Saturday, May 31, 2014

Brutal Mutliation-Murder of 15-Year Old Girl By Husband Causes Outrage In Iraq's Kurdistan

 
May 23, 2014 a husband in the Kalakji district of Dohuk killed his 15 year old wife Dunia Selman. He was a 45 year old man with two wives. According to the Kurdish News Network he cut of her breast and carved out her eyes. He then shot her several times with an AK-47, and then tied her body to a car dragging her around before fleeing. There was a protest against this brutal murder on May 29 outside the Kurdish Judicial Council in Irbil. These are pictures of the protest taken by AFP's Safin Hamed. 

(AFP)

(AFP)

(AFP)


SOURCES

Kakayi, Bestun, “15-year-old killed and mutilated by 45-year-old husband,” Bas News, 5/26/14

KNN, “Man Cuts Private Area of His Wife’s Body into Pieces in Iraqi Kurdistan,” 5/26/14

RADIO FREE IRAQ VIDEO: Iraqi Security Forces Battle Militants In Ramadi


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Re-Forming National Alliance May Be Waste Of Time For Iraq’s Shiite Parties


Since Iraq held parliamentary elections on April 30, 2014 the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) led by Ammar Hakim and the Ahrar bloc led by Moqtada al-Sadr have moved to re-form the National Alliance, which emerged during the last round of balloting in 2010. Hakim and Sadr have talked about institutionalizing the alliance as the representative of the Shiite religious parties and make it the main decision maker as to who should be nominated prime minister. The problem is that it seeks to include Premier Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law (SOL), while opposing his third term in office. This means that this entire exercise may be a futile act.
Sadr (left) and Hakim (right) have been trying to bring back the National Alliance to stop Maliki from a third term but it is unlikely to work (Al Kashf)

As soon as voting was over in Iraq the major Shiite religious parties began talking about the National Alliance (NA). On April 30, the day of the balloting ISCI head Ammar Hakim called for the NA to be brought back. Ten days later Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Fadhila party made similar comments, and then on May 13, members of the National Alliance met with Maliki. Since then much of the talk has been about making the coalition a formal organization that represents the Shiite parties, and therefore has the right to name the prime minister. The Sadrists and Supreme Council have been trying to set up formal rules to make this happen. At the same time they want to include a two-term limit on the premiership. Shiites are the majority of the population in Iraq, and because of the ethnosectarian quota system they receive the premiership. What ISCI and the Sadrists are trying to do is simply codify control over that position. At the same time they want to prevent Maliki from maintaining his office.

Therein lies the problem with the alliance. State of Law has stated that since it won the most seats in the balloting the National Alliance should follow its lead and approve Maliki as prime minister again. It has also mentioned forming a government without the coalition. Sadr and Hakim have little leverage over the situation right now. Even if they were able to get Fadhila and Ibrahim Jaafari’s National Reform Movement the two other members of the Alliance to join them they would only have 77 seats compared to SOL’s 95. Only if Maliki came to them for support and they were able to remain unified, which is not a given would they have some say.

The National Alliance may have passed its prime. Sadr and Hakim are hoping that the coalition will allow them to name the next prime minister. The problem is that they oppose Maliki and he will never go along with their attempts to block him from a third term. Instead of trying to bring back the NA the Sadrists and ISCI would be better served if they started negotiations with other Maliki opponents such as Kurdish President Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Speaker of Parliament Osama Nujafi’s Mutahidun, and Iyad Allawi’s Nationalists. Together they could pose a real counter to Maliki. Instead they are fighting a losing battle within the National Alliance.

