Israelis 'train Kurdish forces'
By Magdi Abdelhadi
Arab affairs analyst, BBC News
BBC News, Wednesday, 20 September 2006
The BBC has obtained evidence that Israelis have been giving military training to Kurds in northern Iraq.
A report on the BBC TV programme Newsnight showed Israeli experts in northern Iraq, drilling Kurdish militias in shooting techniques.
Kurdish officials have refused to comment on the report and Israel has denied it knows of any involvement.
The revelation is set to cause enormous problems for the Kurds, not only in Iraq but also in the wider region.
Israel is seen as an enemy of Arabs and Muslims, both inside Iraq and elsewhere in Arab and Muslim countries.
'Against Israeli law'
Kurdish politicians will most likely come under pressure to explain what their semi-autonomous government has been up to.
Israeli security experts who spoke to the BBC said they could not have worked inside Kurdistan without the knowledge of the Kurdish authorities.
The news will most probably increase tension between the Kurds and Iraq's Arab population, both Sunnis and Shias, reinforcing fears that the Kurds are pursuing a secessionist agenda.
This would be a serious blow to efforts for national reconciliation at a time when hundreds of Iraqis are killed every month in inter-communal violence.
Iraq's neighbours, too, will be outraged.
Iran and Syria, which have long accused the Kurds of allowing the Israelis to operate on Iraqi territory, will most likely demand an explanation from the government in Baghdad.
The Israeli government says it is conducting an investigation into the BBC report because it is against Israeli law to export military know-how without prior permission.
The BBC report will be like the smoking gun the Arab media has spent years looking for.
Ever since the US-led invasion of Iraq began over three years ago, Arab journalists have been speaking of Israelis operating inside the autonomous region of Kurdistan.
They said this was evidence that toppling Saddam Hussein was only the first chapter in a wider American-Israeli conspiracy to eliminate threats to their strategic interests and re-draw the map of the Middle East.
Syria and Iran, which have common borders with Kurdish areas, are believed to be the primary target.
The Israeli-Kurdish Relations
By Sergey Minasian
"21-st Century", No 1, April, 2007
To show that its contents is accepted by Zionist circles, this article was for instance hailed in IKN - the Israel Kurdistan Network - as an "interesting document", a "great work about the Israeli Kurdish Relations" (http://israelkurdistannetwork.blogspot.com/2008/10/great-work-about-israeli-kurdish.html).
In his introduction, mr Minasian, writes:
"This article is dedicated to the Israeli-Kurdish relations within the framework of political processes in the Near and Middle East. The history and general dynamics of these relations is shown with a special emphasis on the analysis of the latter after the establishment of the State of Israel and the attempted utilization of the Kurdish factor by Israel in its regional strategy against the Arab surroundings."So what writes mr. Minasian that so enthrills the Israeli-Kurdo allies?
Here some sample quotes from his work on the historical military connections between the Jewish state and its agents and the Kurdish groups, mainly in Iraq:
The initial success of the Iraqi Kurds in the struggle against the Baghdad regime attracted the attention of the Israeli special services which regarded themas efficient allies in their struggle against Syria and Iraq, Israel’s most consistent adversaries in the region. That is why by the end of 1950s, with respect to the Kurdish minorities in Arab states, Israel pursued the policy later referred to as the "peripheral strategy."[...]The notes mentioned in the above quotes from Minasian´s article:
Back in the late 1930s, the initiative of establishing contacts with the Kurds belonged to an officer of the Zionist secret service Rubin Shilia, one of the lead-ing ideologists of the "peripheral strategy." Under the disguise of a Hebrew school student in Baghdad he organized a network of agents and established secret contacts in the mountainous Kurdish-populated regions of Iraq. These contacts proved to be very useful during the resettlement of the Iraqi Jews to Palestine via Northern Iraq, Turkey and Iran. By the end of 1950s and in the early 1960s Israel became the principal source of weapons supplies and training for the Kurds in their struggle against the government. By various estimates, thousands of Mossad agents and instructors of the Israeli army resided in the Kurdish-populated regions of Iraq at the time and conducted undercover operations.
The reports on the operations of Mossad in Iraq and its support of the Kurds repeatedly appeared in the Muslim and Israeli press and other publications. According to Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad agent, the Israeli secret services also actively used volunteers from humanitarian organizations and their own Iraqi agents for special subversive and terrorist operations in Iraq .
