MUQTADA AL-SADR AND THE FALL OF IRAQ
PROSPECT MAGAZINE, May, 2008
In late August 2004, I found myself among about 2,000 poor Shia Iraqis in the ancient mosque at Kufa, near Najaf, about 100 miles south of Baghdad. The second siege of Najaf—the first had been in April—was winding down after three weeks of intense fighting. The Kufa mosque had been struck by an American missile a few days earlier, outraging Shia believers across the world. Just inside the mosque's entrance was a pile of the shoes of dead fighters. In the small office where I had taken refuge on a floor, a couple of dozen young men slumped next to me against the walls, bloodied, dusty and weary. A young mullah, lean and handsome—like many of Muqtada al-Sadr's youthful lieutenants—played with the tail-fin of a mortar with a hand wrapped in a bloody bandage as he drew me diagrams of the battle with a finger on a dusty table...

THE FOLLY OF AN AFGHAN SURGE
NEW YORK TIMES, August 13, 2008
BARACK OBAMA and John McCain have plenty of disagreements, but one thing they are united on is promising a troop surge in Afghanistan. Senator McCain wants to move troops to Afghanistan from the Middle East, conditional on continued progress in Iraq. Senator Obama goes much further, arguing that we should have sent last year’s surge to Afghanistan, not Iraq, that Afghanistan is the “central front” and that we must rebuild Afghanistan from the bottom up along the lines of the Marshall Plan....

THE REALIGNMENT OF IRAQ
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, October 3, 2007
It was in the spring of 2004--a month or so before I first arrived in Baghdad in a taxi to stay in a small hotel--that the Sunnis launched their disastrous insurgency. Its defeat is becoming ever more clear this autumn as new reports reach us of the patriotic stand of the Anbar tribes, the pacification and nascent prosperity of Fallujah and Ramadi, the isolation of al Qaeda, and the peace overtures of defeated Baathists....

HOW WE'VE WON THE WAR IN IRAQ
SUNDAY TIMES, September 30, 2007
With most Sunni factions now seeking a deal, the big questions in Iraq have been resolved positively. The country remains one, it has embraced the ballot box and avoided all-out civil war. What violence remains is largely local and criminal. ....

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
PROSPECT MAGAZINE, October, 2007
The question of what to do in Iraq today must be separated from the decision to topple Saddam Hussein four and a half years ago. That decision is a matter for historians. By any normal ethical standard, the coalition's current project in Iraq is a just one. Britain, America and Iraq's other allies are there as the guests of an elected government given a huge mandate by Iraqi voters under a legitimate constitution. The UN approved the coalition's role in May 2003, and the mandate has been renewed annually since then, most recently this August. Meanwhile, the other side in this war are among the worst people in global politics: Baathists, the Nazis of the middle east; Sunni fundamentalists, the chief opponents of progress in Islam's struggle with modernity; and the government of Iran. Ethically, causes do not come much clearer than this one....

AN ENEMY WE CAN WORK WITH
NEW YORK TIMES, June 3, 2007
WHEN the populist Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr emerged from 14 weeks of invisibility on May 25, it was hard not to focus on his typically passionate anti-Coalition rhetoric: “No, no to America; no, no to occupation,” he thundered from the mosque at Kufa, Iraq, a ragged town a few miles north of rich holy city of Najaf...

FLAK JACKET: AHMADINEJAD'S POLITICAL STYLE
MONOCLE, FEBRUARY 2007
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has emerged as the global leader of the sartorially non-aligned - the club of bad-boy dictators who can call their looks their own. Ahmadinejad's style is indeed distinctive, if only for its everyman anonymity...

THE END OF THE ALLIANCE
NEW YORK TIMES, FEBRUARY 2007
Yesterday's announcement by Prime Minister Tony Blair that Britain will cut its troops in Iraq by 30 percent over the next six months and perhaps fully withdraw in 2008, followed by the news that the most of the Danish contingent is also heading home, may seem like the death knell of the so-called coalition of the willing and a severe blow to American hopes. But Mr. Blair’s decision may have as much to do with strategic good sense as it does with domestic politics.

