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Who are you precisely? What creates you, forms you, changes you once you are given birth? What constitutes the breath of life for you? Are you what you ingest?
The recent social constructs in the west of you being able to categorize yourself as who you "identify as"...changes the philosophical as well as biological foundations of who you actually are and transcends to a twist on metaphysical questions of "who am I". It can be quite confusing and it's intended to be. If you are lost, insecure, vulnerable and confused-you are easier to mislead, tempt and control.
From a chemical/biological viewpoint-you are made up of elements, the most prevalent being H2O (water-Hydrogen and Oxygen). Each day you add nutrients which can add to your composition, degrade you, or actually "toxify" your systems. What you breathe in also affects your functioning-whether you are fortunate enough to breathe clean air (less and less possible) or varying levels of polluted air depends on where you live and work.
Your environment can physically constrict and even damage you, strain your health (extremes of altitude, cold, heat, humidity or aridity) electrical magnetic pulses bombarding you, and/or excessive noise can diminish your capacities and conversely, a pristine, natural landscape may enhance your well being on a physical, and possibly a spiritual plane.
However, the thoughts, energetic emissions and emotional atmosphere you are subjected to daily are also inputs which have the ability to change you, stimulate and certainly influence you more powerfully than you may realize. One end of the spectrum would be the privations of a prison cell or being born or kidnapped into a Daesh/ISIS stronghold, criminal network or pedophile family-living hells, yet millions must survive these conditions. On the other side of the spectrum-you may be born into or grow into a materially and culturally rich family, a spiritually strong family and/or peaceful country where all your basic needs are satisfied and you have the freedom to express yourself uniquely. You may fight against either situation as you grow and this struggle will transform you.
The types of media/propaganda you are subjected to can mold you permanently into an unrecognizable version of your "self". Peer pressures, social media, advertising all permeate most societies now. You may find being inauthentic is the only way you can conform. You may unconsciously be emulating media personalities and "famous" people-to be accepted. Perhaps your voice imitates other people, your intonation, vocabulary becomes rote instead of spontaneous. Are you "them" or "you" now?! Have you become a caricature of yourself after posting so many posed images on social media platforms?
Do you ever reflect on these questions? Only you, in the privacy and stillness of being with only your own thoughts, are able to answer the question honestly-to check in and seek out who you really are...today, this week, this year, this decade-this lifetime. Such a quest takes great care and deep courage. No one else can do it for you. Someone who loves you may be a support, a motivator, a mirror....but only you know the truth in the answer(s) that may be revealed.
October will soon be over. The year and the decade are crawling to a corner. 2020 will soon be celebrated as arriving. Many predictions have been made for the upcoming decade. How will you face them if you don't know who you are, what influences you, what you are ingesting, what you truly believe? Isn't it time to exercise your will to discover the truth on a daily basis? Lies are so prevalent and persuasive if you let them linger. It takes effort to peel back the veils and become conscious.
Posing can only be satisfying for only so long. Are you simply what you present to the world...what you post and display? Are you constantly thinking about what to "post" instead of being in the moment of the actual activities you engage in, by yourself or with others? Do you remember the pic/video clip...more than the real experience?
Be careful-the virtual "world" is an illusion. Step out for awhile.
These are my thoughts, my viewpoints tonight as snow falls and winds swirl around the mountains-here in Colorado. I am Including a mind expanding selection of music by Hans Zimmer. It became the soundtrack for one of the more provocative movies of this decade..."Inception" a film I saw with my son Denali, which sparked hours of satisfying discussion and questions in face to face, human to human interaction. A vivid memory of our time together one week years ago. We never thought of taking photos...we were too involved in reality.
Enjoy "Time" by Hans Zimmer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5IailIzqdc&t=3s
Peace to you,
Recently, the current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau reaffirmed one of his proposals to fund "digital charters" for the media he approves of with a money pot of $660 Million of Canadian taxpayer's hard earned cash. The demonetization, de-platforming and trolling of news that reveals embarrassing truths, conservative viewpoints and investigations are not enough of a check in his view; Trudeau goes for outright censorship by the largest companies who have an overt, proven bias-Facehook, Twitter, Youtube-which, he states, will have a "private agreement" with the Canadian government regarding censoring "disinformation" and "hate speech" as well as "toxic communication" posted online. www.therebel.media/justin-trudeau-news-media-bailout-censorship-unifor-journalism-ezra-levant-show-may-23-2019
This means these large multinational companies will receive a monetary incentive to "police" other competitors and potential competitors for an audience/clicks. We don't know the exact terms of these "digital charters" because they have not been made public or published.
Of course one group's idea of "toxic communication" is another group's conviction of the same communication as "the truth". Cultural "content" can be deemed as "hate speech" by a different culture, and freedom of expression is suppressed by the "social media monitors" hired to police the cyber platforms for us, the citizens. A very dangerous precedent and one that is already in play in strictly controlled countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and North Korea.
