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Iraq

Iraq faces growing violence as political rift deepens (Shawn Yuan, Al Jazeera)

The threat of worsening violence looms over Baghdad again this week, underscoring the challenges faced by influential Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of parliament’s biggest bloc, in his stated efforts to form a majority government following October’s contested election.

In the latest in a number of attacks to hit the Iraqi capital in just a matter of days, twin explosions late on Sunday targeted two banks associated with Kurdish politicians in central Baghdad’s Karrada district, leaving two people wounded.

Iraq faces growing violence as political rift deepens | News | Al Jazeera

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Iraq Islamic State

The Islamic State Gains New Operational Foothold in Iraq’s Hamrin Mountains (Isaac Ahmed, The Jamestown Foundation)

Diyala is located 60 kilometers northeast of Baghdad, and is considered a “road-knot” between four Iraqi provinces, including Diyala and Sulaymaniyah, Wasit, and Salah al-Din. In addition, roads which pass through Diyala can lead to Anbar province or Mosul. Therefore, any militant group that wants to impose its control over those areas must have a presence in Diyala.

Except for Salah Al-Din, all of these four provinces are adjacent to Iran, and they share with Diyala a similarly rugged geographical terrain. These natural features make Diyala an important place for jihadists to gain a foothold, especially in the Hamrin Mountains. The range extends northwest from Diyala’s border with Iran to the Tigris River, crossing northern Salah al-Din and southern Kirkuk.

Diyala’s inhabitants are Sunni and Shiite Muslims; primarily Arabs and Kurds. As a consequence, the province witnessed sectarian war during conflicts between Shiite militias and al-Qaeda (Sunni) from 2006 to 2008, as well as the birth of the first generation of al-Qaeda in Iraq, whose militants were trained in Diyala’s rugged mountains and valleys. Diyala was also unsurprisingly the last cache for al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (aljazeera.net, June 8, 2006). He was killed in an American airstrike in an isolated safe house north of Baghdad in June 2006.

The Islamic State Gains New Operational Foothold in Iraq’s Hamrin Mountains – Jamestown

 

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Iraq

Iraq: Impunity for Serious Abuses (Human Rights Watch)

The Iraqi government failed in 2021 to deliver on promises to hold to account those responsible for the abuse of protesters, activists, journalists, and critics of political elites and the Popular Mobilization Forces, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2022.

Iraq: Impunity for Serious Abuses | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

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Iraq

Two civilians wounded in rocket attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone (Al Jazeera)

At least four rockets targeted the United States Embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, wounding two civilians, according to two Iraqi security officials.

Three of the missiles struck within the perimeter of the US Embassy on Thursday, the officials said. Another hit a school located in a nearby residential complex, injuring a woman and a girl. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.

Two civilians wounded in rocket attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone | Conflict News | Al Jazeera

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Iraq

Chaotic scenes as Iraq’s new parliament holds first session (Al Jazeera)

Iraq’s new parliament has re-elected its speaker for a second term, the first step towards forming a new government after a general election whose results have been contested by powerful Iran-backed factions.

In a reflection of the tensions, the new parliament’s first session on Sunday was marked by disarray, with the eldest member, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, being evacuated to the hospital after falling ill.

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Iraq

Iraqi military marks 101st anniversary as US ends combat mission (Shawn Yuan, Al Jazeera)

The Iraqi armed forces mark their 101st anniversary on Thursday while embarking on a new chapter in their tumultuous history after the United States formally concluded its combat mission in Iraq on December 31, 2021.

The military faces the thorny task of safeguarding the country scarred by conflicts amid multiple challenges, including keeping the continuous threat from armed groups at bay.

Iraqi military marks 101st anniversary as US ends combat mission | Military News | Al Jazeera

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Iraq Syria USA

US troops in Syria, Iraq targeted with renewed rocket and drone attacks (Jared Szuba, Al Monitor)

Rockets rained down near bases used by US troops in Iraq and Syria on Wednesday, marking the third straight day of such attacks since the two-year anniversary of the US killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani on Monday.

US troops in Syria, Iraq targeted with renewed rocket and drone attacks – Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East

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Iran Iraq

Iran, Iraq draw up plans for railway connection from Basra to Shalamcheh (Muhammad Jawad Adib, Al Monitor)

The transportation ministers of Iran and Iraq have signed a memorandum of understanding to build the Shalamcheh-Basra railway and Shatt al-Arab bridge.

Iran, Iraq draw up plans for railway connection from Basra to Shalamcheh – Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East

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Iraq

Postwar development of civil society in Iraq’s mid-Euphrates region (Marsin Alshamary, Brookings)

Although relatively prosperous and stable, the mid-Euphrates region of Iraq has not been successful in producing a civil society that promotes and produces democratic growth. The presumed association between civil society and democratization has been studied extensively at the national level in the Middle East. This report, by contrast, proposes a subnational study of civil society development, arguing that the conditions that foster civil society organizations’ (CSOs) development and that mechanisms linking civil society to democratization are not constant throughout Iraq. By relying on novel data collected through fieldwork and interviews conducted with activists and international aid workers, this report argues that subnational and provincial-level political and social dynamics influenced the differential development of civil society.

Postwar development of civil society in Iraq’s mid-Euphrates region (brookings.edu)

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