American efforts to increase cooperation between Arab nations and Israel triggered a major Iranian reaction in Iraq. Iran does not, under any circumstances, what Israel to be allies with more Arab states. This began six days ago when an unexpected peace conference was held in the autonomous Kurdish north, where some prominent Iraqis openly called for Iraq to join the growing number of Moslem states that are ending over 70 years of hostility towards Israel and establishing diplomatic relations. This effort, called the Abraham Accords, became official in mid-2020 after several years of unofficial negotiations. This came after decades of unofficial diplomatic, intelligence and economic relationships between Israel and the UAE (United Arab Emirates), Morocco and other Arab states that were officially at war with Israel.
The UAE has been, for centuries, an international trading center and had contacts with most nations and a lot of rebel groups. The UAE has been the most successful Arab oil state in developing an economy that can replace the oil income when it is gone. What really prompted the recent willingness to have Israel as an ally rather than an enemy was the growing threat from Iran. The Americans pointed out
that the most successful weapons against the Iranian threat, especially missiles and UAVs, were developed and used by Israel, which has always been willing to cooperate on mutual-defense matters with other nations in the region. The UAE always recognized this, often quite openly and was the first to accept the
Abraham Accords. O
ther Arab states followed and a growing number of Moslem majority nations are at least considering doing the same.
For Moslem states in the Middle East, Israel is recognized as the most technically advanced country in the region and a primary target for Iranian aggression. Israel has also been the most successful at fighting back against Iran. This is popular in Arab countries, as is the Iranian inability to retaliate against Israel. Not only that but Israel, although majority Jewish, has a population where the majority is quite literally Arab, or Semitic. When founded in the late 1940s, over half the population consisted of local Semites, either Jews forced out of Arab countries where they had lived for over a thousand years, or Arabs who did not flee the newly created Israel when surrounding Arab nations declared war on Israel and told Arabs living there to leave until Arab armies could wipe out the Jews. That never happened and it took four failed attempts to convince Arab nations that the Israelis could not be defeated militarily. Today 20 percent of Israelis are descendants of Arabs who did not leave after Israel was founded. Most are Moslem, with the remainder Christian. The Jews whose ancestors came from other Arab states in the 1940s and 50s were later joined by more European, American and Russian Jews. There were few new arrivals from Moslem nations because nearly all the Jews had been expelled in the late 1940s. The majority of Israelis still resemble their ancient ancestors who were identical to their Semitic neighbors and spoke Aramaic, an ancient Semitic language that appeared in Syria a few centuries before Hebrew showed up. Until Arabic appeared about 1,800 years ago, Aramaic was a common language in the Middle East. Arabic, like Aramac, became the common language in nations that already spoke one of Semitic languages. Aramaic is still spoken by a few isolated minorities in the region. Two thousand years ago Hebrew was a related language used for religious occasions and few Jews knew it. When modern Israel was founded, Hebrew was revived as a national language that all Jews could accept. But half of Israelis still speak some Arabic and a minority still use it at home and among other Jews from families that never left the region when the Romans killed, enslaved, or dispersed the Jewish population after too many rebellions against Roman rule. The Middle East is one part of the world where old customs never entirely disappear, are often revived and are almost always respected.
The original population of the Middle East developed and diversified the Semitic languages while elsewhere in Eurasia and Africa other peoples did the same with locally developed early languages. The major language groups often developed among humans who had developed some unique physical features, like different skin tones. Darker skin was the default because humans originally evolved in tropical areas. Many other physical characteristics appeared that were evolutionarily useless, as was common with all other species. The Iranians are Indo-European, as are the Kurds. The Turks are central Asian although they have intermarried so much over the centuries, at least in urban areas, that genetic analysis often describes them as Greek or Armenian (another ancient Indo-European group). This ancient history, as defined by appearance and language, is still important in the Middle East, less so in Europe and least of all in the U.S. and other former English-speaking colonies. The Abraham Accords are based on the shared history and culture of Semitic speakers, not which religion they adopted. The Jews expelled from Moslem countries in the 1940s still remember that their families had always lived among fellow Semites and now more Arabs are recognizing that as well.
