27 May 2016
English Arabic
If the international community is serious about solving the Syrian crisis, they need to atone for the original sin that is Iraq.

Even by its customarily low standards, Iraq has sunk to even greater depths than previously thought possible. It is not as though the Iraqis do not have to contend with one of the most feared global terrorist threats that has eclipsed even al-Qaeda at its zenith, the forces of the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Nevertheless, Iraqi politicians, with their corruption, nepotism, patronage networks and Mafia-like ways, still seem to think that politicking and jockeying over who has what ministry so that they may further their own economic interests is more important than attending to the crisis afflicting the country that they were installed – I mean “elected” – to serve. One is then left to wonder just how overblown the IS threat has become.

And why should one not wonder if the IS threat has been exaggerated, when Iraq’s leaders have enough time on their hands to try and unseat one another so that their own personal cliques may benefit at the expense of the common Iraqi citizen
 
The sad thing is that, in the past few months, terrorist leaders responsible for death squads that committed some of the worst sectarian atrocities in Iraq are now being painted as heroes of democracy and Iraqi social plurality. Of course, here we are discussing Moqtada al-Sadr, scion of the Sadr family of Shia clerics, leader of the Mahdi Army terrorist organisation and of their now rebranded Peace Brigades.

Although I have elsewhere likened the prospects of Sadr acting as the hero who can save Iraq from sectarianism as being as realistic as Danger Mouse saving the world, it is still disconcerting that people can believe that a man who was up until recently overtly bent on the destruction of the Sunni population can suddenly have a change of heart.

The parliamentary tumult he caused was less to do with creating unity amongst Iraqis, and more to do with Sadr throwing his toys out of the pram because Iran has granted a greater share of power and influence to others at his expense. This is evidenced by the fact that Sadr and his supporters criticised Iranian influence over other Shia Iraqi groups in public demonstrations, ironically forgetting how his own power base was bred, funded and trained by Iran.

His criticisms of Iran did not go down well amongst either his detractors or his benefactors, as the former pointed out that he had just concluded a meeting with Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah chief and fellow Iranian stooge, and the latter, in the form of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, allegedly threatened to set their hounds on Sadr if he did not cease and desist from biting the hand that had fed him.

Nevertheless, Sadr’s antics created the perfect opportunity for other sectarian blocs, including some under the control of former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, to attempt to purge the Iraqi government of any vestige of Sunni Arab presence, even if that presence served only to legitimise the grossly intolerant and sectional parliament. To achieve these ends, parliament voted to hoist the Iraqi Islamic Party’s Sunni Arab Saleem al-Jabouri out of his chair and post as Speaker, but failed due to their own factional in-fighting and inability to agree on which bloc or party had the largest piece of the Iraqi pie, now seeping with blood.

Jabouri seemed shocked that some of his former Iran-backed allies were now trying their utmost to hurl him out of his job as parliamentary speaker. It is not as though he did not have any prior warning about the perils of being a token Sunni working in a sectarian system established by the Americans and dominated by Shia parties, many with undeniable and strong connections to the radical mullahs of Iran.

After all, American forces humiliatingly assaulted the home of former Islamic Party leader Muhsin Abdulhamid, and later Maliki was to turn on another token Sunni, former vice president Tariq al-Hashimi, and had him sentenced to death in absentia while he was in exile in Turkey. The idea that Jabouri was caught by surprise is funny in itself, and in Iraq such a person is commonly known as a qashmar – someone eminently gullible.

The disaster of Iraq’s political system is further illustrated by the country’s leaders having established Iraq as one of the most corrupt countries on Earth. In fact, Iraq ranks even lower than “fantastically corrupt” Nigeria, as Prime Minister David Cameron put it to the Queen last week. In 2012, Transparency International gave Iraq a score of just 18 out of 100 in terms of the perception of its ability to counter corruption. It has since slipped to repeatedly scoring a meagre 16 points every year since then, demonstrating how Iraq is getting worse in yet another way aside from the continuing, merciless violence.

The apathy towards Iraq has gotten so bad that almost no one is even reporting that the city of Fallujah is being smashed between the hammer of the Green Zone government and the anvil of IS fanatics. The Iraqi authorities have imposed a total siege on the city, and have been shelling it incessantly since January 2014 when IS took control. Fighting IS is one thing, and shelling Fallujah General Hospital to the point where it is barely functioning is another. In fact, it is a war crime, yet it is too inconvenient for the international community to acknowledge that the Iraq they created has surpassed Saddam Hussein by any and all metrics of brutality, mass murder and repression.

Whilst the centrepiece of much of today’s news is Syria, occasionally flitting back to Palestine now and then, Iraq is largely forgotten. It seems that society has become content to imagine that whoever is fighting IS must be good, not heeding the fact that the Iraqi government and its rampant sectarianism is largely to blame for the birth of IS in the first place. The roots of the Syrian crisis can be found deeply burrowed in the catastrophe of Iraq, its corrupt tendrils extending across the fertile crescent all the way to its main source of nourishment, Tehran.

If the international community is serious about solving the Syrian crisis, they need to atone for the original sin that is Iraq, and how it was handed over to sectarian fanatics covered in the shroud of a false democracy.


Source http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/cirque-du-iraq-1506494766

PRESS RELEASE - For immediate release 19th May 2016

In the absence of real reform,

IRAQ LURCHING TOWARDS CATASTROPHE

 

“If real and comprehensive reforms are not carried out, Iraq will lurch towards catastrophe.” This was the view expressed today by Struan Stevenson, President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) and a former President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014). Stevenson strongly condemned the recent explosions in Baghdad and other cities and said it would be impossible to sort out the current crisis unless the Iranian regime and its cohorts are expelled from Iraq and the true representatives of the Sunnis are allowed to have a share of political power and to be seriously involved in the fight against Daesh (ISIS).

 He added: “The Iraqi population is sick of those politicians who use their power systematically to rob the nation and fill their offshore bank accounts, while the country’s infrastructure and public services rot and the struggle to survive intensifies. Plummeting oil revenues have shattered the Iraqi economy and the combination of venal corruption and political instability has made Iraq a high-risk zone even for bailouts from the IMF.

 “The recent events have simply reinforced the view that Prime Minister Abadi is running out of time and must stop Iran from manipulating the situation His attempts at reform have been resoundingly rebuffed by political factions who are determined to keep their hands in the national cash register. When he tried to recall parliament last week so that he could issue an ultimatum on his reform agenda, the politicians simply stayed at home, boycotting the proceedings. The main obstacles to reform are former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and his men who are under the absolute control of Tehran and act in full coordination with the militias affiliated to the terrorist Iranian Quds force.

“In an interesting development, Tariq al-Hashimi, the former vice president of Iraq and a prominent Sunni leader, who was sentenced to death in absence in a disgraceful show trial by Maliki, was taken off Interpol’s red notice list on Monday. This move by Interpol clearly exposes the level of corruption that prevailed in the Iraqi government under Maliki. It also highlights the need for al-Abadi urgently to restore the integrity of Sunni leaders who were arrested or sentenced in absentia by Maliki. 

“The political vacuum has created a seething sense of unrest and rising tension, which some commentators believe could herald a revolution and the overthrow of the Abadi government. Such a catastrophic event would play directly into the hands of the Iranian regime and Daesh, whose ultimate aims are to seize control over the whole of Iraq. Daesh has held Mosul, Iraq’s second city, for almost two years. The long awaited campaign to recapture the city began in March, but was quickly repulsed by the jihadists. Mosul’s two million Sunni inhabitants now nervously wait for the next onslaught, fearing the brutal pro-Iranian militias and the random air strikes by US and other Western bombers, almost as much as they fear the barbaric savagery of Daesh.”

 “The Sunni inhabitants of Mosul may have a long wait. Abadi has recalled most of his Iraqi military forces to provide a protective cordon around Baghdad, following the series of Daesh suicide bombings that last week killed scores of civilians. Any further deterioration in national security could pave the way for a Daesh assault on the Iraqi capital, which would inevitably suck in the Americans and potentially the British too. Obama’s reluctance to put US boots on the ground in Iraq, particularly during the dying days of his presidency, has paved the way for this crisis. But his obduracy could well be overwhelmed by a battle for Baghdad.”

Struan Stevenson concluded: “The only possible solution to the growing unrest is the formation of a government of national salvation to pacify the nation and unify Iraq. If Prime Minister Abadi is to survive, he must sweep away all of the corrupt ministers and replace them with technocrats who are prepared to work for the benefit of the country rather than to enrich themselves. He must evict the Iranian regime from Iraq and declare his liberation from their meddling. He must bring the Shi’ite militias under the immediate control of the Iraqi military and put an end to their sectarian campaign of genocidal slaughter. The US, UN and EU should quickly use their power to persuade Abadi on this course of action before it is too late.”

Office of Struan Stevenson
President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)
Brussels

(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014

-- 

European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA),  1050 Brussels, Belgium

President: Struan Stevenson, Chairman of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014), Members of the board: Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of the European Parliament (1999-2014); Stephen Hughes, 1st Vice-President of European Parliament Socialist Group (2009-2014),  Giulio Terzi, Former Foreign Minister of Italy; Ryszard Czarnecki,Vice-President of the European Parliament; Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC; Paulo Casaca MEP (1999-2009); Kimmo Sasi, MP (Finland), Honorary members include Tariq al-Hashemi, former Vice President of Iraq , Sid Ahmed Ghozali, former Prime Minister of Algeria

Webwww.eu-iraq.org/        Facebookwww.facebook.com/EuIraq        Twitterwww.twitter.com/EuIraq

6 May 2016


Mr. President,
Members of the Security Council,
Secretary-General,


On the eve of the UN Security Council session on Iraq, I am writing to you on behalf of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) to draw your attention to a number of points concerning the current crisis in Iraq. I have closely followed Iraq ever since 2003 and as the President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014, I travelled extensively to Baghdad, Erbil and other capitals in the region.

Today, the international community is greatly concerned about the deepening crisis that has enveloped all of Iraq. Large swathes of the country are in the hands of Daesh terrorists with no clear prospect for their liberation, while there is a popular demand for reform and an end to the prevalent corruption. The Iraqi people are calling for a totally technocratic cabinet irrespective of political parties’ allocated shares. But considering the conflict of interests, prospects for such a cabinet are indeed dim, which in turn markedly diminishes the chance for success in the fight against Daesh.

There is an international -- and even a relative American -- consensus today that the Second Gulf War in 2003 has been a mammoth mistake giving rise to the present problems in the region. This mistake was aggravated and rendered even more dangerous with the lethal mistakes that followed, such as the dissolution of the Iraqi army and Iraq’s civil service and the policy to reshape a new country. However, the deadliest mistake of all was the opening of Iraq's doors to the clerical regime ruling neighbouring Iran.

