Iraq: Death of a Nation? (revisited)

"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.

Part 2 - Reawakening

After two years of campaigning, the US Presidential race enters its final week, and for the most of those two years, Iraq looked like an unwinnable war.

The so-called surge strategy adopted by George Bush, the outgoing president, deployed 30,000 additional US troops to Iraq in 2007 and has dominated, much of the debate about the war.

Both this year's presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, have praised it as a huge success.

McCain even cites his early support of the surge as his most important foreign policy credential.

Mahdi Army Bides its Time

Ali approaches me at a Friday prayer service in Sadr City. He wants to talk. A U.S. missile, he says, hit his house in May and killed his two sisters and badly wounded his mother. He is a member of the Mahdi militia and can no longer return home for fear the Iraqi army will arrest him. He is careful not to be seen talking to me, since unauthorized contact between us could get him in serious trouble with the militia. We quickly arrange to meet a few hours later at my hotel, and then he shakes my hand and walks away, disappearing again in the crowd of thousands of worshippers.

New Model Army

The al Aimmah bridge has been closed since 2005, and the Iraqi army guards both sides to prevent anyone crossing from Khadamiya to Adhamiya – two Baghdad neighbourhoods that are essentially polar opposites. Khadamiya is named for the shrine of the seventh Shiite imam, Musa al Khadim, while Adhamiya is home to the Abu Hanifa Mosque, where the 8th century Sunni Imam Abu Hanifa an Numan is buried. On August 31, 2005, nearly a thousand Shiite pilgrims headed to Khadamiya were killed in a panicked stampede on the bridge after shouts went out warning of an imminent suicide attack.