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About Mustafa
Mustafa Bannay is a journalist based in Baghdad, Iraq.
Languages
English
Services
Video Package (Web / Broadcast) Interview (Video / Broadcast) Investigative Journalism
+2
Skills
Politics Fact Checking
Portfolio

US Strikes Iran-Backed Militias in Iraq After Troops Wounded in Drone Attack

04 Apr 2024  |  rsn.org
U.S. military forces conducted precision strikes against Iranian-backed militia groups in Iraq, including Kataib Hezbollah, in response to a drone attack on Irbil air base that injured three service members. The strikes targeted locations used for drone activities. President Biden directed the retaliatory strikes after being briefed on the attack. The militia groups have launched attacks on U.S. and coalition troops, partly due to U.S. support for Israel in Gaza. The Biden administration has previously conducted similar strikes in Syria. U.S. Central Command reported that the strikes likely killed several militants, while the Iraqi Prime Minister condemned both the drone attack and the U.S. response, which resulted in one Iraqi service member's death and injuries to others.

THE DISCORD LEAKS | Iranian operatives and their affiliates in Iraq moved swiftly to capitalize on the February disaster that left tens of thousands dead, U.S. intelligence alleges

04 Apr 2024  |  rsn.org
U.S. intelligence and an Israeli military official allege that Iranian operatives and their affiliates in Iraq have been smuggling weapons to U.S. troop targets in Syria under the guise of humanitarian aid following a devastating earthquake. Classified intelligence leaked on Discord and obtained by The Washington Post suggests that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Quds Force have been coordinating these efforts. The Popular Mobilization Forces, a consortium of Shiite militias in Iraq, have been implicated but deny the allegations. The U.S. continues to face challenges in intercepting these arms shipments, and the situation is complicated by the Iraqi government's apparent reluctance to act against PMF militants. The article also touches on the death of U.S. contractor Scott Dubis in Syria, killed by an Iranian-made drone, which was not believed to be part of the earthquake aid convoys.

Drone attack on Iraqi prime minister's home is widely condemned

04 Apr 2024  |  leaderpost.com
An overnight drone strike targeted the home of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, which was condemned by various parties including Iraqi President Barham Salih, the United Nations, and U.S. President Joe Biden. The attack involved three drones, two of which were intercepted, and it marked an escalation in the violence associated with the political tensions following Iraq's October 10 election. The election saw a decline in seats for the Iran-backed political alliance, Fatah, while the party of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gained the majority. The attack is seen as part of the pressure from Iran-linked groups who are discontent with the election results. Kadhimi was unharmed, although several members of his security detail were wounded. No group has claimed responsibility, but Iran-linked paramilitaries are suspected. The incident has heightened tensions but also presents an opportunity for de-escalation and reevaluation of the political landscape in Iraq.

Armed drones score direct hit on Iraqi prime minister's home in failed ‘assassination attempt’

04 Apr 2024  |  edmontonjournal.com
An attempted assassination on Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi was carried out using armed drones, with one striking his residence directly. The attack, which resulted in several wounded security personnel but left the Prime Minister unharmed, represents a significant escalation in the use of violence by armed groups. These groups have been pressuring political decisions following the October 10 election results, which saw their political alliance lose a substantial number of seats. The United States, through President Joe Biden, has condemned the attack and offered assistance. The incident has been labeled a 'dangerous transgression' and has heightened tensions in Iraq, with the potential to either escalate violence or lead to de-escalation and recognition of the need for stability.

US strikes rile key allies in Iraq

11 Feb 2024  |  Stars and Stripes
Recent U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, aimed at Iranian-backed militias, have sparked significant backlash in Iraq, complicating the country's relationship with the United States. The strikes, intended to deter attacks on U.S. troops, have been perceived by many Iraqis as an assault on their sovereignty and stability. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani faces increasing pressure to confront the U.S. and expedite the withdrawal of American forces. The situation underscores the challenges of maintaining a security partnership with Iraq amid regional conflicts and internal political dynamics. Key figures and organizations involved include Kataib Hezbollah, the Popular Mobilization Forces, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

U.S. strikes in Syria and Iraq kill dozens of militants

03 Feb 2024  |  Spokesman.com
U.S. airstrikes targeting Iran-linked militants in Syria and Iraq killed dozens, including civilians, in retaliation for an attack that killed three U.S. soldiers in Jordan. The strikes, involving B-1 bombers, targeted 85 sites and were described as a calibrated response to deter further attacks without escalating conflict. Iran and Syria warned of increased regional tension, while the Iraqi government protested the use of its soil for conflict. The PMF reported 16 deaths among its fighters, and two civilians were confirmed dead near al-Qaim. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for the initial attack on U.S. troops and launched new attacks in response to the airstrikes. U.S. Central Command stated that over 125 precision munitions were used against militia groups. The article also mentions the broader context of attacks on U.S. forces in the region and the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

U.S. strike in Baghdad raises specter of wider regional war

06 Jan 2024  |  sfgate.com
A U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killed an Iran-linked militia commander, escalating regional tensions amid Washington's support for Israel's military operation in Gaza. The strike targeted Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba's deputy commander, Mushtaq Talib al-Saidi, also known as Abu Taqwa. The Pentagon described the action as necessary, while Iraqi authorities condemned it as a violation of agreements. The incident adds to the strain in the Middle East, which has seen increased conflict since October, including fighting between Israel and Hamas. The U.S. maintains troops in Iraq and Syria to counter the Islamic State, but local militia groups see U.S. support for Israel as a reason to expel U.S. forces. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has suggested it may be time for U.S. troops to leave. The airstrike coincides with the anniversary of the U.S. killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, raising concerns of further escalation.

