Fixing Iraq


So the rumor in Cairo is that an international conference on Iraq will be held here sometime before Ramadan, which starts October 16th, or thereabouts. Allawi and friends will be discussing the Iraqi elections. The first I heard of that news was this morning, while I was interviewing Hisham Kassem, the editor of the independent daily Al Misri Al Yom.

Kassem has just quit smoking. I had just woken up, after four hours of sleep. The conversation reflected both these realities, but Kassem was gracious, and full of good information, despite my inability to speak. We talked about Egypt’s new opposition Al Ghad party, which I have just finished writing about. “I’ve been trying to join a political party since I was 20,” he said. He’s now 44. “Al Ghad is the first one I’ve seriously contemplated” Unfortunately, he’s too busy with his paper, which is its own bit of political activism, to get involved. Kassem says the paper employs about 120 journalists, many of them just starting out (pic, above).

Kassem had been described to me as an Egyptian neo-con, but honestly, I couldn’t tell. I hadn’t slept.