It feels like everyday is a long one in Iraq, perhaps because we are each waiting for the act of war that is our last. The situation in Western Iraq is getting much worse again, even in Ramadi. Ramadi, though considered Western Iraq, is a bit West of Baghdad. Like Fallujah, it is more in the center of the country than anything else.
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.
To round out our evening Omar and I traveled to Ghazaliyah district in Baghdad, near the Abu Ghraib neighborhood. There have been continued reports of journalists having difficulties in traveling around this part of Baghdad to produce journalistic work. Despite these claims, we traveled through this neighborhood, which the locals sometimes call “Fallujah 2″, with relatively few events of note and passing many checkpoints due to the late hour of the day. I was never asked for identification and was only once asked if I was a journalist. Our vehicle loosely examined twice at checkpoints, but most of the Iraqi Police and National Guard troops we met were courteous. One officer even made the effort to joke with Omar and let us pass after examining only Omar’s ID. Omar is a registered pilot in Iraq, and he says this is almost like being a lieutenant. Although this may seem strange, the treatment he has received upon showing the license seems to bear the claim out.
While we were in Ghazaliyah we interviewed an Iraqi Professor, Huda Naimi who spoke about her work with the Women’s Will and about the situation for women in Iraq - specifically those under detention by the interim Government and Coalition forces.