Since 1979, the Iranian regime has sought to dominate the region; a matter that is enshrined in its constitution. In articles 5 and 11 of the Iranian constitution the leader of the regime is considered the ruler of all Muslims worldwide and the Islamic Republic of Iran should endeavour to realize political, economic and cultural unity of the Islamic World. For the Iranian regime, this is not just an expansionist agenda but an imperative for its very survival. The survival of this regime depends on its expansion outside its borders or the creation of a Caliphate. In continuing its war with Iraq in the 1980s, Tehran’s objective was to realize this very goal.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq led was a windfall for Tehran that offered the regime an opportunity to achieve what it had failed to achieve on its own in its costly eight-year war. The regional balance that was a pillar for regional stability tilted in Tehran’s favour overnight thanks to the war waged by the United States. Tehran is now acting aggressively against other countries in the region after securing its position in Iraq.

This regime has instigated a religious and sectarian war by cultivating the religious and demographic texture of Iraq. Tehran’s objectives require its absolute dominion over Iraq and if that proves unattainable, then it needs to marginalize the Sunnis and sustain a religious war in Iraq, which is what we are witnessing today.

It is huge mistake to think that the Iranian regime and Daesh are locked in a serious confrontation. The principal objective of both is one and the same: “The establishment of an Islamic government and the imposition of Sharia law through coercion.” They do have conflicts of interest in many areas, but ultimately their common interests outweigh their differences. Khamenei has numerously declared that the enemy is the United States and that the Takfiris (Daesh and Qaeda) represent sedition, but not the enemy.

Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and mercenaries in Syria number 70,000, but never and nowhere have these forces fought Daesh; instead, they have always fought the moderate opposition and the Free Syrian Army and on many occasions the two have played a complementary role. Similarly, in Iraq, the regime has not confronted Daesh except in limited areas. There is a prevalent belief in Iraq that in many mixed Shia-Sunni regions of Iraq such as Diyala, Daesh has handed over territory to the revolutionary guards in return for money from Iran. In these areas, not many from the two sides have been killed; instead, following the retreat by Daesh, many Sunnis have been killed by the revolutionary guards and their paid hands.

The extensive presence of the revolutionary guards in Iraq and their shocking atrocities against the Sunnis has created the greatest motive and the vital climate for Daesh to thrive. In tandem, the dominion of the Iranian regime on many political, military and security centers of Iraq and the dominance of political groups associated with Iran have drastically marginalized and suppressed the Sunnis. Through its political and military levers, the Iranian regime prevents the training and arming of Iraqi Sunni tribes in the effort to confront Daesh.

Moreover, there is ample intelligence that in many regions it is the Iranian regime, the IRGC and the Qods Force that are aiding and abetting al-Qaeda and Daesh. Many leaders of al-Qaeda and Daesh were living in Iran and under the control of the Iranian regime. They were sent out by the regime to form the terrorist gangs in Iraq and Syria.

While the U.S. and the international community have not abided by their commitments to secure the protection of members of the Iranian opposition (residents of Ashraf and Camp Liberty), the Iranian regime has done its outmost to suppress and slaughter them in an attempt to do away with its main opposition. Additionally, by suppressing Ashraf and Liberty residents the Iranian regime paves the way for the spread of fundamentalism.

The present crisis in Iraq is a consequence of the Iranian regime’s meddling. Iraq is the richest Arab-Islamic country, as it is the only country that has both abundant oil and water, which are not found together in any other country in the zone. Nonetheless, in the fourteenth year after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq continue to suffer from poverty, starvation and unemployment. The Iraqi people consider the sectarian allocation -- with Iran as its principal beneficiary -- as the cause of the present catastrophic situation and are demanding radical reforms. These reforms are the last chance for Iraq to avert partitioning. If true reforms are implemented in Iraq, the losers will be none other than the Iranian regime, along with the political parties and militias affiliated with it.

Therefore, the Iranian regime is doing its outmost to divert the process of reform and prevent it from taking place. Nouri Al-Maliki, the former Prime Minster and Iranian regime’s cohort, leads the way to prevent any real reform from taking hold in Iraq. The Iranian regime is working to prevent the formation of a technocratic cabinet since it would lose its levers of power in Iraq or find its leverage severely weakened.

In such circumstances, the key political objective of the reforms in Iraq must be to cut off the long arm of the Iranian regime and its elements. Therefore, the international community, the UN Security Council, and the U.S. government have resolutely to halt the Iranian regime’s interference in Iraq if they wish to rein in the crisis in that country and the disintegration of the government. The illusion that the U.S. can bring reforms to Iraq with the help of the Iranian regime and by so doing create stability and tranquillity is but a mirage. Such cooperation will only strengthen the Iranian regime’s hand against the popular demand for reform and would thus intensify and deepen the crisis in Iraq.

In view of the above, we call on the Security Council to work toward the following goals that are a prerequisite not just for peace and stability in Iraq, but in the entire region:

a. The Council should endorse comprehensive reforms for the formation of a totally technocratic government rid of political parties and factions affiliated with the Iranian regime;
b. The Council should strongly condemn the Iranian regime’s meddling in Iraq and should impose the necessary punishments on Iran for its continued interference;
c. Iraq's judiciary must be reformed and overhauled. The influence of the Iranian regime and Nouri al-Maliki in this apparatus should be eliminated.
d. The militias affiliated with the Iranian regime should be disarmed and evicted from Iraq’s security and military organs;
e. Iraq's Sunni tribes need to be organized on a large scale to confront Daesh without any prejudice;
f. The United States and the international coalition should provide for the security and wellbeing of Camp Liberty residents until they are all transferred out of Iraq to countries of safety.

With Iraq falling into the hands of the Iranian regime, the whole region has been engulfed in crisis and chaos; with its eviction, the path to peace and tranquillity for the entire region will be paved.

Yours sincerely,
Struan Stevenson
President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)
(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014.)


European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA), 1050 Brussels, Belgium President: Struan Stevenson, Chairman of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014), Members of the board: Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of the European Parliament (1999-2014); Stephen Hughes, 1st Vice-President of European Parliament Socialist Group (2009-2014); Giulio Terzi, Former Foreign Minister of Italy; Ryszard Czarnecki,Vice-President of the European Parliament; Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC; Paulo Casaca MEP (1999-2009); Kimmo Sasi, MP (Finland); and honorary members including Tariq Hashemi, former Vice President of Iraq , Sid Ahmed Ghozali Former Prime Minister of Algeria
eu-iraq.org
facebook.com/EuIraq
twitter.com/EuIraq

Iran's army entering the war in Syria is a blatant violation of international law and must be met with an overwhelming response and action by the international community.

With the Syrian revolution against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad entering its sixth year, Tehran has escalated the presence in Syria of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), together with regular Iranian military units, who are waging a brutal campaign against the Syrian people and the moderate opposition.
 In recent weeks, a significant number of special commandos of Iran's regular army have been killed in Syria, pointing to their extensive presence in that conflict. The failure of the IRGC, especially in the Aleppo's zone and their massive casualties in recent months in Syria, has reportedly caused Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei to dispatch his regular army to bolster pro Assad forces in this criminal war.

In addition to the IRGC and the Iranian army, tens of thousands of Iraqi criminal militias, including Afghan and Pakistani mercenaries, have been engaged in the massacre of the Syrian people under the command of Iran.


Struan Stevenson
President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)
(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014)

Iran's army entering the war in Syria is a blatant violation of international law and must be met with an overwhelming response and action by the international community.

With the Syrian revolution against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad entering its sixth year, Tehran has escalated the presence in Syria of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), together with regular Iranian military units, who are waging a brutal campaign against the Syrian people and the moderate opposition.

In recent weeks, a significant number of special commandos of Iran's regular army have been killed in Syria, pointing to their extensive presence in that conflict. The failure of the IRGC, especially in the Aleppo's zone and their massive casualties in recent months in Syria, has reportedly caused Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei to dispatch his regular army to bolster pro Assad forces in this criminal war.

In addition to the IRGC and the Iranian army, tens of thousands of Iraqi criminal militias, including Afghan and Pakistani mercenaries, have been engaged in the massacre of the Syrian people under the command of Iran.

Struan Stevenson President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)

(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014)

Tens of thousands of supporters of the influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have gathered in the Iraqi capital, calling for economic and political reforms to end corruption.

Sadr, a powerful cleric who opposes the main Shia bloc that controls the government, previously led sit-in protests in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone to demand Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi form a cabinet made up of technocrats. 

Sadr had given Abadi his backing on the condition that he would involve Sunnis in the government, stop corruption and appoint cabinet ministers with better qualifications.

"I want the prime minister to continue his reform plan with no fear of political pressure," he said.

Last month, Abbadi tried to meet those demands when he presented a list of technocrats, instead of party-affiliated politicians, to form a new cabinet.

When Abbadi put forward that list of nominees, Sadr called off the protests. But the move faced major resistance from powerful parties that rely on control of ministries for patronage and funds.

Iraq’s government has been based on a quota system since 2003 that empowers politicians based on ethnic and religious grounds.

Shia, Sunni and Kurd MPs dominate the various political groups who routinely bargain over government ministries they control. 

More than 100 MPs staged their own sit-in last month and voted to replace the parliamentary speaker.

Some also fought over whether the Kurdish president should be replaced or not.

Though Sadr has managed to mobilise thousands of Iraqis, analysts do not believe Tuesday's protests will have much effect on the government.

"I don't think this will have any effect on the government's position," Saad Jawad, a professor at the London School of Economics, told Al Jazeera.

"Unfortunately, nobody is doing anything. They have not been listening to the protests."



Iraqi authorities have shut down Al-Jazeera's Baghdad office, accusing the Qatar-based TV network of inciting "violence and sectarianism."

Iraq's Communications and Media Commission sent the network a letter informing it of its March 24 decision to revoke the bureau's license and close its office for one year.

The pan-Arab network denied on April 28 that it had violated regulations or deviated from professional and objective coverage. It said Iraq's decision contradicts the government's "commitment to guarantee freedom of expression."

"We remain committed to broadcasting news on Iraq to Iraqi people, our viewers in the Arab world, and across the world," it said.

Al-Jazeera has repeatedly come under fire from the Iraqi authorities for coverage perceived as too friendly to the Islamic State extremist group and hostile to the country's Shi'ite majority.

Many in Iraq suspect Qatar, which funds Al-Jazeera, intentionally sponsors hard-line Sunni groups to counter the expanding influence of Iran and Shi'ite Islam in the region.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

As Russian planes decimate Aleppo, and hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria’s largest city prepare for encirclement, blockade and siege — and for the starvation and the barbarity that will inevitably follow — it is time to proclaim the moral bankruptcy of American and Western policy in Syria.

Actually, it is past time. The moral bankruptcy has been long in the making: five years of empty declarations that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go, of halfhearted arming of rebel groups, of allowing the red line on chemical weapons to be crossed and of failing adequately to share Europe’s refugee burden as it buckles under the strain of the consequences of Western inaction. In the meantime, a quarter-million Syrians have died, 7 million have been displaced and nearly 5 million are refugees. Two million of the refugees are children.