The September 24 conference was later condemned by the Shia dominated federal government. Iran still has a lot of influence in Iraq, mainly because of the common Shia Islamic religion. It does not go unnoticed in Iraq that the ancient Arab minority in Iran has always been poorly treated by its Indo-European majority. Therefore, Iran is losing its influence among Arab Shia in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Iran demanded that the Iraqi government punish those attending the conference. There were efforts to do that but as with similar Iranian demands, those who attended the Erbil conference believe they had more supporters in Iraq and Iran than the current Iranian religious dictatorship of Iran does.
One thing most Jews, Christians and Moslems agree on is that Judaism was codified by a native of Ur, one of the many cities in the Tigris-Euphrates rivers system that empties into the Persian Gulf. This area is generally regarded as one of the first places where cities, language and much else was developed by humans. One of those developments was a monotheistic religion that began as Judaism and later served as the basis for Christianity and Islam. All these religions recognize that the founder of Judaism was Abraham, according to religious texts and a growing body of archeological evidence, a Chaldean born in or near the city of Ur whose ruins were later found 360 kilometers southeast of Baghdad near the Euphrates River. Abraham spoke the Chaldean dialect of Aramaic, which was then spoken throughout the Middle East when Abraham was born over 4,000 years ago. According to legend Abraham was a descendent of the Biblical Noah who survived the great flood by following God’s instructions to build a large boat to save humanity and other species.
Abraham, like Noah, received instructions directly from God and was commanded to take his family and new religion to what is now Israel and make the new religion flourish. He moved and he caused the religion to evolve and grow, but there were complications. There always are.
Archaeologists eventually found evidence that the Persian Gulf was a fertile valley during the last Ice Age, during which so much water was locked up in glaciers and other ice that the ocean levels fell sufficiently to turn modern seas and gulfs with single, shallow, outlets to the oceans, into fertile lowland areas, often around a freshwater lakes or, in the case of the Persian Gulf, an extension of what became the fertile Tigris-Euphrates rivers system that is still a major source of food for large populations. The current theory is that the Ice Age valley explains how this region had a head start in developing cities and other advanced technologies. The last ice age ended about 12,000 years ago and ocean levels rose and resulted in several “Great Floods” and other major geographical changes. In the case of the ancient valley that became the Persian Gulf, those who noticed and survived the flood of salt water moved to higher ground on the new coast. That was why Ur was where it was. Over the next 4,000 years of more silt flowing down the enlarged Tigris and Euphrates rivers built more land that left Ur far from the coast. But at the time the city was founded, it was on the new coastline and that was a major advantage and why most of the world population still lives near coasts or along major rivers emptying into the oceans. The wealth of Ur and the other new cities of what became Babylonia attracted a growing number of terrifying, aggressive and very alien Indo-European, Turkish and Mongol invaders coming out of a more habitable Eurasian Plain. The earliest developed civilizations were in Egypt, the Tigris-Euphrates valley, northwest India (the Ganges River) and the great rivers of eastern China. China and India were able to absorb or merge with the alien invaders. The Semitic civilizations that eventually covered North Africa as well as the region between Egypt down to Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula and the Tigris-Euphrates Valley were more successful at resisting, not always defeating three thousand years of alien invasions, both military and cultural. In turn, the followers of Abraham managed to convert about half the planet’s population. That wasn’t conquest, but it was different and taught the many Semitic states that the best way to resist alien threats was to unite. Accepting the multi-ethnic state recently established by the Hebrew worldwide diaspora greatly reduces the threat from Iran, as well as Turkey and East Asians.
