On 8 September the Iraqi Parliament approved Hayder Al-Abadi and his cabinet of 24 ministers. Only the Ministers of Defence and the Interior have not yet been appointed, which, in a way, perpetuates the situation of the Maliki period, when the latter held these ministries on a “temporary” basis for several years. The three Vice-Presidents selected also maintain the tradition of “consensus” whereby all the principal communities are represented Iyad Allawi, of the Iraqi National Alliance, Osama Al-Nujayfi, former Speaker of the Parliament, represents the Sunni Arabs, and — Nuri Maliki, who, finally, will not be tried for his role in the Iraqi crisis, who probably negotiated his “bloodless withdrawal” in exchange for a post that is more honorary than political but enables him to remain on the “substitutes bench” without completely leaving the Iraqi political scene.
Hayder Al-Abadi has argued in favour of a resolution of the conflicts that have led to the de facto partition of Iraq and have specifically affirmed that his government was “determined to resolve all unresolved problems with the Kurdistan Regional Government”.
In the Cabinet, the three Deputy Prime Ministers also represent the major communities: a Kurd, Hoshyar Zebari, thus leaves his post a Foreign Minister, Saleh Al-Mutlaq, of the Iraqi National Front represents the Sunni Arabs and Baha Aradji, a Sadrist, the Shiites..
The Finance Minister, Roj Shaways is a KDP veteran, and former Deputy Prime Minister under Jaffari and Maliki. As the share of the budget owing to the Kurds by Baghdad represents a major sinew of war, this appointment seems like a gesture to the Kurds. The new Foreign Minister is the former Prime Minister and then Vice President Ibrahim Jaffari and spokesman for Maliki’s party. Hussein Sharistani is consigned to National Education, which allows some hope for a renewal of negotiations with the KRG on its management of Kurdish oil.
Replacing Hussein Sharistani as Oil Minister is Adi Abdul-Mahdi, who is not one of “Maliki’s men” but a member of the Iraqi Supreme Islamic Council, a Shiite religious Party. He is an economist and was Iraqi Finance Minister in 2004 and 2005. His particularity is of having had more links with France and Britain than most since he had studied in France after 1969, where he worked for a number of French think tanks and ran some Franco-Arab publications. This new Oil Minister may initiate a new, more flexible, policy, breaking with the Maliki Sharistani intransigence on this issue. As a Shiite, he is not a member the State of Laws Party but of the Supreme Islamic Council, a religious party that has always maintained good relations with the Kurds and is considered by them as “a man open to dialogue”.
Regarding Premier Hayder Al-Abadi, he was born in Baghdad in 1952, where he studied engineering before leaving for Manchester to complete his stuies. A member of al-Dawa, a Shiite religious party, since 1967, he fairly rapidly rose to a leading position by the end of the 70s, being a member of the executive while still in London, where he remained till 2003. The Iraqi government confiscated his passport in 1983 for “conspiring against the Baath” and during the same decade, three of his brothers were arrested for membership of al-Dawa.
Returning to Iraq, he became Minister of Communications between 2003 and 2004, then advisor to Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in 2005 and became a member of Parliament where he chaired the Economy and Finance Commission. Last year he was elected Deputy Speaker of the House and had regularly been proposed as an alternative to Nuri Maliki, with whom he is close. Described as an “open and friendly” man, he has the reputation for being “accessible” — in contrast to the isolation and distrust verging on paranoia into which his predecessor had retreated, which had alienated a major part of the Iraqi and Kurdish political circles.
The Kurds have shown little enthusiasm for joining the new Iraqi government. There was, in deed, some uncertainty about their participation until 8 September, when a meeting took place in Suleimaniyah, at the Gorran Party offices with the principal Kurdish parties, the KDP and the PUK and the two Islamic Parties to decide the issue. Nêçirvan Barzanî, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Kosrat Rassoul, the Assistant General Secretary of the PUK, Nashirwan Mustafa, the leader of Gorra, Gn, Mohammed Faraj, Assistant General Secretary of the Kurdistan Islamic Union and Ali Bapir, leader of the Islamic Group were all present as well as Brett McGurk, US Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and the UN representative to Iraq, Nicklay Mladenov.
