Archive for the ‘Kurdistan’ category

Toward an independent Kurdistan

October 20, 2017

Toward an independent Kurdistan, Washington Times, James A. Lyons, October 19, 2017

Illustration on the strategic importance of an independent Kurdistan by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Unfortunately, with the Obama and Muslim Brotherhood holdovers still in key positions in the National Security Council, State Department and Department of Defense, the U.S. position has been to back the Iranian Baghdad puppet regime.

[W]hen you consider that one of the key U.S. objectives in the Middle East is (or ought to be) to prevent Iranian regional hegemony, a staunch ally like the Kurds, who have fought with us to defeat the Islamic State, is exactly what we need in this volatile region. In addition, as a free and independent Kurdistan is key to preventing Iran from establishing a land bridge from Tehran through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea, the current U.S. position makes no sense. Further, should Iran be successful in establishing a land bridge to Lebanon, Tehran will be able far more readily to augment Hezbollah’s already formidable forces as a direct threat to Israel’s survival.

Besides providing verbal support for Kurdistan’s independence, we should take immediate action to establish a forward operating base in Irbil with its 13,000-foot runway, one of the longest in the world. We should plan to rotate a detachment of F-16s and A-10s in and out of the base. Additionally, such a move would complicate any plans by Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara for further aggressive action against Kurdistan. Such a move will not only enhance Israeli security but place added pressure on Iran, along with President Trump’s recent decision on refusing to recertify the unsigned nuclear weapons deal with Iran.

We need to face facts: The only true ally we have in the region today is Israel. A free and independent Kurdistan would clearly enhance the chances of achieving two of our joint, vital objectives in the Middle East — bolster Israel and add to our partners and allies in the region.

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq held a referendum on independence on Sept. 25. It was overwhelmingly approved. This referendum, not surprisingly however, has precipitously raised tensions not only with Iraq but also with Turkey, Syria and Iran, all of which have large — and restive — Kurdish minorities.

Baghdad already has made moves to isolate the Kurdish region by banning all international flights from landing there and demanding a halt to all crude oil sales. And although Ankara has quarreled repeatedly with the Iranian puppet regime in Baghdad in recent years, the Turkish government late on Oct. 16 decided to close not only Turkish airspace to flights to and from the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, but also to close the Irbil-Ceyan oil pipeline, which is the Kurds’ only source of revenue. Additionally, Turkish and Iraqi troops had held joint military exercises shortly after the Sept. 25 referendum vote.

In what may presage a new and violent phase in the break-up of Sykes-Picot Iraq, Baghdad moved aggressively on Oct. 16, sending Iraqi Army troops into the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Further, units of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, a coalition of Shiite paramilitary groups that receive equipment and training from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), were deployed alongside the Iraqi Army units south and west of Kirkuk. It is a city of a million people that lies just outside the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government territory. When the Iraqi Army deserted Kirkuk in 2014 in the face of the Islamic State onslaught, however, it was the Kurdish Peshmerga forces deployed there that kept the Kirkuk oil fields from falling into the Islamic State’s hands. They have declared that they are now not about to give up that territory. Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who is the commander of the IRGC Qods Force in charge of Iran’s foreign operations, arrived in Kurdistan on Oct. 15 for discussions — but only with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), not the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). He apparently presented Baghdad’s demands that the Kurdish Regional Government cancel the referendum results as a precondition for talks to resolve the current dispute. KRG officials led by President Masoud Barzani not only previously had rejected any such demands, but pledged to defend Kurdish-held territory in case of attack.

With Iranian-dominated Iraqi and Shiite militia forces now in control of Kirkuk, though, at least in part due to apparent PUK treachery, the region and its deeply divided factions may be poised on the brink of yet another explosion. According to reports, the KDP Peshmerga forces fought hard to avoid being pushed out of Kirkuk, but ultimately had to retreat when their ammunition ran out. Thousands of civilians and Peshmerga fighters fled toward Irbil and Sulaymaniyah.

