Antoon, Ya Maryam

by Isis Nusair
published in MER267

Sinan Antoon, Ya Maryam (Beirut/Baghdad: Dar al-Jamal, 2012).

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Iraqi Christians: A Primer

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers
published in MER267

Media coverage in the West can overstate the degree to which Christians are “disappearing” from the Middle East. But one place where such characterizations have merit is Iraq. In the years since the 2003 invasion led by the United States, at least half of Iraq’s Christians have fled the country to escape the violence of war, occupation and insurgency, as well as a campaign of intimidation, forced expulsion and sectarian cleansing carried out by militias and criminal gangs. Numerous others have been internally displaced.

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Syria's Disabled Future

by Edward Thomas | published May 14, 2013

Jamal is not yet a teenager. His school closed in 2011, soon after the Syrian revolution turned into an armed conflict, and his father found him a factory job. One day in 2012 as he returned from work there was a battle going on in the main street near his home. Jamal immediately started carrying wounded children smaller than he is to shelter in a mosque. Then Syrian army reinforcements arrived, clearing the streets with gunfire and hitting Jamal in the spine. The youngsters who took him to the hospital advised him to say that “terrorists” had caused his injury. But Jamal did not want to lie -- he told the doctors that a soldier had fired the bullet. The doctors told him to shut up and say it was the terrorists. But they treated him anyway.

State and Capitalism in Iraq

A Comment

by Hanna Batatu
published in MER142

Isam al-Khafaji’s article is the most interesting essay on Iraq that I have read in a long time. It sheds much light on the actual workings of Saddam Hussein’s regime. From the vantage point of 1985, it appears clear that the pattern of spending of state revenues, particularly from the middle 1970s onward, has led to the strengthening of capitalism in Iraq. But can one infer from this that the social power or political weight of Iraq’s capitalists has commensurately increased? What power of leverage do these capitalists have over the state structure and to what degree do they influence the pattern of state spending? Are we witnessing the growth of an autonomous or of an essentially parasitic type of capitalism?

State Incubation of Iraqi Capitalism

by Isam al-Khafaji
published in MER142

The scene was the presidential palace in Baghdad, July 7, 1983. A campaign to solicit gold and money donations from ordinary citizens to support the Iraqi war effort had just begun. A furious Saddam Hussein was receiving a group of Iraqi contractors to convince them to increase their donations. He scolded them relentlessly, telling them the story of the literally barefoot man who had become a millionaire under “the revolution.” The 1968 Baath coup, it seems, had turned the man into a big contractor. Said Saddam:

A Split in the Iraqi Communist Party?

by Isam al-Khafaji
published in MER151

In the aftermath of the party’s fourth congress in October 1985, a group of 11 members led by an ex-alternate member of the central command of the party were expelled from the party. They had violated the party’s constitution by publicly circulating a memorandum attacking the new policy adopted by the party after its turn against the Baath rule in 1979, a document ratified by the 1985 congress. The document criticized the past experience of alliance with the Baath party on the grounds that the CP had accepted the possibility of the Baath leading Iraq’s transition to socialism. Consequently, according to the document, the CP had abandoned its political, ideological and organizational independence vis-à-vis the ruling party.

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Iraq's Seventh Year

Saddam's Quart d'Heure?

by Isam al-Khafaji
published in MER151

According to the Iranian media, the seventh year of the war was again to be the “decisive year.” For Iraq it was a year of more “achievements and victories” under the leadership of the “militant leader.” On March 21,1987, the Persian New Year, Saddam Hussein brought thousands of demonstrators to the streets of Baghdad to celebrate the end of the “decisive year” without an Iraqi defeat. Perhaps he was not aware that in Tehran they date the war years from September to September. Then again, to celebrate not being defeated yet as a victory is typical of the demagogy in which the Iraqi leadership indulges.

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Sassoon, Saddam Hussein's Ba'th Party

by Roger Owen
published in MER266

Joseph Sassoon, Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Since the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the difficulties of writing about the exercise of power inside authoritarian Arab regimes have been well known. The regimes’ inner workings existed, and to some extent continue to exist, in a black box, with few clues as to what records they kept, if indeed they kept very many at all. Hence we are doubly fortunate in Joseph Sassoon’s new volume -- first, in the treasure trove of Baath Party documents “liberated” from Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein and second, in Sassoon’s careful and judicious review.

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Soviet Perceptions of Iraq

by Roderic Pitty
published in MER151

From the Soviet point of view, Iraq under the Baath Party has been a troubling enigma, in terms of its place in the Third World generally and its political position in Middle East diplomacy. In the first respect, Iraq during the 1970s did not manage to consolidate itself as one of the USSR’s dependable allies, which official Soviet parlance refers to as “states of socialist orientation.” Most Soviet scholars sooner or later reached the conclusion that Iraq has really been on the capitalist path of development, although neither Moscow nor Baghdad could state this openly.

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The Challenges for Women Working at Iraqi Universities

by Nadje Al-Ali
published in MER266

Ten years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Iraqi women suffer from pervasive hardships -- the overall lack of security, gender-based violence, the feminization of poverty and poor access to basic services. Women working at universities face all these challenges, as well as others particular to higher education.

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