After Mosul: Securing the Future of Iraq’s Assyrians

Introduction As various forces descend on Mosul, ISIS’ last and most important stronghold in Iraq, sensible questions are emerging in the discourse about post-ISIS governance in Mosul and its surrounding areas. The interested parties keen to ask these questions as well as answer them range from: the Iraqi Army and its allied militias, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), largely made up of Shia Arabs with a minority of Sunni Arabs; to Peshmerga, mostly from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), who control neighbouring Dohuk and Erbil provinces; to the Nineveh Plains Protection Units (NPU), an Assyrian militia tied to the...

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Seizing Mosul: Navigating Victory Away from Turkish Ambitions

The events over the last few days before the Mosul operation marked an unprecedented level of tension in the relationship between Iraq and Turkey. Despite various reasons for disputes, the relations between the two neighbours has been largely cordial since the establishment of the modern Iraqi state in 1921. But the different paths the two countries pursued regarding the Syrian crisis had a negative impact on the relationship. The emergence of ISIS and the suspicious Turkish position towards it, especially during and after the fall of Mosul pushed many Iraqis to drastically rethink their attitude towards Ankara. Turkey’s relation...

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The Return of the Prodigal Son: Barzani Back to Baghdad

The incumbent president of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Masoud Barzani visited Baghdad for the first time in three years on September 29, 2016. Having visited Ankara four times during Haidar al-Abadi’s premiership, the visit to the Iraqi capital comes at a very desperate time for Barzani whose trips to Baghdad are generally reserved for his nephew Nichervan Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan Region. Political divisions between the federal government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are not new and have not stopped Barzani from pursuing his own agenda of empowering himself using turkey to...

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Iraq Turns to Security Council to Deter Turkey

The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted a request to the UN Security Council to hold an emergency session to discuss Turkish presence on Iraqi territory and Turkish interference in Iraq’s affairs. Ankara sent troops northeast of Mosul last year in a move which Iraq considers a “blatant violation” of its sovereignty. Tensions between Baghdad and Ankara have risen with expectations of an offensive by Iraqi forces to retake Mosul, the last major Iraqi city under Islamic State control, captured by the militants two years ago. Although Iraqi government’s objections to Turkish presence were clear from the outset of...

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Montadhar Naser: Charges dropped against Iraqi journalist who exposed corruption

Yesterday, Montadhar Naser was acquitted by an Iraqi court and charges brought against him for defamation were dropped. In a victory for press freedoms and freedom of expression in Iraq, the judge in the case declared there was insufficient evidence to uphold the charges, which many regarded as politically motivated. Naser had been subjected to legal and political persecution since publishing an investigation into corruption at Iraq’s Media and Communications Commission through the electronic news website, al-aalem al-jadid, where Naser was chief editor. During last Friday’s protests by Iraq’s civil trend in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, activists held signs expressing solidarity with the...

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ISIS to PMUs? It Is Comparing Apples to Oranges

The phenomenon of comparing and equating the Islamic State (Daesh) with the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMUs) has been circulating among many who consider themselves to be academics and/or intellectuals. The unsound and fallacious nature of this comparison is based on a deep-rooted belief that a Shi’a Daesh must come into existence to level the playing field. Although the argument disintegrates when it fails to distinguish between a terrorist organization and state-regulated forces that enjoy worldwide recognition, this article will seek to explain why the two are incomparable and perhaps serve as a reminder to what Daesh stands for....

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Ahmad Abd al-Hussein: The man at the heart of Iraq’s civil trend cooperation with Sadrists

Analyses, in both Western and Arab discourses, of Iraq’s ongoing protests against corruption and ‘sectarian quotas’ tend to be inflected with an elite-sectarian framework. This framework foregrounds sect-based identities and their manipulation by elite actors and institutions in its explanations of these mobilisations. Consequently, political protest in Iraq is rarely seen as indicative of participatory, integrative and democratic practice; but rather as a performative dimension of elite power struggles (in this case within the broad Shi’i political bloc). These protests, it is argued, are a Shi’i phenomenon called into being and directed by Muqtada al-Sadr as part of a...

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Prime Minister Abadi Must Dissolve Parliament

Since the storming of Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and the seizure of the parliament building by followers of radical Shi’a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraq’s parliament practically lost its relevance and credibility. Over the years, Iraq’s parliament has been at the center of many controversies ranging from inefficiency and corruption, to mismanagement and the absence of accountability. The recent questioning session of the Minister of Defense, Khalid al-Obaidi, was something out of the ordinary. Although what was said in the session was neither unexpected nor surprising, it was however, the first time a high-ranking official made such bold and confident...

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What Iraq Must Do To Protect Minorities

August 3, 2016 marks the tragic two-year anniversary of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack on the Yezidi village of Sinjar in northern Iraq. ISIL killed and enslaved thousands of Yezidis while displacing tens of thousands on the mountaintops of northern Iraq. The town of Sinjar fell victim to the conflict of what some consider “disputed territories” in Iraq. Disputed territories are towns located outside the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s formal borders and are contested with the federal government in Baghdad on whose administration they fall under. As a result of this conflict, many of these disputed...

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US conditions military aid to Peshmerga on cooperation with Baghdad

The recently signed military agreement between the U.S. Department of Defense and the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs was hailed by Kurdish officials as a significant new phase in cooperation between the United States and the Kurdistan Region. Without the benefit of full disclosure, some media reports made a number of erroneous claims about the implications of the agreement, namely, that it signifies an unprecedented willingness by the United States to bypass Baghdad and provide direct military support to the Kurds; that the agreement is some sort of reward to the KRG in recognition of Peshmerga gains against ISIL; and...

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