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About Wendell Steavenson

Wendell Steavenson has worked for Time and has written for a variety of publications, including the Daily Telegraph and Prospect.

Articles by Wendell Steavenson

This week’s front page editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice


Iraq after the war is a place of fragments. Wendell Steavenson, who stayed in the country for three weeks after the fall of Saddam, portrays the chasms of fear, confusion and anger in the moment of "freedom".

Before the fall

Ambitious survivalists are peeling off from Saddam’s crumbling regime and taking the freedom road from Baghdad to Kurdistan. Three conceal their faces yet offer their secrets of the last days to our intrigued Tehran correspondent.

A light in the north

Sulaimaniya is following the war intently, judging the moment, weighing the possibilities. With memories of exile, conscription and chemical attack, Kurds have no illusions about the Iraqi regime. In freedom, they gaze upon the people of the south – human shields of an iron regime – with wonder and pity.

'I am blind with crying': in the Kurdistan mountains

The frontier between Iraqi forces and Kurdish militias is a crossroads of uncertainty and fear. The long-awaited arrival of US forces raises Kurdish hopes of a return to Kirkuk and Mosul. But in the mountains, among the thousands of displaced civilians and bitter memories, there is still intense wariness of Saddam.

On the Kurdistan frontline: longing for war and Kirkuk

On the eve of war, the borderline between Free Kurdistan and Saddam’s forces is a place of rumour. Refugees from Kirkuk - a great oil city as well as the Kurds’ emotional capital – gather there, listen to the wind, and wait for the moment of return.

With the Iraqi opposition: if, how, and then what?

What comes after regime change in Baghdad? For delegates at the Iraqi opposition conference in northern, Kurdish Iraq, the long wait for the US envoy reveals doubts about American diplomacy and Turkish intentions. Will ‘free Iraqis’ be masters of their own fate, or once again betrayed?

A big mess in Kurdistan

From Sulaimaniya to Halabja, our Tehran correspondent continues her travels in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Some Kurds dream of using the impending war to march south to oil-rich Kirkuk. But are they watching their back?


From their bases in Iran and Kurdistan, Iraqi opposition movements are longing for the moment when ‘freedom’ moves from a whisper to a roar. It is a time of hope and danger, but also of paralysis. For behind all their discussions lies a single, unanswered question: what do the Americans intend?

Torture stories

The Iraqi Shia exiles in Iran carry the physical and mental scars of imprisonment, torture and fear. The stories are legion, the memories indelible. Our Tehran correspondent visits Qom, and listens.

Drinking Tehran dry

Between the cracks of legality and convention, the fuel of Iran is alcohol. A new-year tour of an earthly paradise for nostalgic hearts and parched throats.

Ordinary people can't be bothered (life is hard enough as it is)

There is disillusion and anger aplenty in Iran – from students to housewives, teashops to the bazaar. But like the shroud of pollution over Tehran, the daily business of survival suffuses every conversation.

Between fear and hope in Kurdistan

Our columnist leaves Tehran for Iraqi Kurdistan just below the no-fly zone. The Kurds she meets have carved out a precarious life free of Saddam’s rule. But they are yet to break his hold on their minds and memories.

To and fro and back to the middle of the status quo

The campus seethes, lawyers huddle, and reformists wait. Everywhere, police and vocal loyalists hold the line. Welcome to Tehran, city of passions, slogans and stasis.

This side of the Evil Divide

Tehran is a city where newspaper editors go to prison and the highways feature ‘Death to America’ slogans. But opinion polls, diplomatic games, and political conversation in the bazaars give our Iran-based columnist a refreshing sense of cynical, paranoid normality.

Kabul spring: the poor place their bets

Caught between the seduction of Hollywood’s images and the prohibitions of the Taliban’s fallen mullahs, between the rule of dollars, NGOs and Kalashnikovs, Afghanistan’s people are struggling to find their bearings. In this five-part series for openDemocracy, the author of the highly-praised “Stories I Stole”, explores how they are doing.

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