Kurdish rebels armed on Turkish-Iraq border

ane’s Defense Weekly reported (sorry, no link) last month that the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK), the successor to the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), has armed itself with man-portable surface-to-air (SAM) missiles along the Turkish-Iraqi border. The news, leaked by the Turkish military to the national press, underscores the Kurdish rebels’ concerns that Turkey may be planning an invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan in conjunction with a U.S.-Iraq war.

Jane’s Defense Weekly reported (sorry, no link) last month that the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK), the successor to the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), has armed itself with man-portable surface-to-air (SAM) missiles along the Turkish-Iraqi border. The news, leaked by the Turkish military to the national press, underscores the Kurdish rebels’ concerns that Turkey may be planning an invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan in conjunction with a U.S.-Iraq war.
According to the report, KADEK has acquired 70 to 80 Strela-2 missiles, and is looking to procure more. (These are labeled by NATO as the SA-7 “Grail”.) The arms are positioned in the Harkuk and Kandil mountains in northern Iraq, and the group is looking to further deploy the missiles in the Haftanin and Garadag mountains. KADEK is also reportedly seeking mines and other ordinance to be deployed along the border with Turkey’s Sirnak province. Fighters have been repositioned to the evacuated villages of Haftanin, Metine, Zap, Avasin-Basyan and Harkuk in Northern Iraq. These weapons would pose a serious threat to Turkish armed forces operating in the region.
The weapons, worth about $200,000, have been acquired from Armenia, Iran and Iraq in the last couple of months. Most of the arms are Russian made.

Victims of Arabization

BINISLAWA DISPLACED PERSONS CAMP, Iraqi Kurdistan — The day is hot, damn hot. It’s the middle of July, and the air is dry and thirsty with the thermometer bumping against the 45 degree Celsius mark. Little dust devils curl up around my heels as I walk. Yet inside a tent that 11 people call home, the water is cold and refreshing and the hospitality is genuine.

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Wahab Mashoor Muhammad and his sons © 2002 Christopher Allbritton

BINISLAWA DISPLACED PERSONS CAMP, Iraqi Kurdistan — The day is hot, damn hot. It’s the middle of July, and the air is dry and thirsty with the thermometer bumping against the 45 degree Celsius mark. Little dust devils curl up around my heels as I walk. Yet inside a tent that 11 people call home, the water is cold and refreshing and the hospitality is genuine.
Abdullah Salam, my guide from the Kurdistan Democratic Party, and I have come here to Binislawa where thousands of tent homes are set up and tens of thousands of people wait for relief from … someone. As we approach one tent, Wahab Mashoor Muhammad, 49, greets us and welcomes us into his home.
It’s not much, to be honest. The floor is poured concrete and the walls are cinderblocks packed with mud to hold them in place. Poles support the canvas “roof” which is all that protects them from the winds and the cold of winter. There is no heat or running water. But it’s clean, and Wahab’s wife and daughters arrange pillows for us to sit on. Another daughter brings me a glass of water from a plastic cooler.
He’s been here since July 18, 2001, almost a year to the day that I visit. He’s from Kaznafar, a village outside Kirkuk, the largest Kurdish city in Iraq, where he was a taxi driver. He was forced to leave his home with a few blankets, some kitchen items and his family when he refused to change his nationality from Kurdish to Arab under a program called “Arabization” that Saddam Hussein’s regime has been engaging in since the 1970s. In other parts of the world, it would be called ethnic cleansing.
“I’m a Kurd,” he says. “How can I be an Arab or change my nationality? It’s wrong for a man to deny his nationality.”
Arabization has been going on since the 1920s, ever since the Kingdom of Iraq was created out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire by the United Kingdom. But it was intensified after 1975 after the Algerian Agreement between Iran and Iraq, under which the Shah cut his support for Kurdish rebels in Iraq. Kurds are forcibly evicted from their homes in Kirkuk, Mosul and other oil-rich regions of northern Iraq unless they agree to have their registered nationality changed to Arab. If they refuse, which many do, they are expelled from their homes, usually with only a few hours to gather their possessions and turned north, to the Kurdish enclave in the north. Arab families are lured from the south to the vacant Kurdish homes in the north with money, land and pickup trucks, all confiscated from the displaced Kurds. It is estimated that more than 8,000 families live in Binislawa. That’s more than 50,000 people.
NATO went to war in 1998-99 in Kosovo and Yugoslavia to prevent this kind of stuff.
But changing his ethnicity isn’t all Wahab was expected to do. The Iraqis demanded he join the elite Jerusalem Brigade, which now holds positions about 20 km outside of Arbil. So named because Saddam has said this fighting force will be the one to liberate Jerusalem from the Jews, the Kurds say that the road to Jerusalem runs through Kurdistan. Wahab was being told he must be prepared to make war on his own people.
Since he refused all this, he was expelled, along with his wife, his mother and his eight children. Now they all live in a tent, and they might be considered the lucky ones.

