Tag Archives: Iraq

Putin Vows To Protect Kurds In Turkey As War Of The Century Looms

by Sean Adl-Tabatabai

Russian President Vladimir Putin has authorised the Russian military and intelligence community to protect Kurdish people against the threat of Turkey – who have threatened to “cleanse” all Kurds

Putin issued the order to protect the Kurds under the authority of Article 87 of the Russian Constitution – which states that Putin is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

With Turkey now being named as a “belligerent hostile threat” to the Federation in this conflict, this report further explains, President Putin in issuing his order also cited the Turkish governments material and financial support of Islamic State terrorists as evidenced by the MoD discovering this week 12,000 oil tankers and trucks on the Turkey-Iraq border carrying stolen petroleum wealth legally owned by Iraq and Syria.

Read more » YourWireNews.Com
See more » http://yournewswire.com/putin-vows-to-protect-kurds-in-turkey-as-war-of-the-century-looms/

Pakistan surprised by its inclusion in 34-nation military alliance

BY BAQIR SAJJAD SYED

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan found itself in the crosshairs of Middle Eastern politics on Tuesday as Saudi Arabia named it as part of its newly formed 34-nation military alliance of Muslim countries meant to combat terrorism, without first getting its consent.

Talking to journalists, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said he was surprised to read the news that Saudi Arabia had named Pakistan as part of the alliance.

He said he had asked the country’s ambassador in Riyadh to get a clarification from Saudi Arabia on the matter.

Another senior official also confirmed that Pakistan was not consulted before inclusion in the alliance.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Saudi government surprised many countries by announcing that it had forged a coalition for coordinating and supporting military operations against terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan. The headquarters of the new Saudi-led coalition would be based in Riyadh.

This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has named Pakistan as part of its military alliances without Islamabad’s knowledge and consent. The Saudis earlier named Pakistan as part of the coalition that carried out operations in Yemen and a Pakistani flag was displayed at the alliance’s media centre.

Pakistan later declined to join the Yemen war.

It is Pakistani government’s policy that it will not deploy its troops outside the country’s borders except for UN peacekeeping missions.

In the past Pakistan has twice rejected US calls for joining alliances against the militant Islamic State (IS) group on the same pretext.

“We are not looking for any involvement outside our region,” army spokesman Lt Gen Asim Bajwa had said last month while replying to a question about the possibility of Pakistan becoming part of a US-led coalition against IS.

It is unclear how Riyadh went ahead with announcing Pakistan’s participation in the new alliance. It is also difficult to speculate if Islamabad will change its policy because of its close ties with the kingdom.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1226723/

Iraqi premier says IS smuggles majority of oil via Turkey

BY AFP

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday that most oil smuggled by the Islamic State group goes through Turkey, joining a chorus of countries linking it with the jihadists’ financing.

During a meeting with Germany’s visiting foreign minister, Abadi stressed the “importance of stopping oil smuggling by (IS) terrorist gangs, the majority of which is smuggled via Turkey,” a statement from his office said.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1224780/

US On The Ropes: China To Join Russian Military In Syria While Iraq Strikes Intel Deal With Moscow, Tehran

by Tyler Durden

Last Thursday, we asked if China was set to join Russia and Iran in support of the Assad regime in Syria.

Our interest was piqued when the pro-Assad Al-Masdar (citing an unnamed SAA “senior officer”), said Chinese “personnel and aerial assets” are set to arrive within weeks. To the uninitiated, this may seem to have come out of left field, so to speak. However, anyone who has followed the conflict and who knows a bit about the global balance of power is aware that Beijing has for some time expressed its support for Damascus, most notably by voting with Russia to veto a Security Council resolution that would have seen the conflict in Syria referred to the Hague. Here’s what China had to say at the May 22, 2014 meeting:

 For some time now, the Security Council has maintained unity and coordination on the question of Syria, thanks to efforts by Council members, including China, to accommodate the major concerns of all parties. At a time when seriously diverging views exist among the parties concerning the draft resolution, we believe that the Council should continue holding consultations, rather than forcing a vote on the draft resolution, in order to avoid undermining Council unity or obstructing coordination and cooperation on questions such as Syria and other major serious issues. Regrettably, China’s approach has not been taken on board; China therefore voted against the draft resolution.

In other words, China could see the writing on the wall and it, like Russia, was not pleased with where things seemed to be headed. A little more than a year later and Moscow has effectively called time on the strategy of using Sunni extremist groups to destabilize Assad and given what we know about Beijing’s efforts to project China’s growing military might, it wouldn’t exactly be surprising to see the PLA turn up at Latakia as well.

Sure enough, Russian media now says that according to Russian Senator Igor Morozov, Beijing has decided to join the fight. Here’s Pravda (translated):

According to the Russian Senator Igor Morozov, Beijing has taken decision to take part in combating IS and sent its vessels to the Syrian coast.

