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Jewish and Chaldean Leaders Urge Action in Iraq

By , September 29, 2014 10:49 pm

Metro Detroit’s Jewish community joins with our Chaldean neighbors calling upon the Obama administration and Congress to take immediate, concrete, forceful action to rescue, protect and provide desperately needed humanitarian aid to Christians and other minorities in Iraq.

Chaldeans and Assyrians in Iraq have been targeted for their Christian faith by ISIS and others in an unabashed ethnic-cleansing campaign. Thousands have lost their lives, hundreds of thousands have lost their homes and possessions, and the list of victims grows literally by the hour.

The world is aware of this genocidal devastation, but it has failed to take definitive steps necessary to end the imminent threat against these innocent victims. Congress passed nonbinding resolutions in 2010 (S. Res. 322 and H. Res 944) calling on the Obama administration to work toward ending the marginalization and persecution of ethnic minorities in Iraq. Last month, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2170 condemning gross, widespread abuse of human rights by extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, and demanding that UN member states impose sanctions on the funding and shipment of arms from their citizens to ISIS.

While such measures are important, they are woefully insufficient to meet and deflect the threat faced by Iraqi Christians. The White House and Congress must come together immediately to do the following:

Lead a coalition of willing governments, non-government organizations (NGOs) and other groups to provide direct military protection for Christian and other minority communities threatened by ISIS and other terrorist groups. With innocent lives on the line, this is not the time to be timid in the use of protective military force.

Liberate the 250,000 residents trapped in Christian and other minority villages in the Nineveh Plains, and find a long-term plan to safely resettle them elsewhere in Iraq.

Work with the Iraqi and Kurdish governments and others, as called for in House Res. 683, to establish corridors of safe passage for embattled civilians to reach secure interim humanitarian sites for their respite and recovery.

Provide sufficient direct humanitarian aid and compensation to the threatened and displaced.

Determine durable solutions for the repatriation of displaced persons when possible, and for their resettlement in third countries.

Pass the Nineveh Plain Refugee Act (H.R. 5430), a bipartisan measure to swiftly and significantly increase the issuance of refugee visas by the United States.

Encourage third countries to increase the number of refugee visas they issue to Iraqi refugees.

At a time when hundreds of thousands of lives hang precariously in the balance, the U.S. must not just join coalition efforts. It must convene and take the lead in such efforts.

Supplied by Dr. Richard Krugel, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit; and Alex Stotland, chairperson of the Anti-Defamation League – Michigan Region Advisory Board.

Assyrian International News Agency

Jewish and Chaldean Leaders Urge Action in Iraq

By , September 29, 2014 10:49 pm

Metro Detroit’s Jewish community joins with our Chaldean neighbors calling upon the Obama administration and Congress to take immediate, concrete, forceful action to rescue, protect and provide desperately needed humanitarian aid to Christians and other minorities in Iraq.

Chaldeans and Assyrians in Iraq have been targeted for their Christian faith by ISIS and others in an unabashed ethnic-cleansing campaign. Thousands have lost their lives, hundreds of thousands have lost their homes and possessions, and the list of victims grows literally by the hour.

The world is aware of this genocidal devastation, but it has failed to take definitive steps necessary to end the imminent threat against these innocent victims. Congress passed nonbinding resolutions in 2010 (S. Res. 322 and H. Res 944) calling on the Obama administration to work toward ending the marginalization and persecution of ethnic minorities in Iraq. Last month, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2170 condemning gross, widespread abuse of human rights by extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, and demanding that UN member states impose sanctions on the funding and shipment of arms from their citizens to ISIS.

While such measures are important, they are woefully insufficient to meet and deflect the threat faced by Iraqi Christians. The White House and Congress must come together immediately to do the following:

Lead a coalition of willing governments, non-government organizations (NGOs) and other groups to provide direct military protection for Christian and other minority communities threatened by ISIS and other terrorist groups. With innocent lives on the line, this is not the time to be timid in the use of protective military force.

Liberate the 250,000 residents trapped in Christian and other minority villages in the Nineveh Plains, and find a long-term plan to safely resettle them elsewhere in Iraq.

Work with the Iraqi and Kurdish governments and others, as called for in House Res. 683, to establish corridors of safe passage for embattled civilians to reach secure interim humanitarian sites for their respite and recovery.

Provide sufficient direct humanitarian aid and compensation to the threatened and displaced.

Determine durable solutions for the repatriation of displaced persons when possible, and for their resettlement in third countries.