The next day, the 9 September, as the Iraqi Parliament was meeting to vote its approval of the new Prime Minister, the Kurdish M.P.s, who were waiting for the green light from their leaders and so were late in arriving, finally confirmed their participation, in principal, in the future government.
In an interview given to the Kurdish daily Rudaw dated 10 September, the KRG’s Paliamentary Affairs Minister, Mawlud Bawamurad, stated that Kurdish participation in the Iraqi government was decided under “strong pressure” from the United States, who made it a condition of their help in the struggle against the “IS” — but he added that it was “a good decision”.
Regarding relations between the Kurds and the Shiites, Mawlud Bawamurad said there hostility in some Shiite circles, particularly those close to Nuri Maliki, to the Kurds, who they tended to consider responsible for his fall. International support for Erbil had led to some resentment as the Shiites felt they lacked such support. Many Kurds, for their part, saw no personal advantage in taking part in the new Baghdad government and were inclined to wash their hands of Iraq, especially as they had recovered the regions that they had been claiming. However the international support and the sophisticated weaponry received from the Western powers did somewhat oblige the Kurdish leaders to avoid “abandoning” Iraq, while subjecting their participation to a “trial” period of three months. Similarly, the Shiites had accepted Kurdish partnership in the face of the threat from IS and their dependence on US aid. They had also been obliged to attempt a somewhat forced reconciliation with the Sunnis with the aim or distancing them from the IS.
A Kurdish M.P. even considered, when speaking to a journalist on the Monitor, Mohammad Al-Saleh, that his political block’s return to the government was in the nature of an agreement between the Kurds, the US and UNO than with the Iraqis, from who they could not hope for much. According to Muthana Amin, another Kurdish member of the Baghdad Parliament, the Prime Minister al-Abadi was betting more on an alliance between Shiite and Sunni Arabs (to the extent that it could last) than with the Kurds, who he wished to set aside, hoping at least to reform the two Arab parties and separate us from Iraq.
In any case, the principle point of dispute between Erbil and Baghdad, the oil question, has never ceased to be stimulated by a legal battle exported to the US even while Iraq and Kurdistan were both facing, in August, the assaults of the IS.
Indeed, at the beginning of August, Baghdad hoped to prevent the sale of a shipload of crude oil from Kurdistan, worth about $100 million, transported to the coast of Texas. Iraq had filed a complaint with the Houston Federal Court and also asked its own Supreme Court, to block any new exporting of oil from by the Kurdistan regional Government.
However, although Baghdad had demanded the seizure of the million barrels carried by the tanker Kalavrta. And that this seizure had been earlier ordered by a local court, the Houston Court had quashed it as the ship has remained in the Mexican Gulf, outside US territorial waters, about 60 miles from the coast. The judge had not, however, ruled on the basic issue, namely who was the owner of the crude oil and thus had the right to sell it. The Iraqi Oil Minister had immediately announced his intention of appealing against the court’s decision though it was on a question of maritime law.
Moreover, this led the KRG continue exporting oil in smaller tankers wit a 250,000 barrel capacity, so as to confuse Baghdad\s supervision, increasing the number of shipping’s to a variety of destinations, from the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Several of these tankers had this conveniently managed to disappear from the satellite networks to reappear a few days later without their cargo. Thus the Kalamari, which was transporting both Iranian and Kurdish oil, disappeared from the screens somewhat North of the Sinai only to reappear (empty) two days later off the coast of Israel.
Similarly the Kalavrta moved at the end of August and disappeared for 24 hours in international waters 0ff the Texan coast. Last July, another tanker transhipped its cargo of crude to another ship in the South China Sea.
On 6 September, just 2 days before forming the new government, had again filed it demand to the American Courts that the cargo be seized pending a legal decision on the ownership of the oil. At the same time a Greek company was sued for having exported Kurdish crude on 5 of its ships. Baghdad demanded $318 million damages.
