Two men from Baghdad - the artist and the entrepreneur

  • 31 July 2016
  • From the section Magazine
As Karim plays, Sadiq stands behind him, to the right, with his arms folded
Image caption As Karim plays, Sadiq stands behind him, to the right, with his arms folded

This is a story of Karim and Sadiq. It's also a story about Iraq.

The two men first met in 2001 - a time when Iraq was in the iron grip of Saddam Hussein, a time of few freedoms.

Karim Wasifi, studying music in the United States, slipped into Baghdad to help musicians and other artists. Once there, he needed to buy an Iraqi-made suit. He knew where to find it - in Baghdad's popular Karrada neighbourhood, a place where all of Iraq lived, people of every faith, and no faith. Sadiq Maroof was a young shopkeeper there.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Karrada shops in better times - 10 years ago...
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption ... and in 2014

This week, they met again, unexpectedly, on the same street, both in their 40s now. Karim, with his tangle of black curly hair, and round black-rimmed glasses, was wearing black in mourning. Sadiq, in a simple T-shirt, with a receding hairline now, wore his own sadness like a cloak. Weeks earlier, the so-called Islamic State had made it to this street - and carried out its deadliest attack, ever. 292 Iraqis died here.

I watched the two men say hello, and their moment of recognition.

Read full article Two men from Baghdad - the artist and the entrepreneur

Iraq seeks more help as it sets sights on Mosul

Bullet casings lie on the ground as Iraqi government forces near the Qayara airbase (14 July 2016) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Iraqi government forces recently retook the Qayara airbase, 60km (40 miles) south of Mosul

Black banners of so-called Islamic State (IS) flap in the scorching heat of northern Iraq. Fighters' corpses lie where they fell, wrapped in dust, in parched wheat fields.

An Iraqi military convoy hurtles along dirt tracks, kicking up a haze which shrouds deserted shells of houses with a ghostly pallor.

Read full article Iraq seeks more help as it sets sights on Mosul

As Iran waits for nuclear deal dividends - could the EU help?

The EU and Iranian flags displayed in Tehran
Image caption Iran has seen a flurry of diplomatic activity after last year's nuclear deal

At a popular hotel in the Iranian capital they are kept busy changing the flags.

When we arrive in the early hours of Saturday, along with the largest EU delegation in more than a decade, the lobby is dominated by a table of pink lilies in glorious bloom fronted by Europe's 12-starred blue flag entwined with Iran's tricolour.

Read full article As Iran waits for nuclear deal dividends - could the EU help?

Syria: A different country after five years of war

Media captionThe BBC's chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet was in Deraa five years ago and has returned to see what civil war has done to the country and its people.

Its first moments were fleeting and furtive, small but significant.

Young women unfurled protest banners from their handbags on a busy Damascus street, then quickly retreated. Teenage boys sprayed graffiti on a school wall in the southern city of Deraa.

Read full article Syria: A different country after five years of war

Syria conflict: Spring truce brings calm, but for how long?

Media captionA truce has enabled aid to reach some areas for the first time in two years

Even the harshest of winters eventually end, as do the most punishing of wars. And this year, spring's arrival in Syria coincides with the quietest spell for a long time in this conflict.

But after five years of unparalleled protest and pain, most Syrians don't dare to believe that the fledgling truce here, now in its second week, will last.

Read full article Syria conflict: Spring truce brings calm, but for how long?

Syria truce brings rare moment of quiet

  • 7 March 2016
  • From the section World
Media captionAs Lyse Doucet reports, the truce has enabled aid to reach some areas for the first time in two years

Five years after the conflict in Syria began with protests against Bashar al-Assad in southern city of Deraa, a fragile truce that came into effect on 27 February is holding in many areas of the country.

Although violations continue to be reported by all sides, these last nine days have been the quietest that most Syrians have seen in years.

Read full article Syria truce brings rare moment of quiet

Syria conflict: Value of Munich meeting hangs in the balance

Media captionThe horrifying statistics that define Syria

"Is the message from Munich a message of continued fighting, or are we going to be capable, in the course of this year, of giving peace a chance?"

This was the question posed in the final moments of this year's Munich Security Forum by its chairman, Wolfgang Ischinger.

Read full article Syria conflict: Value of Munich meeting hangs in the balance

Afghanistan confronts a new threat from IS

  • 26 January 2016
  • From the section Asia
Media captionAshraf Ghani: "This could be a point of no return for Daesh"

Nine Afghan men are blindfolded, marched out of their village and made to sit on a row of bombs buried in a field. Then they are blown up.

Five villagers are decapitated, their severed heads displayed on a dirt road in eastern Afghanistan for all to see.

Read full article Afghanistan confronts a new threat from IS

'IS' in Afghanistan: We will bury them, says President Ghani

Media captionAfghan president Ashraf Ghani says he will 'bury' the so-called Islamic State group.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has promised to "bury" the so-called Islamic State (IS) militant group, whose local offshoot has clashed with government forces and Taliban fighters, in an exclusive interview.

Mr Ghani said IS was "not an Afghan phenomenon" and its atrocities had "alienated the people".

Read full article 'IS' in Afghanistan: We will bury them, says President Ghani

Migrant crisis: French PM Manuel Valls warns EU over influx

  • 22 January 2016
  • From the section Europe
Media captionFrench PM Manuel Valls spoke to the BBC about the migrant crisis

The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has warned that European society could be totally destabilised if the EU lets in every refugee who arrives.

In a BBC interview, he said the migration crisis was putting the entire EU project at risk, not only the EU's passport-free Schengen zone.

Read full article Migrant crisis: French PM Manuel Valls warns EU over influx