Christopher Dickey

Stories by Christopher Dickey

  • Shadowland: A (Terrorist's) Letter from Iraq

    It's springtime already in Baghdad. Traffic is thick on the streets and people fill the sidewalks in the early evening, strolling through the shopping districts. The suicide bomb that took out 47 young men lining up for jobs with the new U.S.-trained military yesterday--a day after another bomb killed 53 Iraqis outside the capital--was seen as a tragedy, of course, but not much of a disruption. Iraqis have learned, after 35 years of totalitarian tyranny, genocidal wars and, now, U.S. occupation to accept the facts of life and death and move on. The Americans may have a harder time of it, though. For us, the facts on the ground are pretty stark: an attack on U.S. forces every hour, at least one of our soldiers dying every day, and more than $1 billion of taxpayer money spent on this enterprise every week.So the spokesmen for the U.S. military and the Coalition Provisional Authority are always looking for good news. They tout the election of an Olympic Committee (elections being...
  • Shadowland: Good Cop, Bad Cop

    Some of the most beautiful streets in Baghdad are concrete jungles now, enormous blast-wall mazes inhabited by Iraqi guards with AK-47s and American soldiers with Abrams tanks, all standing watch against suicide bombers. They're roads to hell, in fact, in this town where every foreigner is a target and when I threaded my way through them this morning I couldn't help thinking they're paved with the good intentions of politicians who argued that only the credible threat of war could actually prevent a war.British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell-and Sen. Hillary Clinton and, yes, Sen. John Kerry-all took that basic position in 2002 because, quite simply, 16 months ago it seemed a reasonable one to take.President Bush seemed reasonable too, at the time. He had just presented an eloquent ultimatum to the United Nations, after all, galvanizing that torpid institution, mobilizing world opinion and sending something like the fear of God into Saddam Hussein...
  • Shadowland: Tinker, Tailor, Jurist, Spy

    So the spooks are supposed to fall on their swords. In Washington and London, it's the spies who are taking the heat for all that wildly misleading stuff shoveled out of the White House and Downing Street stables about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. But, you know, it's not just bad intelligence that got us into Iraq, it's bad judgment about the consequences of invading and occupying such a place. And for that the Bush and Blair administrations have no excuses.It was never a secret that Saddam was a genocidal megalomaniac who wanted WMD. The trick was always to balance the risks he posed against the risks of deposing him. Intelligence is supposed to help make those choices, but all the decisions are up to the politicians. After Saddam steamrollered Kuwait in 1990, the first Bush administration wanted him out, and the Clinton administration subsequently made "regime change" in Iraq its official goal. But when it came to the crunch, Daddy Bush and Slick Willie worried...
  • THE IRAQ EFFECT

    Like a meteor crashing into a lake, the American invasion of Iraq made a lot of waves last year. Every one of the leaky, rotting regimes afloat in the Middle East had to worry it might be swamped by the cataclysm. Which would be next? Syria? Iran? Perhaps even Saudi Arabia? The old elites shuddered to think. But in geopolitics, as in physics, for every action there's an opposite reaction--and 10 months after the first U.S. bombs were dropped on Baghdad, what we're seeing in the Middle East is nothing like the spreading circles of American influence, reform and democratization hoped for by some of the Bush administration's idealists.There's change, to be sure, and lots of it. But the waters are roiled and murky, the currents and countercurrents increasingly unpredictable. In the last few weeks, Iran has signed a new protocol allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct snap inspections of its nuclear sites to make sure it's not building a bomb. Libya, in December,...
  • Iraq's Mr. Cellophane

    He was there, one of only four Iraqi dignitaries present, when President George W. Bush dropped in at Baghdad airport for Thanksgiving turkey with the troops. He was there again, a few weeks later, when Saddam Hussein, freshly dragged from a "spider hole" near Tikrit, was forced to confront a few men who'd fought against him for decades. If you look closely, in fact, he seems to be just about everywhere in the New Iraq. Yet Mowaffak al-Rubaie is often overlooked, like a Mr. Cellophane, on press rosters of Iraq's rising stars.His problem: he's hard to categorize. He's not a Kurdish nationalist leader with guerrilla followers in colorful clothes. Or a longtime CIA asset. Or the brother of an assassinated ayatollah. Or a onetime convicted swindler who talked his way to the hearts of American neoconservatives. So from the outside, al-Rubaie tends to blend in with the other mostly faceless characters in the 25-member Iraqi Governing Council that was appointed last summer by the United...
  • Trying Iraq's War Crimes