  • In 1983, 8,000 Kurds were “disappeared” by the Iraqi regime.
  • In 1987-88, 180,000 people disappeared or were executed under the Anfal Campaign. “Anfal” is a principle from the Koran and it allows the looting of a non-Muslim population when Muslims conquer them.
  • In 1988, Halabja became a nightmare when Saddam used chemical weapons against women and children, killing 5,000 people in about 15 minutes. More than 10,000 people were injured and the region suffers from lingering health problems. In all, more than 200 villages were gassed and no one is sure how many people died. There have been no studies on the after-effects of the chemicals on the population or the environment.

So, Wahab is understandably anxious to see Saddam go. “If Saddam is overthrown, I would run back to Kirkuk!” says Wahab. “My family has been living there for 300 years.”
He may get his wish come February.

Al Qa’ida branch established in Palestine

MEMRI details a posting on a bulletin board on the Web site Mojahedoon.net, in which reader Abu Banan posted an announcement of the establishment of “the Islamic Al-Qa’ida Organization in Palestine.”

This is also from MEMRI, and details a posting on a bulletin board on the Web site Mojahedoon.net, in which Abu Banan posted an announcement of the establishment of “the Islamic Al-Qa’ida Organization in Palestine.” The link to the announcement is allegedly here, but I wasn’t able to connect to it or the main Mojahedoon.net site. [Update Dec. 9: It seems Mojahedoon.net is suffering from denial-of-service attacks, which is why it’s currently unreachable.]
The translation, courtesy of MEMRI, of the announcement is as follows:

"...Brothers in Islam: From the land of the Night Journey and the Ascension to Heaven, we announce to the Islamic nation the establishment of the Islamic Al-Qa'ida Organization in Palestine, which will serve as a powerful basis for restoring the rights of our Arab and Islamic people in Palestine, [and] will defeat the Zionist Jewish invaders [and] return them to the place from whence they came. We declare that the squadrons of our martyrs will strike with all their strength at the Zionist and American arrogance in the region, and that the blood of our men in Palestine, in Afghanistan, and in Kashmir will [not] be shed unavenged..."

"Islamic Al-Qa'ida in Palestine joins its voice with the voices of the mujahideen in Palestine in its resistance to the partial and submissive solutions, and will accept nothing but the full liberation of the Palestinian land. Similarly, we call to the mujahideen in the Al-Nusseirat camp in the Gaza Strip to immediately stop the fighting between Hamas and the people of the Palestinian Authority, because these deeds serve only the murderous Jews, the Great Satans. From the land of the Night Journey we again declare a vow of allegiance to the Emir of the mujahideen, the leader Osama bin Laden, by means of whom Allah strengthened the Nation of Islam."

"Brothers in Islam: The Jihad against the [camp of] heresy and its regimes and symbols has arrived. The mujahideen of the Nation must rid themselves of the regimes of heresy and deception in our Arab countries. We call on our brothers in Islam in Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to attack the American interests and the heretical institutions of apostasy [i.e. the regimes of these countries]. Allah willing, we will be the victors!"

"Death to the Jews and Zionism; strength to Allah, Allah is great, and victory to Islam!"

"The Islamic Al-Qa'ida Organization
The Stars of the Martyrs [in Arabic, Kawakib Al-Shuhada]
Ramadan 29, 1423 [December 4, 2002]"

Ba’ath party has ‘contingency plan’

The excellent folks at MEMRI have an interesting report from the Kuwaiti daily paper Al-Watan about a contingency plan put forward by the “National Security Council” in Iraq that would put Saddam’s son, Qusay, in charge in the event of his father’s death.

Thanks again to the excellent folks at MEMRI, the Iraqi News Wire has an interesting report from the Kuwaiti daily paper Al-Watan about a contingency plan put forward by the “National Security Council” in Iraq that would put Saddam’s son, Qusay, in charge in the event of his father’s death. Qusay would take control of the Republican Guard and the Republican Guard/Special Units. It also calls on Iraq to use “all means in our possession” to defend itself, including the use of weapons of mass destruction and/or the dispatch of terrorist squads.
The document also calls for the reconquering of Iraqi Kurdistan, strikes against American forces in Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan, and “Special Operations” units to hit Israel. The full text is below:

Continue reading “Ba’ath party has ‘contingency plan’”

Malibu Osama’s Dream House!