The French President, François Hollande, went to Baghdad and then Erbil on 12 September for a lightning visit. This was the first time a Head of State has trodden on Kurdistan’s soil and it was France’s role to make this diplomatic step.
François Hollande first landed at Baghdad in the morning (he is thus also the first Head of State to visirt Iraq since the country’s collapse under the IS attack). There he met the new Iraqi President, Fuad Massum, a Kurd, and the Prime Minister, Hayder Al Abadi, who had just former his Cabinet a few days earlier.
In the statement that François Hollande made along side the Iraqi President, the French President declared that he wanted “to be present here today in Baghdad because the new government in Iraq had been set up democratically had been able to bring together the components of the Iraqi people. You have played a major part in this”. Saying he was honoured to be the first Head of State to be welcomed in Baghdad since the formation of the new government, he affirmed “the support and friendship of France” and thus its solidarity, pointing out:
“This solidarity takes many forms. Firstly a political solidarity. If France is on Iraq’s side, it is because Iraq is a country that has made its democratic transition, that has been able to organise elections and has been able to form a government. A government where all the political families are present (…) France’s solidarity is also humanitarian and one of security. You are facing an enemy, a terrorist group that has no borders but which now has territorial interests, that wants to make war, not only on Iraq but on all peoples who do not share its vision on the world based on terror. (…) France’s solidarity is also of having been able to provide, as soon as possible, humanitarian assistance, which ahs occurred several times and again today and also military assistance. We will continue together, in the discussions that I will have with you, with your Iraqi government, to organise this solidarity, which is not just a reflection of our friendship but also of our common interest in the struggle against terrorism”.
François Hollande also announced that on 15 September an International Conference would be held in Paris, on Security in Iraq and on the struggle against the Da’esh terrorist group. He exposed the objectives of this conference in a press conference, held this time with the Prime Minister, Haïdar Al Abadi, at the end of their meeting:
“This Conference will have three objects. The first is to provide a political framework to enable everyone to co-ordinate their efforts, so that each country can provide support for Iraq at this time. It will then have an essential humanitarian part. Finally it will have a security aspect, with a broad coalition that is being formed to come to the military assistance of Iraq.
France has committed itself to cooperation with the new Iraqi authorities and this is also the meaning of my presence here. Cooperation in all areas: Humanitarian: we have already delivered 60 tons of material. Cooperation and military assistance, this is the fourth delivery of military supplies to the Iraqis for their fight against the terrorist movement. Finally this cooperation must have an aspect of economic reconstruction, of development and this is what we have agreed with the Prime Minister.
Finally France makes it its duty to welcome persecuted people. We support the Iraqi people , the minorities, and when there are urgent cases that justify it and links with France can be established, France fulfils its duty”.
Replying more precisely to a question from a journalist about the aims and usefulness of this conference, François Hollande indicated that the Paris Conference would have to answer three questions:
“Firstly how to help Iraq so that this nation can face up to this terrorist attack. We must give a political frame-work, show that the international community is present. On Monday there will be five permanent members of the Security Council there. There will also be many other countries that want to take part and show their support for Iraq.
Second, we must coordinate our efforts to meet Iraq’s urgent needs but also for the reconstruction of the zones where Da’esh has established its influence for the moment and has destroyed a part of the land.
Finally there will inevitably be some security aspects that will be raised and you know that a coalition will be formed and it we must, consequently, evoke its objectives”.
Replying to the question from a journalist about the possibility of French air strikes in Syria, François Hollande replied: “France has been helping Iraq for several weeks now. Bearing in mind the gravity of the situation, the barbarous actions that have been committed by the terrorist group that came to Iraq from Syria and that threatens the whole region and even further, I have come here to Baghdad to discuss with the new Iraqi authorities, who have made the effort to unite, to tell them of France’s availability to provide Iraq with more military help in its struggle against terrorism”.
However, the Syrian question will be dealt with during the Conference: “Nearly a year ago to this day I warned about the seriousness of the situation in Syria. The international community preferred to take other directions. We can see that for a year, and I would say even longer, the deterioration, the chaos even, of the Syrian situation has led to this terrorist group penetrating into Iraq. We must thus find suitable solutions for Syria. However, today the issue is France’s availability and an international context”.
