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Do the people of Kurdistan live in security?

The main threat to the people in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq is not ISIL, but failed governance which endangers human security.

Do The People Of Kurdistan Live In Security? A Peshmerga soldier poses for a portrait at the DPK Peshmerga base . Picture by Le Caer Vianney ABACA/PA Images . All rights reserved. Some people in the Kurdistan region of Iraq think of security in terms of security of Kurdish people and their territory from military attacks by neighboring countries or the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) . This understanding of security, however, is a limited one . Security should be thought of as a shared freedom from fear, from want, from medically preventable deaths, and freedom to live in dignity . Today, the people of Kurdistan and their land are secure from ISIL threats, because Peshmerga forces (literally meaning those facing death or seeking death) were successful in fighting back and protecting the Kurdistan territory from falling into ISIL’s hands . However, the main and serious security threats on Kurdish people’s lives derive from within the Kurdistan region and the failure of its regional government (KRG). Corruption and economic inequality are at their highest, and the KRG is unable to provide salaries for its public employees . Under a recently announced plan named the savings process , the KRG proposed wage cuts to all public employees in a bid to reduce costs .

Government employees are facing cuts ranging between 15 and 75 percent, depending on their position and pay-grade . Furthermore, employees have not been paid four monthly salaries in 2015, and two salaries have been delayed in 20161 . Having said that, KRG s economic reforms are at the expense of poor people: “Making the rich richer and the poor poorer” . Many Kurds believe that the ruling political parties are still rich and corrupt, since they still finance their media outlets and institutions, and have even started new projects during the financial crisis, including opening new TV channels . The results are clear: economically speaking, people live in severe conditions, and therefore tens of thousands migrate2 from the area . Another consequence is that, according to recent reports the crime rate is going up in Iraqi Kurdistan345. KRG s economic reforms are at the expense of poor people: “Making the rich richer and the poor poorer” Moreover, the KRG health care system is in poor condition . In theory, hospitals offer free services, but in reality they are badly equipped and poorly serviced .

The drug supply business has no quality control and is not regulated . Many Kurdish traders import expired drugs from neighboring countries . In the Kurdistan region, almost 20 percent of the entire medical supply is fake . In 2013, a group politically linked to the ruling party, smuggled a contaminated batch of the cancer-treatment drug Avastin . When the drug was used by a public hospital in Erbil, it blinded 30 patients . The traders who deliberately imported and sold the bad drug were not held responsible . According to Michael Rubin, in Kurdistan Rising ? Considerations for Kurds, their neighbors, and the region6, in March 2012, Kurdish authorities uncovered a counterfeit medicine plant in Erbil packaging substandard drugs with false claims of manufacture in Syria and India, but issued only a reprimand because of its owners political connections . Corrupt traders and manufacturers distributed more than 2,500 boxes of defective insulin to Kurdish hospitals .

Numerous cancer patients received defective chemotherapy drugs, and patients receiving injections for minor medical issues subsequently suffered life-threatening reactions . A relative of a former KRG prime minister working at a border crossing with Turkey allowed in 20 trucks carrying 400 tons of counterfeit medicine, but the contents of only one truck were ever recovered.” Kurdish authorities overlooked an Iraqi Ministry of Health circular to all Iraqi and Iraqi Kurdish hospitals that banned injections of the antibiotics ceftriaxone, resulting in the deaths of several patients7. The Minister of Justice is sometimes used by the ruling political parties for their own interests. Furthermore, the court system in the Kurdistan region is not independent enough . In a survey conducted by Democracy and Human Right Development Center (DHRD), among 300 people, fifty percent thought that the independence of the judicial power in Kurdistan is at a bad level, while forty percent believe that it is at a medium level . This may increase the number of retaliations carried out by civilians in society because people do not trust the courts . This is especially true when the perpetrator belongs to the security and police forces at the rank of officer or higher .

during an interview on Kurdstat News Channel, Karzan Fazil, a lawyer at DHRD, said that the courts cannot issue an arrest warrant to someone who commits a crime if they are at the level of officer in the security forces . He further mentioned a case where a member of the security services (Asaesh) was accused of murder, but was not brought to court because Asaesh refused to surrender him to justice, and instead asked for his case files telling the court that they will try him themselves8

