Updated: Muqtada al-Sadr wears military uniform: Some thoughts on the secularisation of Muqtada al-Sadr

Update: 19/07/2016 Following from my post providing some analysis of Muqtada al-Sadr’s recent appearance in military garb, @toaf kindly forwarded some fascinating photos he recently took in Iraq. These photos indicate a strategy of integrating a military, nationalist-secular symbology alongside images of Sadr’s religious heritage (Baqir and Sadeq al-Sadr) in campaigns in various parts of Iraq. These

Fallujah and the Public Sphere: English / Arabic Comparison, Part I

This is the first of a series of posts in which I will present analysis on data collected on the networked-public sphere surrounding the ongoing battle for Fallujah. I’ve been messing about with some data mining, analysis, and visualisation techniques and thought a comparison of how the English vs Arabic language twitter spheres have responded to

Hadi al-Amiri in apparent volte-face on role of hashd in storming Fallujah

The front page story of Rudaw Arabic is reporting on a statement made by Hadi al-Amiri, Commander of Badr Organisation and senior leader in al-hashd al-shaabi, which appears to represent a complete reversal of his previous commitment that the hashd militias would only secure the perimeter of Fallujah and would not enter the city, leaving that task to

Who is leading / participating in Iraq’s Fallujah Operation?: A closer look at the ‘Iranian-backed Shi’i militias’ narrative

  France 24 hosted an interesting debate yesterday (30/05/2016) on the current military operations against ISIS in Fallujah and Raqqa. The guests included: journalist Wassim Nasr; former head of the French UN Military Mission to Iraq, Dominique Trinquand; Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Michael Pregent; and Senior Fellow at SAIS-John Hopkins University, Dr Abbas

Qassem Soleimani photo causing a stir…

Some interesting images have been circulating on social media regarding the Fallujah operation currently under way in Iraq. This photo was reportedly shared yesterday by Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba (which emerged from Asa’b Ahl al-Haq), bearing the group’s logo and stating that it was taken ‘near Fallujah’. It shows Iranian Quds Force commander (the ‘Iranian Karla’ in

Mapping al-hashd al-shaabi (The Popular Mobilisation)

Important notes: Firstly, this is a work in progress, I will be developing it as time goes on. Secondly, I don’t claim that this information is reliable, in fact many of the sources are unverifiable, journalistic, or from information that is recycled by security analysts and think tankers within the defence establishment. Other sources include

Muqtada al-Sadr withdraws militia from front line of fight against ISIS: Washington Post article

Dated: 17 Feb 2015 Original source (English): http://goo.gl/WsoV3k Authors: Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim Discusses decision by Muqtada to freeze the activities of his militias the Peace Brigades and the Promised Day Brigade following killing of a Sunni tribal leader and eight of his entourage. Exert: “Smyth estimates the strength of the Peace Brigades at 25,000 to 40,000

Muqtada al-Sadr interview with al-Nahar: “Hashd al-Shaabi operates under Shiite Marja (authority) and should not intervene in Iraq’s political matters,”

Dated: 17 June 2015 Original source (English): http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/170620154 Speaking to Al-Nahar newspaper, the leader of the Sadrist Movement said the escalation of religious conflict between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq was the result of the “authoritarian rule” of former Iraqi governments. “Former governments are accountable for the escalation of violence in Iraq. The authoritarian treatment of

Text of statement with respect to the current situation in Iraq in Friday sermon of the representative of the Grand Marja’, Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai’نص ما ورد بشأن الأوضاع الراهنة في العراق في خطبة الجمعة لممثل المرجعية الدينية العليا الشيخ عبد المهدي الكربلائي في (12/ رمضان /1435 هـ) –

Dated: 09 July 2014 Original source: http://www.sistani.org/arabic/archive/24925/ (Arabic) Translation starts here: ‘Text of statement with respect to the current situation in Iraq in Friday sermon of the representative of the Grand Marja’, Sheikh Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai’ In the name of God the Compassionate and the Merciful. With respect to current events there are a number