A former paratrooper in the British Army with extensive experience of conflict and post-conflict management in the countries of former Yugoslavia, Mark Etherington had just completed a degree in international relations at Cambridge University in 2003 when the British Foreign Office asked him to assume the administration of Wasit Province in southern Iraq on behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority or CPA.He established a small team in the provincial capital of al-Kut on the banks of the Tigris in order to begin the process of reconstruction - both political and physical - of a province with a predominantly Shia population of 900,000 and a long border with Iran.The province was plagued by poverty and beset by social paralysis. A demoralized and sometimes corrupt police force was incapable of imposing the rule of law. Ba'ath party functionaries had been purged, local municipal authority was weak, and basic services were lacking. More challenging still was an escalating armed insurgency by the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr that culminated in a sixteen-hour firefight for control of the CPA's base in Kut. This gritty and compelling firsthand account of post-conflict Iraq describes the turmoil visited on the country by outside intervention and the difficulties faced by the Coalition in fashioning a new political and civil apparatus.
MARK ETHERINGTON was brought up in Kuwait and Qatar and educated at York and Cambridge Universities and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He served six years in the British Army's Parachute Regiment, including two tours of Northern Ireland. He was seconded to the European Community's Monitor Mission in former Yugoslavia during the 1992-1995 war and has worked in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He was appointed CBE in December 2004.