Iraq is not a “gay friendly” place. However one group, “Rasan”, wants to change that. Based in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, they are promoting homosexuality, feminism, and “human rights”:
Few would argue that Iraq is a haven for LGBT rights, even though homosexuality is not officially criminalised – unlike many other countries in the Middle East – and open discussion around sexual difference is both rare and discouraged.
However, a group of activists in the northern city of Sulaymaniyah have set out to challenge the idea that gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans issues should not be discussed or are not relevant to their communities.
The human rights organisation Rasan is set to cover the walls of their city in new murals, designed to raise awareness of the rights of LGBT people and encourage dialogue within their mainly Sunni Kurdish society.
The plan, said Rasan’s deputy director Ayaz Shalal, was to strategically place the murals near the entrance of the city so “everyone who comes to the city and leaves the city will see these murals”. The group also plans to release online educational animations to coincide with the campaign, which will launch at the beginning of April.
It is not the first action of this nature they have engaged in, but it is the largest in scale so far, an indication, said Shalal, that attitudes are changing for the better.
“With these kinds of murals we are saying to people: ‘This is not wrong and if you want to know more, we will tell you’,” he told Middle East Eye.
“We are spreading ideas in the community. We don’t go on the streets and scream; we don’t just go on the TV and have random shows on LGBT [issues], because that’s not how you raise awareness.
“If the advice comes from someone close to you, you will receive it better … than if it comes from a public figure.”
Originally founded in 2004 as an organisation focusing primarily on women’s rights, Rasan eventually adopted LGBTQI (adding queer and intersex) rights under its remit.
Previously, Rasan painted the walls of schools in Sulaymaniyah with pro-LGBT murals, hoping to spread ideas to the younger generation.
And while that sort of action might be expected to provoke a pushback in some places, Shalal argues that Rasan has been successful in building a reputation and creating a community network that accepts their campaigning, even if not everyone fully accepts their ideas.
“People trust us,” he said, adding that in their first workshop launched last year, the majority of those who initially attended stayed to completion. “Some people left, but some people stayed.”
He said Rasan reached out to community leaders and had managed to corral a support base that included members of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Education, lawyers, doctors and religious figures.
He added that Rasan “currently has two imams who are involved with us and they are working on releasing fatwas in support of LGBT”.
The group’s activism has, however, highlighted a stark contrast in attitudes to LGBT issues across Iraq, as well as the ability of campaigners to publicly raise them.
Notably, Rasan has been given permission to carry out their mural campaign by local government authorities in Sulaymaniyah.
The city has long held a reputation as the most socially liberal city in Iraq and, while LGBT individuals still face much social pressure, there is a space that does not exist in other parts of the country.
The KRG, as a whole, has generally been perceived as more secular and socially liberal than the Arab-majority regions of Iraq – although not on all issues, with the majority of Kurdish women facing FGM, for example. Overall, though, the influence of socially conservative religious organisations and armed groups is less pronounced.
“Even if you compare the situation of LGBTs themselves, it’s better and safer in Kurdistan. So many people just run away from the rest of the cities and they come to the north because it’s safer,” said Shalal. “That doesn’t mean it’s safe. At all. But it’s safer.
“Compared to the rest of Iraq, they don’t get their heads smashed in the street.”
The most well documented and virulent recent cases of violence against LGBT people in Iraq were the executions carried out in areas controlled by the Islamic State group.
Images of gay men being thrown from buildings in Mosul filtered into the media, another addition to the litany of abuses carried out by the group.
But the other primary source of violence against LGBT people in Iraq has stemmed from the same people who took most credit for defeating IS.
Although homosexuality was illegal under Saddam Hussein, his overthrow by the US-led invasion in 2003 has seen the growth of armed groups with financial and ideological links to the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country responsible for more than 5,000 executions of LGBT people since 1979.
According to human rights organisations, the armed groups have harassed and attacked LGBT people (or those perceived to be LGBT) and in at least one instance in 2014 the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq organisation released a wanted list with the names of suspect gay men.
In 2012, armed groups, primarily in Baghdad, started a campaign against people perceived to be “emo,” referring to usually young men perceived to be effeminate and sexually ambiguous. The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq reported that around 56 people were murdered for being “emo” as a result.
And in 2017, an actor was stabbed and tortured to death in Baghdad for “looking gay,” according to local media reports.
Despite the difficulties that LGBT people face, both Rasan and other pro-LGBT groups such as IraQueer have managed to establish small networks and hold (usually clandestine) meetings where LGBT Iraqis can discuss their sexuality.
