for the Eastern District of New York announced on Wednesday. As part of a settlement, the American craft-supply mega-chain will pay $3 million and the U.S. government will seize the illicit artifacts. Technically, the defendants in the civil-forfeiture action are the objects themselves, yielding an incredible case name: The United States of America v. Approximately Four Hundred Fifty (450) Ancient Cuneiform Tablets; and Approximately Three Thousand (3,000) Ancient-Clay Bullae.

Can Hobby Lobby Buy the Bible?

Under any circumstances, this case would be wild: It involves thousands of ancient artifacts that seem to have been stolen from Iraq, where the pillaging of antiquities has been rampant. The longstanding trade in antiquities of dubious provenance has become an especially sensitive topic in recent years, and a target of increased law-enforcement scrutiny: ISIS has made some untold millionsor billionsby selling ancient goods. While nothing in the case indicates that these objects were associated with any terrorist group, the very nature of smuggled goods means their provenance is muddy.

But the case really matters because of whos involved. The members of the Green family, which owns the Hobby Lobby chain, are committed evangelical Christians who are probably most famous for their participation in a 2014 Supreme Court case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which helped dismantle certain birth-control-coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The Greens are big collectors of ancient antiquities; theyre also the primary visionaries and contributors behind the Museum of the Bible opening in Washington, D.C., this fall. Steve Green is the chairman of the board. The familys famous name, now tied to a story of dealer intrigue and black markets, is likely to bring even further scrutiny and attention as they prepare to open their museum.

Law-enforcement officials report that in 2010, Hobby Lobbys president, Steve Green, visited the United Arab Emirates with an antiquities consultant to inspect more than 5,548 artifacts. The objectswhich were precious and collectively worth millions of dollarswere displayed informally, the complaint stated, spread on the floor, arranged in layers on a coffee table, and packed loosely in cardboard boxes, in many instances with little or no protective material between them. They included cuneiform tablets, which display writing used in ancient Mesopotamia, and clay bullae, or balls of clay printed with ancient seals.

Two Israeli dealers and one dealer from the UAE were present; the objects allegedly belonged to the family of a third Israeli dealer. One of the Israeli dealers sent Hobby Lobby a statement of provenance, claiming that the objects were legally acquired through purchases made in the 1960s. It also named a custodian who purportedly, in the 1970s, took care of the objects while they were being stored in the United States.

But that person never actually stored anything for the third Israeli dealer, the complaint alleges, and Hobby Lobby never contacted the custodian. The company went forward with the sale, even though it had retained an antiquities expert who cautioned against the purchase. I would regard the acquisition of any artifact likely from Iraq as carrying considerable risk, that expert wrote in a memorandum shared with the companys in-house counsel, according to the complaint. An estimated 200-500,000 objects have been looted from archaeological sites in Iraq since the early 1990s; particularly popular on the market and likely to have been looted are cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets. Cultural objects looted from Iraq since 1990 are protected by special import restrictions that carry criminal penalties and large fines, the expert added.

Hobby Lobby was new to the world of acquiring these items, and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process.

Hobby Lobby wired $1.6 million to seven different bank accounts associated with five different people to pay for the items. The artifacts were shipped to the United States in multiple packages falsely labeled Tiles (Sample). They were also sent to multiple locations. As the complaint notes, The use of multiple shipping addresses for a single recipient is consistent with methods used by cultural property smugglers to avoid scrutiny by Customs. On customs forms, the UAE dealer supplied false invoices that substantially undervalued the pieces, presumably as a way to avoid customs inspection.

In January 2011, Customs and Border Protection seized five packages falsely labeled as originating in Turkey. Following its investigation, CPB has seized roughly 3,450 objectsthe 450 ancient cuneiform tablets and 3,000 ancient clay bullae for which the case is named. As part of a settlement to the governments civil action against Hobby Lobby, the company has accepted responsibility for its past conduct and agreed to revise its internal procedures and train its employees, along with submitting quarterly reports on further acquisitions over the next 18 months.

That period of time will be crucial as the museum prepares for its opening. We dont have any concerns about our collection, said Steven Bickley, the vice president of marketing, administration, and finance. The artifacts that were referred to were never in our collection. He added that the museum wasnt part of the investigation or the settlement.

For its part, the Green family has framed this as a lesson learned. In 2010, Hobby Lobby was new to the world of acquiring these items, and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process, read a statement on the companys website. This resulted in some regrettable mistakes. The company imprudently relied on dealers and shippers who, in hindsight, did not understand the correct way to document and ship these items.

Green says he takes responsibility for what happened. We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled, he said in a statement on Hobby Lobbys website. Hobby Lobby has cooperated with the government throughout its investigation, and with the announcement of todays settlement agreement, is pleased the matter has been resolved.

See the original post here:
Hobby Lobby Purchased Thousands of Ancient Artifacts Smuggled Out of Iraq – The Atlantic

Fair Usage Law

July 5, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

ISIS Destroys One of Iraq’s Most Iconic Mosques – TIME

Updated: 9:57 AM ET | Originally published: Jun 21, 2017

(IRBIL, Iraq) The Islamic State group blew up a historic landmark in Mosul the city’s famed 12th century al-Nuri mosque with its iconic leaning minaret known as al-Hadba, from where the IS leader proclaimed the militant group’s self-styled caliphate nearly three years ago.

The explosion destroyed another piece of priceless Iraqi cultural heritage but also sent a strong message to U.S.-led coalition forces and Iraqi troops closing in on the last stronghold of IS, in Mosul’s Old City neighborhood.

Iraq’s Ministry of Defense said the militants detonated explosives planted inside the structures on Wednesday night. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tweeted early on Thursday that the destruction was an admission by the militants that they are losing the fight for Iraq’s second-largest city.

“Daesh’s bombing of the al-Hadba minaret and the al-Nuri Mosque is a formal declaration of their defeat,” al-Abadi said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

“It is a shock, a real big shock,” Amir al-Jumaili, a professor at the Archaeology College in Mosul told The Associated Press.

The al-Nuri mosque, which is also known as Mosul’s Great Mosque, is where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a rare public appearance, declaring a so-called Islamic caliphate in the summer of 2014, shortly after Mosul was overrun by the militants. The minaret that leaned like Italy’s Tower of Pisa had stood for more than 840 years.

The IS blew up the mosque during the celebrations of Laylat al Qadr, the holiest night of the year for Muslims. The “Night of Power” commemorates the night the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is now underway.

An IS statement posted online shortly after the Ministry of Defense reported the mosque’s destruction blamed an airstrike by the United States for the loss of the mosque and minaret.

The U.S.-led coalition rejected the IS claim. Spokesman, U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon told the Associated Press coalition planes “did not conduct strikes in that area at that time.”

IS fighters initially attempted to destroy the minaret in July 2014. The militants said the structure contradicted their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, but Mosul residents converged on the area and formed a human chain to protect it. IS has demolished dozens of historic and archaeological sites in and around Mosul, saying they promoted idolatry.

Earlier this month, Mosul residents reported IS fighters had begun sealing off the area around the mosque. Residents said that IS fighters ordered families living in the area to leave likely in preparation for the militants’ final stand.

“This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organization must be annihilated,” U.S. Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, the commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq, said in a written statement.

“The responsibility of this devastation is laid firmly at the doorstep of ISIS,” he added. ISIS is another acronym for the Islamic State group.

The mosque sat at the heart of the Old City, the last IS stronghold in Mosul. Iraqi forces launched a push into the Old City earlier this week, but have made slow progress as the last IS fighters there are holed up with an estimated 100,000 civilians according to the United Nations.

The United Nations special envoy to Iraq, Jan Kubis, said the destruction “is a clear sign” of the IS group’s imminent collapse.