Pass the Nineveh Plain Refugee Act (H.R. 5430), a bipartisan measure to swiftly and significantly increase the issuance of refugee visas by the United States.

Encourage third countries to increase the number of refugee visas they issue to Iraqi refugees.

At a time when hundreds of thousands of lives hang precariously in the balance, the U.S. must not just join coalition efforts. It must convene and take the lead in such efforts.

Supplied by Dr. Richard Krugel, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit; and Alex Stotland, chairperson of the Anti-Defamation League – Michigan Region Advisory Board.

Assyrian International News Agency

Baylor Hosts Panel About ISIS’ Persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria

By , September 29, 2014 5:07 pm

Baylor Hosts Panel About ISIS’ Persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria

By Kristianna Gross

Posted 2014-09-29 21:31 GMT

WACO — As world leaders come together to take on the brutality of ISIS, thousands of Christians are fleeing from their homes to nearby countries.

Baylor University hosted a panel discussion on “The Crisis Facing Churches in Iraq and Syria.”

Three professors with close ties to the area talked about their personal experiences and described ISIS’ persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.

Just last month, ISIS captured hundreds of Yazidis and Christians alike and offered them a choice, either convert to Islam or face death.

These kinds of acts are forcing thousands of Christians to seek refuge in nearby countries, like Turkey.

One of the speakers, Ph.D. Abdul Saadi described what he’s been told it’s like to be a Christian in the area.

“Our very existence as an ethnic group in Iraq, which we have been there for the last 7,000 years, we were eradicated; we were kicked out in less than seven hours.”

Saadi went on to say that dealing with ISIS isn’t just a Middle East problem, it’s a global issue.

“It is a problem and a crisis for everybody, not only the Christians in the Middle East, but the Muslims in the Middle East, most of the Muslims in the Middle East, it’s a crisis against the whole entire world.”

Saadi says ISIS should not be dismissed as radical, terrorist group because they are proud to be that.

Each of the speakers emphasized that one way Americans can help is to keep Christians in the Middle East in their prayers and to be a voice for the thousands of Christians who don’t have one.

Assyrian International News Agency

Iraq Stock Market Report

By , September 29, 2014 4:57 pm

Iraq Stock Market Report

Advertising Feature

Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 25th September 2014).

Please click here to download a table of listed companies and their associated ticker codes.

The RSISX index ended the week at ID1,5410 (-2.4%)/ $ 1,625 (-2.6%) (weekly change) (-19% and -18.2% YTD change, respectively). The number of week traded shares was 4.6bn and the weekly trading volume was ID5.3bn ($ 4.4mn).

ScreenHunter_1049 Sep. 29 11.21

ISX Company Announcements

  • Babylon Hotel (HBAY) will hold its AGM* on Oct. 18, 2014 to discuss and approve 2013 annual financial results and to cover the accumulated deficit by increasing its capital through 170% rights issue. ISX will suspend trading of HBAY starting Oct. 12, 2014.
  • Original shares of Al-Hamraa for Insurance (NHAM) resumed trading on Sep. 23, 2014 after they approved 2012 & 2013 annual financial results and increasing its capital from IQD3bn to IQD5bn through 66.7% bonus issue. Please note, NHAM is trading in non-regular market.
  • Shares of National for Tourist Investment (HNTI) resumed trading on Sep. 22, 2014 after they approved 2013 annual financial results and distributing 16.6% cash dividend (IQD0.166 per share).
  • Shares of Investment Bank of Iraq (BIBI) resumed trading on Sep. 22, 2014 after they approved 2013 annual financial results and distributing 10.2% cash dividend (IQD0.102 per share).
  • Subscription on 87.8bn Elaf Islamic Bank (BELF) shares started on Sep. 21, 2014 to increase the capital to IQD250bn through 57.76% rights issue.
  • Iraq Registrar of Companies approved the decision of North Bank (BNOR) AGM* to increase its capital from IQD265bn to IQD300bn through 13.2% bonus issue.

Iraq Business News

Iran Threatens to Attack ISIS ‘deep’ Inside Iraq

By , September 29, 2014 5:42 am

Iran Threatens to Attack ISIS ‘deep’ Inside Iraq

Posted 2014-09-29 06:12 GMT

(AFP) — Iran will attack Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) inside Iraq if they advance near the border, ground forces commander Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdestana said in comments published on Saturday.

“If the terrorist group [ISIS] comes near our borders, we will attack deep into Iraqi territory and we will not allow it to approach our border,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Pourdestana as saying.