SOURCES

Hasan, Harith, “Prospects of Shiite ‘National Alliance’ hinge on Maliki,” Al Monitor, 5/22/14

Iraq Times, “National Coalition declares its readiness for an alliance with the state of law in the absence of Maliki’s nomination for a third term,” 5/22/14

Al Mada, “National Alliance held a meeting in the presence of al-Maliki: securing a good atmosphere between the government and the parliament is necessary,” 5/13/14

New Sabah, “”Citizens” and “Liberals” talking about “strong government” and Erbil raise the ceiling demands: annexation of Kirkuk and Khanaqin,” 5/22/14

Al Rafidayn, “Hakim: We still start from now re-formation of the National Alliance,” 4/30/14
- “Maliki and the Virtue Party underline the importance of activating the National Alliance to build a strong government,” 5/10/14
- “State of Law: we will form a government without reference to the National Alliance,” 5/10/14

Al Rayy, “The political body of the National Alliance emphasizes the need to “develop” rules of procedure,” 5/22/14

Shafaq News, “Ahrar bloc: We will face the difficulty in adopting rules of procedure of the National Alliance for one reason,” 5/26/14
- “Jaafari Movement: The quest to define the mandate of Prime Minister is contrary to the Constitution,” 5/27/14
- “National Alliance agree on writing internal system and mechanism of decision-making by naming Prime Minister,” 5/18/14

Yunus, Muhammad, “Analyst: National Alliance differences may lead to disintegration,” Radio Free Iraq, 5/26/14

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

PUK Makes Comeback In Kurdish Provincial Elections But With Charges Of Fraud


After coming in third place in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Parliamentary Elections in 2013, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) finished second in the region’s provincial balloting. Kurdish local voting took place at the same time as Iraqis chose their new parliament on April 30, 2014. This did not occur without controversy however as the other major parties all accused the PUK of fraud. This would be quite a comeback if the results are finalized, but the charges of cheating may hang over the party and make it an empty victory in the end.
The PUK came in a surprising 2nd in Kurdistan's 2014 provincial elections

In May 2014 the Iraqi Election Commission released the results of the Kurdish provincial elections with some surprising results. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) came in first place with 34 seats total, after winning in its strongholds of Irbil, 12 seats, and Dohuk, 19 seats, and placing third in Sulaymaniya with 3 seats. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) finished second with 19 seats, 6 in Irbil, 2 in Dohuk, and a surprising 11 in Sulaymaniya. The Change List won 17 seats with 4 in Irbil, 1 in Dohuk, and 12 in Sulaymaniya. The two main Islamic parties, the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) came in with 6 and 4 seats respectively. The major change was the comeback of the PUK. In the 2013 Kurdish parliamentary vote it got 350,500 votes, but was able to gain over 175,000 this year with a total of 528,122. That increase didn’t seem to come at the expense of either the KPD or Change that both saw increases from 2013 to 2014.

Complete Election Results 2014 Kurdish Provincial Elections By Governorate
Irbil
KDP 12 seats
PUK 6 seats
Change 4 seats
KIG 2 seats
KIU 1 seat
Turkmen Front 1 seat
Irbil Turkmen List 1 seat
Democratic Movement of Turkmenistan 1 seat
Chaldean-Assyrian Popular Council 1 seat
Shalama Kyian 1 seat
Sulaymaniya
Change 12 seats
PUK 11 seats
KDP 3 seats
KIU 3 seats
KIG 2 seats
Rafidain 1 seat
National Alliance of Kurdistan 1 seat
Dohuk
KDP 19 seats
KIU 3 seats
PUK 2 seats
Change 1 seat
Rafidain 1 seat
Chaldean-Assyrian Popular Council 1 seat
Eshkhan Malkon Sarkisian 1 seat

Vote Comparison 2009-2014 Kurdish Elections
Parties
2009
Parliamentary
Elections
2013
Parliamentary
Elections
2014
Provincial
Elections
Kurdistan
Alliance
(KDP-PUK)
1,076,370
-
-
KDP
-
743,984
816,654
PUK
-
350,500
528,122
Change
445,024
476,736
490,572
Reform and Services
List
(KIU, KIG &
Secular
Lists)
240,842
-
-
KIU
-
186,741
155,972
KIG
-
118,399
117,848

