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State formation as an outcome of the imperial encounter: the case of Iraq

  • Aula Hariri (a1)

Abstract

This article employs a postcolonial historical sociological approach to studying state formation in Iraq between 1914–24. In doing so, it synthesises insights from the ‘historical’ and ‘imperial’ turns in International Relations (IR), to understand the state as a processual and relational entity shaped by the imperial relations through which it emerged. Drawing on the case of Iraq, this article demonstrates how British imperial relations (‘international’) interlaced with anti-colonial struggles (‘domestic’) to foster a historically specific pattern of Iraqi state formation. In making these claims, this article contributes to bridging IR's analytical divide between ‘international’ and ‘domestic’ spaces, while undermining IR's universalist assumptions about the ‘spread’ of the state from Europe to the Arab world. Rather, this article demonstrates that the imperial encounter was constitutive of the type of state that emerged, thereby highlighting the agency of anti-colonial struggles in producing historically specific patterns of state domination.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: a.hariri@lse.ac.uk

References

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1 Rutledge, Ian, Enemy on the Euphrates (London: Saqi Books, 2014), p. xxiv.

2 Haldane, Aylmer, The Insurrection in Mesopotamia: 1920 (London: William Blackwood & Sons, 1922), p. 124.

3 Atiyyah, Ghassan, Iraq: 1908–1921, A Socio-Political Study (Beirut: The Arab Institute for Research and Publishing, 1973), p. 344; The National Archives (hereafter TNA) FO 371/5081/14397, parliamentary question from Kenworthy to Churchill, 16 November 1920.

4 TNA AIR 5/223, ‘Note on Use of Air Force in Mesopotamia’, 26 February 1921.

5 Longrigg, Stephen, Iraq, 1900 to 1950 (London: Oxford University Press, 1956), p. 123; Vinogradov, Amal, ‘The 1920 revolt in Iraq reconsidered: the role of tribes in national politics’, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 3:2 (1972), p. 138.

6 TNA FO 371/5231/13471, High Commissioner to India Office, telegram 12987, 26 October 1920.

7 League of Nations, Draft Mandates for Mesopotamia and Palestine, No. 3 (London: HMSO, 1921), pp. 2–3.

8 Kadhim, Abbas, Reclaiming Iraq: The 1920 Revolution and the Founding of the Modern State (Texas: University of Texas Press, 2012), p. 9.

9 ‘Domination’ is understood as the ability to gain obedience through the power of command; see Migdal, Joel, ‘The state in society: an approach to struggles for domination’, in Migdal, Joel, Kohli, Atul, and Shue, Vivienne (eds), State Power and Social Forces (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 89, fn. 2.

10 Dodge, Toby, Inventing Iraq (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), p. 156; Satia, Priya, ‘The defense of inhumanity: Air control and the British idea of Arabia’, The American Historical Review, 111:1 (2006), p. 32.

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12 Lawson, ‘The eternal divide?’, pp. 204–05; Smith, Thomas, History and International Relations (London: Routledge, 1999), pp. 92–3; Waltz, Kenneth, Theory of International Politics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979), p. 13.

13 Lawson, ‘The eternal divide?’, p. 207.

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17 Barkawi, ‘Empire’.

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19 See, for example, Branch, Jordan, ‘“Colonial reflection” and territoriality: the peripheral origins of sovereign statehood’, European Journal of International Relations, 18:2 (2010), pp. 277–97; Keene, Edward, Beyond the Anarchical Society: Grotius, Colonialism and Order in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

20 See, for example, Bayly, Martin, Taming the Imperial Imagination: Colonial Knowledge, International Relations and the Anglo-Afghan Encounter, 1808–1878 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Doty, Roxanne, Imperial Encounters: The Politics of Representation in North-South Relations (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).

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22 I am grateful to an anonymous peer reviewer for help in wording this sentence.

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32 Go and Lawson, ‘Introduction’, p. 24.

33 Ibid., p. 3; Bayly, ‘The “re-turn” to empire’, p. 463.

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36 Barkawi, ‘Empire’.

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55 Barkawi, ‘Empire’.

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58 Barkawi, ‘Empire’; Cooper, ‘Postcolonial studies’, p. 404.

59 Cooper, ‘Postcolonial studies’, pp. 401–05.

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68 Halliday, ‘International society’, p. 49.