Haydar Al-Abadi also spoke on the same question of whether or not Iraq wanted any international intervention in Syria”
“Today we are waging a real war in Iraq with the participation of the police, our army and the popular mobilisation and also of children of our regions against this terrorist movement. We can will on the ground but we need some air cover. This movement comes from Syrian territory. The ISIS-Da’esh movement has bases in Syria and, as I said, Iraq is suffering from a real aggression. These groups are attacking our citizens, they are killing our citizens, inoscent victims are falling. The international community has the responsibility of stopping this aggression and intervening to destroy ISIS’s capacities, which, as I said, are waging military actins against us from Syria”.
After a lunch that brought together “all the heads of Iraq’s parties” the French president flew to Erbil where he was welcomed by Masud Barzani. The main features of this lightning visit to Christian refugees in the Saint Joseph Cathedral at Ankawa, where he met the Chaldeans Patriarch and the Bishop of Erbil as well as directly meeting some of the families sheltering in the Church.
Masud Barzani and François Hollande then made a joint press statement:
The Kurdish President welcomed and thanked the French Head of State in the name of all the Kurds, saying that this visit crowned “in a historic manner” the long relations between the Kurdish and French peoples. Masud Barzani made the point that France’s support has had “a very great effect on the morale of our people and the Peshmergas. The military help you have given us has also played an important part in enabling us to beat the terrorists”. He added that, in addition to opposing the terrorist, Kurdistan also had the mission of enabling the displaced people to return to their homes. “The terrorists are retreating and the Peshmergas are advancing in the field”.
The French President described his visit to Iraqi Kurdistan as “very moving” because of “the friendship between the French and Kurdish peoples” and the impressive means deployed by the Kurds to come and help the hundreds of thousands of refugees. François Hollande noted that Kurdistan had made “the best use of” the arms that it had received from France, the European Union and the United Stated and that this had been “decisive in inversing the balance of power” in the struggle against the IS. “Iraqi Kurdistan is an example that different communities can live together. France is attached to this diversity, to this Middle Eastern pluralism in which Christians live side by side with Moslems and those of other faiths. It is all these minorities in this that make for the exceptional reputation of the Middle East and we must do everything to preserve this spirit. In this way, the actions you have carried out in Kurdistan can give us hope”.
After the Peshmergas and the Iraqi army had repelled the IS militia who were besieging Amerli, the Iraqis launched their troops in a several attacks early September on the Jihadist-held town of Tikrit, though without success, while the IS, for its part, tried to advance south of Baghdad, abandoning their newly won positions at Amerli. Thus after having to retreat from around Amerli, that they were besieging, IS concentrated its attacks to Anbar Province, in the direction of Samara, a Shiite holy town, using the forces withdrawn from the siege of Amerli. The movements of the Jihadist troops also led to the fear that a major assault was planned for Haditha, in an area that had not suffered air strikes. Pre-empting this threat, the Iraqi forces and some members of Sunni tribes hostile to IS attacked the Jihadists round Haditha while US air strikes bombed IS positions near Haditha dam. At the same time the Jihadists also faced a Peshmerga drive to the North and East of Mosul, and were obliged to withdraw fro, the town of Bushiqa that he Kurds took in co-ordination with US air strikes.
However, still faithful to its tactic of diversion when losing positions, the IS increased it pressure on Samarra, and Baghdad — in the first instance with terrorist attacks. On 8 September, it launched a major attack on Dhuluiya, Southeast of Samara, in Salahaddin Province, without being able to take the town. The threat to Samara, a Shiite holy town, is evidently of considerable psychological and symbolic importance, but Dhuluiya is strategically and pragmatically more important as it would enable them to hamper communications between that town and Baghdad.
