Σάββατο, 29 Νοεμβρίου 2014

ΠΟΛΥ ΣΗΜΑΝΤΙΚΕΣ ΠΗΓΕΣ ΑΠΟ ΤΟ MESOP και άλλα σημαντικά άρθρα..

Expert’s picks: The top 10 sites to follow if you want to understand events in Iraq


BY Thomas E. Ricks – NOVEMBER 28, 2014 – By Joel Wing  - Best Defense guest columnist – FOREIGN POLICY – As Iraq has returned to the headlines and the United States and its allies are getting involved militarily again there is increased interest in the country. Here in no particular order is a short list of ten Internet sites that will keep you up to date on the politics, security, and economic situation in the nation.
National Iraqi News Agency: The National Iraqi News Agency publishes in English and Arabic. It features short and to-the-point articles and has one of the best security sections of any Iraqi paper. Not only that, but they are constantly putting out new pieces throughout the day making it one of the easiest ways to keep up with events in the country.
Niqash: Niqash is run by the Media in Cooperation and Transition (MICT) out of Berlin. It features Iraqi journalists writing in-depth pieces on the economy, politics, security, and society, which are put out on a weekly basis.
Institute for the Study of War: The Institute for the Study of War releases handy “Iraq Situation Reports,” which are maps with the latest security incidents on them. They also put out more in-depth reports about once a week again focusing upon violence in Iraq.
All Iraq News (AIN): AIN is another Iraqi paper that publishes in English and Arabic. Its political coverage is as good as NINA, but its security reporting is not as comprehensive. It is still an easy site to maneuver through for daily events in Iraq. 
Iraq And Gulf Analysis: Run by Reidar Visser, long-time analyst and author on Iraqi affairs, Iraq and Gulf Analysis is one of the last blogs about Iraq left on the Internet. Visser provides great reporting on Iraq’s politics.
Daily Updates from Anbar: Daily Updates from Anbar is published by Radio Free Iraq (RFI), part of the U.S.-funded international radio networks. Anbar is one of the major battlefronts in Iraq and there is no better reporting on the situation there than these blog posts by RFI.
Al Mada — Arabic: Al Mada is one of the best newspapers in Iraq. It runs two separate sites: one that is more of a daily paper, and one that publishes more in-depth pieces. This is the latter. Has great sources and analysis of Iraqi politics.
Alsumaria — Arabic: Alsumaria is one of Iraq’s top television stations. Its website is just as good. It publishes in Arabic and English, but you really need the former to get its full coverage. It has one of the best security and political sections around. Many of their articles get republished by other Iraqi papers. 
Al Rayy — Arabic: Al Rayy is another Iraqi paper with strong coverage of the country’s politics and security. Short and concise articles in Arabic.
Aymennjawad: Another one of the few Iraq blogs left, this one is published by analyst Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi. He has some of the best reporting on Iraq’s insurgency, but covers other issues as well.
Joel Wing is a U.S.-based Iraq analyst who has run the blog Musings on Iraq since 2008. 

MESOP : International conspiracy theories & xenophobia in Turkey (CENGIZ AKTAR)

Turkey alone against the world / By Dorian Jones (Qantara)

