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Murdered anti-ISIS commanders Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al Muhandes
Two years ago, the 2020s started with a murder. Baghdad airport, January 3, 00:52 AM. The assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, deputy commander of Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi forces, by laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles launched from two American MQ-9... Read More
It would be tempting to picture the Iraqi parliamentary elections last Sunday as a geopolitical game-changer. Well, it’s complicated – in more ways than one. Let’s start with the abstention rate. Of the 22 million eligible voters able to choose 329 members of Parliament from 3,227 candidates and 167 parties, only 41% chose to cast... Read More
By any historical measure, it was a game-changer: the first meeting since the 7th century between a Roman Catholic Pope and a Shiite spiritual leader regarded as a “source of emulation.” It will take a long time to assess the full implications of the immensely intriguing 50-minute face-to-face conversation, with interpreters only, between Pope Francis... Read More
The bombshell facts were delivered by caretaker Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, during an extraordinary, historic parliamentary session in Baghdad on Sunday. Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani had flown into Baghdad on a normal carrier flight, carrying a diplomatic passport. He had been sent by Tehran to deliver, in person, a reply to a message from... Read More
A fuel tax hike set the country ablaze and triggered a social backlash
On November 15, a wave of protests engulfed over 100 Iranian cities as the government resorted to an extremely unpopular measure: a fuel tax hike of as much as 300%, without a semblance of a PR campaign to explain the reasons. Iranians, after all, have reflexively condemned subsidy removals for years now – especially related... Read More
Baghdad On a sandstorm-swept morning in Baghdad earlier last week, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the legendary deputy leader of Hashd al-Shaabi, a.k.a. People Mobilization Units (PMUs) and the actual mastermind of numerous ground battles against ISIS/Daesh, met a small number of independent foreign journalists and analysts. This was a game-changing moment in more ways than one.... Read More
TIKRIT and NAJAF, Iraq Nothing, absolutely nothing prepares you to revive, on the spot, the memory of what will go down in history as ISIS/Daesh’s most horrid killing field in Iraq or Syria since the death cult stormed across the border in the summer of 2014; the Speicher massacre of June 12, 2014 – when... Read More
An exclusive, on-the-scene report, with original photography from a region gradually liberating itself from ISIS.
Nothing, absolutely nothing prepares you to revive, on the spot, the memory of what will go down in history as ISIS / Daesh’s most horrid killing field in Iraq or Syria since the death cult stormed across the border in the summer of 2014; the Speicher massacre of June 12, 2014 – when almost 2,000... Read More
There’s no question Baghdad needs to take back Mosul from ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. It could not do it before. In theory, the time is now. The real question is the conflicting motivations of the large “who’s who” doing it; the Iraqi Army’s 9th Division; the Kurdish Peshmerga, under the baton of wily, corrupt opportunist Barzani; Sunni tribal... Read More
I’ve been rovin’ around Europe for a while and the star of the show is definitely The Caliph. Former Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has totally outstripped Vladimir Putin as Doctor Evil of the hour. Where’s a good ol’ Cold War 2.0 when you need it? Well, upstaged by the Pentagon’s “long war” – our familiar GWOT... Read More
While everyone is concentrated on the possibility of a tectonic shift in US-Iran relations, and while a solution may be found for the Syrian tragedy in another upcoming set of negotiations in Geneva, Turkey is silently toiling in the background. Let's see what these sultans of swing are up to. We start on the internal... Read More
Amidst the incessant rumble in the (Washington) jungle about a possible Obama administration military adventure in Syria, new information has come to light. And what a piece of Pipelineistan information that is. Picture Iraqi Oil Minister Abdelkarim al-Luaybi, Syrian Oil Minister Sufian Allaw, and the current Iranian caretaker Oil Minister Mohammad Aliabadi getting together in... Read More
The new Holy Trinity mythology peddled by Washington to an unsuspecting world is that the Libya war is over, the Iraq war will be over by New Year's Eve, and the Afghan war will be over by 2014. Oh yes; and Lindsay Lohan is a reincarnation of the Virgin Mary. Let's focus on Iraq. There... Read More
It was a bloody Monday all across Iraq; two suicide bombers, 11 car bombs, and 19 VBIEDs (Pentagon speak for "vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices") - with nearly 70 people dead and over 300 wounded. Car bombs in Najaf, another one inside Kut's main market, a bomb set off near the convoy of the mayor of... Read More
The neo-conservatives always contended that the United States invaded Iraq to bring "democracy" (from the barrel of a gun). Seems like if not democracy, at least the greatest hits of the US judicial system are indeed being implemented in (still occupied) Iraq; torture (as WikiLeaks has amply demonstrated) and the death penalty. Talk about liberation.... Read More
Iraqi Premier Nuri al-Maliki hit Tehran this Monday. He was duly received by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and talked extensively to President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, still beaming after his rock-star tour of Lebanon last week. Maliki visited the holy city of Qom, described Iran-Iraq relations as "strategic" and called for even deeper Iran-Iraq cooperation. A... Read More
