November 27, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The first issue of Critical Muslim, a quarterly magazine in book form co-edited by Ziauddin Sardar and me, will be in the shops in January. More on that at a later date. Today I’m finishing off a long essay on Syria, Iraq and sectarian hatred for Critical Muslim’s third issue. Amongst the books I review in the essay are Fanar Haddad’s indispensable “Sectarianism in Iraq” and Nir Rosen’s “Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World,” which is also indispensable, in a different way. As a taster, here’s the section on “Aftermath.”
For a mix of contextual analysis and gripping reportage, the reader will find no better book than Nir Rosen’s magisterial “Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s wars in the Muslim World”.
Most Western correspondents were flown into Iraq unable to speak Arabic, largely ignorant of the context, to pass their time attending coalition press briefings or embedded with the US military. Their reports were heavy with simplistic labels (‘the Sunni triangle’, for instance) and ignored non-sectarian nationalism and class issues. Rosen’s writing on Iraq is the polar opposite of such parachute journalism. He speaks Arabic for a start, and blends in physically as a result of the “melanin advantage” bequeathed by his Iranian father. More to the point, he is courageous and energetic, going where few outsiders would dare, whatever their skin tone. He’s a reporter of the best kind, capable of locating pattern behind the copious detail. So he doesn’t merely report the mosque sermons he attended, or his encounters with militiamen and their victims, but accurately interprets and reads between the lines. His descriptions of time, place and personality are vivid, with not an ounce of orientalism added. His lack of sentimentality combined with his obvious sympathy for the people of the region make him the perfect candidate to voyage into the sectarian heart of darkness.
November 22, 2011 § 2 Comments
The Syrian regime’s blanket ban on journalist access has some carefully selected exceptions. Robert Fisk, for instance, who seems to be compensating for the naive anti-Syrian and pro-March 14th line in his reporting of Lebanon over the last years by treating the statements of Syrian regime figures – professional liar Boutheina Shaaban is one – with great naivety. At least he didn’t apply the ‘glorious’ epithet to her which he used to describe Walid Jumblatt’s wife. Fisk’s book on Lebanon “Pity the Nation” is a classic, his account of the massacres at Sabra and Shatila remain fresh in the mind (the blood-footed flies clambering over his notebook), and for many years he was one of the very few English-language journalists with some real knowledge of the Middle East. Sadly, his knowledge doesn’t extend to a working familiarity with Arabic. In several recent articles he has informed us that that the slogan of the Ba‘ath Party – umma arabiya wahda zat risala khalida – means ‘the mother of the Arab nation.’ In fact it means ‘one Arab nation with an eternal message’. Fisk is confusing ‘um’ – mother – with ‘umma’ – nation. It’s a rather disastrous mistake. Someone ought to tell him about it.
May 19, 2011 § 3 Comments
Relying on a translator means you can only talk to one person at a time and you miss all the background noise. It means you have to depend on somebody from a certain social class, or sect, or political position, to filter and mediate the country for you. Maybe they are Sunni and have limited contacts outside their community. Maybe they are a Christian from east Beirut and know little about the Shia of south Lebanon or the Sunnis of the north. Maybe they’re urban and disdainful of those who are rural. In Iraq, maybe they are a middle class Shia from Baghdad or a former doctor or engineer who looks down upon the poor urban class who make up the Sadrists. And so in May 2003, when I was the first American journalist to interview Muqtada Sadr, my bureau chief at Time magazine was angry at me for wasting my time and sending it on to the editors in New York without asking him, because Muqtada was unimportant, lacking credentials. But in Iraq, social movements, street movements, militias, those with power on the ground, have been much more important than those in the establishment or politicians in the green zone, and it is events in the red zone which have shaped things.
February 16, 2011 § 1 Comment
Nir Rosen is the finest frontline reporter the US has produced in decades. He has just resigned from his position at the New York University after he came under fire from Israel lobby attack-dog Jeffrey Goldberg for making light of the recent attacks on CBS propagandist Lara Logan (comments for which he has since apologized). Following is a talk he gave recently at LSE about his new book Aftermath. (Also, don’t miss Ali Gharib’s excellent profile on Rosen.)
January 12, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Investigative journalist Nir Rosen discusses his recently released Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World on RT’s The Big Picture.
January 8, 2011 § Leave a Comment
New America Foundation — On January 5, 2011, author Nir Rosen spoke at the New America Foundation about his new book, Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World, which covers his journey from the battlefields of Iraq, to the refugee camps of Lebanon, to the encampments of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. His comments largely focused on the Iraq war, especially regarding an in-depth analysis of the Iraqi civil war going back to 2003. He spoke in year-by-year detail about the civil war between Sunni and Shia militias, the Iraqi police and army and the American military caught in the middle.
January 7, 2011 § 1 Comment
Press TV’s Autograph is a very good show, and in the last program they interviewed Nir Rosen, one of the best war reporters, about his time in Afghanistan.
December 17, 2010 § 1 Comment
Nir Rosen, is a fellow at NYU’s Center on Law and Security, and one of the best war reporters in the world. Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World is his account of the impact of US wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. In this interview he speaks to Glenn Greenwald of Salon about his book.
Glenn Greenwald: My guest today on Salon Radio is Nir Rosen who I think is unquestionably one of the best war journalists and commentators in the country probably in the world. He is a freelance writer photographer, film-maker, and he is currently a scholar associated with the New York University Center on Law and Security, and he has just written a book that I finished reading actually today entitled Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World. It’s really an amazing book. It describes the impact of multiple American wars on families and people in various countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and other countries where Nir has spent a great amount of time. I’m really excited to talk about this book. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today.
Nir Rosen: Thanks for reading the book.
November 25, 2010 § Leave a Comment
One of the world’s best frontline reporters, Nir Rosen recently returned from a six week trip to seven of Iraq’s provinces. He discussed post civil war Iraq and also his experiences reporting on Sunni-Shiite strife in Lebanon and on the situation in Afghanistan at The University of Texas at Austin on November 17, 2010.
April 11, 2009 § Leave a Comment
The excellent Nir Rosen reports from Iraq. Where the complicit media finds an increasingly stable democracy, Rosen sees more clearly, and finds a torture state in which sect and political allegiance count for more than mere citizenship.
Six years to the day since the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad, the war that has dominated American politics for half a decade and upturned an entire regional order is being not-so-gently forced from centre stage. Iraq specialists at the National Security Council in Washington have hung signs on their office doors declaring that theirs is now “the good war”; the Obama administration is eager to declare victory in Iraq and shift its attention to the long-neglected conflict in Afghanistan.