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Thousands of Refugees Apply for New Passports in North Iraq

By , September 1, 2014 10:45 am

Thousands of Refugees Apply for New Passports in North Iraq

Posted 2014-09-01 07:34 GMT

Refugees stand in line in Arbel to apply for a new passport (photo: ankawa.com).(AINA) — On Saturday, August 30 the Iraqi passport office in Arbel announced it would start accepting applications to issue new passports for refugees from the Nineveh Plain and other areas who fled from ISIS. Within an hour thousands of people came to the office, which was overwhelmed and could not process most of the requests.

The new passports to be issued will be class (A) category, applicable in all parts of Iraq.

The office issued instructions and a list of documents to be submitted by the refugees wishing to obtain a passport. The documents included a letter from the Department of Immigration and Migration, official documents consisting of civil status ID card, Iraqi nationality (citizenship) certificate, financial statements, 3 personal photos with a white background, housing ID card, as well as a passport application form.

200,000 Assyrians fled their homes in the Nineveh Plain when ISIS moved to north of Mosul, as well as from Baghdede, Bartella and Karamles. 150,000 Yazidis fled from Sinjar and Zumar. ISIS stole all money and personal belongings from residents as they fled, including government identification papers.

Many refugees complained that they could not provide the documents required to obtain a new passport, as they had been confiscated by ISIS or left behind in their homes.

See Timeline of ISIS in North Iraq.

Assyrian International News Agency

Thousands of Refugees Apply for New Passports in North Iraq

By , September 1, 2014 10:45 am

Thousands of Refugees Apply for New Passports in North Iraq

Posted 2014-09-01 07:34 GMT

Refugees stand in line in Arbel to apply for a new passport (photo: ankawa.com).(AINA) — On Saturday, August 30 the Iraqi passport office in Arbel announced it would start accepting applications to issue new passports for refugees from the Nineveh Plain and other areas who fled from ISIS. Within an hour thousands of people came to the office, which was overwhelmed and could not process most of the requests.

The new passports to be issued will be class (A) category, applicable in all parts of Iraq.

The office issued instructions and a list of documents to be submitted by the refugees wishing to obtain a passport. The documents included a letter from the Department of Immigration and Migration, official documents consisting of civil status ID card, Iraqi nationality (citizenship) certificate, financial statements, 3 personal photos with a white background, housing ID card, as well as a passport application form.

200,000 Assyrians fled their homes in the Nineveh Plain when ISIS moved to north of Mosul, as well as from Baghdede, Bartella and Karamles. 150,000 Yazidis fled from Sinjar and Zumar. ISIS stole all money and personal belongings from residents as they fled, including government identification papers.

Many refugees complained that they could not provide the documents required to obtain a new passport, as they had been confiscated by ISIS or left behind in their homes.

See Timeline of ISIS in North Iraq.

Assyrian International News Agency

August 30 Report on North Iraq — Suicides, Squatters, Escapes

By , August 31, 2014 12:32 am

August 30 Report on North Iraq — Suicides, Squatters, Escapes

Posted 2014-08-31 02:28 GMT

Assyrian refugees in Ankawa, Iraq.(AINA) — The Hammurabi Human Rights Organization* has issued its latest report, dated August 30, 2014, on the situation in North Iraq.

A joint delegation representing the Ministry of Human Rights in the federal government and the Hammurabi Organization succeeded in recording many of the abuses suffered by refugees from of Mosul, the Nineveh Plain and Sinjar, and who are now Arbel.

The delegation was briefed on the situation and the needs of the refugees, who have called for immediate liberalization of their villages from ISIS, the immediate delivery of wages and and social benefits of employees, the reissuing of lost identification cards and official documents, and financial compensation for material and other losses.

The delegation included Mr. Mujeeb Abdullah, head of monitoring at the Ministry of Human Rights and Ghazwan Yahya, Rafidh Nazim, Azhar Hamed Elias, the delegation included Hammurabi Organization Louis Marcus Vice President of the Organization and William Warda, Public Relations Officer.

