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Vasten van ‘Ashura!

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Morgen, zaterdag 25 oktober, is de eerste dag van de islamitische maand Muharram.

Muharram is tevens de eerste maand van onze islamitische kalender. Morgen is dus de eerste dag van het islamitische nieuwe jaar, het jaar 1436.

Dat betekent dat de verhuizing (Hidjra) van onze profeet salla allaho ‘alaihi wa sellam van Mekka naar Medina 1436 jaar geleden heeft plaatsgevonden. Aangezien ‘Umar – radia Allaho ‘anho – deze gebeurtenis heeft aangesteld als de eerste dag van de islamitische kalender.


Het is sterk aanbevolen om de tiende dag van de maand Muharram te vasten, oftewel ‘Ashura. Deze komt dit jaar overeen met maandag 3 november.

De reden achter het vasten van ‘Ashura

Nadat de profeet salla allaho ‘alaihi wa sellam van Mekka naar Medina verhuisde, merkte hij op dat de Joden ‘Ashura vasten. Toen hij hen vroeg wat de aanleiding daarvoor is, antwoordden zij dat het de dag is waarop Allah de profeet Moesa – ‘alaihi asselaam – en zijn volk van de tiran Fir’awn redde. En dat Moesa uit dankbaarheid aan Allah deze dag vastte en dat zij hem daarin volgen.

Hierop zei de profeet salla allaho ‘alaihi wa sellam dat zij, moslims, meer recht hebben op (het volgen van) Moesa dan de Joden, waarop hij de moslims beval om deze dag te vasten. [Hadith in Bukhari]

Verdienste van het vasten van ‘Ashura

De profeet salla allaho ‘alaihi wa sellam zei over de verdienste van het vasten van ‘Ashura dat het de (kleine) zonden van het voorgaande jaar kwijtscheldt. [Hadith in Sahih Muslim]

Het is aanbevolen om samen met ‘Ashura een dag ervoor of erna te vasten. Het beste is een dag ervoor, in dit geval dus zondag 2 november. Dit om af te wijken van de Joden.

Verder is het aanbevolen voor wie daartoe in staat is om ook veel andere dagen van de maand Muharram te vasten.

De profeet salla allaho ‘alaihi wa sellam zei:

“Het beste vasten na Ramadan is het vasten van de maand van Allah: Muharram.”  [Hadith in Sahih Moslim]

Wie nog dagen van Ramadan moet inhalen

Voor degenen die nog dagen van Ramadan moeten inhalen, is het ook aanbevolen om de dag van ‘Ashura te vasten. Zij kunnen dan de intentie nemen voor het inhalen van Ramadan én de dag van ‘Ashura, zoals dat de mening is van o.a. shaych bin Baaz en shaych al-‘Uthaimeen – moge Allah beide genadig zijn.

Een mooi initiatief naar aanloop van deze dag is het organiseren van een gezamenlijke iftaar met familie of samen met wat vrienden. Die mooie tijden van Ramadan weer herbeleven!

Beste broeders en zusters:

De oprechte moslim maakt gretig gebruik van dit soort gelegenheden, waarbij tegenover een kleine daad een grote beloning staat. Helemaal aangezien zonsondergang deze dagen erg vroeg is; een makkelijke buit dus die je niet mag mislopen!

Abulfadl, student aan de Universiteit van Medina. Saudi Arabië.

30 Dhul-Hidjah 1435

Written by altahrir

October 24, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Posted in Islam

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Why Humanitarians Talk to ISIS

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Millions of people now live under ISIS control. Starving them will not defeat the jihadists, and to deliver assistance, you have to deal with those in charge.
In early October, Jan Egeland, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, delivered a keynote address at an annual State Department gathering of international humanitarian aid officials in Washington, D.C.

Egeland, a Norwegian politician and former top humanitarian affairs official at the United Nations, is known for his directness, and he used the platform to lambaste his colleagues for their collective failure to do more to help needy Syrians still suffering after more than three years of war—a concern that many of them shared.

