Interview with Kanan Makiya

Democratiya has the first part of a thought-provoking long interview with Kanan Makiya in which he reveals a lot of his intellectual development from young Trotskyist to his present role as a supporter of the invasion of Iraq and one-time advisor to the State Department.

The first political event of my life was the 1967 Arab/Israeli war. Although I had no political background, I started to listen to the BBC during the war. In Baghdad we were getting triumphalist speeches from the Arab Nationalist Regime (that preceded the Ba'athist takeover in '68) telling us the Arabs were winning, and that the Israelis were on the run. All lies and bullshit. And I remember knowing that it was bullshit at the time. I had my first political discussion with young men and women of my age in Baghdad, at a public swimming pool where we gathered. I said, 'it's lies, it's lies, it's not true'. The Arab world was losing the war, superfast, but there was this denial. And ordinary people only had what the regular news was saying. I remember being infuriated by that obvious lie.
It's also worth to re-read Edward Said bitter, and in my view unwarranted, harangue against Makiya a few years ago alongside with this.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,