Iraq threatens WAR with Turkey over military occupation

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi threatens to initiate a regional war if Turkey does not withdraw its military forces from Northern Iraq.

(BAGHDAD/ANKARA) Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has warned Turkey that it risks triggering a regional war by keeping troops in Iraq, as each summoned the other’s ambassador in a growing row.

Relations between the two regional powers are already broadly strained by the Syrian war and the rise of the Islamic State militant group. Continue reading

Great Power Realignment – To Russia?

  • As the Russians insist that the Assad government is the only legitimate government, all anti-Assad fighters — ISIS, al Qaeda-related, or U.S.-backed or Turkish-backed “moderates” — are, by definition, terrorists.
  • Russian — and in particular Syrian — tactics are appalling. Washington would rather not be associated with them, but has a horror of the vacuum that might emerge if Assad is swept aside. Mainly, the U.S. has hung its hat on the International Syria Support Group. The U.S. is muddled, as usual, without a clear goal, clear allies or fixed positions beyond support for a “political process.”
  • The U.S. is looking less and less relevant, as historic Great Powers do what they have historically done best — fight for their national interests as they define them. President Obama appears to be conceding the lead to Russia and Russian aims.

The shelling of Syrian soldiers by the Turkish military is one more step back into Great Power politics — historic Turkish-Russian enmity played out over Kurds and Syrians. The U.S. appears to believe 21st century wars cannot be won by military force and that battling parties can be induced to set aside their national and religious aims for a negotiated “peace.” Meanwhile, the parties to the conflict are using their armies to pursue victory.

Continue reading

Policy-Shaping Power in the Middle East (I)

BAGHDAD/ERBIL/BERLIN (Own report) – With its military intervention in Syria and Iraq, Germany is emerging as a “policy-shaping power in the Middle East,” according to a government advisor of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The intervention in Syria, decided last week, could, therefore, last ten years and could be accompanied by “long-term” efforts to “politically reorganize” the entire region, with the cornerstone being military units, equipped and trained by the German government, serving as ground troops for the war against the “Islamic State” (IS/Daesh). In Iraq, the militia of the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq could take on this role, whereas Berlin only provides minimal support to the Iraqi government’s armed forces. Whereas the government in Baghdad has good relations with Iran and Russia, the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq is seen as loyal to the West. Having illegally remained in office beyond the August deadline in an insidious coup, the Regional Government’s President Masoud Barzani, with whom German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met yesterday, is responsible for the brutal repression of civil protests. Ultimately – and with Berlin’s military aid for his Peshmerga – Barzani may be able to proclaim “Iraqi Kurdistan’s” statehood.

Continue reading