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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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 :  IRAN IS LOSING IRAQ’S TRIBES

by Phillip Smyth – PolicyWatch 3221 – December 4, 2019 – Angry over Iranian militia abuses and Baghdad’s sundry failures, a number of powerful tribes are setting aside their traditional sectarian loyalties and pushing to safeguard their basic needs, sometimes violently.

Between escalating nationwide protests and this weekend’s resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdulmahdi, the latest events in Iraq have put a spotlight on the future of Iranian influence over Baghdad. Tehran is often depicted as a puppet master operating completely subservient Shia militias and other proxies in service of its goals in Iraq. Yet many of these actors also have tribal loyalties that are increasingly coming into conflict with their Iranian loyalties—partly in response to actions that proxy groups have taken against tribal leaders, and also because the militias have largely failed to provide adequate security or curb corruption. Thus, even as Tehran continues its bid to integrate and control the Iraqi government, the strength of Shia and mixed tribes may be a source of leverage over the proxies charged with carrying out that mission, including the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

THE KHAFAJI CONUNDRUM

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Beyond the myth of Sunni-Shia wars in the Middle East

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS GENERAL COMMENTARY

By Seth J. Frantzman, opinion contributor — 12/03/19

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill 68    

The Middle East is going through another round of protests, from Lebanon to Iran, fueled by a variety of factors. One issue that has not been in the forefront is the usual Sunni-Shi’ite divide, which has characterized some of the conflicts in the region in past decades.

The reduction in religious-sectarian conflict — reminiscent of other conflicts such as Northern Ireland or the Thirty Years’ War — shows how dividing the Middle East into religious blocks is a much too simplistic viewpoint. A leaked, 700-page intelligence report from Iran now provides shocking evidence of how political and religious Shi’ite and Sunni groups actually work together against common enemies.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : OUR PUTIN BOUND NATO COMPANION RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN !

Turkey flirts with buying even more Russian missile systems

Anton Mardasov December 3, 2019  – Article Summary  – AL MONITOR – Turkey seems to be offering a compromise to the United States to avoid sanctions for Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 fighter jets — even as Turkey is in talks to buy more. Russia and Turkey have both confirmed they are considering a new deal for Ankara to purchase more S-400 missile systems despite the threat of US sanctions, a Russian news agency reports. However, Turkey appears to be offering a compromise to the United States.

Alexander Mikheev, director general of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, said Nov. 26 that Moscow hopes to seal a new deal on the sale of S-400 missile systems to Turkey in the first half of next year. Rosoboronexport is currently under sanctions by the United States for selling weapons to Iran, North Korea and Syria.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS INTEL BY MEIR AMIT INTELLIGENCE & TERRORISM INFORMATION CENTER / ISRAEL – ISIS- Inspired Stabbing Attack in London and Its Significance

Overview

The stabbing attack near London Bridge (two killed and three wounded) was the first attack carried out in Britain and the West in general in 2019 for which ISIS claimed responsibility. The attacker was Usman Khan, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, with the familiar profile of terrorists who are liable to carry out ISIS-inspired attacks in Europe: he was of Muslim origin, had a Salafist-jihadist ideology, and had served time in prison (where prisoners often undergo radicalization). What was exceptional in his case was the practical terrorist experience he had gained in a terrorist network exposed in Britain in 2010 which planned several attacks, including detonating a bomb in the London Stock Exchange.

