Dossier: Iraq

IS supporters in Mosul on 16 June 2014 (photo: picture-alliance/AP)

Shifting alliances in the Middle East

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My enemy's enemy is my friend

The successes of IS militias are turning the West's established concept of friend and foe on its head. Former rogue nations are emerging as strategic partners, and declared terrorists are becoming allies. By Karim El-GawharyMore

UN observers in Syria (photo: Reuters)

Iraqi crisis

A UN protection force, not arms shipments

If the threat of genocide in northern Iraq is to be averted and the advance of IS militias stopped, an international protection force must be dispatched to the region, says security expert Andreas ZumachMore

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters stand guard at Mosul Dam in northern Iraq, 21 August 2014 (photo: Reuters)

Iraqi crisis

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The expected death of a nation

Iraq has always been an artificial country, an entity created and beset by outside influences. However, Iraq is not currently being threatened by outside influences alone; discord is now flourishing within the country itself – with devastating consequences. A commentary by Rudolph ChimelliMore

Sherko Fatah (photo: picture-alliance/ZB)

Book review: "The Last Place" by Sherko Fatah

A book about intercultural misunderstandings

Just like his novel "The Dark Ship", Sherko Fatah's latest book is alarmingly topical: one of the characters, the kidnapper Abdul, stands for all the radical Islamists who mourn the bygone days of Mesopotamia and embrace a fundamentalist worldview. Claudia Kramatschek spoke to the author about his new novelMore

The hand of a dead person peeps out from beneath a sheet (photo: Christoph Bangert)

Book review: Christoph Bangert's "War Porn"

We must not look away

The simple, unassuming cover of this book belies its explosive content: in his latest photobook, "War Porn", photojournalist Christoph Bangert shows the true, ugly face of conflict in all its horror. He presents the reader with an unfiltered selection of images from his photographic archive, documenting the brutality of war, predominantly in the Arab world. By Felix KoltermannMore

Peshmerga fighters in Iraq (photo: Reuters)

The Peshmerga fight against IS militia

An unpredictable enemy

The Kurdish Peshmerga have limited tools in hand for their fight against the IS terror militia: they are for the most part poorly equipped, military co-ordination with the Americans is sluggish and US air strikes have thus far had little impact. By Karim El-Gawhary in IraqMore

US President Barack Obama speaking in the White House about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq, 7 August 2014 (photo: Reuters)

The Middle East policies of Europe and the US

Mistakes must not be repeated

For years, the West's foreign policy approach to the Middle East has been short sighted and counterproductive. A shrewd blend of engagement and restraint in the region is now required. However, where there is a threat of genocide at the hands of terrorists or regimes, civilians must be protected using all available means, writes Kristin HelbergMore

Yazidis trapped in the Sinjar mountains fleeing from IS (photo: picture-alliance/AA)

Persecution of the Yazidis in Iraq

Don't abandon us!

In Iraq, not only are the Yazidi people being persecuted by IS, their sacred sites are also being destroyed by the jihadists. The Yazidis are now responding by forming troops of fighters to protect these sites. By Joseph CroitoruMore

Christoph Bangert (photo: private)

Interview with war photographer Christoph Bangert

The naked brutality of war

The photographer and journalist Christoph Bangert has published a book of photographs that his editors refused to use. All of them highlight the horror of war. His book, "War Porn", is an appeal not to look away from the brutality of armed conflict. Monika Griebeler spoke to him about his work and his bookMore

Salafists handing out copies of the Koran in a German city (photo: dapd)

Interview with intelligence operative Benno Köpfer

"You're allowed to be a Salafist in Germany"

More than 300 people from Germany have gone to Syria to join the jihad. In this interview with Jannis Hagmann, Benno Köpfer of the German domestic intelligence service explains what radicalises young people, why not all Salafists agree with the ISIS caliphate and why he drinks the occasional tea with some of themMore

Still from an ISIS propaganda video (photo: picture-alliance/abaca)

ISIS propaganda and use of social networks

The online jihad

The terrorist group ISIS (which now refers to itself as Islamic State) has been conducting a massive propaganda campaign via social networks on the Internet. In addition to intimidating opponents, the group wants to establish its own media brand. By Nastassja SteudelMore

Portrait of the last Ottoman Caliph, Abdulmecid II. Photo: Library of Congress

History of the Caliphate

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We are all caliphs!

The history of the Caliphate is, with a few exceptions, an unstable and unhappy one. In this essay, Stefan Weidner explains why the self-appointed caliphs of today, like the ISIS leader in Iraq, have little in common with the caliphs of oldMore

General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Quds Brigade. Photo: Faresnews

Portrait: Qassem Soleimani

The man who pulls the strings

Iran is battling Saudi Arabia for regional supremacy in the Middle East, and is steadily expanding its sphere of influence in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Behind the scenes, Qassem Soleimani is a key figure who has had more influence on Iran's foreign policy over the last twenty years than almost anyone else. Martina Sabra reportsMore

ISIS using a bulldozer to destroy Sunni sites in Tal Afar. Photo: justpaste.it/atrah

ISIS' cultural vandalism

A trail of destruction

Cultural barbarism prevails in the territories declared a "caliphate" by the radical Islamic group ISIS. The sad irony of this is that its members are even destroying monuments to the companions of Muhammad, whom they themselves supposedly revere. Joseph Croitoru reportsMore

The self-styled "caliph", Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Photo: YouTube

ISIS leader in Iraq

The new face of jihad?

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has been active in Syria for two years now. It currently has around 5,000 fighters there – and the numbers are growing. Aron Lund, who has written studies on Syria's fighter landscape for the Swedish Institute for International Affairs, explains the terrorist organisation's strategies to Mona SarkisMore

US Secretary of State John Kerry on a visit to the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, in Baghdad. Photo: Reuters

The Iraq crisis and the West

The ugly new order in the "Fertile Crescent"

Iraq is in the grip of a devastating inner-Islamic religious war. The conflict has an inherent dynamic that cannot be stopped by presidential wishful thinking or a hurried visit to Baghdad by US foreign minister John Kerry. Stefan Buchen commentsMore

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