In August 2003, 30-year-old Rory Stewart took a taxi from Jordan to Baghdad and asked the British Foreign Office for a job. The Farsi-speaking former diplomat soon found himself appointed deputy governor of Maysan province in southern Iraq. His new book, The Prince of the Marshes, describes his experiences in Maysan and Nasiriyah. This week we are publishing five excerpts from the book detailing episodes from Stewart’s early days in Maysan, as he attempted to understand the system, the region, and the players, particularly tribal leader Karim Mahood Hattab, the “Prince of the Marshes.”
Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2003
If the province was to remain reasonably quiet, I believed I would have to build a close relationship with the Prince of the Marshes and since I had failed to make an impression in his house, I invited him to my office. He drove his small Japanese car right into the compound—no one dared to search him—parked beside an armored personnel carrier, returned the policeman’s salute and strode down the path, lifting his fine gold-braided cloak out of the dust.