22 September 2018
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After months of increasingly desperate and deadly protests, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi has finally conceded publicly that corruption might be at the heart of Basra’s shameful public health crisis. His words will be welcomed, not least by the 60,000 people who so far have been hospitalised after drinking or washing in polluted water in the oil-rich province, which only last year was hailed by parliamentarians as the economic engine of Iraq. But Mr Al Abadi’s pledge that the breakdown in…
The eruption of protests and deteriorating security situation in Basra cannot be considered in isolation from the travails of forming a new Iraqi government. By all indications, political forces that openly advocate the liberation of Iraq from Iranian influence are in the ascendancy. The crisis cannot also be separated from the increasingly fast pace of suffocating the Iranian economy because in early November a second wave of US sanctions go into effect. This knockout blow will cut the only economic…
Salty, foul water flows through the pipes of Basra: a city racked by high unemployment, broken healthcare and education systems, drugs smuggled in across the borders and cooked up at home with Iranian raw materials. Millions of landmines from wars past hem in the city, even as militias – the armed wings of Shia political parties, given new life by the fight against Isis – tyrannise its people. Even the clean, clear river that my brother and I used to fish…

Before Basra’s Destruction Sunday, 09 September 2018 21:57

Throughout history, early civilizations emerged on the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. Iraq never faced a dispute with other Arab Gulf countries over water. However, today, the Basra province, which lies on the banks of the Shatt al-Arab and the Tirgis and Euphrates rivers is suddenly suffering from a water shortage sparked by Iran.Iran cut off water from the province, leaving Basra city to suffer from an unprecedented drought. Some 18,000 of its citizens have also fallen ill due to drinking…
There was another sign last week that Iran was getting worried about losing its privileged position in Iraq. Reuters reported that Tehran had moved ballistic missiles to its proxies over the border. As expected, Iran denied the report, but Reuters stuck to its story. It said that: “According to three Iranian officials, two Iraqi intelligence sources and two Western intelligence sources, Iran has transferred short-range ballistic missiles to allies in Iraq over the last few months. Five of the officials…
The land of the Bani-Mansour clan north-east of Basra is flat and parched, spattered with dry crusts of salt and thorny shrubs. Clusters of palm trees form small patches of green in the otherwise dusty yellow and brown landscape. Nestled among them are about a dozen berms, each enclosing an oil well and its pump. Pipelines snake over the ground, cutting through villages as they connect wells and pumping stations. Oil rigs tower over the southern Iraqlandscape, sending plumes of thick…
Coinciding with a dangerously explosive atmosphere inside Iran, the currency nosediving to less than half value in a mere five months and the relentless waves of protests spreading throughout the country, the noose of regional and international isolation is suffocating the clerical regime. The US is busy escalating sanctions against Tehran to end its malign regional meddling. In parallel fashion, the Iranian regime no longer has any hope in Europe and their “European package,” nor in Russia to provide cushioning…

Mr. Abadi, there’s no time to fool us Saturday, 18 August 2018 06:30

ho does Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi want to fool by referring former ministers and several officials to the Integrity Commission to investigate with them in cases related to administrative and financial corruption? Mr. Abadi cannot fool Iraqis any more, be they the tens of thousands of youth, elderly, women and men who took to the streets and squares in the hot weather to express their anger and resentment against this government, former governments, the state’s higher institutions and their…
As in past summers, furious Iraqis have taken to the streets. Their rage is directed toward the clutch of political parties that have ruled the country since the United States invasion in 2003 but failed to improve the lot of ordinary citizens. Services such as electricity and water remain poor, and there are not enough jobs to employ the young population. Underneath these problems lie staggering levels of corruption. Iraq falls near the bottom of the annual Transparency International corruption index. Protesters chanted “the people want the…

Iraq In Turmoil – Analysis Sunday, 12 August 2018 13:27

Widespread suspicion of political chicanery plus record levels of unemployment, food shortages, a lack of water, and the direct involvement of a foreign power – these would add up to a toxic brew for any government. They are some of the problems facing the Iraqi regime, and as a result, the past few months of continuous public unrest and protest can scarcely have come as much of a surprise. Current problems started immediately after Iraq’s parliamentary elections on 12 May…
The protests in Iraq over a lack of basic services have dealt a blow to Iran’s influence in the country, experts say. Residents of southern Iraq have taken to the streets since mid-July to vent their anger over the government's failure to provide clean water, reliable power supply and jobs. The unrest spread to cities across the south from Basra and even reached the capital, Baghdad. Ordinary Iraqis see Tehran's support of the country’s political elite as an obstacle to…
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