MESOPOTAMIA NEWS FOCUS : TEAM OF LEGAL GLADIATORS? IRAQI MILITIAS’ TORTURED RELATIONSHIP WITH LAW

by Crispin Smith, Hamdi Malik, and Michael Knights  – Just Security – April 12, 2021

Iran-backed armed groups hate being exposed as criminals in the eyes of a populace that cares deeply about rule of law, so they have turned Iraq’s legal sector into a battlespace.

Iraq’s Iranian-backed militias, self-styled as al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya (“the Islamic Resistance”), are no strangers to legal violations. Muqawama affiliates frequently target and kill journalists and protesters, and militia-run “secret” prisons have become a concern for activistshuman rights groups, and the United Nations. The militias have also engaged in a years-long missile and rocket campaign targeting the U.S.-led coalition forces operating in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government, killing and wounding both coalition soldiers and local civilians. More recently, Muqawama affiliates have taken to bombing civilian trucks driven by Iraqi civilians but purportedly carrying supplies and materiel to coalition bases.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS FOCUS : Pentagon confirms  –  No major change in US troop presence in Iraq, after latest round of Strategic Dialogue

US Defence Department spokesperson John Kirby speaks during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Feb. 8, 2021. –  WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – Addressing reporters on Friday, John Kirby, Pentagon Press Secretary, confirmed that the recent session of the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue had resulted in no significant change to the US military presence in Iraq.

Kirby was pressed repeatedly on that question on Wednesday, following the meeting between US and Iraqi officials, which was held virtually.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS MID-EAST-WATCH  : Iraq, US to Discuss Security, Education, Economy in ‘Strategic Dialogue’: MP

BasNews 2021/04/04 – 22:29  ERBIL – An Iraqi lawmaker has revealed that Baghdad and Washington will discuss the files related to security, education, energy, economy in their planned ‘Strategic Dialogue’.

The third round of the strategic dialogue has been scheduled for April 7, as Iraq has sent a formal request to President Joe Biden’s administration for setting a date to resume the talks on the bilateral relations between Baghdad and Washington. Gatah al-Rikabi, a member of the Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee, told Shafaq News that “the talks will touch upon a spectrum of fields related to economy, education, energy, and security.”

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS PAPERS : Die Entstehung der kurdischen Grenze: Macht, Konflikt und Regierungsführung im irakisch-syrischen Grenzgebiet

HARITH HASAN,  KHEDER KHADDOUR –  30. MÄRZ 2021 PAPIER

Zusammenfassung:Die irakisch-syrische Grenze ist nach wie vor geopolitisch unruhig. Kurdische Parteien haben die Schwächen der Zentralregierung ausgenutzt, um ihre Autonomie in diesen Gebieten zu erhöhen.

ZUSAMMENFASSUNG

Auch nach dem Zusammenbruch des selbsternannten Islamischen Staates ist die irakisch-syrische Grenze nach wie vor eines der geopolitisch unruhigsten Gebiete im Nahen Osten. In den letzten Jahren haben eine Vielzahl kurdischer Einheiten und Gruppen die Dynamik im nördlichen Teil dieser Grenze zunehmend geprägt. Insbesondere gibt es zwei Dynamiken, die Aufmerksamkeit verdienen. Erstens haben die Regionalregierung Kurdistans (KRG) und die kurdisch dominierte Autonome Verwaltung Nord- und Ostsyriens neue Grenzübergänge in diesem Gebiet wirksam kontrolliert, da die syrische Regierung den Zugang verloren hat und die Präsenz der irakischen Regierung umstritten ist. Dies bedeutet, dass der Personen- und Warenverkehr in diesem Bereich weitgehend von zwei Einheiten kontrolliert wird, die weder staatliche noch nichtstaatliche Akteure sind. Die Realität vor Ort spiegelt hybride Vereinbarungen wider, die sich aus den Schwächen der beiden Zentralregierungen und der zunehmenden Autonomie der kurdischen Parteien (die im Falle der KRG verfassungsrechtlich festgelegt ist) ergeben haben.

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Coalition official says militias should focus on ISIS rather than Kurdistan

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS SITU-REPORT KURDISTAN  – IRAQ

Col. Williams underlined that the US-led coalition will work with Iraqi security force partners and Kurdish security partners to address “outlaw militia groups.” Col. David Williams, the Director of the Kurdistan Coordination Center (KCC), during an interview with Kurdistan 24.

