Archive | June 15th, 2014

Abbas, Promises Kept, Promises Broken

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by Sami Jamil Jadallah

bibi-aipac

With no hopes in sight for ending the Israeli Occupation, let alone ending the ever-expanding settlements, certainly for a “two states solution” time for Mahmoud Abbas to keep his often-stated promise (last one on December 28, 2012) to disband the PA/PLO and hand over the Keys to Bibi Netanyahu, Barack Obama and John Kerry.

The PLO leadership (Arafat & Co) having failed at liberation and having looted tens of billions of dollars, facing a matter of life and death and survival of a corrupt incompetent decadent organization, decided to enter into secrete negotiations with Israel leading to the Oslo Accord under which the PLO leadership and Fatah came back to manage the Israeli military and settlers Occupation and to “repackage” the Israeli Occupation and worst to pay for it.

One could not help but contrast the visits of both Mahmoud Abbas and Bibi Netanyahu to Washington and the reactions of Israelis and Palestinians to the return of such leaders.

Bibi came back to much criticism within Israel after his triumphant visit meeting with President Obama and as main speaker at AIPAC annual conference. Having succeeded in securing the unconditional support of the White House and State on both the “Jewishness”” of the state and continued expansions of settlements and getting Congress to pass a bill that commits the US to war in case Israel initiate any attack on Iran.

In contrast Mahmoud Abbas who failed at every thing in Washington, came to a triumphant return to Ramallah with Fatah spending millions of dollars getting few thousand people out to welcome him as a hero for “ resisting” US pressure to accept the “Jewishness” of the state, an irrelevant issue to the real conflict with Israel and the continued Jewish military and settlers occupation, having accepted the more than 10,000 new Israeli housing units since he in violation of his many promises of never returning to negotiations if Israel did not stop its settlement activities.

abbas

Mahmoud Abbas, whose term as president of the Palestinian Authority expired many years ago, continues to negotiate with Israel without having any mandate or authority from the people, those under Occupation and those in the Diaspora?.

The only ones or groups that gave him such authority are the non-elected, and appointed members of the PLO Executive Committee, and Fatah a non governing political party since it lost the election to Hamas with no mandate to represent the Palestinians under Occupation, certainly those in the Diaspora.

Under Mahmoud Abbas tenure as president of the Palestinian Authority and leader of the PLO/Fatah, Palestinians witnessed the largest fastest land looting ever by Israel, the most ever expansions of Israeli settlements, two major wars against Gaza, the destruction and demolition of the most homes, certainly the largest daily raids on Palestinians villages and towns including Ramallah and the assassination of the most number of Palestinians since Oslo and the arrests and detentions of thousands of Palestinians, and of course the continued building of the Apartheid Wall, with an astonishing 10,000 unites build since Mahmoud Abbas returned to negotiations some 9 months ago.

Israel under both Labor and Likud implemented a wide scale confiscations of Palestinian lands, building some 130 “approved” settlements and overlooked the establishment of some 100 so called “Outposts” since 1967 with the numbers of illegal Israeli settlers numbering more than 500,000, illegal settlers under Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention which prohibits the “transfer” of people into and out of “occupied” territories and in violations of the Hague Convention of 1907 which “prohibits” the making of permanent changes such as settlements, Apartheid Walls, demolitions of homes etc.

Mahmoud Abbas always kept his promise to Israel, committed to “peaceful and negotiated settlements” even if there is nothing left of Palestine, agreeing not to incite any civil and unarmed uprising against the continued Israeli Occupation, declaring himself against the “boycott of Israel” as was the case with Apartheid South Africa, but broke all of his promises to the Palestinian people, certainly breaking his repeated “threats” not to return to negotiations while Israel continued with its settlement and promise to return the “keys” of the Occupation to Israel, a tacit approval that he, the PLO, PA and Fatah as managers and trusted keepers of the Israeli Occupation.

Contrary to the claims of many senior members of the PLO/Fatah of “mutual recognitions” under Oslo, the PLO gave full and unconditional recognition of Israel with open borders, with no return of refugees, and with Jerusalem as the “undivided” and “eternal” capital of Israel. In return Israel only recognized the PLO as the “sole and exclusive “ representative of the Palestinian people. Israel never ever and until today recognize the rights of Palestinians to a sovereign state within historic Palestine, never admitted itself as “Occupying power” and always referenced “disputed” territories and as Judea and Samaria, but never as Palestinian territories. As such all claims of “mutual” recognitions are nothing but repeated lies by senior members of the PLO/Fatah.

Israel and after more than 22 years of Oslo never admitted to or committed to a free and independent sovereign state of Palestine within what remained of historic Palestine, and have treated the Palestinians as “no permanent residence” of Judea and Samaria, with absolute right to transfer or exiles any Palestinians at will and to demolish homes at will too.

In contrast, the PLO leadership committed to Israeli securities, both its army, certainly its illegal and armed settlers and thugs to the tune of $1.4 billions annually, and annual budget that exceeds the combined budgets of social services, transportation, health, education and infrastructures. The last raid was on the Camp in Jennin with the IDF executed 3 Palestinians in cold blood.

Time for Mahmoud Abbas to keep his promise to the Palestinian people once, and disband the shameful, disgraceful Palestinian Authority as manager of the Israeli Occupation and to disband the PLO and Fatah as failed corrupt, decadant, parasitic and bankrupt organizations and turn the keys to Israel and let Israel put the cadres of both the PLO/Fatah on its payroll.

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NEO – Death of Georgian PM Zurab Zhvania – Was it Murder?

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Death of Georgian PM Zurab Zhvania: was it murder?

“Can you handle the truth?”

… by  Henry Kamens,   with  New Eastern Outlook, Moscow

The seven golden domes of St. Petersburg

The seven golden domes of St. Petersburg

[ Editor’s note:   Henry Kamens takes us back to the ongoing saga of murder, intrigue and corruption in the Republic of Georgia, all of which happened under the all-seeing eyes of US Intelligence and the American Embassy, all as part of their active involvement in the furtherance of US “interests” in the area.

Our country is long overdue on having a discussion on the growing dangers of the nasty criminal activity that has found a soft fuzzy home underneath the umbrella of government immunity.

Investigations even into major felonies, like political murder, can be obstructed by withholding evidence simply by classifying it.

