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Conflict

Conflict takes many forms, from disagreements between different political parties to indigenous communities battling government and corporate interests to full-blown warfare. Pulitzer Center grantee stories tagged with “Conflict” feature reporting that covers adversarial politics, war and peace. Use the Pulitzer Center Lesson Builder to find and create lesson plans on conflict.

 

Communications, complications, frustrations

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.

Down the Rio Tapaje

Carlos Villalon chronicles life along the river Tapaje and the impact of the drug conflict between the U.S. backed-Colombian military, FARC guerrillas and paramilitary forces.

David Enders reports on fighting between Sadrists and the US military in Baghdad

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.

Listen to this report.

Three more journalists killed

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.

Also today, a journalist working for the New York Times was killed.

That brings the official total of press and support staff killed to 150, though likely it is higher.

Alamin

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.

Funeral

Residents of al-Amin Ithania prepare for the funerals of three people killed on Thursday.

Contemporary Colombia

Combining the themes of paramilitary violence, drugs, and politics, these photos offer a glimpse into contemporary life in Colombia.

Ninth circle

Navigating Amman is usually done by referencing its traffic circles, most of which have been assigned numbers: you get into the cab and ask to go to the 7th Circle, 3rd Circle, whichever. I'm not the first to riff off Dante with regards to Amman, but it was hard for Rick and I to ignore that the last circle (which is on the way to the airport) is the 8th Circle, suggesting that, as you travel further east, the 9th Circle is... do I need to say it?

Anyway, day two in Baghdad was a wash. We spent most of it in the hotel as the translator we hired was confined to his neighborhood by a US military raid against the Jeish al-Mehdi, which might explain why so many mortars hit the Green Zone today. (The BBC reported 12, al-Jazeera international reported 30.)

Am finding as I speak with people about what is possible that it is far more difficult to move around here than it was the last time I was here, in May 2006. The increasing tensions between the Sadrists and the government, as well as continued fighting between the Jeish al-Mehdi on the military, have everyone on edge and expecting worse.

And Dante was wrong about the ice in the 9th Circle. It's toasty here.

Jordan

We arrived in Baghdad from Amman yesterday. Today has been spent so far on logistics such as getting cell phone SIM cards and setting up interviews, so I'll reflect quickly on Jordan and begin blogging about Iraq in my next post.

Hotel Dorantes Bogota 13-15 June 07

"The students are throwing rocks at the police," the taxi driver said on the way in from the airport. "It's dangerous, the government has called out the army." I felt like my luck was holding and slammed the video camera together but by the time we made it through the traffic, the students had already swept through the neighborhood. They left in their wake revolutionary slogans on every public building for several square miles. One read, "URIBE 100% PARACO" and accuses the president of being a member of a paramilitary organization, a death squad leader.

Arrival in Colombia - 13 June 07

13 June, 2007

Four hours after leaving New York on the Avianca flight for Bogota, the Caribbean coast of Colombia appeared, a electric green arc of banana plantations and thick jungle. It was strange to fly south instead toward the blood-charged cauldron of the Middle East where I have spent the last four years covering the conflict in Iraq. Colombia is a different story, one that is much closer to home.