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Upbeat
The Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq
Paul MacAlindin

 

“Iraqi Teen Seeks Maestro For Youth Orchestra”

upbeat

 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

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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On June 29th, 2015, Iraq Foundation staff-member Tanyh Lowis attended a meeting organized by the Ministry for Women’s Affairs and chaired by Minister Bayan Nouri. The meeting was attended by representatives of Iraq’s civil society and resulted in the foundation of an emergency working group to implement the emergency National Action Plan (NAP) established under UN Resolution 1325. The working group consists of civil society representatives and high ranking government officials from all over Iraq. The working group will be aiding implementation of the emergency NAP to support IDP women inside and outside of camps, in addition to all victimized women who have been affected by the recent conflict in Iraq more generally. The working group will issue a report to highlight the emergency NAP’s progress by July 29th, 2015.

Ministry of Women- 1325 mtg

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On Tuesday June 9th, Ms. Rend al-Rahim, president of the Iraq Foundation, chaired a meeting to discuss the impact that the crisis in Iraq and the release of its Emergency National Action Plan will have upon the foundation’s AL-RASID project.

Since the Iraqi government released the original National Action Plan (NAP), becoming the first Middle Eastern Country to commit itself to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace, and Security), the Iraq Foundation has been working with partner NGO’s to monitor the strides made in Baghdad, Basra, Erbil, Babil and Ninewa toward women’s rights and representation. It has also worked toward building the capacity of national and local actors to implement the NAP and address GBV and raising awareness among boys and men.

However, with the onset of instability and security challenges to the government, it has amended the provisions of the NAP. This meeting targeted ways in which to adjust to these changes, ultimately incorporating them into AL-RASID’s Monitoring and Evaluation and strategy to increase the number of provincial task forces in the project’s target provinces.


 

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On May 24th 2015, the Iraq Foundation worked in coordination with Entisar Ali al-Jubouri, head of the Women and Children parliamentary committee, to hold a daylong workshop for newly elected officials inside the House of Representatives building. The meeting was led by IF president, Ms. Rend Al-Rahim, along with the other MPs and high rank government officials who are particularly knowledgeable on women, peace and security issues. The focus of this event was to increase the newly elected MPs’ awareness of relevant parliamentary committees such as the Committee for Women: Legal Committee. Forty-two government officials attended the meeting, and discussed various topics such as the specific protection needs of women and girls in conflict zones. Additionally, they focused on promoting women’s participation in addressing gender perspectives in peace processes, and discussed the value of empowering women and girls as active agents in peace and security. The workshop resulted in the drafting of ten recommendations to empower women, which will be presented to the cabinet in June.

 

Al-Rasid Meeting

The 2nd HEWAR stakeholder follow-up meeting took place on October 30th, 2014 at the Judicial Development Institute.

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The 3rd Stakeholder Follow-up meeting took place on February 26th, 2015 at the Judicial Development Institute.

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During February 2015 the five partner NGOs in Al-RASID provided 5 trainings for 344 stakeholders in the five provinces distributed as as follows: Erbil 86 (23 female and 73 male), Ninwa plain 60 (26 female and 34 male), Baghdad 41 (10 female and 41 male), Babil 93 (35 female and 58 male) and Basrah 65(31 female and 34 male).The participants represented women’s advocacy organizations, service providers, local community leaders and members of the judiciary and local law enforcement units.

 

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Periodical meetings with Partner NGOs

On the 28th of March 2015 IF hosted the 6th periodical meeting for the representatives of the 10 partner NGOs. The meeting was dedicated to explore further means to enhance TABEIR map and discuss various scenarios for the FOE short movies which will be produced by the partner NGOs as part of the first round of the small grants funded through TABEIR project.

 

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