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Within the wide breadth of destruction left in the wake of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), the group’s agenda of eliminating cultural heritage struck a particular nerve for those watching the horrors unfold around the globe. While Da’esh’s horrific treatment of Iraqis and Syrians is not to be understated, the organization’s active decision to cleanse Iraq of its diverse, multifaceted, and irreplaceable artifacts of cultural history flies in the face of human decency and a collective sense of progress; we gage the advancements of our collective human society by understanding our origins and beginnings. In a more formalized sense, these acts also violate UNESCO’s Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and our codified international understandings of historical preservation.

In the shadow of Da’esh and its upcoming inevitable defeat in Mosul, however, members of the global artistic community have sought to preserve, recreate, and re-engineer elements of the Tigris River Valley’s millennia-old artistic tradition.

Last month in London, Michael Rakowitz unveiled his vision inspired by the destruction of Ninawa in the form of his new piece, entitled “The Invisible Enemy Should not Exist.” The artwork, a sculpture of the winged bull Lamassu, is a recreation of a sculpture that “stood at the Nergal Gate of Nineveh from 700BC until it was destroyed by the extremist group in Mosul’s museum.” Its recreation, however, is in many ways a somber reflection of a legacy that can never be recovered – Rakowitz’s statue will be made from dated syrup tin cans instead of the original’s marble to demonstrate Iraq’s industry having been “destroyed, like the bull, by war.”

Despite this somber overtone, not all artists subscribe to such a macabre perspective. Nino Thabet, an 18 year old Iraqi artist who studied art at Mosul University, recently started to craft miniature replicas of statues destroyed by Da’esh, such as Lamassu, in nearby Erbil. Thabet is not so naive as to suggest that his art makes up for the “antiquities of [his] country, a civilization that is thousands of years old,” but states that his art sends a global message that “we want to rebuild our civilization and continue to grow artistically.”

Across the Atlantic, Samar Abdulrahman, a refugee settled in Kennewick, Washington, finds a personal connection to her family and Iraqi heritage through art. Separated from her brother, Omar, who is also an artist, Abdulrahman paints pictures that connect her new life in the United States with imagery of the Baghdad of her childhood, and in turn, with her brother who still resides there. Her paintings are reflective of both the beautiful country she was raised in, and of the promise of family reunification and a future that is “happy and safe.”

While the artwork of Rakowitz, Thabet, and Abdulrahman reflect differing viewpoints and memories of recent Iraqi history, they more importantly echo the endurance of Iraq’s artistic and cultural legacy, one that extends beyond antiquity and into an infinite, as-of-yet-unwritten future. In this continuing heritage, it reaffirms the urgency of protecting and preserving Iraq’s cultural record, one that is still under threat of extinction, while we, as a global community, still have the opportunity. Their artistry is a testament to the influence of an Iraqi cultural legacy that resonates the world over, reverberating outwards from the headlines we read, the art we preserve, and the stories its refugees tell.


By Connor McInerney

As the coalition offensive to retake crossMosul from Da’esh continues, various communities displaced by the group’s terror have sought to return to their historic and cultural communities. Included within this group is Iraq’s Christian population, many of whom left home in Ninewa at the start of the conflict in June of 2014. While Iraqi and American forces continue to close in on the heart of Da’esh in Iraq, the newly liberated areas outside of the city have seen the return of Iraqi Christians, some of whom continue to fight for their homeland as Da’esh’s influence wanes in the region.

In Qaraqosh, the story of Syriac Catholics standing up to radical extremism has been one of hardship and hope. Syriac priests returning to the community’s Church of the Immaculate Conception found their place of worship, “blackened by fire, [its] alter vandalized,” and its bell tower “disfigured by cannon fire, and the bell itself gone, snatched from its chain.” Additionally, efforts to completely free the town from Da’esh influence have been hindered by the group’s sustained presence in the region; Da’esh has utilized suicide car bombs following the beginning of the Mosul offensive, and the area still sees its fair share of sniper and mortar fire.

However, despite these difficulties, the Qaraqosh community remains resolute in reestablishing their church and defending the community. A local Christian militia, the Nineveh Protection Units, has assisted the Iraqi army in combating terror, manifesting some additional progress in fully liberating the town. Most inspiringly, local religious figureheads were able to affix a makeshift cross to the roof of the church, in addition to leading local militias in worship for the first time since the start of the conflict.

