elizrael + iraq   913

Trump, frustrated by advisers, is not convinced the time is right to attack Iran - The Washington Post
Pentagon and intelligence officials said that three distinct Iranian actions have triggered alarms: information suggesting an Iranian threat against U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Irbil; U.S. concerns that Iran may be preparing to mount rocket or missile launchers on small ships in the Persian Gulf; and a directive from Khamenei to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and regular Iranian military units that some U.S. officials have interpreted as a potential threat to U.S. military and diplomatic personnel. On Wednesday, the State Department ordered nonessential personnel to leave the U.S. missions in Baghdad and Irbil.
Iran  IRGC  TrumpAdministration  decision_making  Bolton  Iraq 
8 days ago by elizrael
“Mosul Will Never Be the Same” – Mosul Eye, Sep 2018
The civil war that flared up in Iraq from 2006 to 2008 gave the jihadis more reasons to recruit people. In 2010, their power decreased because of a government offensive. At that time, the eastern part of Mosul was safer because it was completely controlled by the government. But there was trouble in the western part of the city, where ISIS had a stronger presence.
Ninewa  Iraq  ISIS 
12 days ago by elizrael
Answers to your questions – Mosul Eye, July 12, 2014
The reaction of Mosul’s people towards ISIS was depressing to me personally. I am repeating studying the city’s people’s habits again in order to know the secret behind this support which encroached the issue of central government’s injustice to the radical religious support. True that there are many people in Mosul who are rejecting ISIS but the general atmosphere is support to the “Islamic Law /Sharia’a”. This reaction was a big hit to the hopes we had regarding spread of civility in Mosul and dissemination of tolerance’s spirit and peaceful coexistence.
ISIS  Ninewa  Iraq 
13 days ago by elizrael
Life after Daesh for the Women of Mosul... - رصيف 22, Aug 17, 2017
Opinions varied on whether women's clothes were a matter of personal freedom. Some even went as far as to describe what is happening in the public space today as “post-Daesh moral degeneracy.” But Ammar Salam, the owner of a women's clothes shop in al-Zuhour neighbourhood in eastern Mosul, said “Why should we restrict people's freedoms? Today we ourselves are acting just like members of the Hesba that used to implement Daesh rules.”

“You don't see many women in the streets of Mosul nowadays. The restrictions imposed by Daesh for three years made women feel unsafe leaving the house, even today,” said Faisal. Escaping the city provided some women with more opportunities to engage in civil society activism and free journalism, which in Mosul would have meant the threat of death or abduction by extremists, or of denunciation by the community. This has discouraged many from returning to Mosul, and pushed them to settle in the places where they had found refuge.
ISIS  Ninewa  Iraq  female  ModestyObsession 
18 days ago by elizrael
Persecution Iranian Militias Plague Iraq’s Nineveh Plains | Persecution, May 1, 2019
Sensing this fear, Hashd al-Shaabi used it to further solidify its presence in the Nineveh Plains, especially in Christian areas. “Hashd always takes bribes from Christians who have shops, pharmacies, clinics, etc.,” explained a local businessman from Qaraqosh. “Their main excuse for taking the money is that they are protecting our village. At the other side, Hashd facilitates life for the Shabak since they are Shia Muslims. They make the process for Shabak very easy.”

Hashd al-Shaabi then wrongly assumed that this meant Ra’afat had extra funds to spare, and insisted on being paid by Ra’afat if he were to proceed home through the checkpoint. “I got stuck at a Hashd checkpoint for hours,” recalled Ra’afat. “I was begging them to pass, but they didn’t respond. They didn’t have reason to keep me waiting, except to make our lives harder. At the end, they took money to let me in.”

Sadly, Ra’afat’s story is not unique. A lack of stability and extortion by those who allege to provide security have prompted many Christians to again leave the Nineveh Plains. Explained one believer, “There are two types of people right now. Some are looking to go back to Ankawa (in Kurdistan); others are trying to sell their houses in Qaraqosh and Bartella and purchase in Ankawa.”
Hashd  Ninewa  Iraq  corruption  Christians 
18 days ago by elizrael
As East Mosul Comes Back To Life, West Mosul Remains In Ruins : Parallels : NPR, Sep 18, 2017
A lot of Iraqis believe that people in west Mosul particularly invited ISIS in.

"On the west side they are simple people and close-minded — most of them are from the villages around Mosul or from Tel Afar," says Federal Police General Hafedh al-Ta'ie, responsible for security in west Mosul. "The ISIS mentality was more prevalent on the west side than the east."

ost of the dozen or so families who have moved back here have repaired a single room of their homes. Although it's too saline to drink, they've dug wells for water.

'He Died Alone': A Grieving Father Searches For His Teenage Son In Mosul
PARALLELS
'He Died Alone': A Grieving Father Searches For His Teenage Son In Mosul
But they say it's still better than being displaced in east Mosul.

"Here we are all from different tribes but we live like one family," Rashadi says.

That wasn't the case on the east side. "They treated us like we came from the Caucasus," he says, citing the most foreign place people can think of here.

"If rent was $100 a month they would charge us $300," says his neighbor, Nazhan al-Jabouri. "They wouldn't even give us a bottle of water — they wouldn't give us water from their wells."

Many Iraqis hold a lingering resentment against the people of Mosul, not just those who pledged allegiance to ISIS.
ISIS  Iraq  Ninewa 
19 days ago by elizrael
Social Engineering in Samarra - TCF
Some local Sunnis see eye to eye with the Shia security forces. Mohamed Izzat, a journalist at the privately owned Al Sharqiya television station, said that the Islamic State, and before it, al-Qaeda, cultivated a wide following among the governorate’s rural residents and police forces. Approximately 90 percent Samarra’s police officers, he said, were fired after 2014 for suspected Islamic State ties. “Uneducated rural people accept the ideas of al-Qaeda. They only trust religious leaders,” Izzat said. “Change should start from the early stages of elementary school.”34

Sadr’s gamble in Samarra is that it is possible to create new facts on the ground and new loyalties. Reformist and nationalist Iraqis, in turn, argue that the Sadrist experiment can create a blueprint for Iraq to move forward, regardless of whether that is Sadr’s true intention. Paralysis and consensus dominate national negotiations. On a local level, however, powerful figures are freer to act. In Samarra, a new authority has shaped a new local order, pushing aside some individuals and tribes that were accustomed to greater power, and investing in new alliances that are committed to cooling sectarian allegiances and forging new ideological and economic networks. As several Iraqis noted in interviews, corruption and violence aren’t problems for Sunnis, Shia, or Kurds: they are problems for all Iraqis. A mess of militia fiefdoms and political infighting—pushed to the breaking point by a generational crisis of politics, security, and the economy—has produced a raft of experiments in collaborative rule. New partnerships are forging new communities and identities, continuous with existing blocs and identities but diverging in significant ways. The nationalist and other trans-sectarian formations under development are precarious and deeply flawed; none are likely to transform Iraq. They do, however, suggest the shape of models for reversing the fragmentation and sectarian mobilization that began in 2003, and build a more inclusive and malleable political community of interests, rather than of identities.
Iraq  sectarianism  Sadr  Shia  Sunni  ISIS 
21 days ago by elizrael
Iraq pressing to build isolation camp for Islamic State refugees in Syria - The Washington Post
Inside the camps, women who lost their husbands to airstrikes or prison say they are targeted for sexual violence, by militiamen and camp guards, or forced marriage. Kawakip, 40, who now lives in the Khazir camp, said that two of her daughters had recently been coerced into short-lived marriages with camp outsiders after guards let them in to choose a wife. In a nearby tent, another family said it had happened to three of their children. 

