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 Entire ArchiveShias and Sunnis Items

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The Sultan of Oman – Qaboos bin Said Al Said - passed away at the age of 79. He was the longest serving monarch in the Gulf. Within 24 hours, an envelope with his will got opened, and the new ruler was announced and sworn in before the governing family council. His name is Haitham... Read More
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The US targeted assassination, via drone strike, of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, apart from a torrent of crucial geopolitical ramifications, once again propels to center stage a quite inconvenient truth: the congenital incapacity of so-called US elites to even attempt to understand Shi’ism - thus 24/7 demonization, demeaning not only Shi’as by also Shi’a-led governments.... Read More
I was in Iraq in April 1991 when government security forces crushed the Shia uprising against Saddam Hussein’s regime, killing tens of thousands and burying their bodies in pits. I had been expelled from Iraq to Jordan at the start of the rebellion in March and then, to my surprise, allowed to return, because Saddam... Read More
Iranians carried the coffins of top general Qassem Soleimani and his allies in Kerman, Iran,...
During more than a half-century of Washington watching we have seen stupidity rise from one height to yet another. But nothing—just plain nothing—compares to the the blithering stupidity of the Donald’s Iran “policy”, culminating in the mindless assassination of its top military leader and hero of the so-called Islamic Revolution, Major General Qassem Soleimani. To... Read More
Good bye, Lebanon, metaphorically and truly. Good bye to a country which, many believe, actually has already ceased to exist. For five long years I have been commuting between the Asia Pacific and the Middle East. And Beirut, for all that time, was one of my homes. I arrived in Beirut when the situation in... Read More
Intelligence documents reveal how Tehran took advantage of US blundering
The American invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of that nation’s government in 2003 has rightly been described as the greatest foreign policy disaster in the history of the United States. Eight thousand one hundred and seventy five American soldiers, contractors and civilians have died in Iraq since 2003 as well as an estimated 300,000... Read More
Iraqi paramilitary groups close to Iran are suspected of joining attacks on protesters in Baghdad and other cities, leading to heavy loss of life among demonstrators. Some 107 people have been killed and over 6,000 wounded in the last six days, though hospital doctors say the government is understating the true number of fatalities. “The... Read More
Iraq is poised at a turning point in its modern history as its people wait to see if the government curfew and close down of the internet will end the ongoing demonstrations. I am staying in the Baghdad Hotel, off Sadoon Street in central Baghdad, not far from Tahrir Square, the focus of most protest... Read More
Iraq is on the edge of a mass popular uprising which the government is seeking to stifle through a strictly imposed open-ended curfew and an enforced internet blackout. Protests, met with a fierce response from the authorities, have gripped Baghdad and spread since Tuesday to southern Iraqi provinces. So far, 19 people have been reported... Read More
It about midnight on 20 September, a young man got off a white minibus at the entrance to the Shia shrine city and pilgrimage centre of Karbala, southwest of Baghdad. A few minutes later, he pressed a remote control, detonating the explosives he had left in a bag under his seat on the bus. The... Read More
Two very different political waves are sweeping through the Middle East and north Africa. Popular protests are overthrowing the leaders of military regimes for the first time since the failed Arab Spring of 2011. At the same time, dictators are seeking to further monopolise power by killing, jailing or intimidating opponents who want personal and... Read More
Up to its dying days the self-declared Islamic State has retained the ability to top the news agenda, even as its fighters were losing their last battle for bomb-shattered villages in the deserts of eastern Syria. When their spokesman promised retaliation for the massacre of Muslims in the Christchurch mosques his threat was taken seriously.... Read More
A tidal wave of hypocrisy has greeted the discovery of the Bethnal Green schoolgirl and Isis bride Shamima Begum in a refugee camp in eastern Syria. Grandstanding politicians like Sajid Javid, the home secretary, say they will do everything to stop her coming back to the UK and might seek to put her on trial... Read More
Campaign Posters Adorn Concrete Wall
The Irony of Election Fraud
Beirut, Lebanon: On this lovely morning here on the coast of the Mediterranean there is not a cloud in the sky. In less than twenty-four hours voting will begin. However, on this day before the election, a howling wind is blowing from the south making the thousands of posters, banners and building-sized placards that feature... 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
Millions stage world's greatest pilgrimage
Millions of black-clad Shia pilgrims are converging on the holy city of Kerbala for the Arbaeen religious commemoration, the largest annual gathering of people anywhere on earth. Walking in long columns stretching back unbroken for as much as 50 miles, sleeping and eating in tents erected by supporters beside the road, the event has become... Read More
“The people of Mosul will receive their salaries, while the people of Basra will receive the bodies of their martyrs,” runs a bitter comment on Iraqi social media. Many Iraqis see the inhabitants of Mosul as willing collaborators with Isis during its three years in power in the city. In particular, there are calls for... Read More
Robert Fisk put it best: “Trump Is About To Really Mess Up In The Middle East”. Following his fantastically stupid decision to attack the Syrian military with cruise missiles, Trump or, should I say, the people who make decisions for him, probably realized that it was “game over” for any US policy in the Middle-East... Read More
President Trump leaves the Middle East today, having done his bit to make the region even more divided and mired in conflict than it was before. At the same moment that Donald Trump was condemning the suicide bomber in Manchester as “an evil loser in life”, he was adding to the chaos in which al-Qaeda... Read More
It was crude stuff. President Trump called on 55 Muslim leaders assembled in Riyadh to drive out terrorism from their countries. He identified Iran as a despotic state and came near to calling for regime change, though Iran held a presidential election generally regarded as fair only two days previously. He denounced Hezbollah and lined... Read More
