MESOPOTAMIA NEWS SOUTH KURDISTAN (IRAQ) CDJ members criticize Barham Salih for attempt to reunite with PUK, Iraqi Kurdistan

15 Sept 2018 – MESOP – SULAIMANI, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— Five founding members of the Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ) wrote on Thursday an open letter to the coalition head, Barham Salih, strongly criticizing him for “diluting justice” by attempting to reconcile with the PUK.

The open letter was titled “Why did we support CDJ and why did we quit?” by the members of the coalition’s general council Razaw Mahmoud, Jawad Saed and Rezan Arif as well as the Kurdish MP Gasha Dara and former Kurdish MP Sarwar Abdullah.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS Analysis: Iranian Missile Strikes Against Kurdish Dissidents in Iraq

Over the weekend, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired seven short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) at the headquarters of Iranian Kurdish dissidents in northern Iraq. The move follows an uptick in violence between Tehran’s security establishment and Kurdish insurgents, allegations about foiled terror plots in the country’s Kurdish-heavy west, as well as the recent execution of three Iranian Kurdish males imprisoned for allegedly having ties to terror groups.

Iran’s use of tactical SRBMs against such foreign targets warrants a larger discussion about the country’s missile capabilities and willingness to use them. It also requires an accurate assessment of what occurred on the ground and in the media space on this issue since September 8.

Who were the targets of the attack?

English-language Kurdish outlets like Kurdistan 24 reported that two Iranian Kurdish groups, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI/KDPI) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP-I), were the regime’s intended targets. The assault, dated September 8, was against the groups’ headquarters in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Koya (also known as Koy Sanjaq/Koysinjaq). The PDKI is Iran’s oldest Kurdish nationalist group, having attempted everything from armed struggle to a cold peace with central Iranian authorities since the group’s founding in the 1940s. The KDP-I however, split from the PDKI in 2006 over contesting the Iranian government. Hostilities between Iran and armed Kurdish groups continues, and escalated this year.

Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency reveals that Tehran had specific Kurdish facilities in mind, including the “KDP-I’s political bureau, the PDKI’s training center, and a Peshmerga complex.” The PDKI’s Twitter account added that Iran also targeted “adjacent refugee camps in Koya, Iraqi Kurdistan.” Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency published a list of 11 names that were killed in the attack. Reuters reported that the strike “killed at least 11 people” while AFP and the PDKI official statement report 15 persons killed. Rudaw reported 16 dead.

What sort of ‘attack’ took place?

According to English-language Kurdish sources, Iran’s missile strikes were precipitated by or concurrent with an aerial or artillery attack, alleging that the headquarters in Koya was shelled as well. These same sources were the first to claim that the IRGC “fired six ground-to-ground missiles,” which are also known as surface-to-surface missiles, or SSMs. While the claim about the type of missile – SSMs – can now be treated as accurate given additional reporting, once the IRGC took responsibility for the strike, Persian-language sources put the number of missiles launched at seven, not six.

Footage carried by early Iranian reporting – likely from a handheld device – shows at least five-to-six missiles streaking through the air, creating white plumes of smoke. The video then pans to the target area showing three-to-four clouds of dark smoke rising from a building, hinting at impact without showing the moment of impact. Persian-language outlets later carried clips from Iranian TV that provided footage from an unnamed type of Iranian drone that was circling the area. These clips show at least three separate explosions at the facility, indicating that at least some missiles hit their target. Photos from the headquarters on Kurdish outlets show a collapsed ceiling, the point where at least one missile would have likely fallen.

What type of missile was reportedly launched?

While Iranian outlets did report on September 8 that SSMs were launched against Kurdish insurgents in Iraq from a distance of 220 kilometers (km), it was only on September 9 that the missile’s name was revealed. According to Tasnim News Agency, Iran launched the Fateh-110B, an upgrade to the Fateh-110 SRBM. Tasnim’s use of the modifier “B” is odd, since unlike Western sources, Iranian sources tend not to distinguish between various versions of the Fateh-110 itself. Instead, Iranian outlets usually omit reference to the Fateh-110’s upgrades unless they are reporting on a new missile variant from the same family (see Table 1) with improved capabilities. When Iran has used English letters to denote missile variants before, it has opted to do so – at least publicly – with its medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs), like the Ghadr-F and Ghadr-H.