American pop culture deconstructs the war on terror. And Barbie gets some playmates!

Oh, boy! Still don’t know what to get your favorite independent journalist for the holidays? How about this set of 12-in. action figures featuring Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush and other characters from the war on terror.
I don’t know about you, but I have one word to say about this: “Gimme!” Some may consider these the height of bad taste, and on some level they would be right. But who the hell cares? If anyone wants to send me a War on Terror action figure from these guys, feel free to have it shipped to

Christopher Allbritton
810 7th Ave., 6th Floor
New York, NY 10019

I love kitsch.
But seriously, these dolls have touched a lot of nerves, for obvious reasons. The letters to the company it has posted are a venomous lot, with this example:

From: musa ahmed
Subject: Herobuilders.com
To: sales@herobuilders.com
WE THE BROTHERS SAY, MAY THE CURSE OF ALLAH BE UPON YOU, AND MAY EVERY MUSLIM ATTACK YOU FOR THE WAY YOU HAVE PORTRAYED OUR MUSLIM BROTHER WHOM WE LOVE VERY MUCH FOR THE SAKE OF ALLAH...MUSLIMS ARE PURE, YOU ARE THE HOMOSEXUALS AND WIFE SWAPPING PIG LOVING SCUM.......WHY DONT YOU PUT A DRESS ON YOUR GAY BUSH.AND FORTHERMORE A MUSLIM DOCTOR SAID THERE IS A CURE FOR ALL OF YOU GAY AMERICANS. THE CURE IS , SUPER GLUE EVERY HOLE ON YOUR BODY, THAT WAY YOU WILL STOP BEING SODOMITES. BUT MAY THE AIDS VIRUS WIPE YOU ALL OUT....

Countered by this lovely letter:

This came from Nexus_of _Darkness
Don't Matter wrote:
You are one sad group of people! I am a cnadian and damn glad that I am not one of you racist americans!!! I know that Osama and Saddam were terrorists but that does not give anyone the right to make action figures from them in the style that you did! I am heavily reccomending that you clean up your act or I will report you to the human rights act!!! I hope that you burn in hell racist [explicit]!!!

I don’t see how making a doll out of someone is a human rights violation. I can see how Muslims would be upset, since there is a prohibition on depicting the human form, I thought, but the letter from the “cnadian” seems a typical example of kneejerk anti-Americanism.
Look, this is what America pop culture does. It takes horrible or offensive events or people and repackages them into easily consumable material objects. That’s how American culture deals with things. And this is at the heart of the world war in which we now find ourselves: a clash of cultures in which one considers many things sacred and beyond criticism and another which considers nothing sacred and everything deconstructable. (I think that’s a word.)

Onward, unto the material breach

Bush administration will declare iraq in material breach of UNSCR 1441 soon after it presents its declaration to the United Nations Saturday. “It is going to be ‘material breach,’ not as a casus belli [cause for war] but as a basis to begin hammering Unmovic to do more,’ said an administration official familiar with the internal debate.” Yeah. Sure. Whatever.


Inspectors search a suspected weapons site in Iraq

My buddy, George Paine at warblogging.com, alerted me to a report in the Washington Times that the Bush administration will declare Iraq in material breach of UNSCR 1441 immediately after Iraq submits its report on its weapons of mass destruction Saturday.
“‘It is going to be “material breach,” not as a casus belli [cause for war] but as a basis to begin hammering Unmovic to do more,’ said an administration official familiar with the internal debate,” the paper says.
Right. And the United States will be satisfied if UNMOVIC declares to the Security Council the Iraq is complying. Keep dreaming.

