New Polygamy Bill Challenges Iraq’s Family Dynamic

By Walaa Al-Taee In the upcoming months, Iraqi MP Jamila Al-Obeidi will present polygamy law to the Council of Representatives that would grant a financial reward to married men who choose to take another wife. Mrs. Al-Obeidi, not only believes the bill would be instrumental in solving Iraq’s problem with the growing number of widowed and divorced women, but she went on to give a televised interview calling married women who opposed the bill “selfish.” Many female MPs have already denounced the bill, claiming that giving men a sum of money to take on a second wife is “insulting to...

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Building a Nation, Between a Dream and its Possibility (Part I)

Who are we? Where do we want to go? How can we come together as Iraqis as we endeavour to march towards building a strong community against all kinds of malignant cancers such as Daesh and others? I will try to answer some of the above questions, maybe so that it can help us to define the parameters of our collective journey since the journey so far has been filled with social, security, economic and political crises. Every day we see the introduction of new initiatives, some labeled as a historic settlement initiative, others called reconciliation initiative or other...

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Can Iraqi Campuses Remain Politics Free During Election Season?

Over the past six weeks, two incidents involving politicians visiting Iraqi university campuses have been met with unhappy students protesting their visits. They were dealt with very differently and have raised serious questions and concerns about how the Iraqi state can protect freedom of speech and hold those intolerant to opposing opinions accountable. The first incident occurred on February 28, when Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi held his weekly cabinet meeting in Wasit province, south-east of Baghdad. The Prime Minister occasionally holds his cabinet meetings outside the capital to connect with the rest of the country. That day Abadi decided...

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The Chapter After ISIS in the New Iraq: Reflections on Security and Social Development

It is said that mismanagement is the illegitimate father to all types of corruption (administrative, financial, security, and social). Strong management comes from a firm will; this firmness depends on many attributes such as A) the clarity of purpose; B) the justice of the cause; C) the legitimacy of the objectives and D) the aspirations of the oppressed to the realization of their right. We have heard more than enough from senior Iraqi officials who claim that the next year is the year of construction or the year to fight against corruption or … etc. We simply need these...

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Democracy and the Iraqi Collective

It has been a long journey, full of pain and sacrifice, but Iraqi forces are on the precipice of achieving what many said they could not. With the near liberation of Mosul and thereafter the whole of Iraq from the savagery of Daesh, it is useful to reflect on some key lessons: During my tenure as Iraq’s Ambassador to Japan, I learned through coexistence with the Japanese how a strong social foundation can be a guarantee against the mightiest earthquake or tsunami. The development of resilience and perseverance in the Japanese character is the most important capital for its...

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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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Maslawis Want to Have Their Voices Heard

As Iraqi Security Forces continue their advances in the operation to retake Mosul, edging closer to the city itself, the next stage in the operation will be heavily influenced by local civilian behaviour. The steady stream of news stories and analysis articles fills the media scene, but not many of these pieces incorporate opinions of actual Maslawis (people from Mosul). Restrictions imposed by ISIS on communications, and harsh punishments (including execution) for those suspected of talking to journalists, mean that information flow from Mosul through traditional journalistic channels is almost impossible. Aiming to address the near absence of their...

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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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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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Iraqi Activists Fighting Back Against Legislation Which seeks to Restrict Civil Liberties

Iraqi activists are currently fighting against a draft law, the ‘Law of Freedom of Expression, Gathering, and Peaceful Protest’, which contains a number of amendments which seek to severely restrict basic civil liberties. Activists from across the civil trend spectrum, including Madaniyoun, Mustamerroun, journalists, and students have engaged in protests, including in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, which aim to derail the proposed legislation. While the protests have been small in scale, numbering only a few hundred participants, it seems that the linkages between activists and the Iraqi public sphere are proving effective in bringing pressure to bear on Iraq’s political...

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