Iraq: The forgotten war
By Arwa Damon
CNN correspondent Arwa Damon
BEHIND THE SCENES
In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences in covering news and analyze the stories behind the events.
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- "What did you do, how was your day off?" I asked one of our Iraqi cameramen, who will remain unidentified for his protection.
"It was awful," he says, half laughing at himself. "I spent all day trying to get my generator fixed, it was hot and my baby wouldn't stop crying."
He had Friday off because the Iraqi government extended the curfew -- normally from 11 p.m. to 3 p.m. -- to 7 p.m. in an effort to curtail rising violence over the last week -- violence that went largely unreported and internationally unnoticed as the world focuses on the most recent conflict in the Middle East.
But here in Iraq, the cycle of senseless violence continued, indicating once again that there is little that the average Iraqi can do to avoid it.
Twenty-two people were killed in Tuz, northeast of Baghdad, because they happened to be in a coffee shop when an explosion went off.
Less than 12 hours later, 120 miles to the south in Mahmoudiya, more than 40 Iraqis were killed because they were shopping for fruits and vegetables when armed gunmen set off explosives and opened indiscriminate fire.
Just over 24 hours after that, at least 60 Iraqis were killed in Kufa, this time day laborers looking for work.
"People can't think about Lebanon," our cameraman tells me as we watch the images of the aftermath of more Israeli bombs. "If you look at the total killed there, it's what is killed here in a day. People are too worried about just getting through their own day-to-day lives."
A look at the numbers is chilling. According to the most recent report issued by the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq, 5,818 Iraqi civilians lost their lives in May and June alone. More than 14,000 civilians have died in 2006. The U.N. estimates an average of 100 deaths a day.
Iraqis, especially in Baghdad, live in an atmosphere where they calculate risk vs. reward, on even the simplest day-to-day tasks, like grocery shopping or going to the bank.
On Sunday, a suicide bomber drove his vehicle into the middle of one of Baghdad's largest markets, claiming the lives of at least 32 Iraqi civilians, reinforcing the reality that no one is safe.
As the summer heat pounds, life in the capital is suffocating. The government's security plan has done little more than cause more traffic jams at checkpoints.
Iraqis are becoming increasingly fearful of their own security forces as more attacks and kidnappings are carried out by armed groups wearing Iraqi security forces uniforms. The most recent such attack was the kidnapping of the head of Iraq's Olympic Committee and at least 30 others in broad daylight in a busy downtown Baghdad neighborhood on July 15.
Another of our colleagues here just got back from a break in neighboring Syria. Less than 24 hours after he was back in the country he was at his cousin's funeral. The cousin was killed in a drive-by shooting.
Why? No one knows. It's just a reality of life here.
|© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.