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects individuals from government censorship. However, social media platforms are private companies, and currently they can censor what people post on their websites as they see fit. Yet given their growing role in public discourse, it’s important to ask–what exactly are their censorship policies? How do they compare to each other, and to the First Amendment’s protections? Who oversees their decisions? How do they benefit financially or with leverage by their censorship? Are they monopolies on the cyber-public forum which should be broken up or held accountable as a publisher and not just a company?! Important questions which still have not been addressed consistently to government officials, policy makers or to the social media addicted public. How do we ensure that we have the diverse viewpoints on any event/issue and that the narrative is informed by verifiable facts and deliberate falsehoods and misinformation is revealed and those responsible are given punitive consequences either in fines, firing or jail time.
This week I shall discuss a few of these pressing questions and cite a personal example of being "restricted" from a social media platform with no reason given and no warning. I am in "good company" considering some of the more visible and vocal personalities already censored from most social media platforms. A few of them are shown below as examples of prominent voices censored on social media.
"With legal and legislative solutions ineffectual for preserving free speech online, enter the major antitrust enforcement agencies of the executive branch. The Department of Justice is preparing to investigate Google’s parent company, Alphabet, while the Federal Trade Commission is doing the same for Facebook. The goal may be to break the tech giants into multiple smaller companies, as was done at the dawn of mass electronic communication in America." www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/break-social-media-companies-protect-free-speech
We earnestly hope that antitrust cases will soon be brought against Alphabet-which is the Google 'parent' company with over 200 companies in it's 'family' of " Other Bets" including: Google, Goog, Youtube, Uber, Nestlabs, Google maps/surveillance products, Clouds, Titan Aerospace, DeepMind, Project Dragonfly and Skynet (Social credit system used in China and other countries) Sidewalk labs (used as part of urban planning) Google Fiber (lines of communication and equipment) Android, subsidiaries creating and selling pharmaceuticals, experimental cars, drones, ISR, mail, investment companies, "smart fabric", appliances, etc. This is a classic example of one gargantuan company controlling vertical and horizontal means of R&D, production, marketing, distribution and competition. They need to be divested, monitored and regulated. www.businessinsider.com/alphabet-google-company-list-2017-4#googles-hardware-division-was-formed-in-2016-when-google-hired-former-motorola-president-rick-osterloh-osterloh-was-put-in-charge-of-pixel-phones-google-home-chromebooks-and-revamping-google-glass-osterloh-reports-directly-to-sundar-pichai-21
Alphabet/Google maintains a close relationship with social media giants Facebook/Instagram. It often follows if Facebook decides to shut down an account-youtube will follow with demonetization and other de-platform measures including pressuring Twitter and Paypal to detach any support from such individuals and organizations. Cases in point: Alex Jones, Lara Loomer, Michelle Malkin and Milo Yiannopoulus as well as Joe Rogan. Watch this video for an explanation of the constantly changing AI (artificial intelligence) parameters for "demonetizing" - extremely arbitrary: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFyHpBsvcK0
Facebook is known for it's extreme left slant and a very narrow corridor for ideas. It is a bully in the social media arena wielding it's whip to corral other tech media companies into their "line of thought policing".
A former senior Facebook engineer who wrote a memo earlier this year decrying the social media giant's "political monoculture", said that the company (Facebook) has a "vocal minority" intent on implementing social justice policies across it's mission. "You can't even have conversations about that policy inside the company without having your character attacked -- and I've experienced this personally -- without being called a sexist or a racist or a transphobe or an Islamophobe," said Amerige. Amerige drew national attention when he wrote an internal memo, "We Have a Problem With Political Diversity." The memo, which was later leaked to The New York Times, stated that: Facebook employees "claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack — often in mobs — anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology." www.technocracynews/category/resistance/page/4/?print=pdf-search
Entrenched in the corporate culture of these media monoliths are a few individuals who steer the narratives presented to the global population. They are based on their personal political/value system and not on the "truth" or on an amalgamation of analysis based on facts. This is outright propaganda with sophisticated technology and brutal competition shutdown on other companies, organizations and individuals with no alternative, no other companies to use as platforms at present. These companies are forcing "group think" in a monopolistic strategy on a global level.
A smaller, albeit different platform on social media is Linkedin. This company professes to host a free platform for "professionals" to network, solicit employees, jobs and useful information. Officially this is what is posted on their website: "The mission of LinkedIn is simple: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful." However, they too can arbitrarily decide who they will permit and restrict on their platform. Look at their "Who Are We?" section: Jeff Weiner is the CEO of the company, and management includes experienced executives from companies such as Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, TiVo, PayPal and Electronic Arts.
