Under Fire

BERLIN/BAGHDAD | | irak

BERLIN/BAGHDAD (Own report) - While Berlin is pushing for the prolongation of the Bundeswehr's deployment in Syria and Iraq, German soldiers have come under fire north of Baghdad. Last weekend, several mortar rounds were fired at Camp Taji, one of the Iraqi armed forces' largest bases, where German soldiers are training Iraqi military personnel. Officially, the training is part of the ongoing war against the IS, whose remaining structures are still operating underground. Normally, German participation in that war is due to end on October 31. The German government now seeks to prolong this deployment to emphasize its efforts to gain influence in the Middle East, also militarily - against the SPD, which until now has opposed the measure. However, there are signs that the SPD is changing course. At least, there is a danger that in Iraq, the German contingent in Baghdad could be drawn into the escalating confrontation between the USA and Iran as can be seen by the recent mortar attacks. more…

BERLIN/BAGHDAD/MOSUL | | irak

BERLIN/BAGHDAD/MOSUL (Own report) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas' brief visit to Baghdad is accompanied by reports that the IS militia (Islamic State) is regaining strength. Maas was in the Iraqi capital yesterday for talks with Iraq's new Prime Minister to emphasize Berlin's push for obtaining stronger influence in Iraq. He also promoted a billion-euro deal with Siemens and listened to his Baghdad counterpart's call for Iraqi refugees to return to their homeland. According to reports, Iraqi authorities are not only responsible for the slow reconstruction of Sunni regions, but Sunnis are being also detained arbitrarily, tortured or condemned to death without proof of guilt. "This is not just revenge on the IS," explained a senior intelligence officer, "this is revenge on Sunnis." Observers warn that this will refill the ranks of the still existing IS in clandestinity, which has again "taken the offensive." more…

BERLIN/BAGHDAD/AL AZRAQ | | irakjordanien

BERLIN/BAGHDAD/AL AZRAQ (Own report) - Berlin is considering the establishment of a permanent Bundeswehr base in the Middle East, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said during her recent visits to Jordan and Iraq. German Armed Forces could be stationed at Jordan's Al Azraq Airbase for an extended period in relative proximity to Iraq - similar to the US Persian Gulf bases. Despite the military victory already achieved over the IS, the Bundeswehr's deployment will, for the time being, be continued within the framework of the Anti-IS Coalition, to help rebuild Iraq, the German minister announced in Baghdad. Berlin has been seeking new influence in Iraq, for quite some time, also because Iran has been able to enhance massively its position in the country over the past few years. German Tornados taking off from Al Azraq Airbase, have already furnished reconnaissance data leading to the bombing of a school. Their flights over Syria are possibly in violation of international law. more…

BERLIN/BAGHDAD/TEHERAN | | irakiran

BERLIN/BAGHDAD/TEHERAN (Own report) - Today, Thursday, NATO’s defense ministers begin their preparations for the war alliance’s Iraq mission, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg announced in light of the ministers’ meeting ending today in Brussels. The mission is in accordance with US demands, which not only seek to empower Iraqi armed forces to permanently suppress IS, but particularly, to scale back Teheran’s significant influence on Baghdad. Iran owes its new influence in Iraq and other countries of the region - from Syria to Yemen and Qatar - to the failed and bloody wars and various aggressions by the West and its closest Middle East allies. Teheran could not have achieved its current influence in Baghdad, without the 2003 US invasion and subsequent extensive destruction of the country. Berlin signaled its interest to participate in the upcoming NATO mission to Iraq. more…

BERLIN/ERBIL/AL AZRAQ | | irak

BERLIN/ERBIL/AL AZRAQ (Own report) - The German Bundeswehr is about to reorient its presence in the Middle East. At their exploratory talks to form a coalition government, the CDU-CSU/SPD decided to phase out the mandate to train Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga in Erbil - already at the end of April, according to recent information. At the same time, the German Armed Forces is preparing for a possible long-term deployment at the al-Azraq Air Base in Jordan. In addition to flying reconnaissance missions from this base, "other assignments" are in discussion, for example the training of Iraqi soldiers or dispatching "advisors" to various countries in the region. For many years, Berlin has been focused on obtaining political, economic and military influence in the Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region. However, the September 25, 2017 referendum on secession has considerably weakened the region, exposing it to growing Iranian influence. For the time being, it can hardly be considered a vehicle serving to implement German interests. more…

