Occupational Hazards by Rory Stewart - review by Justin Marozzi

Justin Marozzi

Angry Young Seyyed

Occupational Hazards


Picador 320pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

The last adventure Rory Stewart wrote about was his walk across Afghanistan. This time, in Iraq, his aim is more ambitious. He is working for the Foreign Office, as representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in the southern province of Maysan.

‘My mission’, he writes, ‘was to create “a democratic Iraq at peace with itself and with its neighbours” or in the jargon popular in Baghdad, “a multi-ethnic, decentralised, prosperous state, based on human rights, a just constitution, a vibrant civil society and the rule of law”.’ He acknowledges that this seems a little overambitious.

Despite, or perhaps because of his background working in post-conflict states and in the Muslim world, Stewart confesses to harbouring reservations about Western modes of intervention: ‘I was very suspicious of theories produced in seminars in Western capitals and of foreigners in a hurry.’

Yet within days of arriving in Amara

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