Juan Cole

Juan Cole is a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Sacred Space and Holy War: The Politics, Culture and History of Shi'ite Islam, and he maintains a blog on Middle Eastern and Iraqi affairs called Informed Comment.

Recent Articles

Theocracy Now

Not since the Islamic revolution of 1979 has the Middle East witnessed a political upheaval of the magnitude of the Iraqi election held on January 30. The Shia majority has now come decisively to power in the new parliament, and it may make the Kurds its junior partner. The core of the new government consists of two old-time revolutionary Shia parties now somewhat mellowed, the Dawa Party and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which will pursue the “Islamization” of formerly secular Iraq (they have not mellowed that much). The U.S. media coverage concentrated on the magical moment in which Iraqis braved mortar shells and car bombs to vote. But few Americans realized that, in fact, the Bush administration had tried hard to avoid having anything like one-person, one-vote elections in Iraq. It had tried handing the country over to expatriate politicians with little local support, installing an American administrator to rule by fiat, and persuading Iraqis to allow...