We were debriefed on the current situation in the Middle East, I have expounded on that briefing with other reports and information, because I couldn’t take notes fast enough:
Palastine/Gaza City – There is a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation, it is my understanding that food is starting to be an issue. Power is intermittent, the ports which were blocked in June are still blocked, Palastinian miltants continue to fire mortars and rockets into Israel, continuing strikes by the Gaza City muncipalities have led to thousands of tons of solid waste piling up in the streets, posing a potential health situaton. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Report August 23, 2007
Lebanon is “teetering on the brink of war” they are headed toward a constituational crisis in November. It is likely they may have two complete governments and then the army will divided and it might be the beginning of the end. Read the article from Iran Daily.
Jordan – The UN estimates that more than 4 million Iraqis have been displaced by the war. Jordan has recieved approximately 800,000 and has closed its borders. One of the issues is that they are not viewing the Iraqis as refugees, but rather as guests so they cannot work, they have to pay for basic services and live in fear of being deported.
Iraq – The Intra Shii conflict is heating up and killings are on the rise in a grab for political, economic and territorial resources. Iran is supporting all factions to ensure that one group doesn’t become overly dominate. Article 140 which was passed last year by the Iraq National Unity Government calls for referendums to be held in Kirkuk and another city which I can’t spell to select whether they want to be ruled by the Kurdistan Regional Government or Baghdad. The Kurds have been slowly establishing control in Kirkuk. The real issue is that the region is sitting on 10 billion barrels of oil. In addition Turkey has postioned itself as the protector of Turkmen in Kirkuk.
“Iraq’s National Unity Government is like the old Holy Roman Empire — It’s not national, it’s not unified and it doesn’t represent all Iraqis.”
What you may or may not know:
The majority of suicide bombers in Iraq are foreigners, the estimates that I have heard are only 1 in 5 is an Iraqi or 15%. The overwhelming majority appear to be from Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. Government Office of Accountability (GAO) report stated that only one out of eight political benchmarks had been met and a total of only 3 out of 18 had been met.
It is not as clear cut as Sunnis vs. Shiis and everyone vs. American. Everyone is fighting everyone and I’ve heard that 9 out of 10 Iraqis want peace.
Code names and secrecy
Iraqis who choose to work with American based organizations even humanitarian ones, do so at great risk to themselves and potentially their families. Two of the Iraqis in our Kuwait office have received death threats, one had only 24 hours to get out of Iraq. It is for this reason that I refer to them in code and can’t talk about the areas in which we operate.
The Iraqis and Muslims that I have met to date have been intelligent, interesting, nice, respectful and fun. I have come to have great admiration for some of them. The attitudes they have and the goals they are working toward under an incredibly difficult and treacherous situation are admirable. Our regional director refers to their efforts as heroic and I believe it is an accurate assessment.