Roger Hardy

Roger Hardy is a freelance journalist who has specialised for many years in the Middle East.

I was in Saudi Arabia when American and British planes pounded Iraq for four successive nights in December 1998. Or rather, I was there for three of the four nights – the Saudis had thoughtfully timed my visa to expire at the onset of Ramadan. Those nights and days in the heat of Jeddah were tense and uncomfortable, but revealing. Saudis, supposedly among America’s best friends in the Middle East, were furious at what they saw as the gesture politics of Bill Clinton and his adjutant Tony Blair. Most Saudis despise Saddam Hussein, but this does not automatically translate – as many in Washington seem to believe – into an uncritical pro-Americanism.’

Death to America Day

Roger Hardy, 15 September 1988

There was rage and defiance, as well as humiliation, in the remarkable speech broadcast in Ayatollah Khomeini’s name on 20 July. In drinking the poisoned chalice of a truce with Iraq, he hurled execration at his enemies like some latterday Lear. Islam would he avenged on America, Israel and the house of Saud. The survival of the Islamic revolution required an unpalatable peace with the enemy next door, but there could be no let-up in Islam’s war against those ‘world-devourers’ – Zionism, capitalism and communism. Earlier in the month, on 3 July, when the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian civil airliner over the Gulf, and America and the Islamic Republic of Iran seemed on the verge of open war, the victims were mourned in what was officially declared ‘Death to America Day’.



2 February 1989

Jeremy Harding’s West Bank Diary (LRB, 2 February) was so good it seems churlish to point out that the poem he quoted is not by Mahmoud Darwish but by another distinguished Palestinian poet, Samih al-Qasim. It’s short enough to quote in full (in Abdullah al-Udhari’s translation):My city collapsedThe clock was still on the wallOur neighbourhood collapsedThe clock was still on the wallThe street...

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