photo: Eddy van Wessel

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Iraq's Mosul celebrates cultural comeback


Music is back in Mosul, as are books and paintings. With the "Islamic State" (IS) group gone, locals are enjoying their new-found freedom and embracing culture. Will it last?
Judit Neurink reports from Mosul.

Kurdish farmers hit by water crisis

With neighboring Iran diverting rivers and building dams, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is in the midst of an already severe water crisis that threatens to get even worse, thanks to national and regional governments failing to acknowledge the urgency of the problem.

'Islamic State' youth fighters keep the faith in prison

Iraqi youngsters are doing time for their roles in the "Islamic State" terror group. Some will leave jail even more radicalized. As one of the first foreign journalists, Judit Neurink visited Irbil's juvenile prison.

Islamic State fighters buried without identification in Iraq

A year after Mosul was liberated from the Islamic State, the bodies of the group's fighters are finally being recovered from the rubble of their last stronghold in the city.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Poverty and lack of services in Iraq force refugees back to the camps

Poverty and a lack of services are preventing rebuilding in Mosul, forcing thousands to choose the lesser of two evils and return to the camps. Over 2 million have yet to go back home. Judit Neurink reports from Mosul.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Eager to vote, Iraq's displaced faced obstacles on election day

Promises of jobs and support to build their homes sent many of Iraq's internally displaced in search of polling stations that would allow them to cast their vote on May 12.

Iraq Pulse Iraqi churches shoulder burden of reconstruction, for now

In Iraq, churches have taken the lead in persuading and helping Christians to towns razed by the Islamic State.

Expect change in Iraq when embattled Kurds cast ballots

The dust seems to be settling somewhat over Iraq's Kurdistan Region, but fallout from the discord among Kurds, and with the central government, could still be considerable come election time.
Thousands of demonstrators protested for months, and hundreds of civil servants have been on strike in several cities over delayed and reduced pay. Teachers and health care workers in Sulaimaniyah agreed this week to end or suspend their strikes after meeting with administrators, though details about the financial situation apparently have yet to be worked out. Those workers also voiced their anger because what money Baghdad had provided was being doled out among all of Kurdistan’s civil servants — none of whom had been paid since September. As a result, nobody received a full salary.

The protests have been most prominent in Kurdish areas not dominated by the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) — areas such as Sulaimaniyah, where tents were erected in front of the local courthouse, allowing people to participate in huge demonstrations. In other cities such as Rania, Koya and Kifri — where the KDP is less popular than the other ruling party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and the opposition to those ruling parties — hospitals and schools closed.

More significantly still, hundreds of protesters also hit the streets in KDP-ruled towns like Erbil and Dahuk, undeterred by local authorities refusing to grant them permits. Anti-government protests are rare in KDP territory, where discontent is hardly ever expressed openly for fear of retribution. But that fear didn't keep people from protesting this time, and it's not expected to discourage them from voting their minds in the May elections for a new Iraqi government. Their impact is expected to be even greater during Kurdistan parliamentary elections, currently scheduled for September.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Can foreign 'Islamic State' fighters' kids return to Europe?

Should the children of foreign IS fighters in Iraq and Syria be allowed to return home? Security agencies are alarmed, but aid workers say they're no danger if they get proper support. Judit Neurink reports from Irbil.

Saving Nahum’s tomb—Iraq’s last synagogue

Iraq’s last remaining synagogue was saved first from the Islamic State and then from neglect and collapse. It is a success in a country where national heritage is often destroyed or looted and widely viewed as primarily a source of income.

Kurdistan sacks Jewish representative to appease Baghdad

Two years after being asked to rebuild a decimated community, Sherzad Mamsani has been removed from his position. The catch: He was an unpaid volunteer.

'Islamic State' sleeper cells spread fear in Iraq's Hawija


Three months after its liberation, former IS fighters remain a threat in Hawija. Judit Neurink, the first Western journalist to visit the liberated town, reports on how locals are dealing with the new threat. 

Turning back the clock in Kirkuk


In Kirkuk, the return of Iraqi rule has brought back Arabization, with Kurds being threatened and evicted from their homes. At the same time, Arab politicians are trying to reverse Kurdification and help Arabs return to their destroyed villages.