Igor Morozov, member of the Russian Federation Committee on International Affairs claimed about the beginning of the military operation by China against the IS terrorists. “It is known, that China has joined our military operation in Syria, the Chinese cruiser has already entered the Mediterranean, aircraft carrier follows it,” Morozov said.

According to him, Iran may soon join the operation carried out by Russia against the IS terrorists, via Hezbollah. Thus, the Russian coalition in the region gains ground, and most reasonable step of the US would be to join it. Although the stance of Moscow and Washington on the ways of settlement of the Syrian conflict differs, nonetheless, low efficiency of the US coalition acts against terrorists is obvious. Islamists have just strengthened their positions.

As Leonid Krutakov told Pravda.Ru in an interview, the most serious conflict is currently taking place namely between China and the US. Moscow may support any party, the expert believes, and that is what will change the world order for many years.

Clearly, one has to consider the source here, but as noted above, if Beijing is indeed set to enter the fray, it would be entirely consistent with China’s position on Syria and also with the PLA’s desire to take a more assertive role in international affairs.

Meanwhile, it now looks as though the very same Russian-Iran “nexus” that’s playing spoiler in Syria is also set to take over the fight against ISIS in Iraq, as Baghdad has now struck a deal to officially share intelligence with Moscow and Tehran. Here’s CNN:

Iraq says it has reached a deal to share intelligence with Russia, Iran and Syria in the fight against ISIS militants.

The announcement on Saturday from the Iraqi military cited “the increasing concern from Russia about thousands of Russian terrorists committing criminal acts within ISIS.”

The news comes amid U.S. concerns about Russia’s recent military buildup in Syria and would appear to confirm American suspicions of some kind of cooperation between Baghdad and Moscow.

We’d be remiss if we failed to note the significance here. The entire narrative is falling apart for the US, as Russia and Iran are now moving to transform the half-hearted Western effort to contain ISIS into a very serious effort to eradicate the group.

Read more » Zero Hedge
Learn more » http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-09-27/us-ropes-china-join-russian-military-syria-while-iraq-strikes-intel-deal-moscow-tehr

Syria crisis: US concern over Russia ‘military build-up’

US Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed concern to Moscow over reports of Russian military build-up in Syria, the state department says.

US media reports said Russia has sent advisers and hardware to Syria, in what Washington fears is an expansion of its support for President Bashar al-Assad.

Any such development would “escalate the conflict”, Mr Kerry told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Russia has been a key ally of Syria throughout its four-year civil war.

The New York Times cited US officials as saying Russia had despatched an advance military team to Syria, as well as housing units and an air traffic control centre to an airfield.

The officials quoted admitted they were unsure of Moscow’s intentions, but said the deployments could enable Russia to use the airbase to facilitate supply of military gear or to launch air strikes against Mr Assad’s enemies.

Mr Kerry made his concerns over the reports known to the Russian Foreign Minister in a phone call.

“If such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-Isil coalition operating in Syria,” the state department said, using an alternative acronym for Islamic State (IS).

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday it was “premature” to talk about Moscow getting involved in direct fighting.

Russia and the US disagree sharply on Syria. While Russia has backed the Syrian government, and provided it with arms, the US wants to see the removal of President Assad.

In the latest fighting on the ground, at least 47 people died in fierce clashes between IS militants and other rebels in the northern town of Marea.

At least six members of Syria’s security forces were shot dead in the south-western city of Sweida, after a prominent cleric in the minority Druze community died in a car bomb blast.

News courtesy: BBC
Read more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34166623

Islamic State burned a woman alive for not engaging in an ‘extreme’ sex act, U.N. official says

By Ishaan Tharoor

Amid all the Islamic State’s  atrocities — its massacres of civilians, its beheading of hostages, its pillaging of antiquities — the systematic violence the jihadists have carried out against countless enslaved women and girls never fails to shock. For months now, we’ve heard appalling testimony from women who escaped the Islamic State’s clutches, many of whom endured rape and other hideous acts of violence.

Zainab Bangura, the U.N.’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, recently conducted a tour of refugee camps in the shadow of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, war-ravaged countries where the Islamic State commands swaths of territory. She heard a host of horror stories from victims and their families and recounted them in an interview earlier this week withthe Middle East Eye, an independent regional news site.

“They are institutionalizing sexual violence,” Bangura said of the Islamic State. “The brutalization of women and girls is central to their ideology.”

Bangura detailed the processes by which “pretty virgins” captured by the jihadists were bought and sold at auctions. Here’s a chilling excerpt:

After attacking a village, [the Islamic State] splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over. The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity and examined for breast size and prettiness. The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.

There is a hierarchy: sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters. They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market. At slave auctions, buyers haggle fiercely, driving down prices by disparaging girls as flat-chested or unattractive.

