courtesy of briarpatch
Syria sends oil to 2-year high, $150 spike feared
Published time: August 28, 2013 11:01
Oil has jumped to a two-year high and could see Brent spike as high as $150 per barrel as US and western allies move towards a military strike on Syria.
Follow RT’s live updates on Syria here.
Brent October futures are above $115 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate blend (WTI) hit $110 on speculation unrest in Syria will disrupt oil shipments and supplies in the Middle East. For WTI its the highest price since May 2011.
The US and Britain are gearing up in a coordinated military action against Syria, as both confirmed chemical weapons attacks were carried out against civilians, something the Assad government denies.
The US-Syria standoff could send oil prices soaring, and Brent could ‘spike briefly’ to $150 a barrel if the US initiates a military attack on Syria, Societe Generale bank told Bloomberg on Wednesday.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has given the green light to launch a strike against Syria, and is just waiting for the directive from President Obama.
“The concern is that an attack on Syria will reverberate through the region, increasing the spill over into other countries and possibly resulting in a larger supply disruption elsewhere,” Michael Wittner, the head of oil market research in New York, said in an August 27 report.
Oil-production in Syria is low, but its geographical position poses a threat to disrupt neighboring pipelines and seaways. Turkey, its northern neighbor, is home to 2 major pipelines that transport Iraqi oil to Europe and Central Asia.
A conflict in Syria would benefit more ‘detached’ oil producing countries, like Saudi Arabia, which would be able to capitalize on supply chokes in Iraq and Iran. Saudi Arabia has the capacity to produce 9.8 million barrels of crude per day.
Simultaneous turbulent politics to the south in Egypt could also threaten global supply, as Egypt hangs in an unresolved state of emergency, fanning fears Suez Canal operations could be disrupted. A crucial trade route, the canal handles 800,000 barrels of crude a day and the Suez-Mediterranean Pipeline, which also runs through Syria, is a regional transport staple.
A US-led strike would hook oil-rich Iran, a Syrian ally and OPEC member, into the conflict. Another big geo-political concern for oil investors is spill over into Iraq, a direct neighbor of Syria that produced 3 million barrels of crude per day in 2012. Many Syrian refugees have sought safety in Western Iraq.
Hawkish military hints of intervention in Syria have sent prices up despite a 2.47 million barrel increase in oil supplies last week, as estimated by the American Petroleum Institute.
Syria’s foreign minister has warned against military strikes and said his country’s defenses will ‘surprise’ the world.
A US-led missile strike seems likely in the next week, according to most political commentators.
Russia’s stake in expensive oil
Russia, an oil and natural gas dependent economy, and friend of numerous Middle Eastern oil producing states, has said it doesn’t plan to go to war with anyone over Syria, and the US may be jumping to conclusions.
Russia’s economy counts on oil prices above $100 in order to adequately fund the budget, of which is oil and gas revenue provide 50 percent of funds.
The country's reliance on oil prices in world markets makes it vulnerable to a surge in pricing, as the 2008 bust/boom dramatic rise and fall demonstrated. Russian officials, as well as investors, should fear any dramatic increases set off by Syria.
Crude oil prices in the summer of 2008 hit a record high of $147 per barrel, and then by December 2008, the bubble had burst and Brent was trading near $40 a barrel.
Chinese consumption and increased worldwide GDP, coupled with Syrian unrest, could create a demand bottleneck, and another bust/boom effect.
Kurdish parties show support for Alkhozai initiative and calls for signature at a national conference 29-08-2013 | (Voice of Iraq)
Alsumaria News / Baghdad
Expressed the Kurdish parties, on Thursday, support for the initiative of social peace in Iraq and "close national honor", launched by the Vice President Khodair al, and called for the need to hold a national conference to be signed by the leaders of the political blocs, while praised the wife of President Jalal Talabani role Alkhozai to highlight the role of the Presidency and the Constitution care.
