Iraq

Iraqis Protest - Iraq News

Protests in which 250 people have died over the past month have accelerated dramatically in recent days, drawing huge crowds from across Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divides to reject the political parties in power since 2003. Protests in which 250 people have died over the past month have accelerated dramatically in recent days, drawing huge crowds from across Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divides to reject the political parties in power since 2003. Thousands have been camped out in Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square, with many thousands more joining them by day. Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, was expected to draw the biggest crowds yet, with many taking to the streets after worship. More than 50 people were wounded overnight and early Friday morning, police and hospital sources said. By late morning hundreds were marching to the square from side streets, condemning elites they see as deeply corrupt, beholden to foreign powers and responsible for daily privations. In recent days protests have been comparatively peaceful by day, joined by elderly people and young families, becoming more violent after dark as police use tear gas and live ammunition to battle self-proclaimed “revolutionary” youths in the street. Amnesty International said on Thursday security forces were using “previously unseen” tear gas canisters modelled on military grenades that are 10 times as heavy as standard ones. In Baghdad, protesters had set up checkpoints in the streets leading into and surrounding Tahrir Square, redirecting traffic. New arrivals joined and assisted those who had camped overnight. AContinue reading

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Iraq Protests

Iraq declared a curfew in Baghdad on Monday as two people were killed and 112 injured in the fourth day of anti-government protests, and the coalition government’s most powerful erstwhile supporter called for early elections. Baghdad’s top military commander imposed the curfew from midnight (2100 GMT) until 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) effective “until further notice,” state television said, but protesters in the capital’s central Tahrir Square remained defiant. The curfew provides cover for security forces to clear the square, demonstrators said, but they intended on going nowhere. “No, we will stay. They have now declared a curfew and severe punishments for anyone not going to work, this is how they fight us. We will stay here until the last day, even if there are a thousand martyrs,” one protester said. The unrest, driven by discontent over economic hardship and deep-seated corruption, has broken nearly two years of relative stability in Iraq, which from 2003 to 2017 endured a foreign occupation, civil war and an Islamic State insurgency. Counting Monday’s deaths, which security and medical sources said resulted from security forces launching tear gas canisters directly at the heads of protesters, some 233 people have been killed overall in the disturbances this month. Security forces on Monday fired tear gas at school and university students who defied a warning from Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and joined thousands in Baghdad protesting against his government. A spokesman for the premier, whose position is increasingly precarious in the face of the stiffest challengeContinue reading

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U.S. Forces in Syria - American Troops

“It’s time to bring our soldiers back home, USA soldiers are not in combat or ceasefire zones” and “Bringing soldiers home!,” Donald Trump said.

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Iraq News

U.S. officials have confirmed that Israel was responsible for the bombing of an Iranian weapons depot in Iraq last month, an attack that would mark a significant escalation in Israel’s years-long campaign against Iranian military entrenchment across the region. The confirmation comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is strongly hinting that his country is behind recent airstrikes that have hit bases and munitions depot belonging to Iran-backed paramilitary forces operating in Iraq. The mystery attacks have not been claimed by any side and have left Iraqi officials scrambling for a response, amid strong speculation that Israel may have been behind them. Earlier this week, the deputy head of the Iraqi Shiite militias, known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces, openly accused Israeli drones of carrying out the attacks, but ultimately blamed Washington and threatened strong retaliation for any future attack. Such attacks are potentially destabilizing for Iraq and its fragile government, which has struggled to remain neutral amid growing tensions between the United States and Iran. There have been at least three explosions at Iraqi Shiite militia bases in the past month. American officials now confirm Israel was responsible for at least one of them. Two American officials said Israel carried out an attack on an Iranian weapons depot in July that killed two Iranian military commanders. The U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media. The July 19 attack struck a militia base in Amirli, in Iraq’sContinue reading

Masrour Barzani - Iraq News

Two years after a failed independence bid plunged Iraq’s Kurdistan Region into months of instability, the new regional prime minister said his priority was strengthening ties with Baghdad, signalling dreams of self-rule should be put on hold. Masrour Barzani, sworn in as regional prime minister on Wednesday, told Reuters in an exclusive interview that under his leadership, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s focus would be to establish a “strong and constructive” relationship with Baghdad, leaving the question of independence aside for now. “This (independence referendum) happened in the past and it’s a reflection of the enduring aspiration of a nation,” said Masrour Barzani, speaking at his palace in the hillside village of Salaheddine, near regional capital Erbil. “However, the focus of my government will be how to build a stronger relationship and partnership with Baghdad,” he said, adding he would look to fix “those issues that were actually keeping us apart.” The independence bid was led by Barzani’s father Masoud, who stepped down as Kurdish president in 2017 after the referendum backfired and prompted a military offensive from Baghdad. At stake for the new premier are long-running disputes over independent oil exports, revenue sharing, security, and territory which have plagued ties between Erbil and Baghdad since a U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. Barzani was instrumental in orchestrating the September 2017 referendum, which was held over the objections of Baghdad and regional powers. It was seen as the culmination of years of oppositional politics by the semi-autonomous region. The backlashContinue reading

