Iraq

The War and Treaty

The War and Treaty

TWO OF THIS year’s most compelling music releases so far give a deeply personal voice to the moral, emotional, and psychological struggles of the men and women who have waged our long-term “war on terror.” Healing Tide by The War and Treaty is the first full-length recording from this husband-and-wife team; the husband, Michael Trotter Jr., became a musician during his time in Iraq and has since struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. Meanwhile, Mary Gauthier’s Rifles and Rosary Beads features 11 songs co-written with Iraq and Afghanistan vets through the SongwritingWith:Soldiers (SW:S) project.

Trotter, the songwriter and keyboardist in The War and Treaty, enlisted in the Army in 2003 simply to provide health insurance and a steady paycheck for his daughter and first wife. Within six months he was in Iraq, stationed in the remains of one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces. One day, a captain who had taken Trotter under his wing and knew that he could sing took him into a rubble-strewn room that held a piano. Trotter had never played in his life, but in his downtime he taught himself and started writing songs.

Then that captain was killed in action. Trotter wrote a song and performed it at the captain’s memorial. The song was “Dear Martha,” which the band still performs, and it made such an impression on all the soldiers at the memorial that Trotter’s colonel tasked him to write and perform a song for the memorial services of soldiers who died in action.

Chris Smith 10-06-2017

Image via RNS/AP Photo/Felipe Dana

There are two actions the president should take now to stop bureaucrats from obstructing assistance to genocide survivors whose very existence as a people teeters on a precipice.

Photo courtesy of RNS/the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

 

According to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern Division of New York, which brought the civil complaint against Hobby Lobby, the company in 2010 imported thousands of artifacts that originated in Iraq and were smuggled through the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Anna Lekas Miller 6-30-2017

Photo by Cengiz Yar Jr.

DOZENS OF CHURCHGOERS are dressed in their Sunday best outside St. John’s Church in Qaraqosh, Iraq. Before entering, each person is individually searched. First, they are patted down for suicide vests. Then their bags are inspected for weapons.

It is Easter—the first to be celebrated in this church since Islamic State (ISIS) militants were driven out of Qaraqosh, formerly Iraq’s largest Christian-majority city, by Iraqi forces after nearly three years of conflict.

Everyone is cautious. A week earlier, ISIS suicide bombers killed more than 40 people, including themselves, at two churches in northern Egypt during Palm Sunday services.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Evan Vucci/Pool

Vice President Mike Pence — a onetime altar boy who became an evangelical Protestant — proclaimed President Donald Trump a faithful supporter of Catholic values at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, an event that sought to set aside any friction between the president and the pope.

“Let me promise all of you, this administration hears you. This president stands with you,” Pence said to the 1,300 gathered.

Brian Dooley 5-03-2017

Image via RNS/Brian Dooley

Tucked up near the Austrian border, about 160 miles from Budapest, is a small Hungarian town of 12,000 people. It’s a quiet place about three and a half hours, and two trains rides, from Hungary’s capital.

But the community has been split by the decision of the local Catholic parish priest, the Rev. Zoltan Nemeth, to allow some asylum-seekers to take shelter in a church building.

Image via DVIDSHUB/flickr.com

Ahmed Abdelsattar was 14 when Islamic State swept into Mosul and declared a caliphate in 2014. Fearing he would be indoctrinated and sent to fight by the militants, his parents took him out of school.

Three years later, he sells ice cream at a refugee camp for internally displaced Iraqis. His family have lost their home, and his father is too old for the manual labor positions at the camp, which means he is his family's sole breadwinner.

Smoke from an airstrike rises behind food distribution in west Mosul. Image courtesy Preemptive Love Coalition.

Every time more civilians are killed, it gives further weight to the idea that we have lowered value of human life — or at least, the value placed on Iraqi lives. Imagine the response, by comparison, if 200 American aid workers were killed in an errant strike. The seemingly low threshold for civilian safety makes the fight against ISIS harder, not easier. It makes ISIS propaganda more believable. At the very moment when ISIS should be gasping its final breath, these incidents inject life into their militancy.