Then, Egeland offered a slightly provocative addendum: any aid going into Syria, he said, must include provisions for civilians living in parts of the country now controlled by the so-called Islamic State. The room went notably quiet.

For years, the question of whether and how to supply aid to territories that are under the control of terrorist groups has been one of the humanitarian community’s most fraught debates. It has been subject to political sensitivities and soapbox rhetoric, buffeted by popular disbelief and official omertà.

Last weekend, the topic was reignited when The Daily Beast’s Jamie Dettmer reported that Western humanitarian aid has been falling into the hands of ISIS militants, and that some of those international agencies may have paid bribes to the group. The article also suggested that aid to those areas is assisting ISIS in its state-building ambitions.

In an interview this week, Egeland strongly defended the propriety of delivering aid to unwholesome parts of northern Syria. That aid, he said, must be stepped up, not scared off, and it must be disengaged from any political aims, including counterterrorism, he said.

“We cannot, and will not, pay bribes to any actor,” Egeland insisted in our phone conversation. “And we cannot let any actor direct our aid or take control over our aid.” But, that said, “I don’t think there’s a proper recognition that there are six to eight million people in those areas”—northern Syria—”who need aid. What needs to be done now is a careful examination of how we can maintain some channel of aid and support to the millions of people who will live under the control of the Islamic State. And it’s extremely important that those who now have taken on the Islamic State militarily do not mix in humanitarian organizations or tools in the fight against terror.”

Aid must be stepped up, not scared off, and it must be disengaged from any political aims, including counterterrorism.

Egeland is something of an outlier among the worldwide community of humanitarians because he says this sort of thing out loud. But he’s certainly not the only one who believes it. Several aid officials contacted by The Daily Beast this week shared Egeland’s general sentiment, but few were willing to speak on the record. Sending aid to areas controlled by radical groups is not a popular subject, even if its value in the name of life-saving intervention is little in dispute.

The ambivalence is reflected in U.S. policy, which often has served to complicate aid delivery in conflict zones. American terrorism laws are strict and clear: aid agencies may not provide any form of “material support” to terrorist groups, including humanitarian supplies that fall into their hands. But humanitarian practice is messy and chaotic: in conflict zones, need is urgent, and allegiances are not always evident until much later.

In 2011, these contradictions came to a head when a famine in Somalia threatened to spiral out of control, while American officials withheld aid from parts of the country that were controlled by the terrorist group Al Shabab. Faced with a backlash from international aid groups, the State Department issued a quiet reassurance to the agencies that they would not face prosecution over any “incidental” diversion of aid that ended up in the hands of Al Shabab —including, presumably, checkpoint “taxes” or other unexpected fees. It was too late. By the end of 2011, more than 250,000 people had died from starvation in the county, many of whom, many aid workers believed, could have been saved with a less cumbersome international response.

“The Somali case is clear,” says Joel Charny, the vice president of humanitarian policy for Interaction, a consortium of development and humanitarian aid groups. “It’s undeniable that in response to famine warnings assistance was provided in Ethiopia and Kenya, but was not in Somalia because of fear of diversion.”

Aid groups have continued to work closely with the U.S. government to establish better outlines of what qualifies as “incidental,” and how much responsibility an organization bears for food or medical supplies that are diverted.

On October 17, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) released an extensive new “guidance” on this policy, emphasizing that while the law has not varied, enforcement may: “Incidental benefits [to a terrorist entity] are not a focus for OFAC sanctions prosecution,” the guidance said. In a statement, Interaction applauded Treasury’s effort, but warned the steps still “have not gone far enough to prevent a repeat of the Somalia catastrophe.”