Unfortunately, with the Obama and Muslim Brotherhood holdovers still in key positions in the National Security Council, State Department and Department of Defense, the U.S. position has been to back the Iranian Baghdad puppet regime.

The Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 is dead. The U.S. must recognize the realities on the ground. The former Iraq, like the former Syria, has always been an artificial construct, cobbled together by European powers in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Absent the brute force of a dictator, these entities simply cannot hold together against the clashing centrifugal forces of their feuding ethnic, sectarian and tribal components.

Further, when you consider that one of the key U.S. objectives in the Middle East is (or ought to be) to prevent Iranian regional hegemony, a staunch ally like the Kurds, who have fought with us to defeat the Islamic State, is exactly what we need in this volatile region. In addition, as a free and independent Kurdistan is key to preventing Iran from establishing a land bridge from Tehran through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea, the current U.S. position makes no sense. Further, should Iran be successful in establishing a land bridge to Lebanon, Tehran will be able far more readily to augment Hezbollah’s already formidable forces as a direct threat to Israel’s survival.

Besides providing verbal support for Kurdistan’s independence, we should take immediate action to establish a forward operating base in Irbil with its 13,000-foot runway, one of the longest in the world. We should plan to rotate a detachment of F-16s and A-10s in and out of the base. Additionally, such a move would complicate any plans by Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara for further aggressive action against Kurdistan. Such a move will not only enhance Israeli security but place added pressure on Iran, along with President Trump’s recent decision on refusing to recertify the unsigned nuclear weapons deal with Iran.

We need to face facts: The only true ally we have in the region today is Israel. A free and independent Kurdistan would clearly enhance the chances of achieving two of our joint, vital objectives in the Middle East — bolster Israel and add to our partners and allies in the region.

• James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

A Strategy to Defeat Islamic Theo-fascism

January 7, 2016

A Strategy to Defeat Islamic Theo-fascism, American ThinkerG. Murphy Donovan, January 7, 2016

Surely, whatever passed for American foreign or military policy in the past three decades is not working. Just as clearly, in case anyone keeps score these days, the dark side of Islam is ascendant at home and abroad. What follows here is a catalogue of policy initiatives that might halt the spread of Islamic fascism and encourage religious reform in the Ummah.

Some observers believe that the Muslim problem is a matter of life and death. Be assured that the need for Islamic reform is much more important than either. The choices for Islam are the same as they are for Palestine Arabs; behave or be humbled. Europe may still have a Quisling North and a Vichy South; but Russia, China, and even America, at heart, are still grounded by national survival instincts – and Samuel Colt.

Call a spade a spade

The threat is Islam, both kinetic and passive aggressive factions. If “moderate” Islam is real, then that community needs to step up and assume responsibility for barbaric terror lunatics and immigrants/refugees alike. Neither America nor Europe has solutions to the Islamic dystopia; civic incompetence, strategic illiteracy, migrants, poverty, religious schisms, or galloping irredentism. The UN and NATO have no remedies either. Islamism is an Ummah, Arab League, OIC problem to solve. Absent moral or civic conscience, unreformed Islam deserves no better consideration than any other criminal cult.

Western Intelligence agencies must stop cooking the books too. The West is at war and the enemy is clearly the adherents of a pernicious ideology. A global war against imperial Islam might be declared, just as angry Islam has declared war on civilization.  A modus vivendi might be negotiated only after the Ummah erects a universal barrier between church and state globally. Islam, as we know it, is incompatible with democracy, civility, peace, stability, and adult beverages.

Oxymoronic “Islamic” states need to be relegated to the dustbin of history. If the Muslim world cannot or will not mend itself, Islamism, like the secular fascism of the 20th Century, must be defeated, humbled in detail. Sooner is better.