“These marriages are just sex marriages, but you can’t say no,” said Muntahar, a girl in a floral dress who looked younger than her 16 years. She pointed to a divorce certificate from February. “Then they take you for a week, or for a few months before throwing you back into the camp. They just tell you, ‘You’re a daughter of ISIS. I don’t want you anymore.’ ”

After visits to the camps last year, researchers from Amnesty International said they had witnessed a deepening sense of resentment among families accused of links to the Islamic State. “There was a real lack of faith and often extreme fear,” said Razaw Salihy. “There was a real belief that the government knew exactly what was happening to them, and that it constituted a punishment.”
Iraq  ISIS  ISISfamilies  rape  prostitution  IDPs 
22 days ago by elizrael
محكمة جنايات نينوى: حوادث الانتقام ضد عائلات مسلحي داعش تشهد ارت
وقال الخفاف إن "الحوادث الجنائية ضد عوائل داعش ارتفعت مؤخراً، وقد نظرت المحكمة الجنائية قبل أيام دعوى قتل أم أحد أفراد عصابات داعش وشقيقته من قبل أحد المتضررين من داعش، حيث اقتحم منزلهما في حي الحدباء، وقتلهما معاً في الحال، وتم القبض عليه في وقت لاحق".
Iraq  ISIS  ISISFamilies  Ninewa  murder  crime 
4 weeks ago by elizrael
Religious Authority and the Politics of Islamic Endowments in Iraq - Carnegie Middle East Center - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Iraq moved after 2003 from a state policy of domination over the religious field to one granting religious actors and institutions more freedom from the state. MERA, the Baathi regime’s main tool to control religious affairs, was replaced by confessional offices of endowments. This was seen as a step toward decentralization, democratization, and a more equitable distribution of religious commodities. However, this shift created new conflicts and rivalries. First, between the newly created OSHE and OSE after they inherited MERA’s powers and some of its functions as they sought to identify what belonged to each one of them. Second, between the multiple religious and confessional players who recognized that gaining more authority in the management of religious sites and endowments would strengthen their positions vis-à-vis their rivals.

The confessionalization of Islamic endowments was part of a broader process of sectarianization, which entailed the solidification of boundaries between the two confessions and the formation of religious centers in each sectarian group. This process managed to assert the position of the marjiʿyya as the highest authority in the Shia religious field, formalizing and legalizing its role in the administration of Shia endowments and shrines. This is likely to assert the “Iraqi-ness” of the marjiʿyya and Najaf as the center of the Shia religious hierarchy while significantly reshaping the structure of this hierarchy and the process of legitimizing the authority of the future grand marjaʿ. In contrast, the new institutional arrangement for Sunni endowments has failed so far to overcome the fragmentation of authority in Sunnism. Evidently, the building of a Sunni authority similar to the Shia marjiʿyya, an objective propagated by some Sunni religious and political actors, is still far from being realized. The intra-Sunni rivalries are likely to continue and to revolve around ideological differences and patron-client networks, allowing the state to be a key arbiter in the restructuring of the Sunni religious field.
Shia  Sunni  clergy  Islam  Iraq 
7 weeks ago by elizrael
The New Humanitarian | Screening for Islamic State in Iraq: an inexact science, Nov 10, 2016
“As far as we know, there were some 13 separate security services or agencies each with their own lists of individuals who may have committed crimes or constitute security risks,” Francesco Motta, director of UNAMI’s Human Rights Office, told IRIN.
ISIS  Iraq  Intelligence_community 
7 weeks ago by elizrael
Islamic State Enlists Women as Covert Operatives in Survival Bid - WSJ
Women are now acting as links between attack cells based in rural or mountain areas and Islamic State’s funding and support networks in villages and remote camps, said Alex Mello, a security analyst at energy consulting firm Horizon Client Access.

Destitute, displaced and in cases sexually harassed by security forces, some have turned to Islamic State. The group has a special “Martyrs and Detainees” department that provides social support to the families of slain and captured militants.

Suzanne claims she didn’t initially know the man who called her last year asking a favor was an Islamic State member. He sent Suzanne $3,500 and asked her to distribute it to five other people, keeping a fraction for herself. Her husband—the family’s sole provider—had been arrested several months earlier and sentenced to 15 years in jail for links to Islamic State, leaving her desperate.
female  ISIS  Ninewa  Iraq  terrorism 
7 weeks ago by elizrael
أقرباء "الدواعش" معزولون في مخيمات ومحرومون من العودة... "تبرؤنا من أبنائنا لم يشفع لنا" - رصيف 22 March 24, 2018
. في نوفمبر 2016، تعرّضت أسر عناصر داعش في منطقة حمام العليل في مدينة الموصل لهجوم من قبل مواطنين، وأُحرق نتيجة ذلك الهجوم 20 منزلاً. وتكررت مُطالبات طرد أسر داعش من مناطقهم، إذ تظاهر ما يُقارب الـ500 شخص في ناحية القيارة في مدينة الموصل في يونيو 2017 لمطالبة الحكومة بطرد أي عائلة لديها منتمٍ إلى التنظيم الذي يتزعمه أبو بكر البغدادي.
CollectivePunishment  ISIS  Iraq  IDPs  Ninewa 
7 weeks ago by elizrael
The Plight of Those Related to ISIS Fighters | Human Rights Watch, Jan 11, 2017
Families from Anbar face similar difficulties, as in July, tribal leaders said that people who “promoted” ISIS are not allowed to return until their charges are reviewed. Individuals who did not renounce relatives who supported ISIS are only allowed to return home “when this situation stabilizes.” No one knows when that will be.
Anbar  Iraq  ISIS  CollectivePunishment  IDPs 
8 weeks ago by elizrael
مجلس محافظة بابل يقرر هدم منزل كل من يثبت تورطه بأعمال إرهابية - Rudaw, July 26, 2016
قرر مجلس محافظة بابل، هدم منزل كل من يثبت تورطه من أبناء المحافظة بأعمال إرهابية، وترحيل عائلته من المحافظة.
ISIS  collectivePunishment  Iraq  dispossession  House_demolition  IDPs 
8 weeks ago by elizrael
Iraqi Region Is Evicting Families of ISIS Members - The New York Times, Jan 29, 2017
But the evictions have set off a rancorous dispute between officials in Tikrit and politicians in Baghdad. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in a letter to the provincial governor last week, sharply criticized the removals and ordered provincial and Baghdad officials to resolve the issue.

But local Sunni militiamen, along with Iraqi security forces, have themselves carried out some of the evictions — all targeting Sunnis. Thousands of Sunni tribal fighters had joined the fight against ISIS in Tikrit.

Hussein Ahmed Khalaf, director of the Shahama camp, said none of the 345 evicted families — 1,111 people — had been permitted to return home. All will undergo security screenings to determine their fates, he said.
ISIS  collectivePunishment  Iraq  IDPs  dispossession  House_demolition  illegal_detention 
8 weeks ago by elizrael
Islamic State Leader Goes Low-Tech to Evade Capture - WSJ
The 47-year-old jihadist, whose call to arms drew thousands of Muslims from around the world to battlefields in Syria and Iraq, is believed to be hiding in a remote stretch of desert that straddles the border between the two countries, according to Iraqi security officials.