We heard about one girl who was traded 22 times, and another, who had escaped, told us that the sheikh who had captured her wrote his name on the back of her hand to show that she was his “property.”

Estimates vary, but there are believed to be somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 women enslaved by the Islamic State. Many are Yazidis, a persecuted minority sect that the extremist Islamic State considers to be apostate “devil-worshippers,” in part because of the Yazidis’ ancient connection to the region’s pre-Islamic past. The jihadists’ treatment of Yazidi women, in particular, has been marked out by its contempt and savagery.

Here’s Bangura again:

They commit rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and other acts of extreme brutality. We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act. We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.

Hundreds of Yazidi women and girls have escaped their captors, either by running away, or being ransomed and rescued by their families. Bangura has urged international assistance in providing proper medical and “psychosocial” support to the escaped women, who have experienced terrible trauma.

News courtesy » The Washington Post
Read more » http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/05/22/islamic-state-burned-a-woman-alive-for-not-engaging-in-an-extreme-sex-act-u-n-official-says/?tid=sm_fb

After Iraqi forces take Tikrit, a wave of looting and lynching

TIKRIT, Iraq (Reuters) – On April 1, the city of Tikrit was liberated from the extremist group Islamic State. The Shi’ite-led central government and allied militias, after a month-long battle, had expelled the barbarous Sunni radicals.

Then, some of the liberators took revenge.

Near the charred, bullet-scarred government headquarters, two federal policemen flanked a suspected Islamic State fighter. Urged on by a furious mob, the two officers took out knives and repeatedly stabbed the man in the neck and slit his throat. The killing was witnessed by two Reuters correspondents. 

The incident is now under investigation, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan told Reuters.

Since its recapture two days ago, the Sunni city of Tikrit has been the scene of violence and looting. In addition to the killing of the extremist combatant,

Reuters correspondents also saw a convoy of Shi’ite paramilitary fighters – the government’s partners in liberating the city – drag a corpse through the streets behind their car.

Local officials said the mayhem continues. Two security officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Friday that dozens of homes had been torched in the city. They added that they had witnessed the looting of stores by Shi’ite militiamen.

Later Friday, Ahmed al-Kraim, head of the Salahuddin Provincial Council, told Reuters that mobs had burned down “hundreds of houses” and looted shops over the past two days. Government security forces, he said, were afraid to confront the mobs. Kraim said he left the city late Friday afternoon because the situation was spinning out of control.

“Our city was burnt in front of our eyes. We can’t control what is going on,” Kraim said.

Continue reading After Iraqi forces take Tikrit, a wave of looting and lynching

Nimrud: Outcry as IS bulldozers attack ancient Iraq site

Archaeologists and officials have expressed outrage about the bulldozing of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud by Islamic State militants in Iraq.

IS began demolishing the site, which was founded in the 13th Century BC, on Thursday, according to Iraqi officials.

The head of the UN’s cultural agency condemned the “systematic” destruction in Iraq as a “war crime”.

IS, which controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, says shrines and statues are “false idols” that have to be smashed.

“They are erasing our history,” said Iraqi archaeologist Lamia al-Gailani.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31760656

Islamic State poses a Dangerous Threat to the world

By GURMEET KANWAL

On February 16, 2015, the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic Caliphate (also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh) released a video showing the gruesome execution of 21 Egyptian citizens in Libya. All of them were Coptic Christians. Egypt promptly joined the fight against ISIS by launching air strikes in Derna, a hotbed of terrorism. Egypt has already been fighting terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula where many Army personnel have been killed since President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in July 2013.

A few days earlier, ISIS fighters had burnt alive a captured Jordanian pilot because Jordan had refused to be blackmailed into releasing Sajida Al-Rishawi, a jailed ISIS activist. And, a week before that brutal execution, the ISIS had beheaded the second of two Japanese hostages.

The emergence of the ISIS is only the latest manifestation of the continuing conflict in the arc of instability known as West Asia or the Middle East. The triumphant march of the virulently radical Sunni terrorists of the ISIS in 2014 was finally halted virtually on the gates of Baghdad. The ISIS, numbering between 20,000 and 30,000, now controls a large area straddling the Syria-Iraq border and have seized key border crossings on the Syrian border with Jordan. After capturing Faluja in January 2014, ISIS fighters made rapid progress in advancing along the Euphrates River in Anbar province of Iraq.

Read more » NITI Central
See more » http://www.niticentral.com/stream

Islamic radicalisation in UK frightening: Prince Charles

By PTI

London: Britain’s Prince Charles has described as “frightening” the growing radicalisation of British Muslim youth who have been joining the Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, partly due to “crazy stuff” available on the internet.

The heir to Britain’s throne said the radicalisation was “one of the greatest worries” that could not be swept “under the carpet” but expressed his hope to build bridges between different faiths in an interview to the BBC broadcast today.

