Wednesday, 10 January 2018

AMAR’s new health centre to serve Mosul residents

We’re delighted to announce that work on the AMAR Foundations new Bazwaya Primary Health Centre near Mosul, is now complete! 

The clinic is fully equipped and locally-hired medical staff will provide vaccinations, gynaecology, maternity and dental services, child care, along with GP access to local residents. 

You can help AMAR rebuild more lives in Iraq by making a donation online, or if you’re in the UK and would like to request a media interview, please call the AMAR Foundation on 0207 799 2217.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The enemy within, are drugs Iraq’s new ISIS?

In May 2005, the UN announced, that Iraq was “about to become a transit station for heroine”, “which is manufactured in Afghanistan and is heading towards Europe through neighbouring Iran”. 

In 2013, I reported on the subservience to alcohol and drugs, with “violence, unemployment and poverty” leading to a dramatic “increase in abuse". Drug use is also spreading in places where child labour is used, such as in car repair shops, and on road junctions where cheap goods are sold. 

Al Monitor reported how the Islamic State were cultivating opium in Sharqat to finance their operations. Sources said opium was being used to extract heroin in the laboratories of the University of Mosul, which fell under IS control in June 2014. 

In Kurdistan, security forces raided a drug farm in October 2016 and found narcotics estimated at a value of about $1 million, with the area’s mountainous nature and rough terrain, making it difficult for security services to detect the plants. 

In 2017, it was highlighted by the Associated Press, how Iraq’s national security agency confirmed the presence of plants used to produce drugs, such as crystal meth, in Basra and Maysan provinces in the south. 

According to a Basra anti-narcotics officer, since 2014, the drug trade has thrived because of the security vacuum left, when forces were moved from the borders to join the fight against the Islamic State, which swept through nearly a third of Iraq that year.

"I am with you". Christmas returns to Iraq

The first Christmas Eve Mass was held held in Mosul on Sunday 24th December 2017. This truly historic day marked the preparations for Christmas Day, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. For Iraqi Christians, it also marked their first Christmas since the fall of Islamic State. As Jesus once stated; "know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time." 
On Sunday, people also gathered in celebration of the Midnight Mass in Baghdad. According to Iraqi journalist Nermin Al-Mufti, the site of Baratha in northern Baghdad, was famous 2,000 years ago as the site where 70 "guardians" and 70 prophets were said to have prayed. Among them, it is claimed, was Jesus and his mother the Virgin Mary. 
Christians together with other religions in the city of Sulaimani commemorated Christmas at Mass, as the nation entered into a day of festivities. Religious leaders from the Muslim and Zoroastrian community also took part in the Mass. 

In the story of the nativity, Balthasar was one of the three kings (Magi) who travelled from Mesopotamia, to witness the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. The Greek word "magi" can be traced back to the Avestan language of Persia and was used to describe the Zoroastrian priestly class.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Michael Gove and Britain’s Little Matchstick Girls

Interesting to read that Michael Gove is giving consideration to pulling the UK out of the EU’s Working Time Directive, which could see millions lose paid holiday’s and be expected to work longer hours. 

Most greatly affected will be those who work with the elderly and disabled. Those employed on “flexible” Zero Hour contracts with care agencies, are already heavily subsidised with state benefits like Tax Credits and Statutory Sick Pay, as the provision of care, is often paid by the minute and excludes travelling time. 

Whilst the Independent describes this proposal as a “Thatcherite theme park” it was Thatcher herself, who in 1991 addressed the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and stated, the “most successful companies are those which please the customer and do well by their employees.” 

As Britain is a country with an ageing population, to remove the basic rights to a holiday, will force caring and committed people further away from such services as care work. The homes of the elderly in Britain, would resemble a scene from a Christmas Carol and care workers themselves, would become this century’s Little Matchstick Girls.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Why Putin?

Over the years, people have asked for thoughts on why the Russians have been successful in the Middle East, where the West appears to have failed. 

The reasons for this, I feel are quite simple. Up until 1991, the West viewed Russia and the USSR as being politically “evil” because of Communism and during the 1990’s were laughed at because of Boris Yeltsin. 

The emergence of Putin created a political shift, where while the West remained bogged down in subjectivity, the Russians accelerated into a process of objectivity. Each Russian move was made to secure their national, regional and international interests. 

People refer to Putin as being "good" or “bad”, but it was his own working background in the KGB, which established within him and his Government, a firm understanding of Russia’s place in the world and what was necessary to achieve their aims. 

As Western subjectivity has resulted in attempts to micro manage each step, Russian objectivity has given them the path to macro manage each approach, where outside of the realms of being “good” or “bad”, has allowed them the foresight to think of Russia’s future. 

During the 1990’s and the 2000’s, the West championed concepts such as individualism and democracy, as intricate parts of the free market economy. 

As Margaret Thatcher stated in 1991: “The changes in your country and in Eastern Europe have been enormous. I believe President Gorbachev deserves great praise for his part in bringing them about.When he and I first met in November 1984, we talked about the great differences between our two political systems. And indeed they are profound.” 

And as Stella Rimington stated in 2013, that in the aftermath of the fall of the USSR, what existed outside of the immediate political void, was a re-arrangement of social forces. While Russia appeared chaotic on the surface, behind the scenes it was “business as usual”. 

Hussein Al-alak is the editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra).

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Help AMAR build a Christmas future for Iraq

This Christmas please put a little love in your heart, for the people of Iraq and the outstanding efforts of the AMAR Foundation

The reasons I'm supporting AMAR this Christmas, is because for 25 years, they have been on the front line inside of Iraq. 

Their remarkable work has witnessed the construction of essential services, that will benefit entire communities for decades to come. 

In May, I was even thrilled to run the 2017 Manchester 10K for AMAR's work in Iraq and it doesn't matter what you give because every festive penny counts. 

Please call 0207 799 2217 and donate today. Your gift to AMAR, will help them build a Christmas future for the people of Iraq. 

Hussein Al-alak is the editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

On Iraq, points of clarity for Emmanuel Macron

It is felt Emmanuel Macron should consider the foundations in to why the PMU was established in Iraq, after his call to have Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Units disbanded at the weekend. 

Just one factor for the PMU's formation was the large number of French Jihadists, who were known by the authorities of France, to be travelling freely to Iraq and Syria, to swell the ranks of ISIS. 

According to the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in 2016: the “overall number of radicalised French nationals or residents involved in jihadist networks but not necessarily having travelled to Syria [and] Iraq is estimated to be close to 2000.” 

In a 2013 interview with Jacques Beres, the co-founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres spoke of two French brothers, injured fighting against the Syrian army, who described the Toulouse and Montauban killer Mohammed Merah, as being a “real hero” who “was an example to follow". 

The Toulouse and Montauban shootings were a series of attacks committed by Al-Qaeda affiliate Mohammed Merah in 2012, who targeted French Muslim soldiers, children and a teacher from a Jewish school in the cities of Montauban and Toulouse, in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France. 

It is worth readers noting, that both fundraising and affiliation to the so-called Islamic State, was only made illegal across the European Union in 2014 and ISIS was only proscribed a terrorist organisation across the EU, after the invasion of Mosul. 

Hussein Al-alak is the editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)

Friday, 1 December 2017

Baghdad art and echoes of the past

This striking picture was created at the Baghdad based College of Arts. Invoking the words of Britain's General George Keppel, this picture echoes the Iraqi boatmen he encountered along the Tigris and Euphrates. With their "shaggy beards" they resembled "modern day Hercules", with striking features that echoed the "deities of Ancient Greece and Rome".