"Iraq: Death of a Nation" examines how the U.S. invasion and occupation created a multi-faceted civil war in which the U.S. is now actively arming multiple factions. Last summer, the project focused on how Iraq's refugee crisis was created by the invasion and the fighting that has followed. This summer, Enders and Rowley will focus on Iraq's upcoming elections, the issue of US detention of Iraqis and continued US pacification efforts in Sadr City and Falluja. These two locations, while at the opposite poles of local Iraqi politics, are both important test cases for the US as it attempts to move forward in Iraq. Enders and Rowley also travel to Syria to examine the continuing struggle for Iraqi refugees there.
Fans swing back and forth on their columns.The pale woman with dyed black hair, alone in the lobby, staring off into space.The worn wooden desk, the framed portrait of the Hashemite King, the row of keys for rooms that have not been rented in years, the plastic ashtrays scarred by the cigarettes of decades of people left waiting here - just as we are waiting.
She turns, startled, 'Any news from Susan? - We went to school together in Chicago - you know her, I'm sure. . .. . .I'm sure you know her.'
Jameel picks me up in his taxi, on the edge of the third circle. In his wallet is a picture of his father's house in Al Khalil.
The tense heavy feeling of life clotted on hot asphalt - Saadi says - 'like harbor air clots in sea-shells'.
In Mahata, Jawad, sits in his room. The muhabarrat have raided the markets again, and it is not safe to work. . . the scars from his torture have faded now and no Western embassy will take him. Every day he waits for the knock on the door that will send him home to die.
Eight circles of Hell in Amman, you reach the ninth through the airport to Baghdad.
I shouldn't have time to blog this, but I do. That's because we are sitting in the hotel again, with nowhere to go. So far today, Plans A, B, C and our ad hoc plan D have all fallen through. This is due to a mix of not being able to reach people we were supposed to be able to reach, and having some people who promised us meetings having decided against it at the last minute. Everything must be carefully coordinated ahead of time, and it's usually the case that more important things come up for many people than hosting a couple of journalists.
The communications in Iraq, despite the introduction of cell phones
in the post-invasion period, are notoriously bad. There are three
competing cell phone networks across the country which work depending
on the situation and your location, and we have also bought a satellite phone. The general lack of electricity contributes to the problem.
"In Iraq, you can have four wives and four phones," one of my friends jokes.
So reviled and ubiquitous is the message that plays when a phone cannot be reached ("the number you are calling is either turned off or out of the coverage area") that I've heard otherwise reasonable Iraqis say they'd swear allegiance to the mujahedeen if they were to assassinate the woman who recorded it.
13 people were killed in the second day of fighting between Jeish al-Mehdi and U.S. and Iraqi troops. The U.S. military says it has targeted Iraqi militants linked to Iran in East Baghdad during the last two days, sparking firefights that have left at least twenty-seven people dead, including a Reuters photographer. Today, U.S. troops fought and killed at least six Iraqi police in the neighborhood of Fadhilia. Click the image below to download the RealPlayer radio report.
The streets were quiet as we drove back to our hotel this afternoon. Eerily quiet. It was a bit disconcerting until we remembered that the Iraqi football team was playing Australia in the Asian cup.
Iraq won 3-1, provoking celebratory gunshots after the game. Afterwards, as I walked to a nearby restaurant to get dinner, the streets in the neighborhood around the hotel were full of kids playing soccer. The harsh midday sun had given way to the soft light of evening, and I enjoyed a peaceful moment in what had otherwise been a depressing day, spent investigating a round of fighting on Thursday that had led to the deaths of a Reuters photographer and his assistant, as well as a dozen fighters and civilians, depending on whose account one believes.
The incident is another example of how hard it is to get to the bottom of things here, and it didn't help that the amount of time we were able to spend in the neighborhood was limited by the potential that the people giving eyewitness accounts might decide to vent their anger on us rather than to us.
That brings the official total of press and support staff killed to 150, though likely it is higher.
According to residents, US fire directed at this minibus during a firefight in Baghdad's al-Amin Ithania neighborhood killed seven, including two Reuters employees.
Residents of al-Amin Ithania prepare for the funerals of three people killed on Thursday.