Monday, November 29, 2010

"In the hands of God and Iran"

The Saudi monarch's views about the Iraqi situation and Iranian influence in the region from a conversation in a "secret" US diplomatic cable dated March 22, 2009:


13. (S) IN THE HANDS OF GOD AND IRAN: Brennan expressed the importance the U.S. attaches to achieving peace and stability in Iraq. The King replied that this was "in the hands of God," though he agreed that Iraq was vitally important to both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The King also pointed out that "some say the U.S. invasion handed Iraq to Iran on a silver platter; this after we fought Saddam Hussein."

14. (S) NO HOPE FOR MALIKI: The King said he had "no confidence whatsoever in (Iraqi PM) Maliki, and the Ambassador (Fraker) is well aware of my views." The King affirmed that he had refused former President Bush's entreaties that he meet with Maliki. The King said he had met Maliki early in Maliki's term of office, and the Iraqi had given him a written list of commitments for reconciliation in Iraq, but had failed to follow through on any of them. For this reason, the King said, Maliki had no credibility. "I don,t trust this man," the King stated, "He's an Iranian agent." The King said he had told both Bush and former Vice president Cheney "how can I meet with someone I don,t trust?" Maliki has "opened the door for Iranian influence in Iraq" since taking power, the King said, and he was "not hopeful at all" for Maliki, "or I would have met with him."

Also, the US embassy in Baghdad's assessment of Iranian influence in Iraq

1. (S/NF) Summary: Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - Quds Force (IRGC-QF) officers are active in Iraq, conducting traditional espionage and supporting violent extremists as well as supporting both legitimate and malign Iranian economic and cultural outreach.

And this:
3. (C) [Name removed] asserted that Iraqis throughout the country were growing increasingly frustrated with foreign interference, notably from Iraq's neighbors. He singled out Saudi Arabia and Iran as the biggest culprits, but noted that a "mental revolution" was underway among Iraqi youth against foreign agendas seeking to undermine the country's stability, pointing to such trends in Anbar against the Saudis, Najaf against the Iranians, and Mosul against the Turks.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Displaced Iraqis and refugees who returned are being forced to flee again. I'm glad my family has not decided to return.

Iraq’s Troubles Drive Out Refugees Who Came Back

Nearly 100,000 refugees have returned since 2008, out of more than two million who left since the invasion, according to the Iraqi government and the United Nations high commissioner for refugees.

But as they return, pulled by improved security in Iraq or pushed by a lack of work abroad, many are finding that their homeland is still not ready — their houses are gone or occupied, their neighborhoods unsafe, their opportunities minimal.

In a recent survey by the United Nations refugee office, 61 percent of those who returned to Baghdad said they regretted coming back, most saying they did not feel safe. The majority, 87 percent, said they could not make enough money here to support their families. Applications for asylum in Syria have risen more than 50 percent since May.

As Iraq struggles toward a return to stability, these returnees risk becoming people without a country, displaced both at home and abroad. And though departures have ebbed since 2008, a wave of recent attacks on Christians has prompted a new exodus.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Iraq in 1927

From the Manchester Guardian in 1927:

The present ruler at Bagdad is, in fact, in the main stream of Islamic endeavour — that is, towards Westernisation. It is the example of Turkey, in the political sense, which he seeks largely to follow.

In the commercial sense, he is anxious to open up his country to the West by calling in the aid of modern science, whether in the agricultural sphere, in the development of the cotton, date, and grain crops, for example, or in the sphere of communications, by air or motor-car or railway (King Feisul is extremely anxious to see a railway and pipe-line built from Iraq to Haifa, in Palestine), or by the extraction of his country's oil through the medium of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and the Turkish Petroleum Company.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Fate of Iraqi Christians

Should Christians suck it up and stay in Iraq for the sake of a democracy they have no stake in or to please the local church authorities? Or should they seek protection as refugees in other countries?

Laith has translations of witness accounts from last week's church attack.