Rosen, Nir 1977-

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Rosen, Nir 1977-


Born 1977, in New York, NY.


Home—Istanbul, Turkey. Office—New America Foundation, 1630 Connecticut Ave., N.W., 7th Fl., Washington, DC 20009. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]


Writer, journalist, photographer, and filmmaker. Has worked in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia. New America Foundation, fellow.


In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq, Free Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including World Policy Journal, Washington Post, Boston Review, New York Daily News, New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, New Republic, and New Yorker.


Writer, photographer, and filmmaker Nir Rosen is a journalist who has written extensively on the American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and on the U.S.-led war in the Middle East. He entered Iraq shortly after Baghdad fell to American forces, and spent almost a year among the Iraqis, investigating the American occupation, the troubled relationship between Americans and the Iraqis, the development of religious and political movements throughout the country, and relations between the ethnic factions existing within Iraq. The development of Islamist resistance movements and terror organizations also drew his attention while in Iraq. Rosen's Middle Eastern features and fluency in Arabic ensured him access to sources that other journalists could not match. His research took him into mosques, tribal meeting halls, and the homes of the Iraqis themselves, where he talked directly with the people most affected by the Iraq war and assembled a ground-level view of what the war meant to those who had allegedly been liberated.

In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq is Rosen's eyewitness account of the sectarian conflict in Iraq and how it increased in intensity in the days following the fall of Saddam Hussein. The book is based on Rosen's firsthand reporting, and he describes in depth the numerous religious and ethnic groups' struggle for power in a destabilized Iraq, already in the grip of what is essentially a civil war. He describes how American forces, through their own actions, alienated the Iraqi people with violence, arrogance, and intolerance for Iraqi religious customs. For the Iraqis, Rosen notes, the American forces quickly morphed from liberator to occupier, and there seems to be little that can be done to reverse that deadly perception. For most, the only course available to them is resistance, and Rosen charts the rise of anti-American sentiment and the proliferation of martyrs arrayed against the U.S. forces. The title of Rosen's book is derived from a verse in the Hadith that describes how Islamic martyrs will travel to heaven in the belly of a green bird. As Rosen describes it, the bird will continue to fly, and martyrs will continue to rise against the ones they see as occupiers, for as long as American forces continue to stay in Iraq. A Kirkus Reviews critic called Rosen's book "sobering reading, and yet more evidence against the neocon adventure in the Middle East." Reviewer Bill Perkins, writing in Washington Monthly, commented: "If you want to gain a better understanding and tangible feel, on a pragmatic, smell-of-the-streets level, of the cause-and-effect cycle of coalition actions upon the Iraqi people, then Rosen's book is a good place to start."

Rosen told CA: "I first got interested in writing as a career when I was nineteen, traveling through the Middle East and writing letters to friends describing my experiences. Important inspirations were the books of Robert Kaplan such as the Ends of the Earth and the articles of Sebastian Junger. Although I disagreed with every single conclusion Kaplan drew, I longed to visit those same countries, and envied Junger for his adventures. My work is influenced primarily by my friends in academia, and I try to inform my work with their knowledge as much as possible. My writing process is not formal; I travel, engage people, try to live in the country, take my time to get to know it, feel it, learn about it, and as I do so I take notes, only typing them up upon my departure and then structuring them—and then the war with the editors begins.

"I hope my work challenges false notions of the truth that are used to justify unjust power relations, and I hope my work brings hidden lives and truths to my readers, who can then try to understand other people and other cultures and question their own beliefs."



Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2006, review of In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq, p. 398.

Library Journal, May 1, 2006, Marcia L. Sprules, "The Middle East: Going over the Ground," review of In the Belly of the Green Bird, p. 102.

Publishers Weekly, March 13, 2006, review of In the Belly of the Green Bird, p. 56.

Washington Monthly, May, 2006, Bill Perkins, "Things Fall Apart: A Reporter's Harrowing Account of Iraq's Slide toward Chaos," review of In the Belly of the Green Bird, p. 42.


Aljazeera Web site, (July 5, 2006), Adla Massoud, "Author Says Iraq Worse Than Reported," interview with Nir Rosen.

BuzzFlash, (June 29, 2006), Mark Karlin, "Nir Rosen Reporting on Martyrdom and Chaos in Iraq," interview with Nir Rosen.

Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria Web site, (November 12, 2006), biography of Nir Rosen.

New America Foundation Web site, (November 12, 2006), biography of Nir Rosen.

Nir Rosen Home Page, (November 12, 2006).