17 April 2021
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he Arab Spring presented a unique moment in history when rising inequality in the middle east combined with the wide proliferation of affordable information technology.  Whereas previously owning a smartphone with a functioning internet connection was a luxury only the middle classes could afford, with the turn of the decade, use of social media applications like Facebook and free messaging services like WhatsApp spread like wildfire. For the first time in the lives of many, discontent with political authorities was…
Ramita Navai has been reporting for years on the rise of Shia militias in Iraq, their links to Iran and allegations of abuses carried out against Sunni civilians. In her latest documentary for FRONTLINE, Iraq’s Assassins, Navai investigates accusations that these militias have unleashed a wave of assassinations against activists and critics. In the runup to the film’s February 9 premiere, FRONTLINE spoke with Navai about her past reporting and what had changed when she returned to Iraq in September 2020. What…
After more than a year of violent protests, Iraqi activists have launched political parties to contest national elections. If all goes to plan, they have huge potential, observers say. Over the past few weeks, Iraq's anti-government demonstrators have been moving from protest into politics, and analysts say they have the potential to bring meaningful change to Iraq's flawed political system despite ongoing violence against them. Election officials told local media that 260 political parties had registered to compete in the upcoming elections and…
On Thursday morning, Baghdad witnessed twin suicide bombings in a busy market that killed 32 people and wounded more than 100 others. It was the bloodiest such attack in many years. Coming only a day after the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden, the attack is a reminder that the dangers facing Iraq from extremism remain very real, and that the country’s situation is still precarious in many ways. The attack also serves as a reminder that Iraq needs to be on…

Iraq: We Can Steal It For You Wholesale Thursday, 21 January 2021 16:54

he government is being pressured by the United States to crack down on Iranian weapons shipments being allowed to cross the border into Syria at guarded border crossings. The weapons shipments are often hidden from view by legitimate cargo, but it does not take much effort to reveal that deception. These weapons shipments are guarded by Iran-backed PMF (Popular Mobilization Forces) militias. There are fewer of these militiamen because their primary reason for being in an Iran-backed militia is the…
The United States sanctioned Iraqi Popular Mobilization Committee (PMC) chairman and former Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih Al-Fayyadh on January 8 for his alleged connection to grave human rights abuses. In a statement, the US Department of the Treasury disclosed that throughout the October 2019 protests that swept Iraq, “Iran-aligned elements of the PMC attacked civilians demonstrating against corruption, unemployment, economic stagnation, and Iranian interference in Iraq’s domestic affairs.” According to the Treasury Department’s designation, Al-Fayyadh was involved with a “crisis cell” made…
Militias need war to legitimise them. That is how the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and elsewhere in the region justify their existence. Iraq has seen plenty of war for 40 years, but the latest threat, from ISIS, has been seen off with American help, and the US will soon withdraw its troops. If there ever was a need for the militias – which is doubtful – it is no longer there. But despite all entreaties, the Iraqi militias refuse to…
With less than two weeks left in office, the Trump administration has publicly accused the Iranian regime of having ties with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed the link on Tuesday using recently declassified intelligence material during a speech to the National Press Club in Washington. This was the first time a US secretary of state had provided evidence of the links between the Tehran regime and Al-Qaeda. The intelligence included information on the assassination…
BAGHDAD – One year after US forces assassinated Iran’s most storied commander, tensions are boiling between Iraq’s Washington-backed premier and pro-Tehran forces that accuse him of complicity in the Baghdad drone strike. US President Donald Trump sent shock waves through the region on January 3, 2020 with the targeted killing of Iran’s revered General Qasem Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant, which infuriated the Islamic republic and its allies. Trump said the strike came in response to a hail of attacks…
Iraqis fear a flare-up in sectarian tensions after Iran vowed revenge for killing military leader Qassem Soleimani in January. But some fear that factions within the Iraqi security forces could also threaten stability. January 3 marks the first anniversary of the death of senior Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani. The major general was killed in a US-directed drone attack while visiting Baghdad. In a statement earlier this month, Iran's religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, repeated his country's desire for revenge. For Iraqis, this may well pose…
For outsiders, all Shia groups know just one master, Iran, a Shia-majority country. But recent escalations between the two Shia groups disprove that understanding. Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Tehran has aimed to increase its political and military presence across the Middle East, creating its own Shia proxies like Lebanon’s Hezbollah to dominate the Middle East.  With the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Washington unexpectedly helped Iran play its political game better, removing one of Tehran’s fiercest enemies,…

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