Mosul

  • Most homes of university professors who fled Mosul are completely controlled by ISIS and were looted of all valuables, including furniture.
  • New families are appearing in many of Mosul’s neighborhoods. ISIS are bringing Iraqi and non-Iraqi families from other cities and towns and placing them in the empty homes of the Christians, Yazidis, Shabaks and Turkoman.
  • There is a transfer of bodies in open cars every morning in Mosul, indicating a campaign to cleanse certain groups from the city. There is a high probability of the existence of mass graves for the bodies of citizens who are executed.
  • A large, crowded market has sprung up, and it is cynically called “Daash Market.” There is much furniture and household items for sale, as well antiques, old cultural heritage goods and a large selection of mobile phones. All of the merchandise is stolen from homes abandoned by fleeing residents.
  • Families continue to suffer from lack of official documents after ISIS stripped them of everything. HHRO has appealed to the government to facilitate the issuance of new documents.
  • Concern is escalating among the refugees that they will not return to their homes before winter. Nearly all of the refugees do not have winter clothing to protect them from the cold and snow.
  • A number of women and girls who had been sold by ISIS were able to escape and some of them have arrived in the city of Dohuk. ISIS has abducted hundreds of women and girls and sold them in Mosul and in the Syrian city of Raqqa.
  • Many suicides have been recorded among the refugees, especially among the ones who were stranded in remote areas and who lacked food, water and shelter. HHRO confirmed the suicide of a Yazidi in Dohuk on August 29.

See all HHRO reports.

* The Hammurabi Human Rights Organization (HHRO), an NGO based in Baghdad, Iraq, monitors the human rights situation in Iraq, particularly of minorities such as Assyrians, Turkmen, Yazidis and Shabak. Founded in 2005, HHRO works for human rights observation and documentation, in addition to implementation of humanitarian relief in Iraq.

HHRO works with various Iraqi and international institutions on variety of issues.

HHRO publishes annual reports on Human Rights situations focusing on Minorities. In 2013, HHRO was recognized and awarded as the best NGO by the United States State Department for its major achievements in the most difficult situations for the year 2012 in Baghdad.

Assyrian International News Agency

Kuwait Energy Optimistic on Iraq Investment

By , August 28, 2014 9:04 pm

Kuwait Energy Optimistic on Iraq Investment

By Patrick Schmidt.

During an oil and gas conference in Norway, Chief Executive Officer of Kuwait Energy, Sara Akbar (pictured)  noted that recent events in Iraq do not sour her outlook for the petroleum industry in Iraq.

This statement follows the evacuation of oil engineers and workers from Iraq by select energy companies over the preceding weeks.

“Most of the developments in Iraq are on plan, especially in the south, where most of the international oil companies are still working, with field developments and exports going normal,” said Akbar.

She indicated that if given the chance she would be willing to invest more in Iraq.

(Source: Reuters)

Iraq Business News

EU’s Policy Shift on Syria, Iraq

By , August 28, 2014 3:32 pm

Is this one of those rare occasions where policymakers self-critically correct a gigantic blunder? Or is it a cold turn-about guided by pure self-interest?

On 15 August, the foreign ministers of EU countries gathered in Brussels and decided that each would henceforth be free to supply arms to Kurdish rebels fighting Sunni extremists of ISIS in the North of Iraq.

Even Germany which in the past had been unwilling to furnish military supplies to warring parties in ‘conflict zones’, is now ready to provide armoured vehicles and other hardware to the Kurds opposing ISIS’ advance.

The decision of Europe’s foreign ministers may surprise some, for barely a year and four months ago, in April of 2013, the European Union had lifted a previously instituted ban on all imports of Syrian oil.

Moreover, the lifting of this boycott was quite explicitly intended to facilitate the flow of oil from areas in the North-East of Syria, where Sunni extremist rebel organisations had established a strong foothold, if not overall predominance over the region’s oil fields. ISIS was not the only Sunni extremist organisation disputing control over Syrian oil fields. Yet there is little doubt but that the fateful decision the EU took last year has helped ISIS consolidate its hold over Syrian oil resources and prepare for a sweeping advance into areas with oil wells in the North of Iraq.

The outcome of the recent Brussels’ meeting thus appears to over-turn a disastrous previous decision. To underline the point, it is useful to briefly describe the extent to which Sunni extremist rebels have meanwhile established control over oil extraction and production in both Syria and Iraq.