A statement issued by the Office of Alkhozai and received "Alsumaria News", a copy of which, "The Vice President Khodair al visited the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Sulaimaniyah and met with Deputy Secretary General of the Union Korst Messenger and an official of the Political Bureau of the Party Mullah Bakhtiar," noting that "the two sides discussed Relations between the National Alliance and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the relationship between the center and the region. "
The statement added that "Alkhozai met at the same time the President of the Movement for Change Kurdish Nushirwan Mustafa and members of the political bureau of the Islamic Union of Kurdistan one at a time," pointing out that "Alkhozai briefed the leaders of the Kurdish parties on the initiative of social peace in Iraq and a document national honor and their role in contributing to solving the crises that Iraq is going through. "
The Alkhozai according to the statement that "the initiative of social peace in Iraq is the essence of national partnership and formulated by all the leaders of political blocs, which expressed support and support her," adding that "the success of the initiative is very important for Iraq given the challenges with the region and its impact on Iraq."
In turn, expressed Korst Messenger deputy secretary-general of the Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdish leaders in the MDC Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Islamic Union, according to the statement, "support for social peace initiative in Iraq and the National Honor document."
And called on the parties to "the necessity signed by the leaders of the political blocs and the National Conference, which would save Iraq's unity and cohesion of the Iraqis."
A statement last issued by Alkhozai office that "the vice president Khudair Khuzai visited the Lady Hero Ibrahim, the wife of President Jalal Talabani, to check on the health of the President of the Republic."
Khuzai stressed that "all Iraqis call to President Talabani speedy recovery as a safety valve for the political process and everyone remembers his national and moderate," he said, adding "walk on neutral approach with all the political components."
The statement said that "the Vice-President Mrs. Hero Ibrahim briefed on the initiative of social peace and national honor and document their role in resolving all the problems and crises experienced by the country and contribute to the building of a federal Iraq unified federal."
In turn, praised Hero Ibrahim, according to the statement, the "social peace initiative and the National Honor document, built at the same time a Alkhozai role in highlighting the role of the Presidency of the Republic and the auspices of the Iraqi constitution."
Khuzai was called, on Wednesday, the President of the Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, to attend the signing ceremony of the Charter of the national honor in the capital Baghdad, as discussed with the Vice-President of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Barham Salih, and national honor and document the social peace initiative.
And called on the Liberal bloc parliamentary, on Wednesday, the political blocs to find real solutions, not a "prosthesis" of the situation deteriorating in the country, while confirming that they do not want to initiatives "ink on paper", pointed out that the initiative Alkhozai require submission block the prime minister and the political forces of the will of the people.
And announced that the Iraqi List led by Iyad Allawi, yesterday (27 August 2013), it is not concerned with a document which intends to honor some of the leaders to sign it.
It is noteworthy that the vice president Khudair Khuzai launched, in May 2013, a document of honor for the maintenance of national unity for the Iraqi people and the protection of the national fabric, and the adoption of the principle of dialogue as the only way to address the problems and the contract that Taatari march of the political process in the country.
It is noteworthy that the political process in Iraq is witnessing a struggle unprecedented between legislative and executive powers, at a time when several governorates acts of violence, in addition to the wave of armed actions on a daily basis not seen since the years of sectarian tension in 2006 - 2008, was attacks by car bombs and improvised explosive devices and assassinations Occlusive weapons of voice targeted houses of worship and popular markets and security forces killed hundreds of civilians and members of the military and the police.
Nineveh to take precautionary measures to face the repercussions of the Syrian situation
29-08-2013 | (Voice of Iraq)
Alsumaria News / Nineveh
Nineveh province announced Thursday, to take precautionary measures to face the repercussions of the situation in Syria, in what was considered to deal with those risks can not be بالنفير and alarm status.
The governor said Ethel Nujaifi in a statement issued today, and received "Alsumaria News", a copy of which, "The speech of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki about the seriousness of the impact of the events in Syria to Iraq, agreed but to deal with those risks is not بالنفير and alarm status," noting that "This situation comes around ten years ago and not in the hands of the state apparatus something new offer is different from what it was in past years."
Najafi noted that "address the risks must be through political truce and the closure of hot or freezing files and points of disagreement and to make efforts to earn and offenders, but opponents and try to win even boycotted the political process."