To elude capture, Mr. Baghdadi, who has a $25 million bounty on his head, has gone low tech, Iraqi officials say, shunning trackable communications devices, moving in a single vehicle to avoid attention and trusting only a small circle of close aides.

As recently as spring 2017, he was in eastern Syria, said a senior Iraqi militant who met with him and was subsequently captured. On that occasion, Mr. Baghdadi appeared to be in poor health, and flew into a rage when informed of Islamic State’s latest military setbacks.

Mr. Eithawi, who has been sentenced to death in Iraq, said Mr. Baghdadi lacked skill and charisma but had risen to the top because there was nobody else to fill the role: “He is a man who found himself in his position by chance.”
ISIS  Mar15  surveillance  Iraq 
8 weeks ago by elizrael
How ordinary Iraqis resisted the Islamic State - The Washington Post
when we examine the distribution across all resistance categories, over 80 percent of respondents reported having engaged in some form of resistance.
Resistance  ISIS  Iraq  authoritarian_regime 
9 weeks ago by elizrael
Mosul’s stark divide highlights Iraqi governance crisis | Financial Times
“On the [east] side there are schools and salaries,” complained Abu Omar, 58, a worker from west Mosul. By contrast in the west, “two years have passed and nothing”.

Damage to bridges has increased the isolation of west Mosul,


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Aid organisations have made headway in debris clearance and other early recovery projects in west Mosul. But two senior humanitarian officials said Ninewa’s provincial government had repeatedly held up their work and that it was almost impossible to track how federal funds were spent.


“Unfortunately, government resources are not directed in the right way to help the people rebuild the city,” said an international humanitarian official.

Mr al-Hibbu has accused governor Nawfal Hammadi al-Sultan of corruption and interfering in municipality projects, without providing documents to substantiate this claim. Mr Hammadi al-Sultan did not respond to requests for comment.
corruption  Ninewa  Iraq  reconstruction 
10 weeks ago by elizrael
Iraqis in Hezbollah: Interview :: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Jan 9, 2019
Q: The Americans would speak a lot about 'blocking the land route' for the resistance axis, but in truth this issue is not very important for the resistance axis?

A: Of course, and it is well known that the resistance axis does not depend on the land route because praise be to God the resistance now possesses modern equipment and aircraft so this does not impede any movement for the resistance from the outset.

Q: Yes, so the air route is much more important than a land route.

A: Of course, the air route is secure and quick.
Iraq  Hizbollah  Mar15  GLOS 
february 2019 by elizrael
Partisan Bickering Over Iraq’s Cabinet - Carnegie, Feb 7, 2019
Although the Iraqi constitution dictates that the prime minister nominate all cabinet posts, Abdul-Mahdi has deferred to political factions and allocated posts on an ethno-sectarian basis. The parliamentary blocs agreed to allot the defense and education ministries to Sunnis, but intra-Sunni infighting is preventing his nominations for these posts from being approved. Similarly, intra-Kurdish disputes are holding up the confirmation for minister of justice. Even the Ministry of Migrants and Displacement was until December 24 held up by intra-Christian divisions, even though the 329-member parliament has only five Christian representatives. The most consequential division has been over the decision by Amiri’s Construction Bloc (Bina), a coalition dominated by Iran-aligned Shia Islamists, to nominate Falih al-Fayyad for minister of interior.
Iraq  internal_struggle  politics  AdelAbdulMahdi 
february 2019 by elizrael
Iraqi Refugees in North Aleppo Countryside: Interview :: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Feb 17, 2019
We the people are content in the camp, from the aspect of the hospital, the aspect of food, the aspect of a place to sleep, the aspect of the location. As I told you yesterday, the suffering only among us is when you are separated from your family: your wife sleeps in a tent and you sleep in a tent. The big tent in width is around 10m, and in length around 25m-30m, taking in around 50 people: 50 people in every tent. The tent of men. The tent of women likewise the same.
Iraq  refugees  Aleppo  aid  Turkey 
february 2019 by elizrael
Undefeated, ISIS Is Back in Iraq | by Aziz Ahmad | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
With the government falling short of its responsibilities to Iraq’s millions of returning displaced people, and unwilling or unable to rein in Shia militia rule, ISIS is winning the war for hearts and minds. Amid the general economic misery, reconstruction efforts have been held up in areas seen as having supported ISIS. Over the last year, some 32,000 internally displaced people have left camps and gone back to their homes elsewhere in Iraq, but a similar number of newly displaced people and refugees have joined the multitudes already living in flimsy tents in the Kurdistan region. Baghdad has allocated to Mosul, home to a full tenth of the country’s population, just 1 percent of the federal budget reserved for provinces. Even clearing the untold number of unexploded bombs and abandoned munitions will be a generational struggle. An international expert who leads part of that effort told me that with the limited resources, it will take a full five years to clear the province.

Kurdistan Region Security Council intelligence also reveals that Iraqi government forces have returned to some of the practices that originally fed the ingrained sense of local grievances. In recent months, we have seen a surge in arrests using an anti-terrorism law widely perceived as unfairly targeting Sunnis. At checkpoints, and inside their homes, Sunni dignity is being violated in ways that provoke bitter resentment. In dawn raids by Iraqi security forces, soldiers slip hoods over the heads of detained civilians and bind their wrists tightly with plastic cuffs, treating them as presumed guilty. At sprawling prison camps, new arrivals find common ground with thousands picked up under this law since 2014, many detained indefinitely without trial and increasingly without hope of living to see any evidence laid against them. Back in the Sunni villages, ISIS exploits the new fertile ground to creep in at night, replenishing supplies and planting bombs by roadsides and checkpoints, with the tacit approval of resentful locals.
IDPs  ISIS  Iraq  COIN 
february 2019 by elizrael
In Iraq, Iran-affiliated militias that helped rout Islamic State wield growing clout - Los Angeles Times, Feb 13, 2019
Last month, according to local media reports quoting key politicians and others, the Fatah party persuaded the government to give the Hashd control of the Mutassem Co., one of the largest state-owned construction contractors in Iraq. The Hashd intends to use its fighters to pour cement, pave roads and repair homes as part of the effort to rebuild the country after so many years of war.

The Hashd’s rising profile has also worried many Iraqis, who say that the group is amassing a level of power that threatens to undermine the government and remains close with militias that were never absorbed by the military.

Parliamentarians and security personnel have accused the Hashd and its former militias — which have created so-called economic offices — of imposing levies on commerce, using their influence to grab real estate or charge protection money for safe passage.

“Their aim is to entrench their patronage and social influence by creating a network of social service entities to go with their militia,” said Thanassis Cambanis, a senior fellow at the New York-based Century Foundation think tank.
Hashd  Iraq  corruption  oil  Iran  patronage 
february 2019 by elizrael
אמ"ן: לאור לחץ הסנקציות ופרישת ארה"ב, איראן תשקול לשוב ולהעשיר אורניום - מדיני ביטחוני - הארץ
באמ"ן מזהים כוונה איראנית להרחיב את הפעילות של משמרות המהפכה בשטח עיראק, גם כמסלול השפעה חליפי, לנוכח בלימת המאמצים האיראניים להתבססות צבאית בסוריה עקב פעולות הסיכול הישראליות. האיראנים מבקשים לפרוס במערב עיראק מיליציות שיעיות, טילים לטווח בינוני ואמצעי לחימה שונים, שבאמצעותם ניתן יהיה לאיים על ישראל משם ובד בבד להבטיח את קיומו של "מסדרון יבשתי" להעברת אמצעי לחימה וכוחות משטח איראן לסוריה וללבנון.
Iraq  Iran  Iran.NuclearProgram  Israel  intelligence_assessment 
february 2019 by elizrael
Echoes of Extremist ‘Morality Police’ In Northern Iraq University | Niqash, Dec 2018
Students at Mosul University report a disturbing trend, where campus security report on and harass male and female students sitting together. It reminds them most of the Islamic State group’s morality patrols.
Iraq  Ninewa  modesty_police  academia 
january 2019 by elizrael
Sinjar road reconnects estranged Yazidis and Kurds with Baghdad - Al-Monitor, Dec 17, 2018
The closure meant that Yazidis in Sinjar, who wanted to travel to Dahuk, home to their celebrated Lalesh temple and tens of thousands of other Yazidis uprooted by IS’ genocidal spree, had to spend over five hours navigating hostile terrain.