AIRSTRIKE: The site of an apparent U.S. airstrike in Baghdad

04 Jan 2024  |  postguam.com
The article reports on the aftermath of an apparent U.S. airstrike that took place in Baghdad on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024. The photograph accompanying the article was taken by Sarmad Salim and is featured in The Washington Post. The focus of the article is likely on the details of the airstrike, its implications, and the context within which it occurred. Additional information such as the target, casualties, the U.S. government's statement, and the local response may also be included.

U.S. airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran-linked militia commander, stoking regional tensions

04 Jan 2024  |  adn.com
A U.S. airstrike in Baghdad on Thursday killed Mushtaq Talib al-Saidi, a commander of the Iran-linked militia Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, escalating tensions amid Washington's support for Israel's military operation in Gaza. The strike, described by Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder as 'necessary and proportionate,' took place in a central part of the city and was rare for its location. Iraqi authorities condemned the strike, with military spokesman Yahya Rasool Abdullah calling it an assault on Iraq. The incident adds to the regional tension following the conflict between Israel and Hamas, with fears that the violence in Gaza could spread. The U.S. maintains a troop presence in Iraq and Syria to counter the Islamic State, but the support for Israel's actions has given local militias an incentive to push for the removal of U.S. forces. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has suggested it may be time for U.S. troops to leave, and the airstrike could increase pressure on the Iraqi government to act.

U.S. airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran-linked militia commander, stoking regional tensions

04 Jan 2024  |  washingtonpost.com
A U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killed an Iran-linked militia commander, escalating tensions amid the Israel-Gaza conflict. The militia, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, confirmed the death of its deputy commander, Mushtaq Talib al-Saidi. The Pentagon described the strike as necessary for self-defense against threats to U.S. personnel. The incident adds to the strain in the Middle East, with recent events in Lebanon and the Red Sea raising concerns of broader conflict. Iraqi authorities criticized the strike as a violation of agreements, potentially pressuring the Iraqi government to expedite the end of the U.S. coalition's presence. The Biden administration is attempting to prevent the Gaza war from spreading, but support for Israel's actions has provoked local militias. The airstrike coincides with the anniversary of the U.S. killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, further complicating U.S.-Iraq relations.

U.S. strike in Baghdad raises specter of wider regional war

04 Jan 2024  |  pressherald.com
A U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killed Mushtaq Jawad Al-Saidi, a commander of the Iran-linked militia Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, escalating tensions in the region. The strike, described as 'necessary and proportionate' by the Defense Department, took place amid concerns of regional fallout from Washington's support for Israel in Gaza. The Iraqi military condemned the attack, which occurred in a central part of Baghdad, as an escalation and assault on Iraq. The incident adds pressure on the Iraqi government to end the presence of U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, which officially ended their combat mission two and a half years ago. The attack coincides with the anniversary of the U.S. killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, raising fears of further violence and retaliation.

U.S. Airstrike in Baghdad Kills Iran-Linked Militia Commander, Stoking Regional Tensions

04 Jan 2024  |  sunjournal.com
A U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killed Mushtaq Jawad Al-Saidi, a commander of the Iran-linked militia Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, escalating tensions in the region. The strike, described as 'necessary and proportionate' by the Defense Department, took place amid concerns of regional fallout from Washington's support for Israel in the Gaza conflict. Iraqi authorities and militia groups responded with anger, viewing the strike as a violation of agreements and an escalation. The incident adds pressure on the Iraqi government to push for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, which have been present since the invasion two decades ago. The Biden administration is attempting to manage the situation while maintaining a military presence in the face of growing regional tensions.

The Gaza war showcases Iran's militia alliances and strategic reach

01 Jan 2024  |  washingtonpost.com
The article discusses how the war in Gaza has allowed Iran to demonstrate the capabilities of its network of allied militias across the Middle East. These militias, which include the Houthis in Yemen, Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq, and Lebanon's Hezbollah, have increased their coordinated attacks since the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran's Quds Force, in 2020. The groups, while autonomous, share a common loyalty to Iran and have formed an 'axis of resistance' against their perceived adversaries. The article highlights the strategic balance Iran seeks to maintain by exerting influence without directly engaging in conflict. It also touches on the potential risks of escalation, with Israel threatening a more robust response to Hezbollah's attacks and the recent killing of an IRGC commander by an Israeli strike in Syria.

Iran's allied militias spread their wings in the Middle East

19 Oct 2023  |  stripes.com
The article discusses the strategic use of Iran's network of allied militias in the Middle East following the restructuring after the 2020 killing of Qasem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Quds Force. These militias, including the Houthis in Yemen, Kataib Hezbollah and other Iraqi groups, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have been carrying out attacks in the region, demonstrating Iran's strategic reach while maintaining a distance from direct conflict. The groups, though autonomous, coordinate through a joint operations room and align their actions with Iran's strategic objectives. The Gaza war has been a test for their 'unity of fronts' strategy, with Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah playing a key role in the alliance. The article also touches on the concerns of potential escalation into a wider regional war and the responses from Israel and the United States.

Fire at an Iraqi wedding hall left at least 113 dead, 200 injured, 14 detained and much outrage

27 Sep 2023  |  infobae.com
A fire at a wedding hall in Nínive, Iraq, caused by fireworks, resulted in at least 113 deaths and 200 injuries. The incident has sparked outrage and highlighted issues of corruption and negligence, with the Iraqi Civil Defense criticized for inadequate safety measures. The Ministry of Interior detained 14 people, including the venue owner. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani ordered an investigation and compensation for victims' families. Previous similar tragedies have seen little change despite promises of action. The wedding couple survived with burn treatments, and the Christian community in Hamdaniyah, where the Pope visited in 2019, is once again in the spotlight.

