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Turkey’s Thirst for Power Threatens Water War with Iraq

Iraq, already ravaged by decades of ethnic and sectarian warfare, has quietly suffered a water shortage over the past decade.

Including the Kurdistan region, Iraq relies on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers for 98 percent for its drinking, irrigation and sanitation supplies. The majority of the country also lives along the two historic rivers, which originate in Turkey. Turkey has built 22 dams and 19 hydropower plants through its Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) in the region where the majority of its Kurdish population live.

Lacking hydrocarbon resources within Turkey, the government under Recep Tayyip Erdogan has realized water is the ultimate weapon, not oil.

This all began as a national project by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, aiming to better “integrate eastern Anatolia into the rest of Turkey and generate economic development through the construction of irrigation projects.”

However, what we are witnessing is a devastating effect on Iraq’s population. Ankara attempted to increase the number projects in the southeast to provide a better quality of life for the impoverished people there who are suffering from the Turkish war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). But “the government’s securitization of the Kurdish issue has created grounds for mistrust, prompting some to wonder whether Turkey is looking to its own grand political objectives – securing electricity supplies, boosting agricultural exports, assimilating the Kurdish population, etc. – rather than truly looking after its constituents’ needs, as it claims,” Ilektra Tsakalidou, an analyst on European energy security at the European Union Institute for Security Studies, wrote in 2013.

Turkey's Ilisu dam
Turkey’s Ilisu dam. Image: dsi.gov.tr

Mismanagement by the central Iraqi government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region administration surely plays a role, but the root of the water shortage lies in Turkey. According to Iraq’s Minister of Water Resources, Hassan al-Janabi, water levels have dropped by 40 percent over the past few years, largely due to storage facilities in Turkey.

GAP has failed to bring stability to not only Turkey’s own Kurdish population but also towards its Kurdish and Arab neighbors too.

The most recent controversial project is Turkey’s Ilisu Dam, named after Ilisu village. The project began in 2006. Ilisu dam also threatens Hasankeyf, a historic city more than 12,000 years old which sits along the Tigris River.

Hasankeyf
The historic Historic central Mosque in Hasankeyf, a town Image: Poyraz 72/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 4.0

Hasankeyf is considered to be one of the oldest inhabited settlement in the world. It is currently home to about 78,000 residents, and is on the brink of becoming a sunken treasure due to the Ilisu Dam. The destruction of the ancient town according to Turkey’s top constitutional court is at the “discretion of the state.”

When complete, the dam will increase the level of the Tigris at Hasankeyf by 60 metres, submerging 80 percent of the town as well as nearby villages.

The construction of the dam has also reduced water flow to southern Iraq’s marshlands, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2016. During Saddam Hussein’s rule the government drained the same marshlands to drive out Shiite rebels sheltering among the local population.

Iraq marshlan Arabs in a mashoof
Marsh Arabs poling a traditional mashoof in the marshlands of southern Iraq. Image: Hassan Janali, US Army Corps of Engineers

Turkey’s recent actions have resulted in a similar outcome but one affecting the entire country. The marshes produce food and provide water for animals of local farmers. However, Ilisu Dam has the potential to reduce the water flow into Iraq by 56 percent, and is likely to affect neighboring Iran too.

It is highly unlikely that Iraq has the strength and ability to push back against Turkey. Like Iran, Turkey has undermined Iraqi sovereign territory. Ankara has built nearly 20 military bases in northern Iraq. Turkey has been working with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Masoud Barzani, to target and eliminate its longtime enemy, the PKK, which is headquartered in Qandil mountain.

As Ahmed al Jabouri, the Iraqi foreign relations parliamentary committee member has stated, the “water shortage in the Euphrates and Tigris rivers is the most dangerous historic problem that Iraq is confronting [because of] the dams Turkey is constructing.”

Turkey has taken advantage of the ongoing chaos in Iraq, instability which allows the Turkish government to maneuver as it wishes without being confronted by either the Kurdish Peshmerga or the Iraqi security forces.

