Commentary Magazine

Article Preview

Iraq's Impact on the Middle East: Baghdad's Year of Revolution
A Firsthand Report

- Abstract

AT FIRST glance, the streets of Baghdad do not appear to have changed since the revolution of July 14, 1958, which overthrew the old monarchy and established the Iraqi Republic. Baghdad’s heat remains stifling, its quarters congested. The same dense, aimless looking masses of people stream up and down Rashid Street, hemmed in by the big, honking cars and the red city buses originally built for the London Transport Authority. The men’s bright, American-style sport shirts are topped by their Arab head-gear, and everywhere one sees women in black abbayas, and the children in the night-shirts known as dashdasha. Everywhere, too, are the sick and the crippled, sprawling half-naked on the sidewalks, awaiting the alms of the passerby. Smelly pools of “water” still gleam blackly on the streets and up the small side alleys. Returning to the same Arab coffee houses in which I had whiled away time during my last visit three years ago, I found the same managers, sitting at the entrance over their “cash registers,” copper trays into which the customers drop their ten or fourteen fils; even some of the old customers recognized my face. In the markets, the same cheap manufactured goods, with an occasional rare example of fine Persian handiwork, were being sold to a silent crowd of black-veiled women and leisurely tribesmen.

About the Author