WNR 101

Listen to previous editions of Iraq 101 and Afghanistan 101, where we put down the newspaper and pick up the history book to figure out how we got to where we are today in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Afghanistan shares its border with six other countries. How has its relationship with these countries, particularly Pakistan, been affected by the war?

Learn about the impact of Afghanistan’s neighbors on the war.

Hamid Karzai has been in power since 2001 as Afghanistan’s first democratically elected president. What got him to this point?

Listen to this profile of President Karzai.

Afghanistan is the most heavily-mined country in the world. How are landmines planted decades ago still affecting Afghans today?

Learn about the history of landmines in Afghanistan.

The city of Kandahar, in the south of Afghanistan, is infamous for being the site of clashes between the Taliban and foreign troops. What was the city like before the war?

Learn about the history of Kandahar.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001. But who were they, and how did they come to power? How is the Taliban resurgence different from the old guard?

Listen about the history of the Taliban.


The conflict in Iraq is not just about foreign versus internal groups; there are are also feuding militias inside the country.

Learn about the Mahdi Army and its feud with the Badr Brigade.

After the 2003 invasion, the US began a de-Baathification campaign to eradicate traces of Saddam’s regime in the new Iraqi government.

Learn more about the history of de-Baathification.

What role has Iraq played in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and how has the current war in Iraq changed the dynamics of that conflict?

This piece from December 2007 examines the history of Iraqi-Israeli relations.

Not only do Sunni/Shi’a sectarian divisions play a large role in the Iraq conflict, but there are also political divisions within the sects themselves.

Learn about the Shi’a groups in the southern province of Basra.

Ali Hassan al-Majid is better known as ‘Chemical Ali’ for his use of chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds in the 1980’s.

Listen to this November 2007 profile of Chemical Ali and his trial for war crimes.

Northeast of Baghdad is Diyala province, which has seen much change since the start of the war in 2003.

This piece from November 2007 profiles Diyala province.

The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, is a Militant Kurdish group with a tense history with Turkey.

Listen to this October 2007 piece about the history of the PKK.

Learn about the controversy surrounding Iraq’s first permanent Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki.

Listen to this 2007 bio of Nuri al-Maliki.

Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani is one of the most influential figures in the Muslims world, with influence across political and social spheres.

Listen to this profile of al-Sistani.

The Anbar Awakening council is a group of tribal leaders who are trying to eliminate Al-Qaeda in their province.

Listen to this 2007 piece about the Anbar Awakening Council.

Find out how loyalty to the tribe can shape Iraqis’ relationship with the state and with each other.

Learn about tribal identity in Iraq today.

We speak with two biographers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the infamous leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and examine the man and the myth.

Listen to a portrait of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Iraq is no stranger to violent transfers of power. But even with the violence, some are smoother then others.

Listen to the story of the fall of the monarchy in the 1958 coup.

Iraq used to have one of the most powerful militaries in the world. Where did it come from, and what happened to it?

Listen to the history of the Iraqi Army.

Why does Iraq look like it does today?

Listen to the story of British influence in the forming of a new nation.


One of the obstacles that a new Iraqi government must overcome is the divide between Sunni Muslims and Shi’a Muslims. But what is the nature of this division?

Learn about the schism between these two denominations of Islam.

Since we live in a country that divides church and state, we often forget that many governments are based on religious codes. Iraq is trying to decide how Islam will fit into their new constitution.

Hear about Islamic Law and the role it could play in the new Iraq.

How do Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan celebrate the end of Ramadan?

Learn about the Muslim holiday of Eid.

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