Iraq’s ancient city of Ur: source of law, site of wonder; Marta Bellingreri; Al Monitor

Tourists are slowly beginning to return to the ancient Sumerian city of Ur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, raising hopes among some locals.

Source: Iraq’s ancient city of Ur: source of law, site of wonder

Can Iraq beat the drought and become the breadbasket of the Middle East again?; Kieran Cooke; Middle East Eye

Despite an environmental crisis, award-winning expert Azzam Alwash believes that Iraq can revive its agriculture

Source: Can Iraq beat the drought and become the breadbasket of the Middle East again?

The Iraqi marshes: More than three decades of man-made ecological disaster; Sylvain Mercadier; Al Araby

Source: The Iraqi marshes: More than three decades of man-made ecological disaster

Lack of revitalization budget puts historic Erbil Citadel at risk of collapse, official warns; Sangar Ali; Kurdistan 24

The Erbil Citadel is under the risk of collapse due to a lack of budget for rehabilitation as well as heavy rains that have recently damaged the monument.

Source: Lack of revitalization budget puts historic Erbil Citadel at risk of collapse, official warns

A palace-city in Iraq produced its own ornamental glass a thousand years ago; Elena Motivans; ZME Science

They were clearly skilled glass-makers.

Source: A palace-city in Iraq produced its own ornamental glass a thousand years ago

Public enemy or savior? An Iraqi city could reveal the true Moqtada al-Sadr; Tamer El-Ghobashy & Mustafa Salim; Washington Post

The maverick cleric’s surprising election victory prompted this question in Baghdad, Washington and Tehran: Who is the real Moqtada al-Sadr?

Source: Public enemy or savior? An Iraqi city could reveal the true Moqtada al-Sadr

Will Great Mosque of Samarra and its minaret survive?; Adnan Abu Zeed; Al-Monitor

Iraq – Samarra Archaeological City

The 1,200-year-old minaret of the Great Mosque in Samarra is in dire need of restoration, which the Iraqi authorities and UNESCO have started working on.

The Malwiya Minaret, an impressive tower at a height of 52 meters (171 feet) with a spiral ramp, still recalls the past glory of the Great Mosque of Samarra, which had been the largest mosque in the world during the Abbasid Caliphate.

However, the spiraling structure of more than a thousand years now runs the risk of crumbling because of the many attacks it has suffered, according to Iraqi media reports.

Its external stairway is unstable, with some stones missing, and the minaret has shaky walls that have the names of visitors carved into them. There is no security at the site, and a young man fell from the minaret and died on March 29, 2017, after having attempted to climb it.

Malwiya is known for its spiraling structure; it does not look like any other minaret in the world. It is one of the many historical landmarks of Samarra, which was put on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2007.

Source: Will Great Mosque of Samarra and its minaret survive?

Iraq’s vast marshes, reborn after Saddam, are in peril again; AP

Iraq – The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities

CHABAISH, Iraq (AP) – In the southern marshlands of Iraq, Firas Fadl steers his boat through tunnels of towering reeds, past floating villages and half-submerged water buffaloes in a unique region that seems a world apart from the rest of the arid Middle East.

The marshes, a lush remnant of the cradle of civilization , were reborn after the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein when residents dismantled dams he had built a decade earlier to drain the area in order root out Shiite rebels. But now the largest wetlands in the Middle East are imperiled again, by government mismanagement and new upstream projects.

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After 6,000 Years of Human Habitation, One Family and Lots of Mice; Rod Nordland; The New York Times

Iraq – Erbil Citadel

ERBIL, Iraq — There are two ways to consider the imposing Erbil citadel, a huge mound 100 feet above the flat plain on which this city of one million sits.

One. The citadel is one of the oldest continuously occupied human settlements on earth, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and Kurdish officials have gone to great lengths to restore and preserve it despite a severe financial crisis.

The warren of alleyways in the old town had become overcrowded slums as the historic buildings crumbled from neglect, but in 2006, the authorities relocated the more than 500 families elsewhere, in what was one of the Middle East’s most ambitious preservation projects.

Two. Six thousand years or more of human civilization have come to this: In the citadel’s central square is a tall metal pole with a Kurdish flag the size of a boxcar.

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Surprising Images from Northern Iraq: A Photo Tour of Kurdistan; As We Saw It

Iraq – Erbil Citadel

We recently visited the Kurdish region of Iraq and, maybe because of news reports, it was nothing like we expected. It’s not Arab. It’s not a war-torn desert wasteland. It’s safe. It’s peaceful. It’s green and mountainous, graced with abundant waterfalls and hilly, fertile farmland. Plus, Arabs, Kurds and foreigners all vacation together. No wonder Iraqi Kurdistan has been called “The Other Iraq.”

Westerners have no idea what they are missing.

A little about the Kurds

The “cradle of civilization” gave birth to the Kurdish peoples, yet they still dream of their own nation. Their homeland has been occupied by various empires for millennia. Medes, Assyrians, Sumerians, Parthians, Persians and others have ruled over them. Now, they are separated by political borders, but whether they live in Iraq, Syria, Turkey or Iran, they always consider themselves Kurds first.

Erbil Governorate

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