Jeff Weiner worked at Yahoo and decided to sell LinkedIn to Microsoft in 2016, only eight years after starting at LinkedIn as interim president. www.vox.com/2016/6/13/11920416/linkedin-acquisition-microsoft-reasons He boasts about China and the Chinese as his greatest potential clients. But Chinese businesses are all People's Republic of China (Communist) affiliated and carry tight strings attached to whomever they do business with - including demanding political "correctness" and posting according to their communist party dictates. What happens when certain "complaints" are lodged to LinkedIn by Chinese communist members who by sheer numbers could out pace any other nationality of professionals on this platform?
A move toward a dictatorship of cyber and social media platforms is creeping into nations which fought long and hard to establish and maintain a constitutional Republic and/or Democracy with freedom of expression as a founding tenet. This "mission creep" needs to be stopped forthwith. It is imperative that a diverse selection of perspective and opinion is able to be expressed for full spectrum thinking and innovation to thrive again. Money is buying or denying platforms since companies, especially country affiliated (Communist countries) and multinational corporations have no social conscience and no incentive to share their leverage or power.
Caveat emptor on social media my friends. Remember...nothing is for free in the marketplace. You always "pay" in some way or another.
Please pass this article on with your own social media including LinkedIn. For now I have been "restricted" with no reason given, and have to "wait" until "investigations are finished" on what...they will not tell me- LinkedIn just keeps stalling. Another way to silence us.
Until next Tuesday, here is a song from a group which thought and created music/lyrics ahead of their time. "Money" by Pink Floyd...a classic-enjoy: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0kcet4aPpQ
Whatever charade of "democracy" played out in the last fifteen years after the much touted "shock and awe" and "liberation" of Iraq by coalition forces, this past week has blasted that illusion by the quick oppressive and violent reaction of the newly elected government's response to peaceful protest by mostly young students in the streets of Baghdad, and other major cities. The Prime Minister of Iraq, Adel Abdul-Mahdi decided to use "excessive force" on those demonstrating about the deteriorating situation in the country, lack of essential services, rampant corruption and high unemployment rates.
Over 6,000 people were wounded by gunfire, beatings and fire. The number of dead continues to rise over 100. At last count it was 105. time.com/5693902/100-dead-iraq-protest/
In May of 2018, Harith Hasan wrote about the elections of that same year: "...this election has clearly shown the limitations of Iraq’s democracy and the persistent risk of disruption or regression towards less democratic means in the future." www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/the-truth-about-iraq-s-democracy/
Less than six months later autocratic edicts, martial type law, violence and echoes of dictatorial response to protesters against the newly elected government-show the world Iraq is not yet a democracy or a nation with a form of government which can withstand questions, protests, investigations, reporting and/or scrutiny.
One of the responses of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, was to curtail use of the internet and thus shut off the possibility of communications and reporting in most of Iraq. Only the Independent Region of Kurdistan (KRG) in northern Iraq was not affected by the lack of access and by the curfew imposed by the Iraq government in Baghdad. (see tweet and graph below)
Confirmed: #Iraq has partly restored internet access at 7:00 a.m. Baghdad time for the 3rd consecutive morning, making it the first documented country to introduce a nightly internet curfew at nation-scale.
Curfew times: 5:00 p.m. 7:00 a.m.
After the chaos subsided in Baghdad and a number of other cities in Iraq, the Prime Minister announced at the end of the week a three day period of mourning and promised those killed-both demonstrators and security personnel-would be considered as "martyrs" and their families given benefits.
Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric blamed the Baghdad government on Friday for the killing of scores of protesters, and gave it a two-week deadline to find out which “undisciplined elements” had used snipers to shoot them.
"The intervention by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who rarely weighs in on politics except in times of crisis, will place new pressure on Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to curb the power of Iran-backed Shi’ite militias, widely blamed by the public for killing more than 100 protesters in a crackdown." www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-protests-sistani/iraqs-top-shiite-cleric-criticizes-government-over-protester-deaths-idUSKBN1WQ181
As one Iraqi, Dr. Oula Kadhum, living in the UK queries, and observed from afar this week:
"Can we still call Iraq a state?
Power is dispersed along so many political actors, with varying domestic and foreign allegiances, that Iraqi sovereignty is but a mere illusion. There is no political system in Iraq but rather multiple systems (tribes, militias, political parties) with spheres of influence and power. The state has not been captured by an oligarchy but rather dismembered from within by corrupt elites and criminal gangs masquerading as politicians."
The response to the demonstrations by the current Iraq government is eerily similar to the response by Saddam Hussein's government against protesters years ago-see photos below. After war, forced regime change and "democratic elections" what has actually transformed? What progress can be quantified?!
A follow on to my post from last week regarding the Kurds and the situation they are in with Turkey overtly attacking them and their positions in Syria...let us not forget what happened to the Kurdish population in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Iraq has not been an ally or friend of the Kurds. Iraq let the Peshmerga "lead from the front" suffering brutal attacks from Daesh/ISIS. Moreover, thousands of Daesh fighters escaped while under the "guard and round ups" by the Iraq army. The Kurds were never that slack. Kurdish militia members were guarding camps holding Daesh/ISIS detainees in at least 10 camps holding over 140,000 people. Kurdish Pershmerga units have had to shift their priorities once Turkey started their bombardments.
