society

the next glitch in iraqi kurdistan’s tourism campaign? a pretty pop star

The Erbil promoters of the Capital of Arab Tourism have employed one of the Middle East’s best known female songstresses to play a tune for them. But there’s a small problem. The same singer, Samira Said, was employed by Saddam Hussein to sing hymns to his regime, the same regime that tried to exterminate Iraq’s Kurds. It’s just the latest in a series of image problems for the wannabe-tourist mecca. by Samah al-Mumen in Washington D.C more
politics

for power and money: kirkuk extremist groups’ play dirty tricks on one another

Kirkuk security forces have recorded 21 incidents of extremist violence and around 30 deaths in the past five months. But this time it is not the general public at risk. Two Sunni extremist groups, Ansar al-Sunna and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, are fighting one another for power and money. by Shalaw Mohammed in Kirkuk more
politics

iraq’s constitution so divisive, there are calls for a new one

The Iraqi Constitution, formulated in 2005, is often described as one of the best in the Middle East. However there are several grey areas within it and everyone agrees these require amendments. But an almost total lack of consensus within the Iraqi government means they may not be made soon. Now some are calling for a whole new Constitution. by Mustafa Habib in Baghdad more
economy

religious clash: chinese flag makers driving iraq\'s artisans out of business

The production and embroidery of the red, black and green flags that are everywhere during religious festivals in Karbala is done by Iraqi artisans whose way with silk thread and fabric is often a family tradition. But making and selling the flags is big business. And now cheaper, Chinese imitations are threatening the livelihood of the traditionalists. by Ibrahim al-Jibouri in Karbala more
politics

all change: iraqi kurdistan's election winner demands fair share of power

After recent elections in Iraqi Kurdistan, the opposition Change movement became the second most popular party in the semi-autonomous region. However the traditional partnership between the third most popular party and the election winner have seen the Change movement locked out of power. So instead they\'re demanding to be allowed to run the parts of Iraqi Kurdistan where they won outright. by Sangar Jamal in Sulaymaniyah more
economy

ninawa\'s bold move: toward an independent oil policy for iraq\'s sunni muslims?

Authorities in Sunni-dominated Ninawa have invited the oil industry to build a refinery. The Ministry of Oil in Baghdad says they have no right to extend such an invitation. But the Ninawa council says the government has ignored them for too long and that it must pursue an independent energy policy - with help from neighbouring Iraqi Kurdistan. by Abdullah Salem in Mosul more
politics

cashed up: iraq's 2014 budget biggest ever, but also part of political power play

Every year Iraq\'s national budget arrives late, after months of debate and brinkmanship. This year looks no different and Iraqi MPs suspect the government will deliberately present the budget far too late, so that they\'re pressured into passing it and doing exactly what PM al-Maliki wants – or risk damaging the country\'s economy. by Mustafa Habib in Baghdad more
economy

legal loopholes in oil industry threaten iraqi kurdistan’s environment

The region of Iraqi Kurdistan is brimming with untapped oil resources. And multi-national oil companies know it. But because of the grey legal area in which oil contracts are being signed, none of the oil companies seem to be under any real obligation to abide by environmental regulations. And some of them are exploiting this loophole. by Hiwa Barznjy in Erbil more
economy

high price of sadness: in karbala, religious grief translates to big business

It is traditional for Shiite Muslims to wear mourning black around Ashura, a memorial day commemorating the death of one of their sect’s most important icons. But while some grieve and work on their piety, others in Karbala are doing big business trading in black clothing and black fabrics. And interestingly enough, so are Chinese manufacturers. by Abbas Sarhan in Karbala more
politics

let’s be friends again: turkey and iraq plan joint security measures, mutual visits

The past month has seen a thaw in the previously frosty relationship between Turkey and Iraq. Reasons for the détente include US pressure, billions of dollars in trade and the regional threat from extremists in neighbouring Syria. The new friendship will see more military and security cooperation and mutual visits from the nation’s leaders. by Ahmad al-Rubaie in Baghdad more
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