The Flames That Consumed Hope

I’m frequently asked to write security assessments of Baghdad, to gauge what the risks are and what the associated political fallout could be. Only 10 days ago I was asked for my thoughts on Baghdad security: would a Daesh bombing campaign continue after Fallujah was liberated (yes because Daesh has always used them to project strength), how likely would an attack occur around Eid (very likely as Daesh targets crowded areas and especially increases attacks in Ramadhan), can they penetrate inner Baghdad areas such as Karrada (yes because these bombings are planned and have assistance to get them through...

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Hoshyar Zebari & KRG Violate IMF Bylaws & Iraqi Constitution

On June 2, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies hosted a day long event featuring panel discussions on Iraq’s economy. The first panel hosted the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) minister of coordination and follow up, Noori Abdulrahman via video call from Erbil. Abdulrahman was asked about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan agreement of $15 billion over three years, signed with the Iraqi government on May 19. The loan has yet to be dispersed and Abdulrahman was asked whether the KRG would receive a share of that loan. Abdulrahman responded that he does not believe Iraq is able...

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Critics of Fallujah’s Liberation Ignore Its Suffering

There has been an influx of commentary on the operation to liberate Fallujah that began on May 22, with many questioning the motives behind the Government of Iraq’s (GoI) decision to launch this operation. Some went further by outright accusing the GoI of sectarian revenge for trying to drive the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) out of Fallujah. Why go against the stated US preference and liberate Fallujah before Mosul? Fallujah may only be the second largest Iraqi city ISIL controls, however it is the closest major presence ISIL has to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Fallujah is...

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Ayatollah Sistani’s Code of Conduct to Iraqi Fighters

The fight against ISIL continues and Iraq’s brave are on the offensive against the world’s most brutal terrorist organization. The Iraqi Army and Popular Mobilization Units are reclaiming land taken by the terrorists two years ago. To ensure human rights abuses are minimized and to renew the focus on the humanitarian aid role the anti-ISIL fighters hold, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid ‘Ali al-Sistani has issued a twenty-point code of conduct last year. As Iraqi forces prepare to retake the city of Fallujah, Ayatollah Sistani reiterated his call for humane treatment of civilians and even captured enemy fighters. [Translated by Dr....

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5 Essential Readings On Sykes-Picot

Reaching its centenary today, the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 has been the subject of much debate between those who vilify the agreement and see its legacy as the main source of conflict in the Middle East today and those who actually know history. The narrative that Sykes-Picot is a complete armchair project that “cobbled” together an artificial Iraqi state is misleading. We recommend these five essential readings to hopefully put this case to rest.  1. Dammit, It Is NOT Unravelling: An Historian’s Rebuke to Misrepresentations of Sykes-Picot “The current fixation with Sykes-Picot is just another case of Westerners...

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The Kurds: Everything You Didn’t Know

 (In response to: “The Kurds: Everything You Need to Know” – Dave Rubin talks to Bayan Sami Rahman) Introduction Let me plain at the outset: the idea of inviting Bayan Sami Rahman, the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) High Representative to the U.S. (and formerly to the U.K.) onto the Rubin Report without asking one difficult, uncomfortable question about the Kurds, their politics, their claims, or the narrative they are weaving and have been weaving specifically in the Kurdish Region of Iraq, then calling the farce “Everything You Need to Know”, is disingenuous and misleading. How low is the...

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Abd al-Latif al-Humayim and the Struggle for Influence in Ramadi

Political conflict between the Anbar local government and the Sunni Endowment (Sunni Waqf) has intensified four months after Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) retook the city of Ramadi from the so-called Islamic State (IS). On April 22, the Anbar Provincial Council criticized Sunni Waqf Chairman Abd al-Latif al-Humayim for allegedly rushing internally displaced people (IDPs) back to areas in Ramadi that were not properly cleared of explosives, resulting in over one hundred civilian casualties. Al-Humayim, whom PM al-Abadi appointed in February as the head of a committee to oversee the return of displaced people and reconstruction in Ramadi, responded by...

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The Civil Wars of Iraq’s Sunni Tribes: Fault Lines within 8 Sunni tribes and Sub-tribes, 2003-2016.

Robert Tollast Twitter “We had a very poor understanding of the divisions within the tribes, the fact that tribes are not monolithic entities, that there are subentities within tribes, and we didn’t really understand how the insurgency overlaid onto the tribes, and vice versa. For instance, if the Albu Fahad tribe exists as a monolithic entity, then you would assume that every Albu Fahad joins one insurgency, one insurgent group. Of course [that was] not the case, and the Albu Fahad is broken down into many subtribes, and clans, and families, and things, and you actually had an intra-communal...

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How The Wall Street Journal Was Duped By Barzani Aid Aziz Ahmad

On Wednesday, January 20, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed for Aziz Ahmad, an aide to Masrour Barzani, the son of the Kurdistan region’s de facto ruler. Ahmad was falsely presented as an ordinary person, when he is an employee of the KRG. It is unclear if the Wall Street Journal was aware of Ahmad’s background and the potential conflict of interest. The op-ed is the latest in a series of attempts by the KRG’s PR to misinform domestic and international public opinion. Here are a few of the inaccuracies made by Ahmad’s op-ed: The current Western strategy...

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Full text of Prime Minister Abadi’s proposed reform agenda

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s proposed reform agenda was unanimously approved by the Council of Ministers on August 9. Below is a translation of the full text of the plan that has been submitted to the Council of Representatives for approval. The parliamentary session has been scheduled for August 11. After putting our trust in God, and in response to the sincere calls of the astute Marja’iya, which clearly called for political and administrative reform, and with respect for the will of our dear people’s legitimate claims, and in accordance with public interest, and based on Article 78 of the Constitution, we...

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