November 17, 2006

 

Iraqcrisis digest, Vol 1 #742 - 2 msgs

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Today's Topics:

1. Iraq Archaeology Appeal / Donny George moving
to Stony Brook (cejo@uchicago.edu)

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Dorothy King, blogging from the Archaeology in Conflict Conference
(http://www.ucl.ac.uk/caa/programme/index.htm) in London, passes on an
appeal from Abbas Al-
Hussainy, the new Director-General of the State Board of Antiquities
and Heritage
(http://phdiva.blogspot.com/2006/11/iraq-archaeology-appeal.html.

She also reports that Donny George is moving to Stony Brook
(http://phdiva.blogspot.com/2006/11/donny-george-moving-to-stony-brook.html)

-Chuck Jones-

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Anatomy of a Civil War

This is a must read: a long, in-depth article by Nir Rosen on how the civil war came about in Iraq. Yes, it is a civil war already, forget the silliness about whether the country is on the brink or not. One has to wear ideological blinders not to see it for what it is. The sickening, grisly carnage, with its tortured, mutilated corpses being dumped by morning on the streets has become a morbid routine. Gunfire is everywhere. Sectarian identities, not of real importance before, have become paramount. Secular, middle-class professionals have fled abroad, barricade themselves in their homes or reluctantly pretend to be something they're not or at least didn't use to be: partisans, "true believers." Rosen surmises that Iraq as a nation state is doomed, no matter what the US does now. He thinks the Shi'ite Arabs will push the Sunni Arabs out of Baghdad altogether and attempt to do the same for Anbar province. A regional war will eventually ensue. Meanwhile, politicians and their ilk in Washington, DC keep on talking about options and plans... but even a new Democratic majority in Congress won't be able to change the facts on the ground in Iraq. I do want to believe that Rosen is wrong, too pessimistic. However, I cannot convincingly disprove his analysis. Needless to say, ancient archaeological sites, the remnants of civilizations past that are today already basically available for the taking in a free-for-all, would be decimated utterly beyond belief should the ultimate cataclysm occur. But as the 100,000s of Iraqi dead due to the War would cross into a million and more, any concern for antiquities by us conceited Westerners verily would be nothing but obscene.

Reference
• N. Rosen, "Anatomy of a Civil War. Iraq’s descent into chaos," in Boston Review, 31, 6 (November-December 2006)

 

SBAH appeal at "Archaeology in Conflict" Conference

At the Archaeology in Conflict Conference in London last week, Dr. Abbas Al-Hussainy, the new Chairman of the SBAH, launched an appeal "to archaeologists and universities who had in the past excavated in Iraq, or who wished to continue working in Iraq, to get in touch. The archaeological records for many sites, such as Babylon, were lost, and so they need help to reconstruct old excavations and to find out what people plan for future excavations." (King).

Reference
• D. King, "Iraq Archaeology Appeal," in PhDiva (UK), online, November 16, 2006

November 16, 2006

 

Donny George moving to Stony Brook

From Dr. Dorothy King's PhDiva blog: "Donny George gave a lecture at the British Museum this evening. He was introduced by Neil MacGregor, and the news is that he will be moving from Damascus to Stony Brook University, New York. Elizabeth Stone, who has done a great deal of work on Iraqi archaeology, teaches there, and will help him continue his work." Dr. Stone led the USAID Iraq-HEAD project (Higher Education and Development for Archaeology and Environmental Health Research) that ran from 2003 to 2004 but whose funding was not renewed. Lately, she has been working on using satellite imagery to track looting of archaeological sites in Iraq. Her colleague, husband and long-time collaborator, Dr. Paul Zimansky, has also joined her at Stony Brook, leaving his position at Boston University. I'd love to hear more about all the plans!

Reference
• D. King, "Donny George Moving to Stony Brook," in PhDiva (UK), online, November 16, 2006

 

Academics in Iraq: a vanishing breed?