“The biggest thing you need for any meeting of LGBT people is a safe place,” one Iraqi, who wished to remain anonymous, told MEE.
“At the moment it is very difficult to find a place for such meetings, because of the dangerous situation in Iraq at the moment.
“Because of this, we hold small meetings from time to time. They are held in private locations far from either the militias or the state.”
Despite the hostility they often face, he said that they usually managed to attact a reasonable number of both LGBT and non-LGBT people who were interested in the issue.
“The majority of people attending these meetings have previously been persecuted in our society. There are also some secularists and allies of LGBT people, especially Communists,” he said.
“Someone who is gay can’t be open about it to his family – in the eyes of his family, this would mean that he has brought shame on them,” he added.
“Because of this, they would want to get rid of him, especially if they are conservative and from a tribal background. This is what happened to me.
“After my family found out about my orientation my father spilled by blood. I was forced to leave my family, my city and my work. I had to leave everything just to save my life.”
Campaigners have hailed some improvements.
The influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who also recently made headlines for his opposition to sectarianism and his alliance with the secular Communist party, announced in 2016 that it was unnacceptable to attack people suspected of homosexuality.
Although he reiterated the need for Iraqis to “disassociate” themselves from LGBT people, he emphasised that they must “not attack them, as it increases their aversion, and you must guide them using acceptable and rational means”.
IraQueer and Human Rights Watch welcomed his words, though noting that they did not go far enough.
“Finally, the head of one of the groups whose members have carried out serious abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Iraq is condemning these heinous attacks,” said Joe Stork, then deputy Middle East director of HRW.
“We hope this will change behaviour in successors to [Sadr’s militia] the Mahdi Army and other ranks, and spur the government to hold accountable those who commit these crimes.”
Few people expect the upcoming May parliamentary elections to signal any real social change in Iraq, let alone for LGBT rights.
Even political parties that might otherwise be supportive of LGBT rights are unlikely to campaign on an issue which will alienate so many people.
In the KRG, which saw much of its autonomy collapse in 2017 after an ill-fated independence referendum, a collapsing economy and political in-fighting take centre stage over social issues.
In spite of this grim picture, Shalal remains optimistic that history is on his side.
“The reason that we got support [from Sulemaniyah] is because we proved to people, day-by-day, that what we are doing is right. Our allies are increasing. LGBT people are being more visible,” he said
“The world is changing, it’s being more open and everything is going towards our interests.” (source)
The fact that this organization was founded in 2004- exactly one year after the American invasion of Iraq- says that the group is most likely not “native” to Iraq, but was brought in by the Americans. The fact that there is so little information about the founding also speaks to this.
We know that the LGBT and their inherent degeneracy is being used to thrust the world into a new pagan order as much as it is being used as a reason to justify militarism.
Rasan seems to have started as an organization that presented itself as promoting “women’s rights”:
They participated, co-incidentally, in a conference with the World Bank in 2016, which also happened to be their second Facebook post:
In April 2017, it shows them promoting clearly LGBT ideas:
From this point forward, the promotion of the LGBT completely overtakes the Facebook page. It even features Canadian President Justin Trudeau’s “apology” to the LGBT he gave last year.
However, there is still very little information of the page. We did notice, however, that there were some affiliated groups that seemed to have strong ties to them.
One of them is the Swedish Kvinna till Kvinna foundation, which also supports the LGBT in “response” to the 1993 conflict in Bosnia. It operates under the umbrella of the parent organization, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, which was founded in 1915 by the feminist Jane Addams and has offices in both the USA and Switzerland at the UN.
Another group is the COC Netherlands. Founded in 1946, it is the oldest organization in Holland and the world to advocate formally for homosexuality. As Wikipedia notes, COC is funded by the Dutch Foreign Office and the Netherlands branch of Oxfam, which historically receives funding from the various nations in which they have offices including the UK, Belgium, and Denmark.
Finally, there is the group Medica Mondiale, a German feminist group founded in 1994 to help with feminist and medical issues in Bosnia that has since gone worldwide. They also admit they receive considerable funds from the German Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development:
We know for a fact that Germany, the Benelux nations, and Sweden are allies, and that the UK and USA will often quietly support their actions even if they publicly oppose them.
We know that Germany was involved in starting the war in the Balkans in 1993, the same time that two of these “feminist aid” organizations from Sweden and Germany respectively were founded.
We know that Germany is working to re-establish her old empires with her same allies, and is building up an economic presence world-wide to support military expansion.