The Syrian oil fields are basically concentrated in Deir-ez-Zor, a province bordering on Iraq. Whereas oil extraction in Syria has always been very limited in size if measured as a percentage of world supplies, control over the Syrian oil wells plus its refinery has become crucial towards the financing of ISIS’ war efforts. In neighbouring Iraq, oil reserves are not concentrated in one single geographic region as they are in Syria. The bulk of the oil wells are to be found in the country’s South, at great distance from ISIS’s war theatre in the North. Only a seventh of Iraq’s oil resources are said to be located in areas controlled by ISIS on the one hand, and Kurdish fighters on the other. Nevertheless, recent reports indicate that ISIS controls at least 7 major oil wells in Iraq alone. Using expertise gathered after it established control over wells in Syria, the Sunni extremist organisation is able to draw huge profits from the smuggling and sale of oil. It is ISIS’s oil-backed armed strength amassed in two adjacent civil wars that has now sent shivers throughout the Western world.

If the EU’s April 2013 decision appears to have helped trigger ISIS’s current success, the situation created is historically novel. To my knowledge, never before has a rebel force fighting a civil war in the Global South been able to base its war aspirations on control over oil. True, in most of the civil wars that have rocked Africa over the last thirty years, access to raw materials has been key. Witness the cases of Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo (DRC) and Sudan. It is also true that oil exports have been a specific mode of war financing, for instance in Angola and the Sudan. Yet in those cases the state remained in command of the oil wealth. In Angola, the rightwing rebel movement UNITA heavily relied on smuggling rough diamonds towards financing its war, while the country’s oil fields were located at great distance from UNITA’s war theatre.

In Sudan, oil fields are concentrated in the country’s South, i..e. close to and in the region which was disputed by the South’s rebel movement. But the regime of Al-Bashir pursued an inhuman policy of depopulation through aerial bombardments, massacring hapless villagers and forcing survivors to flee. In the selfsame process the rebels were deprived of access to people and oil. Hence, strictly speaking there is no precedent for the oil-fuelled civil wars waged by Sunni rebels in Syria and Iraq.

Now, in turning from de facto supporters to opponents of ISIS, Europe’s foreign ministers have followed the US’s lead, for the US had just initiated bombardments of ISIS position in Iraq’s North. Though loudly defended on grounds of ISÏS’ relentless persecution of minorities, the US’s renewed military intervention is not devoid of self-interest. Uppermost in the minds of Pentagon officials is the nexus between oil and arms.

Shortly after Obama announced the withdrawal of US occupation forces from Iraq in October 2011, the US clinched a huge deal for the sale of F-16 fighter planes and other armaments to Iraq’s military, valued at $ 12 billion. At least 4 in 5 top US military corporations are beneficiaries of Iraqi purchases.

Coincidentally, around the time when the US-Iraq agreement on arms’ sales was sealed, the extraction of Iraqi crude was back to old level, crossing the threshold of 3 million barrels per day in 2012. As the Iraqi government’s income from oil extraction and exports rose exponentially, American and competing Russian arms’ manufacturers both lined up to bag the orders. And there is robust confidence that the oil-and-arms nexus can be sustained. For according to euphoric projections of the I.E.A., the body of Western oil consumer nations, Iraq holds the key to future increases in world production of crude!

Western policymakers are feverishly espousing the cause of Muslim Shias, Christians and Yezidis, who are persecuted in areas of Iraq controlled by ISIS, and yes, there is no doubt that the Sunni extremist force is guided by a Salafi ideology that severely discriminates against religious minorities, – whether Muslim or non-Muslim. But tell us: at what point in the past have Western states consistently defended religious minority rights in the Middle East?

The idea seems to have emerged as an afterthought of the illegal US invasion of Iraq. But are Muslim and Christian Arabs in Israel, Muslim Shias in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain – to name just some of the groups mistreated by the West’s close allies – likely to be charmed by the West’s resolve to save the Yezidis of Iraq?

In any case, it is high time the policy reversals in Brussels be questioned. To recall: a turnabout in relation to the twin civil wars in Syria/Iraq was staged twice. First, in September 2011, a general prohibition on investments in and exports of oil from Syria was imposed, affecting both Assad’s government and Syria’s opposition. Then, in 2013 the European Union shifted de facto towards a position favourable to Syria’s Sunni extremist rebels. And although the EU’s foreign ministers now appear to have realized their sin, – the damage can no longer be repaired without a complete overhaul of EU policymaking towards the Middle East.