This downward path leads to the truly incredible possibility that as the Syrian dictator and his ruthless backers close in on Aleppo, the government of the United States, in the name of the struggle against the Islamic State, will simply stand by while Russia, Assad and Iran destroy their opponents at whatever human cost.

It is time for those who care about the moral standing of the United States to say that this policy is shameful. If the United States and its NATO allies allow their inglorious new partners to encircle and starve the people of Aleppo, they will be complicit in crimes of war. The ruins of our own integrity will be found amid the ruins of Aleppo. Indiscriminate bombardment of civilians is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. So is the use of siege and blockade to starve civilians. We need not wait for proof of Assad’s and Vladimir Putin’s intentions as they tighten the noose. “Barrel bombs” have been falling on bread lines and hospitals in the city (and elsewhere in Syria) for some time. Starvation is a long-standing and amply documented instrument in Assad’s tool kit of horrors.

Aleppo is an emergency, requiring emergency measures. Are we no longer capable of emergency action? It is also an opportunity, perhaps the last one, to save Syria. Aleppo is the new Sarajevo, the new Srebrenica, and its fate should be to the Syrian conflict what the fate of Sarajevo and Srebrenica were to the Bosnian conflict: the occasion for the United States to bestir itself, and for the West to say with one voice, “Enough.” It was after Srebrenica and Sarajevo — and after the air campaign with which the West finally responded to the atrocities — that the United States undertook the statecraft that led to the Dayton accords and ended the war in Bosnia.

The conventional wisdom is that nothing can be done in Syria, but the conventional wisdom is wrong. There is a path toward ending the horror in Aleppo — a perfectly realistic path that would honor our highest ideals, a way to recover our moral standing as well as our strategic position. Operating under a NATO umbrella, the United States could use its naval and air assets in the region to establish a no-fly zone from Aleppo to the Turkish border and make clear that it would prevent the continued bombardment of civilians and refugees by any party, including the Russians. It could use the no-fly zone to keep open the corridor with Turkey and use its assets to resupply the city and internally displaced people in the region with humanitarian assistance.

If the Russians and Syrians sought to prevent humanitarian protection and resupply of the city, they would face the military consequences. The U.S. military is already in hourly contact with the Russian military about de-conflicting their aircraft over Syria, and the administration can be in constant contact with the Russian leadership to ensure that a humanitarian protection mission need not escalate into a great-power confrontation. But risk is no excuse for doing nothing. The Russians and the Syrians would immediately understand the consequences of U.S. and NATO action: They would learn, in the only language they seem to understand, that they cannot win the Syrian war on their repulsive terms. The use of force to protect civilians, and to establish a new configuration of power in which the skies would no longer be owned by the Syrian tyrant and the Russian tyrant, may set the stage for a tough and serious negotiation to bring an end to the slaughter.

This is what U.S. leadership in the 21st century should look like: bringing together force and diplomacy, moral commitment and strategic boldness, around an urgent humanitarian objective that would command the support of the world. The era of our Syrian abdication must end now. If we do not come to the rescue of Aleppo, if we do not do everything we can to put a stop to the suffering that is the defining and most damaging abomination of our time, Aleppo will be a stain on our conscience forever.


Source: Washington Post

By:

Struan Stevenson, President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) is calling for “urgent action to end callous food and medicine blockade” of the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

Mr. Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014. He outlines starkly the ongoing tragedy of the “City of Mosques”, which was seventy percent destroyed by US troops in 2004 with football pitches being turned into cemeteries such was the human carnage wrought by the anglo-American “liberators.”

The suffering, assaults and siege has never ended. Stevenson states:

“The European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) strongly condemns the cruel and criminal siege of Fallujah, which, together with the denial of access to medicine, has led to the starvation and death of large numbers of innocent civilians. The unfolding tragedy has included the horrific death of a young mother who attached rocks to herself and her children and jumped into the River Euphrates. The people of Fallujah are the victims of crimes committed by Daesh (ISIS) who control the city, on the one hand and the bombing of residential areas by the Iraqi army and the sectarian Shi’ia militias affiliated with the Iranian regime, on the other.

“EIFA calls on the government of Dr. Haider al-Abadi, in line with his recent notable government reforms, to adopt immediate measures to bring food, medicine and basic necessities to the people of Fallujah and to resolve this humanitarian crisis. It also urges the Iraqi Prime Minister to prevent any meddling by the militias affiliated with the Iranian regime who have no objective but to slaughter Sunnis to further their scorched earth tactics. The Iraqi army should create safe corridors to enable people to escape from Fallujah.

“EIFA also calls on the UN, the US, the EU and its Member States, especially members of the international coalition, to take urgent steps to bring food and medicine to the people of Fallujah, including through air-drops. EIFA similarly calls on Iraq’s religious leaders, particularly the Shi’ite leaders, not to keep silent in face of this criminal siege and to employ their extensive resources to save the people of Fallujah.

“Imposing a siege on the people of this city not only fails to help in the fight against Daesh, but by escalating the criminal acts by the militias affiliated with the Iranian Qods Force, politically and socially pours fuel on the flames of conflict and prolongs the existence of Daesh.”

Source: Global Research

By: Felicity Arbuthnot

 



 

A Democratic congressman who recently traveled to Iraq is warning that Iran is acting as a destabilizing force in that country. 

"What's become really clear is that Iran wants to be a major force in Iraq. And they're willing to spend a lot of money to destabilize it and keep the whole thing going, and keep the region unstable," Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) told The Hill in a recent interview.  

Ryan said he learned that Iran controlled about 45 of the news stations in Iraq, which broadcast anti-American messages. 

"The message of anti-Americanism, anti-U.S. that we're the big problem in the world is the only message getting out in that region, and I think we need ... to get the message out in that region," he said.

Iran's influence over Iraq grew after Saddam Hussein's government was overthrown in the U.S.-led Iraq War.

Tehran has supported Iraq's Shia-led government, which critics say has persecuted the country's Sunnis. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni extremist group, created a foothold in Iraq as the Islamic factions battled.

The U.S. has pushed current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to undertake political reforms to allow for more Sunni autonomy and representation, but progress has been slow. 

Ryan said he did see some signs of reform.  

"The prime minister wanted to completely retool his Cabinet because there was a huge protest outside of the compound — Sunni-led — and he is offering now to retool his Cabinet," Ryan said. 

"The fact that he said he was going to redo his Cabinet, I think, was a fairly good sign that he's opening up and understanding that the Sunnis really have to have buy-in, and these chiefs and these Sunni leaders have to have buy-in," he said. 

Ryan also called for a comprehensive plan to go after ISIS, and more investment in protecting the homeland from terrorists.  

"We need to figure out what the game plan is and go at it hard, and it needs to be comprehensive and it needs to be smart and it needs to be consistent," he said. 

"We need to be very committed to securing that region of the world, because those ISIS fighters are coming out of Syria and Iraq, and they're coming through Turkey and they're making their way through the West and into the United States if they can." 

"They're hellbent on getting into the United States," he said.

Source: The Hill

By Kristina Wong

If the international community is serious about solving the Syrian crisis, they need to atone for the original sin that is Iraq.

Even by its customarily low standards, Iraq has sunk to even greater depths than previously thought possible. It is not as though the Iraqis do not have to contend with one of the most feared global terrorist threats that has eclipsed even al-Qaeda at its zenith, the forces of the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Nevertheless, Iraqi politicians, with their corruption, nepotism, patronage networks and Mafia-like ways, still seem to think that politicking and jockeying over who has what ministry so that they may further their own economic interests is more important than attending to the crisis afflicting the country that they were installed – I mean “elected” – to serve. One is then left to wonder just how overblown the IS threat has become.

And why should one not wonder if the IS threat has been exaggerated, when Iraq’s leaders have enough time on their hands to try and unseat one another so that their own personal cliques may benefit at the expense of the common Iraqi citizen
 
The sad thing is that, in the past few months, terrorist leaders responsible for death squads that committed some of the worst sectarian atrocities in Iraq are now being painted as heroes of democracy and Iraqi social plurality. Of course, here we are discussing Moqtada al-Sadr, scion of the Sadr family of Shia clerics, leader of the Mahdi Army terrorist organisation and of their now rebranded Peace Brigades.

Although I have elsewhere likened the prospects of Sadr acting as the hero who can save Iraq from sectarianism as being as realistic as Danger Mouse saving the world, it is still disconcerting that people can believe that a man who was up until recently overtly bent on the destruction of the Sunni population can suddenly have a change of heart.

The parliamentary tumult he caused was less to do with creating unity amongst Iraqis, and more to do with Sadr throwing his toys out of the pram because Iran has granted a greater share of power and influence to others at his expense. This is evidenced by the fact that Sadr and his supporters criticised Iranian influence over other Shia Iraqi groups in public demonstrations, ironically forgetting how his own power base was bred, funded and trained by Iran.

His criticisms of Iran did not go down well amongst either his detractors or his benefactors, as the former pointed out that he had just concluded a meeting with Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah chief and fellow Iranian stooge, and the latter, in the form of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, allegedly threatened to set their hounds on Sadr if he did not cease and desist from biting the hand that had fed him.

Nevertheless, Sadr’s antics created the perfect opportunity for other sectarian blocs, including some under the control of former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, to attempt to purge the Iraqi government of any vestige of Sunni Arab presence, even if that presence served only to legitimise the grossly intolerant and sectional parliament. To achieve these ends, parliament voted to hoist the Iraqi Islamic Party’s Sunni Arab Saleem al-Jabouri out of his chair and post as Speaker, but failed due to their own factional in-fighting and inability to agree on which bloc or party had the largest piece of the Iraqi pie, now seeping with blood.

Jabouri seemed shocked that some of his former Iran-backed allies were now trying their utmost to hurl him out of his job as parliamentary speaker. It is not as though he did not have any prior warning about the perils of being a token Sunni working in a sectarian system established by the Americans and dominated by Shia parties, many with undeniable and strong connections to the radical mullahs of Iran.

After all, American forces humiliatingly assaulted the home of former Islamic Party leader Muhsin Abdulhamid, and later Maliki was to turn on another token Sunni, former vice president Tariq al-Hashimi, and had him sentenced to death in absentia while he was in exile in Turkey. The idea that Jabouri was caught by surprise is funny in itself, and in Iraq such a person is commonly known as a qashmar – someone eminently gullible.

The disaster of Iraq’s political system is further illustrated by the country’s leaders having established Iraq as one of the most corrupt countries on Earth. In fact, Iraq ranks even lower than “fantastically corrupt” Nigeria, as Prime Minister David Cameron put it to the Queen last week. In 2012, Transparency International gave Iraq a score of just 18 out of 100 in terms of the perception of its ability to counter corruption. It has since slipped to repeatedly scoring a meagre 16 points every year since then, demonstrating how Iraq is getting worse in yet another way aside from the continuing, merciless violence.