Asked about the radicalisation of young people in the UK, Prince Charles said: “Well, of course, this is one of the greatest worries, I think, and the extent to which this is happening is the alarming part. And particularly in a country like ours, where you know the values we hold dear.

“You think that the people who have come here, (are) born here, go to school here, would imbibe those values and outlooks.

“The frightening part is that people can be so radicalised either through contact with somebody else or through the internet, and the extraordinary amount of crazy stuff which is on the internet,” he said.

Read more » Hindustan Times
See more » http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/islamic-radicalisation-in-uk-frightening-prince-charles/article1-1314896.aspx

UN probe: ISIS committing ‘crimes against humanity’ in Syria

GENEVA: ISIS is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on a large scale in areas under its control in war-ravaged Syria, U.N. investigators said Friday.

In its first report focused squarely on acts by ISIS, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria presented a horrifying picture of what life is like in areas controlled by the extremist jihadists, including massacres, beheadings, torture, sexual enslavement and forced pregnancy.

“The commanders of ISIS have acted wilfully, perpetrating these war crimes and crimes against humanity with clear intent of attacking persons with awareness of their civilian or ‘hors de combat’ (non-combat) status,” the report said.

“They are individually criminally responsible for these crimes,” it stated, and called on the perpetrators to be brought to justice, for instance before the International Criminal Court.

Based on more than 300 interviews with people who have fled areas under the control of the jihadists, as well as photographs and video footage released by ISIS itself, the report paints a blood-chilling picture of life under its rule.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Nov-14/277641-un-probe-isis-committing-crimes-against-humanity-in-syria.ashx#ixzz3J3GQOLLf
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Citizens of Mosul endure economic collapse and repression under Isis rule

Many Sunnis were glad to see the Iraqi army go when Islamic State took over – but for many the situation is now far worse

By Mohammad Moslawi in Mosul, in Irbil and The Guardian

Conditions inside Mosul, the largest city under Islamic State (Isis) control, have dramatically deteriorated, residents say, with severe shortages of food and water, no functioning public institutions, and the local economy in a state of near collapse.

In a series of interviews, locals in the Iraqi city paint a bleak picture of life under Isis rule. They say that discontent with the militants who swept into Iraq’s second city nearly five months ago is growing. Most public institutions have stopped working and provide no services. Almost all private sector activity and government-funded construction projects have been put on hold. Thousands of workers have been rendered jobless.

Read more » The Guardian 
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/27/citizens-mosul-iraq-economic-collapse-repression-isis-islamic-state

Iraqi city falls to ISIL as army withdraws

ISIL “100 percent control” Hit in Anbar, says police colonel, after troops are relocated to reinforce nearby airbase.

The Iraqi army has withdrawn from its last base in the city of Hit in Anbar province following weeks of fighting with the ISIL, leaving the group in full control, security sources have said.

Hundreds of troops were pulled out of the base and relocated to help protect the Asad air base, the AFP news agency quoted a police colonel in the provincial capital of Ramadi as saying.

Read more » Aljazeera
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/10/iraq-army-withdraws-from-last-base-hit-20141013105557467561.html

Kurdish women fighters ready ‘to send ISIS to hell’

Female Kurdish fighters ignite fear into Islamic State militants, who believe that they’ll go straight to hell if they are killed by a woman. RT travelled to Iraqi-Syrian border to meet the YPG, the female battalion fighting IS.

The border area between Iraq and Syria is currently controlled by Kurdish volunteers after both Iraqi and Syrian military forces abandoned the border crossings. The women fighters occupy the lookout post on the border, which allows them to monitor all IS activities in Iraq and Syria.

Read more » http://rt.com/news/193972-kurdish-women-fighters-isis/

Syrian Kurds feel deserted as Islamic State advances

Lightly Armed Kurds Face Terrorist Tanks, Feel ‘Deserted and Furious’ at U.S.

By Benjamin Harvey and Selcan Hacaoglu

From a hill in Turkey, spectators can watch Islamic State’s advance across Syria, its progress hindered only by a ragtag group of Kurdish fighters who say the Turkish army and U.S. air force are doing little to help.

Video footage and eyewitness accounts paint a picture of Kurds with light weapons shooting from inside homes and behind mud walls around the Syrian town of Kobani, while Islamic State militants with tanks and heavy artillery rumble across nearby fields. As the U.S.-led coalition focuses on bombing Islamic State supply lines elsewhere, the Kurds say they are being left as prey to extremists taking territory on Turkey’s border.

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-03/kurds-fight-alone-as-coalition-holds-fire-against-jihadist-tanks.html?hootPostID=e567908358c67e7dea8a4a5066a461e2

Islamic State ‘kills US hostage’

An Islamic State video has appeared which purports to show the beheading of Steven Sotloff, a US journalist being held hostage by the militants. 