This little maneuver has been horribly abused, and we have a text book case here with the little country of Georgia who was successful in throwing out the sock-puppet imposed government which the US had put in to further its attack on Russia using unconventional means.

This included setting up a biological weapons lab far from the prying eyes of inspectors, a story that Henry also broke wide open. And oh… corporate media in the US… they have not touched either of these two stories with a ten foot pole. They are so in the bag, it is just pitiful. … Jim W. Dean ]

Zhvania Funeral

Zhvania Funeral

Very few people in Georgia have ever believed the official version of the death of former Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania.

The first version, that he had been killed by a motorcycle idling outside his window and emitting toxic fumes, was universally rejected.

Undaunted, the Saakashvili government came out with a revised version – that he had been killed by a faulty Iranian-made gas heater in his flat (had to incriminate Iran, too, at the time).

This story was not believed either, but was further within the bounds of theoretical possibility, so was stuck to. Now however a dump of photos has demonstrated that this official version bears absolutely no relation to reality.

The Evidence

On March 19th, pictures of the bodies of the former Georgian PM (and member of the Rose Revolution Troika, along with Saakashvili and Nino Budjanadze) and his friend Raul Yusupov were released on the internet.
YouTube – Veterans Today –

These contradict assertions in the official report that the only injury on either body was a small mark on Zhvania’s lip.

It has long been alleged, even by insiders such as former Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili, who was later jailed, beaten and forced to retract for saying it, that the Prime Minister was killed in the presence of Saakashvili himself. It has also long been alleged that FBI special agent Bryan Paarmann, who was sent to investigate the death, covered up the evidence in cahoots with Saakashvili, as the latter was seen as a US intelligence asset at the time.

The pictures of each body show several injuries which could not have been made by a faulty gas heater. It is up to the reader and the people of Georgia to decide whether an FBI investigator could have missed what is in plain sight in these pictures and failed to ask any questions about it, or how he received explanations so convincing that he did not believe these marks were actually injuries.

What is Happening Now

Two people have now been arrested in connection with the photos. They are the former expert of the National Forensics Bureau and Zhvania’s personal bodyguard. Both are accused of neglect of their official duties, one for not spotting the injuries seen in the photos and the other for leaving Zhvania unguarded without informing his superiors on the dreadful night of February 3, 2005.

But still such criminal charges imply no judgment on how Zhvania actually died. When those questions are asked, the arrested men will have a clear choice: cop for the relatively mild charge or be implicated in much more serious ones. They can avoid the latter by telling all that they know. Where the fingers will point when they do is rather obvious, given the discrepancy between the official version and reality, and who all stood to gain by lying.

Saakashvili must have known that one day the vultures would gather. He stated during a live broadcast on Imedi TV last year, after the investigation had been opened, that he was following it closely. Not however out of concern for himself, but because Zhvania was his friend.

“I do not know what Zhvania’s family members are thinking, but the [ongoing] investigation into his death is of no less importance for me. Some try to adopt the term “murder.” Zurab Zhvania’s death was an accident, and it’s good that after two or three days the FBI representatives came and put everything in its place.”

What Saakashvili did not say however is why he should be so concerned about an investigation into a matter he thinks is cut and dried. If the investigation draws a different conclusion, can he not just refute that by giving incontrovertible evidence of his own?

Some years ago British Prime Minister John Major was accused of fabricating a story that when he was a teenager he had seen the Douglas Fairbanks film “The Flame and the Arrow” several times at his local cinema. It was said that such an old film would hardly have been playing at his local cinema at that time, and the story was held up as evidence of his untrustworthiness.

After much research, Major’s office produced cinema listings which showed that this film was indeed being shown where he said it was at the time. He still couldn’t prove he had been to see it, but the substance of the charge against him was clearly untrue, so it vanished there and then.

“The Flame and the Arrow Scandal” which Major’s opponents had hoped to concoct ceased to exist. He is not remembered for this now. The supposed scandal of Barack Obama’s birthplace also seems to have vanished since he produced his birth certificate.

But mention Zhvania’s name to anyone in Georgia, and the first thing they do is speculate whether Saakashvili murdered him. Misha has had years to bury this story, but hasn’t been able to do so. He has a right to be concerned about the investigation.

The Investigator and His Credentials

US Ambassador John Tefft

US Ambassador John Tefft

One of the factors that helped Saakashvili avoid hard questions so far is that the FBI agent who first investigated Zhvania’s death, Bryan Paarmann, is not very well known in Georgia.

This is the man who was quoted by the Caucasian Knot in 2005 as saying, “[thus far] … we see no evidence to consider that certain forces were involved in Zhvania’s death. We have no reasons to dispute the conclusions drawn by our Georgian colleagues.”

Other official Americans, such as former Ambassador John Tefft or State Department envoy Matthew Bryza, have track records, and their comments are interpreted within the matrix of what is known about them.

Paarmann is less known, so has been presented as an unbiased agent, whose conclusions could only be mistaken due to reasonable scientific error rather than a geopolitical agenda.

But to some Paarmann does have a sordid track record. He wasn’t in Georgia long, but those who encountered him won’t forget him in a hurry.

Jeffrey K. Silverman, an American journalist who has lived in Georgia for over 20 years, encountered Paarmann in the Smugglers Bar in Tbilisi, which is now out of business, after being grabbed in the middle of the street and pushed in front of a car in broad daylight and beaten up by members of the Office of Counterintelligence of the Georgian State Security Services.

He was also fired from two US-funded jobs in a week at the request of the American Embassy. Silverman had by then discovered that Paarmann had ordered all these things, as well as the destruction of evidence in these two “cold case” murders, either on his own initiative or that of his superiors, such as US Ambassador of the time, Richard Miles.

Silverman was then writing about the activities of American NGOs in East Georgia, which were ostensibly rural credit unions but were actually funneling money to Chechen fighters under the guise of a US Government “Food for Peace Program.” He was also investigating about Raul Yusupov, who was found dead with Zhvania in his flat.

Paarmann verbally admitted to having had Silverman picked up off the street to see what he was doing. About the articles, published in Azerbaijan Today, a regional magazine, the distinguished agent had this to say: “I have read your fucking articles (sic) and I know more about your life than you know yourself, and at least you are not a paedophile (someone who likes young children).”

