The bloody suicide attacks against the major US-backed Kurdish parties are likely to suppress Kurdish factionalism -- at least in the short term -- and stiffen the Kurds' resolve for a strong degree of self-rule within a federal Iraq. \nThat is unlikely to go down well among the country's majority Arab community nor among the Turkomen, an ethnic group related to the Turks who like the Arabs fear Kurdish domination. \nAt stake is the unity of Iraq and control over the country's vast oil wealth, much of it centered around the northern city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by Kurds, Arabs and Turkomen as their own. \nAt least 56 people were killed and more than 200 injured Sunday when suicide bombers wearing explosives separately attacked the offices of both the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in the northern city of Irbil. \nIn statements issued after the attacks, top leaders of both parties expressed a will to work together to overcome the common terrorist enemy and to campaign even harder for a federal Iraqi state -- despite strong opposition to federalism among the Arab population. \n"These terrorist acts are against the unity of our administrations that we have agreed on," KDP leader Massoud Barzani wrote to the PUK boss, Jalal Talabani. "The two of us, along with other political democratic parties, must work together to end these terrorist acts." \nIn his reply, Talabani promised to "work more seriously toward uniting our [Kurdish autonomous] government" and "work together in order to live in a democratic, federal Iraq." \nThose pledges of cooperation came from leaders who have been bitter rivals for years, despite past agreements to work together in the interest of the Kurdish people. \nThe Kurds rose up against Saddam Hussein in 1991 after Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War but were overwhelmed by a government offensive. \nInternational intervention stopped the onslaught and enabled the Kurds to establish a self-ruling region in northern Iraq protected by the US, in which both the KDP and PUK shared power. \nHowever, a power struggle between the two parties erupted into armed hostility in 1994, when the Patriotic Union seized Irbil from the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Turkey backed the KDP and Iran supported the PUK. \nTwo years later, Saddam's forces entered the Kurdish area and ousted the Patriotic Union from Irbil. With US diplomatic help, the two parties divided the Kurdish region and established parallel administrations. \nSunday's attacks could bolster Kurdish arguments that they need to maintain their own militia, known as the peshmerga, for security, a demand that has become a delicate issue in discussions with the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. \nKurdish writer Nazar Khailany believes the attacks will put pressure on Talabani and Barzani to set aside those past differences "and serve the principle cause of the Kurdish people." \n"I hope this sad tragedy will lead to the unity of the parties," Khailany said. \nHowever, that very unity may create more ethnic tensions in this factious country at a time when the US is attempting to find a formula to transfer power which will be accepted by all major communities. \nUS officials clearly favor federalism, which would enable the major groups -- Shiite and Sunni Arabs as well as Kurds -- to enjoy a degree of self-rule within a unified nation state without fearing suppression by the others. \nHowever, federalism is a concept which is foreign to many Iraqis reared under centralized, one-party rule. For many of them, especially the Sunni Arabs, federalism is a codeword for national disintegration. \nThose fears are especially high in northern areas such as Mosul and Kirkuk, which remained under Saddam's control but which many Kurds feel should be theirs. \nSome experts believe the Sunday attacks may have been aimed in part at driving a wedge between the Kurds and the other ethnic groups at a time when the US is urging all parties to cooperate. \n"I think that they are trying to drive a wedge between the north and the center," said Jonathan Schanzer, a terrorism expert for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "They will want the Kurds to circle the wagons and make them more suspicious of Arabs. This will certainly add to the fractured landscape of Iraq."
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”