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Topic: Mawloud Afand

Editor of Israel-Kurd Magazine Still Missing

It has now been a month since Mawloud Afand, the editor of Israel-Kurd magazine, went missing in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaymani. Afand had published Israel-Kurd for two years when he disappeared. Abe Greenwald covered the kidnapping, here.

Both Israeli intelligence sources and the Kurdish press say he was kidnapped by Iranian intelligence agents in Sulaymani after the Kurdish government ignored Iran’s demands that the Kurdish government shut down the magazine. In July 2010, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s representative to Tehran sent a letter to Barham Salih, the Kurdish prime minister, in which he reported Iranian unhappiness with the magazine, after Kurdish authorities promised Tehran that it would be closed down.

Rudaw, a Kurdish news outlet funded by Nechirvan Barzani, places blame on both Iranian authorities and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The PUK, for its part, refuses to investigate the case. While the PUK has a pro-American reputation in Washington, thanks largely to the efforts of Barham Salih and Qubad Talabani, the pro-Iranian faction inside the organization has long been dominant. Indeed, Barham Salih recently left for a four-day trip to Iran, and Qubad’s eldest brother Bafil Talabani was exiled after he helped Iranian agents infiltrate through PUK territory and into Mosul, where they killed American contractors.

According to Kurdish authorities, the exile came after an American intelligence ultimatum that he either leave Kurdistan or suffer the consequences more directly. Former PUK Prime Minister Kosrat Rasul has once again cast his lot with the Iranians, after concluding the Americans are a fleeting power, at least in Iraq. Barham Salih, while perceived as pro-American in Washington, is perceived as pro-Iranian in Tehran. He often travels to Iran to meet with senior Iranian politicians and security officials and, according to the Iranian press, he is there now. When Jalal Talabani fell ill several years ago, Barham met Iranian authorities to help him fill the vacuum should Talabani not recover. Abe Greenwald was right when he concluded that Afand’s kidnapping was “another reminder of the Iranian regime’s implacable and ever more brazen savagery in a world abandoned by the leadership of the American superpower.”

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It has now been a month since Mawloud Afand, the editor of Israel-Kurd magazine, went missing in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaymani. Afand had published Israel-Kurd for two years when he disappeared. Abe Greenwald covered the kidnapping, here.

Both Israeli intelligence sources and the Kurdish press say he was kidnapped by Iranian intelligence agents in Sulaymani after the Kurdish government ignored Iran’s demands that the Kurdish government shut down the magazine. In July 2010, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s representative to Tehran sent a letter to Barham Salih, the Kurdish prime minister, in which he reported Iranian unhappiness with the magazine, after Kurdish authorities promised Tehran that it would be closed down.

Rudaw, a Kurdish news outlet funded by Nechirvan Barzani, places blame on both Iranian authorities and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The PUK, for its part, refuses to investigate the case. While the PUK has a pro-American reputation in Washington, thanks largely to the efforts of Barham Salih and Qubad Talabani, the pro-Iranian faction inside the organization has long been dominant. Indeed, Barham Salih recently left for a four-day trip to Iran, and Qubad’s eldest brother Bafil Talabani was exiled after he helped Iranian agents infiltrate through PUK territory and into Mosul, where they killed American contractors.

According to Kurdish authorities, the exile came after an American intelligence ultimatum that he either leave Kurdistan or suffer the consequences more directly. Former PUK Prime Minister Kosrat Rasul has once again cast his lot with the Iranians, after concluding the Americans are a fleeting power, at least in Iraq. Barham Salih, while perceived as pro-American in Washington, is perceived as pro-Iranian in Tehran. He often travels to Iran to meet with senior Iranian politicians and security officials and, according to the Iranian press, he is there now. When Jalal Talabani fell ill several years ago, Barham met Iranian authorities to help him fill the vacuum should Talabani not recover. Abe Greenwald was right when he concluded that Afand’s kidnapping was “another reminder of the Iranian regime’s implacable and ever more brazen savagery in a world abandoned by the leadership of the American superpower.”

What is truly shameful, however, is the muted response of both the White House and major American papers. It is rather telling when a Lebanese newspaper in Beirut shows more interest in the fate of Afand than the New York Times or the Washington Post, let alone Jewish interest publications like Tablet Magazine and the Forward.