69 Halliday, Middle East, p. 14.

70 Halliday, ‘International society’, pp. 11–12.

71 Halliday, Middle East, p. 49.

72 Kayaoglu, Turan, ‘Westphalian Eurocentrism in International Relations theory’, International Studies Review, 12:2 (2010), pp. 194–6.

73 Hobson, ‘Eastern agency’, p. 610.

74 Chatterjee, Partha, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 5.

75 Fred Halliday, ‘For an international sociology’, in Hobden and Hobson (eds), Historical Sociology, p. 247.

76 Chakrabarty, Dipesh, Provincializing Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), p. 17.

77 Mongia, ‘State sovereignty’, pp. 384–5.

78 Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe, pp. 17, 32.

79 Bacik, Gökhan, Hybrid Sovereignty in the Arab Middle East (US: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), pp. 57; Eriksen, ‘State failure’, p. 234.

80 Mamdani, Mahmood, Citizen and Subject (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 9; Hobson, John, The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 295.

81 Hinnebusch, Raymond, ‘Empire and state formation: Contrary tangents in Jordan and Syria’, in Cummings, Sally and Hinnebusch, Raymond (eds), Sovereignty After Empire: Comparing the Middle East and Central Asia (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014), p. 263; Raymond Hinnebusch, ‘Order and change in the Middle East’, in Buzan and Gonzalez-Pelaez (eds), International Society, p. 207.

82 Lustick, Ian, ‘The absence of Middle Eastern great powers: Political “backwardness” in historical perspective’, International Organization, 51:4 (1997), pp. 657, 660, 678–9.

83 Saouli, Arab State, pp. 12, 15, 33, 52.

84 Bacik, Hybrid Sovereignty, pp. 38–9.

85 Hudson, Michael, Arab Politics: The Search for Legitimacy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), p. 17; Stein, Ewan, ‘Beyond Arabism vs. sovereignty: Relocating ideas in the international relations of the Middle East’, Review of International Studies, 38:4 (2012), p. 890.

86 Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe, pp. 7–9, 17.

87 Shilliam, Robbie, ‘What about Marcus Garvey? Race and the transformation of sovereignty debate’, Review of International Studies, 32:3 (2006), p. 385.

88 Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe, p. 27.

89 Go and Lawson, ‘Introduction’, p. 29.

90 Go, ‘Postcolonial sociology’, pp. 38, 42.

91 Mongia, ‘State sovereignty’, p. 388.

92 Sluglett, Peter, ‘An improvement on colonialism? The “A” Mandates and their legacy in the Middle East’, International Affairs, 90:2 (2014), pp. 417–18.

93 James McDoughall, ‘The British and French Empires in the Arab world: Some problems of colonial state-formation and its legacy’, in Cummings and Hinnebusch (eds), Sovereignty After Empire, p. 56.

94 Lawson, Fred, Constructing International Relations in the Arab World (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006), p. 2.

95 Barkawi, ‘Empire’.

96 Bayly, ‘The “re-turn” to empire’, pp. 444–6.

97 Eriksen, ‘State failure’, p. 246.

98 Ayubi, Arab State, p. 108.

99 Brown, Carl, International Politics and the Middle East (London: I. B. Tauris, 1984), p. 4.

100 Exceptions to this trend include Daniel Neep, Occupying Syria under the French Mandate (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), p. 2.

101 McDoughall, ‘Empires in the Arab world’, p. 49.

102 Ibid., p. 44.

103 Ibid., p. 61; Abu-Lughod, Lila, ‘Zones of theory in the anthropology of the Arab world’, Annual Review of Anthropology, 18 (1989), p. 280; Hinnebusch, Raymond, International Politics of the Middle East (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015), p. 2.

104 Hinnebusch, ‘Empire and state formation’, p. 280; Hinnebusch, ‘Order and change in the Middle East’, pp. 208–09.

105 Stein, ‘Arabism vs. sovereignty’, p. 890.

106 Buzan and Gonzalez-Pelaez, ‘Conclusions’, p. 238; Simon Murden, ‘The secondary institutions of the Middle Eastern regional interstate society’, in Buzan and Gonzalez-Pelaez (eds), International Society, p. 120.

107 Barnett, Michael, ‘Sovereignty, nationalism, and regional order in the Arab states system’, International Organization, 49:3 (1995), pp. 480–1.

108 Bromley, Simon, Rethinking Middle East Politics (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994), pp. 83, 135–7.

109 Dodge, Toby, ‘Iraq: the contradictions of exogenous state-building in historical perspective’, Third World Quarterly, 27:1 (2006), p. 190.