The 21-point agreement on Sihela was inked Nov. 26 after months of talks between Interior Ministry officials from both sides. Sources familiar with the negotiations say the appointment in October of Adel Abdul Mahdi, a senior member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, as prime minister, provided the immediate trigger. But there are other factors at play.

Meanwhile, Younis said, “Iran has played an important role in persuading the KDP that improved relations with Baghdad are the best route to securing Kurdish rights. The result is that Kurdish political actors are more active and influential now in Baghdad politics than any time since the death of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader and former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.” An early sign of the budding rapprochement came last month when Iraq resumed oil exports to Turkey through a Kurdish pipeline linked to fields in Kirkuk. This was followed by Barzani's visit to Baghdad where he met with Abdul Mahdi.
KDP  Iran  Iraq  AbdulMahdi  KRG  Sinjar  FreedomOfMovement 
december 2018 by elizrael
Protests are mounting in Iraq. Why? - WaPo, July 21, 2018
Meanwhile, many protesters are demanding jobs in the energy sector, which employs only 4 percent of the Iraqi workforce. Demonstrators have targeted foreign workers they accuse of displacing them. But many lack skills to take on anything but basic roles (as security guards and drivers).

Oil firms are also reluctant to hire and train the local population. They consider Basrawis troublesome and, fearing extortion by local employees and tribes, they try to avoid them as much as possible.
protests  decentralization  Iraq  StateServices  water  electricity 
december 2018 by elizrael
The Shi'a of Busra al-Sham: Interview :: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Dec 24, 2018
Q: Of course Busra remained under the control of the Syrian government between 2012 and 2015, while most of the eastern countryside fell.

A: The town centre, yes. Though the [Syrian] army remained, it did not have influence. The party [Hezbollah- and likewise all references hereafter to 'the party'] was more active.

Q: "Though the army remained, it did not have influence. The party was more active." Can you clarify this? Do you mean Hezbollah entered the town to protect it?

A: Yes.

Q: When did the party enter approximately?

A: Around the fifth month of 2012. At first it entered secretly. There were just a few people who were bearing arms with us.

Q: Yes. But later the party's presence increased?

A: Very much so, as all the districts were closed off, and the youth began going and registered. And also some youth from the Sunnis registered with the party.

Q: Yes. So there was a formation affiliated with the party in the town.

A: Yes.

Q: How many people registered in the formation approximately? And when was the formation established approximately?

A: Around 500. It began in early 2012 and began gradually growing till the end of 2012 as the party imposed its control over the area.

Q: Yes, so when the party secretly entered at first in May 2012, they set up the formation.

A: Yes. It remained secret for around two months.

Q: And the youth recruited into the formation, and it became more active than the army by 2013, right?

A: Yes. The name became for the party [i.e. Hezbollah became the main force]. As for the channels and television, they would speak in the name of the army and say with the assistance of the popular forces.

Q: Yes. Was there a name for the local formation in Busra?

A: No.

Q: Just Hezbollah, you mean.

A: Yes. It was just the party.

Q: But during all these years there were no more than a few guys from the Lebanese brothers in the town?

A: Actually there were around twenty. For each speciality two or three came for assistance and training.
Shia  Daraa  Hizbollah  Mar15  Iraq  ForeignFighters  IranianProxy 
december 2018 by elizrael
Car plant shows limits to Iran's economic ambitions in Syria | Reuters, Nov 14, 2018
Car parts have to be shipped by sea instead of via the shorter land route because Syria’s border with Iraq is closed, and Western sanctions make it hard to transfer money.

For Saipa Syria, the most pressing difficulty is limited demand, said its general manager, Emad Alavian.

“The purchasing power of customers dropped, but we see an improvement in conditions. We see new movement,” he said, adding that he hoped to double production in 2019 to around 2,000 cars from the 1,000 he expects to assemble this year.

Saipa makes small, modestly priced cars and it is poorer Syrians who have been hit hardest by the war. “We took big discounts from Iran to help the Syrian customer,” Alavian said, but demand has stayed low.

The car parts are shipped in wooden crates to the Mediterranean port of Latakia, a journey that adds thousands of miles to the direct — but closed — land route through Iraq.
That combination of a battered market, logistical problems and sanctions — as well as competition with companies from Damascus’ other main ally, Russia — affect many Iranian businesses operating in Syria.
trade  manufacturing  Mar15  Iran  poverty  Iraq  sanctions 
december 2018 by elizrael
Basra’s Ongoing Protests Shift Loyalties, Confuse - And Have The Potential To Change Everything | Niqash, Dec 21, 2018
? The protests were the result of an organic and unexpected alliance between three different parts of Basra society. Firstly, they involved lower-income locals, who tend to identify themselves first and foremost as members of the larger tribes and clans in the area. A lot of these families live from agriculture and the water shortage had an extreme impact on them. For the first time, some Basra tribespeople decided to move to other areas where there was more water. This resulted in fighting between them and the tribes already in those areas. 

The second group is comprised of civil society activists and organizations – many of them established around 2015 as part of well-funded international efforts to inspire more democracy in Iraq. They have undertaken many pro-human rights campaigns and were particularly effective in their use of social media to organize and communicate with other demonstrators. These individuals tended to invent hashtags and share pictures of the protests online but they did not themselves get involved in the violence or arson.

The third segment of the Basra population involved in the protest were the city’s liberal-leaning businesspeople, who have become frustrated with the inefficacy of the local government. They perceive the continuous wheeling and dealing and sharing out of fees and contracts among the political class as a major problem, one that has caused much of the current breakdown in state services and is responsible for the lack of progress on important infrastructure projects. This group participated more quietly in the demonstrations and played a role in starting a dialogue with local politicians.
Basra  Iraq  protests  civil_society 
december 2018 by elizrael
Iraq’s Post-ISIS Campaign of Revenge | The New Yorker
The corruption and cruelty of the state’s response to suspected jihadis and their families seem likely to lead to the resurgence of the terror group.
Iraq  torture  ISIS  terrorism  FreedomOfMovement  Ninewa 
december 2018 by elizrael
Iraq’s Paramilitary Groups: The Challenge of Rebuilding a Functioning State | Crisis Group, July 30, 2018
A struggle looms in Iraq over the future of paramilitary groups assembled to help the state defeat ISIS. These units remain under arms and autonomous. Baghdad should strengthen the interior and defence ministries so they can absorb the paramilitaries now undercutting the state’s authority.
Iraq  Hashd  serviceProvision  Iran  corruption 
december 2018 by elizrael
Why Massoud Barzani returned to Baghdad - Al-Monitor, Dec 1, 2018
The agreement on activating the Kirkuk oil pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan through the KRG is only common interest between the federal government and the KRG. Up until recently, this oil would be exported to Iran by road through the province of Sulaimaniyah where the PUK headquarters are located. Meanwhile, the PUK strongly opposed the export of Kirkuk oil to Turkey, saying that Barzani’s party controls all financial benefits and does not evenly distribute them.

