Helms, Iraq: Eastern Flank of the Arab World

by Muhammad Ja'far
published in MER141

Christine Moss Helms, Iraq: Eastern Flank of the Arab World (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 1984).


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Marr, The Modern History of Iraq

by Abdul-Salaam Yousif
published in MER143

Phebe Marr, The Modern History of Iraq, (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1985).


Phebe Marr’s The Modern History of Iraq spans the period from the inception of the modern nation-state in 1920 to 1984. Marr has consulted, among others, the authoritative works in Arabic of
the Iraqi chronicler ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Hasani and the recent “official” biography of Saddam Hussein by Amir Iskandar. She also draws on the standard works by Hanna Batatu, Majid Kadduri, the Penroses, and above all makes use of extensive interviews with a number of informed Iraqis.

Iraq's Agrarian Infitah

by Robert Springborg
published in MER145

Egypt’s infitah is finding an echo in Iraq. The Iraqis are grappling with many of the same problems which caused the Egyptians to adopt such a policy: the shortcomings of public sector manufacturing and of collectivized and semi-collectivized agriculture. As in Egypt, the sudden and dramatic rise in oil revenues made it possible to consider far more than minor rearrangements. The sudden surge of revenues also made it possible to allocate investment capital to an emerging private sector without taking it out of the budgets of the public enterprises. Skilled labor shortages in both countries required new approaches in agriculture and industry.

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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.

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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