Archive for the 'Media reports' Category

655,000 killed because of war in Iraq

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

It won’t be publicly available until Thursday, but The Lancet is about to print an updated version of the 2004 Iraq mortality estimate. At the time, they estimated that there had been around 100,000 excess deaths because of the war. Now, according to the Washington Post and New York Times, their current estimate is about 655,000 excess deaths, of which 600,000 were caused by violence.

190,000 IDPs?

Friday, October 6th, 2006

We wrote about displacement a few months ago, as thousands of Iraqis were forced out of their homes by sectarian violence after the bombing of the Samarra mosque.

Since then, things have been steadily getting worse. Now the IOM estimates that there are 190,000 internally displaced Iraqis. The Iraqi Ministry of Migration puts the figure higher: they say some 9,000 Iraqis are registering as refugees each week, and the total number is around 240,000

C4 Dispatches ‘Iraq: The Women’s Story’

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

UK TV’s Channel 4 recently broadcast a documentary in their Dispatches series about women in Iraq. There’s an interesting website, including a timeline of Iraqi women’s rights.

Here’s the blurb:

The invasion of Iraq heralded promises of freedom from tyranny and equal rights for the women of Iraq. But three years on, the reality of everyday life for women inside Iraq is a different story. To make this film, two Iraqi women risk their lives to spend three months travelling all over the country with a camera to record the lives and experiences of women they meet. Dispatches: Iraq: The Women’s Story provides a compelling account of a life inside Iraq that is rarely seen on news bulletins: stories of ordinary women whose struggle to survive has only worsened since the war.

Playing blind

Monday, May 8th, 2006

Long-time IAG friend Colin Rowat has just written an interesting article in the (Lebanese) Daily Star, attempting to interpret Iraqi politics by means of game theory.

According to Colin, one of the reasons for political stalemates in Iraq is a lack of information. No politician yet knows the strengths of the parties and positions, so they can’t bargain effectively. In particular, the lack of good information makes political actors believe themselves to be stronger than they really are. The perception of widespread electoral fraud lets the losers believe that they could have won in a fair election.

What’s the solution? Colin talks about how elections improve bargaining by giving solid information on who is popular. For some reason he doesn’t talk about the more usual ways of spreading information: by media, by independent research from academics, government and NGOs, through opinion polls. Maybe even sites like this can provide a little help from the sidelines.


Thursday, April 13th, 2006

News of refugees continues, with BBC news reporting that at least 65,000 Iraqis have left their homes and the rate of displacement is increasing.

Figures given to the BBC by the Ministry for Displacement and Migration show a doubling in the last two weeks of the number of Iraqis forced to move.

Film by Salam Pax

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

This short film, on the situation in Iraq three years on from the toppling of that Saddam statue, was screened on Newsnight on Monday 10th April. Its main message is basically extremely negative about the future of Iraq, but as with all Salam Pax reports it feels like an unusually frank, down-to-earth and honest on-the-ground account amidst the rest of the media accessible to non-Arabic speakers.

NYT Article on Sectarian Violence

Monday, April 3rd, 2006

I’m wondering whether IAG should put some mind- and research-power into looking at this current development in Iraq? I for one feel under-informed, as the media reports are not usually in-depth enough and I have a feeling that, at least in the UK, the general public sense of what the issues are in Iraq has not caught up with the reality of civil war or impending civil war.

For example, an article in yesterday’s New York Times indicates that American military casualties have been significantly sinking as Iraqi casualties shoot up: I had not been aware of quite how dramatically USA army casualties had gone down recently, and I sense that most people in the UK have not perceived quite what a shift there has been in the last six months in how the coalition fits in to the violence in Iraq. The NYT article makes the following point:

“the debate [about whether Iraq is in civil war] could increase the political pressure that President Bush is facing at home to draw down significantly the force of 133,000 American troops here. Even if American deaths keep falling, polls show the American public has little appetite for engagement in an Iraqi civil war.”

If we might potentially face a situation in which the Coalition withdraws with the rhetoric that Iraq is in civil war and that this is nothing to do with the Coalition, how would this affect IAG’s mandate of scrutinising UK policy in Iraq? Could IAG usefully look more specifically at the nature and extent of the US/UK role in the new intersectarian violence in Iraq (as opposed to violence clearly directed at occupiers)? E.g. how far the coalition is to blame for aggravating sectarianism, exactly what role they are playing now? I wonder (aloud - or rather - online) if we might have the capacity to think about a briefing on this. At the least, maybe we should put a priority for a while on fleshing out the IAG site in terms of information on sectarian violence in Iraq.

Permanent US bases in Iraq?

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

BBC news reports today that the Pentagon has requested significant extra funding for its military bases in Iraq, further stoking the suspicion that the US does intend, despite Bush’s assurances to the contrary, to maintain permanent bases in Iraq. According to the report, “much of the 2006 emergency funding is earmarked for beefing up security and facilities at just a handful of large airbases in Iraq” and the US House Appropriations Committee “has demanded a “master plan” from the Pentagon before the money can be spent”.

The report goes on to describe one of the air bases in Iraq which might be in line to become a more permanent base. The implications of this are interesting, this request for extra funding coming at the same time as the US allocation to reconstruction funds is rapidly dwindling with many projects, particularly in the electricity and water sectors, either not yet completed or not yet begun (compared to the targets the allocated funds were supposed to cover.)

Also, the UN mandate for the US to be in Iraq right now rests absolutely on the premise that they are there on the request of the Iraqi government, so that the moment the Iraqi government asks them to leave, the UN Mandate technically speaking would no longer cover US presence there. If the US really is setting up permanent bases, this weakens the UN Mandate even further, as the gesture towards any Iraqi agency in the continued presence of the US is rendered virtually meaningless. It’ll be interesting to see what happens on the 15th of June, when the current UN Mandate for the Coalition Force comes up for renewal - unless the Iraqi governments requests its revision before then.

Is Iraq in civil war?

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

Reuters reports on recent statements by Iyad Allawi:

“It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is … Iraq is in the middle of a crisis. Maybe we have not reached the point of no return yet. But we are moving toward this point. We are in a terrible civil conflict now”

US and UK officials, such as George Bush, John Reid, and others disagree.

Juan Cole writes in Salon about how civil war might be defined and the applicability of the term to the situation in Iraq.

Defence Department report on more torture in Iraq

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

See the detailed report by Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall in the NY Times . AP provides a summary, and there is some analysis here. The below are excerpts from a previous, shorter version available via the IHT:

As the Iraqi insurgency intensified in early 2004, an elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein’s former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. […]

Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, “No Blood, No Foul.” According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges.

“The reality is, there were no rules there,” another Pentagon official said.

Documents and interviews with more than a dozen people now offer the first detailed description of serious abuses by the military’s most highly trained counterterrorism unit. […]

The abuses at Camp Nama continued despite warnings beginning in August 2003 from a U.S. Army investigator and U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials in Iraq. The CIA was concerned enough to bar its personnel from Camp Nama that August.[…]

Defense Department personnel briefed on the unit’s operations said harsh treatment extended beyond Camp Nama to small field outposts in Baghdad, Falluja, Balad, Ramadi and Kirkuk.[…]

In the summer of 2004, Camp Nama closed and the unit moved to a new headquarters in Balad, north of Baghdad. The unit’s operations are now shrouded in even tighter secrecy.