The Kurdish units in Syria who decided to align with Syrian President Bashar al- Assad, make sense in the long view. Kurdish officials in northern Syria will now be working with the Assad government in Damascus to defend against Turkey's military in their region. The Syrians have betrayed the Kurds less than the Iraqi governments over time. The USA and the UK have been dishonest in their dealings with the Kurds since the 1970s. At least President Trump is enacting his policy promises of removing US troops from the Middle East step by step.
Syria is part of ancestral Kurdish heritage and territory. The US and UK populations have shifting allegiances and geographical distance from the Kurds. Though a number of the Kurdish units have openly displayed communist symbols, their particular "comradeship in arms" and "equity in genders" in their military is a counter and balance to the extremism of sharia law and it's dictates against women.
The Russian nexus with the Syrian government began long before their alliance during the civil war in 2011, and their leasing access to a warm water port on the Mediterranean via Syria in Tartus, to Russia in 2014. Leasing a port where transport is possible year round is vital to a virtually landlocked nation, especially if they intend to grow their economy, as Russia does.
People forget that Russia had a pivot toward the Middle East decades ago. Russia cultivated progressive relations with Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) Jordan, Israel, Iran and Syria, and gave varying degrees of support at various times to Egypt and Lebanon. While Russia has provided weapons to all these countries, the US and the UK have provided weapons, training, finance and "humanitarian aid" to all these countries as well, during the 20th and 21st centuries.
Syria is still a "chessboard" for pipeline negotiation games and energy fields. Turkey hovers like a vulture waiting for the carrion of destructive "civil wars" spawned and spurred on by outside forces interested in leveraging political and economic power and the "spoils of war".
As always, it is the civilian populations of both Syria and Iraq who must endure, bleed, re-locate and agonize the most. Once again, the Kurds must capitulate and still do not have their own country where they can form their own nation, re-group and be left in peace to create their own form of government implementing their own cultural traditions without interference or the real risk of genocide from their "neighbors", or the resurgence of Daesh/ISIS which would ultimately impact the entire world.
There was a time after World War II when some of the worst criminals of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich were brought to the US under Operation Paperclip, and tens of thousands were supported to escape to South America. They created their own communities there, and a few former Nazis emerged in those countries as ruthless political and military leaders in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay.
Ending tonight with something human beings have in common since so much of the news has been about differences. Dance and music can and do unite people. Certainly Daesh/ISIS and places which impose strict sharia law would never allow this entertainment, and the young people you see in this video would be censured and punished severely.
Fortunately there is not a world wide "caliphate" and sharia law is not permitted here. This is a group of young Turkish dancers doing their movements to a popular Iraqi song: "Dylan Lingham" "ابراهيم البغدادي - ول ولك"
Dance while you can wherever you are...it's healthy!
The attacks by the Turkish military and government on the Kurdish security forces which have fought Daesh/ISIS, controlled checkpoints and guarded captured jihadis in areas of northern Syria, have sparked questions, comments and condemnation from all over the world. Finally, it seems, the world which heretofore avoided or ignored the plight of the largest ethnic population on the planet which does not have it's own land and nation, and who have been attacked, targeted and denigrated constantly by Turkey; is verbally championed by politicians in neighboring countries, in Europe, in North America and even Asia.
Why the sudden spark of interest? Which countries and governments are actual allies of the Kurdish people? Why are they concerned if Turkey takes over the prison camps where terrorists and their jihadi families are currently held? This week I address these questions as well as review the situation with an attempt at establishing an independent Kurdistan which was almost accomplished at this time in 2017, but was thwarted by some of these same nations and by factions of the Kurdish people themselves.
First, let's review the United States government actions and alliances with the Kurdish people since the 1970s, since this background is often omitted in contemporary analysis and news reports but is integral to understanding what the Kurds have endured, what has been promised and negotiated but never delivered to the Kurds. I also give examples of historical and recent attacks against the Kurds by both Iraq and Turkey.
In 1975, Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State, secretly channeled $16 million in military aid to the Kurds, who believed Washington supported their right to self-determination. In 1976, however, the Pike report, issued by the House Select Committee on Intelligence, revealed that the U.S. never had any intention of supporting a Kurdish state:
Documents in the Committee's possession state: "President Nixon, Dr. Kissinger and the foreign head of state [the Shah of Iran] hoped that our clients [the Kurds] would not prevail. They preferred instead that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally's neighboring country [Iraq]. This policy was not imparted to our clients, who were encouraged to continue fighting."