Even more complex, aid workers say, is the situation inside Syria, where millions have been displaced without safe food or water, and the hurdles facing aid delivery are compounded by active warfare and an unprecedented threat to aid workers themselves. (Several of the westerners beheaded or held by ISIS in recent weeks have been humanitarian aid volunteers.) The lack of legal clarity is only one piece of an already frenzied and shifting operating environment.

“The question is, ‘What is the line?’” says Naz Modirzadeh, a specialist in humanitarian law in conflict zones at Harvard. “You’re allowed to talk, but what if they say, ‘Yes you can bring in that convoy, at that specific time.’ Now you might be seen as ‘coordinating.’ Are you texting with someone? Are you calling him? Did he come to meet you with the convoy? What is the point at which you become concerned that there are serious legal consequences?”

Several aid officials working on Syria told The Daily Beast that aid organizations in southern Turkey had collectively agreed to some rules for engagement with ISIS, and, until recently at least, such contacts were fairly commonplace. The purpose of those meetings, the aid officials emphasized, was to lay out a straightforward description of their operations, not offer to negotiate or make deals. (All of the officials interviewed expressed dismay about the possibility that direct payments were made to the group.) Initially, one Turkey-based aid official said in an interview this spring, ISIS was fairly reasonable to work with, and it was possible to ensure appropriate levels of monitoring.

“ISIS is not any more difficult to deal with than any other group,” the aid official said at the time. The leaders of the groups that his organization dealt with, he said, were “quite practical,” and seemed to understand why aid was essential for the people under their control. “People give their word, and you can work with that,” he added.

But the situation has since changed. After ISIS began to escalate its brutality, and especially since the start of the coalition bombing campaign, the humanitarian exchanges have diminished significantly.

A second aid official said, “we’ve had to dramatically reduce the aid that we’ve delivered in north Syria due to the increased danger to our staff and the difficulty in monitoring the aid once it’s been distributed to ensure that it is civilians alone who benefited from this assistance.”

Egeland points to this drop-off, not the prospect of occasional contacts with terrorists, as his greatest concern. “I think there should have been much more cross-border aid deliveries, much earlier,” he said. As for engagement with terrorist groups, this is simply “the name of the game”: “There will have to be contacts, yes, if support will be provided there. You talk to all sides, and that’s how access is provided to those who need it most.”

And if fears of crossing an uncertain legal line makes aid groups hesitant to act, he said, that would be the worst outcome of all.

“I have always found that government armed actors and opposition armed actors specialize in scaring us, and we specialize in being scared,” he said. “All we’re thinking of is, ‘Can we lose access? Can something go wrong?’ Instead of doing what we must, because it’s the right thing to do.”

(Source / 24.10.2014)

Written by altahrir

October 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm

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PYD leader says no agreement on passage of FSA fighters to Kobani

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PYD leader says no agreement on passage of FSA fighters to Kobani

PYD leader Saleh Muslim

Leader of the Syrian Kurdish group the Democratic Union Party (PYD) said on Friday that no agreement has been reached on the passage of Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters to Kobani, hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the group has agreed to the passage of 1,300 FSA fighters to the town, which has been besieged by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for more than a month.

The PYD controls Kobani, and its fighters have been battling ISIL with the help of air-strikes carried out by US-led coalition warplanes.

“The PYD said that it accepted the passage of 1,300 people from the FSA, and on this topic right now our relevant teams are negotiating what the route of their passage should be,” Erdoğan said during a press conference in the Estonian capital of Tallinn.

“We already established connection with FSA but no such agreement has been reached yet as Mr. Erdogan has mentioned,” PYD Co-Chair Saleh Muslim told Reuters via phone from Brussels, referring to Erdoğan’s comments.

(Source / 24.10.2014)

Written by altahrir

October 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm

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NGO: More than one Israeli attack on Gaza per day in September

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from the ceasefire that ended a 50-day Israeli bombardment of Gaza, human rights defenders have accused Israel of routinely violating the terms of the agreement that ended the hostilities

Two months on from the ceasefire that ended a 50-day Israeli bombardment of Gaza, human rights defenders have accused Israel of routinely violating the terms of the agreement that ended the hostilities.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has published figures detailing repeated attacks throughout September on Palestinian civilians in Gaza’s so-called ‘buffer zone’, orAccess Restricted Areas (ARA).