Iraq has yet to recover from the 2003 war, let alone the fight against Islamic State. Demanding that Turkey behaves in an amenable manner is far beyond Baghdad’s reach, unless it convinces the United States to act against its NATO partner.

Most recently, Iraqi prime minister Haidar al Abadi stated, “Ankara deliberately chose the timing [of the completion of Ilisu dam] to exploit the issue for political and electoral purposes.” Nevertheless, the worst-case scenario would be another armed conflict, this time by the Popular Mobilization Units, factions of which are linked to Iran, against Turkish armed forces in Iraq, which would push Ankara to further reduce the water flow.

Iraqi cleric Muqtada al Sadr, whose Sairoon bloc won the recent Iraqi elections, has declared, “we give the government a few days to look into the issue of water and electricity or to allow us to regain our rights.” Sadr, known as a nationalist, may be forced to take matters into his own hands. One option could be to prevent oil from flowing from Kirkuk to Turkey.

As long as Baghdad is fractured, and is undermined by Iranian influence, Turkey will use its control over water to take advantage of Iraq’s weakened state.

This will allow Turkey to push back against Iran – its regional rival – while also fighting its nemesis, the PKK. Tehran has thrown its weight around, and gained influence over the Shiite-led government in Baghdad by dominating the military and political sectors since 2003. The Iranian presence increased after the Obama administration scaled down the number of U.S. forces in 2011.

Iraq has become a breeding ground for regional powers to bolster their influence beyond their borders. But in the end, as Fadel Al Zubi, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, has said, “the one that pays the price is always the country where the river ends – in this case Iraq.”

Originally published at: https://thedefensepost.com/2018/06/07/turkey-water-war-iraq-kurdistan-opinion/

Photo: dsi.gov.tr

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Khaled Abu Toameh: 2018 Speaker of Truth Honoree

Sarah Stern Presents the 2018 Speaker of Truth Award to Khaled Abu Toameh in Israel

Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning Israeli Arab journalist and TV producer who has been reporting about the Palestinians for more than 30 years. He studied at Hebrew University and began his career as a reporter by working for a PLO-affiliated newspaper in Jerusalem.  He is a Senior Fellow with the Gatestone Institute and the Palestinian Affairs Correspondent for The Times of Israel. He previously worked for NBC News and The Jerusalem Post.  Abu Toameh’s articles have appeared in numerous newspapers around the world, including The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, and the Sunday Times of London.  In his articles, Abu Toameh exposes Palestinian lies, and explains why Islamic fundamentalism is the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

Click here to watch the video of Khaled Abu Toameh’s remarks presented at the 2018 Rays of Light in the Darkness Dinner

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Rays of Light in the Darkness 2018 Videos

EMET’s Rays of Light in the Darkness Dinner 12th Anniversary Dinner, held on June 12th, 2018 in Washington, DC was our most successful one yet, with more than 400 attendees, including Members of Congress, Ambassadors, and other dignitaries.

EMET’s 2018 Speaker of Truth honorees included: Senator Tim Scott (R-SC); Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ); Mark Levin, Constitutional Attorney, Radio & Television Host; Khaled Abu Toameh, Arab-Israeli Journalist, Documentarian, and Gatestone Fellow; and Tommy Waller, Founder of HaYovel in Judea and Samaria.

