Sunday, November 06, 2005

Reporting from outside the US mainstream media focused on Iraq

In 2003, tired of the US media's inaccurate portrayal of the realities of the Iraq War, independent journalist Dahr Jamail headed to the conflict himself. Instead of following in the footsteps of mainstream media’s embedded, "Hotel Journalists," Jamail hit the Iraqi streets to uncover the stories most reporters were missing. His countless interviews with Iraqi citizens and from-the-ground reporting have offered a horrific look into the bowels of the US occupation. From covering the bloody siege of Falluja to breaking a story on Bechtel’s failure to reconstruct water treatment plants, his writing and photographs depict an Iraq that is much worse off now than it was before the US invasion. As one Abu Ghraib detainee explained to Jamail, "the Americans brought electricity to my ass before they brought it to my house."
Dahr Jamail was born and raised in Houston, Texas and attended college at Texas A&M University where he majored in Speech Communications. In breaks from a subsequent job working in an air monitoring laboratory on Johnston Island, a US territory in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, he traveled to places such as Indonesia, Nepal, Mexico, Chile and Pakistan. An avid mountain climber, Jamail moved to Alaska in 1996 to climb Denali and is based there to this day.
Jamail's world traveling opened his eyes to the negative impact of US foreign policy and how wealth in the US was possible, as he said, "at the expense of the rest of the people in the world." He had been working as a freelance journalist in Anchorage, Alaska throughout the 2000 presidential elections and 9/11, both events which considerably politicized the paper he worked for. After the Iraq War began in 2003, Jamail said he decided to go to Iraq to "cover the stories that weren't getting the coverage they deserved in the mainstream media."
One of the few independent journalists reporting from the war zone, Dahr's articles on Abu Ghraib prison torture, media repression in Iraq and the state of Iraqi hospitals under occupation have shown a side of the war which is ignored by many journalists operating in Iraq.
The honest feedback he has collected in his interviews show an Iraq hardly improved by the occupation. Abdul Braahim, a doctor Jamail interviewed in Baghdad, said, "All kinds of diseases are present now which weren't before the invasion." A lack of clean water and electricity has contributed to this. Another doctor explained that his hospital has seen no assistance from foreign countries, "they send only bombs."
A recent poll conducted for the British Ministry of Defense showed that 82% percent of Iraqis oppose the occupation and less than 2% support it. According to the same poll, 45% of Iraqis believed attacks on US troops were justified.
Jamail believes the following steps are necessary to establishing peace in Iraq: full, immediate withdrawal of occupation forces, full compensation to Iraqis for damage and death, and that all reconstruction efforts be reopened for bidding, giving Iraqi companies preference.

The above, sent in by Brady, is from Benjamin Dangl's "Unembedded Reporting From Iraq: An Interview with Dahr Jamail" (Iraq Dispatches).

Lynda e-mails to note "Iraqi politicians condemn US offensive" (Aljazeera):

Iraqi politicians have condemned the latest US offensive on villages and towns close to the Syrian border calling it a "killing operation".
Leader of the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, Salih al-Mutlaq, has denounced the massive US military offensive - code-named "Operation Steel Curtain" - against the people of Husaiba, Karabla and al-Qaim, in western Iraq.Al-Mutlaq, also a member of the committee that drafted the new constitution, accused the Americans and their Iraqi allies of mounting "a destructive and killing operation of secure cities and villages" on the "pretext that they hide and secure terrorists".
In Baghdad, Muhsin Abd al-Hamid, head of the largest Sunni Arab political party, condemned "all military operations directed against civilian targets" because they "lead to the killing of innocent people and the destruction of towns and cities".

Kyle e-mails to note "Iraq War Fuelled UK Terrorism: Ex-envoy" (

The former British ambassador to Washington, a key aide of Prime Minister Tony Blair, said Saturday, November 5, that the Iraq war has fuelled home-grown terrorism in Britain, in comments likely to cause more trouble to Blair.
"There is plenty of evidence around at the moment that home-grown terrorism was partly radicalized and fuelled by what is going on in Iraq," Sir Christopher Meyer told the Guardian in an interview ahead of publication of his memoirs.
"There is no way we can credibly get up and say it has nothing to do with it. Don't tell me that being in Iraq has got nothing to do with it. Of course it has," he stressed.
Meyer, ambassador in Washington from 1997 to February 2003, was a key aide to Blair in crucial talks between London and Washington in the months and weeks leading up to the US-led invasion.
Four young British Muslims attacked three London underground trains and a bus on July 7, killing 52 people.
An apparent bid to repeat the attacks on July 21 failed and police have arrested four people they say were behind it.
Blair has repeatedly denied that the Iraq invasion has led to an increase in extremism and that it played a part in the London attacks.
A leaked secret memo written by Foreign Office Permanent Secretary Michael Jay warned Blair a year ago that the Iraq war was fuelling extremism at home and making Britain seen as a crusader state.
The London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House, has also said that the Iraq war gave a momentum to Al-Qaeda's recruitment and fundraising and made Britain more vulnerable to terror attacks.
A report from Britain 's Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) further said that events in Iraq "are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist-related activity in the UK".