Deaths from religious violence continue to decline throughout Iraq, to the dismay of Iran and diehard Saddam supporters, now present as ISIL. The sharp fall in violent deaths began in 2017. That was when ISIL power in Iraq was broken. Ever since then small groups of ISIL fighters survive in the north and west, mainly by avoiding the security forces and concentrating on raising money via extortion and kidnapping so they can rebuild and recruit. The fundraising has been more successful than the recruiting and ISIL in Iraq is evolving into another organized crime network. Gangsters tend to prefer a lower body count than terrorists.
In 2017 there were about a thousand terrorism related civilian deaths a month, with a somewhat smaller number of deaths among the Islamic terrorists and the security forces. In 2018 monthly civilian deaths fell to less than 300 a month. In 2019 it was about 200 a month and in 2020 less than a hundred a month. The 2020 decline in deaths was partly the result of covid19 lockdowns and uncertainty about how bad the virus was. In 2021 the downward trend continues, despite Iranian efforts to get a major war going against Saudi Arabia and Israel. Bribery and threats against government leaders will only get you so far if most of the people in those countries want nothing to do with another aggressive warmonger.
September 26, 2021: The U.S. coalition officially denied having any prior knowledge about the pro-Israel Abraham Accords conference held in the autonomous Kurdish north two days ago. Back in the United States there is no official government response yet. Earlier today the Iraqi government issued an arrest warrant for the main speaker, Culture Ministry research director Sahar al-Taie who has long advocated peace with Israel. The other main speaker was Anbar province Sunni tribal leader Wisam al-Hardan, was ordered detained for questioning while Mithal al-Alusi, former Sunni member of parliament and early (1975) opponent of Saddam Hussein, was ordered arrested even though he wasn’t at the conference. Alusi fled to Germany in 1978. He had been a graduate student for several years in Egypt where he became more open about his anti-Saddam attitudes. At the time the Egyptians were inclined to honor extradition requests from Iraq. Alusi lived in Germany until 2004, where he became a prominent critic of Saddam Hussein and even served three years in jail for taking part in the takeover of the Iraqi embassy. When Alusi returned to Iraq he was appointed to head the De-Baathification program, which was created to identify Saddam supporters so they could not get jobs in new government. This made him a target for assassination by diehard supporters of Saddam.
Suuni tribal leader Hardan had more contracts in the government than anyone else at the conference and quickly announced that he was misled about the purpose of the conference. The official government position, which took nearly two days to work out, was that the conference was treason. The Hardan clan had never been enthusiastic about Saddam Hussein because the “Baghdadi Sunnis” looked down on the more traditional Sunnis of Anbar province. The Baghdadi Sunnis led the coup against the constitutional monarchy in the late 1950s and murdered most of the royal family, who were selected by the British before they left in 1932 to make a constitutional monarchy work. The Iraqi royals were related to royals who continue to rule Jordan. Hardan agreed to help the Americans implement the 2005 American effort to convince Anbar tribes to oppose the Islamic terrorism campaign of Saddam Supporters and the vengeance against Sunnis being carried out by the Shia majority, now in power because democracy had returned to Iraq, after being extinguished, along with the royal family, in the 1950s. Hardan survived many Sunni assassination attempts, which continue because of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), which was organized by former Saddam government officials, is still active. Hardan had been a peacemaker between Sunni and Shia after 2003 and that made him an enemy of Iran and a supporter of what eventually became the Abraham Accords. Hardan tried to get a Saddam era law that made any support of Israel a capital offense, punishable by execution, repealed. The only progress in that area was a 2010 modification of the law that substituted life imprisonment for the death penalty. This change was made despite intense Iranian opposition. Since then a growing number of Iraqis, including Sunnis and Shia, Kurds and Arabs, have openly discussed improved relations with Israel without being prosecuted for treason. This was happening as there was growing popular support for Israel inside Iran. The Iranian government blamed a lot of this on Iranian and Iraqi Jews who had been forced, or persuaded, to flee their ancient homeland for the West or Israel. Jews had lived in Iran and Baghdad for thousands of years and that offended Islamic radicals who considered the re-establishment of Israel, 1,900 years after the Romans destroyed it, as anti-Semitic. Iran did not agree with that until the 1979 revolution, followed by an Iraqi attack to seize some oil fields, triggered an eight year war that Iran was unable to win. This allowed Shia religious leaders to establish a religious dictatorship that soon came to resemble Saddam’s Sunni dictatorship. The Sunni dictatorship lasted 46 years while the Iranian one is almost 40 years old. The Iranian rulers see the Abraham Accords as a death threat while a growing number of Iraqis and Iranians see it as a way out.
