Iraq and Syria

IRAQ                                                                                                              scroll down for Syria

There are 2 cycles that seem to correlate with the conflict in Iraq in the wake of the US invasion and its more recent extension to Syria following the emergence of ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The first cycle – the 20 year Jupiter/Saturn cycle starting in 2000 – is a medium term cycle at its most generic dealing with the socioeconomic actualisation of society’s expectations but here concerned with the relationship between the key structures in each of these countries, the government and security forces, and the degree to which they are supported or opposed by the key groups in society. The second cycle – the short term 12 year Jupiter/Pluto cycle – appears to correlate with explosive generally violent developments and how they transform societal expectations in this geopolitical crisis.

JUPITER/SATURN (20 year cycle) 2000 – 2020

The present cycle following the ‘Collapse of Communist Europe’ cycle starts in May 2000. It reaches its outgoing square (+90 degrees) in December 2005 and its opposition in May 2010. The incoming square (+270 degrees) occurred in August 2015 and the next cycle will commence in December 2020.

2000 – 2001 CONJUNCTION

The Conjunction stayed in a 10 degree orb from March 2000 to March 2001. In what way are emerging societal political and economic expectations in Iraq seeded during this time?

IRAQ – ALLIED INTERVENTION CAUSES FIRST CIVILIAN CASUALTIES

In Iraq on March 15th 2000 as the cycle conjunction comes into orb, along with April 4th and 6th, US and British warplanes hit targets in Southern Iraq. Along with further attacks in May, June and August these involve significant civilian casualties – in August 2000 Iraq claims they were as many as 300 dead and three times that number wounded. Of course this 6 month figure is set to be dwarfed by monthly figures after the invasion when each month this figure rising to 3,000 dead will be repeated. Just before the conjunction moves out of a 10 degree orb, German intelligence sources confirm they have discovered a secret Iraqi missile factory near Baghdad where some 250 technicians are reported working on short-range missiles. These two events across a few weeks crystallise two key issues concerning later happenings in Iraq – the scale of civilian casualties resulting directly or indirectly from military intervention and the issue of the strategic justification for the US and UK invasion – ‘weapons of mass destruction’ – much later amended to ‘laying the foundations for democracy in Iraq’.

In November 2000 allied attacks resume. On December 11th Saddam Hussein sends troops into the northern Kurdish zone, attempting to displace Kurds and other non-Arab Iraqis.  In late January and February allied attacks on Iraqi military installations intensify. By the end of March 2001 the conjunction has moved out of orb.

These events in Iraq themselves hardly constitute key developments in a twenty year timeframe, though in the March 2000 to March 2001 conjunction period we can at least see the military genesis of the second Iraq war and the onset of the surge in civilian fatalities . But look a little more widely at these issues and we can make out one development which could just constitute the seeding of a new cycle of expectations and structural change. It is the direct intervention by superpowers in societies deemed by them to be unstable or unjust (the so called ‘new interventionism’).

2004 – 2006 OUT SQUARE

The outgoing square stays in a 10 degree orb from December 2004 to December 2006. In what way are the societal and political expectations which emerged in Iraq at the time of the Conjunction challenged or extended during this time?

EXTREME VIOLENCE ERUPTS

IRAQ – BULLET RIDDEN BODIES BEARING SIGNS OF TORTURE, PEOPLE DRAGGED OFF BUSES AND SUMMARILY EXECUTED, DEATH SQUADS DRESSED IN THE UNIFORM OF POLICE OFFICERS

The history of Iraq between December 2004 and December 2006 is one of continuous violence and bloodshed initially chiefly between insurgents led by al-Qaeda and coalition forces and later between Sunni and Shiite factions. Violence against the police and Iraqi army has been constant. The violence at this stage of the cycle is less of bombs or suicide bombs though there are plenty of these, it is more of bullet ridden bodies bearing signs of torture, people dragged off buses and summarily executed with a bullet in the back of the head, it is of death squads dressed in the uniform of Iraqi law enforcement officers, it is of revenge squads prepared to shoot whole families – it is sectarian. And above all it is truly frightening and horrific. As one American diplomat curtly reported back to Washington. “Mr President, this is Hell”

It is the  scale and the frequency of this individually meted out violence that defines this cycle out square.  More generally does a rise in the total number of civilian deaths correlate with this cycle out square ? Certainly on available figures that number seems to reach a highpoint in the year the cycle Out square is exact – 2006.

Let us look at the total figure first.  We have referred in ‘The Saturn/Pluto cycle’ to the fact that the issue of civilian casualties has been contentious. In particular we have pointed out that the figures compiled by the campaign group Iraq Body Count (IBC) have been regarded as gross under-estimates in comparison to those published in the scientific medical journal The Lancet and those compiled by UK polling agency ORB though these claims seem now to have been largely discredited. This site neither has the resources or knowledge to enter this debate. But as Iraq Body Count is the only organisation to produce continuous monthly and annual figures for the years 2003 to 2011 with a consistent methodology it is to those we must look to see, regardless of the exact volume of deaths, whether the rise and fall in the monthly figures correlates with the Jupiter/Saturn Out square.

As you will see from the IBC table below the year 2006 is the year with the highest total of deaths. The period December 2004 to December 2006 also contains the months with the greatest number of deaths – over 2,800 – July, August, October, November and December 2006 though it must be admitted four other months with high figures come just after the Out square has gone out of orb. The key point is that the last two cycle Out square exact hits come in June and October 2006 – both months followed immediately by surges in fatalities to a monthly figure of over 3,000 – the highest figures across the whole eight year period. Incidentally the UN and Iraqi Interior Ministry agree with IBC in saying October and November 2006 saw the highest number of civilians killed since the invasion, though their numbers differ.

Month 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Jan 3 589 1080 1512 2882 764 280 260 387
Feb 2 634 1247 1483 2583 1021 348 297 250
Mar 3977* 966 835 1831 2672 1564 416 334 307
April 3437* 1301 1065 1626 2480 1273 494 380 285
May 545 657 1282 2139 2791 783 329 377 378
June 595 864 1249 2465 2149 689 492 375 385
July 649 798 1490 3205 2616 599 396 424 305
Aug 793 842 2222 2790 2384 605 586 516 398
Sept 557 975 1358 2465 1273 544 301 252 394
Oct 518 963 1239 2944 1216 526 404 311 355
Nov 483 1578 1373 3019 1082 486 209 302 272
Dec 528 948 1041 2743 934 529 457 217 321
TOT 12,087 11,115 15,481 28,222 25,062 9,383 4,712 4,045 4,037

* US invasion        RED = Cycle Out square     MAUVE = above median but out of orb

Table 7.2: Civilian fatalities following US invasion of Iraq. Source Iraq Body Count (IBC)

TARGETED SECTARIAN EXECUTIONS

During the Out square period some of the most atrocious incidents of individually meted out violent death from sectarian death squads take place, though it is the frequency as much as the scale and the horror that marks out this period. On the following dates in the Lists below bodies of people shot, mostly in the head and in most cases bound or handcuffed and showing signs of torture, are found – the number in the brackets is an indication of the total number of executed bodies found on that day.

