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MondayMotivation  Iraq  from twitter_favs
yesterday by csabatino
More Than Militias: Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces Are Here to Stay - War on the Rocks, April 3, 2018
Under the ambiguity of the prime minister’s office, the PMF now have legal recognition as an independent entity parallel to the traditional security agencies. As a result of this legal change, PMF leaders are no longer interested in the previous options for integration.

The paramilitaries also hold formal and informal economic power. Unlike the websites of the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior, or CTS, the PMF’s website includes a strong focus on its rebuilding efforts all over Iraq. For instance, in Basra, trucks with the PMF logo have begun rebuilding roads and infrastructure. In Baghdad, the PMF have advertised their role in rebuilding a medical clinic. In recently liberated areas, PMF checkpoints collect taxes and tariffs and facilitate the transport of formal and informal trade left in ISIL’s wake.
Hashd  militia  Iraq 
3 days ago by elizrael
Sistani enters the fray: ‘Reform or else’ - LSE, Aug 1, 2018
But Sistani’s speech complicates the process by making it clear that results not inclusiveness are the Marjaiʻyah’s priorities. Najaf will not support a ‘big-tent’ coalition that includes all of Iraq’s big parties just so that these factions can protect their own interests (which is exactly what Iraq’s leaders are in the process of agreeing). Ethno-sectarian balance and factional inclusiveness are not priorities for Najaf; it wants to see reform, and it will back a majority government so long as it is formed on the basis of an agreed set of policy goals.

The Marjaiʻyah’s interjection potentially alters the balance of power among Iraq’s competing factions. Having lost ground since the election results were announced to rivals wedded to the status-quo, Muqtada al-Sadr’s Saairun list – which won a plurality of seats in the new Council of Representatives by championing reform – may regain the initiative as it is the only faction that can credibly claim to represent Sistani’s agenda. As such, it could now set the terms for the alliances it needs to form a parliamentary bloc big enough to have the first shot at forming a government.

Saairun will still face tough competition from the other big Islamist Shiʻa parties, which will seek to link themselves to Sistani’s call for change. But with the possible exception of Ammar al-Hakim’s Wisdom Movement (al-Hikma), they now have a credibility problem: as the guardians of the state since 2003, there is no doubt that the Marjaiʻyah’s criticism was aimed directly at them. Sistani’s sermon could also damage the interests of non-Shiʻa factions, including the two main Kurdish parties, the KDP and PUK. Both are dogged proponents of the post-2003 ethno-sectarian formula, and insist that a new government, and its policies, must be based on the principle of consensus among all. An issues-driven, majority government may run against this agenda, and while it is unlikely that a coalition will be devoid of any Kurdish representation (although that happened in 2014), Najaf’s message has robbed the KDP and PUK of some of their political leverage.
Sadr  Iraq  reform  corruption  Sistani 
3 days ago by elizrael
Rebuilding Mosul, Book by Book | by Shawn Carrié | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
Long before the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, proclaimed its empire, Fahad spent years in the University of Mosul, and knew its library like the back of his hand. Each of its sections, stacks, and bookshelves are like a photograph in his mind. He and his wife had their first date in the library’s engineering section. When she noticed poems scribbled in the margins of his notebooks and asked about their author, Fahad replied that the poems were his. “Wow! They’re so good!” she said. Fahad smiles as he recalls the moment.

When Fahad finally proposed to her, it was through a poem. “At the end of the poem, I told her I would be so happy if you would agree to complete our lives together,” recalled Fahad, smiling even wider.

Books weave their way through many of the defining moments of Fahad’s life. To watch so many of them disappear was unimaginable. The library was more than a physical space and its antiquities to him. “A library makes a difference,” said Fahad, “because libraries have books, books have ideas, and ideas make change.”

Fahad couldn’t stop the library burning, but he dreamed that once the war ended, he could do something to bring books back to his city. Through them, he dreamed of creating a place where people could discover and share ideas that would change Mosul’s future....