E.U. court dismisses case alleging unlawful deportation by Frontex

06 Sep 2023  |  washingtonpost.com
The General Court of the European Union dismissed a case against the EU border agency Frontex, filed by a Syrian family alleging unlawful deportation from Greece to Turkey. The court ruled that Frontex is not responsible for assessing the merits of return decisions, which is the prerogative of member states. The case was significant as it was the first action for damages against Frontex and could have set a precedent for holding the agency accountable for human rights violations. The family's lawyer argued that Frontex should monitor human rights compliance, but the court's decision reaffirmed that the agency does not have the power to assess deportations. The case has raised concerns about the lack of oversight of Frontex's activities and the broader issue of rights abuses at European borders.

Moqtada al-Sadr calls for supporters to withdraw after Baghdad clashes

30 Aug 2023  |  washingtonpost.com
Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric in Iraq, urged his followers to leave Baghdad's government district after violent clashes resulted in dozens of deaths, exacerbating Iraq's political crisis. The violence began when Sadr announced his withdrawal from politics on Twitter, leading his supporters to storm the presidential palace in the Green Zone. The conflict highlighted the deep political divisions in Iraq, with at least 34 people killed in the ensuing violence. Sadr apologized for the unintended escalation and called for a peaceful demonstration. After his speech, his supporters began to leave the Green Zone, and a citywide curfew was lifted. The political deadlock in Iraq has persisted since last year, leaving the country without a functioning government and subject to power struggles between Shiite factions. Sadr has called for early elections and the exclusion of political figures from the post-2003 U.S.-led invasion era from government roles.

Iraq Sinks Deeper Into Political Chaos as Protests Erupt

29 Aug 2023  |  spokesman.com
Iraq is facing a deepening political crisis as Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced his retirement from politics, leading to protests in Baghdad. Al-Sadr's followers stormed the Green Zone, resulting in at least 12 deaths and over 100 injuries from security force actions. Iraq has been without a new government since October elections, and al-Sadr's resignation could allow Iranian-backed rivals to form a government. The protests escalated with demonstrators breaching the Republican Palace, and international organizations began evacuation efforts. The UN Secretary-General's spokesperson called for calm and restraint. Iran closed its borders with Iraq and suspended flights to Baghdad. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has banned live fire by security forces and is investigating the shootings. The political turmoil raises concerns about the stability of Iraq and the potential for increased violence.

Heavy clashes in Baghdad after Moqtada al-Sadr quits politics

29 Aug 2023  |  washingtonpost.com
On August 29, violence erupted in Baghdad following Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's announcement of his withdrawal from politics. His followers stormed the presidential palace, leading to clashes with security forces that resulted in at least 12 fatalities. The unrest is part of a summer of turmoil in a country lacking a stable government and plagued by political factionalism. The U.N. mission in Iraq has called for de-escalation, while the caretaker prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, condemned the use of live ammunition against protesters. The political instability has been ongoing since the U.S. invasion, which established a sectarian, kleptocratic system. Sadr's resignation coincided with a critical statement from Grand Ayatollah Kadhim Husayni al-Haeri, which may have influenced Sadr's decision.

Water scarcity in Iraq leads to the disappearance of a signature rice

16 Aug 2023  |  pressherald.com
The article discusses the plight of farmers in Al-Mashkhab, Iraq, where the cultivation of amber rice, a staple and cultural symbol, is under threat due to climate change. Prolonged drought and heatwaves have led to water shortages, prompting the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture to ban most rice planting to conserve water. This has resulted in economic hardship for local farmers, increased unemployment, and a rise in crime rates. The government has offered some support, but it is seen as insufficient, and many farmers are skeptical of future promises. The loss of amber rice has also forced locals to rely on more expensive imported rice, affecting the region's culinary identity. Some farmers have resorted to growing rice secretly, despite the ban. The article highlights the broader impact of climate change on traditional farming and local economies.

Baghdad's Real Estate Boom: A Tale of Urban Transformation and Inequality

30 Jun 2023  |  stripes.com
The article discusses the real estate boom in Baghdad, Iraq, highlighting the transformation of the cityscape and the rising property prices that have made homeownership increasingly unattainable for ordinary Iraqis. It describes how old houses are being demolished to make way for new, smaller units sold at high rates, a trend driven by developers and property moguls. The article also touches on the corruption and money laundering prevalent in Iraq's real estate market, where dirty money is invested in property due to regulations limiting the transfer of funds abroad. The paper-based property registration process and the lack of transparency in transactions are mentioned as factors that exacerbate the issue. The article includes perspectives from various individuals, including a real estate broker, a spokesman for the Baghdad mayoralty, and ordinary citizens affected by the housing crisis. It concludes with a reflection on the social impact of the housing market, linking it to broader societal issues such as rising divorce rates and the loss of public spaces.

A building boom fueled by corruption is changing the face of Baghdad

29 Jun 2023  |  washingtonpost.com
Baghdad is experiencing a real estate boom, with old houses being demolished to make way for new, expensive developments. This boom is a sign of the city's revival but also highlights the corruption and inequality in Iraq. Property prices have soared, making it difficult for ordinary Iraqis to afford homes. The city, which lacks an official plan, is seeing neighborhoods expand and change rapidly, often at the cost of its architectural heritage. The real estate market has also become a haven for laundering money, with transactions often made in cash and without proper documentation. Politicians and the wealthy are able to invest in property easily, while the average citizen struggles with high rents and limited space. The housing crisis is linked to social issues, such as a rising divorce rate, and there is concern that public spaces may be lost to development. The article suggests that the construction boom, while profitable for some, is exacerbating social divides and altering the character of Baghdad.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 7, 2023

07 May 2023  |  myemail.constantcontact.com
The article discusses various aspects of the ongoing Ukraine War and its implications for European security, as well as the U.S. military budget for the upcoming fiscal year. It highlights the potential role of China in ending the Ukraine War, with some U.S. and European officials believing that Ukraine's planned spring offensive could lead to negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow. The article also touches on the potential for an artificial intelligence arms race, as discussed by Henry Kissinger, and the challenges of ensuring security for countries like Ukraine that are not under NATO's security umbrella. Additionally, the article lists the 25 most expensive weapons in the U.S. military budget for the next year, including F-35 fighter jets and Virginia class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines.