These lists excludes deaths from bombings of any kind, individual assassinations and drive by shootings. The criteria keywords are ‘executions’ and ‘sectarian’ – the victim must be intentionally selected for death for sectarian reasons even if at the time he is in a group – we are talking of targeted murder not random victims of war. Although death from a suicide bomb may be as bad or worse than a death squad execution the latter incidents demonstrate more targeted hate. The source for these figures is drawn from Timelines.ws – it is understood that these numbers reported by news agencies will significantly under-represent the true figure but in most cases they are reported by the police who actually order the bodies to the morgue – statistically probably more authoritative than the counting of fatalities following the bloody chaos of a (suicide) bombing.

2004

June 14 (6), JULY – NONE, AUG – NONE, Sept 15 (3), Oct 12 (2), Oct 23 (11), Nov 4 (12), Nov 18 (4), Nov 20 (9), Nov 18 – 26 (65), Dec 8 (18), Dec 28 (12),

2005

Jan 1 (5), Jan 5 (16) , Jan 8 (5), Jan 10 (2),  Jan 13 (6) Feb 11 (11), Feb 12 (11), Mar 9 (41), Mar 24 (2), April 20 (69), May 6 (13), May 7 (6), May 15 (46), May 16 (8), May 18 (7), June 11 (11), June 12 (28), June 14 (24), July 10 (19), Aug 14 (30), Aug 19 (3), Aug 25 (36), Sep 5 (3), Sep 14 (17), Sep 18 (24), Sep 27 (22), Sep 30 (34) Oct 7 (2),  Oct 19 (6),  Nov 15 (170 tortured but alive), Nov 20 (4), Nov 23 (5), Nov 28 (2), Dec 4 (2), Dec 10 (1), [1st Exact Cycle Out Square Dec 17]  Dec 29 (14)

2006

Jan 3 (5), Jan 18 (33), Jan 23 (3), Jan 31 (11), Feb 3 (14), Feb 5 (2), Feb 14 (11), Feb 17 (6), Feb 23 (73), Feb 25 (27), Feb 28 (9), Mar 7 (22), Mar 13 (4), Mar 14 (87), Mar 18 (16), Mar 20 (10), Mar 26 (30), Mar 29 (8), Mar 31 (12), Apr 2 (3), Apr 8 (12), Apr 12 (3), Apr 17 (18), Apr 18 (15), Apr 21 (10), Apr 24 (28), Apr 30 (7), May 3 (20), May 7 (51), May 9 (11), May 13 (6), May 17 (3), June 4 (21), Jun 9 (8), Jun 10 (3), Jun 15 (10), June 18 (10), June 21 (35), [2nd Exact Cycle Out Square June 22]   June 27 (5), June 29 (2), June 30 (3), July 8 (7), July 9 (42), July 10 (6), July 12 (22), July 17 (53), July 19 (20), July 20 (38), July 22 (10), July 25 (9), July 27 (19), July 29 (4), July 30 (23), Aug 3 (17), Aug 12 (12), Aug 14 (3), Aug 18 (7), Aug 20 (20), Aug 24 (7), Aug 29 (13), Sep 4 (35), Sep 6 (35), Sep 9 (6), Sep 10 (11), Sep 13 (65), Sep 14 (22), Sep 15 (30), Sep 16 (48), Sep 17 (8), Sep 18 (18), Sep 22 (17), Sep 23 (15), Sep 24 (45), Sep 26 (23), Sep 28 (60), Sep 29 (10), Sep 30 (10), Oct 1 (33?), Oct 2 (50), Oct 5 (13), Oct 7 (7), Oct 8 (53), Oct 10 (60), Oct 13 (29), Oct 14 (27), Oct 15 (83), Oct 16 (97), Oct 17 (16), Oct 20 (5), Oct 22 (44), Oct 23 (52), [3rd Exact Cycle Out Square Oct 25]  Oct 28 (5), Oct 31 (37), Nov 1 (6), Nov 3 (56), Nov 7 (15), Nov 9 (3), Nov 10 (3), Nov 11 (2), Nov 12 (75),  Nov 13 (10), Nov 14 15 ?) , Nov 18 (23), Nov 20 (75), Nov 24 (6), Nov 25 (34), Nov 26 (3), Nov 27 (8), Nov 29 (28), Nov 30 (37), Dec 2 (12), Dec 6 (48), Dec 7 (35), Dec 10 (9), Dec 11 (46), Dec 25 (40), Dec 27 (51), Dec 30 (12)

 List 7.3. Bodies reported after Targeted Sectarian executions in Iraq June 2004 to December 2006 . Source Timelines.ws

Please note how the frequency as well as the volume of sectarian executions starts to register precisely from the end of 2004 as the Jupiter/Saturn cycle Out square comes into orb. Though the surge at the first exact out square in December 2004 only comes two months later, in the case of the second and third exact out square we see a massive rise close to or immediately after these points  –  in July from 97 to 253 and in October from 458 to 1069. Nowhere else is this repeated.

But do the frequency and scale of sectarian executions start to fall away after December 2006 ?  Yes with two exceptions they massively peak over 3 to 4 months then fall away – though the level of other violence, mostly bombings (see above Table 7.2) shows a much slower and more gradual fall.

Indeed when on February 14 2007 the government launches a long awaited security crackdown the number of Iraqi civilians killed in Baghdad’s sectarian violence falls drastically overnight. The Baghdad morgue reports only 10 bodies a day compared to an average of 40 to 50 per day before the crackdown. Translating this into monthly figures this is a change from around 500 a month down to 300 a month. The figures compiled just from the Western press and not just for the capital but the whole of Iraq are comparable – from 35 a day down to around 5 a day – assuming our February figure under represents the true figure.   Please remember that the figures for sectarian violence as a whole including bombings and suicide bombings are still huge in 2007. Associated Press even report 600 Iraqis were killed by sectarian violence in the last week of March 2007 alone.

POLITICS – FAILURE TO ACHIEVE A BALANCED GOVERNMENT

DESPITE OPPOSITION FROM SUNNI GROUPS A NEW CONSTITUTION IS ADOPTED

The Jupiter/Saturn Out square also appears to correlate with the key political and constitutional changes going on at this time in Iraq.  Days before the cycle Out square comes into orb on Nov 21 2004 Iraq’s Electoral Commission sets national elections for January 30. But things go badly.  On Dec 27 the Iraqi Islamic Party, the biggest Sunni political group, pulls out of the January elections citing the deteriorating security situation. Three days later all 700 employees of the electoral commission in Mosul resign following threats by militant groups. Nevertheless on January 30 Iraqis vote to elect 275 members of a transitional national assembly, which will write a constitution – though insurgents strike polling stations with a string of suicide bombings and mortar volleys. There are as many as 260 attacks. On Feb 13 the results are released – the majority Shiite Muslims have won 48% of the votes but not enough to form a government on their own.

On April 6 2005 the Iraqi parliament chooses Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as the country’s new interim president and the different factions start to work on a committee drafting Iraq’s new constitution. However on July 20 Sunni Muslim members suspend their participation in the wake of a colleague’s assassination, saying they need more security . On Aug 6 Sunni Arab members of the committee drafting Iraq’s new constitution reject Kurdish demands for a federal state. A week later they reject calls for a Shiite federal region to be enshrined in the constitution. Hence on Aug 28 the negotiators finish the country’s new constitution but without the endorsement of the Sunni Arabs. On Sept 22 this is reinforced when about 150 clerics and tribal leaders from Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority call for the rejection of the country’s draft constitution in an upcoming referendum, saying that it will lead to the fragmentation of Iraq.