110 McDoughall, ‘Empires in the Arab world’, p. 46.

111 Frederick Cooper, ‘The Dialectics of Decolonization: Nationalism and Labor Movements in Post-War Africa’, CSST Working Paper No. 84 (May 1992), pp. 2, 5.

112 Doty, Imperial Encounters, pp. 85–6.

113 Halliday, Middle East, pp. 88–9; Halliday, ‘International society’, pp. 22–3.

114 Go, Julian, ‘Relational sociology and postcolonial theory: Sketches of a “postcolonial relationalism”’, in Deépelteau, François (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Relational Sociology (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), p. 368; Gerwarth, Robert and Manela, Erez, ‘The Great War as a global war: Imperial conflict and the reconfiguration of world order, 1911–1923’, Diplomatic History, 38:4 (2014), p. 787; Lawson, ‘Revolution’, p. 76.

115 Atiyyah, Iraq, p. 31; Gerwarth and Manela, ‘The Great War’, p. 79; Rutledge, Enemy on the Euphrates, pp. 197–8.

116 Manela, Erez, ‘The Wilsonian moment and the rise of anticolonial nationalism: the case of Egypt’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, 12:4 (2001), p. 116; Vezzadini, Elena, Lost Nationalism (Suffolk: James Currey, 2015), p. 20.

117 Aydin, Cemil, The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), p. 6; Gerwarth and Manela, ‘The Great War’, p. 799; Soifer, Hillel, ‘The causal logic of critical junctures’, Comparative Political Studies, 45:12 (2012), p. 1575.

118 Atiyyah, Iraq, p. 26.

119 Aydin, Politics of Anti-Westernism, p. 110.

120 Luizard, Pierre-Jean, ‘Shaykh Muhammad al-Khalisi (1890–1963) and his political role in Iraq and Iran in the 1910/20s’, in Brunner, R. and Ende, W. (eds), The Twelver Shi'i in Modern Times (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill, 2001), p. 226.

121 Dodge, Iraq, p. 7; Manela, ‘The Wilsonian moment’, p. 116; Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points Speech (8 January 1918), available at: {http://www.gwpda.ofrg/1918/14points.html} accessed 14 February 2018.

122 Satia, Priya, Spies in Arabia: the Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 7.

123 Aydin, Politics of Anti-Westernism, pp. 96, 110–11, 127.

124 The Proclamation of Baghdad (19 March 1917), available at: {http://www.gwpda.org/1917/procbaghdad.html} accessed 14 February 2018.

125 Anglo-French Joint Statement of Aims in Syria and Mesopotamia (8 November 1918), available at: {http://www.gwpda.org/1918/syria.html} accessed 14 February 2018.

126 Aydin, Politics of Anti-Westernism, p. 128; League of Nations, Draft Mandates for Mesopotamia and Palestine, p. 1; Sluglett, ‘An improvement on colonialism?’, p. 418.

127 Satia, Spies in Arabia, p. 7; Sluglett, ‘An improvement on colonialism?’, p. 419.

128 Satia, Spies in Arabia, p. 7.

129 Go, ‘Postcolonial sociology’, pp. 40–1.

130 The discussion of the Iraqi independence movement in this section draws on Hariri, Aula, ‘The Iraqi independence movement: a case of transgressive contention (1918–1920)’, in Gerges, Fawaz A. (ed.), Contentious Politics in the Middle East (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 97124.

131 al-Bazirgan, Ali, Al-Waqaiʿ al-Haqiqiya fi al-Thawra al-Iraqiyya, 2nd edn (Baghdad: Al-Adeeb, 1991), pp. 146, 178.

132 Kadhim, Reclaiming Iraq, pp. 6, 79.

133 Doty, Imperial Encounters, pp. 76–7.

134 Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe, pp. 7–9, 23.

135 al-Basir, Mohammad, Tarikh al-Qadiyya al-ʾIraqiyya (London: Laam Ltd, 1990), pp. 52–4.

136 Tabikh, Muhsin Abu, Mudhakkirat al-Sayyid Muhsin abu Tabikh 1910–1960, ed. abu Tabikh, Jamil (Beirut: Al-Muʾassasa al-Arabiya lil Dirasat wa al-Nashr, 2001), p. 68; al-Basir, Tarikh al-Qadiyya, pp. 50–1; al-Bazirgan, Al-Waqaiʿ, pp. 85–6; al-Firʿaun, Fariq, al-Haqaʿiq al-Nasiʿa fi al-Thawra al-ʾIraqiyya Sanat 1920 wa Nataʾijuha, Vol. 1 (Baghdad: Al-Najah Press, 1952), pp. 84–5; al-Khalisi, al-Mohammad, Batal al-Islam: Shaykh Mohammad Mehdi al-Khalisi (Tehran: Markaz Wathaʾiq al-Imam al-Khalisi, 2007), p. 155.

