Iraq Gears Up for Comprehensive Census, Sidesteps Controversies


Vehicles pass by the waterfront of the Shatt al-Arab River in Basra, southern Iraq (AFP)
Vehicles pass by the waterfront of the Shatt al-Arab River in Basra, southern Iraq (AFP)
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Iraq Gears Up for Comprehensive Census, Sidesteps Controversies


Vehicles pass by the waterfront of the Shatt al-Arab River in Basra, southern Iraq (AFP)
Vehicles pass by the waterfront of the Shatt al-Arab River in Basra, southern Iraq (AFP)

Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning, Mohammed Ali Tamim, announced Wednesday the start of a trial census across all provinces, including Kurdistan Region (Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah), set for next Friday.

Officials say the census will avoid sensitive topics like ethnicity and focus on religion.

If successful, the government plans to launch an official census on Nov. 20, the first in 27 years since 1997.

The previous census, more than 25 years ago, didn’t include Kurdistan due to political issues under Saddam Hussein's rule.

Since 2005, Iraq has tried to conduct a census, but it faced setbacks, mainly due to political tensions over areas like Kirkuk, disputed between Arabs and Kurds.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Tamim thanked families and local communities for their cooperation with researchers in the trial census, stressing the importance of keeping data private.

He assured that data collection would follow strict privacy standards and only be used for development purposes. The trial will start in specific areas across all provinces on Friday, covering 86 localities with 764 researchers involved.

According to the minister, the trial will include various localities in Baghdad, Basra, Nineveh, and others, with researchers wearing uniforms and carrying tablets to transmit data securely.

Abdul Zahra Al-Hindawi, a spokesperson for the Planning Ministry, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the November census is solely for development purposes and won’t ask about ethnicity or religion.

He said the focus is on understanding people’s living conditions to address them, not on demographics like Arab or Kurdish populations.

Al-Hindawi stressed that international standards suggest avoiding controversial topics in population surveys.



US Military Targets Houthi Radar Sites in Yemen

In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
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US Military Targets Houthi Radar Sites in Yemen

In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)

The United States military unleashed a wave of attacks targeting radar sites operated by Yemen's Houthi militants over their assaults on shipping in the crucial Red Sea corridor, authorities said Saturday, after one merchant sailor went missing following an earlier Houthi strike on a ship.
The attacks come as the US Navy faces the most intense combat it has seen since World War II in trying to counter the Houthi campaign — attacks the militants say are meant to halt the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
However, the Iranian-backed group assaults often see the Houthis target ships and sailors who have nothing to do with the war while traffic remains halved through a corridor vital for cargo and energy shipments between Asia, Europe and the Mideast.
US strikes destroyed seven radars within Houthi-controlled territory, the military's Central Command said. It did not elaborate on how the sites were destroyed and did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.
“These radars allow the Houthis to target maritime vessels and endanger commercial shipping,” Central Command said in a statement.
The US separately destroyed two bomb-laden drone boats in the Red Sea, as well as a drone launched by the Houthis over the waterway, it said.
The Houthis, who have held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since 2014, did not acknowledge the strikes, nor any military losses. That's been typical since the US began launching airstrikes targeting the group.
Meanwhile, Central Command said one commercial sailor from the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk cargo carrier Tutor remained missing after an attack Wednesday by the Houthis that used a bomb-carrying drone boat to strike the vessel.
“The crew abandoned ship and were rescued by USS Philippine Sea and partner forces,” Central Command said. The “Tutor remains in the Red Sea and is slowly taking on water.”
The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killed three sailors, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration.
The war in the Gaza Strip has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians there, according to Gaza health officials, while hundreds of others have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.
“The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and yet they are targeting and threatening the lives of third-country nationals who have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza,” Central Command said. “The ongoing threat to international commerce caused by the Houthis in fact makes it harder to deliver badly needed assistance to the people of Yemen as well as Gaza.”