He then added, “If you were a threat I would have you put on a flight back to the US in chains, but I guess it is your Constitutional right to write such articles.”

It is not anyone’s Constitutional right to publish falsehood, merely to express a different opinion. Seemingly realising that he had admitted that the content of the articles was true, Paarmann then tried to change the direction of the conversation by introducing his soon-to-be-wife, whom he described as his girlfriend.

The Smugglers Bar was a popular haunt for those seeking female company for a night and willing to pay for the privilege. Silverman sarcastically responded, after looking her over, “Этонетолькотвояподруга, она  подругадлявсех – “not only your girlfriend but everybody’s girlfriend!”

Obviously such a comment would be offensive to many who understood the Russian, and one of these was Paarmann’s drunken FBI partner. This well built man took a swing at Silverman, chipping his teeth and splashing beer in his face, and got a beer bottle broken over his own head in return, ending up on the floor in a pool of blood.

Such ten second bar fights happen every evening somewhere in any major city. The US Embassy was so concerned about this seemingly trivial incident that it demanded that the Georgian National Security Council, no less, intervene.

Nothing was done, presumably out of fear of further exposure – not least the fact that Paarmann was a regular at various strip clubs, such as the one across the street from Public TV, where media types would often encounter him. Silverman worked at Georgian State TV and knew many of the journalists that Bryan was friendly with. Bryan was also well known for chasing young sex workers in the other Western bars notorious for being sleazy commercial meat markets.

Of course, investigators can do what they like in their private lives. Whether such behaviour demonstrates that they have the capacity to make rational decisions is another matter. It is also somewhat unusual for FBI agents to have people who write things they don’t like beaten up by another country’s security forces.

This is the man the US chose to investigate the murder of Zhvania, in an insult to forensic scientists everywhere. We are to trust his professional scientific judgment? He also claimed on Georgia national TV through many press conferences that gas poisoning is very common in the United States and the conclusions of the Georgian forensic experts were accurate.

The Consequences

Following his investigation of Zhvania’s murder, and the bar fight, Bryan Paarmann’s three year contract in Georgia was cut short. He was shipped off to Ukraine, so as not to be caught out by further questioning after his support of the official version of Zhvania’s death was derided by everyone not official.

Next year, Paarmann was back in the US in a VERY HIGH position at FBI HQ, the J. Edgar Hoover Building. Such positions are the reward for meritorious service. He is married to the woman he introduced in the bar. Presumably she no longer works, like one of his former Georgian girlfriends, whom he had fired from her job so that she would become financially dependent on him.

She became one of Silverman’s key sources for his subsequent investigation of the apparent high level cover up and destruction of forensic evidence – and subsequent sworn testimony was provided to Georgian investigators last year.

It follows that his meritorious service to the US was professional, not anything to do with his personal life. There are two major investigations Paarmann has been known to be involved with.

The first was the one into an alleged grenade attack on George W. Bush, which he declared to be real whilst it was exposed long ago as a staged performance and has thus disappeared from commentary. The other is Zhvania and his friend’s patent torture and murder.

So Whom Is To Blame?

Once upon a time in Georgia Republic

Once upon a time in Georgia Republic

There is such a divergence between the official version of Zhvania’s death, as subscribed to by Saakashvili and Paarmann, and the evidence now available that it is too great a stretch of credibility to believe the former.

It is also beyond the bounds of possibility that those most intimately involved in this case, Saakashvili and Paarmann, have not always known that the story is hogwash and colluded to hide the truth, as have the powers that be in the US, who they both ultimately worked for.

Zurab Zhvania was politically expendable. He wasn’t the most popular man — those who didn’t like Saakashvili would not unite around his martyred corpse. If he got in the way of people’s plans, including interfering in Georgia being used as a weapons depot, so be it.

If people vote against your favoured sons and scupper those plans, they too are expendable. If whole countries, like Ukraine, make decisions which scupper your plans they too are expendable, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Everyone has always known what really happened to Zhvania, and no investigation will be able to avoid coming to the same conclusion. But when that happens, Saakashvili and Paarmann will say to us what Jack Nicholson famously said to his interrogator, “You can’t handle the truth.”

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Palestinian unity government “discrimination” causes skirmishes in Gaza banks

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Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (R) chairs the first meeting of the new Palestinian unity government in the presence of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (L) in the West Bank city of Ramallah June 2, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Majdi Mohammed)

Palestinian affairs remain in a conundrum despite the reconciliation between the West Bank and Gaza. All government employees are now under the umbrella of one government, which provides them with everything except their salaries. This led to a “raid,” which ended up shutting down the banks.

Gaza- Late Thursday night witnessed a quarrel between employees of the resigned government in Gaza on one hand, and the employees of the unity government (formerly Ramallah) on the other. It began when “Hamas employees” protested over how their counterparts are able to withdraw their salaries from ATMs, while they have been living on “half salaries” for the past nine months. The skirmishes spread to the banks and ATMs in several locations in the Gaza Strip, until the Hamas police intervened to break up some fights, and announced the closure of banks for their protection.

Bank sources inside Gaza told Al-Akhbar that their staff went on a “semi-open” leave, until the dispute is solved and their safety insured, without indicating if they will reopen after the Friday-Saturday weekend. Remarkably, the government employees’ protest and the intervention by the police occurred almost at the same time. This could indicate a tacit agreement to manufacture a problem to stop the distribution of last May’s salaries disbursed by the unity government in an attempt to divert attention to public sector employees in Gaza. The information was neither denied nor confirmed by the police, who merely told Al-Akhbarthat they are obliged to secure the banks.

However, an official in a Hamas-linked security service announced that the protests will continue until their salaries are paid, just like the others. Preferring to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the situation, he told Al-Akhbar, “there is a determination to close the banks until the crisis is solved.” The official would not clarify if there were orders from the security forces command on this matter or if it was a spontaneous action by the police forces, who are not getting their salaries regularly either.

Police forces were still guarding the banks up to the writing of this report. According to Iyad al-Bazm, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior and National Security, the measure aims to prevent the issue from escalating and “protect the establishments.” But he clarified that the issue is up to the bank and financial authorities to decide.