ISIS controls a swathe of territory north of Baghdad, including in Diyala province, which borders Shiite Iran.

The United States launched air strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq in August and has since widened them to Syria, where the group has its headquarters, as part of an international coalition to crush the group.

Iran is a close ally of the Shiite-led government in Iraq and has been unusually accepting of U.S. military action in Iraq against the jihadists.

It has provided support to both the Iraqi government and Iraqi Kurdish forces fighting the militants and has dispatched weapons and military advisers.

But Tehran, a close ally of the Damascus government, has criticized air strikes on Syria, saying they would not help restore stability in the region.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said he rejected a U.S. offer to join the international coalition it has been building against the militants.

Assyrian International News Agency

Iran to Build CNG Stations in Iraq

By , September 29, 2014 5:33 am

Iran to Build CNG Stations in Iraq

By John Lee.

Iran’s PressTV has reported that Iran plans to buiild at least 10 compressed natural gas (CNG) stations in Iraq.

An official at the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company, said construction of the stations will start once the new pipeline carrying Iranian natural gas to Iraq becomes operational by March 2015.

He noted that the project will be carried out by Iranian private and state-run companies.

(Source: PressTV)

(CNG image via Shutterstock)

Iraq Business News

Britain, Denmark, Belgium Join Military Effort Against Islamic State in Iraq

By , September 28, 2014 6:55 am

LONDON — Three European nations – including Britain – joined the widening U.S.-led air campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq on Friday, even as the group’s fighters renewed their attempt to overrun a strategic border city in Syria.

Britain’s belated entry, seven weeks after the United States began carrying out strikes, followed an overwhelming parliamentary vote to authorize attacks. Denmark and Belgium also opted to join the fight.

But as the coalition expanded, its constraints became clear. All three countries that authorized military action Friday decided to limit their involvement to Iraq. Meanwhile, Islamic State militants demonstrated that airstrikes have failed to slow their assault on critical positions within Syria.

Along the Turkish-Syrian border, Islamic State fighters backed by artillery fire pushed toward the city of Kobane – known in Arabic as Ayn al-Arab – as Syrian Kurdish forces dug in for a key test of their strength.

The United States and its Arab allies broadened their campaign to targets in Syria this week, after a drumbeat of American strikes in Iraq since early August.

But no European ally has been willing to join the Syria campaign – raising the prospect that Islamic State could try to use it as a refuge.

“Simply allowing [Islamic State] to retreat across an invisible border is no answer,” said Peter Hain, a member of Parliament and former cabinet minister, during Britain’s daylong debate.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, scarred by a humiliating defeat last year when he sought permission to launch strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, did not try to win approval for attacks in Syria this time around.

Instead, he limited his proposal to Iraq, where he had a clear consensus thanks to the Iraqi government’s invitation for Western help. No such invitation exists from Syria, and British opposition leader Ed Miliband has suggested he won’t support widening the campaign without a U.N. resolution that is unlikely to ever come.

Friday’s House of Commons vote endorsing Cameron’s plan to deploy six Tornado fighter jets to Iraq was lopsided, at 524-43.

Still, there was opposition from the backbenches, both from hawks who wanted to go further, as well as from doves who insisted the country had not learned the right lessons from more than a decade of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But Cameron argued that the Islamic State was impossible to ignore, given the threat it poses to Britain.

“This is not a threat on the far side of the world. Left unchecked,” Cameron said as he opened the debate, “we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member, with a declared and proven intention to attack our country and our people.”

Cameron and others who support airstrikes were quick to differentiate Friday’s vote from the last time the British Parliament authorized military action in Iraq, in 2003. Cameron stressed that there would be no boots on the ground and said the air campaign would be marked more by “patience and persistence” than “shock and awe.”

The British contribution is modest, representing only a third the number of its jets that flew over Libya during the 2011 campaign against Moammar Gadhafi’s government. But it is similar to the commitment of other nations that have joined the coalition against the Islamic State, including France, the Netherlands, and Australia.

While the British public was divided over joining the air campaign when the United States first launched strikes, opinion has solidified in favor of the idea in recent weeks – especially since Islamic State militants executed two American journalists and a British aid worker. At least two other Britons are known to be held by the group and have been forced to appear in Islamic State videos.

European counterterrorism officials have expressed deep concern that the Islamic State will try to carry out attacks on Western soil, perhaps employing some of the estimated 3,000 Europeans who have traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight with the organization.