At the 1975 Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) summit, Iran and Iraq temporarily resolved their border dispute. The Iraqi government was then informed that U.S. support for the Kurds would be withdrawn, while the Kurds themselves were kept uninformed about what was happening. Iraqi forces immediately launched an aggressive campaign against the Kurdish rebels. The United States knew but did not warn their allies, the Kurds.
"The insurgents [Kurds} were clearly taken by surprise. Their adversaries, knowing of the impending aid cut-off, launched an all out search-and-destroy campaign the day after the agreement [with Iran] was signed. The autonomy movement was over and our former clients scattered before the [Iraqi] central government's superior forces."
As Iraq wiped out the remaining rebels, the Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani sent a message to Kissinger: "Our movement and people are being destroyed in an unbelievable way, with silence from everyone. We feel, your excellency, that the United States has a moral and political responsibility towards our people, who have committed themselves to your country's policy."
Kissinger, didn't bother to send a reply. According to the Pike report:
"Over 200,000 refugees managed to escape into Iran. Once there however, neither the United States nor Iran extended adequate humanitarian assistance. In fact, Iran was later to forcibly return over 40,000 of the refugees and the United States government refused to admit even one refugee into the United States by way of political asylum even though they qualified for such admittance."
As Kissinger later explained to a Congressional staffer, "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work." U.S. strategic interests, in other words, were more important than mere moral principles. "Even in the context of covert actions," concluded the Pike report, "ours was a cynical enterprise." theintercept.com/2019/10/07/kurds-syria-turkey-trump-betrayal/
Dr. Henry Kissinger advised every president since Richard Nixon and was a key adviser for both Bush Presidents, former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State. Even President Trump had a courtesy meeting with Dr. Kissinger at the beginning of his presidency. He is a consultant for a number of foreign policy organizations and international organizations including the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg Group. He is also considered a war criminal by certain countries and international organizations. Henry Kissinger remains controversial.
From de-classified documents we now know the US intel community did know Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) possessed and used chemical weapons against Iranians and against the Kurds. foreignpolicy.com/2013/08/26/exclusive-cia-files-prove-america-helped-saddam-as-he-gassed-iran/
The international press was alerted to the chemical attack against the Kurdish people in Halabja. The photos of civilians of all ages, over 5,000 killed by sarin nerve gas and many still suffering the effects of poisoning-circulated around the world. For a time a resurgence of condemnation of those using chemical weapons was part of political discussions and served as rationale later after the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 war in Iraq, to effect the capture and death of Saddam Hussein and his commander cousin "Chemical Ali' Ali Hassan al-Majid. (see photos below)
"During the Clinton administration in the 1990s, the Iraqi Kurds, were the 'good Kurds'. Because they were persecuted by Iraq, our enemy, they were worthy of U.S. sympathy. But the Kurds a few miles north in Turkey started getting uppity too, and since they were annoying our ally (Turkey), they were the 'bad Kurds'. The U.S. sent Turkey huge amounts of weaponry, which it used — with U.S. knowledge — to murder tens of thousands of Kurds and destroy thousands of villages." https://theintercept.com/2019/10/07/kurds-syria-turkey-trump-betrayal/
www.shafaaq.com/en/kurdistan/a-turkish-dam-destroys-a-12000-kurdish-town/ The post-war independence of Iraqi Kurds after the Iraq war of 2003, made Turkey extremely nervous. In 2007, the U.S. allowed Turkey to carry out a heavy bombing campaign against Iraqi Kurds inside Iraq.
With the assistance of the US National Security Agency (NSA) The Turkish military were able to target Kurds with drones, cyber interception, geo-location, surveillance and assassination starting in the Bush administration and expanded under the Obama Administration: theintercept.com/2014/08/31/nsaturkeyspiegel/
Turkey also built dams which controlled, rationed and denied water to northern Iraq-the areas of the KRG - "Kurdistan". For more in depth description of this "Hydro-warfare" by Turkey, see my post from last year: www.jopatti.com/blog/power-plays-hydro-warfare
The Independent region of Kurdistan contains the rich oil producing fields of Kirkuk and Kurdish president Barzani negotiated an agreement for revenue sharing with the Iraqi Baghdad government. However in March, 2014 The Iraqi government under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blocked the transfer of revenues to the Kurdish authorities, leaving regional leaders unable to pay the salaries of officials.
In May, 2014 -Daesh/ISIS starts their seige in Anbar province. The Kurdish Peshmerga-Those Who Confront Death-protect Kirkuk. The US and Iraqi government supply Peshmerga fighters with weapons and leave them to battle Daesh/ISIS. Mosul falls to Daesh/ISIS completely by June 2014.
"October 2014 - The Iraqi Kurdistan government sends Peshmerga forces to the northern Syrian city of Kobane - via Turkey - supporting Kurdish fighters attempting to defend the city from attack by Daesh/ISIS. December 2014-Peshmerga and Syrian Kurdish fighters retake Mount Sinjar from Islamic State forces.