Mr Sotloff, 31, was abducted in Syria in 2013. He appeared at the end of a video last month which showed fellow US journalist James Foley being killed.

A militant in the latest video also threatens to kill a British hostage. Mr Sotloff’s family said they were aware of the video and were “grieving privately”.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29038217

UN call to prevent Iraq massacre

Iraq conflict: UN warns of possible Amerli ‘massacre’

The UN has called for action to prevent what it says may be a possible massacre in the northern Iraqi town of Amerli.

Special representative Nickolay Mladenov says he is “seriously alarmed” by reports regarding the conditions in which the town’s residents live.

The town, under siege by Islamic State for two months, has no electricity or drinking water, and is running out of food and medical supplies. The majority of its residents are Turkmen Shia, seen as apostates by IS.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28910674

The Islamic State Is Right About Some Things

BY

I’ve talked about the Yezidis many times over the years. The main reason is that I find the obscure marginal sects in the Middle East interesting, because this is a region of the world where religious pluralism existed under very precise and strict conditions, and these groups deviated from those conditions and lived to tell the tale. The Muslim rulers, and more specifically in historical memory the Ottomans, tolerated a specific set of enumerated dhimmi, generally traditional Christian and Jewish groups. Though subject to persecution and oppression, in principle these groups had rights to exist within the Islamic framework. Heretics and pagans on the other hand were not tolerated. For example I have read the account of from the 17th century of an Ottoman official who was making a progress from Baghdad to Istanbul which is an excellent piece of ethnography. His entourage stopped in an isolated mountain valley in what is today Kurdistan. The local population were not Muslims, and when the official inquired as to their religion they told of how they worshipped the sun. Whatever the details of their origin this group obviously would be classed as pagans, and the official was faced with what to do with these people. The choices were conversion to Islam or death, the implementation of which would have been difficult at that moment. As a solution the local Jacobite Orthodox Christian bishop agreed to accept the people as his own, with nominal baptism. Presumably these people eventually became Christians in fact as well as name. But it goes to show that in the pre-modern world of the Middle East religious diversity persisted in the isolated places of the world. Groups such as the Druze offend Sunni Muslims because they are clearly derived from Islam itself, and Islam is the capstone religion in its own conception. Alawites seem to have emerged from the same milieu as the Druze, but they have retained a tenuous Muslim identity, which has accelerated under the Assad family. The Sunni Muslim stance toward these groups is that they are viewed as illegitimate heresies, not protected religions. The extent of Salafi* influence in one’s orientation also conditions how Sunnis view Shia (and there is variation within the Shia group, the Ismailis in particular viewed as heretical because their practice and theology differs more in obvious ways from Sunni orthodoxy; the Zaydi Shia are at the opposite extreme, being very similar to Sunni norms).

All this leads up to why the Islamic State, and Muslims generally to a lesser extent, tend to be extremely harsh in their attitude toward the Yezidi sect. The details of the Yezidi belief system are somewhat obscure, like that of the Druze, but they are clearly not Muslim. The media reports that the Yezidi are an ancient religion, with some relationship to Zoroastrianism. Many Kurds will also agree with this statement, assuming that something like Yezidism was the primal faith of their ethnic group. This may or may not be true. The origins of the Yezidi may actually be more like the Druze, if somewhat more ancient and obscure. Part of the lack of clarity I think goes back to the fact that there is some opaqueness overall in the first century or so of Islam. The social-religious world of the Middle East was a product of those years, but it is very different from them. For example Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrian influenced syncretistic Muslim sects were powerful anti-establishment forces across the Iranian cultural zone down to the 9th century. Quite a few extremist Shia sects (ghulat) seem to have made the transition to post-Islam, often imbibing Zoroastrianism of a Mazdakite flavor. Such a transition though was usually a cultural death sentence. Survival usually depended upon attaching oneself to a Shia identity, however tenuous (the Alawite strategy), or, fleeing to a geographically isolated region (in some cases these sectarians fled to the Byzantine Empire, and converted to Orthodox Christianity rather than revert to normative Islam!). Flight from the world is what the Druze and Yezidi have done in their fastness.

The current capture of Sinjar has been a humanitarian catastrophe for the Yezidi because it has been one of their traditional redoubts. The kidnapping of women, and the summary beheading or crucifixion of men, can be comprehensible in light of the Salafi Muslim vision of groups such as the Yezidi, which literally should not exist. Their obliteration would bring balance back into the Salafi world. While Christians and Jews may persist with the barest of sufferance, the existence of the Yezidi is an abomination to Salafi Muslims. What is occurring is a ethnic cleansing and genocide in straightforward terms. In fact Salafi Muslims would probably agree with the appellation cleansing, because the Yezidi to them are an offence to Being itself. Their existence is a matter is a matter of ritual purity in a metaphysical sense. I am wary of ever making analogies to Nazi Germany and the way it viewed the Jews, but this one clearly is a close fit. There is no path toward accommodation of Yezidi existence for the Islamic State, it is now down to an animal battle of survival for them, as they flee into the mountains as they have done so many times in the past.

