19 October 2020
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On his first foreign visit, the new prime minister sent a clear message that it was time Tehran started treating Iraq like a state, not a vassal At first, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appeared to be routine. The new premier stood in front of journalists in Tehran on Tuesday and acknowledged Iran's role in helping defeat the Islamic State group, a common refrain from Iraqi leaders. But the appearance of routine did…
Thousands of prisoners accused of ISIS membership are in custody in Iraq, and this number is on the rise. More than two years after the fall of the Caliphate in Iraq, the Iraqi government continues to arrest new suspects. On top of that, ISIS members are also being moved from Syria to Iraq’s detention centers. It seems most foreign countries have at one point or another put the burden on Iraq to solve the international problem of prosecuting and incarcerating ISIS affiliates.…

Iraq and Iran move further apart Sunday, 26 July 2020 13:22

Baghdad’s pivot away from its neighbour is increasingly extending to their shared resources Iraq has been giving Iran the cold shoulder in recent months as the new government in Baghdad cosies up to Washington and pivots to build closer ties with Riyadh. And the divergence is also evident in field complexes that sit on both sides of the border. The western part of the giant Iraqi Majnoon oilfield and Iran’s Yaran and Azadegan fields are parts of a shared formation.…
On the day he was nominated as Prime Minister, Mustafa Al Kadhimi told the people of Iraq in a televised address that the country’s sovereignty “is a red line". Mr Al Kadhimi, who is viewed as a reformer, has vowed to restore the state’s authority, undermined by widespread corruption and the rule of militias supported by Iran. “I said it and I will say it again: Iraqi sovereignty is not up for debate," he said. Yet since the onset of demonstrations last…

Iraq on the brink Saturday, 25 July 2020 12:41

Covid-19 and the fall in oil prices has pushed Iraq towards calamity, underlining the urgency of ending the country's fossil fuel dependency.   Tens of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets in October 2019 for what was arguably our country’s biggest ever grassroots socio-political mobilisation.  The protests were borne of years of frustration and despair: at rising poverty and unemployment, at our decaying health and education systems, at falling literacy rates, and the erosion of women’s rights.  The protestors’ anger was intensified by a bitter paradox. How could living standards…
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, is a diplomat who is savvy and accustomed to donning kid gloves to tempt those he deals with. This has been to his advantage, allowing him to achieve or obtain what he wants on most occasions, especially in negotiations and dialogue with friends and opponents alike. For this he is favoured by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has backed him in response to attacks from his rivals within the regime who sought to…
n his June 25, 2020 column in the Iraqi online daily Sotalitaq.com, journalist Mahdi Qassem came out against the pro-Iranian Shi'ite movements and parties in the Arab world, such as the Shi’ite parties in Iraq, Hizbullah in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen.  These movements and parties, which are identified with Shi'ite political Islam, he wrote, have brought upon their countries nothing but ruin, corruption, poverty and unemployment by usurping public funds and neglecting public services. He contrasted them with…
Iraq’s finance minister has warned of “severe security consequences” if its economy is not “restructured radically”, as the coronavirus crisis wreaks havoc on business and an oil price crash hits state revenues. “Issues which were buried because of large and growing oil revenues are now crystallising,” said Ali Allawi, the country’s new Harvard and MIT-educated finance minister, referring to bloated spending and a monthly wage bill of $5bn for its vast public payroll. This includes payments for what he estimated…
Iran has recently taken a notable interest in helping Iraq and Syria build up their  limited air defenses, aiming to give them the capability to counter Israeli airstrikes. An agreement struck in July to improve Syrian air defenses authorizes Iran to deploy two of its air defense missile systems on Syrian soil, according to a report by the newspaper Raialyoum cited by The Tehran Times, potentially the domestically made Iranian Bavar-373 and 3rd Khordad missiles, which are in some ways comparable to…

Iran’s terrorism knows no limits Sunday, 19 July 2020 12:51

Iran has a plan for the world. It is the scheme of the Iranian regime to spread terror as far as it can. Shamefully, it appears to have carried out the reprehensible act of assassinating the brave political writer and analyst Hisham Al-Hashimi in Baghdad last week.Al-Hashimi had written an article exposing the corruption attributable to the Hezbollah branch in Iraq known as Kata’ib Hezbollah. He paid a heavy price for his courage. But Al-Hashimi was not the first victim…
Receiving death threats from Shiite militias was no surprise to Iraqi security analyst Hisham al-Hashemi, who had long warned of the danger such armed groups posed to rebuilding the Iraqi state after years of war. But Mr. Hashemi – gunned down on July 6 in front of his Baghdad house – could hardly have predicted his own assassination would become a key episode in the escalating battle between a new Iraqi prime minister and the defiant Iran-backed militias like Kata’ib Hezbollah that…

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