Insider's Assessment of Media Punditry and "Operation Iraqi
By Ibrahim Al-Marashi
combat in "Operation Iraqi Freedom" came to a close
in May, 2003, the US had declared victory in achieving its objectives.
But it failed to predict the wide-scale looting that would erupt
after the war as well as the sustained animosity and low-intensity
warfare directed against American forces that killed over 500
US soldiers by the war's first anniversary.
Given the rapid pace of this campaign most analyses focused
on the course of the war, with little academic or often inaccurate
assessment of the war and its aftermath on Iraq. Part of the
inaccurate assessments of the situation in Iraq from the US
side could be blamed on the structure and nature of the American
media's coverage of the build-up and course of the war.
is based on my experience as an "overnight media pundit"
in these very media circles. The experience gave me an insider's
perspective of how media operated during this conflict and areas
where it needed reform.
As an insider in these media circuits, I noticed during this
war that media pundits confused the coverage of the war rather
than complemented it, combining misinformation and entertainment
in one package.
and Media Punditry
In the US media, "overnight experts" dominated the
airwaves and the discourse on Iraq. As someone who devoted his
life to the study of Iraq since the beginning of my academic
career in 1991, nothing irritated me more to see people on the
airwaves who marketed themselves as "Iraq experts."
In fact, prior to the buildup to the war there were few academics
who were devoted to the study of Iraq. Those few, prominent
Iraq scholars were not featured prominently in the media talk-interview
circuit, perhaps out of their own volition or because they were
In American media circles, former military generals dominated
media outlets, demonstrating how the US media were obsessed
with how Iraq was being destroyed, while little attention was
focused on how it would be rebuilt. Many of these military experts
could tell American audiences the weapons used to destroy Baghdad,
but few, if any could explain the cultural nuances of the Iraqi
citizenry, and how the country would react to the presence of
US troops on its soil. For example, one of the media pundits
was General Wayne Downing, a retired 1991 Gulf War general and
special operations expert. He was one of the prominent TV generals
who explained in detail US military plans, but who could say
little about the country that was being bombed. In an interview
with Fox News September 29, 2002, Downing was asked how he predicted
the Iraqi military would perform in a war with the U and responded,
the Republican Guards, their elite units, are ones that we have
a very, very good possibility that they will fold early in a
conflict against a backdrop of overwhelming American force."
Downing predicted that the Republican Guard deployed on the
outskirts of the capital would not serve as an enthusiastic
fighting force, nor put up much resistance to an American attack,
the Guard demonstrated a sustained will to engage US and UK
forces during the conflict. After the Iraqi Shi'a and Kurds
revolted against the regime in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf
War, the weakened Republican Guard rallied behind Saddam Hussein,
and brutally suppressed the insurrection. This uprising took
on an ethnic and sectarian nature, and it appeared as if the
predominantly Arab Sunni Republican Guards were defending their
privileged status in the Iraqi state. In their perception, this
privileged status would not be guaranteed in a post-Saddam Iraq,
and thus could explain their motivation in defending a regime,
where they were the elite stratum in Iraq's society, as well
as the premier fighting unit. However, Downing's analysis focused
on the military capabilities of the Guard, without taking these
Iraqi cultural or historic nuances into account.
In another interview November 29, 2002, on MSNBC's Hardball,
the general was asked about how post-war order and security
in Iraq would be restored. He responded, "We have some
very, very highly trained people, most of them in our reserve
component, our civil affairs units who are experts at going
in, restoring government services, restoring power, sewage,
water, these types of things, and knowing how the military works,
they've got detailed plans on how they'll do that. How long
it's going to go, it's going to depend on the situation and
how it evolves."
the military seemed to have no plan whatsoever to restore order
or rehabilitate the nation's infrastructure once the Saddam
regime collapsed. As a military expert, Downing had the knowledge
to testify about the destruction of Iraq, but had little authority
to inform the public of how Iraq would be rebuilt.
