December 31, 2006 |
I WAS SITTING with President Jalal Talabani of Iraq earlier this month when Iraqi television was broadcasting the trial of Saddam Hussein. The hearings had shifted into their second phase, concerning the mass murder of Iraq's Kurdish minority in the 1980s, and video footage of gassing and shooting had been played in court, to ram home the anguished statements of numberless survivors. There was something both satisfying and unsettling about the juxtaposition.
December 29, 2005 |
The myth of a unified Iraqi identity may have finally been laid to rest this month. More clearly than any other measurement since the U.S.-led 2003 invasion, preliminary results from the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections show Iraq as three lands with three distinct identities, divided by faith, goals, region, history and symbols. Iraqis of all stripes say they are the descendants of Mesopotamia, the glorious great-grandchildren of the cradle of civilization.
October 20, 2005 |
MODERNISTS LIKE to believe that we have entered an entirely new era of armed conflict. To some military thinkers, it's the primordial nature of the terrorists' beheadings, suicide bombings and improvised explosive devices that has marked a completely new form of "asymmetrical warfare" in which the two sides are terribly mismatched. Others have a different argument.
October 31, 1999 |
During its heyday two millenniums ago, the Roman emperor Julian II was so entranced by the architecture of the Persian capital of Ctesiphon that he ordered his legions to leave it alone. Two decades ago, President Saddam Hussein added his own grandiose touches to the ruins of Ctesiphon--which is pronounced TES-eh-fahn--seeking to rekindle enthusiasm for the site about 30 miles south of Baghdad. Today, like everything else in Iraq, ancient Ctesiphon and the monuments Hussein built are crumbling.
October 4, 1992 |
An idled brick factory and nylon sheets flapping in the wind above a Mesopotamian ruin are symbols of the collapse of Iraq's efforts to save its ancient cultural heritage. Hampered by a lack of cash and crippled by Gulf War sanctions, Iraqi scholars and conservation experts say they are losing the battle to save what is left of the Mesopotamian civilization of 6,000 years ago.
May 20, 1991 |
The evidence of two crushing wars and a bitter rebellion within 11 years is still vivid in this age-old port on the Shatt al Arab waterway. The flame-blackened facade of the Basra Sheraton Hotel bears testimony to the terrible pounding the city has taken, over the decade perhaps the heaviest in the country. During Iraq's 1980-88 war with Iran, shellfire battered the Sheraton. Rebuilt, the hotel was burned out again two months ago in the Shiite Muslim insurgency against Baghdad.