Revolt on the Tigris
The Al-Sadr Uprising and the Governing of Iraq
A former paratrooper in the British Army with extensive experience of conflict and post-conflict management in the countries of former Yugoslavia, Mark Etherington had just completed an M.Phil. in international relations at Cambridge University in 2003 when the British Foreign Office asked him to assume the governorship of Wasit Province in southern Iraq on behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority or CPA.
Etherington established a small team in the provincial capital of al-Kut on the banks of the Tigris in order to begin the process of reconstruction—both political and physical—of a province with a predominantly Shi'ia population of 900,000 and a long border with Iran.
The province was plagued by poverty and beset by social paralysis. A demoralized and often corrupt police force was incapable of imposing the rule of law. Ba'ath party functionaries had been purged, local municipal authority was weak, and basic services were lacking. More challenging still was an escalating armed insurgency by the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr that would culminate in a sixteen-hour firefight for control over the CPA's base in Kut.
This gritty and compelling firsthand account of post-conflict Iraq describes the turmoil visited on the country by outside intervention and the difficulties faced by the Coalition in fashioning a new political and civil apparatus.