Najafi stressed that "Nineveh province have begun to take action to prepare for the repercussions of the Syrian situation on the Nineveh province," noting that "these actions taken two years ago."
He pointed out that "everyone knows our determination to close the file of the Arab-Kurdish dispute in the province of Nineveh and turn the situation into understanding and dialogue in spite of all the accusations and rumors and politician who we were targeting him."
The commander in chief of the armed forces, Nouri al-Maliki announced on Wednesday (27 August 2013), the maximum state of alert and severe warning in Baghdad and the provinces to meet the security challenges, as confirmed to take all necessary action to protect Iraq from any development of the Syrian crisis.
It is noteworthy that U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced, the first on Tuesday (27 August 2013), that American troops are ready to launch strikes against Syria if he decides to U.S. President Barack Obama, launching an attack on them.
Senior officials in the U.S. administration, did not reveal their names, in a number of media, to strike the U.S. will be in response to a chemical attack in Damascus last week, مبينين it would not be "lasting probably more than two days and will be sparing the United States to intervene more the continuing conflict in this country for more than two years. "
The Syrian government has accused the armed opposition to the implementation of chemical attack, which occurred on August 21 near Damascus and led to the deaths of more than 300 people.
Purposes of the Western military intervention in Syria may pour into the attack on Iraq
29-08-2013 | (Voice of Iraq)
Iraq's ruling coalition suggested that the purposes of possible Western military strike on Syria comes to weaken Assad's forces and the victory with strengthening the army free, and provide an opportunity to seize weapons system terrorism, كلاها to hit the security aspect and exacerbated in Iraq.
BAGHDAD - Nazek Mohammed Khudair
Ali said Alfalh, a member of the House of Representatives for State of Law coalition headed by Nuri al-Maliki, for "news Moscow" that "what is happening in Syria has close correlation aspect of security in Iraq, and therefore al-Maliki wanted to alert everyone should unite and national unity if the exposed Syria's military strike Bank, and the consequences, "the occurrence of the Syrian regime and its weapons, however, terrorists, or weaken it with a hit of terrorism by the western aviation."
And added Alfalh: "There is a vision says that Western bent on beating Syria سيضعفون the Syrian forces and the Frente victory, with the strengthening of the army free," In all cases, the reaction generated in Iraq, "and the door of the bench-Maliki called on high alert in the country.
Confirmed Alfalh, that Iraq is with a peaceful solution, and did not take his mind about military intervention in Syria to punish the regime backdrop of the killing of innocent people with chemical weapons.
He said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, on Wednesday, that Iraq put its security forces on high alert ahead of an expected international attack on Syria.
Western powers considering a possible military strike against Syria after the news about the chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus last week, killing hundreds of civilians.
Maliki said: "We announce today that we are and all the security and political forces in Baghdad and the provinces and the whole Iraq on high alert and the alert level severe security challenges and procedures."
He added that the Iraqi authorities to take the necessary measures "to mitigate the war might have on internal crises at the level of the economy, services, and medical and health issues."
Iraq strengthened security measures along its borders with Syria, which has a length of 680 kilometers.
The Iraqi government says that the Shi'ite-led civil war in the Syria nourish attacks in Iraq by groups linked to "Al Qaeda" is working on both sides of the border.
This said Mohamed Okkaily member's coalition, for "News of Moscow", "The Iraqi government rejects the general use of chemical weapons against the peoples Almentvdh on their systems, including Syria, pointing out that what is happening Syria Ankaas negatively on the situation of Iraq's security and political."
And about interventions Western and Turkish to resolve the Syrian conflict Ugaili said, if there was a folly committed to intervene in Syria will تؤزم conditions will reap Europe and neighboring countries to Syria only deteriorating political and security ", describing Syria bomb ticking in the region could destroy everyone if struck," referring to the outbreak sectarian and ethnic wars in Iraq and the region, after which a military intervention in Syria. "
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement, Monday, that the Government of Iraq and condemned again condemns the use of internationally banned chemical weapons in the Syrian internal conflict. "
The Iraqi government has confirmed the need for a United Nations inspectors international investigation into this terrible incident and demand that all parties in the conflict to cooperate fully with the task of investigating, because this crime poses a serious violation of international humanitarian law must be held accountable the perpetrators .. dish of Foreign Affairs statement.