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Pope Francis on Wednesday said it was "imperative and urgent" to protect civilians in Iraq, speaking as U.S. investigators looked into who caused an explosion in Mosul that killed scores of non-combatants. Addressing tens of thousands of people at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, Francis said he was "concerned about civilian populations trapped in the neighborhoods of western Mosul."

Ahmed Pesher cries next to the destroyed houses where he says 23 members of his family were killed during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State on the western side of Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

Speaking from Baghdad to reporters at the Pentagon, the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said an ongoing investigation may reveal a more complicated explanation for the March 17 explosion that residents say killed at least 100 people, including the possibility that Islamic State militants rigged the building with explosives after forcing civilians inside.

Smoke rises from the old city during a battle against Islamic State militants, in Mosul, Iraq, March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

The military statement differed from reports by witnesses and local officials that said many more bodies were pulled from the building after a coalition strike targeted IS militants and equipment in the Jadida district.

Displaced Iraqi people react at Hammam al-Alil camp, as Iraqi forces battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily

The battle for Mosul, Islamic State's last major stronghold in Iraq, is now in its sixth month with Iraq forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition, air strikes and advisers now controlling the east side and more than half of the west.

Tom Heneghan 3-17-2017

Image via RNS/Screenshot from CNN

With his anti-Muslim rhetoric and planned travel bans, you’d think President Trump would be a favorite target for Islamic State’s propaganda. The jihadist caliphate in Syria and Iraq must be pulling out all the stops to slam him as the epitome of Islamophobia.

Well, think again. The extremist group that Trump vows to “totally obliterate” has hardly printed or broadcast a word about him since before the November election. The caliphate’s Ministry of Media acts almost as if he didn’t exist.

Image via RNS/Adelle M. Banks

Receiving a prestigious human rights prize, an Iraqi lawmaker, who gained international attention for her oppressed Yazidi religious minority, decried the Trump administration’s “unfair” executive order on immigration.

Tim Breene 1-31-2017

When our desire for security is so great that it diminishes our humanity and our capacity, or willingness, to see the world through the eyes of another, we lose a precious part of who we were designed to be. Our hearts are hardened, calcified.

Ihsan Ibraheem 1-30-2017

Most parents wonder if what they teach their children is sinking in, if the values they try to model are becoming part of their character.

Zahra’a’s parents don’t have to wonder. The first thing she did when her family received their packet of relief aid — the first aid they’d received in three years of displacement and conflict — was to turn to our staff member, whom she’d never met before, and invite him to lunch.

Image via RNS/Adelle Banks

When President Obama signed a newly strengthened international religious freedom act on Dec. 16, the intention was to protect religious believers around the world.

But the freshly signed act is being heralded by some legal scholars as a different milestone — for the first time, atheists and other nonreligious persons are explicitly named as a class protected by the law.

Faiza Patel 11-23-2016

Image via RNS/Carlos Barria

This election season has been an anxious time for Muslim Americans. After the election, my Facebook feed was filled with Muslim mothers wondering how to explain to their children that the new president is a man who had proposed requiring them to register with the government, and called for a ban on people of their faith coming to the United States.

As we try to absorb what this election means, we must contend with how Muslims have been cast. For the president-elect, we are either terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, who are conflated with the threat of “radical Islam.” For the most part, Democrats too see Muslim Americans through a narrow counterterrorism lens.

Image via RNS/Order of Preachers, via Facebook

We write to you on All Saints Day to update you on the situation in Iraq. Remembering the Christians who were killed in 2009 while attending Mass at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad. That was the beginning of harder times to all Christians in Iraq.

It has been two years and four months since we left Nineveh Plain. It has been long time of displacement, of humiliation, of exile. However, people always lived in hope of God’s mercy to return and go back home. We believed that God will not fail us.

Matthew Willingham 10-24-2016

Image courtesy Preemptive Love Coalition

With Mosul making headlines around the world this week, there are a lot of people tuned in to things here right now.

That said, from our vantage point on the ground and on the front lines of this crisis, there are a few things you might be hearing that aren’t quite right, or don’t tell the whole story — and we want to provide some clarity. They aren’t totally wrong, per se, but they’re off, and we think you deserve to know the full story.

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