Russia's Rosneft reportedly pays 1 bn US dollars in advance for Iraqi Kurdistan's crude oil, signalling growing Russian interest in the region's natural resources.
June 2017 - A cross-party meeting led by President Barzani agrees to hold an independence referendum on 25 September." Iraq's government in Baghdad threatens reprisals. www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-15467672
Mosul is recaptured by Peshmerga with some help from Iraq and US forces by September 2017. Barzani holds the referendum and many countries condemn him in addition to many Kurds objecting to the timing of the referendum. Iraq government responds by cutting all revenues, closing the Erbil airport to all international flights and changing visa requirements to Kurdistan region.
President Barzani resigned in October 2017.
November 2017, the last strongholds of Daesh/ISIS in Iraq and Syria fall with strong fighting by the Peshmerga. Many ISIS militants are captured but many are aided in their escape by Iraqis sympathetic to Daesh, and many more make their way through Turkey.
In early 2018, after seizing the Kurdish-majority Afrin district, the Turks expelled half Afrin's inhabitants and brought in jihadi Arabs as part of their program of “Arabisation” well as their plan to destroy any of the US-fostered administration.
Kurdish forces have maintained control over areas of northern Syria for the past few years. But in January, 2019- Turkey launched an operation targeting Kurdish groups in northwest Syria, The Kurds requested aid from the Syrian government as well as the international community.
Peshmerga units have been guarding large camps where Daesh/ISIS fighters and their families are held. One camp called Al Hol has more than 70,000 ISIS members. It is very difficult to control. These fighters and their families are not able to return to their country of origin in most cases. Over 10,000 are estimated to be foreigners from Europe, Asia and North America. They still maintain their ideology, most show no remorse and continue with their "system" of justice, punishments and sharia law. www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-al-hol-syria-camp-caliphate-islamic-state-riot-violence-stabbing-a9143401.html
Turkey uses it's position in NATO to leverage support for it's actions and for procuring weapons-which they are using against the Kurds. They also use the threat of releasing these jihadi fighters back into the refugee population and possibly back to eastern and western Europe and beyond. They are walking 'time bombs'.
It is also important to be note that Turkey stood by during the years of sieges, brutality, murder, torture by Daesh/ISIS of Christians, Yezidis, Shiite, Sufi, and Sunnis and foreigners of all ages. They did not help in the defeat of Daesh/ISIS.
"Turkey argues the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has defeated Islamic State, is a threat to Turkey as it is connected to Turkey’s separatist Kurds, who have been in conflict with the Turkish state since 1984. The YPG has vowed to defend its villages, towns and cities. The Kurds have in recent months received a steady supply of US arms and vehicles enabling them to resist. They may not, however, prevail against Turkish aerial bombing and shelling from artillery across the border." www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/us-abandonment-of-syria-s-kurds-risks-bitter-fighting-1.4042627
As of last week, October 2019, President Erdogan of Turkey announced to the world his intentions to create (by any means necessary) a "corridor zone" and this means the Kurds in the north will be in danger. They may be pulled away from their duties guarding Daesh/ISIS fighters/members in order to defend themselves and their compatriots. Moreover, US forces were moving out of these areas leaving the Kurds with no other reinforcements. Understandably they are looking to Russia as well as the Syrian Defense forces for additional support.
"The Turkish offensive will likely target the Arab-majority city of Tel Abyad in Northern Raqqa Province. It will create an opportunity for ISIS to achieve breakout success in eastern Syria while the U.S. partner force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), fights Turkey along the border. Pro-Assad regime forces could also attempt to exploit the chaos to seize oil fields currently under SDF control." www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/turkish-invasion-northeast-syria-looks-imminent
So who are and who will be the Kurds allies now? The latest statement from US President Trump seems to point to more straightforward- "No, we can't help you" rather than the pretense of "supporting the Kurds" by previous administrations whilst they acted more like adversaries than allies betraying them in a number of different situations with their proxies actions and inaction.
President Trump however, did add he would find ways to heap significant economic reprisals on an already weakened Turkish economy and currency should Erdogan go beyond an as of yet unspecified "line in the sand" in terms of treatment of the Kurds. As a businessman, President Trump indicated the US should not be putting money into maintaining camps for jihadis, nor add more training/equipment for the Kurds. That is the rationale that is important to factor in this equation/policy shift.
Can the Kurds trust anyone after all this history with "allies"? Would you?! I highly recommend you read Kurdish news sites in English (or Kurdish is you can) for a more informed, authentic and complete picture of what is happening in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and even Iran - which has it's own area called "Kurdistan".
Here is one site which shows there is movement by the KRG to reach toward Russia:
"Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani received on Monday Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Erbil to discuss the bilateral ties between Erbil and Moscow."