Assyrian International News Agency

Hundreds Rally in Canberra for Save Haven for Assyrians in Iraq

By , August 28, 2014 9:50 am

Canberra (AINA) — Wednesday, 27 August 2014, marked a historic day in Australia’s capital city Canberra. Over 500 people travelling distances of over 400 miles descended on Parliament House in a public demonstration demanding a self-administered safe haven and international protection and opposing the brutal atrocities currently taking place against the Assyrian Christians in Iraq and Syria.

The demonstrators called out to the government and media to take action and help stop the genocide of Assyrian Christians in their homeland, and called for the protection of the Assyrian Christians in Iraq and said a safe haven is the only solution. The rally began at 11:00 AM. The demonstrators carried signs and Australian and Assyrian Flags.

The rally was organized by the Assyrian Council of Australia.

Participants in the protest were mainly from the Assyrian communities in Sydney and Melbourne, but many came from different ethnic and religious backgrounds in a show of solidarity against the radical actions undertaken by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS). There was representation from the Coptic Orthodox Church, H.G. Bishop Suriel from Melbourne, who delivered a speech supporting the Christians of Iraq and Syria as well as several other Christian organisations and groups such the Christian Democratic Party and Christian faith and Freedom.

The protest was attended by many members of federal parliament as well as members of the NSW parliament. They delivered speeches to a crowd giving total support to the demands of the Assyrians in Iraq.

Speakers were: The Hon. Chris Bowen MP, Federal Member for McMahon, Shadow Treasurer of Australia; The Hon Philip Ruddock MP, Member for Berowra; The Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP, Member for Kingsford Smith; Mr Craig Kelly MP, Federal Member for Hughes; Mr Chris Hayes MP, Member for Fowler and Shadow Government Whip; Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile, MLC, President of the Christian Democratic Party; Mr Andrew Rohan MP, member for Smithfield and Mr Rob Mitchell MP, Federal Member for McEwen.

Mr Hermiz Shahen, the Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance of Australia, said in his welcoming speech “In what is being called a modern day genocide, Assyrian Christians who had lived in the city of Mosul for thousands of years have been targeted, they were told to ‘leave, convert or pay ‘Jizia’ — a tax for not being Muslim — and failure to do so would result in ‘death by the sword.’ Under these threats, many have suffered the ultimate price in barbaric executions and beheading, or have fled the ancient city.”

Mr Shahen went on to explain “Thousands of the Iraqi Assyrian population are currently displaced and forced out of their homes and towns. Women, children and the elderly are continually on the move-from city to city and village to village, seeking safety for their lives. People are living in great fear and confusion, without any hope for a brighter and better future. Jihadists moved in overnight to claim several Christian towns, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee, having pushed back Kurdish Peshmerga troops, who are stretched thin across several fronts in Iraq. Assyrian towns in the Nineveh Plains region, which is the homeland for the indigenous Assyrians, have been emptied of their original population and are now under the control of the militants.”

Mr Shahen also presented a letter on behalf of the Assyrian Council to the Hon Philip Ruddock MP to be hand-delivered to the Hon. Tony Abbott MP, Prime Minister of Australia.

The call was made for immediate intervention by the United Nations, the international community and the Australian Government, and for assistance in the establishment of a self-administered safe haven in the Assyrian heartland in Northern Iraq in support of the indigenous Christian Assyrian and many other ethnic and religious minorities fleeing the sectarian conflict. In addition, they called on the Australian government and the international community to provide the Assyrians who are willing to defend their lands with arms and training to enable them to protect themselves.

Assyrian International News Agency

British PM Mulls Joining Obama in Bombing ISIS in Iraq

By , August 27, 2014 10:26 pm

David Cameron is planning to indicate to Barack Obama and other Nato leaders at a summit in Wales next week that Britain is keeping open the option of joining the US in launching air strikes against forces of the Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq.

As Washington seeks to build a multi-national coalition to support an expansion of air strikes against the jihadists, which could extend to targets in Syria, the prime minister returned to work in Downing Street to intensify plans for an emergency action plan to be agreed at the Nato summit. The plan will focus on new threats posed by Isis in Iraq and Syria and by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine whose president, Petro Poroshenko, will attend the Nato summit.