“This latest barbaric act of blowing up a historic Islamic site adds to the annals of Daesh’s crimes against Islamic, Iraqi and human civilization,” Kubis said in a statement. “The destruction … shows their desperation and signals their end.”

Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy for the global coalition against IS, also criticized the destruction at the hands of the militants, describing it as “a very significant moment,” in comments Thursday at an annual security and policy conference in Herzliya, Israel.

“Late yesterday, as Iraqi security forces closed in on that mosque about a hundred meters away, ISIS blew it up, a mosque that sat there since the 12th century, ISIS blew it up,” McGurk said.

The fight to retake Mosul was launched more than eight months ago and has displaced more than 850,000 people. While Iraqi forces have experienced periods of swift gains, combat inside the city has largely been grueling and deadly for both Iraqi forces and civilians.

Al-Jumaili, the archaeology professor, said he long feared the destruction of the mosque and minaret was inevitable.

“It was the last icon for the historic city of Mosul and a valuable symbol,” he said. “I am sure Mosul residents could not sleep last night.”

View post:
ISIS Destroys One of Iraq’s Most Iconic Mosques – TIME

Fair Usage Law

June 22, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Iraq | Reuters.com

BAGHDAD If Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is confirmed dead, he is likely to be succeeded by one of his top two lieutenants, both of whom were Iraqi army officers under late dictator Saddam Hussein.

WASHINGTON In a highly unusual intervention, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to remove Iraq and Myanmar from a U.S. list of the world’s worst offenders in the use of child soldiers, disregarding the recommendations of State Department experts and senior U.S. diplomats, U.S. officials said.

MOSUL/ERBIL, Iraq Iraqi forces battled their way along two streets that meet in the heart of Mosul’s Old City on Friday, and said they aimed to open routes for civilians to flee Islamic State’s last stand there.

MOSUL/BAGHDAD, Iraq The leaning al-Hadba minaret that towered over Mosul for 850 years lay in ruins on Thursday, demolished by retreating Islamic State militants, but Iraq’s prime minister said the act marked their final defeat in the city. |Video

BEIRUT An Iraqi Shi’ite militia fighting alongside Syrian government forces against Islamic State advanced into Syria’s eastern Deir al-Zor province on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported.

BEIRUT Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that a future war waged by Israel against Syria or Lebanon could draw thousands of fighters from countries including Iran and Iraq.

A U.S. judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the deportation of about 100 Iraqi nationals rounded up in Michigan in recent weeks who argued that they could face persecution or torture in Iraq because they are religious minorities.

A seven-year push by U.S. Republicans to dismantle Obamacare and kill the taxes it imposed on the wealthy will reach a critical phase today when Senate Republican leaders unveil a draft bill they aim to put to a vote, possibly as early as next week. The bill is expected to curb Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid help for the poor and reshape subsidies to low-income people for private insurance.

Jun 22 2017

MOSUL/ERBIL, Iraq Islamic State militants on Wednesday blew up the Grand al-Nuri Mosque of Mosul and its famous leaning minaret, Iraq’s military said in a statement, as Iraqi forces seeking to expel the group from the city closed in on the site. |Video

See the original post:
Iraq | Reuters.com

Fair Usage Law

June 20, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

What happens after the Islamic State is defeated in Iraq and Syria? – Washington Post

THE UNITED STATES is committed to defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but as that goal nears realization, another strategic question looms: What security order will replace it, and which of the outside powers enmeshed in the region will stand behind that order? The Trump administration doesnt appear to have a strategy for that, but others clearly do which helps to explain the incidents over the weekend in which the United States downed a Syrian government warplane , while Iran fired intermediate-range missiles from its territory at Islamic State targets in eastern Syria.

Though the two incidents were nominally unrelated, they have a common cause: the drive by Iran and Russia, along with their Syrian and Iraqi Shiite clients, to dominate the space that will be left when the Islamic State is driven from its capital of Raqqa in eastern Syria, which is under assault from U.S.-backed Kurdish and Syrian Arab forces. At stake are both Syrias oil-producing area to the south of Raqqa and a land corridor between Baghdad and Damascus that Iran aspires to control. Russia, for its part, hopes to drive the United States out of the region.

In the past month, U.S.-backed forces in Syrias southeastern corner have come under pressure from Iranian-backed Shiite militias. U.S. commanders have twice bombed convoys that entered an exclusion zone around a border town where American advisers are based and they have destroyed a drone . The Syrian fighter bomber shot down Sunday violated another exclusion zone around the forces surrounding Raqqa. Meanwhile, Irans missile attack, which it said was in response to the Islamic States recent raid on the parliament building in Tehran, was a bold assertion of its willingness to escalate militarily in Syria and maybe elsewhere in the region.

Syria and Iran may calculate that the Trump administration can be induced to abandon the area rather than risk being dragged into a war in the Syrian desert unrelated to the Islamic State. Russias loud protests about the downing of the fighter and its threats to challenge U.S. planes over Syria show that Moscow is more than ready to support this gambit.

The United States doesnt have a strategic reason to control southern and eastern Syria, but it does have a vital interest in preventing Iran from establishing a dominion from Tehran to the Mediterranean with Russias support. That would pose an existential threat to Israel, which is already struggling to prevent Iranian infiltration of Syrian territory adjacent to the Golan Heights, and would undermine U.S. allies in Jordan and Iraq.

Countering Iran and Russia requires tactical defense by U.S.-backed forces, like that recently ordered by commanders on the ground. But it will also require a broader strategy to create a security order in the region acceptable to the United States and its allies. To achieve that, the administration may need to raise the military or economic pressures on Iran, Russia and the Syrian government while pressing for negotiations on a new Syrian political order. Not only should the United States reject Moscows bluffing about Syrian airspace, but also the Trump administration should make clear to Vladimir Putins regime that if it continues to ally itself with Iran in the region, it will forfeit any chance of resetting relations with Washington.

Go here to read the rest:
What happens after the Islamic State is defeated in Iraq and Syria? – Washington Post

Fair Usage Law

June 19, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Commentary: Trump’s silver lining in Iraq – Reuters

Will the defeat of Islamic State in Iraq be a foreign policy victory for Donald Trump? With the fall of Mosul imminent, what happens next?

There will be winners, like the Kurds. There will be losers, like Iraqs Sunni minority. There will be gains for Iran, which backs the Shiite militias drafted to fight Sunni-dominated IS. And there may be a silver lining for the Trump administration – specifically in the form of Kurdish independence and permanent American bases in a Shiite-ruled Iraq. But any declaration of victory on the part of the United States depends on how the measure of those results is taken.

Start with the Kurds. Their military forces currently control a swath of northern territory, including the oil-rich province of Kirkuk. The area has been a functional confederacy since soon after the American invasion of 2003 and in spite of likely opposition from Baghdad, a fully-realized nation-state of Kurdistan seems inevitable. The Kurds certainly think so; theyll hold an independence referendum on September 25.

Previous U.S. administrations restrained Kurdish ambitions, trying to keep Iraq more or less as it was within its 2003 borders. George W. Bush, and to a lesser extent Barack Obama, wished for a unified Iraq as a symbol, the conclusion of the invasion narrative of eliminating Saddam Hussein and establishing a new semi-secular ally in the heart of the Middle East. A unified Iraq that enveloped the Kurds was also sought by NATO ally Turkey, which feared an independent Kurdish state on its disputed eastern border.

MORE FROM REUTERS

From caliph to fugitive: IS leader Baghdadis new life on the run

Commentary: UKs Theresa May is right to stay. For now.