Political Role, Mahdi Army
By: Ali Abel Sadah for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse Posted on August 28.
The armed clashes between the Mahdi Army and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq that took place in east Baghdad at the beginning of August aroused concerns that armed conflicts might prevail in the streets once again.
Tensions have boiled over between the Mahdi Army and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq near Baghdad, as the Sadrist movement re-evaluates its military wing and vies for greater political sway.
The Mahdi Army and Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq: A Ticking Bomb
Author: Ali Abel Sadah
Posted on: August 28 2013
Translated by: Sahar Ghoussoub
Categories : Originals Iraq Security
On Aug. 3, 2013, in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad, gunmen from both sides clashed following a verbal altercation between Jassem al-Hijami, a leader in the Mahdi Army, and Sami Salem, a leader in Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.
Speaking to Al-Monitor, a lieutenant from the Sadr City police forces, Sajad Abdali, said, “Sami Salem opened fire on Hijami, killing him on the spot. Later, militants from the Mahdi Army attacked Salem and took him to an unknown destination. The kidnapping of a leader from Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq sparked clashes between the two sides, which ended in the death of a member of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.”
The news of the clashes in Sadr City reached westward toward the predominantly Shiite region of Hurriya, which is also home to supporters of the Mahdi Army and some advocates of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.
Armed clashes broke out in Hurriya, but did not last long. They were settled according to tribal traditions, which impose financial payments known as “fedya,” or bloody money, to be paid to the families of the dead.
Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, led by Qais al-Khazali, is one of the groups that defected from the Sadrist movement. The group is at loggerheads with the Mahdi Army, which is seen as the military wing of the Sadrist movement.
The head of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, described Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq as “a murderous group without any religion.” Meanwhile, Asaib Ahl al-Haq said that the movement’s accusations serve as “an attempt to carry out a political takeover.”
Reports claimed that on Aug. 5, 2013, Sadr closed his private office in the holy city of Najaf, located southwest of Baghdad, to protest the clashes.
However, in an official statement issued on Aug. 6, 2013, Sadr said he is withdrawing from political work as he “does not wish to be part of a conspiracy against the Iraqi people.” Sadr’s withdrawal suggests that controlling the Sadrist movement’s military wing has become a difficult task.
A former member in the Mahdi Army told Al-Monitor, “Some of the leading figures in the Sadrist movement issued a secret decision, after some al-Qaeda members were freed from Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons, requesting the Mahdi Army to protect the Shiite regions against unexpected violent attacks.”
“The decision caused sharp differences within the Mahdi Army and the political body of the Sadrist movement. Intensive calls have been made to prevent any move by the Mahdi Army, which would destabilize the situation,” he added.
The former member, who was active in the Mahdi Army between 2006 and 2008, added, “The army’s leaders are the most extreme and inclined to the use of arms. They believe that the Shiite-led Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has failed to protect Shiites from attacks by Sunni extremists and that they have to do something about it.”
On whether the Mahdi Army possesses weapons or not — despite that back in 2009, Sadr declared that the army had been suspended — the former member said, “The army’s leaders have weapons. Lately, it became clear that they certainly have large quantities of arms, especially with growing talk about a possible war with Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.”
The Mahdi Army has become a worrisome burden on the Sadrist movement, which seeks to become a political faction that does not work with weapons.
Nevertheless, the movement is likely to face great challenges in this quest, as many of its military wing’s leaders are characterized by a penchant for violence, sectarian sentiments and believe that the Shiite people are in constant danger, which compels them to be ready to fight.
This reality is weighing heavily on the movement’s political body, as those close to Sadr believe that the preparations for the parliamentary elections in 2014 require the exclusion of the Mahdi Army from the political scene.
Ali Abel Sadah is a Baghdad-based writer for both Iraqi and Arab media. He has been a managing editor for local newspapers as well as a political and cultural reporter for more than 10 years.
By: Adnan Abu Zeed for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse Posted on August 28.
