Home > Uncategorized > With the Yezidis during the 2003 Iraq war

With the Yezidis during the 2003 Iraq war

As jihadists make Yezidis suffer once again on the Syrian-Iraq border, here’s my chapter from Dining with al-Qaeda devoted to my weeks with the community during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

From the archive

Chapter 17

THE YEZIDI HERESY

An Alternative Approach to Military Liberation

We rejoiced at the rising Nile, then it drowned us. — EGYPTIAN PROVERB

Hugh Pope and Sagvan Murad in front of Yezidi shrine Sheikh Adi. Lalish, 2003. Hugh Pope and Sagvan Murad in front of Yezidi shrine Sheikh Adi. Lalish, 2003.

A good introduction is an invaluable asset. My fixer, Sagvan Murad, was a young and active member of an ancient religious community called the Yezidis. They numbered about half a million people in Iraq, the bulk of them living south of the front line and under Saddam Hussein’s government control. Murad told me that community leaders on the side that was free, liberated, and developing since 1991, had organized a plan for a smooth takeover of the Saddam-controlled areas. It was his boss in a Yezidi cultural center, a part-time guerrilla chief, who had invited us to accompany them south when Saddam’s control collapsed. This offer of open access to whatever…

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