Seat Totals Major Parties Kurdistan Provincial Elections 2014

2014
KDP
34
PUK
19
Change
17
KIU
6
KIG
4
 
There are two main explanations for the PUK’s gain in the balloting. The first is that after its humiliating defeat in the 2013 election where it came in third place behind the KDP and Change the PUK went all out to rally its base to get out the vote. That could have definitely happened as the party was shocked by its poor showing, and did not want to go through that again as it would have been a sure sign that it was on the decline. On the other hand, the KDP, Change, the KIU and the KIG all issued statements about vote rigging in Sulaymaniya. Change officials elaborated by saying that their election observers reported that they should have gotten around 376,000 votes, not the 359,000 they got in Sulaymaniya, which would have led to 13 instead of 12 seats. The Election Commission supported some of these charges. It seized 60 ballot boxes in Sulaymaniya, 20 in Irbil, and 27 in Dohuk for alleged tampering. The majority of those taken were linked to the PUK. More serious examples against the PUK have been rumored. It’s likely that both of these events happened. PUK followers did come out in force to try to save the party from political oblivion, while its leadership orchestrated a campaign to fix the vote in Sulaymaniya to ensure that no matter what it would come in first place there. It is now up to the Election Commission to investigate the matter.

The 2013 governorate level elections in Kurdistan were significant for a number of reasons. First, the regional government had postponed the balloting again and again. They had not been held in eight years. That was because the provincial councils had little power, and therefore the ruling parties chose to ignore them in the name of maintaining the status quo. That might all change as the councils now elect the governors instead of the Interior Ministry. That may give them new authority within the region. Third, the new local governments will include the Change List and its reformist agenda. That means that a new understanding has to be created between it and the KPD and PUK. Finally, that could be jeopardized if the Election Commission discovers serious cheating by the PUK. That will lead to more accusations and mistrust between Change and PUK, which has been going on for the last several years. That could jeopardize the much coveted stability that the PUK and KDP have attempted to forge in Kurdistan.

SOURCES

Bas News, “IHEC warns of electoral fraud in Kurdistan Region,” 5/3/14

Hassan, Hayman, “iraq votes 2014: kurdish couldn’t care less about general elections,” Niqash, 4/17/14

Knights, Michael and McCarthy, Eamon, “Provincial Politics in Iraq, Fragmentation or New Awakening?” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 2008

Kurdistan Regional Government, “Electoral Commission announces final results of Kurdistan Region elections,” 8/8/09

Al Masalah, “Gorran rejects election results announced by the commission,” 5/22/14

MESOP, “SOUTH KURDISTAN (IRAQ) MESOP : FULL – Result of Kurdistan Region provincial council announced,” 5/22/14

Al Rafidayn, “Four Kurdish parties accuse political entity “known” rigging the election results in Sulaymaniyah,” 5/17/14

Rudaw, “2014 Provincial Elections”

Shafaq News, “Change First then PUK and KDP in provincial elections in Sulaimaniyah,” 5/22/14
- “KDP first then PUK in Provincial Council elections in Erbil,” 5/22/14
- “KDP the First , Islamic Union the second and PUK the third in Dahuk’s provincial elections,” 5/22/14
- “PUK responds to the “four parties”: We have documents also,” 5/17/14

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Look At Iraq’s 2014 Election, Interview With Reidar Visser


In April 2014 Iraq held its latest parliamentary elections. The vote was all about Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. His State of Law walked away with by far the most seats, 95 in total, while his rivals only got around 20-30 seats each. In the months that follow Maliki and his supporters and detractors will hold a series of protracted negotiations to form a new Iraqi government. To help explain the results and the possible outcomes of the balloting is Reidar Visser, a noted Iraq historian. He runs two blogs Iraq and Gulf Analysis and historiae.org, and has written and co-authored three books, Basra, the Failed Gulf State: Separatism and Nationalism in Southern Iraq, An Iraq of Its Regions: Cornerstones of a Federal Democracy?, and A Responsible End?: The United States and the Iraqi Transition, 2005-2010. He can be followed on Twitter @reidarvisser.
Maliki's State of Law came away as the big winner in the 2014 elections (BBC)

1. Maliki’s State of Law walked away with 95 seats in this year’s election. Approximately how many other parties are aligned with him right now and around how many seats will that give him?