On the other hand, legal expert Mostafa Ibrahim described the situation as a “raid on the banks.” Speaking to Al-Akhbar, he maintained that this was “a planned move and was not the action of an individual or groups of oppressed Hamas employees who have the right to receive the salaries.” He added that “Hamas was agitated and wanted to deliver a clear message saying that the salary issue must be solved. However, it needs to wait since its employees would be an integral part of the authority according to the unity agreement.”Ibrahim does not have any doubts that Hamas signed the agreement, knowing that its employees’ salaries would be ensured and that they would be “housed in the property of employees of the national authority.”

“Hamas did not vanish into thin air and left its staff to call for help. I think they received assurances from President Mahmoud Abbas on the issue. However, it is clear that the PNA was not ready or that it created a crisis to negotiate with Hamas, leaving the employees without salaries for this month.”

Nonetheless, employees living under difficult conditions in Gaza refuse to enter a new spiral of bickering. For them, reconciliation does not mean going back to the situation in 2006 and 2007, prior to the split, when they spent months without salaries. “It is not our fault,” explained Mohammed Abu Sabha, an employee who is paid from Ramallah. “Hamas employees should feel our pain. They suffer as we do and the problem with their salaries is not new. It has been going on for years. They should wait a month or two for their problem to be solved.” Sitting by the Bank Palestine ATM, he told Al-Akhbar “I hope the problem is solved in the next few hours, so we could go back to our families and children.”

“Why should we wait if we are all part of the same government?” Ibrahim al-Saqqa, a Gaza employee, replied angrily. “This consecrates the division and violates what they agreed upon.” He began shouting, “none of you will get one shekel if we do not get our legitimate salaries.” After he calmed down, he told Al-Akhbar, “this is a farce and we will not allow it. We served our people for seven years, while other sat at home and received their salaries regularly.”

Hamas leaders avoided replying to calls on the issue, indicating the unity government is responsible for the situation in Gaza, since it was responsible for the employees. Islamic Jihad took a moderate position through one of its officials, Khaled al-Batsh, who agreed the unity government should pay salaries without discrimination. However, he condemned how the situation was addressed outside the banks and expressed fears that this could lead to chaos.Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, defended the actions outside the banks. “The employees in Gaza are angry because they face discrimination and are denied their salaries,” he wrote on Facebook. “The unity government must bear its responsibility.” This was answered by the unity government spokesman, Ihab Bsiso, who said his government “will deal with all the people without discrimination. But the paid salaries had been scheduled in the state budget and were approved prior to the reconciliation.”

However, it seems Hamas succeeded in its battle for its employees’ salaries. It issued a press statement on Thursday night announcing that the emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, had pledged to support the unity government in paying its salaries, especially to those working for the former government in Gaza. Former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh “spoke to Tamim on the phone and asked Qatar to support the unity government to fulfil its financial obligations.”

“The emir of Qatar responded to Haniyeh’s call, especially regarding the salaries of Gaza employees,” it continued. The statement also indicated that Haniyeh spoke to unity government Prime Minister Rami Alhamdulillah, “explaining what happened with Tamim” and asking Alhamdulillah to visit Doha as soon as possible “to set up a mechanism for supporting the government’s budget so it could fulfil its obligations.”

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Is Football Federation chief al-Rajoub a Qatari-backed successor to Abbas?

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FIFA President Sepp Blatter (C-L) and the head of the Palestinian Federation of Football Jibril Rajoub (C-R) watch a training session at a football academy named after Blatter, in Al-Bireh, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on May 27, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Abbas Momani)

Who could have ever imagined that football would become a cover for politics, especially with regards to the Palestinians whose leaders have historically clung to power until death?

That is how the story began, with new chapters revealed in leaked documents from the Qatari Foreign Ministry, involving meetings between Qatari Emir Prince Tamim, and Fatah’s general, Jibril al-Rajoub.

Ever since the Israelis lost hope of ending the conflict with the Palestinians in the era of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli media started shedding light on the background of the man who celebrated his 79th birthday last month.

They spread rumors that the “heavy smoker, Marlboro-loving president” often seeks a vice president so that power does not shift to his nemesis Hamas.

Regional powers seized on this opportunity, knowing that Abu Mazen’s role and the initiatives he had launched have all faded away. Today, there are attempts to predict the name of the incoming president.

The name of a figure that until recently was not part of the “card game” of Palestinian politics started getting circulated a few days ago. It is resigned General Jibril al-Rajoub, currently chief of the Palestinian Football Federation.

Al-Akhbar received a copy of leaked documents allegedly detailing the minutes of meetings held between Rajoub and Prince Tamim.

According to the leaked documents, Prince Tamim greeted Rajoub, calling him “president,” while the general replied by lauding the Qatari prince for his support and confidence, which led them to “meet alone.”

Prince Tamim and General Rajoub also discussed in detail the situation of Abbas and that of MP Mohammad Dahlan, who was sacked from Fatah [in 2007]. They also elaborated on how this will impact the Qatari vision of bringing Rajoub to the presidency “after Abbas rests as part of the circle of life,” in the words of Prince Tamim.However, it seems rather futile to try to confirm that this meeting actually took place, since Rajoub has already visited Qatar on many occasions before, as chief of the Football Federation, in light of the “generous Qatari support” for Palestinian sports. This cover allows both parties to deny the information suggested in the leaked documents.

However, the possibility of assigning a political role to the resigned general is due to the fact that Rajoub was ousted from the decision-making circle following accusations of handing over Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists to Israel to save himself from the siege of his headquarters in Beitunia. This had occurred when he was the leader of a large security apparatus in the occupied West Bank.

At the time, late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat responded by slapping Rajoub, who then retired from security and political work in favor of sports.

It is worth mentioning that Rajoub’s deputy in the Gaza Football Federation is Abdel Salam Haniyeh, the son of Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Gaza’s Hamas-led government. The general has maintained good relations with his deputy, and they have met on many occasions following episodes of tensions then improvements in his relations with Hamas.

In the documents, Tamim mentioned US hesitation toward change. On that basis, CIA Director John Brennan and National Security Advisor Susan Rice advised the Prince’s delegate, Ghanem al-Qubaisi, to agree with the Israelis on the main issues, then make a change that would enable the chief of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, to control the movement in Gaza. Meanwhile, Fatah would remain in power in the West Bank, “or would agree with Hamas on a shared leadership in both the [Palestinian Liberation] Organization and the [Palestinian] Authority while maintaining calm with Israel.”

