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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Israel and the Kurds, a Clandestine Love Affair of Regional Outcasts

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

(JNi.media) That Israel is a country surrounded by hostile neighbors is hard to deny. However, Israel does have a few friends in the Middle East, most notably, the Kurds. The Kurds, who comprise 15-20% of Iraq’s population are major trading partners with Israel, and the two peoples also share the bond of having common enemies, if not friends. Kurdish fighters are struggling to resist the onslaught of the violently radical Islamic group, ISIS, and need money and weapons to prevail. The Kurds have been selling oil independently of the Iraqi government to France, Italy, Greece and Israel. Their sale of oil to Israel must be executed secretly, since the Iraqi government is hostile to Israel and does not recognize its existence. To avoid detection, some speculate that a quantity of oil is shipped through Cyprus before heading to Israel. It is estimated that Israel purchased $1 billion of crude from the Kurds or 19 million barrels, which comprise 77% of Israel’s total oil consumption.

It is rumored that, in addition to purchasing oil, Israel is funding the Kurds in their efforts to strengthen the Kurdistan Regional Government in its fight against the Caliphate and the Iraqi Shiite government.

Israelis and Kurds share more than a trade relationship and a desire to keep ISIS at bay–the two groups are closely linked genetically. A 2001 study conducted by a team of Israeli, German and Indian scientists discovered that Jews around the world are more closely related genetically to the Kurds than to the Semitic Arabs, for instance. The research involved examining 526 Y chromosomes from 6 populations (Kurdish Jews, Kurdish Muslims, Palestinian Arabs, Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, and Bedouin from Southern Israel) and compared it with data from 12 populations, including Russians, Poles, Belorussians, Berbers, Spaniards, Portuguese, Arabs, Armenians and Anatolian Turks. Kurdish Jews and Sephardic Jews showed striking similarities, and the majority of Ashkenazi Jews who possess Eu9 genes are descended from Judeans who lived in Israel two thousand years ago. Areilla Oppenheim of Hebrew University wrote in the November 2001 issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics that Jews are closer genetically to Northern Mediterranean populations (Kurds, Armenians, Anatolian Turks) than to populations in the Southern Mediterranean (Arabs and Bedouin).

The history of Jews and Kurds can go a long way in explaining this genetic link. Most of the Biblical ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (aka Smaria) were taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 721-755 BCE, and were sent to Media, Assyria and Mesopotamia, or modern Kurdistan. When Nebuchadnezzar II came to power, he brought the Jews from Israel to Babylon, adding to the numbers already delivered there by the Assyrians. When the Persian King Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to Israel, a large number of them, who had accumulated wealth, stayed behind. The Jews who remained in Babylon, which contained within its borders Kurdistan, maintained contact with their brethren in Israel, and supplied them with goods as well as some scholars, such as Hillel, head of the Sanhedrin around the time of King Herod. A revolt against the Roman Emperor Trajan (ruled from 98 to 117 CE) met with a bloody reprisal, but, under the authority of the Persians and the Parthians, Babylonian Jews enjoyed a degree of autonomy.

Kurdistan was the birthplace of the Babylonian Talmud and a center of Jewish scholarship. Many conversions were performed back then, and among them were Kurdish King Manobazes, his wife, Queen Helena, and their son Izates (although some historians question this because of a chronological discrepancy). A consensus of scholars agree that Judaism was well-established in Kurdistan by the 2nd century CE. Despite conversions to Christianity in the 4th and 5th centuries, the tradition of Jews in Kurdistan extended until the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. Kurdish Jews spoke an Aramaic dialect and visited the tombs of Jonah and Daniel, located in Kurdistan.

Report: Israel Buying Most of Its Oil from Iraqi Kurdistan

Monday, August 24th, 2015

For a number of months, Israel has quietly been importing more than three quarters of its crude oil from the semi-autonomous northern region of Iraq still controlled by the Kurds, despite some unhappiness from Baghdad.