    The photocopied faces of the dead and missing, hundreds of them taped to the walls of the Committee of Free Prisoners, rustle in the breeze coming off the Tigris River. These men and boys who disappeared under Saddam Hussein's regime cannot say what fate they'd favor for the captured dictator. But Ibrahim Al-Idrissi, the founder of the group, knows what kind of justice he'd like to see for Saddam. "To be killed many times," he says.Hatred doesn't begin to describe the emotion Al-Idrissi and many other Iraqis, especially Shiites, feel for the fallen leader. To have him captive "is a treasure for the people who were oppressed by him," says Al-Idrissi. In his mind, such loathing should be savored: "We have been growing our hatred for him for 35 years, so we don't want to lose this hatred for Saddam in a short while." Let him be tortured, let him confess, let him be killed as horribly as he killed others, Al-Idrissi suggests: "All religions say 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth...
  • The 'Awkward' Squad

    Spain? Poland? Who needs 'em? Politesse kept European leaders from posing the question quite that way when they gathered in Brussels last weekend for a fractious, failed summit. But the sentiment was common enough.At stake was the future of a new European constitution. Would the burgeoning European Union operate under rules that favor consensus or veto, action or inaction? The showdown has often been cast as a rivalry between the Big Four--Germany, France, Britain, Italy--and all the rest of Europe. But in practical terms, it's a contest between those who want to build the European Union and grow, and those who want to preserve a cumbersome, slow but still-functioning status quo. As tensions rose, old-member Spain and candidate-member Poland presented themselves as spoilers, insisting they hold on to voting rights--veto rights, in effect--out of all proportion to their wealth or population. And thus they threw the summit into crisis.It's not the first time in recent months that...
  • Shadowland: Saddam's Mojo

    So they got Saddam Hussein at last. But, here's the real question: did they get his mojo? You could see the Americans were trying to eliminate it in that videotaped purification ceremony, when we first saw those white rubber gloves picking through his unkempt hair and the doctor's light illuminating his teeth like a jack-o-lantern. This was pretty hoo-dooey stuff, and the message was clear: the mighty dictator had fallen; the fiction of his bravery, his pride and his power were finished; the myth was dead, gone, fingered, probed. Pfffft. No more mojo here, and it won't--and he won't--be coming back.But even if that's true, and let's hope it is, that's only half the story. Because there were influential voices advocating the war with Iraq who treated this mojo business as a casus belli, not just because Saddam Hussein's own mojo was thought to be so dangerous, but because he'd taken away America's own.Yep, this is another one of those columns where I wish I were kidding. But no.In...
  • Shadowland: Intention Deficit Disorder

    T.B. (Mac) McClelland had what sounded like a great idea last spring. The former U.S. Marine officer, now head of a consulting business in the free-wheeling Persian Gulf port of Dubai, knew the war in Iraq was going to leave thousands of Saddam Hussein's main battle tanks dead in the desert. He also happened to know Charlie Wilson of Houston, Texas, who's made millions out of the salvage business. Together, they figured they could retrieve the derelict weaponry, sell it off as scrap, and contribute the profits to educational programs in the New Iraq. They called the project "Tanks for Schools.""We see it as a full circle sort of thing," says Wilson (and no, he is not the former U.S. congressman who made the Afghan mujahedin his pet project in the 1980s). "We recycle weapons of war, put the money into education, and hopefully help to avert future wars." The public relations would be great for the United States, of course, and for Wilson and McClelland, too. "What we'd like," says...
  • Death Scare On The Nile

    Lately Hosni Mubarak isn't looking well. Rumors have circulated for months in Cairo and other Middle Eastern capitals that the 75-year-old president of Egypt, who has ruled for 22 years, seems distracted and unable to focus in meetings with other heads of state. Official word from his palace, and from his increasingly influential son, Gamal Mubarak, says the old man is still going strong, and in public he was--until last week.In the middle of the presidential speech opening Parliament, live on nationwide television, Mubarak suddenly complained about the air conditioning and the temperature. Then he grabbed the sides of the lectern in a white-knuckled clinch. "What is happening?" he asked. The television cameras turned to other subjects--a long shot of the chamber, a close-up of the Egyptian seal--as the president fainted. Four guards carried him out of the hall, with Gamal close behind.For 50 long minutes, traffic stopped in many parts of Cairo. Helicopters circled overhead. Inside...
  • Generation M

