MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS OPINION : THE STATE DEPARTEMENTS IDEA ON SYRIA – US: Syrian Kurdistan could be like Iraqi Kurdistan after 1991, Kurds to participate in UN Political Process

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – On Thursday, Amb. James Jeffrey, US Special Representative for Syria Engagement, described the Trump administration’s thinking about the future of Syria, including Syrian Kurdistan.

Jeffrey, speaking to reporters in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, laid out three well-known US objectives: 1) “enduring defeat” of the Islamic State (IS); 2) “reinvigoration of the political process;” and 3) “removal of all Iranian-commanded forces from the entirety of Syria.”

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4 Oct 2018 – Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has confirmed to his Assad regime allies that there will be no Russian-regime offensive to reoccupy Idlib Province in northwest Syria.

Putin said on Wednesday that the demilitarized zone around Idlib and northern Hama, declared last month by Russia and Turkey, is “effective”: I have every reason to believe that we will achieve our goals. And that means, no large scale military actions are expected there. Military action for the sake of military action is unnecessary.

On Tuesday, the Assad regime’s Foreign Minister, Walid al-Moallem, appeared to concede acceptance of the zone beteween regime and opposition areas. In contrast to the regime’s insistence that it will regain “every inch” of Syria, Moallem said, “According to our information, we believe that Turkey is capable of carrying out its obligations.”

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Kurdish rebels join anti-Iran lobbying fray –  Jack Detsch  – October 3, 2018 – AL MONITOR –  Article Summary – An Iranian Kurdish opposition group has registered to lobby Congress and the Donald Trump administration. Iraqi Kurdistan, Sept. 3, 2018

An Iranian Kurdish rebel group is the latest faction to jump on Washington’s anti-Tehran bandwagon. The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, an armed group with communist origins exiled in northern Iraq, registered with the Justice Department late last month as a lobby aiming to “establish solid and durable relations” with the Donald Trump administration. The registration hints at a more public role for a group that has left a digital track record of foreign advocacy on Capitol Hill dating back several years.

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The election of Barham Salih as president of Iraq should be welcomed by all those who believe that Iraq is too important to be allowed to become a Iranian Satrapy. Salih has been struggling all his life for Kurdish rights and empowerment. This proud Kurd used to tell me that in the heart of hearts of every Kurd there is a yearning for independence. But Salih the realist recognized also the constraints of geo-politics on Kurdish dreams of self-determination. After returning to Iraq following the U.S. invasion and through the various political positions he occupied, he worked very hard for genuine political reconciliation, believing that the best way to realize Kurdish rights is by creating a democratic civil state in Iraq. One of his proudest achievements was the establishment of @AUIS the American University of Iraq in Suleimani, a unique educational institution in Iraq. Every year scholars from Iraq the U.S. and the rest of the world gather there to discuss, without any constraints the political, economic and cultural issues and challenges facing Iraq and the region.

Salih, has the temperament, political experience, foresight, regional and international stature and connections, to help put Iraqi on the path of true reconciliation,and reconstruction. Salih, who spent many years in Washington as the representative of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan has a deep understanding and appreciation of American polity and culture. He is a genuine friend of America in a region where the U.S. does not have too many serious friends and dependable allies.

I could imagine Barham Salih’s numerous friends and admirers in America shouting with the precision of a great choir: congratulations,


  • On October 01, Iran fired several ballistic missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria.
  • Tehran claimed that the missiles were launched in response to the September 22 terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, Iran, that killed at least 24 people.
  • The U.S. remains concerned that Iranian-sponsored militias or proxies could target U.S. forces in Syria, since Iran partly blames the U.S. for the parade attack.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. is planning to keep troops in Syria until Iranian forces and their proxies depart in earnest, presaging a lengthy and complicated presence.
There has long been concern among U.S. defense officials that Iran could use its proxies and militias in Syria (such as Hezbollah) to target U.S. or U.S.-led coalition forces operating in the country. That concern surfaced again last week, after Tehran blamed the U.S., as well as domestic separatist groups and the so-called Islamic State, for the September 22 attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, Iran, in which at least 24 people were killed. Some analysts see the attack as inevitable blowback for Iranian involvement in the Syrian civil war. Indeed, Iran has consistently delivered weapons to the Assad regime, while also supplying the Syrian dictator with troops and trainers as he seeks to regain control over the country by establishing a monopoly on the use of force, often with brutal results.

That threat of an American-Iranian conflagration remains poignant after Iran launched six ballistic missiles from Kermanshah provincein western Iran at Islamic State positions near Hanjin, Syria, one of the last relative strongholds for the diminished group. A statement by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said those targeted were ‘takfiri terrorists’ and several of them were killed in the attack. The statement also said that Iranian drones were then used after the missile strikes. The killing of a small number of Islamic State foot soldiers via ballistic missiles is a clear indication that the strike was intended for an audience other than the Islamic State. With the strike, Iran sought to remind the U.S. and others (including Israel) that it has the wherewithal to author a credible ballistic missile capability outside its borders. As further evidence, just last week the IRGC launched ballistic missiles at Kurdish militants in Iraq.

It is unlikely that Iran would directly attack U.S. forces or U.S.-led forces. It has more than enough proxy capability in Syria to avoid such a direct confrontation. It is also unlikely that it would ‘use’ Hezbollah for any such attack, given the consequences. Far more likely is an unattributed attack or actions undertaken in the so-called ‘gray zone’ against U.S. interests in Syria. These attacks could involve Iranian-supplied missiles or not, depending on how strong or obvious Iran wants the connection to be. The U.S. has publicly warned the mullahs that any attack by Iran or its proxies would have severe repercussions. At the United Nations, National Security Advisor Bolton warned Iran that ‘if you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay.’ The sabre rattling at the UN should not be dismissed as mere posturing. The conflict grows more complicated and crowded even as the fight between the Assad regime and the rebels grows more one-sided in Assad’s favor.