SUNNIS TARGETED BY SHIITE SECURITY FORCE, SHIA MOSQUES & NEIGHBOURHOODS BY SUNNI MILITANTS

On October 15th 2005 Iraq’s deeply divided Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds vote to decide the fate of the new constitution. Despite strong opposition from Sunni Arabs the constitution is adopted by a majority. But in the months leading up to the elections both Shiite and Sunni violence significantly escalates. With the Interior Ministry controlled by Shiites, Sunni leaders now accuse the Shiite-dominated security forces of detaining, torturing and killing hundreds of Sunnis simply because of their religious affiliation. There appears to be plenty of evidence for this from newspaper reports.

On the other hand it becomes manifestly clear as the December elections approach that the increasing wave of suicide and car bombings are almost entirely directed at Shiite neighbourhoods, Shiite mosques and Shiite zone bus services. On December 15th, [December 17th is the 1st exact out square hit] the historic parliamentary election takes place. 67% of the electorate vote and there is a strong turnout in Sunni Arab areas. The results heavily favour the Shiite parties – they win the most seats but again not enough to rule without coalition partners. A week later large demonstrations break out across the country denouncing the elections as rigged in favour of the Shiite coalition.

On March 16 2006 Iraq’s new parliament is sworn in, with parties still deadlocked over the next government. On April 21 Shiite politicians nominate Nouri al-Maliki as Iraq’s prime minister. On May 21 Iraq’s new PM promises to use “maximum force” if necessary to end the brutal insurgent and sectarian violence. On June 14 tens of thousands of Iraqi police and soldiers search cars and secure roads in Baghdad. [June 22nd is the 2nd exact out square hit] On June 23 the government declares a state of emergency and imposes a curfew after insurgents set up roadblocks in central Baghdad and open fire on US and Iraqi troops – the curfew is extended many times. At the same time Nouri al-Maliki offers an olive branch to insurgents who will join in rebuilding Iraq and presents a 24-point national reconciliation plan to parliament aimed at stemming sectarian tensions and violence. On Sept 25 Iraq’s feuding ethnic and sectarian groups move to form a committee to consider amending the constitution after their leaders agree to delay the key question of any division of the country into autonomous states until 2008.

CAN NEW GOVERNMENT BALANCE THE NEEDS OF SUNNIS AND SHIITES ?

On October 3 Iraqi lawmakers across party lines endorse the prime minister’s new plan for stopping sectarian killings and move on to pass a law allowing the formation of federal regions in Iraq, despite opposition from Sunni lawmakers and some Shiites.  On Oct 20 2006  Shiite and Sunni religious figures meet in Mecca in a bid to stop sectarian bloodshed, and issue a series of edicts forbidding violence between Iraq’s two Muslim sects. [October 25th is the 3rd exact out square hit] It will have little or no effect. The  cycle Out square clearly correlates with the challenge of creating and structuring a government in a country riven by violence and in a state of near civil war. But as the Out square ends on December 16 though Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minister has demonstrated some success in forming a new government how successful has he been in balancing the needs of Sunni and Shiites ? And could things get worse ?

2010 – 2011 OPPOSITION

The Opposition stays in a 10 degree orb from April 11 2010  to March 9 2012. In what way do the societal and political expectations which emerged in Iraq at the time of the Conjunction and which were challenged or extended at the Out square come to fruition and in what way do inherent contradictions in these start to appear during this period.

MAXIMISATION OF CHAOS AND UNCERTAINTY AS US AND BRITISH TROOPS LEAVE AND BOMBINGS AND SHOOTINGS TARGET SECURITY AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. SUICIDE BOMBINGS SURGE

The cycle opposition sees violence and bloodshed in Iraq continue – during this period around 330 civilians get killed per month – high though this is, it contrasts with the thousands killed every month in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Iraq Body Count (IBC) gives March 2006 to March 2008 as the high point.  2008 was the transitional year with some 9,400 deaths. 2009 saw this figure halved down to 4,700 but the 2010 and 2011 and 2012 totals remain similar. So the Jupiter/Saturn opposition does not represent a maximisation of fatalities – what it does represent is a maximisation of the chaos and uncertainty that stemmed from the invasion as during this period US (Dec 2011) and British (May 2011) forces leave Iraq and this follows a nine month period when Iraq actually had no acting government at all.  The Jupiter/Saturn cycle opposition is a  time when expectations are fully actualised. To see this we shall look at the political and constitutional picture but first let us look at the way in which violence takes place in this period.

VIOLENCE – BOMBINGS DOMINATE INCREASINGLY SECTARIAN

It is a quite different patchwork of violence from the predominantly execution style violence at the cycle out-square. There are indeed very much fewer execution style killings. Leaving aside assassinations, the following is a list of the dates on which execution style killings are reported as taking place – you see a much shorter list with fewer deaths than at the cycle Out square (fatalities in brackets):

2010 April 2 (24), April 5 (5), April 20 (5), July 13 (5), Aug 11 (3), Aug 15 (3), Aug 18 (3), Aug 27 (3), Oct 11 (4), Oct 19 (8), Nov 15 (2), Nov 22 (2), Nov 28 (2), Dec 22 (2), Dec 24 (5), Dec 30 (4),

2011 Jan 3 (2), Jan 24 (2), Apr 4 (6), Apr 16 (4), Apr 18 (3), Apr 29 (6), May 15 (3), May 22 (2), June 3 (5), July 3 (5), Aug 2 (4), Aug 15 (7), Sept 28 (5), Oct 26 (2),

2012 Jan 4 (2), Jan 18 (4)

List 7.4. Bodies reported after Targeted Sectarian executions in Iraq April 2010 to March 2012 . Source Timelines,ws

The main targets of bombings and shootings are security officials and government workers – the aim being to disrupt the running of the country. However what is difficult is to distinguish the al-Qaeda (‘al-Qaeda in Iraq’) and ‘Islamic State of Iraq’ (includes other anti-government groups) killings from what seem to be purely sectarian killings. It is true there are a very large number of attacks targeting members of those Sunni groups (Awakening Councils) who have turned against al-Qaeda (remember al Qaeda is a largely Sunni group) and these attacks are anti- coalition in nature but there are a huge group of Sunni attacks on Shiite mosques, pilgrims and neighbourhoods that appear purely sectarian. It is true that these attacks serve to undermine the government – the government being Shia led – but it seems unlikely that this is the main motivation

The list below summarises all bombings reported with over 20 fatalities. You will see how they group around the exact cycle opposition dates and how the mainly, or purely. sectarian attacks (in red) increasingly start to predominate.