Elsewhere in Nineveh, displaced Christians who fled Da’esh found refuge at the Mar Mattai Monastery northeast of the city. Defended by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Iraqi Christians left both Mosul and areas immediately outside of the city en masse for the monastery, in search of basic necessities and housing. As Da’esh further established itself within northern Iraq from mid 2014 to 2015, Iraqi Syriacs could only wait patiently within the sanctum of Mar Mattai, assisted by monks comprising a 1600 year old community based at the monastery.

With the influx of forces combating Da’esh in the area, local Christians have been able to resettle in the villages surrounding the Alfaf Mountain, where the monastery is based. The peace remains tenuous at the best, with the community occasionally needing to defend itself from encroaching Da’esh fighters; however, while the entirety of the Syriac population has yet to return, many have reestablished themselves within their ancestral homeland.

While optimism prevails within these enclaves north of Mosul, refugees living outside of Iraq often feel differently about returning. Some Christian refugees living in Amman, Jordan, resolutely refuse to ever return to Iraq, seeking asylum in countries like Australia. According to one mother, “we paid the price and I don’t want to go back in a few years and go through it again.” Despite the progress of the United States-Iraqi coalition, IDPs and refugees will undoubtedly live with the legacy of Da’esh for years to come.

By Connor McInerney

Photo Credit: The Daily Beast

cvj_dhlwiaawapyIn efforts to completely annihilate polio around the world and mark the commemoration of World Polio Day, two United Nations agencies have partnered with the Iraqi Ministry of Health to launch a week-long nationwide campaign to immunize Iraqi children against the rampant viral disease. Promoting the slogan “two drops can change a life”, the campaign will attempt to vaccinate an estimated 5.8 million Iraqi children below the age of five.

Directly attacking the nervous system, polio remains a highly infectious viral disease targeting the global youth population. Young children especially below age five, remain at high risk for the rampant disease. With immediate and effective vaccinations worldwide, the eradication of polio proves both possible and likely in the next decade.

UNICEF Iraq Representative Peter Hawkins affirmed Iraq’s national strides to eliminate polio stating that,“The Government of Iraq is committed to polio eradication, and conducted 16 campaigns to that end in 2014 and 2015 as part of the Middle East Polio Outbreak response.” Immense progress has been made on Iraq’s vaccination frontier in the past two years. As of April of 2014, no new polio cases have been reported. In May of 2015, Iraq was then removed from the world’s list of active polio infected countries.

Although polio remains rampant across several countries in the Middle East including Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iraq has remained a pioneer for the complete and total eradication of this infectious disease. The Iraq Polio Partnership has conducted 2 national immunization rounds in February and April of this year. These attempts at total vaccination coverage, reached over 91% of the Iraqi population.

Combating possible resurgence in the country, the Iraqi Ministry of Health will target and focus specifically on vulnerable populations of children residing in Internally Displaced Persons and Syrian Refugee Camps, informal settlements, affected communities, and retaken areas. This month’s campaign will mobilize more than 25,000 vaccinators, traveling house to house, visiting  with and vaccinating young children. Complicating efforts to aid at-risk youth, conflict has limited vaccination progress within high-risk populations. Making strides to end polio globally, Iraq has succeeded in maintaining high levels of vaccination coverage and surveillance across the country, especially in these war-ridden regions.

By KaLynn Wood

Photo Credit: UNICEF

The Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq
Paul MacAlindin


“Iraqi Teen Seeks Maestro For Youth Orchestra”


 This unassuming headline compelled a successful Scottish conductor to set off on a life-altering odyssey to one of the most dangerous countries on earth. In his fascinating memoir, Paul MacAlindin recounts how he and an inspiring 17-year-old piano protégé built the first ever Youth Orchestra of Iraq from the ashes of the Iraq War.

Upbeat is the story of Paul and the orchestra he helped create. How do you pull together a diverse orchestra of both Arabs and Kurds (not natural colleagues), young musicians some who are self-taught; many without proper instruments; and all of whom have suffered immensely from tyranny and war? And perhaps most crucially of all, how can you make beautiful music when you are living through hell?

This is the fascinating story of how music brought purpose and hope to the amazingly talented, yet shamefully under-served youth of Iraq.

Paul MacAlindin discovered from an early age that he loved being an artist leading artists. As a musician, dancer, and all-round performer, he found his voice through conducting, a passionate journey that has led him to work with orchestras and ensembles all over the world, from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra to the Armenian Philharmonic to the Düsseldorf Symphoniker.