Various arms supplies for the Iraqi Kurds actively continued in 1965-1975 . The Parastin, the intelligence service of the Kurdish Democratic Party, was also established with Mossad’s support in the late 1960s. The operations conducted by the Israeli intelligence agency in Northern Iraq were of particular significance for Israel because the Iraqi Kurds were pounded not only by the Iraqi troops but also by the regular army of Syria, another Arab state ruled by the Baath party.
Thus, owing to the Israeli support of the Iraqi Kurds, sizable Syrian forces were diverted from the borders of Israel. The engagement of the Iraqi troops in the suppression of the Kurdish insurgence prevented Iraq from participating in the Yom Kippur War against Israel in 1973 since this required the withdrawal of the Iraqi army units from the home (Kurdish) front and the Iranian border.
According to a former senior Mossad official Eliezer Tsafrir, Israel had military advisers at the headquarters of Mulla Mustafa Barzani in 1963-1975, trained and supplied the Kurdish units with fire arms, field and anti-aircraft artillery. The US also participated in this campaign . Israel spent tens of millions of dollars on the support of the Kurds, supplying them via Iran, which pursued its own goals in Iraq and had close ties with Israel up until 1979.
After the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Mossad and the CIA started to operate in the opposite direction, i.e., from the Kurdish-populated areas of Iraq (especially, the Mossad) and Turkey against Iran. The published documents of the US embassy in Teheran on the Kurdish question bear witness to the active sub-versive operations of the Mossad and the CIA in the Kurdish-populated areas of Iran .
23. For details see: Ostrovsky V. "By Way of Deception: A Devastating Insider’s Portrait of the Mossad". Toronto: Staddart, 1990.
24. McDowall D. "A Modern History of the Kurds". Bridgend 1996, p.320, 331; Mordechai N. "Minorities in the Middle East". Jefferson 1991, p. 240-241.
29. Reuters, 21.02.1999.
31. (Zhigalina, O, "The documents of the US Embassy in Teheran on the Kurdish issue")
Annals of National Security:
As June 30th approaches, Israel looks to the Kurds
By Seymour M. Hersh
The New Yorker, June 28, 2004
[Some chosen excerpts from Hersh´s article. Underlines below added by Radio Islam for reasons of emphasis]
In a series of interviews in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, officials told me that by the end of last year Israel had concluded that the Bush Administration would not be able to bring stability or democracy to Iraq, and that Israel needed other options. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government decided, I was told, to minimize the damage that the war was causing to Israel’s strategic position by expanding its long-standing relationship with Iraq’s Kurds and establishing a significant presence on the ground in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan. Several officials depicted Sharon’s decision, which involves a heavy financial commitment, as a potentially reckless move that could create even more chaos and violence as the insurgency in Iraq continues to grow.
Israeli intelligence and military operatives are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and, most important in Israel’s view, running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria. Israel feels particularly threatened by Iran, whose position in the region has been strengthened by the war. The Israeli operatives include members of the Mossad, Israel’s clandestine foreign-intelligence service, who work undercover in Kurdistan as businessmen and, in some cases, do not carry Israeli passports.
Asked to comment, Mark Regev, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said, “The story is simply untrue and the relevant governments know it’s untrue.” Kurdish officials declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the State Department.
However, a senior C.I.A. official acknowledged in an interview last week that the Israelis were indeed operating in Kurdistan. He told me that the Israelis felt that they had little choice: “They think they have to be there.” Asked whether the Israelis had sought approval from Washington, the official laughed and said, “Do you know anybody who can tell the Israelis what to do? They’re always going to do what is in their best interest.” The C.I.A. official added that the Israeli presence was widely known in the American intelligence community.