There are numerous cases indicating that Asaesh ignored the decision of the court.9 Furthermore, the Minister of Justice is sometimes used by the ruling political parties for their own interests . For instance, at the request of the deputy speaker of the Kurdistan parliament, who is a senior politician at the PDK, the Kurdistan Consultative Council on 17th of august 2015 decided to extend Barzani’s term for the next two years . The decision according to the Kurdistan parliament speaker Yusuf Muhammad, was illegal. “We did not ask for an opinion and according to the law, the consultative council does not have the right to issue an obligatory decision” Yusuf Muhammad said10 . All of these cases imply that in Kurdistan the law can only be enforced upon powerless people. The security of the system per se is just a means to serve an end, which is the security of people. Last but not least, the largest Kurdish political party ended the soft treatment of anyone who criticizes the Kurdish political leaders for corruption in the areas under its control .

In October 2015, the security forces loyal to the PDK prevented the Kurdistan Parliament Speaker Yusuf Muhammad from entering Erbil just because he was trying to do his job as the speaker to amend presidential law . The KDP has expanded its surveillance system by recruiting more people . They mostly target domestic rivals and civil society activists . NGOs and civil society need prior permission from Asaesh before conducting any activities . Many journalists who work with the opposition groups in Duhok and Erbil left their journalism jobs under pressure . Several religious scholars who have critical voices have also been fired.11

Kurdish officials are the main beneficiaries from the current political system by politicizing all sectors of society while the human security of Kurdish people is under threat . The Kurdistan security strategy should not only focus on external military or terrorist threats . Today Kurdistan is largely stable thanks to the Peshmerga forces, but at the same time it faces many risks that endanger the lives of Kurdish citizens . Moreover, the KRG security and stability should not become a project to serve the political elites and their interests, but a common good benefiting all Kurdish people in the Iraqi Kurdistan .

To achieve this goal, politicized sectors such as the military and security forces, economy and oil revenues should be depoliticized . Also, the KRG’s security and intelligence services have to assess the level of the mentioned threats, measure their severity, and then try to find ways to resolve them . This is because these threats affect Kurdish people’s lives directly, which should come first in the KRG’s security strategy .

The security of the system per se is just a means to serve an end, which is the security of people.

References

  1. ^ delayed in 2016 (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  2. ^ migrate (www.al-monitor.com)
  3. ^ crime rate is going (ekurd.net)
  4. ^ up in (ekurd.net)
  5. ^ Iraqi Kurdistan (ekurd.net)
  6. ^ Kurdistan Rising ?

    Considerations for Kurds, their neighbors, and the region (www.aei.org)

  7. ^ of several patients (www.aei.org)
  8. ^ try him themselves (www.kurdsatnews.com)
  9. ^ the court. (dhrd.nl)
  10. ^ said (www.al-monitor.com)
  11. ^ fired. (kurdishpolicy.org)

Five Resolutions for your Home and Personal Security

Every year the New Year arrives brimming with possibilities and Suffolk Police are reminding people to include security resolutions as part of their 2017 goals. The New Year encourages many of us to vow to quit our vices, eat better and improve finances but what about your home ? As the saying goes, home is where your heart is and officers are urging the public to put more efforts into making it safe and secure, with the following five resolutions. Most burglaries are committed by opportunistic criminals who happen to see insecure premises where they can help themselves . Intruders will look for the best opportunity to break into a property, some will scope out an address first, so officers are urging residents to ensure their home looks occupied, that hedges which might conceal a thief are kept trimmed and that there are no tools accessible that might aid an intruder to gain access. Remember to safeguard your keys as part of your home security measures . Every year police are handed thousands of lost keys, which cannot be returned to their rightful owner as there s no way to identify them . Suffolk Constabulary s SAFEKey initiative works to remedy this and, operating across the UK and the EU, provides members with a branded key fob inscribed with a unique reference number to identify them as the key holder at a small cost of just 1 per month . The money generated is driven back into the community to support projects and schemes, as per the Police and Crime Commissioner s objectives .

