Author Archives | Ali Al-Saffar

It’s the Stupidity, Stupid

Back in February, I wrote a post on the need for institutions in Iraq, and mentioned the Central Bank of Iraq as being one of the only independent, competent bodies in the country, largely thanks to the work of its governor, Sinan Shabibi. True to form, in an act of institutional self-flagellation, the Iraqi authorities […]

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Living in a topsy-turvy world

It really is a sign of just how skewed our priorities are when a couple of Twitter postings about the Prophet (PBUH) cause more of a stir than the killing of innocent people. Or, as a friend of mine Tweeted “killing an innocent in the name of my religion is 1000 times more offensive than […]

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It’s the institutions, stupid.

One of the most enduring images of the Arab uprisings so far has been that of Muammar al-Qadhafi being assaulted, and eventually murdered, after his capture. The fact that this was done at the hands of people who were portrayed as being pro-democracy activists captured a lot of the debate surrounding the ”Arab Spring”—were the […]

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There is no panacea for Iraq’s problems

Thank God for Leslie Gelb, who after an entire three hours back in 2006 found the panacea that would solve Iraq’s problems; federalism. In an article by Gelb published a couple of weeks ago, he suggests that because “Shiites, Sunni and Kurds have been at  each other’s throats for centuries”, federalism that “provides ethno-religious groups […]

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The Glass is Half Empty

I thought I’d take the liberty to present a counter argument to Mousa’s. The glass is half empty. This is because we shouldn’t consider economic success in nominal terms, but by comparing it to potential, and unfortunately, we are no where near this at the moment. Yes, GDP will grow by around 9% a year […]

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Imam Hussein’s views on oil refining

And then Hussein (AS) said to the usurper Yazeed: “the righteous demand that we turn the riches of this land into higher value export commodities by refining the crude into gasoline, fuels oils and distillates. Your continued insistence on the production of lead based petrol has destroyed the Ummah of my grandfather. Today, we make a stand in […]

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Perils of an oil economy

“No taxation without representation”. That was the slogan people in America used to use against the British colonialists. It’s short, salient and packs a punch. But how about “no representation without taxation”? You see, the oil-rich countries in the Gulf don’t really tax their citizens and are economically autonomous from society. They are not beholden […]

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the brain softer.

I have had a writer’s block that stretches back months, and have not blogged despite the largest upheaval in decades in the Middle East, riots in the UK, and the momentous return of King Kenny to his helm. But I am back now. Unfortunately, since I last wrote, London has lost what I like to think […]

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Dictators and Violence; What Saddam could teach Gaddafi

Violence only works if it is overwhelming. Up to a critical point, civilian losses embolden protestors who will rally against the injustices they see in the loss of their comrades. If the losses are massive, and pass that point, protestors are likely to realise that the state means business and is here to stay. This […]

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Day of Rage

There have been exhilarating winds of change in the Middle East, thanks in no small part to Twitter and Facebook. Today it’s Iraq’s turn, and London-based Iraqis have been debating whether or not its a good thing. A couple of weeks ago, Nouri al-Maliki backed the protests, people there told me that this one move made him […]

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