SAVING BABYLON
TRAVEL AND LEISURE, FEBRUARY 2007
I first saw Babylon, or part of it, driving back and forth past it during the United States led siege of Najaf, Iraq, in August 2004. On the way south from Baghdad, a part of the ancient city is briefly visible as a large mound between date-palm plantations. It comes soon after one passes ...

SINCE WHEN IS IRAQ NOT A COUNTRY?
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, FEBRUARY 2007
What made Iraq the way it is today? The West? Iraqis? Something inevitable in that particular intersection of geography and human nature?

 NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO REWARD IRAN'S HARDLINER'S
WORLD POLITICS WATCH DECEMBER 2006
TEHRAN, Iran -- On the way down from Tehran's main ski hill a few days ago I hitched a ride with two 22-year old university students and asked them whether they were planning to vote in the coming elections. "What elections?" they asked.

 IRAQ'S FUTURE AND THE DEFINITION OF CIVIL WAR
FINANCIAL TIMES, DECEMBER 2006
With Donald Rumsfeld's exit as US defence secretary, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's report due next month and a Democrat-controlled Congress to be sworn in, hopes are high for substantial change in the prosecution of America's project in Iraq.

WHAT IS CIVIL WAR?
PROSPECT MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2006
What is civil war? The question is often raised about the disorders in Iraq. Does the violence between Iraqi religious and political factions amount to civil war, or is it best described another way?

CALM AT THE CENTER OF THE STORM
THE NEW YORK TIMES, MAY 2006
Here in the hometown of Iraq's prime minister-designate, Nuri al-Maliki, people are understandably excited. And not just because a local boy has done well. Rather, they hope Mr. Maliki's ascension is a sign that Iraq as a whole may emulate their province's remarkable success in combating Iraq's two main security threats: Sunni Arab terrorism and ...

SYRIA: EMBASSIES ABLAZE AS MUSLIM ANGER SPREADS
THE OBSERVER, FEBRUARY 2006
The increasingly bitter row over the publication of a series of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad reached a new intensity last night as protesters set fire to the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria...

INNOVATING ON THE FRONTLINE IN IRAQ
PROSPECT MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2005
During lulls in the night fighting in Baghdad's Sadr City last year, as Muqtada al Sadr's militia turned Baghdad's biggest ghettointo the most booby-trapped war zone on earth, it used to look to me like someone was staging Macbeth in hell. With the dark air full of dust and smoke, human figures moved...

THE .IQ DEBACLE
FOREIGN POLICY, SEPTEMBER 2005
Ali Uzri, an Iraqi technology consultant, has been waiting for his country to get on the information superhighway for a long time. “Near my house in Baghdad, there’s an Internet cafe called Dreamnet.iq,” says Uzri...

ISLAM, FEDERALISM AND OIL
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, AUGUST 2005
In early June last year, I sat with four members of the Iraqi Kurdish military high command in Baghdad, discussing their disappointment thatthe U.N. resolution endorsing the new American-led dispensation in Iraq had not mentioned Iraq's current constitution, the Transitional Administrative Law...

IRAQ'S REBEL DEMOCRATS
PROSPECT MAGAZINE, JUNE 2005
Outside Sadr City's Mohsin mosque on a morning in January, with Friday prayers yet to begin, the rows of mats ran hundreds deep. There were about 25,000 men there in all, wearing robes, suits, tracksuits or dark leather jackets...

WITH THE BAND OF BROTHERS IN RAMADI
RADAR MAGAZINE, MAY 2005
He would rather be drunk. He rarely knows the real names of the women with whom he consorts. He frequently complains. He would rather be high. Ask him what he'd be doing if he hadn't taken his current job and...

REBIRTH OF A NATION
TRAVEL AND LEISURE, APRIL 2005
I have a photograph from Iraqi Kurdistan that I sometimes hope might appear in my memoirs above the caption, "Birth of the Iraqi tourist industry." It shows two men, Kanan Mufti and Ken Herwehe, looking over the plain of Gaugamela, where, 2,336 years ago...

