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Lust for Leaks

Neal Ascherson: The Cockburns of Cork

1 September 2005
The Broken Boy 
by Patrick Cockburn.
Cape, 312 pp., £15.99, June 2005, 0 224 07108 4
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... of those who caught it, the doctors knew of none that would make much difference. (In this book, Patrick Cockburn concludes that Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year still offers the soundest advice for those caught in epidemics: run away.) But although this was not Cork’s first epidemic, it was the most vicious. The death toll seems to have ...
13 September 2012
... My grandfather, Henry Cockburn, resigned prematurely from the Foreign Office at the age of 49, shortly before the First World War. He was the senior British diplomat in Seoul and resigned, my father told me, because he objected to British support for Japan’s occupation of Korea. It was a reckless and somewhat mysterious decision: he was about to achieve ambassadorial rank, had no private means and no other job to go to ...

After Zarqawi

Patrick Cockburn: Another spurious turning point in Iraq

6 July 2006
... The history of the American and British intervention in Iraq has been littered with spurious turning points over the last three years. The latest is the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the best publicised of the insurgent leaders, by US laser-guided bombs on 7 June in a house in Diyala province, north-east of Baghdad. The career of Zarqawi in Iraq was very strange ...

If only they would leave

Patrick Cockburn: Report from Northern Iraq

18 December 2014
... The​ Islamic State is becoming even more repressive and violent as it comes under increased military pressure from its many enemies. It shows no mercy to those who resist its rule – such as the Albu Nimr tribe in western Iraq, 581 members of which Isis recently executed. This isn’t random slaughter: Isis has a well-organised security service that strikes pre-emptively at potential critics and opponents ...

Diary

Patrick Cockburn: Civil War in Baghdad

20 October 2005
... The referendum on the constitution is dividing Iraqis. Sunni Arabs fear it will destroy the country by breaking it up into cantons. The Shias and Kurds hope it will give birth to a new Iraq in which they will hold power. The US has put intense pressure on negotiators to reach an agreement because it is desperate to prove to ever more sceptical American voters that Iraq is fast progressing towards democracy ...

Who rules in Baghdad?

Patrick Cockburn: Power Struggles in Iraq

14 August 2008
... Barack Obama was lucky in the timing of his visit to Iraq. He arrived just after the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, had rejected a new Status of Forces Agreement which would have preserved indefinitely the US right to conduct military operations inside the country. The Iraqi government was vague about when it wanted the final withdrawal of US troops, but its spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh declared that they should be gone by 2010; this fitted Obama’s promise to withdraw ‘one to two’ combat brigades a month for 16 months ...

America Concedes

Patrick Cockburn

18 December 2008
... On 27 November the Iraqi parliament voted by a large majority in favour of a security agreement with the US under which its 150,000 troops will withdraw from Iraqi cities, towns and villages by 30 June next year and from all of Iraq by 31 December 2011. The Iraqi government will take over military responsibility for the Green Zone in Baghdad, the heart of American power in Iraq, in a few weeks’ time ...

How Not to Invade

Patrick Cockburn: Lebanon

5 August 2010
Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East 
by David Hirst.
Faber, 480 pp., £20, March 2010, 978 0 571 23741 8
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The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle 
by Michael Young.
Simon and Schuster, 295 pp., £17.99, July 2010, 978 1 4165 9862 6
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... Why has Lebanon been the graveyard of so many invaders? In the 1960s Israelis used to say that one of their military bands would be enough to conquer the country; sometimes, before Israel and Egypt agreed a peace in 1979, they added: ‘I don’t know which will be the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, but I do know the name of the second ...

Diary

Patrick Cockburn: A report from Baghdad

24 July 2003
... There used to be a mosaic of President George Bush on the floor at the entrance to the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad. It was placed there soon after the first Gulf War in 1991 and was a good likeness, though the artist gave Bush unnaturally jagged teeth and a slightly sinister grimace. The idea was that nobody would be able to get into the hotel, where most foreign visitors to Iraq stayed in the 1990s, without stepping on Bush’s face ...

Blundering into War

Patrick Cockburn: What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

23 January 2020
... At the time of his assassination, General Qasem Soleimani’s strat­egy in Iraq and other countries in the Middle East with large Shia populations had become counterproductive. He is now guaranteed the status of a great Iranian warrior and a Shia martyr, in spite of the mistakes he made in the last years of his life. The violent repression, orchestrated by Soleimani, of small-scale protests in Iraq last October provoked something close to a mass uprising by the Shia community ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Embedded in Iraq

29 November 2007
... to judge from the views of journalists who’ve worked there since the invasion. Our own man Patrick Cockburn believes it’s a ‘great mistake to go with American units and report on any Iraqi city’ because local people can’t talk frankly in front of the military. But Cockburn is clearly outnumbered by ...

Diary

Patrick Cockburn: The End of Iraq

6 April 2006
... Iraq is splitting into three different parts. Everywhere there are fault lines opening up between Sunni, Shia and Kurd. In the days immediately following the attack on the Shia shrine in Samarra on 22 February, some 1300 bodies, mostly Sunni, were found in and around Baghdad. The Shia-controlled Interior Ministry, whose police commandos operate as death squads, asked the Health Ministry to release lower figures ...

Looking for Someone to Kill

Patrick Cockburn: In Baghdad

4 August 2005
... Suicide bombs blow up with the regularity of an artillery barrage in Baghdad. I no longer always go up onto the roof of the al-Hamra Hotel, where I am living, to see the black smoke rising and to try to work out where the bomb went off. On a single day recently 12 suicide bombs exploded in the city, killing at least 30 people. The streets are unusually empty ...

Diary

Patrick Cockburn: The Iraqi elections

17 February 2005
... On the day of the election, 30 January, the streets of Baghdad were clear of traffic. Families, mainly Shias, drifted down the main road in the Jadriyah district to the polling stations near the al-Hamra Hotel, where I live. The thump-thump of mortars in the distance did not affect the festive mood. The odd bicycle rattled past. For the first time in more than a year there was no danger of suicide car bombs ...

Diary

Patrick Cockburn: A report from a divided Iraq

19 May 2005
... The three months it took to cobble together a government in Iraq after January’s election shows the depth of the divisions between the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish communities. In the north of the country the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds are close to civil war. Their savage skirmishes, around the oil city of Kirkuk and in the streets of Mosul, are generally unreported in Baghdad ...

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