137 Bilgin, Pinar, ‘What is the point about Sykes-Picot’, Global Affairs, 2:3 (2006), pp. 355–6.

138 Davis, Eric, Memories of State (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), p. 52; Haddad, Fanar, ‘Political awakenings in an artificial state: Iraq, 1914–20’, International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 6:1 (2012), pp. 4, 17; Visser, Reidar, ‘Proto-political conceptions of Iraq in late Ottoman times’, International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 3:2 (2009), pp. 147–53.

139 Sara Pursley, ‘“Lines drawn on an empty map”: Iraq's borders and the legend of the artificial state’, Jadaliyya, available at: {http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/32140/Lines-Drawn-on-an-Empty-Map} accessed 14 February 2018.

140 Wilson, Arnold, Mesopotamia 1917–1920: A Clash of Loyalties (Oxford University Press: London, 1931), pp. ixx.

141 al-Basir, Tarikh al-Qadiyya, p. 51.

142 TNA FO 371/5076/8448, Abstract of Intelligence (hereafter AOI), No. 21, 22 May 1920; TNA FO 371/5076/8846, AOI, No. 23, 5 June 1920.

143 Rutledge, Enemy on the Euphrates, p. 326; TNA FO 371/5229/10274, Wilson to SSI, 12 August 1920.

144 al-Khalisi, Batal al-Islam, p. 158; AOI, No. 23.

145 TNA FO 371/5076//8611, AOI, No. 22, 29 May 1920.

146 Davis, Memories of State, p. 37; McAdam, Doug, Tarrow, Sidney, and Tilly, Charles, Dynamics of Contention (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), p. 57.

147 Kadhim, Reclaiming Iraq, p. 50.

148 Ibid.; Vezzadini, Lost Nationalism, p. 24.

149 Rutledge, Enemy on the Euphrates, p. 368.

150 al-Bazirgan, Al-Waqaiʿ, p. 125; Kadhim, Reclaiming Iraq, p. 50.

151 Go, ‘Relational sociology’, pp. 368, 371; Vezzadini, Lost Nationalism, pp. 22–4.

152 Abu Tabikh, Mudhakkirat, p. 174.

153 al-Bazirgan, Al-Waqaiʿ, pp. 196–7.

154 Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe, pp. 8–9; Trouillot, Silencing the Past, p. 82; quoted in Kadhim, Reclaiming Iraq, p. 92.

155 Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in Question (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), p. 18.

156 TNA FO 371/5231/13471, Telegram 12987, High Commissioner to India Office, 26 October 1920.

157 Abu Tabikh, Mudhakkirat, p. 163; Royal Air Force Museum (hereafter RAFM) R014585, Summary of Operations between July–December 1920.

158 RAFM AC 72/19/1/4, Pilot Flying Log Book 425, 1920–1925.

159 TNA AIR 20/749, copy of memo no. 3524, Hillah, 27 July 1920, emphases added.

160 Cooper, ‘Postcolonial studies’, p. 405; Guha, Ranajit, Dominance without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), p. 24.

161 Cooper, Colonialism in Question, p. 25.

162 Satia, ‘Defense of Inhumanity’, pp. 16, 32, 51; TNA AIR 10/1426, military report on Iraq, Vol. 1, 1936.

163 Dodge, Iraq, pp. 149, 150–7; Omissi, David E., Air Power and Colonial Control (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990), p. 31; TNA AIR 5/223, telegram no. 2946, 4 March 1920.

164 Dodge, Iraq, pp. 152–3.

165 TNA FO 371/5076/8136, Air Staff, ‘On the Power of the Air Force and the Application of this Power to Hold and Police Mesopotamia’, March 1920, encl.; Dodge, Iraq, p. 156.

166 Dodge, Iraq, p. 134.

167 Tilly, Charles and Tarrow, Sidney, Contentious Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2007), p. 101.

168 Allawi, Ali, Faisal I of Iraq (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), p. 361; M. M. H. Al-Adhami, ‘Political Aspects of the Iraqi Parliament and Election Process 1920–1932’ (unpublished PhD thesis, SOAS University of London, 1978), p. 47.