Fire at Iraqi Wedding Hall Kills Over 100

06 Apr 2023  |  pressherald.com
A devastating fire broke out at a wedding hall in Nineveh province, Iraq, killing at least 113 people and injuring around 200. The fire was caused by fireworks that ignited the hall's flammable ceiling. The tragedy has been attributed to corruption and official negligence, with the building constructed using flammable materials. The bride and groom survived with burns and are being treated in a hospital. The incident has led to the arrest of 14 people, including the venue's owner. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has ordered an investigation and promised financial compensation for the victims' families. However, similar past incidents suggest that little may change. The fire has reignited concerns over Iraq's safety standards and the use of substandard building materials.

Fire at Iraqi Wedding Hall Kills More Than 100

06 Apr 2023  |  spokesman.com
A devastating fire at a wedding hall in Iraq's Nineveh province resulted in the death of at least 113 people, with around 200 wounded. The incident, which occurred during a wedding reception, was captured on video showing the moment when fireworks set the ceiling ablaze. The building, constructed with flammable materials, collapsed under the heat. The bride and groom survived with burns. The tragedy has been attributed to corruption and negligence, with similar past incidents showing little improvement in safety measures. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has ordered an investigation and promised financial compensation for the victims' families. However, skepticism remains due to the lack of change following previous disasters. The fire has reignited concerns over the use of substandard materials in construction and the enforcement of safety regulations in Iraq.

Fire at Iraqi Wedding Hall Kills Over 100

06 Apr 2023  |  sunjournal.com
A devastating fire at a wedding hall in Nineveh province, Iraq, resulted in the death of at least 113 people and injured around 200. The fire was caused by fireworks during a wedding celebration, which ignited the flammable ceiling panels. The tragedy has been attributed to corruption and negligence, with officials and the public blaming the systemic failure to adhere to safety measures. The bride and groom survived with burns and are being treated in a hospital. The Iraqi government has declared a three-day mourning period and arrested 14 people, including the venue's owner. This incident is one of several recent disasters in Iraq linked to corrupt practices in construction and safety regulation. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has ordered an investigation and promised financial compensation for the victims' families.

U.S. airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran-linked militia commander, risking regional fallout

06 Apr 2023  |  spokesman.com
A U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killed Mushtaq Jawad Al-Saidi, a commander of the Iran-linked militia Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, escalating tensions in the region. The strike, described as 'necessary and proportionate' by the Defense Department, took place amid concerns of regional fallout from Israel's military operation in Gaza. The Iraqi military condemned the attack, which occurred in a central part of Baghdad, as an escalation and an assault on Iraq. The incident adds pressure on the Iraqi government to end the presence of U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, which officially ended their combat mission two and a half years ago. The Biden administration is attempting to manage the situation while maintaining support for Israel, despite the increase in Palestinian civilian casualties. The airstrike coincides with the anniversary of the U.S. killing of Iranian military strategist Maj. Gen Qasem Soleimani, which had previously heightened U.S.-Iran tensions.

Iran uses earthquake aid convoys to smuggle weapons to proxies in Syria, U.S. intelligence says

05 Apr 2023  |  chron.com
The article discusses the alleged use of humanitarian aid convoys by Iran and its proxies to smuggle weapons into Syria following a catastrophic earthquake. Classified U.S. intelligence and an Israeli military official suggest that these shipments, hidden within aid, are intended for attacks on U.S. troops and allies in the region. The intelligence leak, circulated on Discord and obtained by The Washington Post, aligns with past tactics of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The report also covers the death of U.S. military contractor Scott Dubis in a drone attack in Syria, believed to be carried out by Iranian-backed militias. The U.S. has responded with airstrikes against the militias and President Biden has warned of a forceful response to attacks on American personnel. The article raises concerns about the challenges of intercepting smuggled arms and the implications for U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East.

Iraq's anti-corruption drive accused of torture, abuse to extract confessions

05 Apr 2023  |  stripes.com
The article reports on an investigation by The Washington Post into the anti-corruption campaign led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, which allegedly involved incommunicado detention, torture, and sexual violence to extract confessions from officials and businessmen. The campaign, encouraged internationally, was marked by night raids by Committee 29, led by Lt. Gen. Ahmed Taha Hashim (Abu Ragheef). Despite Kadhimi's promises to address security establishment abuses, detainees reported severe torture and humiliation. The international community largely ignored the allegations, and Kadhimi's office downplayed them. Iraq has lost over $320 billion to corruption since 2003, and while most prime ministers have launched anti-corruption initiatives, they often served to discredit rivals rather than address corruption. Detainees were often held at a facility run by the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service, and U.S. forces were aware of the facility's use. The committee was disbanded in March after being declared unconstitutional, with unclear results from its cases. The article also touches on the broader context of U.S.-Iraq relations and the recent

Iraq’s political deadlock shattered as Sadr withdraws from government formation

05 Apr 2023  |  spokesman.com
The article by Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim, published in the Washington Post, discusses the political turmoil in Iraq following the withdrawal of Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr and his parliamentary candidates from the government formation process. This move has broken the political deadlock and raised the possibility of renewed street protests. The country is facing increasing hardships, including price hikes and a failing power grid, which have exacerbated public discontent. Sadr's decision to pull out his candidates from the parliament has reshuffled the political landscape, leaving the Iran-backed Coordinating Framework with a significant number of seats but still requiring support from Kurdish and Sunni factions to form a government. Despite stepping back, Sadr maintains considerable influence in Iraq's political scene. The article also touches on the potential for protests in the summer or fall, which could force other political factions to seek Sadr's support. There is a sense of disillusionment among the population due to the ongoing political struggles and deteriorating living conditions.

