Iraq Elections: Will Sadr Seek a New Beginning With Turkey?

Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s coalition scored major points in the recent parliamentary elections with Sadr’s positions against virulent influence peddling and the presence of foreign military forces in the country.

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Iraq’s election may have had widespread voter fraud – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Wednesday marks the deadline in Iraq for reporting incidents of voter fraud. Iraqis from across the political spectrum all say that incidents of cheating were higher this time than in any of Iraq’s previous elections, and most blame irregularities and problems with a new electronic voting system. While it is a truism that Iraqis disappointed in their results often imagine cheating rather than acknowledge their own failures to appeal to a broader electorate, there is enough anecdotal evidence and real questions about the system to merit investigation.

Facebook (and Whatsapp) remain the major ways many Iraqis consume news. In recent days, an Arabic article titled the “Lying Boxes” has been widely circulated among both Kurdish and Arab, Sunni and Shiite political leaders. It provides a deep dive into accusations that the electronic voting system employed for the first time this month was a complete failure on multiple fronts.

The Independent High Election Commission, a body that long ago lost its independence and is now staffed by apparatchiks from the major parties, contracted with a mysterious and little-known Korean company to provide ballot boxes that scan votes and uplink them to a central database upon the closure of polls. That Korean company had little track record, has little behind it but a webpage, and the single international election Iraqis say it previously managed in Kyrgyzstan ended in disaster.The company provides no photos of its operations in Kyrgyzstan, leading to further questions about whether its claims of operations there are true. There is also a question why the IHEC contracted with a company office in Poland and signed the contract in Turkey if Miro System is truly is based in South Korea beyond simply a name on a registry absent an address.

The alleged problems get worse. Iraqi leaders also say a preliminary audit by the United Nations of the elections management system, the data archive system, and the survey/statistical system had failed. Nevertheless, the IHEC went forward. On election day, some candidates say the receipts produced by the boxes did not match figures uploaded to the central count, and some candidates say some boxes returned zero votes for themselves when they were where the candidates themselves voted. Nor do the USB serial numbers from the boxes necessarily always match.

While the IHEC has reportedly received upward of 1,000 complaints, it appears disinclined to order a manual recount, let alone to cancel the elections, for two reasons. First, they and much of the Iraqi political class fear violence could occur if a recount strips some politicians (especially from Muqtada al-Sadr’s list) of seats. And second, because they do not want to cast doubt on the legitimacy of electronic voting. Many Iraqis shrug and say that cheating benefited some disenfranchised others, but most people will be brought into a ruling coalition one way or another.

This is wrong-headed, and the IHEC should order a partial, random manual recount (perhaps of 25 percent of the ballot boxes) if nothing else as a backup internal audit to enhance confidence in elections now and in the future. If the IHEC does not do so, many Iraqis think, it will be because they fear they’ll have a major problem on their hands if the audit shows a real discrepancy between the ballots cast and the automated count from the scan.

Such a discrepancy would either indicate software problems or perhaps hacking. But the conspiracies now circulating (some Kurds blame Turkey or Masoud Barzani’s dominant Kurdistan Democratic Party for some of the bizarre results coming out of Iraqi Kurdistan, while others blame Gulf states for hacking to benefit Muqtada al-Sadr as their new anti-Iranian tool) erode confidence in Iraqi democracy far more seriously. There is no indication the flash drives and data transfers were secure.

It’s always possible that allegations of voting box irregularities are the result of sour grapes on the part of those lists and parties who did worse than expected, but the idea that an audit would undercut confidence in future elections is wrong-headed; indeed, the reality is the opposite. It is positive that Iraqi elections are unpredictable and Iraqis wish to hold incumbents and the broader political class to account, but that too does not justify the possibility of cheating and manipulation.

One Iraqi politician from a major political bloc found it ironic that the only item the U.S. and Iranian embassies appeared to agree on in Baghdad was to ignore the allegations of voter fraud for the sake of stability. This is unacceptable.

The future confidence in Iraqi democracy is far more important than the inconvenience of a manual recount. The political jockeying can continue (a handful of seats may be in question, especially in Iraqi Kurdistan and perhaps with some of the Shiite-dominated lists as well), but no future government will be fully legitimate in voter eyes if questions over the authenticity of results are swept under the rug.

As Ronald Reagan said in a different context, “Trust, but Verify.” Iraqi voters deserve verification.

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Turkey’s Assyrian Community Welcomes Property Return

MARDIN, Turkey — Turkey’s Syriac [Assyrian] minority in the southeastern Mardin province welcomes the return of legal ownership of cemetery land and properties to their community, a monastery official told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

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Turkey’s Central Bank Lifts Key Rate Amid Lira’s Fall

Turkey’s central bank took emergency action late Wednesday, raising one of its interest rates by 3 percentage points, in a bid to stop the Turkish lira’s fall one month from presidential and parliamentary elections.

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Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission Approves Air Powered Weapons

Tennessee Approves The Benjamin Pioneer Airbow For Hunting
Tennessee Approves The Benjamin Pioneer Airbow For Hunting

Bloomfield, NY-( The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission has announced that starting with the 2018 hunting season, big bore PCP air guns .35 caliber or larger such as the .357 Caliber Benjamin Bulldog will be legal to hunt Deer, Elk, and Bear during the Tennessee Modern Gun Season. The Benjamin Pioneer Airbow will be legal means to harvest Deer, Elk, Bear and Turkey during the Modern Gun Season for all hunters and during the archery season for disabled hunters.

