Most readers of this blog are familiar with the American Universities of Beirut and Cairo (this blog's namesake is an alum of AUB). Some, like Charlie, may be unaware that there is an ongoing effort to build a similar institution in Sulaimaniya, Iraq.
It would be an ambitious project even in a Middle Eastern country not embroiled in war: build an American-style university where classes are taught in English, teachers come from around the world and graduates compete for lucrative jobs in fields like business and computer science.
Yet some of the leading lights of Iraq's political and intellectual classes are doing exactly that, even as the bloodshed widens.
Their planned American University of Iraq is modeled after the famous private universities in Cairo and Beirut. The project's managers have a board of trustees; a business plan recently completed by McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm; three candidates for university president; and $25 million, much of it in pledges from the American government and Kurdish sources. To fulfill their dream, they need much more: $200 million to $250 million over 15 years, said Azzam Alwash, the board's executive secretary.
Our world famous blog is unlikely to make a dent in that $200 million price tag. But loyal readers may remember our efforts earlier this year to support the COIN Academy in Kabul. Now, via interminable contrarian Christopher Hitchens, we present a similar opportunity for the American University in Iraq:
However, I do believe that many people wish they could do something positive and make a contribution, however small, to the effort to build democracy in Iraq. And I have a suggestion. In the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniya, the American University of Iraq has just opened its doors. And it is appealing for people to donate books. [...]
I recently received a progress report from Sulaymaniya from Thomas Cushman, who is a professor in the sociology department at Wellesley College and the founding editor of the Journal of Human Rights. He tells me that the American University attaches very special importance to the establishment of a library in English. An initiative has been set up to furnish the campus with the most up-to-date books that can be provided.
We here at Abu M [and SWJ] aren't doing the coordinating this time... and there is no official reading list. But as Hitchens notes there's a need for social science and technical, engineering related books, among many others. We've all got books from college (and beyond) laying around our shelves: calc, organic chemistry, political theory, etc. If you have a minute, see that they find their way to Sulaimaniya.
The American University of Iraq—Sulaimani
Building No. 7, Street 10