By Christopher Kremmer
Except oil, rugs are the Muslim world's best-known commodity. whereas rugs are present in so much Western houses, the tale of spiritual, political, and tribal strife at the back of their production is nearly unknown. In The Carpet Wars, award-winning journalist Christopher Kremmer chronicles his interesting ten-year trip alongside the traditional carpet alternate routes that run during the world's such a lot misunderstood and unstable areas -- Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan, and the previous Soviet republics of imperative Asia.
Christopher Kremmer's odyssey throughout the crescent of Islamic international locations all started within the early Nineties, while he arrived in Afghanistan to satisfy the communist-backed president, Mohammed Najibullah. at the outskirts of Kabul, mujahideen rebels have been massing whereas the carpet purchasers of the outdated urban endured to ply their undying alternate. Kremmer used to be in Kabul while the mujahideen grew to become their weapons on each other after ridding the rustic of the hated communists. He was once there whilst the Taliban got here and the military of non secular scholars -- aided through the rich Arab radical Osama bin encumbered -- emerged from the scorched earth to enforce their imaginative and prescient of "a natural Islamic state."
Traveling via those territories, Kremmer chronicles Islamic societies as they have been convulsed via dictatorship and greed and as refugees sought asylum within the West. He cemented lifelong friendships and met an unforgettable forged of characters, from nomads toiling on moveable handlooms to shady retailers and leaders of the syndicates that keep watch over the bazaars. within the distant Hindu Kush, he celebrated Eid with the past due Afghan guerrilla legend Ahmad Shah Massoud. In Kandahar, he took tea with Taliban leaders and went trying to find Osama bin encumbered. He watched as a brand new iteration puzzled the ability of the mullahs in Iran, whereas in Iraq the population chafed below the burden of sanctions and Saddam Hussein's cult of personality.
The Carpet Wars takes readers right into a global the place even the easiest motif on a rug may be packed with spiritual, tribal, and political importance, areas the place lifestyles bustles with bargaining and gossip in bazaars and teahouses, whereas countries fall apart, leaders fall, and the ultimate disagreement among freedom and terror looms.
An edge-of-the-chair trip memoir, The Carpet Wars bargains a private, shiny, and revealing examine Islam's human face, wracked through turmoil yet sustained via friendship, undefined, and humor. it's also a historic photo of nations on the middle of worldwide war of words that exploded onto the homefront on September eleven, 2001.
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Extra resources for The Carpet Wars: From Kabul to Baghdad: A Ten-Year Journey Along Ancient Trade Routes
Sitting at one end of a lounge, with a few correspondents and acolytes crowding the floor at his feet, he began speaking with the whispered Islamic injunction ‘Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim’ — In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful — then conversed easily in Dari and French, a cultured warlord, holding his chin with long, crooked fingers, his answers peppered with ouis and nons. ‘If we took Charikar and Bagram, it would be easy for us to go into Kabul. But we want to talk to other groups about it,’ he said.
But frustrated with Hekmatyar’s failure to evict the Tajiks and Uzbeks from Kabul — a city they had ruled for almost three hundred years — the Pashtun majority turned to a new force composed of religious students under the leadership of a one-eyed mullah from Kandahar. The Taliban, as they would be known, were rapidly buying, proselytising and occasionally fighting their way towards the capital, and in September 1996 they forced the northern forces to abandon the city. In the UN Special Mission Compound where he had been living with his brother for the past four years, former president Najibullah took the dramatic developments calmly.
In the now defunct Dean’s Hotel in Peshawar, I had chanced upon an opulent matching pair of antiques from a Turkmen loom. They were the genuine article, with a spacious layout of six guls pointing to a venerable ancestry, possibly nineteenth century. The proprietor of the shop called them ‘wedding rugs’. On the threshold of matrimony myself, visions of an Eastern potentate and his princess spending their first night on these very mats enticed me, and the merchant’s limited but precise English had an answer for every question.