Kevin e-mails to note Brian Conley's "Long Day, Interesting People…" (Alive in Baghdad):

Today I spoke with a man whose friend visited him today from Ramadi. His friend was neighbors with one of the families killed in a recent attack by the Coalition forces. When they attacked the area, a civilian neighborhood, they killed a reported 30 civilians in two homes.
Furthermore, Saadoun Al'Dulaimi the Defense minister,
announced Thursday that the Iraqi forces are planning to launch a new attack on the West of Iraq. The minister added that the Iraqi forces will "demolish the homes of people sheltering terrorists and kill all owners of the houses inside them including women and children." This is the same minister who recently invited all officers from the old Iraqi army under Saddam, rank major and below, to re-enlist. Omar and I have been speaking with several of our contacts for some insight into a segment of Iraqi opinion on this recent development. An article about this will hopefully be posted by Tuesday morning, if not tomorrow.
I interviewed Isham Rashid this afternoon, an Iraqi journalist who has worked with a number of independent journalists, such as
Dahr Jamail. He spoke with us about the ongoing difficulties of being a journalist in Iraq, particularly those issues facing Iraqi journalists. He himself has been detained on a number of occasions, and you can expect more about his story (in video format) posted tomorrow.
This evening we traveled to Western Baghdad, where we interviewed Adnan Dulaimi, the Secretary General of the General Arab Conference of Iraq, and a very important and outspokenn member of the Sunni opposition in Iraq. He spoke with us about the future of Iraq, the Constitution, and many other important issues facing Iraqis today. It may be sometime until we can translate his interview, because of his prolific use of complex terms and references to obscure political organizations.

Lynda e-mails to note Riverbend's "Movies and Dreams..." (Baghdad Burning):

The agony of the long war with Iran is what makes the current situation in Iraq so difficult to bear- especially this last year. The occupation has ceased to be American. It is American in face, and militarily, but in essence it has metamorphosed slowly but surely into an Iranian one.It began, of course, with Badir's Brigade and the several Iran-based political parties which followed behind the American tanks in April 2003. It continues today with a skewed referendum, and a constitution that will guarantee a southern Iraqi state modeled on the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The referendum results were so disappointing and there have been so many stories of fraud and shady dealings (especially in Mosul), that there's already talk of boycotting the December elections.
This was the Puppets' shining chance to show that there is that modicum of democracy they claim the Iraqi people are enjoying under occupation- that chance was terribly botched up.
As for the December elections- Sistani has, up until now, coyly abstained from blatantly supporting any one specific political group. This will probably continue until late November / early December during which he will be persistently asked by his followers to please issue a Fatwa about the elections. Eventually, he'll give his support to one of the parties and declare a vote for said party a divine obligation.
I wager he'll support the United Iraqi Alliance - like last elections.
Interestingly enough, this time around the UIA will be composed of not just SCIRI and Da'awa- but also of the Sadrists (Jaysh il Mahdi)- Muqtada's followers! For those who followed the situation in Iraq last year, many will recognize Muqtada as the 'firebrand cleric', the 'radical' and 'terrorist'. Last year, there was even a warrant for Muqtada's arrest from the Ministry of Interior and supported by the Americans who repeatedly said they were either going to detain the 'radical cleric' or kill him.
Well, today he's very much alive and involved in the 'political process' American politicians and their puppets hail so energetically. Sadr and his followers have been responsible for activities such as terrorizing hairdressers, bombing liquor stores, and abductions of women not dressed properly, etc. because all these things are considered anti-Islamic (according to Iranian-style Islam).
Read more about Sadr's militia here- who dares to say the Americans, Brits and Puppets don't have everything under control?!
Americans constantly tell me, "What do you think will happen if we pull out of Iraq- those same radicals you fear will take over." The reality is that most Iraqis don't like fundamentalists and only want stability- most Iraqis wouldn't stand for an Iran-influenced Iraq. The American military presence is working hand in hand with Badir, etc. because only together with Iran can they suppress anti-occupation Iraqis all over the country. If and when the Americans leave, their Puppets and militias will have to pack up and return to wherever they came from because without American protection and guidance they don't stand a chance.
We literally laugh when we hear the much subdued threats American politicians make towards Iran. The US can no longer afford to threaten Iran because they know that should the followers of Sadr, Iranian cleric Sistani and Badir's Brigade people rise up against the Americans, they'd have to be out of Iraq within a month. Iran can do what it wants- enrich uranium? Of course! If Tehran declared tomorrow that it was currently in negotiations for a nuclear bomb, Bush would have to don his fake pilot suit again, gush enthusiastically about the War on Terror and then threaten Syria some more.

Pru e-mails to note "Two documentaries revealing the truth about US occupation:" (Socialist Worker):

A Day for Fallujah
Films and discussionTuesday 8 NovemberThe ICA, central LondonPhone 020 7930 3647
DocHouse documentaries is commemorating the first anniversary of the battle for Fallujah, Iraq, with a special screening and discussion of two powerful documentaries, Occupation: Dreamland and Testimonies from Fallujah.
Occupation: Dreamland, directed by Garrett Scott and Ian Olds, is a candid portrait of a squad of US soldiers stationed in Fallujah during the winter of 2004.
The film charts the soldiers’ journey from unquestioning duty to disillusionment and confusion.
As the number of US dead in Iraq tops 2,000 and opposition to war grows back home, Occupation: Dreamland is a timely portrait of an army creeping towards catastrophe.
The second documentary, Testimonies from Fallujah, charts the rise of the resistance during the first seige of Fallujah in April 2004. The filmmaker, acclaimed Japanese journalist Toshikuni Doi, collected hundreds of hours of home videos made by Iraqis during the seige.
What he creates is powerful and moving, and with the absence of the international media, some of the most dramatic footage of suffering, defiance and resistance.
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