The Israeli decision to seek a bigger foothold in Kurdistan—characterized by the former Israeli intelligence officer as “Plan B”—has also raised tensions between Israel and Turkey. It has provoked bitter statements from Turkish politicians and, in a major regional shift, a new alliance among Iran, Syria, and Turkey, all of which have significant Kurdish minorities. In early June, Intel Brief, a privately circulated intelligence newsletter produced by Vincent Cannistraro, a retired C.I.A. counterterrorism chief, and Philip Giraldi, who served as the C.I.A.’s deputy chief of base in Istanbul in the late nineteen-eighties, said:
Turkish sources confidentially report that the Turks are increasingly concerned by the expanding Israeli presence in Kurdistan and alleged encouragement of Kurdish ambitions to create an independent state. . . . The Turks note that the large Israeli intelligence operations in Northern Iraq incorporate anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian activity, including support to Iranian and Syrian Kurds who are in opposition to their respective governments.[...]
Israeli involvement in Kurdistan is not new. Throughout the nineteen-sixties and seventies, Israel actively supported a Kurdish rebellion against Iraq, as part of its strategic policy of seeking alliances with non-Arabs in the Middle East.
A top German national-security official said in an interview that “an independent Kurdistan with sufficient oil would have enormous consequences for Syria, Iran, and Turkey” and would lead to continuing instability in the Middle East—no matter what the outcome in Iraq is. There is also a widespread belief, another senior German official said, that some elements inside the Bush Administration—he referred specifically to the faction headed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz—would tolerate an independent Kurdistan. This, the German argued, would be a mistake. “It would be a new Israel—a pariah state in the middle of hostile nations.”
The Israelis, however, view the neighborhood, with the exception of Kurdistan, as hostile.
“Israel’s immediate goal after June 30th is to build up the Kurdish commando units to balance the Shiite militias—especially those which would be hostile to the kind of order in southern Iraq that Israel would like to see,” the former [Israeli] senior intelligence official said. “Of course, if a fanatic Sunni Baathist militia took control—one as hostile to Israel as Saddam Hussein was—Israel would unleash the Kurds on it, too.” The Kurdish armed forces, known as the peshmerga, number an estimated seventy-five thousand troops, a total that far exceeds the known Sunni and Shiite militias.
The former Israeli intelligence officer acknowledged that since late last year Israel has been training Kurdish commando units to operate in the same manner and with the same effectiveness as Israel’s most secretive commando units, the Mistaravim. The initial goal of the Israeli assistance to the Kurds, the former officer said, was to allow them to do what American commando units had been unable to do—penetrate, gather intelligence on, and then kill off the leadership of the Shiite and Sunni insurgencies in Iraq. (I was unable to learn whether any such mission had yet taken place.) “The feeling was that this was a more effective way to get at the insurgency,” the former officer said. “But the growing Kurdish-Israeli relationship began upsetting the Turks no end. Their issue is that the very same Kurdish commandos trained for Iraq could infiltrate and attack in Turkey.”
The Kurdish-Israeli collaboration inevitably expanded, the Israeli said. Some Israeli operatives have crossed the border into Iran, accompanied by Kurdish commandos, to install sensors and other sensitive devices that primarily target suspected Iranian nuclear facilities. The former officer said, “Look, Israel has always supported the Kurds in a Machiavellian way—as balance against Saddam. It’s Realpolitik.” He added, “By aligning with the Kurds, Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq, and Syria.” He went on, “What Israel was doing with the Kurds was not so unacceptable in the Bush Administration.”
Senior German officials told me, with alarm, that their intelligence community also has evidence that Israel is using its new leverage inside Kurdistan, and within the Kurdish communities in Iran and Syria, for intelligence and operational purposes. Syrian and Lebanese officials believe that Israeli intelligence played a role in a series of violent protests in Syria in mid-March in which Syrian Kurdish dissidents and Syrian troops clashed, leaving at least thirty people dead. (There are nearly two million Kurds living in Syria, which has a population of seventeen million.) Much of the fighting took place in cities along Syria’s borders with Turkey and Kurdish-controlled Iraq. Michel Samaha, the Lebanese Minister of Information, told me that while the disturbances amounted to an uprising by the Kurds against the leadership of Bashir Assad, the Syrian President, his government had evidence that Israel was “preparing the Kurds to fight all around Iraq, in Syria, Turkey, and Iran. They’re being programmed to do commando operations.”
