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ISIS hits back in Mosul but faces new Raqqa front

By Ahmed Rasheed and Rodi Said | BAGHDAD/AIN ISSA, SYRIA – Reuters —ISIS fighters targeted Iraqi troops with car bombs and ambushes in Mosul, stalling an army advance in their north Iraq stronghold, but faced attack on a new front on Sunday when U.S.-backed rebels launched a campaign for the Syrian …

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Documents show ISIS obsessions

By Babak Dehghanpisheh and Michael Georgy  for REUTERS| ZARQA/SHURA, IRAQ —After ISIS conquered villages in northern Iraq, it spelled out in minute detail the rules of its self-proclaimed caliphate, from beard length to alms to guidelines for taking women as sex slaves. Islamic State documents and posters, obtained in villages …

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Ashura rituals stir controversy among Shiites

THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – By Dr. Haytham Mouzahem* — Each year, as they commemorate Ashura, the Shiites debate whether certain rituals are permissible. Some of those rituals are violent, such as Tatbir and hitting oneself with chains practices that harm one’s body and distort the revolution and objectives of Imam …

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Explaining Mosul in Five Maps

BY GEORGE FRIEDMAN AND JACOB L. SHAPIRO for Mauldin Economics — The Islamic State captured Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, from the Iraqi government after a seven-day battle in June 2014. The US-backed Iraqi assault to recapture Mosul began with great fanfare on Oct. 18. This piece will lay out the …

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What are the humanitarian needs in wake of Mosul offensive?

By Lin Taylor for Reuters – Iraqi government forces, with air and ground support from the U.S.-led coalition, launched an offensive on Monday to drive Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul, the militants’ last major stronghold in the country. The United States predicted Islamic State would suffer”a lasting …

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All you need to know about Uighur “Jihadis” in Syria- Interview with Haytham Mouzahem

The Levant News — Here is an interview with Dr. Haytham Mouzahem, President of Beirut Center For Middle East Studies, regarding the Uighur fighters in Syria: Q- Is there now clear and undisputed evidence emerging from Syria of a significant Uighur presence? What is their number? I have seen everything …

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Iraq estimates cost of ISIS ravages at $23 billion

The Levant News — Iraqi Minister of Construction and Housing Tariq al-Khikani estimated Tuesday that Iraq has lost $23 billion since the emergence of the ISIS in 2014. He spoke at the third preparatory meeting for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, held in Indonesia from Monday through Wednesday. Khikani …

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Baghdad death toll tops 200

The Levant News — Iraq’s government is under growing pressure to improve security as the death toll from Sunday’s massive car bombing in Baghdad’s predominantly Shiite Karada neighborhood officially topped 200. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced three days of mourning. He also ordered that phony explosives detection devices be …

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Iraq warns Saudi Arabia against meddling in its affairs

The Levant News — Iraq’s ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Saudi Arabia for its “repeated interventions in Iraqi internal matters” in a statement today. The warning follows remarks by Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Wednesday that called for the dissolution of the Shiite-dominated Popular Mobilization Forces fighting alongside …

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Glimmers of a Future in Iraq?

by Graham E. Fuller*– Iraqi politics are in turmoil—nothing new here. Not surprisingly, the post-invasion order is taking a long time to shake down, given the destruction of the old. Entirely new relationships had to be forged under the new, radically changed environment. What Iraq requires above all is the …

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WOMEN, WATER AND PEACE: SFG Conference

The Levant News — Istanbul – Turkey: More than 50 opinion makers and policy makers from the Middle East came together to discuss linkages between women, water and peace in a conference hosted by Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) and MEF University in co-operation with Sida on 18th and 19th March …

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The Compulsion of Water Cooperation

The Levant News — By Danilo Turk and Sundeep Waslekar — Since last September when the United Nations declared water as a sustainable development goal, a number of countries have intensified efforts to promote water cooperation with their neighbouring countries. The Middle East is missing in this action. For decades, …

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Kurds declare federal region, muddying Syria peace efforts

THE LEVANT NEWS — GENEVA: Syria’s Kurds declared a federal region in the country’s north Thursday, in a move that risks complicating already fragile talks underway in Geneva to end the country’s brutal five-year conflict. More than 150 delegates from Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian and other parties meeting in the Syrian …

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