The apathy towards Iraq has gotten so bad that almost no one is even reporting that the city of Fallujah is being smashed between the hammer of the Green Zone government and the anvil of IS fanatics. The Iraqi authorities have imposed a total siege on the city, and have been shelling it incessantly since January 2014 when IS took control. Fighting IS is one thing, and shelling Fallujah General Hospital to the point where it is barely functioning is another. In fact, it is a war crime, yet it is too inconvenient for the international community to acknowledge that the Iraq they created has surpassed Saddam Hussein by any and all metrics of brutality, mass murder and repression.

Whilst the centrepiece of much of today’s news is Syria, occasionally flitting back to Palestine now and then, Iraq is largely forgotten. It seems that society has become content to imagine that whoever is fighting IS must be good, not heeding the fact that the Iraqi government and its rampant sectarianism is largely to blame for the birth of IS in the first place. The roots of the Syrian crisis can be found deeply burrowed in the catastrophe of Iraq, its corrupt tendrils extending across the fertile crescent all the way to its main source of nourishment, Tehran.

If the international community is serious about solving the Syrian crisis, they need to atone for the original sin that is Iraq, and how it was handed over to sectarian fanatics covered in the shroud of a false democracy.


Source http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/cirque-du-iraq-1506494766

PRESS RELEASE - For immediate release 19th May 2016

In the absence of real reform,

IRAQ LURCHING TOWARDS CATASTROPHE

 

“If real and comprehensive reforms are not carried out, Iraq will lurch towards catastrophe.” This was the view expressed today by Struan Stevenson, President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) and a former President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014). Stevenson strongly condemned the recent explosions in Baghdad and other cities and said it would be impossible to sort out the current crisis unless the Iranian regime and its cohorts are expelled from Iraq and the true representatives of the Sunnis are allowed to have a share of political power and to be seriously involved in the fight against Daesh (ISIS).

 He added: “The Iraqi population is sick of those politicians who use their power systematically to rob the nation and fill their offshore bank accounts, while the country’s infrastructure and public services rot and the struggle to survive intensifies. Plummeting oil revenues have shattered the Iraqi economy and the combination of venal corruption and political instability has made Iraq a high-risk zone even for bailouts from the IMF.

 “The recent events have simply reinforced the view that Prime Minister Abadi is running out of time and must stop Iran from manipulating the situation His attempts at reform have been resoundingly rebuffed by political factions who are determined to keep their hands in the national cash register. When he tried to recall parliament last week so that he could issue an ultimatum on his reform agenda, the politicians simply stayed at home, boycotting the proceedings. The main obstacles to reform are former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and his men who are under the absolute control of Tehran and act in full coordination with the militias affiliated to the terrorist Iranian Quds force.

“In an interesting development, Tariq al-Hashimi, the former vice president of Iraq and a prominent Sunni leader, who was sentenced to death in absence in a disgraceful show trial by Maliki, was taken off Interpol’s red notice list on Monday. This move by Interpol clearly exposes the level of corruption that prevailed in the Iraqi government under Maliki. It also highlights the need for al-Abadi urgently to restore the integrity of Sunni leaders who were arrested or sentenced in absentia by Maliki. 

“The political vacuum has created a seething sense of unrest and rising tension, which some commentators believe could herald a revolution and the overthrow of the Abadi government. Such a catastrophic event would play directly into the hands of the Iranian regime and Daesh, whose ultimate aims are to seize control over the whole of Iraq. Daesh has held Mosul, Iraq’s second city, for almost two years. The long awaited campaign to recapture the city began in March, but was quickly repulsed by the jihadists. Mosul’s two million Sunni inhabitants now nervously wait for the next onslaught, fearing the brutal pro-Iranian militias and the random air strikes by US and other Western bombers, almost as much as they fear the barbaric savagery of Daesh.”

 “The Sunni inhabitants of Mosul may have a long wait. Abadi has recalled most of his Iraqi military forces to provide a protective cordon around Baghdad, following the series of Daesh suicide bombings that last week killed scores of civilians. Any further deterioration in national security could pave the way for a Daesh assault on the Iraqi capital, which would inevitably suck in the Americans and potentially the British too. Obama’s reluctance to put US boots on the ground in Iraq, particularly during the dying days of his presidency, has paved the way for this crisis. But his obduracy could well be overwhelmed by a battle for Baghdad.”

Struan Stevenson concluded: “The only possible solution to the growing unrest is the formation of a government of national salvation to pacify the nation and unify Iraq. If Prime Minister Abadi is to survive, he must sweep away all of the corrupt ministers and replace them with technocrats who are prepared to work for the benefit of the country rather than to enrich themselves. He must evict the Iranian regime from Iraq and declare his liberation from their meddling. He must bring the Shi’ite militias under the immediate control of the Iraqi military and put an end to their sectarian campaign of genocidal slaughter. The US, UN and EU should quickly use their power to persuade Abadi on this course of action before it is too late.”

Office of Struan Stevenson
President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)
Brussels

(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014

-- 

European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA),  1050 Brussels, Belgium

President: Struan Stevenson, Chairman of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014), Members of the board: Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of the European Parliament (1999-2014); Stephen Hughes, 1st Vice-President of European Parliament Socialist Group (2009-2014),  Giulio Terzi, Former Foreign Minister of Italy; Ryszard Czarnecki,Vice-President of the European Parliament; Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC; Paulo Casaca MEP (1999-2009); Kimmo Sasi, MP (Finland), Honorary members include Tariq al-Hashemi, former Vice President of Iraq , Sid Ahmed Ghozali, former Prime Minister of Algeria

Webwww.eu-iraq.org/        Facebookwww.facebook.com/EuIraq        Twitterwww.twitter.com/EuIraq

6 May 2016


Mr. President,
Members of the Security Council,
Secretary-General,


On the eve of the UN Security Council session on Iraq, I am writing to you on behalf of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) to draw your attention to a number of points concerning the current crisis in Iraq. I have closely followed Iraq ever since 2003 and as the President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014, I travelled extensively to Baghdad, Erbil and other capitals in the region.

Today, the international community is greatly concerned about the deepening crisis that has enveloped all of Iraq. Large swathes of the country are in the hands of Daesh terrorists with no clear prospect for their liberation, while there is a popular demand for reform and an end to the prevalent corruption. The Iraqi people are calling for a totally technocratic cabinet irrespective of political parties’ allocated shares. But considering the conflict of interests, prospects for such a cabinet are indeed dim, which in turn markedly diminishes the chance for success in the fight against Daesh.

There is an international -- and even a relative American -- consensus today that the Second Gulf War in 2003 has been a mammoth mistake giving rise to the present problems in the region. This mistake was aggravated and rendered even more dangerous with the lethal mistakes that followed, such as the dissolution of the Iraqi army and Iraq’s civil service and the policy to reshape a new country. However, the deadliest mistake of all was the opening of Iraq's doors to the clerical regime ruling neighbouring Iran.

Since 1979, the Iranian regime has sought to dominate the region; a matter that is enshrined in its constitution. In articles 5 and 11 of the Iranian constitution the leader of the regime is considered the ruler of all Muslims worldwide and the Islamic Republic of Iran should endeavour to realize political, economic and cultural unity of the Islamic World. For the Iranian regime, this is not just an expansionist agenda but an imperative for its very survival. The survival of this regime depends on its expansion outside its borders or the creation of a Caliphate. In continuing its war with Iraq in the 1980s, Tehran’s objective was to realize this very goal.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq led was a windfall for Tehran that offered the regime an opportunity to achieve what it had failed to achieve on its own in its costly eight-year war. The regional balance that was a pillar for regional stability tilted in Tehran’s favour overnight thanks to the war waged by the United States. Tehran is now acting aggressively against other countries in the region after securing its position in Iraq.

This regime has instigated a religious and sectarian war by cultivating the religious and demographic texture of Iraq. Tehran’s objectives require its absolute dominion over Iraq and if that proves unattainable, then it needs to marginalize the Sunnis and sustain a religious war in Iraq, which is what we are witnessing today.

It is huge mistake to think that the Iranian regime and Daesh are locked in a serious confrontation. The principal objective of both is one and the same: “The establishment of an Islamic government and the imposition of Sharia law through coercion.” They do have conflicts of interest in many areas, but ultimately their common interests outweigh their differences. Khamenei has numerously declared that the enemy is the United States and that the Takfiris (Daesh and Qaeda) represent sedition, but not the enemy.

Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and mercenaries in Syria number 70,000, but never and nowhere have these forces fought Daesh; instead, they have always fought the moderate opposition and the Free Syrian Army and on many occasions the two have played a complementary role. Similarly, in Iraq, the regime has not confronted Daesh except in limited areas. There is a prevalent belief in Iraq that in many mixed Shia-Sunni regions of Iraq such as Diyala, Daesh has handed over territory to the revolutionary guards in return for money from Iran. In these areas, not many from the two sides have been killed; instead, following the retreat by Daesh, many Sunnis have been killed by the revolutionary guards and their paid hands.

The extensive presence of the revolutionary guards in Iraq and their shocking atrocities against the Sunnis has created the greatest motive and the vital climate for Daesh to thrive. In tandem, the dominion of the Iranian regime on many political, military and security centers of Iraq and the dominance of political groups associated with Iran have drastically marginalized and suppressed the Sunnis. Through its political and military levers, the Iranian regime prevents the training and arming of Iraqi Sunni tribes in the effort to confront Daesh.

Moreover, there is ample intelligence that in many regions it is the Iranian regime, the IRGC and the Qods Force that are aiding and abetting al-Qaeda and Daesh. Many leaders of al-Qaeda and Daesh were living in Iran and under the control of the Iranian regime. They were sent out by the regime to form the terrorist gangs in Iraq and Syria.

While the U.S. and the international community have not abided by their commitments to secure the protection of members of the Iranian opposition (residents of Ashraf and Camp Liberty), the Iranian regime has done its outmost to suppress and slaughter them in an attempt to do away with its main opposition. Additionally, by suppressing Ashraf and Liberty residents the Iranian regime paves the way for the spread of fundamentalism.

The present crisis in Iraq is a consequence of the Iranian regime’s meddling. Iraq is the richest Arab-Islamic country, as it is the only country that has both abundant oil and water, which are not found together in any other country in the zone. Nonetheless, in the fourteenth year after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq continue to suffer from poverty, starvation and unemployment. The Iraqi people consider the sectarian allocation -- with Iran as its principal beneficiary -- as the cause of the present catastrophic situation and are demanding radical reforms. These reforms are the last chance for Iraq to avert partitioning. If true reforms are implemented in Iraq, the losers will be none other than the Iranian regime, along with the political parties and militias affiliated with it.

