As the mercury surges in Mesopotamia, so does the risk for a new showdown between angry protesters demanding better conditions and a government struggling to provide for them but is shackled by a legacy of corruption and incompetent, fiefdom-like institutions. Many parts of southern Iraq, especially Basra, witnessed widespread protests last summer. Those highlighted multiple popular demands, on top of which were jobs, basic services—especially adequate electricity and clean water—and putting an end to endemic corruption across government institutions. The episode wasn’t without violence. Several offices of prominent parties and militias were torched, and so was Iran’s consulate in
Last week, Wehda al-Jumaili, a member of the Human Rights Committee in the Iraqi parliament reported that Iraq is establishing courts to issue birth certificates and identification cards to Iraqi children who were born under ISIS rule. This remarkable and laudable decision, once implemented, will affect the lives of tens of thousands of children, about 45,000 of whom reside in camps for the displaced. Obtaining documentation will grant these children access to basic rights, including education, medical and welfare services. Documents will also significantly reduce or entirely lift the restrictions on their freedom of movement within Iraq. This important step
Protests and political violence continues to plague Basra, Iraq’s southernmost province. The province is largely populated by Iraq’s Shia majority, which has dominated Iraq’s post-2003 political order. Basra’s oil fields are the primary source of Iraq’s oil exports and proven oil reserves and Basra is home to Iraq’s only port. Despite all of these promising conditions, Basra continues to suffer from government neglect, resulting in high levels of unemployment and lack of basic services such as clean water and electricity. To understand more about the ongoing protests in Basra and the region’s relationship with Baghdad, we spoke to Benedict Robin
Three times per year, EPIC welcomes a new cohort of interns – young professionals seeking to add practical experience to their academic backgrounds in humanitarian affairs, international relations, security studies, political science, public relations, and beyond. We are grateful for their contributions to our research, action, and advocacy, and for the opportunity to connect them to Iraq and its people. Please join us in welcoming our Spring 2019 interns: Chisara, Emily, Grace and Molly! Emily Coletta is currently finishing her studies at the University of Connecticut with a major in Political Science and minors in Middle Eastern Studies, Global Studies,
Away from the limelight, violence continues to rage in southern Iraq in the form of tribal clashes, pro-government militia infighting and criminal violence. This violence often affects unarmed bystanders and makes life in Basra, which is already challenging due to government neglect, lack of services and rife unemployment, even more precarious. Although most residents of southern Iraq are Shia, Iraq’s current political elite, which claims to represent the Shia community, has failed to address the needs of the south.
The past year was marked by considerable political turmoil and unrest in Iraq, underscoring the many challenges that the country faces beyond the battlefield. In 2018, we saw a further erosion of public confidence in Iraqi leaders over corruption, insufficient basic services, and unemployment; a parliamentary election marred by poor voter turnout and irregularities that triggered a months-long recount; and a growing water crisis and mass protest movement across southern Iraq. Despite slow progress with the de-mining, rebuilding, and recovery of devastated post-ISIS areas like West Mosul and Ramadi, we saw the closure of some IDP camp and forced returns.
As we prepare to welcome the new year, we thought we would take the time to reflect on the progress Iraq has made over the past year and our work to support Iraq’s recovery. In Ramadi, Mosul, Sinjar, and other areas recovering from war, four million Iraqis have returned to their homes as families begin the hard work of rebuilding their lives. At the same time, another two million Iraqis remain displaced, unable to return to their homes and ancestral lands due to the scale of destruction, the presence of explosive remnants of war, and the fear of armed militias
It’s an exciting time for EPIC’s mission of peace in Iraq. We just opened an office in Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq as we join a multi-organizational USAID effort to support the safe and voluntary return of displaced Iraqis to their homes in Ninewa Province. Through the project, we are determined to help restore the diversity of Ninewa where ISIS forcibly drove out Yazidis, Assyrians, Turkomen, and other Iraqi communities vital to the social fabric and economic life of the region. Back in our DC office, we have been hard at work advancing EPIC’s mission through research, podcasts,
In 2014, the Iraqi Yazidi community, a small ethno-religious minority residing mostly in the area of Sinjar, a mountainous region in Ninewa, northwestern Iraq, was subjected to a campaign of massacres, mass kidnappings and enslavement of women, boys and girls at the hands of ISIS. Between 2,000-5,000 Yazidis lost their lives and about 6,000 women and children kidnapped; about 3,000 of them remain missing. The survivors of the genocide fled mostly to areas under the control of the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq and northeastern Syria. Although Sinjar was liberated from ISIS in 2015 and the surrounding areas
Protests have become a seasonal phenomenon in Basra province, southern Iraq. To date, Baghdad’s change of regime has made little difference for Basra’s 4.5 million mostly Shia Muslim residents who are frustrated with government corruption and shortages of electricity, clean water, and employment opportunities.
The holiday season is a good time to reflect on what we have accomplished in 2018 thanks to the generous support of donors, partners and volunteers like you. As the Education for Peace in Iraq Center prepares to expand our in-country humanitarian work in 2019, we wanted to highlight some of what we have done in Iraq over the past year. This year we responded to the mental health care needs of families and children recovering from years of armed conflict and persecution under ISIS. Launching EPIC’s Trauma Recovery Initiative with our award-winning partner, the Iraq Health Access Organization (IHAO),
On this edition of IRAQ MATTERS, Rasha Al-Aqeedi, a native of Mosul and an acclaimed Iraq analyst, discusses Mosul’s 3 years under ISIS, ongoing challenges to the city’s security and recovery, the role of young people and civil society in the fight against intolerance, and Ninewa’s central importance for enabling peace in Iraq.