Iran and proxies suspected of smuggling weapons to Syria under guise of earthquake aid

05 Apr 2023  |  seattletimes.com
The article discusses classified U.S. intelligence, leaked on Discord and obtained by The Washington Post, which suggests that Iran and its proxies are smuggling weapons to U.S. troop-targeting groups in Syria under the cover of humanitarian aid following the recent earthquake. The intelligence points to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps using aid deliveries to transport arms, including small arms, ammunition, and drones. The activity is consistent with past Iranian tactics, according to a U.S. defense official. Iran's mission to the UN did not comment, while Iranian officials previously denied similar allegations to Reuters. The Israeli military confirmed the involvement of the Quds Force in such activities. The Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, which are aligned with Iran and receive government funding, denied using aid shipments for smuggling weapons. U.S. officials acknowledge the persistent threat from Iranian-aligned groups in Syria, where U.S. troops are stationed. The article also mentions the death of U.S. contractor Scott Dubis in a drone attack in Syria, which U.S. officials believe was carried out by Iranian-made drones, though not smuggled through aid convoys.

U.S. retaliates with airstrikes after drone attack by Iranian-backed militias

04 Apr 2023  |  spokesman.com
U.S. forces conducted airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias in Iraq as a retaliatory measure after a drone attack injured three U.S. service members. The Pentagon identified the targeted groups as Kataib Hezbollah and its affiliates. Despite the U.S. response, attacks by Iranian-backed militias have persisted, including a significant number of aerial assaults against U.S. personnel. The Biden administration remains cautious about escalating the conflict, although it has stated a commitment to protecting American personnel. The recent attacks have raised concerns about the stability of the region and the effectiveness of U.S. strategy in deterring militia activities. The article also mentions other regional conflicts, including Israel's actions against Hamas and Turkey's strikes against Kurdish fighters.

How Iraq's children of war found their voice

20 Mar 2023  |  mrt.com
The article recounts the experiences of a generation of Iraqis who grew up during the turmoil following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. It focuses on three individuals: Fayhaa Khalid, a nurse; Mohamed Khalili, a young man involved in protests; and Hajer Qusay, a filmmaker. They represent the youth who lived through violence and political instability, which shaped their childhoods and perspectives. The piece highlights the 2019 grass-roots movement in Baghdad, where young Iraqis protested against the political system established post-invasion, which they felt excluded them. Despite their efforts and the sense of unity and purpose they found during the protests, the government's crackdown left them disillusioned. The article reflects on the lasting impact of the war and the civil unrest on the Iraqi youth, their lost sense of childhood, and their struggle to find meaning and hope in their country's future.

Twenty years on from the Iraq invasion, there’s an insidious and enduring legacy

19 Mar 2023  |  brisbanetimes.com.au
The article discusses the long-term health effects of burn pits used by the American military at Joint Base Balad in Iraq. Local residents, such as Tamim Ahmed al-Tamimi, have experienced severe health issues, including cancer and respiratory problems, due to the toxic smoke from the burn pits. Despite recent US legislation, the PACT Act, acknowledging the link between burn pit exposure and health conditions for American veterans, there has been no effort to assess or address the impact on Iraqis. The article includes testimonies from affected Iraqis, comments from local doctors, and insights from experts like Anthony Szema. It also touches on the personal connection for President Joe Biden, whose son Beau died of brain cancer possibly linked to burn pit exposure.

Twenty years on from the Iraq invasion, there’s an insidious and enduring legacy

19 Mar 2023  |  theage.com.au
The article discusses the long-term health effects of burn pits used by the American military at Joint Base Balad in Iraq. Local residents, such as Tamim Ahmed al-Tamimi, have experienced severe health issues, including cancer and respiratory problems, which they attribute to the toxic smoke from the burn pits. Despite recent US legislation recognizing the health impacts on American veterans, there has been no effort to assess or address the impact on Iraqis. The burn pit at Balad was one of the largest, with Lieutenant Colonel Darrin Curtis describing it as a severe environmental hazard. The article includes personal stories from affected Iraqis and comments from local doctors and experts, highlighting the lack of attention to the health consequences faced by the local population.

Twenty years on from the Iraq invasion, there’s an insidious and enduring legacy

19 Mar 2023  |  watoday.com.au
The article discusses the long-term health effects of burn pits used by the American military at Joint Base Balad in Iraq. Local residents, such as Tamim Ahmed al-Tamimi, have experienced severe health issues, including cancer and respiratory problems, which they attribute to the toxic smoke from the burn pits. Despite recent US legislation, the PACT Act, acknowledging the health risks and providing benefits to American veterans exposed to burn pits, there has been no effort to assess or address the impact on Iraqis. The article includes testimonies from affected Iraqis, comments from experts, and a lack of response from the US Defence Department. The burn pit at Balad was one of the largest, with significant waste incinerated daily, leading to widespread health issues among both US troops and local Iraqis.

Twenty years on from the Iraq invasion, there’s an insidious and enduring legacy

19 Mar 2023  |  smh.com.au
The article discusses the long-term health effects of burn pits used by the US military at Joint Base Balad in Iraq. Local residents, such as Tamim Ahmed al-Tamimi, have experienced severe health issues, including cancer and respiratory problems, which they attribute to the toxic smoke from the burn pits. Despite recent US legislation, the PACT Act, acknowledging the health risks and providing benefits to American veterans exposed to burn pits, there has been no effort to assess or address the impact on Iraqis. The article includes testimonies from affected Iraqis, comments from local doctors, and references to studies on burn pit exposure. It also touches on the personal connection for President Joe Biden, whose son Beau is believed to have died from conditions linked to burn pit exposure.