At the end of September, the Iraqi Army and the US air force concentrated their attacks to the West of Kirkuk, preventing the IS from recapturing Ramadi (Anbar Province) which haas a key position between Haditha and Fallujah. It was then that the IS porces carried out a sudden return towards Rabia-Yaroubia, a key border post between Syria and Iraq, temporarily held by the YPF and the Peshmergas. Taking this would have allowed the IS greater ease of communication between Syria and Iraq. The attack was repelled butnhe air strikes round Mosul and Raqqa and the IS withdrawal from Rabia-Yaroubia, led to renewed attacks on the Kurdish town of Kobani and its canton, which had been able to contain similar attacks in August.
Possibly bringing up troops that ad retreated from the Kurds round Mosul or calling up reinforcement from other parts of Syria, the IS rapidly gathered considerable forces against Kobani so that between 16 and 10 September several of the canton’s localities fell in succession. The YPG found itself in the same situation as the Peshmergas had in August — short of ammunition, under-equipped against opponents armed with heavy weapons. Moreover the situation of Kobani was made even more critical because of its isolation from the other Kurdish cantons in Syria and the fact that it has only one border post, at Suruç in Turkey.
Both in Iraq and in Syria, the IS militia often, when they lose a town or an area, suddenly switch and attack a completely different section of the front, even quite far off. Instead of holding on to threatened positions or trying to regain them at any price, like the Kurds and Iraqis. This is because the IS, so long as it holds the strongholds that enable it to seall of the defences of its “State” (Mosul, Fallujah, Tikrit, Hawidja) and, in Syria, Raqqa, can allow its troops to advance and retreat rapidly, abandoning some place, giving up sieges elsewhere or swooping down on surprise targets that seem, logically, far from the initial operations.
This tactic allows it to appear more invincible that it really is in the field by minimising, in the minds of those living in the shadow of its terror (or of its supporters) eacj retreat or defeat by immediately following them by fresh attacks on another part of its long front line between Syria and Iraq.
Facing them, the Iraqi and Kurdish forces seem, in comparison to operate more slowly, regaining territory in a more methodical manner and, above all, holding on as much as possible to newly won areas so as to extend them without risking being surrounded as at Nineveh or Sinjar as in August. Moreover, the IS is not concerned about the fate of the populations that, having supported them, might suffer form their “treason” from the return of Shiite or Sunni forces hostile to the “caliph’s” troops or, indeed, even from the Kurds. On the other hand, the tragedies of Sinjar, Amerli, Nineveh and other places where civilians remaining on the spot suffered or risked terrible acts of violence, have served as a lesson to the Kurds. Since August they have not made any sudden or major retreats as at Sinjar and Qaraqosh, and if their advance is slower and less hazardous and may seem frustrating to people in areas still occupied by the Jihadists, as at Sinjar, it is less subjected to reversals or sudden retreats — or, until the areas have been made completely safe, any return of refugees.
While the US is carrying out air strikes against the IS in both Syria and Iraq, the fact that the Jihadists are not loosening their on Ramadi and that they can launch a fresh offensive agains the Kurds at Kobani or Sinjar shows the limitation of aerial operations, which have little effect in limiting the IS’s ability to deploy its troops or give up its position sin Anbar (adjoining its Syrian territories) or even to extend them by puruing its attempts on Ramadi. Indeed, achieving the collapse of the Kobani canton would be, for them a further step in unifying its “State” and controlling its borders.
An “International Conference for Peace and Security in Iraq” took place on 15 September at the Quai d’Osay, opened jointly by President François Hollande and the Iraqi President Fuad Massoum, with representatives of about thirty countries, namely Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates, the Arab League, Bahraïn, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States and well as representatives of the United Nations and the European Union.
In his opening speech, François Hollande summed up the conference’s objectives: “to provide the new Iraqi authorities the political support needed to fight against a major threat, called the Da’esh, that is creating a major danger to Iraq, the Middle East region ansd the world”.
Since the news of the IS’s execution of the British journalist David Haines had just been released, François Hollande recalled all the acts of violence and crimes against humanity of which the Da’esh had been guilty:
“This terrorist group has not only decapitated journalists and humanitarians, but perpetrated massacres and acts of violence against the civil population. This terrorist movement has attacked the weakest and most fragile — women and children. It has also hounded religious minorities to eliminate a certain number of communities. This terrorist movement ignores borders and even claims to have created a State — this is the danger, and it is a global one, for which the response must also be global”.
