Last edited on Jun-25-2016 at 05:28 PM (UTC3 Nineveh, Assyria)
Masoud Barazani (image: Presidency.krd)
Kurdish President Barzani: The Sykes-Picot Agreement Has Failed; It Is Time To Establish A Kurdish State by MEMRI, May 23, 2016. Special Dispatch No.6444.
In a statement on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement, Masoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, called on the international community to acknowledge that the Sykes-Picot agreement has failed. Barzani said that this agreement, which disregarded the makeup of the region and the will of its peoples, was a great injustice perpetrated against these peoples, especially against the Kurds. For the Kurds of Iraq, he said, it resulted in 100 years of discrimination and atrocities perpetrated against them by the various Iraqi regimes. Barzani stressed that, despite this, for 100 years these Kurds did their best to protect the integrity of the Iraqi state. But today, the countries of the region and the world at large must not allow the tragedy to continue, but must allow the peoples of Iraq to determine their political future. Barzani called for a serious dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil to reach a new solution. "If partnership cannot be achieved, let us be brothers and good neighbors," he said.
The following are excerpts from the English version of his statement, as published on the official website of the Kurdistan Region Presidency.<1>
The Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) has reportedly dug 7 illegal oil wells in the Nineveh Plain. Local Mayors who have tried to deny access to land under their jurisdiction to KDP geologists and drilling crews have been warned at gunpoint by Kurdish security forces to stand down.
“...Kurds, and Arabs, undermine the Assyrian identity, by referring to them, respectively, as Christian Kurds, and Arab Christians, to deny their Assyrian identity, because it indicates that they are the indigenous inhabitant of Iraq.
...there were no Kurds and Arabs settlements in the Plain of Nineveh before 1912 AD.”
“Our Smallest Ally is now homeless, and dependent on our charity at Baqubah, for its lands and villages have been utterly destroyed, and it has the further mortification of seeing - from reasons beyond our control - that although it threw in its lot with the ultimately victorious side, Kurds, and others of the defeated enemy, are in practical possession of its ruined homesteads.”
— H. H. Austin Brigadier-General
“Can Great Britian, now that she is responsible for order in the country, afford to neglect so valuable a military asset as this nation has proved itself to be?”
"Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement. This agreement led to the carving up of the region following the First World War, disregarding the opinion of the peoples of the region and of the geographical reality in the region. It was a great injustice on the peoples of the region, especially the Kurds.
"The consequences of this agreement were first and foremost detrimental to the people of Kurdistan in the state of Iraq. An Iraqi state that was originally established to be based on partnership between Kurds and Arabs, in fact decided to marginalize the Kurds. Successive Iraqi regimes have since denied Kurds their rights and have committed great tragedies against the Kurdish people. The share of the Kurdish people in this partnership has been the murder and deportation of 12,000 young Faili Kurds, the murder of 8,000 Barzanis, the murder and disappearance of 182,000 Kurds in Garmiyan area and elsewhere, the chemical bombardment of Halabja, the destruction of 4,500 Kurdish villages, the Arabization of Kurdish areas, and countless other injustices.
"After the uprising of 1991, the people of Kurdistan opted to open a new chapter with the state of Iraq, and refrained from retaliation against their perpetrators. But this too was futile as the then Iraqi government continued its oppressive policies against the Kurdish people.
"After the fall of the Ba’ath regime in 2003, the people of Kurdistan decided to return to Baghdad and to help build a new Iraq by the drafting of new constitution that guaranteed the principles of genuine partnership, democracy, and federalism. Instead, Iraqi governments have since disregarded the constitution, reneged on their commitments, ignored partnership, and decided to cut the Kurdistan Region’s budget share...
"For all intents and purposes, today Iraq is a divided country along sectarian lines. In Iraq, in Syria, and many other countries, Daesh has rendered borders meaningless, and new borders have been created. The people of Kurdistan are not responsible for this in Iraq. The responsibility lies with those who carved up the region one hundred years ago, and with the flawed policies of the rulers of the region who have wanted to maintain stability by the use of force, violence, and oppression. In this, they have failed.