More than seven years after the United States invasion vowed to bring "democracy" to Iraq, the neo-conservative who inspired the project may at least relish the guilty pleasure of watching sectarianism win this month's elections - and seeing former prime minister and Central Intelligence Agency asset Iyad Allawi and current Iran-aligned Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki... Read More
The United States lost the war in Vietnam - which, for the Vietnamese, is more appropriately known as the American War - on the ground. But Hollywood won the war on screen - displaying back-to-back masterpieces from Apocalypse Now to The Deer Hunter. Now history repeats itself as - what else - farce. The US... Read More
United States President Barack Obama's up-to-the-last-minute secret Iraq drop-in was as virtual as a Nevada-based Predator drone pilot's visit to the tribal areas in Pakistan. Iraqis have every reason to say the president did not see Iraq - but the Pentagon in Iraq. The date couldn't be more pregnant with meaning. Baghdad under Saddam Hussein... Read More
On Tuesday, Iran celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. In this year of celebrations galore - from the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall to the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution - why not also dream of a year zero? It's September 2009. Barack Obama is the United States... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Iraqi parliament has its date with destiny this Wednesday, after dozens of its 375 members nearly came to blows debating the proposed US-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). And that's not counting an even higher percentage that's not familiar with the final text because they simply had no time to digest it.... Read More
WASHINGTON - The big bang is not that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's majority Shi'ite/Kurdish 37-member cabinet in Baghdad has approved the draft of a security pact with the George W Bush (and Barack Obama) administrations allowing the US military to stay in Iraq for three more years; it's that the 30-strong Sadrist bloc will move... Read More
The United States invasion of Iraq then takes on an even broader meaning. Not only does it constitute an attempt to control the global oil spigot and hence the global economy though domination over the Middle East. It also constitutes a powerful US military bridgehead on the Eurasian land mass which ... yields it a... Read More
"Operation Peace" in Sadr City in Baghdad is and will continue to be spun by the Nuri al-Maliki government - and by America corporate media - as a resounding "success" in controlling Iraqi militias, in this case the Mahdi Army of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Meanwhile, under the global radar, an invisible war in Mosul... Read More
The battle of Basra may be virtually over. But nobody's talking about the invisible Battle of Mosul. President George W Bush's self-described "defining moment" in Iraq amounted to this: General Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) , brokered a deal in Qom, Iran, between Shi'ite cleric... Read More
Future non-biased historians may well regard March 19, 2003, as a crucial mark in the annals of Western imperial arrogance. Five years later, the pre-emptive war celebratory fireworks have turned to dust. For months now Iraq has been an invisible American war. It's seldom on TV. It does not "sell". Thus, it does not exist.... Read More
I say this to the evil Bush - leave my country. We do not need you and your army of darkness. We don't need your planes and tanks. We don't need your policy and your interference. We don't want your democracy and fake freedom. Get out of our land. - Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi Shi'ite leader... Read More
"We have no friends other than the mountains." - Kurdish proverb With more than 100,000 troops and all those F-16s, tanks and helicopter gunships massed on the Turkish-Iraqi border, the new George W Bush greater Middle East war - that is, the Turkish invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan - is ready to roll. This "war on... Read More
Scores of middle-aged, mild-mannered, bearded gentlemen - the technocrats of the Iranian military bourgeoisie - are now officially enjoying the status of "terrorists", at least from a Washington point of view. The demonization of Iran drags on relentlessly as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has been officially branded a proliferator of weapons of mass... Read More
The ultimate nightmare for White House/Pentagon designs on Middle East energy resources is not Iran after all: it's a unified Iraqi resistance, comprising not only Sunnis but also Shi'ites. "It's the resistance, stupid" - along with "it's the oil, stupid". The intimate connection means there's no way for Washington to control Iraq's oil without protecting... Read More
The United States Senate in 2003 authorized President George W Bush to illegally invade and destroy Iraq. A horrendous quagmire and more than half a trillion dollars later, the Senate in 2007 wants - by 75 to 23 - to split Iraq into a (very) loose, three-region sectarian federation. And the senators - Democrats plus... Read More
Some may call it divine providence, some may call it Allah's bidding; in the end it was up to real Iraq to intervene and shatter the "surge is a success" story sold to US and world public opinion by President George W Bush and his top man in Iraq, General David Petraeus. Only hours before... Read More
After the elaborate theatrics just performed in the house of mirrors of Washington, US President George W Bush is now recommending to the nation what he told top Iraq commander General David Petraeus to recommend to him. Only those paying more attention to the botched comeback of the "fat" lip-synching Britney Spears will be fooled... Read More