 

Table 1: Fateh-110 Variants Reported With Different Names

Name of Missile Missile Type Propellant
Fateh-313 SRBM Solid
Zulfiqar SRBM Solid
Fateh Mobin SRBM Solid
Hormuz 1 and 2 Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) Solid
Khalij-e Fars ASBM Solid

 

The Fateh-110B has a range of 300 km and is propelled by solid fuel. This type of propellant is preferred for its battlefield flexibility and requires relatively little prep time prior to launch, making it ideal in a surprise attack weapon. All of Iran’s SRBMs rely on solid propellant, and, like the Fateh-110B, all of Iran’s SRBMs are single-stage systems with a reported separating warhead. Although Tasnim did not report the weight of the warhead this missile could carry, independent experts put this weight at 450500 kg, however, the lower number is probably more accurate.

Another feature of the Fateh-110 and its variants (see Table 1) is that they are billed as Iran’s most accurate missiles. While this a tall order for a country whose ballistic missile arsenal is usually derided because of their relatively low-accuracy, a comparatively lower (and thus modestly more accurate) circular-error probable (CEP) for Iran’s solid-fuel SRBMs makes them a natural choice for such missions. Changes in Iranian ballistic missile accuracy have been identified by scholars as a measure of evolving Iranian missile power. This evolution stands to enable new strategies for Iran, such as coercion.

Why do these missile launches matter?

In general, ballistic missile launches – either flight-tests or operations – matter because they provide states with crucial data about the operational reliability and readiness of its missile arsenal. Launches also offer officials qualitative and quantitative information about each missile’s functional range, accuracy, battlefield effectiveness, and usefulness for political signaling, deterrence, and coercion. Given the injunction against missile testing and transfers in UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231 which codifies the Iran nuclear deal, such launches carry additional significance. In 2018, Iran reportedly launched as many as 10 SSMs with a ballistic trajectory (see Table 2). Since agreeing to the nuclear deal in July 2015, Iran has launched as many as 33 ballistic missiles.

 

Table 2: Reported Iranian SSM Launches in 2018

Date Name of Missile Missile Type Propellant Launch Type Number Launched
January 2018 Scud Variant (likely Shahab-1, Shahab-2, or Qiam-1) SRBM Liquid Test 1
January 2018 Shahab-3 Variant (likely Ghadr-1/101, Ghadr-F, Ghadr-H, or less likely, Emad) MRBM Liquid Test 1
August 2018 Fateh Mobin SRBM Solid Test 1
September 2018 Fateh-110B SRBMs Solid Operation 7

 

However, these most recent launches are particularly significant because they are part of a renewed trend in Iranian ballistic missile use to retaliate against regional adversaries from Iranian territory. In June 2017, Iran fired as many as six SRBMs from its own territory (a combination of what this author assumes to be five Zulfiqars and one Qiam-1) at Islamic State (ISIS) positions in eastern Syria to respond to their terror attack within Iran. That strike was historically significant because the last time Iran fired a ballistic missile in a military operation outside its borders was against the base of an Iranian opposition group in Iraq in 2001 (see Table 3 for all post-Iran-Iraq War ballistic missile strikes outside Iran).

 

Table 3: Reported Non-Wartime SSM Launches Against Foreign Targets

Date Name of Missile Missile Type Propellant Number of Missiles Launched Entities Targeted
November 1994 Shahab (likely 1 or 2) SRBM Liquid 3 Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI)
November 1994 Scud (likely Shahab 1 or 2) SRBM Liquid 3 MEK
June 1999 Scud-B SRBM Liquid N/A MEK
November 1999 Scud (likely Shahab 1 or 2) SRBM Liquid N/A MEK
April 2001 Scud (likely Shahab 1 or 2) SRBM Liquid 44 – 77 MEK
June 2017 Zulfiqar and Qiam-1 SRBM Solid (Zulfiqar), Liquid (Qiam-1) 6 ISIS
September 2018 Fateh-110B SRBM Solid 7 PDKI and KDP-I

 

Traditionally, Iran has opted to proliferate weapons like small arms, rockets, SRBMs, and anti-tank and anti-ship missiles to its proxies and partners to stymie and bleed its regional adversaries, as well as disguise its hand. But well publicized missile launches from Iranian territory against foreign targets along with an attempt to provide audiences with video or images from the strike as a battle-damage assessment is altogether new, and indicative of at least five phenomenon:

1) A growing confidence in the accuracy of the regime’s missile force.

2) A continued desire to signal to foreign and domestic audiences that its missile capabilities are evolving.

