Archive for August, 2009

Kurd Elections

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

As expected, the merger between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) resulted in a political victory in Iraqi Kurdistan. Although the political opposition group Change managed to win an impressive 25% of the total vote, political control of Iraqi Kurdistan will remain with the KDP and PUK, who took about 65% of the total vote.

Notwithstanding the previous political turmoil existing between Change and PUK, the elections highlight a substantial political rift growing between the largely autonomous Kurdistan and Iraq’s central government in Baghdad. US forces serve as a cohesive unit holding together the various factions of the Iraqi government and with the military in the initial stages of withdraw, the question of Iraq’s sovereignty becomes infinitely more complex.

Kurds have long seen themselves as a nation without a state and their independence movements have been met with military force on multiple occasions. The reconstruction of Iraq was confronted by these issues of self-determination, which were accommodated through weak alliances and semi-autonomous government that exists today. Further complicating the problem is Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, which offers the right of return in Kirkuk expelled my Saddam Hussein in the 1970’s.

More than just the semantics of reparations, Kirkuk stands as the gateway to the oil reserves of Northern Iraqi. Encouraged by perceived distrust between the Shi’ite dominated central government, Iraqi Kurds are unwilling to submit their resources to the control of the state. A problem since the US invasion in 2003, the dispute over resources remains the single biggest threat to a stable and democratic Iraq.

Al-Maliki has parlayed these differences into his nationalist platform, an attempt to bring together Sunni and Shi’ite Arabs against the Kurds in the north. Many analysts believe civil war is avoidable and political demonstrations, confrontation and violence seem inevitable. The Iraqi government is faced with an identity crisis, a large minority of its citizens do not associate themselves with the ethnicity and culture of its ruling parties. Unless these differences are settled, another regional conflict will soon emerge.

Iraqi democracy remains in a very fragile state. Combined with the Turkey’s interests in quelling a Kurdish rebellion as well as the growing threat of water scarcity in Iraq, regional violence may soon be completely reshaped from recent conflicts. Believed by many to be on the downswing of violence and headed towards stabilizations, Iraq could easily be engaged in another conflict.

While a victory of 25% for Change offers hope and optimism for a war-ravaged country, coming to a political compromise will prove to be very difficult. Both sides have legitimate claims to the resources in question and conceding on these resources is tantamount to surrendering power. Although the U.S. continues to lobby for a political solution for this dispute, no signs of progress are apparent. The question remains, how much more violence will Iraqis suffer before these political faction come to a consensus?

Imran Malik
Program Assistant
Minaret of Freedom Institute

News and Analysis (8/6/09)

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Almost immediately, doubts about the conference’s legitimacy and effectiveness emerge:

An area once infamous for the distinct cultural differences between American forces and Iraqi citizens:

Demonstrating the lack of democracy and free  speech in Morocco,  favorable polls were blocked because “the monarchy ‘can’t be an object of debate'”:

Conflicting reports since the 15-year-old’s arrest challenge the idea Rania was a  “villain”:

Families destroyed by poverty and war has resulted in a “new phenomenon”, old  folks  homes:

“We are not saying that poverty causes terrorism, or disenfranchisement causes terrorism, but we can’t mistake there are certain phenomena that contribute to it”:

Will lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq emerge in the US strategy to stabilize Somalia?

News and Analysis (8/5/09)

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

“Hamas committed a very serious mistake preventing our members from Gaza from coming here,” said Nabil Shaath, a senior Fatah official and former foreign minister. “It destroyed a lot of goodwill for Hamas in Palestinian public opinion”:

“If they wanted to build new illegal settlements without kicking out Palestinians in the area they could do so. The targeting of Sheikh Jarrah and other areas is actually a process of ethnic purification:

The US officially recognizes Ahmadinejad as president of Iran, which more closely resembles a police state everyday:

Despite subtle differences from the past, distinguishing themselves from an invading military force and an embedded local security force proves difficult:

Pressured by a 17% unemployment rate and a large state deficit, residents of a Michigan town may provide the outlet necessary for the closure of Guantanamo:

Competition and lack  of tourism have all but destroyed the traditional trade of Coppersmith in Iraq:

Taking over Jerusalem

News and Analysis (8/4/09)

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Described as a “return of dictatorship”, Iraqi government seeks censorship laws prohibiting the individual right to define their own morality…

… Meanwhile, Egyptian oppression on “freedom of the press” may offer a glimpse into the future of Iraqi democracy:

Despite atrocities of the past, a review of sanctions  and a shift of  policy with Sudan may be necessary for progress in the peace process:

Election logistics, fraud and security issues threaten to discredit any results :

Jordanian foreign minister Nasser Judeh reflects the  Saudi position against an incremental approach towards peace with Israel:

The school’s approval for expansion follow a year old struggle with the politically motivated opposition:

The questionable detention practices of the Chinese government continue:

News and Analysis (8/3/09)

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

U.S. unlikely to  reap any benefits from the study as the total number of civilian deaths continues to rise:

“The conference plans to adopt a re-write of Fatah’s 1989 convention… the new one firmly commits the Palestinians to peace talks, although it still mentions ‘armed struggle’ as a theoretical right”:

Prime Minister al-Maliki and Kurdish President Barzani agree to settle their differences over Iraq’s most destabilizing issue:

Iranian authorities promise jail time to any critics expressing their opposition to state sponsored oppression …

… Meanwhile, the US  considers the logistics and economical impact of sanctions on Iran:

International condemnation over Israel’s illegal actions, which only serve to further undermine the peace process:

Will an indictment weaken Yisrael Beitenu and the coalition of right-wing politicians under Netanyahu?

News and Analysis (8/1-2/09)

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Analysts believe the trials are the “beginning of an attempt to purge the political system … If the dissidents are convicted, their parties could be declared illegal and their backers labeled anti-revolutionaries”:

Iran disputes the claim that the Americans accidentally crossed the Iranian border, saying they “they ignored warnings from border guards”:

Despite a lack of evidence for criminal charges, the Home Office is seeking to deport a man known only as XC as a “threat to national security”:

Saud al-Faisal accuses Israel of seeking to shift attention away from core issues of occupation and establishing “a Palestinian state — to incidental issues such as academic concerns and civil aviation methods” … :

… Demonstrating his point, “members of the family say the police officers beat them with batons and children as young as six were man-handled”:

Questions surrounding the legality and effectiveness of cyberwar continue:

Further strengthening any charges of treason against Musharraf:

FBI Translator-turned-whistleblower says that save for the fact that the evidence has been classified, claims that “since the fall of the Soviet Union we ceased all of our intimate relationship with Bin Laden and the Taliban” could be easily disproven: