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Tag Archives: Iraq

‘It’s personal here’: southern Iraq ablaze as protests rage

In the southern Iraqi town of al-Shatrah, after canal-side cafes have shed the last of their customers and demonstrators occupying the central market square have dispersed to their homes, an eerie howl from a brass trumpet breaks the uneasy silence.

This is the signal for a group of young men to re-congregate for a night of personal and targeted action: burning the homes of local officials, politicians and militia leaders.

On a bridge over the Gharraf Canal, between outbreaks of chanting, the protesters debate about whose house to target. With the internet cut off, and heavily armed riot police roaming the streets, the young demonstrators here have turned to trumpet calls, an old and trusted way to communicate and organise battle campaigns.

Positioned at different corners in the town’s market, the trumpets – some old brass ones used in weddings and religious festivals, others brightly coloured plastic vuvuzelas – have their own code. A long sound means gather, a staccato burst means disperse.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/29/its-personal-here-southern-iraq-ablaze

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Anti-Iran sentiment at boiling point as Iraqi demonstrators torch consulate and death toll soars

Iran has condemned the burning of its consulate in the Shia holy city of Najaf as Iraqi security forces escalate violence against protesters who increasingly see the Iranian authorities as responsible for the repression.

Anti-government protests that started on 1 October now in large part resemble a general uprising by the Shia majority in southern and central Iraq. The government crackdown has seen at least 350 people killed and 15,000 injured. A further 28 protesters were shot dead, 24 of them in the city of Nasiriya, and 165 were injured overnight.

In Baghdad, four protesters were killed and 22 were wounded, officials said on Thursday.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-protests-baghdad-consulate-death-toll-iran-middle-east-latest-a9223986.html

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Leaked Intelligence Reports Expose How Iran Dominates Iraq

In mid-October, with unrest swirling in Baghdad, a familiar visitor slipped quietly into the Iraqi capital. The city had been under siege for weeks, as protesters marched in the streets, demanding an end to corruption and calling for the ouster of the prime minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi. In particular, they denounced the outsize influence of their neighbor Iran in Iraqi politics, burning Iranian flags and attacking an Iranian consulate.

The visitor was there to restore order, but his presence highlighted the protesters’ biggest grievance: He was Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, head of Iran’s powerful Quds Force, and he had come to persuade an ally in the Iraqi Parliament to help the prime minister hold onto his job.

It was not the first time Suleimani had been dispatched to Baghdad to do damage control. Tehran’s efforts to prop up Abdul-Mahdi are part of its long campaign to maintain Iraq as a pliable client state.

Now leaked Iranian documents offer a detailed portrait of just how aggressively Tehran has worked to embed itself into Iraqi affairs, and of the unique role of Suleimani. The documents are contained in an archive of secret Iranian intelligence cables obtained by The Intercept and shared with the New York Times for this article, which is being published simultaneously by both news organizations.

The unprecedented leak exposes Tehran’s vast influence in Iraq, detailing years of painstaking work by Iranian spies to co-opt the country’s leaders, pay Iraqi agents working for the Americans to switch sides, and infiltrate every aspect of Iraq’s political, economic, and religious life.

Many of the cables describe real-life espionage capers that feel torn from the pages of a spy thriller. Meetings are arranged in dark alleyways and shopping malls or under the cover of a hunting excursion or a birthday party. Informants lurk at the Baghdad airport, snapping pictures of American soldiers and keeping tabs on coalition military flights. Agents drive meandering routes to meetings to evade surveillance. Sources are plied with gifts of pistachios, cologne, and saffron. Iraqi officials, if necessary, are offered bribes. The archive even contains expense reports from intelligence ministry officers in Iraq, including one totaling 87.5 euros spent on gifts for a Kurdish commander.

https://theintercept.com/2019/11/18/iran-iraq-spy-cables/

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2019 in Middle East

 

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How Tehran-backed forces are taking over in Iraq: ‘The Iranians always have a plan’

Iraqi security and pro-Iranian paramilitary forces are shooting into crowds of protesters in a bid to drive them from the centre of Baghdad and end six weeks of demonstrations that have challenged the political system to an extent not seen since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Police retook three bridges across the Tigris River that lead to the fortified Green Zone on Saturday and are surrounding Tahrir Square, the central focus of the protests.

In al-Rasheed Street, close to the square, police set fire to tents set up by volunteer doctors to treat injured protesters.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-protests-police-shoot-baghdad-green-zone-death-toll-a9197476.html

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2019 in Middle East, Uncategorized

 

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The Hidden Political Poison That Iraq And Lebanon Are Really Protesting About

Thousands of locals in Lebanon have been protesting since Thursday against what they say is a corrupt government. On Friday, those demonstrations – sparked by proposed taxes at a time of rising living costs – devolved into some violent clashes. Currently the Lebanese leadership is trying to resolve the issue.

