Iraq: The Turkish Threat


August 23, 2012: The U.S. is accusing Iraq of allowing Iran to use Iraq to get around financial and trade sanctions. Iraq denies this but the Americans have lots of evidence against Iraq. American espionage in the area, especially via the Internet, has uncovered details (like the names of local banks, officials, and specific incidents of misbehavior) of money laundering and smuggling assistance Iran has been receiving from neighboring countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Armenia). Many of these allegations are detailed enough to scare the neighbors into backing away from their illegal deals. This has not shut down all of these operations, mainly because there is so much corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan that someone else can always be found, for the moment, to continue helping Iran. But the price of these services is growing, and the American/Israeli Internet espionage is becoming a major embarrassment for local officials. Alas, corrupt Iraqi bureaucrats tend to fall back on the "deny everything and hope for the best" technique. It's not easy being clean in the Middle East. The U.S. is trying to help to use their abundance of information about the malefactors to put sanctions on individuals or institutions (like banks or shipping companies). This is getting the attention of Iraqi officials but, so far, not enough.

There are now 15,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq. Under pressure from the U.S. and the UN, Iraq has allowed camps to be built and aid to be delivered. Many of the refugees are Iraqi Sunnis who fled in the last decade to escape attacks by Shia death squads, out to avenge terrorism against Shia during the decades of Saddam Hussein's rule.

August 22, 2012: Iraqi closed its main border crossing to Syria in Anbar province (largely desert, Sunni, and western Iraq) after Syrian rebels seized the Syria border post opposite them. Most of the 600 kilometer Syrian border has come under control of Sunni rebels. While technically neutral, Iraq supports the Assad dictatorship in Syria and helps Iran provide assistance to the Assads. That is more difficult now that the rebels control most of the border with Iraq.  In addition to the border posts, the rebels are fighting for control of Syrian military bases near the Iraqi border. The sound of gunfire and explosions can often be heard in Iraq. All this violence has cut off most trade with Syria, which has led to higher prices in Iraq.

August 21, 2012: Several Turkish F-16s bombed suspected PKK camps in northern Iraq. Iraq protests but the Turks ignore Iraqi government complaints and concentrates on developing good relations with the Kurdish government that controls northern Iraq. The Kurds are using this Turkish connection to develop oil and gas fields in northern Iraq, especially in partnership with Turkish companies. This way, if the Iraqi government tries to use violence the Turks will be there to strike back. That sort of threat usually causes Arabs to back off.

August 19, 2012: In Baghdad a prominent anti-terrorism Sunni cleric escaped an assassination attempt. But the roadside bomb killed four of his bodyguards and wounded the cleric himself.

August 18, 2012: The Moslem holy month of Ramadan ended. This year terrorists killed 409 people during Ramadan. Islamic terrorists like to increase their activity during Ramadan because Ramadan is a month of sacrifice (no drinking, eating, sex, or smoking during the day) and the terrorists like to sacrifice those who do not agree with them.



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