Were Canadians misled about the mission in Iraq? Or did we just not know enough? -Macleans

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The debate sort of sounds like Bill Clinton questioning the meaning of the word ‘is’ when he was asked: “Is there anything going on between you and Monica Lewinski?”

“The government’s current line is that a combat mission must come before the House of Commons for a vote: the current mission qualifying as such because of the aerial bombing this country was to participate in. The previous commitment of special forces to Iraq did not receive a vote because that was not considered to be engaging in ground combat. Now we are looking at a debate about what constitutes combat and what precisely is involved in a mission that otherwise doesn’t include combat. That seems like a very useful discussion to have—most usefully before the House commits to a mission.”

http://www.macleans.ca/politics/were-canadians-misled-about-the-mission-in-iraq/

The mysterious absence of women from Middle East policy debates -The Monkey Cage (WP)

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Its not like there really is a shortage of excellent women scholars on the Middle East….

“Last year, six leading Washington think tanks presented more than 150 events on the Middle East that included not a single woman speaker. Fewer than one-quarter of all the speakers at the 232 events at those think tanks recorded in our newly compiled data-set were women. How is it possible that in 2014, not a single woman could be found to speak at 65 percent of these influential and high-profile D.C. events?”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/01/20/the-mysterious-absence-of-women-from-middle-east-policy-debates/

Israeli Mossad Goes Rogue, Warns U.S. on Iran Sanctions -Bloomberg.com

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The closer we get to an American-Iranian nuclear deal, the nastier the domestic fight has become in the US. House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an outspoken critique of the negotiations and no friend of Barak Obama to address congress. Now Obama’s supporters are sighting Israeli intelligence officials contradicting Netanyahu. Very messy…

“Netanyahu to address the threat posed by radical Islam and Iran. Netanyahu is expected to deliver full-throated support for sanctions. The administration is upset that Netanyahu accepted Boehner’s invitation without notifying them, the latest indication of the poor relationship between the Israeli government and the White House.

Two senior U.S. officials tell us that the Mossad has also shared its view with the administration that if legislation that imposed a trigger leading to future sanctions on Iran was signed into law, it would cause the talks to collapse.

The Israeli view shared with Corker and other senators also mirrors the assessment from the U.S. intelligence community. “We’ve had a standing assessment on this,” one senior administration official told us. “We haven’t run the new Kirk-Menendez bill through the process, but the point is that any bill that triggers sanctions would collapse the talks. That’s what the assessment is.” Another intelligence official said that the Israelis had come to the same conclusion.”

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-01-22/netanyahu-mossad-split-divides-u-s-congress-on-iran-sanctions

The new PKK: unleashing a social revolution in Kurdistan -Roarmag.org

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Fascinating look at the PKK’s adoption of libertarian socialism, a variation of social anarchism originated by American Murray Bookchin. Although there are a number of tensions if not outright contradictions between the PKK’s past/present actions and the ideology, there were numerous stories of social anarchism taking hold in Kurdish areas in northern Syria prior to the fighting around Kobane.

http://roarmag.org/2014/08/pkk-kurdish-struggle-autonomy/

“Öcalan, an atheist, was finally writing as a free-thinker, unshackled from Marxist-Leninist mythology. He indicated that he was seeking an “alternative to capitalism” and a “replacement for the collapsed model of … ‘really existing socialism’,” when he came across Bookchin. His theory of democratic confederalism developed out of a combination of inspiration from communalist intellectuals, “movements like the Zapatistas”, and other historical factors from the struggle in northern Kurdistan (Turkey). Öcalan proclaimed himself a student of Bookchin, and after a failed email correspondence with the elderly theorist, who was to his regret too sick for an exchange on his deathbed in 2004, the PKK celebrated him as “one of the greatest social scientists of the 20th century” on the occasion of Bookchin’s death two years later.”

How Turkey misread the Kurds -Al Jazeera

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There was rioting in the Kurdish majority city of Diyarbakir in south eastern Turkey this week. This article provides an interesting overview of the continuing tensions between the Turkish AKP government and the country’s Kurdish population.

“The war in Syria has emerged as a new cause for tension between Turkey’s Kurds and the Turkish government, at times straining the AKP’s ongoing peace talks with the PKK – and the AKP’s Syria border policy and its support for certain extremist opposition groups in Syria is a big reason why.

Ankara is reported to have links to numerous Syrian rebel groups. These links have drawn the ire of many Kurds in both Syria and Turkey, who view much of the Syrian opposition with suspicion due to their conservative outlook and their support for a strong central Syrian government.”

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/01/how-turkey-misread-kurds-201511910421859659.html

Mission creep concerns raised in Canadian fight against Islamic State -Globe and Mail

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Canadian forces engaged in direct combat with ISIS forces in Iraq this week. This was not supposed to happen. However in the words of Field Marshall Helmuth Carl Bernard Graf von Moltke, “no plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force”, so whether you think Canada should be in Iraq or not, such assurances must always be taken with a large grain of salt….

“Brig.-Gen. Rouleau also announced that, for the first time, Canadian military advisers have engaged in a firefight with the enemy after coming under attack when they were at the front lines conducting training. He said Canadian troops are spending 20 per cent of their time near the front lines and the exchange of fire happened within “the last seven days.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canadian-special-forces-guiding-missile-strikes-in-iraq/article22523577/

Meanwhile, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird was egged in Ramallah.

See: Palestinians throw eggs at Canada’s John Baird
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30871252