A clean break for Israel
By Sadi Baig
Asia Times Online, June 30, 2004
Israeli involvement with the Kurds is not a new phenomenon. In its search for non-Arab allies in the region, Israel has supported Kurdish militancy in Iraq since the 1960s. In 1980, Israeli premier Menachem Begin publicly acknowledged that besides humanitarian aid, Israel had secretly provided military aid to Kurds in the form of weapons and advisers. Later on, that relationship was kept low profile due to Washington's alliances in the region; first with Iran during the Shah's monarchy, and then with Saddam Hussein's Iraq when he fought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's Iran. Israel's partnership with Turkey that was founded mainly to counter threats from Iran, Syria and Iraq, was also a factor.
Israel and the Kurds also share a common bond through the Kurdish Jews in Israel, who number close to 50,000. Prominent among them is Itzhak Mordechai, an Iraqi Kurd who was defense minister during Benjamin Netanyahu's last term as prime minister.
Israeli-Kurd relationships soured a bit in February of 1999, when the Kurds accused the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of providing information that led to the arrest of Turkish Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan in Kenya. Kurdish protestors attacked the Israeli embassy in Berlin, resulting in the shooting deaths of three protestors by Israeli security forces. In an unprecedented public denial, the then Mossad chief Efraim Halevy dissociated Israel from Ocalan's capture. Despite such bumps and its alliance with Turkey, Israel succeeded in keeping its relationship with the Iraqi Kurds intact, by keeping a safe distance from the PKK, which is primarily a Turkish Kurd entity, and not becoming a party to the bloody infighting between the various Turkish and Iraqi Kurdish groups.
However, Israel does have a favorite - the Barzani family-dominated Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), whose current head, Massoud Barzani, inherited the mantle from his father, the legendary Mullah Mustafa Barzani. Israeli television has in the past broadcast photographs from the 1960s showing father Barzani embracing the then Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan. In alliance with its erstwhile rival, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, the KDP in post-Saddam Iraq commands the largest and most formidable of the Iraqi militias, the Peshmerga, with estimates of anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 battle-hardened fighters. In contrast, the next in line of militias is the Iranian-sponsored Shi'ite political party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (SCIRI), with no more than 15,000 fighters.
So why in the post-Saddam Iraq has Israel chosen to dramatically escalate the nature of its involvement with Kurdish militants, and in so doing, risk its strategic alliance with Turkey, while confirming its activities on record through individuals like Patrick Clawson (one of the named sources in Seymour Hersh's expose in the New Yorker), known to have close ties with the Israeli government?
According to Hersh's report, "hundreds" of undercover Israeli Defense Force intelligence officers and Mossad agents have reestablished cooperation with Kurdish militiamen in northern Iraq, with the aim of launching cells that might yield new intelligence on Iran's nuclear program. Israeli operatives are also said to be providing an ancillary role to the Kurds and are aiding Kurdish elements in northern Syria. Kurdish riots and the seeds of a minor rebellion in northern Syria have recently rocked Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
A questionable pretext
Quoting Clawson, the Hersh article presents a pair of weak justifications for Israeli intervention in Iraq. The first one is the fear of Iranian nuclear ambitions. This information is hardly new. The latest revelations about the Iranian nuclear program were in fact provided by an Iranian dissident group. Furthermore, Iran is under constant US satellite surveillance and sustained political pressure by the US, the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency and European powers to roll back its nuclear efforts. It is therefore doubtful as to what quality or value the Israelis can add to such a formidable lineup.
The second motivation that the article talks about is the urgent need for Israel to move on Iraq as a national security imperative to counter the growing Iranian influence. A quick analysis, however, reveals such urgency to be exaggerated, and any Israeli surprise at the growing Iranian footprint in Iraq to be unconvincing. One of the most predictable outcomes of the Iraq conflict was the growth in Iranian influence in that country. Besides a 1,500 kilometer border, the two neighboring Shi'ite-majority nations share deep historical and religious bonds making it almost impossible for the US to prevent the ascent of Iranian-backed groups without inviting a full-scale Shi'ite rebellion in Iraq. Realizing this, American officials moved quickly during pre-war days to co-opt Iran-backed groups such as the SCIRI, with tacit Iranian approval.
Would it not be naive to expect that Washington would create a situation hospitable for growth in clout of its Iranian adversary in a region key to American interests, and thereby limit its own options?
