MESOPOTAMIA NEWS HIGHLIGHT – Explosion strikes Iranian weapons depot in Syria – report

No information about the extent of the damage or any casualties has been reported.

By TZVI JOFFRE    DECEMBER 5, 2019 03:35 JERUSALEM POST – Large explosions were reported at an Iranian base in Al-Bukamal in eastern Syria after unidentified aircraft targeted a weapons depot at the site, according to the Step news agency.

A correspondent for Step reported that Iranian militias fired anti-aircraft fire at a reconnaissance aircraft that was spotted shortly before the attack. Shortly afterwards, unidentified aircraft attacked the weapons depot and large explosions were heard and fire could be seen from a distance. No information about the extent of the damage or any casualties has been reported.


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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS FULL REPORT & ENQUIRY ! : THE BARZANY FAMILY  Kurdish Tribes Stealing Assyrian (Christian) Lands in Iraq

By Taiyo Davis – Foreign Policy  2019-12-04 21:46 GMT

According to David William Lazar’s American Mesopotamian Organization (AMO), Kurdish tribes close to the ruling Barzani family of the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) have stolen Assyrian Christian lands in Northern Iraq. Director of the Assyrian Democratic Movement Rabee Fareed, Assyrian Aid Society president Ashur Sargon Eskrya, and Assyrian Christian MP Yacoub Yaco state that currently 58 Assyrian villages have been occupied.

The following is an on the ground investigation of the allegations of Kurdish occupation in the Assyrian Christian villages of Kashkawa, Zhouli, and Chamma Rabatka of the Nahla district; the Babelo district; Garbeeesh village in Akre District; and the Barwari district. All districts are part of Duhok, Northern Iraq. Past reports have not named who is responsible for the land theft. This report does for the first time. This includes heads of the KRG government and Western oil companies.

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Feldmann-Affäre : Frankfurter Awo zieht Neuwahlen vor

FAZ -Aktualisiert am 05.12.2019-  Der Kreisverband der Frankfurter Awo zieht Neuwahlen vor und will Gehälter prüfen. Die Revisoren der Wohlfahrt treten zurück.

Die Frankfurter Arbeiterwohlfahrt (Awo) hat Konsequenzen aus den gegen sie erhobenen Vorwürfen angekündigt. So will der Kreisverband schon im Januar ein neues Präsidium wählen. Turnusgemäß hätte die Wahl erst im Frühsommer 2021 stattgefunden. Außerdem teilte der Vorsitzende des Präsidiums, Ansgar Dittmar, mit, der Kreisverband werde das Gehaltsgefüge und die tariflichen Eingruppierungen von Mitarbeitern „kritisch prüfen“.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS ANALYSIS : The U.S.-Kurdish Relationship in Iraq After Syria by Sardar Aziz

Sardar Aziz is a senior adviser in the Kurdish parliament as well as a researcher and writer. His areas of interest include civil-military relations, Middle East regional politics, and governing. He has a Ph.D. in Government from the University College Cork.

Also available in العربية December 3, 2019 FIKRA FORUM

On November 23, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Iraq for an unannounced trip that included a visit to meet with the President of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani. In the published White House remarks of the meeting, one sentence asserted a sense of confidence in the Kurdish-American relationship. After thanking the Kurdish president, Vice President Mike Pence highlighted “the enduring bond that exists between the Kurdish people and the people of the United States of America.”

However, it remains to be seen whether these statements can heal the psychological aspect of the relationship between Iraqi Kurds and the U.S. government, recently significantly damaged by the latest U.S. announcement—since amended—of a withdrawal from Syria.

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New Lebanon Poll: Despite Protests, Most Shiites Still Back Hezbollah, while Sunnis and Christians Turn More Negative David Pollock

Also available in العربية

December 4, 2019

A reliable new Lebanese public opinion poll, conducted in November, shows that a large majority of the country’s Shiites retain positive views of both Hezbollah and its Iranian patrons—even as major anti-government protests include many Shiite participants for the first time. This surprising finding casts doubt on speculation that Hezbollah might suddenly be in danger of losing its core constituency. However, it is important to note that some Shiite respondents are likely reluctant to voice more nuanced answers to such blunt, direct questions from a total stranger about these very sensitive and even potentially dangerous subjects.

Among Lebanon’s Shiite population today, 75 percent say they hold a “very positive” attitude toward Hezbollah—down only slightly from 83 percent in late 2017, and 77 percent in late 2018. An additional 15 percent now give Hezbollah “somewhat positive” ratings. This 90 percent overall positive rating among Shiites has barely changed over the past two years.

Moreover, 70 percent of Lebanese Shiites still think it “very important” to maintain good relations with Iran, down only marginally compared to 2017 or 2018. An additional 22 percent now say those relations are “somewhat important.” And 73 percent voice a “very positive” opinion of Iran’s Shiite Ayatollah Khamenei, plus 17 percent more with a “somewhat positive” opinion of him.

In sharp contrast, Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims have solidly negative views of all three of these Shiite figures. Fifty-one percent voice a “very negative” attitude toward Hezbollah—a ten-point increase over the past year—plus 38 percent more with a “somewhat negative” view. Only one-fifth of Lebanese Sunnis say good relations with Iran are even “somewhat important.” And only the same small minority express even a “somewhat positive” view of Ayatollah Khamenei.