    The debate about where or whether Islam belongs in Europe has become a conversational genre. To ban or not to ban headscarves in schools? Terrorism versus civil liberties? Whither multiculturalism? All worthy questions, you may say, but what do they have to do with charcuterie?The French simply love it--pork sausages, pigs' feet and ham. But when Mouhad Bourouis, 33, worked at a summer day camp for underprivileged children in the south of France a few years ago, charcuterie posed a problem. Out of 80 kids, 28 were Muslim and the halal restrictions on their diet, like kosher ones for Jewish children, meant they could eat no pork at all. "The first week I planned 28 meals with no pork, but it was just too expensive and too much of a hassle," Bourouis recalls. "So the second week, I got all the parents together and told them I would plan meals that would be OK for all the kids. If they really wanted to eat sausage, they could wait to be back at the family dinner table."Bourouis, the...
  • Shadowland: The Last Crusades

    "Kill them all and let God sort them out." I first saw that bloody-minded credo in Beirut in the 1980s, where it was popular among Christian militias and with American soldiers, emblazoned on T shirts and tattooed across biceps. I thought of it again after the bombing in Saudi Arabia this week, and then the escalation of the war in Iraq.The notion of wholesale holy war is deeply medieval, of course. The phrase was coined by 13th-century crusaders slaughtering heretics in southern France. (Righteous Christians exterminated other Christians almost as often as they killed Muslims in those days.) On July 22, 1209, tens of thousands of people were besieged by the knights of the cross in the French town of Beziers, some of them heretical, some not. How to decide who should be slaughtered? The monk serving as spiritual adviser to the crusaders deftly cited II Tim. 2:19, "The Lord knoweth them that are his." Kill them all, they figured, let God sort them out.This sort of thinking isn't...
  • Shadowland: The Hit List

    When I said goodbye to Faris Assam, not quite a week ago, we were standing on the street outside a conference center in Madrid, where he'd been lobbying international donors to support the reconstruction of Iraq. I liked him the moment I met him. He was a technocrat, not a politician, an engineer whose confidence and competence helped him rise quickly under the occupation administration to be deputy mayor of the Iraqi capital. Assam, 44, bore himself with quiet dignity, smiled easily and shook hands warmly. "See you in Baghdad," he said.But no. On Sunday evening, just hours after Assam got back home, he went to a crowded cafe to drink tea, play dominos and smoke a water-pipe with his friends. It was the first, festive night of Ramadan, and Assam was on top of the world. As one of his family members told the Washington Post's Theola Labbe, he was thinking he'd be able to use the money promised in Madrid "to turn Baghdad into heaven." Then two men walked up to Assam. One shot him in...
  • Shadowland: Death Of A Princess

    Once upon a time, not so long ago, the death of Princess Diana was my life. I covered the story at the scene in Paris the night she was killed, and for many months afterwards. The fatal crash on that last weekend in August 1997 looked like an accident to me then, and still does: the result of bad judgment, bad luck, high speed and drunk driving, just as French investigators concluded.But the mysteries conjured around the incident are fascinating nonetheless. They tell you so much about the power of conspiratorial thinking, and especially the effect it can have in that penumbral chasm, so full of unspoken suspicions and fears, that divides the West from the Muslim world.No, I'm not reading too much into it. The centerpiece of one grand conspiracy theory about Diana's death, the supposedly compelling motive without which it makes no sense, is quite simply, race: The Princess of Wales, divorced mother of the future king of England, was dating a Muslim Egyptian. Therefore she was...
  • Babylon's Broken Dreams