Maliki’s potential support base outside State of Law can be conceptualized as a set of concentric circles with increasingly weaker loyalty to him. Immediately outside State of Law with 95 seats, and with good chances of future loyalty, is a stratum of a couple of deputies with a history of close ties to the State of Law, who have continued to maintain friendly relations with Maliki despite running separately. They include Haytham al-Jibburi of the Kafaat & Jamahir movement and Ali Taleb Abd al-Hasan of the Solidarity in Iraq movement, a party affiliated with the Dhi Qar cleric Muhammad Mahdi al-Nasiri who is considered pro-Maliki, and Ali Subhi al-Maliki of the Just State movement (who had Maliki’s picture on his own election poster). Subsequent to the publication of the results, politicians from the two first of these movements went on to claim they had formally enrolled in the State of Law alliance, as did two deputies from a local list in Najaf with a somewhat more secular profile. This segment also includes one seat for the Sadiqun party considered close to the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, although it is noteworthy that this movement, despite much hype about it in Western media, failed to make much of an impression on the Iraqi electorate. Nothing is set in stone, though. Another deputy from Kafaat & Jamahir, former interior minister Jawad al-Bolani, first reportedly joined the pro-[Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq] ISCI Muwatin bloc before subsequently joining Maliki, bringing the total of his State of Law bloc to around 101 seats plus the 1 Asaib Ahl al-Haq seat (which probably no one else will have anything to do with anyway).

Beyond these 102 deputies, I think the loyalties of the parties considered close or potentially close to Maliki is far more open to negotiation. Despite some points of contact in the past, there has also been periods of friction with Maliki. This includes the 6 seats of the Shia Islamist Fadhila, the one seat of the Tanzim al-Dakhil branch of the Daawa (they broke acrimoniously with Maliki in August 2009 when they joined [Iraqi National Alliance] INA ahead of the 2010 general election), and the 6 seats of Ibrahim al-Jaafari (whose role as unofficial PM candidate of INA and thus a challenger to Maliki in 2010 is often forgotten). That’s 15 extra seats, but their alliance with Maliki is no more of a foregone conclusion than the case is with respect to some of the smaller secular and religious minority parties such as the Iraq Coalition (5 seats) or the two Anbar lists (3 plus 2 seats) often cited as potential Maliki allies.

2. There was some talk before the vote about how many seats the prime minister would need to win to give him the upper hand in the government formation talks. Do you believe there was such a tipping point and if so did he achieve that amount?

Maliki would have needed closer to 120 seats in order to truly achieve the upper hand. With the results that materialized, Maliki will need to compromise with at least one (and probably two) of his main opponents – the Kurds, Sadr, Hakim, Nujafi or Allawi.

3. For the last several years Prime Minister Maliki has talked about forming a majority government. Do you think that’s possible after the 2014 elections, and would it make a more effective administration?

I think the concept of a political majority would be good for Iraq if it was attainable. In 2010, Allawi and Maliki could have achieved it if they hadn’t been strong personal enemies. This year, I don’t think the numbers will add up but they are tantalizingly close to the required majority and I fear Maliki’s hubris will make him expend a lot of energy trying to reach such a majority anyway. It should be remembered that even in the previous Iraqi parliament, State of Law deputies would frequently talk about a “political majority” in contexts when they were very far from achieving this. One potential variation of the theme would be Maliki joining with the Kurds, which could be sufficient basis for a majority. The only thing that would keep them united, though, would be agreement on a third Maliki term. Indeed, most of Maliki’s rhetoric in favor of a political majority has focused on criticism of Kurdish independent oil policy. Still, the possibility of Maliki turning around and offering some concessions for a guarantee of a third term should not be ruled out.

4. Maliki’s stated opponents, Moqtada al-Sadr’s Ahrar/Liberals, Ammar Hakim’s Mowatin/Citizen’s Alliance, Speaker Osama Nujafi’s Mutahidun/Uniters, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and Iyad Allawi’s Wataniya/Nationalist Coalition won 138 seats between them. That would seem to give them the advantage over the prime minister, but as ever their main problem is keeping a unified stance. Do you think they have any better chance to achieve that than in 2012 when some of these same parties attempted a no confidence vote against Maliki?

