Tag Archives: ISIL

ISIL’s ‘genocide’ against Yazidis is ongoing, UN rights panel says, calling for international action

By UN News Service. Published 8-3-2017

Kurdish women and their supporters held a vigil outside UK parliament today to mark the 3rd anniversary of ISIS genocidal attack on the Ezidis of Sinjar. Photo: Mark Campbell/Facebook

Marking three years since the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) attacked the Yazidis in Syria, a United Nations-mandated inquiry has called for justice and rescue plans.

“The Commission of Inquiry calls on the international community to recognize the crime of genocide being committed by ISIL against the Yazidis and to undertake steps to refer the situation to justice,” said the expert panel in a statement marking the third anniversary of ISIL’s attack on the Yazidis. Continue reading

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Failed US Policy in the Middle East

By Ellen Rosser. Published 2-29-2016 by Common Dreams

(Photo: Mark Holloway/flickr/cc.)

(Photo: Mark Holloway/flickr/cc.)

The United States has been involved in the Middle East for almost one hundred years because of the vast oil reserves there, and the US has been militarily involved since 1967, when the US began supplying Israel with weapons with which to defend itself. However, the US has only been involved in the “quagmire” of Middle East wars since 2001. Continue reading

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2015 a Deadly Year as Journalism ‘Put Daily to the Sword’

At least 109 journalists and media workers were slain by ‘targeted killings, bomb attacks, and cross-fire incidents,’ new report finds

Written by Sarah Lazare, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-1-2016.
Journalists and media workers continue to confront relentless pressure as they do their jobs, according to a survey of the verified incidents reported to Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project. Image via X-Index.

Journalists and media workers continue to confront relentless pressure as they do their jobs, according to a survey of the verified incidents reported to Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project. Image via X-Index.

From targeted bombings to fatal crossfire, the year 2015 was violent and deadly for journalists around the world, particularly those based in the Americas and Middle East, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said Friday.

According to a survey by the organization, at least 109 journalists and media workers were slain by “targeted killings, bomb attacks, and cross-fire incidents.”

While the Charlie Hebdo media workers killed in 2015 perhaps had the highest profile, the plurality of those struck down were lesser-known nationals of the Americas (27) followed by the Middle East (25), Asia-Pacific (21), and Africa (19).

Joel Aquiles Torres, owner of the Honduran TV station Canal 67, was one of those killed. He was “shot dead while driving his car in Taulabe in the department of Comayagua on 3 of July,” according to UNESCO.

Ali al-Ansari, an Iraqi journalist for Al-Ghadeer, was killed “while covering fighting between the Iraqi security forces and militants of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in the Muqdadiyah area north of Baghdad,” IFJ reports.

“Sadly, there were scores of unreported killings, and unless the journalist is a well-known by-lined correspondent the world barely notices,” said IFJ president Jim Boumelha in a statement accompanying the report.

“Journalism is put daily to the sword in many regions of the world,” Boumelha continued, “where extremists, drug lords and reckless warring factions continue murdering journalists with impunity.”

The IFJ’s findings follow a separate round-up released earlier this week by Reporters Without Borders, known by their French acronym RSF.

According to RSF, which uses different criteria to establish their conclusions, at least 110 journalists around the world were killed in 2015 “in connection with their work or for unclear reasons.” The organization said it can definitively conclude that 67 of those people were “targeted because of their work or were killed while reporting.”

Most journalists directly targeted, or killed for unclear reasons, hailed from Iraq, Syria, France, Yemen, and South Sudan respectively, RSF revealed.

The organization noted that the majority of journalists knowingly killed in 2015—64 percent—were struck down outside of what is recognized as an official war zone. What’s more, last year’s grim tally brought the number of journalists killed since 2005 to 787.

While IFJ and RSF both reached slightly varying conclusions, both organizations agree that journalists across the globe are inadequately protected.

According to Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary, the organization’s reports over the last quarter century “have clearly shown that journalists and media staff have become easy targets because there is very little respect for national and international laws that are supposed to protect them.”

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Christmas Plea to World From Father of Drowned Syrian Child: Open Your Doors

‘Hopefully next year the war will end in Syria and peace will reign all over the world.’

