The current Iraq crisis began in early June, when the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which already controls parts of Syria, seized much of northern Iraq, including the major city of Mosul. The conflict has roots in Iraq’s complicated history, its religious and ethnic divisions, and of course in the Iraq War that began with the 2003 US-led invasion. These 27 maps are a rough guide to today’s crisis and the deeper forces behind it.
Being flooded on a daily basis with newspaper articles, TV reports or opinions of individuals, it is often difficult to keep the overview of a political situation. To understand the political and humanitarian crisis in Iraq, I can highly recommend to click on the above link. By using 27 well chosen maps, split in 4 topics, the authors elaborate on the by war ‘damaged’ country that caused foremost its people to suffer. Find below the list of maps (best one’s in bold) and some snippets from the article.Demographics
- Iraq’s demographic divideIraq’s three-way demographic divide didn’t cause the current crisis, but it’s a huge part of it. There are three main groups. The most important are Iraq’s Shia Arabs (Shiiism is a major branch of Islam), who are the country’s majority and live mostly in the south. In the north and west are Sunni Arabs. Baghdad is mixed Sunni and Shia. And in the far north are ethnic Kurds, who are religiously Sunni, but their ethnicity divides them from Arab Sunnis. Iraq’s government is dominated by the Shia majority and has underserved Sunni Arabs; the extremist group that has taken over much of the country, ISIS, is Sunni Arab.
- Sunni-Shia balance in the Middle East
- The Kurdish region, in Iraq and beyond
- Iraq’s enormous oil reserves
History of Iraq
- The Battle of Karbala, 680 ADIn the 7th century, soon after the Prophet Mohammed who founded Islam died, there was a dispute over who should succeed him in ruling the vast Caliphate he’d established. Some wanted to elect a successor, while some argued power should go by divide birthright to Mohammed’s son-in-law, Ali. The dispute became a civil war, the divide of which began today’s Shia (the Partisans of Ali, or Shi’atu Ali, hence Shia) and Sunni.
- How the Sykes-Picot agreement carved Iraq’s borders
- Saddam Hussein’s Al-Anfal campaign against the Kurds
- The 1990 Gulf War order of battle
- The anti-Saddam uprisings of 1991
- The no-fly zones imposed after the Gulf War
- Why Saddam drained Iraq’s marshes
- What sanctions did to Iraq
- The coalition against Iraq, 1990 and 2003
- How the invasion overran Iraq in one month
- How de-Baathification devastated the Iraqi army
- The rise and fall of the Sunni insurgency, 2006-2008
- Iraqi civilian deaths, 2003-2010
- The ethnic cleansing of Baghdad
The current crisis
- ISIS’s 2006 plan for Iraq and Syria
- The Sunni protest movement of 2013
- Syria’s civil war
- Where ISIS has control in Iraq and Syria
- ISIS’s war in Iraq as of August 2014
- The spike in Iraqi deaths since 2011
- Iraqi civilians displaced by the crisisBy mid-June, the United Nations reported that the fighting in Iraq displaced over 1 million people, or about 3 percent of the country’s population. This is a humanitarian disaster — many of these people needed to be settled in makeshift refugee camps in areas unaffected by the fighting.
- A hypothetical re-drawing of Iraq and Syria
Islamic State militants released a video on Tuesday purporting to show the beheading of American journalist James Wright Foley, who has been missing since he was kidnapped in northwest Syria on November 22, 2012. Foley was abducted by unknown gunmen outside a cafe in Binesh, along with his translator, who was later released.
Another captive is shown at the end of the video. He is identified as Steven Sotloff, an American journalist who has been missing since August 2013.
"We know that many of you are looking for confirmation or answers," said a message posted on the Free James Foley Facebook page. "Please be patient until we all have more information, and keep the Foleys in your thoughts and prayers."
The video has not yet been independently verified. The video and images were released on Twitter by user @mujahid4life. The account has since been suspended.
"We have seen a video that purports to be the murder of US citizen James Foley by ISIL," Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement. "The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity. If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will provide more information when it is available."
A freelancer known for his work covering conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya, Foley had contributed work to GlobalPost, Agence France-Presse, and various other outlets. In 2011, he was kidnapped and held by pro-Qaddafi forces in Libya before being released after 45 days.
"Captivity is the state most violently opposite his nature," his friend Clare Morgana Gillis, a journalist who had been kidnapped with him in Libya in 2011, wrote in a piece last year for Syria Deeply. "But when we were detained in Tripoli, Jim automatically turned his energies to keeping up our strength and hope."
Cowards who murder, supposedly in the name of religion.
The Shock of Honesty
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Russell Brand: Robin Williams’ divine madness will no longer disrupt the sadness of the world | Comment is free | The Guardian (via newsweek)
A two-year stand-off may be near its end as the WikiLeaks founder admits his health has suffered while in asylum.
Life would be bearable only to frivolous natures, those in fact who do not remember.
E. M. Cioran, from The Trouble With Being Born (Viking Press, 1976)
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