Alan Duncan, former international development minister and the PM’s special envoy to Oman, raised the prospect of Britain eventually joining air strikes against Isis as long as they took place within an international coalition. Duncan said: “This is such a complicated conflict that any response needs to be a well co-ordinated international effort.”

Obama announced this week that the US was seeking to build a coalition to “take the fight to these barbaric terrorists” amid growing fears over the plight of members of Iraq’s Turkomans minority in the northern town of Amerli. The New York Times reported yesterday that the White House expects that Britain and Australia will join the US in an air campaign. Australia left the door open to contributing to US-led air strikes in Iraq but indicated it was not considering putting combat forces on the ground. The office of the Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said he would consider any request from the US “based on whether there is an achievable overall humanitarian purpose and a clear and proportionate role for Australia, as well as on a careful assessment of the risks”.

Downing Street said that Britain has received no request from Washington for the UK to contribute to air strikes. A senior government source said: “There would need to be a lot of discussion before Britain got involved in air strikes and we have not had any specific requests from the US on this. Our focus has not been on air strikes. It hasn’t been on the table, and it has not been discussed.”

But Britain has crafted a careful position in its response to the threat posed by Isis that leaves open the eventual possibility of joining air strikes.

The prime minister, who said earlier this month that Britain should be prepared to deploy its military “prowess” to tackle Isis, has been explicit in ruling out deploying ground troops.

But the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, adopted a more cautious approach on air strikes, saying simply on 18 August that there are no plans for Britain to join the US in launching air strikes.

The formulation by ministers is not designed to signal that Britain is preparing to take part in air strikes, not least because the White House has not requested any British involvement. But ministers want to leave some room for manoeuvre if Obama seeks to build consensus for air strikes in the US by requesting help from close allies such as Britain.

British officials are acutely conscious of Obama’s landmark speech to the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, in May in which the president made clear that the US can no longer act as the world’s policeman. Obama said in his speech that the US “must always lead on the world stage” before adding: “US military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance.”

The military “prowess” cited by the PM has so far involved joining the US in dropping humanitarian supplies to Yazidi refugees on Mount Sinjar. RAF Tornado jets, which initially carried out surveillance flights to identify the needs of refugees, expanded their mission into northern Iraq to gather intelligence on Isis.

It is understood that the current discussions are focusing on whether to mount a similar humanitarian mission to help the Turkoman minority in the northern town of Amerli.

Officials have been aware of the dangers in Amerli for some time. But attention moved away from Amerli after Isis released the video featuring the beheading of the US journalist James Foley.

The possible moves towards expanded air strikes came as Isis and the Syrian government, which is engaged in bitter fighting with the jihadis, were both accused by UN investigators of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UN commission of inquiry on Syria accused Damascus of dropping barrel bombs on civilian areas, including some which were believed to contain chlorine on eight occasions in April.

The report said: “Violence has bled over the borders of the Syrian Arab republic, with extremism fuelling the conflict’s heightened brutality.”

The report also accused Isis forces in northern Syria of waging a campaign to instil fear, including amputations, public execution-style killings and whippings, according to the Associated Press.

“In areas of Syria under [Isis] control, particularly in the north and north-east of the country, Fridays are regularly marked by executions, amputations and lashings in public squares,” the independent commission of inquiry on the human rights situation in Syria said. “Executions in public spaces have become a common spectacle on Fridays in [Isis power-base] Raqqa and in Isis-controlled areas of Aleppo governorate. Bodies of those killed are placed on display for several days, terrorising the local population.”

Assyrian International News Agency

British PM Mulls Joining Obama in Bombing ISIS in Iraq

By , August 27, 2014 10:26 pm

David Cameron is planning to indicate to Barack Obama and other Nato leaders at a summit in Wales next week that Britain is keeping open the option of joining the US in launching air strikes against forces of the Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq.

As Washington seeks to build a multi-national coalition to support an expansion of air strikes against the jihadists, which could extend to targets in Syria, the prime minister returned to work in Downing Street to intensify plans for an emergency action plan to be agreed at the Nato summit. The plan will focus on new threats posed by Isis in Iraq and Syria and by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine whose president, Petro Poroshenko, will attend the Nato summit.

Alan Duncan, former international development minister and the PM’s special envoy to Oman, raised the prospect of Britain eventually joining air strikes against Isis as long as they took place within an international coalition. Duncan said: “This is such a complicated conflict that any response needs to be a well co-ordinated international effort.”