"In the last one hundred years, the people of Kurdistan have tried their best to protect the territorial integrity of a genuine state of Iraq, but to no avail. I would be thankful to anyone to come forward and tell us what more the Kurdish people could have done to protect the unity of Iraq. To prevent war, instability, and more tragedy, the Sykes-Picot agreement must be revised. The people of Iraq cannot any longer tolerate war, disagreement and extremism. We cannot continue with more tragedy and insist on a one-hundred-year-old arrangement that has demonstrably failed. The international community and regional countries must understand that in order to end the tragedies of Iraq, we must take into account the makeup of the country, and leave it to the peoples of Iraq to determine their political future. On the future of the Kurds in other parts, they must each seek their solutions through peace and dialogue, and based on their special circumstances.
"We must acknowledge the new realities; citizenship has not been developed; borders and sovereignty have become meaningless, the Sykes-Picot agreement is over. The international community must shoulder this historical responsibility and instead of insisting on the continuation of the suffering of the people of Iraq, they must seek a real solution for Iraq and the region. Otherwise, we are destined for continued war, extremism, and tragedy, and international peace and security will be under threat...
"On this hundredth anniversary of Sykes-Picot agreement, I call for a serious dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to reach a new solution. If partnership cannot be achieved, let us be brothers and good neighbors.
"If political parties in the Kurdistan Region, for whatever reasons, decide not to shoulder this historic responsibility to act, the people will make their decision, and the people’s decision will be stronger and more legitimate. I am confident that the people of Kurdistan will make the right decision."
Last edited on May-29-2016 at 00:31 AM (UTC3 Nineveh, Assyria)
“Sometimes, throwing money at a problem doesn’t resolve the problem, especially when the Kurds seem more intent on collecting aid than fighting corruption, and when the goal of defeating ISIS remains secondary to playing intra-Iraqi political games.”
Kurdish official calls defeating ISIS ‘a huge mistake’ by Michael Rubin American Enterprise Institute (AEI), April 26, 2016.
Iraqi Kurdistan has spent millions of dollars on lobbying to depict itself as a democracy, as an ideological ally of the United States in the region and as committed to the fight against the Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS. The reality is far more complex.
In the weeks before ISIS seized Mosul, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) apparently supplied some weaponry, like Kornet anti-tank missiles, to ISIS in order to weaken the central government with whom Masoud Barzani was locked in a political dispute.
A poster of Massoud Barzani president of the Iraqi Kurdistan inside the peshmerga base in Makhmour, after it was freed from control of Islamic State, south of Mosul, April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah.
Barzani refused repeated requests by the Yazidi community first to send peshmerga reinforcements to defend them and then to at least provide the Yazidis with weaponry to defend themselves. As ISIS advanced, the peshmerga fled, leaving the Yazidi communities unarmed and undefended. The mass murder of Yazidi men and boys and the enslavement of Yazidi women were direct results.
Last August, shortly before Masoud Barzani’s term in office expired, his security forces convoyed through the streets of the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil weaponry and equipment donated by the international community to fight ISIS. Rather than use the weaponry to fight ISIS, he had apparently stockpiled it to bolster his own political militia relative to rival Kurds.
(YouTube) 1322 Balls Hill RD NE, McLean Virginia 22101 USA
Now, a KRG official has said that it might not be a Kurdish interest to defeat ISIS. Hiwa Afandi, a managing director in the KRG Department of Information Technology, tweeted, “Strategically, it’s a huge mistake to eliminate ISIS before we are done with Hashd militiamen. They represent a much bigger danger to Iraqis.”
So, an up-and-coming official in Barzani’s political party believes that fighting Shiites should trump defeating ISIS? The Obama administration’s response? Give the Kurds an additional $415 million.