    Memories as old as Babylon, hopes and fears as new as the headlines out of Baghdad, all blend together in the living history of Iraq's Jews. Eileen Khalastchy, 70, remembers falling asleep on the roof of her house near the Tigris River as a child in the 1950s, listening to "the sound of music and of people clapping; the sky was full of stars." Now living in Britain, she longs to go back to Iraq, she says. Edwin Shuker, 48, member of the World Sephardic Congress, recalls living as if "we were in a big, virtual concentration camp" in Iraq in 1971. He was 16 when his family fled north through the mountains to freedom. "We were willing to lose everything," he says. "You felt you were going to die anyway." Yet he, too, wanted to return, and last month for a few days he did. "I was unable to control the tears," he says. As he saw Baghdad from the air, he broke down. "I cried for our whole life, for our community, now dispersed all over the world, for all the people killed by Saddam...
  • Shadowland: Countdown Iran

    Good news from the United Nations today: the Security Council unanimously approved a new resolution for the reconstruction of Iraq. Unfortunately, even the Security Council's words are cheap, and reconstruction is not. Worse still, there's a new war on the horizon.A countdown has started for war between the United States and Iran. It's quiet but persistent right now, like the ticking of a Swatch. Soon enough though, alarms will start ringing.When did this move toward war begin? You could say 25 years ago, with the fall of the Shah of Iran, or just this year, when Saddam was deposed. You could make the case that the clock started the moment some of Osama bin Laden's key aides found sanctuary in Iran, or on the day that Iranian equipment used to make nuclear fuel showed traces of the stuff used in nuclear weapons. But whenever the countdown to war began, it's already well under way.Now, countdowns come in a lot of guises. They can be bluffs as trivial as a schoolyard threat, "I'm...
  • Books: Trips To Die For

    At last, a book that tells you what's beautiful, what's fun and what's just unforgettable--everywhere on earth. Patricia Schultz's "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" is sure to set the modern standard for being "worldly." Have you been to Machu Picchu? The Pyramids? How about Superdawg in Chicago? Have you sailed the Grenadines? Elbowed your way through the Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan? Don't feel bad if the answer is no. It took Schultz seven years of hard work, hiking on Mount Fuji, eating ribs in Memphis, sipping vodka at the Ice Hotel in Sweden. Well, not work exactly, just the kind of thing we'd all like a chance to do before we die. Now Schultz has given us the extra nudge we needed.
  • Shadowland: Show Me The Money

    "There is the beginning of a feel-good factor in Baghdad," a friend of mine in the U.S.-appointed Iraqi government tells me, and I don't doubt it. THE WEATHER IS cooling off (a mere 100 degrees today), electricity is coming on (most places, most of the time), more Iraqi police are patrolling the streets (even though one of their stations was just blown up by a suicide bomber, killing 10 people).When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed last month that "the trajectory we're on is a good one," he was speaking for the Iraqis, as American officials are wont to do, and probably from an Iraqi point of view he was right. Compared to the horrors of Saddam Hussein, or the privations brought on by 13 years of sanctions, or the chaos created by the ill-planned American occupation, the situation was bound to improve a little bit, at least for a little while. Every poll released in the past month shows the majority of Iraqis are essentially optimistic about the future. "I think you'll...
  • Is France Right?

    What's wrong with the Iraqis? The United States and Britain freed them from Saddam Hussein and, sure, the vast majority says that's great. A Gallup poll, released last week, found that 62 percent think liberty is worth the hardship. But they don't much like their liberators. The same poll shows their preferred country by far is--get this--France. And their favorite leader? Jacques Chirac. The French president's approval rating tops George W. Bush's by 13 points in Baghdad. Tony Blair couldn't get elected dogcatcher.It would be a mistake to read too much into this. Polls are just political beauty contests. But clearly it's a milestone on Chirac's road to the title of Mr. Un-America. In the months since the Iraq crisis began, France has shrewdly positioned itself not so much as the enemy of the United States but as the standard-bearer for everyone on the globe who doesn't share the Bush administration's with-us-or-against-us world view. Righteous crusades against Evil, the French...
  • Iraq's Mr. Popularity