CHECKPOINT IRAQ: A TACTIC THAT WORKS
WASHINGTON POST, MARCH 2005
ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq: As an unembedded freelance journalist in Iraq, I have safely driven through scores of American roadblocks all over this country. I have also spent many hours with American troops as they set up and operate these checkpoints...

IRAQ'S BAD PRESS
PROSPECT MAGAZINE, MARCH 2005
The prettiest Iraqi woman I know told me recently that election day here was "orgasmic." It certainly started with a bang for me, as a mortar shell landed at about 7:30 am not far from where I was living in Sadr City. As I walked the streets, the voting...

MOTHER OF ALL ELECTIONS
PROSPECT MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY 2005
The latest recording to emerge from Osama bin Laden's cave calls for a boycott of this month's election in Iraq. The Sunni Arab, Saudi-born zillionaire tells 25m impoverished Iraqis-mainly Shias or Kurds-that all who vote will...

LOOKING FOR PURPLE FINGERS IN SADR CITY
NEW YORK TIMES, JANUARY 2005
BAGHDAD, Iraq - DEMOCRACY won in a landslide yesterday here in Sadr City, the epicenter of Iraqi politics. Iraq's Shiites outnumber its Sunni Arabs by five to one, and when they rise up, this Baghdad slum is where they do it...

ALEXANDER, THE FIRST NEO-CON
FINANCIAL TIMES MAGAZINE, JANUARY 2005
Alexander the Great had many motives. Vainglory, lust for power, competition with his dead father, dread of his mother, eventual madness or obsession: all of these have a place in the record. There was one motivation, however...

IRAQ'S ELECTIONS CANNOT BE DELAYED
FINANCIAL TIMES, DECEMBER 2004
Anybody who wants to postpone Iraq's elections should have been in Najaf, the Shia Muslim stronghold, in August and September. The battle there lasted three times as long as the recent fight in Fallujah and ended in stalemate. Even with Najaf...

THE WOMAN CHARGED WITH REBUILDING IRAQ
TELEGRAPH MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 2004
The day I arrived in Baghdad to interview Nesreen Berwari, Iraq's 38-year-old first lady and minister for municipalities and public works, she had to go into hiding because an Islamist guerrilla group was trying to kill her. They had just ambushed... (.pdf, 930KB)

THE COMING OF SHIA IRAQ
PROSPECT MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 2004
After 500 years of Sunni rule, Iraq's election will hand power to the Shia majority. This terrifies Sunnis, and gives Shia factions a common goal is masterminded by none other than Ahmed Chalabi...

IRAQ'S NEW POWER COUPLE
NEW YORK TIMES, OCTOBER 2004
Moktada al-Sadr's headquarters in Najaf is in a tiny alley next to the city's famous shrine of the Imam Ali. As the fighting between American forces and his Mahdi Army wound down in August, I went there with two of his men, who showed me...

NO WILL, NO WAY
FINANCIAL TIMES MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2004
In April 2003, the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad's Ferdowsi Square led news broadcasts around the world. Iraqis thronged their capital's main square as the bronze monster was yanked from its feet. After 30 years of brutality and neglect...

BEYOND THE BATTLE, THE QUIET STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ'S FUTURE
FINANCIAL TIMES, AUGUST 2004
While Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraq's 30-year-old Shia firebrand, leads his insurrection from the holy city of Najaf, Ali al-Sistani - the spiritual leader of Iraq's 15m Shia Muslims - sits silently in London, recovering from minor heart surgery. We are...

THE KURDS' WAY
THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE, AUGUST 2004
IRBIL, IRAQ - Watching the recent negotiations over the new UN resolution for Iraq was a little like watching Molière. There was something obliging and familiar in France's posturing about the chain-of-command verbiage and...

WILL THE KURDS GO HOME?
NEW YORK TIMES, JUNE 2004
While the United Nations Security Council wrangled over military chains of command in Iraq and the violence in Arab cities like Karbala and Falluja grabbed the headlines, a story far more important to the country's future has been largely ignored...