Sometimes, throwing money at a problem doesn’t resolve the problem, especially when the Kurds seem more intent on collecting aid than fighting corruption, and when the goal of defeating ISIS remains secondary to playing intra-Iraqi political games.
Qubad Talabani, center, the deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, and Karim Sinjari, the minister of the interior and acting minister of pesh merga affairs, right, met in Washington in April with Zalmay Khalilzad, a former United States ambassador to the United Nations. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Iraqi Kurds Build Washington Lobbying Machine to Fund War Against ISIS by Eric Lipton. The New York Times, May 06, 2016.
“Mr. Talabani and the small delegation that Kurdistan has in Washington have used tactics similar to those of corporations that spend millions of dollars to grease the levers of power, retaining five firms to push its cause. They have been effective, winning over a rare combination of military hawks, conservative Republicans and a collection of liberal Democrats in Congress. More important, they secured a commitment late last month for $415 million in additional aid to support the Kurds’ pesh merga militia force.”
WASHINGTON — The marble-floored atrium at the office of Dentons, a prominent law and lobbying firm, is a popular venue for the capital’s elite to gather for political fund-raisers and ritzy receptions for corporate clients.
But the featured guest one recent evening was not a member of Congress or a company executive. It was Qubad Talabani, the deputy prime minister of the regional government of Kurdistan, the financially struggling region in northern Iraq that is desperately looking for ways to pay for its war effort against the Islamic State after its economy was decimated by the global drop in oil prices and a surge of refugees.
“You cannot win a war bankrupt,” Mr. Talabani said in an interview. “If we are the boots on the ground against ISIS, we have to be supported to stand on our own feet.”
Washington is bloated with thousands of special pleaders, most of whom want to push or derail legislation or a regulation. But Mr. Talabani’s visit — which included meetings with officials from the White House, StateDepartment, Pentagon and on Capitol Hill — came with a decidedly different agenda: seeking money to finance a foreign war.
Mr. Talabani and the small delegation that Kurdistan has in Washington have used tactics similar to those of corporations that spend millions of dollars to grease the levers of power, retaining five firms to push its cause. They have been effective, winning over a rare combination of military hawks, conservative Republicans and a collection of liberal Democrats in Congress. More important, they secured a commitment late last month for $415 million in additional aid to support the Kurds’ pesh merga militia force.
“They are willing to fight,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, who is a member of the Kurdish-American Congressional Caucus, which the lobbying team helped set up in the House. “They are the only group that has had consistent battlefield success.”
Kurdish officials say they will continue to press for additional money for ammunition, armored vehicles and protective gear against chemical weapons, requests that lawmakers say they are looking for ways to accommodate.
What is perhaps more notable is that the Kurds are succeeding even in a climate of austerity on Capitol Hill. The relative stability in Kurdistan and in its capital, Erbil, contrasted with the continuing chaos in Baghdad — highlighted by the storming last Saturday of the Iraqi Parliament building by protesters — has only enhanced the clout of the Kurds in Washington. But it is also an area of a continued threat, including to American military forces there, with one American service member killed by enemy fire near Erbil on Tuesday during a clash with the Islamic State.
The cash crunch in Kurdistan — so severe that the government fell behind in payments to the pesh merga forces — has complicated the lobbying effort, meaning that some of the firms have been paid less than specified in their contracts. Dentons, for instance, collected just $5,000 a month during parts of last year instead of the $20,000 a month called for in its contract.
But the lobbying pitch has, if anything, only intensified. Disclosure records filed with the Justice Department show more than 2,300 contacts with members of Congress — emails, telephone calls, meetings and other events — just in the last half of 2015, including private conversations with at least six United States senators.
The campaign, taking place at the same time as Kurdistan is planning a referendum on a proposal to establish itself as a nation independent from Iraq, has created tensions between Washington and Baghdad. Iraqi officials are engaged in their own diplomatic effort, backed by another high-priced Washington lobbying firm, the Podesta Group.