The remainder is purchased from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia, its long-time suppliers.

News of the deals was made public early Monday in a report on the international Financial Times website.

Refineries and oil firms in Israel imported more than 19 million barrels of Kurdish oil between May 1 and August 11, according to satellite tanker tracking data, trade sources and shipping data. Among the trading companies involved in these quiet transactions have been Vitol, Petraco and Trafigura, FT reported.

Total sales for the period at this volume, using international prices, are worth (Israel may have paid) close to $1 billion.

Other customers for Kurdish oil during this period have included Italy, Greece and Turkey. In addition, some 17 percent of exports were shipped to Cyprus, where the oil is then transferred from one ship to another for export “elsewhere.”

But the export of northern Iraqi oil begins with shipping through Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. From May 1 to August 11, more than a third of that was sent to Israel, although some may have subsequently been exported elsewhere.

However, Israel’s domestic consumption levels out at approximately 240,000 bpd (barrels per day).

There have been three benefits to the move, if not more.

First and most obvious, Israel has been able to obtain the crude at a reasonable price due to its geographic proximity. Some industry sources say Israel is receiving a discount from the Kurds, although Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials denied the report.

Second, because Israel invests so much of its consumer dollars in Iraqi Kurdish product, the Kurds have better resources with which to fund their war against Da’esh (ISIS). This is especially important, since it seems that only the Kurds have been able to present a consistent, long-haul effective fighting force against the Da’esh terror machine.

Third, every dollar invested with Iraqi Kurdistan is a dollar that frays the ties between Erbil and Baghdad – or perhaps, the ties between Erbil and Iran. For decades, Baghdad has feared the Kurdish yearning to carve out a free and sovereign state of Kurdistan.

But today one can quite legitimately ask who exactly is in control in Baghdad. Most regional analysts believe the Iraqi government no longer exists, other than to provide a fig leaf for Tehran.

Israel is one of the biggest customers of northern Iraqi / Kurdistani oil at this time. Baghdad still does not recognize the State of Israel. Cash-strapped Kurds, however, are much less concerned about who is buying the oil; their concern is getting money to pay for survival.

“We do not care where the oil goes once we have delivered it to the traders,” a senior Kurdish official was quoted as saying to FT. “Our priority is getting the cash to fund our Peshmerga forces against Da’esh (ISIS) and to pay civil servant salaries.”

ISIS used Mustard Gas on Kurds, Likely Obtained from Syria

Friday, August 14th, 2015

U.S. officials said on Thursday, Aug. 13, that Islamic State terrorists this week used mustard gas against Kurdish forces in Iraq.

Mustard gas, or sulfur mustard, is a type of chemical warfare agent that is not found naturally in the environment and which today has no medical use. It blisters the skin and may lead to blindness, adverse effects to the respiratory and digestive tracts and bone marrow abnormalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No antidotes currently exist for mustard gas exposure.

And where did ISIS get that mustard gas? They probably obtained it from Syria, Wall Street Journal reporter Adam Entous said he was told by U.S. officials.

CBS is reporting that a senior Department of Defense official said the mustard gas was either “leftover from Saddam Hussein stockpiles” or “were brought over from Syria.” Of course, it could be the same chemicals from both sources, as Hussein was believed to have whisked stockpiles of chemical weapons from Iraq and hid them in Syria.

In 2013, Syria’s Bashar Assad’s government admitted having caches of mustard gas as well as other chemical warfare agents.

At that time, U.S. President Barack Obama claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin removed Syria’s chemical weapons, but U.S. intelligence now admits Syria was able to hide some chemical weapons reserves from international inspectors.

Saddam Hussein also used mustard gas against the Kurds in 1988.

The Kurds claim that ISIS used chlorine gas, another chemical weapon, against them in a Jan. 23 suicide truck bomb attack in northern Iraq.

Iraq Vets Oppose Nuclear Iran Deal

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

There is a new group working to defeat the Nuclear Iran deal agreed to by the U.S. and its partners in the P5+1 and Iran. It is called Veterans Against the Deal.

