The leader of Iraq’s Sadrist movement, Moqtada al-Sadr, has used his country’s recent victory in the Gulf soccer cup to stage an unexpected comeback on the Iraqi political scene.
Pro-Iranian formations, including the Coordination Framework coalition, did not seem to have anticipated Sadr’s new move after his had declared withdrawal from politics.
Widely-circulated pictures on social media showed Sadr posing with members of the Iraqi national soccer team carrying their trophy after winning the Gulf Cup 25.
Central to the effort was a series of highly publicized night raids in late 2020 on the homes of public figures accused of corruption, conducted under the authority of the Permanent Committee to Investigate Corruption and Significant Crimes, better known as Committee 29. The architect of the raids was Lt. Gen. Ahmed Taha Hashim, or Abu Ragheef, who became known in Iraq as the “night visitor.”
But what happened to the men behind closed doors was far darker: a return to the ugly old tactics of a security establishment whose abuses Kadhimi had vowed to address. In more than two dozen interviews — including five men detained by the committee, nine family members who had relatives imprisoned, and 11 Iraqi and Western officials who tracked the committee’s work — a picture emerges of a process marked by abuse and humiliation, more focused on obtaining signatures for pre-written confessions than on accountability for corrupt acts.
Those interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters or, in the case of detainees and their families, to protect their safety.
“It was every kind of torture,” one former detainee recalled. “Electricity, choking me with plastic bags, hanging me from the ceiling by my hands. They stripped us naked and grabbed at the parts of our body underneath.”
In at least one case, a former senior official, Qassim Hamoud Mansour, died in the hospital after being arrested by the committee. Photographs provided to The Post by his family appear to show that a number of teeth had been knocked out, and there were signs of blunt trauma on his forehead.
Allegations that the process was riddled with abuse became an open secret among diplomats in Baghdad last year. But the international community did little to follow up on the claims and the prime minister’s office downplayed the allegations, according to officials with knowledge of the issue. Although a parliamentary committee first revealed the torture allegations in 2021 and Iraqi media have raised the issue sporadically, this is the fullest attempt yet to investigate the claims and document the scale of the abuse.
For their biodiversity and cultural significance, the United Nations in 2016 named the Mesopotamian Marshes — which historically stretched between 15,000 and 20,000 square kilometers in the floodplain of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The marshes comprised one of the world’s largest inland delta systems, a startling oasis in an extremely hot and arid environment, home to 22 species of globally endangered species and 66 at-risk bird species.
But now this ecosystem — which includes alluvial salt marshes, swamps, and freshwater lakes — is collapsing due to a combination of factors meteorological, hydrological, and political. Rivers are rapidly shrinking, and agricultural soil that once grew bounties of barley and wheat, pomegranates, and dates is blowing away. The environmental disaster is harming wildlife and driving tens of thousands of Marsh Arabs, who have occupied this area for 5,000 years, to seek livelihoods elsewhere.
Experts warn that unless radical action is taken to ensure the region receives adequate water — and better manages what remains — southern Iraq’s marshlands will disappear, with sweeping consequences for the entire nation as farmers and pastoralists abandon their land for already crowded urban areas and loss of production leads to rising food prices.
The Mesopotamian marshlands are often referred to as the cradle of civilization, as anthropologists believe that this is where humankind, some 12,000 years ago, started its wide-scale transition from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement. Encompassing four separate marshes, the region has historically been home to a unique range of fish and birdlife, serving as winter habitat for migratory birds and sustaining a productive shrimp and finfish fishery.
Iraq is highly vulnerable to climate change and its impacts. The country’s vulnerability is shaped by its physical exposure, a strong natural resource dependency and low adaptive capacity due to violent conflict, poverty, and political instability. The complex crisis in Iraq affects vulnerable groups by adding ever more stressors while also pushing other groups into vulnerability. Though climate change affects all, its impacts specially drought affects certain groups more than the other.
Small-scale farmers who are dependent primarily on rain-fed agriculture are mostly affected. In particular, farmers who are located further away from open water sources, such as rivers, are faced with the need to find and pay for alternatives. The population who lives away from the river are also among the worst affected and most at risk of desertification, with no proper irrigation or access to water networks. The population who relies on agricultural-based livelihood are the most affected of all as they lack access to diversified sources of income, putting them among the most vulnerable and some of them have changed either their location of living or occupation to search of better incomes.
Climate change and mainly drought affect groups unequally and exacerbates the vulnerabilities that already exist among specific groups such as displaced populations or returnees. The survey found that returnees suffer the most among the sample, as they have lost their assets, services, and livelihood opportunities.
Drought also has particular impacts on women, who are already
vulnerable and socially constrained. Such vulnerabilities are further
deepened in the case of internal migration, especially from rural to
urban areas, while putting more stress on the capacities of urban areas
to absorb the increasing needs and demands of new arrivals.
The effects of climate change are felt in several critical sectors – agriculture, water, economy, public health, and the environment– directly affecting the lives of Iraqi citizens.
However, responses to climate change have been inadequate and significantly affected by violent conflict, the lack of governmental financial and human resources, and the lack of coordination among ministries.
If left unattended, climate change impacts will exacerbate poverty and insecurity and may lead to social unrest and further instability.
Iraq’s national football team were given a heroes' welcome upon their return to Baghdad on Friday, a day after winning the Arabian Gulf Cup in the southern city of Basra.
Thousands of Iraqis packed the main streets of the capital, mainly along the motorway linking Baghdad International Airport to the city centre, to greet the Lions of Mesopotamia.
