Karlin Lillington has some interesting coverage from non-embedded journalists in Iraq. Re-produced below.
An interview with a London Times war correspondent in Iraq (Christina Lamb, see her front page story today here) on the national Irish broadcast station RTE radio just now. She is not ‘embedded’ but travelling as an independent; she has emphasised that she can say what she wants and is not restricted by the US/UK military in the way that ‘embedded’ journalists are. She is saying the situation in Iraq is much different on the ground than what she is seeing reported in the US and UK, and to what the military is giving as official versions of events to reporters. Regarding one southern Iraqi city, Umm Qasr, she says: “I think nine times we’ve been told it’s fallen, and it still hasn’t.”
The US is now saying they are “securing” areas rather than actually making them “safe”, she says, she feels because the allies thought they would easily control these areas once they were ‘liberated’. “I think they never expected this kind of resistance,” she says, also noting that these are very small towns and the allies have brought in massive firepower, more than she has ever seen in any conflict, yet seem unable to make areas safe. In contrast to stories she has seen about smiling welcomes for allied soldiers, she says Iraqis are throwing stones and are hostile to the soldiers she has travelled with in the south. Independent journalists are also now being cleared by the military from the city of Safwan; with some independents expecting the so-called embedded journos only will be allowed into these areas to control the newsflow. Sometime after noon GMT you should be able to find the show here; the interview began about 20 minutes into the hour-long programme. Update at 12:20 GMT: try this link for the show.
A similar perspective comes from the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker here: “With less than a week gone, the invasion forces may be slowly winning the battle on land and in the air but Iraq is winning the battle of hearts and minds. To have reached such a position against an adversary who is demonstrably one of the world’s most disgusting tyrants, to have transformed him into a hero figure, and to have transformed the American flag into a symbol of oppression, is not only unfortunate but reeks of political incompetence.”