A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘iraq

[LINK] Two notes on migration into Detroit

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An interesting discussion on Facebook was started when someone shared a New York Times op-ed, “Let Syrians Settle Detroit” by David D. Laitin and Marc Jahrmay. The idea is provocative, but–I think–sound.

Detroit, a once great city, has become an urban vacuum. Its population has fallen to around 700,000 from nearly 1.9 million in 1950. The city is estimated to have more than 70,000 abandoned buildings and 90,000 vacant lots. Meanwhile, desperate Syrians, victims of an unfathomable civil war, are fleeing to neighboring countries, with some 1.8 million in Turkey and 600,000 in Jordan.

[. . .]

Syrian refugees would be an ideal community to realize this goal [of repopulation], as Arab-Americans are already a vibrant and successful presence in the Detroit metropolitan area. A 2003 survey by the University of Michigan of 1,016 members of this community (58 percent of whom were Christian, and 42 percent Muslim) found that 19 percent were entrepreneurs and that the median household income was $50,000 to $75,000 per year.

What confidence can we have that traumatized war refugees can be transformed into budding American entrepreneurs? We cannot know for sure. But recent evidence of recaptured children from the clutches of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and victims of violent crime across five continents reveals that they become more active citizens than similar compatriots who have not suffered from these traumatic events. In the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, Syrians, despite psychological scars and limited resources, have set up 3,500 shops, stores and other businesses.

Refugees resettled from a single war zone have helped revitalize several American communities, notably Hmong in previously neglected neighborhoods in Minneapolis, Bosnians in Utica, N.Y., and Somalis in Lewiston, Me.

Resettling Syrians in Detroit would require commitment and cooperation across different branches and levels of our government, but it is eminently feasible. President Obama and Congress would have to agree to lift this year’s refugee ceiling by 50,000. The State Department, which handles overseas processing of refugees, would need to open offices at the camps in Jordan and Turkey, determine eligibility and administer a lottery for resettlement. Homeland Security, which controls the borders, would have to carry out accelerated security checks, as has been done in the past for Vietnamese and for Iranian religious minorities. Health and Human Services would need an expansion in the $1.5 billion it budgets for refugee resettlement.

Someone in the comments linked to a Detroit Free Press article noting that rents are starting to rise substantially in that city.

Rental rates in downtown Detroit-area buildings have risen so high, some young professionals who breathed new life into the city core just a few years ago are now being priced out of the market and forced to move — a type of middle-class gentrification that has some developers eager to build new residential projects.

Development experts say demand far exceeds existing rental units in choice areas, such as Midtown, Corktown and the Detroit riverfront, where influxes of mostly young, well-paid professionals drove rental rates to new heights in new, existing and soon-to-open apartment buildings.

In many cases, landlords are asking $200 to $400 more a month for apartment leases than they were just a year or two ago because of the high demand and almost nonexistent new supply.

The phenomenon cannot be captured by the traditional definition of “gentrification,” when low-income households are displaced by the yuppie class. Rather, renters already in the middle class and enjoying professional careers now are being displaced by those even farther up the income scale who can afford the higher rents.

“Our office routinely turns down probably two people a day, letting them know we just can’t help them find something to rent,” said Ryan Cooley, owner of O’Connor Real Estate and Development in Corktown. “There’s just a lot of 20-year-olds wanting to live in the city.”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 15, 2015 at 11:37 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO examines the nature of Toronto’s abundant consumption of electricity.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study of the atmosphere of Wasp 80b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Russian rocket manufacturer Energomash may go out of business as a result not of sanctions but of threatened sanctions.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money does not approve of Kenya’s plan to deport Somali refugees.
  • Mark MacKinnon shares an old 2003 article of his from Iraq.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the new Vulcan rocket.
  • pollotenchegg maps, by province, the proportion of Ukrainians claiming Russian as their mother language.
  • Registan argues that NATO and Russia might be misinterpreting
  • Spacing Toronto shares a screed on cyclists.
  • Towleroad notes that Chile now has same-sex civil unions.
  • Transit Toronto notes that the TTC has hired an external corporation to manage the problematic Spadina subway extension.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues that libertarians do exist as a distinguishable political demographic.
  • Window on Eurasia examines turmoil in Karelia and terrorism in Dagestan.

[LINK] On the impending war of Canada in Syria

CBC reported that Canada will be extending its participation in the multinational campaign against ISIS.

Canadian fighter jets will soon be launching airstrikes in Syria now that the House of Commons has approved the federal government’s plan to expand and extend its military mission in Iraq.​

Federal MPs voted 142-129 in favour of a motion extending the mission for up to a full year and authorizing bombing runs in Syria against targets belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

A senior government source told CBC News that Canada could begin airstrikes on Syrian targets within a day or two.

The original mission deployed six CF-18 fighter jets, one CC-150 Polaris air-to-air refuelling aircraft, two CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft. Some 600 aircrew and other personnel are currently deployed.

Up to 69 special forces advisers will also remain in the region to advise and assist Kurdish peshmerga forces in their efforts to beat back the advance of ISIS militants.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 2, 2015 at 1:00 am

Posted in Canada, Politics

Tagged with , , , , , ,

[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.
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