23 August 2017
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The liberation of Mosul is complete. Islamic State is unlikely to again govern and control large swaths of territory in the near future. While the past three years of war have been brutal, there will be some justice and respite for those who have lost friends and family to Isis, as well as for the broader Iraqi population that has had to put up with it and its ilk for more than a decade. However, while there is some reason…
After almost nine months of fierce fighting, the campaign to recapture Mosul from Islamic State is drawing to a bitter end in the ruins of the city's historic quarter, but the struggle for Iraq's future is far from over. Aside from Mosul, across the border in Syria a battle is raging to dislodge IS from Raqqa, the second capital of its self-declared caliphate. Fighting will push down the Euphrates valley to Deir al-Zour, the jihadis’ last big urban stronghold. But the fall of Mosul also exposes ethnic…

Battle for Mosul drags on Friday, 07 July 2017 07:06

While Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has declared victory in the battle for Mosul, announcing that the forces of the Islamic State group have been defeated, the Iraqi military and allied Federal Police units are still locked in a bloody struggle against the militants. IS have continued to bleed their opponents, and despite Iraqi politicians’ celebrations on Twitter, the battle is far from over. In other parts of Iraq, Iran has started to manoeuvre itself and its proxies in order…
Even though 200,000 people - 85,000 of them children - continue to be trapped in the violence raging in west Mosul's Old City area, work is ongoing to re-open 47 schools in the areas of west Mosul that were retaken from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) by Iraqi forces.  I visited east Mosul, which was fully recaptured by Iraqi forces in January this year, after the violence wound down. I spoke to many parents; their…
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in talks with the Trump administration to keep American troops in Iraq after the fight against the Islamic State group in the country is concluded, according to a U.S. official and an official from the Iraqi government. Both officials underlined that the discussions are ongoing and that nothing is finalized. But the talks point to a consensus by both governments that, in contrast to the U.S. withdrawal in 2011, a longer-term presence of American troops in…
HAMAM AL-ALIL, Iraq — The road to Mosul is littered with the detritus from almost three years of war: burned M1117 armored vehicles, sandbagged berms and trenches from defensive positions once manned against Islamic State fighters, houses pancaked by airstrikes. The long supply line of the Iraqi army stretches through villages, with bulldozers, camouflaged trucks and temporary base camps. Particularly noticeable are the frequent checkpoints manned by young armed men. But the fighters often aren’t from the Iraqi army or the Federal Police, but are members of various Iran-supported…
Former Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs and Finance Hoshyar Zebari said that the kidnapping of the Qatari hunters represented a defeat for Iraq’s sovereignty and institutions, knowing that it was not the first time it had happened. Turkish workers had also been kidnapped while working on the construction of a football field in al-Sadr city in Baghdad. Both crimes were conducted by a militia affiliated with Iran. Is it possible that, upon Iran’s directives, armed militias abduct a group of…
Earlier in April he was spotted in the northern countryside of the central Syrian province of Hama, where the forces of President Bashar al-Assad have been battling a surprise rebel offensive and reportedly sustaining high casualties. On Monday, according to local news reports, General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, a special forces branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was in Kirkuk, 1,000 kilometers from Hama, trying to broker a deal between Shi'ite militias and…
Erbil, Iraq - The garden of the emergency hospital in Iraq's northern city of Erbil is a lush, well-tended oasis full of vivid spring colours. Under the shadow of a tree, the relatives of patients try to rest after the anguished hours of waiting. "How can I sleep? They are alive by miracle," said an exhausted Tareq Ahmad as he sat on the grass. A mortar shell seriously injured his son, Rayan, and nephew, Abdallarmeh, leaving them both paralysed from the…
In his March 24 Washington Forum commentary, “Iraq needs more help,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged the United States to cooperate across the board with Iraq, from reconstruction to investment after the Islamic State is defeated. The United States should. Iraq likely has two-thirds of the hydrocarbon reserves of Saudi Arabia, a functioning democracy, and with U.S. support could block a resurgence of the Islamic State or Iranian expansion.  But to avoid yet another emergency U.S. military intervention, the United States…
This is not the first time that an Iraqi political leader or government official has hinted that the judiciary has taken too long to look into cases or neglected them or finalized them via making decisions which do not comply with all the conditions of justice. On Friday, Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Islamic Supreme Council, called on the judicial institution to look into all the cases submitted to it and take action. He added that the judiciary must specifically…

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