The brazen kidnapping of up to 150 empoyees and visitors of a Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research facility last Tuesday is but the latest example of a long, continuing slide toward a wholesale destruction of the academic enterprise in Iraq. Stannard:

"The daylight attack reportedly was carried out by attackers wearing the blue camouflage uniforms of police commandos. They stormed the building after clearing the area in the guise of providing security for a visit from the U.S. ambassador, ... They forced dozens of men and women into separate rooms, handcuffed the men and loaded them aboard about 20 pickup trucks." "More than 100 academics -- more than 180, by some estimates -- have been slain since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and 40 percent of Iraq's professional class has fled the country since that year, according to an estimate by the Brookings Institution. Abdul Sattar Jawad, ... onetime dean at two universities in Baghdad, ... 'This is the rule of the militias, the mob, the riffraff of people. They don't like education, they don't like intellectuals,' Jawad, now a fellow at Duke University, said from North Carolina. 'And now the campuses are overruled by the firebrand clerics, by the religious militias.' Many past attacks on Iraqi academics have probably been committed by Sunni insurgent groups, said Juan Cole, a Middle East expert at the University of Michigan. 'The Sunni Arab guerrilla movement wants to destabilize Iraq. ... they also do target other kinds of pillars of the establishment." "At the higher education building, those kidnapped included employees and visitors, janitors and Ph.D.s, even a deputy general director of the agency. They included Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims, Kurds and Christians." "Al-Maliki, who leads a Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, appeared to minimize the importance of Tuesday's kidnappings. 'What is happening is not terrorism, but the result of disagreements and conflict between militias belonging to this side or that,' ..."

The Guardian reports that "[k]idnappers who abducted scores of Iraqis from an education ministry building in Baghdad have tortured and killed some of them, a government official said today. ... details of the hostages' ordeal had been revealed by people who had been freed. ... Around 70 have ... been released. ... The education minister, Abed Theyab - a member of a Sunni Arab party in Iraq's Shia-led government - has reiterated his decision to boycott the government until all the hostages are released, ..."

As mentioned, this is part of an all-too-familiar trend. A few examples:

• Sep. 2003: Chemistry professor at el-Basrah University killed (The BRussells Tribunal n.d.)
• Jan. 2004: dean of Political Studies at el-Mustansiriyyah University killed in a drive-by shooting (Middle East Studies Association November 5, 2004)
• June 2004: dean of Mosul University’s Law School murdered (Middle East Studies Association November 5, 2004)
• Dec. 2004: assistant dean of Baghdad's medical college killed (Crain)
• May 2005: researcher in the Date Palm Research Center at el-Basrah University killed (The BRussells Tribunal n.d.)
• July 2005: Art History professor at el-Basrah University assassinated (The BRussells Tribunal n.d.)
• Apr. 2006: Psychology professor killed, University of Karbala (The BRussells Tribunal n.d.)
• Aug. 2006: 2 University of Diyala professors gunned down in Baqubah (al-Makhzoomi)
• Aug. 2006: Dr. Donny George, Chairman of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, flees (IW&A Documents, 10)
• Oct. 2006: Geology professor at Baghdad University, head of the (Sunni) University Professors Union, gunned down outside his home (Salaheddin and The BRussells Tribunal October 30, 2006)

Did I mention that the general academic climate isn't exactly conducive to learning already? As the Middle East Studies Association and the American Association of University Professors recently stated: "Virtually every Iraqi institution of higher education is at risk. Universities, colleges, and research institutions operate under severe political duress and without adequate resources, transparent funding mechanisms, or the civil and legal protections needed to nurture and promote a vibrant intellectual climate and civil society." The only discussion left is how many professors/academics have already been killed and how many have fled in exile since the start of the Iraq War. These are the estimates I've come across:

• 20 to 300 killed, 100 to 2,000 exiled (Crain, Jan. 2005)
• 78 killed (Middle East Studies Association, Nov. 2004)
• 100 to 180 killed, 40% exiled (Stannard, Nov. 2006)
• 180 killed, 3,250 exiled (Salaheddin, Oct. 2006)
• 227 killed (Jalili, May 2006)
• 300 killed, 4,000 exiled (al-Makhzoomi, Aug. 2006)

The most thorough study so far into this dark phenomenon was done by Dr. Ismail Jalili; the two pie charts included in this post are taken from his research.


