Richardson adds to diplomatic wins with journalist's release
Bill Richardson’s success in helping secure the release of journalist Danny Fenster from a Myanmar prison is the latest demonstration of the former New Mexico governor’s knack for flying into some the most closed societies on earth and persuading those in charge to do Washington a favor.
Shiite powerhouse al-Sistani helped shape today's Iraq
FILE - This March, 13, 2019 handout file photo from the office of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, shows senior Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf. The pontiff and ayatollah will meet in al-Sistanis modest home in the Iraqi city of Najaf. (Office of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, via AP, File)One highlight of Pope Francis' historic visit to Iraq is his meeting Saturday with a revered religious leader for Shiite Muslims, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. ___The 90-year-old al-Sistani is the top Shiite cleric in Iraq and a powerhouse in the Shiite world. After the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein, al-Sistani emerged as a powerful voice in Iraq’s political process — a symbol of the ascent of Iraq's Shiite majority after the war.
A timeline of disaster and displacement for Iraqi Christians
Iraq was estimated to have more than 1 million Christians before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. Iraq was estimated to have nearly 1.5 million Christians before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. AdHere’s a look at disasters Iraq’s Christians have endured, from Saddam's ouster to the brutal campaign by Islamic State militants:U.S. It was the deadliest single assault ever recorded against Iraq’s Christians. To this day, the memory of the massacre is etched in the minds of Iraq’s Christian community.
EXPLAINER: How US airstrike in Syria sends message to Iran
A U.S. airstrike targeting facilities used by Iran-backed militias in Syria appears to be a message to Tehran delivered by a new American administration still figuring out its approach to the Middle East. Kirby said the operation in Boukamal, Syria, sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel. In the meantime, relations with Iran have been further strained as the country's proxies become more assertive, with Iran-backed militias increasingly targeting U.S. interests and allies. Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said the operation in Boukamal, Syria, sends an unambiguous message: “President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel. By striking Syria, Biden joins every American president from Ronald Reagan onward who has ordered a bombardment of countries in the Middle East.
Iraq's struggling Christians hope for boost from pope visit
Iraqi Christians place a cross on a church in Qaraqosh, Iraq, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Iraq's Christians are hoping that a historic visit by Pope Francis in March will help boost their community's struggle to survive. Iraq’s Christian communities in the area were dealt a severe blow when they were scattered by the IS onslaught in 2014, further shrinking the country's already dwindling Christian population. Many hope their struggle to endure will get a boost from a historic visit by Pope Francis planned in March. The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, estimated that 1 million Christians have left Iraq since 2003 and about 500,000 remained.
NATO boosts Iraq mission with thousands of personnel
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference, after a meeting of NATO defense ministers in video format, at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. And training activities will now include more Iraqi security institutions, and areas beyond Baghdad,” Stoltenberg told reporters after chairing a meeting of NATO defense ministers. NATO’s training mission was launched in 2018 to help the conflict-ravaged country develop new academies and military schools for its armed forces. Ad“We will increase the geographical presence of the NATO training mission, beyond the greater Baghdad area, but again, step by step,” Stoltenberg said. After the invasion, the temporary U.S.-led administration disbanded the Iraqi army, leaving tens of thousands of trained personnel jobless and bitter.
American university hopes to fill higher-ed gap in Iraq
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi speaks during the opening ceremony of the American University in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)BAGHDAD – From afar, the sprawling complex of the newly inaugurated American University in Baghdad appears like a floating mirage. Government officials maintain that the American University in Baghdad, which opened this week, is critical to shoring up the country’s flailing state of higher education. Liberal arts is a novel concept in Iraq, Mulnix said. Most of the students have very basic English skills, not enough to meet the rigorous demands of the university, Mulnix said.
American university hopes to fill higher-ed gap in Iraq
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi speaks during the opening ceremony of the American University in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)BAGHDAD – From afar, the sprawling complex of the newly inaugurated American University in Baghdad appears like a floating mirage. Government officials maintain that the American University in Baghdad, which opened this week, is critical to shoring up the country’s flailing state of higher education. Liberal arts is a novel concept Iraq, Mulnix said. Most of the students have very basic English skills, not enough to meet the rigorous demands of the university, Mulnix said.