2010 Apr 4 (40), Apr 6 (50), Apr 23 (72), May 10 (50), May 14 (20) May 17 (30) May 23 First Exact Hit  June 20 (32), July 7 (45), July 15 (27), July 18 (48), July 26 (30), Aug 7 (20), Aug 16 Second Exact Hit Aug 17 (61), Sept 19 (36) Oct 29 (22), Oct 31 (68), Nov 2 (91),

2011 Jan 18 (65), Jan 20 (56), Jan 24 (36), Jan 27 (51), Feb 12 (36) March 28 Third Exact Hit May 5 (20), May 22 (20) ,June 3 (21),  June 21 (27), June 23 (24), July 5 (37), Aug 2 (23), Aug 15 (89), Aug 28 (29), Sept 30 (20), Oct 12 (25), Oct 27 (32), Dec 5 (30), Dec 21 (69),

2012 Jan 5 (78), Jan 14 (53), Jan 27 (33) Feb 12 (36)

Table 7.5. Major Bombing Fatalities (>20) reported from April 2010 to March 2012. Source Timelines/ws – clearly Sectarian in red,

Attacks do not diminish though their targets may alter. On Oct 31 2010 the Christian community is attacked at the Sayidat al-Nejat Syriac Christian cathedral (Our Lady of Salvation) in Baghdad – the al Qaeda attack, aimed at driving the Christian minority out of the country, leaves 68 people dead. Suicide bombs continue and surge at the turn of the year especially in late December and early January .

But the key development in Iraq that correlates with the cycle opposition seems to be the absence of government and the departure, 9 years after the invasion, of US and UK forces. Has the invasion, as claimed, laid the foundations for democracy in Iraq ? Will the new government be able to cope on its own ? What will manifest at the cycle In-square in mid 2015.

POLITICS

On April 7 2010 as the cycle opposition starts, an ‘election results’ investigation raises doubts over Nouri al-Maliki’s win and leads to a recount being ordered. On April 23 Iraq’s two main Shiite blocs sign an agreement likely to further alienate Iraq’s Sunni minority which had been hoping that March’s election would boost its role in power. On May 14 the election commission decides that the recount did not change the result. [May 23 is the First exact Opposition] and on June 1st the Supreme Court ratifies the election results. On Aug 31 US Vice President Joe Biden, presiding over the formal end to US combat operations in Iraq, makes a new appeal to Iraqi leaders to end the political deadlock and seat a new government [Aug 16 is the Second exact Opposition].

In late September 2010 as the cycle opposition widens politically and constitutionally matters change direction. On Oct 24 Iraq’s highest court orders parliament back to work after a seven-month political impasse and a few days later Iraq’s political rivals reach a breakthrough power-sharing deal in which Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, retains the premiership. The deal is between the National Alliance, which represents the main Shiite parties, and the Kurdish coalition, while the Sunni-backed Iraqiya’s support hinges on its agreement over the posts of speaker and president. On Dec 21 Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approve the new government. They also adopt a 43-point program aimed at liberalizing the economy and fighting terrorism.

In late February 2011 as the cycle opposition tightens again thousands march on government buildings and clash with security forces in cities across the country protesting at the government’s failure to provide basic services.  There are further major demonstrations in March and early April. [March 28 is the Third exact opposition] On May 22 as the last of Britain’s soldiers leaves Basra, a series of explosions in Baghdad kill 20 people.  In June and July there are several major suicide bombs then on  August 15 bomb blasts rip through more than a dozen Iraqi cities, killing at least 89 security forces and civilians in the worst attack this year.

Although at this time the security forces announce they have smashed an al-Qaeda network responsible for hundreds of killings in Baghdad, the Islamic State of Iraq group, a front group for al-Qaeda in Iraq and others, vows to carry out “100 attacks” across the country, to exact revenge for the US inflicted death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. On Oct 22 the first draft of 40,000 US troops leave Iraq – by year’s end only 150 will be left. On Dec 15 US officials formally shut down the war in Iraq after nearly nine years at a cost of 4,500 American dead and an absolute minimum of 100,000 Iraqi dead and with a price tag for the US Treasury of $800 billion.

The United States’ absence shows when on Dec 21 a wave of at least 14 bombings rips across Baghdad, killing 69 people in the worst violence in Iraq since August. The bombings which continue through till early March when the cycle opposition finally and permanently goes out of orb, are serious and emphatically sectarian. January is especially bad. On Jan 5 explosions strike two Shiite neighbourhoods in Baghdad, killing at least 27 people. Then hours later a suicide attack hits Shiite pilgrims heading to the holy Shiite city of Karbala, killing 45. On January 14 a bomb kills at least 53 Shiite pilgrims near the town of Zubair. On Jan 27 a suicide bomber detonates an explosives-packed car near a funeral procession in Baghdad, killing 33 people.

If developments in Iraq do follow this cycle we should expect only a gradual change in either the sectarian conflict or in al-Qaeda in Iraq’s destabilising attacks until August 2014 when the In square comes into orb. At that point or shortly after it is possible a new element will enter the Iraq equation.

 2015 – 2016 IN SQUARE

The Incoming Square, which will be exact on Aug 3 2015, March 23 2016 and May 26 2016, will be in a 10 degree orb from August 18 2014 to July 21 2016. This page will be updated in July 2016.

JUPITER-PLUTO (12 year cycle) 2007 – 2020

This  12.5 year Jupiter/Pluto cycle started in December 2007. It reached its outgoing square (+90 degrees) in July 2010 and its opposition in August 2013. The incoming square (+270 degrees) will occur in November 2016 and the next cycle will commence in April 2020. Alone of the 10 outer planet cycles one or two of the likely correlations fail the 10 degree either side limit but make an out-of-orb match around 20 degrees.

2007 CONJUNCTION

The Conjunction stays in a 10 degree orb from the 12 March 2007 to 2 May 2007 and from the 16 October 2007 to 2 Feb 2008.

VIOLENCE CONTINUES THEN DRAMATICALLY FALLS THOUGH SECTARIAN FATALITIES ARE UNALTERED

In March 2007, as the conjunction comes into orb, violence  continues as insurgents detonate three trucks with toxic chlorine gas in Falluja and Ramadi, injuring and making ill hundreds. 2007 is indeed estimated by IBC (Iraq Body Count) to have shown the greatest number of deaths per day from suicide attacks and vehicle bombs (22 per day versus 16 per day in the highest other year, 2006). According to the same source the number of deaths per day from gunfire and executions was highest in both 2007 and 2006. 2007 is also the deadliest year for the US military since 2003, with 899 troops killed. However as this 11 month cycle conjunction reaches its end there is a dramatic fall off in violence – the IBC figures for civilian deaths in 2008 is only 38% of the previous year – 2008 also sees a rise in the proportion of civilian deaths attributed to sectarianism. And therefore this cycle correlation appears to be not about the rise and fall of deaths from anti-government or anti-coalition insurgency in Iraq but about the rise and fall (if it comes) of deaths from sectarianism.

MUSLIM ATTACKS ON OTHER MUSLIMS IS THE MAIN VIOLENCE

Looking at the nature of the violence rather than the volume the conjunction period sees a truly horrific panorama of cruelty and unbridled violence – horrific in the methods and the largely totally innocent targets including women and even very young children. And perhaps most amazing of all to contemporary Westerners (though not to their forebears), the proportion of the atrocities (and their severity) meted out by one branch of a religion onto another, quite frequently at an actual religious event or location.

