Early one morning several years ago, I was woken in my Baghdad hotel room by my phone buzzing. It was Hisham. He had tried several times to reach me on WhatsApp while I was fast asleep. We had arranged to have breakfast together, but I was sure he was far too early. Fumbling for my mobile, I called him back. ‘Doctor,’ he shouted, using the title we sometimes jokingly used with each other, ‘I’m outside your hotel. We’re having breakfast with Qais al-Khazali. Hurry up! He’s waiting for us.’

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