Alternate news sources on war in Iraq
By DENNIS CODAY
As the war rages in Iraq, if you grow weary of reports from the mainstream press and journalists embedded with U.S. troops, use the power of the Internet to expand your reach and scope in following developments.
As an aid for readers, NCR has prepared a list of Web sites offering alternative views from those U.S.-based news organizations will be providing. We will add to the list as we can. If you have a Web site to recommend, send the URL to Dennis Coday, firstname.lastname@example.org
For news and analysis
Electronic Iraq is a news portal on the U.S.-Iraq crisis published by veteran antiwar campaigners Voices in the Wilderness and respected Middle East supplementary news publishers, the Electronic Intifada. It was launched Feb. 8, 2003.
Noteworthy features on the site include the Iraq Diaries, which includes entries from three young women from the Al-Adamia Secondary School for Girls in Baghdad, as well as entries from American activitists, such as Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness, and Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada, who are in Baghdad.
The Guardian Unlimited
This is the online edition of The Guardian newspaper, out of London, which has offered news and views critical of the U.S. administration. It is generally a good source of alternative news.
It has a special section, Special Update: Iraq, which contains the papers more recent reports and analysis of Iraq. Highlights in the special section include: U.S. firms set for postwar contracts; Iraqi refugees to face language checks; and an audio report called: A palpable sense of fear in Baghdad.
The Web site also offers extensive background reports on topics such as: the anti-war movement, oil and petrol, Saudi Arabia, the Kurds and depleted uranium.
Dar al Hayat
Dar al Hayat is a London-based newspaper and Web site owned by Saudi Arabia that offers a comprehensive package of professional media reports from the Middle East written by journalists indigenous to the region.
ArabicNews.com offers a daily roundup of news from the Middle East and North Africa. The vast majority of articles seem to originate from the country being reported on.
In the left column under the headline Country News, clicking on Iraq leads to a dozen or so stories about the political and economic status of the country as well as updates on relations between Iraq and other Middle Eastern, Arabic-speaking countries.
Most articles are written in Arabic and are translated into English, so spellings can be quirky. For example, an article about the Vatican spelled Joaquín Navarro-Valls name Jawakin Vals. Also be forewarned -- this site has enough pop-up windows to drive even the most intrepid news-seeker to distraction.
Al Bawaba bills itself as The Middle East Gateway. The Web site carries a lot of links to a lot of information about the region. It also hosts a few chat rooms and online forums (all in English).
Clicking on the Iraq tab at the top of the home page takes you to some news headlines (nothing unique when I last visited), but scroll down to the bottom of that page to find links to some unique Web sites, such as www.Iraq4u.com, which includes Arabic music downloads, recipes and an online poll, and www.iraq.net, which has a streaming radio in Arabic.
The Web site describes itself as an individual organization that is working on a totally independent basis and is having absolutely no connections with the current Iraqi regime. It is important to understand as well that iraq.net is a place for all Iraqis to publish and speak freely about any issue related to Iraq.
A note on the site apologizes for a recent disruption in service, which it attributed to a sophisticated Distributed Denial Of Service Attack that it was investigating.
For background and insights
UNICEFs Iraq Press
This page provides the latest updates and background information on UNICEFs program efforts in Iraq. The child-focused organization has been in Iraq since 1952. The site offers good, independent data; the latest addition is a comprehensive situation analysis. There are also donor updates, press releases and other reports, including the 1999 maternal mortality report.
Here are the headline and first paragraph of a news release I found most disturbing:
UNICEF racing to bolster 400,000 malnourished children in Iraq
Tuesday, 11 March 2003 -- With the threat of war looming over Iraq, UNICEF is providing special therapeutic food for over 400,000 malnourished children across the country in an urgent effort to bolster their chances of survival in the event of a conflict. Working closely with the Ministry of Health, UNICEF has trucked more than 1,000 metric tonnes of high-protein biscuits into Iraq in recent days. The biscuits, which the government is now delivering to health centers across the country, are part of an ongoing UNICEF campaign to reach Iraqi children with life-protecting nutrients and vaccines ahead of a possible conflict.
The Faces of Collateral
This is the featured article by Charlie Clements from the April 2003 issue of Friends Journal, an independent magazine serving the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). An excerpt follows:
I am a public health physician. In January I participated in a 10-day emergency mission to Iraq, sponsored by the Brooklyn-based Center for Economic and Social Rights. Our task was to assess the potential consequences to Iraqi civilians of a war on Iraq. As a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a Vietnam veteran, I have some understanding of the potential consequences of the air war we are about to unleash on Iraq as a prelude to an invasion by U.S. troops. The Pentagon will refer to the innocent victims of this assault as collateral damage, but Ive seen their faces, and I think they should have another name. One that occurs to me is children, since half the population of Iraq is under 18 years old.
Dennis Coday is an NCR staff writer and editorial coordinator for the NCR Web site.
National Catholic Reporter, March 28, 2003