Just take the incidents in March 2007 alone. One week before the conjunction comes into orb as US soldiers pour into the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City a suicide car bomber kills at least 38 people in a blast that touches off raging fires. The following day two suicide bombers blow themselves up in a crowd of Shiite pilgrims streaming toward a shrine at Hillah, killing at least 120 people and wounding about 190. In south Baghdad gunmen pump bullets into a minibus, killing all eight passengers inside. On March 7 a suicide bomber in a café northeast of Baghdad kills 30. On March 11 a car bomb kills 31 Shiite pilgrims. On March 16 another ‘chlorine bomb’ forces some 350 Iraqi civilians to seek medical treatment. On March 27 two truck bombs rip through markets in Tal Afar, killing between 50 and 150 people. The next day Shiite militants and police enraged by these killings go on a revenge spree against Sunni residents there, killing as many as 60 people. On March 29 two suicide attackers blow themselves up in the Shalal market – at least 82 people are killed and over 100 wounded. As one American observer reports back to Washington without exaggeration – “Mr President This is Hell”.

SECTARIAN DEATH SQUADS

Incidents killing dozens occur almost daily. If we confine ourselves to incidents killing around 50 people or more the conjunction period has many of these. On April 14 a car bomb blasts through a busy bus station near one of Iraq’s holiest shrines at Karbala, killing at least 47 people and wounding over 200. On April 18 a parked car bomb at a central Baghdad market kills some 140 people and wounds 148. On April 26 violence in Iraq kills at least 72 people, including the bullet-riddled bodies of 27 men dumped in Baghdad, victims of sectarian death squads. On April 28 a parked car explodes near one of Shia Islam’s holiest shrines in the city of Karbala killing 68 people. On May 13 a suicide truck bomber crashes into the offices of a Kurdish political party, killing at least 50 people. On May 22 at least 100 Iraqis are killed or found dead nationwide including 33 people found shot execution-style. On May 23 that lethal total repeats! On May 28 across Baghdad 57 people are killed in a wave of attacks and a few days later another 26 bullet riddled bodies, bearing signs of torture are found. Is ’Hell” an adequate word for this carnage ?

AN ORGY OF ATTACKS ON MOSQUES

As if to confirm that the thrust of violence is now almost wholly sectarian June and July see an orgy of attacks on mosques. On June 13 suspected al-Qaeda bombers destroy the two minarets of the historic Shiite Askariya Shrine in Samarra. In Basra there are attacks on the Kawaz, Othman, al-Abash and Basra Grand mosques. Four Sunni mosques near Baghdad are also attacked. The next day attackers break into the Hateen mosque in Iskandariyah and the Talha Bin al-Zubair shrine outside Basra planting bombs inside. On June 16 the Ashrah al-Mubashra mosque in Basra is raided and blown up. On June 19 a truck bomb strikes the Shiite Khillani mosque in central Baghdad, killing at least 87 people and wounding more than 200. On that day in all 142 people are killed or found dead through sectarian violence ! On June 20 gunmen blow up two Sunni mosques south of Baghdad in an apparent retaliatory attack

ATTACK KILLING 796 YAZIDIS 2nd MOST LETHAL TERRORIST ATTACK OF MODERN TIMES

On July 7 a bombing in Armili, a Shiite farming town, kills over 130 people. On July 16 twin suicide car bombings explode within 20 minutes of each other in Kirkuk, killing at least 85 people and wounding 150. On July 25 two suicide bombings kill at least 50 cheering flag-waving Iraqis celebrating the national soccer team’s recent victory.  On 1 August 50 people are killed when a suicide attacker explodes a fuel truck near a petrol station in Baghdad. Altogether at least 142 Iraqis are killed or found dead on that day. Then on August 14 four suicide truck bombers strike simultaneously in Qahataniya killing at least 500 victims ! Estimates rise later to 796 !! This is a staggering figure approaching that of 9/11 – it is the deadliest single attack of the whole conflict and the 2nd deadliest terrorist attack anywhere in modern times. The victims are members of a small Kurdish sect, the Yazidis – al-Qaeda is blamed.

FURTHER HORRORS – MASS GRAVES & TORTURE CENTRES

On Nov 17 a mass grave filled with at least 33 badly decomposed bodies is unearthed in Baghdad – a few days later another mass grave is found. On Dec 8 US soldiers find graves containing 26 bodies next to what they called a torture centre where chains are attached to blood-spattered walls and a metal bed frame is still connected to an electrical shock system. (December 11 Exact Conjunction date)

MANY MILITANTS ENTER IRAQ FROM SYRIA

On Jan 18 2008 heavy security is set up in Karbala with some 30,000 troops watching over hundreds of thousands of Shia pilgrims performing the culmination of Ashoura religious rites. On Jan 23 an explosion strikes an apartment building in Mosul killing more than 60 people and injuring over 250. This huge blast is later blamed on the Seifaddin Regiment – some 150 foreign and Iraqi fighters who entered Iraq from Syria a few months earlier. Is there some future significance in this geographical path ?

MENTALLY DISABLED USED AS BOMBS, YOUNG CHILDREN TRAINED TO KILL

On February 1, as the conjunction goes out of orb, two female suicide bombers blow themselves up in separate attacks on Baghdad bazaars, killing at least 99 people. The attacks are the deadliest in the Iraqi capital since the 30,000 extra American troops arrived in the country just before the conjunction. In a uniquely despicable touch the suicide bombers used were both mentally disabled and their suicide vests were remotely controlled – surely a horrific new threshold in terrorist tactics. To add to this horror videos seized from suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq hideouts show militants training children as young as 10 to kidnap and kill. On Feb 24 (14 degrees) a suicide bomber strikes Shiite pilgrims once again as they are resting in Iskandariyah on their way to a shrine in Karbala, killing at least 56 people and wounding 68. Thus ends one of the most horrific and blood-stained twelve months in modern history – there have been periods in Middle East history with as bad or worse incidents but not on the scale and with the frequency of this Jupiter/Pluto conjunction.

2010 – 2011 OUT SQUARE

The Out Square is in orb from 8 May 2010 to 10 November 2010 and from 16 Dec 2010 to 11 April 2011

THE LAST US COMBAT FORCES LEAVE IRAQ

The Election results, released a month before the Out Square, give the Iraqi National Movement, led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi, 91 seats in Parliament out of 325. The State of Law alliance, headed by Prime Minister Maliki comes a close second with 89 seats. Both fall far short of the 163 seats needed to form a majority in Parliament. No government is formed. In August 2010, seven years after the US-led invasion and the ensuing 4,400 US casualties, the last US combat brigade leaves Iraq. Some 50,00 non combat US troops remain to train and partner the Iraqi security forces – but they are destined to leave by the end of 2011.

MANY SUICIDE BOMBINGS

There are regular major bombings and shootings in the period. On 10 May a suicide bomber blows himself up outside a Hillah textile factory – at least 50 people are killed and 140 wounded. With other attacks across the country 120 people are killed, the deadliest day in 2010. On 21 May a car bombing at an open-air market in a Shiite town north of Baghdad leaves 30 people dead. On June 13 bombs rip through a Baghdad area leaving 26 dead. On June 20 two suicide car bombers strike a crowded area outside a bank in Baghdad killing 27 people. On July 7 a suicide bomber targeting pilgrims heading to a mosque in northern Baghdad kills 35. On July 18 twin suicide bombings kill 48 people.