Read more » http://www.unz.com/gnxp/the-islamic-state-is-right-about-some-things/

A must watch documentary – Losing Iraq & the rise of ISIS

Losing Iraq

The last American troops left Iraq In December 2011, their mission accomplished. Yet the sound of the car bomb remains a frequent visitor to the streets of Baghdad. So what sort of legacy did the allied forces leave behind and how did things go so badly wrong?

This special report examines the unfolding chaos in Iraq and how the US is in danger of being pulled back into the conflict. Drawing on interviews with policy makers and military leaders, Michael Kirk’s film traces the events of the last decade in this deeply troubled land. What has become apparent since the 2003 invasion is that there was no coherent plan for the future of the country after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The elections of 2005 led to the establishment of a democratically elected government, but sectarian divisions within the country remained as Sunni and Shiite
groups battled for supremacy – indeed, 2006 saw Iraq teetering on the brink of civil war. Matters came to a head this year as ISIS militants seized control of huge swathes of territory, their declared aim being to establish an Islamic caliphate stretching across parts of Iraq and Syria. Government forces seem powerless to resist their advance, which threatens to redraw the political map of the Middle East. As the country continues to fragment, the film asks what the future holds for this former cradle of civilisation.

Courtesy: PBS America
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/losing-iraq/

ISIS burns 1,800-year-old church in Mosul

Militants from the radical jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have set fire to a 1,800-year-old church in Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul, a photo released Saturday shows.

The burning of the church is the latest in a series of destruction of Christian property in Mosul, which was taken by the Islamist rebels last month, along with other swathes of Iraqi territory.

Read more » Al Arabiya News
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/07/20/ISIS-burns-1-800-year-old-church-in-Mosul.html

Syria President Bashar al-Assad sworn in for third term

Bashar al-Assad has been sworn in for a third seven-year term as president of Syria, after an election last month that opponents dismissed as a “farce”.

State television broadcast what it said was a live ceremony from the presidential palace in Damascus.

Mr Assad vowed to fight “terrorism” until security was restored to all of the country, but also promised to offer “national reconciliation” to opponents.

He has defied calls to step down since an uprising began in March 2011.

The conflict that erupted after the authorities launched a brutal crackdown on protests has left at least 170,000 people dead and driven more than nine million others from their homes.

‘Monstrous faces’

Mr Assad won 88.7% of the votes cast in the first multi-candidate election in decades, which took place only in areas of Syria that were under government control.

After taking the oath of office on Wednesday, Mr Assad told his supporters: “Syrians, three years and four months… have passed since some cried ‘freedom’.”

“They wanted a revolution, but you have been the real revolutionaries. I congratulate you for your revolution and for your victory,” he added.

“Those who lost their way can now see clearly… the monstrous faces have been unveiled, the mask of freedom and the revolution has fallen.”

Mr Assad also promised that Arab, regional and Western countries who are helping the rebels trying to topple him would soon “pay a high price for supporting terrorism.

Over the past year, Mr Assad’s forces – backed by Iran and the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah – have consolidated their control over a corridor of territory stretching north from the capital to the city of Homs and then into Hama and Latakia provinces.

However, large swathes of the north and east remain under the control of rebel forces, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis).

The powerful al-Qaeda breakaway declared the creation of a “caliphate” in its territories last month after launching an offensive that saw it capture parts of northern and western Iraq.

Western-backed and more moderate Islamist rebels in Syria, who have been engaged in deadly battles with the group’s fighters since the start of the year, rejected the announcement.

Courtesy: BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28328138

More » BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/world/2014/07/140716_syria_president_assad_rwa.shtml

Iraq rebels ‘seize nuclear materials’

Iraq has warned the UN that Sunni militants have seized nuclear materials used for scientific research at a university in the city of Mosul. In a letter seen by Reuters, Iraq’s envoy to the UN said nearly 40kg (88lb) of uranium compounds were seized. The letter appealed for international help to “stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad”.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28240140

Iraq loses control of chemical weapons depot to ISIS militants

The Iraqi government has informed the United Nations that it has lost control of a former chemical weapons depot to Islamist insurgents affiliated with ISIS, or IS, and cannot carry out its obligations to destroy what’s stored in the compound.

In a letter penned by Iraq’s UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim, it was revealed that “armed terrorist groups” took over the Muthanna complex on June 11. Located north of Baghdad, the facility was the main center for chemical weapons production prior to the 1991 Gulf War, and is still home to 2,500 rockets containing the lethal nerve agent sarin.