“The action of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission to allow the use of big bore airguns for the take of big game is an incredible testament the maturation that is happening across the county,” said Jay Duncan Director of Marketing for Crosman Corporation. “Not only is airgun technology maturing to the point that it provides hunters a new, exciting and ethical means of take, but regulatory officials are open to broadening opportunities to put new hunters in the field.”

Tennessee joins a growing list of states allowing for the use of big bore airguns and/or the Airbow during their hunting seasons. Florida, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Missouri, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Washington State allow big game animals to be legally taken with the Airbow. Feral hogs can be taken in Georgia, Florida and Texas while coyotes and other predators may be hunted with the Airbow in over 30 states. Georgia and South Carolina allow the Airbow to be used for alligator hunting.

The Pioneer Airbow is an all-new category of big game weapon featuring full length arrows and full weight broadheads, all driven by air. Based on Benjamin’s proven American-made PCP platform, the Pioneer can be cocked with two fingers (and decocked just as easily), and fires 8 shots in the same amount of time it takes to fire three from a crossbow, all at a blazing 450 FPS. You can view this game-changer by viewing this video of Jim Shockey taking down a American Bison.

The Benjamin Bulldog is a .357 caliber 3000 psi PCP airgun that delivers 10 shots at 200 foot pounds of energy. The lightweight, well-balanced bullpup design features a rifled and shrouded barrel for a quiet shot, and 26 inches of picatinny rail, more than enough to accommodate a scope and any other accessories the hunter requires. See the power of hunting with the Bulldog in the Management Advantage’s latest video.

Crosman, the largest American manufacturer of airguns, continues to work with the Airgun Sporting Association to lead efforts to educate legislators and regulators about the efficacy of airguns and the airbow for the ethical take of big game.

“The Airgun Sporting Association is committed to working with our state wildlife agency partners across the country to expand the use of airguns for hunting,” said J. Mitch King President and CEO of Airgun Sporting Association. “This action by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission to legalize the use of big bore airguns (35 caliber and larger) for big game hunting in Tennessee will provide Tennessee hunters with a new and exciting opportunity for hunting in their state. The Association and the airgun industry applauds the Commission for their action and we look forward to supporting our state wildlife agency partners in their efforts toward wildlife management and the growth of hunting and recreational shooting.”

About CrosmanCrosman Corporation

Since its founding in 1923, Crosman has been driven by the steadfast pursuit of quality and innovation. Crosman’s history is rooted in the airgun industry, where today Crosman remains the market leader in airguns, airgun ammunition, and consumables. In addition to airguns, Crosman has a diversified product lineup in the outdoor sporting goods industry that includes airsoft, firearms optics and laser aiming devices under the Lasermax brand, and archery products under the CenterPoint brand. Crosman is a subsidiary of Compass Diversified Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CODI). For more information visit

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Israeli Parliament Debates Bill Promoting Kurdish Statehood

Israel’s parliament (Knesset) has reportedly discussed a bill that explores ways through which the Tel Aviv regime can help the Kurds establish an independent state supportive of the regime within Syria, Iraq and Turkey, where anti-Israel sentiments run high.

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The enemy of an enemy: Will the Kurds benefit from shifting American alliances? – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

In the post-World War II period, US policy towards the Kurds has been shaped by external factors rather than Kurdish arguments for their own autonomy or independence. While shifting strategic relations in the region present some new opportunities for the Kurds and while the precedents of federalism will be hard to reverse, the new reality in the Middle East will likely not translate into an official American embrace of Kurdish nationalism any time soon.

On 25 September 2017, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq sponsored a referendum asking those living in areas under its control whether they desired independence. While voter turnout varied across the region, the KRG reported that 92 percent of those who had voted endorsed independence. The aftermath of the referendum was disastrous for the KRG. Iraqi forces moved northward into territories disputed with the KRG, seizing among other areas, the lucrative Kirkuk oil fields. While U.S. officials had repeatedly warned the KRG not to proceed with the referendum, Kurds reacted furiously as the U.S. government essentially sided with Baghdad. “We have to revise our relationship with those who are responsible for this,” former KRG President Masoud Barzani declared, blaming the United States for giving Baghdad a green light for its post-referendum operation against the KRG. Frustration at lack of American support was a sentiment shared by many Kurds.

Neither Kurds in Iraq nor their co-ethnicists in Turkey, Syria, and Iran, however, should be surprised at the lack of the U.S. government support for Kurdish nationalism. In the case of Iraqi Kurdistan, in the days and weeks prior to the referendum, a number of U.S. officials opposed any Kurdish move towards separation from Iraq.

More broadly, United States foreign policy has historically been conservative. Successive administrations, regardless of political party, have prioritized stability and security in international affairs. American policymakers are traditionally loath to support secessionist movements, no matter how just their cause may be, nor pursue any policy which changes borders of existing countries.

To read the full article, visit the Europa Ethnica website.

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U.S. and Israel Should Recognize the Assyrian, Greek, Armenian Genocide

Last week Turkey recalled its ambassadors to America and Israel. That decision came in response to Israeli forces killing 60 Palestinian protestors attempting to cross the Gaza border.

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Tribute to memory of Pontian Greek Genocide victims held in Yerevan

Armenian lawmakers, NGO representatives and members of national communities of Armenia visited today Tsitsernakaberd Memorial complex to honor the memory of the innocent victims of the genocide perpetrated against Pontian Greeks by Ottoman Turkey on the territory of Asia Minor in 1915-1923. As press service at Armenian parliament reports, on behalf of the legislative body of Armenia Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Eduard Sharmazanov laid a wreath to the monument of genocide victims.

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