"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.
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.
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.
Sunni and Shitte tribal leaders North of Baghdad have signed an agreement with the U.S. military to allow them to police volatile cities and villages. The agreement was consented to by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. U.S. soliders are optimistic; Iraqis still have some reservations.
Fareed Zakaria interviewed David Enders on Foreign Exchange. Just back from Iraq, David describes a stagnating, often deteriorating security situation, a central government unable to provide basic services to Iraqi citizens, and the rise of militias as the real authority in many areas. The interview is a sobering counterpoint to recent official reports from the region and is, in our view, essential viewing as the Bush administration presents its much-touted "progress report" on Iraq.