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New Left Review 36, November-December 2005

A panorama of Iraq two and a half years after the Anglo-American invasion. Britain’s leading reporter on the country talks about the life conditions of the population; the springs of the resistance; the relations between Sunni and Shia communities; the position of the Kurds; the performance of the US military; and the historical precedents and possible outcomes of the second Western seizure of Iraq.



How many times have you been to Iraq, before and since the Anglo-American invasion?

I first went to Iraq in 1978, and I’ve been there I suppose fifty or sixty times. Sometimes for as long as three months, at other times for a fortnight or so. In all I have spent a bit more than half my time in Iraq since the Occupation. I was there before, during and after the invasion, initially based in Kurdistan since I couldn’t get a visa to Baghdad, because I and my brother had written a book on Iraq in the nineties. So when the us-led attack began, I was in the North. I was in Kirkuk and Mosul when they fell, and as soon as the road south was open, I drove down the main highway from Arbil to Baghdad. By the time I left the city, looting was still proceeding apace. The Information Ministry was being set on fire as I set off to Jordan, thick clouds of smoke rising over Baghdad and driving west you could already see all these battered little white pickups, which are very typical in Iraq, loaded with loot, going along the main highway and then turning off the road to Ramadi and Fallujah.

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Patrick Cockburn, ‘The Occupation’, NLR 36: £3

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