And another site in English: www.shafaaq.com/en/kurdistan/a-turkish-dam-destroys-a-12000-kurdish-town/
Finally Rudaw news. which some will criticize but they have on the ground reporters who know the language: www.rudaw.net/english/analysis/0710201
This is a developing event and reports from many sources will try and claim "exclusive" and "shocking" content. Go to those sources which are reporting from those on the ground, with verifiable communications and with an objective viewpoint as possible-that excludes Al Jazeera and most main stream US news including Kurdistan24. There are credible independent reporters, youtube reports from the Kurds themselves you can read/watch. Sift through their agendas to try and digest a kernel of the truth and the consequences of actions/inaction in this volatile region.
Until next Tuesday, stay vigilant...
Including a Peshmerga female unit in Syria, with a short song and message from the field in Kurdish. Enjoy: www.youtube.com/watch?v=doPZW7QoxVk
A common association with the word 'resilience' is the idea of "bouncing back" after a setback, an illness, a trauma or even a sudden uncomfortable change in life.
The Mayo Clinic says, “Resilience is the ability to adapt well to stress, adversity, trauma or tragedy. People who have a resilient disposition are better able to maintain poise and a healthy level of physical and psychological wellness in the face of life’s challenges.”
Resilience is a holistic term since recovery and adjustment physically are only part of the process of healing. Emotional resilience has become an overused buzz word for the ability to restore and maintain one's emotional health and spiritual well being. The implication is that once one is "restored" and "positive" then that step is complete. For most of us who have suffered extreme trauma in physical or psychological terms, traumatic brain injury or dramatic life changes such as having to flee from one's ancestral home and lands; 'bouncing back' will be a life long adaptation, coping with the waves of pain, illness, loss, vulnerabilities, plagues of uncertainty and memory.
However research and history have shown us that like other "muscles" and "skills" you can certainly increase your ability to be resilient even if your family history (epigenetics) physical/psychological make up is weak, and your resources are limited. No matter how horrible one's condition is, often because of circumstances and events beyond one's personal control, the ultimate giving up, being overcome and overwhelmed by events, conditions and despair need not result in taking one's own life.
This week I outline strategies/programs to help increase resilience and recovery. I speak from personal experience as well as from the standpoint as a health practitioner who has treated many patients who are survivors of trauma over the past twenty years in a variety of locations and from diverse cultures, backgrounds, professions, faiths and from all ages groups, races and genders. We used a combination of Traditional Chinese Medicine, "Medicine" learned from living/working in Indigenous communities in the USA, Australia and New Zealand, as well as therapeutic strategies from western psychological methods, and witnessed resilience from other survivors over time. There are no "short fixes" FYI
Heart breaking statistics were just released by Pentagon in regard to the number of active duty and veterans who commit suicide. The statistics by branch from 2018, shout out once again that the United States needs to do better in terms of building resilience in our population and especially in members of our military. "The rate of active duty service members who take their own lives has been rising an average of 6 percent year-over year the past five years, the Pentagon announced Thursday. The number of suicides jumped from 285 to 325 between 2017 and 2018, according to the 2018 Annual Suicide Report, from a rate of about 22 suicides per 100,000 service members to about 25."
We need to examine why countries who have decades of war, hardship, trauma and struggle do not have the high statistics of suicide we do, especially in their active and retired military members. I would offer that after more than a generation of comfort, easing of life circumstances, lowering of standards in most levels of education/training, a generally sedentary, physically and emotionally undemanding lifestyle with easy access to licit and illicit drugs-the US population has become weakened in all respects. It is easier to see if you have been away for a significant period of time and then return to the USA with fresh eyes.
One reason for the fragility of personality is trauma, violence within a family of origin and/or the break up or absence of a loving family environment for a child growing up anywhere. If a child has just one consistent loving family member that one factor may be able to mitigate all hardships. If a family is strong, multi-generational and has a foundation in "faith", a belief in purpose in life and other than human assistance and guidance, children and adults can endure much more than those who are bereft of these foundations in life. More western countries now have societies where these foundations have been eroded and attacked over decades.
Moreover, material affluence and comfort have wasted the muscles of determination, persistence, creativity and hard work. The inability to obey those in authority to develop discipline has resulted in an erosion of self discipline, too. The greed for acquiring and not being satisfied that "enough is enough" can suck out the joy of appreciating what is there instead of hankering after what is not. Notice children can find a way to play almost anywhere and still smile.
The military and policy makers have not fully taken into account what a drugging of elementary, middle and high school children has done to the potential pool of military recruits. When I returned to Texas in late 1998, after a decade away in other countries, I was stunned to see how many children would line up at the nurse's office in the public middle school where I was teaching, during breaks and lunchtime. When I inquired I learned these were the children who had medication they had to take during the day. The norm became "medicate" especially if a child was "restless, couldn't concentrate, demonstrated aggressive behavior". Teacher conferences urged parents to see designated, "approved" doctors who would also prescribe medication. I was pressed to "observe and label" children so the school could be eligible for more state and federal funds. I refused to categorize otherwise healthy, curious, intelligent, active and original thinking children as needing "special education and medication." I left public and charter school teaching in 2005, in the USA.
