Bad news for people who are hoping that someone finds the pony in the Iraq War! The Washington Post reports today that the ravaged nation passed a sad milestone today -- it now holds the record for the longest amount of time any country has gone "between holding a parliamentary election and forming a government." It takes this record away from the Netherlands, which had previously endured 207 days without a government. What? Doesn't the Iraqi parliament know that "combat operations" are "over?"
Iraqis have now spent 208 days with no new government and, while the Dutch weathered their storm, Iraq's weak institutions may not hold up against mounting pressure and a steady level of violence.
As politicians jockey for positions and broker deals in backroom meetings, many Iraqis now say they wonder why they risked their lives to vote on March 7. U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that the lack of an elected government has limited Iraq's ability to make national decisions and could eventually eat away at hard-earned security gains. The most optimistic of Iraqi politicians expect the process to take at least another month, if not much longer.
Well, hopefully the center will be held by a strong cadre of journalists, right?
Baghdad is undergoing a kind of face-lift these days as officials spend hundreds of millions of dollars in preparation to host an Arab League summit next year.
Most of the hotels that are being gutted and redone are some of the only safe places for journalists to live and work. Now, they're being kicked out.
And that's not the only problem for journalists in Iraq now. Greater government restrictions are making it more difficult for journalists to move around the country and get access to conflict areas.
Yes, things are getting tougher for reporters in Iraq for many reasons. While Parliament struggles to get its act together, one government ministry, the U.S.-created Communication and Media Commission, has been getting all up in Iraqi reporters' business, requiring them to "register, pay hefty licensing fees, and sign a pledge that they won't ignite sectarian tensions or encourage terrorism."
This basically allows the Iraqi shadow government to function, unabated: "Human rights groups say this opens the door for people in power to punish their enemies." And the licensing fees are, essentially, a protection racket, except that journalists aren't getting the proper return-on-investment for this extortion.
Nearly 200 journalists, most of them Iraqis, have died in Iraq since the American invasion, and scores more have been kidnapped, beaten, jailed, sued and fined for doing their jobs.
Just this week, an assassination attempt was made on an anchor for Iraqi state TV.
Two months ago, a car bomber made it through several checkpoints and exploded at a house that served as the local office of a Dubai-based TV channel. Three employees died and more than a dozen people were injured.
In other news, the war that led to Iraq having no functioning government and journalists afraid for their lives cost U.S. taxpayers a huge amount of money.
Iraq breaks record for longest time with no government [Washington Post]
In Iraq, Getting The Story Gets Tougher For Reporters [NPR]