Attacks by Israeli naval forces included 18 shooting incidents and four further incidents when fishermen were chased and arrested. On 17 September, a 69-year-old fisherman was shot in the leg as he stood 200m from the coastal border fence working with his sons.

As part of the 26 August ceasefire agreement, Palestinian fishermen were to be permitted to work up to 6 nautical miles from shore (under the Oslo Accords, Gaza’s maritime area was defined as 20 nautical miles). Yet according to PCHR, all the documented attacks through September “took place within the distance of 6 nautical miles.”

Just this Wednesday, Israeli naval forces arrested seven fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza, claiming that they had gone beyond the six-nautical mile limit imposed by Israel’s blockade. The forces fired warning shots and rubber-coated metal bullets, injuring one.

According to PCHR, in addition to the attacks at sea, September also saw 13 attacks by Israeli forces close to the border fence, including shootings and two ground incursions. On 28 September, for example, Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian in northern Beit Lahia.

Israel established the ‘buffer zone’ in the Gaza Strip after its redeployment of forces in 2005 (the ‘disengagement’), establishing a no-go area enforced with live fire. As PCHR describe:

Preventing Palestinians from accessing their lands and fishing areas violates numerous provisions of international human rights law, including the right to work, the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Enforcing the ‘buffer zone’ through the use of live fire often results in, inter alia, the direct targeting of civilians and/or indiscriminate attacks, both of which constitute war crimes.

The Israeli military’s actions in the border fence ‘buffer zone’, as well as those off Gaza’s shore, make for a total of 35 attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinians during the month of September alone, an average of more than one incident per day.

Since the end of ‘Operation Protective Edge’, Palestinian factions in Gaza have not fired a single rocket in two months, with one mortar shell fired from inside the Gaza Strip reportedly landing in Israel on 16 September. Hamas denied having anything to do with the mortar fire, and no other group took responsibility.

There is a precedent here. In the first three months after November 2012’s ‘Operation Pillar of Defense’, there were more than 100 incidents of Israeli forces shooting Palestinians, conducting border incursions, or attacking fishermen. These attacks killed 4 and wounded 91. During the same period, no rockets and just two mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Now we have yet another example of Israel’s definition of a ‘period of calm’.

(Source / 24.10.2014)

Written by altahrir

October 24, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Terrorism

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Tension rises in Egyptian universities as clashes continue

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Clashes between pro-Muslim Brotherhood students and police have taken their toll on university life

Cairo University

Riot police fire tear gas during a demonstration at the front of Cairo University

Egyptian universities kicked off the autumn term earlier this month with a shadow hanging over them. Last year was the most violent academic year in Egyptian history, with nineteen students dying in clashes with police.

The year of continuous protests and clashes took place for the most part between the police and the Students Against the Coup group which supports ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. But the strain of ongoing campus violence, including teargas, arrests, vandalism and assaults, has left its mark on the entire student body.

“There is a feeling among students that the state is trying to control universities and violate their independence,” said Wesam Ata, a student at Al-Azhar University where many of the fiercest clashes between Brotherhood-supporting students and police have taken place.

The new term started with an unfamiliar sight: uniformed security guards from a private firm called Falcon Group were checking students’ identity cards and bags on the first day of classes last week. The long queues that formed as students waited to be searched caused many complaints.

The spectacle of students being searched by uniformed guards, pictures of which made the rounds on Twitter, was a physical manifestation of other measures taken to prevent a repeat of last year’s unrest.

Ata, who is a member of the liberal Constitution Party’s student group, says while the protesters are mainly among the pro-Brotherhood students, anger is increasing among the rest of the student body.