As a result, the dearth of public knowledge on Iraq and the
emergence of these "overnight experts" led to many
false predictions of how the war would evolve as well as how
the Iraqis would react to the American and British presence
once Saddam was removed. The neglected study of the internal
dynamics of Iraq's domestic politics and security apparatus
led to many failed forecasts when US and UK forces went to war
against those institutions of the Iraqi state. The American
media as well as its policy-making "think tanks" provided
many failed assessments of how the war would be fought. Generally,
these institutions predicted the Shi'as of the south of Iraq
would revolt against their Sunni, Tikriti masters, leaving the
"decapitation" of the regime in Baghdad the toughest
battle. On the contrary, the Shi'a did not rise against the
Ba'th, most of the pitched battles were in the south, and Baghdad
fell relatively easily. It was predicted that Saddam's elite
Special Republican Guard and myriad of security organizations
would fight to the very end to defend the capital, however the
paramilitary organizations such as Feda'iyeen Saddam, which
did not have formal military training, posed the most serious
challenge to coalition forces. Saddam's feared weapons of mass
destruction were not deployed against military forces as they
approached Baghdad; in fact a year after the war they have yet
to be uncovered, and in January 2004 even official Washington
questioned whether Iraq had WMDs. Finally, it was mistakenly
predicted that Iraq's oil wells would be set ablaze in large
numbers, as were the Kuwaiti fields in 1991.
The late Edward Said (1998) articulated another flaw in the
American media in an article on the 1991 Gulf war. He criticized
the media for failing to feature Arab commentators who were
neither pro-American, nor pro-Saddam. He argued that if the
media were to do so, it would have been perhaps too confusing
for the audiences. Yet his comments after the 1991 war touch
on a problem that the media failed to remedy after more than
a decade. As a whole, media pundits mistakenly classified the
Iraqis into pro-Saddam or anti-Saddam factions, and thus assumed
that once the Saddam government was vanquished, the anti-Saddam
tendencies in Iraq would rally behind the US. However, Arab
or Iraqi commentators who were neither pro-Saddam nor pro-American
were rarely seen among these media circles. It could have been
that those commentators would have warned that there are Iraqis
who are neither pro-Saddam nor pro-American, and that while
many Iraqis would be happy to see Saddam leave, they would not
welcome an American occupation.
Once the high-intensity war was over, it was believed that American
forces would be greeted as liberators, and Iraqi exiles would
be enthusiastically received. Richard Pearle, chairman of the
Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and a fellow at the conservative
think tank The American Enterprise Institute, argued on the
media circuit that the Iraqi people would rejoice at Saddam's
downfall and that the Iraqis would welcome the American liberators
with open arms. On an October 6, 2002, interview on NBC's Meet
the Press, Pearle stated, "Well, I think he will certainly
discover, and I think he actually already knows, that very few
Iraqis are loyal to Saddam Hussein, which is hardly surprising,
given the brutality of his rule over a long period of time.
So whether it's an assassination or whether he goes the way
of Ceausescu in Romania, where the moment he was seriously challenged,
his own people brought him down, I don't know. But there will
be very few Iraqis prepared to fight for Saddam Hussein."
sentence was brought into question by the fact that there was
a stiff resistance to the coalition assault in the first week
of the war, and there had been a sustained series of attacks
against Coalition forces since the official cessation of hostilities.
Pearle's assessments failed to take into account the almost
immediate animosity directed towards the US once Saddam was
removed, and what the Iraqis envisioned for their future state.
Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst during the Clinton administration
and a CNN analyst was one of the more prominent "talking
heads" during this conflict. He is a Brookings Institute
senior fellow and author of The Threatening Storm: The Case
for Invading Iraq, published in 2002. While Pollack provided
accurate analysis on Iraq during the conflict, he did make mistakes
as well. In an interview on CNN's Capital Gang on November 23,
2002, Pollack was asked about the possibility of chemical weapons
being used in the war. He replied, "I think there's no
question he will at some point in time. The key issue is when.
Does he use them right at the outset, or does he try to wait?"
hoped to do my part in changing these aforementioned flaws,
once I entered the arena of media punditry. However I too made
failed assessments about Iraq's WMD program, similar to Pollack's
comments in the preceding interview. What allowed me to enter
the media circles was not that I had devoted my life to the
academic study of Iraq's culture and history, nor my publications
on this subject. My "claim to fame" emerged when an
UK intelligence dossier on Iraq's intelligence agencies, presented
by Colin Powell to the UN Security Council in February 2003,
was plagiarized from a historical, academic article I had written
on Iraq's intelligence agencies (see Al-Marashi, 2002).