Arab Jibor, a neighborhood south of Baghdad that is home to a variety of different sects, is part of an area that encompasses the Iraqi capital known as "hizam Baghdad," Arabic for the "Baghdad belt." In this neighborhood, roads are unpaved and winding, surrounded by farms and gardens.
Once a paradigm of multi-sectarian coexistence, the towns in the area circling the Iraqi capital known as the "Baghdad belt" have been some of the first victims of increased security measures and sectarian incitement in a turbulent Iraq.
'Baghdad Belt an Area that Seeks Shelter in a Sect
Author: Adnan Abu Zeed
Posted on: August 28 2013
Translated by: Sami-Joe Abboud
Categories : Originals Iraq
Haj Nasr al-Kaabi, a Shiite farmer who was repairing his house after it was damaged in the armed clashes that took place between al-Qaeda groups and the security forces, told Al-Monitor that home restoration is not an easy task as long as human beings have not first "restored" their souls.
The region has enjoyed stability for the past two years as a result of intensive security campaigns, which were implemented due to the occurrence of sporadic armed sectarian clashes. Those visiting the region in recent times would quickly notice a heavy military presence. Security checkpoints are located every thousand meters, starting from the highway toward the capital Baghdad, where the region ends with a major checkpoint east of the Dora region.
Safaa al-Omari, a citizen who has lived in the area since he was born, told Al-Monitor that the Arab Jibor neighborhood is the Sunni base of the Dora region, where the fiercest sectarian clashes took place between 2005 and 2007
The importance of the region currently lies in that it is part of the "Baghdad belt," which is witnessing continuous security operations as part of a campaign dubbed "revenge of the martyrs," started by the Baghdad Operations Command at the end of last month. This campaign started against the backdrop of attacks carried out by groups linked to al-Qaeda on the Taji and Abu Ghraib prisons on July 21, which resulted in more than 500 prisoners escaping and dozens of security officers dead or wounded.
Sheikh Diaa Mohamed al-Kalabi told Al-Monitor, “This week witnessed the displacement of the Bouchari clan from their areas to the Babil province [100 km, or 62 miles, south of Baghdad], after its members were threatened that they would be killed and after a number of sheep and cattle fell victim to improvised explosive devices planted in farms.”
This geographical belt surrounding Baghdad primarily comprises rural areas, and most of its residents come from tribes of various sects. It extends from the south of Baghdad — i.e., the Mahmudiyah and Yusifiyah areas and Arab Jibor — through the western areas — i.e., the Abu Ghraib boundaries — up to northeastern Baghdad, known as the rural area of al-Mada’en.
In the north, the outskirts of Diyala, located 57 km [35 miles] north of Baghdad, including Wajihiya and Rashidiya, fall within this “belt.” In the southern part of the Baghdad belt, adjacent to the areas of Arab Jibor, people of different sects have been peacefully living together for decades, including the Sunni al-Amer tribe and the Shiite al-Jaari tribe, as well as another mixture of al-Shibli, al-Chalabiyeen and other less populous tribes.
The sectarian incidents, however, have led to a sharp divide among different groups of the region. Some tribes and clans have been accused of including terrorist members, such as the Sunni Arab Jibor, al-Abid, al-Gharir and al-Janabiyeen tribes. For their part, al-Chalabiyeen are on the other side, having organized themselves in support councils that collaborate with the army and the security forces.
Saadoun al-Mohsen, chairman of Mahmudiyah’s support council, told Al-Monitor, “We are not arming ourselves against our Sunni brothers, but rather against armed takfiri groups that force Sunnis to cooperate with them.”
He continued, “At this particular time, Shiite families are forced to migrate from the villages of al-Ashra, Khodayr and al-Jalaa, which forced us to respond and call the security forces of the second regiment of the 25th Brigade.”
Sheikh Mohammed Diaa al-Alwan told Al-Monitor that the al-Chalabiyeen clan withstood an assault that was carried out at 10 p.m. on Aug. 14 following a violent clash and exchange of fire.
