The Other Side of the Kirkuk Flashpoint

It takes about half an hour to ascend the well-paved highway from bustling Irbil to the mountaintop villas and elite homes where Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), lives.

The Right to Defend Ourselves

Iraq's Kurds have been enthusiastic U.S. allies since before the 2003 invasion. But as the Kurds have expanded their control over their oil-rich territory—and as they reassert claims to the contested city of Kirkuk ahead of a constitutionally mandated referendum—tensions are mounting with the central government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and with Arabs and other ethnic groups.

Iraq's City of Death

Gaze over the road circling the Iraqi city of Najaf's compact center and it's clear that this spiritual capital of Shiite Islam is first and foremost a vast cemetery.

UN Human Rights Report: Torture and Detention Without Charge in Iraq

A new United Nations report on human rights in Iraq cites Iraqi prisons for continued torture of detainees, incarceration for months without charges and warns, as it has in the past, that "security may not be sustainable unless significant steps are taken in the area of human rights such as strengthening the rule of law and addressing impunity." The report (PDF), covers mainly the last half of 2008.

Iraq Bombings Threaten to Renew Chaos

An Iraqi talk show anchor planned to spend his hour today talking about the recent robbery and shooting spree against jewelry store owners. But after the third bombing with massive casualties in two days, he changed the subject.

A Plan for Opening Abraham's Biblical City

American archaeologist Brian Rose visited Iraq this month to work with antiquities officials in making southern Iraq's historic site of Ur, a reputed home of the Biblical Abraham, accessible for tourists and research.

Maybe the Sahwa Is Hiring

The Western media's financial downfall has been felt sharply in Baghdad, where the number of American reporters has dropped significantly over the past year and bureaus are laying off Iraqi staff.

The Good News from Iraq's Election Day

There are a lot of pitfalls in the path to Iraqi democracy. But they're getting the election part down. Today's voting to choose the leadership councils of 14 of the country's 18 provinces was orderly, safe and enthusiastic.

Iraq's Elections: The Match-Ups

Iraq's elections tomorrow are local affairs meant to choose the leadership of 14 of the country's 18 provinces. But the implications are national.Previously, Iraq's finger-inking electoral spectacles were largely ethnic referenda.

How to Vote in Iraq's Elections

With security improving, the toughest part of Saturday's Iraqi provincial elections might be educating voters about how to mark their ballots. An attempt to explain a truly complex process:  The elections are for the provincial councils in 14 of the country's 18 provinces.

Ryan Crocker's Exit Presser in Baghdad

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, admittedly worn out from years on the intense diplomatic front lines since September 11, 2001, gave his last press conference to the Baghdad Western press corps today.

A Sheik's Take on the Obama Inauguration

Last summer when Barack Obama made his only visit to Iraq, he met one of Iraq's most influential and colorful sheiks. Sheik Ali Hatim watched the inauguration last night and remembered telling Obama that his schedule for pulling troops from Iraq was too fast and could leave the country again in chaos. "I don't want you to stay forever but fix what you messed up," he says he told the then presumptive Democratic nominee. "We will not abandon you," he remembers Obama telling him.

Who's Fooling Whom at Iraqi Checkpoints?

A local staff member for Newsweek last week was stopped for a search of his car at a crossing where Iraqi soldiers usually let people pass by unhindered. This time, there were U.S. troops standing by.

Iraqis Win Reprieve from Fees for Missing Services

It's bad enough to have phone lines that have not worked for years. It's worse to get billed for them. In recent weeks, Iraqis have been getting visits from employees of the government phone company handing them large bills for phone service–their first bills in years.

A Harsh American Footprint

As a ceremonial and social event, the dedication of the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was an unqualified success. The sun shone on a cool winter day. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani expressed his gratitude for America's sacrifices to drive a despot from his homeland and Ambassador Ryan Crocker pledged his country's continuing support.

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