    What is wrong with those Iraqis? The United States and Britain freed them from Saddam Hussein and, sure, the vast majority say that's great: a poll released last week finds that 62 percent think liberty is worth the hardship. But they don't much like their liberators. The same Gallup poll shows their preferred country by far is--get this--France. And their favorite leader? Jacques Chirac! The French president's approval rating tops George W. Bush's by 13 points in Baghdad. Tony Blair couldn't get elected dogcatcher.It would be a mistake to read too much into this. Polls are just political beauty contests. But clearly it's a milestone on Chirac's road to the title of Mr. Un-America.In the months since the Iraq crisis began, France has positioned itself shrewdly, not so much as the enemy of the United States, but as the forthright alternative to the Bush administration's with-us-or-against-us view of the world. Righteous crusades against evil, the French warned, can have evil...
  • Shadowland: War By The Numbers

    I remember, just a few years back, Wes Clark was feeling pretty good about his war. This was in July 1999, just after he'd commanded the victorious NATO fight for Kosovo, just before he was fired by the Pentagon, and way before anyone thought about him as a presidential candidate. I had been in Belgrade when the allied air forces were attacking, and General Clark wanted to hear, firsthand, what it was like. "Pretty low-key for a bombed city, wasn't it?" he suggested over coffee."Well, yeah," I said, trying to explain just how strange the sensation had been. "You know, people came to have a lot of faith, in fact, in the accuracy of NATO bombs.""Yeah," chortled Clark. "I know."If Clark was feeling cocky, it was because thanks to the Air Force (and despite his own frustrated desire to send in ground troops), he'd just fought the cleanest, most efficient war in history, without a single allied casualty. The bombing campaign went on for 78 days, 38,000 sorties, yet by the end, people in...
  • Shadowland: When Victory Was Ours

    The disaster in Iraq, it would seem, is the fault of the press. "YOU CREEPS HAVE BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS," reads an e-mail from a gentleman in Cincinnati, which popped up on my screen this morning as I was drinking my coffee.It's one of hundreds in response to last week's Shadowland column where I suggested Americans were in denial about the mess in Iraq, that the French probably were right when they tried to prevent the rush to war last spring (but are insufferably smug about it now) and that there were warnings in the American press about how long and painful the military occupation would be, if only the public had listened.That last point really ticked people off. The Cincinnati gentleman attacked the "so-called liberal media" for not being liberal enough, for cheerleading the rush to war. Others, on the right, called me a traitor for daring to criticize the Iraq adventure at all, even now. "Only a True American can disagree with our leaders but still publicly support them," a Mr....
  • Shadowland: Pride And Prejudices

    A sturdy-looking American matron in the audience at the American University of Paris grew redder by the second. She was listening to a panel talking about the Iraq war and its effect on U.S.-French relations, and she kept nodding her head like a pump building emotional pressure.Finally she exploded: "Surely these can't be the only reasons we invaded Iraq!" the woman thundered, half scolding, but also half pleading. "Surely not!" What first upset her was my suggestion that, looking back, the French were right. They tried to stop the United States and Britain from rushing headlong into this mess. Don't we wish they'd succeeded? (Readers, please address hate mail to shadowland@newsweek.com)Then she listened as another panelist and I went through the now-familiar recitation of Washington's claims before the war, and the too-familiar realities since: the failure to find weapons of mass destruction and the inevitable conclusion that Saddam Hussein was not the threat he was cracked up to...
  • Rethinking Islam

    The night a terrorist bombing killed a U.S. friendly ayatollah in the holy precincts of Najaf last month, American soldiers rushed to seal off a street along the Tigris River in Baghdad. Inside an opulent mansion there, where tropical fish swim in glowing tanks and songbirds twitter in cages, reside two Muslim scholars out to change the way Islam works in the modern world.One is the trim, turbaned, cigar-smoking Iyad Jamaleddine, who'll tell you that "God created religion to serve man, not the other way around." The other has a last name as famous as any in the Middle East: Hossein al-Khomeini, the 45-year-old grandson of the ayatollah who turned Iran into a revolutionary theocracy a quarter century ago. The old man called the United States the Great Satan. The grandson says of Americans, "I love them, because they liberated Iraq from the unjust ruler."And there's more: both men want to see separation of mosque and state. Al-Khomeini says Shiites like himself "have suffered more...
  • 'The Danger Is Very Close'