However, the recent US sanctions on Iran restored the pipeline’s importance and thus rebuilt the relationship between the federal government and the KRG.

Barzani is convinced that it would be difficult to restore the status quo that prevailed before the referendum and implement or amend Article 140 concerning the disputed areas.

He seeks to achieve political influence in the capital, which could allow him to obtain the possible gains he desires instead of resorting to confrontation.
KDP  Iraq  Barzani  BarhamSalih  Sadr  politics  Kirkuk  oil  budget  Iran  trade  Turkey 
december 2018 by elizrael
Iraq seeks power revamp to head off sanctions, protests - AFP
Much of the shortfall is technical: when Iraq transmits power, 30 to 50 percent gets lost to poor infrastructure, according to the Iraq Energy Institute (IEI).

Finally, Baghdad wants to recover money lost by the ministry's poor collection service.

"We are losing about 60 percent of our revenues to people who don't pay. If we can cut those losses, we can stop relying on Iran," said Mudarris.

Last year, Iraq began privatising by hiring collection services to ensure households paid power bills.
Iran  Iraq  electricity 
november 2018 by elizrael
How to Cope with Iraq’s Summer Brushfire | Crisis Group, July 31, 2018
The unprecedented scope and intensity of this year’s unrest underline the population’s deep alienation from the political system. For the first time, protesters targeted the full spectrum of the (mainly Shiite) ruling elites, from former exiles backed by either the U.S. or Iran to those who survived Saddam’s regime and have developed strong nationalist orientations. They marched on and, at times, occupied or torched government buildings and political party offices without apparent distinction. In Basra, protesters demonstrated in front of the provincial council building and set on fire the headquarters of the Badr Organisation, a political party with ties to Iran. Elsewhere, they attacked offices of Daawa, Hikma, Fadhila, Kataeb Hizbollah and other parties, all of which have their electoral strongholds in the country’s centre and south. In Najaf, they stormed the airport, briefly occupying it and halting air traffic. In Karbala, they set ablaze the offices of Asaeb Ahl al-Haq, another party with close links to Iran. In Amara, they torched both the district government headquarters and the district director’s residence.

In some southern cities, such as Hilla, the protesters even attacked the offices of the Sadr movement. The Sadrists had risen to prominence in 2003-2004 with their nationalist fervour and pitched battles with U.S. troops – as well as their rhetorical broadsides against parties, like Badr and Daawa, that were members of the U.S.-sponsored post-2003 governments.

More important, the heavily Shiite protesters did not spare their religious authorities from reprimand. Few actually blamed the Shiite clerical establishment for the country’s ills, but many expressed their disappointment in the ayatollahs’ early passivity as the disturbances spread and the state ratcheted up repression. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Shiites’ foremost religious authority, came in for particular censure when he failed to condemn the government’s crackdown in his Friday sermon (delivered by his representative) in Karbala on 20 July. Overt criticism of Sistani is unusual. But it has been less rare since 2015, when he issued a call for reform that Baghdad’s political class ignored.

Many of the major civil society organisations, which have their headquarters in Baghdad, have not been involved in guiding the demonstrations, though they have publicised them on social media. The capital was initially quiet, with only occasional small protests in solidarity with demonstrators in the south. A primary reason may be that the Sadrists, who formed the bulk of Baghdad marchers in the past, stayed home, depriving the protests of critical mass. The protest movement remains active in the capital, however, and will likely continue to mount periodic Friday protests throughout the year.
Sistani  riots  electricity  Basra  protests  water  Sadr  Baghdad  Iraq 
november 2018 by elizrael
Tracing the Rise of Sectarianism in Iraq after 2003 | Middle East Centre, Sep 13, 2018
The arguments developed have sought to move beyond the instrumentalism central to the sectarianisation thesis. For example, although Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has long been deeply committed to a unitary political field in which a civic Iraqi nationalism was meant to marginalise sectarianism, his backing of the UIA as a vehicle for Shi’a empowerment inadvertently led to the interpolation of Shia’s as Shia’s and increased the sectarianisation of Iraq’s political field.
sectarianism  Iraq  politics  Sistani  al-Alawi 
november 2018 by elizrael
A Fractured Iraqi Cabinet - Carnegie, Nov 8, 2018
The roots of Abdul-Mahdi’s weak government lie in the manner in which the prime minister himself was elected. After he resigned as minister of oil in 2016, Abdul-Mahdi left ISCI to become an independent and did not run in the May 2018 parliamentary elections. However, on May 23 he published a Facebook post explaining why he could not be prime minister because all the reforms he would want to implement would be opposed by many. These included such broad changes as moving away from the rentier state, strengthening state institutions and ensuring their independence from political influence, reining in illegal militia activity, and reducing the influence of tribalism.

This pitch aligned well with the rhetorical vision of populist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has long associated himself with such themes. The political class was focused for much of the summer on the struggle over Haider al-Abadi’s effort to secure a second term. Yet once the fallout over Basra’s massive water pollution crisis ended Abadi’s hopes in early September, Sadr quickly backed Abdul-Mahdi as a replacement, and Barham Salih designated him to head the next government immediately after his own election as president on October 2. Sadr conditioned his support two days later by declaring that he was giving Abdul-Mahdi “a period of one year to prove his success.” This gives Sadr the option to take credit for the government’s success if it does well or turn against it next year if protests over poor public services swell again.
Iraq  politics  AbdulMahdi  Sadr  HadiAlAmeri 
november 2018 by elizrael
How violent protests in Iraq could escalate - The Washington Post, Sep 11, 2018
Some estimates have put the unemployment rate in Basra at 30 percent. This has particularly affected youths in the province, many of whom are university graduates and accuse the government of failing to provide jobs. Responding to demonstrations in July, the government promised to create 10,000 new jobs in Basra. Within a week of the announcement, officials had received 60,000 applications for the promised positions. Officials said they expected the final total to reach half a million.

Added to this has been resource scarcity, particularly water and electricity shortages, which fuel discontent while exacerbating Basra’s entrenched tribal feuding. Tribal fighting further erodes security, allowing other forms of criminal violence to flourish. All these factors have been exacerbated by the corruption and incompetence of local and federal authorities and the administrative confusion that reigns between the two.
Iraq  protests  Basra  electricity  tribes  militia  unemployment  water 
november 2018 by elizrael
Exclusive: Iran moves missiles to Iraq in warning to enemies | Reuters, Aug 31, 2018
Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there to deter attacks on its interests in the Middle East and to give it the means to hit regional foes, Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources said.

According to three Iranian officials, two Iraqi intelligence sources and two Western intelligence sources, Iran has transferred short-range ballistic missiles to allies in Iraq over the last few months. Five of the officials said it was helping those groups to start making their own.
Iran  Iraq  IRGC  militia  Shia  missile 
november 2018 by elizrael
MUSINGS ON IRAQ: Kurdish Government Tries To Create New Narrative Of What Happened To Iraq’s Yazidis - Aug 2015
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official put in charge of Sinjar Sarbast Bapiri ensured the locals that the peshmerga were there to protect them from the Islamic State and they had nothing to worry about.

