Sunday, September 8, 2019

Nuri Roufael Kotani

Nuri Roufael Kotani was born in 1905, in Baghdad, the oldest of six children in a prominent Christian family.
Nuri’s father sent him to the American University of Beirut, Syria (now Lebanon), where he studied from 1923 to 1930 and participated in an association that operated under the guise of a social club to support the Iraqi struggle against British occupation. In 1927, Nuri joined the Syrian Communist Party. He was active in party activities, including numerous trips into Palestine.
Nouri Roufael Kotani, right with beret
Nuri arrived in Spain on February 10, 1938, over the Pyrenees via Massanet, under the name “Anwar R. Nouri” and was listed as an “American.” After less than a month of training in Tarazona Nuri was sent to the front on March 13, 1938, as a replacement for the XVth International Brigade’s Lincoln-Washington Battalion.
After leaving Spain Nuri was likely placed in a French concentration camp. He later told his family that it took four attempts before he was able to make it out. After the 1958 Iraqi revolution he became a railway minister in the progressive regime of Abd al-Karim Quasim but lost his post after the counterrevolutionary Ba’athists came into power in 1963. Nuri spent almost half of his life in prison or on the run from consequences related to his political beliefs. He died in 1980.

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