“The great adventure of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq deserves not only to be recorded for posterity
but also to serve as an example of how the essential can survive catastrophe.”
-Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

“Be prepared to laugh, cry and – above all – to discover music’s power to overcome seemingly irreconcilable
differences and create harmony out of chaos.”
-Julian Lloyd Webber

“An amazing and deeply inspiring story.”
-Book of the Month (August), The Bookseller

“Upbeat is an eloquently-written, moving and sometimes funny book. Its title, taken from the gesture that
conductors make to indicate the beat that leads into a new bar of music, is symbolic of change and progress.
It also describes the mindset that was often required of MacAlindin and his team in testing circumstances.”
-The National (UAE)

“Fragile, precarious, quixotic and almost insanely heroic.”
-BBC Music Magazine

“One of the most unlikely, and genuinely heroic, stories you’re ever likely to read.”
-The Spectator

“The fact that any sort of orchestra could be brought together seems a miracle.”
-The Daily Telegraph

“Even if it doesn’t reform, the orchestra was a victory for art and light in the face of darkness. And in the
year of Chilcot, Mr MacAlindin’s Upbeat seems a timely homage to this fragile but beautiful thing created
by an inspirational Scot and the bravery and dedication of the musicians.”
-The Herald

“Upbeat serves as an inspiring and insightful guide towards understanding a land too long dominated by
war and violence.”
-The Express

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This week, the Pentagon confirmed a previous account by defense officials indicating that Islamic State militants recently used chemical weapons against US troops based at the Qayyarah Airfield, a key location in the upcoming offensive to retake Mosul from ISIS. The weapon in question, a rocket shell that landed “within the security perimeter” of the airfield, was confirmed to contain a mustard agent after testing by US troops. Despite the attack’s proximity to US military personnel, no one was injured in the attack, nor was anyone exposed to the chemical agent afterwards.

While the Islamic State has used chemical weapons against combatants in Syria, specifically against the Kurdish Peshmerga, this is the first time chemical weapons have been used by ISIS against the United States, and the first time mustard gas has been used against the US since World War I. However, according to a recent statement by Colonel Hamish de Bretton Gordon, a former commanding officer of the UK Chemical Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Regiment who is assisting in the training of Kurdish Peshmerga forces, ISIS is gearing up for a potential widespread chemical attack near Mosul.

de Bretton Gordon said in statement Thursday that, according to recent intelligence, ISIS may intend to explode a chemical plant situated between the Qayyarah airbase and the city of Mosul, the fallout of which would affect US and Iraqi forces, in addition to civilian populations within a ”radius of 6-10 miles.” The chemical plant, thought to contain “thousands of tons of sulfur and hydrogen sulfide,” could contribute to an enormous environmental disaster; a fire at the plant in 2003 released enough sulfur dioxide into the air to hospitalize hundreds of Iraqis with breathing problems, in addition to destroying all surrounding vegetation for miles.

If the Islamic State seeks to implement chemical weapons indiscriminately against civilians, as it has in the past according to the United Nations, it constitutes another war crime perpetuated by the organization at the behest of the Iraqi people, and violates the Geneva Gas Protocol as well as the Statute of the International Criminal Court. While Iraq is not party to the ICC and by default outside of its jurisdiction, a resolution by the U.N. Security Council could prompt an investigation by the ICC and lead to prosecution for those accountable within the Islamic State leadership. Additionally, it is possible for the Security Council to establish an ad hoc criminal tribunal following the end of the Islamic State similar to the tribunal created following the Rwandan Genocide.

Additionally, in a more likely scenario, foreign fighters who have left their country of origin to fight for ISIS are subject to trial by the Court if their home country is presently a member of the ICC. Therefore, the majority of European-born ISIS fighters could be tried without a resolution of the P5, as most of these countries are ICC members.

These represent a few approaches through which some measure of justice can be attained on behalf of Iraqi citizens, whose lives have been uprooted and forever changed by the presence of the Islamic State.

By Connor McInerney

As the Iraqi government advances their timeline to overtake the Islamic State – controlled  city of Mosul, many question the readiness of not only the Iraqi government, but also the Iraqi people. The Islamic State has trapped an estimated 1.2 million people inside the city of Mosul, in addition to the nearly 800,000 Iraqis living in surrounding areas. Experts estimate the current amount of internally displaced Iraqi people at a staggering 3.5 million citizens. The Iraqi government’s sudden push for the re-capture of Mosul from the Islamic State by the end of the year further complicates the already drastic situation regarding population displacement. Humanitarian agencies around the world have organized preparation efforts for what has become the single largest, and most complex humanitarian operation in the world this year . Racing against the clock to prepare the basic necessities of emergency camps, water, and health services, many experts worry that time has run out.

