Larry Kaplow

Stories by Larry Kaplow

  • Which Iraqis Are Coming Home?

    While the rate of Iraqis fleeing their homes has been lower in the last several months than before, it still looks like only the biggest risk-takers or those with the shortest journeys are ready to bet on a return. They face tough conditions in their old homes--including poor services and low employment, but many say they feel safe.A new report from the Switzerland-based International Organization for Migration (, perhaps the best record-keepers of these things, says they have counted about 80,000 Iraqis (13,030 families multiplied by their standard six per family for 78,180 individuals) who have returned to their original neighborhoods from around Iraq or abroad. The report notes that these figures are likely the "majority" of those who have returned, but there's no comprehensive registry of these movements. So the real figure could be more than 150,000 – a sizable amount but just a fraction of the more than 3 million who have fled their...
  • Decoding Al-Sadr’s Protest Politics

    Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP-Getty ImagesIraqi men work to extinguish a blaze said to have been caused by a U.S. rocket attack in Sadr City on April 8, 2008...
  • Light-Up Saddam Available for Cheap

    credit: Larry Kaplow Iraqis still nostalgic for Saddam Hussein--and you find them fairly often--have a secret way to sneak a peak at the old dictator. Cheap cigarette lighters on sale in his hometown Tikrit, apparently just in the last few months, have small flashlight projectors in the end that illuminate the leader in his classic poses. Point it toward a wall or the ground and you can see the strongman in his heyday, firing a pistol.Stall owners selling the items say they come from "China," which could mean from anywhere in Asia. More innocuous models offer pictures of Iraqi soccer heroes.
  • Life Inside the Green Zone

    Life in the Green Zone is hardly fun. But for an elderly Iraqi couple, it's a lot better than being on the other side of the checkpoints.
  • Finally, a Focus on Civilians

    Finally, the U.S. is taking more notice of ordinary Iraqis. After five years in Baghdad, a NEWSWEEK reporter hopes it's not too late
  • A Life in Exile

    He supports the American occupation and says life has gotten better in Iraq. Still, he doesn't have enough faith to go home just yet.
  • Iraq: A Taxi Driver’s War

    For a Baghdad taxi driver, the years of war have brought some disturbing sights—and a terrible loss.
  • Iraq Violence Stats Update

    These three charts provided to NEWSWEEK by the military last week give a rough idea of how the violence in Iraq today compares to other times during the war. The military still does not attach figures to the charts but it is more forthcoming with comprehensive trends--released in close-to-real-time--than it used to be. This chart shows that weekly attacks are in a low, nearly four-month plateau with fewer than 600 attacks of all kinds across the country per week. Attacks haven't been down at those levels for a sustained period since about spring 2005 (and they surpassed 1,500 attacks a week back in June of last year), according to the military's information. This chart shows violent civilian deaths down in January to just above 500 a month, the lowest figure in about two years:   The third shows Iraqi security forces and U.S. military deaths per month--with an uptick for U.S. deaths in January while Iraqi deaths dropped:  
  • Avoiding Ahmadinejad

    Atta Kenare / AFP-Getty ImagesFrom Tehran to Baghdad: Ahmadinejadwill visit the Iraqi capital in MarchSo far U.S. officials say they won't be attending any events during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's planned visit to Baghdad March 2. And  the Iranian president might make it easy for them to avoid the awkwardness of bumping into each other in the Green Zone–-say, at an embassy "Salsa Night" or the "Liberty" pool. Iraqis planning the itinerary say that their guest has asked to stay outside the fortified area in a riverside compound belonging to his official host, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.Ahmadinejad is expected to sleep over one night and hold meetings with Iraqi officials, maybe sign an agreement or two, and hold a joint press conference with Talabani. Naseer al-Ani, director of the Iraqi Presidency office (remember, there's a president and two vice-presidents from the different ethnic and religious factions) told NEWSWEEK the plan now is to not rely...
  • Enjoy the Tacos-But People Want to Kill You