Written by Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-24-15.
Abdullah Kurdi, a Syrian refugee whose son drowned off Turkey this year, recorded a holiday message for Britain's Channel 4. (Image: Channel 4)

Abdullah Kurdi, a Syrian refugee whose son drowned off Turkey this year, recorded a holiday message for Britain’s Channel 4. (Image: Channel 4)

The father of the three-year-old Syrian boy whose lifeless body washed up on a beach in Turkey—the powerful photo of which captured the human tragedy of the refugee crisis—will deliver a Christmas message in which he urges the world to have sympathy for those fleeing the ravages of war.

Abdullah Kurdi, who, in addition to losing three-year-old Alan, also lost his wife, Rehanna and five-year-old son Ghalib when the boat bound for Greece they were on capsized, will deliver the remarks in this year’s alternative Christmas message on the UK’s Channel 4. An excerpt of the message and transcript have already been released. Continue reading

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New Poll Reveals Americans’ Double Standard About Religious Violence

By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee. Published 12-10-2015 at ThinkProgress

Muslim girls at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta posing in front of the camera. Photo by Henrik Hansson - Globaljuggler (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Muslim girls at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta posing in front of the camera. Photo by Henrik Hansson – Globaljuggler (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Many Americans have a double standard when it comes to judging whether self-identified Christians and Muslims are committing violence in the name of their religion, according to new data released just a week after two Muslims were accused of shooting and killing 14 people in San Bernardino, California.

A Public Religion Research Institute poll released Thursday finds that 75 percent of Americans believe that self-identified Christians “who commit acts of violence in the name of Christianity are not really Christian.” Only about 19 percent of respondents said they believe these types of perpetrators are authentic Christians. Continue reading

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‘Huge Error’: Former US Military Chief Admits Iraq Invasion Spawned ISIS

The U.S. is poised to repeat all the same mistakes in Syria that it made in Iraq after 9/11, says former head of Defense Intelligence Agency

Written by Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-30-2015.

Daesh. Photo via TRT.

Daesh. Photo via TRT.

The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq fueled the creation of the Islamic State (ISIS) today and must serve as a warning against similar rash military intervention in Syria, a former U.S. intelligence chief said in an interview with German media on Sunday.

“When 9/11 occurred, all the emotions took over, and our response was, ‘Where did those bastards come from? Let’s go kill them. Let’s go get them.’ Instead of asking why they attacked us, we asked where they came from,” former U.S. special forces chief Mike Flynn, who also served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), told Der Spiegel. “Then we strategically marched in the wrong direction.”

In recent weeks, ISIS has claimed responsibility for attacks in Lebanon and Paris and the bombing of a Russian airplane over the Sinai peninsula, which together killed hundreds of people. Following the attacks, French President François Hollande vowed a “merciless” response against the group in Syria and Iraq—a statement that prompted comparisons between Hollande and former U.S. President George W. Bush in the wake of 9/11.

Echoing long-held arguments made by other experts, Flynn said Sunday that increased airstrikes and other offensives could be seen as an attempt to “invade or even own Syria,” and that the fight against militant groups like ISIS will only succeed or make progress through collaborative efforts with both Western and Arab nations. “Our message must be that we want to help and that we will leave once the problems have been solved. The Arab nations must be on our side.”

Otherwise, the U.S. is poised to repeat all its past mistakes, he said.

Der Spiegel‘s Matthias Gebauer and Holger Stark noted that in February 2004, the U.S. military “already had [ISIS leader] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in your hands—he was imprisoned in a military camp, but got cleared later as harmless by a U.S. military commission. How could that fatal mistake happen?”

Flynn replied:

We were too dumb. We didn’t understand who we had there at that moment.

[….] First we went to Afghanistan, where al-Qaida was based. Then we went into Iraq. Instead of asking ourselves why the phenomenon of terror occurred, we were looking for locations. This is a major lesson we must learn in order not to make the same mistakes again.

Asked whether he regretted the Iraq War, Flynn responded simply, “Yes, absolutely.”

“It was a huge error,” Flynn said. “As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him. The same is true for Moammar Gadhafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state. The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind with that decision.”

Flynn’s interview with Der Spiegel echoes comments he made to Al Jazeera‘s Mehdi Hasan in August that the U.S. “totally blew it” in preventing the caliphate’s rise “in the very beginning.”