Relative of Blackwater victim in Iraq says pardons 'unfair'
FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2007 file photo, an Iraqi traffic policeman inspects a car destroyed by a Blackwater security detail in al-Nisoor Square in Baghdad, Iraq. On Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, the Trump administration pardoned four military contractors convicted of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in a public square 13 years ago. At the time, the Blackwater firm had been contracted to provide security for U.S. diplomats in Iraq. Five years after Abbas' death, Fadel took over the role of family breadwinner. Asked what would bring him peace of mind over a decade since his brother's killing, Fadel said only a death sentence for the contractors could bring solace.
Pardons in killings of Iraqi civilians stir angry response
FILE - This combination made from file photo shows Blackwater guards, from left, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nicholas Slatten and Paul Slough. “The infamous Blackwater company killed Iraqi citizens at Nisoor Square. The 2007 killings in the Baghdad traffic circle were among many attacks, large and small, hitting civilians that served to turn even some initial Iraqi supporters of Saddam Hussein's overthrow against Americans. The case against the Blackwater guards ping-ponged across courts in Washington, with a federal appeals court at one point overturning the first-degree murder conviction of one defendant, Nicholas Slatten, and sharply reducing the prison sentences of the three others. In Iraq, said Ford, the former diplomat, the pardons will “necessarily give some ammunition to those who say get the Americans out now."
EXPLAINER: How could US drawdown in Iraq aid IS, Iran?
FILE - In this March 27, 2020 file photo, U.S. soldiers stand guard during the hand over ceremony of Qayyarah Airfield, Iraqi Security Forces, in the south of Mosul, Iraq. A U.S.-led coalition provided crucial air support as Iraqi forces, including Iran-backed militias, regrouped and drove IS out in a costly three-year campaign. Senior Iraqi military officials in Baghdad say the withdrawal of 500 American troops will have little, if any, impact. “It’s true we have a stronger army, stronger security forces,” said Najm Jibouri, the governor and former head of provincial operations in Nineveh, which includes Mosul. A significant drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq — while popular at home — could reduce his leverage.
In ruins, Syria marks 50 years of Assad family rule
For fifty years, the Assad family has controlled Syria, overseeing transformations, modernization, uprisings and upheaval while becoming among the most divisive figures of their time. Yet 50 years later, Hafez Assad’s family still rules Syria. But Hafez’s son, Bashar Assad, has an unquestioned grip on what remains. Like his father, Bashar Assad elevated family to insulate his power — a younger, more modern generation, but one seen by many Syrians as more rapacious in amassing wealth. The Assad family’s gravest challenge came with the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region, reaching Syria in March 2011.
Iran's supreme leader, quoting Trump, mocks US election
In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the nation in a televised speech marking the birthday of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Irans supreme leader mocked Americas presidential election in a televised address. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)TEHRAN – Iran's supreme leader mocked America's presidential election Tuesday in a televised address, quoting President Donald Trump's own baseless claims about voter fraud to criticize the vote as Tehran marked the 1979 U.S. Embassy hostage crisis. Our policy is clear and well-calculated and people coming and going will have no impact on it.”Khamenei, 81, as supreme leader has final say on all matters of state in Iran. The supreme leader accused France of harboring “terrorist” groups targeting the Islamic Republic after earlier supporting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during his 1980s war against Iran.
Robert Fisk, veteran foreign correspondent, dies at 74
FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2005 file photo, veteran British Middle East news journalist, Robert Fisk, gestures during a press conference for the launch of the French version of his book "The Great War for Civilisation: the Conquest of the Middle East," in Paris, France. Born in Kent, in the United Kingdom, Fisk began his career on Fleet Street at the Sunday Express. He went on to work for The Times, and was based in Northern Ireland, Portugal and the Middle East. And yet it cannot run its currency, supply its electric power, cure its sick or protect its people,” Fisk wrote. Fisk wrote several books, including “Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War” and “The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East."