    This week I found myself staying a night at a giant FOB (Forward Operating Base). It's a mini-city providing living conditions not uncommon for American forces in Iraq. Guests are greeted in a base lodge with introductory guides to the amenities. There are two gyms offering indoor and outdoor basketball courts and a swimming pool. Recreation rooms have pool tables, ping-pong, air hockey and movies. There are two Internet cafes. The "Food Court" has Burger King, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. (They apologized that budget cuts had ended the guest "maid service.")People drive SUV's to the general dining facility, a single room as big as a department store with multiple lines for ice cream, cakes, salads and the main courses. The atmosphere is like an office cafeteria, jovial but bland. It's probably praiseworthy that those who specialize in building bases and making them livable--legions of Army engineers and private contractors--had created a world in...
  • Eerie Photos Show Baghdad Bombers

    They looked like they could have been sisters--young women, with the same brown tint to their straight hair, round, smooth cheeks. Both were decapitated just under the chin but their faces were eerily intact, almost serene. They were, according to the U.S. commander who showed their photos, unwitting suicide bombers sent by Al Qaeda in Iraq. Apparently walking between blast walls meant to prevent car bombs, they shook Baghdad Friday with bombs in two open-air markets about 10 minutes apart. And, according to Iraqi officials, both women had Down's Syndrome. The theory is that they were tricked into carrying the explosives--one in a suicide vest and the other in a backpack supplemented with ball bearings the size of a fingertip....
  • Mess O’Potamian Art

    The war turned the Baghdad museum into a tomb of antiquities. It's finally time to pick up the pieces.
  • Ho, ho, ho. It’s Santa Qusay

    Iraqis and westerners alike were doing double-takes and reaching for their digital cameras Wednesday. A man dressed as Santa and riding a motor scooter zipped around the Green Zone, reaching into his bag to give candies and Arabic bibles to passersby. His red suit made a stark contrast with the bland khaki and gray surroundings. I caught up with him between the blast walls near the British embassy and the military combat hospital. ...
  • Monster Truck

    Judging from a recent ride through the Baghdad suburbs, the military's new MRAP will provide a protective yet bulky and bouncy alternative to the Humvee that has carried troops throughout of the war. There are now about 1,500 MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles) in Iraq of 15,000 or so the military plans on buying, for at least $500,000 each. ...
  • Key U.S. Ally Killed in Iraq

    America lost one of its most effective and colorful Iraqi allies in a roadside bomb blast Sunday. Gen. Qais Hamza Aboud, police chief for the Babil province, was killed in the midday attack on his convoy. Qais, who American officers sometimes called "The Godfather," was a Shiite Muslim known for cracking down on Shiite militias and criminal gangs as well as going after Sunni insurgents. His brash charisma--including his salty language and affinity for Jack Daniels whiskey--was recently described in a story about Iraqi warlords by NEWSWEEK's Kevin Peraino....
  • The Sunni Civil War

    They're fighting with words, not bullets. But the rift is still dangerous.
  • There’s No Place Like … Iraq?

    Actually, yes. Refugees are returning—but it's tough to resettle them without worsening sectarian divisions.
  • Secret Lives for Mixed Couples

    They are engaged to be married, the soldier and the interpreter. But it's only when they are alone or among confidants that the bride-to-be calls her fiancé by his first name or, sometimes, "Habibi," the Arabic term of endearment for someone beloved. Otherwise, as they walk or work side-by-side on a sprawling U.S. army base somewhere in Iraq, she uses his rank and last name. He fears he could face military punishment if superiors learn of their love. She and her family could face retribution if Iraqis learn of it. ...
  • Blackwater Down

    A noonday shoot-out in Baghdad prompts angry calls for Western security contractors to be reined in.
  • Are Contractors Above the Law?

    There's probably little legal clout to the Iraqi government's vow Monday to expel the security firm that protects American diplomats. But that should not diminish the importance of the incident the day before, in which eight Iraqi civilians were allegedly killed by diplomatic guards, or the ongoing controversy about the conduct of the U.S. Embassy's security force. In addition to the personal tragedy for those cut down while passing through a busy Baghdad square, this was a setback for the very interests American diplomats are trying to promote, and it is largely of America's own making....
  • Will Sheik’s Murder Destabilize Anbar?

    As the funeral for Iraqi tribal leader Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was taking place Friday, U.S. and Iraqi officials tried to assess the impact of his death on what had been the showcase province for progress in Iraq. The murdered sheik was the charismatic face of the Anbar Salvation Council, the Sunni tribal movement that late last year started joining forces with U.S. troops in fighting Al Qaeda fighters in western Iraq. In congressional hearings this week, Gen. David Petraeus cited the example of Anbar to counter claims that Iraq was becoming a lost cause for American troops. ...