A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘iraq

[LINK] “The crisis in Iraq: Was the rise of ISIL a surprise?”

At Al Jazeera, Miroslav Zafirov makes the reasonable point that ISIS exists substantially because of support lent to Sunni Islamic radicals under Saddam Hussein’s regime. (Substantially, not entirely, not mostly.)

In 1986, at a meeting with representatives of the pan-Arab national command – the supreme ideological body of the Baath Party – Saddam Hussein offered a ceasefire, or even an alliance, between the party and the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt and Sudan. In practice, for the first time in its history the militant and secular Baath party declared its readiness to cooperate with representatives of the so-called political Islam.

In the same year, the Iraqi president also defined the difference between the “democratic, national, pan-Arab state” and the “religious state” proclaimed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Following in the footsteps of the founding father of Arab nationalism and of the pan-Arab Baath party Michel Aflaq, Saddam clearly declared that he was not an atheist, but warned against any attempt to establish a religious party with an either Sunni or Shia bias. Saddam’s warning at the time was probably addressed at the Islamic Dawa party, which had a dominant role among the Shia community and was regarded as the main competitor of the Baath party.

[. . .]

It was only after 1990s that Saddam decided to focus on relations with Islamic movements and publications dedicated to the topic began to appear in the media. The conditions could not have been more favourable because the war with Iran had ended and the propaganda machine was busy painting a picture of Saddam as the indisputable victor, despite the enormous war-related losses.

In 1991, Iraq launched a new campaign, which Saddam described as “the mother of all battles” against the United States and its allies. The president was yet again depicted as a hero in the confrontation between Muslims and western forces; the inscription “God is Great” was added to the Iraqi flag, and the president promised that he would free Jerusalem. An attempt was made to play down the failure of the campaign in Kuwait and the sanctions imposed by stepping up an openly pro-Islamic propaganda.

[. . .]

The goal was to gain control over religious sentiment among the Iraqi population, which was barely coping with the consequences of the two wars and the stringent sanctions. Last but not least, an attempt was made to reinvent and soften the image of the Baghdad regime as one that is pro-Islamic and, therefore, in conflict with the “forces of Islam’s enemies”.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 29, 2014 at 7:49 pm

[CAT] “For Leopards in Iran and Iraq, Land Mines Are a Surprising Refuge”

National Geographic‘s Peter Schwartzstein reports about the dwindling isolation of the Iran-Iraq frontier, often reinforced by landmines, that helped the Persian leopard survive in this border area.

Laced with land mines and roamed by packs of dedicated poachers, it’s an environment seemingly calculated to imperil even the most fleet-footed animal. Yet this is the place the world’s largest leopard calls home.

Once spread across the Caucasus region, Persian leopards now are relegated to this former war zone, along with a few isolated pockets of rural Iran. Here, hundreds of thousands of Iranian and Iraqi soldiers bludgeoned one another to death in some of the late 20th century’s most brutal battles. Even today, border guards patrol the once fiercely contested high ground.
Map of Persian leopard range.

But through it all the leopard has endured, and oddly enough, the region’s violent past has contributed to its survival. As part of the decade-long conflict, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and his Iranian counterparts planted an estimated 20 million to 30 million land mines in the 1980s. Two decades after the last of the big minefields were laid, the explosives continue to maim and kill local residents.

But the mines also have become accidental protection for the leopards, discouraging poachers from entering certain areas.

And now interest in clearing the land mines throws into sharp relief the conflict between human and wildlife interests. Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region is developing swiftly, and along with that comes hot pursuit of oil and gas deposits—many of which lie in leopard-heavy highlands—to fuel its likely bid for independence.

Conservation efforts have struggled to gain traction in large swaths of the Middle East. As in many developing regions, the welfare of the environment is a distant consideration amid economic peril and political flux. But the emergence of the Islamic State jihadist group, which now controls swathes of Syria and Iraq and which was recently camped on Iran’s doorstep, has pushed the plight of the Persian leopard even further from local decision-makers’ thoughts.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 21, 2014 at 4:41 am

Posted in Popular Culture, Science

Tagged with , , , ,

[LINK] “Iraqi Kurds Seek Greater Balance between Ankara and Baghdad”

Writing for the Inter Press Service, Mohammed A. Salih looks at the awkward three-way relationship between Turkey, an increasingly independent Iraqi Kurdistan, and the Iraqi central government in Baghdad.

After a period of frostiness, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Turkey seem intent on mending ties, as each of the parties show signs of needing the other.

But the Kurds appear more cautious this time around, apparently leery of moving too close to Ankara lest they alienate the new Iraqi government in Baghdad with which they signed a breakthrough oil deal Tuesday.

It’s clear that despite the recent slide in relations, both sides need each other. As a land-locked territory, Kurds will be looking for an alternative that they can use to counter pressure from the central Iraqi government.

The agreement, which will give Baghdad greater control over oil produced in Kurdistan and Kurdish-occupied Kirkuk in exchange for the KRG’s receipt of a bigger share of the central government’s budget, may signal an effort to reduce Erbil’s heavy reliance on Turkey.

[. . .]