François Hollande also insisted: “unity was also needed at international level. The Security Council, in its Resolution 2170 declared that the Da’esh was an immense danger for world security — the Iraqi struggle is thus also ours. We must thus commit ourselves together— this is the meaning of this conference — alongside the Iraqi authorities, clearly, faithfully and strongly. There is no time to loose.
This assistance must first of all be humanitarian. Nearly 2 million people have been displaced and I myself saw at Erbil the distress of those who had left everything efore the advance of the terrorists. We must undertake an exceptional effort on behalf of these families, of these women and children.
A real humanitarian bridge must be set up to strengthen the actions in the field — that are, indeed, remarkable — of the United Nations. However, to be effective it is necessary — this too is the meaning of this conference — to collect funds from friendly countries , to send food, and equipment indispensible for receiving the most threatened populations, in the region and even beyond.
Iraq also needs military help. The friends of Iraq must co-ordinate their actions to meet the demands of the Iraqi authorities. France, for its part, has already delivered some equipment, in liaison with Europe and the countries associated with us”.
On the Syrian issue, the French President indicated the “Iraqi territory was not the only concern”:
“Da’esh is established in Syria and threateneds the Middle East as a whole. This terrorist movement also attacts fighters from all over the world and every country, including my own, is concerned by this. We must thus fight against the indoctrination of our youthto prevent their recruitment, break the Jihadist networks, deprive Da’esh of its resources and punish those who are associated with it, whether closely or distantly (…) The answer to the terrorist threat is, essentially, political and the international community must find a lasting solution to this movement, i.e. in Syria. I remind you that over the last 3 years thss crisis in Syria has made 200,000 victims — 200,000 deaths. We must thus support those who can negotiate and make the necessary compromises to preserve the future of Syria. To us in France they are the democratic opposition forces — they must be supported by every means”.
Finally the French President wanted to “warn about the fragile situation in the Lebanon, that has receive nearly 2 million Syrian refugees, as well as Jordan´.
In an account of this conference the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, wnted to stress the following points:
“The first point is that the Da’esh movement is neither a State nor does it represent Islam: it is an extremely dangerous movement. All those who are on the spot consider it needs to be repelled. Why? Because the slogan of this terrorist group is tragically simple and very well summarised this morning by the Iraqi President. The Da’esh cut-throats, as I call them, say to the whole world “Either you’re with us or we’ll kill you”. When dealing with a group like this there is no other attitude possible but self-defence. This is what the international community, whatever its political shades or differences has decided to do.
The second point is that everyone is concerned and not only the countries directly hit like Iraq, Syria and the Neighbouring countries. The Near and Middle East as a whole, Europe itself, France and the whole world are affected. We know that that there are no examples of terrorist groups stopping of their own accord. This is why there was recently a meeting at Jeddah and there will be others. There will soon be one at UNO, because everyone is concerned by this necessary struggle.
The third thing I would like to note is that if we want to wage an efficient struggle against these terrorists — which will take time as it’s long-term action — this struggle should be global.
This morning we spoke about a political approach. This is because the Iraqi authorities have now decided on an inclusive approach following the elections, that, with our support they can in a position to wage such a fight. Thus a political approach is indispensible which explains the support that we are all united in providing the new Iraqi authorities”.
Laurent Fabius also announced that another conference would be held in Bahrein that would cover more specifically the need to “dry up the financing” of this terrorist group and the means for carrying this out.
“Similarly the flow of fighters, coming from many countries across the world, must be interrupted or stopped. The figure of 51 countries has been cited, who evidently must no longer be able to supply fighter in the field. There is, moreover, a humanitarian dimension and one of reconstruction. There are nearly 2 million people displaced in Iraq and there ar some extraordinarily difficult situations. Today some people are destitute in a suffocating heat. In a few weeks the cold weather will arrive and all the countries must provide support on the humanitarian level for the reconstruction of Iraq, be it from the neighbouring countries, Europe or the United Nations. To some extent this has already begun. It is a potentially rich country but it needs support from all of us.
