Hard News by Russell Brown


Meanwhile in Iraq ...

The Daily Telegraph has a story on the accommodations that allowed the British to withdraw from Basra, where the militias now run things.

The Economist has a similar piece, focusing on millennial beliefs about the Madhi, from which this passage jumps out:

Some Basra people say the clashes, assassinations, kidnappings, the daily threat of violence and the enforcement of a rigid Islamist code of conduct amount to a “Shia Talibanisation”, with music and wedding parties banned and huge billboards warning women against venturing outside unveiled.

“We live a half-life in Basra,” says a university teacher. “There's no space for life, no parks, theatres, cinemas or space for freedom. Civil and political activities are controlled. When you go outside, the fear is inside you that you may be followed and targeted. We're living in a nightmare.”

Kevin Drumm notes Marc Lynch's observations on the developing warlord state, and also points to a fascinating post by Lynch about how pissed off al Qaeda is with al Jazeera over the broadcaster's selective editing of Bin laden's last tape.

The Washington Post interviews angry, bitter US troops, nearing the end of their tours.

The handover of Karbala province is marked by the discovery of 20 headless corpses.

The Christian Science Monitor notes the loss of 27 police recruit lives to a suicide bomber on a bicycle, but also that the Iraqi civilian death toll for October will be the lowest since February last year; at fewer than 10 a day. But the province in which the bombing was carried out, Diyala, has seen more US troops killed this year than in the last four years combined.

The 122nd journalist to be killed since 2003.

According to this Guardian column, about 16% of Iraqis no longer live in their homes as a result of the conflict, and another 60,000 are displaced every month. Disturbingly, more than two thirds of those displaced since the beginning of last year fled the ethnic cleansing in Baghdad.

Still, Baghdad can look forward to the completion of the largest and most expensive embassy in the world.

Meanwhile, Riverbend has posted again: this time on life as a refugee in Syria. I wish she'd write more often.

In an apparently inexorable trend, girls are steadily disappearing from the Iraqi education system, for reasons ranging from security to religious practice

But there are girls studying in Mosul, and, remarkably, they're blogging: this one, studying engineering against a backdrop of guns and bombs, and this one.

Memo to self: must get back into reading Iraqi bloggers.

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