A Makeover

Baghdad, the 2013 Arab Capital of Culture

by Nada Shabout
published in MER266

Two clouds kissed silently in the Baghdad sky. I watched them flee westward, perhaps out of shyness, leaving me alone on the bench beneath the French palm tree (so called because it stood in the courtyard in front of the French department) to wait for Areej. I looked for something worth reading in that morning’s al-Jumhuriyya, and found a good translation of a Neruda poem in the culture section, besieged on all sides by doggerel barking praises of the Party and the Revolution. The breeze nudged the palm fronds above my head to applaud. It was April, “the month of fecundity, the birth of the Baath and the Leader,” as one of the posters on the college walls announced.

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Permanent Transients

Iraqi Women Refugees in Jordan

by Isis Nusair
published in MER266

“We do not know our destiny. The Jordanian government might ask us to leave at any moment,” said Hana, a widow in her fifties. “There is no rest for a guest.”

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Rewiring a State

The Techno-Politics of Electricity in the CPA's Iraq

by Nida Alahmad
published in MER266

The Coalition Provisional Authority, the US-British body that briefly ruled in Baghdad from May 2003 to June 2004, had grand ambitions for Iraq. The idea was to transform the country completely from what was basically a command economy (notwithstanding liberalization measures in the 1990s) into an open market and from a dictatorship into a liberal democracy. The radical nature of these plans and orders, coupled with the CPA’s swift dissolution, has led many to dismiss the body as a hasty and ill-conceived imperial experiment. Indeed it was -- and a destructive one as well. But the CPA period still deserves serious examination. It was the only time when the US, in its capacity as occupier, was in charge of Iraq administratively and legally.

Aspiration and Reality in Iraq's Post-Sanctions Economy

by Bassam Yousif
published in MER266

From 1990 to 2003, Iraq languished under comprehensive UN sanctions that prohibited foreign trade. When sanctions were finally lifted, many economists and pundits, as well as Iraqis themselves, hoped for a rapidly expanding economy, brisk reconstruction and a return to prosperity. They have been sorely disappointed.

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Iraq: What Remains

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER266

American soldiers are gone from Iraq, along with much of Washington’s influence. The Obama administration, which came to office opposed to the entire enterprise but then tried, and failed, to extend the troop presence, professes still to play a leading part in what goes on. In reality, it looks more like a bemused bystander who hopes that, somehow, things will not abruptly fall to pieces.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER266

“The Iraq war is largely about oil,” wrote Alan Greenspan in his memoir The Age of Turbulence (2007). “I’m saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows.” It may indeed be self-evident that the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, as the former Federal Reserve chairman says, because of oil. But what does this proposition mean? The answer is not so obvious.

Nonneman, Iraq, the Gulf States and the War

by Fred H. Lawson
published in MER148

Gerd Nonneman, Iraq, the Gulf States and the War (London: Ithaca Press, 1986).

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CARDRI, Saddam's Iraq

by Thabit Abdullah
published in MER148

Committee Against Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq, Saddam’s Iraq: Revolution Or Reaction? (London: Zed Books, 1986).

This book fills an important gap in the works that have been published on Iraq in the West. Here a number of scholars from Britain and Iraq survey the economic, class and ideological bases of the present Iraqi regime and its impact on Iraqi society.

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When I Found Myself

by Dia' Khudair
published in MER148

This story first appeared in Arabic in the Paris-based Kull al-‘Arab, September 3, 1986.

The men in our unit branded me “the intellectual,” a term that connoted for them more sarcasm than conviction. They pronounced it in mincing tones, and played comically with its derivatives. This ought not, of course, be imputed to intrinsic dislike among the well-meaning fighters for intellectuals. Rather, I suppose, to their belief in the futility of making oneself attend to matters other than the tangible tasks of fighting or getting ready for combat. And being, as they said, a bookworm, I had only myself to blame.

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Report from Paris: The Kurdish Conference

by Sami Zubaida
published in MER163

“There’s not much talk about the Kurds because we have never taken any hostages, never hijacked a plane. But I am proud of this.” So wrote Abd al-Rahman Qassemlou, the Iranian Kurdish leader who was assassinated in Vienna last July. The Kurdish Institute of Paris and France-Libertes, a human rights foundation sponsored by Danielle Mitterand, organized a conference in Paris October 14-15, 1989, precisely to remedy the cynical international neglect of the Kurdish question. Some French government quarters clearly had misgivings, particularly concerning the impact on relations with Iraq. A measure of French sensitivity and Iraqi pressure was an attempt to introduce into the conference the president of Iraq’s so-called Kurdish Autonomy Zone.

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