The recent protests in Iraq and the current demonstrations in Lebanon have something unique in common. Both countries’ political systems have what may best be described as an unofficial quota system that dictates the way their democracy works and how politicians, and even bureaucrats, take power.

https://www.niqash.org/en/articles/politics/6006/The-Hidden-Political-Poison-That-Iraq-And-Lebanon-Are-Really-Protesting-About.htm

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2019 in Middle East

 

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The new revolutionaries of the Middle East share this one fatal flaw

Revolutions are like electricity. An electric shock of the most unexpected kind. The victims think at first it must be a powerful wasp sting. Then they realise the entire house in which they live has been electrocuted.

They react with howls of pain, promises to move home or to rewire the entire place, to protect the occupants. But once they realise that the electricity can be tamed – however ruthlessly – and, most important of all, that it has no controlling element, they begin to relax. It was all a faulty connection, they say to themselves. A few tough and well-trained electricians can deal with this rogue power surge.

That’s what’s happening in Iraq and Lebanon and Algeria. In Baghdad and Kerbala, in Beirut and in the city of Algiers – and, once again, in miniature and briefly, in Cairo. The young and the educated demanded an end not just to corruption but to sectarianism, to confessionalism, to religious-based mafia governments of immense wealth, arrogance and power.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/iraq-protests-lebanon-egypt-sisi-middle-east-revolution-a9178991.html

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Iraq’s young protesters count cost of a month of violence

In Al Umma Park in central Baghdad – the “park of the nation” – a small group of men and two women debated under ageing eucalyptus trees how best to articulate the demands of the protesters who have taken to the streets of Iraqi cities in their thousands this month.

“Burning army trucks won’t help us, it will only help the government accuse us of being hooligans,” said a young man. “If I give you 17 RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] launchers and you burn that building, how will that benefit our demands?” Another man called for the government to be toppled. As the group gathered around him listening, someone shouted: “Who made you a speaker?” This spurred the rest of the crowd to break into chants of “no one represents us” and “Iran out, out”, denouncing Iraq’s ruling Islamic parties and their Iranian backers.

The nature of the debate, just like the demonstrations taking place outside the park, was chaotic, boisterous and leaderless. Most of the group were in their 20s, but among them stood two old communists in Che Guevara berets.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/29/iraqi-protesters-demonstrations-month-of-violence

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Thousands of Iraqis defy bloody crackdown on Tahrir Square protest

Thousands of Iraqi protesters occupied Baghdad’s central Tahrir square on Sunday, defying a bloody crackdown that killed scores over the weekend and an overnight raid by security forces seeking to disperse them.

Throughout the day security forces fired teargas at groups of young men wearing heavy duty gloves who rushed at the canisters and threw them back. Protesters also barricaded a bridge leading to the capital’s fortified Green Zone.

“We give you our life and blood, Iraq,” they chanted. Medical and security sources said 42 people were injured.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/27/anti-government-protesters-defy-bloody-crackdown-in-iraq

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2019 in Middle East

 

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At least 40 killed and dozens injured in Baghdad amid protests sweeping Iraq

At least 40 people were killed and dozens injured in Baghdad as police fired rubber bullets and teargas canisters in an attempt to disperse a protest on the streets of the Iraqi capital amid unrest sweeping the country.

Tens of thousands gathered in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad on Friday morning to begin the march to the city’s fortified Green Zone, where government buildings and foreign embassies are located, but were blocked by police on the al-Jumhuriya bridge.

The demonstrators, protesting against corruption and economic hardship, pushed back but were met with volleys of teargas, some canisters exploding in the air and others whooshing to a white arch in the middle of the crowd.

Unlike in previous demonstrations the police did not use live ammunition. Medics said two protesters were killed when they were hit by teargas canisters.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/25/protesters-killed-and-dozens-injured-in-baghdad-amid-protests-sweeping-iraq

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2019 in Middle East, Uncategorized

 

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The killing of Isis leader Baghdadi does not solve all problems for the west

At the height of the al-Qaeda-led insurgency in Iraq in 2006-07, US commanders, whose troops were suffering serious casualties from roadside bombs, developed a strategy. They sought to identify, kill or capture the leaders of the cells planting the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in the belief that this would cripple the bombing campaign.

Many such high-value targets were tracked down and eliminated, but the whole strategy turned out to be misconceived and counterproductive. A study of 200 cases of cell leaders being killed or arrested in 2007 showed that in the month following the elimination of the individual targeted, the number of IED attacks in the area where his cell operated actually increased by between 20 and 40 per cent.

This was happening because al-Qaeda had assumed that its local military leaders would have a low survival rate and always had a replacement ready to take over within 24 hours of his demise. These new commanders were eager to show their military prowess by making more attacks, while their predecessor had often suffered from battle fatigue or was short on new ideas about how to carry the fight to the enemy. (Full disclosure: the information about the counterproductive US high value target strategy in Iraq comes from my brother Andrew Cockburn’s book Kill Chain: Drones and the Rise of High-Tech Assassins.)

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-death-trump-syria-iraq-isis-islamic-state-mosul-a9174891.html

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2019 in Middle East

 

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