Why do we fear words? Some words are secret bells, the echoes of their tone announce the start of a magic and abundant time steeped in feeling and life. So why should we fear words? - Nazik al-Mala'ikah, female Iraqi poet, who died on June 20 in Cairo of Parkinson's disease, aged 85 Lame-duck US... Read More
Tony Blair is no more. The now-former British prime minister, a neo-con soulmate, was destroyed by the war on Iraq. Before tendering his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II, maybe with echoes of Oasis' "Don't Look Back in Anger" ringing in is mind, Blair at least had the decency to apologize publicly for the times he... Read More
The best lack all conviction While the worst are full of passionate intensity. - W B Yeats, The Second Coming DAMASCUS - The discreet green-and-white tomb of the greatest warrior of Islam, Saladin - by the splendid Ummayad Mosque in the former seat of the caliphate - may be the ideal place to meditate on... Read More
BAGHDAD - There's a graffiti war going on in Baghdad. In Sunni neighborhoods the champions are "Saddam Hussein is a martyr" and "Muqtada [al-Sadr] is the leader of the thieves". In Shi'ite neighborhoods the favorite used to be "From Fallujah to Kufa Iraq won't be beaten down"; now "Fallujah" has been erased from the script.... Read More
BAGHDAD - This was once the pinnacle of world culture. Al-Mustansariya University is older than the Sorbonne. During Saddam Hussein's time, even with United Nations sanctions, it was still churning out the best and the brightest in Iraq. Sons of wealthy families in Lebanon, Jordan, the Emirates and North Africa were still being sent by... Read More
BAGHDAD - Popular wisdom in Iraq rules that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, with a simple fatwa, or even a single word, could bring the US occupation to an abrupt end. So why doesn't he? In the impossibility to pose this half-trillion-dollar question to the grand ayatollah himself (he does not grant interviews to foreigners, and... Read More
BAGHDAD - This is the 24-square-kilometer theater where a great part of Iraq's future is already being played out; a vital element in US President George W Bush's surge; the place Pentagon generals dream of smashing into submission; one of the largest and arguably most notorious slums in the world: Sadr (formerly Saddam) City. Sadr... Read More
BAGHDAD - From secular, well-educated Shi'ites to in-love-with-the-West Kurds, from Christians suffering ethnic cleansing to even some moderate Sunnis, Iraqis terrified by the current carnage are more and more inclined to turn to former premier Iyad Allawi as the only possible solution. "We need a strongman," said Hamoodi, a young Kurd from Sulaymaniah who got... Read More
BAGHDAD - He is a former Sunni Arab mujahid from Ramadi who until recently was fighting the US occupation. He has only a secondary education and is married with two wives. Now he is praised even by urban, secular, highly educated Shi'ites as a "conscious man", or "the kind of man we need now in... Read More
BAGHDAD - Muqtada al-Sadr is not at the conference on Iraq that opened on Thursday in Sharm-al-Sheikh, Egypt, even though he is, hands down, the most popular, and certainly the most charismatic, political leader in Iraq, with his ears finely tuned to the Shi'ite - and even Sunni - street. Nasr al-Roubaie is the leader... Read More
BAGHDAD - The breaking news came around noon, on state-run Al-Iraqiya TV, and it hit the Shi'ite slum, Sadr City, as well as the rest of Baghdad, as a new "shock and awe": Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, popularly known in Baghdad as Abu al-Masri, the Egyptian-born leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, had been killed in... Read More
There must be some way to get out of here Said the joker to the thief There's too much confusion I can't get no relief - Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower BAGHDAD - It's noon on Sunday right in front of the Adhamiyah wall - the now infamous symbol of the Pentagon-devised Baghdad gulag.... Read More
DAMASCUS - No British soccer players, Czech supermodels or Chinese infotainment moguls have been lining up to get a piece of the new exclusive gated territory in the global market - courtesy of Pentagon real-estate developers and lavishly promoted as The Great Wall of Adhamiyah. But then, who wants to live behind a 5-kilometer-long, 3.7-meter-high... Read More
DAMASCUS - There are three overlapping wars in Iraq: the Sunni Arab guerrilla struggle against the US; strands of Sunni Arab guerrillas against assorted Shi'ite militias/death squads; and al-Qaeda in Iraq against the puppet, US-backed Iraqi government in the Green Zone. Make it four wars: the Sunni Arab guerrilla war against the government inside the... Read More
ATTANF, on the Syria-Iraq border - The road from Damascus to the border is pure Desolation Row. Scattered nomad shepherds search rare, precious grasslands for their flocks. An incoming rickety Nissan bus from Iraq passes by, loaded with goods but carrying only four people. A pair of rusty Soviet-era missiles are transported by a slow... Read More
Today's "zero point" returns Iraq to its own history, a history written with the ashes of incendiary fires, with its sons fleeing in all directions on the one hand, and its exiles returning to their own homes on the other. I truly do not know if distance today can be defined through the experiences of... Read More
The Bush administration has perfected the art of fall-guy selection. The more convoluted the plot, the more credible the fall guy must be. As Lewis "Scooter" Libby was the fall guy in Washington, Premier Nuri al-Maliki will be the fall guy in Baghdad. The Baghdad conference on Saturday was a derivative talk-fest setting up three... Read More
Analyzing the History of a Controversial Movement
Becker update V1.3.2
The Shaping Event of Our Modern World
The Surprising Elements of Talmudic Judaism
How America was neoconned into World War IV