You Won't Read This in Your Newspaper

by James Glaser
January 18, 2006

The following story comes from "International The News," Editor-in-chief, Mir Bhakil-ur-Rahman, and was published on December 18th. This paper comes out of Pakistan and is published by the Jang Group of newspapers. They also have a presence on the web.

The details in this newspaper report explains to much of the rest of the world what is going on in Iraq, and these stories get coverage every day.

Normally I don't use a quotation as large as this one, but this time I think it is important. You will read about violence in cities and areas of Iraq that don't normally make it to our papers, in fact some I have never heard of before. A lot of the story is just matter of fact, like "A policeman was killed in the village of Abu Said, near Baquaba, when gunmen raked his patrol car with bullets."

Day after day the people all over Middle East are reading reports like this one, they know where these cities are, and they know who the people are who are written about. Everything is close to home over there. Here in America the names are foreign, and we don't even know how to pronounce them.

When in the Middle East and you read reports like this every day, and you see the death, destruction, the rubble we have made out of Iraq on your TV every night, then you know what the violence in Iraq is really like. People in the Middle East know what violence is, most have lived through a war or a period of violence. It is almost a way of life for much of the region.

Those people have an understanding of war that the American public lacks, and I think this type of reporting displays that knowledge.

    BAGHDAD: At least 11 people were killed in violence across Iraq on Saturday, including eight in Diyala, one of the most volatile provinces in the country's bloody sectarian conflict, officials said.

    Also, 53 bullet-ridden corpses were discovered by Iraqi police in Baghdad on Saturday, including 15 dumped in one flashpoint neighbourhood in the war-torn capital, a security source said.

    The bodies—all men who had been shot dead by unknown gunmen—were found littered across the capital. Fifteen of the corpses, including that of an Iraqi army colonel, Abdel Rahman Mohammed, were found in a single spot in the Sunni Muslim neighbourhood of Ghazaliya, which borders a Shia area in Baghdad.

    Two civilians and a soldier were shot dead in an attack in Dali Abbas, north of Baquba, the capital of Diyala, said a security source.

    In Baquba itself, two civilians died in a shootout pitting insurgents against police forces with another two civilians shot dead by masked gunmen in the north of the city, the same source said.

    A policeman was killed in the village of Abu Said, near Baquba, when gunmen raked his patrol car with bullets.

    South of Baghdad, a four-year-old girl was killed and a man wounded in the town of Iskandiriyah when three mortars targeted a residential neighbourhood, a regional security source said.

    In the same region, a civilian was killed when two homemade bombs exploded that missed their target of an Iraqi security force patrol.

    Saturday's deaths came after Iraqi army special forces and US advisers called in an air strike and killed an enemy gunman during a raid on Sadr City, the US military said.

    Meanwhile, Iraq's Shia prime minister called on Saturday for the return of all officers of Saddam Hussein's disbanded army.

    Nuri al-Maliki offered an olive branch to former supporters of Saddam Hussein, including the army, calling for them to join a peace process in the war-wracked country.

    He made the call at a national reconciliation conference of Shia, Sunni Arab and Kurdish politicians meant to halt communal bloodshed that has raised the spectre of civil war and was a major reason for US President George W Bush's decision to review his Iraq strategy.

    A senior politician from the powerful Shia Alliance said representatives of some Sunni Arab insurgent groups were in attendance, but delegates said participants' names would remain undisclosed.

    "The new Iraqi army is opening the door to former Iraqi army officers. Those who do not come back will be given pensions," Maliki said, in remarks in which he also told leaders to embrace reconciliation as a "safety net from death and destruction".

    The Defence Ministry has recruited former Saddam officers but limited the invitation to junior officers. Maliki's plea, addressing a long-time demand by Sunnis, was the first extended to all ranks.

    The US military has been training the new, 300,000-strong Iraqi army as part of a plan eventually to withdraw its 135,000 troops.

    The conference, which officials said was attended by figures from Saddam's former Baath party living abroad since his ouster, takes place against a backdrop of violence that UN officials estimate kills more than 100 people a day.

You read this column and it gives you a different picture of the violence that is taking place in Iraq. The descriptions are a little more stark than what you would read here in the U.S., and you get a picture of violence going on all over Iraq. Here at home you start to think that everything is going on in Baghdad.

It is also telling that former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party and Sunni insurgents are now trying to work things out with Iraq's new government. You read a story like this and you ask yourself if this story is true, and you read another story in an American newspaper and you have to ask that same question. I don't know, but I do hope this Pakistani paper has it right. I hope the different factions in Iraq are talking among themselves, because some day America is going to walk away, and then they will have to.

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