Podcast: How the Pentagons wasteful budget hurts the military

The Trump White House appears less anguished about Kurdish independence; Trump is for the first time, for example, overtlyarmingpro-Kurdish independence militias, whom the Turks call terrorists, to take on Islamic State. Washington doesnt seem to have a plan for disarming the militias before they start fighting for control of disputed ancestral Kurdish lands held by Turkey.

So the key question has become not if the Kurds will announce some sort of statehood, but whether the Kurds will go to war with Turkey to round out their territorial claims in the process. The United States, with the ties that previously bound Washington and Ankara weakened following Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian crackdown, might just be ready to stand aside and allow Kurdish ambitions to play out. The Kurds are respected in American conservative circles important to Trump, and the Turks have fewer friends than ever there. Kurdish oil will be welcome to Washington, and the Kurds have always championed close security ties with the U.S. A strong U.S.-Kurd alliance will also help Trump keep Iran in check.

Meanwhile, an Obama-era marriage of practicality which brought Shiite militias into the fight against Islamic State will not play out as well for Trump.

Any reluctance on the part of the United States to act as a restraining force on the Iraqi central government’s empowering of Shiite militias disappeared in 2014. As the Iraqi National Army collapsed in front of Islamic State, the crisis demanded battle-ready forces, and the militias were the only option available outside of Kurdish-controlled areas.

The problem for America is that many of those Shiite militias owe significant allegiance toIran, whichhelpsarm them and supplements their efforts withspecial forcesand leadership. Unlike the post-invasion years of about 2006 forward, when the United States and Iran fought a shadow war for control inside Iraq, America has had to accept that it needs the militias to defeat Islamic State.

Time will tell what Iran will do with its influence in Iraq. But there is certainly nothing for the White House to celebrate seeing Iranian boots on the same ground where Americans died to hold territory. Or with having to deal with a Baghdad government beholden to Tehran and its Shiite militias.

In the Sunni parts of Iraq, there is no real win for the Trump administration. The fight against Islamic State is destroying Mosul, and has already devastated Sunni cities like Ramada and Fallujah. Neither Washington nor Baghdad has any realistic plans to rebuild.

Yet despite a tangential win alongside the Kurds, and with clear losses vis-vis the Shiite and Sunnis, there is perhaps a real silver lining in Iraq for Trump. Permanent American military bases.

Post-Islamic State, Iraq will be a Shiite nation with close ties to Iran. The price Iraq and Iran will be forced to pay for Americas reluctant pragmatism over this will likely be small but permanent American military bases inside Iraq, mostly out of sight in the far west. (You wont laugh if you remember that the U.S. maintained its base at Guantanamo even after it severed ties with Soviet-dominated Cuba.)

Trump is unlikely to give up bases in a rush to declare victory in Iraq, as did his predecessors, and has several thousand American troops already in place to back up his plans. America seeks bases as a symbol of some sort of victory, a way to block any politically-ugly Shiite reprisals against the Sunnis, and as a bulwark against whatever happens in Syria. In addition, Israel is likely to near-demand the United States garrison western Iraq as a buffer against expanding Iranian power.

Sealing the deal is that Iran will have little to gain from a fight over some desert estate that it would probably lose anyway, when their prize is the rest of Iraq. Those bases even might, at America’s expense, keep any Sunni successors to Islamic State from moving into Iraq – as happened after al Qaeda outstayed its welcome.

While the fight against Islamic State in Iraq isnt over, an ending of sorts is clear enough to allow for some reasonable predictions. But whatever happens will leave an unanswered, and sadly, perhaps unasked, question: was the outcome worth to Americans the cost of some 4,500 dead, and trillions of taxpayer dollars spent, over the last 14 years?

The Pentagon lost track of equipment worth more than a billion dollars, according to a now declassified Department of Defense audit obtained by Amnesty International last month. The F-35 program has already cost $100 billion to develop, and may not even be ready for combat according to an ex-director. The Justice Department has charged at least 20 U.S. Navy flag officers in the Fat Leonard scandal one of the biggest corruption scandals in American military history.

The chancellor of Germany no longer trusts the United States or the United Kingdom. In a May 28 campaign speech in Bavaria, Angela Merkel signaled distance from the two Anglo Saxon states, telling her audience we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.

More:
Commentary: Trump’s silver lining in Iraq – Reuters

Fair Usage Law

June 12, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

ISIS Militants Plotted Tehran Attacks for a Year, Fought in Iraq and Syria, Iran Says – Newsweek

The Islamic State group (ISIS) militants who perpetrated two deadly gun and bomb attacks Wednesday in Tehran were Iranians who had joined the jihadis fighting in Iraq and Syria before returning last year, accordingto Iranian intelligence.

In a statement published Thursday, Irans Intelligence Ministry said the five men responsible for ISISs first major attacks in Iran operated within a network led by high-ranking Daesh commander Abu Aisha, referencing the Arabic-language acronym for ISIS. The attacks in Tehrans parliament and the mausoleum of former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeinikilled 17 people and injured over 50.

The men had reportedly visited the jihadis strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq before returning to Iran in summer 2016 to carry out terrorist operations in religious cities. They were forced to flee after Abu Aisha was killedbut returned sometime later to launch Wednesdays unprecedented assault.

Subscribe to Newsweek from $1 per week

Related: Trump’s response to Iran ISIS attack is “repugnant,” says Foreign Minister Zarif

“The five known terrorists…after joining the Daesh (IS) terrorist group, left the country and participated in crimes carried out by this terrorist group in Mosul and Raqa,” the ministry said in a statement cited by Agence France-Presse.

A gunman is seen entering Iranian parliament building in a still image taken from closed-circuit television (CCTV), taken on June 7, in Tehran, Iran. Iranian intelligence said the five gunmen who killed 17 in the twin gun and bomb attacks were members of ISIS who had previously fought in Syria and Iraq. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting/Reuters

A day later, Irans Intelligence Ministry released the first names of the five attackers, who were identified as Seriyas, Fereydoun, Qayyoum, Abu Jahad and Ramin, according to Irans Press TV, which is close to the countrys Islamic government. Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps also issued a statement, laying blame for the attacks on the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. In an interview Wednesday with Iran’s semi-officialFars News Agency, IRGC Deputy Head of Intelligence Mohammad Hossein Nejatpointed out that the massacre, which ISIS has claimed, came just weeksafter President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia and Israel to pledge more stringent measures against Iran.

Following the attacks, Trump issued a statement saying he would pray for the victims, but he added that “states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.” Iran supports a number of Shiite Muslim militant groups and political parties, such as Lebanon-based Hezbollah, which the U.S. has deemed a foreign terrorist organization. A number of these groups in Syria and Iraq are active in the fight against ISIS.

Iranian Foreign MinisterMohammad Javad Zarif condemned Trump’s statement, calling it “repugnant” and accusing the U.S. of supporting ISIS. When war broke out in Syria in 2011, the U.S., Turkey and some Gulf Arab states supported various insurgents opposed to Iran-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Some of these fighters joined or were overtaken by jihadigroups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

A boy is evacuated during an attack on the Iranian parliament in central Tehran, Iran, on June 7. In the wake of twin deadly attacks on Iran claimed by ISIS, both the U.S. and Iran have accused each other of sponsoring terrorism abroad. Omid Vahabzadeh/Reuters

The IRGC denied that the attacks indicated any security gaps and assured Iranians that the nation’s security apparatus would seek revenge against suspected militants. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also played down the effects of Wednesday’s fatal events, referring to them as a “firecracker” that “will not have the slightest effect on the will of the people,” AFP reported. President Hassan Rouhani said ISIS’s actions would only unite Iranand called for greater international support in tackling militant groups.

