Three wars in one

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How did Turkey enter the fight against Islamic State militants while simultaneously fighting a Kurdish rebel group whose allies are fighting Islamic State militants? I unpack the three-way conflict in this explainer for the BBC News website. From July 2015.

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Frontline Club: Iraq film premiere and debate

How has risk rewritten the rules for Iraqi journalists? The Frontline Club in London premieres A Strange Animal, a short film featuring me and my colleagues in Iraq. The film, directed by Richard Pendry, reveals some of the techniques reporters have developed in a conflict where they are targeted for kidnap and murder.

The screening at the Frontline Club was followed by a debate about the growing role of local journalists in covering conflict. The Frontline website has a short article summarising the debate, as well as video and podcast of the entire proceedings. A short version of A Strange Animal was screened by Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

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Vanity Fair: Iraq’s Homegrown ‘Hurt Locker’ Team

EOD men in Kirkuk (photo: Kamaran Najm/Metrography)

Top story for Vanity Fair’s homepage: “In 2008 The Hurt Locker introduced the Americans who defuse explosives in Iraq. Now that all US troops will be gone by 2012, meet the Iraqi soldiers left carrying the fuse.”

Photograph by Kamaran Najm/Metrography

The Daily Beast: Raid in Kirkuk

Can the thrill of frontline reporting offset the pressure of a desk job?

Richard Pendry interviews me in this five-minute film for The Daily Beast, examining the risks and rewards of embedding with an Iraqi police unit.

Photograph by Kamaran Najm/Metrography

Sunni Militia’s Struggle for Relevance

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A bomb attack outside an Iraqi military base has killed scores of Sunni Sahwa militiamen who were queuing for their wages. The manner in which the men died seems to embody their leaders’ concerns: picked out by vengeful enemies at the gates of an institution that remains wary of them. The Sahwa (Awakening) fighters partnered the US against their former allies in al-Qaeda – but now feel betrayed by the Iraqi state.

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Iraqi Interpreter’s Killing Pits Faith Against Law

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An Iraqi man who worked as an interpreter for the US military is shot dead for having apparently converted to Christianity. The reaction to his murder illustrates the difficulty of balancing ancient articles of faith against a democratic obligation to guard religious minorities.

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Tussle Looms Over Iraqi Jewish Archive

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Baghdad is urging the US to return a trove of artifacts that date to the now-extinct Jewish presence in Iraq. However, Jewish groups also want access to the valuable archive – which may not be possible if it is returned to Iraq.

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Storm Gathers Over Slain Journalist in Iraqi Kurdistan

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The unsolved killing of a student journalist and critic of the Iraqi Kurdish authorities renews fears for press freedom in the region.

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Rise of Iran Reveals Polarised Iraq

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After an inconclusive election, Iraq’s political rivalries are best understood in terms of contrasting attitudes towards Iran – showing the extent of Tehran’s influence over its neighbour.

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Financial Times: Health care in Iraq

Weakened by sanctions, Iraq’s health care system was brought to its knees by the conflict that followed the US-led invasion. Recent security gains have allowed some hospitals to recover – but the doctors working in them still fear for their lives.

Article for Financial Times’ Special Report on Health, September 2009
(Available free after registering at FT.com.)

High Stakes in Kurdish Poll

Everything you wanted to know about the Iraqi Kurdish elections but were afraid to ask. Analysis from Erbil for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, July 2009

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When football came home to Iraq

The Iraqi football team plays its first home international since the US-led invasion. The visiting Palestinian team is thrashed three-nil. But the scoreline is not as striking as the delirious celebrations off the pitch. Report from Arbil for BBC News, July 2009

BBC World Service ‘Newshour’: Iraqi football’s joyous homecoming

Forced into exile by conflict, Iraq’s football (soccer) team returns to Erbil to play its first home international since the US-led invasion. The mood in the stadium resembles the lifting of a siege, with hopes for sporting glory chiming with a yearning for peace.

Financial Times Weekend magazine: Policing Kirkuk

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Kirkuk’s anti-terrorist police ride around in battered pickup trucks, keeping a nervous lookout for the bombers that have killed scores of their colleagues. With the American military eying an exit from Iraq, the force has become a central player in a seemingly intractable conflict over land and oil.

I accompanied the officers as they carried out overnight raids in pursuit of an insurgent cell linked to al-Qaeda.

Photographs by Kamaran Najm/Metrography

Monocle magazine: Arbil, the Iraqi boomtown

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Arbil, capital of Iraq’s relatively stable Kurdistan region, has developed at a breakneck pace while violence cripples the rest of the country. Wide highways and vast construction projects are transforming a city steeped in history and surrounded by mineral riches. Kurdish leaders believe they can attract foreign investment by promising access to their untapped markets and natural resources.

Photographs by Kamaran Najm/Metrography

Georgia sees Iraq as Nato route

Georgia sent 2,000 troops to fight alongside the US in Iraq, making them the third-largest force in the coalition at the start of 2008.

However, this commitment did not bring Tbilisi any closer to Nato, as it had hoped. At a summit that April, the alliance decided against expanding eastwards. Already stalled, Georgia’s Nato ambitions suffered a shattering reversal during its war with Russia that summer, which was seen in the West as a warning against provoking Moscow.

Nevertheless, Georgia’s Iraq deployment was, in some respects, a success. If nothing else, it enabled a tiny Caucasian country to upgrade its Soviet-era military and briefly march in step with the US. Report for BBC News from Tbilisi, April 2008