In addition to the push for more money for their military, the Kurds and their lobbyists recently persuaded the United States to remove two of Kurdistan’s prominent political parties from a list of potential terrorist groups.
Kurdistan is not entitled to have an official embassy in Washington; its small but well-connected team instead operates out of an embassy-like townhouse a few blocks from the White House that displays flags from both Iraq and Kurdistan.
Delegation led by @qubadjt met with officials from White House National Security Council, April 12, 2016. Washington, DC, United States.
“We have to punch above our weight,” said Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the head of the Washington-based delegation, who like Mr. Talabani was educated in Britain, and speaks with a British accent. “We have no choice.”
The Kurdish lobbying team in Washington mobilized last summer. A series of private meetings were set up with lawmakers including Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, as the lobbyists and the Kurdish delegation attempted to line up votes for a Senate proposal to provide direct military support to the Kurds, bypassing Baghdad.
The Obama administration objected to the proposal. But the measure was popular enough to win 54 votes, just a few short of the 60 it needed to move ahead, sending a clear sign that the Kurds had wide congressional support.
Thanked @SenFeinstein for continued support & talked opportunities for further efforst to assist KRG against Daesh.
“It is easy for the Kurds to make the case as more people in the United States now recognize who the Kurds are and what they are doing,” said David M. Tafuri, a former State Department official who helps lead the Dentons team lobbying for Kurdistan. “So it is easier for them to get an audience in Washington.”
Besides Dentons, the lobbying team includes Ed Rogers, a Republican and former White House aide who is a founder of the BGR Group, and Joe R. Reeder, a former under secretary of the Army during the Clinton administration who is now at the lobbying firm Greenberg Traurig.
Kurdistan, which until the drop in oil prices had seen its revenues surge in recent years as it increased exports of oil through a pipeline connecting the region to Turkey, has spent nearly $6 million on outside lobbyists and public relations firms in Washington since 2010, far more than countries like Kazakhstan and Pakistan.
The Washington-based team of Kurds, led by Ms. Abdul Rahman and an employee assigned to focus on lobbying, Remziya Suleyman, have their own personal stories of hardship.
Ms. Abdul Rahman’s father and brother were killed in 2004 during a bombing in Erbil. Ms. Suleyman was 3 when her family fled Kurdistan in 1988 to escape chemical attacks carried out under Saddam Hussein.
To bolster the effort, the Kurdistan government has sent a stream of top officials to Washington, including Mr. Talabani, as well as Sherzad O. Mamsani, who was recently named as Kurdistan’s first director of Jewish affairs in an open appeal to build support in Israel for the Kurdish effort.
Already, the Kurds have started to receive some behind-the-scenes support from political consultants who work on Israel’s behalf in Washington and who see the Kurds — a minority group that like the Jews have at times been targeted for persecution by Arabs in the Middle East — as an unusual but potentially important ally.
It is a delicate relationship, Ms. Abdul Rahman agreed, because the Kurds cannot appear to be too closely aligned with Israel without causing tensions with neighbors like Iran.
“Here in Washington, if the pro-Jewish and pro-Israel interests see the Kurds are a friend of the Jewish community, it could lead to Congress being even more forceful in its support of the Kurdish Regional Government,” said Zach D. Huff, a political consultant who traveled to Washington from Israel in April to help the Kurdish lobbying effort, a visit that included a meeting with the powerful, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, to ask for its assistance.
Just last month, two House lawmakers — Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida, and Brad Sherman, Democrat of California — both known as strong supporters of Israel, introduced their own resolution, asking the State Department to send military assistance to the Kurds.
Not to be outdone, Mr. Franks, who more typically is focused on finding ways to cut federal spending, moved to reintroduce legislation authorizing the Pentagon to deliver weapons directly to the pesh merga, bypassing Baghdad, and setting up what will most likely be another clash with the Obama administration.