As I was
inundated by media requests, I thought that this plagiarism
incident gave me a chance, as an Iraqi-American, to enter the
mainstream media circuits. First, it allowed me a chance to
dispel the images of those Iraqi exiles with heavy accents begging
the US to liberate their country. Second, it allowed me to present
my insight into the Iraqi conflict, giving both an Iraqi and
American perspective, something that was glaringly absent from
the media. However, my hopes were quickly dashed as I conducted
my first barrage of media interviews. I assumed that if my research
was valuable enough to have been presented as an UK intelligence
source surely my analysis on the situation with Iraq would be
sought after by the media. On the contrary, in most instances
the interviews were forums to "sling mud" at the British
government, focusing on the scandal rather the upcoming war
the story of my plagiarized article emerged on February 7, 2003,
I had conducted over 200 interviews with the media within a
90-day span. Only 10% of those interviews asked for my analysis
on the war with Iraq, without commenting on my plagiarism incident.
During those interviews, I noticed another structural flaw in
the media, which was articulated by Edward Said in an article
on the 1991 Gulf war. I noticed that most media channels would
give me or any other pundit no more than two to three minutes
to speak. Said (1998) said, "Once in the 15 seconds I was
given, when I began to elucidate an argument about the relationship
between Iraqi aggression and American imperialism, I was cut
off abruptly: 'Yes, yes, we know all that.'"
addiction to neat, concise sound bites and its reliance on splash
rather than substance, forced me to gloss over the complexities
of not just the upcoming war, but more importantly, its aftermath.
In most interviews, I had two minutes to comment, and then a
commercial or the next speaker would cut me off. Iraq is not
a country one can summarize a minute before the commercial break,
and the time constraints caused me to neglect many of minute
details of Iraq's politics and internal dynamics. Under the
pressure of bright lights and commercial breaks, concise sound
bites did not allow me to convey certain information correctly.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Most media pundits also overstated the case of Iraq's possession
of weapons of mass destruction. William Kristol, co-author of
The War on Iraq: Saddam's Tyranny and America's Mission (2003)
is also the chairman and co-director of the Project for the
New American Century, stated that the Iraqi leader would never
peacefully dismantle his weapons program. In an interview with
Ted Koppel on ABC's Nightline, March 5, 2003, Kristol said,
"Well, look, I think when we go into Iraq and after we
remove Saddam, we'll have to stay there for a while. We'll have
to remove the weapons of mass destruction. But I think we owe
it to the people of Iraq to help them reconstitute their society
and to help them establish a decent and, I really hope, democratic
government there. That would be a great; it would be great to
help the people of Iraq liberate themselves. For one thing,
they've suffered under such a cruel and brutal dictator. And
it would be a great thing for the Middle East to have a functioning
democratic country right in the middle of that region."
his justification of an American presence for the sake of the
removal of those weapons of mass destruction has proved unfounded,
and the debt to the Iraqi people to establish a democracy has
not been forthcoming.
David Kay, the chief UN nuclear weapons inspector after the
1991Gulf War, and senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for
Policy Studies, also argued that the nature of Saddam's regime
would indicate that Iraq would never give up its pursuit of
weapons of mass destruction.
When interviewed on CNBC News January 29, 2003, about the risks
of going to war with Iraq, he said, "Actually, as a result
of military action in the US, there is at least the distinct
and I think a high probability that the results are going to
be extremely favorable for the Middle East and for the region."
that Kay has the authority and expertise to speak about Iraq's
WMD program, his predications that the war would be favorable
for the region may have been overly optimistic. In the immediate
aftermath of the war tensions escalated between the US on one
hand, and Iran and Syria on the other, there were terrorist
attacks in places ranging from Morocco to Saudi Arabia, and
the post-war chaos in Iraq may have given Al-Qaeda agents a
new base to continue their campaign against the US.
I would also fall into the category of those misrepresenting
Iraq's WMD threat during my media interviews. For example, on
numerous occasions I was asked if Iraq possessed WMD capabilities.
In one instance I had 10 seconds left in an interview to answer
one question, "Does Iraq have a weapons of mass destruction
capability?" The answer to this question had neither a
"yes" nor "no" answer. In my opinion, Iraq
had a WMD capability in the past and probably retained the infrastructure
to reconstitute that capability. Even so, if Iraq had these
weapons, they posed a threat to Iraq's people in the past and
invading Iranian soldiers during the Iran-Iraq War. These weapons
hardly posed a threat to world security as had been portrayed
by other media pundits. However, in this instance I did not
have time to give a nuanced answer like this. In this interview,
I answered "yes."