This group takes issue with U.S. President Barack Obama’s position that those who do not support the Iran deal are choosing war. These are Iraq war veterans who, unlike President Obama, have seen war up close and definitely do not want more of it.

The Iraq war vets started Veterans Against the Deal last month, and it has begun its rollout. On Monday, Aug. 10, Veterans Against the Deal released its first video.

The first of the group’s ads features medically retired staff sergeant Robert Bartlett, and it is directed at Montana’s Senator Jon Tester (D).

Bartlett tells us that in 2005 he was blown up by an Iranian bomb. Half of his face was blown off, and his gunner lost both his legs.

“Every politician who is involved in this will be held accountable, they will have blood on their hands,” he says in the ad. “A vote for this deal means more money for Iranian terrorism. What do you think they are going to do when they get more money?”

Later ads will air in North Dakota and West Virginia, and will go on from there.

In an interview with Bloombergview’s Josh Rogin, VAD executive director Michael Pregent said “We are going to challenge those people who are on the fence.”

According to Pregent, “veterans know Iran better than Washington, D.C., does. You’ve got a lot of veterans out there who are pretty upset about this, so we are looking to capture their voices and make sure they are heard.”

The new group is composed of Republicans and Democrats.

“We don’t want to make this a partisan issue,” Pregent said. “We’ll have Democratic vets who voted for Obama participating in this as well.”

He said the veterans and families who are involved are motivated only by their own experiences and views.

“These guys want to be heard. They know this enemy. They have a constant reminder of permanent loss because of Iran,” he said. “If someone said to me, ‘Aren’t you exploiting these veterans and families?’ I would say, ‘No, aren’t you ignoring these veterans and families?’”

In the first ad, Bartlett says “every politician involved in this will be held accountable – they will have blood on their hands.”

ISIS Executes 19 Women and Girls for Refusing ‘Sexual Jihad’

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Nineteen girls and women were executed in Iraq over the weekend by Da’esh (ISIS) for refusing to participate in “sexual jihad” with terrorists in Mosul, Iraq.

The execution was reported Monday by Said Mimousini, a spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Party in Mosul in an interview with Iraqi News.

Many Yazidi and Christian girls and women were captured by the terrorists last year and sold as sex slaves. But the practice may also prove the undoing of the group: Mimousini said there have been splits in the ranks in Mosul and internal conflicts over money and the distribution of women.

Girls who have somehow managed to escape the clutches of Da’esh have told media of how they were forced to marry ISIS fighters, and how they were physically and sexually abused.

As many as 3,000 women and girls having been taken captive from the Yazidi tribe in Iraq alone. In addition, Da’esh has captured and enslaved numerous other minorities in the territories it has seized.

Last October, ISIS published a brochure showing the prices for the purchase of female slaves.

The price tariff is simple; the older they are the cheaper they are, RT Novosti reported. “All prices are quoted in Iraqi Dinars but U.S. dollar equivalent shows that radical fighters can get children aged 1 to 9 for about $165, prices for adolescent girls are $124 and it’s less for women over 20. Women over 40 cost as little as $41.”

Last year Da’esh also produced a manual containing rules about how female slaves, women and children should be treated by its fighters.

During this past Ramadan, the group launched a contest to encourage its fighters and followers to memorize Qur’an passages, using young girls as prizes for the top winners.

Zainab Bangura, a United Nations envoy for sexual violence in conflict, is investigating the group’s sex trade. Bangura said “girls are peddled like barrels of petrol,” according to the UK-based Daily Mail, adding that “one can be bought by six different men.”

There is even a marriage bureau which organizes all of these ‘marriages’ and the sale of women, Bangura said.

However, occasionally ISIS will also sell the girls back to their families as well. “Sometimes these fighters sell the girls back to their families for thousands of dollars of ransom,” Bangura said. Valerie Amos, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, added that women and girls as young as 12 are enslaved and sexually abused.

