Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Haqq Agency reported that dozens of young Kurdish men descended on a hotel in Erbil in the Kurdish region Friday and attacked Yazidi workers who were staying at the hotel. The manager of the Merga Sur Hotel said that up to 50 men attempted to storm the hotel to attack Yazidis working in Erbil, and that a large number of Yazidis have slipped away back to their villages around Mosul fearing further attacks. The reactions against members of the Yazidi faith, an ancient sect in northern Iraq, Turkey, Syria and the Caucasus, which combines Islamic teachings with Zoroastrianism, were thought to be in retaliation against the murder of a Yezidi teenage woman who converted to Islam after falling in love with a Muslim Kurd. The girl was detained by the police and then sheltered by a Muslim sheikh before she was returned to her village near Mosul after assurance was received from her family that she was forgiven. The woman was then ambushed by dozens of members of her community, stripped naked and stoned to death.

An extremely graphic cellphone video of the incident has been published on the Kurdish website In one of the clips (seen here) the bloodied naked girl is shown lying on the ground alive and crying for help as she is kicked in the stomach and finished off with a large rock to her face. The clips show that Iraqi policemen were present at the scene, and they were seen assisting in the crime. Honor killings, as the one described above, are not uncommon among conservative communities in northern Iraq, and they are not restricted to Muslim communities.


UPDATE: Please take a moment to sign this petition to the Kurdish Regional Government to criminalise honour killings, and to bring the murderers of Doa to justice.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

More Scenes from Baghdad

Recent images from the Karkh sector, west of Baghdad. More deserted streets, closed stores, barricaded alleys, burned out vehicles, garbage-infested corners and the random corpse shot in the head.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bomb Explodes at Baghdad Dentistry College

A bomb hidden in a student's locker exploded at the Baghdad University Dentistry College in central Baghdad just an hour ago as students were preparing to attend classes, killing at least one student and wounding several others, according to eyewitness accounts from the school.

The bomb was apparently targeting the son of the Iraqi electricity minister, who is a student at the school, but it narrowly missed him and killed his friend. Some students say the bomb was placed in his personal locker. There were unconfirmed accounts of mortars hitting the parking lot in front of the school as the wounded students were being taken out.

My sister was not hurt in the explosion; she just returned safely home.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rockets Slam Adhamiya as U.S. Erects Wall

Concrete wall to be built around the Adhamiya district
Six Katyusha rockets slammed into the Sunni-majority Adhamiya district, north of Baghdad, at two intervals Thursday evening, according to the Haqq Agency and eyewitness accounts. Two rockets struck at 6:30 p.m., one of which exploded at the commercial Omar bin Abdul Aziz Street, while the second hit the yard of the Abu Hanifa Mosque without exploding. About an hour later, during the call for sunset prayers, four other rockets hit several areas in the district but with no reports of injuries.

Adhamiya, a largely Sunni neighborhood and a stronghold for insurgents, had suffered from regular mortar and rocket attacks thought to be fired by Shi’ite militiamen in surrounding districts, often in retaliation to car bombings by Sunni insurgents against Shi’ite districts and marketplaces. The mortar attacks had ceased throughout most of the U.S.-led Imposing Law security operation, as U.S. and Iraqi troops manned several checkpoints, conducted raids in the area and occupied a long-abandoned police station in the center of the district, residents said.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gangs of Iraq

The Gangs of Iraq is an excellent PBS Frontline documentary that traces U.S. efforts in training the new Iraqi security force from 2003 to the present. Its power is that it provides a chronological timeline of events and offers much needed context for the news that you see today. I worked with the producers and provided some translations.

It starts with a regular scene of Baghdad: an unidentified corpse with signs of torture, dumped on the side of the street in Adhamiya, a Sunni district of Baghdad. The filmmakers and reporters then spend some time with U.S. troops and Iraqi police in the neighbourhood, and later visit the notorious Interior Ministry and interview top officials, including former Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh, the former Badr Brigade official who is often accused of restaffing the ministry with Badr militiamen responsible for death squad activities in Iraq. The telling interview with Jabr is one of the best parts of this programme.

I will not spoil the film for you. It was aired yesterday but you can watch it in full here, and I strongly recommend that you do so, preferably now.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Iraq: From a Flood to a Trickle

Human Rights Watch has a new briefing paper on the recent restrictions by neighbouring countries on the entry of Iraqi refugees. Read the full report here.

Amnesty International also has a media briefing document on the Iraqi refugee crisis here including the report by a recent fact-finding mission to Jordan. I have posted before that an increasing number of Iraqis seeking to enter Jordan, both by land and air, are being turned back. Until early this year it was just young males between the ages of 17 and 35, but recently even women, children and the elderly, as well as people with proper documentation seeking medical treatment or travel to third countries, are being barred from entering Jordan. Amnesty's report mentions some of these cases, including one in which six Shi'ite Iraqis from Samawa were turned back at Traibeel on the Jordanian border. When they took the land route back through Ramadi, they were stopped by insurgents and beheaded, except one passenger who managed to convince them that he was a Sunni from Adhamiya in Baghdad.

And here is a research paper by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy which looks at how Jordan is dealing with the influx of Iraqi refugees and the recent restrictions placed on their entry.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hidden Camera

Adel, one of the Hometown Baghdad Iraqi videobloggers, recklessly hides a video camera in his bag and goes out to film the deserted, rubbish littered streets of his neighbourhood, a Sunni stronghold in Baghdad. The guy deserves a medal for this. If he were caught sneakily filming like that by insurgents or militias, he would be executed on the spot for being a suspected "spy" for either side.

Check out their latest video dispatches on their website.

Some bloggers have taken this photo, published in a U.S. military report on the Sadrist demonstration in Najaf, and are running with it as proof that the demonstration was not as large as the media made it to be. And now the photo is all over the blogosphere.

Except that it's not really in Najaf. It's actually a photo of central Baghdad just outside the Sheraton Hotel. Ironically, the misleading photo was posted by bloggers who routinely attack the media for its perceived bias and sloppy reporting.

I am amazed that not one of the bloggers, or their thousands of readers, have noticed that this is a photo of a much smaller demonstration taken yesterday during curfew at Fardous Square, Baghdad (Remember? The place where Saddam's statue was pulled down).

Here are photos of the protests in Najaf.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


This is what happened when my brother Nabil was playing guitar and recording a song on his computer.