These are some of the factors dealt with this morning. I have, certainly been incomplete but they are the points that have struck me personally, which men’s that this international conference has been useful, as all admit. It will enable advances in the support needed for peace and security in Iraq and in the no less necessary struggle against the Da’esh terrorist group”
In their conclusions the States taking part and the UN and EU representatives expressed:
Their attachment to the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq. They welcomed the formation of the new government under Prime Minister Haïdar al-Abadi offer him with their fill support to strengthen the state of Law, to carry out a policy bringing together and fair representation of all the federal components and institutions and the equality of all its citizens — all measures necessary for effectively fighting against the Da’esh (ISIS) and the terrorist groups that are a threat to all Iraqis.
Those taking part in the Paris Conference have affirmed that Da\esh (ISIS) is a threat to to Iraq, but also to the international community as a whole and that facing up to such a threat, wherever it may be will require a long term action by the international community. They have condemned the crimes and mass acts of violence against civilian populations including the most vulnerable minorities, which can be considered to be crimes against Humanity. They have agreed to cooperate and do everything to ensure that the authors of these crimes answer for them before the courts. They confirm their support for aid to them by the High Commission for Human Rights.
All those taking part stressed the urgent necessity of putting an end to the presence of the Da’esh in the regions it has taken in Iraq. To this end, they are committed to support the new government by all means needed in its struggle against Da’esh (ISIS) including suitable military aid that meets the needs expressed by the Iraqi authorities and with due respect for international law and for the security of civilian populations.
Those participating in the conference also repeated their determination to carry out the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council regarding the struggle against terrorism and its sources of recruiting and financing, particularly resolution 2170. They will be vigilant about the sound application of the measures needed to produce the best effects. They are convinced that determined action is needed to eradicate Da’esh (ISIS), in particular by taking measures to prevent radicalisation, by coordinating activity of all the security services and by strengthening border surveillance. The welcomed the perspective of working on a plan of action to struggle against the financing of terrorism.
Reaffirming their support for the Iraqi government, the international partners recalled the necessity for supporting the aspirations of the Iraqi people for observance of Human Rights in a federal context that resects the Constitution, the rights of regions and the unity of the country.
They welcomed the role of the United Nations in Iraq, in particular by co-ordinating a facilitating international aid to the Iraqi government. Those taking part in the Conference also recognise that the Arab League and the European Union are essential long-term strategic partners of iraq. Theu also welcomed the results of the Jeddah Conference of 11 September 2014.
The participants of the Conference have agreed to pursue and reinforce (in accordance with the development of the situation in the field) the efforts deployed hitherto with regard to urgent humanitarian aid provided for the Iraqi government and the local authorities to help reception and help for the refugees and displaced persons, who must be enabled to return to their homes in full security.
The international partners stressed their availability for helping Iraq in its efforts for reconstruction with a view to equitable regional development, particularly with regard to expertise and know-how and an appropriate financial support, thanks, for example a workd fund specially for helping reconstruct the aeas devastated by the Da’esh (ISOS).
The international partners have agreed to remain fully mobilised in their support of the Iraqi authorities and in the fight against Da’esh (ISIS). They affirm the carrying out and following up of the commitments made today, ârticularly in the context of the United Nations and other organs created for this end and during high level meetings that will take place on the fringe of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
On 29 September a symposium took place at the offices of UNESCO in Paris, entitled “The endangered Iraqi heritage and how to protect it?” in which Mrs Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO took part. Organised by France and Iraq, the symposium aimed at evaluating the situation of Iraq’s cultural heritage and the dangers theatening it since the start of the IS offensive, while those responsible for Iraqi heritage and archaeology have launched an appeal urging the international community to save Mesopotamian sites and cultural heritage.