In fact, Flynn said, the U.S. deliberately backed extremist groups within the Syrian rebel movement as far back as 2012, when he was still DIA head. The Obama administration was aware at the time of a recently-declassified DIA memo that predicted the rise of a militant group in eastern Syria. Supporting the insurgency was a “willful decision,” he said.

Watch below:

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Predictable and Deplorable: US Lawmakers Vow to Slam Door on Refugees

As more than a dozen governors pledge to close state borders, advocates decry actions as cowardly and ‘un-American’

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-16-2015

Aylan Kurdi, whose image of his tiny 3-year-old body shocked the world when it washed up on the shores of the Aegean Sea in late August. He was a Syrian Refugee. Image via Facebook.

Aylan Kurdi, whose image of his tiny 3-year-old body shocked the world when it washed up on the shores of the Aegean Sea in late August. He was a Syrian Refugee. Image via Facebook.

UPDATE: As of this time, there are 25 states whose governors say they will refuse refugees.

In what appears to be a textbook case of xenophobia and political fearmongering in the wake of a tragedy, more than a dozen U.S. governors have declared their states off-limits to Syrian refugees in the days following Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.

The leaders of Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Maine, Mississippi, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Texas, and Arkansas on Monday all pledged to stop or oppose any additional Syrian refugees from resettling in their states, following announcements made by the governors of Alabama and Michigan on Sunday. Continue reading

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The demon of Death, a letter from Paris

The real goal of the attacks in France, as well as those in the Shia southern suburb of Beirut a few hours before this, is through fear, to spread division.

By Bernard Dreano. Published 11-14-2015 at openDemocracy

It was like spring in autumn. The weather had been turning warm, day after day, in this early November 2015 in Paris. One month later the town will host the UN Climate Conference COP21… Such unseasonable weather, the hottest November ever, must for sure have something to do with climate change.

It was an evening of football, with France vs. Germany at the Stade de France, in Saint Denis, north of Paris. Meanwhile the café’s terraces on the 11th arrondissement, the “swinging quarter” of the City, were packed with people enjoying the equable temperature. Nearby, 1500 people were gathering at the Bataclan, a well-known and popular music-hall, to attend the hard rock concert of the group Eagles of Death Metal. Continue reading

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Observing World Kobane Day while the Kurdish struggle continues

save-kobaneToday, November 1, 2015 is World Kobane Day. Most everyone remembers the battle for the Kurdish town last fall. Most everyone remembers the victory the Kurds gained after months of war against ISIS (Daesh) terrorists attempted to overtake the town. One year later, we pause to not only pay tribute to those who sacrificed everything in the struggle; we also are cautious that much is being overlooked or suppressed in the media regarding Turkey’s ongoing Kurdish question.

Kobane grabbed the world’s attention after being attacked in mid-October of 2014. Early on, Turkey predicted the city would fall to Daesh “within days.” Despite Turkey’s porous border regarding extremists wanting to join the Islamic State, they refused to allow Kurds across the border to help defend the Syrian town directly across from them.

After months of fighting and with the assistance of coalition forces airstrikes, the Kurds won back Kobane. The news crews left, and what remained of the city was mostly a pile of rubble where once stately buildings and beautiful homes had stood. Resourceful people, the Kurds set about rebuilding their town. It will take years and untold amounts of work and money, but these people will succeed.

But that is not the end of the story. Kobane is just one small glimpse regarding the Kurdish struggle in what was once glorious Kurdistan. Seen as a threat to Turkey’s sense of “one nation, one people,” since 1923 the government has engaged in an intentional direct assault against an entire ethnic group within its own borders.

Since Turkey’s elections on June 7, the pro-Kurdish party came in third, evidently thwarting the plans of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in reaching the supermajority of 367 seats to be able to change the Constitution, granting him unlimited power and a position for life. In an apparent attempt to rectify this supposed miscarriage of the democratic process, Erdogan called for another snap election for November 1, seemingly to try once again to get his permanent dictatorship.

As the elections in Turkey approached, violence against the Kurds has only escalated. An actor, Haci Lokman Birlik, was murdered by Turkish security forces. Turkish officials released a jarring video showing Birlik’s body being dragged through the streets behind a police vehicle. The pro-government newspaper “claimed that dragging dead bodies in the streets was ‘routine practice’ around the world, a security measure to check if the body was booby-trapped.”