    "Be careful and alert," warned the Ayatollah, "because the danger is very close to us." Above him rose the golden dome of the Imam Ali Mosque in the Iraqi city of Najaf, one of the holiest shrines in Islam. The ayatollah, Mohamad Baqir al Hakim, had waited through more than two decades of Iranian exile to return here to worship with his followers and to shape the destiny of his country. The American overthrow of Saddam Hussein gave him that chance. His younger brother now sits on the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. But with Iraq sliding toward chaos, al Hakim saw the risks ahead for him and for his people. He spoke passionately, on the edge of tears. "One day," he said, "our movement may be wiped out."Minutes later the turbaned cleric left the mosque through its south gate. A handful of bodyguards flanked him, their walkie-talkies to their ears, shouldering through masses of worshipers toward a street where vendors sold posters of Shiite Islam's martyred heroes. Among them...
  • Not Silly Kid Stuff

    Whenever someone's parents left town, the party started. "Everybody would take his computer and go there," says Waheb Samaraie, a 25-year-old entrepreneur, reminiscing about those heady days in the late 1990s. Wires snaked from computer to computer; self-taught technicians debugged the software. And then the games began. "We played Duke and Half-Life." Samaraie grins at the titles that now sound ancient. But there were some games they didn't dare load. "Like Soldier of Fortune," he explains. "You kill Saddam to win the game, and that wasn't allowed." His round face flushes pink. "You could lose your head," he says, and he isn't kidding. This is, after all, Iraq.A burgeoning Baghdad subculture of computer gamers? Who knew? Not most Americans, according to Samaraie. "They think they are the only civilized nation on earth," he says. "I play chess on the Internet, and when I tell them I'm in Iraq, they're like, 'Amazing. We didn't know Iraq had computers.' "Oh, but it does. And Iraq, at...
  • Shadowland: For Whom The Bell Tolls

    Incoming e-mails make a soothing noise, a delicate chime, when they arrive on my computer at work. Since I signed up to get news bulletins from the Department of Defense I've learned to dread the sound.About once a day the bell tolls and there's an item on the screen that reads "DoD Identifies Army Casualty," or "Army Casualties," or "Navy Casualty" from the war in Iraq.The news releases are cryptic: a name, a place, a unit, a home town and very, very briefly the cause of death. Thus "Spc. Rafael L. Navea, 34, of Pittsburgh, PA," died on Aug. 27--just yesterday--in Fallujah when "an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle." (Typically, an "improvised explosive device" is a couple of artillery shells that are wired together by the Iraqi guerrillas and set off with a remote detonator. The effect is devastating and direct.) Others killed in action have been picked off by snipers or drive-by shooters, grenades and rockets. Two were kidnapped and murdered.More than half the...
  • Tuning In, Turning On

    Whenever someone's parents left town and the kids knew they had a house to themselves, the party started. "Everybody would take his computer and go there," recalls a 25-year-old entrepreneur, reminiscing about those heady days in the late 1990s. Wires snaked from computer to computer; self-taught technicians debugged the software. Finally the local area network (LAN) was up and running. And then the games began."We played Duke and Half-Life." Waheb Samaraie grins at the titles that now sound ancient. But there were some games they didn't dare load. "Like Soldier of Fortune," he explains. "You kill Saddam to win the game, and that wasn't allowed." His round face flushes pink. "You could lose your head," he says, and he isn't kidding. This is, after all, Iraq.A burgeoning Baghdad subculture of computer gamers? Who knew? Not most Americans, according to Samaraie. "They don't care about the rest of the world," he says. "They think they are the only civilized nation on earth. I play...
  • Sexism In The Cites

    An unnamed 15-year-old girl is assaulted by 18 boys, most of them not much older than she is. Sonia, also 15, is raped by seven of her supposed friends in the basement of her apartment building. Sheherezade, 11, is beaten and raped repeatedly over the course of a year by 12 different boys.Grim as such crimes may be, they're becoming commonplace in the police ledgers of Paris, Lyons or Toulouse. The scene is almost always the same: the housing projects called cites on the outskirts of France's major cities. Built by socially progressive governments in the 1960s, they've since been taken over by a generation of mostly Arab immigrants--impoverished, cut off from their native lands and culture, ghettoized. Here, young men try to rule their families and neighbors under a macho code drawn partly from Muslim tradition, partly from the violence and porn in the media. Women submit to men, they say. Good girls, good sisters, cover themselves and stay home. Otherwise they are putes, whores,...