After their plane landed, the team were received on a red carpet as the Iraq National Band for Musical Heritage danced and sang, waving Iraqi flags.
Following a cruise on Friday afternoon on the Shatt Al-Arab river, where fans from Basra province greeted the players and staff, the Iraqi team headed to Baghdad.
From Baghdad airport to the Grand Festivities Square, the side was welcomed by fans along the side of the road, which extends for around 16 miles (26 kilometres).
Iraq Football Association President Adnan Dirjal and other officials were first to ascend the podium in the square before the players and staff joined them.
In addition, Iraqi foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Al-Sahhaf said Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein ordered diplomatic passports to be given to the members of the national side in recognition of their win, official news agency INA reported.
The 25th edition of the Arabian Gulf Cup ran from 6 to 19 January 2023. The tournament takes place every other year.
Members of the winning team include: Fahad Talib, Jalal Hassan, Ahmed Basil, Manaf Younis, Zaid Tahseen, Mustafa Nadhim, Ali Faez, Alai Ghasem, Dhurgham Ismail, Hussein Ammar, Hussein Ali, Ibrahim Bavesh, Hassan Abdulkareem, Sherko Karim, Rewan Amin, Amjad Attwan, Amir al_Ammari, Mohammed Ali Abboud, Hussein Jabbar, Moammel Abdul-Ridha, Alaa Abbas, Aymen Hussein and Aso Rostam.
Former NFL coach and current NBC football analyst Tony Dungy recently found himself at the mercy of Twitter after touting a long-debunked far-right conspiracy theory about students dressing up as animals and using litter boxes at school.
In a since-deleted tweet, the former football coach responded to a post from the right-wing publication The Daily Wire about a Minnesota legislator supporting a bill that would require menstrual products to be placed in boys’ bathrooms at schools.
“That’s nothing,” Dungy responded. “Some school districts are putting litter boxes in the school bathrooms for the students who identify as cats. Very important to address every student’s needs.”
Last year, conservatives from across the country were saying that schools were allowing students to identify as animals, with many of them calling those students “furries.” The urban legend, when told, often included the details that students were using litterboxes – sometimes in classrooms – and that schools were being forced to accommodate these students.
Now consider that more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, according to The Trevor Project’s 2022 survey on mental health, and that 86% in the new Morning Consult poll said their mental health has been negatively affected by state laws restricting transgender rights.
“It has made me feel increasingly trapped and hopeless,” one person told The Trevor Project.
It’s these kids, these already vulnerable and in-peril kids, who Tony Dungy chose to pile on using his large, national platform. Who Dungy put further in harm’s way with his bigotry and ignorance, under the guise of his “Christian” faith.
In a since-deleted Tweet, the Hall of Fame coach who is now an NBC Sports analyst ridiculed Minnesota’s efforts to treat its most at-risk students with compassion and care by sharing a debunked -- and wholly nonsensical – claim that some schools are providing litter boxes because students are identifying as cats.
Dungy is a smart man, the son of educators and a graduate of the University of Minnesota. He should have known right away there was no truth to that tinfoil hat litter box story. Even if he wasn’t sure, determining it wasn’t true would have taken him all of 30 seconds if he’d just searched a reputable news source.
Like, say, his own employer.
Dungy does not mention the LGBT community who was most-harmed by his tweet. It was LGBT people he was clearly targeting with the debunked claim of kids “identifying” as cats and needing litter boxes.
If you can’t bring yourself to address the injured party, the “apology” is an empty gesture.
Also note that he does not in any way distance himself from the ideas and beliefs behind the ridiculous litter-box claim. He simply says he shouldn’t have shared it.
What would a real, genuine apology look like? A suggestion:
This week I shared a story that I came to understand is false. The story was designed to harm the LGBT community and demean people who are transgender. I have done a lot of soul-searching on this over the last few days, and I have come to realize how very wrong it was not only to share it, but also how damaging the message behind it was. For a long time I’ve tried to reconcile my faith with homosexuality. It’s something I struggle with to this day. I’m sorry that I shared something damaging and false, and I hope after this weekend I might be able to talk with some people in that community, and that we can share and listen to one another. I may not have all the answers, but I’m willing to work to find a way to repair the damage I’ve done.
Now that would be an apology.
Already probably the most publicly anti-LGBT person in NFL history, Dungy’s hiding behind his Christianity and the Bible don’t explain away this claim. There’s nothing in the New Testament about gay or transgender people deceiving children into thinking they’re animals (though I’m sure his anti-gay zealot friend Andrew Wommack can summon something from the Book of Corinthians to prove it).
As I wrote last week, beyond Dungy’s years-long campaign against the LGBT community stands NBC’s silence about it. The Peacock Network is a crossroads on this one. Again, this isn’t about Dungy quoting the Bible or expressing his “religious beliefs.” This is simply absurd, cruel, over-the-top anti-LGBT rhetoric that has been disproven by NBC News itself.
This was not, it seems, simply a “mistake” by Dungy. This is part of a decades-long series of attacks on my community, my friends, my teammates and my loved ones that NBC has for years tolerated.
Ever since NBC NFL analyst Tony Dungy tweeted out a common right-wing, anti-trans, completely-debunked talking point, much of sports media has been focused on Dungy’s history of aligning himself with anti-LGBT+ individuals and organizations. And rightly so. I myself was so outraged by Dungy’s transphobic remarks that I immediately grabbed my phone to call him out on Twitter. (Dungy has since tweeted out an apology.) But Dungy isn’t the only problematic member of NBC’s premier football crew. Both announcer Mike Tirico and analyst Matthew Berry have, in the past, been accused of sexual harassment by their female colleagues.