To begin to answer the preceding questions, we need to take a look at a now famous policy paper: "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm". This neo-conservative-authored paper presented in 1996 to the then Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a bold strategy to provide "the nation [Israel] the room to engage every possible energy in rebuilding Zionism", and strengthen and increase its influence in the Middle East. "Our claim to the land - to which we have clung for hope for 2000 years - is legitimate and noble," the authors proclaimed. "Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them" through means including "reestablishing the principle of preemption, rather than retaliation alone".
The paper emphasized that Israel needed to enhance its strategic position independent of the US, in order to deny the US any leverage it may want to exercise on Israel to maintain stability in the region under the "peace process". The paper betrays a high degree of discomfort regarding US influence over Israel and suggests ways to actively neutralize it. What is most surprising are the names of its authors that comprise past and present US civilian policy-makers, including ex-chairman of the Defense Policy Board Richard Perle, present Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, and Vice President Dick Cheney's adviser for Middle East Affairs, David Wurmser. How individuals with such openly stated positions preferring Israeli interests over those of the US became influential members of the US government is quite mystifying.
The paper bemoans the status quo where Israel is asked to follow European and American prescriptions for peace and stability, and proposes that a key ingredient of the "US-Israeli partnership" must be "mutuality" and that Israel must position itself to be the protector of the "West's security" in the Middle East rather than being a junior partner. Such strategic co-dependence, specifically between Israel and the US, and to a general degree between Israel and Western powers, would imply dismissing the strategic status quo. Thus, to achieve a "clean break", the security map of the Middle East would have to be significantly re-built to assign Israel an apex role, rather than being just a party to territorial disputes with its neighbors and being treated as another ally, albeit a strong one, along with Washington's oil-allies in the region.
The removal of Saddam Hussein, enunciated to be a key goal in "Clean Break", was to be the first phase of this new strategy of independence through co-dependence. As has been discussed earlier (see Asia Times Online, All going according to plan? , May 12), under the pretext of regime change, the US quite intentionally annihilated the Iraqi state and its military forces, the largest in the Arab world. In his article titled "Beyond Fallujah: A Year With the Iraqi Resistance" in the June issue of Harper's Magazine, Patrick Graham, a freelance journalist, quotes a resistance fighter's account of looting the Iraqi army's weapons caches. "They [American soldiers] almost gave us the weapons. They watched us taking RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and other weapons," he continued, "They thought we were destroying the Iraqi army."
An opening is created
The strategic space created from the ruins of the Iraqi state and its pillars offers immense opportunities by employing persecuted minorities as proxies that can provide a strong foothold in a pivotal oil-rich nation hundreds of miles away from Israel. Furthermore, the Kurdish beachhead in Iraq would serve to project influence in key adversaries such as Iran and Syria.
In "A Clean Break", the authors called for signaling to the Syrians that their "territory is not immune" to attacks "by Israeli proxy forces". Kurdish unrest in Syria has been quite rare. In early March of this year, northeastern Syria broke out in violent protests that eventually reached the capital Damascus. The Syrians were caught completely off guard. The riots lasted for days and left scores of people dead before being brought under control.
In a war viewed by the neo-conservatives as an unavoidable course of action for protecting American interests, the growth in Iranian influence was an inevitable consequence. But Iranian reach would be dangerous only if it spread beyond southern Iraq and a unified Iraq emerged. With uncertainty surrounding the future of high levels of US troops in Iraq, the Israeli-backed Peshmerga is the ideal proxy as a powerful rival to the Iranian-inspired Shi'ite ascendancy in Iraq. With their superior numbers, excellent training and materiel, thanks to the US and Israel, the Peshmerga can set the terms for the Iraqi federation or for its disintegration. Furthermore, the Kurds are completely dependent on extra-regional players due to their isolation in the area. The current situation in Iraq points to a nominal sovereign existing in the shadow of armed militias competing for power, with the most powerful of the militias aligned with the occupying forces. The Peshmerga number more than the proposed Iraqi Security Forces (an entity that closely resembles a highly equipped police force rather than a proper military), and are being trained by elite and highly secret Israeli commandos, the Mistaravim according to Hersh's Central Intelligence Agency sources.
To see these developments as just attempts in securing cheap oil (Israel relies on expensive Western imports due to the Arab boycott), would be to underestimate the resultant benefits to Israel from the situation. Without engaging its military directly, the Israelis have made themselves a major power-broker in the region and a party to internal stability of important regional states. Unable to confront the only regional nuclear power and the military of its principal sponsor providing strategic cover in Iraq, Israel's foes in the vicinity must acknowledge that they need to deal with Israel in new ways and be ready to offer concessions if need be.
