As I wri t e t h i s l e t t er, Ir aq’s f or t unes hang i n a de l i c a t e , dangerous balance.
Politicians horse-trade, bombs continue to kill innocents and Iraqis get on with the art of survival.
‘Iraq is f inished,’ a middle-aged man told me on my trip to the beleaguered nation in March. And indeed at times it felt like that: a broken, divided and ultimately colonized place.
But, as always, it was the young people who inspired hope. A young actor, who had survived sanctions, Saddam and post-invasion violence, and who was rehearsing for a play about a beloved and f iercely nationalist poet, told me: ‘I love my country.’ And his statement was heartfelt.
I often wonder about the children in this photo, taken in 1998 when I was reporting on the US bombing campaign called Desert Fox. Even the day after bombing, in the midst of a crippling embargo, they displayed so much joy and resilience. What has become of them now? And what will the future hold for their children?
This issue offers only a handful of stories from a people who have suffered through decades of war, sanctions and occupation. But I hope it will give you a sense of the Iraqi spirit – al roh al iraqiya – that sustains them and has so touched me.
And our special feature by Rwandan genocide survivor Jean Baptiste Kayigamba brings home both the damage done to victims of war and sectarian violence, and the urgent need to bring those accountable to justice.
Hadani Ditmars for the New Internationalist Co-operative
Regular Features 2
In defence of f lying; why the West must consume less; and missing the point in Israel/Palestine. 3
Letter from Cairo The city’s religious rites can be inspiring but also deafening, discovers Maria Golia. 25
Iraq in pieces main FEATURE Iraq seven years later – the legacy of invasion 4
The waiting room
Hadani Ditmars returns to a country where ongoing conf lict underscores a humanitarian disaster. 7
An iconic poem by Iraqi exile Saadi Youssef. 8
The art of survival
In a t-walled Baghdad, the play’s the thing. 11
Hail Mary, full of grace
Beleaguered Christians f lee postsecular Iraq.
How much longer can Iraqis hold out for decent healthcare? 14
Post-invasion Iraq – the facts 16
‘Look sad like an Iraqi woman’
Iraqi women struggle to survive amidst thuggism and theocracy. 18
The power and the glory
Politicians promise a better future, while Iraqis remember a safer past. 20
How not to solve India’s housing problems; an anti-whaling activist becomes a ‘prisoner of war’; and one man’s stand against the oil and gas industry. 27
Just what sort of a beast is a human? ask Gort and Klaatu in Marc Roberts’ cartoon. 28
Big Bad World
Today’s Clark Kent: US superpowers, in Polyp’s cartoon.
PLUS: NI Prize Crossword 29
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera under the spotlight. 30
A black and white f ilm that isn’t, courtesy of director Lu Chuan; Lierre Keith critiques vegetarianism in her new book; and Dirtmusic pay homage to Mali. 32
Diego Martinez’s camera captures the beauty and intensity of a Brazilian festival. 33
Durga Sob, founder of the Feminist Dalit Organization, is f ighting discrimination in Nepal. 34
Essay: Empire of the senses
Murderers, you are welcome! Europe has become a safe haven for mass killers. Jean Baptiste Kayigamba wonders whether new legislation will make a difference.
i m ag es
Front cover: Hadani Ditmars. All photos Hadani Ditmars unless otherwise credited. Magazine design: Ian Nixon. All monetary values are expressed in US dollars unless otherwise noted.SPECIALFeature g e t t y
P e t e rs o n
Despite Egypt’s social constraints, the sensual will not be denied, argues Yahia Lababidi. 36
Country profile: São Tomé e Príncipe
S c o t t