Graeme Wood

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Iran Bombs Iraq

Originally appeared in Slate.

Iran Bombs Iraq

Meet the Kurdish guerrillas who want to topple the Tehran regime.

QANDIL, Iraq—The very large potential bombs being built in Iran, as well as the somewhat smaller real bombs detonating in Baghdad, have distracted attention from the pitiless barrage of medium-sized ones that Iran lobbed into Iraq last month. In the first week of May, the Iranian military sent hundreds of artillery shells and Katyusha rockets whistling over the mountaintops into Iraq’s Qandil region. As soon as the blasts began, most of the local villagers jumped into Land Cruisers, pickups, and tractors and fled for the nearby cities of Qala’at-Diza and Raniya. They came back a week later and found many of their sheep blown up or starving to death. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Slate

Iran Bombs Iraq

Slate

QANDIL, Iraq—The very large potential bombs being built in Iran, as well as the somewhat smaller real bombs detonating in Baghdad, have distracted attention from the pitiless barrage of medium-sized ones that Iran lobbed into Iraq last month. In the first week of May, the Iranian military sent hundreds of artillery shells and Katyusha rockets whistling over the mountaintops into Iraq’s Qandil region. As soon as the blasts began, most of the local villagers jumped into Land Cruisers, pickups, and tractors and fled for the nearby cities of Qala’at-Diza and Raniya. They came back a week later and found many of their sheep blown up or starving to death.

Iran had little interest in the sheep, or, for that matter, in the Iraqi Kurds whose villages they destroyed. Tehran was aiming at the Iranian Kurdish guerrillas who during the last two years have become Tehran’s most noisome domestic pest and who openly seek ways to become an international irritant as well. The Iranian Kurds hate the conservative, ethnically Persian government, and they want federal autonomy in Iran to match their Iraqi Kurdish cousins’ arrangement next door. To prove they’re serious, the Kurds have rioted nonstop in Iran’s Kurdistan province since 2005, and snipers from the Kurdistan Free Life Party (known as PJAK), the Iranian Kurdish guerrilla movement, have even been taking potshots at Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, killing dozens. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Inebriated Republic of Iran

Modern Drunkard, June 2006.

Before I knew better than to trust my elders, one of them convinced me that Ireland and Russia had no rivals as destinations for a drinking holiday.

He said the subzero cold had forced the Russians to perfect the art of warming the gullet with hard alcohol, and that the Guinness-lubricated merriment of Irish pubs made American bars look like Christian Science Reading Rooms.

What he told me was the truth, but only part of it. Ireland has a pub for every 375 people, which means that on any given evening, once the kids have been put to bed, literally 75 percent of Irish males could be “at the pub” without violating fire codes. And neither medical nor political science can explain how the Russians managed to keep the Soviet Union from crumbling for 70 years, even though the average daily consumption of vodka appears to be (as P. J. O’Rourke once said of Australians and beer) about ten and three quarters Imperial gallons for children under the age of nine. At a good Moscow traktir, if you sit down and order a cheese sandwich, you get a cheese sandwich and a shot of ice-cold vodka. Read the rest of this entry »

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