28 Nov 2014 – Turkey appears to be in the grip of a wave of xenophobia, according to the results of a recent survey by the US-based Pew Research Foundation. The findings come as the country has to cope with two conflicts on its borders and faces increasingly strained relations with key allies and neighbours. But as Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul, the findings could be part of a far deeper historical fear of the West: An old Turkish adage that goes “the only friend of a Turk is a Turk” could not be truer in the minds of many Turks, according to startling findings published by the Pew Research Foundation. The survey found that the majority of Turks dislike nearly everyone: along with the usual suspects (Israel and the United States), between 70 and 80 per cent said they did not look favourably on Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and even Brazil. “It’s part of this vast xenophobia that does not spare anyone,” observes Cengiz Aktar, professor of International Relations at Istanbul Suleyman Sah University, wearily. “Jews, Christians, Arabs, Farsi, anybody who is not Turk, all are considered an alien, if not an enemy.”
The Pew findings recorded a considerable surge in prejudice since last year’s study. This surge coincides with Turkey’s growing diplomatic isolation. With Ankara backing Syrian rebels in the raging civil war, diplomatic relations are either non-existent or severely strained with southern neighbours Syria, Iraq and Iran. Differences on strategy over the Syrian civil war and the battle against Islamic State have also strained ties with many of Ankara’s Western partners, notably Washington. Relations with Egypt and Israel have also collapsed.
In the face of domestic and international criticism, the Turkish government has sought to sell the country’s isolation as a virtue to its supporters. Says Professor Aktar: “the government is exacerbating this feeling of loneliness, and it works.” Arguing that Turkey holds the international moral high ground despite its isolation, Ibrahim Kalin, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s senior adviser and foreign policy guru, coined the phrase “a precious loneliness” in a bid to put a positive spin on what many in the country describe as a diplomatic debacle.
T. E. Lawrence, known to many as Lawrence of Arabia (photo: picture-alliance/dpa)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is stoking the feeling in Turkey that the country is surrounded by enemies and is the target of international conspiracies, even harking back one hundred years to T. E. Lawrence, known to many as Lawrence of Arabia (pictured here), to back up his theories: “There are new Lawrences, disguised as journalists, religious men, writers and terrorists… Each conflict in this region was designed a century ago,” said Erdogan in October
New “Lawrences” everywhere
President Erdogan went a step further, rekindling an historical bogeyman for Turks. British army officer T. E. Lawrence led an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. “Lawrence was an English spy disguised as an Arab,” said Erdogan in a widely televised address at a university in Istanbul in October. “There are new Lawrences, disguised as journalists, religious men, writers and terrorists… Each conflict in this region was designed a century ago.”
The legacy of Lawrence of Arabia, which was immortalised in a 1960s’ Hollywood film, lives on to this day, with British spies blamed by Turks and their leaders for many of the country’s ills. The saying “under every stone can be found an English spy” remains popular to this day. Semih Idiz, diplomatic columnist with the “Taraf” newspaper, argues that World War I and the demise of the Ottoman Empire are key to understanding the Turkish psyche.
“It harks back to the First World War, when the perception was that everyone was out to destroy the Ottoman Empire and get rid of the Turks, especially the West, but not exclusively the West, given that the Arabs co-operated with the West during the war, so the xenophobia has a complex historical, psychological and social background to it, and the latest research shows it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.”
Throughout the last century, Turkish children were taught that Turkey is only surrounded by sea and enemies. The same lessons explained the demise of the country’s imperial past as a result of intrigue and plots by ungrateful and untrustworthy Armenian and Greek minorities, stirred up by Russian and English spies. But Istanbul University’s Professor Nuray Mert claims that the suspicion of the West goes back beyond the Great War.
“Both Islamists and those coming from a right-wing tradition have these conspiratorial fears of the West. They see everything through this prism, When they fail, it is not because of their own mistakes but because of the enmity or hostility of foreign powers, and they start to recall scepticism stemming from conspiracies theories, that all the world is against Turkey, all the Western world is against Muslims, starting from the crusaders.”
A Turkish woman in front of an image of President Erdogan (photo: OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
A Turkish woman in front of an image of President Erdogan. Obviously no longer solicitous of his reputation and standing at international level, Erdogan declared on Monday that women are not equal to men and accused feminists of not understanding the special status that Islam attributes to mothers during a speech to the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM) in Istanbul
Siege mentality in Turkey
Tricky foreigners playing tricks on straight-talking, trustworthy Turks is becoming a common narrative among the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and their advocates in the powerful pro-government media. 2013′s summer of anti-government protests centring on Istanbul’s Gezi Park saw even Germany’s Lufthansa being blamed. It was a grand conspiracy to stop Turkish Airlines challenging Germany’s national air carrier, was the bizarre argument peddled by columnist Yigit Bulut, who is now a senior presidential adviser. Berlin thus joins Washington and London in the ranks of those conspiring against Ankara.
“No one in the West buys that there is an international conspiracy to overthrow the government,” warns Kadri Gursel, diplomatic columnist with the newspaper “Milliyet”, “it destroys his (Erdogan) reputation, his legacy, his reputation around the world; he is not aware of this. Maybe he can convince part of the electorate, but not the world.”
But with increasingly controversial outbursts, Erdogan appears to be showing signs of having given up on his international standing among his Western allies. At an international conference on women’s rights, Erdogan declared that gender equality was against nature. Pouring fuel on the fire, he accused feminists of opposing motherhood. The comments drew widespread international criticism.
The fact that many of the president’s supporters continue to identify him with such criticism is only likely to add to the current siege mentality in Turkey. The growing alienation from the world in the minds of people in large sections of society is taking Turkey further down a dangerous road, warns Professor Mert: “We are already in the grip of deep authoritarianism, and this conspiracy mentality and all these xenophobic conspiracy theories, this kind of inwardness, promises more authoritarianism, and this is a risk for Turkey.”
Dorian Jones

