US President Barack Obama had hailed the re-capture of the Mosul dam by Iraqi Kurds and the Iraq military as a major advance towards finding an end to the invasion of the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS.
The US military prioritises the safety of the dam on the Tigris River as it can endanger the American Embassy personnel in Baghdad. Providing air support and arms to assist the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting against the Islamic State, the joint efforts of Iraq, US and Kurdistan had made significant gains in northern Iraq.
Meanwhile, Canada has offered $5million (£2.9m) in humanitarian aid and two military cargo planes to help ship weapons to the Peshmerga forces.
The UK also announced its participation in the battle against ISIS. It has committed £13m for aid assistance and non-combat air support and surveillance.
The ISIS are an al-Qaeda splinter group operating independently as they broke away from Syrian rebels fighting against the Syrian regime. These groups, hardened by battles in Syria, had taken over several Iraqi towns and imposed harsh Sharia law. They had executed defenceless soldiers and had exiled or executed Christians and Shiite Muslims in regions they invaded.
Iraqi military and Kurdish Peshmerga had found the dam isolated upon arrival. However, teams did not enter at once as they anticipated proximity explosives had been planted around the entire area. Around 170 bombs had been dismantled around the dam so far.
In the previous week, Kurdish Members of Party had withdrawn themselves from Iraq’s Central Government after Iraqi President Nouri Al-Maliki accused the Kurds of helping extremists for personal Reasons. Kurdistan’s Foreign Minister had asked Al-Maliki to step down from office and said that Iraq needed a new, more effective leadership.
The United States Congress said that they viewed Al-Maliki’s policies as highly-sectarian, which drove the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the militant group threatening Iraq’s government, to gain power and sympathy among Iraqis.
Al-Maliki once accused the Kurds of “stealing” Iraq’s wealth. During the era of Saddam Hussein, Kurdistan had been excluded from the oil trade. Today, it has cut deals with Exxon Mobil, Shell and Chevron. Kurdistan has one of the nine largest oil reserves in the world. The feud between Iraq’s government and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan became worse because of this.
Al-Maliki had called on the world to stop the possible division of Iraq as the Kurdish opposition and the Sunni militants continue to apply pressure against Iraq. Al-Maliki pointed out that division will also split people and resources. He also warned Middle Eastern Nations that the division of Iraq could spread towards their countries.
According to UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay, the Sunni militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) may have committed war crimes. A photograph and video of the execution of hundreds of disarmed Iraqi soldiers in unspecified locations in northern Syria had the UN and the US alarmed. The systematic execution is tantamount to war crimes.
Observers speculate the execution to have happened in city of Tal Afar. Meanwhile, the ISIS are moving closer to Baghdad, invading some nearby towns along the way. In the last week, they have invaded Mosul.
The Iraqi government had increased the security of the Iraqi capital. The heavily-armed militants have recently brought down a government helicopter in Fallujah city, which is west of Baghdad.
The ISIS have also captured several Iraqi military depots, which house US-grade military equipment. The Iraqi soldiers trained by the US have abandoned their posts, leaving the rebels with formidable equipment to further their cause. The same soldiers may have been the ones killed during the summary execution shown in the photographs
The US is sending 275 military personnel to protect the American interests in Iraq.
Chief Pillay had specified that war crime is tantamount to killing an unarmed civilian or combatant. If an enemy has surrendered, they shall not be killed.
The ISIS also have the sympathy of the Sunni Muslims, which make up a significant fraction of Iraq’s population.
Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani said that his country will not provide support for an authoritarian Iraqi government led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Kurdistan, a crucial Iraq ally because of its economic contribution via oil reserves, is crucial to al-Maliki’s third term.
Al-Maliki’s political rivals find Kurdistan’s disillusionment advantageous for their own political campaigns.
Barzani pointed out that Kurdish parties will discuss negotiations with Iraq’s new government right after the elections on April 30 had announced its final results.
He pointed out that “all options are on the table. It is time for final decisions. We are not going to wait another decade and go through the same experience again. If we boycott the process, we will boycott everything, parliament and the government.”
The source of the disappointment of Kurds in Iraq was the broken promise when they helped al-Maliki win the election of 2010, allowing him to have a second term. They were promised a shared power and help the Kurds find their own territory, which they continue dispute with the Arabs today.
Barzani had attempted to remove al-Maliki from office through a vote of no-confidence in 2012. He also said that the negotiations with the next Iraqi government will require more than just paper agreements.
Increasing tensions between the United States and Russia expand from the Ukraine and Syrian Crisis into the Middle East. Analysts said that there was no possibility of a return to the “Cold War” relationship between the two countries, but that Russia is looking to return its Soviet era dignity as a powerful and diplomatically competitive nation.
Russia’s relationship with different Middle Eastern countries, particularly its support to the Syrian Regime despite the violence in the country today, reflects its footprints all across the region.
Egypt became a focal point when Russia offered to have Egyptian leaders sign an arms sale when the US cut back Egypt’s arms transfers. However, Russia vetoed a US military strike in Syria, showing the diplomatic competition between the two countries. Political analysts scored Russia highly when it successfully brokered a chemical weapons treaty in Syria instead.
According to experts, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motivation to expand in the Middle East is to be remembered as the Russian leader who had helped regain his country’s legacy and great power since Russia had been politically-absent after the breakdown of the Soviet Union.
However, despite the highly volatile relationship of the US and Russia, experts said that the scenario is far from a return to the Cold War days as both countries are only looking for profit to help their economically-challenged countries.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran was fooling the entire world by trying to reduce its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions after the Israeli Defense Force found mortars, rockets, missiles and other assorted ammunitions onboard a ship with a Panamanian flag.