To ensure their control of the area, the KDP armed their supports amongst the Yazidis and disarmed others. Many Yazidis had seized weapons from the retreating army, police and border guards. They were disarmed by the peshmerga. A local leader and former lawmaker Haider Sesho formed a 3,500 man militia, but was refused arms by the KDP. Finally, the Religious Council of Yazidis asked President Barzani to set up a Yazidi peshmerga unit under the Peshmerga Ministry to defend Sinjar, but was turned down as well. The KDP did allow a Yazidi armed group to be created under one of its allies known as the Hez Res, the Black Unit. These decisions left Sinjar largely under the protection of the KDP and its units. Without them the Yazidis would not be able to defend themselves against the insurgents who were coming.

In the early morning of August 4, 2014 the Islamic State attacked Sinjar. Yazidi villages used their personal weapons and some they’d kept from the security forces to hold off the first wave of attacks. They desperately pleaded with the peshmerga for help several times and were told that relief was coming. The KDP politburo for example told the fighters to hold fast until the peshmerga arrived. In reality no help was coming. The Kurdish units in the district were unilaterally withdrawing without telling the locals. Not only that, in several instances the Kurds would not allow villagers to flee with them, and told them to go back to their homes. In one case when Yazidi peshmerga saw their unit packing up to leave they told their commanders they were staying to defend their villages and asked for weapons. This led to an argument and three Yazidi peshmerga were killed. The Kurdish decision allowed IS to surround the southern villages and later take the rest of the district as they overwhelmed the lightly armed villagers. Approximately 36,000 Yazidis in the north and east were able to flee to the KRG, but thousands more ended up trapped on Mount Sinjar.

The Kurdistan Regional Government took two approaches to explain its actions in Sinjar, which was first indignation, followed by a cover up. First, President Barzani said he would bring to justice all those responsible for the Sinjar debacle. Several KDP officials from the district were put under house arrest, and dozens of peshmerga commanders were questioned. Nothing happened to any of them, and they were eventually allowed to return to their duties. Then the KRG moved into its second phase, which was to accuse others of the failure to free the entire district, and call the Yazidis ungrateful. Kurdish officials went after the PKK and PYD blaming them for Sinjar town not being recaptured. One peshmerga commander asked why the others Kurdish forces were even there saying that Sinjar was part of Kurdistan and therefore only the peshmerga should be there. The KDP and its media allies would then attack the PKK for either attempting to take over Sinjar or encourage the locals to push for self-rule.
KDP  KRG  Iraq  genocide  Peshmerga  Yazidi 
november 2018 by elizrael
View of Some Of Iraq’s Rural Areas: Few Jobs, Little Rebuilding Or Reconciliation, Still Insurgent Threat - Musings on Iraq
Few of these areas get any kind of press coverage, and when they do its usually for an attack by the Islamic State. That’s why this IOM report was important, because it gave a brief insight into what was going on some of Iraq’s rural areas. The picture was not pretty. These sub districts almost all saw heavy fighting during the war and there is little being done to rebuild them. The economy is still pretty much wrecked, IS sympathizers are being singled out and discriminated against, and just as important the militants are still active in many of them meaning that there is little opportunity to fix these difficult problems. That also means some of these areas could actually deteriorate if violence picks up. That’s already happening in places like southern Kirkuk, where the Islamic State has a strong presence and is going after local officials, the security forces, and infrastructure like electricity towers. This is so unfortunate because Iraq has gone through so much it sometimes seems like it will never have the space to recover.
Iraq  reconstruction  destruction  war 
november 2018 by elizrael
An Unhappy Return: What the Iraqi Islamic Party Gave Up to Gain Power - Carnegie Middle East Center - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Nevertheless, the IIP will most likely survive its waning popularity and the consequent loss of government positions because the party has an important advantage over its rivals. Contrary to most of its Sunni counterparts, who depend on buying loyalty, the IIP is a hierarchical organization with a solid organizational core united by a common ideology. Although the IIP has had its fair share of internal rivalries, its ideological cohesion and consultative mechanisms for resolving internal disputes have kept the party together thus far.
Iraq  Muslim_Brotherhood  history  sunni 
november 2018 by elizrael
Iran’s influence in Iraq is declining. Here’s why. - The Washington Post
The findings from recent surveys reveal genuinely striking changes. The percentage of Iraqi Shiites who have favorable attitudes toward Iran decreased from 88 percent in 2015 to 47 percent in the fall of 2018. During the same period, those who have unfavorable attitudes toward Iran increased from 6 percent to 51 percent. This means that the majority of Iraqi Shiites currently have negative attitudes toward Iran.

At the same time, the percentage of Shiites who believe that Iran is a reliable partner in Iraq has decreased sharply, from 76 percent to 43 percent, over the same period. Those who believe that Iran is not a reliable partner increased from 24 percent to 55 percent. There is a significant increase in the percentage of Iraqi Shiites who believe that Iran is a real threat to Iraqi sovereignty. This number has jumped from 25 percent in 2016 to 58 percent in 2018.

The same trend among Sunni Iraqis’ public opinion toward Islamic fundamentalists could be seen in my surveys over the past four years. Because of the barbarism of the Islamic State occupation in Sunni areas of Iraq, it is not surprising the Sunnis in Iraq have soured on Sunni Islamist fundamentalism. The new survey leaves no doubt that Iraqi Shiites are showing the same trend toward Iran.
polls  Iran  Iraq  Shia  Sunni  public_opinion 
november 2018 by elizrael
In Iraq’s parliament, Shi’ite militia leaders plan to call the shots | Reuters, Nov 13, 2018
At the Safra border crossing, 90 km north of Baghdad, the Badr Organisation, Iran’s closest paramilitary partner in Iraq, collects custom tariffs and taxes on goods transported from the Kurdish region in the north, according to a local councillor and two former senior Iraqi officials. The councillor said at least $12 to $15 million goes to the Badr group each month.

Hard currency exchanges along central Baghdad’s busy streets pay fees to militias to protect keep their businesses, said three owners of currency exchange businesses and police sources.

Cash flows do not stop at business interests. The Iraqi state budget allocated $1 billion for the militias during the war with Islamic State. A Hashid fighter is normally paid $600 a month, compared to any army soldier’s $200 salary.
Hashd  Iraq  taxes  BadrOrg  Parliament  Iran 
november 2018 by elizrael
How Corrupt Party Bosses Chose Iraq's New Leaders - Foreign Affairs, Oct 17, 2018
Following his victory, instead of waiting for the largest bloc in parliament to select a candidate for prime minister, Saleh announced in less than two hours that he had chosen Abdul Mahdi. In fact, Abdul Mahdi had arrived at the parliament while presidential voting was still under way, in order to be in place for the announcement. This strongly suggests that Saleh’s victory and Abdul Mahdi’s appointment were the results of yet another muhasasa backroom deal orchestrated among party bosses. By ignoring the constitutional procedure for choosing the prime minister, Saleh has further undermined the precarious role of the Council of Representatives and raised questions about whether Iraq can legitimately call itself a parliamentary democracy.