  • The stabbing attack near London Bridge was the only ISIS attack carried out in Western countries in 2019. A multiannual examination of the attacks carried out by or inspired by ISIS (the majority of the attacks) shows a steady increase in the number of attacks between 2014 and 2016 (24 attacks in 2016). However, since then there has been a steady decrease in the number of attacks in Europe and other Western countries (falling to one in 2019) (See the graph in the Appendix).
  • The steady multiannual decline in the number of attacks is primarily the result of the crushing blows ISIS suffered in Syria and Iraq, its two core countries, which led to the loss of the Islamic Caliphate. That continued in 2019 and caused the collapse of ISIS’s strongholds in the Euphrates Valley (the fall of al-Baghouz) and the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (in an American targeted attack). That weakened the motivation of ISIS supporters to carry out attacks, despite ongoing encouragement from senior ISIS figures and ISIS’s media outlets.
  • However, the recent attack in London showed that in Britain (as well as in other European countries) ISIS’s supporters still have terrorist potential, which may be expressed more broadly in the future. The potential rests primarily on the hold ISIS’s Salafist-jihadist ideology has on Muslim communities in various countries. To the ideological dimension, the presence of ISIS operatives and supporters who may put their ideology into practice has to be added. That includes prisoners who have been released and returned to society, some of whom were radicalized in prison; operatives who gained combat experience in Syria and Iraq and in one way or another returned to their countries of origin; and ISIS families (women and children) who are liable to return and bring with them the jihadist ideology of the Islamic State.

A possible renewal of the wave of ISIS-inspired attacks is today the central threat against the countries of Europe and the West in general. Coping with the potential threat demands the deployment of the security services of Western countries on two levels: on the national-local level (more effective control of local potential ISIS supporters) and the inter-national level (oversight of the movement of operatives and their families from the Middle East towards their countries of origin, with greater intelligence cooperation). On the strategic level, it is imperative for the campaign of the American-led coalition against ISIS to continue in Syria and Iraq, ISIS’s two core countries, without signs of weakening. That is because a renewed strengthening of ISIS in Syria and Iraq will of necessity influence the motivation of ISIS supporters to return to carrying out terrorist attacks in Europe and the West.

The terrorist attack in London

Initial overview

On overview 29, 2019, Usman Khan, a jihadist terrorist of Pakistani origin, carried out a stabbing attack near London Bridge. He killed a man and a woman and wounded two women and a man. Passersby, among them several released prisoners who were participating in a conference held nearby, overcame and restrained him. He was shot and killed by police rushed to the scene. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

     The stabbing attack began in a conference held in Fishmongers’ Hall, conducted by the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology to help convicts reintegrate into society. Usman Khan, who was a convicted felon, was a participant. He threatened he would “blow up everyone” at the conference with an explosive belt he was wearing, which turned out to be a fake. He then began stabbing people. He then left the hall and fled towards London Bridge.
  • London Bridge is apparently a popular target for ISIS supporters, who consider it a symbol of Britain. On June 3, 2017, three terrorists carried out a combined vehicular-stabbing attack on the bridge, for which ISIS claimed responsibility. The attack killed seven passersby and wounded 48. It was carried out as part of an effort ISIS made to carry out showcase attacks in Western countries during the Muslim religious month of Ramadan, at a time when the American-led coalition and SDF forces were attacking al-Raqqa, ISIS’s “capital” in Syria.
ISIS claims responsibility for the attack
  • On overview 30, 2019, the day after the attack, ISIS claimed responsibility through its A’maq news agency. According to the claim, “the person who carried out the London attack was a fighter from the Islamic State. He carried out it out in response to calls [from ISIS] to target citizens of [the American-led anti-ISIS] coalition” (A’maq through Telegram, November 30 2019). The language of the claim may indicate it was an ISIS-inspired attack, carried out in response to a call from ISIS to attack in the coalition countries. The killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may increase the motivation of ISIS-supporting jihadists to avenge his death. However, in effect, so far only one attack has been carried out, in Britain.

General description of Usman Khan

  • The terrorist who carried out the attack in London was Usman Khan, 28, a British citizen of Pakistani origin (his family came from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir). He was detained in 2010 for membership in a jihadist network of nine operatives who were inspired by al-Qaeda. They planned to plant a bomb in the restroom of the London Stock Exchange and to carry out other showcase attacks. The operatives of the network also planned to raise funds to establish a training camp in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir and to send British Muslims to train there.
  • Usman Khan was described as one of the three most serious operatives in the network. In 2012 he was sentenced to a minimum of eight years in prison. He served six and was released in December 2018. At the time of the attack, because of his early release was wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.