Examining previous liberation efforts in Fallujah, the insufficient preparation prior to military advances against the Islamic state resulted in the absence of dire necessities such as food, water, shelter, and medicine. The failed assistance to the displaced population proved the cause of many unnecessary deaths. This lack of preparation prior to the advancement of military forces has resulted in the failure to implement effective infrastructure or integrate marginal populations in the future. Returning to the liberated city, many civilians struggle to pass through rigid security checkpoints. Any family with even distant ties to the Islamic State will be turned away and forced into exile, fleeing to any remaining territory controlled by the jihadists. Although the process of repopulating the city remains tedious and difficult, admitted civilians that once called Fallujah home return to an abyss of leveled debris and destruction, no water or electricity, and rampant oil fires.

In regards to the recent liberation of the city of Qayyarah in late August, although the Iraqi government has ousted the presence of the Islamic state, the city remains in complete turmoil. Dead bodies, explosive devices, and mines litter the streets. Oil flows through the city, contaminating any access to water. Fires rage, darkening the air with thick smoke. The destruction of the city has greatly impacted the health of returning citizens, as the air remains poisoned with pollution from the retreat of the insurgents. Although a growing lack of infrastructure pervades the city of Qayyarah, many returning citizens, scarred by their experience, retain their allegiance to Iraqi military forces in hopes of liberating Mosul, the final Islamic State stronghold in Iraq.

The need for immediate worldwide, humanitarian assistance for Mosul remains essential, particularly in relation to its staggering population size in comparison to Fallujah and Qayyarah. The second-largest city in Iraq, Mosul remains the last pillar of strength for the Islamic State in  the country. With estimates of nearly 1 million Iraqis readying to flee Mosul, and as many as 700,000 likely in need of basic assistance, humanitarian partners struggle to fund and prepare for the volume of assistance the liberation of Mosul will demand. Issuing a flash appeal for $284 million in July, only half of the projected funding has been received to date. Experts and humanitarian partners around the globe race to prepare and ready a plan for the future of Mosul, hoping to combat the challenges faced previously by the liberation’s of Fallujah and Qayyarah. As Iraqi military forces begin to loosen the Islamic State’s hold on Mosul, the need for immediate humanitarian assistance and effective planning for a post- Islamic state has become vital.

By KaLynn Wood

The Iraq Foundation mourns the death of Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid. She was an architect of global renown, winning the Pritzker Architecture Prize, among many others, for her bold and convention-shattering designs. The world has lost a brilliant architect, and Iraqis have lost a rare beacon of greatness.



Mrs. Al-Jarahi recently completed her university degree. IF is extremely proud of her accomplishment and her hard work.


IF is pleased to announce the participation of President Rend al-Rahim in the UN Leaders’ Summit for Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism. The event highlights the cooperation of the US led coalition to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The event was headlined by President Obama and Prime Minister Abadi of Iraq.


Obama Abadi















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Technological Advance to Bolster Freedom of Expression in Iraq (TABEIR) Project

Call for proposals- Final Evaluation, Iraq


The Iraq Foundation (IF) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization and a registered CSO in Iraq. Established in 1991, its mission is to promote democracy, human rights, and civil society in Iraq. IF is an Iraqi-founded and Iraqi-led organization that is also independent, non-partisan, and espouses the principle of pluralism. IF is uniquely positioned as a hybrid organization based in Washington, D.C., where the main office monitors activities on daily basis. It also has offices in Baghdad and Basra from which it implements projects in all Iraqi provinces through networks of local NGO partners, academic institutions, and professional bodies. Staff travel regularly throughout Iraq to oversee projects and train, monitor, and evaluate participants. IF seeks to promote democracy and protect FOE by empowering civic actors to become agents for change. To fulfill this mission, Iraq Foundation works with NGOs, civic leaders, and academics as well as a number of Iraqi institutions. Through the TABEIR project, in particular, IF is targeting Freedom of Expression in Iraq and aiming to protect and expand it by:

(1)   Enabling expansion and enhancement Iraqi activists’ use of communication technologies,

(2)   Helping to form coalitions of Iraqi activists that pool information and build on synergies,

(3)   Encouraging increased creative activism on FOE issues, and

(4)   Encouraging stepped-up, coordinated advocacy and awareness-raising to bring about change

TABEIR project, an initiative funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), started on October 2013 and is scheduled for completion by November 1st 2014. Please find the attached TABEIR project Timeline for full details on project activities.