U.S. veterans won justice for burn pit exposure. Iraqis were forgotten.

18 Mar 2023  |  mrt.com
The article discusses the long-term health effects of burn pits used by American troops at Joint Base Balad in Iraq. Local Iraqis and U.S. veterans have suffered from cancer and respiratory problems due to the toxic smoke from the pits, where waste including batteries, human waste, and refrigerators was burned. Despite recent U.S. legislation (PACT Act) recognizing and expanding benefits for affected American soldiers, there has been no effort to assess or address the impact on Iraqi locals. The article includes personal stories from Iraqis who have fallen ill and the lack of attention from the U.S. to their plight. It also touches on the personal connection of the issue to President Biden, whose son Beau is believed to have died from conditions related to burn pit exposure.

U.S. veterans won justice for burn pit exposure. Iraqis were forgotten.

18 Mar 2023  |  washingtonpost.com
The article discusses the long-term health effects of burn pit exposure on both U.S. veterans and Iraqi civilians. U.S. military bases in Iraq, such as Joint Base Balad, burned vast amounts of waste in open pits, releasing toxic smoke that affected the health of those in proximity. While U.S. veterans have recently won recognition and compensation for related health issues through the PACT Act, Iraqi civilians, like Tamim Ahmed al-Tamimi and his family, have been left without assistance. Despite the presence of illnesses consistent with burn pit exposure, there has been no effort by the U.S. to assess or address the impact on Iraqis. The article highlights the personal stories of those affected and the lack of accountability for the environmental and health damages caused by these practices.

Iran uses earthquake aid to smuggle weapons to proxies in Syria, U.S. intelligence says

10 Feb 2023  |  stripes.com
The article discusses classified U.S. intelligence and statements from an Israeli military official indicating that Iran and its proxies are smuggling weapons to U.S. adversaries in Syria under the guise of earthquake humanitarian aid. The leaked intelligence suggests that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Quds Force are coordinating these efforts, with the PMC chief of staff, Abu Fadak Al-Mohammedawi, being implicated. Despite denials from Iranian officials and the PMF, the U.S. believes these actions are consistent with past IRGC tactics. The article also covers the death of U.S. military contractor Scott Dubis in a drone attack in Syria, which U.S. officials assert was not connected to the aid convoys. The U.S. has responded to such attacks with military strikes and President Biden has warned of a forceful response to any attacks on American personnel.

Iraq’s anti-corruption drive accused of torture, abuse to extract confessions

21 Dec 2022  |  recordpatriot.com
The Washington Post conducted a nine-month investigation into the anti-corruption campaign led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, revealing the use of incommunicado detention, torture, and sexual violence to extract confessions from officials and businessmen. The campaign, encouraged internationally, involved night raids by Committee 29, led by Lt. Gen. Ahmed Taha Hashim (Abu Ragheef). Despite Kadhimi's promises to address security establishment abuses, detainees faced severe torture and humiliation. The international community largely ignored the allegations, and the committee's work was shrouded in secrecy, raising concerns about the legitimacy of the arrests. Some appeared politically motivated, targeting individuals linked to factions opposing Kadhimi's backers. The committee was disbanded after being declared unconstitutional, and Kadhimi's whereabouts are unknown. The report includes interviews with detainees, family members, officials, and human rights groups, and discusses the broader context of corruption in Iraq post-2003 invasion.

Crystal meth pours into Iraq across porous borders with Iran

17 Oct 2022  |  seattletimes.com
The article discusses the severe drug addiction crisis in Iraq, particularly in Basra, where the local counternarcotics squad is overwhelmed by the epidemic. The crisis has been exacerbated by the influx of drugs, especially crystal meth, following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion which opened borders with Iran. The article highlights the origins of the drug trade in Afghanistan and Iran, the increase in regional seizures, and the involvement of organized crime and corrupt officials in the trade. It also touches on the societal impact, with high rates of youth addiction and inadequate rehabilitation facilities. The narrative follows Colonel Ehab and his team during drug raids, illustrating the challenges faced by law enforcement in tackling the issue. The article concludes with a sense of futility expressed by those fighting the drug trade, as efforts seem to be stuck in a loop with little progress.

Crystal meth pours into Iraq across porous borders with Iran

17 Oct 2022  |  stripes.com
The article discusses the severe drug addiction epidemic in Iraq, particularly in Basra, where the local counternarcotics squad is overwhelmed by the influx of drugs and the number of addicts. The drug trade is protected by powerful armed groups, tribal networks, and corrupt officials. The problem has been exacerbated since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, which opened borders and increased smuggling, especially with the introduction of crystal meth around 2017. The methamphetamine is produced in Afghanistan and Iran, and its supply has increased dramatically across the Middle East. The article highlights the challenges faced by law enforcement, the threats to officials, and the lack of public services and rehabilitation facilities for addicts. Personal stories of addicts and the efforts of a local charity are also featured, illustrating the human impact of the crisis. Despite discussions on tackling the root causes, political squabbles have stalled any action, leaving law enforcement to continue their cycle of nightly raids and arrests.

Crystal meth pours into Iraq across porous borders with Iran

17 Oct 2022  |  washingtonpost.com
The article discusses the severe drug addiction crisis in Iraq, particularly in Basra, where the local drug squad is overwhelmed by the influx of crystal meth and other drugs. The drugs are smuggled into Iraq through its porous borders with Iran, a problem exacerbated since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. The drug trade is protected by powerful armed groups, tribal networks, and corrupt officials. The article follows Colonel Ehab and his team as they conduct nightly raids, capturing dealers and seizing drugs, but the problem persists due to the vast network and the high demand for drugs among Iraq's youth. The article also touches on the origins of the meth problem, tracing it back to Afghanistan's discovery of extracting ephedrine from the ephedra plant and Iran's shift to outsourcing production. Despite the efforts of law enforcement and civil society workers, the lack of resources and rehabilitation facilities, coupled with high unemployment and corruption, continue to fuel the crisis.