Lebanese Christians, the third major group in the country, are in the middle, as usual lately. But their views of Hezbollah have taken a dramatic turn for the worse in the past year. Just 33 percent now have at least a “somewhat positive view” of that organization, compared with a remarkable 82 percent in late 2018. Similarly, just 33 percent say good relations with Iran are important. And a mere 17 percent voice a favorable opinion of Ayatollah Khamenei.

Turkish President Erdogan is also a polarizing figure among Lebanese sects, although in the opposite direction. Nearly two-thirds of Sunnis express a favorable view of him; but among Shiites, that number plummets to just 4 percent. Lebanese Christians, again, are somewhere in the middle but close to their Sunni compatriots: 47 percent voice a positive opinion toward Erdogan.

On the internal issues behind the current mass protests, however, Lebanon’s three major communities are practically united. Ninety percent or more in every group say their government is doing too little about each one of the following problems: reducing the level of corruption in our economic and political life; dealing with our growing economic problems and people’s daily hardships; and sharing the burden of taxes and other obligations to the government in a fair manner

Aspiring to better relations with Christians is another area of consensual sects: 85 percent of both Sunnis and Shiites, and 100 percent of Lebanese Christians, agree that “we should show more respect to the world’s Christians, and improve our relations with them.” In stark contrast, however, a mere 22 percent of Lebanon’s Sunnis, 18 percent of Christians, and just 2 percent of Shiites say the same about improving relations with Jews.

Attitudes toward the United States have soured somewhat over the past two years. Forty-three percent of Sunnis, down about ten points since late 2017, say good relations with Washington are at least “somewhat important.” Among Christians, that figure is also down about ten points, to 37 percent today. And a mere 14 percent of Lebanon’s Shiites say the same. By comparison, much higher proportions in each community say it is important to have good relations with Russia—or even with Syria.

Along similar lines, Russia’s President Putin far outscores U.S. President Trump in approval ratings across all three major Lebanese communities. And asked more specifically to choose among four priorities for U.S. policy in the region, the most popular selection in each community is “stay out of or region altogether, or at least withdraw from most of it.” That option is picked by 71 percent of Lebanon’s Shiites, 48 percent of Sunnis, and a remarkable 43 percent of Christians in the country.

These findings are from a survey conducted in November, by a highly qualified, experienced, and completely apolitical local commercial market research firm, among a representative national sample of 1,000 Lebanese citizens, with strict assurances of confidentiality. The author personally traveled to the region to consult with the Lebanese project managers during the course of fieldwork. Interviews were done face-to-face, with respondents selected by standard geographical probability methods, yielding a total sample approximately proportional to population distribution: 305 Sunnis, 301 Shiites, 346 Christians, and 48 Druze. The statistical margin of error for the total sample is approximately 3 percent; for the three major subsamples, approximately 5.5 percent.  Additional methodological details, including sampling protocols, other demographic breaks, and full Arabic survey instrument are readily available from the author on request.

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS INTEL SPECIAL : Elite Russian spy unit used French Alps region as logistical base


An elite group Russian military intelligence officers, who have participated in assassinations across Europe, have been using resorts in the French Alps as logistical and supply bases, according to a new report. The report concerns Unit 29155 of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, commonly known as GRU. According to The New York Times, which revealed its existence of 29155 in October, the unit has been operating for at least 10 years. However, Western intelligence agencies only began to focus on it in 2016, after it was alleged that an elite group of Russian spies tried to stage a coup in the tiny Balkan country of Montenegro.

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  • On December 1, the Iraqi Parliament approved the announced resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
  • The courage of the protesters was on display even as the Iraqi security forces killed more than 400 protesters through a brutal countrywide crackdown.
  • Protesters are demanding wholesale change in the daily lives of Iraqis struggling to achieve economic and political progress.
  • The United States has stayed mostly on the sidelines during the protests, perhaps reflecting a lack of American leverage in Iraq.

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Gulf donors drawn into controversy over foreign influence at US campuses


Aaron Schaffer December 3, 2019 –  Article Summary – al monitor – Six US universities are under investigation for allegedly failing to report $1.3 billion in gifts and contracts from Middle Eastern and other foreign sources. Multimillion-dollar donations to US universities by Arab Gulf monarchies and other wealthy Middle East donors are coming under scrutiny as Congress and the Donald Trump administration crack down on Chinese and other foreign influence operations across the country.

Since mid-June, the Department of Education has announced six investigations into some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning for allegedly failing to properly disclose more than $1.3 billion in foreign funding over the past seven years. All six receive or have received funding from Middle Eastern sources, among them the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS ALARM ! Iraq’s Assyrians ‘Close to Extinction’

2019-12-03 22:48 GMT – MESOP NEWS –  The Archbishop of Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, has accused Britain’s Christian leaders of failing to do enough in defence of the vanishing Christian community in Iraq. In an impassioned address in London, the Rt Rev Bashar Warda said Iraq’s Christians now faced extinction after 1,400 years of persecution.

Since the US-led invasion toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003, he said, the Christian community had dwindled by 83%, from around 1.5 million to just 250,000.

“Christianity in Iraq,” he said, “one of the oldest Churches, if not the oldest Church in the world, is perilously close to extinction. Those of us who remain must be ready to face martyrdom.”

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