This situation in Sulaymaniyah is more than just “human rights”, LGBT, and “feminism.”
Sulaymaniyah is located in northeastern Iraq near Iran. Looking at its geographic location on Google Earth and how the roads appear to run, it would seem to be in an ideal location for a railway, as it appears to be the flattest, most direct path to northern Iran and her capitol of Tehran, as well as the flattest and shortest way heading east in what is a mountainous region.
We know for a fact that Germany and Turkey are looking to build a massive railway seeking to connect Germany to Central Asia. This is part of Germany and Turkey’s war plans to create a unified, revived Ottoman Empire and plans are already under way to see to its construction that will be used to transport raw materials, finished goods and people- travelers, soldiers, and prisoners of war alike:
Technocrats from Turkey, Austria and Azerbaijan, gathered together recently and agreed on an enterprise of establishing a major railway system that will connect northern Europe with Asia. The meeting, which took place on December 13th of 2017 in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, saw three officials from three major industrial establishments, sign a memorandum of understanding which “includes the development of a competitive, high-speed, inter-modal railway network in Europe, the CIS and China.”
This agreement will include a very competitive and high-speed railway network that will connect Europe, the CIS nations and China. The railway will network parts of Eastern Europe (Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine), the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan), Russia, and Muslim Central Asia (Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan). It will reach all the way to East Asia, in China.
This is part of a plan to create a rail road network interconnecting Europe, the Middle East and much of Asia. It goes back to a 2016 meeting in which railway authorities of Azerbaijan, Kazakstan and Georgia, signed an agreement to create the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), by which goods would be transported from China through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia to Europe via Turkey and Ukraine. (source)
Note the routes given.
We know that Germany wants a war with Russia. If a war starts, Russia will cut off the flow of goods to the West immediately. This is part of the reason for Germany entering into her old colonial and corporate holdings in Africa, since as most of Europe’s gas comes through Russia, she needs to find an alternative source to rely on if she wants to have a war.
We know that Turkey and Germany are historical allies. Turkey already has many gas lines that run through it as opposed to Russia. Since gas and oil are the fuel that powers the societies around the world, where there is a considerable amount of such fuel flowing through one will naturally find a considerable flow of material goods.
Sulaymaniah is in Iraq, but it is part of ‘Iraqi Kurdistan,’ and is considered the capitol. The Turks refuse to recognize any territorial claims of the Kurds and want to crush them. Many also view all parts of “Kurdistan” as a historical territory of Turkey.
Could Germany and Turkey be working together to build a railway system?
The current Iraqi railway lines do no go through Sulaymaniyah, but they come close and as the map notes, they DO connect to Turkish lines in the southeastern part of Turkey.
Interestingly, Wikipedia’s article on Iran’s railway system notes that Iran is building a railway system as part of a project started in 2007 heading from Kermanshah, Iran going northwest to Marivan, Iran, right near the Iraqi border, which as we pointed out earlier, is on a direct line with Sulaymaniyah, Iraq following the roads around the mountains:
Here is a larger map with cities circles and approximate lines for the railway tracks:
We know that Turkey and Iran have pledge to cooperate with each other for mutual economic benefit to the derogation of Saudi Arabia. If Turkey is supporting a nation, then by extension they have the support of Germany and her allies. Likewise, Iran and German are also allies going back to the Second World War.
Sulaymaniyah used to be a great trading city, as the UK Guardian noted in January 2017 was going through a revival due to the railway industry as part of a new “silk road” trading route for modern times:
Everything from chairs to illicit drugs were sent back the other way. On one occasion China threatened Queen Victoria that it would stop exporting her favourite rhubarb to England if she didn’t do something about the British opium trade. “Yiwu made its name internationally as a city in which traders could buy affordable commodities in bulk,” said Marsden. “The city’s early trade was mostly with markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America and eastern Europe. From the sprawling container markets of the former Soviet Union to the bazaars of the Middle East, commodities purchased in Yiwu have both made and unmade people’s lives. These products have contributed to the demise of local industries, yet have also had a hand in the resurrection of great trading cities that had fallen into decline, the Black Sea port of Odessa in Ukraine, or Sulaymaniyah in Iraq being such examples.” (source)
In 2016, there was an offer by a “Hungarian company” to rebuild the Iraqi railroad lines from Sulaymaniyah to Kirkuk and then Dohuk, Iraq, which is right on the Turkish border. However, the deal did not go through:
The government planned to rehabilitate the railway network and extend it from Kirkuk to other Kurdish cities including Erbil, but the plans have been frozen for the past two years.
