Just six weeks before American occupation authorities are due to transfer sovereignty to Iraqi institutions, the killing of Ezzedine Salim has intensified a heated debate inside Iraq: just who is responsible for the country's escalating spiral of violence?People knew him as Ezzedine Salim, but that was a pseudonym.
Even as U.S. warplanes attacked targets in Fallujah again tonight, Marine officers were working up a proposal to end their month-long siege of the city. At first blush, the outlines of the "solution" seem dicey: up to 1,000 Iraqi soldiers, led by a former major general from Saddam Hussein's army, will enter Fallujah and provide security there.
During his prime-time press conference last week, George W. Bush promised that, someday, "Iraqi security is going to be handled by the Iraq people themselves."That day isn't coming any time soon.As fierce fighting erupted in parts of Iraq in early April, the U.S.-led coalition tried to deploy U.S.-trained Iraqi units to quell the fighting.
One of my last visits with Amal Murad Ali, almost exactly a year ago, was cut short by an explosion. She and I were huddled in the dank basement of her antiques shop, across from Baghdad's Palestine Hotel, waiting for the fighting to stop, when a huge blast shook the building.
I've reported on many conflicts, but I had never before been trapped in a city bombarded by my own government. The Palestine Hotel was a ringside seat for the deafening spectacle of gigantic fireballs exploding during the night of "shock and awe." Not many Americans were there to share the experience; most U.S. reporters had been pulled out by their jittery editors.
Scheduled for just 20 minutes, the meeting went on for two hours. U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans had traveled to China to meet with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and press a stern message: Beijing's "unfair" trade practices and refusal to revalue its currency were "undercutting American workers." Wen heard him out during the November sit-down but, according to a Chinese diplomat familiar with the meeting, had a retort at the ready.
When strangers visit, Shang Zhijun is on his best behavior. The 22-year-old Hebei peasant only seems a little pushy--talking too loudly, asking for cigarettes too often. "He doesn't admit he's mentally ill," says his adoptive mother, Zhao Shulan. "If my husband and I refuse to give him money, he flies into a rage.
The architectural hodgepodge that is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, is testament to the country's dazzling cultural diversity. In the city center, not far from the Islamic Sharia court, is the British-built former cricket club--nicknamed "the Spotted Dog" for the Dalmatians that colonial planters used to tether out front.