The U.S. had initially justified its military operations, and then a military presence in Syria, on the broadly interpreted 2001 Authorization of for the Use of Military Force against Terrorists (AUMF). It has essentially abandoned that veneer of authorization and is now openly declaring that it will stay in Syria until Iranian forces and their proxies depart. But this seems highly unlikely, as Iran has maintained a military presence in Syria for decades and is its main conduit for supporting and arming Hezbollah and other groups. Tehran isn’t going to leave Syria because of U.S. pressure, and likely will increase its presence precisely because of the U.S. presence. This could lead to a long-term stalemate in which the two sides justify their presence by the presence of the other. Compounding the difficulty is that the U.S. deployed troops to Syria despite the opposition of the Assad regime. Washington is hopeful that a future negotiated political settlement to the Syrian civil war includes a mechanism for a continued American presence throughout small pockets of the country. However, as of late 2018, American leverage has arguable reached a nadir. Moreover, the longer the U.S. military keeps forces in Syria, the higher the likelihood of direct skirmishes with Iranian forces or their allies that have the potential to escalate the conflict beyond Syria’s borders.



Kurdistan’s Islamist Parties Strategize in Upcoming Elections / Iraq


 Mera Jasm Bakr – Muhammed (Mera) Jasm Bakr is an international studies student at the American University of Iraq Sulaymaniyah and a research assistant at @IRISmideast. – Also available in العربية  –  28 Sept 2018 –

With elections for Iraq’s Kurdistan region slated for September 30, one key and often overlooked actor in the political arena is the changing role of the Islamic political movement in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). While the usual players, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) parties that have jointly ruled the KRG since 1991, will continue to dominate in the elections, this election season marks a shift in Islamist politicians’ involvement in the larger opposition movement that has developed in the KRG over the last decade. Many key Islamist politicians have resigned from their parties to make alliances with the Kurdistan region’s secular opposition, suggesting that opposition to the political status quo is now more important to Islamist party leaders than specific political positions. These new partnerships also have important implications for the future of KRG politics, as a more formidable oppositionist coalition may be able to disrupt the current parliamentary agenda.

     This shift in strategy reflects the challenges the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG)—founded 1994 and 2001 respectively—have traditionally faced in Kurdish elections. Both parties’ platforms are considered reformist; they promote investments and free trade as well as an end to corruption, nepotism, and the manipulation of power that characterizes the current ruling establishment. The parties also emphasize the rule of law and free, fair, and credible elections, hoping to establish an Islamic state with the components of a Western-style democracy. However, these platforms struggle to compete with the established base of the older Kurdish parties.While the KIU and KIG have repeatedly endeavored to unseat the KDP and PUK given that both are accused of corruption, widespread nepotism in their dealings, failing to provide basic services such as electricity and water, and loss of disputed territories including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, neither party has gained much traction. During the previous elections in 2013, the KIU and KIG secured only 16 out of 111 seats in the Kurdistan parliament.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS FOCUS : Kurdish Parties in Iraq Have Hijacked Quota Seats for Assyrians and Yazidis

SOUTH KURDISTAN (IRAQ) – 2018-10-01 14:04 GMT – (AINA) — The Assyrian Confederation of Europe (ACE), an umbrella organization for Assyrian federations throughout Europe, says it is deeply concerned with the parliamentary elections held yesterday in the northern Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government. The level of interference and corruption in the elections, especially for the Assyrians, was unprecedented.

Many, including leading Kurdish parties, expressed concern that holding parliamentary elections on September 30 would only deepen the social and political crisis in the region due to rigging and abuse of the electoral system.

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Syria rebels deny withdrawing arms from north under deal

By AFP 3 hours ago 30 Sept 2018 – BEIRUT, Lebanon – Syrian rebels denied on Sunday they had pulled any heavy arms from a major opposition bastion in the north, as the deadline to implement a demilitarisation deal there draws closer.Regime ally Moscow and rebel backer Ankara agreed earlier this month to create a buffer zone around the opposition stronghold of Idlib that would be free of both jihadists and heavy arms.

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The Leadership Crisis of the Kurdistan Region Opposition Parties



In the Iraqi parliamentary election in May this year, Kurdish opposition parties unexpectedly failed to regain their previous seats at the Iraqi parliament. Although electoral fraud may have contributed to their fall, there are more serious reasons behind their failure. The weakness of the opposition is the result of leadership, ideological, and organizational challenges that have led senior and critical members of the main opposition parties to urge their party leaders to implement reforms so that the failures the opposition faced in the Iraqi parliamentary election will not reoccur on September 30 in the Kurdistan region parliamentary election.

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Turkey, Germany try to turn new page in name of mutual interests

Semih Idiz September 26, 2018 – AL MONITOR – The atmosphere is positive going into the Turkish president’s visit to Berlin, though the path to fully normalized Turkish-German ties remains strewn with pitfalls. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Berlin this week as the guest of his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier and will also hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, aimed at turning a new page in bilateral ties after a prolonged period of tension. The visit stands in marked contrast to only a year ago, when Turkey and Germany appeared to be heading for a historic breakup as insults and accusations were being hurled back and forth. A furious Erdogan taunted German officials as “Nazis,” for example, after he and members of his administration were prevented from canvassing expatriate Turks in Germany for the constitutional referendum in April 2017 that made Erdogan Turkey’s first executive president.

Today, all of that seems to have been left in the past. Before leaving for New York for the UN General Assembly meeting, from where he will go on to Berlin, Erdogan said Sept. 23 that Turkey was seeking a new chapter with Germany.

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