Remembering Iraq, 2002 / by james longley

Al-Muntanabbi Street, Baghdad, 2002

Digging through hard drives I came across some scans from XPAN slides I made in Iraq in 2002, about six months before the 2003 US-led war. The pictures include some street shots around Baghdad and Basra, on Al-Mutanabbi Street, in an auto-repair district, on the "Highway of Death" near the southern border, and at several clinics for children. I have posted 20 of the images in a gallery.

It was usually difficult to make images in Iraq during this September-October 2002 trip. Saddam Hussein was still in power, and Iraqi security monitored everything. However, since I had no special story to follow and all I wanted to do was take pictures of normal life in the city, I managed to beg and plead my way into making a few images of Iraq at that particular moment.

The automotive repair neighborhood in central Baghdad that shows up in some of these images was later the setting for Chapter One of my documentary film, Iraq in Fragments.

By 2002 Iraq had undergone almost 12 years of US-led sanctions, and the general population of Iraq had suffered great deprivation and terrible health consequences. These problems for ordinary Iraqis were transformed into a whole new set of problems when the 2003 invasion happened.

For an informative and sobering read on the pre-2003 Iraq sanctions policy, written by the man who ran the UN program, take a look at A Different Kind of War: The UN Sanctions Regime in Iraq by Hans C. von Sponek. 

An auto-repair district in Baghdad, 2002