Saad al-Hadithi, an officer in Squad 17 of Regiments 23 and 25, who is in charge of protecting the southern part of the Baghdad belt, said, “Most of these areas have witnessed demographic changes since the 1970s, when the regime of the former President Saddam Hussein worked on a systematic plan by quietly and confidentially planning to make Iraqis of a certain sect live in Baghdad or its outskirts.”
In an interview with Al-Monitor, he added, “The former regime did not work on forced displacement as much as it worked on the establishment of military industrialization projects and civil laboratories, as well as major security, military and economic institutions that rely on a particular cadre of sects, thus leading to the phenomenon of expelling the residents of other communities from the Baghdad belt.”
In southern Baghdad, which witnessed the spread of huge military industrial plants and critical security institutions, the demographics changed to resemble that of the Babil governorate, creating sectarian clashes that particularly crystallized after 2003.
In each new security crackdown, the Baghdad belt areas receive the lion's share of security procedures.
Abdul-Qader al-Jubouri, who lives in one of the villages of the northern city of Latifiyah, told Al-Monitor, “The raids on houses and farms are not over. They are renewed with every security disturbance.”
About five years ago, Jubouri said, “Al-Qaeda-linked groups had the upper hand in this area, where they killed a lot of people based on their affiliations.” Jubouri continued, “Dozens of Iraqis died in the jungles of this religiously mixed area.”
For these reasons, any military operation in the “belt” is considered to be targeting a given sect. A preacher at the Diyala mosque accused the government of “trying to empty the Baghdad belt of its inhabitants.”
For his part, MP Dhafer al-Ani, a leader in the Mutahidoun coalition, deemed the security operations in the Baghdad belt to be a “genocide.”
The Baghdad belt was never a sectarian mystery, regardless of what happened. Everyone coexisted peacefully, despite pressures of the former dictatorial regime, the sectarian and nationalist selectivity that was practiced and the sectarian sedition that plagued the region after 2003.
However, this mosaic that has been homogeneous for decades — at least on the surface — is now preparing for a new way of life, aspirations and values.
US: Iranian Involvement in Syria, Iraq Must Stop
By Armando Cordoba
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iran’s involvement in fueling the Syrian civil war by recruiting young Iraqis to fight in the conflict must be stopped because it is stoking sectarian violence in both Syria and Iraq, according to US Secretary of State John Kerry.
“We cannot allow them (Iranians) to play on the sectarian divides that recruit young Iraqis to go fight in a foreign war, the same way we cannot allow Al-Qaeda and other extremists to recruit young men from Iraq and elsewhere to join their twisted version of jihad,” Kerry said, before going into a meeting in Washington with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari more than a week ago.
“We will discuss the ongoing efforts of Iran and Hezbollah that are trying to fuel the dangerous conflict in the region from the other side,” Kerry said.
Washington is concerned that Iran has been working behind the scenes of the Syrian civil war through its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, recruiting Iraqi Shiites to fight in Syria. Tehran has also taken advantage of the instability in Iraq to ship arms to Syria through Iraqi airspace.
Zebari told the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in July that Iraq is unable to stop the flow of weapons from Iran to Syria.
The weapons are being used by Shiite forces like Hezbollah, who are fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad against the main opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) and radical Sunni groups like the Al-Nusrah Front.
Kerry said that both the Iraqi and US governments will use the Strategic Framework Agreement as a roadmap to achieving stability in the country and lowering Iran’s influence on young Iraqis. The accord includes defence and security measures such as border security, Iraqi military strategy, counter terrorism cooperation and extensive training for Iraqi security forces.
Meanwhile, Zebari assured reporters that the Iraqi government was not sending fighters to Syria.
“No volunteers are going -- no Iraqi volunteers are going -- to Syria with the consent of the Iraqi government at all. I mean, any volunteers who are going may be encouraged by some militias, by some people who want to fuel the conflict and the violence,” Zebari said.
Kerry said that Baghdad must make “significant progress” in stopping the flow of weapons into both Iraq and Syria.
Iraq’s sectarian violence has spiraled out of control since April, and more than 1,000 Iraqis died in July from the violence -- the highest toll in five years, according to the United Nations.