To find out more, please visit: www.suffolk.safekey.org.uk1. In the winter months, often coupled with the rise in the cost of fuel, heating oil also becomes an attractive target for thieves . Suffolk Police are reminding homeowners of simple measures to prevent such thefts: positioning lights with a Dusk til Dawn feature close to the tank, ensuring your fence is high and not easy to climb, and investing in good quality locks, such as shackle padlocks. Close shackle padlocks offer better resistance to bolt croppers and other tools that thieves usually come equipped with . Homeowners should check their oil gauges regularly, which will indicate any potential theft, and consider installing a remote electronic oil level gauge, which triggers an alarm if there is a sudden drop.

  • Join in with your community

One way people can help keep their local area safer is by joining or setting up a Neighbourhood Watch group . Neighbourhood Watch schemes can help reduce crime, and opportunities for crime, by encouraging residents to look out for each other and to report anything they feel is suspicious . To find out about local watch schemes in operation, please visit: http://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/home-safety/watch-schemes2. You can also keep up to date with the very latest in policing in your local area by signing up to Police Connect, a free messaging service provided by the Constabulary; from news and appeals, to local policing events and meetings . To find out more or to register, please visit: https://www.suffolk.police.uk/services/police-connect3.

Online fraud is one of the most widespread forms of cybercrime and protecting yourself is key as many more of us using mobile phones, tablets and other devices to shop, bank and share personal details . Suffolk Police are urging people to ensure passwords are regularly changed on all accounts and that these are not duplicated across multiple accounts . Passwords should not be easy to guess, so include a combination of capital and lower case letters, numbers and symbols . Further protect yourself by installing and updating your anti-virus software and shop only from official websites that you know and trust. In the age of social media and emails, many of us post personal information online . Where possible, use secure networks and be careful what information you are sharing, never revealing financial details . Online crime can have a devastating impact to those who fall victim . If you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cybercrime, report it to the national policing lead, Action Fraud: www.actionfraud.police.uk4.

  • Make your phone work smarter

Mobile phones and tablets are a very tempting target for thieves . Not only are they more valuable in themselves, but many will also contain valuable data, from music downloads and photographs taken, to other personal information saved on social media, emails and banking activity. Having your phone or tablet stolen can have immediate consequences, so ensure you always use a security lock PIN code or biometric authentication and download a tracking app that can locate a lost or stolen device using its GPS signal. Protect your property further by registering them on www.immobolise.com5, a free-to-use national database that police can access and compare against items that have been found or recovered from suspected thieves. Chief Inspector Jo Garrard, Head of Community Safety for Suffolk Police, said: “It s important to remember that burglars don t have an “off-season and we can all take positive steps to make ourselves and communities safer . Security measures are just the start, though; I would urge people to be more vigilant in what s happening around them and in reporting suspicious activity to us .

We rely on information from the public to help us keep our communities save, so if it doesn t feel right, we want to hear from you.

References

  1. ^ www.suffolk.safekey.org.uk (www.suffolk.safekey.org.uk)
  2. ^ http://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/home-safety/watch-schemes (www.suffolk.police.uk)
  3. ^ https://www.suffolk.police.uk/services/police-connect (www.suffolk.police.uk)
  4. ^ www.actionfraud.police.uk (www.actionfraud.police.uk)
  5. ^ www.immobolise.com (www.immobolise.com)

Trump’s Homeland Security Pick Falsely Claimed “Narcoterrorism” Has Killed 500000 Americans

For many parts of the world, it is hard to predict which Donald Trump will enter the White House on January 20 . Will it be the Donald Trump who promised to decimate ISIS in 100 days, or the Donald Trump who promised to avoid an Iraq-like quagmire ? Will it be the Donald Trump who campaigned on building up a decrepit U.S .

military, or the Donald Trump who said he would slash military spending1 to balance the budget ? Will it be a Donald Trump who is eager to strong-arm China at the negotiating table, or the Donald Trump who promised to discard the Trans-Pacific trade deal designed to increase American leverage over the region? While Trump continues to regularly contradict his own supposed views on U.S . foreign policy, his approach to the U.S . southern border is clear . He talked a lot about building a wall while running for president . Since winning, he s repeatedly emphasized the seriousness of his promise.

