The Foreign Service Journal, November 2006

zation and Its Discontents , a far easier book to digest. That said, Fair Trade for All will appeal to serious readers, and deserves a wide audience. James Patterson is a former FSO whose writing and reviews have ap- peared in the Foreign Service Journal , Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor. The Sunni Side of the Street Iraq Ablaze: Inside the Insurgency Zaki Chehab, I.B.Taurus & Co. Ltd., 2006, $34.31, paperback, 220 pages. R EVIEWED BY G EORGE B. L AMBRAKIS The main contribution Iraq Ablaze: Inside the Insurgency makes, for the specialist as well as the general reader, lies in its focus on the Sunni insur- gency and its explanation of how American missteps and local suspi- cions have turned so many Iraqis against coalition forces. Indeed, the title’s reference to “insurgency” by itself suggests that the opposition is broader than just foreign fighters and Baathist diehards. While the narrative centers on Sunnis, it details the political costs of Washington’s failure to provide effective security and reconstruction immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein. A Palestinian journalist who grew up in a Lebanese refugee camp, Zaki Chehab appears to have established excellent contacts in Iraq (his first trip there was in 1978) and elsewhere in the region. This has led to his gaining the confidence of the types of people that Western journalists would never dare approach, even if the opportuni- ty were offered them — especially now that so many journalists have become targets of the insurgency. The book has useful chapters on foreign fighters, the Shia religious leadership and the Palestinian con- nection, and offers a tour d’horizon of the regional powers most interested in Iraq (Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey). Chehab clearly enjoys insider accounts of secret manipulations, as when he claims a Baghdad-based human rights activist, Safieh Al- Suhail, hosted three different meet- ings between Iraqi politicians Ahmed Chalabi and Iyad Allawi at a time when the press was portraying them as not on speaking terms. He reports that during those talks, the two agreed “to postpone their fight for another day” and allow the formation of a coalition government “using Prime Minister Al-Jaafari as a figurehead.” Saddam Hussein is, of course, a pivotal figure in the narrative. In one meeting, he reportedly impressed a delegation of visiting Palestinians with a promise, made while standing before a huge regional map, to free all Arabs from oppression. Toward that end, he provided Iraqis to participate in actions against Israel by the various rejectionist Palestinian terrorist groups that opposed Fatah. Chenab makes no bones about the dictator’s ruthless- ness, however. He says Saddam ordered the assassination of Abu Nidal when that terrorist leader appeared in Baghdad as an uninvited guest. Chehab castigates the U.S. for sins such as Abu Ghraib. He also relays a common Iraqi belief that the Ameri- cans came to Iraq primarily for its oil and are sure to remain there indefi- nitely as occupiers. He goes so far as to list four military bases that the United States plans to hold onto. And he reports that even Ayatollah al- Sistani, who has been relatively coop- erative to date, is now pushing for the Americans to leave. Chehab is clearly not a stickler for details, misidentifying Donald Rums- feld as Secretary of State and Douglas Feith as U.S. national security adviser. He also shares a Middle Eastern ten- dency for exaggeration and emphatic misstatement, asserting that Arab Sunnis make up 35 percent of the Iraqi population — nearly double the true proportion. Nor should the reader look to him for a balanced weighing of pros and cons in Iraq (though a partisan atti- tude is understandable as a way for Chehab to protect his privileged entree to anti-Western sources). Yet his central message is quite reasonable — one might even say indisputable: “As history shows, a military can never defeat a guerrilla force without the support of the indigenous people.” A retired FSO, George Lambrakis spent over half of his 31-year career working in or on the Middle East. He now heads the international relations and diplomacy program at Schiller International University in London. N O V E M B E R 2 0 0 6 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 79 B O O K S Chehab relays a common Iraqi belief that the Americans came primarily for Iraq’s oil, and are sure to remain there indefinitely as occupiers.