Zebari said Iraq has remained neutral in the Syrian crisis and has not provided any weapons, oil or money to Syrian regimes. But despite all of this, “our position has been difficult,” he confessed.
PYD: Assad Regime Was Not Behind Damascus Chemical Attack
“I think it is pretty clear that chemical weapons were used against people in Syria,” American Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a BBC interview on Tuesday.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – As a US-led multinational initiative is girding for possible military intervention in Syria, the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) denies that the Syrian regime was behind last week’s chemical weapons attack in Damascus.
In an interview with Reuters, Salih Muslim says that Syrian President Bashar Assad would not have used chemical weapons so close to his capital.
"The regime in Syria... has chemical weapons, but they wouldn't use them around Damascus, five kilometers from the (UN) committee which is investigating chemical weapons,” Muslim told Reuters. “Of course they are not so stupid as to do so."
Muslim, whose group is accused by some Kurdish parties and the Syrian opposition of making backroom deals with the Assad regime, claims that the Syrian army has the upper hand in the civil war and therefore did not need to resort to the use of chemical weapons.
“Some other sides who want to blame the Syrian regime, who want to show them as guilty and then see action” are behind the chemical attack, according to Muslim.
Meanwhile, American military officials are already contemplating options for a strike against the Assad regime for the attack that killed hundreds in the suburbs of Damascus.
“I think it is pretty clear that chemical weapons were used against people in Syria,” American Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a BBC interview on Tuesday.
The Syrian regime has denied using chemical weapons, saying it is opposition propaganda.
But the US military chief said that intelligence reports rule out rebel involvement in the chemical attack. “The intelligence conclude that it wasn’t the rebels who used it,” he said.
Muslim’s party has run a virtual autonomous state in the Kurdish areas of Syria since the withdrawal of the Syrian army and security forces last July, and its military wing has successfully fought off extremist elements inside the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the jihadi Jabhat al-Nusrah.
Murky Chemicals and the Assad Regime
By DAVID ROMANO
Photos and video footage from the chemical weapons attack on the southern suburbs of Damascus August 21 offer the world another heart wrenching glimpse into Syria today. With some six hundred civilians casualties from the chemical attack, this one seems impossible to shrug away. Given President Obama’s Syrian “red line” statement of last year, sacred post-World War One international conventions against chemical weapons use and the United Nation’s recently adopted (2005) “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, America’s and the international community’s credibility seems to be at stake.
Feeling like we need to do something and knowing what to do are two very different things, however. To begin with, it’s not completely clear who was responsible for the attack – no matter how certain American, British and French officials try to appear on television. Skeptics, along with the Assad regime, Russia and Iran, ask why the Assad regime would resort to chemical weapons now, when the war has finally begun to go in its favour? Why risk Western intervention in a war you are winning? Why use the weapons when U.N. inspectors are in the country, and why use them near Damascus only some 5 kilometers away from where the inspectors are staying?
Feeling like we need to do something and knowing what to do are two very different things,
If the regime is not responsible for the attack, however, that only leaves one of the many rebel groups fighting it (assuming we agree to avoid absurd scenarios, such foreign spy agencies with chemically armed mortar teams running around Damascus undetected). I don’t doubt that some of the Syrian opposition groups are ruthless and immoral enough to do such a thing to their own people in a sympathetic Damascus suburb under rebel control. Given their recent losses on the battlefield and growing desperation, Syrian rebels clearly have a strong incentive to attract Western intervention one way or another. In May 2013 Carla Del Ponte, a U.N. investigator in Syria, even suggested that Syrian rebels may have used limited amounts of Sarin gas in some attacks.
For this latest attack, however, opposition fighters would have had to get their hands on much more significant amounts of nerve agent gas, and they would have had to launch the operation undetected and without any defectors confessing to the whole dastardly enterprise. This simply sounds too unlikely, especially given that there has not been a single report of rebels seizing any significant chemical weapons caches from the Assad regime during the course of this war – and a number of intelligence agencies have been monitoring the regime’s chemical stockpiles very closely for just such an eventuality.