You think we are playing games, Trump said earlier this month, at a rally in Wisconsin2 .

We re going to build the wall, okay ? Believe me . We re going to build the wall . We have to . We have got to stop the drugs from coming in and the wall is going to be a big, big factor. In the Trumpist view, the lack of a continuous border wall between the U.S . and Mexico facilitates the flow of drugs, undermines U.S .

wages, and provides a potential gateway for terrorists trying to find their way into the United States . The wall is a concrete way to address fears among Trump s base surrounding immigration, an issue that gives concerns over jobs, wages, and terrorist attacks a common focal point along the southern border . This worldview is so compelling as a political vision that it has sometimes caused Trump s national security team to back it up with fabrications . Michael Flynn, Trump s choice for national security adviser, has wrongly claimed3 that there are Arabic letters written on the backs of signs along the Mexico border, intended to guide terrorists into the United States. John Kelly, the retired Marine general who Trump has chosen to lead the Department of Homeland Security, has his own pattern of exaggerating the border threat . Between 2012 and his retirement in early 2016, Kelly served as head of U.S . Southern Command .

In this role, he coordinated all U.S . forces in the Western Hemisphere south of Mexico, including the Caribbean and Guant namo, which is home to the hemisphere s largest overseas U.S . military base . As Obama trimmed the military s budget with the sequester, and prioritized Asia and the Middle East over the relatively peaceful Western Hemisphere, Kelly complained that the budget cuts4 were undermining regional security. In a 2014 interview5, he said that the flow of drugs and instability in Latin America posed an existential threat to the United States . During a March 2015 hearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee, Sen . Mike Lee .

R-Utah, asked him to explain why the southern border posed such a large threat . Kelly responded with these words:

there s 40,000 Americans that die every year from the drugs that move up through my part of the world, and into Bill s Adm . William Gortney, who was then head of Northern Command, and into our homeland 40,000 people a year. You know, since 9/11, there s half a million people have died from narco terrorism, as we call it in down where I live narco terrorism . Five hundred thousand Americans have died . Very few have died from, you know, traditional terrorism, if you will, since 9/11 . It costs our country $200 billion a year to deal with the people that are into drugs but are not, you know, dying .

So I see that as a huge, huge, huge threat. Kelly s first claim drugs kill roughly 40,0006 Americans each year is accurate . It is also true that drugs have killed more than half a million Americans in the 15 years since 9/11. But Kelly s second claim to the Senate committee, that 500,000 Americans have died from narcoterrorism since 9/11, is a significant exaggeration . The real number of Americans who have died of post-9/11 terrorism in all its forms is well under 1,000, according to a 2014 study7 that was supported by the Department of Homeland Security .

And at least one-third of the 40,000 killed by drugs annually do not die, as Kelly claimed, from drugs coming into the U.S . across the southern border, but from overdoses of legally prescribed opioids . Almost all of the profits from those addicts flow not to drug cartels but to pharmaceutical companies . Sales of legal opioids have quadrupled8 since 1999, particularly in those white, rural areas of the country9 where Trump s support is strongest. Kelly s claim of 500,000 deaths doesn t appear to be reflected in any known official numbers . The RAND Corporation, for example, estimated that less than 100 people in total10 died due to terrorism in the U.S . between 9/11 and 2009.

While it is true that drug-related violence poses an existential threat to Mexico and Central America, Kelly was wrong to suggest that is the case in the United States . The number of Americans killed each year in drug-related homicides is around 1,00011, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics . That is one thousand too many, but it does not add up to the half million post-9/11 U.S . victims of narcoterrorism that Kelly claimed had lost their lives in his testimony before the Senate committee.

Prescription drugs make billions of dollars for Purdue and other pharmaceutical companies, said Kathleen Frydl, historian and author of The Drug Wars in America, by email . It may be preferable for John Kelly to pretend that narcotrafficking, rather than homegrown greed, lies at the heart of the opioid crisis.

