Iraq: outlook for elections

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Elections are due on 30 April. Security is a major problem. Nuri al-Maliki is expected to remain Prime Minister, but as in 2009 formation of a new government may take weeks or months of bargaining. According to a report from the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya "the picture in Iraq is dismal; it is one of lost …

Iraq: run-up to elections

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UN casualty figures for March continue at a high level, 592 killed excluding Anbar province where precise figures are not available but the Iraqi health directorate reports 156 killed. The report of the UN special representative Nickolay Mladenov to the Security Council on 27 March makes grim reading. Three months of fighting has led to …

Iraq: bloodletting continues

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Killings continue at a rate somewhat below 1,000 a month. UN figures do not include Anbar province, where it is impossible to collect data. The government remains unable to deal with the crisis in Anbar, apparently largely under the control of the Sunni extremist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. ISIL which has extended its range, for …

Iraq

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The independent Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced his retirement (at the age of 40) from political life on 16 February. Building on his status as the heir of one of ’s grand ayatollahs the populist Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr (and the son in law of another leading Shia cleric Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr – both were murdered by Saddam Husain), he was …

Iraq: fighting continues, oil returning?

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According to UN figures the number of civilian casualties in Iraq killed and injured in 2013 was the highest since 2008. Since April 2013 there have been more than 1,500 each month. The number killed is in fact higher than the figure for 2008 (7,818 compared with 6,787), and this excludes casualties in the …

Iraq: the Sunni west

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Anbar province, the largest in Iraq, is predominantly Sunni and stretches west from Baghdad to the borders of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, containing the cities of Ramadi, Falluja and Haditha. It is in contention between the Shia-dominated government headed by Nuri al-Maliki, the tribes (mainly the various sub-tribes of Dulaim), and al-Qa’ida-type forces now rebranded as …

Iraq; breaking apart?

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UN figures for killed and wounded in acts of terrorism and violence in Iraq paint a dreadful picture, with nearly 8,000 civilians including police killed in 2012, and nearly 18,000 wounded. On 30 December the UN special representative Nickolay Mladenov said he was concerned about current developments in Anbar province, reminding the government of its responsibility …

Iraq: oil and al-Qa’ida

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Violence in Iraq continues at a shocking level with scores killed in multiple attacks in the last two days, many of them Shia pilgrims preparing for the Arba’in festival commemorating the death of Imam Husain, the son of Ali and grandson of Muhammad. There are specific challenges to the government's authority in the West and North; we …

Iraq: continuing violence

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In the latest of many similar outrages 18 men were abducted and murdered on 29 November by men wearing military uniforms in Meshahda, a predominantly Sunni area near Baghdad; a police official told Reuters "It is definitely al-Qa’ida because this is the area where they are operating." The victims may have been seen as supporters of the Shia-led …

Iraq: going downhill

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The BBC reports that at least 41 people have been killed in attacks targeting Shia Muslims on the festival of Ashura, and also that Sunni Muslims are being driven out of areas such as the al-Zubair district of Basra. According to the UN there are more than 1.1 million internally displaced people with traditionally mixed areas like al-Zubair …