Please also visit  & for detailed Information about TABEIR project activities.


Purpose of Assignment:

To provide an external evaluation of the Iraq Foundation’s TABEIR project in order to assess the results it achieved compared to its objectives in accordance with the project proposal and results framework.  The consultant should outline the degree to which IF has achieved the intended results in terms of outputs as well as outcomes. The evaluation should also include challenges facing IF based on lessons learned. One important aspect of the evaluation is assessing whether the project has managed to reach its target group and if its method is relevant to the Iraqi context.   Based on the results of the findings, the consultant should give recommendations for how to improve future programs.


Contact Information

All proposals must be submitted by September 1st, 2015 to:

Basma Fakri at  and

Humam Rajab at

Questions should be addressed to .


Description of assignment:

Key tasks:

  1. Make an assessment of the relevance of the project in the Iraqi context
  2. Make an assessment of IF M&E capacity and structure. How does IF follow up their projects and do they have efficient methods to monitor their projects?
  3. Present an analysis of IF’s coordination with similar NGOs in Iraq
  4. Make an assessment of local partners’ capacity in Iraq and their perception of the cooperation with Iraq Foundation
  5. Summarize the most important results achieved during the project period.
  6. What has worked well, what are the main challenges to the program, and how can IF deal with these challenges in the future? What (if any) unforeseen and unanticipated results/experiences were there?
  7. How much/well did the Iraq Foundation address gender equality and youth? What has been achieved in this regard during the project period?
  8. Develop a baseline assessment to measure whether and how the program activities are making a difference by comparing the data in the baseline assessment against the data in the final evaluation.
  9. Develop tools such as surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc. to measure the outputs and outcomes of the project.
  10. Conduct field visits aiming at monitoring and evaluating the project. The consultant must visit and evaluate IF offices in Basra and Baghdad, as well as at least 3 other provinces where IF is implementing their project.


Expected Outputs

  1. Produce field evaluation reports
  2. A drafted final report submitted to IF. SIDA and IF will have two weeks to make comments on the final report based on the TOR.
  3. Based on SIDA and IF’s comments, a final evaluation report produced and submitted to Iraq Foundation


Duration of the Consultancy: 3 Months ( October-December, 2015)

The evaluation will be conducted in three months starting from the 1st of October and advancing in accordance with the following milestones:

  • Week 1: Sign the contract and hold kickoff meeting with project staff
  • Week 2: Design survey tools
  • Week 3-5: Desk review
  • Week 6-7: Conduct field visits and produce field evaluation reports.
  • Week 8-9: Send the draft final report for review and approval by Iraq Foundation and SIDA
  • Week 10-11: SIDA and IF provide comments on the final report based on the TOR
  • Week 11-12: Final report that incorporates all comments will be submitted to IF

Cost Breakdown

To be added by the consultant

Nature of Assignment: 

End of project evaluation.

Key partners in the project

  • National network of 10 NGO defenders of FOE located in Erbil, Kirkuk, Diyala, Two in Baghdad, Babil, Kut, Kerbala, Maysan and Basrah.
  • International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) – Washington D.C.
  • 2,025 FOE defenders located in the 9 provinces mentioned above.

Qualification of the consultant

The selected evaluator should possess the following qualifications:

  1. Have extensive experience in conducting evaluations in Iraq.
  2. Academic degrees in relevant field such as; Political Science, Sociology, Development Studies, Human Rights and/or other relevant areas.
  3. Knowledgeable in research methods, particularly on mixed-methods and participatory research
  4. Skilled in quantitative and qualitative data analysis
  5. Experience evaluating international development projects and familiarity with SIDA’s development polices (or those of other likeminded donors).
  6. Have excellent Arabic & English writing and speaking ability
  7. Professional experience in the area of democracy and human rights, preferably experience of evaluations of FOE projects.
  8. Minimum 6 years of experience evaluating international development cooperation
  9. Able to communicate complex research, statistics, and data analysis issues orally and in writing in a clear, concise and well organized manner


Application Materials

Iraq Foundation seeks proposals from individuals or organizations interested in conducting this evaluation. Applicants should submit a proposal in English that includes:

  1. Detailed description of the evaluator’s qualifications;
  2. Description and justification of proposed evaluation methodology including an evaluation strategy and description of tools and techniques that will be used to collect and analyze information;
  3. Draft work plan;
  4. Project budget.