Kelly s claim of 500,000 U.S . narcoterrorism deaths is more than a one-time slip of the tongue . He said the same thing later last year12 in a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies:

our country is right at 40,000 dead a year, year after year, from another kind of terrorism, narcoterrorism the cocaine and the drugs and the network it travels on, it moves anything . Guns, women, other people, human beings . Uh, potentially terrorists . Potentially, anything . All you have to do is pay the fare . But the network is very, very well developed.

While the rhetorical link that Kelly makes between terrorism and immigration is central to Trump s pitch for sealing the U.S . border, new walls are just one of many ways that Kelly will likely carry out his agenda at the Department of Homeland Security . DHS is a very young, very large, and very powerful federal agency created 11 days after the September 11, 2001, attacks . It is roughly one-tenth the size of the Pentagon in terms of budget ($52 billion vs. $524 billion) and personnel (240,000 vs .

2.3 million), and oversees almost all of the federal government s operations relating to immigration . If confirmed by the Senate, Kelly will be responsible for a wide portfolio of security measures inside of U.S . borders, including responding to natural disasters, stockpiling vaccines, inspecting cargo, scanning luggage and passengers at airports, passing federal intelligence on to state and local police, and managing Secret Service protection for the president and his family.

Trump said he will triple the number of federal officers working to deport immigrants, and immediately deport13 2 million to 3 million people now living on U.S . soil . He has called for the extreme vetting of Muslims trying to enter the U.S., and perhaps banning entirely those seeking entry from certain countries, such as Syria. Kelly will be the first military officer to lead the agency, in a country with longstanding legal prohibitions14 against military involvement in domestic law enforcement . Kelly, like Flynn, another retired military officer, has frequently referred to the possibility that Middle Eastern terrorist networks could link up with human smugglers to move operatives or weapons of mass destruction across U.S . borders, a persistent fear in government circles . It has never been conclusively disproven as a possibility, nor has it ever demonstrably taken place .

Adam Isacson, who covers security for the Washington Office on Latin America, said that Kelly perceives the region in terms of complex networks of criminals looking to do ill within the United States . The potential for cross-border terrorism threat should not be completely discounted, he added . You only have to be right once, he said. The southern border narcoterrorism scenario was also graphically depicted in the 2012 film15 Act of Valor, produced with the help16 of the Navy and active-duty Navy SEALS . Real-life investigations into the drug-terror connection tend to turn up less spectacular results, as recent investigations by Pro Publica17 and The Intercept18 have shown.

Russell Baer, a spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said there was no official tally kept of deaths caused by narcoterrorism . There s no specific way to answer that question, he said, by email . Narcoterrorism has more to do with using drug proceeds, or drug money laundering services, to support a terroristic cause throughout the world . We are all victims of narcoterrorism. Trump s transition team did not respond to a request asking them to clarify or explain Kelly s remarks.

Top photo: Marine Corps Gen . John Kelly, former head of U.S . Southern Command, testifies with other military officers at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to review the 2014 Defense Authorization Request.

References

  1. ^ slash military spending (www.politico.com)
  2. ^ rally in Wisconsin (wbay.com)
  3. ^ wrongly claimed (www.cnn.com)
  4. ^ complained that the budget cuts (securityassistance.org)
  5. ^ a 2014 interview (www.defenseone.com)
  6. ^ roughly 40,000 (www.whitehouse.gov)
  7. ^ according to a 2014 study (www.start.umd.edu)
  8. ^ have quadrupled (www.cdc.gov)
  9. ^ white, rural areas of the country (www.washingtonpost.com)
  10. ^ people in total (www.rand.org)
  11. ^ around 1,000 (www.bjs.gov)
  12. ^ same thing later last year (www.youtube.com)
  13. ^ immediately deport (www.washingtonpost.com)
  14. ^ longstanding legal prohibitions (www.rand.org)
  15. ^ the 2012 film (en.wikipedia.org)
  16. ^ produced with the help (www.nytimes.com)
  17. ^ Pro Publica (www.propublica.org)
  18. ^ The Intercept (theintercept.com)