The Iraqi armed forces will eventually capture west Mosul, which is still held by Isis fighters, but the city itself will be destroyed in the fighting, a senior Iraqi politician has told The Independent in an interview. Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurdish leader who until last year was the Iraqi finance minister and prior to that... Read More
The British Government’s fawning on the absolute monarchs of the Gulf, whose authority is enforced by beheadings, lashings and the torture chamber, is at once contemptible and pathetic. It is a measure of Britain’s decline as a great power that it is only in tiny, toxic, sectarian Bahrain, where Sunni rulers suppress the Shia majority,... Read More
Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, his face bloody and bruised from bomb blast, stares out in bafflement at a world in which somebody had just tried to kill him. Pictures of his little figure in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo have swiftly become the living symbol of the slaughter in Syria and Iraq. In the... Read More
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Arab Spring was always a misleading phrase, suggesting that what we were seeing was a peaceful transition from authoritarianism to democracy similar to that from communism in Eastern Europe. The misnomer implied an over-simplified view of the political ingredients that produced the protests and uprisings of 2011 and over-optimistic expectations about their outcome. Five years... Read More
Saudi Arabia will be pleased that the furore over its execution of the Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr is taking the form of a heightened confrontation with Iran and the Shia world as a whole. Insults and threats are exchanged and diplomatic missions closed. Sunni mosques are blown up in Shia-dominated areas of Iraq. The Saudi... Read More
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The Saudis have made themselves even more unpopular after decapitating or shooting 47 prisoners last week. Critics are calling them, “the white ISIS.” The men, Sunni and Shia, had been convicted of “terrorism,” belonging to al-Qaida, drug offenses, or membership in proscribed Shia groups. All but two of them were Saudi citizens. Most prominent among... Read More
Conflicts among communities that once lived together in peace brings the prospect of a refugee crisis that will continue...
Sectarian and ethnic cleansing by all sides in Syria and Iraq is becoming more intense, ensuring that there are few mixed areas left in the two countries and, even if the war ends, many refugees will find it too dangerous to return to their homes. Communities which once lived together in peace are today so... Read More
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This email from my driver in Baghdad proves it
I used to have a driver called Omar in Baghdad at the height of the Sunni-Shia slaughter between 2004 and 2010. He was a Sunni Arab and, at the peak of the sectarian bloodshed, he fled with his family to Damascus where they stayed for a year. On his return, he found that his house,... Read More
Ironically, they are the ones who inspire men to fight and who can prevent sectarian division
I spent last week in Karbala and Najaf, the Shia holy cities south-west of Baghdad, which I have always found to be among the wonders of the world. There is something entrancing and even magical about the sight of their golden domes and minarets rising above the roofs of the houses around them. I first... Read More
More influential than any politician, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani wants the West to send Baghdad more weapons to help...
The most powerful Shia religious leader in Iraq has put out a call for the international community to send Baghdad more modern weapons to help it fight against Isis. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, widely considered to have more authority than any of Iraq’s leading politicians, also wants neighbouring countries to close their borders so that... Read More
Shia militiamen believe the nuclear deal will herald more American help in battle to liberate Iraq
They are home to more than a million of Iraq’s Shia Muslims, and contain the tombs of that faith’s holiest figures. In recent months they have provided thousands of fighters for the militias battling Isis, but their inhabitants have watched in frustration as US air power has been deployed in support of the less effective... Read More
But lack of experience risks heavy casualties
Tens of thousands of Shia militiamen are poised to join the battle for Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, in a bid to recapture it from Isis fighters who seized the city 18 months ago. The battle is likely to be one of the decisive military engagements of the Iraq war as Fallujah has been... Read More
The seven wars in Muslim countries where 'Islamic State' is powerful or growing in strength
There are seven wars raging in Muslim countries between the borders of Pakistan in the east and Nigeria in the west. In all seven – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and north-east Nigeria – local versions of Isis are either already powerful or are gaining in influence. Key to its explosive expansion in Iraq... Read More
Who rises if Assad falls? That question, which has bedeviled U.S. experts on the Middle East, may need updating to read: Who rises when Assad falls? For the war is going badly for Bashar Assad, whose family has ruled Syria since Richard Nixon was president. Assad's situation seems more imperiled than at any time in... Read More
Iraqi government deploys Shia militiamen to assist in counter-offensive to retake city from jihadists
Shia militiamen and Iraqi government forces are preparing to launch a counter-offensive to recapture Ramadi as Isis fighters tighten their control of the city after seizing it in a three-day battle. The loss of Ramadi has discredited the Baghdad government and US policy of relying on the regular army backed by US air strikes to... Read More
Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis
Foreign states that go to war in Yemen usually come to regret it. The Saudi-led military intervention so far involves only air strikes, but a ground assault may follow. The code name for the action is Operation Decisive Storm, which is probably an indication of what Saudi Arabia and its allies would like to happen... Read More
Mahmoud Omar, a young Sunni photographer, is angered though not entirely surprised by the way in which the Baghdad government continues to mistreat his fellow Sunnis. Political leaders inside and outside Iraq all agree that the best, and possibly the only, way to defeat Isis is to turn at least part of the Sunni Arab... Read More
The president's request for the authorization to use military force against the Islamic State has landed in a Congress as divided as the country. That division was mirrored in the disparate receptions Obama's resolution received from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. To the Times, Obama's AUMF is "alarmingly broad. It does... Read More
Tehran may have formed an unlikely alliance with its sworn enemy, but a policy of open confrontation and covert...