“One of the reasons EMET is so crucial and so vital is its mission is to educate people.” – Mark Levin

“EMET has been a visionary leader … For years, EMET had been clear eyed about the menacing threat posed by Islamic republic of Iran.” – Rep. Josh Gottheimer

[The U.S.-Israel relationship] is a relationship built on trust, built on honor, built on shared values, but it is a relationship where America benefits from having a friend in the state of Israel.” – Senator Tim Scott

 

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Iraqi Elections: A Loss for the US, an Even Bigger Loss for Iran

Iraq just held its first elections since the defeat of the so called Islamic State. The victory over the terror group was led by Prime Minister Haider al Abadi as he affirmed, “our forces fully control the Iraqi-Syrian border, and thus we can announce the end of the war against Daesh.” This was in December 2017, five months before the elections took place. Prime Minister Abadi had the full backing of the United States, and was commonly known as “our guy in Baghdad.” For Abadi, the US did all it could to strengthen his position, the current administration even went as far as supporting Abadi during the Kurdish independence referendum held in September 2017 and ignored Kurdish calls to stop the Iranian funded, legalized Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) incursion into Kirkuk, just a week after President Donald Trump designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. The US was willing to do anything to keep another Maliki type figure from regaining power in Iraq. US strategy was clear, keep Iraq physically united, keep the Kurds tied to Baghdad, and ultimately weaken Iranian influence.

However, the US missed a key component of Iraqi politics, its devious foe, Muqtada al Sadr. Al Sadr is a Shiite but is also heavily nationalistic and has challenged both Iran and the US. Al Sadr has been accused numerous times by the Pentagon for American deaths during the height of the 2003 war. The Mahdi Army, led by Al Sadr, was the first Shiite militia to target US forces in Iraq following the toppling of Saddam Hussein. At one point, the Pentagon stated, “the Mahdi Army had replaced al Qaeda in Iraq as the most dangerous accelerant of potentially self-sustaining sectarian violence.” Muqtada al Sadr himself will not hold the prime ministerial position but will have the ability to appoint one which align with his views.

Al Sadr’s Sairoon (The Marchers) bloc, in alliance with Iraq’s Communist Party and a handful of other parties, composed of both Sunnis and Shiites including a Kurdish faction, was victorious. Iranian backed Fatah Alliance came in second while Abadi’s Al Nasr, despite his victory against the Islamic State and retaining control of the Kurds, established a weak third and Maliki came in fourth. Turnout for the election was at an all-time low, 44.52% compared to 60% in 2014. So, what does this mean for the US?

Although Al Sadr continues his anti-American rhetoric, he is still not Iran. He has transformed himself from a former Iranian ally to nothing short of an Arab nationalist. He has met with Sunni heads of states, including the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in July 2017. If anyone can push Iranian influence out of Iraq, it is al Sadr. This may be enough for the United States’ long term policy in Iraq. But there is one catch, al Sadr demands for the total withdrawal of all US troops in Iraq, now numbering at a little over 5,000. For American policy, the hope still lies with Abadi, a possible coalition with al Sadr may convince him to allow the presence of a small footprint to continue the training of Iraqi forces and play a strategic role against Iran’s continued expansion into Iraq and beyond.

The Fatah Alliance, a pro-Iranian coalition, is backed by the PMF and Iranian General Qassim Soleimani, commander of the IRGC who surprisingly lost to Al Sadr. Iraqi’s seem unsatisfied with a strong Iranian presence within their state, and feel they’ve lost their country to the neighboring Shiite theocracy. Nonetheless, Soleimani is dedicated to pressuring the fractured lists in uniting with Iran, strengthening Tehran while undermining Baghdad. The loss comes shortly after the US withdrew from the infamous Iran nuclear deal and recent successful Israeli attacks against IRGC bases in Syria, further isolating the Islamic regime.

The alternative path for the United States in Iraq is to pivot back towards the Kurds in the north. After a feeling of betrayal among the leadership of the Kurdistan Regional Government and those who voted for the independence referendum, the Kurds are always willing to accept US support. The Kurdish house has been in disorder dating back to the 2017 referendum, and the recent elections proved no different. Mass accusations of election fraud, system hacking, threats, and gun fights in party headquarters quickly ensued. The main faction, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) align closer with al Sadr. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is deeply influenced by Iran, as are the rest of the Kurdish groups including New Generation, Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ), Change Movement, and the two small Islamic parties. The alternative path may not have a solid foothold in Baghdad, with only 58 seats but can be reconstructed that the KRG are playmakers once again as they were prior to the referendum. If the US does not strengthen the KRG, Kurds will likely shift towards either Iran or al Sadr.