Nemesis: The Shadowy Iranian Training Shia Militias in Iraq


By Janine di Giovanni / November 27, 2014 NEWSWEEK – Down a dusty backstreet in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Karada this month, I met Sheikh Raad Al Kafaji, a former Iraqi Army officer specialising in artillery, and a veteran fighter from the days of the Iran-Iraq war. He is head of the al Kafaji tribe and a commander in the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, one of the Shia militias at the forefront of the fight against ISIS in Iraq. After the fall of Mosul in July, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani issued a religious edict (fatwa) calling on Iraqi “citizens to defend the country, its people, the honor of its citizens, and its sacred places”. That is, to come defend their religion in a holy war against ISIS.Sheikh Raad says that in the initial days after Sistani’s fatwa, men as old as 60 came to his small offices begging to fight to hold back ISIS and Sunni-led insurgents.

According to Iraqi Deputy National Security Adviser, Dr Safa Hussein al-Sheikh, the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, founded in the months leading up to the 2003 American invasion, is known for being smaller and more organised than the other Shia militias – and is considered highly secretive and adept, even by Iraqi intelligence standards.
“In the past, they had focused more on American targets – sophisticated, lethal, organised attacks that were not penetrated by the American or Iraqi intelligence,” Al Sheikh says.

MESOP TODAY : Hasakah in turmoil as violence intensifies between pro-Assad forces & ISIS

November 28, 2014 – ARA News – Hasakah, Syria – On Thursday, the Syrian regime forces shelled several strongholds of the Islamic State group (IS/ISIS) in the southern countryside of Hasakah, in northeastern Syria, in an attempt to prevent progress towards the city, locals reported.These developments coincided with IS receiving military reinforcements from Deir ez-Zor to the outskirts of the city of Hasakah. Speaking to ARA News in Hasakah, civil rights activist Dilovan Mohammed said that the pro-regime military forces bombed IS sites in the southern and western countryside of the city, targeting the village of al-Sirb and Abyad Bridge near the area of Mount Abdulaziz.“Dozens of civilians were displaced to safer areas.”
“Subsequent to fierce battles with IS militants and under the protection of the regime’s artillery stationed in the military branch of Kawkab Mount (10 km east of Hasakah), the pro-regime forces, backed by the National Defense Army militia, took control of the villages of Bab al-Kheir and al-Jimmo south of Hasakah,” Mohammed reported. The source also said the pro-regime forces were able to stop the militants’ progress towards the city. “Moreover, the regime forces tried to regain control of the southern and western areas of the city (Hasakah) which are under IS’ control.”
Meanwhile, activist Ahmed Husseini, based in the city of Hasakah, told ARA News that a state of high security alert prevailed Thursday among the IS militants in the town of al-Hol of the Hasakah’s countryside on the Syrian-Iraqi border, coinciding with an IS-led military convoy composed of 13 equipped cars heading towards Hasakah city. Husseini pointed out that most of the IS militants’ movements are executed at night in anticipation of air strikes from the U.S.-led international coalition. In other developments, activists in the town of Chel Aga in the countryside of Qamishli (Qamishlo) told ARA News that a sound bomb exploded Wednesday evening near the Assayish Center (security arm of the Democratic Union Party “PYD”) in the town, without causing any casualties. Reporting by: Aynur Muhammad -  Source: ARA News

RETHINK DISCUSSION : WITH MICHAEL GUNTER – US shift towards the Kurds too slow, expert says