According to the Associated Press, the compound is now in the hands of the Islamic State extremist group, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In the letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Alhakim said that Iraqi officials witnessed the intruders looting some of the equipment before the surveillance system was taken offline.

Read more » RT
http://rt.com/news/171388-iraq-loses-chemical-weapons-depot/

“Neo-Terrorism”: The mutation of Al-Qaeda into the Islamic State

By Roy Murray

One of the suboptimal habits of humans is to compare different things, expect them to behave similarly, and treat them the way we are ‘used to’. So, when the “Islamic State” (IS) debacle began, the world’s intelligences agencies did what they were used to – tracking jihadists back home. Since Al-Qaeda attacked the western home front, IS must have similar ambitions. They attempted to identify the jihadists, tracked their footsteps to the conflict, then they waited back home, ready to pounce on them with decades of counter terrorism experience. The hysteria grew, with ever more resources ploughed into it, augmented by vast media accounts of the threat the “Islamic State” (IS) of Sheikh Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi poses to our ‘home front’.

It became a dangerous addiction which distracted us from the real “neo-terrorism” threat. By tracking Baghdadi’s returning jihadists, the west is effectively acting as his military police, locking up his deserters – after all, jihad is a lifelong adventure. He couldn’t care less.  In fact, our actions morphed into a powerful propaganda tool for the ‘terrorist extraordinaire’ –   feeding his propaganda narrative that Muslims were being oppressed around the world, and must rise up against their “tyrants” and establish a great Islamic State. Focusing on the home front, The West left him alone in the Middle East, free to stir chaos, establish, and expand his ‘Caliphate’. With just 10,000 of his Jihadists and other allies, he took down vast armies and militias that outnumbered his forces by factors upwards of 10 to 1. He is not some supreme being, neither are his men super human. Rather, he is a manifestation of the “neo-terrorist”. A veteran jihadist, he is also a cunning strategist, who designed his escapades with a powerful knowledge of the present, and a generous imagination of the future. He exploited the enmities between his enemies and preyed on their most damning weaknesses. Further, Baghdadi exploited almost every racial, sectarian, and political fault line in the Middle East and left all his enemies in a predicament. He wrong footed almost everyone, all the while being humble about the limits of his power, rarely embarking on battles where he doesn’t have ‘the edge’.”. Everyone played into his hand, and the current reality is that the different powers of the Middle East no longer have any ‘good’ options. Rather, they have options of varying degrees of ‘badness’, or even catastrophe. All this is at the expense of the local civilians, who are now staring down at an extended sectarian conflict that will condemn the Middle East to decades of poverty, threatening the social and political fabric of the region.

Read more » SYKES PICOT
http://sykespicot.net/2014/07/06/neo-terrorism-the-mutation-of-al-qaeda-into-the-islamic-state/

Anger boils over in the ‘Fallujah of Jordan’

Al-Qaeda flags have been raised in Maan, where residents say they are tired of police brutality and a lack of services.

By 

Maan, Jordan – This southern city – known for violence, riots, and clashes – received worldwide attention last week when new chants and flags were raised, alarming Jordanian authorities.

Dozens of men carried a banner calling the southern city the “Fallujah of Jordan”. Waving al-Qaeda flags as they chanted sectarian-inspired slogans, they celebrated the military gains of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) – the group that has since re-named itself the Islamic State – in neighbouring Iraq.

Security officials immediately summoned the protest’s organiser, Issam Abu Darwish, a 38-year-old engineer working for Maan’s municipality, for investigation; his family said they have not heard from him since. Abu Darwish’s brother, Ahed, said his brother organised the march in support of Sunni Muslims that are oppressed in Iraq.

Read more » Aljazeera
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/07/anger-boils-over-fallujah-jordan-20147575130478577.html#.U7fYJpioZCY.facebook

Blackwater threatens to kill American government official

Before Shooting in Iraq, a Warning on Blackwater

JUNE 29, 2014

WASHINGTON — Just weeks before Blackwater guardsfatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show. The officials told the investigators that they had disrupted the embassy’s relationship with the security contractor and ordered them to leave the country, according to the reports.

After returning to Washington, the chief investigator wrote a scathing report to State Department officials documenting misconduct by Blackwater employees and warning that lax oversight of the company, which had a contract worth more than $1 billion to protect American diplomats, had created “an environment full of liability and negligence.”

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/30/us/before-shooting-in-iraq-warning-on-blackwater.html?_r=0

Christian Father Commits Suicide After ISIS Members Rape Wife and Daughter in Front of Him Because He Couldn’t Pay Poll Tax

BY LEONARDO BLAIR , CP REPORTER

A Christian father who watched his wife and daughter get brutally raped by members of the militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) because he couldn’t pay them a poll tax in Mosul, Iraq, killed himself under the weight of the trauma this past weekend.