A significant threat, albeit a remote one, emanates from a possible strategic accommodation between Iran and Saudi Arabia regarding Iraq and the future of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. But such a scenario seems less and less likely. The present leadership of Saudi Arabia is battling with a series of high-impact acts of violence in areas key to oil production. Furthermore, a carefully crafted ambiguity surrounds Saudi Arabia's role in America's wider regional ambitions, which when combined with recent signaling from the US and the United Kingdom, is causing great alarm in Riyadh.
The spate of high profile bombings in Iraq, including the one that killed the UN representative for Iraq and another that killed Ayatollah Baqir Hakim, head of the Iran-backed SCIRI militia, must now be viewed in the light of this new information.
A UN presence in Iraq would have led to an early rehabilitation of a federal Iraqi state, something that would have led to the disarming of the Kurdish militias, thereby denying a major source of influence to Israel in the region. By ramping up armed proxies devoted to a crypto-secessionist struggle and leaking its support for them, Israel has delivered a masterstroke of strategic foresight. It clearly knows that the creation of a Kurdish republic in Iraq, let alone a greater Kurdistan, is not viable for several reasons.
Some of the crucial factors include the religious and ethnic diversity of Iraqi Kurds themselves (though mutually intelligible, Iraqi Kurds speak two different languages and are religiously quite mixed), lack of access to natural resources, recent history of bloody strife within the Kurdish parties, and their autonomy posing an existential threat to the Turkish state.
Nevertheless, by its plausibly deniable support for Kurdish militias, Israel has declared to the regional power centers that it is an indispensable power broker in the future stability of the greater Middle East. Israel can manage its alliance with Turkey as the Turks are mainly concerned with degrading the PKK and denying it a safe haven in northern Iraq. Iran is gearing for a proxy war with Israel in Iraq, but with the presence of US forces has to work in a far stricter environment than it had in southern Lebanon. Of all the three, Syria seems to be in the worst position, with the least economic and political clout and unable to turn up the heat in Lebanon without Iran's help; an Iran that is engaged on multiple fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan, apart from its nuclear woes. The road to Iraq's future therefore, and by extension that of the "New Middle East", now has a detour through Tel Aviv.
Sadi Baig is a freelance political analyst.
Iraqi Jews privileged
In the article "The Israeli-Kurdish Relations" by Sergey Minasian, "21-st Century", No1, April, 2007, Minasian writes on the influence of the Iraqi Jews, who he asserts had a "privileged status", Jews who"played a significant role in big business and civil service":
"The Iraqi Jews, especially the ones residing in the central provinces of the country since the Ottoman rule had played important roles in the economic, cultural and even political life of Iraq. After the granting of formal independence to Iraq by Great Britain in 1932, the Iraqi Jews retained their privileged status under the government of Feisal and played a significant role in big business and civil service."IPS, Inter Press Service Agency, has published an article on the Jews´ situation in Iraq called "Kurdish Jews Recall a Paradise Lost", in the form of a review of a book written by an Iraqi-Kurdish Jew, "My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Northern Iraq". The October 10, 2008, IPS article states:
"After World War I, one-third of Baghdad was Jewish. After World War II, Jews served in the Iraqi cabinet, its Parliament, and on its High Court of Appeal. "So here we read that "one-third of Baghdad was Jewish", quite astounding information, is it not?
From the Islamic News Agency IslamOnline.net, August 16 th, 2003:
Israeli Center Opened In Baghdad
A cartoon published by Israeli MEMRIinstitute
BAGHDAD, August 16 (IslamOnline.net) – An Israeli center said to be specialized in Mid Eastern studies was opened in the occupied Iraqi capital Baghdad, in a provocative move seen by Iraqi academics as the beginning of an Israeli scheme to infiltrate the Iraqi society."Israel opened its center on August 1 at a large rented building in Abu Nawaas St. overlooking The Tigris river," they told IslamOnine.net Friday, August 15.
The sources, who requested anonymity, said the center has already started operation, noting that it was the first Israeli center operating publicly in Baghdad since its downfall on April 9.
