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Baghdad Central: Occupation Noir


Institute For Middle East Studies

Please join us to hear fiction author and Georgetown Professor of Arabic Literature Elliott Colla discuss his latest book, Baghdad Central, with GW History Professor Dina Khouri.

Baghdad, November 2003. The US occupation is not yet a disaster but the CPA has disbanded the Iraqi army and decimated the police in its policy of de-Ba’athification of Iraqi society. Inspector Muhsin al-Khafaji is a mid-level Iraqi cop who deserted his post back in April. Khafaji has lived long enough in pre- and post-Saddam Iraq to know that clinging on to anything but poetry and his daughter, Mrouj, is asking for trouble. Nabbed by the Americans and imprisoned in Abu Ghraib, Khafaji is offered only one way out – he has to work for the CPA to rebuild the Iraqi Police Services. But it’s only after US forces take Mrouj that he figures out a way to make his collaboration palatable, and even rewarding. Soon, he is investigating the disappearance of young translators working for the US Army.


  • Elliott Colla is a Georgetown Professor of Arabic Literature.

  • Dina Khouri is a History Professor at GWU.