3) That the threshold for firing a ballistic missile into another states’ backyard in the Middle East is dropping.

4) That the regime is confident such action will not invite a destabilizing kinetic reprisal on the Iranian homeland.

5) That Iran’s missiles do much more than bolster the regime through deterrence.

Therefore, Iran’s decision to fire ballistic missiles from its territory against regional adversaries matters because it is an indicator of what the Middle East has in store as Tehran marches towards a potentially effective conventional ballistic missile capability. Iranian attestations that its most recent strike on Iranian Kurdish groups in Iraq was aided by intelligence – and then broadcast and reported back via drones – means that such a force is already being explored by the Iranian leadership. To that effect, a hardline Iranian outlet, Defa Press, recently quoted an Iranian security official in a headline as saying “Whomever wants to threaten Iran’s security will be faced with a missile response.” Perhaps now more than ever, this Iranian threat has the capability of being carried out.

Behnam Ben Taleblu is a Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD)

Behnam Ben Taleblu is a Research Fellow focusing on Iran at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

www.mesop.de

 

The U.S. Can Defuse Iraq’s Crisis – Help prevent a civil war among the Shiites by providing water, energy and medical assistance.

 MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS GENERAL OPINION BY KIMBERLEY KAGAN (ISW)

 By Kimberly Kagan and Frederick W. Kagan  –  Sept. 12, 2018 6:56 p.m. ET   THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Iraq may be on the brink of its biggest crisis since 2006, when a civil war threatened to topple its nascent democratic system. Government formation talks have dragged out as pro- and anti-Iranian factions jockey for influence. Corruption and basic governance failures have triggered mass protests—particularly in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city and primary oil-export hub. Armed militia factions are mobilizing. Iranian proxies have fired the first shots at the U.S. Embassy since 2014, showing their intent to use force to accomplish political goals. All this raises the prospect of an intra-Shiite civil war.

Such a conflict could lead to the collapse of the Iraqi state and allow Islamic State to re-emerge. It also could allow Tehran to consolidate control over the government in Baghdad while targeting American personnel throughout the country.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : Iraq’s Next War – Rival Shiite Factions Could Be Headed Toward Disaster

By Ranj Alaaldin – FOREIGN AFFAIRS  13 Sept 2018 – When Iraq and the international community liberated Mosul last year, the Iraqi government declared victory: the three-year conflict against jihadist terrorists who had seized much of the country’s north was over. But the declaration was premature. ISIS remains a major threat, not only because of its own acumen as an insurgent movement but because Iraq’s ruling elites have failed to address the conditions that enabled ISIS in the first place. Their failure to address the basic needs of a deeply destitute and conflict-weary population, to remedy political and social divisions, and to forge a common national framework that unifies the country could soon pave the way for yet another devastating civil war as rival groups compete for control of the Iraqi state.

After the parliamentary elections in May 2018, Iraq was supposed to turn the page to a new, post-ISIS, even post-sectarian chapter, in which politicians would remedy the country’s polarization, endemic corruption, and violent instability. Yet things are getting worse, not better, for Iraq. Iraq’s weakened Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, who came in third in the elections, put forward a series of tokenistic anti-corruption initiatives that failed to convince Iraqis who are impatient with piecemeal, symbolic reforms. Corruption can take years to remedy, Iraq’s politicians explain—patronizing a population that has already waited more than fifteen years for reform.

The elections were followed by mass demonstrations in much of southern Iraq, including Basra, where protestors burned provincial council buildings and the Iranian consulate and stormed the offices of political parties. Iraq’s security forces and government-sanctioned Shiite militias responded with deadly force and human rights abuses. Basra holds Iraq’s largest oil reserves, accounts for 80 percent of the country’s oil exports, and provides more than $7 billion a month to the government coffers. It should be Iraq’s richest province, but it is among its poorest. Like much of Iraq, the city

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS “OUR LATEST” :

13 Sept 2018 – Security firm: Iran targeting #Kurds with spyware http://www.kurdistan24.net/…/4c075a4d-72b0-44fd-9189-7f7f80…

More via www.mesop.de

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS REPORT Generalstreik in Iranisch-Kurdistan -Von HIWA BAHRAMI

Mittwoch, 12.09.2018 / 17:53 Uhr jungle world

Nachdem am 8. Sep. 2018 drei kurdische politische Gefangene im Iran hingerichtet worden sind und einige Stunden danach die iranische Revolutionsgarden die Stellungen und Camps der Demokratischen Partei Kurdistan Iran (PDKI) mit Marschflugkörpern beschoss, die zum Tod von sechzehn Personen und über fünfzig Verletzten führte, mobilisierte die Plattform für Zusammenarbeit der iranisch – kurdischen Parteien zu einem Generalstreik am heutigen Tag.