Obama announced this week that the US was seeking to build a coalition to “take the fight to these barbaric terrorists” amid growing fears over the plight of members of Iraq’s Turkomans minority in the northern town of Amerli. The New York Times reported yesterday that the White House expects that Britain and Australia will join the US in an air campaign. Australia left the door open to contributing to US-led air strikes in Iraq but indicated it was not considering putting combat forces on the ground. The office of the Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said he would consider any request from the US “based on whether there is an achievable overall humanitarian purpose and a clear and proportionate role for Australia, as well as on a careful assessment of the risks”.

Downing Street said that Britain has received no request from Washington for the UK to contribute to air strikes. A senior government source said: “There would need to be a lot of discussion before Britain got involved in air strikes and we have not had any specific requests from the US on this. Our focus has not been on air strikes. It hasn’t been on the table, and it has not been discussed.”

But Britain has crafted a careful position in its response to the threat posed by Isis that leaves open the eventual possibility of joining air strikes.

The prime minister, who said earlier this month that Britain should be prepared to deploy its military “prowess” to tackle Isis, has been explicit in ruling out deploying ground troops.

But the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, adopted a more cautious approach on air strikes, saying simply on 18 August that there are no plans for Britain to join the US in launching air strikes.

The formulation by ministers is not designed to signal that Britain is preparing to take part in air strikes, not least because the White House has not requested any British involvement. But ministers want to leave some room for manoeuvre if Obama seeks to build consensus for air strikes in the US by requesting help from close allies such as Britain.

British officials are acutely conscious of Obama’s landmark speech to the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, in May in which the president made clear that the US can no longer act as the world’s policeman. Obama said in his speech that the US “must always lead on the world stage” before adding: “US military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance.”

The military “prowess” cited by the PM has so far involved joining the US in dropping humanitarian supplies to Yazidi refugees on Mount Sinjar. RAF Tornado jets, which initially carried out surveillance flights to identify the needs of refugees, expanded their mission into northern Iraq to gather intelligence on Isis.

It is understood that the current discussions are focusing on whether to mount a similar humanitarian mission to help the Turkoman minority in the northern town of Amerli.

Officials have been aware of the dangers in Amerli for some time. But attention moved away from Amerli after Isis released the video featuring the beheading of the US journalist James Foley.

The possible moves towards expanded air strikes came as Isis and the Syrian government, which is engaged in bitter fighting with the jihadis, were both accused by UN investigators of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UN commission of inquiry on Syria accused Damascus of dropping barrel bombs on civilian areas, including some which were believed to contain chlorine on eight occasions in April.

The report said: “Violence has bled over the borders of the Syrian Arab republic, with extremism fuelling the conflict’s heightened brutality.”

The report also accused Isis forces in northern Syria of waging a campaign to instil fear, including amputations, public execution-style killings and whippings, according to the Associated Press.

“In areas of Syria under [Isis] control, particularly in the north and north-east of the country, Fridays are regularly marked by executions, amputations and lashings in public squares,” the independent commission of inquiry on the human rights situation in Syria said. “Executions in public spaces have become a common spectacle on Fridays in [Isis power-base] Raqqa and in Isis-controlled areas of Aleppo governorate. Bodies of those killed are placed on display for several days, terrorising the local population.”

Assyrian International News Agency

Obama Vows Protracted Military Campaign in Iraq, Syria

By , August 27, 2014 8:34 pm

Obama Vows Protracted Military Campaign in Iraq, Syria
By: Bill Van Auken on: 27.08.2014 [16:36 ] (118 reads)

Obama Vows Protracted Military Campaign in Iraq, Syria

By Bill Van Auken

Global Research, August 27, 2014

World Socialist Web Site

Region: Middle East & North Africa

Theme: US NATO War Agenda

In-depth Report: IRAQ REPORT, SYRIA: NATO’S NEXT WAR?

President Barack Obama delivered a militarist speech Tuesday to the annual convention of the American Legion in Charlotte, North Carolina amid reports that US spy drones are already operating over Syria and air strikes could begin there by the end of this week.