Despite the United States having major setbacks due to the conflict, it remains a key player. The US invested heavily in Abadi while crippling the Kurds, only to keep a failed state intact. The unpredictability of Muqtada al Sadr may force Abadi on the sidelines to further isolate the United States. Iran, however, suffered the most and will continue to undermine the Iraqi security forces by bolstering the PMF. We may also find Iran resorting to sectarianism to delegitimatize Al Sadr’s unity coalition in the near future.

Originally published: https://securitystudies.org/guest-opinion-iraqi-elections-loss-us-even-bigger-loss-iran/

Photo: Middle East Eye

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The Media Perpetuates Hamas’ Narrative, Supports Terror Group’s Goals

Hamas terrorists, and Hamas-backed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, have initiated violent riots against Israel and attempted to breach the Gaza border, but according to the mainstream media, Israel is aggressively killing innocent “protestors” and children.

Hamas’ “March of Return” launched against the Jewish State that began several weeks ago is a violent attempt to infiltrate Israel, massacre Israelis, and further diminish Israel’s image among the media and international community.

Hamas is using rocks, explosives, Molotov cocktails, and wire cutters as weapons, and have purposely placed children and the disabled in the line of fire. Thus far, Hamas has sent approximately 40,000 people to breach the border with Israel to kill innocent Israeli civilians. Monday was Israel’s deadliest day in the Gaza Strip since Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas; Gaza’s health ministry stated that 52 people were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded.

These casualties are a direct result of Hamas inciting its people to kill Jews. Hamas is solely responsible for the violence, while using Palestinians as hostages and human shields. Video footage shows Palestinians with machetes breaking through the border fencer saying, “Oh Jews, we come to slaughter you!”

Furthermore, Hamas member Salah Bardaweil said Wednesday that 50 out of the 62 dead were members of the terrorist organization.  And senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahhar stated, “This is not ‘peaceful resistance.’ Has the option of armed struggle diminished? No. On the contrary, it is growing and developing, that’s clear.  So when we talk about ‘peaceful resistance’ this is deceiving the public.”

The White House correctly held Hamas responsible for the deaths. White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah told reporters, “We believe Hamas bears the responsibility.  This is a propaganda attempt.” Shah added that the Trump administration supports Israel’s “right to defend itself.”

The media, however, in its true form, jumped on the opportunity to place the blame on Israel for the casualties, and ignore the facts on the ground. The media refers to the Hamas campaign to kill Israelis as “protests.” An NPR segment inaccurately reported, “Israeli troops killed many people yesterday as they were trying to leave.”

An editorial in The Guardian claims, “It is inexcusable for soldiers of a military, especially those under democratic civilian control, to shoot and kill protesters, almost all of whom were unarmed, and who pose no credible threat.” The examples of misreportingand media bias against Israel are endless.

This is not the first, and likely, not the last time that Israel will lost the PR battle to Hamas terrorists.

While Israel and her supporters around the globe need to create and implement a strategic and coordinated campaign to win the war of ideas, the responsibility also lies with the media to provide accurate and truthful reporting.

Former Ambassador and Deputy Minister Michael Oren, during an interview with CBC radio, was asked, “How do you think that looked to the world yesterday when all those [Palestinian] people were shot dead at their border?”

I think it looked to the world the way Hamas wanted it to look to the world.  You’re doing just what they want you to.  Even your line of questioning is just what Hamas wants, Oren replied. “And, frankly, Carol, you’re complicit in further damage and even deaths of Palestinian kids.

“Because Hamas is going to conclude from listening to this interview that it works,” Oren added. “And people like you in the media will turn around and say it’s great, and Hamas are going to wake up tomorrow morning and do it again. I hope you’re proud of it.”

