Pakistan: Bhutto’s Son Flies Solo

Benazir Bhutto's son has finally held his own press conference. How Pakistan's heir apparent handled the media, fake Facebook pages and fears about his future.

Iraq: Slogans of War

The Iraq conflict has given rise to some peculiar turns of phrase. A guide to strategic linguistics—and what it tells about the U.S. military message.

Caught In The Middle

Simply holding office in Iraq can be deadly; just ask its vice president, who faces enemies on all sides.

Iraq: Still a Dangerous Place

This chart from the Coalition Press Information Center, the military's press office in Baghdad, is striking in its detail about the level of violence in Iraq--information the military in the past has been very reluctant to share in such depth.  While it dramatically shows the drop in violence lately--it also underscores just how many attacks still continue.  Fardh al-Qanoon is the Arabic name for Baghdad Security Plan, which is what the Iraqi government refers to the surge as. The surge of U.S. troops, an additional 30,000 mostly in Baghdad, reached its peak in early July, after which there's a dramatic dropoff in "sigacts".

Some Progress Seen in Baghdad

For the first time in years, the Iraqi capital is showing signs of life. But the calm is all too fragile, and it's an opportunity the government cannot afford to miss.

A Radical Cleric Gets Religion

It wasn't so long ago that U.S. commanders considered Moqtada al-Sadr to be the greatest threat to stability in Iraq. Now the Shiite firebrand's stock among the Americans may be rising. Since declaring a ceasefire for his Mahdi Army militia last August, Sadr has effectively disappeared from public life, designating five trusted aides to speak on his behalf. NEWSWEEK has learned that some of those deputies have been secretly meeting with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, to discuss cooperation on improving security, according to two sources who declined to be identified because of the subject's sensitivity. The general's spokesman, Col. Steven Boylan, qualified that assertion, explaining that while Petraeus has not met with Sadr, "the command has indeed had direct engagements with some of his people within the [Sadr] organization … to assist with reconciliation efforts." Boylan also says the military "applauded" Sadr's ceasefire.U.S. commanders say that the Mahdi...

Suicide Bombers: A Breakdown

The story of Ahmed Abdullah al-Shayea sounds like a fairy tale, and not a very pleasant one.  Recruited as a jihadi in the conservative Saudi town of Buraida as a 19-year-old, he volunteered to go to Iraq as a fighter. Once there, he balked when insurgents — including Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Mussab al Zarqawi himself — tried to persuade him to become a suicide bomber.  So instead, he claims, they told him his mission was to drive a huge fuel truck—with no truck-driving experience at all—through Baghdad neighborhoods—with which he had no familiarity whatever—and drop it off at the Saddam Towers.  It was Christmas Day, 2004.Two other militants rode with him, but jumped out suddenly, leaving him alone.  A less guileless person might have taken that as a sign, but al Shayea carried on driving toward his destination.  Then as he approached the residence of the Jordanian ambassador in the Mansour neighborhood, another militant cynically pushed a remote control button and blew up the...

Threatened, Christians Flee the Mideast

He refused to leave Baghdad, even after the day last year when masked Sunni gunmen forced him and eight co-workers to line up against a wall and said, "Say your prayers." An Assyrian Christian, Rayid Albert closed his eyes and prayed to Jesus as the killers opened fire. He alone survived, shot seven times. But a month ago a note was left at his front door, warning, "You have three choices: change your religion, leave or pay the jeziya"—a tax on Christians levied by ancient Islamic rulers. It was signed "The Islamic Emirate of Iraq," a Qaeda pseudonym. That was the day Albert decided to get out immediately. He and the other 10 members of his household are now living as refugees in Kurdistan.Across the lands of the Bible, Christians like Albert and his family are abandoning their homes. According to the World Council of Churches, the region's Christian population has plunged from 12 million to 2 million in the past 10 years. Lebanon, until recently a majority Christian country—the...

The Last Word: John Holmes on Somalia

Few foreign officials dare to go into Mogadishu. But as Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs for the United Nations, John Holmes felt compelled to visit Somalia's capital last week after the government and Ethiopian forces claimed that their four-month long campaign against Islamist insurgents had finally pacified the city. During the fighting, 2,000 Somalis were killed, and 365,000 people fled the capital—making it the worst violence in Somalia's 16 years of war and turmoil. Also the U.N.'s top emergency-relief coordinator, Holmes entered Mogadishu to assess aid efforts, which many U.N. agencies say have been hampered by the U.S.-backed transitional government and Ethiopian troops. But Holmes's May 12 visit was cut short after a series of bombs exploded along his planned route through the capital. Mere minutes after Holmes arrived, one bomb hit government positions 300 meters from a U.N. building, killing three Somali civilians. NEWSWEEK's Rod Nordland spoke with Holmes...