Northern Iraq – yet another flashpoint

Iraq is becoming a central link in the southern Belt and Road Chinese project linking Western Europe to East Asia via Iraq and Iran. The China-Iraq Belt and Road agreement was proposed on 23 September 2019 with a 20-year agreement. However that was not implemented due to objections raised within Iraqi parliament and intense debate over the details of its provisions. China launched its Belt and Road project in 2013 to boost trade links with the rest of the world and has been spending heavily on the development of infrastructure in dozens of countries around the world. It is China’s for globalisation of its goods and trade.

But surely Iraqis are fully aware that the Chinese government does not do anything for nothing? What has pushed them in this direction? A combination of US occupation and Iranian political influence?

China’s Belt and Road project are part of its global expansion which is a challenge to US aggression in Western Asia. 

However, isn’t the US main focus at the moment the Ukraine and the South China Sea?

The article below describes the latest bombing of Northern Iraq by Turkey in order to get rid of Kurdish national resistance in Northern Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Why is that? The PKK and Turkey have fought a guerilla war since 1984, which has seen at least 45,000 people killed. Surely the Kurds have just as much right to self-determination as anyone else? The Morning Star gives the details. – Ian Curr, 9 Feb 2022

Western powers accused of complicity as Turkish air strike kill two in Kurdish refugee camp

People gathered at the funeral for those killed during the bombing of the Makhmour Refugee Camp in northern Iraq today (2 Feb 2022).

KURDISH officials accused Western powers of complicity in Turkish air strikes that killed two people and injured many more at the UN-administered Makhmour Refugee Camp in northern Iraq today.

Kurdish women protest at the bombings by Turkey

It was heavily bombarded on Tuesday night as missiles also targeted areas in Shengal, where thousands were massacred at the hands of Isis in the 2014 Yazidi Genocide.

The town of Derik in north-east Syria was also struck just hours after 12 Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters who were killed in the recent thwarted Isis prison break in Hasaka province were buried.

“Iraqi air space is controlled by the coalition,” camp officials told the Morning Star. “Turkey cannot make air strikes without their permission.”

“Twelve thousand people live here and we are under the guarantee of the UN. We call on everyone to take care of us.”

Turkey frequently bombs Makhmour camp with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan branding it “an incubator of terrorism,” accusing it of housing fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The UN rarely speaks out after such incidents and is accused of collusion with Turkey and Nato.

A 2006 Wikileaks cable appears to support these assertions, with then UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative Gesche Karrenbrock working with both US and Turkish officials to shut it down.

The Morning Star contacted the UNHCR today which said it was trying to verify the facts on the ground.

It has issued no public statement on the missile strike.

The latest attacks were branded “revenge for Hasaka” with Turkey known to support jihadist groups in Syria to fight against Kurds as part of a genocide operation.

During last week’s attempted prison break, Ankara launched air strikes at an SDF convoy preventing it from providing reinforcements in the battle against Isis, effectively providing the jihadists with air cover.

Tuesday night’s attacks, which Turkey said hit 80 targets, were condemned by Baghdad as “a violation of Iraqi air space” and of the country’s sovereignty.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that the operation targeted PKK bases and training camps.

The “terrorists felt the breath of the Turkish armed forces on their necks,” he said today.

Resistance forces inside Iraq promised to “teach Turkish forces a tough lesson.”

Qais al-Khazali, a leading figure in the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces said that the expansion of military bases had exacerbated tensions and vowed to drive Turkey out of the country.

“We affirm that the barbaric Turkish moves will not go unanswered and will be dealt with when the time is right,” he said.

“We will force them to withdraw from Iraqi soil as we did with respect to American occupation troops.”

Western countries continue to arm Turkey despite allegations of war crimes.

Britain has sold £77 million in arms to Turkey since Boris Johnson came to power in 2019.

This includes parts for armed helicopters, military combat vehicles and parts for surface to air missiles.

The Morning Star has previously reported on a secretive six-year history of British supplies to Turkish “killer drones.”

Morning Star, 7 Feb 2022

3 thoughts on “Northern Iraq – yet another flashpoint

  1. Ray Bergmann says:

    The media of the U.S and its main allies have their reasons for the focus on Ukraine and the South China Sea but this is mainly for control of the prevailing domestic narratives.

    Indeed China’s Belt and Road projects are part of its global expansion and are a challenge to U.S. domination of Western Asia. Indeed the Iraqi parliament operates under the U.S. occupation under the irreconcilable influences of the United States and Iran!