Tightening the security grip

Several university administrations, including those of some of Egypt’s biggest universities such as Cairo University and Ain Shams University, announced a ban on any partisan or religious student societies.

An amendment to university laws earlier in the year gave university presidents to expel students without the previously mandated process of investigation. To add insult to injury, private Egyptian daily Al-Shorouk reported that university administrators are recruiting students to rat out their peers who engage in politics or violence.

The allegations in the report have not been denied by the universities.

These developments have led many students to accuse authorities of directly attacking rights they had won after the 2011 revolution.

“Resentment is spreading in the university, it’s far more than it once was,” Ata says. The rights to free expression, to organise politically, and for universities to be administratively independent, which were gained after 2011, are being eaten away, he asserts.

The post-2011 period did indeed see genuine progress for advocates of campus freedoms. For example, a despised charter governing university administration, known as the 1979 charter, was finally revoked and replaced in 2012 by a new charter that was less restrictive.

While there is contention about the current charter, the latest amendment which was approved last week by the Supreme Council for Universities, doesn’t contain the restrictions on student freedom seen in the 1979 version.

For example, the old charter had explicitly prohibited politics inside universities, and these prohibitions were abolished in the 2012 version.

Another move widely hailed as a positive development was the removal of police from campuses, to be replaced instead by administrative security forces run by each university.

But now authorities are attempting to backtrack on such developments, students say, using the violence committed by some students on campus as an excuse.

Last year saw the universities obtain authorisation from the government to allow police forces on campuses when needed. Despite police not being allowed on university grounds, there is a heavy police presence around university exits and entrances, as strict orders were given by the interior ministry not to allow protests to leave university grounds.

The Falcon company is only stationed at gates to check for weapons and explosives.

Despite the new measures, an Alexandria University student died on Tuesday from injuries sustained during clashes with police.

Footage from Alexandria circulating online showed security forces volleying teargas inside university grounds while students fired fireworks at them, and many students suffering the effects of the gas, sparking outrage by some students that the state is failing to mitigate the precarious security situation.

Solving the crisis through other means

Cairo University student Mohamed El-Shafie told Ahram Online, as had the president of Helwan University’s student union Islam Fawzy, that security is first and foremost a student demand – Fawzy even revealed that hiring private security firms in universities was discussed in student unions meetings.

However El-Shafie maintains that the security solution is no way to resolve the situation, as is evident with the continuation of protests.

“Opening the university for all kinds of activities, political, intellectual, artistic, etc. is the only way the Brotherhood-led protests will be drowned out, not the opposite,” El-Shafie contends.

“When you restrict campus life to academia and only academia you create an artificial atmosphere that will perpetuate the current conditions which in turn would lead students to be angrier and eventually join the protests,” he said.

Fawzy, the Helwan Union student union head, says infringements on campus freedoms will eventually affect even apolitical students.

“There are many problems in Egyptian universities, problems with student accommodation, problems with increasing tuition, issues with security obviously; these problems affect all students, and when the administration prevents them from voicing them the student body will eventually explode,” he said.

Fawzy argues authorities are interfering in every aspect of student life and says the situation is unsustainable, specifically because the measures don’t bode well with students at large.

Such grievances were clearly articulated by the opening statement of a new student coalition launched on Saturday.

The Egyptian Students’ Coalition is comprised of several student groups including students of the prominent Moqawma student rights movement, students of the Constitution Party, the 6 April Youth Movement, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Strong Egypt Party, the Freedom for Students movement and others.

In a statement, the coalition rejected “the calm the security grip is attempting to force ignoring other means of dialogue, participation and expression.”

Authorities have spent their time “issuing a number of repressive laws and decisions against students,” the founding statement of the coalition said, and demanded the immediate release of detained students, rescinding on all “arbitrary” decisions taken against students.

The coalition specifically addressed most of the grievances expressed by students Ahram Online spoke with, including the arbitrary expulsion of students, creating informants among students and disbanding student societies.

