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‘Donald Trump has consistently increased tensions and courted confrontation with Iran.’ Iranians burn a US flag in Tehran on Friday. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

The Trump administration’s assassination on Thursday of General Qassem Suleimani could turn out to be its biggest foreign policy blunder. The killing could lead to a war with Iranian proxies across the Middle East, belying Trump’s supposed desire to extricate the US from its endless conflicts. But its most likely immediate effect will be to ratchet up pressure on the Iraqi government to expel US troops from Iraq. And that would mean Iran extending its already substantial influence over Iraqi government and society.

The Trump administration was quick to portray the assassination as a pre-emptive strike, saying Suleimani had been “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”…  Seguir leyendo »

A memorial bracelet that Ackerman wore to honor a fallen comrade.CreditFred R. Conrad for The New York Times

This is the 15th Memorial Day since the battle of Falluja in late 2004, in which 82 American service members died. The battle was a key operation at the outset of the Iraq War and resulted in the fiercest urban combat since the battle for Hue in Vietnam in 1968.

I fought in that battle in Iraq, leading First Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment, and two years later, on a clear January day in Camp Lejeune, I was awarded a medal. My entire family came for the occasion. Our infantry battalion stood in formation while the adjutant for the Second Marine Division read a citation.…  Seguir leyendo »

El mes pasado, en conmemoración del 15.º aniversario de la Guerra de Irak, el New York Times publicó una conmovedora columna de Sinan Antoon, un novelista iraquí que vive en Estados Unidos, titulada “Hace quince años, Estados Unidos destruyó mi país”. Antoon se opuso tanto a la brutal dictadura de Saddam Hussein cuanto a la invasión liderada por Estados Unidos en 2003, que hundió el país en el caos, avivó las tensiones étnicas y provocó la muerte de cientos de miles de civiles. Al desestabilizar la región, la guerra hizo posible el ascenso de Estado Islámico, que en su momento cumbre llegó a ocupar una porción considerable del territorio iraquí, que usó como base para decapitar adversarios, intentar un genocidio contra la minoría yazidí y difundir el terrorismo en todo el mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

15 años después de Irak

Hace justo 15 años que dio comienzo uno de los episodios más aciagos de lo que llevamos de siglo: la Guerra de Irak. En los prolegómenos de la guerra, todavía resonaba el eco del célebre editorial de Le Monde tras el 11-S, que proclamaba Nous sommes tous Américains y preveía que Rusia se convertiría en el principal aliado de Estados Unidos. Pero todo cambió drásticamente con la ofensiva del presidente George W. Bush en Irak, que creó un cisma interno en multitud de países, y también a escala global. Vista con perspectiva, hoy sabemos que la Guerra de Irak supuso un auténtico punto de inflexión: el origen de muchos de los actuales males en Oriente Próximo, y el final del período unipolar que se abrió con la caída de la Unión Soviética.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una estatua de Sadam Husein en frente del Comité Olímpico Nacional de Irak en llamas, en Bagdad, en 2003 Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Cuando tenía 12 años, Sadam Husein, vicepresidente de Irak en esa época, realizó una enorme purga y empezó a controlar oficialmente el poder absoluto. Por ese entonces yo vivía en Bagdad y, desde el principio, desarrollé un odio intuitivo y visceral contra el dictador. Ese sentimiento no hizo más que intensificarse y madurar junto conmigo.

A finales de la década de los noventa, escribí mi primera novela, I’jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody, sobre la vida cotidiana bajo el régimen autoritario de Sadam. Su narrador, Furat, se parecía a mí: era un joven universitario que estudiaba Literatura Inglesa en la Universidad de Bagdad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Young boys known as the Cubs of the Caliphate march after graduating from a religious school in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. (Militant website/AP)

The Islamic State’s recruitment of children has been extensively and graphically documented. The militant group has used children as young as 7 as combatants, messengers, drivers and guards. Islamic State propaganda videos depict juvenile executioners from its “Cubs of the Caliphate” unit shooting prisoners at close range. Although the Islamic State has become notorious for its systematic indoctrination and use of children, media coverage has largely failed to acknowledge that it is but one of many armed groups in Syria and Iraq that have recruited underage girls and boys.

In a new study for United Nations University, I analyze patterns of child recruitment by 10 of the major armed groups participating in the geographically linked conflicts in Syria and Iraq.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ten Thousand Images Nori Sharif’s daughter, Sarah, holding a bullet, from Zaradasht Ahmed’s Nowhere to Hide, 2016

Nowhere to Hide, directed by the Iraqi-Norwegian filmmaker Zaradasht Ahmed, is a documentary story of the victims of the Iraq war, from different backgrounds and walks of life, who struggle to survive one occupation only to fall prey to a second. Set in Jalawla and the surrounding villages of Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, the film opens soon after the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in December 2011.