It was against this backdrop that the Shiite Islamist party bosses put Abdul Mahdi forward as a compromise candidate for prime minister. Once a central figure in Iraqi politics, Abdul Mahdi had withdrawn from his leadership roles and kept a low profile since 2016. His former party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, is weak and fractured. Without a support base, party, or militia of his own, Abdul Mahdi posed no threat to any of the party bosses and hence no threat to the muhasasa system, making him an ideal compromise candidate (similar to Saleh).
Iraq  politics  corruption  Shia  AbdulMahdi  BarhamSaleh 
november 2018 by elizrael
Hostage to All? - Carnegie Middle East Center
However, the new government has not seemed to respond to this reality. It is made up of a combination of partisan and independent ministers and is still lacking eight ministers. Although ‘Abdul-Mahdi announced a detailed governmental program, with great emphasis on the economy, there was no major discussion of the program and the government’s proposed policies. Instead, political contestation revolved around the selection of ministers and whether they should be partisan or independent technocrats. Groups such as Sa’iroun and Hikma, led by ‘Ammar al-Hakim, allowed the prime minister more leeway in selecting ministers, while Sunni, Kurdish, and other Shi‘a groups refused to do the same, mostly framing their position as a case of defending the rights of their constituencies.

It will be difficult for ‘Abdul-Mahdi to keep all parties satisfied while trying to adopt serious reforms. But like other prime ministers, he can try to use his office’s power to gain more independence from the parties. He might also exploit pressure from the public to demand a broader mandate, given that most parties fear the further radicalization of street protests. However, making the state more effective is not only about weakening the parties’ clientelist systems, but also about improving the deeply corrupt and dysfunctional public sector and significantly changing public spending patterns, which leave a very small share of the budget for investment.
At the same time, if the 76-year-old prime minister leans further toward Fatah and the pro-Iranian camp, he could provoke the Trump administration and lose Sadr’s support. Yet ‘Abdul-Mahdi also cannot afford to antagonize the Iranians, especially as they are trying to employ their formal and informal connections in Iraq to mitigate the effects of the new U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran. Their main Iraqi ally, the Popular Mobilization Forces—which is practically Fatah’s military wing—is already operating as a parallel state (a term that ‘Abdul-Mahdi used in his inauguration), and there is little the prime minister can do about it. The alliance built by the Iranians to deny the previous prime minister, Haidar al-‘Abadi, a second term in office could well be resurrected to oust ‘Abdul-Mahdi.
Iraq  AbdulMahdi  corruption  Sadr  Iran  politics  patronage 
november 2018 by elizrael
A Yazidi activist was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But what happens next for Yazidis? - The Washington Post
Displacement also seems to increase women’s mobility, living closer to the city, sometimes having to work outside to provide for the family. Some respondents told me that Yazidi women can now go to the bazaar alone while the husband takes care of the kids, or they can work, which was not possible in Sinjar. In camps, the presence of nongovernmental organizations with female empowerment agendas or projects also contribute to the change of gender norms.
Yazidi  Iraq  female  gender  marriage 
october 2018 by elizrael
Islamic State Fighters Are Back, and This Time They’re Taking Up Arms With Shiite Militias - FP, Oct 15,2015
In interviews this month, several Iraqi government officials and activists confirmed the trend, attesting that the Badr Organization, one of the largest PMF militias, which operates in Iraq, has recruited about 30 such fighters in town of Jalaula alone. In addition, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, one of the most radical PMF groups, has recruited about 40 ex-Islamic State members in the same area, which is disputed between the Iraqi central government and the Kurds. “
Iraq  Hashd  ISIS  recruitment  corruption 
october 2018 by elizrael
Physical and Societal (Re)construction in Nineveh post Islamic State – Project on Middle East Political Science, Oct 2018
Reconstruction needs to be depoliticised and must address both the physical and societal needs of citizens.  But viewing reconstruction as an inherently political process means that policy and analysis must take into account the political power dynamics at play between members of the NPC, as well as between the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and the NPC, the KRG and Baghdad, and Baghdad and the NPC. The competition for control between these actors, or the act of preventing others from gaining control, or benefiting from reconstruction of areas that they control, is the greatest obstacle to reconstruction in Nineveh, as the process becomes politicised and the best interests of the population are not taken into account.

There are a number of lessons that can be taken from the pre-IS period in order to ensure past failures are not reproduced. Firstly, processes that limit political control at the provincial level should not be reconstructed. Additionallyt, local voices also need to be heard and decentralisation should not be only to the province, but also within, to the districts and sub-districts. Governance in Nineveh (and across Iraq) also needs to become more transparent and accountable to the people, as corruption has long affected the process. Secondly, security cannot feel imposed from Baghdad and must have a strong sense of local ownership, whilst still operating within the national system. 

Additionally, notions of collective guilt from the other communities towards Sunni Arabs must be countered, as this not only hinders reconciliation, but also wider governance. There is a common misconception within the minority communities of Nineveh – as voiced on numerous occasions in interviews between 2016-2017 – that the majority of Sunnis are complicit in the actions of IS and that they have not suffered as a community. The suffering of Sunnis should not be denied and should be included in the shared narrative of truth to strengthen the process of reconciliation (O’Driscoll, 2016a).
Iraq  Ninewa  reconstruction  Reconciliation  Judiciary  Sunni  sectarianism  IDPs  Mosul 
october 2018 by elizrael
Legal Pluralism and Justice in Iraq after ISIL – Project on Middle East Political Science
Now, ISIL affiliates face justice in disparate forums. The Iraqi Federal Government relies on a 2005 Anti-Terrorism Law to prosecute ISIL suspects, drawing little distinction between those who committed violent acts and those who performed ancillary roles for the group.[6] Provincial councils have used their authority to pass governorate-level decrees: the provincial councils of Babylon and Salah al-Din, for example, both ordered the homes of ISIL suspects demolished and their extended families deported from the province.[7] Some tribes have also enacted community punishments, such as in Al Qaim and al-Alam where tribal leaders ordered the destruction of the homes of accused ISIL supporters, without the possibility of pardon.[8]

This article explores two such mechanisms and what happens when they clash. The first is the security vetting of ISIL suspects, a process that Tamanaha categorizes as a ‘functional normative (legal) system.’[13] The second is the customary normative system of tribal law. Both mechanisms interact with and challenge the state framework in different ways, and this article seeks to understand the implications. If justice – a highly political arena where issues of power, resources and rights are at stake[14] – remains the purview of subnational groups, what does this mean for the state, state-citizen relations and reconciliation?

the Operations Command Centre frequently seeks advice not only from armed groups but also from tribal authorities or other local informants as to who is ‘guilty’ in the community.[19] Then, once a person or family is identified as guilty, it is often left up to the PMU to enforce the punishment, be it property destruction, deportation, or even arrest and detention at (unlawful, non-state) facilities belonging to the PMUs or other armed groups.[20]

Moreover, the PMF involvement in vetting exacerbates a sectarian narrative about victimhood. The events of 2003 and its aftermath have elevated the political relevance of sectarian identities in Iraq, such that sect-centric fears and ambitions have come to dominate people’s political perceptions. This has led Iraqis to view themselves as part of sectarian collectives, and to speak of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ on sectarian terms.[23] In such a context, the identity of vetting actors matters deeply. When vetting is carried out by predominantly Shia actors against Sunni Arab communities in conditions that lack transparency and due process; when it is left to Shia PMUs to enforce negative vetting decisions and punishments against Sunni families; and when the actors responsible for vetting stand accused of detaining, disappearing or executing (Sunni) ISIL suspects,[24] it reinforces a sectarian sense of victimhood and undermines prospects for justice.