As Amb. Oren pointed out, the media’s perpetuation of Hamas’ narrative is not only a disservice to Israel and the world at large, but also, ironically enough, harms the Palestinian people who are suffering under Hamas’ rule.

Originally published at: http://thenationaldiscourse.com/media-hamas-supports-terror-groups-2881/

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Rays of Light in the Darkness Dinner

 

Tuesday, June 12 at 6 PM

Washington, DC

Register Here!

2018 Speaker of Truth Honorees:

Senator Tim Scott

R-South Carolina

Khaled Abu Toameh
Arab-Israeli Journalist

Chairman Ed Royce
R-California

Mark Levin
Constitutional Attorney, Radio & TV Host

Rep. Josh Gottheimer
D-New Jersey

Tommy Waller

Founder, HaYovel
Judea & Samaria

REGISTER HERE

 

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Phone Seminar: “Trump Exits the Iran Deal & the U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem: What’s Next?””

Click here to listen to the phone seminar

Thursday, May 17, 2018 – Phone Seminar with Dr. David Wurmser

On May 8th, President Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and outlined the next steps regarding Iran.  The President directed his Administration to immediately begin the process of re-imposing sanctions related to the JCPOA, targeting critical sectors of Iran’s economy, such as its energy, petrochemical, and financial sectors.  Companies doing business in Iran will be provided a period of time to allow them to wind down operations in or business involving Iran, but those who fail to do so will risk severe consequences.  It is hoped that the United States’ withdrawal from the JCPOA will pressure the Iranian regime to alter its course of malign activities and ensure that Iranian bad acts are no longer rewarded.

The European nations and Iran claim that they will continue the deal.  But if the U.S. re-imposes sanctions on the Iranians, and on companies that work with the Iranians, will this succeed?  And will Iran continue its aggression throughout the Middle East, and its support of terrorism?

About David Wurmser

Dr. David Wurmser is the executive and founding member of the Delphi Global Analysis Group, LLC – a firm specializing in geopolitical risk analysis and mitigation for infrastructure, high-tech, defense and financial firms from the United States, Japan and India navigating in Israel.  Prior to founding the Delphi Global Analysis Group, LLC in 2007, Dr. Wurmser was the senior advisor from 2003-2007 to the U.S. Vice President (Richard Cheney) on Middle East, proliferation and strategic affairs — a duty requiring timely, high‐pressure and accurate production of information, memoranda and briefings directly for the Vice President and the highest level of the US government during crises.

Before becoming the senior advisor for the Vice President in 2003, Dr. Wurmser was the senior advisor to Under Secretary of State John Bolton at the State Department. His diplomatic missions included participating in sensitive high‐level strategic discussions with Israel and Jordan, coordinating with foreign governments on Iran policy, participating on the United States negotiating team at several Nuclear Non‐Proliferation Treaty meetings and conferences, and helping negotiate base rights in key countries (Qatar) prior to the 2003 Iraq War.  Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, Dr. Wurmser consulted until January 2002 for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the U.S. Department of Defense on a war‐related classified project on understanding the nature and strategic significance of terrorist group networks.

Before entering government, Dr. Wurmser founded the Middle East studies program at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in 1996.  Dr. Wurmser has 11 years of intelligence experience — for which he was awarded the prestigious Defense Meritorious Service Medal — in the U.S. Navy Reserves, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

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Don’t Let Iran Have Nukes They’ll Use on US, Israel

In response to the recent exposure of 100,000 Iranian nuclear weapons documents by Israel, Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, the Washington foundation, went after the real villain in this drama — Israel! Cirincione took to Twitter to charge, “May I just point out that #Israel had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it tried and failed to hide for years. They repeatedly and consistently lied to US officials when confronted with the evidence.” Cirincione then pointed out, “Iran never actually built a single weapon, unlike Israel.”

This Twitter rant is nothing more than sheer stupidity.

