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Next Door to War

Tariq Ali: After Benazir, 17 July 2008

Descent into Chaos: How the War against Islamic Extremism Is Being Lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia 
by Ahmed Rashid.
Allen Lane, 484 pp., £25, July 2008, 978 0 7139 9843 6
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Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars within 
by Shuja Nawaz.
Oxford, 655 pp., £16.99, May 2008, 978 0 19 547660 6
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... it’s time they did some soldiering.’ Some light is thrown on the Afghan situation by Ahmed Rashid in his new book, Descent into Chaos. As a foreign correspondent on the Far Eastern Economic Review and subsequently the Independent and Daily Telegraph, Rashid has been reporting diligently from the region for ...


Rory Stewart: In Afghanistan, 11 July 2002

... cent of whom live outside cities, was believed to be central to the interests of the West. In 1989 Ahmed Rashid said that ‘by walking away from Afghanistan as early as it did, the USA faced . . . bombs in New York and cheap heroin in the streets.’ Tony Blair apparently accepted this analysis and was, therefore, considering Britain’s interest when he ...


Patrick Cockburn: A report from Baghdad, 24 July 2003

... There used to be a mosaic of President George Bush on the floor at the entrance to the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad. It was placed there soon after the first Gulf War in 1991 and was a good likeness, though the artist gave Bush unnaturally jagged teeth and a slightly sinister grimace. The idea was that nobody would be able to get into the hotel, where most foreign visitors to Iraq stayed in the 1990s, without stepping on Bush’s face ...

Tower of Skulls

Malise Ruthven: Baghdad, 23 October 2014

Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood 
by Justin Marozzi.
Allen Lane, 458 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 1 84614 313 7
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... bricks set in mortar; it was reconstructed by Mansur’s grandson, the legendary Harun al-Rashid, who built a sturdier version using kiln-baked bricks. It seems to have survived the devastation brought by Hulagu, grandson of Genghis Khan, in 1258, but not the city’s subsequent development. Al-Jahiz, a ninth-century polymath and essayist, proclaimed ...

What Hamas must do

Rashid Khalidi: The Challenge to Hamas, 6 July 2006

... such as Ismail Haniya began to repeat and expand on ideas put forward in the past by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Ismail Abu-Shanab and other Hamas leaders whom Israel later assassinated: ideas about a long-term ceasefire and about coexistence between Israel and a Palestinian state within the 1967 boundaries; they even talked about this as a permanent ...

After Arafat

Rashid Khalidi: Palestine’s options, 3 February 2005

... infirmity, however, Arafat was a more formidable politician than his colleagues Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qurei, both of whom, as successive prime ministers in 2003, failed to impose themselves against his will. He then showed himself more able than men half his age, rapidly crushing an open challenge to his authority in the summer of 2004 by Muhammad ...

The Great Game

Amit Chaudhuri: A short story, 24 August 2000

... like satellites around their parents and parents’ friends, tripping lightly down the steps. Rashid Latif hit the winning runs, and a cry rang out in the stadium. A beautiful woman in a salwaar kameez clapped emphatically. For the ‘big one’ the stadium was full again. Pakistanis jostled each other; and Indians jostled Pakistanis; and here and ...

Anyone for gulli-danda?

Tariq Ali, 15 July 1999

... harder on their wrist technique since a tennis ball has no seam to make it swing naturally. Ijaz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Wasim Akram, Saleem Malik and Yousuf Yohanna all grew up playing tape-ball cricket. These former street players led Pakistan to victory in the 1992 World Cup. Modelled on its football equivalent, this tournament has become the most important ...

Ructions in the Seraglio

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 8 December 1994

The Harem Within: Tales of a Moroccan Girlhood 
by Fatima Mernissi.
Doubleday, 254 pp., £16.99, September 1994, 0 385 40542 1
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by Out el Kouloub, translated by Nayra Atiya.
Syracuse, 201 pp., £13.50, July 1994, 0 8156 0280 4
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... the clouds overhead, which seemed to be coming closer and closer. After agreeing that the case of Ahmed, the family doorkeeper, proves that marriage alone doesn’t define a harem, the children try to decide whether wealth or sexual prowess makes the difference. (‘Maybe a man needs a big thing under his djellaba to create a harem, and ...

We know it intimately

Christina Riggs: Rummaging for Mummies, 22 October 2020

A World beneath the Sands: Adventurers and Archaeologists in the Golden Age of Egyptology 
by Toby Wilkinson.
Picador, 510 pp., £25, October, 978 1 5098 5870 5
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... seized a collection of antiquities destined for the Louvre – including a stone slab found at Rashid (or Rosetta) in the Delta, whose three inscriptions were already seen as a potential key to reading hieroglyphs. Words were added to the sides of the slab when it reached London: ‘Captured in Egypt by the British Army in 1801’ and ‘Presented by King ...

Like Ordering Pizza

Thomas Meaney: Before Kabul, 9 September 2021

... of cash onboard), has now joined the ranks of Washington’s failed proxies: Ngô Đình Diêm, Ahmed Chalabi, Nouri al-Maliki, Hamid Karzai. The corruption of the Afghan government is dwarfed only by that of the American operation itself, which constituted a massive wealth transfer to US defence industries.Will the Taliban behave? They have entered a very ...

The Overlooked

Owen Bennett-Jones: The Deobandis, 8 September 2016

... live in the UK. Ahmedis follow the teachings of a 19th-century Punjabi cleric, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, whose claim to have received revelations directly from Allah clashes with the basic Islamic tenet that Muhammad was the last and final prophet. Some shops in Tooting have refused to serve Ahmedis and Khatme Nabuwwat distributes leaflets calling for their ...

Bunches of Guys

Owen Bennett-Jones: Just the Right Amount of Violence, 19 December 2013

Decoding al-Qaida’s Strategy: The Deep Battle against America 
by Michael Ryan.
Columbia, 368 pp., £23.15, September 2013, 978 0 231 16384 2
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The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organisations 
by Jacob Shapiro.
Princeton, 352 pp., £19.95, July 2013, 978 0 691 15721 4
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... al-Zawahiri (despite having met him the day before his capture) or bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the man who led the Americans to Abbotabad. Other detainees told the Americans that al-Kuwaiti had been well known to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for years. So the waterboarding not only fed al-Qaida’s narrative, it was also ineffective. Other ...

The Family

Malise Ruthven, 17 December 1981

The House of Saud 
by David Holden and Richard Johns.
Sidgwick, 569 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 283 98436 8
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The Kingdom 
by Robert Lacey.
Hutchinson, 631 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 09 145790 4
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... families have acquired a vested interest in the status quo. Its ablest members, including Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, have been co-opted into serving the Government. Nor, at the moment, would the élite units of the Armed Forces, traditional source of danger for Arab governments, seem to pose a serious danger. There are princes (no one knows how many, but ...

The Israel Lobby

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt: The Israel Lobby, 23 March 2006

... or fire him,’ Jonathan Cole, its former provost, reported. When Columbia recruited the historian Rashid Khalidi from Chicago, the same thing happened. It was a problem Princeton also faced a few years later when it considered wooing Khalidi away from Columbia. A classic illustration of the effort to police academia occurred towards the end of 2004, when the ...

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