Devastated by years of war, political unrest, and a cruel dictatorship, Iraq's scientific community has been virtually destroyed. A once-thriving hub of science, with strong academic links to Britain and the United States, has seen most of its scientists flee and those remaining shunned by the rest of the world.
In this article, Luke Harding describes how Baghdad University — Iraq's best — is appealing to scientific communities in other countries for help in the form of scholarships for young Iraqis and donations of laboratory equipment. The researchers are certainly determined. Although much of the university's equipment is 20 years old and students don't have chairs to sit on — looters took anything of value during the recent war — the scientists are still publishing research.
But rebuilding international relationships is a two-way process. Iraqi scientists suspected of links to biological and chemical warfare are still being held by US forces, although no charges have been made. Western governments need to make the first move towards scientific collaboration, says Harding, or Iraqi science will become further impoverished.