Prince Tamim inquired about the possibility of entering into an alliance with Marwan al-Barghouti, the popular Palestinian political prisoner currently held in an Israeli jail, “after the Americans abandoned Dahlan due to his lack of commitment.” Rajoub interrupted his interlocutor, saying “the Americans think they know everything but, in fact, they get their information from Palestinians, even from Marwan’s wife. For this reason, and because Israel refuses to release Marwan and Washington can’t force it to, they don’t know the truth.”

“Barghouti’s popularity has withered due to his long stay in prison; if he is released, he will also lose his hero image. In addition, some segments in Fatah don’t like him. Meanwhile, Dahlan is history, even though there are some fears that he might still have some authority” Rajoub added.

“Some of his followers are contacting me, thinking that I am defending them, but I am pressuring Abu Mazen to take the decision to sack Dahlan’s loyalists, so they don’t take part in Fatah’s elections.”

In fact, Abbas had decided two weeks ago to sack five Dahlan loyalists from Fatah: Nasser Joumaa, Rachid Abu Shabak, Abdel Hamid al-Masri, Majed Abu Shamala and Seifan Abu Zayda, accusing them of creating “wings” within the movement.

Al-Akhbar could not reach Abu Zayda, but Abu Shamala commented about the leaked documents in an interview with Al-Akhbar, saying “I read it like thousands of other Fatah members and Palestinians, I don’t rule out what was said in it but I also can’t confirm it.”

“In any case, we refuse any foreign intervention in our country or in Fatah,” he added.

Commenting on the decision to sack him from Fatah which coincided with the revelation of the leaked information from Tamim-Rajoub meeting, Abu Shamala confirmed the incident, “particularly because the sacking decision violated the bylaws of Fatah, and the central committee was not consulted.”

Abu Shamala even went further, elaborating that “current attempts to suggest the name of a new president in this particular time is linked to the upcoming internal elections in Fatah, as well as the presidential and legislative elections.” However, he insisted that the campaign started when a local court in Ramallah issued a verdict to hold Dahlan in contempt.

“We consider ourselves as main players and it would be hard to overstep a group with such a history in Fatah. Meanwhile these unofficial decisions only represent those who have taken them,” Abu Shamala said, referring to Abbas.

Interestingly, 62-year-old Rajoub did not come under media spotlight when going through possible candidates to succeed Abbas. For example, in his article titled “The Riddle of Succession in the Palestinian Authority,” Israeli journalist Ehud Yaari mentioned a number of aging Palestinian officials who may succeed Abbas, mainly his political nemesis Mohamed Dahlan and the “beloved Fatah prisoner” Marwan al-Bargouti, as well as former prime ministers Salam Fayad, Ahmed Qurei, and Nasser al-Qidwa, and other Fatah officials such as Tawfiq al-Tirawi, Mohamed Ashteh and Mahmoud al-Aloul. Parliament Speaker Aziz al-Doweik, a Hamas member, was also mentioned.

In the article published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Yaari said, “the president of the Palestinian Authority has spoken to US officials of his growing exhaustion, his family’s desire for him to relinquish power, and his decision to not participate in the next elections that he has agreed on with Hamas… even if the elections don’t take place, there is still a critical need to fix the issue of presidential succession as Fatah’s congress approaches.”

Back to the leaked documents, the minutes revealed Rajoub as saying to the emir of Qatar, “I will start, I will speak to Dahlan’s group after Abu Mazen brings them to zero. Meanwhile, Abu Mazen is done and there is no need to talk to him, I pledge this to Your Highness… be assured. He is now getting involved in assassination attempts, and this is something that Americans must understand, especially since the Israelis know much more than them.”

The Israeli journalist mentioned the historical feud between Rajoub and Dahlan, which dates to the “pre-Oslo days in Tunis, when they respectively served as the head of the West Bank Committee and the Gaza Strip Committee. They both came under bitter criticism during their time at the Preventive Security body.”

Tamim interrupted Rajoub, saying “our foreign minister met with Abu Mazen in London. He also met with John Kerry and he informed me that Americans are not keen on pressuring Israel over Abbas’s successor, because Abu Mazen said that he is in a comfortable position while Tel Aviv is facing a tough situation,” commenting that “this is strange because if you don’t reach a solution with Israel now, you will have nothing to negotiate in two years!”

“It is true but the case needs some time to organize, and needs continuous support from you, Your Highness.. The truth is that Abu Mazen put us in a difficult situation,” Rajoub said.

Commenting on the documents, independent MP Hassan Khraysheh said he read the minutes but does not have information from private sources that can deny or confirm their content.

“It is easy to imagine such a scenario but it is hard to implement it because one can reach the presidency only through elections,” Khraysheh told Al-Akhbar, “how can someone like Rajoub, who failed in the legislative elections, be elected president?”

He attributed the current discussions about the president’s successor to Abbas himself, who first suggested it few days after winning the elections in 2005 by discussing the need for appointing a vice president. Khraysheh said, “I opposed the idea by asking him: ‘are you worried that the vice president could be a Hamas member?’ He confirmed my suggestion even though that annoyed some people attending the meeting, including Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki.”Zaki refused to comment about the matter, sarcastically telling Al-Akhbar,“I forgot everything about Qatar and I have not dealt with it in years.”

Khraysheh revealed that the issue of appointing a vice president was revisited four month after that discussion took place, saying “I was the first deputy in the parliament and we suggested that parliament vote on the vice president and define their authorities, but the issue was laid to rest… that’s how they are in the Authority, they make suggestions that quickly disappear,” adding that it was suggested to choose the vice president through popular vote or through the parliament.

In terms of the Qatari documents, Khraysheh said, “any individual who presents themselves [to the presidency] without having a rich historical background won’t succeed,” adding that “people are sensitive about foreign interventions in such matters. The mere mention of Rajoub’s name in these minutes means that he lost all his chances of winning because his candidacy would be linked to the status-quo.”

However, the independent MP, Khraysheh, took lightly what Abbas’ loyalists described as a “conspiracy,” citing “the crisis that followed the death of Arafat and the confusion that resulted from US and Israeli pressures that sought to impose certain people.” Explaining that “Abbas reached power through elections despite those who boycotted them,” acknowledging that “even though pressure obviously play a role, it was not the decisive factor.”

