Special Correspondent, Middle East
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Feb 18, 2014

Despite Iraq’s troubles, archaeologists are back

UR, Iraq (Reuters) – Ur’s palaces and temples lie in ruins, but its hulking Ziggurat still dominates the desert flatlands of what is now southern Iraq, as it has for millennia.

Climbing the Ziggurat’s baked-brick stairway to its wind-scoured summit, you gaze over the royal cemetery excavated 90 years ago by Leonard Woolley, a Briton who recovered treasures rivaling those found in Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt in 1924.

Jan 19, 2014

Iraq needs Kurdish oil income to avert budget collapse -lawmaker

BAGHDAD, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Iraq cannot finance its
projected 2014 budget deficit unless the northern Kurdistan
region pays its oil export revenue into the national treasury –
or loses its share of state spending, a senior lawmaker said on

Haider al-Abadi, head of parliament’s treasury committee,
told Reuters the budget, swollen by extra expenditure, would
“collapse” if the state kept paying the autonomous region its 17
percent share even as the Kurds withhold oil export proceeds.

Jan 15, 2014

Insight: Maliki consolidates power, fails to reconcile Iraqis

BAGHDAD/DUBAI (Reuters) – Nuri al-Maliki’s political skills have kept him at the pinnacle of power in Iraq since 2006, but the Shi’ite Muslim leader has yet to heal the wounds of a country traumatized by tyranny, occupation and communal strife.

His critics say he has exacerbated that legacy by gaining undue control over the army, police and security services and using them freely against Sunni Muslim and other political foes, while allowing grave abuses in prisons and detention centers.

Jan 15, 2014

Bomb attacks kill 59 in Iraq, PM seeks world’s support

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Bombs hit Iraq’s capital Baghdad and a village near the northern town of Baquba on Wednesday, killing at least 59 people, police and hospital sources said, as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned that militants were trying to set up an “evil statelet.”

In the deadliest incident, a bomb blew up in a funeral tent where mourners were marking the death two days ago of a Sunni Muslim pro-government militiaman, police said. It killed 18 people and wounded 16 in Shatub, a village south of Baquba.

Jan 14, 2014

Iraq violence kills 24, militants stage big attacks near Falluja

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Sunni Muslim militants staged coordinated attacks near the western Iraqi city of Falluja on Tuesday, destroying two army tanks and capturing a police station, police said.

There was no immediate word on the casualty toll from those assaults, which occurred during a standoff between the army and al Qaeda-linked militants who overran Falluja two weeks ago.

Jan 13, 2014

Iraq’s Maliki to revive Sunni militia role against al Qaeda

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in a striking change of course, is embracing the Sunni Muslim tribal fighters whose role in combating al Qaeda he had allowed to wither after U.S. troops left two years ago.

Al Qaeda-linked militants, feeding off widespread Sunni resentment at perceived mistreatment by his Shi’ite-led government, swept into the cities of Falluja and Ramadi two weeks ago in an embarrassing setback to Maliki.

Jan 12, 2014

Iraq’s Maliki says army won’t attack Falluja, militants must go

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki promised on Sunday there would be no military assault on Falluja to spare the city more carnage, and he said Sunni Muslim tribesmen would be given time to expel al Qaeda-linked fighters.

“We want to end the presence of those militants without any bloodshed because the people of Falluja have suffered a lot,” he told Reuters in an interview, referring to the devastating assaults by U.S. forces to evict insurgents in 2004.

Jan 12, 2014

Iraq’s Maliki threatens to cut funds if Kurds pipe oil to Turkey

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki threatened on Sunday to cut central government funding for Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region if the Kurds pursued a drive to pipe oil exports to Turkey without Baghdad’s approval.

The Kurdistan Regional Government said last week that crude had begun to flow to Turkey and exports were expected to start at the end of this month and then rise in February and March.

Jan 9, 2014

Suicide bomber kills 23 Iraqi army recruits

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A suicide bomber killed 23 Iraqi army recruits and wounded 36 in Baghdad on Thursday, officials said, in an attack on men volunteering to join the government’s struggle to crush al Qaeda-linked militants in Anbar province.

Brigadier General Saad Maan, spokesman for the Baghdad Security Operations Centre which coordinates among military, police and other security organizations, said the bomber had blown himself up among the recruits at the small Muthanna airfield, used by the army in the Iraqi capital.

Aug 25, 2013

Muslim Brotherhood leaders, Mubarak face trial in Egypt

CAIRO (Reuters) – Three leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the movement’s former arch-foe Hosni Mubarak faced separate trials on Sunday on similar charges of involvement in the killing of protesters.

With Egypt now under an army-installed government after last month’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, local media seized on the symbolism of scheduling both sessions on the same day. “Trial of two regimes,” headlined al-Shorouk daily.

    • About Alistair

      "I cover the Middle East, with an emphasis on political analysis, region-wide stories and in-depth features. I live in Beirut and have been in my current post since June 2006. Outside my main Middle Eastern beat, I have covered Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan."
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