There are side effects to these medications including stunted growth, headaches, insomnia, loss of motivation (will power) rashes, loss of appetite, anxiety, higher blood pressure, etc (for Ritalin or Methylphenidate) and serious side effects for psychiatric drugs such as suicidal ideations, weight gain, agitation, dry mouth, constant fatigue, loss of libido, muscle spasms, and so on. In a report of 2015, almost five years ago-the number of children under 18 was estimated to be about 75 million in the USA. The number of children diagnosed with mental illness was 17.1 million children on record. the current estimate is that 22.2% of American children have a mental illness. However, consider that many more "disorders" have been added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V which is in current use. childmind.org/2015-childrens-mental-health-report/
There are "defiant" disorders (children who answer back or are questioning), the pressure of "gender identity confusion" disorders, the castigation of boys as having male "toxicity" etc. These weaken the next generation so their capacities are diminished and resiliency is not strengthened. In fact in many cases it is enfeebled. When hard times, quick changes, trauma, loss and isolation happen-these young adults are not as prepared or armored-physically, emotionally and spiritually-as previous generations, or as children in other countries where medicating and coddling children is not part of the culture, education or medical systems.
The triggers of trauma are individual. Each person experiencing the same event may respond in their body, mind and spirit differently. The timeline will vary for each person. Some triggers may ease over time, others develop over time. The process to heal is variable and cannot be predicted or packaged. This is where western medicine approaches, the military and government organizations and NGOs who have members with post trauma reactions-get it terribly wrong in my opinion. Here are a few practical ideas which would not be difficult to implement in the USA:
Let's be real, it is often still a career "killer" to admit you have post traumatic stress even though you might get a few extra points on a government application for checking the box. With the inter connectivity of phones to net linked databases, "hotlines" are not as viable for anonymity as they might have been decades ago. The creation/development of a truly "anonymous" hotline for post trauma sufferers not labelled as a "suicide hotline" and run by paid counselors, staff and survivors available 24/7 with a connection to local ambulance/hospitals (only if there is an emergency situation the lifeline cannot handle)-would be a vital component to this national framework to combat veteran and post trauma survivor suicides.
The enrichment of human to human contact instead of virtual contact cannot be duplicated. Having an actual shoulder to cry on, someone to hold you, someone to listen with a caring heart as you repeat the story of trauma and pain, is more important to resilience than pills and screens. Each person is unique though the symptoms of post trauma may be similar.
We also have to be courageous enough to ask those suffering to rise to expectations rather than dismissing their previous capabilities as "lost" and impossible to regain. They may not ever be "the same as before" but can emerge different and even stronger than before the trauma(s) they experienced. Sometimes harsh words, strong reminders and coaching are needed and human hands, human presence extended again and again and again. Those helping cannot give up either. The narratives and mindset about people who have post trauma reactions need to be re-directed. See my more detailed article on this subject here: https://www.scitechnol.com/peer-review/managing-post-trauma-reactionschanging-the-dialogue-and-protocols-4dbv.php?article_id=6525
The path back to functioning, the steps on the ladder to re-framing your life outlook, your relationships, your goals and your challenges - is part of the adaptation required after trauma. If you don't have a supportive family or spouse/partner or close brotherhood/sisterhood, colleagues to support you and love you in your climb, then truly you have an exponentially more difficult road to navigate, but it can be done.
What must be understood by those designing and running projects and programs for veterans and survivors, is that this is a continual process. People may need to "refresh" and "start over" from time to time. Two steps up the ladder to health may also need one step down. There are no guarantees.
The United States is the wealthiest country in the world. We give aid to over 100 other countries including to those suffering from trauma of all kinds yet our own programs are lacking within our own country and especially for our own military and first responders. This should be of national concern, urgent redress, action and passion, but it is just a side note and more power points, video courses and bowed heads are the usual reaction. Those who have a family member, friends, colleagues who are veterans or first responders need to push for change since we are the majority.
In research for this article I searched programs in Colorado, a state with many veterans, active military, military bases for programs. While a number are listed online, when I actually called-few responded with a human being-just more screens or voice messages. This is a deterrent to many who might seek help but be put off by robotic voices or more demands for information and more delay. Our national aim should be to lower that 25 a day to 0 step by step. Do you agree? Alright then-visualize and actualize a first step this week. I have an average of 2,000 viewers per week depending on the subject I write about-it has been as high as 4,600. If even 50% of you starts moving on this problem that is motion in the right direction.
This week I am closing with a song entitled: "You Raise Me Up" by the Irish/Norwegian duo 'Secret Garden'. Music composed by Rolf Lovland and lyrics by Brendan Graham, performed live by Celtic Woman in concert.
May you find it inspiring. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yfwlj0gba_k
Keep steady on your path wherever you may be, whichever rung you may be climbing. Until next week,