Following the opening speeches by a representative of the French Foreign Office, by Mahmood Al-Mullakhalaf, permanent Iraqi representative to UNESCO and by Irina Bokova, the first Round Table dealt with the locations of Iraqi cultural heritage, The speakers were Qaees Hussein Rashed, director of the Baghdad Museum and Dr. Saad Iskander, Director General of Iraq’s Manuscipt Library
The Baghdad Museum director explained that “an international antiquities mafia informs the Da’esh about what can be sold. (…) They identify objects and say which ones are saleable”. Da’esh undertakes digs to sell them on the European and Asian markets through intermediaries in neighbouring countries. “Some of these objects are of inestimable value. . . Some are over 2000 years old and can be worth a fortune but, as there is no real marketit is impossible to say how much they are worth. We do not yet have any statistics since Da’esh is still there — for the moment much is in territories conquered byDa’esh. Everything must be done to regain these locations, otherwise nothing can be done”
Qaes Hussein Rashed particularly mentioned the plundering of the Assyrian Palace of Ashurnasipal II, built in the 11th Century before our area: “Some Assyrian tablets have been stolen and found in European towns . Some of these were cut up and sold in pieces, including a tablet showing a winged bull”.
Béatrice André-Salvini, Curator General of Heritage and Manager of the Department of Oriental Antiquities of the Louvre, raised the necessity of making better known the Historic and cultural heritage of Iraq in order to preserve it while Mrs. Geraldine Chatelard, researcher associated with the French Institute of the Near East (IFPO) outlined the state of Iraq’s archaeological heritage and historic buildings since 2003.
Mr. Pascal Gollnisch, General Manager of L’œuvre d’Orient described the heritage of the Christian communities of Iraq
The Second Round Table was “How to Preserve the cultural Heritage of Iraq?”. It was introduced by Bruno Favel Head of the Department for European and Inter-government Affaires of the General Directorate of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.
The contribution by Professor Alain Desreumaux, Research Director at the French CNRS and President of the Society for Syriac Studies covered the Syriac manuscripts if North Iraq while Colonel Ludovic Ehrhart, Head of the Central Office of struggle against trafficking in Cultural Giids tackled the traffic in Iraqi Cultural goods.
Dr. Abdullah Khorsheed Qader, Director of the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil, for his part described “the situation the heritage in Kurdistan: an assessment and perspectives”. He particularly raised the question of the destruction of the tomb of the propjet Jonas and of a number of statues in Mosul and also of Assyrian Palaces “dynamited or destroyed” by the IS.
The issue of training in the protection and conservation of Iraqi Heritage was also raised by Eric Gross, Director of “L’Institut National du Patrimoine” and Alessandra Peruzzetto, an archaeologist and specialist in the Programme for Archaeology and the Middle East.
Among the conclusions of this conference, Philippe Lalliot, an Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France at UNRSCO considered that Iraqi heritage “was in great danger”:
“The conflict is also a war against Culture. We may feel some qualms about denouncing crimes perpetrated against the Heritage when even worse horrors are being committed against people. When deaths are counted by the tens of thousands, should we be preoccupied by “cultural cleaning”? Yes! Fighting against trafficking, is also fighting against terrorism and seeing that “this smuggling does not fuel the war chest and arms of the terrorist organisations. (…)
When deaths are counted in tens of thousands should we be preoccupied with cultural cleansing? Yes, certainly yes, because the annihilation of a heritage that carries the identity of a people and the history of a country is not just “collateral damage” of secondary importance that we can get used to. Indeed, it reflects the same logic as the wiping out of people. This is because culture is a powerful incentive to dialogue, which the most extremist, fanatical and obscurantist groups work furiously and want to annihilate”.
The General Director of UNESCO, Irina Bokova “warned the member States as a whole and the principal Museums of the world as well as the art market” calling for the most extreme vigilance regarding objects that could come from the looting of Iraqi heritage that is taking place.
UNESCO calls on the UN Security Council to pass “a resolution forbidding any trade in Syrian or Iraqi cultural objects so as to fight against the illicit traffic”. Irina Bokova also indicated that UNESCO “shared the locations and all the relevant information with the head quarters of the air strikes” to protect historic sites from these air strikes, Mrs. Bokova pointed out. The Iraqi authorities have also warned that the IS had transformed many palaces or ancient sites to use as bases.
With the capture of Nineveh, the “Islamic State” has seized over 2000 Iraqi archaeological sites.