The United States says Iranian F-4 Phantoms have carried out bombing raids against Isis north-east of Baghdad, a claim that appears to be confirmed by film of the aircraft taken from the ground. Iran, however, denies that any of its planes are carrying out combat missions in Iraq. The raids are said to have taken... Read More
The Home Secretary's counter-terrorism Bill is unlikely to make the militants lose any sleep
There have been two interesting initiatives on "terrorism" over the month, both highly revealing in different ways about opposition to Islamic State (Isis). The first is a ludicrous document issued by the government of the United Arab Emirates that lists as "terrorist organisations" no less than 85 groups, coupling well-regarded Muslim charities with violent jihadis... Read More
Exclusive: CIA has hugely underestimated the number of jihadis, who now rule an area the size of Britain
The Islamic State (Isis) has recruited an army hundreds of thousands strong, far larger than previous estimates by the CIA, according to a senior Kurdish leader. He said the ability of Isis to attack on many widely separated fronts in Iraq and Syria at the same time shows that the number of militant fighters is... Read More
The US plan of strengthening local tribes is no match for the brutality of the jihadis
Islamic State (Isis) has a grisly ritual whereby its victims are compelled to chant "the Islamic State remains" in the moments before they are executed. Unfortunately, the slogan remains all too true: five months after Isis defeated the Iraqi army and captured much of northern and western Iraq, it is still tightening its grip on... Read More
Shia militias 'abducting and killing Sunni civilians in revenge for Isis attacks'
Iraq is descending into savage sectarian warfare as government-backed Shia militias kill, torture and hold for ransom any Sunni whom they detain. Isis is notorious for its mass killings of Shia, but retaliation by Shia militiamen means that Iraq is returning to the levels of sectarian slaughter last seen in the Sunni-Shia civil war of... Read More
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Fighting in Iraq Until Hell Freezes Over
I wanted to offer a wry chuckle before we headed into the heavy stuff about Iraq, so I tried to start this article with a suitably ironic formulation. You know, a déjà-vu-all-over-again kinda thing. I even thought about telling you how, in 2011, I contacted a noted author to blurb my book, We Meant Well:... Read More
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When it comes to dropping bombs on Arabs, American newspapers and TV are usually extraordinarily supportive of whatever the Administration in power wants to do. Witness the pack mentality which led virtually every print journalist and editor in the country to endorse Colin Powell’s bogus UN speech blowing the whistle on Saddam’s nonexistent weapons of... Read More
Possibility of civil conflict within Baghdad looms as Maliki deploys elite forces and his supporters take to the streets
Iraq’s new President appointed Haider al-Abadi as the Prime Minister today, damaging the hopes of Nouri al Maliki of serving a third term in the position and raising the possibility of civil conflict in Baghdad, even as militants threaten the capital. Mr Maliki is reluctant to give up his ambition despite military defeat and the... Read More
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How America's Policies Sealed Iraq's Fate
For Americans, it was like the news from nowhere. Years had passed since reporters bothered to head for the country we invaded and blew a hole through back in 2003, the country once known as Iraq that our occupation drove into a never-ending sectarian nightmare. In 2011, the last U.S. combat troops slipped out of... Read More
Who even knows what to call it? The Iraq War or the Iraq-Syrian War would be far too orderly for what’s happening, so it remains a no-name conflict that couldn’t be deadlier or more destabilizing -- and it’s in the process of internationalizing in unsettling ways. Think of it as the strangest disaster on the... Read More
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A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade.
How far is Saudi Arabia complicit in the Isis takeover of much of northern Iraq, and is it stoking an escalating Sunni-Shia conflict across the Islamic world? Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing... Read More
Tom Malinowski met with leaders of the al-Wifaq party, who claim the order shows that those opposed to reform and...
Bahrain has ordered a top US diplomat visiting the island to leave the country after he met leaders of the main Shia opposition party. The government said that the US assistant secretary for human rights, Tom Malinowski, was “unwelcome” and he should end his official three-day visit to Bahrain “due to his interference in its... Read More