Iran carries out deadly cross-border attacks targeting Kurdish opposition in Iraq

28 Sep 2022  |  washingtonpost.com
Iran launched cross-border attacks on the headquarters of three Iranian Kurdish opposition parties in northern Iraq, resulting in at least 13 deaths and 58 injuries. The attacks, which included missile and drone strikes, were in areas such as Koysanjak, Zarkwezela, and Kirkuk province. The strikes were a response to ongoing protests in Iran, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini after her detention by Iran's morality police. The Iranian government, particularly President Ebrahim Raisi, has portrayed the protests as violent and influenced by Western powers. The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed responsibility for the attacks, targeting what they call 'separatist terrorists.' The Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraq's Foreign Ministry have condemned the attacks, and analysts suggest Tehran is deflecting blame for internal unrest onto external opposition parties.

Iran Strikes Kurdish Opposition Groups in Northern Iraq Amid Protests

28 Sep 2022  |  stripes.com
Iran launched cross-border attacks on Wednesday, targeting Iranian Kurdish opposition parties in northern Iraq, in response to their support for protests in Iran. The missile and drone strikes resulted in at least nine deaths and over 30 injuries, including civilians and children. The attacks hit the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, the Kurdish Komala Party, and the Kurdistan Freedom Party. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard claimed responsibility, labeling the targets as 'separatist terrorists' and indicating their intent to continue such operations. The strikes come amid widespread protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who died after being detained by Iran's 'morality police.' The Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government condemned the attacks, and the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad is to be summoned for a protest note.

Iraqi artists in the shadow of war: Striving for a voice on the world stage

24 Sep 2022  |  independent.co.uk
The article discusses the participation of three Iraqi artists in the Berlin Biennale, highlighting the themes of decolonisation and repair. It contrasts their work, which deals with the aftermath of America's 2003 invasion of Iraq, with a French artist's installation of war trophies from Abu Ghraib prison. The article delves into the history of Iraqi art, its co-option by political forces, and the challenges contemporary Iraqi artists face, such as government corruption, lack of resources, and difficulties in gaining international exposure. It features the Baghdad-based venue Beit Tarkib, which nurtures contemporary art, and profiles the work of Iraqi artist Zaid Saad, who focuses on the theme of migration and the Iraqi experience. The article also touches on the broader context of Iraqi society, including the 2019 protests against state corruption.

What happens when the land dries up?

07 Sep 2022  |  seattletimes.com
The article discusses the severe impact of climate change on Iraq, particularly the southern city of Basra. With temperatures rising significantly above the global average, the region is experiencing crop failures, water scarcity, and the destruction of traditional livelihoods such as farming and fishing. This has led to a mass migration of rural inhabitants to urban centers like Basra in search of jobs and services. However, the city's infrastructure, already weakened by decades of sanctions, war, and corruption, is ill-equipped to handle the influx. The newcomers, often living in informal settlements without basic services, face challenges integrating into the urban economy and are sometimes blamed for the city's problems by local politicians. The article highlights the broader implications of climate-induced migration and the need for preparedness in urban areas to manage the social and economic strains it brings.

Climate migrants flee Iraq's parched rural south, but cities offer no refuge

07 Sep 2022  |  stripes.com
The article discusses the severe impact of climate change on Iraq, particularly in the southern city of Basra. With temperatures soaring and water scarcity worsening due to upstream dams and saltwater intrusion, farmers and fishermen are abandoning their livelihoods and migrating to urban centers like Basra. However, the city, once a prosperous trade hub, is now struggling with inadequate infrastructure, unable to support the influx of newcomers. The migration is putting a strain on resources, leading to tensions between residents and migrants. Politicians are deflecting blame onto the migrants instead of addressing the root causes such as water mismanagement and lack of services. The situation is exacerbated by the lack of employment opportunities, poor living conditions, and rising crime rates in informal settlements. Despite the critical need for solutions like better irrigation, dams, and water treatment plants, there is a lack of funding and political will to implement them.

‘You are free of me’: Iraqi cleric quits politics, deadly protests follow

30 Aug 2022  |  brisbanetimes.com.au
In Iraq, followers of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the presidential palace after Sadr announced his intention to retire from politics. This declaration led to violent clashes with security forces, resulting in at least eight fatalities. The incident marks a peak in the ongoing unrest during an Iraqi summer without a stable government. Political tensions have been high, particularly between Sadr's followers and rival Shiite factions supported by Iran. Sadr has previously threatened to leave politics, but the current political climate and the absence of a formal government make this instance particularly impactful.

‘You are free of me’: Iraqi cleric quits politics, deadly protests follow

30 Aug 2022  |  smh.com.au
In Iraq, followers of the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the presidential palace after al-Sadr announced his intention to retire from politics. This declaration led to violent clashes with security forces, resulting in at least eight fatalities. The incident marks a peak in the ongoing unrest during an Iraqi summer without a stable government. Political tensions have been high, particularly between al-Sadr's followers and rival Shiite factions supported by Iran. Al-Sadr has previously threatened to leave politics, but the current political climate and the country's governance by a caretaker government could mean his latest announcement has more significant implications.

‘You are free of me’: Iraqi cleric quits politics, deadly protests follow

30 Aug 2022  |  theage.com.au
In Iraq, followers of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the presidential palace after Sadr announced his intention to retire from politics. This declaration led to violent clashes with security forces, resulting in at least eight fatalities. The incident marks a peak in the ongoing unrest in Iraq, which has been exacerbated by the absence of a formal government and increasing tensions between political factions. Sadr's retirement, although not the first time he has threatened to leave politics, comes at a particularly volatile time and could have significant implications for the country's political stability.