169 TNA FO 371/7772/E10859, Intelligence Report (hereafter IR), No. 17, 1 September 1922.

170 Al-Askari, Jafar Pasha, A Soldier's Story: From Ottoman Rule to Independent Iraq. The Memoirs of Ja'far Pasha Al-Askari (1885–1936) (London: Arabian Publishing Ltd, 2003), pp. 98105.

171 Tarbush, Mohammad, The Role of the Military in Politics: A Case Study of Iraq to 1941 (London: Kegal Paul International, 1982), p. 77.

172 Davis, Memories of State, p. 49.

173 al-Firʿaun, al-Haqaʿiq, p. 25; Abu Tabikh, Mudhakkirat, pp. 181–2.

174 al-Khalisi, Batal al-Islam, p. 170.

175 Abu Tabikh, Mudhakkirat, p. 242; Ali al-Wardi, Lamahat Ijtimaʾiya min Tarikh al-Iraq al-Hadeeth, Vol. 4 (Baghdad, n.d), p. 204; TNA CO 730/26, IR, No. 22, 15 November 1922.

176 al-Khalisi, Batal al-Islam, p. 216; IR, No. 22.

177 Fontana, Guiditta, ‘Creating nations, establishing states: Ethno-religious heterogeneity and the British creation of Iraq in 1919–23’, Middle Eastern Studies, 46:1 (2010), p. 11.

178 Sluglett, Peter, Britain in Iraq: Contriving King and Country, 2nd edn (London: I. B. Tauris, 2007), p. 56; Abu Tabikh, Mudhakkirat, pp. 245–7.

179 TNA FO 371/9047/E7693, extract of Iraq IR, 5 July 1923; al-Wardi, Lamahat, pp. 224, 228–9.

180 al-Wardi, Lamahat, pp. 261–2; Allawi, Faisal I of Iraq, p. 438.

181 Tripp, Charles, A History of Iraq, 3rd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 56.

182 Extract of Iraq IR; Luizard, ‘al-Khalisi’, p. 224.

183 Abu Tabikh, Mudhakkirat, pp. 250–1.

184 TNA CO 730/40, article extract from no. 197 Al-Asimah newspaper, 2 July 1923; al-Wardi, Lamahat, p. 223.

185 TNA FO 371/9012, Baghdad Secret Despatch, 22 November 1923.

186 Sluglett, Britain in Iraq, p. 58; Davis, Memories of State, p. 49.

187 Extract from Al-Asimah newspaper (1923).

188 Migdal, ‘State in society’, pp. 9, 27.

189 McDoughall, ‘Empires in the Arab world’, p. 56.

190 Al-Adhami, ‘Political Aspects’, pp. 86–7, 91–3.

191 I am grateful to an anonymous peer reviewer for highlighting the importance of this point for clinching the article's argument.

192 Kubbah, Mohammad Mehdi, Mudhakkirat fi Samim al-Ahdath 1918–1958 (Beirut: Dar al-Taliʻah, 1965), pp. 336–7; TNA FO 371/11467, paraphrase telegram no. 445 from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Acting High Commissioner for Iraq, 3 November 1926; Satia, Spies in Arabia, p. 264; Tripp, History of Iraq, p. 259.

193 Dodge, Iraq, p. 144; Mann, Michael, ‘The autonomous power of the state: Its origins, mechanisms, and results’, in Hall, J. A. (ed.), States in History (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986), pp. 113–14; Satia, Spies in Arabia, p. 7.

194 TNA FO 371/18950/E 4371/759/93, Ministry of Defence, Royal Iraqi Air Force, ‘Quarterly Report for the Period Ending June 30th, 1935’; TNA FO 371/20015/1575/E2743, letter no. 236, from Kerr to Eden, 7 May 1936.

195 Batatu, Hanna, The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1978), pp. 30, 461.

196 Ibid., p. 451; Cooper, Colonialism in Question, p. 157.

197 McDoughall, ‘Empires in the Arab world’, p. 56.

198 Guha, Dominance without Hegemony, p. 64.

199 Cooper, Colonialism in Question, p. 157; Al-Marashi, Ibrahim and Salama, Sammy, Iraq's Armed Forces: An Analytical History (Oxon: Routledge, 2008), pp. 47, 51.

200 TNA FO 371/75128/1016/E74, Baghdad despatch No. 347, Mack to Bevil, 17 December 1948.

201 Cooper, Colonialism in Question, p. 18.

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