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This Happened

This Happened—December 13: End Of The Road For The Butcher Of Baghdad

On this day, 19 years ago, Saddam Hussein was captured by the United States military in the town of Ad-Dawr, Iraq.

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This Happened—November 4: U.S. Army Image Of Shame

The prisoners at Abu Graib, many of whom were civilians, were subject to torture, rape, sodomy, and other forms of physical and mental abuse at the hands of members of the U.S. Army and the CIA. The world may have never known if photographs, taken by some of the soldiers themselves, hadn't begun to circulate.

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All Eyes On Southern Ukraine, Baghdad Clashes, Pumpkin Ride

👋 Da'anzho!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Ukraine launches a counteroffensive to retake Kherson in the south of the country, deadly clashes rock Iraq after cleric al-Sadr resigns, and the world record for pumpkin paddling (you read that right) gets broken. We also turn to Ukraine’s news platform Livy Bereg to see how Russian propaganda plays out across European countries.

[*Eastern Apache]

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Why These 7 Eternal Flames Around The World Keep On Burning

The president of Turkmenistan announced plans this year to extinguish the country's famous "Gates of Hell" gas crater. But it's by no means the only one of its kind. We rounded up the eternal flames still burning in all corners of the globe.

On Jan. 8, Turkmenistan’s leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, known for his authoritarian tendencies, announced on television that he had set his sights on the Darvaza Gas Crater, also known as the “Gates of Hell”, a mysterious vat of flames that has been spewing fire for over 50 years in the Karakum Desert.

The burning crater is one of the central Asian country’s few tourist attractions, yet President Berdymukhamedov has ordered it extinguished once and for all, saying the methane-belching pit was bad for the environment and locals’ health, while also representing a lost opportunity for the impoverished nation to capture marketable gas.

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Théophile Simon

The New Iraq, Signs Of Hope Amid The Rubble And Reconstruction

How do you rebuild a country decimated by four decades of war and embargoes? Following the withdrawal of the U.S. military, Iraq faces many challenges, from oil revenues captured by the militias and endemic corruption to religious segregation. However, there are glimmers of hope for the country's future.

BAGHDAD — With a vast office located at the top of a tower fiercely guarded by the army and a bell to call the staff, Khalid Hamza Abbas is obviously a powerful character, decked out in an impeccable suit. Abbas runs the Basra Oil Company (BOC), the national company responsible for the exploitation of the oil fields in the province of Basra, in the very south of Iraq, from which four million barrels of crude oil flow daily. It’s the equivalent of 4% of world demand and 65% of central government revenue concentrated in a region of only four million inhabitants.

As he explains the profit-sharing scheme between the world’s major oil companies and his public enterprise, the 50-year-old with thin glasses is suddenly stopped dead in his tracks by the ringing of his telephone. He tries a joke to mask his suddenly worried face: "I'm going to ask you to leave my office for a few moments. If I haven't called you back in 10 minutes, call the police."

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

Biden-Putin Call, Olympic Boycott, Lockdown Of Unvaccinated

👋 Mbote!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Biden and Putin go face-to-face on Ukraine, China threatens U.S. over Olympic boycott and the world marks 80 years since Pearl Harbor. Meanwhile, we go back to the small town that recorded Italy’s first coronavirus death back in February 2020, which is now a stronghold for vaccine skeptics.

[*M-boh-teh – Lingala, Democratic Republic of the Congo]

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Ahmen Youssef

Inside Iraq's Tuk-Tuk Revolution

What began as a slogan shared among Facebook users has since morphed into a full-blown, youth-led movement for deep structural changes in the war-torn country.

BAGHDAD — "I'm going out to claim my rights." This was the phrase posted by Iraqis on Facebook in the final days of September. Then on Oct. 1, mass demonstrations were mobilized against corruption, unemployment, political quotas, and the interference of neighboring states — particularly Iran — in Iraq's government and policies. Protesters sought to make these demands heard in all of Iraq's provinces. Nearly six weeks later, the protests continue.

The demonstrations did not come out of nowhere. Recent years have seen regular demonstrations in the summer months, as climbing temperatures bring the electrical grid to a halt everywhere in the country but in autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. Continual power cuts drove Iraqis to turn out every summer to decry poor services and the general political situation. After a few weeks on the streets, the protests would eventually subside after the government purchased electricity from Iran and announced a set of reforms, which would be viewed as superficial. Other demonstrations have been periodically mobilized at the behest of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia political and religious leader of the Sadrist movement, the most popular grassroots movement in Baghdad and the southern provinces. But something is different about the October protests, which in a matter of days turned into a full-fledged revolution.

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Hélène Sallon

In Iraq, The Revolt Of Generation 2018

Young people with little memory of the Saddam Hussein era are fed up with unemployment, public sector corruption and unfulfilled government promises.

BASRA — In one photo, Makki Achour stares at the lens, his eyes bright, his hair — like many Iraqis his age — in little tufts. In another, the frail young man appears in a military uniform, smiling proudly. The photo was taken in the field, where, as a member of the Popular Mobilization Front, a state-sponsored paramilitary organization established in 2014, Achour fought the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).

These snapshots, along with those of other young faces, are brandished by demonstrators in Basra, a large city in southern Iraq, and shared on social networks as a sign of solidarity. Achour has become an icon since he died what demonstrators call a martyr's death on Sept. 3. He was 26. The young man was shot and killed during a demonstration in front of the governor's seat in Basra. His death rekindled a dispute that has shaken the Shiite south since July and cost at least 27 people their lives.

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Watch: OneShot — Sadr City Bus Stop

OneShot — Sadr City bus stop, 2008 (©Andrea Bruce/NOOR)

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Watch: OneShot — Saving Mosul

OneShot — The Battle for Mosul, 2017 (©Ivor Prickett)

An unidentified young boy who had survived the siege of last ISIS-controlled area in the Old City of Mosul is cared for by Iraqi Special Forces soldiers.

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Watch: OneShot — The Battle For Mosul

OneShot — The Battle for Mosul, 2017 (©Ivor Prickett)

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Watch: OneShot — Mother's Comfort

OneShot — Mother's comfort, 2004 (©Andrea Bruce/NOOR)

OneShot is a new digital format to tell the story of a single photograph in an immersive one-minute video.

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