“Terrorism is a global problem, and unity to fight extremism, violence and terrorism with regional and international cooperation is the most important need of todays world,” Rouhani said, according to AFP.

More:
ISIS Militants Plotted Tehran Attacks for a Year, Fought in Iraq and Syria, Iran Says – Newsweek

Fair Usage Law

June 8, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Hezbollah commander’s death in Iraq overshadows Mideast, Israel – The Jerusalem Post


The Jerusalem Post
Hezbollah commander's death in Iraq overshadows Mideast, Israel
The Jerusalem Post
On Friday, the UK-based website Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that a source close to Hashd al-Shaabi (PMU), a collection of Shi'ite militias affiliated with the Iraqi government, had said a Hezbollah commander was killed fighting against Islamic State in

Continued here:
Hezbollah commander’s death in Iraq overshadows Mideast, Israel – The Jerusalem Post

Fair Usage Law

June 4, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Pleasese explain Iraq invasion – The Canberra Times

Dennis Richardson, former head of ASIO and of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and of Defence, tells us that former PM John Howard was very good at receiving advice he didn’t like (“True servant of Australia”, CT, May 28).

This raises only two possibilities in relation to Howard dragging an unwilling Australia into the catastrophic invasion of Iraq, which has severely undermined Australia’s security. Either Howard was not good at receiving unwelcome advice, or the advice he received at that time was appalling.

We won’t know who said what on this most momentous decision because both our two biggest political parties have refused to consider a parliamentary inquiry into it.

On the same theme of giving advice, Greg Colton’s article “Sleepwalking in Iraq” (CT, May 26) reports on the recent “War in the Sand-pit” seminar which addressed lessons from Australia’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Keynote speaker at the conference was Robert Hill, Howard’s defence minister when we invaded Iraq. Having a good track record is apparently not a criterion for being hailed as an authority on making Australia secure. If it were, hundreds of thousands of Australians who took to the streets in 2002-03 would be more credible.

When proposals to go to war are not even debated in our Parliament, critical questions about objectives, strategy, legality, civilian and military costs, and likely outcome can be easily ignored. And a decade hence, the key players will again give keynote addresses on why it all went so wrong.

Dr Sue Wareham, vice-president Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia), Cook

In “Reform to return fun to Saudi Arabia” (Sunday CT, April 30, p14), it was posited Saudi clerics were considering opening cinemas to meet demands of an entertainment-starved populace, which, except for the royal rave spectacles frequently provided, gratis, in Deera (“chop chop”) Square (153 executions in 2016, 158 in 2015), and an occasional bicycle-riding female if “appropriately” dressed and with male chaperone! is zero.

The decision to close cinemas was further justified by screening, to apoplectic Saudi outrage, the 1980 ATV docu-drama Death of a Princess! Perhaps entertainer Trump will fill some of the void until cinemas reopen, after all his verbal somersaults, alternative facts and contortions were command performances, worthy of the world media stage he dominated on his Middle East weapons selling jaunt (“Trump’s right royal hypocrisy”, Sunday CT, May 28, p18).

Trump’s genuflecting was not out of reverence for the holy site of Mecca, but in aid of America’s military industrial complex, which he hopes to enrich to the tune of $110billion from his deals, plus lifting of Obama-imposed sanctions, worth another $350billion over 10 years, thus “making America great again”. (Minister Pyne visited Riyadh in December 2016 to secure Australia’s share of the matriel budget, the world’s largest.)

As Trump was making deals with these despotic misogynists, US-supplied weapons were, as they signed, being used to pulverise Yemen. That, presumably, would not have impacted Trump’s “moral” compass.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan

I have read the article (“Change not easy”, CT, May 28, p1) by Timna Jacks. I learn that both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten are not fully endorsing the Indigenous leaders’ resolutions taken at the recent summit. Mr Turnbull suggests that it’s not easy to make such a change. Mr Shorten is also stepping back from his call for a treaty. I can assure both of them that it is easy to have a successful referendum if they join together and appeal to the electorates. It needs political courage and conviction. But have they got it?

Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt

It is good to read that James Allan (letters, May 29) sees the need for peace, harmony and prosperity in our world today.

But this is what all religions have been trying to get across for millennia. To blame religion itself is superficial thinking. Think deeper.

The real problem is tribalism/economic advantage; read the history of any recent trouble spot (Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, Sunni/Shiite, Indonesia) and what do you see?

Religion was only the family marker that identified tribal membership. The Manchester bomber was angry about treatment of his tribe in Libya, and being not too bright was gulled into hurting young people at random. This is the key: “not too bright”. Yes, the history of religions is barbaric. So are yours and mine, uncomfortably recently. It’s up to us to put it right.

Dr Peter Cooper, Greenway

Paul Malone had better be careful. Religious people like me (well, I am told that non-belief is a faith) could take offence at his reference (CT, May 28) to people hearing from God or Allah. And on a Sunday, too.

Barrie Smillie, Duffy

The idea that we should seriously consider a future without Medicare, without ever intending to go there, would be like asking the Israelis to consider living in a future united with the democratic state of Palestine, just to give the debate credibility by considering all the options, you understand.

The Coalition plans to reduce Medicare to a combination of second-rate public services for second-class citizens and some sort of voucher system. They don’t have the guts to admit it in the current climate, so they plan to change the climate. Just wait for their polemical mouthpieces in the right-wing press to take up cudgels.

S. W. Davey, Torrens

Peter Martin outlines a logical argument (“Why is Adani is [sic] banking on the unbankable? The answer might be more Australian than you think.” Comment, June 1, pp 16-17) as to why Gautam Adani would want to persist with his Galilee Basin Mine, including a railway company in the Cayman Islands, despite India’s winding down of coal imports and a move to renewable energy.

It might be all very fine for Adani, but what’s in it for Australia, other than the possibility of a huge hole in the ground, severe depletion of central Queensland’s groundwater resources, added pollution of the Great Barrier Reef and environs and a mere 1464 jobs?

From my point of view, it still doesn’t make sense for Australia.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message eld, not as an attached le. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).

Read this article:
Pleasese explain Iraq invasion – The Canberra Times

Fair Usage Law

June 3, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

The politics of Kirkuk is a thorny problem for Iraq – TRT World

Iraqs northern city of Kirkuk becomes a disputed area as the local provincial council decides to conduct a referendum on its status.

Photo by: AFP

The Kurdish Regional Government flag (L) and the Iraqi flag (R) being raised over a government building in Kirkuk, Iraq, March 28, 2017.

The dual flags of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) wave across Kirkuk, symbolising a larger struggle overcontrol ofthe oil-rich city.

Kirkuk has been a political flashpointin Iraq for decades.

At least four minority groups Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, and Turkmenlive there.

But the KRG has been arguing with Baghdads central government over control of the city. They say they earned that right after the Kurdish Peshmerga pushed Daesh out of the city in 2014.

“We think this flag should wave and stay here, we have shed our blood for Kirkuk for years. We have martyrs, we protected our city from Daesh, we resisted them,” said Ahmet Sabir.

Iraqi Turkmen Front Deputy Chairman and MP for KirkukprovinceHasan Turan said, “By waving the flag of northern Iraq, Kurdish parties are trying to give Kirkuk a different identity. We can never accept this.”

Human Rights Watch last year accusedthe KRG of forcing Sunni Arab families to leave the city. It is an accusation that the KRG denies.

TRT Worlds Zeina Awad explains tensions in Kirkuk.

Saudi King invites Muslim leaders for summit with Trump

14 things to know about Hamas’ new leader, Ismail Haniya

Why are Turkey and the US falling out over Syria?