All of which takes us back to the Assad regime. Of course the Assad regime would rather not get bombed by the United States and other Western countries, and a chemical weapons attack like this one, with large numbers of civilian casualties, almost forces Washington’s hand. We should not, however, equate every incident with perfect intent. Accidents happen, especially in the fog of war. A rogue chemical weapons unit commander, including Bashar Assad’s younger brother Maher, is one possibility. I don’t see it as particularly likely, however, given that Maher should not be considered any less rational than his elder brother. These sorts of units are also tightly controlled by the regime. Yet at the time of this writing, the evidence that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry seems about to present the world involves an intercepted phone call from a high Syrian official to a chemical weapons unit in Damascus under the control Maher. In the call, the panicked regime official apparently seeks more details about the unit’s chemical attack.
The most likely explanation has the Syrian government mounting a chemical attack that was simply much more effective than originally intended. Since May 2013, in fact, Western intelligence agencies publically stated their belief that the Assad regime has been using chemical weapons on a limited scale. It was not in the White House’s interest to admit this, since they had no desire to be forced over Mr. Obama’s red line into a meaningful Syrian intervention. The evidence was just too clear to deny, however, so the United States fudged its red line by claiming that the chemical weapons had been used in such a limited way by the regime that real intervention in the war was not merited.
The most likely explanation has the Syrian government mounting a chemical attack that was simply much more effective than originally intended.
It also makes good sense for Damascus to make limited use of chemical weapons, provided Mr. Assad thinks he can get away with it. The weapons terrorize civilian populations supportive of the rebels. At the first mention of a possible chemical attack on civilian areas, rebel fighters have a tendency to abandon their posts in order to go check on their families. The recently attacked suburbs south of Damascus endured as a real headache to the Assad regime, which needed to maintain control of the city at all costs. Yet assault after assault over the past year had failed to dislodge rebels from these suburbs. The regime also appeared to have gotten away with previous, limited chemical weapons attacks elsewhere in the country. Given the extent to which Mr. Assad’s forces shell rebel-held civilian areas with conventional weapons, we should not assume any real moral compunction against weapons of mass destruction. So last week the order was probably given to mount a limited chemical attack, and a local unit commander of the Syrian army let fly with a few too many chemically-laden shells, or displayed a bit too much accuracy, or both. Hence the intercepted, panicked phone call from headquarters.
If my analysis here is correct, however, that still leaves the question of what to do about it. The U.N. Security Council will remain deadlocked on the issue, thanks to a Russian and Chinese veto. Sending in some stealth bombers and a salvo of cruise missiles despite that hardly seems likely to end the Assad regime or the misery in Syria, and doing so without a real strategic plan or more clarity about what actually happened last week would be rash. American voters also seem to have little appetite for the kind of effort that a more sustained military intervention would require, especially when the Syrian opposition includes so many Islamist extremists. All of which means that Assad may just get away with this latest atrocity, again.
David Romano has been a Rudaw columnist since August 2010. He is the Thomas G. Strong Professor of Middle East Politics at Missouri State University and author of The Kurdish Nationalist Movement (2006, Cambridge University Press).
Parliamentary Integrity is preparing to sue the ministers and deputy not disclose ذممهم financial
29-08-2013 | (Voice of Iraq)
Baghdad / Baghdadi news / .. A member of the Parliamentary Integrity Committee Ammar Al-Shibli, Thursday, that the Integrity Commission is preparing to sue the officials, ministers and members of the House of Representatives who were struggling to detect about financial ذممهم.
Shibli said in a statement to / Baghdadi news /, "The legal department at the Commission on Public Integrity Division has developed procedures relay form disclosure of financial receivables to the officials concerned," noting that "in the absence of provide you Svhm this Division to raise lawsuits against them."
He pointed out that "the Commission will file lawsuits against members of the House of Representatives, ministers and general managers in the coming days in the case of lack handed over Svhm the financial."
The Integrity Commission has announced the commencement of audited financial accounts of senior officials outside Iraq, and conducted refund procedures and wanted fugitives outside the country, demanding the House of Representatives to lift the immunity of MPs accused of corruption to facilitate consideration of their cases.