There is no shortage of personal testimonies relating the experiences of western diplomats, military personnel, political appointees, and even latter-day mercenaries working in security companies who have served in Iraq since the US-led invasion of the country in 2003. Countless other books have been written with an eye to recount the tormenting sorrows and anguished pains that have befallen the Land of the Two Rivers since the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s despotic regime.
If anyone hoped that the security pact being negotiated between the US and Iraq was rising above the cycle of frustrations and false starts, then such fanciful thoughts can now be dismissed. On September 17 Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki told a group of Iraqi journalists that “there are very serious and dangerous obstacles facing the deal.
In recent months, there has been a worrying rise in violent salafi sectarianism in the northern Lebanese port-city of Tripoli, a dangerous new development in the country’s delicate communal balance. KHALIL FADL discusses the background and potential of this trend among Lebanese Sunnis.
Ideological blinders often lead ideologues to stumble into serious blunders. That US president George W. Bush’s Iraq adventure has gone awry has escaped no one but the warmongering neo-conservative cabal dominating the Bush White House and the stalwart intellectuals who blithely rationalized the irrational war.
As Iraq has lurched from one crisis to another since the US invasion in 2003, one figure has become increasingly influential and even dominant in the country’s politics: young Shi’a leader Muqtada al-Sadr. KHALIL FADL profiles the man some regard as a future leader of the country.
After months of wishing away young anti-American Shi’a alim Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki is trying to marginalize the Sadrist Current (al-Tayyar al-Sadri) by military means. But the Iraqi military offensive against the Sadrists, which was supposed to demonstrate the power of the central government, has actually laid bare its weaknesses and highlighted the political weight of Sadr’s movement. Operation Cavalry Charge (Sawlat al-Fursan), which began on March 25 in Basra and set off clashes with Mahdi Army fighters in several cities throughout southern Iraq and in the Baghdad itself, has also underlined the growing influence of Iran in post-Saddam Iraq.
When US president George W. Bush claimed last month that Iraq had been a victory for the US, hollow laughter echoed around the world. In this article, KHALIL FADL considers the real legacy of the Iraqwar, five years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein.
Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr, the young, staunchly anti-American firebrand of the Iraqi Shi‘a community, has been largely absent from view for more than a year, but the tense anticipation with which decision-makers in Baghdad and Washington awaited his expected announcement at the end of February showed his continued importance to Iraq's political scene and its future.
Until the US started recruiting Sunni tribal forces to use against resistance forces in Iraq last year, it was widely thought that Sunni opinion in Iraq was firmly against the occupation and in support of the resistance. In fact the situation is far more complex. KHALIL FADL reports.
Memories of State: Politics, History and Collective Identity in Modern Iraq by Eric Davis. University of California Press, Berkeley, 2005. Pp: 385. Pbk: $27.50.