“Any attempt to impose a president, regardless of his army and institutions, will eventually lead him to lose popular and official support, and will be in a confrontation with all the Palestinians,” he added.

As for Hamas, the documents indicate Rajoub maintains good ties with Meshaal, and that the former fears the latter’s visit to Egypt since it could lead Egyptian officials to underestimate him in Cairo. Prince Tamim agreed, stressing on the need to hold onto Meshaal.

In the end, Rajoub called to hold further meetings with Qatari officials to solve some problems including matters related to halting the entry of 20,000 Palestinians working in Doha, and issuing a decree to resume deducting five percent of Palestinians’ salaries to support the PLO “because solving these issues will help me on a personal level,” the head of Football Federation said.

For its part, Hamas is ignoring the whole issue in the media. The movement already adopted this policy following the Abbas-Dahlan crisis, saying it’s an internal Fatah matter which might damage the reconciliation.

Ismael Ashkar, a Hamas MP, said “God granted us reconciliation and we don’t want to return to divisions, therefore we distance ourselves from backing any parties seeking to divide Fatah, as we are interested in keeping it strong, and we don’t consider it our enemy.”

“We are worried about our Fatah brothers regarding the internal feuds that resulted from actions taken by Abu Mazen and Dahlan when they turned against Yasser Arafat, which might impact the status of Fatah and weaken it among Palestinians. This also affects the already fragile Palestinian political system,” Ashkar elaborated.In his interview with Al-Akhbar, Ashkar said “during the discussions, we agreed on five issues; the PLO, the government, the elections, social reconciliation and security,” adding that “walking in this direction would guarantee that the current authority and system don’t collapse. However, Abbas’ insistence to take unilateral decisions could lead to unpredicted repercussions which could eventually lead to foreign tutelage on the president.”

An intentional crisis on salaries

According to Khalil al-Hayeh, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, and member of the reconciliation delegation, the current crisis involving the salaries of the former Hamas government employees “is either intentional or paving the way for a difficult period,” stressing that solutions are always possible but they require courage and willingness.

In a press conference held yesterday, Hayeh said “the national consensus government wronged its employees and its people, it is snubbing the reconciliation agreement, particularly the Beach Camp agreement signed last April.”

He called on President Abbas to order the government to pay the salaries of Gaza employees “and not to be angered by the employees’ protests because everyone is under your mandate and the mandate of [Prime Minister Rami] al-Hamdallah.”

National consensus government spokesman, Ehab Bessaiso, said the government’s main mission is to end the repercussions of the Palestinian divisions. In a press conference, he denied Hayeh’s accusations of discriminating against certain employees, saying “the issue of closing banks will be on the government’s agenda in its next meeting on Tuesday,” denying that al-Hamdallah is threatening to resign.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Is Football Federation chief al-Rajoub a Qatari-backed successor to Abbas?

Zio-Nazi arrests 80 Palestinians, locks down Hebron in search for missing teens

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Zio-Nazi soldier walks past Palestinians in the West Bank village of Tafoh, near Hebron on June 15, 2014, searches for three Zio-Nazi teenagers who went missing near a West Bank settlement. (Photo: AFP – Hazem Bader)

Israel on Sunday broadened the search for three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by militants, arresting 80 Palestinians overnight and imposing a tight closure on the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

It was the biggest arrest operation in years and came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered security forces to “use all tools at their disposal” to find the three teenagers he said had been “kidnapped by a terror organization.”

Most of those arrested belonged to the Islamist movement Hamas, and included several members of the Palestinian parliament, Israeli press reports said.

“In a combined… effort to return the three abducted Israeli teenagers, approximately 80 Palestinian suspects were detained in a widespread overnight operation,” an army statement said, with a spokesman warning troops would leave no stone unturned.

“Palestinian terrorists will not feel safe, will not be able to hide and will feel the heavy arm of the Israeli military capabilities,” Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said.

As the massive manhunt for the missing teens entered its third day, the defense ministry imposed a complete lockdown on the southern city of Hebron and the surrounding area, as well as a closure on the Gaza Strip.

The closure on the Hebron district began at midnight, a defense ministry statement said indicating that access to Gaza via the Erez crossing would be limited to humanitarian cases only, while only fuel would be allowed in through the southern goods crossing.

Inside Hebron, the West Bank’s largest city, Israeli paratroopers fanned out across the streets, and no cars were allowed in or out of the city, an AFP correspondent said.

Following late-night consultations with his security cabinet, which ended close to midnight, Netanyahu was to convene the weekly cabinet at his office at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv, his office said.

“Our young people have been kidnapped by a terror organisation… there is no doubt about that,” Netanyahu told reporters in Tel Aviv late on Saturday.

The teens, one of whom also holds a US passport, are believed to have been snatched Thursday night from the Gush Etzion settlement bloc between Bethlehem and Hebron, reportedly while hitchhiking.

The missing teenagers, who study at two Jewish seminaries in the West Bank, have been identified as Gilad Shaer, 16, from Talmon settlement near Ramallah, Naftali Frenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon in Israel, and Eyal Ifrach, 19, from Elad near Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu said he placed responsibility for their safe return on the shoulders of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and his government, saying they must do “whatever necessary to help the hostages get home safely.”

The suspected abductions occurred 10 days after a new Palestinian unity government was sworn in, pieced together with the Hamas movement.

Israel has vowed to boycott all contact with the new government, whose emergence has ended seven years of divided rule between the West Bank and Gaza, with Netanyahu insisting Abbas be held responsible for all acts of violence emanating from anywhere in the Palestinian territories.

Israeli and Palestinian officials confirmed Palestinian security services were assisting in the search for the youths, who are believed to be “still alive,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Saturday.

Israel’s air force also hit three targets in the southern and central Gaza Strip overnight on Saturday, the second consecutive night of strikes.

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Whistleblower Manning: US lying about Iraq once more

NOVANEWS

Iraq

Detained US soldier Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of leaking a trove of secret documents to WikiLeaks made a rare foray into public life Saturday to warn Americans they were being lied to about Iraq once more.

Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence on espionage charges and other offenses for passing along 700,000 secret documents, including diplomatic cables and military intelligence files, to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in the largest-scale leak in US history.

“I understand that my actions violated the law. However, the concerns that motivated me have not been resolved,” the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning wrote in a New York Times editorial.