Cemeteries are being blown up across Kurdistan, destroying the history of families, communities and lives around them.

When the bodies of 13 Kurdish fighters killed in Syria in a battle against Daesh were brought to Turkey’s border gate in the Kurdish province of Sirnak for burial, the Turkish authorities refused to give the dead bodies to their families. Protests were held and for 10 days families had to agonizingly wait while the bodies were held in a refrigerator truck at the border.

Those journalists who dare to attempt to cover these stories end up with their own extrajudicial killings, offices raided or bombed, families tortured, and long stays in Turkish prisons.

On August 9, Abdullah Demirbas, the former mayor of the Sur municipality in Diyarbakir, was arrested by Turkish authorities … [and] a list of charges were filed against him.” The report goes on to list Demirbas’ “crimes” as doing his job as mayor. “Most unforgivable in the eyes of the Turkish authorities, however, was: “For printing a children’s book and tourist brochures in Kurdish,” according to the same profile, “Demirbas was accused of misusing municipal resources. For giving a blessing in Kurdish while officiating at a wedding ceremony, he was accused of misusing his position … and for proposing that his district should employ Kurdish-speaking phone operators and print public-health pamphlets in Kurdish, he was accused … of aiding a terrorist organisation.”

On October 10, two bombs exploded at a peace rally in Ankara. 102 people were killed and over 400 were injured. The Turkish government is placing blame on the Kurdish community for these bombings. In actuality, security at the rally was so heightened that the only perpetrators of such an act would have been the security officials themselves or parties related to them.

And most recently, just as President Barack Obama announced sending troops to assist the Kurds in Syria, “Turkey’s military fired on U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in northern Syria in a bid to keep them from advancing toward the border, the Turkish prime minister said Tuesday. The comments by Ahmet Davutoglu were the first time that Turkey has confirmed the use of force against ethnic Kurdish militias in neighboring Syria.” How long before a Turkish soldier kills an American while shooting at a Kurd? What happens when a NATO country starts killing the troops of another NATO country? And how will Russia, also a player in the Syrian theater of war, react?

From a recent article, “What Turkey is engaging in appears an attempt at historicide, just as al-Qaeda and ISIS have done in Bamiyan and Palmyra and throughout Iraq — and as the Palestinian Authority did last week with the help of a duplicitous UNESCO by labeling the Jewish holy sites of Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs as Muslim sites. They have been trying permanently to delete the memories of entire nations.”

Will the Turkish election on the same day as World Kobane Day matter? For the Kurds, most likely not. Regardless of the outcome, the Turkish officials will exact on the Kurdish people within their own population what has always been given them: no rights, no peace, no language, no protection, no freedom and no future. They will seek revenge for the Kurds having attempted to gain rights to exist in their original homelands through the democratic process.

As Turkey continues to slide away from any resemblance of a peace process and returns more toward the mistreatment reminiscent to that of the years leading to the coup, more towns in southeast Turkey will suffer the fate of Kobane. But this time it won’t be Daesh doing the damage; it will be the Turkish government continuing its attempt to rid itself of anyone that is not a Turk.

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Russia in Syria, and a flawed strategy

Moscow’s entry into Syria’s war is a challenge to the United States. But it also conjoins the two powers in military-political blunderland.

By Paul Rogers. Published 10-1-2015 at openDemocracy.

Cartoon via mentalunrest

Cartoon via mentalunrest

The rapid expansion of Russia’s military presence in Syria, and the start of its bombing campaign on 30 September 2015, add hugely to the complications of the war against Islamic State (ISIS). Moscow states that its motives are to defend Bashar al-Assad’s state and, by attacking ISIS at source, to prevent the movement from recruiting more supporters in Russia itself, especially the Caucasus region. In reality, matters are much more nuanced.

Vladimir Putin is intent on restoring Russian status in the Middle East, which has much diminished over the last two decades. A great concern here is the potential threat of a United States-Iran rapprochement to Moscow’s own relations with Iran, a long-term ally. In this light, increased involvement in Syria – possibly including direct air-support for Assad’s beleaguered ground-forces – is a means to a political end, which Russia’s president can cleverly portray as support for the west in its air-war against ISIS. Continue reading

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