Alex Massie

Debating in Iraq

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The university debating circuit isn't quite what it once was. Once upon a time it was, if not a closed shop, a cosy cartel organised by Scottish, Irish and English universities with the Australians and the occasional American or Canadian providing whatever passed for international glamour. Changed times and these days English-speakers can lose to debaters from any number of other countries all of whom are trouncing you in a language that is not their own. Gone are the days when being beaten by Zagreb B ("If that's what they're like, I wouldn't want to come up against Zagreb A etc etc") was considered a rogue result.

This is, doubtless, progress and globalisation and all that. The latest country trying to establish a spot in the international arena is, however, a horse of a different colour. That is, there's a movement afoot to try and bring some Iraqi debaters to this year's World Championships, taking place, conveniently, in Turkey.

As the blurb puts it:

Iraq Debate is an independent civic engagement initiative to foster and promote open discussions and debate culture in Iraq and plans to promote and teach debate across Universities and Schools in the country.

Iraq Debate brings together Arabs, Kurds, Chaldo-Assyrians, Turkmen, and all components of Iraq communities to participate in debate workshops and tournaments.

Currently, Iraq Debate works with students from University of Duhok- Duhok, University of Salahaddin- Erbil and University of Technology- Baghdad. however we are looking forward to extending our activities to all Universities and Schools in Iraq in near future.

Recently, Iraq Debate held a successful workshop in the University of Duhok for 22 students debaters [ April 1-7, 2009]. we then trained and sent students to participate in Qatar National Schools Debate Championships and Qatar National Universities Championships with 5 students debaters representing the Iraq Debate Team...

Iraq Debate currently is planning to train students for the Worlds Universities Debate Championships 2010, to be held in Turkey, where they will compete with over 300 teams.

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Happily, I'm retired and out the game and so no longer liable to be trounced by Kurdistan C...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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