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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 ...


Patrick Cockburn: A report from Baghdad, 18 March 2004

... Six months ago, as the number of guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings increased, an Iraqi friend in business in Baghdad used to comfort himself by saying: ‘The Americans cannot afford to fail in Iraq.’ But as the country gets closer to civil war his confidence has ebbed away. Nearly two hundred Shiites were killed by suicide bombers in and around the holy shrines in Karbala and Khadamiyah in Baghdad on 2 March ...


Patrick Cockburn: Iraq after the handover, 22 July 2004

... It is tempting to see the so-called handover of power from the US to the Iraqi interim government on 28 June as a fake. The few who attended the ceremony at which sovereignty was legally transferred had had to pass through four American checkpoints. Iyad Allawi, the new prime minister, worked for years for MI6 and the CIA and is kept in power by 138,000 US troops ...

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


Patrick Cockburn: In Iraq, 6 November 2003

... The centre of the book trade in Baghdad is al-Mutanabi Street, which runs between the Tigris and Rashid Street, now shabby and decayed but once the city’s commercial heart. The bookshops are small, and open all the time; on Friday there’s a market, when vendors lay out their books in Arabic and English on mats on the dusty and broken surface of the road ...


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 ...


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 ...

Nowhere to Hide

Patrick Cockburn: A report from Iraq, 22 February 2007

... Baghdad is now effectively a dozen different cities; they are all at war. On walls there are slogans in black paint saying ‘Death to Spies’. A Shia caught in a Sunni district will be killed and vice versa. Each side has its checkpoints: armed men in civilian clothes demand identity cards from drivers, and wave to one side those they suspect of being of the opposite religion; these people are then interrogated, tortured and killed ...

Who Is Whose Enemy?

Patrick Cockburn: Sunni v. Shia v. the US v. al-Qaida, 6 March 2008

... In Baghdad the Iraqi government is eager to give the impression that peace is returning. ‘Not a single sectarian murder or displacement was reported in over a month,’ claimed Brigadier Qasim Ata, the spokesman for the city’s security plan. In the US, the surge – the dispatch of 30,000 more American troops in the first half of 2007 – is portrayed as having turned the tide ...

The War in Five Sieges

Patrick Cockburn, 19 July 2018

... The road​ to Raqqa, once the de facto Syrian capital of Islamic State, looks surprisingly pastoral. As we approached the city across the plain north of the Euphrates we had to stop the car several times: the road was barred by flocks of sheep. It seemed an encouraging sign of returning normality. But local people explained that shepherds were bringing their flocks to graze here for less happy reasons ...

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 ...

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 ...

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