Iraq needs a local solution, not another intervention

Standing on an overhead bridge in Ramadi on Iraq’s main highway to Baghdad just over a year ago, I witnessed the extraordinary sight of about half a million people gathered — as they did every Friday — to peacefully protest the sectarian policies of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki.

There were chants and speeches by local Sunni politicians and religious leaders, and from leaders of other provinces and sects across Iraq, including Shia clerics, but little response from Baghdad and virtually no western media coverage.

The protesters, led by tribal elders from the western Anbar province, resisted the call …

Watching as Iraq crumbled

Ten years ago in Baghdad, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, I sat with my Iraqi friend in his photo store. I was his last customer, he said; the bombs would begin tomorrow. And then he began to quietly weep.

We sat in silence for several minutes before he spoke again: ‘We don’t know our future now, we have no idea what will happen.’ It was this uncertainty that raised his anxiety, having no idea how it would all turn out. Indeed nobody knew. ‘I’m so sorry,’ I whispered, and wept quietly with him.

Then he held out …