War on Terror
The war against Iraq was justified in many media outlets as
a continuation of America's "War on Terror." On the
Fox News Network, after the commercial break, the words "Operation
Iraq Freedom" would dissolve into "The War on Terror"
where upon the news program would begin. Linking of the war
against Al-Qaeda and Iraq war in certain media outlets blurred
the nature of both conflicts.
Some of the media pundits had studied Iraq for a while, perhaps
for too long. Many of those pundits who argued the most vehemently
for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, were arguing originally
in the 1980s that the dictator was America's staunchest regional
ally to contain Iran's Islamic revolution. For example Laurie
Mylroie (2001) was one of those "experts" who argued
that it was in America's interests to cultivate ties with Iraq
during the Iran-Iraq War. After the 1991 invasion of Kuwait,
she rehabilitated herself and was one of the first authors to
contribute to the demonization campaign against Saddam. She
considers herself an Iraq scholar and was the author of A Study
of Revenge: The War Against America, Saddam Hussein and the
World Trade Center Attacks (2001), which linked Iraq to both
World Trade Center attacks in 1993 and 2001. She vehemently
argued that Iraq and Osama Bin Laden worked together. Osama
Bin Laden provided the "martyrs" while the Iraqi intelligence
services trained Al-Qaeda. In her media appearances, she argued
the necessity of striking Saddam before he and Osama could hatch
another terrorist attack. In an interview on FNN, she claimed
that UN inspections were ineffective in that they were failing
to protect US security: "I,
for one, like the vice president, did not want to go to the
Security Council for precisely these reasons, partly because
UNMOVIC is not UNSCOM. UNMOVIC is very weak. It's broken down.
And another thing is, for the defense of the United States,
we shouldn't be having to go and ask Russia and France, Oh,
please, pretty please, can we defend ourselves?" (Fox News,
Fox On The Record with Geta Van Susteren, December 9, 2002).
interview continued she reiterated her case of Iraqi responsibility
for the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center bombings, "The
other alternative is to go back to terrorism, 9/11, the 1993
bombing of the World Trade Center, and show that Iraq has been
involved in these attacks on the United States." While
there was little concrete evidence behind this theory, she may
have accidentally predicted the cooperation that apparently
has emerged between Saddam loyalists and Al-Qaeda elements,
with the only caveat that this cooperation emerged in the aftermath
of the latest war.
James Woolsey, CIA director under President Clinton, stated
that Saddam had ties to Al-Qaeda and supported Laurie Mylroie's
theories of an Iraq-Al-Qaeda link. In an interview on the same
Fox News program, he was asked in February 2003 about the possibility
of Saddam attacking the US during the buildup to the war. He
said, "I think what he's likely to do is provide something
like, you know, anthrax or something like that to terrorist
groups, Al-Qaeda or some other. He and these terrorist groups
are sort of like Mafia families, particularly the ones that
are religiously based, in part, like Al-Qaeda. They hate each
other and they kill each other and they criticize each other,
but they're willing to work together on this and that because
they hate us more" (Fox News, Fox on the Record With Greta
Susteren, February 26, 2003).
Frank Gaffney, president and CEO of the Center for Security
Policy, argued that Saddam's Iraq had a record of supporting
terrorism including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. An
interview on CNN with Katrina Vanden Heuvel on CNN Talkback
Live, January 6, 2003, went as follows:
GAFFNEY: Yeah. Well, I think the main point that
needs to be born in mind here is we're dealing with a country
in Saddam Hussein that has been bent on revenge ever since 1991.
And I simply disagree that there's no evidence of involvement
between Saddam and acts of terror in this country. There is
considerable evidence of it. The case needs to be prosecuted.
HEUVEL: Frank, I mean, he may be a brutal dictator...
Excuse me just a second, Katrina. The case needs to be properly
prosecuted and it hasn't been to my satisfaction to this point.
But the larger message is unmistakable. Saddam Hussein's influence
is real and is growing in this region, if we allow him to gain
access to weapons of mass destruction beyond those he already
has. The nuclear weapons in particular. That influence will
metastasized even further and be vastly more destabilizing than
the act we need to take, which is to liberate the Iraqi people.
interview with Paul Begala on CNN Crossfire, October 7, 2002,
Richard Pearle also reiterated the claim of a Saddam-9/11 link:
Why are you pushing this line if our intelligence officers say
it is not so?
