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Diary

Patrick Cockburn: Muqtada al-Sadr, 24 April 2008

... A new struggle is beginning in Iraq. The most important battles likely to be waged this year will be within the Shia community. They pit the US-backed Iraqi government against the supporters of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who represents the impoverished Shia masses. ‘The Shia are the majority in Iraq and the Sadrists are a majority of this majority,’ a former Shia minister told me ...

Iran v. America

Patrick Cockburn: A New Deal for Iraq, 19 June 2008

... The American occupation of Iraq is going much the same way as British rule after the First World War, when an easy military victory led to over-confidence and a conviction that what Iraqis did was of no importance. A rebellion in 1920 provoked the occupiers into establishing an Iraqi national government with limited powers. Under the Anglo-Iraqi treaty of 1930, Iraq achieved nominal independence and joined the League of Nations but Britain retained two large bases and remained the predominant power ...

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 ...

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 ...

In Kent

Patrick Cockburn, 18 March 2021

... In October​  last year the number of people infected with Covid-19 began to rise in the coastal towns of north-east Kent. The area had escaped the full impact of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, with many residents saying that they didn’t know anyone who had caught the virus. After the end of the lockdown on 4 July, there was a sense that the crisis was over and there was little alarm when the number of infections started to climb ...

Diary

Patrick Cockburn: The 1956 Polio Epidemic, 7 May 2020

... in County Cork. It was an isolated location: isolated enough for my parents, Claud and Patricia Cockburn, to imagine that we would be safe from the virus that had started circulating in Cork city three months earlier. But our isolation wasn’t complete since my father was travelling to and fro between Cork and London by boat and train. It was a hot summer ...

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: 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 ...

Battle for Baghdad

Patrick Cockburn, 17 July 2014

... In early June​ , Abbas Saddam, a private soldier from a Shia district in Baghdad serving in the 11th Division of the Iraqi army, was transferred from Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province in western Iraq, to Mosul in the north. The fighting started not long after he got there. But on the morning of 10 June the commanding officer told his men to stop shooting, hand over their rifles to the insurgents, take off their uniforms and get out of the city ...

Whose side is Turkey on?

Patrick Cockburn: The Battle for Kobani, 6 November 2014

... Over the summer​ Isis – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – defeated the Iraqi army, the Syrian army, the Syrian rebels and the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga; it established a state stretching from Baghdad to Aleppo and from Syria’s northern border to the deserts of Iraq in the south. Ethnic and religious groups of which the world had barely heard – including the Yazidis of Sinjar and the Chaldean Christians of Mosul – became victims of Isis cruelty and sectarian bigotry ...

Isis consolidates

Patrick Cockburn, 21 August 2014

... As​ the attention of the world focused on Ukraine and Gaza, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) captured a third of Syria in addition to the quarter of Iraq it had seized in June. The frontiers of the new Caliphate declared by Isis on 29 June are expanding by the day and now cover an area larger than Great Britain and inhabited by at least six million people, a population larger than that of Denmark, Finland or Ireland ...

Is it the end of Sykes-Picot?

Patrick Cockburn: The Syrian War Spills Over, 6 June 2013

... For the first two years of the Syrian civil war foreign leaders regularly predicted that Bashar al-Assad’s government would fall any day. In November 2011, King Abdullah of Jordan said that the chances of Assad’s surviving were so slim he ought to step down. In December last year, Anders Rasmussen, the Nato secretary general, said: ‘I think the regime in Damascus is approaching collapse ...

Diary

Patrick Cockburn: Four Wars, 10 October 2013

... The four wars fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria over the past 12 years have all involved overt or covert foreign intervention in deeply divided countries. In each case the involvement of the West exacerbated existing differences and pushed hostile parties towards civil war. In each country, all or part of the opposition have been hard-core jihadi fighters ...

Hazards of Revolution

Patrick Cockburn, 9 January 2014

... Soon after the Libyan capital fell to the rebels in August 2011 I got to know a 32-year-old man called Ahmed Abdullah al-Ghadamsi. We met when he tried to evict me from my hotel room, which he said was needed for members of the National Transitional Council, in effect the provisional government of Libya. I wasn’t happy about being moved because the hotel, the Radisson Blu on Tripoli’s seafront, was full of journalists and there was nowhere else to stay ...

Thriving on Chaos

Patrick Cockburn: After al-Baghdadi, 21 November 2019

... America’s​ first act in the war on Iraq was an attempt to kill Saddam Hussein. In the early hours of the morning of 20 March 2003, forty cruise missiles were launched and bunker-buster bombs dropped on a compound on the outskirts of Baghdad where US intelligence wrongly believed him to be staying. Three years later a US airstrike succeeded in killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of al-Qaida in Iraq, the organisation that would become Islamic State ...

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