Four UN peacekeepers killed, eight wounded in Central African Republic

Iraqi painter draws life under Daesh

Abbas ready to work on Trump’s Palestine-Israel peace plan

See more here:
The politics of Kirkuk is a thorny problem for Iraq – TRT World

Fair Usage Law

May 10, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Hobby Lobby Purchased Thousands of Ancient Artifacts Smuggled Out of Iraq – The Atlantic

Hobby Lobby purchased thousands of ancient artifacts smuggled out of modern-day Iraq via the United Arab Emirates and Israel in 2010 and 2011, attorneys for the Eastern District of New York announced on Wednesday. As part of a settlement, the American craft-supply mega-chain will pay $3 million and the U.S. government will seize the illicit artifacts. Technically, the defendants in the civil-forfeiture action are the objects themselves, yielding an incredible case name: The United States of America v. Approximately Four Hundred Fifty (450) Ancient Cuneiform Tablets; and Approximately Three Thousand (3,000) Ancient-Clay Bullae. Can Hobby Lobby Buy the Bible? Under any circumstances, this case would be wild: It involves thousands of ancient artifacts that seem to have been stolen from Iraq, where the pillaging of antiquities has been rampant. The longstanding trade in antiquities of dubious provenance has become an especially sensitive topic in recent years, and a target of increased law-enforcement scrutiny: ISIS has made some untold millionsor billionsby selling ancient goods. While nothing in the case indicates that these objects were associated with any terrorist group, the very nature of smuggled goods means their provenance is muddy. But the case really matters because of whos involved. The members of the Green family, which owns the Hobby Lobby chain, are committed evangelical Christians who are probably most famous for their participation in a 2014 Supreme Court case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which helped dismantle certain birth-control-coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The Greens are big collectors of ancient antiquities; theyre also the primary visionaries and contributors behind the Museum of the Bible opening in Washington, D.C., this fall. Steve Green is the chairman of the board. The familys famous name, now tied to a story of dealer intrigue and black markets, is likely to bring even further scrutiny and attention as they prepare to open their museum. Law-enforcement officials report that in 2010, Hobby Lobbys president, Steve Green, visited the United Arab Emirates with an antiquities consultant to inspect more than 5,548 artifacts. The objectswhich were precious and collectively worth millions of dollarswere displayed informally, the complaint stated, spread on the floor, arranged in layers on a coffee table, and packed loosely in cardboard boxes, in many instances with little or no protective material between them. They included cuneiform tablets, which display writing used in ancient Mesopotamia, and clay bullae, or balls of clay printed with ancient seals. Two Israeli dealers and one dealer from the UAE were present; the objects allegedly belonged to the family of a third Israeli dealer. One of the Israeli dealers sent Hobby Lobby a statement of provenance, claiming that the objects were legally acquired through purchases made in the 1960s. It also named a custodian who purportedly, in the 1970s, took care of the objects while they were being stored in the United States. But that person never actually stored anything for the third Israeli dealer, the complaint alleges, and Hobby Lobby never contacted the custodian. The company went forward with the sale, even though it had retained an antiquities expert who cautioned against the purchase. I would regard the acquisition of any artifact likely from Iraq as carrying considerable risk, that expert wrote in a memorandum shared with the companys in-house counsel, according to the complaint. An estimated 200-500,000 objects have been looted from archaeological sites in Iraq since the early 1990s; particularly popular on the market and likely to have been looted are cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets. Cultural objects looted from Iraq since 1990 are protected by special import restrictions that carry criminal penalties and large fines, the expert added. Hobby Lobby was new to the world of acquiring these items, and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process. Hobby Lobby wired $1.6 million to seven different bank accounts associated with five different people to pay for the items. The artifacts were shipped to the United States in multiple packages falsely labeled Tiles (Sample). They were also sent to multiple locations. As the complaint notes, The use of multiple shipping addresses for a single recipient is consistent with methods used by cultural property smugglers to avoid scrutiny by Customs. On customs forms, the UAE dealer supplied false invoices that substantially undervalued the pieces, presumably as a way to avoid customs inspection. In January 2011, Customs and Border Protection seized five packages falsely labeled as originating in Turkey. Following its investigation, CPB has seized roughly 3,450 objectsthe 450 ancient cuneiform tablets and 3,000 ancient clay bullae for which the case is named. As part of a settlement to the governments civil action against Hobby Lobby, the company has accepted responsibility for its past conduct and agreed to revise its internal procedures and train its employees, along with submitting quarterly reports on further acquisitions over the next 18 months. That period of time will be crucial as the museum prepares for its opening. We dont have any concerns about our collection, said Steven Bickley, the vice president of marketing, administration, and finance. The artifacts that were referred to were never in our collection. He added that the museum wasnt part of the investigation or the settlement. For its part, the Green family has framed this as a lesson learned. In 2010, Hobby Lobby was new to the world of acquiring these items, and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process, read a statement on the companys website. This resulted in some regrettable mistakes. The company imprudently relied on dealers and shippers who, in hindsight, did not understand the correct way to document and ship these items. Green says he takes responsibility for what happened. We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled, he said in a statement on Hobby Lobbys website. Hobby Lobby has cooperated with the government throughout its investigation, and with the announcement of todays settlement agreement, is pleased the matter has been resolved.

Fair Usage Law

July 5, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

ISIS Destroys One of Iraq’s Most Iconic Mosques – TIME

Updated: 9:57 AM ET | Originally published: Jun 21, 2017 (IRBIL, Iraq) The Islamic State group blew up a historic landmark in Mosul the city’s famed 12th century al-Nuri mosque with its iconic leaning minaret known as al-Hadba, from where the IS leader proclaimed the militant group’s self-styled caliphate nearly three years ago. The explosion destroyed another piece of priceless Iraqi cultural heritage but also sent a strong message to U.S.-led coalition forces and Iraqi troops closing in on the last stronghold of IS, in Mosul’s Old City neighborhood. Iraq’s Ministry of Defense said the militants detonated explosives planted inside the structures on Wednesday night. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tweeted early on Thursday that the destruction was an admission by the militants that they are losing the fight for Iraq’s second-largest city. “Daesh’s bombing of the al-Hadba minaret and the al-Nuri Mosque is a formal declaration of their defeat,” al-Abadi said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. “It is a shock, a real big shock,” Amir al-Jumaili, a professor at the Archaeology College in Mosul told The Associated Press. The al-Nuri mosque, which is also known as Mosul’s Great Mosque, is where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a rare public appearance, declaring a so-called Islamic caliphate in the summer of 2014, shortly after Mosul was overrun by the militants. The minaret that leaned like Italy’s Tower of Pisa had stood for more than 840 years. The IS blew up the mosque during the celebrations of Laylat al Qadr, the holiest night of the year for Muslims. The “Night of Power” commemorates the night the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is now underway. An IS statement posted online shortly after the Ministry of Defense reported the mosque’s destruction blamed an airstrike by the United States for the loss of the mosque and minaret. The U.S.-led coalition rejected the IS claim. Spokesman, U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon told the Associated Press coalition planes “did not conduct strikes in that area at that time.” IS fighters initially attempted to destroy the minaret in July 2014. The militants said the structure contradicted their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, but Mosul residents converged on the area and formed a human chain to protect it. IS has demolished dozens of historic and archaeological sites in and around Mosul, saying they promoted idolatry. Earlier this month, Mosul residents reported IS fighters had begun sealing off the area around the mosque. Residents said that IS fighters ordered families living in the area to leave likely in preparation for the militants’ final stand. “This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organization must be annihilated,” U.S. Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, the commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq, said in a written statement. “The responsibility of this devastation is laid firmly at the doorstep of ISIS,” he added. ISIS is another acronym for the Islamic State group. The mosque sat at the heart of the Old City, the last IS stronghold in Mosul. Iraqi forces launched a push into the Old City earlier this week, but have made slow progress as the last IS fighters there are holed up with an estimated 100,000 civilians according to the United Nations. The United Nations special envoy to Iraq, Jan Kubis, said the destruction “is a clear sign” of the IS group’s imminent collapse. “This latest barbaric act of blowing up a historic Islamic site adds to the annals of Daesh’s crimes against Islamic, Iraqi and human civilization,” Kubis said in a statement. “The destruction … shows their desperation and signals their end.” Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy for the global coalition against IS, also criticized the destruction at the hands of the militants, describing it as “a very significant moment,” in comments Thursday at an annual security and policy conference in Herzliya, Israel. “Late yesterday, as Iraqi security forces closed in on that mosque about a hundred meters away, ISIS blew it up, a mosque that sat there since the 12th century, ISIS blew it up,” McGurk said. The fight to retake Mosul was launched more than eight months ago and has displaced more than 850,000 people. While Iraqi forces have experienced periods of swift gains, combat inside the city has largely been grueling and deadly for both Iraqi forces and civilians. Al-Jumaili, the archaeology professor, said he long feared the destruction of the mosque and minaret was inevitable. “It was the last icon for the historic city of Mosul and a valuable symbol,” he said. “I am sure Mosul residents could not sleep last night.”