(25 July and 3 August 2010 are the 1st & 2nd exact Out square dates) On August 17, a suicide bomber blows himself up at an Iraqi Army recruiting office, killing at least 60 army recruits and soldiers, and wounding 120 others. On August 25 bombers and gunmen launch an apparently coordinated string of attacks against Iraqi government forces, killing at least 61 people. On September 19 two car bombs explode in Iraq killing over 30 people. In October 2010 a church in Baghdad is seized by militants – some 50 people are killed in the worst single disaster to hit Iraq’s Christians in modern times. On Oct 29 a suicide bomber blows himself up inside a popular café in a town in Diyala province – 22 people are killed. In November the Out square goes out of orb till the second half of December.

There is a lull in the violence till the middle of January 2011. On Jan 18 a suicide bomber blows himself up in a crowd of police recruits, killing at least 65 people in Tikrit. On Jan 20 56 people are killed in triple suicide bombings at security checkpoints targeting pilgrims headed to the Shiite holy city of Karbala. As many as 175 people are believed to be wounded. On Jan 24 another 24 Shiite pilgrims are killed in another attack. On Jan 27 a car bomb rips through a funeral tent in a mainly Shiite area of Baghdad, killing 51 people. On Feb 12 a suicide bomber blows himself up on a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims, killing 36 people. (25 Feb 3rd exact Out Square date) On March 29 In northern Iraq gunmen wearing military uniforms and suicide bomb belts storm a government headquarters in Tikrit – 57 people are killed.

AL-QAEDA AT LOW POINT, ISIL READYING TO SUPPLANT IT IN THE REGION

It is a truly appalling record but actually the frequency and scale of bombings in both 2010 and 2011 is much reduced. Car bombings decline to an average of 10 a month and multiple-location attacks occur only two or three times a year. Indeed the BBC asserts that 2010 was the low point for the al-Qaeda effort in Iraq. This period is also incidentally one where crimes like bank and jewel shop robberies surge. However al-Qaeda is undergoing in part a major transition which by the cycle Opposition will see it replaced regionally by the Sunni militant group ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

FAILURE TO BRING SUNNI  AND SHIA TOGETHER

In November 2010 Parliament reconvenes after more than nine months of political wrangling and re-appoints Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister. The new government includes Shia, Sunni and Kurd groups but a power-sharing arrangement with former prime minister Ayad Allawi – whose Iraqiya party won a majority of seats – never takes shape. The acrimonious relationship between Allawi and Maliki is seen as a major obstacle to US troop withdrawal and combating terrorism. The failure to bring Sunni and Shia together will lead directly to what at the cycle opposition threatens to be an all out regional sectarian war across several borders.

2013 – 2014 OPPOSITION

The Opposition is in orb from June 28 2013 to Oct 8 2013 and from Nov 24 2013 to June 13 2014.

MERGER CREATES CROSS-BORDER GROUP ‘ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ AND THE LEVANT’ (ISIL)

Two weeks before the Out square comes into orb the Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri urges leaders of the Iraqi al-Qaeda branch and the Nusra Front in Syria to end their disagreements and “stop any verbal or actual attacks against one another.” One week later in an audio message posted online, a speaker identified as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of al-Qaeda’s Iraq arm announces that a merger with Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra rebel group to create a cross-border movement known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] will go ahead as planned. (The Levant may be taken to refer to Syria, Lebanon and what used to be defined as Palestine)

SUSTAINED ATTACK ON SHIA MOSQUES & NEIGHBOURHOODS

On June 18 two suicide bombers target a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, – the blasts leave 34 dead.  It is the start of a sustained attack on Shiite mosques by Sunni militants. On June 22 another suicide bombing inside a Shiite mosque north of Baghdad kill over 20 people. On June 27 a series of bombings targeting soccer fans in cafes in Baghdad, Jbala and Baqouba kill 36 people. On July 1 a suicide bomber blows himself up at a mourning ceremony inside a Shi’ite mosque in Muqdadiya killing at least 22 people . On July 12 a suicide attack in Kirkuk kills 39 people when a bomber detonates his explosives in a crowded coffee shop. The next day a bomb explodes outside two Sunni mosques in Baghdad, killing 23. On July 14 a wave of coordinated blasts that tear through overwhelmingly Shiite cities kill at least 38. On July 19 a bomb explodes inside the Abu Bakir al-Sideeq mosque killing 26. The next day a coordinated wave of 12 late-night car bombings and other attacks kill 57 people.  By the end of July this surge of attacks has killed nearly 600 people. (3 August 2013 1st exact Opposition date)

On August 6th, 10th, 15th , 23rd and 25th the bombings with severe fatalities recur, culminating on the 28th with more than a dozen bombings in Shiite neighbourhoods in and around Baghdad killing at least 86. On September 3rd shootings and a car bombing in and south of Baghdad kill at least 67 people. The next day in Latifiya gunmen shoot dead at least 16 members of a Shi’ite Muslim family before blowing up their two homes. On Sept 11 a  suicide attacker stages a double bombing near a Shiite mosque in northern Baghdad killing at least 35 people. Two days later a bomb strikes a Sunni mosque in a village outside Baqouba, killing 30 people. On Sept 14 a suicide bomber kills 25 people at the funeral of a member of Iraq’s Shabak minority in Ninevah. The next day a wave of car bombs and shootings across the country kill at least 58 people. On Sept 20 bombs hidden inside air conditioners explode in a Sunni mosque packed with worshippers in Samarra, killing at least 18. On Sept 21 an explosives-packed car driven by a suicide attacker strikes a funeral in the Shiite Sadr City killing at least 73 people. A couple of days later a revenge  bomb attack on Sunni mourners kills 14 people. On Sept 29 and 30 a wave of attacks in Baghdad kills at least 55 people. For this and many others Al-Qaeda in Iraq claims responsibility.

On October 5th, 6th, 13th there are further attacks on Shiite targets – though on the 15th a bomb rips through a crowd of Sunni worshippers coming out of a mosque in Kirkuk killing dozens. On Oct 17 attacks on Shi’ites kill at least 61 people across the country. On Oct 20 over 40 people are killed in a crowded cafe in the primarily Shiite neighborhood of Amil. On Oct 27 a new wave of car bombs hits Shiite neighbourhoods. On November 7 a car bomb targeting Shiite Muslims, kills 30. On Nov 14 a number of bomb blasts targeting Shiites kill 47 . On Nov 20 a wave of attacks kills 37 people in mostly Shiite areas of Baghdad. At the end of November  Iraqi police discover the bodies of 18 men who were abducted from their homes and shot in the head with their corpses abandoned.

ARMY BATTLES ISIL FOR FALLUJAH AND RAMADI

December sees the beginning of a fall off in the frequency of bombings though on the 19th suicide bombings targeting Shiite pilgrims on their way to Karbala and on the 25th bombings in Christian areas of Baghdad both add over 30 deaths to the estimated total of 9,000 deaths for the whole of 2013. But it is what happens in January 2014 that is to mark the key extension of the Iraq conflict. On January 3 Sunni Muslim tribesmen backed by Iraqi troops are forced to fight al Qaeda-linked militants for control of Anbar province. More than 100 people are killed as police and tribesmen battle  Islamic State of Iraq (ISIL) fighters – al-Qaeda-linked militants who have taken over parts of Fallujah and Ramadi. While government forces battling this al-Qaeda offensive near the Syrian border launch an air strike on Ramadi,the capital of Anbar province, Iraq’s PM al-Maliki vows to regain control of the mainly Sunni areas they have taken over. Yet by January 15 ISIL has taken over more territory in Anbar. (31 January 2014 2nd exact Opposition date) On January 21 Iraq’s Shiite-led government says it has decided in principle to create three new provinces from the sectarian contested parts of the country in an apparent attempt to address Sunni grievances.