Answer the Ayatollahs

Recent allied concessions to Tehran may prove to be a bridge too far. If the Persian priests do not abide by their nuclear commitments, two red lines might be drawn around Israel. Firstly, the ayatollahs should be put on notice, publicly, that any attack against Israel would be considered an attack against America — and met with massive Yankee retaliation. Secondly, any future cooperation with NATO or America should be predicated on an immediate cessation of clerical hate speech and so-called fatwas, those arbitrary death sentences.

Clerical threats to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth” and “death to America” injunctions are designed to stimulate jihad and terror globally. The only difference between a Shia ayatollah and a Sunni imam in this regard these days seems to be the torque in their head threads.

Ostracize the Puppeteers

Strategic peril does not emanate from Sunni tacticians like Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, or Abu Bakr al-Baghadadi. Nor does the real threat begin with or end with al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezb’allah, Hamas, or the Islamic State. Lethal threat comes, instead, on four winds: toxic culture, religious politics, fanatic fighters, and furtive finance, all of which originate with Muslim state sponsors. The most prominent of these are Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan.

Put aside for a moment the Saudi team that brought down the Twin Towers in New York. Consider instead, the House of Saud as the most egregious exporter of Salifism (aka Wahabbism) doctrine, clerics, imams, and mosques from which ultra-irredentist ideologies are spread. The Saudis are at once the custodians of Islam’s sacredshrines and at the same time the world’s most decadent, corrupt, and duplicitous hypocrites. Imam Baghdadi is correct about two things: the venality of elites in Washington and Riyadh. The House of Saud, an absolutist tribal monarchy, does not have the moral standing to administer “holy” sites of any description — Mecca, Medina, or Disneyland.

The cozy relationship between Europe, the European Union, and Arabia can be summarized with a few words; oil, money, arms sales, and base rights. This near-sighted blend of Mideast obscenities has reached its sell-by date. The “white man’s burden” should have expired when Edward Said vacated New York for paradise.

Jettison Turkey and Pakistan

What Saudi Arabia is to toxic ideology in North Africa, Turkey and Pakistan are to perfidy in the Levant and South Asia. Turkey and Pakistan are Islam’s most obvious and persistent grifters. Turkey supports the Islamic State and other Sunni terror groups with a black market oil racket. Pakistan supports the Taliban, al Qaeda, and ISIS with sanctuary and tolerance of the world’s largest opium garden. Oil and drug monies from Arabia, Turkey, and South Asia are financing the global jihad. Turkey also facilitates the migration of Muslims west to Europe while sending Islamist fighters and weapons south to Syria and Iraq.

With the advent of Erdogan and his Islamist AKP, Turkey has morphed into NATO’s Achilles Heel, potentially a fatal flaw.  Turkey needs to be drummed out of NATO until secular comity returns to Ankara. Pakistan needs to be restrained, too, with sanctions until it ceases to provide refuge for terrorists. Pakistani troops harassing India could be more prudently redeployed to exterminate jihadists.

Sanctions against Russia and Israel are a study in moral and political fatuity whilst Arabs and Muslims are appeased midst a cultural sewer of geo-political crime and human rights abuses. If NATO’s eastern flank needs to be anchored in trust and dependability, Russia, Kurdistan, or both, would make better allies than Turkey. Ignoring Turkish perfidy to protect ephemeral base rights confuses tactical necessity with strategic sufficiency.

Recognize Kurdistan

Aside from Israel, Kurdistan might be the most enlightened culture in the Mideast. The Kurds are also the largest ethnic group in the world not recognized as a state. While largely Muslim, the Kurds, unlike most of the Ummah, appreciate the virtues of religious diversity and women’s rights. Indeed, Kurdish women fight alongside their men against Turkish chauvinism and Sunni misogyny with equal aplomb. For too long, the Kurds have been patronized by Brussels and Washington.