“My priorities?” Mr. Franks said. “Assisting our allies, the Kurds, in their fight against ISIS.”
A version of this article appears in print on May 7, 2016, on page A13 of the New York edition with the headline: Iraqi Kurds Build a Lobbying Machine in Washington to Fight ISIS at Home.
Last edited on Oct-04-2017 at 08:59 AM (UTC 3 Nineveh, Assyria)
The Assyrian Confederation of Europe (ACE) represents the Assyrian European community and is made up of Assyrian national federations in European countries. The objective of ACE is to promote Assyrian culture and interests in Europe and to be a voice for deprived Assyrians in historical Assyria. The organization has its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Assyrian Confederation of Europe www.assyrianconfederation.com | info < a t> assyrianconfederation.com
Erasing Assyrians: How the KRG Abuses Human Rights, Undermines Democracy, and Conquers Minority Homelands by Reine Hanna and Matthew Barber | Assyrian Confederation of Europe, September 25, 2017 Special thanks to Max J. Joseph and Mardean Isaac for their assistance and contributions during the research for and composition of this report.
This report is produced with a concern for Assyrian human rights and longevity in their homeland. The Assyrians are a people who have existed in Mesopotamia for thousands of years, yet we may be witnessing the very disappearance of this community, in our time. The end of the Assyrians in Iraq means the eventual end of the Assyrians. This may sound dramatic, but it is a very real possibility and not an exaggeration: The situation of Assyrians in Iraq is beginning to resemble the previous situation of Assyrians in Turkey, Iran, and Syria, which is a terrifying thought. Iraq, and specifically the Nineveh Plain, represents the only hope for a sustainable future that maintains the vital connection of Assyrians to their heritage. Without it, the ancient language and culture of the Assyrians could die.
A number of serious abuses that victimize the Assyrian people are underway in their homeland but are not widely known among those in the international community who have a concern for the welfare of minorities in Iraq. This report endeavors to raise awareness about these human rights violations and about the political dynamics that seek to deliberately undermine Assyrian efforts to develop a stable framework of local administration and security in the Nineveh Plain.
This report conveys and contextualizes findings made by a representative of the Assyrian Confederation of Europe (ACE) during a research trip to Iraq in December 2016 and January 2017, in addition to data gathered on an ongoing basis from a wide range of members from many Assyrian communities in Iraq. It seeks to convey a detailed understanding of the current situation facing Assyrians in northern Iraq.
ACE has interviewed approximately 100 men and women of Assyrian communities in the Kurdistan Region and the Nineveh Plain. In addition, ACE continues to conduct follow-up telephone interviews. All individuals interviewed were informed of the purpose of the interview, and verbally consented to the use of information provided in this report. Names and identifying information of many interviewees have been withheld in the interest of their personal safety.
Organization of This Report
This report is divided into five parts, with Part Two and Part Three comprising the bulk of the report. Following the introduction provided in Part One, Part Two deals with the broad range of problems facing Assyrians in the disputed territory of Nineveh. Part Three then examines problems experienced by Assyrians living inside the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). These sections are followed by a shorter Part Four that presents some examples of how the KRG has responded when human rights abuses have been publicized. The report is completed with some policy recommendations in the concluding Part Five.
\ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)
1: an ancient empire of Ashur
2: a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern
Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)
a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of
its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender
4: a democratic state that believes in the freedom of
religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the
principles of the United Nations Charter —
Ethnicity, Religion, Language
Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
\ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)
1: descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur
2: the Assyrians, although representing but one single
nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now
doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle
ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding
hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the
East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.
These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the
Christian Era. No one can coherently understand the Assyrians
as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church
from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly
difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for
in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control,
religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a
criterion of nationality.
the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya,
Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean,
Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu,
Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye,
Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. —
1: a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of
the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.
2: has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical
Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.