Shootout between ‘Allies’ Underscores Iraq Divisions

In Tuz Khurmatu, a gun battle between Shia militia and Kurdish fighters – nominal partners in the fight against IS militants – highlights the ethnic and sectarian tensions pulling northern Iraq apart. Originally published in Iraq Oil Report by Christine van den Toorn and Shwan Lacky on October 8, 2014... Read More

Sunni Tribes Turning on ISIS and Peshmerga

Peshmerga are under attack by Sunni tribal forces – but it's unclear if they are allied with ISIS or a new Iraqi army-backed militia. Originally published in Iraq Oil Report by Mohammed Hussein, Patrick Osgood, Rawaz Tahir, and Christine van den Toorn on September 16, 2014. Read the full article here (subscription only). Read More

The Forgotten Front

Outside the zone of American air strikes, Kurdish forces are reeling as insurgents advance in Jalawla, extending their control into a key pocket of land between Kirkuk, Sulaimaniyah, Baghdad and Iran. Originally published in Iraq Oil Report by Muhammed Hussein, Shwan Lacky, Ben Landa, Rawaz Tahir, Ben van Heuvelen and... Read More

On the Ground, Collaborators With ISIS Could Be Its Big Weakness

The support of local Sunni Muslims has paved the way for the ISIS conquests in Syria and Iraq. They may yet be turned against it, but not by bombs and rockets. Originally published in The Daily Beast by IRIS Director Christine van den Toorn on August 30, 2014. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- For... Read More

How the U.S.-Favored Kurds Abandoned the Yazidis when ISIS Attacked

Interviews with witnesses show the Kurds who are now getting weapons and air support from Washington left the Yazidis defenseless earlier this month. Originally published in The Daily Beast by IRIS Director Christine van den Toorn on August 17, 2014. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Not the least of the cruelties inflicted by the... Read More

Hanifa's Story: Her Five Sisters Taken by ISIS to Be Sold or Worse

Obama’s limited military help has raised hopes for some in Iraq. But Yazidi families despair as they begin to doubt they’ll ever find their sisters and daughters taken away by ISIS. Originally published in The Daily Beast by IRIS Director Christine van den Toorn on August 19, 2014. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- When... Read More

ISIS Earning $1M Per Day from Iraqi Oil Smuggling

Militants have begun selling thousands of barrels per day of oil stolen from Iraq's traumatized energy infrastructure. Originally published in Iraq Oil Report by Mohammed Hussein, Christine van den Toorn , Patrick Osgood and Ben Lando on July 9, 2014. Read the full article here (subscriptions only). Read More

Clashes and Tension along Kurdistan’s New Border

After gaining new territory, Kurdish forces are providing badly needed security – but in volatile border towns like Tuz Khurmatu, they face tensions with locals and battles with insurgents. Originally published by Iraq Oil Report by Mohammed Hussein, Patrick Osgood and Christine van den Toorn on June 26, 2014. Read... Read More

The Iraqi Kurdish ‘Winners’ of the Current Crisis Haven’t Won Quite Yet

So far, the Iraqi Kurdish have managed to carve the most benefit out of Iraq’s current security crisis. They have simply walked onto contested territory they’ve wanted for years, without firing a shot.… Originally published in Niqash.org by IRIS Director Christine van den Toorn (June 17, 2014). ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The government... Read More

The Solution to Iraq’s Political Problems? Better Education

Iraq’s education system relies heavily on rote learning and answers online. American educator, Christine van den Toorn, who worked at the American University of Iraq between 2009 and 2013, argues that… Originally published in Niqash.org by IRIS Director Christine van den Toorn (June 5, 2014). ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Last Saturday members of... Read More

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