Fair Usage Law

June 22, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Iraq | Reuters.com

BAGHDAD If Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is confirmed dead, he is likely to be succeeded by one of his top two lieutenants, both of whom were Iraqi army officers under late dictator Saddam Hussein. WASHINGTON In a highly unusual intervention, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to remove Iraq and Myanmar from a U.S. list of the world’s worst offenders in the use of child soldiers, disregarding the recommendations of State Department experts and senior U.S. diplomats, U.S. officials said. MOSUL/ERBIL, Iraq Iraqi forces battled their way along two streets that meet in the heart of Mosul’s Old City on Friday, and said they aimed to open routes for civilians to flee Islamic State’s last stand there. MOSUL/BAGHDAD, Iraq The leaning al-Hadba minaret that towered over Mosul for 850 years lay in ruins on Thursday, demolished by retreating Islamic State militants, but Iraq’s prime minister said the act marked their final defeat in the city. |Video BEIRUT An Iraqi Shi’ite militia fighting alongside Syrian government forces against Islamic State advanced into Syria’s eastern Deir al-Zor province on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported. BEIRUT Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that a future war waged by Israel against Syria or Lebanon could draw thousands of fighters from countries including Iran and Iraq. A U.S. judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the deportation of about 100 Iraqi nationals rounded up in Michigan in recent weeks who argued that they could face persecution or torture in Iraq because they are religious minorities. A seven-year push by U.S. Republicans to dismantle Obamacare and kill the taxes it imposed on the wealthy will reach a critical phase today when Senate Republican leaders unveil a draft bill they aim to put to a vote, possibly as early as next week. The bill is expected to curb Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid help for the poor and reshape subsidies to low-income people for private insurance. Jun 22 2017 MOSUL/ERBIL, Iraq Islamic State militants on Wednesday blew up the Grand al-Nuri Mosque of Mosul and its famous leaning minaret, Iraq’s military said in a statement, as Iraqi forces seeking to expel the group from the city closed in on the site. |Video

Fair Usage Law

June 20, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

What happens after the Islamic State is defeated in Iraq and Syria? – Washington Post

THE UNITED STATES is committed to defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but as that goal nears realization, another strategic question looms: What security order will replace it, and which of the outside powers enmeshed in the region will stand behind that order? The Trump administration doesnt appear to have a strategy for that, but others clearly do which helps to explain the incidents over the weekend in which the United States downed a Syrian government warplane , while Iran fired intermediate-range missiles from its territory at Islamic State targets in eastern Syria. Though the two incidents were nominally unrelated, they have a common cause: the drive by Iran and Russia, along with their Syrian and Iraqi Shiite clients, to dominate the space that will be left when the Islamic State is driven from its capital of Raqqa in eastern Syria, which is under assault from U.S.-backed Kurdish and Syrian Arab forces. At stake are both Syrias oil-producing area to the south of Raqqa and a land corridor between Baghdad and Damascus that Iran aspires to control. Russia, for its part, hopes to drive the United States out of the region. In the past month, U.S.-backed forces in Syrias southeastern corner have come under pressure from Iranian-backed Shiite militias. U.S. commanders have twice bombed convoys that entered an exclusion zone around a border town where American advisers are based and they have destroyed a drone . The Syrian fighter bomber shot down Sunday violated another exclusion zone around the forces surrounding Raqqa. Meanwhile, Irans missile attack, which it said was in response to the Islamic States recent raid on the parliament building in Tehran, was a bold assertion of its willingness to escalate militarily in Syria and maybe elsewhere in the region. Syria and Iran may calculate that the Trump administration can be induced to abandon the area rather than risk being dragged into a war in the Syrian desert unrelated to the Islamic State. Russias loud protests about the downing of the fighter and its threats to challenge U.S. planes over Syria show that Moscow is more than ready to support this gambit. The United States doesnt have a strategic reason to control southern and eastern Syria, but it does have a vital interest in preventing Iran from establishing a dominion from Tehran to the Mediterranean with Russias support. That would pose an existential threat to Israel, which is already struggling to prevent Iranian infiltration of Syrian territory adjacent to the Golan Heights, and would undermine U.S. allies in Jordan and Iraq. Countering Iran and Russia requires tactical defense by U.S.-backed forces, like that recently ordered by commanders on the ground. But it will also require a broader strategy to create a security order in the region acceptable to the United States and its allies. To achieve that, the administration may need to raise the military or economic pressures on Iran, Russia and the Syrian government while pressing for negotiations on a new Syrian political order. Not only should the United States reject Moscows bluffing about Syrian airspace, but also the Trump administration should make clear to Vladimir Putins regime that if it continues to ally itself with Iran in the region, it will forfeit any chance of resetting relations with Washington.

Fair Usage Law

June 19, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Commentary: Trump’s silver lining in Iraq – Reuters