In recent years, also, tribal leaders and tribal law have played a key role in mediating grievances generated by ISIL. In Tikrit, for example, the massacre of 1,700 unarmed Shiite soldiers at Camp Speicher triggered widespread anger against the Sunni community due to a perception that many Sunni residents were complicit in the executions.[33] Therefore, when the 400,000 Sunni Arab residents displaced by military operations sought to return, local authorities and tribal leadership feared that the PMF and Shia tribes would engage in largescale revenge killings.[34] Following days of negotiation, Sunni and Shia tribal leaders finally reached a joint agreement: both sides agreed to disavow violence (thus diminishing the possibility of revenge killings), establish a vetting process with national authorities to clear Sunni Arab residents who wished to return, refer any of their own guilty tribesman to the national vetting process, and commit to seeking justice through formal legal channels. The strength of tribal influence in Salah al Din meant that residents largely upheld this agreement and, since then, more than 390,000 IDPs have returned to Tikrit.[35]

In addition, tribal leaders wished to preserve their role as agents of reconciliation. Iraq’s large tribes include both Sunni and Shiite members and this offers tribal leaders a unique vantage from which to mediate, particularly since tribal law is neither political, religious nor sectarian, but draws instead on shared norms. Some tribal leaders (such as those who joined the Hawija pact) worried that using tribal law to punish offenders without procedural justice would jeopardize this reconciliatory potential. There was also concern that enforcing the khamsa unit of responsibility for ISIL crimes would play into the narrative of collective guilt and condemn hundreds of (innocent) families.[39] By adapting tribal law to work alongside state law and delineate their different functions, then, the tribal pacts of Tikrit and Hawija were able to challenge the stereotypes that condemn whole tribes or the entire Sunni Arab community for the crimes of ISIL.[40]
Hashd  ISIS  Judiciary  tribes  IDPs  Iraq 
october 2018 by elizrael
Ontologies of Sectarian Identity: The Many Layers of Sunni–Shi’a Relations -LSE
The first step should be to recognise that sectarian identities (Sunni/Shi’a or otherwise) are, like any mass identity, far too complicated for monochrome definitions and rigid binaries. Sectarian identity does not mean any one thing and will be perceived, imagined, expressed and utilised in different ways according to context: sectarian identity amongst compatriots is experienced and contested differently from country to country (consider Protestant–Catholic relations in Northern Ireland with Protestant–Catholic relations in Brazil). Likewise, sectarian identity as a signifier of religious truths is very different to sectarian identity as a form of group solidarity or as a frame for competing claims to state resources.
sectarianism  identity  Iraq 
october 2018 by elizrael
The Infertile Crescent: Iraq’s New Politics of Water - The Brief, Oct 18, 2018
The Basra protests were a mirror of similar riots earlier in the long Gulf summer, 45 kilometers down the road in the southern Iranian cities of Abadan and Khorramshahr on the other side of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, where residents likewise woke up one day and found little more than brown sludge in their pipes.

The litany of problems need be rehearsed briefly if only to counter the simplistic idea that global warming is to blame, though the summers are indeed getting hotter. The two gravest problems are over-extraction of groundwater and over-damming of rivers. Both go back to the 1960s, and a regional – worldwide, in fact – tendency by governments over-fond of central control and central planning to offer up grandiose promises that they could bring quick wealth to economically backward areas, including agricultural ones.

Those dams, of course, also stopped water reaching the Tigris in Iraq, which became even more of a problem when Turkey began filling its own giant Ilisu Dam on the upper Tigris in March. The effect was immediate: within weeks, residents of Baghdad were able to wade across the river for the first time in recorded history.
Iraq  water  Turkey  Iran  agriculture  protests 
october 2018 by elizrael
The Basra Exception - Carnegie Middle East Center, Sep 19, 2018
Conversely, Baghdad had its own lists of complaints about Basra officials. Two of the governorates’ former governors were forced to resign after accusations of corruption or inefficiency, and one was assassinated a few years after leaving office. But these episodes are commonly seen as a reflection of rivalries between Baghdad-centered parties rather than as the outcome of local dynamics.

Those seeking to frame the protests in a broader historical perspective are trying to rediscover the unique past of the governorate, differentiating it not only from the rest of Iraq but from the rest of Shi‘a Iraq as well. In the past, Basra was less homogenous than other Shi‘a cities. It had large Christian and Jewish minorities, and still has a significant and once influential Sunni minority, as well as a powerful Shi‘a sect, the Sheikhiyya, whose version of Shiism distinguishes it from the dominant Shiism of Najaf. Basra’s historical ties were shaped by its location as a maritime city and its connections with Gulf sheikhdoms and across the sea, rather than with Baghdad, Tehran, or Istanbul. To some people, these are good reasons to imagine a Basra more autonomous from Baghdad and less dominated by Najaf and Shi‘a Islamists.

Yet, those seeking to reinvent Basra’s identity—mainly a concern of intellectuals and the educated middle class—face difficult realities and might never coalesce into a political movement. The governorate has been profoundly changed in the past decades. The dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the Iraq-Iran war, and the subsequent U.S.-led wars and sanctions accelerated Basra’s deterioration and the migration of its middle class and prominent families. Political turmoil after the U.S. invasion of 2003 led to the departure of minorities and the spread of militias and violent groups, some holding rigid Islamist views. In the last decade, the deepening sectarian divide strengthened Basra’s ties with the rest of Iraq’s Shi‘a, deemphasizing regional-geographic identities. Moreover, the city of Basra attracted migrants from other southern areas, especially as agriculture declined and farmers sought jobs in more economically active cities.

Perhaps more importantly, the idea of giving Basra more autonomy is unlikely to be embraced by influential political groups, especially if this means increasing the governorate’s powers to manage its own oil resources. Indeed, while the recent protests in Basra heightened political contention between ‘Abadi and Iranian-backed groups and led Muqtada al-Sadr to abandon his support for an ‘Abadi second term as prime minister, no party advocated giving Basra more autonomy.
Iraq  identity  water  corruption  unemployment 
october 2018 by elizrael
Leaked Audio Shows an Iranian Gambit to Control Iraq Failing - Daily Beast, Oct 4, 2018
Known as Abu Mazin, al-Jabouri is considered by Western officials to be among Iran’s favorite Sunni politicians in Iraq. During a frantic period of government formation in Baghdad this week, al-Jabouri implored Sunni parliamentarians from the National Axis Alliance—part of a broader coalition that includes pro-Iranian militias and other Iranian allies—to help stop a longtime pro-American Kurdish leader, Barham Salih, from becoming Iraq’s next president.

“This was Qassem Suleimani’s plan, and it didn’t work,” a senior Western official told The Daily Beast.
Iran  Iraq  political  BarhamSalih  intervention  leak 
october 2018 by elizrael
Islamic State’s Elusive Leader Held Secret Meeting as Iraqi Stronghold Crumbled - WSJ
Mr. Baghdadi seemed to waver, he said, but ultimately ruled there would be no escape from the caliphate.

That issue has since become increasingly divisive as Islamic State’s enemies have closed in, fueling clashes among militants themselves, according to Saddam al-Jamal, a prominent Syrian member captured earlier this year in western Iraq. He said in a separate interview that after the battle for Mosul, foreign militants effectively went on strike after seeing many Iraqi fighters smuggle their families out of the city.

That wasn’t an option for foreign militants, who unlike locals couldn’t camouflage themselves or their families among fleeing civilians. They had little choice but to see the battle through to the end and face nearly certain capture or death. Mr. Baghdadi himself has grown to distrust fellow Iraqis as a result, according to the senior Iraqi security official.
ISIS  Iraq  ForeignFighters 
august 2018 by elizrael
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