“Cairo Writes, Beirut Publishes, and Baghdad Reads”: The Fallen Culture of Iraq

Dispatches from the front.
June 6 2014 1:40 PM

“Cairo Writes, Beirut Publishes, and Baghdad Reads”

The fallen culture of Iraq and the legacy of the U.S. invasion.

140606_OVER_SyriaStill

Last year Brooklyn Brewery launched an interview series at its brewhouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in conjunction with RISC, a nonprofit that offers instruction on life-saving skills for freelance war journalists. The conversations were an instant hit.

For its second season, Slate partnered with the brewery to film the series. Each month we’ll release our favorite excerpts from the conversations. In this first installment, Steve Hindy, founder of Brooklyn Brewery and a former Associated Press foreign correspondent himself, sits down with Deborah Amos, NPR's Middle East correspondent and the author of  Eclipse of the Sunnis. Watch the first part here, and check back for more excerpts next week.

In the clip below, Amos offers a blunt assessment of the Iraq war: The Sunnis lost. She dives into the political and cultural “hangover” from the U.S. invasion in 2003, which she says has kept the United States out of the civil war in Syria—and offered al-Qaida a stronghold in the region.

Advertisement

Amos also falls back on her decades of experience in the Middle East to shed light on the enduring struggles of the Palestinian people, who suffered a devastating blow when Yarmouk Camp was razed by Bashar al-Assad’s bombs.

“Cairo writes, Beirut publishes, and Baghdad reads.”

In the clip below, Amos continues the conversation with a reflection on that old Middle Eastern adage and what it says about the lost intellectual class of Iraq—once one of the most voracious consumers of culture in the region. Prior to the Iraq war, the country was packed with talent and a devotion to the arts that now, post-surge, seem hard to fathom. And as many Iraqis sought refuge in Syria following the American invasion, the remnants of that class are now scattered to the wind, the once-thriving Baghdad arts scene a distant memory.

Amos also talks about the invaluable impact of the now-defunct satirical Iraqi news programs broadcast via satellite from Damascus in the years following American invasion, as well as still-running Iraqi programming like al-Sharqiya.​

A.J. McCarthy is a Slate video blogger.

Ayana Morali is the co-executive producer of Slate V.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

iOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won’t Stop Running
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.