Will the defeat of Islamic State in Iraq be a foreign policy victory for Donald Trump? With the fall of Mosul imminent, what happens next? There will be winners, like the Kurds. There will be losers, like Iraqs Sunni minority. There will be gains for Iran, which backs the Shiite militias drafted to fight Sunni-dominated IS. And there may be a silver lining for the Trump administration – specifically in the form of Kurdish independence and permanent American bases in a Shiite-ruled Iraq. But any declaration of victory on the part of the United States depends on how the measure of those results is taken. Start with the Kurds. Their military forces currently control a swath of northern territory, including the oil-rich province of Kirkuk. The area has been a functional confederacy since soon after the American invasion of 2003 and in spite of likely opposition from Baghdad, a fully-realized nation-state of Kurdistan seems inevitable. The Kurds certainly think so; theyll hold an independence referendum on September 25. Previous U.S. administrations restrained Kurdish ambitions, trying to keep Iraq more or less as it was within its 2003 borders. George W. Bush, and to a lesser extent Barack Obama, wished for a unified Iraq as a symbol, the conclusion of the invasion narrative of eliminating Saddam Hussein and establishing a new semi-secular ally in the heart of the Middle East. A unified Iraq that enveloped the Kurds was also sought by NATO ally Turkey, which feared an independent Kurdish state on its disputed eastern border. MORE FROM REUTERS From caliph to fugitive: IS leader Baghdadis new life on the run Commentary: UKs Theresa May is right to stay. For now. Podcast: How the Pentagons wasteful budget hurts the military The Trump White House appears less anguished about Kurdish independence; Trump is for the first time, for example, overtlyarmingpro-Kurdish independence militias, whom the Turks call terrorists, to take on Islamic State. Washington doesnt seem to have a plan for disarming the militias before they start fighting for control of disputed ancestral Kurdish lands held by Turkey. So the key question has become not if the Kurds will announce some sort of statehood, but whether the Kurds will go to war with Turkey to round out their territorial claims in the process. The United States, with the ties that previously bound Washington and Ankara weakened following Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian crackdown, might just be ready to stand aside and allow Kurdish ambitions to play out. The Kurds are respected in American conservative circles important to Trump, and the Turks have fewer friends than ever there. Kurdish oil will be welcome to Washington, and the Kurds have always championed close security ties with the U.S. A strong U.S.-Kurd alliance will also help Trump keep Iran in check. Meanwhile, an Obama-era marriage of practicality which brought Shiite militias into the fight against Islamic State will not play out as well for Trump. Any reluctance on the part of the United States to act as a restraining force on the Iraqi central government’s empowering of Shiite militias disappeared in 2014. As the Iraqi National Army collapsed in front of Islamic State, the crisis demanded battle-ready forces, and the militias were the only option available outside of Kurdish-controlled areas. The problem for America is that many of those Shiite militias owe significant allegiance toIran, whichhelpsarm them and supplements their efforts withspecial forcesand leadership. Unlike the post-invasion years of about 2006 forward, when the United States and Iran fought a shadow war for control inside Iraq, America has had to accept that it needs the militias to defeat Islamic State. Time will tell what Iran will do with its influence in Iraq. But there is certainly nothing for the White House to celebrate seeing Iranian boots on the same ground where Americans died to hold territory. Or with having to deal with a Baghdad government beholden to Tehran and its Shiite militias. In the Sunni parts of Iraq, there is no real win for the Trump administration. The fight against Islamic State is destroying Mosul, and has already devastated Sunni cities like Ramada and Fallujah. Neither Washington nor Baghdad has any realistic plans to rebuild. Yet despite a tangential win alongside the Kurds, and with clear losses vis-vis the Shiite and Sunnis, there is perhaps a real silver lining in Iraq for Trump. Permanent American military bases. Post-Islamic State, Iraq will be a Shiite nation with close ties to Iran. The price Iraq and Iran will be forced to pay for Americas reluctant pragmatism over this will likely be small but permanent American military bases inside Iraq, mostly out of sight in the far west. (You wont laugh if you remember that the U.S. maintained its base at Guantanamo even after it severed ties with Soviet-dominated Cuba.) Trump is unlikely to give up bases in a rush to declare victory in Iraq, as did his predecessors, and has several thousand American troops already in place to back up his plans. America seeks bases as a symbol of some sort of victory, a way to block any politically-ugly Shiite reprisals against the Sunnis, and as a bulwark against whatever happens in Syria. In addition, Israel is likely to near-demand the United States garrison western Iraq as a buffer against expanding Iranian power. Sealing the deal is that Iran will have little to gain from a fight over some desert estate that it would probably lose anyway, when their prize is the rest of Iraq. Those bases even might, at America’s expense, keep any Sunni successors to Islamic State from moving into Iraq – as happened after al Qaeda outstayed its welcome. While the fight against Islamic State in Iraq isnt over, an ending of sorts is clear enough to allow for some reasonable predictions. But whatever happens will leave an unanswered, and sadly, perhaps unasked, question: was the outcome worth to Americans the cost of some 4,500 dead, and trillions of taxpayer dollars spent, over the last 14 years? The Pentagon lost track of equipment worth more than a billion dollars, according to a now declassified Department of Defense audit obtained by Amnesty International last month. The F-35 program has already cost $100 billion to develop, and may not even be ready for combat according to an ex-director. The Justice Department has charged at least 20 U.S. Navy flag officers in the Fat Leonard scandal one of the biggest corruption scandals in American military history. The chancellor of Germany no longer trusts the United States or the United Kingdom. In a May 28 campaign speech in Bavaria, Angela Merkel signaled distance from the two Anglo Saxon states, telling her audience we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.

Fair Usage Law

June 12, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

ISIS Militants Plotted Tehran Attacks for a Year, Fought in Iraq and Syria, Iran Says – Newsweek

The Islamic State group (ISIS) militants who perpetrated two deadly gun and bomb attacks Wednesday in Tehran were Iranians who had joined the jihadis fighting in Iraq and Syria before returning last year, accordingto Iranian intelligence. In a statement published Thursday, Irans Intelligence Ministry said the five men responsible for ISISs first major attacks in Iran operated within a network led by high-ranking Daesh commander Abu Aisha, referencing the Arabic-language acronym for ISIS. The attacks in Tehrans parliament and the mausoleum of former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeinikilled 17 people and injured over 50. The men had reportedly visited the jihadis strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq before returning to Iran in summer 2016 to carry out terrorist operations in religious cities. They were forced to flee after Abu Aisha was killedbut returned sometime later to launch Wednesdays unprecedented assault. Subscribe to Newsweek from $1 per week Related: Trump’s response to Iran ISIS attack is “repugnant,” says Foreign Minister Zarif “The five known terrorists…after joining the Daesh (IS) terrorist group, left the country and participated in crimes carried out by this terrorist group in Mosul and Raqa,” the ministry said in a statement cited by Agence France-Presse. A gunman is seen entering Iranian parliament building in a still image taken from closed-circuit television (CCTV), taken on June 7, in Tehran, Iran. Iranian intelligence said the five gunmen who killed 17 in the twin gun and bomb attacks were members of ISIS who had previously fought in Syria and Iraq. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting/Reuters A day later, Irans Intelligence Ministry released the first names of the five attackers, who were identified as Seriyas, Fereydoun, Qayyoum, Abu Jahad and Ramin, according to Irans Press TV, which is close to the countrys Islamic government. Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps also issued a statement, laying blame for the attacks on the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. In an interview Wednesday with Iran’s semi-officialFars News Agency, IRGC Deputy Head of Intelligence Mohammad Hossein Nejatpointed out that the massacre, which ISIS has claimed, came just weeksafter President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia and Israel to pledge more stringent measures against Iran. Following the attacks, Trump issued a statement saying he would pray for the victims, but he added that “states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.” Iran supports a number of Shiite Muslim militant groups and political parties, such as Lebanon-based Hezbollah, which the U.S. has deemed a foreign terrorist organization. A number of these groups in Syria and Iraq are active in the fight against ISIS. Iranian Foreign MinisterMohammad Javad Zarif condemned Trump’s statement, calling it “repugnant” and accusing the U.S. of supporting ISIS. When war broke out in Syria in 2011, the U.S., Turkey and some Gulf Arab states supported various insurgents opposed to Iran-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Some of these fighters joined or were overtaken by jihadigroups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. A boy is evacuated during an attack on the Iranian parliament in central Tehran, Iran, on June 7. In the wake of twin deadly attacks on Iran claimed by ISIS, both the U.S. and Iran have accused each other of sponsoring terrorism abroad. Omid Vahabzadeh/Reuters The IRGC denied that the attacks indicated any security gaps and assured Iranians that the nation’s security apparatus would seek revenge against suspected militants. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also played down the effects of Wednesday’s fatal events, referring to them as a “firecracker” that “will not have the slightest effect on the will of the people,” AFP reported. President Hassan Rouhani said ISIS’s actions would only unite Iranand called for greater international support in tackling militant groups. “Terrorism is a global problem, and unity to fight extremism, violence and terrorism with regional and international cooperation is the most important need of todays world,” Rouhani said, according to AFP.