Mr. Cirincione really should understand why the U.S. might have a problem with the Islamic Republic developing nuclear weapons, and not so much with Israel producing them. That is because Iran is technically at war with the U.S. Israel is not.

In 1979, the founding year of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranians violated our Embassy and seized American hostages, whom they mistreated. Every Nov. 4, the Iranian regime continues to celebrate a yearly “Death to America” day to commemorate their seizure of the U.S. Embassy and hostages.

In the 1980’s, Iran set up the terror group Hezbollah, which prior to Sept. 11, 2001, had more American blood on its hands than any other terror organization. Hezbollah bombed the Marine Barracks in Beirut and twice bombed the U.S. Embassy there. Almost 300 Americans were murdered. (On May 30, 2003, a U.S. Judge found Iran legally responsible for providing Hezbollah, with financial and logistical support for these attacks.)

Also, Hezbollah grabbed U.S. hostages individually, and oftentimes tortured and killed them. In 1996, Hezbollah bombed the Khobar Towers, and killed 17 American servicemen.

Post-2003, Iran provided explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) to Iraqi and Afghani terrorists for use against American soldiers. One study says that at least 500 U.S. military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan were directly linked to these Iranian explosives.

In 2011, when the Obama administration was trying to make nice with the Islamic Republic, an Iranian agent plotted to bomb the Saudi Ambassador at a Georgetown restaurant, which would have resulted in mass casualties among U.S. civilians.

After the announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), Iran was aggressive in the Persian Gulf. U.S. forces operating in and around the Strait of Hormuz were “approached by Iranian warships and aircraft” on a “nearly daily basis,” according to a Pentagon official. This happened 35 times in 2016, double the amount from the same period in 2015. And in 2017. At one point in time, American sailors were seized and humiliated in a violation of international law.

Iran has had, and continues to hold, American citizens hostage, sometimes under horrible conditions. Currently, Iran has arrested and imprisoned six U.S. persons, Siamak Namazi, Baquer Namazi, Nizar Zakka (a resident), Reza “Robin” Shahini, Karan Vafadari (a resident), graduate student Xiyue Wang, and (probably) a seventh, Robert Levinson. Other Americans were released for ransom money during the JCPOA negotiations.

Right now, all throughout the Mideast, the Iranians are using the money they gained from the U.S. through the JCPOA to inspire rebellions and mayhem and violence in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and to threaten U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, and, yes, Israel.

Iran has also jumpstarted its program to test ballistic missiles. On March 8 and 9, 2016, Iran conducted multiple missile tests, and during which it called the U.S. the “main enemy.” Ballistic missiles “only make economic, political, and military sense to become a nuclear weapons power.

Iran has not been afraid to support Sunni terror groups too. Iran funds Hamas – annually $60-70 million – and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – annually $70 million. Both organizations have American blood on their hands. Even al-Qaeda got some Iranian assistance; Bin Laden once described Iran as al-Qaida’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication” and Iran has continued this until recently. Iran is supplying and funding weapons and training to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Iranian leadership continues to refer to the U.S. as “the Great Satan.”

Iranian school textbooks, such as “The Qur’an and Life” (Grade 12, p. 125) prepare Iranian children for an apocalyptic, horrifying, millenarian, military battle against the U.S. and other “arrogant oppressors of the world,” which are ostensibly led by “idolatrous devils.”

Meanwhile, in comparison, Israel has only been a strong friend and ally of the U.S.

Joe Cirincione is a prominent supporter of the JCPOA, so perhaps it is not too surprising that the man is worried that President Trump may follow through with his promises to leave the Iran deal.

But there is no excuse for Cirincione to take leave of his senses; any objective foreign policy observer should understand the difference between a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Israelis, and one in the hands of the Iranians.

Iran might use a nuclear weapon against the U.S. Israel never would.

It is really just that simple.
Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/cirincione-efp-jcpoa/2018/05/08/id/859127/

Photo: Fintastique/Dreamstime

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