  1. März 2021 – Erbil (Kurdistan 24) – US Army Col. David Williams, the Erbil-based Director of the Kurdistan Coordination Center, told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday that he doesn’t understand why ‘outlaw’ groups attack the Kurdistan Region rather than the Islamic State group.

The coordination center was established six years ago, as the fight against the so-called Islamic State began.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : SINJAR REPORT – IRAQ-KURDISTAN / TROUBLE WITH PKK !

Despite government promises, lives in Sinjar remain on hold – ‘They all just talk but don’t do anything.’

Lizzie Porter THE NEW HUMANITARIAN  31 March 2021 – Print and radio journalist based between Baghdad, Erbil, and Beirut. Senior correspondent at Iraq Oil Report, focused on politics, the economy, and security

Little has changed in the six months since a deal that was intended to bring stability and reconstruction to Sinjar – the long-disputed northern Iraq homeland of the Yazidis – was signed, residents say.

“This deal has had no real effect,” said Dilyar, a member of Sinjar’s police force, who asked that his surname not be published. He gestured up and down a street lined with collapsed buildings,  the sun fading. “[One armed group] are in this direction, and the PKK [another armed group] in the other. At night there are no people here, and it’s pitch dark.”

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS KURDISTAN-IRAQ:  Jesidischer KRG-Kommandant befürchtet Krieg mit PKK in Shingal

Laut einem Abkommen vom Oktober sollen alle Milizen abziehen und die Zentralregierung für die Sicherheit der Region Shingal sorgen, woran sich die PKK aber nicht hält. – Dilan Sirwan, Rudaw – 29 März 2021

Der Kommandeur einer jesidischen bewaffneten Truppe, die Teil der Peshmerga-Kräfte der Region Kurdistan ist, sagte am Freitag, er befürchte, dass im umstrittenen Bezirk Shingal ein Krieg ausbrechen könnte, da die Spannungen zwischen der irakischen Armee und den Milizen, die mit der Arbeiterpartei Kurdistans (PKK) verbunden sind, weiter zunehmen.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : TROUBLE INSIDE OF THE KURDISH FAMILY –  Shingal agreement must be implemented or there will be war, says Yazidi commander

26-03-2021 –  Dilan Sirwan – RUDAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The commander of a Yazidi armed force part of the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces said on Friday he fears war could break out in the disputed district of Shingal as tensions between the Iraqi army and militias affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) continue to grow.  

“The Iraqi side had initially planned for all armed groups to leave the center of Shingal today, however it seems that the time could be extended until April 1,” Haidar Shasho told Rudaw English.

Shasho is commander of Shingal’s Ezidkhan Protection Force, a Yazidi armed group incorporated into the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces. If the armed groups do not voluntarily withdraw, he is worried the Iraqi army may use force.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS “AFTER TRUMP” : Upon taking office, President Joe Biden limited the US military’s use of drone strikes against extremist groups outside Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq

US Special Forces at lowest level worldwide since 2001

AFP  –     9 Hours  26 March 2021  – US Special Forces deployed around the world are at their lowest level since 2001, their chief, General Richard Clarke, said Thursday in Washington.

“Today, we have nearly 5,000 SOF [special operations forces] deployed to 62 countries,” the Special Forces command chief said in a document released on the sidelines of a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. That is down 15 percent from last year and the lowest number since 2001, the document said.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS SPOTLIGHT :  WHY IRAN’S PROXIES FEAR EVIDENCE

by Michael Knights Crisis Response Council March 25, 2021

Iraqi militias value legitimacy and try to portray themselves as acting within the law, so evidence-based approaches can be very effective at reining in those who attack on Tehran’s behalf.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis coined the phrase “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” and this is certainly the case when it comes to defeating the blurring tactics used by Iran-backed militias in Iraq. The February 15 rocket attacks on Erbil, a wanton act of vandalism that sprayed 107mm high explosive munitions across a densely populated city near a U.S. base, were followed by a new attack on U.S. forces at Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq on March 3. An Iraqi and a Filipino died in the Erbil strike, which wounded nine others; and a U.S. contractor died at Al-Asad. Kurdish security forces arrested at least two of the perpetrators behind the barrage of rockets that hit Erbil, and then reported he had confessed to undertaking the attack. The militia fighter in Kurdish custody claimed he was recruited by Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, a militia group struck by the U.S. in Syria last week, as a response to its involvement in the attack on Erbil.

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