    Indeed Turkey cannot make air strikes in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) without the permission of the Barzani family that control the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which has to deftly manage its relationships with Baghdad and Ankara as well as with the small number of the Iraqi Kurdish population in border areas in the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq that retains sympathy for the PKK.

    The Kurdistan Democratic Party, with which Erbil and the Barzani family are closely associated, tends to be much closer to Turkey and more against the PKK. The largest rival party in the Kurdistan Region is the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is strong mainly in the southern part of the region near Sulaimaniyah. Yes the PUK is closer to the PKK, and some in that part of the region support it, but they would have no say in whether Turkey bombs PKK in the mountains near Turkey!.

    Yes Turkey is known to support certain jihadist groups in Syria to fight against Kurds and Syrians, but the U.S. and Kurds in north-east Syria also utilize certain jihadist groups to fight the Syrian Arab Army and Russian forces in Syria or to assist in the ethnically cleansing of the non-Kurdish population of north-east Syria.

    Various efforts have focussed on the possibilities of rebuilding infrastructure in Syria and Iraq. Russia says it will spend $500 million to modernize Syria’s port of Tartus. Russia also said it will build a railway to link Syria with the Persian Gulf but it wouldn’t be feasible without an end to the U.S. occupations of Iraq and north-west Syria.

    Syria announced it is in serious dialogue with China to join China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” designed to foster investment in infrastructure. On Wednesday 12 January 2022, China and Syria signed a memorandum of understanding in Damascus. The memorandum sees Syria join the initiative whose aim is to help expand cooperation with China and other partner countries in areas such as trade, technology, capital, human movement and cultural exchange. Among other things, it aims to define the future of this cooperation with parner states. Again, the project will not be feasible without an end to the U.S. occupations of Iraq and north-west Syria.

    As Workers Bush Telegraph have noted the Iraqi parliament signed a China-Iraq Belt and Road 20-year agreement on 23 September 2019 that was not implemented due to objections raised at the time within the U.S. influenced Iraqi parliament and intense debate between the U.S. and Iranian factions of the Iraqi paliament over the details of its provisions.

    However, in November 2021 the Iraqi parliament agreed with China agreed to a first tranche of the deal which was to build 7,000 schools in exchange for payment in the form of Iraqi oil.

    But this tug of war on the global chess-board was countered by the UNited States when in January 2022 Iraq’s Ministry of Transport signed a contract with U.S. owned Korean Daewoo E & C Company to complete five infrastructure projects that had been initiated at the Grand Faw Port in Basra under the 2019 China-Iraq Belt and Road agreement, the Daewoo deal to be paid for by huge loans to Iraq by the United Arab Emirates. [Reference: https://www.iraq-businessnews.com/2021/01/03/daewoo-signs-2-6bn-iraq-port-deal/%5D.

    The Korean Daewoo Company has been owned by the American General Motors company since the year 1996, so the Daewoo E & C (so-called “Korean”) company, would re-engineer the Faw Port project to favour the political aims of the United States of America in its aim to disrupt the southern Belt and Road project at its key connection through Basra?

    China had offered Iraq to complete the Great Faw Port project in two years, the payment would have been be over 5 years and China would receive oil instead of cash payment. But with the American General Motors company owned Daewoo company’s project, the contract demands that Iraq pay with money raised by corrupt loans covered by hidden contracts. How does Iraq pay such loans amidst known corruption of the parties involved? How can Iraq secure its resources while paying employee salaries with loans that incur huge debts from hidden contracts? Default of the loans would undoubtedly render ownership of the Great Faw Port to ostensibly the U.A.E., but actually to Israeli-American private loan sharks operating in the U.A.E.!

    Implementation of the China-Iraq Silk Road would have provided many thousands of jobs for Iraqis and the planned infrastructure relating to not only 7,000 schools, but also universities, residential complexes, hospitals, metro stations, malls, commercial complexes, smart cities, airports, factories, and strategic projects securing Iraqi oil resources. Such a reconstruction would be a major economic boost to the country, paralleling its financial oil revenues and finally freeing Iraq from the (claimed to be departing) imperialist military occupation.

    But by the end of January 2022 further fears of the globalist aim to tear southern Iraq from Iraqi control have been raised by the Iraqi parliament by another U.S.-Israel project – the construction of an oil pipeline from Basra to Aqaba in Jotdan.