Therefore, the Iranian regime is doing its outmost to divert the process of reform and prevent it from taking place. Nouri Al-Maliki, the former Prime Minster and Iranian regime’s cohort, leads the way to prevent any real reform from taking hold in Iraq. The Iranian regime is working to prevent the formation of a technocratic cabinet since it would lose its levers of power in Iraq or find its leverage severely weakened.

In such circumstances, the key political objective of the reforms in Iraq must be to cut off the long arm of the Iranian regime and its elements. Therefore, the international community, the UN Security Council, and the U.S. government have resolutely to halt the Iranian regime’s interference in Iraq if they wish to rein in the crisis in that country and the disintegration of the government. The illusion that the U.S. can bring reforms to Iraq with the help of the Iranian regime and by so doing create stability and tranquillity is but a mirage. Such cooperation will only strengthen the Iranian regime’s hand against the popular demand for reform and would thus intensify and deepen the crisis in Iraq.

In view of the above, we call on the Security Council to work toward the following goals that are a prerequisite not just for peace and stability in Iraq, but in the entire region:

a. The Council should endorse comprehensive reforms for the formation of a totally technocratic government rid of political parties and factions affiliated with the Iranian regime;
b. The Council should strongly condemn the Iranian regime’s meddling in Iraq and should impose the necessary punishments on Iran for its continued interference;
c. Iraq's judiciary must be reformed and overhauled. The influence of the Iranian regime and Nouri al-Maliki in this apparatus should be eliminated.
d. The militias affiliated with the Iranian regime should be disarmed and evicted from Iraq’s security and military organs;
e. Iraq's Sunni tribes need to be organized on a large scale to confront Daesh without any prejudice;
f. The United States and the international coalition should provide for the security and wellbeing of Camp Liberty residents until they are all transferred out of Iraq to countries of safety.

With Iraq falling into the hands of the Iranian regime, the whole region has been engulfed in crisis and chaos; with its eviction, the path to peace and tranquillity for the entire region will be paved.

Yours sincerely,
Struan Stevenson
President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)
(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014.)


European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA), 1050 Brussels, Belgium President: Struan Stevenson, Chairman of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014), Members of the board: Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of the European Parliament (1999-2014); Stephen Hughes, 1st Vice-President of European Parliament Socialist Group (2009-2014); Giulio Terzi, Former Foreign Minister of Italy; Ryszard Czarnecki,Vice-President of the European Parliament; Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC; Paulo Casaca MEP (1999-2009); Kimmo Sasi, MP (Finland); and honorary members including Tariq Hashemi, former Vice President of Iraq , Sid Ahmed Ghozali Former Prime Minister of Algeria
eu-iraq.org
facebook.com/EuIraq
twitter.com/EuIraq

Iran's army entering the war in Syria is a blatant violation of international law and must be met with an overwhelming response and action by the international community.

With the Syrian revolution against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad entering its sixth year, Tehran has escalated the presence in Syria of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), together with regular Iranian military units, who are waging a brutal campaign against the Syrian people and the moderate opposition.
 In recent weeks, a significant number of special commandos of Iran's regular army have been killed in Syria, pointing to their extensive presence in that conflict. The failure of the IRGC, especially in the Aleppo's zone and their massive casualties in recent months in Syria, has reportedly caused Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei to dispatch his regular army to bolster pro Assad forces in this criminal war.

In addition to the IRGC and the Iranian army, tens of thousands of Iraqi criminal militias, including Afghan and Pakistani mercenaries, have been engaged in the massacre of the Syrian people under the command of Iran.


Struan Stevenson
President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)
(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014)

Iran's army entering the war in Syria is a blatant violation of international law and must be met with an overwhelming response and action by the international community.

With the Syrian revolution against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad entering its sixth year, Tehran has escalated the presence in Syria of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), together with regular Iranian military units, who are waging a brutal campaign against the Syrian people and the moderate opposition.

In recent weeks, a significant number of special commandos of Iran's regular army have been killed in Syria, pointing to their extensive presence in that conflict. The failure of the IRGC, especially in the Aleppo's zone and their massive casualties in recent months in Syria, has reportedly caused Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei to dispatch his regular army to bolster pro Assad forces in this criminal war.

In addition to the IRGC and the Iranian army, tens of thousands of Iraqi criminal militias, including Afghan and Pakistani mercenaries, have been engaged in the massacre of the Syrian people under the command of Iran.

Struan Stevenson President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)

(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014)

Tens of thousands of supporters of the influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have gathered in the Iraqi capital, calling for economic and political reforms to end corruption.

Sadr, a powerful cleric who opposes the main Shia bloc that controls the government, previously led sit-in protests in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone to demand Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi form a cabinet made up of technocrats. 

Sadr had given Abadi his backing on the condition that he would involve Sunnis in the government, stop corruption and appoint cabinet ministers with better qualifications.

"I want the prime minister to continue his reform plan with no fear of political pressure," he said.

Last month, Abbadi tried to meet those demands when he presented a list of technocrats, instead of party-affiliated politicians, to form a new cabinet.

When Abbadi put forward that list of nominees, Sadr called off the protests. But the move faced major resistance from powerful parties that rely on control of ministries for patronage and funds.

Iraq’s government has been based on a quota system since 2003 that empowers politicians based on ethnic and religious grounds.

Shia, Sunni and Kurd MPs dominate the various political groups who routinely bargain over government ministries they control. 

More than 100 MPs staged their own sit-in last month and voted to replace the parliamentary speaker.

Some also fought over whether the Kurdish president should be replaced or not.

Though Sadr has managed to mobilise thousands of Iraqis, analysts do not believe Tuesday's protests will have much effect on the government.

"I don't think this will have any effect on the government's position," Saad Jawad, a professor at the London School of Economics, told Al Jazeera.

"Unfortunately, nobody is doing anything. They have not been listening to the protests."



Iraqi authorities have shut down Al-Jazeera's Baghdad office, accusing the Qatar-based TV network of inciting "violence and sectarianism."

Iraq's Communications and Media Commission sent the network a letter informing it of its March 24 decision to revoke the bureau's license and close its office for one year.

The pan-Arab network denied on April 28 that it had violated regulations or deviated from professional and objective coverage. It said Iraq's decision contradicts the government's "commitment to guarantee freedom of expression."

"We remain committed to broadcasting news on Iraq to Iraqi people, our viewers in the Arab world, and across the world," it said.

Al-Jazeera has repeatedly come under fire from the Iraqi authorities for coverage perceived as too friendly to the Islamic State extremist group and hostile to the country's Shi'ite majority.

Many in Iraq suspect Qatar, which funds Al-Jazeera, intentionally sponsors hard-line Sunni groups to counter the expanding influence of Iran and Shi'ite Islam in the region.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

As Russian planes decimate Aleppo, and hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria’s largest city prepare for encirclement, blockade and siege — and for the starvation and the barbarity that will inevitably follow — it is time to proclaim the moral bankruptcy of American and Western policy in Syria.

Actually, it is past time. The moral bankruptcy has been long in the making: five years of empty declarations that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go, of halfhearted arming of rebel groups, of allowing the red line on chemical weapons to be crossed and of failing adequately to share Europe’s refugee burden as it buckles under the strain of the consequences of Western inaction. In the meantime, a quarter-million Syrians have died, 7 million have been displaced and nearly 5 million are refugees. Two million of the refugees are children.

This downward path leads to the truly incredible possibility that as the Syrian dictator and his ruthless backers close in on Aleppo, the government of the United States, in the name of the struggle against the Islamic State, will simply stand by while Russia, Assad and Iran destroy their opponents at whatever human cost.

It is time for those who care about the moral standing of the United States to say that this policy is shameful. If the United States and its NATO allies allow their inglorious new partners to encircle and starve the people of Aleppo, they will be complicit in crimes of war. The ruins of our own integrity will be found amid the ruins of Aleppo. Indiscriminate bombardment of civilians is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. So is the use of siege and blockade to starve civilians. We need not wait for proof of Assad’s and Vladimir Putin’s intentions as they tighten the noose. “Barrel bombs” have been falling on bread lines and hospitals in the city (and elsewhere in Syria) for some time. Starvation is a long-standing and amply documented instrument in Assad’s tool kit of horrors.

Aleppo is an emergency, requiring emergency measures. Are we no longer capable of emergency action? It is also an opportunity, perhaps the last one, to save Syria. Aleppo is the new Sarajevo, the new Srebrenica, and its fate should be to the Syrian conflict what the fate of Sarajevo and Srebrenica were to the Bosnian conflict: the occasion for the United States to bestir itself, and for the West to say with one voice, “Enough.” It was after Srebrenica and Sarajevo — and after the air campaign with which the West finally responded to the atrocities — that the United States undertook the statecraft that led to the Dayton accords and ended the war in Bosnia.

The conventional wisdom is that nothing can be done in Syria, but the conventional wisdom is wrong. There is a path toward ending the horror in Aleppo — a perfectly realistic path that would honor our highest ideals, a way to recover our moral standing as well as our strategic position. Operating under a NATO umbrella, the United States could use its naval and air assets in the region to establish a no-fly zone from Aleppo to the Turkish border and make clear that it would prevent the continued bombardment of civilians and refugees by any party, including the Russians. It could use the no-fly zone to keep open the corridor with Turkey and use its assets to resupply the city and internally displaced people in the region with humanitarian assistance.

If the Russians and Syrians sought to prevent humanitarian protection and resupply of the city, they would face the military consequences. The U.S. military is already in hourly contact with the Russian military about de-conflicting their aircraft over Syria, and the administration can be in constant contact with the Russian leadership to ensure that a humanitarian protection mission need not escalate into a great-power confrontation. But risk is no excuse for doing nothing. The Russians and the Syrians would immediately understand the consequences of U.S. and NATO action: They would learn, in the only language they seem to understand, that they cannot win the Syrian war on their repulsive terms. The use of force to protect civilians, and to establish a new configuration of power in which the skies would no longer be owned by the Syrian tyrant and the Russian tyrant, may set the stage for a tough and serious negotiation to bring an end to the slaughter.

This is what U.S. leadership in the 21st century should look like: bringing together force and diplomacy, moral commitment and strategic boldness, around an urgent humanitarian objective that would command the support of the world. The era of our Syrian abdication must end now. If we do not come to the rescue of Aleppo, if we do not do everything we can to put a stop to the suffering that is the defining and most damaging abomination of our time, Aleppo will be a stain on our conscience forever.


Source: Washington Post

By:

Struan Stevenson, President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) is calling for “urgent action to end callous food and medicine blockade” of the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

Mr. Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014. He outlines starkly the ongoing tragedy of the “City of Mosques”, which was seventy percent destroyed by US troops in 2004 with football pitches being turned into cemeteries such was the human carnage wrought by the anglo-American “liberators.”

