"Arquob's Promise." Foreign Policy, 2010.

The raging questions about America’s role in Iraq came to a boil earlier this year with “Arqoub’s Promise,” a controversial music video which captured public debate. Invoking Arqoub, a legendary character infamous for his unfulfilled promises, the Iraqi singer Shadha Hassoun bemoans both her affair with a U.S. soldier and the U.S. invasion of her war-torn country. Double-entendre lyrics about love and betrayal combine with images of the singer crossing wind and sand-swept streets to end up in a poignant post-lovemaking confrontation with her lover in the back of a U.S. military truck, with a large screen playing images of military hardware, explosions and torn bodies. As the U.S. soldier walks away, the video concludes in black and white, with a street strewn with dozens of shoes — in homage to Bush shoe thrower Muntazher al-Zhaidi — and a haunting close-up of a fright-stricken baby face encircled with barbed wire. The release of the video in mid-January, 2010 set the Iraqi and Arab press ablaze: “Shadha Hassoun glorifies the occupation of Iraq!” accused one columnist; “A political or romantic message?” wondered another; “Shadha Hassoun expels occupier,” wrote a third, reflecting multiple and contrary readings of the video.