    In March 2019 Iraq Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban had announced the completion of technical preparations for the extension of the country’s oil pipeline to Aqaba port in Jordan, with the pipelines export capacity expected to reach 1 million barrels per day. The technical plans covered numerous elements of the project including funding, capacity, component and connections even to oilfields in Kirkuk.

    News of the immanent commencement of this project has further alarmed Iraqis who have been opposed to Daewoo taking over the Great Faw Port of Basra project, widely believed to actually be a sale of the Port to U.A.E. based loan sharks by the US-factions of the Iraqi parliament.

    In January 2022 it was mostly Iraqi academics and technical specialists who were opposing the Daewoo take-over of the Great Faw Port construction project. Now that this issue has been linked to the construction of the $3bn oil pipeline project from Basra to Aqaba in Jotdan, that would mire Iraqi finances forever in debt to Jordan’s and Israeli financers of the pipeline project, in addition to U.A.E. financers of the Faw Port project.

    So now in February 2022 clerics are also joining the opposition movement to these projects that would serve globalist aims to counter any possibility of Iraq benefiting from the Belt and Road projects.

    Even Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the National Wisdom Movement (Tayar al-Hikmah al-Watani), who was previously the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and had been till now a supporter of the USA factions in the Iraqi parliament, has changed his tone. Al-Hakim has now indicated he will not go against the popular stream, and will oppose both the sale of Great Faw Port to the U.A.E., and will oppose the proposed agreement with for construction of a Basra to Aqaba pipeline!

    This is now a complicated situation where securing the national security interests of Iraq will depend on agreement between very heterogeneous parties. Until now the Iraqi government administration has not cared about strikes and demonstrations. There is an urgent need for patriotic movements to coalesce to impose their will upon the divided parliament that has prime loyalties to both USA and Iranian interests.

    Implementation of the Silk Road across Iraq would provide many thousands of jobs and a major economic boost to the country, paralleling its financial oil revenues and finally freeing Iraq from the (claimed to be departing) imperialist military occupation.

    With Iraq’s future held in the balance this is the hottest issue for all Iraqis determined to secure Iraq’s resources for the Iraqi people. A coalition of patriotic parties is essential to deal with the great corruption in the government, in the parliament, and in the Iraqi media!

    There is a rising opposition in the parliament, within technical and economic organisations and with university professors and Islamic clerics united in the understanding of how critical a point this is for Iraq and its security.

    With Iraq’s future held in the balance this is the hottest issue for all Iraqis determined to secure Iraq’s resources for the Iraqi people. A coalition of patriotic parties is essential to deal with the great corruption in the government, in the parliament, and in the Iraqi media!

    There is a rising opposition in the parliament, within technical and economic organisations and with university professors and Islamic clerics united in the understanding of how critical a point this is for Iraq and its security.

    From Baghdad to Basra many academics and technical specialists in all the economic and technical fields involved are holding meetings, conferences and demonstrations to ensure that the contract which Iraq’s Ministry of Transport signed with U.S. owned Korean Daewoo E & C Company to complete the five infrastructure projects at the Grand Faw Port be cancelled, and to ensure that the agreement to connect all of Iraq’s oil resources to Aqaba be cancelled, as both projects undermine Iraq’s financial independence by enormous debt control by the USA, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the U.A.E and other foreign powers.

    Iraqis are aware of long-held plans by the imperialists to divide Iraq into separate controllable statelets controlled by the imperialists in concert with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE. Iraq is already under influence from both western imperialist and Iran. Iraqis want mutual cooperation and not domination by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE.

    Iraqis have seen how mutually benefiting the Belt and Road projects can be: a freight route links China to Iran; since 2018 China and Vietnam have been linked to Europe and Britain, delivering goods between East Asia and Europe.

    Belt and Road links China, Vietnam and Pakistan to the Eurasian Economic Union (Armenia, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan) and to Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

    The Central Asia Data-Gathering and Analysis Team in 2020 identified 261 BRI projects within Central Asian nations with a minimum investment totalling more than US$136 million. [Reference: “BRI in Central Asia: Overview of Chinese Projects” (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 March 2020]

    It is clear that Iraq’s prosperous future, and the future of multilateral relations with the whole wide world is in the balance!

    A loss of Faw Port infrastructure to the United Arab Emirates would be followed by separation of Basra from Iraq and the greatest loss of critical resource security that is Iraq’s strength.