September 25, 2021: In the northeast
(Diyala Province) an ISIL roadside bomb attack, backed up by snipers waiting to shoot those who came to help, killed an army officer and three civilians before fleeing. While the security forces have been successful at keeping ISIL out of major urban areas, ISIL is still active in rural areas between Baghdad and the Kurdish north.
September 24, 2021: In the north (Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish north) a reconciliation with Israel conference was held. The main speaker was the female Director of Research at the Iraq Ministry of Culture, who urged several hundred like-minded Arab, Kurd, Sunni and Shia Iraqis, including some tribal leaders, to support efforts to have Iraq join the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan and normalize diplomatic and economic relations with Israel.
Elsewhere in the north (Nineveh Province, 15 kilometers north of Mosul) someone fired rockets at one of the several Turkish military bases in the area. The unguided rockets caused no damage or casualties. ISIL and Iran-backed groups regularly carry out attacks like this.
September 22, 2021: In the far north (Duhok Province) Turkish warplanes carried out another attack on PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) Turkish Kurdish separatist camps and positions in the hills and valleys of this sparsely populated region. It is unclear if the Turks used one of the F-16s or one their growing number of armed UAVs. These UAVs are frequently seen in the area, usually just carrying out surveillance missions. Later in the day Turkish artillery across the border in Turkey fired several shells at a suspected PKK target. At least one of the 155mm shells hit and electricity distribution tower and cut out power to several towns and villages for several hours.
As many as 5,000 Turkish military and security force personnel are currently deployed in Iraq. Fire support is provided by artillery on the Turkish side of the border and airstrikes by Turkish Air Force F-16s and helicopter gunships as well as the new force of armed UAVs. Turkish special forces commandos often find PKK bases and call in the airstrikes or, if close enough to the border, artillery fire.
September 19, 2021:
In the north (Sulaimani Province) Iran took credit for using cruise missiles to hit four Iranian rebel camps on the Iraqi side of the border. The nearby Mount Azmar area is a favorite with groups withing to remain hidden on the Iraq side of the border.
September 14, 2021:
In the west (Anbar province) across the Syrian border (in Deir Ezzor province) an airstrike by two unidentified aircraft hit an Iran-backed militia facility and largely destroyed it. The air strike was near the Al Bukamal crossing into Iraq. Iran is seeking to provide a safer environment for its Iraqi militias. Inside Iraq, Kataib Hezbollah is subject to attack by security forces and pro-government militias. In eastern Syria the biggest threat is Israeli airstrikes and the occasional American one. The U.S. denied that this attack was theirs. Israeli airstrikes are more common in this area. There have been only two American airstrikes in Syria (February and June) since a new U.S. government took power in January and indicated it would no longer authorize such American airstrikes in Syria.
September 13, 2021: In Baghdad the government admitted that it reversed the decision to dismiss 30,000 pro-Iran PMF members and provide $28 million to cover the pay the dismissed PMF men did not receive.
September 11, 2021: In the north, Iran launched two armed UAVs to attack the airport outside E
rbil, the capital of autonomous Kurdish northern Iraq. The airport also hosts an American base which is defended by C-Ram and other defenses against air attack. The two UAVs were destroyed and a later examination of the debris confirmed that they were Iranian. Similar Iranian attacks on Kurdish towns and villages near the Iranian border usually succeed.