The relative numerical strength of these parties vis a vis Maliki is less now than in 2012, where it may have been close to 160 out of 325 at its height – before Iran ordered the Sadrists to back down. When it comes to manipulating the segment of parties in the range from 1 to 3 deputies, Maliki probably has an advantage of incumbency compared to his enemies.
Allawi (left), Speaker Nujafi (center), Dep PM Mutlaq (right) are trying to create a Sunni Alliance (Shafaq News)

5. As a follow up to that Speaker Nujafi is talking about creating a grand Sunni alliance consisting of him, Allawi and Deputy Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq. What chance does that have of working out?

I think the chances of it working out are limited, not least because they have spent a good deal energy splitting up from the 2010 alliance. Additionally, it is unlikely to become politically relevant since Maliki’s interest in these groups mainly relates to the prospect of one of them breaking ranks with the others and then joining Maliki.

6. In a similar vein, Sadr and Hakim seem to be focusing upon reforming the National Alliance that they were part of in 2010. What do you think they hope to achieve with that?

Sadr and Hakim may have been hoping to reconstitute the Shiite alliance and then have Maliki replaced with someone they like better personally. That plan lost some of its momentum because of Maliki’s relative success in term of a good personal vote and an increase of his share of the parliament seats despite the Najaf clergy clearly sending signals about the desirability of replacing him with someone else. At the time of the election there was much talk of Tareq Najm [parliamentarian from State of Law] as a possible substitute for Maliki. Already that kind of talk has faded somewhat.

7. With every vote in Iraq there come complaints about the winners cheating. Maliki’s opponents are all claiming that he fixed the balloting one way or another, while most of the Kurdish parties are accusing the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of fraud as well. Do you think there is any merit to these charges, and more importantly could they change the results if the Iraqi Election Commission takes any of them up?

A couple of points on this. I think if IHEC was as corrupt as some claim, Maliki would have got a bigger win and he would not have lost so many key allies and friends (who lost out in the personal vote). It is still unclear which way IHEC’s decision will go with respect to the complaints. They have released data from the special vote for the security forces as well as the “Baghdad belt” (where accusations of ballot-stuffing to Maliki’s advantage materialized). Questions still remain after these attempts at creating enhanced transparency. For example, in the security force vote, the Maliki vote in Diyala and the PUK vote in Sulaymaniya seem artificially high. Similarly, with respect to the “Baghdad belt” vote, IHEC has released data that show suspiciously high participation at some stations, but it has released results only at the aggregate level of the counting centers. To allay fears about ballot stuffing, it should release results for individual stations in the “Baghdad belt”, and in particular those with participation rates in the 80-95% range.

8. Quite a few prominent Iraqi parliamentarians were defeated in this year’s balloting. Can you name some of them, and do you think this points to some accountability being established in the country?

Deputies who lost their seats include Hassan al-Sunayd, Ali Shalah, Khalid al-Attiya, Yasin Majid, Walid al-Hilli, Ihsan al-Awwadi, Sami al-Askari and Izzat al-Shabandar from the Maliki camp. Similarly Nassar al-Rubayyie and Maha al-Duri, from the Sadrist list, lost their seats.

This is the beauty of the personal vote in Iraq, and, incidentally, I think, an indication of the integrity of what IHEC is doing. Using the personal vote has become the norm with 80-90% of all voters expressing a candidate preference in the materials that I have been working with. In the big cities, in particular, personal votes radically affect the ranking of the candidates, with people far down on the lists promoted to top positions through the actions of the electorates in places like Basra, Baghdad and Mosul.

9. Internal issues are only part of the picture when it comes to Iraqi politics. The United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran all have tried to play a role in the country. How might each attempt to influence the government formation process?