    Faw Port project was to be the most important part of the China-Iraq agreement, as it would be at the centre of the connection between Europe and Asia by sea and railways. Faw port would be linked by by both sea and land to Pakistan and China, and to Turkey and Europe, and to Russia in at least two directions.

    Threatened too is the second axis to the China-Iraq agreement agreement that would see China’s infrastructure investment, not only in in schools, but also in universities, residential complexes, hospitals, metro stations, malls, commercial complexes, smart cities, airports, factories, and strategic projects securing our oil resources.

    Iraq would flourish if the China-Iraq agreement is adhered to and implemented for the benefit of the people of Iraq. Without resource security there will be no Iraq, and without Iraq there will be no Belt and Road, and no multilateral co-operation – only continuing imperialist domination for the region!

    In light of the move by the American General Motors company’s Daewoo E & C move to disrupt the Belt and Road going through Iraq, the Chinese reaffirmed their agreement to go ahead with construction of the 7,000 schools to be paid for with Iraqi oil – now we are to find out if the Iraqi Parliament will ratify the renewed agreement.

    If it does not then popular demonstrations will be commenced from Baghdad to Basra and will not let up until guarantees that the construction of the 7,000 schools by Chinese and Iraqi construction companies will be agreed to by the Iraqi Parlaiment.

  2. Hello Ray,

    Firstly please let me apologise for my ham-fisted attempt to get the debate about Iraqis engagement with China on the table by publishing some ill-informed comments comparing China’s Belt and Road and US imperialism. You are right to post on WBT that the two are not the same.

    For reasons known by Iraqis and Syrians better than I, the creation of an Australian solidarity group with those countries has been a long time in the making.

    This is especially so given the history of Australia’s entry into the region in the 1990s on the side of American imperialism, firstly by the Hawke Labour government and then by the Howard Liberal government in the 2003 invasion and occupation that destroyed Iraqi society and the country that supports it..

    No doubt there have been many obstacles to the formation of such a solidarity group with Iraq (& Syria).

    However, if you will permit, please let me make another comparison, this time with Cuba.

    A Cuba Friendship Society has operated Australia-wide since the 1980s. There is a small but strong group that has been active here in Brisbane all that time. They have consistently opposed the US blockade of Cuba, they have sent medical and educational supplies to Cuba, they have co-ordinated visits by Cuban medical teams coming to do work in the region e.g. in East Timor and Kiribati. I understand they have given support to Cuban literacy projects in regional Australia.

    Of course you would be right in saying that this is an ‘unfair’ comparison.

    Yes, the Cuban revolution remains strong whereas revolutions in both Iraq and Syria against US imperialism have failed. Yes, the Cuban consul in Australia is squarely in the camp against US imperialism. I can’t speak about the Iraqi consul for I don’t know the person (if one exists). However the Syrian consul is clearly servile to both US imperialism and Australia’s role in it.

    But the comparison is not entirely unfair. The mainstream press in Australia and the public broadcaster (ABC) are happy to spread lies about recent unrest in Cuba and those Cubans who opposed the revolution and went to Miami. Similarly the Australian press is happy to assist our military in covering up war crimes committed by Australian troops in Iraq.

    These facts alone should give impetus to people in solidarity with Iraqi and Syrian people. Since what we call (erroneously) the first Gulf War a number of peace groups have gone to Iraq to act as human shields. Others have gone and worked in schools and community projects in Iraq. More recently others have gone there to provide support to the Kurds in Northern Iraq. Books sympathetic to the Iraqi people have been written and published here in Australia. I reviewed one such book (‘Ordinary Courage. by Donna Mulhearn) written 11 years ago about an Australian journo who went to Iraq as a human shield. See https://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2010/03/13/book-launch-ordinary-courage-by-donna-mulhearn/ . Filmmaker, David Bradbury, has been to Iraq to document the terrible effects of depleted uranium on the people of Iraq, especially the children.

    So why has it taken so long, given the ongoing occupation, for an Iraqi Solidarity group to be formed in Australia? [I include myself in this failing.]

    in solidarity,
    Ian Curr
    10 Feb 2022

  3. Ray Bergmann says:

    A Timely Explanation of our Terrorist Allies in North Syria

    Syria’s northernmost province, which is under the control of Al Qaeda, and some pockets of ISIS, is Idlib, which has been a divisive point of conflict between Russia and Turkey, as Russia backs the Syrian government in Damascus, while Turkey backs the terrorists in Idlib.