Now, realists may say that by promoting mutual understanding in a place like the Middle East or by countering incitement, Afand was too provocative, and others may say that his return to Iraqi Kurdistan simply isn’t a U.S. interest. Both are wrong: Civil society must start somewhere, and by the way Iranian leaders think, every action is a trial balloon. If it engenders no response, than Iranian authorities conclude they can kidnap with impunity. Today it may be Afand; tomorrow, it will be an American. After all, considering the scope of the last three decades of American-Iranian relations, Iranian kidnapping of Americans is more the rule than the exception.

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Iran Kidnaps Pro-Israeli Kurd

There is some horrible news out of Kurdistan today.  Ekurd.net reports that Mawloud Afand, editor of an Israel-Kurdish magazine called Israel Kurd “disappeared ten days ago in [the] Kurdistan region of Iraq.” Israeli news sources say he was kidnapped by Iranian intelligence in the city of Sulaimaniyah. Ekurd.net claims that Iran had told the Kurdish government to shut Israel Kurd down and it refused.

The Kurds have long been accused of Zionist collaboration owing to their mostly cooperative relationship with Israelis. In fact, one popular argument against a safe and autonomous Kurdistan is that it would be a “second Israel” in the region. There are obvious commonalities between the Middle East’s Kurds and Jews. Both are overwhelmingly pro-American (the Kurds rightly credit the U.S. with saving them from Saddam), largely inclined toward democracy, and have histories as persecuted minorities.  Afand’s interest in an Israeli-Kurdish connection is representative of a not-so-quiet sense of Kurdish solidarity with Jews. He also, from what I can gather, has some Jewish family. There are Jewish Kurds, some of whom claim that Abraham of the Hebrew Bible was Kurdish.

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There is some horrible news out of Kurdistan today.  Ekurd.net reports that Mawloud Afand, editor of an Israel-Kurdish magazine called Israel Kurd “disappeared ten days ago in [the] Kurdistan region of Iraq.” Israeli news sources say he was kidnapped by Iranian intelligence in the city of Sulaimaniyah. Ekurd.net claims that Iran had told the Kurdish government to shut Israel Kurd down and it refused.

The Kurds have long been accused of Zionist collaboration owing to their mostly cooperative relationship with Israelis. In fact, one popular argument against a safe and autonomous Kurdistan is that it would be a “second Israel” in the region. There are obvious commonalities between the Middle East’s Kurds and Jews. Both are overwhelmingly pro-American (the Kurds rightly credit the U.S. with saving them from Saddam), largely inclined toward democracy, and have histories as persecuted minorities.  Afand’s interest in an Israeli-Kurdish connection is representative of a not-so-quiet sense of Kurdish solidarity with Jews. He also, from what I can gather, has some Jewish family. There are Jewish Kurds, some of whom claim that Abraham of the Hebrew Bible was Kurdish.

The current Kurdish relationship with Iran is tricky. As the American presence in Iraq dwindled and then disappeared, Iran took the opportunity to increase its political influence both in Baghdad and with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq. Among the Kurds, this manifests in day-to-day commercial ties and an increased oil trade with Iran.  While the Kurds would be far happier to deal with Americans on both a commercial and political level, their precarious status leaves them few options about whom to accept as business partners. Many political decisions for the Kurds are a matter of survival, not prosperity (something else they share with Israelis). Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is Kurdish and there are reports that Tehran is pressuring him to save the Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from a no-confidence vote. The idea that Iraq is now an Iranian satrapy is way over the top but there’s no question that Iran has a troubling amount of influence on Iraqi affairs.

If Afand was kidnapped by Iran it stands as yet another tragic consequence of the United States’ failure to maintain a presence in post-war Iraq and especially to build up our relationship with our most eager and appreciative Muslim allies.  It also highlights the singular bravery and decency of the Kurds that they make mortal enemies of the fanatical Iranian thugs to whose will they refuse fully to bend. Last, it’s another reminder of the Iranian regime’s implacable and ever more brazen savagery in a world abandoned by the leadership of the American superpower.

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