Usman Khan at the time of his sentencing in 2012 (British Police, November 29, 2019).
Usman Khan at the time of his sentencing in 2012
(British Police, November 29, 2019).

  • In ITIC assessment, Usman Kahn’s jihadist ideology was influenced by two prominent figures, with global jihad reputations:
    • Anwar al-Awlaqi, a jihadist operative who was born in the United States to parents from Yemen. He went to Afghanistan where he participated in al-Qaeda training camps. He later went to Yemen and was a senior operative in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). He recruited operatives from Western countries and trained them in camps in Yemen. He used the Internet to spread his jihadist ideology, by which Usman Kahn was influenced. Al-Awlaqi was killed in Yemen in September 2011 by a drone in an American targeted attack.

Anwar al-Awlaqi (from a YouTube video, September 30, 2011).
Anwar al-Awlaqi
(from a YouTube video, September 30, 2011).

  • Anjem Choudary, a British jihadist of Pakistani origin, born in 1967. He began studying medicine at Southampton University but switched to law and became a lawyer. He was later appointed chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers. He was an aide to jihadist Bakri Muhammed (who had escaped to Lebanon), who founded the al-Muhajiroun organization. The organization was dismantled after Britain decided to outlaw it. In its place Choudary founded an organization called Ahl al-Sunna w’al-Jama’a. He later helped found an organization called al-Ghurabaa, whose activities were also outlawed. In overview 2008 he established Islam4UK and became its spokesman. The British outlawed the organization in 2010. Choudary criticized Britain’s activity in Iraq and Afghanistan and praised bin Laden for his terrorist attacks against the United States and Britain.

Anjem Choudary (al-Youm al-Sabea, February 16, 2019).
Anjem Choudary
(al-Youm al-Sabea, February 16, 2019).

  • In August 2016 Anjem Choudary was sentenced to ten years in prison for supporting the Islamic State after he had sworn allegiance to ISIS. He preached to his supporters to obey Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and to go to Syria to support ISIS and the Caliphate (The Guardian, October 16, 2016). In October 2018 he was released from prison. Usman Kahn was described as a “student and personal friend” of Choudary (Sky News, December 2, 2019). Apparently Anjem Choudary was linked to the terrorist network exposed in 2010, to which Usman Kahn belonged.
Appendix
ISIS attacks carried out in Europe in 2019
  • The attack in London was the only ISIS-inspired attack carried out in the West in 2019 for which ISIS claimed responsibility.[1] Since the shooting attack in Strasbourg, France (December 11, 2018) for which ISIS claimed responsibility, no terrorist attacks have been carried out by ISIS or inspired by ISIS in Europe of any other Western country.
Decline in number of attacks in Europe and other Western countries (most of the ISIS-inspired)[2]

Decline in number of attacks in Europe and other Western countries (most of the ISIS-inspired)

The almost total absence of terrorist attacks in Europe and the Western countries in 2019 was continued the steady decline in the number of ISIS attacks since their height in 2016. The decline was primarily the result of the crushing blows to ISIS in Syria and Iraq: the fall of Mosul; the collapse of the Islamic State; the fall of al-Raqqa, ISIS’s “capital” in Syria; the fall of Baghouz and ISIS’s strongholds in the Euphrates Valley; and the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. One blow after another lowered both the attraction of the ISIS brand and the operational capabilities of its operatives, and as a result, the motivation of its supporters to carry out ISIS-inspired attacks (despite ongoing encouragement for attacks in the West).