“As Iraq erupts in civil war and America again contemplates intervention, that unfinished business should give new urgency to the question of how the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan,” she added.

President Barack Obama said this week he was “looking at all the options” to halt the offensive that has brought militants within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of Baghdad’s city limits, but ruled out any return of US combat troops.

Obama has been under mounting fire from Republican critics over the swift collapse of Iraq’s security forces, which Washington spent billions of dollars training and equipping before pulling out its own troops in 2011.

While the US military was upbeat in its public outlook on the 2010 Iraqi parliamentary elections, suggesting it had helped bring stability and democracy to the country, “those of us stationed there were acutely aware of a more complicated reality,” Manning wrote.

“Military and diplomatic reports coming across my desk detailed a brutal crackdown against political dissidents by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and federal police, on behalf of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Detainees were often tortured, or even killed.”

Manning, a former US Army intelligence analyst, said she was “shocked by our military’s complicity in the corruption of that election. Yet these deeply troubling details flew under the American media’s radar.”

Criticizing the military’s practice of embedding journalists, Manning charged that “the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance.”

Manning is serving out the prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and had requested a name change after court-martial proceedings revealed her gender dysphoria.

A US Army general denied clemency to Manning in April, upholding the 35-year sentence.

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Iraq: Understanding the coup in Mosul and its consequences

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ISIS storms Iraq university, Baghdad blasts kill more than 60

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Iraqis wait for relatives hospitalised in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on June 6, 2014, following two suicide bombings in the Shabak village of Al-Muwaffaqiyah, east of Nineveh provincial capital Mosul. (Photo: AFP – Safin Hamed)

A wave of car bombs exploded across Baghdad on Saturday, killing more than 60 people, and militants stormed a university campus in western Iraq, security and medical sources said.

In total, there were a dozen blasts in the capital, the deadliest of which occurred in Bayaa district, where a car bomb left 23 people dead, many of them young men playing billiards.

“I was about to close my shop when I heard a huge explosion on the main commercial street,” said Kareem Abdullah, whose legs were still shaking from the shock. “I saw many cars set ablaze as well as shops.”

Other bombs went off near a cinema, a popular juice shop and a mosque.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for any of the bombings.

Since Thursday alone, militants have seized parts of Ramadi and Fallujah, the two main cities in the Anbar province. On Saturday, they took control of the campus of Anbar University in Ramadi.

Parts of Ramadi have been held by anti-government tribesmen and insurgents since the start of the year. Overnight, gunmen fought their way past guards into the university, planting bombs behind them.

The militants eventually allowed students and teaching staff to leave, but remained in control of the campus late on Saturday, exchanging fire with security forces.

A professor trapped inside the physics department told Reuters some staff who live outside Ramadi had been spending the night at the university because it was the exam period.

“We heard intense gunfire at about 4:00 am. We thought it was the security forces coming to protect us but were surprised to see they were gunmen,” he told Reuters by telephone. “They forced us to go inside the rooms, and now we cannot leave.”

Sources in Ramadi hospital said they had received the bodies of a student and a policeman.

AFP reported that members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were behind the university assault. Ramadi and Fallujah were overrun at the start of the year by ISIS fighters.

One of the guards at the university said he believed the militants’ real aim was to seize an area called Humaira behind the campus, which would allow them to set up supply lines between Ramadi and Fallujah.

“I think the militants will withdraw as their target was not the university. They came to stay in Humaira, and we know how important it is for them,” he said. “They want to be connected with their gunmen in Fallujah.”

Almost 480,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Anbar over the past six months, according to the United Nations.

On Thursday, militants moved into the city of Samarra in the adjacent province of Salahuddin and briefly occupied a university there as well as two mosques, raising ISIS’s black banner until airstrikes forced them to retreat.

The following day, insurgents fought Iraqi security forces in the northern city of Mosul.

The head of Mosul morgue said the bodies of 59 civilians and 11 people had been brought in since Friday. Another source at the morgue said there were still corpses on the streets that could not be recovered because some districts of the city remained under militant control.

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Theories behind the ISIS takeover of Iraqi province

NOVANEWS

A file picture taken from a video released on January 4, 2014 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)’s al-Furqan Media allegedly shows ISIL fighters marching at an undisclosed location. (Photo: AFP-al-Furqan Media)

Surprising and shocking. This might be the best way to characterize the fierce attack the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) waged inside Iraq, leading to the fall of the entire Nineveh province and parts of Salah al-Din, with its forces almost reaching Baghdad.

This happened only days after a similarly fierce and shocking attack was halted at the doorsteps of the shrine of al-Imamain al-Askariyain in Samarra, as all concerned forces intervened to spare Iraq developments similar to those of 2006.

The fact that this is happening in a country where those in charge have, for over a decade now, failed to build a shadow of a state does not make the attack any less dreadful.

During the Samarra attack, the prevailing view was that ISIS wanted to destroy the shrine in an attempt to drag the country into a sectarian war from which it will stand to benefit the most. The size of the operation that ISIS waged became evident only after the fall of Mosul Airport. The city surrendered to the takfiris only hours later.

Questions emerged from every direction trying to understand what happened. How could ISIS achieve such a victory? Where was the army and the Iraqi security forces? What was the depth of the collusion? There are plenty of questions but perhaps the three most important ones are: Who decided to carry out this operation? What is its objective? And why now?

A lot of theories are being bandied about. The easiest one is the broken record on “mass migration” from Syria and the regional conspiracy led by “Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey” to take revenge against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s electoral victory which made him the sole ruler of Iraq.

No one has information to verify or deny this theory. But informed parties believe that this alleged migration is unlikely in light of the progress on the battlefield that ISIS is achieving on the Syrian front. At the same time, they scoff at the claim that the three aforementioned countries can control this organization, even if they collaborated with it at important junctures when their interests intersected.

The most logical analysis leans in two directions that meet at some point. The first argues that ISIS, which exhibited in Syria an astute ability to detect changes and deal with them smoothly and with flexibility, sensed a US-Iranian understanding on the horizon and the signs of a regional front emerging to liquidate the takfiri Islamist movement including ISIS. The seeds of this front emerged first in Syria, and its signs were detectable in Iraq given the talk about military preparations and arms deals to regain state control over al-Anbar province. All this prompted ISIS to wage a preemptive strike to fortify its positions and prepare for the crushing battle expected to come.The second direction alludes to an operation meant to lure ISIS into a trap similar to what the United States did with Saddam Hussein before he invaded Kuwait in order to rally regional support to eliminate him.

