The War Economy of Iraq

by Pete Moore , Christopher Parker
published in MER243

On May 26, 2003, L. Paul Bremer declared Iraq “open for business.” Four years on, business is booming, albeit not as the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority intended. Iraqis find themselves at the center of a regional political economy transformed by war. Instability has generated skyrocketing oil prices, and as US attitudes to Arab investment have hardened in the wake of the September 11 attacks, investors from the oil-producing Gulf countries are seeking opportunities closer to home. This money, together with the resources being pumped in to prop up the US occupation, is fueling an orgy of speculation and elite consumption in the countries surrounding Iraq.

From the Editors

published in MER243

Both political parties in Washington seem determined not to end the US occupation of Iraq until they are convinced the other party will get blamed for the consequences. It is charmless political theater and grotesque public policy. The occupation cannot end too soon.

Jordan's Unwelcome "Guests"

by Stefanie Nanes
published in MER244

Ask any Jordanian in Amman about Iraqis in their country, and they will immediately tell you that Iraqis have driven up the prices of virtually everything in the capital. Apartments cost double what they did five years ago. The prices of food and gasoline have soared. Iraqis arrive with suitcases full of cash, drive around in expensive cars and make life much more difficult for Jordanians—or such is the widespread belief.

The Politics of Refugee Advocacy and Humanitarian Assistance

by Kathryn Libal , Scott Harding
published in MER244

Despite advance warnings of entrenched conflict and the displacement of tens of thousands of people, in 2003 the Bush administration embarked on a regime-changing war in Iraq with little consideration of the human costs. The Iraq war has created a flow of forced migrants, both within and across national borders, numbering around four million people, or approximately 15 percent of Iraq’s population. This ongoing forced migration dwarfs original expectations among humanitarian organizations and is considered the largest forced migration in the region since the Palestinian diaspora of 1948.

Refugees in Limbo

The Plight of Iraqis in Bordering States

by Madona Mokbel
published in MER244

Long lines of Iraqis form early in the morning at the compound of a Damascus non-profit agency that provides social services for Iraqi refugees. About 100 men, women and children patiently wait their turn to meet with the agency’s case workers. Some of the older women begin to tire and move slowly away from the line to sit on benches located along the compound’s old walls. Most of the men remain standing in the queue. They are busy attending to their young children, while their wives are caring for the babies. Most look anxious, and they fidget, wary of the long wait ahead. To pass the time, some make small talk, but generally the crowd is quiet.

Imagining the Next Occupation

by Jason Brownlee
published in MER249

When Lt. Gen. William Caldwell pitched the US Army’s updated field manual on the March 10 Daily Show, Jon Stewart inquired: “If I read this, can I take over a country?” Caldwell, who served 13 months in Iraq and today runs the Combined Arms Center in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, demurred with a chuckle. And the text his center published in October, FM 3-07, Stability Operations (2008), treats the question as moot.

Ramadan in Wounded Baghdad

by Huda Ahmed
published in MER241

In Ramadans past, teams of men drawn from neighborhoods across Baghdad faced off in nighttime matches of mihaibis (the ring game), an amusing pastime dating back to the Ottoman Empire. A ring, small enough to conceal in the palm of the hand, and unlike any other on the men’s fingers, was given to one team, whose leader chose a player to hold it in his clenched fist. The team with the ring then lined up, each man with clenched fists held out and turned downward.

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The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq

by Roel Meijer
published in MER237

The October 15, 2005 referendum on the new Iraqi constitution, like other stages in the US-sponsored political transition after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, drew fresh attention to the many opponents of that transition and the US occupation who are not directly involved in the ongoing insurgency. In keeping with the pattern in place since the old regime fell, the global media identified this opposition as “Sunni,” implying that political attitudes in Iraq are uniquely determined by religious affiliation. In fact, these opposition forces are not uniformly Sunni Arab, and many are secular nationalist -- not sectarian or even religious -- in orientation and identity.