BEGALA: Can you give us some reasons without breaching
classified data? President Kennedy showed us the pictures of
the missiles in Cuba. Have you got some proof?
We don't have pictures. We have intelligence reports that I
believe are reliable. I think there are other indications of
other meetings with other members of al Qaeda including hijackers
and intelligence officials from Iraq. The Iraqis-a fellow by
the name of al Amni. I think the evidence is compelling. If
others think it isn't, there is just a difference of opinion
exchange with Begala, Pearle stated that US intelligence officers
are mistaken for not emphasizing this link, but then contradicts
himself by stating that the evidence for such a link is based
on US intelligence reports. While there was barely any evidence
that Saddam had cooperated with Al-Qaeda in the past, it seems
that in the post-war anarchy ensuing in Iraq, Al-Qaeda elements
may in penetrated the country and in fact be cooperating with
Saddam loyalists, providing a magnet for fighters to enter Iraq
and target American soldiers. Thus "Operation Iraqi Freedom"
only intensified the War on Terror, which none of the aforementioned
media pundits predicted.
Language of the Media and its Pundits
I could not help notice how the war was not portrayed in the
media as a war against Iraq or the Iraqi people but a war against
Saddam Hussein, his two sons, and the Feda'iyeen, depicted as
a group of unprofessional bandits and mercenaries in the service
of the dictator opposed to the professional, technologically
advanced American and British armed forces. The war was almost
portrayed as a film with the forces of "good" battling
against Saddam's minions of "evil." The vilification
of Saddam and his family emerged into an elaborate soap opera
of family intrigue with the stories of the abuses of Uday Hussein,
Saddam's eldest son featured prominently in men's entertainment
magazines such as Maxim and Esquire. On the other hand, I would
argue during media interviews that Uday received undue attention
opposed to Abid Hamid Mahmoud, the Iraqi presidential secretary,
who was responsible for Saddam's security apparatus as well
as his personal protection. However Mahmoud, perhaps the second
most powerful man in Saddam's regime, with the title of presidential
secretary and his long Arabic name, did not have a sinister
tone as "Uday, the son of Saddam," and I was never
asked to elaborate further on his role.
Uday and the Feda'iyeen emerged as the array of icons and symbols
throughout the media. Just as in any film, the characters, villains
and heroes emerged throughout the conflict. Ali Hassan Al-Majid,
Saddam Hussein's cousin, was usually referred to with the euphemistic
title of "Chemical Ali," an odious nickname to acknowledge
his use of chemical weapons to eliminate large segments of Iraq's
Kurdish population. However, Chemical Ali was soon overshadowed
by "Comical Ali," Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, the Iraqi
Minister of Information, who exaggerated claims of Iraqi battlefield
successes unintentionally won him international recognition
Along with the sinister list of regime cronies, there were other
characters such as Dr. Huda 'Ammash known as "Mrs. Anthrax"
or "Chemical Sally" and Dr. Rihab Taha, known as "Dr.
Germ." Only among US and UK media circles, did I notice
the pundits' use of nicknames to describe the members of Saddam
regime. Even I discovered that is was useful at times to utilize
these titles during media interviews because it made the interviews
livelier. Thus, I, too, fell into the trap of not only informing
the audience, but entertaining them as well.
the course of the war, the US Defense Intelligence Agency produced
its first "Iraqi Most Wanted" cards printing and cutting
out 200 decks by hand. They were initially created for use by
US soldiers in Iraq to identify and capture high-ranking Baathists.
Various companies such as Great USA Flags started to market
these cards over the Internet, selling over a million Most Wanted
decks a $5.95 apiece. The emergence of these cards not only
was a profitable venture, but it added an element to media's
coverage of Iraq. The capture of the former Iraqi Baathists
became a game, enhancing the entertainment nature of this conflict.
The cards of Iraqi officials, many of them war criminals, could
be collected as if they were baseball cards. Figures such as
Abid Hamid Mahmoud were no longer the Iraq's "presidential
secretary" but rather the "Ace of Diamonds."
