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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 ...

Helping Bush Win Re-Election

Patrick Cockburn: Iraq’s disintegration, 7 October 2004

... Signs of disintegration are everywhere in Iraq. Oily columns of black smoke billow up from the airport road where US patrols are regularly hit by suicide bombers or roadside bombs between Baghdad and Camp Victory, the gigantic US headquarters on the edge of the airport. In a vain attempt to deny cover to resistance fighters, American soldiers have chopped down the palm trees and bushes beside the highway, leaving only the stumps behind ...

Diary

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 ...

Diary

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 ...

Diary

Patrick Cockburn: The uprisings in Iraq, 20 May 2004

... The publication of pictures showing what may happen to Iraqi prisoners at the hands of their captors allowed the outside world to see what Iraqis had known for some time: the occupation is very brutal. In Baghdad, stories had been circulating for months about systematic torture in the prisons. In the US the impact of the photographs was all the greater thanks to the administration’s previous success in controlling news from Iraq ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Diary

Patrick Cockburn: In Syria, 20 October 2016

... Across Syria​ towns and districts are under siege. In the north, the Syrian army and its Shia allies from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, assisted by Russian air power, have surrounded the opposition enclave of East Aleppo, where a quarter of a million civilians are under attack. If East Aleppo falls, one of the last big urban centres held by the opposition will have been eliminated ...

Underground in Raqqa

Patrick Cockburn, 19 October 2017

... Shortly​ before the siege of Raqqa began in June, Islamic State officials arrested Hammad al-Sajer for skipping afternoon prayers. Hammad, who is 29, made a living from his motorbike: he carried people and packages, charging less than the local taxis. IS had arrested him a number of times before – mostly for smoking cigarettes, which were banned under IS rule – but he had always been released after paying a fine or being lashed ...

At the North Gate

Patrick Cockburn: Exorcising Iraq, 11 October 2018

... Apart​ from witches, who come here to bury spells, few people visit the British North Gate cemetery in Baghdad. The witches believe that words written on paper and placed in the ground between the graves of non-Muslims, particularly old graves, have enhanced magical powers. North Gate, in the Waziriyah district, is a large quadrilateral of burned grass fringed by palm trees ...

Julian Assange in Limbo

Patrick Cockburn, 18 June 2020

... Julian Assange​ was running WikiLeaks in 2010 when it released a vast hoard of US government documents revealing details of American political, military and diplomatic operations. With extracts published by the New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El País, the archive provided deeper insight into the international workings of the US state than anything seen since Daniel Ellsberg gave the Pentagon Papers to the media in 1971 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Somalia Syndrome

Patrick Cockburn, 2 June 2016

... In​ 1996 I visited Penjwin, an impoverished village in Iraqi Kurdistan close to the Iranian border, where people were trying to make a little money through what must be one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. They would walk through the extensive minefields around the village – laid during the Iran-Iraq War – in search of a particularly lethal Italian-made anti-personnel mine called the Valmara ...

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