By Yerevan Saeed 25/11/2014
WASHINGTON DC -  With Iraq on the verge of fragmentation, experts see a slow shift of US foreign policy towards the Kurds. But they note that the pace does not match the speed of unfolding regional events. “Right Now in Congress there is a law, a bill is making through congress, I don’t know if it will get all the way through Congress, but it is to allow the United States to ship heavy equipment directly to the KRG.  That is in the process now and I think because of the existential threat of ISIS, this bill may well go through,” said Michael Gunter, a professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University at a discussion titled, “The Future of the Kurds in the Middle East” at Washington’s Rethink institute.
“Unofficially we have been supplying equipments to the KRG and that of course will continue and probably grow. So the US policy is changing here, but it’s not changing quickly enough to meet the threat,” he added. Last week, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce introduced a bill to arm the KRG directly. “Our critical partner in the fight against ISIL (another name for ISIS) is badly outgunned. Despite being armed mainly with antiquated weapons, the Iraqi Kurdish ‘Peshmerga’ forces have proven to be the most effective ground force currently fighting ISIL. For months, I have urged the Administration to urgently arm the Kurds. So too have many others in Congress. This important legislation will finally allow the 190,000-strong force to get the firepower it needs to effectively fight this brutal terrorist organization,” said the congressman in a statement on November 20. According to the expert, who has authored 11 books on the Kurds, there is no such country called Iraq, presently, but rather three distinct regions that reflect three different ethno-sectarian populations.
“I have been saying that Iraq is a kaput. It’s a former Iraq,” he said. “The United States foreign policy still sees Iraq and the United States is still trying to continue Iraq. It’s just a losing proposition,” he added.
“We really have three entities here – Shiastan, which claims to be Iraq, Sunnistan which is ISIS and the KRG,” he added.
The locations of Iraq’s internal conflicts mirror the ethno-sectarian borderlines that have turned the country into three major zones in the south, center and the north. The United States continues to support a united Iraq at a high cost of blood and treasure and avoids arming the Peshmerga directly, who have been a major force in pushing back the IS in Iraq and Syria.
“The United States has to ship some more equipment to the KRG. But we cannot do that because the law says the American military aid has to go through Baghdad and of course Baghdad does not want to give too much military aid,” said Gunter. The US is also concerned that empowering the KRG could shortcut the KRG’s road towards official independence — something the Barack Obama administration continues to object to for unsubstantiated fears that a Kurdish state could bring more turmoil and potentially increase Iran’s influence in the rest of the country.
Along with the other challenges facing Kurdistan, Gunter viewed ISIS as a major threat to the KRG because of its military might, compared to the KRG.
“Of course ISIS is a challenge. ISIS almost killed the KRG, which was a shock to all of us. Some of the problem, from what I understand, is that the United States supplied ISIS with latest technologies through the Iraqi army…whereas the Kurds were not being given the latest technologies militarily. So it’s one reason why ISIS stood 20 miles away from the airport in Erbil.”
Speaking on the delisting the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) from terrorist organization lists by the US and EU, panelists believed that despite the fact the PKK is fighting ISIS, it would remain on the terrorist list. I think that will be a long shot. I think a clear distinction was made in the minds of the State Department between helping the current dramatic situation with the YPG. But there is a real concern with the US- Turkish relations. My assessment would be ‘no,’ there will not be a strong push by the United States to remove the PKK from the list of the terrorist organizations, Versa Eccarius-Kelly a professor of Comparative Politics and Associate Dean at Siena College in New York said during her presentation.
Gunter also concurred that the PKK would remain on the terrorist lists, but encouraged Turkey to move towards removing the PKK from its terrorist list to pave the way for other countries to follow suit. I think the US will keep the PKK on the terrorist list, so will the EU, as long as Turkey does. It’s up to Turkey to make the first move here. I encourage the Turkish government to do so because you are not negotiating with terrorists normally and Turkey is negotiating with the PKK. A major move by the Turkish government is to delist the PKK and once Turkey does that the US and EU follow,” he explained.
After a three-decade insurgency for greater Kurdish rights in Turkey, the PKK has entered negotiations with the Turkish government since last year, hoping to find a peaceful settlement for the Kurdish question in Turkey.

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