References
• Ch. Crain, "Approximately 300 academics have been killed," in USA Today, January 17, 2005
• I. Jalili, "Plight of Iraqi Academics. Presented at the Madrid International Conference on the Assassinations of Iraqi Academics, 23–24 April, 2006. Updated 1 May, 2006," in The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq, online, May 1, 2006
• S. al-Makhzoomi, "Two more university professors killed in Baaquba," in Alzaman (Iraq), August 23, 2006
• S. Salaheddin, "Sunni activist professor killed in Iraq," in The State (North Carolina), October 30, 2006
• M.B. Stannard, "Education Ministry kidnappings reflect plight of Iraqi academics," in San Francisco Chronicle, November 15, 2006
• "Joint statement by MESA, AAUP, AAAS: "Iraq: Higher Education and Academic Freedom in Danger"," in Middle East Studies Association, online, November 5, 2004
• "Professors’ Associations Decry Violence Against Academic Colleagues in Iraq," in Middle East Studies Association, online, July 5, 2006
• "Dr. Issam Al Rawi has been murdered," in The BRussells Tribunal (Belgium), online, October 30, 2006
• "Some Iraq hostages tortured and killed, official says," in The Guardian (UK), November 16, 2006
• "List of killed, threatened or kidnapped Iraqi Academics," in The BRussells Tribunal (Belgium), online, continuously updated

 

Iraqcrisis digest, Vol 1 #741 - 3 msgs

From: iraqcrisis-request@listhost.uchicago.edu
<iraqcrisis-request@listhost.uchicago.edu>
Date: Nov 15, 2006 12:00 PM
Subject: Iraqcrisis digest, Vol 1 #741 - 3 msgs
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Today's Topics:

1. Gunmen grab up to 150 from Baghdad research
institute (cejo@uchicago.edu)
2. assistance to Iraqi scholars (public international law) (Fischer, Judith)

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institute
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"BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Gunmen clad in Iraqi National Police uniforms
kidnapped between 100 and
150 people at a government research institute in Baghdad Tuesday
morning, forcing the minister of
higher education to order universities closed until security improves.

The daytime raid, considered possibly the largest ever in Baghdad,
involved up to 80 gunmen and
targeted the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific
Research-Scholarships and Cultural
Relations Directorate building, Minister Abed Dhiyab al-Ajili told
parliament..."

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/11/14/iraq.main/blog.html

Message: 2
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From: "Fischer, Judith" <J.Fischer@law.uu.nl>
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------_=_NextPart_001_01C708C4.27C61F3A
Content-Type: text/plain

Dear Madam, Sir,

Mr Abdelaziz Abid of UNESCO kindly passed on your details re. the following
request made to him earlier. In advance, please accept my apologies for the
direct nature of my request.

The reason for approaching you is that I would likt to make contact with one
or more academic colleagues from Iraq, i.e. international lawyers who
perform research at one of the academic institutions in Iraq. I would like
to see whether I can offer assistance on an individual basis with respect to
their work as a scholar, as I imagine that these days work must be
incredibly hard or even impossible in circumstances like that. As regards my
own background, I am an academic working as a research associate at Utrecht
University Law School, Department of Public International Law. This is the
reason that I have access to a range of resources, both digitally and hard
copy, and expertise.

In short, I am looking for one or more research associates, possibly in the
PhD phase in the field of public international law, working in Iraq. My
assistance could take various forms, including sending articles,
reviewing/commenting on work, editorial/quality assistance or other
assistance mutually agreed on. In this respect, it would be convenient -
though not pertinent - if the designated person(s) has/have access to
internet.

I would of course be interested to hear about the activities of your
organization. Should you require additional information from my side, please
let me know and I am happy to supply it.

I would be extremely grateful for any assistance from your side. Thank you
very much in advance and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest
possible convenience.

Yours sincerely,
Judith Fischer,
Research Associate

Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea
University of Utrecht
Faculty of Law
Achter Sint Pieter 200
3512 HT Utrecht
The Netherlands
(t) +31.(0)30.253 7541
(f) +31.(0)30.253 7073
(m) +31.(0)642.730 209
(e) <mailto:j.fischer@law.uu.nl> j.fischer@law.uu.nl

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November 15, 2006

 

Receive new posts in your e-mail inbox

You can now register to receive new posts to the IW&A Blog in your e-mail inbox. Direct your browser to http://www.rssfwd.com, enter this blog's URL: http://iwa.univie.ac.at , and then your e-mail address and you're done. Many thanks to Chuck Jones for introducing me to this service!

