30 July 2021
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The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is one of the most water-scarce regions in the world. With approximately 6 percent of world population, the region has about 1.4 percent of the world renewable fresh water. As oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Israel, have resorted to water desalination to mitigate water shortage, most other countries have resorted to their ground water resources, which are getting systematically depleted. There is risk of…
The boycott of Iraq's parliamentary elections is showing no sign of slowing after the Iraqi Communist Party announced this weekend it would not be taking part. The party said during a press conference on Saturday that it was boycotting the election because it does not believe that the 10 October elections will change Iraq for the better, blaming "uncontrolled weapons and political money".  Other parties are citing security concerns as a reason why the elections should not take place.  A representative from the Al-Fatah coalition said that…
Western-style democracy has failed Iraq, bringing a dystopian economy, an ineffectual government and more pain for its long-suffering people Iraq in 2021 is still a state afflicted by poverty, injustice, the trauma of great loss of life, and daily fear. Iraqis still suffer from a sense of powerlessness, defeat and humiliation. Since the start of the year, 330 civilians have been killed, including 27 children. Iraq Body Count has now documented more than 208,800 violent civilian deaths since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003,…
A deadly fire tore through a hospital in Iraq's southern city of Nasiriyah earlier this week, claiming at least 60 fatalities with hundreds more suffering from burns and the effects of smoke inhalation. This was the second major fire at an Iraqi hospital in the past three months and has led to an outpouring of grief and fury as Iraqi officials continue to fail to address an increasingly frail health system. Meanwhile, Iraqi woes also take on an international dimension in the continuing conflict…
When Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi heads to Washington to meet US President Joe Biden at the end of July, he will be representing a country that is undergoing a transition from US to NATO-led forces, preparing for an upcoming election, playing a supporting role in US-Iran nuclear talks, and suffering from a struggling economy and infrastructure, exemplified by mass demonstrations over frequent power outages.  All the while, the US is in the middle of a large troop withdrawal in the Middle East and Central Asia as it pivots its foreign policy away…
Iraq’s post-2003 political order can be characterized by factionalism, dysfunction, and amenability to the interests of outside forces such as the Iranians who seek to realize their own interests at the expense of a viable, independent Iraqi state. On the security front, the Islamic Republic has infiltrated key Iraqi security institutions where Iran-backed Shia militias can use the coercive power of the state to assassinate critics and violently put down protests from the Iraqi street. Meanwhile, Iraqi politicians are notoriously…
Protest movements have a habit of coalescing around emblematic figures. These personalities matter, and often become the symbols of the change that they want to inspire. In Tunisia's 2011 uprising, it was the self-immolation and eventual death of Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor, that struck a chord with young people across the Middle East, so frustrated by corruption and lack of opportunity. On the other side of the region, Iraq's protest movement, which started in 2019, was galvanised by a…
FLOATING on a sea of oil, Iraq should by now have rebuilt its war-shattered infrastructure and restored its economy. But construction sites remain idle. Baghdad’s skyline is dotted with the sight of rusting cranes. Roads and bridges are cratered, potholed and broken. Power outages are still the norm, plaguing the Iraqi people with no heating in winter and no air-conditioning in the searing summer temperatures. Those wealthy enough to keep their refrigerators working and their mobile phones charged, must rely on…
It was early morning on Friday 4 October 2019 when calm finally prevailed in the streets near eastern Baghdad’s upscale Al-Nakheel Mall. Hours earlier, hundreds of protesters had filled the streets on the third day of mass anti-government demonstrations in the capital, as well as cities across the south, demanding the end of corruption, more jobs and improved public services. Now dozens of protesters slept under the Mohammed al-Qassim Bridge, bedding down after security forces had prevented them from reaching…
IRBIL, IRAQI KURDISTAN: It is seven years since their yellow flag first appeared in the campaign against Daesh, the extremist group which seized swathes of northern Iraq and eastern Syria in 2014. After Daesh captured large parts of northern Iraq, including Mosul, in 2014, the fighters of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Forces, won the admiration of many Iraqis for heeding Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani’s call to arms. Since then, the umbrella organization of mainly Shiite militias has, however, adopted…
Since the establishment of the religious regime in Iran in 1979, Iran's relations with Middle Eastern countries have gone through many ups and downs. Tehran developed a two-pronged survival strategy: suppressing dissent inside its borders and exporting terrorism outside its borders. It had a particularly fraught relationship with Iraq, which invaded Iran in 1980. After eight bloody years, Iraq withdrew with as many as one million Iranians dead and almost $627 billion in economic losses. Since the 2003 US-led invasion…
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