IRAQI ARMY SHELLS ISIL FORCES NEAR FALLUJAH

To begin with the Iraqi army claims it is winning back the territory ISIL have taken. On February 3 Iraqi army troops and allied tribesmen kill 57 ISIL fighters. On Feb 14 troops backed by helicopter gunships regain ground in the northern town of Sulaiman Pek and make a determined assault on Ramadi where In the first week of March Iraqi forces claim to have killed over 50 jihadists.  By the end of March the army has begun shelling the region just south of Fallujah going on to claim the deaths of 40 more jihadists. On April 8 Security forces say they have killed a further 25 militants near Baghdad amid worries that ISIL are encroaching on the capital just weeks ahead of elections.

Yet on April 17 in northern Iraq militants launch a brazen attack on a military base outside Mosul. (20 April 3rd exact Opposition date) On April 25 ISIL claim responsibility for an attack on a campaign rally for a militant Shiite group in Baghdad that was attended by up to 10,000 supporters – 33 are killed. And in the wake of Nuri al-Maliki winning the largest share of Iraqi parliamentary seats in the elections, on May 13 ISIL unleashes a wave of car bombings, killing at least 34 people in a show of force meant to intimidate the majority Shiites. On June 7 ISIL militants storm Anbar University briefly taking students hostage before withdrawing from the school amid gunfire. On that same day a wave of car bombs explodes across Baghdad, killing more than 60 people. On June 8 to 9 a suicide bomber blows himself up at the headquarters of a Kurdish political party in the ethnically mixed province of Diyala killing over 30.  ISIL claims responsibility.

ISIL’S SAVAGE BRUTALITY SENDS HALF A MILLION FLEEING

On June 10 Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asks parliament to declare a state of emergency after Sunni Islamist insurgents seize control of most of Mosul, the country’s second largest city. ISIL and associated groups overrun a military base and free hundreds of prisoners. This surge in militant attacks and the savagery and brutality that is meted out to civilians not on their side sends an estimated 500,000 people fleeing from the city. In an appalling incident Human Rights Watch later report that some 600 male Shiite inmates from Badoosh prison outside Mosul were forced to kneel along the edge of a nearby ravine and shot with automatic weapons – in scenes rivalling the most horrific in Yugoslav and Nazi history.

On June 11 the Ninevah provincial governor says authorities are determined to recapture the northern city of Mosul. In Tikrit, the 2nd provincial capital to fall in two days, ISIL takes control freeing hundreds of prisoners. It also kills between 160 and 190 men in two locations . On June 12 Iraqi Kurdish forces take control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk, after government troops abandon their posts in the face of a triumphant Sunni Islamist rebel march towards Baghdad. Sunni militants from ISIL close in on the biggest oil refinery in the country, making further gains in their rapid military advance.

ISIL GAINS AS THEY REACH JUST 60 MILES FROM BAGHDAD

On June 12 militants driving in machine gun-mounted pickups enter the two newly conquered towns in Diyala province -Jalula and Sadiyah, respectively some 80 and 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. On June 13 a representative for Iraq’s top Shiite cleric urges Iraqis to defend their country while Iran’s official news agency reports that former members of Tehran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard have announced their readiness to fight in Iraq against the Sunni militant group ISIL. On June 15 Iraqi security forces announce they have killed 279 “terrorists” in the past 24 hours, as they continue to try and push back ISIL’s offensive. Conversely images posted by ISIL militants indicate some 170 Iraqi soldiers were killed following the  capture of Tikrit.  On June 16 ISIL captures Tal Afar, a strategic city along the highway to Syria. As Britain says it will ban the ISIL group, fears grow of all-out sectarian warfare in the Middle East. On June 19 the army have to beat back an ISIL assault on the Beiji oil facility, which accounts for just over a quarter of Iraq’s entire refining capacity.

ISIL CAPTURES BORDER CROSSINGS WITH JORDAN & SYRIA

On June 21 Sunni militants seizd Qaim and Rawah, two strategically located towns in Anbar province The next day the army concedes that Sunni militants have captured the Turabil crossing with Jordan and the al-Walid crossing with Syria. On June 25 PM al-Maliki rejects calls to form an interim “national salvation government” that might quickly present a unified front in the face of the growing ISIL threat.  ISIL attacks one of Iraq’s largest air bases and takes a town an hour from Baghdad that is home to four natural gas fields as US military experts begin arriving to help Iraqi security forces counter the mounting Sunni insurgency. On June 26 while armed US drones begin flying over Iraq, Iraqi forces backed by helicopter gunships launch an airborne assault on rebel-held Tikrit. The military also carries out three airstrikes on the insurgent held city of Mosul.
On June 29, as the Jupiter/Pluto Out Square goes out of orb, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) proclaims its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be caliph over territory it controls in Syria and Iraq.

The incoming square (+270 degrees) will be exact in November 2016, March and August 2017. It is in orb from October 2016 till September 2017

SYRIA

JUPITER/SATURN (20 year cycle) 2000 – 2020

The present cycle following the ‘Collapse of Communist Europe’ JUP/SAT cycle starts in May 2000. It reached its outgoing square (+90 degrees) in December 2005 and its opposition in May 2010. The incoming square (+270 degrees) occurred in August 2015 and the next cycle will commence in December 2020.

2000 – 2001 CONJUNCTION

The Conjunction stayed in a 10 degree orb from March 2000 to March 2001.

BASHAR ASSAD SUCCEEDS HIS FATHER

This one year period sees Bashar Assad take over after his father’s death and Syria’s incursion into Lebanon. On June 10 2000 President Hafez Assad, the ‘Lion of Damascus’, dies. A day later, his son, Bashar, is unanimously nominated by Syria’s ruling Baath Party to succeed his father. His role will come into a dramatic global spotlight exactly at this cycle’s opposition in 2011. During 2000 Syria begins the first of 5 deployments in Lebanon.

In 1976, at a three quarter stage in the previous Jupiter/Saturn cycle, the then Syrian President Hafez al-Assad sent troops into Lebanon to fight Palestine radicals on behalf of Christian militias. A cease-fire agreement allowed for the stationing of Syrian troops within Lebanon. In October 1989 (between the September and November exact hits of that earlier cycle’s opposition) the Taif Agreement was signed. It provided “the basis for the ending of the civil war and the return to political normalcy in Lebanon” and set a time frame for Syrian withdrawal. But full Syrian withdrawal will not happen as we shall see till 2005 at the Jupiter/Saturn Out square.

2004 – 2006 OUT SQUARE

The Out Square stays in a 10 degree orb from December 2004 to December 2006.

SYRIA ENDS 29 YEARS OF MILITARY PRESENCE IN LEBANON

 In February 2005 Syria rejects US President Bush’s charge that, in common with Iran, it sponsors terrorism. Its claim will have an ironic though true ring at this cycle’s opposition stage. But the main thrust of Syria’s development at this stage is to do with withdrawal from Lebanon – and in the background the issue of Syrian involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese PM Hariri.