“There was a Hungarian corporation that had a plan to reconstruct the railway and expand it to Sulaimani and Dohuk, but the transportation ministry rejected their offer,” Diler Muhammad, the administrator of Kirkuk railway station told Rudaw.
With an estimated cost of $3 billion Iraq’s central government has in the past agreed to finance the project.
Baghdad has said the plummeting oil prices and ISIS war have left no room for development plans and withheld the budget earmarked by past cabinets for Kirkuk railway. (source)
A map of the proposed lines
Right now, Iraq is seeking $90 billion in financial assistance for rebuilding their nation. However, Iran has already stepped up to Iraq and said that it is going to help rebuild and expand on Iranian rail links into Iraq in order to connect Central Asia with the Mediterranean:
The many commonalities between the Iranian and Iraqi nations can lay the groundwork for the promotion of bilateral economic ties, Jahangiri said at a Wednesday meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad.
The senior Iranian official stressed, however, that the two sides should work to remove the restrictions in bilateral banking relations, which he said is the main obstacle to closer trade ties between the two nations.
Iran and Iraq need a “comprehensive roadmap” for their economic cooperation, which would serve as a basis for their business ties, he added.
Jahangiri, who is in Iraq at the head of a high-ranking politico-economic delegation for a three-day visit, also said Iran is ready to provide Iraq with a line of credit (LOC) worth up to three billion dollars to pave the way for the Iranian private sector’s active participation in the reconstruction of the neighboring country.
He underlined the need for connecting Iran-Iraq railways, saying the route will enable Iraq to have access to the Central Asia and China and link Iran’s railway to the Mediterranean.
Jahangiri also called for the promotion of cooperation with Iraq in other areas, including pharmaceuticals, energy and customs.
Abadi, for his part, hailed the historic ties of the Iraqi and Iranian nations and underlined the need for enhancement of mutual ties in all the political, cultural and economic arenas.
The Iraqi premier expressed gratitude for Iran’s role in the country’s reconstruction and said that the Iranian private sector has made significant investments in the process.
Iraq is reeling from Daesh’s (ISIL or ISIS) three-year terror campaign, which has taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure and economy.
Iraqi armed forces, backed by Iranian military advisors, fully liberated their homeland from Daesh terrorists in December. (source)
Note he said “the Mediterranean.” This does not necessarily mean “Western Europe”. After all, Turkey occupies a considerable part of the Mediterranean and was the most powerful nation in the Mediterranean for a long time.
Remember, where Turkey and Iran are, so also is Germany.
As we have said repeatedly, Germany and Turkey want their empires back. Germany wants her European empire. Turkey wants her Middle Eastern empire. Both countries are historical enemies of Russia and allies of each other. The Central Asian nations, while under the influence of the Russian Empire, also terrorized Russia for centuries and acted under the influence of the Turks as well. President Erdogan of Turkey has spoken openly about “unifying” the Central Asia nations based on a nationalistic concept of “Turkishness” for this reason that in addition to creating a pan-Turkic empire, he wants to use race and ethnic ties to obtain a military ally against Russia.
Is it any surprise then why Russia has been attempting to create positive relations with Muslims, per Putin’s own actions? Or why Russia appointed Sergei Shoigu, the son of a Turkic father (Tuvan) and a Russian mother as head of the army at a time when Turkic peoples are entering in large numbers into the Russian military?
Russia knows that a war is coming, and that she is going to have to fight on two fronts- Germany and Turkey. Given the demographic and social problems that she faces, that she is trying to head off any potential of internal rebellion from within. This is especially significant since Turkic peoples employed in “foreign” armies or as mercenaries have a history of mutiny.
Germany and Turkey know that in any war with Russia, they will need to have alternative routes established for the shipment of goods, especially oil and anything from Central Asia or the Far East. Since they cannot get goods through Russia, the only other land route to Berlin or Istanbul from the Middle East, Far East, or Central Asia is to go through Anatolia. In light of the economic alliances developed between the Germans, Turks, and Iranians, this is the most sensible railway transport line.
This story about “LGBT rights” and “feminism” in Iraq is just a cover. The governments of Western Europe and the USA are using these groups, as many governments do with foreign aid, for ulterior motives. In this case, it achieves two objectives with one means, which is openly the repaganization and moral destabilization of Iraq while at the same funneling money for military projects, specifically the construction of this new Trans-Caspian railway system, that will be used to facilitate a significant material end in the revival of a new Ottoman Empire and the return of paganism in a way not seen since ancient times.