Crown prince becomes oil-rich Kuwait's new ruling emir
DUBAI – Kuwait's Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah became the oil-rich nation's new ruling emir Tuesday night, reaching the highest post in the country after decades in its security services. Sheikh Nawaf, 83, had served as the crown prince since 2006, jumping a traditional order of alternating rule between the Al Jaber and the Al Salim branches of the country's ruling family. State television carried an address by Anas Khalid al-Saleh, Kuwait's interior minister and deputy prime minister, announcing Sheikh Nawaf had taken the position just hours after Sheikh Sabah's death. He became the crown prince under Sheikh Sabah in February 2006. He hasn't been known for making any major political decisions while serving as crown prince.
US warns Iraq of Baghdad embassy closure if attacks continue
FILE - The U.S. Embassy is seen from across the Tigris River in Baghdad, Iraq Jan. 3, 2020. The Trump administration has signaled it could close its diplomatic mission in Baghdad if measures are not taken to control rogue armed elements responsible for a recent spate of attacks against U.S. and other interests in the country, Iraqi and U.S. officials said Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)
Artist Sam Durant looks at moments of 'Iconoclasm' throughout history in Library Street Collective exhibition
click to enlarge Courtesy of Library Street CollectiveBudapest 1956 by Sam Durant. There is perhaps no more of a visually dramatic marker of the clash of cultures and the end of eras than the destruction of monuments from the toppling of the Column Vendme in Paris in 1871 in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War, to the U.S. troops toppling a statue of Saddam Hussein during the invasion of Iraq, to the destruction of non-Muslim works under the Islamic State. Moments like these are depicted in the large-scale graphite drawings of the Berlin-via-Boston artist Sam Durant, which make up Library Street Collectives latest exhibition. In the spirit of the public monuments depicted in the show, LSC has hung selected drawings in and around Detroit, and an exhibition will be held at East Villages former Annunciation Church. A short film inspired by Durants work scored by Arcade Fire will also be screened.metrotimes.com
U.K. inquiry blasts Blair for following Bush into Iraq War
Long-awaited report from independent inquiry says Tony Blair "chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options had been exhausted" based on a deeply flawed presentation of the evidence available on Saddam Hussein's weapons stockpiles. CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports from London.cbsnews.com
Trump unleashes on Clinton over FBI decision, praises Saddam Hussein
Republicans are expected to unveil Wednesday the full slate of speakers for the party's national convention, now less than two weeks away. Donald Trump spoke to a rally of nearly 3,000 people Tuesday in Raleigh, North Carolina. He bashed Hillary Clinton's judgment and accused her of an "Enron-style purge" of her email. Major Garrett reports.cbsnews.com
U.S. commandos capture ISIS chemical weapons expert
CBS News has learned the U.S. may have dealt ISIS' chemical weapons program a serious blow in a raid last month, capturing an Iraqi who once worked for Saddam Hussein's regime. Investigators in London are also looking into a potential trove of intelligence about ISIS. CBS News' partners at Sky News received the names, addresses and phone numbers of more than 20,000 suspected ISIS fighters from at least 51 countries, including the U.S. David Martin reports from the Pentagon.cbsnews.com
ISIS digs in as fight for Saddam Hussein's hometown Tikrit escalates
ISIS digs in as fight for Saddam Hussein's hometown Tikrit escalates ISIS is pushing back against Iraqi forces who are trying to recapture the city of Tikrit. The militants are littering routes into the hometown of Saddam Hussein with mines and bombs. Holly Williams reports from Erbil, Iraq.cbsnews.com
Battle for Tikrit: Fierce fight for Saddam Hussein's hometown
Battle for Tikrit: Fierce fight for Saddam Hussein's hometown Iraqi army troops are battling Sunni Muslim forces in Tikrit, the biggest counter-attack since the ISIS army and its allies went on the offensive. Charlie D'Agata reports from Baghdad.cbsnews.com