I think there is a real difference between these regional powers as regards their ability to micro-manage the government formation process. Iran may want to see the next Iraqi PM emerge as the result of a decision by a united Shiite alliance. It can exercise leverage to have that alliance reconstituted and in turn influence the process of PM candidate selection within the alliance. Turkey may influence the preferences of the Iraqi Kurdish parties, though it is noteworthy that in theory the Shiites can form a government without Kurdish support this time. This fact somewhat reduces Turkish leverage. Finally, the influence of Saudi Arabia is much less than the two others, and primarily relates to the precise level, intensity and sourness of discontent expressed by its friends among Iraqi Sunnis and seculars.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Preserving Iraq’s Past, Interview With Aymen Jawad Founder and Executive Director of Iraq Heritage


Iraq is the “Cradle of Civilization.” It is the home to hundreds of ancient sites such as the Ziggurat of Ur, Taq- I-Kisra, the Citadel at Irbil, and others. Much of this history was neglected due to the wars and sanctions that Iraq suffered through over the last few decades. Now a new organization Iraq Heritage has been formed to try to preserve this legacy. Here is an interview with the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Iraq Heritage Aymen Jawad. Iraq Heritage can be followed on Twitter @iraq_heritage, Facebook @www.facebook.com/iraqheritage, and on its webpage Iraq Heritage
 
1. When was Iraq Heritage founded and what is its goal?

Iraq Heritage was established in January 2013 to meet a growing demand for accurate, timely and professional information on the Iraqi Heritage and culture sector with particular emphasis on the all-important archaeological discoveries, heritage sites, caring for heritage, preserving future heritage sites, and the introduction of heritage into the education system.

Iraq Heritage is made up of leading Iraqi and international experts in the construction industry drawn from a variety of fields including industry professionals, finance and banking executives, Iraqi and multinational corporations, academics and scholars, and consultants and policy advisers.

Iraq Heritage provides four broad categories of services:
·      Information Services
·      Research & Development
·      Training & Capacity Building Consultancy Services

Iraq Heritage prides itself upon providing its clients with high quality impartial information, advice and guidance services. As founders, facilitators and organizers of the Iraq Heritage we aim to bring together annually the Iraqi Parliament, Government, Service Providers, Investors, and all the stakeholders who matter most in the development of Iraq.

2. Iraq has hundreds if not thousands of historical places of interests. How has your organization gone about identifying and cataloging all of these sites?

Iraq Heritage has begun to identify the heritage sites throughout the country, these are categorized into five separate sections:

·      Significant Discoveries
·      World Heritage List
·      Iraq Heritage Sites
·      Holy Sites
·      Other Sites

There are many sites that people aren’t even aware of and it is our mission to educate the Iraqi future generations to be aware of their heritage and more importantly to help them preserve Iraq’s heritage for the future generations.
Significant Discoveries include this the royal tomb of Queen Puabi dating back to the Sumerian Period (2600-2500 BC) (Iraq Heritage)

World Heritage sites include the city of Hatra that became a battleground between Parthians and Romans in 2 BC (Iraq Heritage)
Agargoaf built by King Kurigalzo in 15th Cen BC is on the Iraq Heritage list (Iraq Heritage)
The Kadhimiya Shrine in Baghdad is one of Iraq's holy sites (Iraq Heritage)
Al-Hadba the leaning minaret in Mosul is on Iraq Heritaage's "Other sites" list (Iraq Heritage)

3. Are there any places that are considered especially endangered and need immediate attention?

The majority of the heritage sites are in need of urgent attention due to the wars that have resulted in the heritage sites to be neglected and unmaintained. Recently we launched a newsletter regarding two sites that are in need of urgent attention, which I have attached below.

Al-Hadba also known as the hunchback minaret is in danger.

Al-Hadba minaret is the most popular heritage site in Mosul city and considered the highest minaret in Iraq. It dates back approximately 9 centuries and now it is falling down due to it being neglected and unmaintained. The name Al-Hadba has always been associated with Mosul city and when entering the city the minaret has its great presence and plays a major role as the icon of Mosul. Al-Hadba is subsiding more and more everyday and will eventually result in collapse if urgent maintenance is not carried out. Also Delal Bridge in Zakho, which dates to the Roman era and is unfortunately on the verge of collapse.

Iraq Heritage urges all lovers of Mesopotamia to stand together and support us on our mission to save Iraq’s heritage sites before we lose them.

4. The looting of the National Museum in Baghdad in 2003 was an infamous event following the U.S. invasion. Has there been damage to other sites due to fighting since the fall of the old regime?