They also demanded administrative security forces be trained to deal with security threats inside universities, instead of spending money on private security firms.

One of the students made clear they stand opposed to what they said was “the violence of the Student Against the Coup movement” just as they reject violence from security forces.

Since the beginning of the semester, dozens of students have been arrested. In the first week alone, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression – an university freedoms watchdog –  reported 195 cases of student arrests. Dozens were arrested the day before the academic term kicked off.

Adamant about opposing authorities’ methods and decisions, the Egyptian Students’ Coalition said in its statement “the path of democracy and human rights and that of development must move forward in a balanced way and in parallel, and many historical examples have proved that moving forward only in the latter part, and ignoring the former will inevitably lead in the failure of the process.”

(Source / 24.10.2014)

Written by altahrir

October 24, 2014 at 11:58 am

Posted in Revolution Egypt

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David Ignatius: Iraq and the U.S. are losing ground to the Islamic State

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In this Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. photo, an Iraqi military vehicle burns after an attack by the militant Islamic State group, in western Anbar province, 140 kilometers (85 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Islamic State group fighters stormed Hit on Thursday, its latest victory against the embattled Iraqi military in Anbar province.

Jalal al-Gaood, one of the tribal leaders the United States has been cultivating in hopes of rolling back extremists in Iraq, grimly describes how his home town in Anbar province was forced this week to surrender to fighters from the Islamic State.

The extremists were moving Wednesday toward Gaood’s town of Al-Zwaiha, the stronghold of his Albu Nimr clan just east of the Euphrates River. The attacking force had roughly 200 fighters and about 30 armed trucks. Al-Zwaiha’s defenders were running out of ammunition and food and wondered whether they should make a deal with the marauding jihadists.

Gaood, a 53-year-old businessman in Amman, talked through the night with tribal elders back home. He says he tried repeatedly to reach Gen. John Allen, the U.S. special envoy for Iraq and Syria, to plead for emergency help. By the time Allen got the message, it was too late. Urgent warnings that the town was about to be overrun also went to the Iraqi army commander at nearby Al-Asad Air Base. There was no response except for a helicopter that took surveillance pictures and then left.

Allen said in an e-mail message late Thursday that he had forwarded Gaood’s messages to Centcom and the joint operations center in Baghdad as soon as he was aware of them and that the messages were acknowledged immediately. Allen said he has been a constant advocate for supporting the tribes across Iraq and is seeking ways to expand that support.

Early Thursday, Gaood advised the local leaders that they had no alternative but to negotiate a truce. Before dawn, a convoy left for Haditha, to the north, with 60 cars carrying local police officers, soldiers and former members of the U.S.-created tribal militia known as the Awakening. If they had stayed in the town, they would have been massacred when the extremists took control.

“This morning, everything is finished,” Gaood told me sadly Thursday at his office here. The Islamic State now controls the town, which straddles a strategic highway. The extremists’ domination of the entire province is one step closer.

What makes this story chilling is that Gaood was one of the Sunni leaders the U.S. government was hoping could organize resistance in Anbar. He was one of two dozen Iraqi tribal elders whom Allen met when he visited in early October. Gaood says he warned then that without urgent help, “we are going to have to give up the fight.”

“Gen. Allen said, ‘I will put you in touch with someone in Centcom.’ But it never happened,” Gaood says.

Military campaigns often start slowly, and that has certainly been the case with President Obama’s pledge to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State. When Allen visited tribal leaders in Amman, he cautioned that he was in “listening mode” while the United States prepared its strategy. The U.S. presentation was “vague,” says Gaood. “Every time the Iraqis meet with Americans, they just take notes.”