Cameron suggested Friday that there would be a strong case for expanding Britain’s air campaign to Syria – but said that would require a separate debate.

Meanwhile, the battle in Syria rages. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday that airstrikes by the United States and its Arab allies had disrupted Islamic State’s command and control, logistics, and infrastructure in Syria.

But the group has continued its quest for territory. Gaining control of Kobane would give the Islamic State a hold over a major stretch of the border and open more potential supply lines, even as airstrikes seek to erode the militants’ financial underpinnings.

The fighting appeared to intensify Friday after days of seesaw clashes.

Assyrian International News Agency

Iraq Crisis: ‘Every Single Christian Wants to Leave’

By , September 27, 2014 7:30 pm

Canon Andrew White is the vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq (photo: David Blair).Christians in the Nineveh region of northern Iraq are unable to celebrate communion for the first time in two millennia, after Islamic State militants captured the area and took over the churches.

Canon Andrew White, vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, told the Telegraph that Isil have set up offices in the churches and have replaced crosses with the militant group’s black flag.

“Last week there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years,” he said. “All [the churches] are closed, all their people have run away. It is so sad.”

Many Christians moved from the Iraqi capital to Mosul and Nineveh in the north of the country following bloody sectarian killings and other violence after the 2003 US-led invasion.

Now an estimated 200,000 Christians have been forced to flee their homes once again after Isil swept through their villages this summer, demanding that they convert to Islam, pay taxes for being Christians or face death.

Canon White said: “Many Christians here are very frightened about what has happened to their community up in the north. Some have relatives who have lost everything: their homes, furniture, cars. They have nothing left at all.”

On Saturday armed British Tornado jets flew on their first mission over northern Iraq since MPs authorised them to carry out strikes on Islamic State targets, joining a US-led coalition against the militants.

Canon White said that people he had spoken to in Iraq recognised the need for air strikes, but feared civilian casualties. He argued that Britain and America may have to consider deploying ground troops.

“From the Iraqi point of view, the only way we can gain some kind of real safety and real removal of the Islamic State, as they call themselves, would be by having troops on the ground.

“But from a British point of view, I wouldn’t want our troops in Iraq, where they could be killed. So it is a difficult situation all round.”

His congregation at St George’s Church in Baghdad has fallen to a little over 1,000 members.

“To be honest, every single Christian wants to leave,” he said.

“I used to say to my people: ‘Don’t you leave. I’m not going to leave you, don’t leave me’. But now every one of them wants to leave and the ones who are left tend to be the poorer ones who couldn’t get away earlier.”

Iraq’s Christian population has more than halved over the past decade or so, from about 1 million before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 to barely 400,000 by July this year.

Assyrian International News Agency

Britain Launches Fighter Jets Against Isis Forces in Iraq

By , September 27, 2014 1:48 pm

RAF jets were unleashed above Iraq on Saturday as Britain threw its military might behind a US-led air war against the rampant Islamic State (Isis) terror group. As two Tornado jets took off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, David Cameron said Britain was playing its part in an international coalition aimed at destroying the “appalling terrorist organisation”.

The Ministry of Defence said the RAF jets, loaded with laser-guided bombs and missiles, were equipped with the capability to perform an attack role.

After the jets returned to base seven hours later, the MoD said their first combat mission had not engaged any targets. Officials said the sorties had, however, gathered “invaluable intelligence” in the quest to degrade Isis’s infrastructure. “Although on this occasion no targets were identified as requiring immediate air attack by our aircraft, the intelligence gathered by the Tornados’ highly sophisticated surveillance equipment will be invaluable,” the MoD said. It also revealed that RAF transport aircraft had delivered fresh supplies to the Kurdish authorities to bolster their efforts to defeat Isis.

The British entry into the war on Isis came less than 24 hours after MPs voted by 524 to 43 in favour of approving air strikes against Isis targets in Iraq, the first such military action in the country since British troops were pulled out of Basra in May 2011. Many MPs expressed fears about rejoining military action in the region, while others raised doubts over why the Commons was not giving its backing to similar strikes on targets in Syria, where Isis is mainly concentrated.

Six Tornado jets have been based in Cyprus since last month but had been restricted to reconnaissance flights. The RAF also has a Rivet Joint spy plane in the region, which is stepping up surveillance efforts to identify potential targets, while intelligence will also be sought from Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground. “There are moving targets obviously — convoys of Isis fighters whom we can identify with the surveillance that we are going to intensify,” defence secretary Michael Fallon said.