    In September 2018, Moscow and Ankara reached an agreement that postponed a planned Syrian-Russian offensive on Idlib and other areas near the Turkish border. As part of that agreement, Turkey was required to remove all extremist groups allied with Al Qaeda from the province, some of which are allied with Al Qaeda.

    While some of the Al Qaeda operatives were removed to serve U.S. interests in other parts of Asia like Iraq and Afghanistan, 3 and one-half years later, Turkey has failed to implement its commitment with Russia, leaving most of Idlib under the control of Al Qaeda, and some pockets of ISIS.

    Turkey has maintained several military outposts while illegally occupying sections of Syria’s northern province, and Russia has chosen not to open an armed conflict with the NATO member, or with U.S, troops occupying the north-west oilfields and wheatbelt of Syria, together with the originally-a-minority Kurdish population of the area which is still endeavouring to achieve an ethnic cleansing of the area, but are faced by the majority Assyrian, Turkmen and Arab villagers obtainnig refuge by merging with many nomadic Arab tribes traversing the area.

    Two-time award-winning journalist Steven Sahiounie quoted Sadradeen Kinno, a Syrian researcher who closely follows Islamic militant groups in Syria, that: “ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliated groups in Syria disagree ideologically, but now (those did not evacuate Idlib with Turkey or US troops, who stayed in Idlib till today) they face a common existential threat from both the U.S. and Russia and their respective Kurdiah or Syrian allies.

    So this is how al-Baghdadi ended up in Idlib, by striking a deal with Huras al-Din, formerly a member of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and previously the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria between 2013 and 2016, and then there was a US operation to kill al-Baghdadi and he blew himself up. And now as recently as the beginning of February 2022 al-Baghdadi’s successor, the ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi got targetted by US troops in Syria, and he likewise blew himself up.

    White Helmets are Syrian Civil Defense purporting to be rescuers in areas under the occupation of Idlib terrorist groups. The group stole the name Syrian Civil Defense from the real group of the same name, which is a working fire department and paramedics group in locations across Syria. While Biden and Kirby were explaining the recent attack on “the leader of Al Qaeda” in Idlib, the “White Helmets” were issuing details on the ground, that at least 13 people were killed, including four women. “Our teams rushed an injured child to the hospital. The child’s entire family was killed in the operation. The teams also rushed another person to the hospital who was injured in the clashes when he approached the scene to witness what was happening.”

    The White Helmets won the Alternative Nobel Prize in 2016, and a Netflix documentary about the group won an Oscar in 2017. They have been accused not only of working with Al Qaeda and ISIS, but of having staged videos of rescues that involved executing children to create dramatic effect.

    Nur (not his real name) who helps manage the White Helmets’ media online admits that “Some men joined the “White Helmets” having left terrorist groups.”
    James Le Mesurier, a former British officer once honored by the queen, founded Mayday in 2014 after having spent some time organizing aid and arranging initial training sessions for Syrian emergency responders working with the rebels in Turkey.  Between 2014 and 2019, Western governments provided around 120 million euros in support to Mayday, about 20 million of it coming from Germany. Mayday was later dissolved, and the White Helmets continued their operations in Idlib with backing from the US and Europeans until today.

    In September 2016 Australian aircraft claimed responsibility for being involved in a US-led coalition operation which killed dozens of Syrian soldiers, who the Australian Defence Department claimed to have mistaken for the Islamic State fighters the Syrian soldiers were shooting at.

    Between 62 and 83 Syrian soldiers who had been fighting IS militants were reportedly killed in the air strikes around the Deir al-Zor military airport in Syria’s east.
    “Australian aircraft were among a number of international aircraft taking part in this Coalition operation,” the Defence Department said in a statement.
    “Australia would never intentionally target a known Syrian military unit or actively support Daesh (IS). Defence offers its condolences to the families of any Syrian personnel killed or wounded in this incident.”
    The Russian military earlier said two F-16s and two A-10 jets that flew into Syrian airspace from neighbouring Iraq carried out the actual attack. Neither type is listed as being in operation with the RAAF.
    The strikes came less than a week into a fragile ceasefire aimed at stopping the bloodshed in Syria’s five-year civil war, as Russia accused what it termed “moderate rebels” of causing the truce to fail.

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