It follows the daily life of Nori Sharif, a nurse and father of four who narrates other people’s stories after the filmmaker provides him with a small camera to “help document life” after the withdrawal.…  Seguir leyendo »

The world is failing a generation of Iraqi kids

Iraqi children have been the victims of the country’s dire political situation even before the start of the war led by the United States. The negative effects on children started with the harsh United Nations sanctions against the regime of Saddam Hussein and were considerably aggravated by the war, whose consequences are still felt.

Even now, hardly a week passes in Iraq without violence leaving both children and adults with permanent physical and mental scars. Experts such as Dr. Haithi al-Sady from the Psychological Research Center at Baghdad University have warned of the high number of children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).…  Seguir leyendo »

The entrance to the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau with the lettering ‘Arbeit macht frei’ (‘Work makes you free’) (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

One month ago, on July 9, Iraq’s prime minister announced the liberation of Mosul after three years of Islamic State rule. The violence displaced almost 800,000 civilians; more than 40,000 died, and large tracts of the city were turned to rubble during the battle that had lasted since October 2016. Beyond those dramatic losses, the war also fundamentally reshaped local communities — as the remaining houses, land and other assets changed owners.

Of the Iraqi refugees interviewed by the International Organization for Migration, 89 percent said they had their dwellings confiscated; some 35 percent lost farmland, and 13 percent lost businesses.…  Seguir leyendo »

Awaiting a doctor in the Hamam al-Alil refugee camp, near Mosul, in April. Credit Carl Court/Getty Images

Military planes have been flying low over our hospital. I have been working in Hamam al-Alil, about 15 miles from Mosul, at a Doctors Without Borders trauma hospital. The Islamic State’s last holdout is now a small area of Mosul’s Old City, and the battle to recapture it is reportedly in its final moments.

The roar of the military planes triggers painful flashbacks for one of our patients, Hamza, a 10-year-old boy from a Mosul neighborhood that had been controlled by the Islamic State from 2014 until very recently, when the coalition forces retook most of the city. In May, he watched his father burn alive in an airstrike over their neighborhood.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraqi rapid response forces gather during a fight with Islamic State militants in Intisar district of eastern Mosul on Dec. 22, 2016. (Reuters/Khalid al Mousily)

The militias fighting under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Iraq have played a controversial role in the ongoing battle to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State. The PMF is widely seen inside Iraq and abroad as a sectarian Shiite force. On social media and in popular discourse (largely from a Sunni perspective), the PMF is pejoratively referred to as “Safavids” or simply “Iranians.” PMF groups have been implicated in human rights abuses against Sunnis during liberation operations in cities such as Tikrit and Fallujah.

Yet the PMF has tried hard to portray itself as Iraqi nationalist. The call to arms that established the PMF is framed in nationalist terms, and there are groups in the PMF — such as the Abbas Combat Divisions — that have a genuinely nationalist and state-centered outlook and have been integrated into the Ministry of Defense.…  Seguir leyendo »

Three weeks ago, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced the beginning of the long-anticipated offensive to take over ISIS' de facto capital, Raqqa. Since then, the coalition of Kurdish and Arab militias -- spearheaded by the YPG Kurdish militant group -- has achieved a slow but steady advance, capturing villages as close as 19 miles from the city.

The people of Raqqa, who've been living under the brutal rule of ISIS for over two years now, know that they want the militants out of their city. But what the predominantly Sunni Arab population is not sure of is whether they want the Kurds and other militias anywhere close.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the early hours of November 3, Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, released his first statement in nearly a year – a defiant message that the group will not fade away quietly, even as Iraqi special forces breached the outskirts of Mosul, the last major city in Iraq under Islamic State’s control.

Baghdadi tried to project confidence that his jihadists would beat back the Iraqi government’s advance. “This total war and the great jihad that the Islamic State is fighting today only increases … our conviction that all of this is a prelude to victory,” he said in a 31-minute audio recording, his first since December.…  Seguir leyendo »

Four days after Iraqi government forces and allied Kurdish troops began advancing on the city of Mosul, Islamic State militants launched a surprising counterattack nearly 100 miles away. Dozens of fighters besieged the oil-rich city of Kirkuk before dawn on Oct. 21, setting off gun battles, suicide bombings and sniper attacks.