The Tornados joined the US air force and jets from regional states in flying rotations over the north and centre of Iraq while targets were nominated for them to strike. A small number of SAS troops have been on the ground with US special forces for more than a month helping select targets and guide in bombs.

Britain entered the fray more than seven weeks after the US first sent fighter jets to defend the Kurds of northern Iraq from an Isis advance and one week after France, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan and Qatar sent their air forces to attack targets inside Syria. Denmark and Belgium have also committed their air forces to tackling Isis, but, like Britain and France, have limited their roles to inside Iraq. Isis controls a swath of land from the eastern edge of Aleppo to north-west Iraq and the northern fringes of Baghdad, where its influence continues to jeopardise Iraq’s new government.

Iraq had implored its allies to send forces after its military was humiliated when Isis seized the country’s second biggest city, Mosul, on 10 June, Tikrit the next day, and then narrowly lost a race with the Kurds to seize Kirkuk.

On Friday, Cameron gave no indication of how long the RAF would remain involved and said he was undecided about whether to extend the mission to Syria, despite the now redundant border between the two states that gives Isis unfettered access across western Iraq and eastern Syria.

In Isis-run Mosul, which has been battered by air strikes for the last month, locals seemed mostly wary of Britain’s involvement. Some, however, welcomed the move. “We agree with Britain bombing Isis,” said a man who identified himself as Saleh, 42, a doctor. “We hope that either the US or British military kill all Isis members because life in Mosul is not good. There is no electricity, no water and … everything is so expensive.”

Mohammed, 37, a media worker from Mosul, feared civilians would pay a heavy toll. “The problem now is how to distinguish between civilians and militants especially in a city of two million people. When fighting starts, moving around Mosul will be very dangerous. Essential services will surely stop — electricity, water supply, fuel and hospitals.”

In the last three months, the Isis advances have changed the face of the Middle East, forcing the evacuation of close to half a million people from the Nineveh plains in north-western Iraq and from north-eastern Syria, where minorities, including Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen and Kurds, have been forced to leave.

On Saturday US jets attacked Isis positions south of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani for the first time in an attempt to stop a militant push that has led to more than 150,000 Kurds fleeing across the border to Turkey in the last week. The US and Arab state air forces have been flying missions inside Syria since last Monday that they claim are aimed at slowing Isis’s momentum and degrading its capabilities.

US jets also struck near Syria’s third city, Homs, on Saturday, hundreds of miles south-west of where they have been operating so far. The strike against militants there was seized on by the Syrian regime, which has been determined to position itself as a partner in the fight against Isis, though none of the coalition states is willing to involve it.

Iraq’s new prime minister, Haidar al-Abadi, confirmed that he had sent his national security adviser to Damascus to pass on a message from the US secretary of state, John Kerry, that the attacks were about to begin. However, Washington has insisted that it has not consulted or co-ordinated with Syria’s leaders.

Opposition groups fighting in Syria have been far less receptive to the US attacks, claiming they benefit the Syrian regime, but do little for them. Washington has said it aims to raise local proxies to fight Isis from the ground, and US officials on Friday suggested that up to 15,000 fighters would be needed to form a credible force.

Additional reporting by Fazel Hawramy.

Assyrian International News Agency

UN Resolution “Particularly Encouraging” for Iraq

By , September 27, 2014 1:38 pm

UN Resolution “Particularly Encouraging” for Iraq

New Security Council Resolution 2178 Particularly Encouraging for Iraq, SRSG Mladenov says

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General today welcomed the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of Resolution 2178 (2014), condemning violent extremism and requiring States to work together by implementing laws and policies to prevent travel, and support for foreign terrorist fighters.

This historic resolution is particularly encouraging for Iraq in its fight against terrorism and armed groups like ISIL and those foreign elements who are joining them”, Mr. Mladenov said.

Terrorism must be defeated in a way that avoids further radicalization and civilian deaths”, he added, cautioning that preventing and eradicating further threats must be consistent with international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as the Charter of the United Nations.

Referring to paragraph 16 of the Resolution, Mr. Mladenov further stated:

I strongly encourage the Government of Iraq to engage relevant local communities and non-governmental actors in developing strategies to counter the violent extremist narrative that can incite terrorist acts, and to address the conditions conducive to the spread of violent extremism”

The United Nations is working closely with the Government of Iraq and its international partners to develop programmes and policies that will assist Iraq in confronting terrorism, and support the care and protection of its many victims, in full compliance with Iraq’s international obligations.

(Source: UN)

(UN image via Shutterstock)

Iraq Business News