The Israeli Navy captured the ship coming from the Red Sea. The ship included 40 M302 missiles with a 100-mile range, 181 mortars and 400,000 bullets for AK-47s. According to the Israeli Defense Force, the rockets are capable of striking Israel from the Gaza strip.
The Panama-flagged ship is now held at the southern port of Eliat.
Iran rejected the accusations of the Israeli Prime Minister.
Netanyahu said in a statement that the world “softly” condemned the discovery of the ship despite its capability to provide Gaza the means to attack Israel without much trouble.
He added that the weapons ship arrived in Eliat the time “the world shook hands to an agreement reached for Iran’s reduction of nuclear activities.”
Israel has been very vocal in condemning the agreement between the EU, US and Iran regarding its nuclear enrichment program. In exchange for reducing their nuclear activities, Iran will have a fraction of its frozen assets in oil and other exports
Netanyahu said that the world should “wake up from its illusion just in time to stop Iran from achieving their capability to develop nuclear weapons.”
I love the UK. Having lived in it for 30 years, this country is by far the best even if we’re living a bit on the expensive side with the taxes and all. But to keep a country fair, everyone should get what everyone has with equal opportunities and activities. Our ‘compensation culture’ ensures that each of has a right to claim justice in case of any trouble.
However, when you’re the offender, it seems you do not have a say. Victims expect a responsible party to deliver to avoid other legal hassles. But the victim’s effective no win no fee claim expert had me shell out £10,000 for a car accident involving a damaged knee, emotional damages and loss of wages. It was fair for me, but I didn’t like the victim’s idea of lump sum repayments at once.
The incident happened three months ago when I was driving under the influence. I almost ran over a lady who was crossing the street. It was my fault because I was beating the red light. She had a damaged knee that, based on medical reports presented to me and my legal representative, had a hairline fracture.
However, what I’m angry about is that during the time there had been no evidence, the victim expected me to provide compensation. I told her that, to be fair to me and to her, we would need someone to see the facts for us with an objective perspective. However, she pressured me until finally, she called on a claims expert to intervene on our behalf.
I had no say in the matter, but still, I got what I want; for her to contact a claims expert made things easier because I corresponded directly with the claims expert and had my own say.
Violence in Baghdad continues as two car bombs exploded outside the Iraqi Foreign Ministry near the green Green Zone. The two car bombs blew up near a restaurant. One more bomb exploded in Khilani Square and three more in the South East part of the capital.
Authorities claim this to be part of the sectarian violence in Iraq in the past year. The Iraqi government said that 1,000 people died in January alone from the sectarian atrocities. However, no group had claimed responsibility for the car bombings.
The sectarian violence between the Sunni militants, which Iraqi authorities believe to be linked to the Al-Qaeda and the Shia-dominated government continues with this new spur of violence in the capital.
The UN Envoy to Iraq, Nikolay Mladenov, said that Iraq’s political leadership continues to show cooperation as they deal with the terrorism in their country.
Aside from two car bombs, seven died from other bombings. Two stray rockets have also exploded inside the Green Zone of Baghdad.
The Sunni militants continue to dominate the Sunni Cities of Falluja and Ramadi. It is rumoured that al-Qaeda group officials are also based in the cities along with other insurgents.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is urging Iraqi tribes and residents in Anbar to fight against operatives of a powerful al-Qaeda linked group to stop a nationwide war against the terrorists in Iraq. In state television, Maliki said that the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) must be driven out of Fallujah.
He also appointed soldiers to drive the fighting away from residential areas and properties. According to Sunni Tribal Leader and Awakening Council Head in Anbar Ahmed Abu Risha, the fighters were trying to bring the fighting to the cities of Anbar and Fallujah because of its lax security. They may also think that the residents can be defeated in the desert easily, according to Abu Risha.
Observers said that there are rival tribes in Fallujah who are sympathetic towards the terrorist group and will back the terrorist group’s efforts in scaling Iraq cities.
Currently, the ISIL have taken over Fallujah and parts of Ramadi. Refugees have run from the violence and fled towards Kerbala, a neighbouring city.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US is very concerned with the events in Iraq and that they will provide any help with the exception of landing US troops to Iraq. According to him, it is Iraq’s fight and they could only supply the necessities the country needs.
Iran had also presented their military support should Iraq need them in fighting against the insurgents.
Three suicide attacks in different areas in Iraq had killed at least 36 people. Authorities believe the attacks are targeting Shia pilgrims as they are about to celebrate a holiday in the following week.
The first suicide bomber approached a funeral tent in the Doura neighbourhood in Iraq. A Sunni-dominated area, the suicide bomber killed at least 16 Shia pilgrims from the tent and left 31 people injured in the southern province.
The second one was set off in Latifiya, 25 miles in southern Baghdad. The bomber positioned himself between a group of Shia pilgrims and Turkmen coming from the Kirkuk province. The blast killed 9 people and injured 14 others. The third attack was also in the same province, which killed another 11 people.
Police are still uncertain about who were responsible for the attacks but the pattern of the attacks are targeted on Shia civilians. The Shias are due to celebrate Arbaeen, the death of the Prophet Mohammad’s Grandson Hussein, in the following week. Hussein is a significant figure in Islam.
After US troops left Iraq in 2011, violence had been in its highest and the resurgence of the division between Sunni and Shia muslims continue.
Meanwhile, there is no evidence pointing the bombings to international terrorist group al-Qaeda.