Fair Usage Law

June 8, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Hezbollah commander’s death in Iraq overshadows Mideast, Israel – The Jerusalem Post

The Jerusalem Post Hezbollah commander's death in Iraq overshadows Mideast, Israel The Jerusalem Post On Friday, the UK-based website Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that a source close to Hashd al-Shaabi (PMU), a collection of Shi'ite militias affiliated with the Iraqi government, had said a Hezbollah commander was killed fighting against Islamic State in …

Fair Usage Law

June 4, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

Pleasese explain Iraq invasion – The Canberra Times

Dennis Richardson, former head of ASIO and of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and of Defence, tells us that former PM John Howard was very good at receiving advice he didn’t like (“True servant of Australia”, CT, May 28). This raises only two possibilities in relation to Howard dragging an unwilling Australia into the catastrophic invasion of Iraq, which has severely undermined Australia’s security. Either Howard was not good at receiving unwelcome advice, or the advice he received at that time was appalling. We won’t know who said what on this most momentous decision because both our two biggest political parties have refused to consider a parliamentary inquiry into it. On the same theme of giving advice, Greg Colton’s article “Sleepwalking in Iraq” (CT, May 26) reports on the recent “War in the Sand-pit” seminar which addressed lessons from Australia’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Keynote speaker at the conference was Robert Hill, Howard’s defence minister when we invaded Iraq. Having a good track record is apparently not a criterion for being hailed as an authority on making Australia secure. If it were, hundreds of thousands of Australians who took to the streets in 2002-03 would be more credible. When proposals to go to war are not even debated in our Parliament, critical questions about objectives, strategy, legality, civilian and military costs, and likely outcome can be easily ignored. And a decade hence, the key players will again give keynote addresses on why it all went so wrong. Dr Sue Wareham, vice-president Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia), Cook In “Reform to return fun to Saudi Arabia” (Sunday CT, April 30, p14), it was posited Saudi clerics were considering opening cinemas to meet demands of an entertainment-starved populace, which, except for the royal rave spectacles frequently provided, gratis, in Deera (“chop chop”) Square (153 executions in 2016, 158 in 2015), and an occasional bicycle-riding female if “appropriately” dressed and with male chaperone! is zero. The decision to close cinemas was further justified by screening, to apoplectic Saudi outrage, the 1980 ATV docu-drama Death of a Princess! Perhaps entertainer Trump will fill some of the void until cinemas reopen, after all his verbal somersaults, alternative facts and contortions were command performances, worthy of the world media stage he dominated on his Middle East weapons selling jaunt (“Trump’s right royal hypocrisy”, Sunday CT, May 28, p18). Trump’s genuflecting was not out of reverence for the holy site of Mecca, but in aid of America’s military industrial complex, which he hopes to enrich to the tune of $110billion from his deals, plus lifting of Obama-imposed sanctions, worth another $350billion over 10 years, thus “making America great again”. (Minister Pyne visited Riyadh in December 2016 to secure Australia’s share of the matriel budget, the world’s largest.) As Trump was making deals with these despotic misogynists, US-supplied weapons were, as they signed, being used to pulverise Yemen. That, presumably, would not have impacted Trump’s “moral” compass. Albert M. White, Queanbeyan I have read the article (“Change not easy”, CT, May 28, p1) by Timna Jacks. I learn that both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten are not fully endorsing the Indigenous leaders’ resolutions taken at the recent summit. Mr Turnbull suggests that it’s not easy to make such a change. Mr Shorten is also stepping back from his call for a treaty. I can assure both of them that it is easy to have a successful referendum if they join together and appeal to the electorates. It needs political courage and conviction. But have they got it? Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt It is good to read that James Allan (letters, May 29) sees the need for peace, harmony and prosperity in our world today. But this is what all religions have been trying to get across for millennia. To blame religion itself is superficial thinking. Think deeper. The real problem is tribalism/economic advantage; read the history of any recent trouble spot (Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, Sunni/Shiite, Indonesia) and what do you see? Religion was only the family marker that identified tribal membership. The Manchester bomber was angry about treatment of his tribe in Libya, and being not too bright was gulled into hurting young people at random. This is the key: “not too bright”. Yes, the history of religions is barbaric. So are yours and mine, uncomfortably recently. It’s up to us to put it right. Dr Peter Cooper, Greenway Paul Malone had better be careful. Religious people like me (well, I am told that non-belief is a faith) could take offence at his reference (CT, May 28) to people hearing from God or Allah. And on a Sunday, too. Barrie Smillie, Duffy The idea that we should seriously consider a future without Medicare, without ever intending to go there, would be like asking the Israelis to consider living in a future united with the democratic state of Palestine, just to give the debate credibility by considering all the options, you understand. The Coalition plans to reduce Medicare to a combination of second-rate public services for second-class citizens and some sort of voucher system. They don’t have the guts to admit it in the current climate, so they plan to change the climate. Just wait for their polemical mouthpieces in the right-wing press to take up cudgels. S. W. Davey, Torrens Peter Martin outlines a logical argument (“Why is Adani is [sic] banking on the unbankable? The answer might be more Australian than you think.” Comment, June 1, pp 16-17) as to why Gautam Adani would want to persist with his Galilee Basin Mine, including a railway company in the Cayman Islands, despite India’s winding down of coal imports and a move to renewable energy. It might be all very fine for Adani, but what’s in it for Australia, other than the possibility of a huge hole in the ground, severe depletion of central Queensland’s groundwater resources, added pollution of the Great Barrier Reef and environs and a mere 1464 jobs? From my point of view, it still doesn’t make sense for Australia. Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message eld, not as an attached le. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610. Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).

Fair Usage Law

June 3, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed

The politics of Kirkuk is a thorny problem for Iraq – TRT World

Iraqs northern city of Kirkuk becomes a disputed area as the local provincial council decides to conduct a referendum on its status. Photo by: AFP The Kurdish Regional Government flag (L) and the Iraqi flag (R) being raised over a government building in Kirkuk, Iraq, March 28, 2017. The dual flags of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) wave across Kirkuk, symbolising a larger struggle overcontrol ofthe oil-rich city. Kirkuk has been a political flashpointin Iraq for decades. At least four minority groups Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, and Turkmenlive there. But the KRG has been arguing with Baghdads central government over control of the city. They say they earned that right after the Kurdish Peshmerga pushed Daesh out of the city in 2014. “We think this flag should wave and stay here, we have shed our blood for Kirkuk for years. We have martyrs, we protected our city from Daesh, we resisted them,” said Ahmet Sabir. Iraqi Turkmen Front Deputy Chairman and MP for KirkukprovinceHasan Turan said, “By waving the flag of northern Iraq, Kurdish parties are trying to give Kirkuk a different identity. We can never accept this.” Human Rights Watch last year accusedthe KRG of forcing Sunni Arab families to leave the city. It is an accusation that the KRG denies. TRT Worlds Zeina Awad explains tensions in Kirkuk. Saudi King invites Muslim leaders for summit with Trump 14 things to know about Hamas’ new leader, Ismail Haniya Why are Turkey and the US falling out over Syria? Four UN peacekeepers killed, eight wounded in Central African Republic Iraqi painter draws life under Daesh Abbas ready to work on Trump’s Palestine-Israel peace plan

Fair Usage Law

May 10, 2017   Posted in: Iraq  Comments Closed


Fair Use Disclaimer

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Under the 'fair use' rule of copyright law, an author may make limited use of another author's work without asking permission. Fair use is based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism. The fair use privilege is perhaps the most significant limitation on a copyright owner's exclusive rights.

Fair use as described at 17 U.S.C. Section 107:

"Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phono-records or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  • (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for or nonprofit educational purposes,
  • (2) the nature of the copyrighted work,
  • (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and
  • (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."