The looting of the museum was a very upsetting event for everyone. Unfortunately the majority of the heritage sites are located in high-risk areas, so a lot of them have been damaged and affected by the upsetting regular incidents we have on a daily basis. Due to the majority of the heritage sites being in such high risk areas it is very difficult for specialist teams to be sent out to do the work required to keep the sites from deteriorating any further and to be preserved for future generations. The majority of the sites require urgent maintenance and repair.

5. How has the government responded to your effort to preserve Iraq’s historic sites?

Iraq heritage is an organization by the people and for the people. Everybody has been supportive of our organization and our projects. The government is currently being formed due to the new elections. However we are working in partnership the Ataba al Haydariya and we are working towards “The first International conference with regards to Architectural Heritage in the Holy City of Najaf with special focus on the Holy Shrine.” This will take place in mid September 2014. Five of our board members and two of our Senior fellows will be participating in this joint event.

6. Have you gotten support from the private sector and international organizations?

We have recently met with the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, which is in memory of Gertrude Bell and they where very happy to work in partnership with Iraq Heritage as we share the goal to revive Iraq’s heritage and educate people of such and amazing places that everyone deserves to know about.

Iraq Heritage is also working in partnership with Nature Iraq which was created to protect, restore, and preserve Iraq’s natural environment, and we are lucky enough to have the great founder Azzam Alwash as a board member on Iraq Heritage’s advisory panel.

In addition we are working towards the first international conference working in partnership to the Ataba Al-Alaywiya with specific regards to architectural heritage of the holy city.

We are happy to work in partnership with any organization that is working to help and regenerate Iraq as a whole and to revitalize its rich heritage.

7. There are some sites like the Karbala shrine, the citadel in Irbil, etc. that are still being used and are therefore appreciated by the Iraqi public. Are people as interested in some of the other places your group is working on?

All the heritage sites in Iraq are visited and are part of every Iraqi. The current security situation doesn’t encourage anyone to visit some of Iraq’s finest heritage sites due to the location they happen to be in. We hope that the security will improve so that people from all over the world can come and visit the great heritage sites of Iraq.

8. Are you interested in creating more international interest in Iraq’s history and attracting tourists?

We believe Iraq isn’t just for Iraqis it is the cradle of civilization and it is the home to every one. Our dream is for people to come from all over the world to come, visit, enjoy and more importantly learn more about Iraq’s legacy. Our current duty is to educate people of such amazing heritage sites so that people are aware of their history. More importantly our mission is to educate Iraq’s future generations just how important their heritage is and the importance of preserving such an amazing legacy.

Iraq is the future and we will work together as a team to make it a better place for the future generations.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Life Goes On In Iraq Pilgrimage To Imam Kadhim Shrine Baghdad May 2014

 
May 2014 was the date of the annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Imam Musa al-Kadhim in Baghdad’s Kadhimiya district. The event remembers his death in the 8th Century. Despite being a favorite target of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) each year, thousands of pilgrims make the trip from around Iraq and the region to the capital. These pictures by AFP’s Ahmad al-Rubaye and Sabah Arar document this event.

(AFP)

(AFP)

(AFP)

(AFP)

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(AFP)

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Saddam's Deadly Legacy Mass Grave Discovered In Najaf Dating From 1991 Uprising

 
In March 1991 southern Iraq exploded in open rebellion against Saddam Hussein following the Gulf War. The uprising started in Basra and quickly spread to other cities such as Diwaniya, Hillah, Amarah, Nasiriyah, Kut, Samawa, Zubayr, Kumait, Qalat Salah and others. The revolt only lasted a few weeks. In its aftermath the regime killed thousands in retaliation. It is estimated that anywhere from 100,000-180,000 people died as a result. Evidence of this massacre are still found to this day. One mass grave was just discovered between Najaf and Karbala, and another outside of Najaf City. The latter is shown in these pictures by AFP’s Haider Hamdani.

SOURCES

Al Rafidayn, "Discovery of martyrs cemetery Karbala," 5/23/14

A ring on a finger bone (AFP)

(AFP)

(AFP)

(AFP)

(AFP)

Mosul Campaign Day 220 May 24 2017

The pace of operations in Mosul has lessened slightly after the recent gains. Northwest Mosul was quickly freed after a new front was ope...