March 29, 2008

Reviewed in the NYT: Mirror of the Arab World

The New York Times asked me to review Sandra Mackey

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 1:19 PM | Permalink | 20 Comments »

March 26, 2008

Freedom Fighter Called

Karen DeYoung published a story in the Washington Post that ought to embarrass anyone making decisions about who deserves permanent residence in the U.S.

Saman Kareem Ahmad is an Iraqi Kurd who worked as a translator with the Marines in Iraq

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 10:53 AM | Permalink | 42 Comments »

March 25, 2008

The Dungeon of Fallujah — Upgraded

Last month I published a piece here called The Dungeon of Fallujah about my visit to the wretched jail in the city. As it turns out, the place was worse than I thought. Prisoners had to supply their own food or starve. I didn't report that detail because I didn't know it. But Marine Major General John Kelly (whom I don't think I met) read my report, investigated the jail, and fixed it. No one in the military talked to me about this. I learned about it from Mary Madigan in my comments section, she learned about it from Ace, and he learned about it from UPI.

WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. military says it is taking steps to alleviate conditions at the Fallujah city jail in Iraq after recent visitors found a filthy, overcrowded facility.

"They are being fed now," Lt. Col. Michael Callanan said of the prisoners, who until recently had to provide their own food or starve. Callanan, the point man for the U.S. military on rule-of-law issues in Anbar province, spoke to United Press International in a phone interview Monday.

Establishing the rule of law and functioning judicial institutions is a priority for Multi-National Force-West, the coalition military command in the province, Callanan said.

He said shortly after a visit to the Iraqi-run jail by the new commander of MNF-W Marine Maj. Gen. John Kelly, cash from a special commander's contingency fund known as CERP was used to hire Iraqi contractors to feed "the majority of the prisoners in both Fallujah and Ramadi" city jails.

He said "similar measures" were being taken by local commanders with CERP funds at the other 27 smaller jails in the province. In Ramadi, he said, the military was transitioning from using contractors to "providing food ... and an empty kitchen" to a women's volunteer group that would feed the inmates.

He said two new facilities in Fallujah, a city jail for pre-trial detainees and a long-term facility for convicted prisoners, would be complete by spring 2009, and described the CERP contracts as a temporary measure implemented for humanitarian reasons "in order to bridge the gap" until long-term arrangements were put in place by the Iraqi Ministry of Justice.

Kelly's visit followed a report on conditions at the jail by independent journalist Michael Totten. Totten found a facility built to hold 120 prisoners housing 900 without even minimal provision for sanitation or hygiene.

I'm a little bit stunned. I didn't intend that piece to be "activist journalism," but I guess that's how it turned out.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:31 AM | Permalink | 46 Comments »

March 24, 2008

The Liberation of Karmah, Part I

Girl Waving Hands Karmah.jpg


Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:15 AM | Permalink | 30 Comments »

March 22, 2008

Who Else is Afraid of Kosovo?

China fears Kosovo because the rulers in Beijing fear Tibet may become the Kosovo of Central Asia. This isn't a bug, it's a feature.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 1:49 PM | Permalink | 22 Comments »

March 20, 2008

The Israel of the Balkans

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:01 AM | Permalink | 31 Comments »

March 19, 2008

What Iraqis Want You to Hear

Two days ago ABC News released a new poll of Iraqi public opinion, and John Burns at the New York Times made a very perceptive observation that should be taken into account when looking it over.

Opinion polls, including those commissioned by the American command, have long suggested that a majority of Iraqis would like American troops withdrawn, but another lesson to be drawn from Saddam Hussein

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:53 AM | Permalink | 6 Comments »

March 17, 2008

Iraq Opinion Lag Narrows

I'm working on a long two-part essay called The Liberation of Karmah for this site and a shorter piece for Commentary about Kosovo. I'm behind schedule, though, so I'll leave you with some data to chew on for now.

Last summer when I returned from Baghdad and Ramadi I was disturbed to see that Iraqi public opinion had barely changed in the wake of the surge. There seemed to be a serious disconnect between the hard data and what I had seen with my eyes. I didn't quite know what to make of it.

In hindsight it makes sense. American public opinion hadn't budged on Iraq either last summer. Only now is it starting to shift. Iraqis are closer to Iraq than Americans (obviously), but it seems that opinions are slow to change with the facts even there.

A new poll released today shows that Iraqi public opinion

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:22 PM | Permalink | 41 Comments »

March 13, 2008

Handshakes with the Enemy

Abe [Greenwald] already blogged about this, but I wanted to follow up on Diana West

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 3:28 PM | Permalink | 10 Comments »
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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