Iraq: A Journalistic Nightmare

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December 21, 2007: Turkish warplanes (about fifty of them) are now bombing PKK (armed Turkish Kurdish separatists) in northern Iraq, and have sent about a thousand troops, in small infantry units, in to finish off the PKK fighters, and collect documents and prisoners. Turkish artillery was also involved. The air attacks lasted about three hours on the 14th. Iraq protested that they had no advanced warning, but that was on purpose, because the Turks could not trust the Iraqis to keep information of the location and timing of the attacks from the PKK. Meanwhile, in the south, British forces turned over control of Basra province to Iraq. This means half of the nation's 18 provinces have their security run by the government, half by foreign troops. Basra, however, will be a hard case for the government. Large parts of the city are controlled by various Shia religious, political or criminal gangs. The police are paid off, scared off or take sides. The government is going to have an interesting time getting actual control of the city.

The surge offensive rolls on. Although some of the additional forces brought in for the surge are going home, U.S. and Iraqi forces are taking advantage of the continued low terrorist activity, to go after terrorist safe houses and weapons stores. Many Iraqis, once they sense the terrorists aren't around anymore, are quick to tell police, or Americans, what they know. Mass graves of terrorist victims (civilians who opposed terrorist control of a village or neighborhood) and torture chambers are being found. This is big news inside Iraq, but not so much outside the country. Arab and Moslem nations find it disheartening that self-proclaimed "Holy Warriors" would run torture chambers and murder Iraqi civilians in the thousands. But al Qaeda and their allies did, and new evidence of the extent of this violence is turning up each day.

The reduction in terrorist violence (to levels not seen in three years) over the last few months has allowed for a lot of work to be done on infrastructure. Currently, Iraqis are receiving 14 percent more electricity than at the same time last year. Oil production is up 20 percent. And so on. As a result of all this, Iraq is becoming a bad place for journalists. Fewer of them are getting attacked, but there are far fewer newsworthy stories. "Less violence" and "More electricity" are not issues that make headlines.

 

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