‘You are free of me’: Iraqi cleric quits politics, deadly protests follow

30 Aug 2022  |  watoday.com.au
In Iraq, followers of the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the presidential palace after al-Sadr announced his intention to retire from politics. This declaration led to violent clashes with security forces, resulting in at least eight fatalities. The incident marks a peak in the ongoing unrest during an Iraqi summer without a stable government. Political tensions have been high, particularly between al-Sadr's followers and rival Shiite factions supported by Iran. Al-Sadr has previously threatened to leave politics, but the current political climate and the caretaker government's rule may amplify the impact of his decision.

Extreme heat paralyzes Iraq, forcing power grid shutdowns and straining public services

07 Aug 2022  |  washingtonpost.com
Iraq is experiencing extreme heat, with temperatures reaching 125 degrees, leading to power grid shutdowns and extended public holidays. The country, already vulnerable to climate change, is struggling with the additional pressures of political instability, as no new government has been formed since the recent elections. The heat is affecting public services, with hospitals treating heatstroke and respiratory issues, and crucial economic sectors like farming and fishing are hit by drought. Private generators are providing some relief but at a high cost and with health risks due to diesel fumes. The situation is exacerbating public unrest, with protests occurring despite previous violent suppressions by authorities.

Iraq broils in dangerous 120-degree heat as power grid shuts down

07 Aug 2022  |  bostonglobe.com
Iraq is facing a severe heatwave with temperatures soaring to 125 degrees, causing power grid shutdowns and exacerbating public health issues. The southern provinces of Basra, Dhi Qar, and Maysan have experienced power outages, leading to spoiled food and families seeking respite in air-conditioned cars. Iraq's vulnerability to climate change impacts is evident nearly two decades after the US-led invasion, with the country struggling to adapt. Political disputes following parliamentary elections have stalled budget approvals, affecting public services. The heat is impacting farming, fishing, and construction, while hospitals are overwhelmed with heatstroke and respiratory cases. Private generators are filling the electricity gap but at a high cost and with additional pollution. The situation has led to protests and unrest, particularly in the marshlands and Basra, where water contamination previously resulted in mass hospitalizations.

After years in ISIS prison camp, they now face an uncertain welcome home

05 Jul 2022  |  stripes.com
The article discusses the plight of Iraqi families returning from the al-Hol detention camp in Syria, where Islamic State followers have created a violent environment even after the group's official defeat. Iraq, unlike many other countries, is actively repatriating its citizens, with almost 2,500 Iraqis brought back since May 2021. The returnees are housed in a camp in Iraq, which is orderly and provides psychological support for trauma. However, the reintegration of these families into their home communities is fraught with challenges, including security concerns and social ostracism. Iraqi officials are working on strategies for reintegration, emphasizing that they are bringing back innocent people, not Islamic State militants. The article highlights the deep scars left by the Islamic State's rule in Iraq and the mixed feelings among Iraqi citizens about accepting returnees from al-Hol, with some expressing fear and others resignation.

An ISIS Attack in Iraq Provokes Conflict Between Neighbors

12 Nov 2021  |  realcleardefense.com
Islamic State militants carried out a violent attack on a group of young men in a predominantly Shiite Muslim village. The men were targeted while smoking nargilah pipes during an evening gathering. After the initial shooting, the attackers lay in wait for the rescue party to arrive, only to attack them as well. The incident highlights the ongoing violence perpetrated by the Islamic State in the region.

‘Dangerous transgression’: International outrage over drone attack on Iraqi PM’s home

08 Nov 2021  |  theage.com.au
A drone strike targeted the residence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, causing damage and marking a significant escalation in violence. The attack involved three drones, with two being shot down. The Iraqi interior ministry confirmed the incident, and photographs showed the impact on Kadhimi's home. Iraqi President Barham Salih and the United Nations condemned the attack, highlighting its severity and the potential implications for Iraq's political stability.

‘Dangerous transgression’: International outrage over drone attack on Iraqi PM’s home

08 Nov 2021  |  watoday.com.au
A drone strike targeted the residence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, resulting in condemnation from various quarters. The attack involved three drones, with two being shot down and at least one hitting the Prime Minister's home. This incident represents a significant escalation in the use of drones and rocket strikes by armed groups in Iraq, who are resorting to violence to influence political outcomes. Iraqi President Barham Salih and the United Nations have both condemned the attack, with the UN using the 'strongest terms'.

‘Dangerous transgression’: International outrage over drone attack on Iraqi PM’s home

08 Nov 2021  |  smh.com.au
A drone strike targeted the residence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, resulting in condemnation from various parties. The attack involved three drones, with two being shot down and at least one hitting the Prime Minister's home. This incident represents a significant escalation in the use of drone and rocket strikes by armed groups in Iraq, which are increasingly using violence to influence political outcomes. Iraqi President Barham Salih and the United Nations were among those who swiftly condemned the attack, with the UN using the 'strongest terms'.

‘Dangerous transgression’: International outrage over drone attack on Iraqi PM’s home

08 Nov 2021  |  brisbanetimes.com.au
A drone strike targeted the residence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, causing damage and marking a significant escalation in violence. The attack involved three drones, with two being intercepted and shot down. The incident has been widely condemned, including by Iraqi President Barham Salih and the United Nations, highlighting the use of violence by armed groups to influence political outcomes in Iraq.

The Washington Post Journalist

13 Jun 2017  |  muckrack.com
Jaffar Al-Hussaini, a spokesman for Kata'ib Hezbollah, has made a statement implicating the United States as partners in the violence against the people of Gaza. He also announced that the resistance in Iraq has escalated its activities by attacking American bases and that these operations are set to increase in frequency. This indicates a significant development in the conflict involving US forces and local resistance groups in the region.
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