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Adel abdul-Mahdi - Iraq News - Adil Abdul-Mahdi al-Muntafiki

The Iraqi government’s move this week to place Iranian-backed militias under the command of the armed forces is a political gamble by a prime minister increasingly caught in the middle of a dangerous rivalry between Iran and the U.S, the two main power brokers in Iraq. Facing pressure from the U.S. to curb the militias, the move allows Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to demonstrate a tough stance ahead of a planned visit to Washington, expected to take place in the coming weeks. It is unlikely, though, that he would be able to rein in the powerful Iran-supported militias, and he risks coming off as a weak and ineffective leader if he doesn’t. Besides having built credibility as an effective force against the Islamic State group, the mainly Shiite militias, known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces, are a significant political force, with government ministers and 48 seats in the 329-member parliament. The PMF “is among the parties that achieved victory for Iraq against (the Islamic State group), liberating Mosul and restoring security to the country. The time has come to organize their status in a legal way… meaning no weapons outside the framework of the state,” Abdul-Mahdi told reporters at a weekly news conference Tuesday. That’s a tough sell in a country awash with arms and militias, many of which operate outside the state’s control. The leaders of the larger militias, like Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Badr and the Peace Brigades, welcomed the decision, calling it a step in the rightContinue reading

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Donald Trump Phone Call - US News

Iraqi and U.S. military spokesmen denied on Saturday U.S. forces were preparing to evacuate hundreds of staff of Lockheed Martin Corp and Sallyport Global from an Iraqi military base where they work as contractors. Four separate military sources, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said on Friday contractors from the two firms were getting ready to leave Balad military base, which hosts U.S. forces some 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, over “potential security threats”, without saying what those threats might be. Iraqi and U.S. military spokesmen denied there were any such plans, which the sources disclosed at a time of rising regional tension between the United States and Iraq’s neighbour Iran. “There are no plans at this time to evacuate any personnel from Balad … Should there be increased threats to our people, the U.S. Air Force will put measures in place to provide the protections required,” Air Force Colonel Kevin Walker said in a statement. Iraq’s military spokesman said Iraq “protects the safety of our fighters and American advisers and trainers”. Three mortar shells hit the sprawling Balad base last week in an attack that caused no casualties, the military said. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. That incident was followed by attacks on two other military installations hosting U.S. forces, near Baghdad and in the northern city of Mosul. U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil evacuated at least 21 foreign staff from a site near the southern city of Basra on Wednesday after aContinue reading

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Baghdad Green Zone, Iraq, Baghdad

Baghdad’s Green Zone has been a barometer for tension and conflict in Iraq for nearly two decades. The 4-square mile (10-square kilometer) heavily guarded strip on the banks of the Tigris River was known as “Little America” following the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. It then became a hated symbol of the country’s inequality, fueling the perception among Iraqis that their government is out of touch. The sealed-off area, with its palm trees and monuments, is home to the gigantic U.S. Embassy in Iraq, one of the largest diplomatic missions in the world. It has also been home to successive Iraqi governments and is off limits to most Iraqis. Various attempts and promises by the Iraqi government to open the area to traffic over the past years have failed to materialize, because of persistent security concerns. Here’s a look at the Green Zone, past and present: BEFORE THE INVASION Although not visible, security was always tight around the area, as Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace complex was located inside. So were the homes of some of Iraq’s top government officials. The road leading to the presidential palace had been closed for decades before the war. The zone is also home to important Baghdad landmarks including the “Victory Arch” — a 40-meter (131-feet) tall arch of two swords held by bronze casts of Saddam’s hands to commemorate the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. The area is also home to the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, Baghdad’s famous clock tower and theContinue reading

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Mohammad Javad Zarif, Mohammed al-Hakim Zarif - Iran, Iraq

Iran will defend itself against any military or economic aggression, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday, calling on European states to do more to preserve a nuclear agreement his country signed. Speaking at a Baghdad news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hakim, Zarif said Iran wanted to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors and had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them. “We will defend against any war efforts against Iran, whether it be an economic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength,” he said. Strains have increased between Iran and the United States after this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region. Washington, a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, has blamed the attacks on Iran. Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the United States has sent an aircraft carrier and an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concern over the risk of conflict in a volatile region. Iraq stands with Iran and is willing to act as an intermediary between its neighbor and the United States, Hakim said. Baghdad does not believe an “economic blockade” is fruitful, he added in a reference to U.S. sanctions. “We are saying very clearly and honestly that we oppose the unilateral actions taken by the United States. We stand with the Islamic Republic of Iran in its position,” Hakim said. The United States and Iran are Iraq’s two main allies. Meanwhile, Iranian Deputy ForeignContinue reading

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