The suffering, assaults and siege has never ended. Stevenson states:

“The European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) strongly condemns the cruel and criminal siege of Fallujah, which, together with the denial of access to medicine, has led to the starvation and death of large numbers of innocent civilians. The unfolding tragedy has included the horrific death of a young mother who attached rocks to herself and her children and jumped into the River Euphrates. The people of Fallujah are the victims of crimes committed by Daesh (ISIS) who control the city, on the one hand and the bombing of residential areas by the Iraqi army and the sectarian Shi’ia militias affiliated with the Iranian regime, on the other.

“EIFA calls on the government of Dr. Haider al-Abadi, in line with his recent notable government reforms, to adopt immediate measures to bring food, medicine and basic necessities to the people of Fallujah and to resolve this humanitarian crisis. It also urges the Iraqi Prime Minister to prevent any meddling by the militias affiliated with the Iranian regime who have no objective but to slaughter Sunnis to further their scorched earth tactics. The Iraqi army should create safe corridors to enable people to escape from Fallujah.

“EIFA also calls on the UN, the US, the EU and its Member States, especially members of the international coalition, to take urgent steps to bring food and medicine to the people of Fallujah, including through air-drops. EIFA similarly calls on Iraq’s religious leaders, particularly the Shi’ite leaders, not to keep silent in face of this criminal siege and to employ their extensive resources to save the people of Fallujah.

“Imposing a siege on the people of this city not only fails to help in the fight against Daesh, but by escalating the criminal acts by the militias affiliated with the Iranian Qods Force, politically and socially pours fuel on the flames of conflict and prolongs the existence of Daesh.”

Source: Global Research

By: Felicity Arbuthnot

 



 

A Democratic congressman who recently traveled to Iraq is warning that Iran is acting as a destabilizing force in that country. 

"What's become really clear is that Iran wants to be a major force in Iraq. And they're willing to spend a lot of money to destabilize it and keep the whole thing going, and keep the region unstable," Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) told The Hill in a recent interview.  

Ryan said he learned that Iran controlled about 45 of the news stations in Iraq, which broadcast anti-American messages. 

"The message of anti-Americanism, anti-U.S. that we're the big problem in the world is the only message getting out in that region, and I think we need ... to get the message out in that region," he said.

Iran's influence over Iraq grew after Saddam Hussein's government was overthrown in the U.S.-led Iraq War.

Tehran has supported Iraq's Shia-led government, which critics say has persecuted the country's Sunnis. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni extremist group, created a foothold in Iraq as the Islamic factions battled.

The U.S. has pushed current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to undertake political reforms to allow for more Sunni autonomy and representation, but progress has been slow. 

Ryan said he did see some signs of reform.  

"The prime minister wanted to completely retool his Cabinet because there was a huge protest outside of the compound — Sunni-led — and he is offering now to retool his Cabinet," Ryan said. 

"The fact that he said he was going to redo his Cabinet, I think, was a fairly good sign that he's opening up and understanding that the Sunnis really have to have buy-in, and these chiefs and these Sunni leaders have to have buy-in," he said. 

Ryan also called for a comprehensive plan to go after ISIS, and more investment in protecting the homeland from terrorists.  

"We need to figure out what the game plan is and go at it hard, and it needs to be comprehensive and it needs to be smart and it needs to be consistent," he said. 

"We need to be very committed to securing that region of the world, because those ISIS fighters are coming out of Syria and Iraq, and they're coming through Turkey and they're making their way through the West and into the United States if they can." 

"They're hellbent on getting into the United States," he said.

Source: The Hill

By Kristina Wong

If the international community is serious about solving the Syrian crisis, they need to atone for the original sin that is Iraq.

Even by its customarily low standards, Iraq has sunk to even greater depths than previously thought possible. It is not as though the Iraqis do not have to contend with one of the most feared global terrorist threats that has eclipsed even al-Qaeda at its zenith, the forces of the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Nevertheless, Iraqi politicians, with their corruption, nepotism, patronage networks and Mafia-like ways, still seem to think that politicking and jockeying over who has what ministry so that they may further their own economic interests is more important than attending to the crisis afflicting the country that they were installed – I mean “elected” – to serve. One is then left to wonder just how overblown the IS threat has become.

And why should one not wonder if the IS threat has been exaggerated, when Iraq’s leaders have enough time on their hands to try and unseat one another so that their own personal cliques may benefit at the expense of the common Iraqi citizen
 
The sad thing is that, in the past few months, terrorist leaders responsible for death squads that committed some of the worst sectarian atrocities in Iraq are now being painted as heroes of democracy and Iraqi social plurality. Of course, here we are discussing Moqtada al-Sadr, scion of the Sadr family of Shia clerics, leader of the Mahdi Army terrorist organisation and of their now rebranded Peace Brigades.

Although I have elsewhere likened the prospects of Sadr acting as the hero who can save Iraq from sectarianism as being as realistic as Danger Mouse saving the world, it is still disconcerting that people can believe that a man who was up until recently overtly bent on the destruction of the Sunni population can suddenly have a change of heart.

The parliamentary tumult he caused was less to do with creating unity amongst Iraqis, and more to do with Sadr throwing his toys out of the pram because Iran has granted a greater share of power and influence to others at his expense. This is evidenced by the fact that Sadr and his supporters criticised Iranian influence over other Shia Iraqi groups in public demonstrations, ironically forgetting how his own power base was bred, funded and trained by Iran.

His criticisms of Iran did not go down well amongst either his detractors or his benefactors, as the former pointed out that he had just concluded a meeting with Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah chief and fellow Iranian stooge, and the latter, in the form of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, allegedly threatened to set their hounds on Sadr if he did not cease and desist from biting the hand that had fed him.

Nevertheless, Sadr’s antics created the perfect opportunity for other sectarian blocs, including some under the control of former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, to attempt to purge the Iraqi government of any vestige of Sunni Arab presence, even if that presence served only to legitimise the grossly intolerant and sectional parliament. To achieve these ends, parliament voted to hoist the Iraqi Islamic Party’s Sunni Arab Saleem al-Jabouri out of his chair and post as Speaker, but failed due to their own factional in-fighting and inability to agree on which bloc or party had the largest piece of the Iraqi pie, now seeping with blood.

Jabouri seemed shocked that some of his former Iran-backed allies were now trying their utmost to hurl him out of his job as parliamentary speaker. It is not as though he did not have any prior warning about the perils of being a token Sunni working in a sectarian system established by the Americans and dominated by Shia parties, many with undeniable and strong connections to the radical mullahs of Iran.

After all, American forces humiliatingly assaulted the home of former Islamic Party leader Muhsin Abdulhamid, and later Maliki was to turn on another token Sunni, former vice president Tariq al-Hashimi, and had him sentenced to death in absentia while he was in exile in Turkey. The idea that Jabouri was caught by surprise is funny in itself, and in Iraq such a person is commonly known as a qashmar – someone eminently gullible.

The disaster of Iraq’s political system is further illustrated by the country’s leaders having established Iraq as one of the most corrupt countries on Earth. In fact, Iraq ranks even lower than “fantastically corrupt” Nigeria, as Prime Minister David Cameron put it to the Queen last week. In 2012, Transparency International gave Iraq a score of just 18 out of 100 in terms of the perception of its ability to counter corruption. It has since slipped to repeatedly scoring a meagre 16 points every year since then, demonstrating how Iraq is getting worse in yet another way aside from the continuing, merciless violence.

The apathy towards Iraq has gotten so bad that almost no one is even reporting that the city of Fallujah is being smashed between the hammer of the Green Zone government and the anvil of IS fanatics. The Iraqi authorities have imposed a total siege on the city, and have been shelling it incessantly since January 2014 when IS took control. Fighting IS is one thing, and shelling Fallujah General Hospital to the point where it is barely functioning is another. In fact, it is a war crime, yet it is too inconvenient for the international community to acknowledge that the Iraq they created has surpassed Saddam Hussein by any and all metrics of brutality, mass murder and repression.

Whilst the centrepiece of much of today’s news is Syria, occasionally flitting back to Palestine now and then, Iraq is largely forgotten. It seems that society has become content to imagine that whoever is fighting IS must be good, not heeding the fact that the Iraqi government and its rampant sectarianism is largely to blame for the birth of IS in the first place. The roots of the Syrian crisis can be found deeply burrowed in the catastrophe of Iraq, its corrupt tendrils extending across the fertile crescent all the way to its main source of nourishment, Tehran.

If the international community is serious about solving the Syrian crisis, they need to atone for the original sin that is Iraq, and how it was handed over to sectarian fanatics covered in the shroud of a false democracy.


Source http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/cirque-du-iraq-1506494766

PRESS RELEASE - For immediate release 19th May 2016

In the absence of real reform,

IRAQ LURCHING TOWARDS CATASTROPHE

 

“If real and comprehensive reforms are not carried out, Iraq will lurch towards catastrophe.” This was the view expressed today by Struan Stevenson, President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) and a former President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014). Stevenson strongly condemned the recent explosions in Baghdad and other cities and said it would be impossible to sort out the current crisis unless the Iranian regime and its cohorts are expelled from Iraq and the true representatives of the Sunnis are allowed to have a share of political power and to be seriously involved in the fight against Daesh (ISIS).

 He added: “The Iraqi population is sick of those politicians who use their power systematically to rob the nation and fill their offshore bank accounts, while the country’s infrastructure and public services rot and the struggle to survive intensifies. Plummeting oil revenues have shattered the Iraqi economy and the combination of venal corruption and political instability has made Iraq a high-risk zone even for bailouts from the IMF.

 “The recent events have simply reinforced the view that Prime Minister Abadi is running out of time and must stop Iran from manipulating the situation His attempts at reform have been resoundingly rebuffed by political factions who are determined to keep their hands in the national cash register. When he tried to recall parliament last week so that he could issue an ultimatum on his reform agenda, the politicians simply stayed at home, boycotting the proceedings. The main obstacles to reform are former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and his men who are under the absolute control of Tehran and act in full coordination with the militias affiliated to the terrorist Iranian Quds force.

“In an interesting development, Tariq al-Hashimi, the former vice president of Iraq and a prominent Sunni leader, who was sentenced to death in absence in a disgraceful show trial by Maliki, was taken off Interpol’s red notice list on Monday. This move by Interpol clearly exposes the level of corruption that prevailed in the Iraqi government under Maliki. It also highlights the need for al-Abadi urgently to restore the integrity of Sunni leaders who were arrested or sentenced in absentia by Maliki. 

“The political vacuum has created a seething sense of unrest and rising tension, which some commentators believe could herald a revolution and the overthrow of the Abadi government. Such a catastrophic event would play directly into the hands of the Iranian regime and Daesh, whose ultimate aims are to seize control over the whole of Iraq. Daesh has held Mosul, Iraq’s second city, for almost two years. The long awaited campaign to recapture the city began in March, but was quickly repulsed by the jihadists. Mosul’s two million Sunni inhabitants now nervously wait for the next onslaught, fearing the brutal pro-Iranian militias and the random air strikes by US and other Western bombers, almost as much as they fear the barbaric savagery of Daesh.”