Whereas Turkey is a major player in the Middle East and Eurasia regions, Iraqi Kurdistan is not even an independent state. The imbalance of power between the two parties made their development of a “strategic” relationship particularly remarkable.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 9, 2014 at 11:31 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO lists ten quirky facts about the Annex.
  • Centauri Dreams notes that exoplanet 55 Cancri e has been detected from the ground.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that the proportion of metals in an emergent solar system can have significant consequences for gas giant formation.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports Nigerian interest in buying the new Sino-Pakistani JF-17 fighter.
  • Far Outliers looks at how Yunnan became Chinese and Muslim all at once.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that tests of sexual orientation can’t be applied to GLBT refugee claimants and celebrates the continuing decline of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York City.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the interestingly and differently gendered impact of technological unemployment for men and women.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer does not think the new Kurdish oil deal will be viable.
  • Savage Minds looks at African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston, and how her works reflect a knowledge of the people.
  • Spacing reviews the intriguing-sounding book Derrida for Architects.
  • Torontoist notes John Tory’s swearing-in as mayor.
  • Understanding Society looks at the sociology of urban black America.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World notes the reasons for rivalry and non-alliance between Russia’s Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan.
  • Peter Watts is disappointed with the movie Interstellar.
  • Window on Eurasia observes Kazakhstani concern with Russian television, looks at a Siberian town that has received Ukrainian war casualties, and suggests NATO has deterred Russia in the Baltic States.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO shares pictures of the stark modernism intended for Toronto’s subway stations.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly notes problems with the American mass media’s coverage of inequality.
  • Centauri Dreams shares Andrew Lepage’s essay on how, judging by radius and theoretical models, many of the supposedly Earth-like planets discovered are likely much more massive.
  • Cody Delistraty links to his essay at The Atlantic talking about why people tell stories.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining nearby red dwarf/brown dwarf binary WISE J072003.20-084651.2.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Scottish separatism is still going strong.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh notes the steady deterioration of the Japanese economy.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Apple is worth more than the entire Russian stock market.
  • Language Hat examines the etymology of “fair dinkum”.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the terrible Japanese treatment, in history and in life, of comfort women.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the sustained territorial expansion of Russia.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer argues that Iraqi Kurdistan is likely to declare independence quite soon.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog shares a table showing population growth in select major world countries since 1820.
  • Spacing Toronto makes the case for humanizing the Toronto skyline by giving its towers nicknames.
  • Towleroad notes that Nicolas Sarkozy would like to repeal France’s same-sex marriage law, and looks at gay American director Lee Daniels.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russia’s fragile system of government, considers the fall of the Berlin Wall from a Russian perspective as a new partition of Europe, looks at reaction to a call to shift Ukrainian to a Latin alphabet, suggests Russian subsidies to Belarus may soon come to an end, and looks at radicalism among Tajik labour migrants in Russia.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell disbelieves rumours of an alleged Labour revolt.

[PHOTO] Scenes from the Kurdish protest of ISIS at College Park on Yonge Street, Toronto

I was not expecting to see Saturday afternoon, as I walked north up Yonge Street towards College Park, a crowd of chanting protesters marching south towards me. After I got my camera out, I could see–and hear!–that the hundreds of people walking down the street were supporters of Kurdish nationalism, protesting ISIS and calling for aid to save Kobani. Presumably it was not much different from the protest here in Toronto that occurred last month. The Kurdish flag was being enthusiastically waved, as were hard-drawn placards with maps of independent Greater Kurdistan and denunciations of Turkey, as was–visible in the final photo in this series–at least one image of Abdullah Ocalan.

Scenes from the Kurdish protest of ISIS at Yonge and College (1)

Scenes from the Kurdish protest of ISIS at Yonge and College (2)

Scenes from the Kurdish protest of ISIS at Yonge and College (3)

Scenes from the Kurdish protest of ISIS at Yonge and College (4)

Scenes from the Kurdish protest of ISIS at Yonge and College (5)

Scenes from the Kurdish protest of ISIS at Yonge and College (6)

Written by Randy McDonald

November 1, 2014 at 11:25 pm

[NEWS] Some Monday links

  • Al Jazeera notes the Iraqi desire for foreign intervention, the problems with sex-offender registries, and the plight of former nuclear workers at Hanford in the United States.
  • Bloomberg observes Russian resistance to Western pressure and Ukrainian alliance-seeking, notes that Senegal was declared Ebola-free, looks at the terrible job market in Spain, observes competition in East Asia for wealthy Chinese immigrants, suggests that China’s one-child policy will be relaxed, and examines Turkey’s quiet border with the Islamic State.
  • Bloomberg View compares Russia and Germany in not prioritizing economic growth, looks at how Brookyln is the only borough of New York City to see its housing market recover, notes Turkey’s issues in the Arab world, and examines with problems of Petrobras with expensive deep-sea oil at a time of falling oli prices.
  • The Inter Press Service notes the critical role of mangroves in mitigating disasters and protecting fisheries, looks at ethnic conflict in China, finds hope for civil society in Cuba, suggests that HIV/AIDS can be controlled worldwide, and fears for Iraq’s minorities.
  • National Geographic notes North America’s threatened monarch butterfly migrations and examines Ebola as a zoonosis.
  • Open Democracy notes issues of British Jews with Israeli policy and looks at Russian economic policy.
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