Catching up with what the media is saying about Iraq and Afghanistan – yet again, I’m hiding it under a cut.
[Nir Rosen](http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/26/AR2006052601578.html) (WaPo) has a pessimistic (or just realistic?) account of Iraq. It’s one of those rare cases when emotive political journalism totally works:
> Over the course of six weeks, I worked with three different drivers; at various times each had to take a day off because a neighbor or relative had been killed.
And this quote gets to the heart of it: “it feels as if Iraqis are occupying Iraq”
The [San Francisco Chronicle](http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/05/24/MNGLAJ16071.DTL) talks about services in Baghdad – water, electricity, rubbish collection. It’s bad, but how does it compare to pre-war? And what about the world beyond Baghdad?
[Minor political wrangling](http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2006-05-28T085907Z_01_KAR831287_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-PARLIAMENT.xml&archived=False): attempts to reduce the powers of the speaker.
[GoI is panicking about Basra](http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/KAR949491.htm), and Maliki is [bragging](http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5032294.stm) that he’ll use an ‘iron fist’ to pacify the city. Why has the situation there been hotting up these past few months? People being blamed: the British, the Iranians, the tribes, and the Sadrists. And the accountants; according to this article, Basra’s oil ‘accounts for virtually all of Iraq’s state revenues’.
[Iraq’s foreign minister](http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/26/AR2006052601842.html?nav=rss_world/mideast/iraq) takes Iran’s side in the nuclear dispute. Good tactics all round, I’d say: obviously plays well with the Shiites, some of the rest might like the idea of sticking a finger up at the US, and while this might piss off American pundits, it won’t make them less likely to do what Zeybari wants in Iraq. Remember that half the reason they aren’t leaving is that they’re worried about Iranian influence.
The Haditha scandal [seems boring and insignificant to Iraqis](http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/28/AR2006052800766.html?nav=rss_world/mideast/iraq), and why not? Things just as bad are happening every day, and in the end it doesn’t matter much who is pulling the trigger.
[Flare-up in Afghanistan](http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2006-05-29T160255Z_01_ISL233894_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-AFGHAN-PROTEST-COL.XML&archived=False), as riots develop out of a panicky US reaction to angry locals. The riot is being [described](http://www.irishexaminer.com/irishexaminer/pages/story.aspx-qqqg=sport-qqqm=sport-qqqa=sport-qqqid=4644-qqqx=1.asp) as the worst in Kabul since the war. I guess that’s a good sign. Interesting that, as in Pakistan, the riot is coming out of a car accident.
Also in Afghanistan, a [big US airstrike](http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/story/0,,1785358,00.html). As in Iraq, using helicopters rather than ground troops is a Bad Thing in humanitarian terms, although obviously there are sometimes god reas.
Brave writers in the [Pakistan Tribune](http://paktribune.com/news/index.php?id=144925) and [USA Today](http://www.usatoday.com/money/world/2006-05-25-afghanistan-usat_x.htm) tackle unemployment and the finances of the Afghan government, while the [Toronto Globe and Mail](http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060526.wxafghan27/BNStory/Front) writes (and writes well) about longer-term security problems:
> Since their defeat in 2001, Taliban militants have been allowed to regroup, re-arm and re-exert their influence. Most of the southern countryside is now paralyzed, beyond the influence of Afghanistan’s central government, lacking any government services and unable to break the Taliban’s stranglehold. Just as it was in the 1980s during the Soviet occupation, the foreign troops control the major cities while the guerrillas control the mountains and villages.