15 June 2021
English Arabic
IRBIL, IRAQI KURDISTAN: It is seven years since their yellow flag first appeared in the campaign against Daesh, the extremist group which seized swathes of northern Iraq and eastern Syria in 2014. After Daesh captured large parts of northern Iraq, including Mosul, in 2014, the fighters of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Forces, won the admiration of many Iraqis for heeding Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani’s call to arms. Since then, the umbrella organization of mainly Shiite militias has, however, adopted…
Since the establishment of the religious regime in Iran in 1979, Iran's relations with Middle Eastern countries have gone through many ups and downs. Tehran developed a two-pronged survival strategy: suppressing dissent inside its borders and exporting terrorism outside its borders. It had a particularly fraught relationship with Iraq, which invaded Iran in 1980. After eight bloody years, Iraq withdrew with as many as one million Iranians dead and almost $627 billion in economic losses. Since the 2003 US-led invasion…

Analysis: Time to rethink Iraq’s PMF Sunday, 06 June 2021 14:07

As long as the Popular Mobilisation Force is flexing its muscles in Baghdad, Iraq is unlikely to be stable The most frequent buzzwords in Iraq these days are “sovereignty”, “prestige” and “respect” for the state. Yet, these are also the most ridiculed concepts. Since he was appointed prime minister last May Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has made reviving the state the cornerstone of his government’s agenda.   For Al-Kadhimi, winning back respect for Iraq’s state apparatus meant reining in dozens of Shia militias…
BAGHDAD — The United States is grappling with a rapidly evolving threat from Iranian proxies in Iraq after militia forces specialized in operating more sophisticated weaponry, including armed drones, have hit some of the most sensitive American targets in attacks that evaded U.S. defenses. At least three times in the past two months, those militias have used small, explosive-laden drones that divebomb and crash into their targets in late-night attacks on Iraqi bases — including those used by the C.I.A.…

Iraq crosses a democratic threshold Friday, 04 June 2021 10:20

Young people in Iraq, whose protests in 2019 brought a democratic reformer to power, are holding their breath. On May 26, for the first time the Iraqi government arrested a senior commander of a pro-Iran militia and – here is the breath-holding part – he has not been released more than a week later. In addition, an attempt by the commander’s militia to besiege the capital and pressure his release was repelled by elite Iraqi forces. While the arrest of…

Iraq is being held hostage Monday, 31 May 2021 13:32

Tallha Abdulrazaq is a researcher at the University of Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute. Once more, Baghdad is under siege. This time, rather than ISIS being at the gates, as they were in 2014, it is those who played the role of foot soldiers in the campaign to defeat the Islamic State that are threatening the very existence of the Iraqi state. This week, less than five months before the nation is due to elect its new leaders, Shiite militias…
The arrest of an Iranian-backed paramilitary leader in the killing of government protesters enraged powerful militias in Iraq and posed a test of the prime minister’s pledge to rein them in. BAGHDAD — Iraq’s leader has been under intense pressure to rein in the dozens of paramilitary groups that are nominally under the command of the Iraqi government but have proved seemingly impossible for him to control. That was made abundantly clear this week, when Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered…
When protests erupted in Baghdad and other parts of central and southern Iraq in October 2019, tens of thousands of mostly young people took to the streets demanding improved government services and more action to curb widespread corruption. The protests quickly evolved into calls for accountability as security forces repeatedly employed excessive force against them, killing hundreds of the largely peaceful demonstrators. Although the protests have since diminished, those killings have not, as various armed groups continue to target critics of the government, including journalists…
BAGHDAD — The killings take place in public and are captured on surveillance footage. Those videos are then watched by millions. But even if the gunmen are identified, no one is prosecuted, and the cycle starts again. Across Baghdad and southern Iraq, a rising tide of attacks on activists and journalists is alarming what remains of a protest movement that has demanded the ouster of Iraq’s U.S.-molded political system and the usually Iran-linked armed groups that prop it up. Mass…
On Sunday Iraqi protesters stormed the Iranian regime’s Consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Karbala. This incident happened after the Iranian regime’s proxy groups assassinated a prominent activist, Jawad al-Wazni.   This development again showed how Iran’s terrorism and malign activities had destroyed the lives of Iranians and all the people in the region. It also underlines the fact that the mullahs’ regime is a threat to global peace and security.   Protests swept Iraq in October 2019, with people targeting the Iranian regime’s destructive…
The Islamic Revolution of 1979 overthrew the Iranian monarchy and installed a clerical regime that upended centuries of Shia clerical tradition concerning politics. Traditionally, the Shia clergy had abstained from exercising formal political or executive power in state institutions. The Guardianship of the Jurist, the foundational principle of clerical rule in Iran, rejected the prevailing apolitical inclinations of the Shia clerical establishment, instead arguing that only high-ranking clerics are qualified to exercise political authority as leaders of an Islamic state.…
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