The Dangers of Muqtada Al-Sadr’s Violent Demonstrations

The Sadrist demonstrations have become a staple of Friday afternoons in Baghdad’s Tahrir (freedom) Square. Last week’s demonstrations drew more people than usual based on Muqtada al-Sadr’s demand that his loyal supporters come out for a “million man march”. Last year’s demonstration culminated in the storming of the International Zone (IZ), the fortified district that houses the majority of Iraq’s government institutions. Once again on February 11, 2017 Muqtada Al-Sadr directed his followers to protest outside the gates of the IZ, this time for reforms on the electoral commission. Like all of Sadr’s calls, his faithful supporters answered despite 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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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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The Battle for Iraq is Reaching its Climax: Breakdown of the Battlefields

By Haidar Sumeri The war against Da’ish (aka ISIS/ISIL or the “Islamic State”) in Iraq is a battle for survival. For Iraq, it’s a battle for the country’s future, a battle against a force that threatens to tear the fragile country into pieces. For Da’ish, it’s a battle for the survival of the core of the caliphate, the place where it all began over a decade ago. This piece will take you on a tour of the battles raging across multiple provinces in Iraq.   Baghdad Baghdad has seen better days but the beleaguered capital of Iraq today finds...

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Major Iraq: The Story Of An Iraqi Hero

Haidar Sumeri Twitter “No retreat! Long live Iraq!” were the last words war correspondent Major Alaa Al-Edani yelled out before losing consciousness. Just minutes before, he was warned by his fellow soldiers that the area they were entering hadn’t been cleared of IEDs yet. In keeping with his determined and courageous manner, he replied “I’m an officer, I’ll go wherever you go.” He was embedded with an Iraqi army unit that was conducting clearing operations in the rural Zaydan village west of Baghdad, a volatile hotbed of insurgency that had proved impossible for American troops to clear and has posed even...

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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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Fall of Ramadi Breaks U.S. Assumptions

In June last year, Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province and Iraq’s largest Sunni city, fell to ISIS militants. The widespread belief in the United States and the west was that the Prime Minister at the time, Nouri al-Maliki, had spent eight years marginalizing Iraq’s Sunni minority, resulting in the Mosul disaster. The argument went that conditions were so awful for Sunnis that he forced them to regard ISIS as the better option compared to the Iraqi government. In other words, the only blame for the fall of Mosul lay at the feet of the former Prime Minister. Nearly...

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