You may have missed it amid the AIG-bonus furor--even President Obama did not mention it during his recent press conference-- but last week marked six years since the start of the Iraq War.
After six years and more than 4,000 U.S. casualties, the Iraq War seems to have disappeared from the national conversation. Violence in Iraq is down sharply when compared to 2006 and 2007 levels; however, it still continues at levels that most countries would find alarming. This week at least 15 people have been killed and 30 wounded when a suicide bomber struck a Kurdish funeral tent northeast of Baghdad. Hours earlier, eight people were killed and 10 wounded by a bomb west of the capital.
Part of our job at Mosaic News is to monitor more than 36 broadcasters originating from the Middle East. What we've been seeing lately on these different networks portrays a totally different image of Iraq compared to what has been reported in the US media. I'd like to share with you a few of the stories reported by Iraqi and regional networks:
Stories about poor health conditions, the spread of disease and poverty have been abundant. A recent story on Al Iraqiya TV portrayed Iraqis living off garbage in dumps.
The news report features two young Iraqi sisters rummaging through piles of garbage to find things to sell. With the little money they earn, they buy food and medicine to support their ailing father.
Another report focused on a new phenomenon happening at Iraqi hospitals where children are being abandoned by their parents due to hardship.
Both of these stories hardly represent the improvement in Iraqi lives we keep hearing about here in the US.
Then there were the two most disturbing stories: the first dealt with the effect of war on an Iraqi village. Due to the use of depleted uranium and other chemicals by US soldiers, many of their newborns are suffering from deformities. Al Alam television aired a report from the village of Jarf al-Milih, east of Basra, where several villagers complained of skin rashes, cancer and other diseases caused by containers left by American troops.
The other, one of the most chilling stories I've seen, was about Iraqi women recounting their rape by US soldiers in Abu Ghraib.
On New TV, a victim of rape becomes a suicide bomber after she was dumped on a freeway by her rapists. She decided to exact revenge from her rapists rather than become a victim of honor by her family.
Finally, the six-year anniversary was marked by a protest in Al Basra as reported by the Iranian network Al Alam. The protesters asked for the release of Iraqi prisoners held by the occupying forces. They carried signs condemning the occupation and requested the immediate withdrawal of British and U.S. forces from Iraq.
Jamal Dajani produces the Mosaic Intelligence Report on Link TV.