28 January 2021
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April 28 (UPI) April 28 (UPI) -- Iraq's prime ministerial merry-go-round continues to spin apace. Spy chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi, director of the country's National Intelligence Service, is the third prime minister designate this year, following the withdrawal of Adnan al-Zurfi, the previous prospective candidate, after he failed to secure enough support to form a government. He appears to have won the backing of all of the main Shi'ite parties, as well as the key Kurdish and Sunni factions. Crucially, he also seems…
The Iraqi border has a special strategic appeal. It was once called the “Eastern Front” with Iran. The western side has now become the “front” with Iran as well. With undeclared insistence that is spoiled only by “mysterious raids”, a hidden US-Iranian struggle to capture the Iraqi-Syrian borders is raging. A new player has joined the battle. Russia has plunged into this complex theater, expanding its military presence in the US sphere of influence and meddling with Al-Tanf base through…
We first met Ali Almikdam in late January. Along with thousands of others, he had been living in a tent in Baghdad's Tahrir Square for about four months, protesting the government. "We will never stop our demonstrations," he told us as we whipped through the square in a yellow Tuk-tuk. It was lined with colorful tents and adorned with Iraqi flags. Loudspeakers blasted a song that said "We will stay!" It was the largest homegrown political movement in Iraq's modern history, but the…
Three new unknown militia groups – Usbat Al-Thaereen, Ashab Al-Kahf and Qabdat Al-Hoda – have recently emerged and issued threats against the U.S. presence in Iraq. One of the three, Usbat al-Thaereen (League of Revolutionaries) attracts the most attention. Indeed, it released a video on its official Telegram channel on April 3, showing drone footage of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone. “U.S. embassy, our eyes are tracking your movement, and you will not achieve what you are planning,”…
Iraq is in a state of economic andpoliticalfreefall, made infinitely worse by Tehran’s determination to exploit its neighbor’s woes for its own benefit. With its own economy in a disastrous state, Iran has buried itsfangsintoBaghdad, as well as Beirut and Damascus, in a fatal and unrelenting death grip; determined to drag its neighbors down with it. Having been paralyzed by months of mass protests, followed bythecoronavirusdisease(COVID-19)shutdown, Iraq has been disproportionately impacted by the recent decline in oil prices. In a…
The murder of a well-known female activist in Iraq's rebellious south this week has reminded many of the dangers faced by the country's protest movement even amid the coronavirus lockdown in the country. Despite an ongoing pandemic and the dire economic situation in Iraq, anti-government demonstrators have tried to keep their now six-month-long protest movement alive. But protesters have remained highly vulnerable to attacks, as the murder of Anwar Jassem Mhawwas - known popularly as “Umm Abbas” - in the southern city…
The Pentagon is deploying additional air defense systems to Iraq to better protect U.S. troops from missile and rocket attacks by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies. The Pentagon is also consolidating troops at larger and better-protected bases, which will save lives and preserve the American combat power necessary to respond to any additional aggression. The Department of Defense confirmed last week that it deployed Patriot air and missile defense systems to Iraq. The two batteries went to Ain al-Asad Air Base…

The PMU Is Getting More Aggressive in Iraq Thursday, 09 April 2020 03:50

In January, Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of Iraq’s largest political party, traveled to Iran’s holy city of Qom to meet with representatives of several Iraq-based paramilitaries from the hugely influential Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). That visit was part of an attempt by Sadr to position himself as the face of public anger directed against the United States over the assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani. Sadr is an important figure in Iraq not only because of his ties to Iranian Supreme Leader…
BAGHDAD — In February, an Iraqi militia commander trained by Iran took over the empty office of his slain superior, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, killed weeks before alongside Iranian military mastermind Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike. Many pro-Iran militiamen hoped this was the answer to their problems: the experienced commander Abdul Aziz al-Mohammedawi might replace Muhandis as overall leader of Iraq's paramilitary groups, scattered after the killing of their two mentors. Instead, it has led to new splits. Factions…
Iraq depends on oil revenues, which have plummeted. The country is so desperate it is asking for donations to help it weather the pandemic. BAGHDAD — When Iraq recorded its first cases of coronavirus, its health minister asked the government for $5 million in emergency funds. But there were no funds to be had. “There is no money and we are in a difficult situation,” said the minister, Jaafer Sadiq Allawi, as he appealed for help from a cleric at…
Iran is facing one of the worst public health crises in its modern history. Tens of thousands of people there have been infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and more than 2,000 have lost their lives. Many members of the country’s medical staff and health officials keep calling on the government to take the necessary steps to disrupt the spread of the virus. Kianush Jahanpur, the spokesperson for Iran’s Health Ministry, revealed the depth of the crisis by tweeting: “Based on our information,…

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