23 May 2019
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Tensions between the United States and Iran have been skyrocketing in the Arabian Gulf over the past few weeks as the two powers clashover Tehran's suspected nuclear capabilities and Washington's insistence on scuppering what is left of the Iran nuclear deal. Considering Iran's overbearing influence on its Western neighbour, Iraq has now found itself between the competing interests of the ailing but still pre-eminent global power, the US, and its regional adversary, Iran. Domestically, Iraq is still struggling with corruption despite years…
Suspected ISIS militants and sympathizers are packed into prisons across northern Iraq. Most are men, but some are women: often wives or female relatives of ISIS militants. While almost all prisoners experience abuse, inhumane quarters, torture, and detainment without trial, women are abused specifically because they are women. Iraqi security forces target enemies by illegally arresting their female relatives. Women are threatened with sexual violence or are actually abused, in front of their husbands and children. When women are tortured to confess, they are…
With the downfall of the Islamic State group in Syria, the world is facing the challenge of what to do with the thousands of locals and foreigners who fled the crumbling caliphate — among them at least 70 Australian children. Reluctant to allow "radicalised" citizens to return home, the international community has increasingly looked for a solution across the border in Iraq, where many Iraqis and foreigners have already been sent to face sentences ranging from 15 years in prison to the death…

Iraq comes back from the cold Saturday, 04 May 2019 05:12

 Arabs should lend a helping hand as the country sheds its Iranian shackles After US troops overthrew the Saddam Hussain regime in 2003, the George W. Bush administration dismantled the state institutions and dissolved the Iraqi army, police and security services, leaving the door open for chaos and anarchy. Motivated by revenge, Tehran spread havoc across Iraq dragging it into a sectarian civil war. According to Unesco reports, Iraq was the only Middle Eastern country that succeeded in eradicating illiteracy.…
Assad’s alliance with Iraq’s militias predates Alfayyadh’s appointment and the institutionalisation of the PMF.  Sunday 28/04/2019 Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces has demonstrated in Iraq and Syria why its presence in politics matters. The Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) upheld its promise of fighting for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ailing forces in Syria following Mosul’s recapture from the Islamic State (ISIS), binding Assad and the Iran-backed PMF closer together. Iraqi national security adviser Falih Alfayyadh arrived in Damascus on April 14 for…
There appears to be little agreement among spectators over the motives and demands driving Iraq’s protest movement, which has grown in since late 2011. What isn’t in dispute is that protest activities are a permanent feature of the Iraqi political landscape and it seems that Iraq is not alone. Resource-rich Algeria was gripped by similar trends after its population took to the streets in reaction to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s announced intention to run for a fifth term in upcoming elections.…
Iraq’s Sunnis have been abandoned by their government and are at the mercy of killers and war criminals who rival ISIS in their brutality.  Humanitarians have always faced a hard task in Iraq. Not only are there literally millions of people in need of aid, with the United Nations saying there are at least 1.3 million internally displaced persons in the country, but the length in time of the crisis has increased difficulties for aid workers. It would seem sensible…

Iran wants to rule Iraq without US presence Saturday, 23 February 2019 21:24

Calls by Iran-backed Iraqi militia leaders for the withdrawal of US troops have grown in the past month but it’s far from clear the efforts will be successful. The militia leaders have the loyalty of fighters enlisted in the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) and are represented by the Fatah Alliance and its allies in parliament. They are rallying behind legislation that proposes to sever military and, by extension, political ties with the United States. Fadhel Jabir, a member of the…
The official proclamation of the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) was loudly celebrated throughout Iraq and even in Washington but a place untouched by such optimism is Mosul and its surrounding cities, which are now mountains of post-war rubble. France pledged 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) to help Iraq’s reconstruction when French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Baghdad January 14. The French gesture comes almost one year after donor countries pledged $30 billion to rebuild Iraq. Pledges at…

How Militias Affect Basra’s Protests Saturday, 02 February 2019 23:08

With protests originally sparking in July 2018, Basra continues to experience sporadic demonstrations. While many protesters initially emphasized the continuing lack of infrastructure in southern Iraq, slogans against Iran, and attacks against the Iranian consulate have emphasized frustration at Iran’s influence in the region as well. Iran’s influence is directly visible to these protesters, and is especially discernible in the attacks on protesters by Iraq’s Iranian-backed militias. These attacks highlight the complicated relationship between Iraq’s powerful militias—which predominantly recruit from south of Iraq—and the…
Baghdad signed into law one of its largest-ever spending packages last week after months of gridlock. At $111.8 billion, the 2019 budget is a nearly 45 percent increase on the previous year’s, featuring the highest deficit and second-highest spending volume in Iraq’s history since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. But despite desperate need for reconstruction funding after its devastating three-year war with the Islamic State, and with a crippled business sector beset by government corruption, Iraqi experts say…
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