A view shows the Iraq’s Majnoon oilfield near Basra
A view shows the Iraq’s Majnoon oilfield near Basra

Behind the Poisoned Clouds of Iraq: Tragic realities of life in crisis-hit country discussed live

Middle East correspondent Bel Trew and columnist Patrick Cockburn discuss events in Iraq

Adam Forrest@adamtomforrest
Thursday 13 May 2021 16:28

Iraq has long been synonymous with war. But 18 years on from the devastating conflict that overthrew Saddam Hussein, Iraqis are grappling with a whole series of post-conflict crises.

Bel Trew, The Independent’s Middle East correspondent, has been travelling around the country to delve into the underreported problems currently shaping the country’s country – a special series of reports funded by our Supporter Programme.

The award-winning journalist has covered everything from Iraq’s Covid crisis to crippling pollution in the south to the battle for the northern border region after the collapse of the so-called Islamic State.

She spoke to our Middle East analyst Patrick Cockburn and answered readers’ questions at a virtual audience event about the realities of modern-day Iraq and her special reports on the country.

Having recently returned from the restive Sinjar region in the north, Trew said conflict between different factions is brewing and displaced families are being forced to return home, despite saying they feel unsafe.

Watch the event in the video below

Behind the poisoned clouds of Iraq

“It’s turned into an international battle ground that hasn’t been reported on very much,” she said. “I was speaking ... to people whose loved ones are still missing because of ISIS.”

“Security is still hard, but I was able to go down to the south of the country where there is a major problems with pollution, also with unemployment and with Shia militias, often referred to as the Iranian proxies.”

Cockburn told the audience: “I find it very tragic to read Bel’s pieces because when I first went to Iraq in the 1970s the country had a lot going for it ... Iraq had rather disappeared from the top of the news agenda – it’s very important to know what’s happening there.”

Asked what sort of impact Joe Biden’s election in the US might have on Iraq, Cockburn said: “The [Biden administration] doesn’t want to get involved in Iraq. I think Biden wants to keep out of disputes in the Middle East.

“But remember this – Obama had exactly the same idea … and yet they complained afterwards they spent 80 per cent of their time talking about the Middle East.”

You can watch the virtual discussion on Iraq above, and read Bel Trew’s recent articles here.

Join The Independent’s health correspondent Shaun Lintern and science correspondent Samuel Lovett for our next free virtual event, What lies beyond the Covid crisis, on May 26.

To find out how to register click here

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