 “The Sunni inhabitants of Mosul may have a long wait. Abadi has recalled most of his Iraqi military forces to provide a protective cordon around Baghdad, following the series of Daesh suicide bombings that last week killed scores of civilians. Any further deterioration in national security could pave the way for a Daesh assault on the Iraqi capital, which would inevitably suck in the Americans and potentially the British too. Obama’s reluctance to put US boots on the ground in Iraq, particularly during the dying days of his presidency, has paved the way for this crisis. But his obduracy could well be overwhelmed by a battle for Baghdad.”

Struan Stevenson concluded: “The only possible solution to the growing unrest is the formation of a government of national salvation to pacify the nation and unify Iraq. If Prime Minister Abadi is to survive, he must sweep away all of the corrupt ministers and replace them with technocrats who are prepared to work for the benefit of the country rather than to enrich themselves. He must evict the Iranian regime from Iraq and declare his liberation from their meddling. He must bring the Shi’ite militias under the immediate control of the Iraqi military and put an end to their sectarian campaign of genocidal slaughter. The US, UN and EU should quickly use their power to persuade Abadi on this course of action before it is too late.”

Office of Struan Stevenson
President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)
Brussels

(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014

-- 

European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA),  1050 Brussels, Belgium

President: Struan Stevenson, Chairman of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014), Members of the board: Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of the European Parliament (1999-2014); Stephen Hughes, 1st Vice-President of European Parliament Socialist Group (2009-2014),  Giulio Terzi, Former Foreign Minister of Italy; Ryszard Czarnecki,Vice-President of the European Parliament; Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC; Paulo Casaca MEP (1999-2009); Kimmo Sasi, MP (Finland), Honorary members include Tariq al-Hashemi, former Vice President of Iraq , Sid Ahmed Ghozali, former Prime Minister of Algeria

Webwww.eu-iraq.org/        Facebookwww.facebook.com/EuIraq        Twitterwww.twitter.com/EuIraq

6 May 2016


Mr. President,
Members of the Security Council,
Secretary-General,


On the eve of the UN Security Council session on Iraq, I am writing to you on behalf of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) to draw your attention to a number of points concerning the current crisis in Iraq. I have closely followed Iraq ever since 2003 and as the President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014, I travelled extensively to Baghdad, Erbil and other capitals in the region.

Today, the international community is greatly concerned about the deepening crisis that has enveloped all of Iraq. Large swathes of the country are in the hands of Daesh terrorists with no clear prospect for their liberation, while there is a popular demand for reform and an end to the prevalent corruption. The Iraqi people are calling for a totally technocratic cabinet irrespective of political parties’ allocated shares. But considering the conflict of interests, prospects for such a cabinet are indeed dim, which in turn markedly diminishes the chance for success in the fight against Daesh.

There is an international -- and even a relative American -- consensus today that the Second Gulf War in 2003 has been a mammoth mistake giving rise to the present problems in the region. This mistake was aggravated and rendered even more dangerous with the lethal mistakes that followed, such as the dissolution of the Iraqi army and Iraq’s civil service and the policy to reshape a new country. However, the deadliest mistake of all was the opening of Iraq's doors to the clerical regime ruling neighbouring Iran.

Since 1979, the Iranian regime has sought to dominate the region; a matter that is enshrined in its constitution. In articles 5 and 11 of the Iranian constitution the leader of the regime is considered the ruler of all Muslims worldwide and the Islamic Republic of Iran should endeavour to realize political, economic and cultural unity of the Islamic World. For the Iranian regime, this is not just an expansionist agenda but an imperative for its very survival. The survival of this regime depends on its expansion outside its borders or the creation of a Caliphate. In continuing its war with Iraq in the 1980s, Tehran’s objective was to realize this very goal.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq led was a windfall for Tehran that offered the regime an opportunity to achieve what it had failed to achieve on its own in its costly eight-year war. The regional balance that was a pillar for regional stability tilted in Tehran’s favour overnight thanks to the war waged by the United States. Tehran is now acting aggressively against other countries in the region after securing its position in Iraq.

This regime has instigated a religious and sectarian war by cultivating the religious and demographic texture of Iraq. Tehran’s objectives require its absolute dominion over Iraq and if that proves unattainable, then it needs to marginalize the Sunnis and sustain a religious war in Iraq, which is what we are witnessing today.

It is huge mistake to think that the Iranian regime and Daesh are locked in a serious confrontation. The principal objective of both is one and the same: “The establishment of an Islamic government and the imposition of Sharia law through coercion.” They do have conflicts of interest in many areas, but ultimately their common interests outweigh their differences. Khamenei has numerously declared that the enemy is the United States and that the Takfiris (Daesh and Qaeda) represent sedition, but not the enemy.

Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and mercenaries in Syria number 70,000, but never and nowhere have these forces fought Daesh; instead, they have always fought the moderate opposition and the Free Syrian Army and on many occasions the two have played a complementary role. Similarly, in Iraq, the regime has not confronted Daesh except in limited areas. There is a prevalent belief in Iraq that in many mixed Shia-Sunni regions of Iraq such as Diyala, Daesh has handed over territory to the revolutionary guards in return for money from Iran. In these areas, not many from the two sides have been killed; instead, following the retreat by Daesh, many Sunnis have been killed by the revolutionary guards and their paid hands.

The extensive presence of the revolutionary guards in Iraq and their shocking atrocities against the Sunnis has created the greatest motive and the vital climate for Daesh to thrive. In tandem, the dominion of the Iranian regime on many political, military and security centers of Iraq and the dominance of political groups associated with Iran have drastically marginalized and suppressed the Sunnis. Through its political and military levers, the Iranian regime prevents the training and arming of Iraqi Sunni tribes in the effort to confront Daesh.

Moreover, there is ample intelligence that in many regions it is the Iranian regime, the IRGC and the Qods Force that are aiding and abetting al-Qaeda and Daesh. Many leaders of al-Qaeda and Daesh were living in Iran and under the control of the Iranian regime. They were sent out by the regime to form the terrorist gangs in Iraq and Syria.

While the U.S. and the international community have not abided by their commitments to secure the protection of members of the Iranian opposition (residents of Ashraf and Camp Liberty), the Iranian regime has done its outmost to suppress and slaughter them in an attempt to do away with its main opposition. Additionally, by suppressing Ashraf and Liberty residents the Iranian regime paves the way for the spread of fundamentalism.

The present crisis in Iraq is a consequence of the Iranian regime’s meddling. Iraq is the richest Arab-Islamic country, as it is the only country that has both abundant oil and water, which are not found together in any other country in the zone. Nonetheless, in the fourteenth year after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq continue to suffer from poverty, starvation and unemployment. The Iraqi people consider the sectarian allocation -- with Iran as its principal beneficiary -- as the cause of the present catastrophic situation and are demanding radical reforms. These reforms are the last chance for Iraq to avert partitioning. If true reforms are implemented in Iraq, the losers will be none other than the Iranian regime, along with the political parties and militias affiliated with it.

Therefore, the Iranian regime is doing its outmost to divert the process of reform and prevent it from taking place. Nouri Al-Maliki, the former Prime Minster and Iranian regime’s cohort, leads the way to prevent any real reform from taking hold in Iraq. The Iranian regime is working to prevent the formation of a technocratic cabinet since it would lose its levers of power in Iraq or find its leverage severely weakened.

In such circumstances, the key political objective of the reforms in Iraq must be to cut off the long arm of the Iranian regime and its elements. Therefore, the international community, the UN Security Council, and the U.S. government have resolutely to halt the Iranian regime’s interference in Iraq if they wish to rein in the crisis in that country and the disintegration of the government. The illusion that the U.S. can bring reforms to Iraq with the help of the Iranian regime and by so doing create stability and tranquillity is but a mirage. Such cooperation will only strengthen the Iranian regime’s hand against the popular demand for reform and would thus intensify and deepen the crisis in Iraq.

In view of the above, we call on the Security Council to work toward the following goals that are a prerequisite not just for peace and stability in Iraq, but in the entire region:

a. The Council should endorse comprehensive reforms for the formation of a totally technocratic government rid of political parties and factions affiliated with the Iranian regime;
b. The Council should strongly condemn the Iranian regime’s meddling in Iraq and should impose the necessary punishments on Iran for its continued interference;
c. Iraq's judiciary must be reformed and overhauled. The influence of the Iranian regime and Nouri al-Maliki in this apparatus should be eliminated.
d. The militias affiliated with the Iranian regime should be disarmed and evicted from Iraq’s security and military organs;
e. Iraq's Sunni tribes need to be organized on a large scale to confront Daesh without any prejudice;
f. The United States and the international coalition should provide for the security and wellbeing of Camp Liberty residents until they are all transferred out of Iraq to countries of safety.

With Iraq falling into the hands of the Iranian regime, the whole region has been engulfed in crisis and chaos; with its eviction, the path to peace and tranquillity for the entire region will be paved.

Yours sincerely,
Struan Stevenson
President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)
(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014.)


European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA), 1050 Brussels, Belgium President: Struan Stevenson, Chairman of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014), Members of the board: Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of the European Parliament (1999-2014); Stephen Hughes, 1st Vice-President of European Parliament Socialist Group (2009-2014); Giulio Terzi, Former Foreign Minister of Italy; Ryszard Czarnecki,Vice-President of the European Parliament; Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC; Paulo Casaca MEP (1999-2009); Kimmo Sasi, MP (Finland); and honorary members including Tariq Hashemi, former Vice President of Iraq , Sid Ahmed Ghozali Former Prime Minister of Algeria
eu-iraq.org
facebook.com/EuIraq
twitter.com/EuIraq

Iran's army entering the war in Syria is a blatant violation of international law and must be met with an overwhelming response and action by the international community.

With the Syrian revolution against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad entering its sixth year, Tehran has escalated the presence in Syria of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), together with regular Iranian military units, who are waging a brutal campaign against the Syrian people and the moderate opposition.
 In recent weeks, a significant number of special commandos of Iran's regular army have been killed in Syria, pointing to their extensive presence in that conflict. The failure of the IRGC, especially in the Aleppo's zone and their massive casualties in recent months in Syria, has reportedly caused Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei to dispatch his regular army to bolster pro Assad forces in this criminal war.

In addition to the IRGC and the Iranian army, tens of thousands of Iraqi criminal militias, including Afghan and Pakistani mercenaries, have been engaged in the massacre of the Syrian people under the command of Iran.


Struan Stevenson
President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)
(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014)

Iran's army entering the war in Syria is a blatant violation of international law and must be met with an overwhelming response and action by the international community.

With the Syrian revolution against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad entering its sixth year, Tehran has escalated the presence in Syria of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), together with regular Iranian military units, who are waging a brutal campaign against the Syrian people and the moderate opposition.