The international reaction to the fall of Mosul reinforces the second analysis. Affirmation of Washington’s willingness to provide “all the help needed,” including weapons, quickly emerged. And the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed “deep concern.”

The problem with this analysis is that it ignores the fact that with this attack, ISIS violated one of its own rules of engagement in Iraq, namely, to not engage the Kurds militarily for its own ulterior motives. It is certainly in the Kurds’ interest to keep the provinces of Nineveh, Salah al-Din and Kirkuk – most of them are disputed areas between Baghdad and Erbil – in a state of upheaval. But the Kurdish authorities will not stand idly by as ISIS sets up its base on the borders of the Kurdish region, when they pride themselves on Kurdistan’s stability. This development puts Erbil and Baghdad in the same trench. The two sides have to put their differences aside to confront the imminent danger besetting both of them.

The other problem with this analysis is that it does not answer the following question: What is ISIS counting on, given that its leaders know this military operation will unite all the parties in Iraq and all concerned parties in the region against them?

Perhaps the most scandalous aspect of what happened is exposing the Iraqi regime; it not only failed at launching the process of rebuilding a devastated Iraq in light of unprecedented corruption, it also failed to rebuild its armed forces. An army that numbers around 1.1 million is unable to establish a sense of security even in the ethnically homogeneous south where takfiris succeed every now and then to block the main road between Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala. Not to mention the dozens of victims that fall daily in Baghdad and the regime’s utter failure to enter Fallujah despite the killing and wounding of thousands of Iraqi soldiers.

The only positive outcome in what happened – if it is possible to use this term – is that it has pushed Iraq’s political forces fighting amongst each other to put their differences aside and quickly end the insurmountable governance crisis plaguing the country in light of the threat that besets all of them without exception. This opinion was reinforced by the position of the Shia authority in Najaf, as the decision to forge popular resistance to ISIS by arming the people was leaked. This, however, is a step whereby everyone knows how it starts but no one knows how it will end.

Posted in IraqComments Off on Theories behind the ISIS takeover of Iraqi province

ISIS “success” facilitated by betrayal, Iraqi government inadequacies

NOVANEWS

Iraqi policemen are seen on patrol inside a military base in Baghdad, on June 11, 2014, after the declaration of a state of emergency by the government. (Photo: AFP-Ahmad al-Rubaye)

Baghdad is in a state of panic. The streets are empty. Gunmen are 20 kilometers (12.42 miles) away from the capital. Popular forces armed by the state are deployed around the city to protect its residents from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). All eyes are on Diyala, the gateway to the south by the Iranian borders. There is no army and no security forces except in the green zone, and their loyalty is now questionable after information was confirmed that senior officers turned against the government and handed their military areas to the newcomers.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki addressed his military officers on TV in light of security reports stating that the attackers are Baathists affiliated with Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri – who was vice president under Saddam – as well as officers from the former Iraqi army and Fedayeen Saddam. According to the reports, more than 40 officers who had served in Saddam Hussein’s army conspired with the attackers. There are tales of betrayal involving senior military leaders including General Abboud Qanbar, Lieutenant General Ali Ghaidan and General Mahdi al-Ghazzawi, all members of the former army.

The only solution left is to organize a “popular army” and the enlistment campaign has already started, with the aim of forming a paramilitary organization similar to the National Defense Forces in Syria. It is a return to the notion of self-security which prevailed after the US invasion. It is also a recognition that there is no army, leading to questions like where did US $41 million – that was supposedly spent to strengthen the military over the last three years – go?

All of this to justify a story that sounds more like a fantasy; that within hours, 1,500 fighters from ISIS succeeded in occupying Mosul, where a military garrison consisting of 52,000 soldiers is stationed, before invading Salah al-Din and controlling many neighborhoods in Kirkuk. Everyone agrees that even Samarra has fallen militarily but it was not taken over by takfiris, not because they could not but because they chose not to. Iraqi military units are fleeing their positions whenever ISIS fighters advance and orders are issued to security forces to withdraw from neighbouring cities.In a situation like this, there is no room for politics, as military action has the last word. The position of the Kurds in this context is noteworthy. Appeals were made from more than one side for Peshmerga forces to take part in thwarting the invading forces. But they refused, arguing that they only defend Kurdish and ethnically mixed areas. It is said that US pressure was exerted on Erbil in this regard which led to an understanding between Maliki and Nijirfan al-Barazani stipulating that Peshmerga forces will take part in the battle to recapture Mosul in return for agreeing to secure exports of oil from Kurdistan.

The situation in the occupied areas does not seem as bad as it is portrayed in some media outlets. All the forces involved in the political process left the areas controlled by ISIS, including the governor of Nineveh Athil al-Nujaifi, the more influential brother of Osama al-Nujaifi. He moved to Erbil leaving behind business projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Mosul. It is true of course that tens of thousands of Iraqis left their homes for fear of what is happening and what is to come. No one, however, can deny that years of political, social and economic marginalization, in addition to undermining Sunni leaders, will guarantee ISIS – or any other faction that rises up against the political leadership in Baghdad – popular support among individuals and tribes, even if it is temporary.

It was interesting that the Shia authority Bashir al-Nujaifi blamed the “incompetence and dereliction of duty towards their country by those fighting” for “what we have come to in Iraq.” He called for “speeding up the process of forming a foresighted salvation government imbued with loyalty and love of country.” This allusion was the first of its kind, regarding the political discord going on in Iraq since Mosul fell and the sound of bullets dominated the political arena in the country.

The reality on the ground poses more questions than it provides answers. What are the repercussions of the Shia authority’s appeal to unite in the face of the terrorists? How far will the enlistment campaign, opened to whoever wants to fight the takfiris and protect holy sites, go? To what extent has Saudi Arabia supported ISIS? In light of the kidnapping of the Turkish consul-general in Mosul, what is Turkey’s role in what is happening, as it was quick to summon an emergency meeting of NATO to discuss developments? What are the implications of ISIS’ victories in Iraq on the Syrian front given the financial and military spoils it gained from Iraq? And finally, will the dark days of the ill-fated sectarian war that ignited the whole region return to Iraq?

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