Sitting next to Gaood during the interview is Zaydan al-Jibouri, a 50-year-old sheik of another leading tribe. He frankly admits that his fighters have joined ex-Baathists and former military officers in siding with the Islamic State. “Why do you blame us in Anbar for joining” the Islamic State, he asks. “The ones who went with ISIS did so because of persecution” by the Shiite-led government of former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“The Sunni community has two options,” Jibouri continues. “Fight against ISIS and allow Iran and its militias to rule us, or do the opposite. We chose ISIS for only one reason. ISIS only kills you. The Iraqi government kills you and rapes your women.” That sectarian rage and hunger for vengeance appear to animate Sunnis across Iraq.

Jibouri explains that the Islamic State was able to mobilize so quickly because it had planted “sleeper cells” in the Sunni regions. These hidden agents are mostly younger than 25; they grew up in the years of the insurgency and U.S. occupation, watching as their fathers were killed or taken off to prison. “These men were brought up in the culture of vendetta and revenge,” he says.

Gaood agrees that when the jihadists swept into the nearby town of Hit, 1,000 of these sleepers suddenly appeared, shattering local security.

If there’s a ray of hope in the chilling accounts provided by Gaood and Jibouri, it’s that even a man who says he’s siding with the Islamic State still says he wants U.S. help, so long as it comes with protections for Iraq’s Sunni community. “We want to create a strategic relationship with the Americans,” Jibouri says, arguing that such a political deal is “the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Yet when asked about the U.S. plan to create a national guard for the Sunnis, Jibouri scoffs and says that it’s “wishful thinking,” because Iraq’s Shiites and Kurds will never agree. Until Sunni rights are respected, he says, “we will not allow the world to sleep.”

(Source / 24.10.2014)

Written by altahrir

October 24, 2014 at 11:49 am

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Syrian Kurd leader sees war of ‘attrition’ in Kobane

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Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Kobane near the Mursitpinar border crossing, on the Turkish-Syrian border, as seen from the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province October 24, 2014

The battle for the Syrian town of Kobane will turn into a war of attrition unless Kurds defending it from an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) onslaught get arms that can repel tanks and armored vehicles, a Syrian Kurdish leader told a pan-Arab newspaper.

ISIS insurgents encircled the town near the Turkish border more than a month ago and are using weapons including tanks and armored vehicles seized in Iraq to attack Kurds equipped mainly with light arms.

The United States, which has been leading air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, airdropped weapons to the Kurds in Kobane on Sunday that U.S. officials described as “small arms.”

“(It’s) attrition for both sides unless something in the situation changes,” Saleh Moslem, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in remarks published on Friday.

He said the Kurds had recently received information that ISIS wanted to fire chemical weapons into Kobane using mortars. He said the militant group had surrounded the town, whose Arabic name is Ain al-Arab, with around 40 tanks.

Turkish denial

“If we were to receive qualitative (stronger) weapons, we would be able to hit the tanks and armored vehicles that they use – we may be able to bring a qualitative change in the battle,” he said.

Asked about the recent arms air drop and the U.S.-led strikes, he said: “They are not enough to change the balance of power, but if they continue then they can bring about a change. Air raids so far are limited.”

He accused Ankara of supporting the ultra-radical ISIS, saying it had turned a blind eye when 120 ISIS fighters crossed the border from Turkey earlier this week.

Ankara denies aiding militants but has been loath to enable any help for Syrian Kurds who have links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a three-decade separatist insurgency in Turkey.

But Turkey has come under U.S. pressure to do more and on Thursday President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said an agreement had been reached on sending 200 peshmerga from Iraq through Turkey to help defend Kobane.

A senior official in Iraq’s Kurdistan region said they would be equipped with heavier weapons than those being used by Syrian Kurds already there.

Asked about the prospect of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces joining the battle for Kobane, Moslem said none had arrived yet and talks were continuing on a technical level.

On Friday, Erdogan said the Kurdish PYD had agreed to the passage of 1,300 Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters to Kobane to reinforce Kurdish forces there.

(Source / 24.10.2014)


Written by altahrir

October 24, 2014 at 11:39 am

Posted in Politics

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