29 October 2020
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In a recent interview, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said he envisaged the Middle East as a region that he called “the New Levant,” which would be like the EU, where capital and technology flow freely. He also said he favored the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq because it would remove the raison d’etre of pro-Tehran militias operating in Iraq. As befitting a man known for his intellect, Al-Kadhimi believes that peace, good governance and trade — rather than…
The Covid-19 pandemic starkly illustrates the state of health care in the Middle East, from the good to the truly wretched. The condition of local health systems has, in turn, offered opportunities to outside powers to boost their influence in the region. And no country in the Middle East offers better opportunity – in terms of size and geo-strategic importance – than Iraq. It is being seized upon. The pandemic hit Iraq’s already fragile health system like a freight train.…
Since Iraqi protesters took to the streets last October, Iran-backed militias have been suspected of carrying out numerous assassinations against prominent activists and critics. BAGHDAD – The murder of a young woman activist and her family sent shock-waves through Iraq, with many suspecting the crime of being politically motivated. The murders came as Iraqi protesters continued to direct anger at the government and other influential actors, including leaders of religious parties and militias for alleged corruption and mismanagement. Since Iraqi protesters…
Furious over the targeted killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani by the US military in Bagdad, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei demanded in January that “the Americans’ corruption-stirring presence should come to an end” in Iraq. As it happens, Christmas came early for Khamenei, at least in part. Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, announced on September 9 a drawdown of US troops in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000. This statement comes as President Donald Trump attempts to bolster his November reelection by making good on previous campaign…
Following public protests last October, the people of Iraq unified in an almost unprecedented manner. Baghdad witnessed the largest demonstrations condemning the country’s political system, ruling forces and parties, which prompted the authorities to resort to killing, intimidation and arrests to stop crowds of protesters surrounding the Green Zone. It also prompted the then Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, to resign. The protesters did not belong to a single sect, but were Iraqi first and foremost, especially in Baghdad. The…

Iraqi PM must face down Iran and its militias Wednesday, 16 September 2020 03:54

In a recent interview, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said he envisaged the Middle East as a region that he called “the New Levant,” which would be like the European Union, where capital and technology flow freely. He also said he favored the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq because it would remove the raison d’être of pro-Tehran militias operating in Iraq. As befitting a man known for his intellect, Kadhimi believes that peace, good governance and trade – rather…
The families of murdered, assassinated, kidnapped and forcibly disappeared protesters fear that only some employees and even ministers will be used as scapegoats to appease the anger of the public. BAGHDAD – The Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council revealed Thursday that the former interior and defence ministers were summoned as part of the government’s ongoing investigation into the violent protests that swept the country late last year and led to the killing of hundreds of protesters. The chairman of the Supreme Judicial…
On 4 August, Iraqi activist Ridha Al-Igaili’s home in Amara, the capital of Maysan province, was attacked by militiamen who fired a rocket-propelled grenade and sprayed the building with bullets. This was the second attempt on his life this year. Luckily for Al-Igaili, a pharmacology student and member of the Maysan Students’ Union, no one was injured. News of the attack reverberated quickly on social media. Barely two weeks later, fellow activists Reham Yacoub and Tahseen Osama were assassinated. These cold-blooded attacks were the latest in…
In a short video, a masked man talks Iraqi activists through some safety precautions that could help prevent them being assassinated. “Follow me carefully,” said the man, sitting behind the wheel of a car wearing a black baseball cap, gloves, a mask and a flak jacket. “Through security cameras, check if there is anyone or a motorcycle in the street before leaving your home or office … when driving, keep watching your back out with the three mirrors,” says the…
The recent killing of activist Reham Yacoub by gunmen in Basra marks another case of why Iraq needs to get rid of Iran to save itself. Yacoub, though not a protest leader, was one of the youth voices demanding an end to a system plagued by corruption and militia violence. After her assassination, Iranian state news accused Yacoub of working for the United States against Iranian interests in Iraq. She was a critic of the Iranian militias whose influence Prime…
Iran’s regime is concerned about the direction the Iraqi government is taking and the repercussions this shift might have on Tehran’s influence in Baghdad. Two major issues particularly worry the Iranian authorities. First, the theocratic establishment is uneasy and dissatisfied with some of the policies that Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has been pursuing. Since top political figures, rather than governmental organizations, play an important role in dictating Iraq’s politics, Tehran has always attempted to control and influence high-level officials…

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