It is a delicate moment in Mosul. In the vacuum left by ISIS and the Iraqi government, people are painfully aware that no one is coming to rescue them. It is hard to find a family that has not been marked in some way by at least one war. Despite that, there is a sense of fragile hope that colors people’s efforts to rebuild their city with their own hands. Efforts like the Book Forum’s are important not only to restoring a semblance of what life was like before ISIS, but also to nurturing a culture of knowledge that will counteract the cycle of problems that has befallen their generation. 

Over at the university, librarians are working hard to restore the library shelf by shelf. Even though it remains one of the most prestigious in Iraq, the university is not a government priority for reconstruction. Dean Hamdani donated hundreds of his own books to facilitate the university’s reopening. “Daesh thought the law college was the first school that must be closed,” he said, “so I thought it must be the first one permanently opened in the University of Mosul. As a response.” 
books  libraries  Iraq  war 
3 days ago by shannon_mattern
War Without End (The New York Times)
‘The dead were not replaceable, and they had been lost in a place the Army did not need them to be. Sometimes, when he was awake in the restless hours between midnight and dawn, his memories of lost friends orbiting his mind, Soto entertained the questions. What befell those who sent them? Did generals lose sleep, too? “They just failed as leaders,” he said. “They should know: They failed, as leaders. They let us down.”’
clippings  war  Iraq  Afghanistan  foreign+policy  Department+of+Defense 
5 days ago by mjb
Are Conservatives United Enough to get up an Iran War?
Indeed, Pelosi opposed the Iraq War when Carlson supported it, so his disingenuousness is quite appalling.
iraq  iran  'baggers  trump  carlson 
6 days ago by yorksranter
My Kurdish Oppressor | by Hoshang Waziri | NYR Daily, April 16, 2018
A little later, however, Asaysh officers brought in another four people. One, a man in his mid-thirties I will call Hadi, had been badly beaten and kept moaning, asking for medical attention. Later, he told us his story. He had been grabbed by four members of Asaysh who started punching and kicking him in the street. “It was a fantastical spectacle of terror,” he said, recounting his beating. After the Asaysh felt sure they’d intimidated enough bystanders, “they shoved me into a car,” Hadi said. “They held my head down, and while one of them was driving the car the other three were having fun beating me with all their strength.” The car cruised the streets of the capital while Hadi was being tortured inside.
torture  Iraq  KRG  KDP  PUK  policebrutality  arrest 
9 days ago by elizrael
ISIS Intimidates, Harass, Dislocate Locals In Salahaddin, Then Take Over | Niqash, July 12, 2018
“They were the names of seven young men from the village,” al-Shammari says. “The extremists said they would take the men away for questioning, then bring them back. The next day, in the morning, the bodies of the men were found. They had been blindfolded and handcuffed and then shot in the head and chest.”
Iraq  ISIS  Sunni  kidnapping 
9 days ago by elizrael
Iran Out to Remake Mideast With Arab Enforcer: Hezbollah - The New York Times, Aug 27, 2017
At the heart of that effort, Hezbollah has taken on increasingly senior roles in ventures once reserved for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — the force that helped create Hezbollah itself.
Hizbollah  Iran  IRGC  Iraq  Houthi  Yemen  Quds_Force  Lebanon  Mar15 
15 days ago by elizrael
Saudi Arabia’s use of soft power in Iraq is making Iran nervous - Return of the kingdom - Economist, Mar 8, 2018
But overall the Saudi charm offensive has proven popular. For all their sectarian bonds with Iranian Shias, the people of Basra fought on the front lines of Iraq’s brutal war with Iran. Many view Iranian engagement as colonisation. And even militias are swayed by the prospect of more commerce. Saudi investors, they hope, will need protection and help dealing with the country’s tortuous bureaucracy.
Saudi-Arabia  Iraq  Iran  Shia  investment 
15 days ago by elizrael
Iraqi Internet Shuts Down, Fake News Blossoms During Information Blackout | Niqash, July 26, 2018
However the Internet blockage seemed to only frustrate Iraqis further. Locals here rely heavily on social media to get their news; they tend not to trust local media, believing it to be partisan or funded by interested parties who push their own agenda. What friends and relatives post on Facebook has become a major and important source of information – and when the Internet is down they obviously cannot access this.