On Feb 24 Lebanon’s Defence minister says Syria will withdraw troops from mountain and coastal areas in line with the 1989 Taif agreement. On April 24 2005 Syrian troops dismantle military posts in their final hours in Lebanon, before moving back toward the border and effectively ending 29 years of military presence in the country.

DAMASCUS DECLARATION FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE ISSUED

However we now see the emergence of an issue that will maximize at the cycle opposition in 2011. In September 2005 Syrian troops clash with members of the Jund al-Sham Islamic militant organization accused of planning bomb attacks in the northern city of Hama – five militants are killed. Yet on September 10 President Assad actually meets with leaders of 10 militant Palestinian groups based in Syria, defying US pressure to crack down on these groups. He urges the radical Palestinian leaders, including Khaled Mashaal, the political leader of the militant Hamas group, to unite and continue the struggle for an independent Palestinian state. It will be the struggle for reform of his own state that will confront him later at the cycle opposition. Indeed on October 16 a Syrian pro-democracy group issues the Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change.

EXILED OPPOSITION FIGURES CALL FOR A TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT

On December 4 2005 ( 17 December 1st exact Out Square date)  Syrian security forces clash with militants planning to launch terror attacks in the city of Aleppo – 8 Islamic militants are shot. On March 17 2006 exiled Syrian opposition figures meet in Belgium to form a united front, calling for a transitional government to prepare for the overthrow of President Bashar Assad’s regime. They urge acts of civil disobedience similar to those that led to freedom for nations behind the Iron Curtain.

(20 June 2006 2nd exact Out Square date) On June 26 President Assad says in a published interview that Lebanon is becoming a shelter for al-Qaeda-linked militants fleeing across the Syrian border from a crackdown by the authorities. On September 12 armed Islamic militants attempt to storm the US Embassy in Damascus. (25 Oct 2006 3rd exact Out Square date) In December 2006 as the Out Square moves out of orb Syria says it has admitted more than 800,000 Iraqis who have fled the violence in their country. It makes no statement about those Iraqis linked to al-Qaeda who may have moved their operations across the border –  a border they may not even recognize.

2010 – 2011 OPPOSITION

The Opposition stays in a 10 degree orb from April 11 2010 to March 9 2012.

DEMOCRATIC UPHEAVAL RUTHLESSLY SUPPRESSED

The 2 year opposition stage of this cycle unquestionably matches the point at which democratic upheaval is unleashed in Syria – to be followed by the most bloody war as President Bashar Assad and his security forces use every form of ruthless action to wipe out popular forces similar to those that had characterized the ‘Arab Spring’ in other Arab countries. The Syrian government’s actions are condemned universally – by the Arab League, by the EU and US and finally by the United Nations, though the strategic reticence of two of its Security Council members allied to a general hesitation in the West to getting involved in another ‘Iraq’ ensures that only sanctions are directed at Syria and not military action. We shall show that the upheaval began exactly as the Opposition made its third and final exact hit.

EXPECTATION THAT REVOLT COULD SUCCEED AS IT HAD DONE IN OTHER ARAB COUNTRIES

But why is the greater match with the initial period form May 2010 to March 2011 rather than later when for instance in early 2012 the patience of virtually the entire United Nations – with the exception of China and Russia – is exhausted and the Arab League is unequivocal in its condemnation of its former member Syria. Surely that is the maximization stage? The answer is that the Jupiter/Saturn cycle is to do with societal expectations and how they manifest or are actualized. These were maximized in 2010 and early 2011 when it was felt that as in other Arab Spring countries if there was enough popular demonstration then it would lead, as in Tunisia and Libya, to the overthrow of another military and security service supported despot. It was this kind of freedom that the Tunisian born ‘Arab Spring’ had brought that was in the minds of a substantial part of Syrian society in those ten months the cycle Opposition moves to and from exact.

ASSAD’S RUTHLESS RESPONSE TAKES THE WORLD BY SURPRISE

But what came afterwards was not expected – not expected in Syria, not expected in the region and not expected at the UN. The anticipation was that with that level of opposition shown in Syria, Assad could have been expected like the leaders of other Arab spring countries like Algeria and Tunisia to flee or at least be forced to concede some democratic freedoms. But the reverse happens ? President Assad and his military colleagues becomes more ruthless – shootings into crowds of protestors, mass arrests, torture and killing and moving from automatic guns to heavy artillery.

SUPPORT FROM A DOMESTIC ELEMENT AND FROM RUSSIA

And unlike other Arab Spring countries there is apparently a forceful element of domestic support for Assad and the strong if tacit support from a superpower – Russia, whose long association with Syria had not disappeared when the cold war ended. It is this support from Russia that ensures the most President Assad could fear is economic sanctions not UN sponsored military action – as had been the case in Libya. Even more importantly the West’s badly scarred exit from Iraq and Afghanistan makes sure voters in the western democracies have little appetite for military intervention here – especially as it becomes increasingly evident that the rebel Syrian forces the West could back include a number of militant groups the West is trying to stamp out. In fact developments prove even worse than that because the group Islamic State (IS) as ISIL now calls itself, constitutes a much more dangerous force operating as it does across the Syria/Iraq border, a border it no longer recognizes.

ASSAD STATES SYRIA IS IMMUNE FROM ARAB SPRING UNREST

So let us look at some of the key events in Syria that match this Jupiter/Saturn Opposition. In early May shortly before the first exact Opposition date the US renews sanctions against Syria saying it continues to support terrorists and pursue weapons of mass destruction – the Israelis maintain North Korea is supplying Syria with nuclear technology and a UN report shortly after alleges the same. At the beginning of August (9 August 2nd exact Opposition date) leaders of Syria and Saudi Arabia make an unprecedented show of cooperation in Lebanon in hopes of preventing any violence ensuing from the indictment in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese PM Hariri. On January 31 2011 President Assad, known for his resistance to calls for political freedoms says in an interview that his nation is immune from the kind of unrest striking Tunisia and Egypt. However the following day many Syrians are reported organizing campaigns on Facebook and Twitter calling for a “day of rage” in Damascus on Feb 4-5, taking inspiration from those two countries.

SECURITY FORCES FIRE LIVE BULLETS AT DEMONSTRATORS in SEVERAL SYRIAN CITIES

On March 18 plainclothes security officers forcefully break up protests in Damascus. Then starting on March 20 dozens of people are killed and several hundred wounded as security forces fire live bullets and tear gas at thousands of demonstrators in the southern town of Daraa. Soldiers open fire later in Latakia and at least five other places. Thousands take to the streets in funeral marches for the protesters killed. On March 27 the government blames “unknown gunmen firing from rooftops and prowling the streets of Latakia” for the deaths. On March 28 as security forces again fire on demonstrators in Daraa ( 28 March 2011  3rd and final exact Opposition date ) President Bashar Assad is facing the most serious unrest of his 11 years in power – a reign which had started you may recall exactly at the Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction.

2015 – 2016 IN SQUARE

The Incoming Square, which will be exact on Aug 3 2015, March 23 2016 and May 26 2016,  will come into a 10 degree orb on 18 August 2014 to 21 July 2016. This page will be updated in August 2016.