Obama told the veterans’ organization that “the United States is and will remain the one indispensable nation in the world,” a boast that is belied by the bloody debacle unleashed throughout North Africa and the Middle East by a string of US military interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Turning to the present intervention in Iraq following the overrunning of much of the country by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a split-off from Al Qaeda, the US president reiterated the formal pretexts for US military action: protecting “our diplomats and military advisors who are there,” and humanitarian assistance.

He vowed that “American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq,” and declared that the “answer is not to send in large-scale military deployments.” Both formulations leave open the deployment of thousands of US “advisors” and Special Operations troops, which are not defined in military terminology as “combat troops,” a term reserved for full regular Army brigades and Marine expeditionary units.

Since launching the first US air strikes in Iraq last month, the Obama administration has already rushed another 1,000 US troops into the country. The US Central Command reported two more air strikes on Tuesday near the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Irbil. The targets were reported to be ISIS armored vehicles, likely captured from the US-supplied Iraqi Army stockpile. Thus far, the US has carried out roughly 100 air strikes in Iraq.

Obama spoke Tuesday of “a broader strategy” that would supposedly include arming local forces, including the Iraqi government, the Iraqi Kurdish militia and the “moderate opposition in Syria,” and forging an “international coalition.” But he vowed that his administration “will continue to take direct action where needed to protect our people and defend our homeland.” He invoked the barbaric execution of American photojournalist James Foley as a pretext for American military action, declaring that “justice will be done.”

Obama went on to warn that “rooting out a cancer like ISIL an alternate name for ISIS won’t be easy and it won’t be quick,” indicating that Washington is preparing for an expanding and protracted military intervention in the region.

The US president provided no specifics on the escalating US operations, but government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Tuesday that US spy planes were already deployed over Syria in preparation for US air strikes.

NBC news reported Tuesday that the spy flights involved both manned aircraft and unmanned drones. It cited US officials as saying that, while no decision had yet been made, Obama could authorize air strikes by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters onboard a military plane en route to Afghanistan that, while he believes at present ISIS represents a “regional threat” and not a direct threat to the US, he is prepared to shift this assessment. Once the general “determines that the Islamic militants in Iraq have become a direct threat to the US homeland,” the Associated Press reported, “he will recommend that the US military move directly against the group in Syria.”

The clear implication is that the United States is just one purported “terrorist plot” away from a direct military intervention in yet another Middle Eastern country.

The evident political complication confronting the US administration as it prepares to extend its military action in Iraq into neighboring Syria is that it is proposing to bomb forces it previously supported as “rebels” against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Just one year ago, Obama was seeking congressional approval to bomb Syrian government forces on the fabricated pretext that the Assad regime had crossed a “red line” by using chemical weapons in the civil war with ISIS and other Sunni Islamist forces. He was compelled to back down from this threat in the face of massive popular opposition as well as the failure of either the US Congress or the British Parliament to back direct military intervention.

Now, utilizing the atrocities committed by ISIS, including the beheading of Foley, the administration does not expect to encounter significant opposition in Washington or London or even demands that it seek congressional authorization for a bombing campaign.

There were reports Tuesday that the US is already collaborating indirectly with the Assad regime by providing intelligence from US spy flights to the Syrian military, which conducted dozens of bombing raids on ISIS strongholds in eastern Syria on Tuesday. According to the AFP news agency, “The cooperation has already begun and the United States is giving Damascus information via Baghdad and Moscow.”

The only direct official response to the report was a tweet from State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf asserting that “the claims in that story are false.”

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem declared on Monday that the Syrian government was prepared “to cooperate and coordinate” with other countries in combating ISIS, but warned that any unilateral air strikes carried out without the approval of Damascus would be “considered aggression.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday, “There are no plans to coordinate with the Assad regime” on any military action within Syria.

The clear implication is that, while Washington is preparing to intervene in Syria on the pretense of defeating ISIS, its goal remains regime-change—the toppling of what would be a third secular Arab head of state, following the overthrow and killing of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

Behind the rhetoric about protecting Americans and combating terror, US imperialism is prepared to unleash an even more catastrophic regional war to further its drive to break up the current state structures and assert its hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/obama-vows-protracted-military-campaign-in-iraq-syria/5397881

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Iraq: Baghdad to Break Amerli Siege

By , August 27, 2014 5:24 pm

http://theiraqijournal.com/iraq-baghdad-to-break-amerli-siege/

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