In recent weeks, a significant number of special commandos of Iran's regular army have been killed in Syria, pointing to their extensive presence in that conflict. The failure of the IRGC, especially in the Aleppo's zone and their massive casualties in recent months in Syria, has reportedly caused Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei to dispatch his regular army to bolster pro Assad forces in this criminal war.

In addition to the IRGC and the Iranian army, tens of thousands of Iraqi criminal militias, including Afghan and Pakistani mercenaries, have been engaged in the massacre of the Syrian people under the command of Iran.

Struan Stevenson President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)

(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014)

Tens of thousands of supporters of the influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have gathered in the Iraqi capital, calling for economic and political reforms to end corruption.

Sadr, a powerful cleric who opposes the main Shia bloc that controls the government, previously led sit-in protests in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone to demand Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi form a cabinet made up of technocrats. 

Sadr had given Abadi his backing on the condition that he would involve Sunnis in the government, stop corruption and appoint cabinet ministers with better qualifications.

"I want the prime minister to continue his reform plan with no fear of political pressure," he said.

Last month, Abbadi tried to meet those demands when he presented a list of technocrats, instead of party-affiliated politicians, to form a new cabinet.

When Abbadi put forward that list of nominees, Sadr called off the protests. But the move faced major resistance from powerful parties that rely on control of ministries for patronage and funds.

Iraq’s government has been based on a quota system since 2003 that empowers politicians based on ethnic and religious grounds.

Shia, Sunni and Kurd MPs dominate the various political groups who routinely bargain over government ministries they control. 

More than 100 MPs staged their own sit-in last month and voted to replace the parliamentary speaker.

Some also fought over whether the Kurdish president should be replaced or not.

Though Sadr has managed to mobilise thousands of Iraqis, analysts do not believe Tuesday's protests will have much effect on the government.

"I don't think this will have any effect on the government's position," Saad Jawad, a professor at the London School of Economics, told Al Jazeera.

"Unfortunately, nobody is doing anything. They have not been listening to the protests."



Iraqi authorities have shut down Al-Jazeera's Baghdad office, accusing the Qatar-based TV network of inciting "violence and sectarianism."

Iraq's Communications and Media Commission sent the network a letter informing it of its March 24 decision to revoke the bureau's license and close its office for one year.

The pan-Arab network denied on April 28 that it had violated regulations or deviated from professional and objective coverage. It said Iraq's decision contradicts the government's "commitment to guarantee freedom of expression."

"We remain committed to broadcasting news on Iraq to Iraqi people, our viewers in the Arab world, and across the world," it said.

Al-Jazeera has repeatedly come under fire from the Iraqi authorities for coverage perceived as too friendly to the Islamic State extremist group and hostile to the country's Shi'ite majority.

Many in Iraq suspect Qatar, which funds Al-Jazeera, intentionally sponsors hard-line Sunni groups to counter the expanding influence of Iran and Shi'ite Islam in the region.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

As Russian planes decimate Aleppo, and hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria’s largest city prepare for encirclement, blockade and siege — and for the starvation and the barbarity that will inevitably follow — it is time to proclaim the moral bankruptcy of American and Western policy in Syria.

Actually, it is past time. The moral bankruptcy has been long in the making: five years of empty declarations that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go, of halfhearted arming of rebel groups, of allowing the red line on chemical weapons to be crossed and of failing adequately to share Europe’s refugee burden as it buckles under the strain of the consequences of Western inaction. In the meantime, a quarter-million Syrians have died, 7 million have been displaced and nearly 5 million are refugees. Two million of the refugees are children.

This downward path leads to the truly incredible possibility that as the Syrian dictator and his ruthless backers close in on Aleppo, the government of the United States, in the name of the struggle against the Islamic State, will simply stand by while Russia, Assad and Iran destroy their opponents at whatever human cost.

It is time for those who care about the moral standing of the United States to say that this policy is shameful. If the United States and its NATO allies allow their inglorious new partners to encircle and starve the people of Aleppo, they will be complicit in crimes of war. The ruins of our own integrity will be found amid the ruins of Aleppo. Indiscriminate bombardment of civilians is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. So is the use of siege and blockade to starve civilians. We need not wait for proof of Assad’s and Vladimir Putin’s intentions as they tighten the noose. “Barrel bombs” have been falling on bread lines and hospitals in the city (and elsewhere in Syria) for some time. Starvation is a long-standing and amply documented instrument in Assad’s tool kit of horrors.

Aleppo is an emergency, requiring emergency measures. Are we no longer capable of emergency action? It is also an opportunity, perhaps the last one, to save Syria. Aleppo is the new Sarajevo, the new Srebrenica, and its fate should be to the Syrian conflict what the fate of Sarajevo and Srebrenica were to the Bosnian conflict: the occasion for the United States to bestir itself, and for the West to say with one voice, “Enough.” It was after Srebrenica and Sarajevo — and after the air campaign with which the West finally responded to the atrocities — that the United States undertook the statecraft that led to the Dayton accords and ended the war in Bosnia.

The conventional wisdom is that nothing can be done in Syria, but the conventional wisdom is wrong. There is a path toward ending the horror in Aleppo — a perfectly realistic path that would honor our highest ideals, a way to recover our moral standing as well as our strategic position. Operating under a NATO umbrella, the United States could use its naval and air assets in the region to establish a no-fly zone from Aleppo to the Turkish border and make clear that it would prevent the continued bombardment of civilians and refugees by any party, including the Russians. It could use the no-fly zone to keep open the corridor with Turkey and use its assets to resupply the city and internally displaced people in the region with humanitarian assistance.

If the Russians and Syrians sought to prevent humanitarian protection and resupply of the city, they would face the military consequences. The U.S. military is already in hourly contact with the Russian military about de-conflicting their aircraft over Syria, and the administration can be in constant contact with the Russian leadership to ensure that a humanitarian protection mission need not escalate into a great-power confrontation. But risk is no excuse for doing nothing. The Russians and the Syrians would immediately understand the consequences of U.S. and NATO action: They would learn, in the only language they seem to understand, that they cannot win the Syrian war on their repulsive terms. The use of force to protect civilians, and to establish a new configuration of power in which the skies would no longer be owned by the Syrian tyrant and the Russian tyrant, may set the stage for a tough and serious negotiation to bring an end to the slaughter.

This is what U.S. leadership in the 21st century should look like: bringing together force and diplomacy, moral commitment and strategic boldness, around an urgent humanitarian objective that would command the support of the world. The era of our Syrian abdication must end now. If we do not come to the rescue of Aleppo, if we do not do everything we can to put a stop to the suffering that is the defining and most damaging abomination of our time, Aleppo will be a stain on our conscience forever.


Source: Washington Post

By:

Struan Stevenson, President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) is calling for “urgent action to end callous food and medicine blockade” of the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

Mr. Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014. He outlines starkly the ongoing tragedy of the “City of Mosques”, which was seventy percent destroyed by US troops in 2004 with football pitches being turned into cemeteries such was the human carnage wrought by the anglo-American “liberators.”

The suffering, assaults and siege has never ended. Stevenson states:

“The European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) strongly condemns the cruel and criminal siege of Fallujah, which, together with the denial of access to medicine, has led to the starvation and death of large numbers of innocent civilians. The unfolding tragedy has included the horrific death of a young mother who attached rocks to herself and her children and jumped into the River Euphrates. The people of Fallujah are the victims of crimes committed by Daesh (ISIS) who control the city, on the one hand and the bombing of residential areas by the Iraqi army and the sectarian Shi’ia militias affiliated with the Iranian regime, on the other.

“EIFA calls on the government of Dr. Haider al-Abadi, in line with his recent notable government reforms, to adopt immediate measures to bring food, medicine and basic necessities to the people of Fallujah and to resolve this humanitarian crisis. It also urges the Iraqi Prime Minister to prevent any meddling by the militias affiliated with the Iranian regime who have no objective but to slaughter Sunnis to further their scorched earth tactics. The Iraqi army should create safe corridors to enable people to escape from Fallujah.

“EIFA also calls on the UN, the US, the EU and its Member States, especially members of the international coalition, to take urgent steps to bring food and medicine to the people of Fallujah, including through air-drops. EIFA similarly calls on Iraq’s religious leaders, particularly the Shi’ite leaders, not to keep silent in face of this criminal siege and to employ their extensive resources to save the people of Fallujah.

“Imposing a siege on the people of this city not only fails to help in the fight against Daesh, but by escalating the criminal acts by the militias affiliated with the Iranian Qods Force, politically and socially pours fuel on the flames of conflict and prolongs the existence of Daesh.”

Source: Global Research

By: Felicity Arbuthnot

 



 

A Democratic congressman who recently traveled to Iraq is warning that Iran is acting as a destabilizing force in that country. 

"What's become really clear is that Iran wants to be a major force in Iraq. And they're willing to spend a lot of money to destabilize it and keep the whole thing going, and keep the region unstable," Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) told The Hill in a recent interview.  

Ryan said he learned that Iran controlled about 45 of the news stations in Iraq, which broadcast anti-American messages. 

"The message of anti-Americanism, anti-U.S. that we're the big problem in the world is the only message getting out in that region, and I think we need ... to get the message out in that region," he said.

Iran's influence over Iraq grew after Saddam Hussein's government was overthrown in the U.S.-led Iraq War.

Tehran has supported Iraq's Shia-led government, which critics say has persecuted the country's Sunnis. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni extremist group, created a foothold in Iraq as the Islamic factions battled.

The U.S. has pushed current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to undertake political reforms to allow for more Sunni autonomy and representation, but progress has been slow. 

Ryan said he did see some signs of reform.  

"The prime minister wanted to completely retool his Cabinet because there was a huge protest outside of the compound — Sunni-led — and he is offering now to retool his Cabinet," Ryan said. 

"The fact that he said he was going to redo his Cabinet, I think, was a fairly good sign that he's opening up and understanding that the Sunnis really have to have buy-in, and these chiefs and these Sunni leaders have to have buy-in," he said. 

Ryan also called for a comprehensive plan to go after ISIS, and more investment in protecting the homeland from terrorists.  

"We need to figure out what the game plan is and go at it hard, and it needs to be comprehensive and it needs to be smart and it needs to be consistent," he said. 

"We need to be very committed to securing that region of the world, because those ISIS fighters are coming out of Syria and Iraq, and they're coming through Turkey and they're making their way through the West and into the United States if they can." 

"They're hellbent on getting into the United States," he said.

Source: The Hill

By Kristina Wong

EIFA WARNS ABOUT GROWING PRESENCE OF SEC...

EIFA - Press releaseThere are alarming and escalating reports about the presence...

Exclusive: Biography and record of Hadi Farhan Abdullah al-Ameri

Exclusive: Biography and record of Hadi ...

-European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)- Hadi Farhan Abdullah al-Ameri, know...

Iraq: We must stop meddling by Iran and its criminal militias

Iraq: We must stop meddling by Iran and ...

Brussels, European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) press release - The continui...