A report from the Assyrian International News Agency said ISIS began enforcing Islamic laws in the northern Iraq city which they overran on June 10.

Read more » The Christian Post
http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-father-commits-suicide-after-isis-members-rape-wife-and-daughter-in-front-of-him-because-he-couldnt-pay-poll-tax-122220/

Can Pakistan be saved? Or will it go the Iraq way?

By C Uday Bhaskar

The Pakistan military launched Zarb-e-Azb, a major offensive operation against terror groups operating from North Waziristan Sunday, a week after the Karachi airport was audaciously attacked by the Taliban. In the last 48 hours, it is reported that more than 170 terrorists were killed while six soldiers died during the operation which is still continuing.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared: “We will no longer allow Pakistan to be a sanctuary for terrorism at any cost.” The military in turn has highlighted in a press release that it is acting on the “directions” of the civilian government and has “been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and colour, along with their sanctuaries”.

On the face of it, this is a welcome development, in that the Pakistan military has publicly reiterated two critical determinants; first that it is operating as per the directives of the elected government and second, that it will eliminate “terrorists regardless of hue and colour”. The inference that follows is that this time around there will be no distinction between the good and the bad terrorist.

However, there have been two other military operations that GHQ Rawalpindi had initiated in 2009 in Swat and South Waziristan and in both cases, after imposing a heavy cost on the terror groups, the military withdrew without seeking effective closure and the various terror outfits regrouped to challenge the state again. The Karachi airport attack is illustrative of the determination and virulence of the ideology that is  driving the Taliban and its affiliates.

Both the Pakistani political establishment and the military are culpable of having nurtured and sought the support of different factions of the right-wing constituency for their own institutional advantage. If the Pakistan army and the intelligence agencies created and supported certain groups to obtain “strategic depth” in both India and Afghanistan through proxy, political parties led by Nawaz Sharif and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan portrayed the Taliban as brethren who had been misguided and held out the olive branch of reconciliation. Even when the Pakistan Army wanted to pursue a more robust anti-Taliban policy after the beheading of troops, the political ambivalence prevailed.

Karachi is being seen as the tipping point and the name of the operation – Zarb-e-Azb – which means sharp and cutting has a religious salience that merits notice. The theological reference is to the sword of Prophet Muhammad reportedly used in the battle of Badr (624 AD) and by invoking this symbol, the Pak military, it may be conjectured, is assuming a mantle of higher religious legitimacy against the Taliban. The latter in turn perceive themselves as the true guardians of the faith and their objective is to impose an intolerant, inflexible version of the practice of Islam, in which the Shia and other sects are legitimate targets for slaughter.

None of these developments are new to Pakistan and have been gathering momentum for decades with the connivance of the state and civil society. A malignant ideology and a destructive eco-system that intimidated the non-Sunni denominations through political connivance and the introduction of draconian blasphemy laws reached its most tragic manifestation in the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer by his own bodyguard. His crime – supporting due legal process in a blasphemy case against a Pakistani Christian woman.

It may be recalled that the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) episode of Islamabad in July 2007 that marked the end of the Musharraf era was in essence an example of how the Islamist right-wing and its pervasive support triumphed and forced the state to withdraw. At the time it was reported that even the Pakistan Army’s top leadership was uneasy with the Musharraf diktat and opined that many in the rank and file of the military would oppose  any muscular action against the right-wing radicals.

Thus, the moot question is the degree to which the Pakistani political establishment in Islamabad and the GHQ in Rawalpindi will be “sharp and cutting” in eliminating the terror groups and their sanctuaries. Prime Minister Sharif has been in touch with Afghan President Ahmed Karzai to coordinate operations and deny the groups sanctuary in Afghanistan and it is expected that the US will provide tacit support in this endeavour by way of intelligence and drone attacks.

Zarb-e-Azb marks the tactical and military dimension of dealing with the (Islamist) chickens that have come home to roost. The Pakistan military has demonstrated that it has the ability to apply the pressure on the adversary – should it decide to do so. Yes, there have been threats of reprisal and the Pak Taliban has threatened to target Punjab – the Sharif base – which till now was off the terror radar.

The true test of Zarb-e-Azb will be its strategic and political underpinning. Will Islamabad and Rawalpindi arrive at that final and irrevocable determination to sever links with Muridke – the headquarter of groups like the Lashkar and other such centres? This is where the sharp and cutting quality is most required.

Absent this candid admission that support to terror cannot be selectively sustained, the current effort will have limited value and the lives of the Pakistani troops lost will be in vain. Sharif and Pakistan Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, have a rare opportunity to save Pakistan from the kind of specter that now threatens Iraq.

(C Uday Bhaskar is Distinguished Fellow, Society for Policy Studies. He can be contacted at cudyabhaskar@spsindia.in)

Courtesy: The South Asia Monitor
http://southasiamonitor.org/detail.php?type=sl&nid=8332