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Losing the south

When I was deputy governor of two southern Iraqi provinces last year, we tried to create a tolerant, modern society. Then the Islamic parties won most of the seats in the election and the dream collapsed

By Rory Stewart   November 2005

Is southern Iraq only hell with flies? September’s image of a British soldier bathed in flames as he tumbled from his tank seemed to symbolise a state of anarchy, spawned by the coalition and dominated by Iranian-funded terrorist militias. The reality is less bleak, but still unsettling. Southern Iraq is under coalition occupation but not coalition control; an elected government that is not quite a democracy uses a secular constitution to impose Islamist codes; Iraqi nationalists funded by Iran employ illegal groups to enforce the law. I spent ten months in Iraq last year as the coalition deputy governor of…

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