While Kurdish fighters engage ISIS and attempt to control the Turkish oil black market, Ankara uses American manufactured NATO F-16s to bomb Kurds in Turkey and Syria. Turkish ground forces now occupy parts of Iraq too. In eastern Turkey, Ergdogan’s NATO legions use ISIS as an excuse for bookend genocide, a cleansing of Kurds that might rival the Armenian Christian genocide (1915-1917).

195876_5_Kurdish angel of death

All the while, American strategic amateurs argue for a “no-fly” zone in contested areas south of Turkey. Creating a no-fly zone is the kind of operational vacuity we have come to expect from American politicians and generals. Such a stratagem would foil Kurdish efforts to flank ISIS and allow the Erdogan jihad, arms, and oil rackets to flourish. A no-fly zone is a dangerous ploy designed to provoke Russia, not protect Muslim “moderates.”

Putin, Lavrov, and the Russians have it right this time; Turkish and Erdogan family subterfuges are lethal liabilities, not assets.

Washington and European allies have been redrawing the map in Eastern Europe, North Africa, South Asia, and the Mideast since the end of WWII. The time has come to put Kurdistan on the map too. Kurdistan is a unique and exemplary case of reformed or enlightened Islam; indeed, a nation that could serve as a model for the Muslim world.  If base rights are a consideration, Kurdistan would be an infinitely more dependable ally than Turkey or any corrupt tribal autocracy in Arabia. America has a little in common with desert dictators — and fewer genuine friends there either. Indeed, at the moment America is allied with the worst of Islam.

Create New Alliances

NATO, like the European Union, has become a parody of itself. Absent a threat like the Soviet Union or the Warsaw Pact, Brussels has taken to justifying itself by meddling in East Europe and resuscitating a Cold War with the Kremlin. Indeed, having divided Yugoslavia, NATO now expands to the new Russian border with reckless abandon; in fact, fanning anti-Russian flames now with neo-Nazi cohorts in former Yugoslavia, Georgia, and Ukraine.

NATO support for the Muslims of one-time Yugoslavia is of a piece with support for Islamic troublemakers in Chechnya and China too. Throughout, we are led to believe that jihad Uighurs and caliphate Chechens are freedom fighters. Beslan, Boston, Paris, and now San Bernardino put the lie to any notion that Islamists are “victims” (or heroes). Indeed, the Boston Marathon bombing might have been prevented had Washington a better relationship with Moscow.

Truth is, America has more in common with Russia and China these days than we do with any number of traditional European Quislings. Indeed, it seems that Europe and America can’t take yes for an answer.

The Cold War ideological or philosophical argument has been won. Moscow and Beijing have succumbed to market capitalism. Islamism, in stark contrast, is now a menace to Russian, Chinese, and American secular polities alike. The logic of a cooperative or unified approach to a common enemy seems self-evident. America, China, and Russia, at least on issues like toxic Islam, is a match made in Mecca.

The late great contest with Marxist Russia and China was indeed a revolution without guns. Now the parties to that epic Cold War struggle may have to join forces to suppress a theo-fascist movement that, like its Nazi predecessor, will not be defeated without guns. The West is at war again, albeit in slow motion. Withal, questions of war are not rhetorical. Saying that you are not at war does not make it so. Once declared, by one party or the other, the only relevant question about war is who wins and who loses. Losers do not make the future.

If America and Europe were as committed to Judeo/Christian secular values as Islamists are committed to a sick religious culture, then the war against pernicious Islam would have been won decades ago. Or as Jack Kennedy once put it: “Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us.

Trump Footnote

Donald Trump made several policy suggestions on the Islamism issue, one on immigration, the other on Mideast oil. On the former, he suggests a hiatus on Muslim immigration until America develops a plan or reliable programs to vet migrants. On Arab oil, he suggests, given the lives and treasure spent liberating Kuwait and Iraqi oil fields, America should have held those resources in trust and use oil revenues to finance the war against jihad, however long that takes. The problem with both Trump ideas is that they come perilously close to common sense, an American instinct in short supply these days.