 

Bilder: Kurdistan24
Bilder: Kurdistan 24

 

Die Teilnahme an diesem Generalstreik ist besser, als erwartet gewesen. Menschen in allen Städten in Iranisch-Kurdistan folgtem dem Aufruf. Aufgrund der massenhaften Beteiligung kann man durchaus von einem historischen Tag sprechen.

Die klare Botschaft des Generalstreik das Regime in Teheran, lautet:  Nein zum Mullah-Regime, Ja zu Demokratie, Menschenrechte, Säkularismus und Selbstbestimmungsrecht der nationalen  Minderheiten im Iran.

Für mich glich dieser Streik sogar einem Referendum, in dem die kurdische Bevölkerung im Iran dem islamischen Regime in Teheran eine Absage erteilte. Es gab eine weitere Botschaft auch an die kurdische Parteien. Sie lautete: Wir werden euch und euren gerechten Kampf und die Aktivitäten der Peschemrga -Einheiten im Iran unterstützen, dafür fordern wir Einigkeit und Zusammenhalt von allen Parteien. Ich denke, beide Botschaften, sowohl an Teheran als auch an die kurdischen Parteien sind angekommen. Heute ist dem Regime in Teheran klar geworden, dass es in Kurdistan längst abgewählt worden ist.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS BACKGROUNDER : EXPLAINING BASRA’S UNREST — FROM POLLUTED WATER TO A CRY AGAINST IRAQ’S ELITES AND IRAN

Posted by Balsam Mustafa | Sep 9, 2018 | EA Birmingham, Middle East, World | www.mesop.de

 “These protests, led by Basra’s young people, demonstrate that they can no longer be fooled. These youth do not care about Iraq’s sectarian conflicts.” 

Weeks of protests in southern Iraq over lack of services and jobs, corruption, and Government disfunction have escalated into unrest in Basra, the country’s second city. Government buildings have been burnt, and on Friday the Iranian Consulate was torched.

Balsam Mustafa explains the causes and significance of the demonstrations:

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Intra Shi’a Civil War Begins in Iraq

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS INSIDER BY “INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR”!

By Jennifer Cafarella and Kimberly Kagan with Aaron Hesse, Samantha Leathley, and Jason Zhou

An intra-Shi’a civil war is beginning in Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi and Iranian proxy leader Hadi al Ameri are locked in a power struggle to dominate the formation of the next Iraqi government. The U.S. is backing Abadi and temporarily disrupted Iran’s play in late August. ISW warned on August 28th that Iran could escalate militarily in response. Abadi and Ameri separately declared coalitions of Council of Representatives (CoR) members sufficient to gain the status of the “largest bloc” on September 2nd. The largest CoR block has the constitutional right to choose the next Iraqi Prime Minister.  The resulting stalemate has protracted government formation negotiations past legal deadlines. Each side is escalating with force in order to break this political stalemate.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS INTEL : Conference of the Deputy Chiefs of Staff of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Russia

SOUTH KURDISTAN (IRAQ) – MESOPOTAMIA NEWS INTEL : Conference of the Deputy Chiefs of Staff of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Russia 

  1. Sept 2018 – MESOP – On September 1, 2018, a meeting was held in the office of the Iraqi defense minister, attended by the deputy chiefs of staff of Russia, Iran, and Syria, and the assistant to the Iraqi chief of staff. The meeting took place on the margins of the quadripartite security conference, held in order to increase security and intelligence coordination between the countries in the war against ISIS (Facebook page of the Iraqi Defense Ministry, September 1, 2018; Enab Baladi, September 1, 2018). The participating countries reportedly set up a joint operations room against ISIS, which is still operating in the desert region on the Iraqi-Syrian border (Al-Nahar, September 1, 2018). MORE VIA www.mesop.de

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS DOCUMENTS : Iraqi Communist Party: No to Violence and Oppression in Basra!

The Political Bureau of the Iraqi Communist Party issued the following statement on 4th September 2018:

The bloody events in Basra have escalated gravely during the last few hours. The latest reports spoke of the fall of more martyrs and dozens of people wounded, the storming of the building of the provincial government and of a total curfew in the province.

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