22 February 2019
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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…
Looking ahead at what 2019 will bring in Iraq is like walking through a hall of mirrors. Reality is distorted, vision is blurred and walking down the wrong path could find one crashing into glass.  For all the beginning-of-year predictions since 2003, few have been accurate, and 2019 will most likely be the same. Too many variables, too many outside actors and bevvies of black swans await the foolhardy prognosticator. Even the US, usually the most predictable of actors, cannot…
LONDON - In December 2017, Iraq announced the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS). While ISIS lost control of major population centres in Iraq, the country’s politics remain in gridlock. In the victory declaration of December 9, 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi praised the achievement of Iraq’s “heroic armed forces.” “Our enemy wanted to kill our civilization  but we have won through our unity and our determination,” he said. By the end of 2017, a coalition of Iraqi and international…
Twice last month, the Iraqi parliament blocked the appointment of key ministerial posts by Iraq’s new Prime Minister Dr Adel Abdul Mahdi. The main sticking point with certain party blocs in the parliament has been Mahdi’s insistence on the appointment of Faleh al-Fayadh as Interior Minister. Major blocs like Saairun, supported by the firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, have walked out of the parliament, leaving it un-quorate each time Mahdi has tabled Faleh al-Fayadh’s nomination. The issue has left the government…
MOSUL, IRAQ — Standing on what's left of the the roof of his crumbled home, Ahmed, an aging Mosul resident, trembles as he describes the deaths of his three sons.  A Russian Islamic State militant occupied Ahmed's house last year and a U.S.-led coalition airstrike targeted it. The strike killed the militant, and Ahmed's boys. Now, Ahmed says he cannot afford to rebuild his home for his two surviving children. "No one gave us a penny or a single dinar," he…

Iraq's Intra-Shia Struggle Over Iranian Influence Wednesday, 19 December 2018 22:04

Iranian-backed Shia militias inside Iraq, once viewed by many Iraqis as saviors who helped the country defeat the Islamic State, are destabilizing Iraq’s infant and fragile government and creating additional tension between Baghdad and Washington. There was a brief sigh of relief when an Iraqi government was finally formed in September. It took five months of wrangling after a national election in May. But the militias, more commonly known as Hashd al-Shaabi, or Population Mobilization Forces (PMUs), Iran’s major weapon…
fter a brief respite during the hot summer of southern Iraq, the citizens of Basra are out on the streets again, demanding jobs and better state services. The country finally has – after elections that were held way back in May – a new parliament, president and prime minister. The full Monty. One might have thought that now might be the time to let government get to work for the people. But no, Basra residents want their many problems solved…
Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Twice in the past week, the Iraqi parliament blocked the appointment of key ministerial posts by Iraq's new Prime Minister Dr. Adel Abdul Mahdi. The main sticking point with certain party blocs in the parliament has been Mahdi's insistence on the appointment of Faleh al-Fayadh as Interior Minister. Major blocs like Saairun, supported by Muqtada al-Sadr, have walked out of the parliament, leaving it un-quorate each time Mahdi has tabled Faleh al-Fayadh's nomination. The issue has left the government…
Two thousand five hundred years ago, Lao Tzu, the legendary Chinese philosopher, said: “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” His words may accurately describe the spiralling decline of Iraq. The cause of Iraq’s disintegration cannot be blamed solely on the Bush, Blair invasion and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s cruel Baathist regime. The eight-year term in office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a puppet of the Iranian regime, sowed the sectarian seeds,…
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