It has been acknowledged that if Iraqis are to expel the Sunni Muslim extremist group, the Islamic State, then local Sunni Muslim militias are going to have to join the fight. Yet despite months of negotiations trying to convince them to do so, the armed factions have coordinated their position: they will remain neutral.
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By Omar al-Jaffal for Al Monitor
BAGHDAD — On Oct. 11, three poets from Karbala province will initiate the “Iraqi Poets’ Anti-Violence Convoy,” which will take off from the southern province of Basra and cross through nine other provinces. Members of the convoy will recite poetry in public squares near historic landmarks. According to the organizers of the convoy, the initiative aims to help eliminate the rampant violence in the country.
The Iraqi army is suffering badly from what locals describe as the “astronaut phenomenon”.
That is, soldiers who pay money to superior officers so they can leave the world of the military and stay out of danger, far from the battle field. This means that sometimes when a general sends a battalion to fight, only half the soldiers are there. And recently, with attacks by extremists, this phenomenon has been getting worse.
Ah, email forwards.
I would make fun, but how else would we keep up with estranged uncles or sweet little old ladies? Most of the forwards I get are silly updates about cats hanging from ceiling fans or goldfish funeral stories, even the occasional political jab, but I've noticed an Iraq-related forward making the rounds that is deadly serious, and I’d like to address it here.