Thirty years after the 1991 Gulf war which ousted the invaders of Saddam Husseins’ Iraq army from Kuwait I am telling the UNSCOM photographers story. Multiple of my former colleagues and others have written about the weapons inspections which followed. My language is visual; you may recognize some of the pictures in this book as they were at the time published in media across the world. What were not often published were the images of Iraqi daily life. After Saddam and the Ba'athists demise following the 2003 invasion things changed for the better and the worse. These images were made during long stays in Iraq in the 1990ies and follow up visits in 2011 and 2013 and have now become "IRAQ between wars". The book is divided into 3 sections with over 130 images and 160 pages. Available as Print or e-book.
I first arrived in Iraq on 30 June, 1991 as the photographer of a United Nations Special Commissions Inspection Team tasked with the disarmament of Iraqi’s Weapons of Mass destruction. The task was scheduled to last 3-4 months but as the Iraqi leadership failed to meet their obligations under the Security Council Resolutions, omitted and concealed prohibited programs and weapons the task dragged on. My last Inspection was in 1996 and UNSCOM still had work to do.
Beyond my official duties I spent as much time as I could wondering the streets of Baghdad and beyond to see, learn, try to understand and photograph what daily life entailed. Amongst favorite places was the noisy yet photogenic copper souk where hammer met metal. Another, Friday mornings at the Ghazil pet souk where mostly men and boys from all walks of life met to buy and trade pets. I stood out and made no attempt to hide it but was often met with curiosity and kindness.
In 2011 Iraq certainly lived up to the saying “same, same but different”. Different were the concrete blast walls and the rampant corruption of public officials. Same, same were the Iraqi s spirit and ability to go on under trying circumstances carrying personal tragedies and physical scars of war.
In 2013 the KRG invited to the 25th anniversary of the Halabjah massacre during Nawroz. Erbil was bustling with life and proved that stability often equals progress.