 

ISIS Threatens Obama With ‘New Lesson’ in Beheading Video

October 31, 2015

ISIS Threatens Obama With ‘New Lesson’ in Beheading Video, Newsmax, Sandy Fitzgerald, October 31, 2015

(Video at the link. Has Obama recently decided that the Islamic State is a greater threat than climate change?– DM)

A horrifying new 15-minute video appears to show Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists beheading four captured Kurdish Peshmerga fighters — and delivering a bold warning to President Barack Obama.

The video claims to be the ISIS response to a Delta Force-Kurdish raid in northern Iraq last week that cost American Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler his life.

“Obama, you have learned a new lesson,” a masked terrorist warns Obama in what sounds like an American accent. “Six of the soldiers of the caliphate faced 400 of your children; they killed and injured them by Allah’s grace.”

The warning was delivered before the man executes one of the prisoners, reports CNN, and the other three prisoners are also beheaded by the video’s end. Arabic text also appears onscreen, translating as “Peshmerga soldiers that Americans came to rescue.”

The video was released online Friday, and earlier in the clip, ISIS claims to show the aftermath of the raid, in which Kurdish, U.S., and Iraqi forces rescue 70 hostages from an ISIS prison in Hawija, located in Kirkuk, a province located in northern Iraq.

CNN reports that those who were set free included 20 of the Iraqi Security Forces, local residents and several ISIS fighters accused of spying. None of the hostages were Kurds.

As of Saturday morning, there had not been an official response issued from the White House on the video or the threat. But in Kurdistan, regional government spokesman Dindar Zebari told CNN that “ISIS respects no form of human rights. Our message to them is that we will finish them.”

But Kurdistan will not kill ISIS prisoners in response, Zebari said.

“We hold 215 ISIS prisoners and we treat them according to international human rights laws,” he said. “We have also freed 85 prisoners who had been suspected of association with ISIS. We do not kill our prisoners.”

The Kurdistan regional government said that more than 20 ISIS fighters were killed in last week’s raid, and six more were captured.

The Kurdish Peshmerga, which protects an autonomous region in northern Iraq, has been fighting against ISIS and its push to take Iraq and Syria and create a caliphate.

ISIS earlier this week said the Delta Force-Kurdish raid, called for by the Kurds to rescue Peshmerga fighters, was a failure.

The man who issued the threat does not appear to be the infamous “Jihadi John,” the English-speaking jihadist who has appeared in several other ISIS beheading videos.

The terrorist, whose real name is believed to be Mohammed Emwazi, is considered to be a priority target after killing American, Western, and Japanese hostages.

Meanwhile, two Syrian activists have also been killed in recent days in the Turkish town of Urfa, and their deaths are being blamed on ISIS.

According to the groups Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently and Eye on Homeland, activists Ibrahim Abdul Qadir and Faris Humadi the men who were shot and beheaded. ISIS has not yet claimed responsibility for their deaths.

Qadir and Humadi worked for Eye on Homeland, a Syrian media group that reports on the civil war, and Qadar also was a founding member of the Raqqa group, which posts photos, video, and other information online from the Raqqa province in Syria.

US Defense Secy to visit Iraqi Kurdistan after Baghdad

July 24, 2015

US Defense Secy to visit Iraqi Kurdistan after Baghdad, DEBKAfile, July 24, 2015

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter plans to visit Irbil, capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Republic of Iraq, before he leaves Iraq. He will hold talks with the KRG president Massoud Barazani and other Kurish leaders. DEBKAfile: The main purpose of his talks in Irbil is to determine whether the US will provide the peshmerga with heavy weapons, including warplanes and combat helicopters, for grappling with Islamic State’s assaults on their doors. Obama has until now turned down Kurdish requests for this hardware, mainly because of Iranian and Iraqi objections. The Kurds maintain that their army is the only effective force fighting in the field capable of routing ISIS.