After two days of fighting, most of the assailants were killed, captured or had blown themselves up. Nearly 100 others were also killed, most of them members of the Kurdish security forces. As the militants went on their rampage throughout Kirkuk, they broadcast a message from the loudspeakers of a local mosque: “Islamic State has taken over.”…  Seguir leyendo »

An oil field was set on fire Friday by retreating Islamic State fighters in Qayyarah, Iraq. Carl Court/Getty Images

As an alliance of Iraqi and Kurdish forces pushes to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State, there should be no doubt about what the group plans to do next. It will fight to the bitter end to defend its most populous and symbolic stronghold. After all, it was in Mosul that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — the city’s leader for two years before he became the Islamic State’s leader in 2010 — declared a caliphate from the pulpit of an iconic 12th-century mosque.

If the Islamic State loses Mosul, the group has a clearly articulated contingency plan, a strategy it has frequently broadcast on multiple platforms for the past five months: inhiyaz, or temporary retreat, into the desert.…  Seguir leyendo »

Guerrilleras kurdas en la localidad siria de Tal Hamis tras participar en la batalla por la liberación del enclave de las fuerzas del Estados Islámico. Credit Massoud Mohammed/Barcroft Media, via Getty Images.

Este mes se cumplen dos años desde que el Estado Islámico atacó a los yazidíes, una minoría religiosa kurda que vive en las faldas de la montaña de Sinyar en Irak. Los combatientes cayeron sobre ciudades desprotegidas como lobos sobre un redil, diría el poema de Byron, masacraron a los hombres y se llevaron a miles de mujeres y niños para venderlos como esclavos sexuales.

Los yazidíes que pudieron escapar huyeron a zonas más altas de las montañas sin comida, ropa adecuada para el clima o, en algunos casos, incluso sin zapatos. Quedaron atrapados allí durante días con poco respaldo de la comunidad internacional.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kurdish fighters in Tal Hamis, Syria, after it was freed from Islamic State control last year. Massoud Mohammed/Barcroft Media, via Getty Images

Two years ago this month, the Islamic State attacked the Yazidis, a Kurdish religious minority who live around Sinjar Mountain in Iraq. The militants came down on unprotected villages like Byron’s wolf on the fold, slaughtering the men and taking away thousands of women and children to be sold as sex slaves.

Any Yazidis who could escape fled higher into the mountains without food, adequate clothing or even, in some cases, shoes. They remained trapped there for days, in harsh conditions and with little international support. Those who had originally promised to protect them, the pesh merga soldiers of Masoud Barzani’s political party in Iraqi Kurdistan, had melted away in their hour of need.…  Seguir leyendo »

La tuerie de Nice le 14 juillet 2016 (83 morts), après celle du Bataclan le 15 novembre 2015 (130 morts) et celles de Charlie Hebdo et de l’hyper cacher de la porte de Vincennes en janvier 2015, confirme un peu plus, aux yeux de beaucoup de nos compatriotes, que nous sommes engagés dans une guerre. Effectivement, la France est clairement engagée militairement en Syrie et en Irak, et ce sur un mode croissant : depuis les débuts de l’opération « Chammal » en septembre 2014, la France a effectué plus de 4 000 sorties aériennes et a mené plus de 600 frappes, dont le bilan fourni par le ministre français de la Défense Jean-Yves Le Drian le 21 janvier 2016 était de 1 000 djihadistes de l’organisation Etat islamique.…  Seguir leyendo »

El informe Chilcot finalmente se dio a conocer este mes, siete años después de que el gobierno británico lo encomendara para "identificar lecciones" de la participación del Reino Unido en la guerra de Irak. Pero con el foco frenético en los errores de criterio del ex primer ministro Tony Blair y el proceso de hacer entrar al Reino Unido en esa guerra junto con Estados Unidos, se corre el riesgo de que las verdaderas lecciones nunca se aprendan.

Para muchos críticos, el fracaso de la guerra de Irak demuestra que las políticas exteriores intervencionistas de Occidente son inútiles e inmorales. Pero las intervenciones nunca se deberían evaluar en base al éxito o fracaso de la última.…  Seguir leyendo »

A estas alturas de la película a nadie le cabe la menor duda de que la sociedad española es tan cómplice ante el delito económico que ocupará un puesto elevado en la lista de países corruptos, con una buena mayoría de ciudadanos indiferentes. Usted puede robar, si es posible al Estado, que es un ente que desde hace siglos nadie acaba de entender a quién pertenece, y salir de rositas, con felicitaciones, si no de los juzgados, que a lo más que llegan es a cierta complicidad visual, pero con las ovaciones del público elector. “¡Qué tío, dos cojones, desvalijó la comunidad autónoma y ahí le tienes, fresco como una lechuga y arrogante como un chispero!…  Seguir leyendo »