U.S. officials said the administration has been withholding detailed intelligence on hidden Iraqi arms programs from U.N. inspectors. The information deals mostly with Iraq’s covert chemical and biological arms.
“We do not want to tip our hand,” the official said.
One piece of intelligence includes details on a cache of more than 1,800 gallons of anthrax spores, the officials said. Even tiny amounts of anthrax can be lethal. Less detailed intelligence has been gathered on Iraq’s efforts to build nuclear weapons, the officials said.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to John Negroponte, America’s U.N. representative, pulling an Adlai Stevenson on Iraq. (Stevenson dramatically proved the Soviets were lying about their missiles in Cuba in October 1962. “”Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the U.S.S.R. has placed and is placing medium and intermediate range missiles and sites in Cuba?” he demanded before the world.)
But let’s look at what’s happening here. The United States’ defense posture is to suffer no military rivals. It’s also got a strategic national interest in the oil reserves in the Persian Gulf. Iraq, while not a serious military rival, is bumping up against both of these pillars of the new, muscular American foreign policy. However, if Iraq were to acquire weapons of mass destruction, it would become a military rival not because its weapons would be offensive in nature (they wouldn’t and it’s unlikely Saddam would risk giving them to terrorists) but because he could bully his neighbors (thus, impacting America’s interests there) and deter the United States from countering his actions militarily. So, in the Bush Universe, he must be stopped. And the only reliable way to do that is to take him out.
The United States has become caught in its own escalation of power. It asserts to the world that it will remain a global hyperpower. But in order to do so it must defeat all challengers to the pax Americana, or better yet, discourage other powers from even attempting to challenge it. War against Saddam Hussein, in addition to America’s short term goals, is a demonstration to the world. The United States is telling potential powers, such as China, “Do not attempt to deter our military ability or we will crush you.” America is going to war to prove that it is willing to go to war.
And that’s just crazy! Having the unrestricted ability to wage war has become a major of goal of American foreign policy. This is what I mean by an escalation of power. We have to wage war to ensure we can wage war. Funny, I always thought the point of diplomacy was to avoid wars, not ensure that the option is always open.
This will lead to overextension of our armed forces, a more dangerous world and restlessness among the natives, old chap.
I’m often asked by people I talk to about this, “Do you really think we’ll go to war?” I always answer, yes, I do. Because with our defense posture, we can’t afford not to. Karl von Clausewitz said in “On War,” “War is regarded as nothing but the continuation of state policy with other means.” What happens, though, when state policy becomes the ability to wage unrestrained war?

Saddam to present UN with suicide note

Just what is Saddam’s game? The Independent in London is reporting that the final document Iraq will present to the United Nations on Saturday (Someone’s brown-nosing by turning in homework early!) will declare that the country is “devoid of weapons of mass destruction.” … Oh, boy.

Sigh. Just what is Saddam’s game? The Independent in London is reporting that the final document Iraq will present to the United Nations on Saturday (Someone’s brown-nosing by turning in homework early!) will declare that the country is “devoid of weapons of mass destruction.”
Oh, boy.
Iraq promises to deliver a 7,000-page document describing the state of the country’s biological, chemical, missile and nuclear technologies in both Arabic and English. All the technologies, it claims, are kosher by U.N. standards.
OK. Show of hands. Who believes this? I don’t. And I’m still puzzled by the alleged assertion by the Iraqi official who said the country would protect itself with weapons of mass destruction.
What are they thinking? Has Saddam really entered a suicidal phase? If he thinks the French and the Russians will rein in the United States this time, he’s sorely mistaken. Is he hoping to provoke an armageddon on the banks of the Tigris so he can attempt to lob some chems into Israel? Has he decided, fatalistically, that the United States will attack no matter what so he may as well get the show started?
I’m honestly befuddled by this assertion that Iraq has nothing to declare. This can only lead to trouble, since Saddam must feel he has one or two tricks left to pull out of his hat.
Al this is taking place in an environment of mutual suspicion. An Iraqi vice president accused the inspectors of being spies for the United States and Israel, a not unrealistic charge as the U.S. did exactly that from 1991-1998. And George W. Bush continued to say the weapons inspections were not working. (He says this after a week of work.)
“One of my concerns is that in the past he has shot at our airplanes,” Bush said. “Anybody who shoots at U.S. airplanes or British airplanes is not somebody who looks like he’s interested in complying with disarmament.”
(It should be noted that the no-fly zones aren’t sanctioned by the United Nations and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the targeting and firing by Iraqi anti-aircraft positions aren’t material breaches of UNSCR 1441. That must piss off Bush.
(And in a further sign of the fragmented Bush policy, Secretary of State Colin Powell described the inspections as “off to a good start” and “working as intended.” Guess he didn’t get the memo.)
Well, when — or if, I suppose I should say although I think a war is inevitable — the bombs start falling, at least journalists will be on the ground. (Which might be the Pentagon’s plan all along. Hmm.) Actually, this is just part of the propaganda effort by the brass in the Pentagon to get some Ernie Pyle-like coverage of individual heroism from the front lines. I’m convinced the only stories that get past the military censors will be those that talk up the bravery of “our boys.” But perhaps I’m just cynical. Perhaps the military really is interested in getting honest stories out about combat and the war, stories that show the military in action, warts and all.
Right. And the Bush White House will suddenly drop its obessions with secrecy and controlling the message that have marked its dealings with the press since the start of Bush’s presidential campaign.
(By the way, I’ve applied for the military bootcamp at Fort Benning, but I’ve not heard back from the Army yet.)