The heavily-guarded building, they said, obtained work permits from the U.S. occupation authority in Iraq and the Pentagon.
The Iraqis sources said the center is affiliated to the Washington-based MEMRI (short for the Middle East Media Research Institute), an Israeli association set up five years ago, with offshoots in London, Berlin and West Jerusalem.
"Superficially, the center follows up Arab newspapers in the Arab world and Europe, particularly London, translates key articles into Hebrew, English, German, French and Italian and circulate them among subscribers, not to mention state-run Israelis institutions," they clarified.
The sources put at 35,000 the number of subscribers, who receive MEMRI's services on a daily basis, adding that it is a non-profitable organization and employs dozens in its different offshoots.
"MEMRI receives donations from Jewish and Zionist institutions from all over the world," they averred.
Brian Whitaker, a Guardian writer, has investigated whether the 'independent' MEMRI is quite what it seems.
He wrote on August 12, 2002, that MEMRI is "rather a mysterious organization. Its website does not give the names of any people to contact, not even an office address."
Whitaker attributed "Memri's air of secrecy" to those who run it, noting that its co-founder, president and registered owner of its website, "is an Israeli called Yigal Carmon."
"Mr - or rather, Colonel - Carmon spent 22 years in Israeli military intelligence and later served as counter-terrorism adviser to two Israeli prime ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin."
The Guardian writer said that based on a retrieved now-deleted page from MEMRI’s website archives, he came across the names of six people, "three - including Col Carmon - are described as having worked for Israeli intelligence."
He added that another staff "served in the Israeli army's Northern Command Ordnance Corps."
According to Whitaker MEMRI’s co-founder is "Meyrav Wurmser, who is also director of the center for Middle East policy at the Indianapolis-based Hudson Institute.
He noted, in this respect that the "ubiquitous Richard Perle, (former) chairman of the Pentagon's defense policy board, recently joined Hudson's board of trustees."
Judging from the e-mails he receives from MEMRI, the Guardian writer concluded that "the stories selected by Memri for translation follow a familiar pattern: either they reflect badly on the character of Arabs or they in some way further the political agenda of Israel. I am not alone in this unease."
He recalled that Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the Washington Times: "Memri's intent is to find the worst possible quotes from the Muslim world and disseminate them as widely as possible."
Whitaker also challenged MEMRI’s "claims that it does provide translations from Hebrew media, I can't recall receiving any."
A sample of Israeli-made products now invading Iraqi markets
Dr. Anwar Abdu Aziz, professor of political sciences in Baghdad University, charged that MEMRI and its offshoots have sinister objectives.
"Israel's underground goals in the Middle East are not a secret; this center is, in effect, a façade for intelligence and security bodies orchestrated by the Mossad (Israel's intelligence service)," he stressed.
The academic urged the U.S.-handpicked interim Iraqi Governing Council to immediately shut down the Israeli center in Baghdad "because it will penetrate our security."
For her part, Dr. Soad Bahudin al-Mousli from Al-Rafeden University, said Iraqis have never pronounced the word "Israel" and always referred to it as "the Zionist enemy."
She wondered: "Who would have imagined that Baghdad would someday host a center serving Israeli plots and schemes?"
Before the ouster of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, Iraq was the only country in the Arab world – if not in the entire world – to sentence anyone who imported Israeli products to capital punishment.
"This is the product of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and reaffirms out conviction that Israel and the United States are two sides of the same coin," Dr. Mousli underlined.
She further exhorted Iraqis to stand up to this Israeli infiltration, which runs counter to the interests of the Arab nations.
"Arab intelligentsia should expose all hostile Israeli practices," she said, charging that the U.S. occupation is Israel in disguise.
Famed Palestinian journalist Mohammad Samara regretted the existence of such a center in Baghdad.
"It is breaking our hearts to see the Israeli Mossad in Bahdad, the citadel of Arabs," Samara lamented.
Retaining some optimism, he said: "We still pin our high hopes on the brave people of Iraq to resist.
"Iraqis and Palestinians will continue to hold the Arab torch of struggle against powers of evil.
"Israel will never fulfill its much-pursued dream of establishing a (Jewish) state from the Euphrates to the River Nile as long as the Arab nation continues to give birth to heroes every day," Samara said.