Kurdistan: More Like Israel, Less Like Iraq

December 25, 2014

Kurdistan: More Like Israel, Less Like Iraq, Gatestone Institute, Lawrence A. Franklin, December 25, 2014

It is a society that rejects religious zealotry. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslim and one can hear the five-times-a-day Muslim call to prayer, but it is muted and ignored by most.

Like Israel, Kurdistan is more democratic than any of its neighbors. Like Israel, Kurdistan is surrounded by enemies that wish it did not exist. Like Israel, Kurdistan looks West. And like Israel, Kurdistan has maintained an internal equilibrium though all the world betrays it.

Iraqi Kurdistan is full of surprises. Probably, the most unexpected discovery is how normal life is in its capital city, Erbil. Despite a late summer scare by Islamic State [IS] military gains north of Mosul and the threat of suicide bomber attacks, the social discipline of Kurdistan’s citizens is admirable. There is a relaxed state of tension. It is “business as usual.”

There is also a sense of optimism, pervasive and infectious. Entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. While there was an exodus of foreign businessmen after the initial territorial gains by the IS, foreign investors are filtering back. The Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] has already drawn up plans for large-scale projects to improve the infrastructure. Heavy-duty construction vehicles are everywhere. The most visible project is the beltway being built around the city.

853An aerial view of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, featuring the ancient Erbil Citadel in the center. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/Jan Kurdistani)

Political pluralism has come to the Kurdish north as well. While the Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK] respectively remain the one-two political powerhouses, they now have plenty of company. No one party dominates the parliament. There is plenty of horse-trading on issues, fleeting coalitions, and new political personalities are being heard. Nevertheless, the most influential and respected leaders still come from the Barzani extended family, which run the KDP. The late Mustafa Barzani (1903-1979) is revered as the warrior-godfather of modern Kurdistan.

Kurds, for the most part, are a welcoming lot. The methodical and rapid settlement of tens of thousands of refugees from IS-controlled Iraq required bold leadership by the Barzani-led government and especially from the Catholic hierarchy of Kurdistan. This success also reflects the compassion of a self-confident people. The population of the Dohok region, for example has doubled due to the influx of refugees. There is no observable tension between the newcomers and the population of the host country. Despite the inveterate resentment of the excesses of past Arab regimes, Kurdistan is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. It has become even more so with the emigration from other parts of Iraq of Turkmen, Yezidis, and Christian Assyrians and Arabs. It is also a society that rejects religious zealotry. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslim and one can hear the five-times-a-day Muslim call to prayer, but it is muted and ignored by most.

Men, mostly, walk on the streets of Erbil, Dohok, and Zako, especially at night. Kurdistan is not, however, a society that represses women. There are many in parliament, and they are outspoken on the issue of violence to females in Kurdish society. At one conference in mid-November, at least half of the speakers were women prominent in Kurdistan. Women military volunteers are widely admired. The Kurdish media celebrates the Kurdish Peshmerga‘s female fighters. One woman — a veteran of the fierce battle to save the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane (near Turkey’s border) from an IS takeover — who recently visited Erbil, was received as a national hero. Female Yezidis who have escaped after torture by IS operatives are deeply admired too.

Zako, once the center of Kurdistan’s Jewish population, still invites back descendants of those who long ago left for Zion. Zako’s isolated villages are the wild west of Kurdistan. Its stark beauty against a ring of mountain chains may become a tourist magnet both for its ancient historical attractions and recreational possibilities.

For all of the above reasons, Kurdistan reminds one of Israel. Like Israel, Kurdistan is not dominated by the Arab, nor by Islam. Like Israel, Kurdistan is more democratic than any of its neighbors. Like Israel, Kurdistan is surrounded by enemies that wish it did not exist. Like Israel, Kurdistan looks West. And like Israel, Kurdistan has maintained an internal equilibrium though all the world betrays it.