Iraq

The President's Gardens

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On the third day of Ramadan 2006, nine decapitated heads are delivered in banana boxes to an Iraqi village. One of the heads belongs to Ibrahim, a quiet, gentle, humble soul. The President’s Gardens unravels through a story involving three generations under the backdrop of the invasion of Kuwait, the first Gulf War and the lead up to the US invasion.

The book intertwines the life-long friendship between Ibrahim the Fated, Abdullah Katfa and Tariq the Befuddle known collectively as the sons of the earth crack.

A complex mess of wars without end

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Donald Trump’s “America First” is fanning trade wars across the Atlantic and Pacific, a confrontation with China over North Korea, and hot wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The complex conflicts pitting global and regional powers against each other mark a military fault line that has terrifying consequences.

Discontent rises in Arab world

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A crisis caused by uncollected rubbish has triggered the biggest popular protest in Lebanon for a generation. And in Iraq, discontent over electricity shortages has galvanised a movement for an end to corruption and the sectarian wars.

The fast pace of neoliberal reforms in Egypt has pushed workers in the civil service to call for a million-man protest march in September, while low-ranking police officers have staged a series of strikes despite the threat of harsh penalties.

Syria: regime in retreat

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It has been a disastrous few months for the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria following a string of military defeats at the hands of rebels.

Assad’s forces have been driven out of the northern province of Idlib, while his troops are said to be planning to abandon the key eastern city of Deir el-Zour to the Islamic State (ISIS). His grip on Aleppo, once the economic powerhouse, is also slipping.

Iraq and Syria: A war without end

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The Western coalition attacks on Iraq and Syria will only build support for the Islamic State, argues Simon Assaf, as the movement has grown out of the persecution of Sunni Muslims in both countries.

The Coalition-led bombing campaign on Iraq and Syria is being sold as a desperate intervention to push back the Islamic State (IS also known as ISIS and ISIL. In Arabic it is known by its acronym Daesh). The battle for control over the Kurdish-majority Syrian city of Kobane (Ayn al-Arab) is portrayed as a possible turning point in this war.

West charges into Iraqi quagmire

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Syria in rubble

The new rush to war in Iraq and Syria by the West is a dangerous foray back into the quagmire created by its 2003 invasion of Iraq.

US President Barack Obama announced that he has assembled a 50-country coalition to destroy the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and in Syria — IS is also known as Isis and Isil.

This new “coalition of the willing” includes Western allies in the Arab world — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain and the UAE — as well as France, which refused to join in the 2003 invasion. Britain is also on board.

Iraq: torn apart by imperialism

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The dramatic military advance by Isis militants in the Sunni Muslim areas of Iraq in the early part of the summer pushed the country back towards civil war. The US war and occupation sowed the roots of sectarian division in Iraqi society.

The declaration of the formation of an Islamic Caliphate by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) and its lightening offensive in both countries has sent shockwaves around the world.

The Caliphate (known as the Islamic State) stretches from the Syrian city of Aleppo to the Iraqi suburbs of Baghdad. By effectively abolishing the Iraqi-Syria border, Isis has in one move trumped the rhetoric of every Arab ruler since the 1917 Anglo-French Sykes– Picot agreement drew the modern map of the Middle East.

Once again, Fallujah

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The western Iraqi city of Fallujah has come to symbolise US defeat in Iraq. Now it has once again become the centre of rebellion.

The city, along with Ramadi, is the focus of growing discontent, this time against the Iraqi government.

On Friday 25 January Iraqi troops opened fire on the unarmed demonstration in the city, killing at least five people. Their funerals drew tens of thousands of mourners, and revenge attacks on Iraq regime troops.

The Fallujah protests are part of the "Iraqi Spring", a growing popular rebellion against the government of Nouri al-Maliki. This movement has been marked by mass peaceful demonstrations and street occupations that have cut the main route west to Jordan.

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