Iraqi youth who came of age during the post-2003 turmoil share a sense of hopelessness and disempowerment. Across the political spectrum, they feel trapped: join a protest movement or militia, or emigrate. Even amid the severe challenges the government and its partners face, this generation must be prioritised, lest Iraq’s most important resource become a major security threat.
PM Abadi 19 Feb said U.S.-backed govt forces and allied militias starting campaign to retake western half of Mosul in north from Islamic State (IS). Fighting continued south of Mosul: govt forces 19 Feb said they had seized seventeen villages from IS around Mosul airport (30km south of Mosul), allegedly cutting one of IS’s supply and escape routes, between Mosul and Tal Afar (75km west); govt forces 23 Feb took Mosul airport and Ghazlani military base from IS, 24 Feb pushed into south-eastern districts. Shia Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs) 19 Feb pushed back IS SW of Tal Afar, seized several villages. IS claimed twin suicide bombings 10 Feb that killed fourteen in Zuhour district, eastern Mosul, retaken from IS over two months previously. Army 27 Feb said security forces had seized al-Jawsaq district in western half of Mosul and fourth bridge across Tigris River. One Kurdish soldier killed 25 Feb in unclaimed bombing of pipeline in Bai Hassan oil field near Kirkuk. IS claimed multiple bombings mid-Feb in Baghdad’s Shia districts: blasts in Bayaa district 14 and 16 Feb killed 58, suicide bomber 15 Feb killed fifteen near Sadr City district. Police 11 Feb crushed protests in Baghdad called by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to demand overhaul of election commission, which Sadr supporters believe would favour former PM Maliki in provincial elections scheduled for Sept; five protesters and two policemen reportedly killed. Unclaimed rocket attacks targeting Green Zone in Baghdad later same day caused no casualties. Unclaimed bombing in S Baghdad 27 Feb reportedly killed three civilians.
This report examines President Trump’s emerging counter-terrorism policies, the dilemmas his administration faces in battling ISIS and al-Qaeda across the Middle East and South Asia, and how to avoid deepening the disorder both groups exploit.
The US-led coalition’s military assistance to Kurdish forces against the Islamic State (IS) is inadvertently accelerating intra-Kurdish fragmentation. The West should coordinate its aid better, build upon Iraqi Kurdistan’s past efforts in transforming its peshmergas into a professional military, and encourage Kurdish coordination with Iraq’s central government in the fight against IS.
The jihadi surge is the tragic, violent outcome of steadily deteriorating political dynamics. Instead of a rash military intervention and unconditional support for the Iraqi government, pressure is needed to reverse sectarian polarisation and a disastrous record of governance.
An alliance between the local military council and the jihadi ISIL group is keeping the besieging Iraqi army at bay around Falluja, but unless Sunni alienation is addressed, the city risks a new round of devastating conflict.
With Sunni Arab frustration at a boil at home, unprecedented Sunni-Shiite polarisation in the region and deadly car bombings plaguing the country, Iraq is inching toward relapse into generalised sectarian conflict.
Exxon didn't care [about the political impacts of their decision]. And this was of course music to the Kurds’ ears.
It is true that Turkey is stepping into a foreign country, but it is also true that some of the Iraqi actors have strong links to regional powers. So how to draw the line between what is Iraqi and non-Iraqi? It's kind of difficult.
[In Iraq, the U.S. and other nations are channelling resources into local Sunni coffers, a tactic used during the U.S.-led occupation.] What’s at stake is re-establishing the same sort of political order that actually led to the rise of [the Islamic State]. We have to be careful not to repeat the same mistakes of the past.
In Kirkuk, the extremist group's defeat risks rekindling old ethnic and religious conflicts — unless cooler heads prevail.
Originally published in Foreign Policy
In a keynote speech for the World Water Week in Stockholm on 28 August 2016, our MENA Program Director Joost Hiltermann assesses the role of water in Middle East conflicts – even, potentially, when used in the cultivation of Yemen’s beloved stimulant, qat.
Originally published in Es Global
Originally published in The New York Review of Books
The recent storming of Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone by protesters led by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr brought to the surface a long-standing dilemma.