“Kurdish refugees from Kobane report the capture of young girls there for sexual purposes, girls as young as 12,” she said.

Amos added there has also been a rise in the incidence of forced marriage, due in part to the rise in family poverty.

More to the point, however, families are terrified of losing their daughters to ISIS fighters in areas under their control – a phenomenon she called a “war crime.”

“ISIS has carried out mass victimization of civilians including murder, enslavement, rape, forcible displacement and torture, and has violated its obligation towards civilians,” Amos said.

She was particularly damning of the sluggish response of the international community to enforcing Security Council Resolution 2139 which passed in February of this year. The resolution outlined a number of basic human rights demands that opposition fighters and the Syrian government are required to follow.

Obviously, no one has paid any attention to the resolution since its passage.

Foreign Ministry Calls Sunni Arab Nations ‘Israel’s Allies’

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

 

Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama dreamed about a “new Middle East” under the leadership of the United States. They were dead wrong.

They may have fantasized that they could make peace between Israel and Sunni Muslim states, the foremost being Saudi Arabia, but their worst nightmares did not envision such an alliance being formed in opposition to none other than the United States.

Dore Gold, director of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador to the United Nations, finally spelled out on Wednesday what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has whispered for months. The Muslims and the Jews have two common problems. One is an enemy, meaning Iran, which threatens to rule an Islamic Caliphate with or without a nuclear weapon.

The other problem is the Obama administration, which is appeasing the enemy.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated several times that Israel and Saudi Arabia have a common interest in making sure that Iran does reach nuclear weapons capability. Gold went a lot farther in his message last night to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Referring to Iran, he said:

What we have is a regime on a roll that is trying to conquer the Middle East and it’s not Israel talking, that is our Sunni Arab neighbors — and you know what? I’ll use another expression – that is our Sunni Arab allies talking.

Allies?

What happened to the “unshakeable bond” between the United States and Israel? It is there as long as people believe it. An era does not in a day, and American Jews will believe in that “unshakeable bond” for a long time to come because it makes them feel good.

And isn’t it President Barack Obama who is ready help arm Israel once again, after having forced it to be armed to the teeth by surrendering to many of Iran’s terms in his ObamaDeal, which Israel and the Sunni Arabs are certain is nothing more than a well-paved diplomatic road to hell?

Americans are too far away from the shores of the Middle East to feel the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran the way Jews in Israel and Muslims in the Gulf States feel it.

If Israel and its “allies” were to get it through the State Dept.’s thick skull that a nuclear-armed Iran is no less of a threat to the United States that it is to the United States, perhaps Americans would worry a bit more about Tehran and less about Mexican immigrants, homosexual marriages and Donald Trump.

Gold was upbeat, or at least tried to sound that way, about future relations between Israel and the United States in the likely event that Congress will not be able to ditch ObamaDeal.

He said:

We will find a practical way to come up with solutions to a very dangerous situation. But in the meantime we have to tell what we think about this agreement. We have to say the truth even though it’s unpleasant.

It also may be very unpleasant for President Obama amid his successor to realize that  their influence in the Middle East is dwindling. President Obama was overjoyed at the Arab Spring rebellions for “democracy,” which in the Muslim Middle East means “anarchy” and which was the reality for too long a time in Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria. Iraq is a lost cause.

Obama may have reached out Muslims, but he grabbed a handful of radical Islam that now threatens more than half the world.

He, like most other American politicians, assumes that Israel has no choice but to rely on the “unshakeable bond” with the United States.

The Iran-Iraq War in 3 Minutes

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

The Iran-Iraq war in 3 minutes – a short history, not because someone used a nuclear weapon.

After 8 years of fighting, Iran likes to claim they won the war, but they didn’t… unless you count how they undermined the United States’ later efforts to rebuild Iraq.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/tv/video-picks/the-iran-iraq-war-in-3-minutes/2015/07/19/

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