RIYADH/WASHINGTON/BERLIN | | usasaudi-arabiensyrienirak

RIYADH/WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) - As the findings of the UK-based organization "Conflict Armament Research" (CAR) confirms, the IS had disposed of a significant amount of firearms and ammunition from EU arsenals to defend itself in Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul against the Anti-IS-Coalition. According to this research, two of Germany's most important arms customers - the United States and Saudi Arabia - had acquired military hardware from Romania and Bulgaria to provide it to insurgent militias in Syria, which had transferred some of it to the IS. For example, anti-tank missiles were re-exported to Syria without the knowledge or approval of the original suppliers. The Free Syrian Police, which had been co-financed by the German Foreign Ministry, has also supplied jihadis. It employs police officers selected from al Qaeda's Syrian subsidiary. In at least one case, these officers had facilitated the stoning execution of two women. more…

BERLIN/ERBIL | | irak

BERLIN/ERBIL (Own report) - Berlin's long-standing support for the Kurdish Autonomous Region has helped lay the groundwork for the referendum on the secession of Iraq's Kurdish-speaking regions, scheduled to be held on Monday. For decades, the Barzani clan, which controls the regional government, has maintained good relations with leading German politicians of the CDU and CSU parties. Since 2005, Berlin has systematically sponsored the autonomous region - through economic aid and establishing German institutions. Most recently, Germany was even training and upgrading the Kurdish Peshmerga into a powerful military force - officially to strengthen an ally in the war against IS. However, today the Peshmerga could use its German weapons for the secession of its region, if necessary, imposing it by armed force. In plain sight of the Bundeswehr, and under cover of the war against the IS, the Peshmerga has been carrying out so-called ethnic cleansing in towns, previously outside the Kurdish Autonomous Region to secure the desired pro-Kurdish majority in the upcoming referendum. Up to now, Berlin has voiced no objections to the date of the secession referendum. more…

Future of Iraq

WASHINGTON/BERLIN/BAGHDAD | | irak

WASHINGTON/BERLIN/BAGHDAD (Own report) - A strategy paper prepared by the US Atlantic Council think tank - with the assistance of Germany's CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation - is proposing measures for Western powers to take to insure their continued influence in Iraq following the fall of Mosul. According to the paper, published a few days ago, US military forces should remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future, train and equip Iraqi forces to prevent IS from regrouping and recovering after its expected defeat. To push back Iran's influence, measures should also be taken to help the country's economic development. In Baghdad, a government "strongly inclined to cooperate closely with the United States" is needed, the paper states, and calls for US allies - particularly European countries - to engage in Iraq to "tackle sensitive areas in which the United States is not seen as neutral." Berlin is already using this opportunity to build its own base of influence in Iraq and is supporting the reconstruction of towns recaptured from the IS. Insuring western control of Iraq is considered all the more urgent, since Russia could successfully obtain major influence in Damascus following the anticipated end of the Syrian war. more…

BERLIN/ERBIL | | irak

BERLIN/ERBIL (Own report) - The German government's Kurdish protégés in Northern Iraq are using German weapons to attack the Yazidi minority. This has been confirmed by new photo and video documents circulating around the internet for the past few days. These documents depict the Erbil-based Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Peshmerga and its allied militias attacking Yazidis with Dingo infantry mobility vehicles (IMV), G36 assault rifles and other German weapons. The Peshmerga is seeking to round off the KRG territory and annex the region surrounding Shingal ("Sinjar" in Arabic) before the planned secession from Iraq of the regions under Erbil's control. Shingal had been the focus of international attention in the summer of 2014, when the IS/Daesh killed thousands of Yazidis and abducted, enslaved and raped thousands of Yezidis. Yazidis, who have always been harassed and discriminated against by the KRG are now fearing expulsion. For years, Erbil - which Berlin is supporting politically, as well as with training and arms for its Peshmerga - has been systematically expelling Arab speaking inhabitants from the territories under its control. Already in 2015, US observers were accusing the KRG of "ethnic cleansing." more…

BAGHDAD/ERBIL/BERLIN | | irak

BAGHDAD/ERBIL/BERLIN (Own report) - The regional government in Kurdish-speaking northern Iraq, which enjoys Berlin's support, is calling for breaking up the country and establishing its own state. A referendum on secession is a "natural, God-given right of the people in Kurdistan," declared Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). The issue is national independence, KRG Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa underlined. Consultations on these topics were allegedly held on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. Barzani explicitly does not include Syrian and Turkish Kurdish-speaking regions in his plans to establish a state. Experts have long been warning against the possibility of Iraq's disintegration or being plunged into a new civil war, once IS/Daesh is defeated. The KRG can rely on Germany's legwork, in its demand for national independence. Berlin has been particularly keen to support the Kurdish-speaking regions in Iraq and has even trained and armed the KRG's military forces, the "Peshmerga," since September 2014 - within the framework of the war against IS/Daesh. Berlin has consistently ignored human rights organizations and US experts' allegations that, in the wake of this war, the Peshmerga is carrying out "ethnic cleansing," to expel unwelcome Arabs from its "Kurdistan" of tomorrow. more…