  • However, the recent attack in London shows that in Britain and other European countries the potential exists for ISIS-inspired attacks, which is liable to be expressed more fully in the future. That is because Salafist-jihadist ideology is rooted in the Muslim communities in several European countries. To the ideological dimension, human potential must be added, which may try to put jihadist ideology into practice. Potential terrorists include released prisoners who return to society who have been radicalized in prison; terrorist operatives who in one way or another manage to return to their countries of origin from Syria and Iraq (despite the difficulties those countries place in their path); the families of ISIS operatives (women and children), who absorbed ISIS ideology, who are also liable to try to return to their countries of origin.
[1] In April year a series of attacks were carried out against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. Most of the victims killed (253) were local residents. Among those killed were four foreign nationals from the West (for further information see the April 29, 2019 bulletin, The Terrorist Attack in Sri Lanka: Overview and Significance (full version).”

[2] As of December 1, 2019.

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS FORECAST :  Israel’s war with Iran will cause never-before-seen images

Former senior Air Force officer warns that while Israel’s foes have no interest in war, they may try taking advantage of government-less Israel

By ANNA AHRONHEIM   DECEMBER 2, 2019 22:20 JERUSALEM POST

A war against Iran and Hezbollah will see Israel pounded by over a thousand rockets per day, causing never-before-seen images in the Jewish State, an unnamed former senior officer from the Israeli Air Force told The Jerusalem Post.

“It’s a severe threat to the homeland, and there will be images that have never ever been seen in the past,” he said.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : FROM RED CHINA WITH LOVE ! – China Adopts Malicious “Cybersecurity” Rules

by Gordon G. Chang – GATESTONE INSTITUT  – November 30, 2019 at 5:00 am  
  • After all these “cybersecurity” rules are in place, no foreign company may encrypt data so that it cannot be read by the Chinese central government and the Communist Party of China. In other words, businesses will be required to turn over encryption keys.
  • Chinese officials will be permitted, under Chinese law, to share seized information with state enterprises. This means the enterprises will be able to use that information against their foreign competitors.
  • The American people have an interest in China not taking control of American companies with operations in China–a probable consequence of the application of the December 1 and January 1 measures.
  • The American people have a vital interest in the protection of American data. Trump should issue such an order immediately.

On January 1, China’s Cryptography Law becomes effective. The legislation follows the December 1 implementation of the Multi-Level Protection Scheme 2.0, issued under the authority of the 2016 Cybersecurity Law.

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The second era of trustee rule in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeast

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : KURDS UNDER ERDOGAN-RULE !

  • Nurcan Baysal – AHVAL NEWS –  Dec 01 2019  –  I don’t know how this period will be recorded in Turkish history, but for the sake of clarity I have decided to call it “the second trusteeship era,” or alternatively, “the second trusteeship sultanate.”

The first trusteeship era began in Sept. of 2016, when the central government began removing locally elected representatives from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and replacing them with trustees from the ruling Justice and Democracy Party (AKP). In the end, of the 102 pro-Kurdish municipal governments, 95 were governed under trusteeships for three years.

Many, including myself, have written on what government appointed trustees did in the first era. It is worth recapitulating some of their actions.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : WHAT’S REALL GOING ON IN LEBANON / FULL BACKGROUND ANALYSIS

Technocracy now: The US is working to turn Lebanon’s anti-corruption protests against Hezbollah

While Lebanon’s protests remain focused on the economy and widespread corruption, Washington is increasingly determined to exploit the movement as a geopolitical weapon in the region.

By Rania Khalek : THE GREY ZONE  2. Dec 2019

This is part one of a two-part report.Lebanon erupted in massive protests this October. The demonstrations transcended sect and class, and quickly spread across the country. The movement was spurred by the levying of regressive taxes and the persistence of a corrupt neoliberal order that has mismanaged the economy and hollowed out the public sector while enriching a handful of elites amid a looming economic collapse.

Though the protests remain focused on class issues and corruption, the US is increasingly determined to co-opt the movement for its own goals. At the forefront of Washington’s agenda is ousting Hezbollah from the Lebanese governing coalition and marginalizing the Shia political-military movement as a means of weakening Iran. In its place, the US and its proxies inside Lebanon are demanding a “technocratic” government with no interest in resisting Israel.

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