 

Dr. Leon De Meyer (1928-2006)

I just learned that Dr. Leon de Meyer, the doyen of Assyriology in Belgium, passed away about two weeks ago. His family gave him a quiet burial and only made it public now. He was rector or president of the Rijksuniversiteit Gent as it was still called in 1985-1993 (now Universiteit Gent).He led the Belgian excavations at Tell el-Der (ancient Sippar) in Iraq which among other things found the Archive of Ur-Utu a.k.a. the Sippar Library. This collection of cuneiform tablets was found still on its shelves, a unique find (see for instance my note on a lecture on an aspect of this archive at the 2005 Rencontre). He also was the driving force behind the Assyriological Center (formerly Foundation) Georges Dossin and its journal Akkadica. He was was given the title of baron in 1992.

He was an outspoken advocate of the archaeological heritage of Iraq and was active from the beginning in international efforts to mitigate the destructive impact of the Iraq War. He last joined the September 23 appeal by prominent archaeologists to the Iraqi authorities (see my November 1 post We, the undersigned, ...). The Universiteit Gent will hold a special academic session in his honor on November 20 (for details, unfortunately only in Dutch, see Universiteit Gent).

References
• F. Verhoest, "Rector Leon De Meyer maakte Gentse universiteit weer trots. Postuum," in De Standaard (Belgium), November 15, 2006
• "Herdenkingszitting ererector Leon De Meyer (14-11-2006)," in Universiteit Gent (Belgium), online, November 14, 2006

November 14, 2006

 

Rumsfeld & the Lion of Babylon

"Moayyed Mohsen likes to paint great figures from Iraq's past like the mythical hero Gilgamesh. But this year he turned his talents to another larger-than-life subject in his country's history -- Donald Rumsfeld. Dominating the wall of a Baghdad art gallery in the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah is a massive mural that is no tribute to the outgoing US defense secretary. Rumsfeld is depicted leaning back reading papers, with combat-boot-clad feet propped up on a ruined building. Beside him is a weathered image of the Lion of Babylon -- potent symbol of Iraq's illustrious past -- atop a ruined plinth. The US official is surrounded by whirling bits of paper that morph into birds and fly off into the distance. The artist's image is striking and it was conceived in anger -- not just over the occupation of Iraq but also over what Mohsen sees as the humiliation of a nation that once taught mankind how to write."



"His resignation on November 8 -- the first casualty of the Republican defeat in mid-term congressional elections last week -- met with almost universal acclaim across Iraq's divided communities, who seem to agree on little else than the situation in their war-ravaged country is getting worse by the day. Many Iraqis feel the US defense secretary's handling of the war showed arrogance and disdain for their country -- tellingly symbolized by his famous quip that 'stuff happens' when asked to comment on the looting of Baghdad, including its museum, in the invasion's aftermath." "In the Middle East, showing the soles of one's feet is considered very poor manners, so the Rumsfeld in the painting automatically offends the viewer. The Lion of Babel atop a ruined perch sends another message. 'I decided to make the base of the statue a bookcase containing volumes on the arts, literature and knowledge left by Iraqis,' he said. 'Then I destroyed the base to symbolize the repeated wars and showed the papers flying through the air and changing into white birds showing love and peace to the world.' By juxtaposing his subject with ancient monuments, Mohsen sought to pit the endurance of history against the fleeting nature of man ..."

Reference
• A. Abboud, "Iraqi artist paints Rumsfeld gloating over ruins of Iraq," in Yahoo! News, online, November 14, 2006

November 12, 2006

 

Donny George's exile & the state of the SBAH

I just finished IW&A Document no. 10: Donny George's Exile and the State of the SBAH. I thought it would be useful to recapitulate and analyze the events that surrounded Dr. Donny George's exile and what this means for the future of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage. Read all about it!