enhancing understanding of iraq through programs, research and advocacy

Closing the US Embassy in Baghdad Is the Wrong Answer

Originally published by the LSE Middle East Center Blog – October 5, 2020 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s threat to close the American embassy in Baghdad exposes a dangerous dichotomy in the Trump administration’s Iraq policy. Less than six weeks ago, the administration gave visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and his colleagues a warm reception, offering support to help the Kadhimi government cope with Iraq’s severe economic crisis, prepare for early elections, respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and assert greater state control over security institutions, which have been compromised by the encroachment of pro-Iran militias. The episode reflected an appreciation of

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Update on our Campaign for #IraqCOVIDRelief

Earlier this month, we kicked off our #IraqCOVIDRelief fundraiser that will aid two hospitals fighting the spread of COVID-19 in Mosul, Iraq. As of today, we are over 20% of the way towards our $30,000 goal!  And it gets better. Thanks to two generous supporters, right now all donations will be matched dollar for dollar. So if you have not yet donated, visit our Facebook fundraiser and invite your friends, family and network to join you in doubling your impact for Iraqi hospitals and health workers. Facebook is able to handle donations in all currencies and currently charged no processing

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Will young protesters be the dark horses in Iraq’s next election?

Originally published by Middle East Monitor – September 3, 2020 On 4 August, Iraqi activist Ridha Al-Igaili’s home in Amara, the capital of Maysan province, was attacked by militiamen who fired a rocket-propelled grenade and sprayed the building with bullets. This was the second attempt on his life this year. Luckily for Al-Igaili, a pharmacology student and member of the Maysan Students’ Union, no one was injured. News of the attack reverberated quickly on social media. Barely two weeks later, fellow activists Reham Yacoub and Tahseen Osama were assassinated. These cold-blooded attacks were the latest in a wave of targeted violence and kidnappings by shadowy gunmen seeking to silence advocates of free

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Iraqi Health Workers

Help Protect Mosul and Fight the Spread of COVID-19

From the start, EPIC has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak in Iraq. Early on, we sounded the alarm about the threat to Iraq’s health care system and more recently, the exponential rise in cases with health care workers being twice as likely to contract the virus. Unfortunately, despite our efforts, the response by the U.S. and international community continues to fall short. Today we are taking matters into our own hands, and we need your help to do it. EPIC and our long-time partner, the Iraq Health Access Organization (IHAO), have joined forces to launch a COVID-19 Emergency Response.

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The COVID-19 pandemic, which for the first few months seemed to mysteriously spare Iraq’s exposed population, is now hitting the country of 39 million and its under-resourced health system hard. The main cause has been poor compliance with social distancing policies by many Iraqis who haven’t taken the pandemic seriously or prefer to risk disease rather than suffer the economic costs of extended lock-down. Meanwhile, poor policies and poor conditions at hospitals are causing many of them to spread the virus rather than prevent new cases.   Case growth has become exponential since mid-May. The second half of May coincided

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Iraqi girls at camp near Baghdad

Three Ways Your Support Can Save Lives and Help Iraq

We are one world. Iraq is us and we are Iraq. The world heritage of the land between two rivers is interwoven into the very fabric of who we are — from humanity’s early quest for meaning (the Epic of Gilgamesh) to our pursuit of knowledge (Ibn al-Haythem‘s embrace of the scientific method). Likewise, our spirit of 1776 can also be found in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square and in the desire of every Iraqi to form a more perfect union. Kicking off with #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity, and continuing throughout the month of May, we invite you

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The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting Iraq at a particularly bad time. The country has just begun to ramp up testing for the highly contagious virus, and the 1,031 confirmed cases and 64 deaths to date may only be the tip of an iceberg yet to reveal itself. These figures may also be far from accurate.  Several Iraqi health professionals believe that the number of cases could be as high as 9,000. The combined effect of a developing financial crisis, woefully inadequate health care infrastructure, lagging government response and poor information and community response place the country at huge risk from

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#38: Social Media and Iraq’s Protest Movement

The nonviolent struggle for democratic reforms in Iraq is now well into its fifth month of sustained protests against the government. We talk with Hayder Hamzoz, founder of INSM (Iraqi Network for Social Media), a network of Iraqi bloggers and citizens journalists. Hayder shares his perspective on how the protests work and the critical role that social media activists are playing on both the physical and digital front lines of Iraq’s protest movement.

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The real cost of US-Iran escalation in Iraq

Originally published by the Middle East Institute – January 27, 2020 As an Iraqi American who lived through the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 U.S.-led invasion to bring about regime change, I have witnessed firsthand how U.S. wars in the region can break out when Baghdad and Washington fail to understand each other’s intentions and motives. This is, unfortunately, another one of those moments. By choosing to assassinate Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, the United States made a major mistake. Based on a poor understanding of internal conditions in Iraq and an overestimation of the utility of a high-value- target

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Iraq protests

EXPLAINER: The Impact of U.S.-Iran Hostilities on Iraqi Aspirations for Sovereignty, Peace and Democratic Reform

With the U.S. targeted killing of Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassim Soleimani and U.S.-Iran confrontations on Iraqi soil, we are closely following fast moving events that carry very serious risks to people we care about, and for the future of peace and democratic reform in Iraq. WHAT WE KNOW Inside Iraq, Soleimani was a powerful agent of Iran’s malign influence in and increasing dominance over Iraqi politics. He orchestrated the violent crackdown against Iraq’s pro-democracy protesters, killing hundreds and wounding tens of thousands. At the same time, his assassination may have occurred at the worst possible moment. Iraq is currently

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Displaced families near Mosul

Help make 2020 a better year for Iraq!

Iraq is at a crossroads. One path leads to the hopeful, democratic vision of Iraq’s youthful majority as we’ve seen expressed by mass rallies in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square and across Iraq. The other path leads to the continued violence, dysfunction, and corruption of autocratic rule. And now, at this fateful hour, the belligerent actions of President Trump and Tehran’s hardliners threaten to turn Iraq into a battlefield of their own zero-sum game, shortchanging the Iraqi people from a genuine opportunity to determine their own future. From Washington DC to Baghdad, the challenges that we face in 2020 are greater than

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Soccer Salam delivery to a child in Sharya

Colorado 5th Grader and Classmates Rally Support for Soccer Salam

  Earlier this year, EPIC received an email from Jacquelyn Thomas of Lakewood, Colorado. Jacquelyn is the mother of an extraordinary girl named Vanicia (who’s now 11 years old). Her mom wrote: “My daughter [is] raising funds for kids in Iraq. We would like to donate the money raised to Soccer Salam.” Vanicia became motivated to help kids in Iraq by the stories of her father, William Thomas. A U.S. Army veteran, William shared fond memories with her daughter about the children that he met during his service in Iraq. Like all children, Vanicia had a lot of questions, and

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