By Joby Warrick– The Washington post – January 21 at 8:13 PM
IRBIL, Iraq — In the weeks after his city fell to the Islamic State, Iraqi scientist Suleiman al-Afari sat in his deserted government office and waited for the day when the terrorists would show up. The black-clad militants who had seized Mosul in 2014 were making their way through each of its bureaucracies, rounding up workers and managers who had not yet fled the city and pressing them into service. When his turn came, Afari, then a 49-year-old geologist with Iraq’s Ministry of Industry and Minerals, hoped his new bosses would simply let him keep his job. To his surprise, they offered him a new one:
Help us make chemical weapons, the Islamic State’s emissaries said.
Afari knew little about the subject, but he accepted the assignment. And so began his 15-month stint supervising the manufacture of lethal toxins for the world’s deadliest terrorist group.
SaadAbedine @SaadAbedine Jan 21 – Reports that Ammar Soussi, a businessman close to Bashar #Assad’s cousin Rami Makhlouf, secured a contract to operate Jabisah gas/oil plant in Al-Shadadi, worth $12.5 million dollars, serving as a mediator between #Syria regime militias & the US acked #Kurdish #SDF #YPG
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- Tens of people been arrested by the Iranian regime in the most recent raids and detentions against Kurdish activists. According to the Kurdistan Human Rights Association (KMMK), tens of members of the National Unity party, which mostly advocates for environmental issues, was arrested in Sanandaj and Kamyaran. The detainees were taken by Intelligence officers (Ettelaa’t). On January 17, Iranian security officers also arrested two Kurds from Sanandaj and one from Oshnaviah (Shino), allegedly for connections with Kurdish opposition parties.
- Last week was another bloody week for the Kurdish border porters (Kolbars). On Tuesday, January 15 one Kolbar was killed and another was wounded by Iranian border guards near Urmia. In addition, on January 16 another Kolbar died of freezing temperatures in the mountains on the Iraqi-Iranian border near Urmia. Also, on January 19 another Kolbar was injured when he was shot at by Iranian guards near Piranshahr. In Baneh, two Kolbars were severely injured when they fell off a cliff while carrying goods. In Ravansar, one Kolbar was injured as a result of a mine explosion on the border.
- Teachers from a number of schools in Saqqez have been called in for investigation by the local security office for their participation in a general strike held in November of 2018. According to human rights groups, the security forces released the teachers after several hours of questioning about their strike against the living conditions of the teachers in the country. On Saturday, firefighters held a strike in protest of their unpaid salaries for three months in Sanandaj.
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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : BIG CATCH ! Jerusalem Post Arab-Israeli Conflict – Report: 12 Iranians killed in Israeli strike on Syria; total rises to 21
The report further claimed three squadrons of Israeli jets carried out the attack on Syrian positions. By Anna Ahronheim January 22, 2019 11:44 – JERUSALEM POST
Twelve soldiers belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed in Sunday’s Israeli airstrikes on Syria, the UK-based NGO Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed on Tuesday.The report said a total of 21 people were killed in the strikes, among them six Syrian soldiers and 15 non-Syrian nationals, among them the 12 IRGC soldiers, making it the deadliest attacks by Israel in the war-torn country.
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : WHO DID IT / COUNTER-INSURGENCY ATTACKS ? – SDF’s statement about al-Shaddadi suicide explosion (SYRIA)
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) issued a statement about the suicide explosion that occurred by a booby-trapped vehicle, and targeted a joint patrol between their forces and a unit of the Global Coalition in al-Shaddadi district to the public opinion.
22 Jan 2019, Mon – 19:52 ANH NEWS DESK – On Monday, a booby-trapped vehicle was blasted by a suicide bomber at a checkpoint of the Internal Security Forces at 47 Bridge in al-Shaddadi countryside, targeting a joint patrol between SDF and a unite of the International Coalition to Fight IS.
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS SPECIAL: THE BLUFF OF AACHEN / MACRON & MERKEL
Judy Dempsey – Dempsey is a nonresident senior fellow at Carnegie Europe and editor in chief of Strategic Europe.
Berlin and Paris are no longer providing the leadership Europe urgently needs to adapt to global, geostrategic shifts.January 22, 2019
They tried to be upbeat.
For all the smiles and hugs, the reality is that the Treaty of Aachen that French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sign on January 22 lacks strategic depth. It’s a shadow of the 1963 Élysée Treaty.
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS MIDEAST : THE DELETION OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST / THE WEST IS SILENT & COMFORTS ISLAM
Historic Eastern Christianity: An Uncertain Future / Strategic Culture Foundation
2019-01-21 AINA NEWS AGENCY – The survival of historic Eastern Christianity has never been as urgent as it is today. Christianity saw its beginning in Greater Syria which was subdivided by France and Britain after WWI into modern day Syria, Lebanon, Palestian/Israel and Jordan. The land that housed, nurtured and spread the teachings of Jesus Christ for over two millenniums, now threatens children of that faith. The survival of historic Eastern Christianity, particularly in Syria, is critical for several reasons:
Greater Syria is the homeland of Jesus and Christianity. Abraham was from modern day Iraq, Moses from Egypt, and Muhammad from Mecca; Jesus was from Syria.
Paul converted to Christianity and saw the light while walking through ‘The Street Called Straight’ in Damascus.
Jesus’ followers were called Christians for the first time in Antioch, formerly part of Syria.
One of the earliest churches, perhaps the earliest, is in Syria.
Türkei: Behörden drangsalieren Anwältin Eren Keskin mit weit mehr als 100 Gerichtsverfahren
Amnesty International setzt sich mit der Kampagne „Mut braucht Schutz“ für die 59-jährige Menschenrechtlerin und Trägerin des Aachener Friedenspreises ein und fordert ein Ende der willkürlichen Repressalien. Keskin wurde bereits in erster Instanz zu über zwölf Jahren Gefängnis und mehr als 70.000 Euro Geldstrafe wegen ihrer Unterstützung einer prokurdischen Zeitung verurteilt. In der vergangenen Woche wurde die Fortsetzung des Hauptverfahrens auf April vertagt.
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS STARTER : HOW WILL THE U.S. WITHDRAWAL IMPACT ISRAEL’S STRATEGY IN SYRIA? / By Soufan Center
– Tuesday, January 22, 2019
- The announced U.S. withdrawal from Syria is compelling Israel to recalibrate its strategy to prevent Iran from further expanding its influence.
- Israel views Iran’s presence in Syria as an unacceptable threat that must be confronted, despite the risks of doing so.
- Israeli leaders have secured the Trump administration’s unconditional backing to confront Iran inside Syria.
- Iran is unlikely to provoke all-out conflict with Israel, especially given the asymmetry between the two countries’ conventional military capabilities.
Tehran & Israel Trade Threats After Syria Attack
by Scott Lucas | Jan 22, 2019 | eaworldview – Israeli and Iranian leaders have traded threats after Israel’s attacks on Iranian targets in Syria on Sunday night.
In its latest missile strikes, Israel hit about 10 pro-Assad targets, claiming some belonged to the Quds Force, the elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The Israel Defense Forces said they included a weapons warehouses at the Damascus International Airport, an Iranian intelligence site, and an Iranian training camp.Israel said it was responding to “dozens” of Iranian missiles fired on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Early on Sunday, there were explosions in southern Damascus, with Syrian State media claiming that they were from a rare Israeli daytime strike.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has set aside the Israeli military policy of no comment on attacks, said on Monday that “Iran will face the consequences of threatening to destroy Israel.”