CNN program American Morning, on June 23, 2003, former general-turned-pundit
David Grange was asked about the ongoing hunt for members of
Saddam's ousted regime. He responded:
Well ... we can talk about ... Task Force 20. [I]t's a special
operations force made up of several services that all bring
different capabilities to this task force. It could even have
coalition members from British forces as an example. It's primary
missions are to go after the card deck of 55, the top people,
to kill or grab these enemy leaders, hostage rescue, and also
sensitive or highly sensitive possible WMD sites.
the hunt for some of the members of the most odious regime in
the history of the Middle East was reduced to a game of playing
conflict that began between Coalition forces and Iraq on March
20, 2003, has been referred to as "Operation: Iraqi Freedom"
by the US side, while the Arabic satellite station Al Jazeera
labeled it, as did many other Arab circles, "al-Harb al-Khalijiyya
al-Thalitha," or "The Third Gulf War." Such titles
are key to understanding how media outlets perceive the conflict.
The US media would call military actions against Iraq "Operation
Desert Storm," "Operation Desert Fox," and "Operation
Iraqi Freedom." It was as if the use of the term "operation"
sanitized the attacks being carried out against Iraq. The Al
Jazeera term, "The Third Gulf War," made more sense,
as for the region it was in fact the third Gulf War. Once, when
I tried to employ this more politically correct term for the
conflict in a media interview, I was corrected by the news anchor,
who said, "You mean Operation Iraqi Freedom."
US and UK media
After the British government had copied my article on Iraq's
intelligence agencies, I often traveled to the UK to participate
in interviews during the war. My experience in the UK media
circuit gave a valuable insight into how American media coverage
could be improved. Granted, some could argue that the UK media
also served as a vehicle to glorify the British campaign in
Iraq, but it featured outside commentators who gave a more balanced
commentary of the war. For example, on Sky News, a London-based
Iraqi dissident expressed his eagerness to see Saddam Hussein
removed, yet was deeply disturbed by the devastation of his
native country. He argued, "You cannot put in place a democratic
government. That's an oxymoron. A democracy has to be built
up gradually according to the culture of a place."
a stark contrast to the American media that rarely gave a voice
to Iraqis. Iraqi officials, such as Muhammad Sa'id al-Sahhaf,
gave the official Iraqi perspective, but the numerous Iraqi
community leaders in the West were rarely featured in these
media circles. In the few instances they were featured, they
had heavy accents, and were apparently chosen because they supported
The purpose of this chapter is not to criticize the inability
of the media pundits to predict how the war in Iraq would unfold,
as doing so would be difficult for the most dedicated analysts
who study the region. Rather this chapter demonstrates how those
pundits with a political agenda, such as the neo-conservatives,
advanced their views while at the same time they were played
off as "experts" on Iraq or the region. Their analyses,
broadcast through various media outlets, misled viewers on the
nature of Iraq's WMD program and its role in the War on Terror.
failure to understand Iraq's history and politics led to many
miscalculations of how "Operation Iraqi Freedom" would
evolve, and how the Iraqi people would react to an American
occupation. Additional miscalculations could have disastrous
results. If given the chance, as an historian of Iraq, I could
have used the media to warn that the US should heed the lesson
of the Great Iraqi Revolution of 1920, which united the disparate
communities of the Shi'as, Sunnis, and Kurds in the newly created
mandate of Iraq in their common animosity to British forces
based in Iraq. All the ingredients are present for a second
Great Iraqi Revolution. The Iraqi nation was created from the
ravages of the First World War, a nationwide revolt in the 1920s,
and the uncertainties of World War II. It underwent revolutions
in 1958, 1963 and 1968, dealt with an almost continuous Kurdish
rebellion, a mass uprising in March of 1991, and three disastrous
wars with foreign powers. Neither Iraq, nor the Americans stationed
there, need a second Great Revolution. TBS
Al-Marashi (M.A., Georgetown)is an analyst at the Center for Non-Proliferation
Studies in Monterey, California. After receiving a master's in
Arab Studies, Al-Marashi is currently finishing a Ph.D. at the
University of Oxford, Centre for Middle Eastern Studies. He is
a specialist on Iraq's intelligence agencies and Iraqi public
diplomacy during the 1990-1991 occupation of Kuwait. Al-Marashi
authored the Middle East Review of International Affairs article,
"Iraq's Security and Intelligence Network: A Guide and Analysis",
which was plagiarized by the British government in February 2003
as part of its case for going to war in Iraq. The case's celebrity
resulted in an intensive but brief stint as an international media
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