Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • After the war: Iraqi scientists fight to survive


The ongoing political and economic crisis in Iraq has been rough on the country's scientists. At least 58 professors, 150 medical doctors and dozens of scientists at institutes and ministries have been killed since the war ended in 2003.

In this feature in Science, Richard Stone describes how scientists are trying to survive despite the violence. Hard-hit by post-Saddam looting, for instance, the country's only cancer research institute managed to re-equip in 2003. But the founder has received death threats and can see no choice but to leave.

Meanwhile, the atmosphere at universities, where both students and professors have been killed, is becoming even more tense as students separate into opposing Shia and Sunni groups.

Stone also describes efforts to establish peaceful research and development in Iraq, which began two years ago with joint initiatives of the Arab Science and Technology Foundation and Sandia Laboratories in the United States. One of these is the US government's Iraqi Virtual Science Library, which contains free-access articles from thousands of journals.

Both the United States and wealthy Arab nations have come under fire for spending too little on science projects that could help regenerate Iraq. But one scientist, Jafar Dhia Jafar blames the current Iraqi government. Previously Saddam Hussein's chief nuclear bomb-maker, Jafar says that Iraqis must be at the forefront of efforts to rebuild the country.

In a profile accompanying the feature, Jafar maintains that Iraq's nuclear bomb efforts were halted in the 1991 war in Iraq, and never restarted. Now living in Dubai, he runs a firm competing for reconstruction contracts.

Given a choice between safeguarding their families and patriotism, several other Iraqi scientists are opting for the former and contemplating leaving the country for good.

Link to feature in Science

Link to profile in Science

We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.