So locals found themselves watching TV to get more information about the protests or resorting to VPN – virtual private networks – to access the online world. Iraqis have become accustomed to using this kind of software when the government shuts down, or throttles the Internet here, but as digital privacy experts point out, these too can be dangerous, especially with regard to privacy.

In fact, as Internet-rights activist and head of the Ansam Network, Haidar Hamzouz, says, the Internet blockade may well have had the opposite of the government’s intended effect. “Shutting down the Internet is a violation of the freedom of expression,” Hamzouz told NIQASH. “And the decision to do this was not the right one – it actually contributed to the spread of false news and it also became very difficult to inform anyone that certain items were false news.”
Iraq  lies  Propaganda  protests  censorship  internet 
15 days ago by elizrael
Iraqi Politics: From Sectarianism to Nationalism? - LSE, Mar 10, 2018
As such, the elections are seen by some as a competition between an existing regime that has dominated – and benefited from – the post-2003 order, and proponents of a new, issue-based politics, the outlines of which have been evident for the past two years at least. Advocates of this view point to recent changes in the Iraqi political landscape, including: the fragmentation of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), the coalition of Islamist Shia parties that have effectively controlled the federal government over the past 14 years, and the decision of its constituent entities to contest the election either individually or as part of smaller alliances; renewed discussion of creating secular, cross-ethno-sectarian electoral lists campaigning on nationalist or issue-based platforms; the rise in Sunni support for Abadi; and possible fracture of the Kurdish Alliance in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, reflecting inter-party turmoil in Kurdistan.

These recent changes have been accompanied by an apparent shift in popular emphasis towards good governance, rule of law and improved standards of living, less sectarian and more nationalist platforms that Abadi, as well as organisations like the Sadrists and Ammar al-Hakim’s new Hikma party, are seeking to capitalise on. Communal identity remains strong in Iraq; but for many, it is no longer an excuse for accepting bad policy.  The Kurdish experience after the referendum illustrates the dangers that popular disillusionment with bad policy poses for established elites, and Kurdistan is not alone; parts of the Shia constituency are now seeking to hold their leaders more accountable for their decisions, elevating the need for good governance above a history of struggle against repression in judging their leaders’ performance. In the process, Shia sectarianism is being replaced by an Iraqi nationalism with a heavily Shia hue.
reform  Iraq  sectarianism  Shia  ISIS  nationalism 
15 days ago by elizrael
Iran’s Economic Leverage in Iraq - Carnegie, May 23, 2018
Its economic future in question, Tehran is looking to maintain and increase its influence in Iraq by investing in schemes and projects linked with loyal paramilitary forces.

Furthermore, Tehran is also seeking to spend on economic schemes that can sustain Iranian leverage in Iraq by helping to establish economic foundations—and develop existing welfare programs—linked with loyal paramilitary forces within the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), such as Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba. By doing so, Tehran hopes to replicate the experience of the Basij, the volunteer paramilitary arm of the IRGC, who were heavily involved in domestic reconstruction after the Iran-Iraq war through the famous Jihad-e Sazandegi organization. The Basij, upon which Iraq’s PMU is structurally modelled, has an important economic component that makes it more self-sufficient and therefore also more resilient to the U.S.-dominated global economic system.

Similar to Hezbollah’s experience, Iran-backed paramilitary forces had already established small foundations in Iraq, notably AAH’s Shuhada Ahl al-Haq, which provides assistance to the families of AAH members killed in battle. In Lebanon, such entities have reinforced local dependencies by further cultivating clientelistic networks, but their scope has been limited by the country’s relative lack of economic opportunities. In oil-rich Iraq, these foundations might be sub-contracted by state agencies to accomplish projects, which will boost their size and capabilities. For instance, while they currently focus on welfare services such as building schools and running clinics, with Iranian backing and access to Iraq’s banking system, they could expand into more sophisticated projects such as building bridges and repairing electricity and water services. And while local differences matter, since the IRGC successfully replicated the organizational aspect of an Iranian security model it could also easily replicate its affiliated economic model.
Iran  Iraq  economy  reconstruction  IranianProxy 
15 days ago by elizrael

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