Front Page: Iraq, April 1, 2003

Newspapers world press
The following is a compilation of today's newspaper reports about the Iraq crisis from around the country and around the world. It is just a sampling of different perspectives, designed to offer additional context into the conflict. Compiled by's Andrew Cohen.

From around the country:

Iliana Limon of the Albuquerque Tribune provided this perspective: "Vietnam War veteran Don Duff sat and smiled at a photograph of his only son as he drank in the sounds of a nearby pro-troops rally. 'I remember being spit on and people calling me a baby killer while I walked through the San Francisco airport in 1971,' Duff said, shuddering at the memory. 'I'm here because I want to make sure our troops never have to deal with that again.' Duff's son, 23-year-old Jesse, represents the fourth generation of the family to serve in the military during a war. Jesse Duff is with the U.S. Army in Iraq. The father rested at a restaurant patio a few yards away from Sunday's rally and turned his son's picture toward the crowd. 'I want him and all the other troops to know that I'm proud of them and that Albuquerque supports them,' Don Duff said. Duff joined hundreds of other New Mexicans waving flags outside Truman Gate at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. The crowd lined the four corners of the Gibson Boulevard and Truman Street intersection in Southeast Albuquerque for four hours Sunday."

Dan Murphy and Phillip Smucker of the Christian Science Monitor filed this report from Kuwait and Indonesia: "Islamic leaders, Web sites, and moderate newspapers across the Middle East are carrying fresh calls for a jihad — and suicide "martyrs" — that could reinforce President Saddam Hussein's plans for a guerrilla war of attrition, say military and counterterrorism experts. 'Hussein has been hoping to make suicide attackers an integral part of his defense since at least the middle of last year,' according to an Iraqi government defector interview by the CIA. Analysts expected it to be difficult for Mr. Hussein to find Muslims willing to die for his regime. While a volunteer might be willing to sacrifice his life in the belief it would earn him entrance to heaven, it seemed unlikely that he would do the same for a regime considered secular and largely corrupt. But what experts find disturbing is that the U.S. invasion is winning Hussein — or at least the Iraqi people — the kind of support among Islamic groups that has, until now, largely eluded him. Volunteers are willing to die for fellow Muslims. Experts are currently seeing a broad-based call across the Islamic world to fight against U.S.-led "aggression" in Iraq."

M.E. Sprengelmeyer of the Rocky Mountain News filed this from in-country: "With the 101st Airborne, Kifal, Iraq — There was a tense moment on the bridge over the irrigation channel. Frustrated villagers had been coming to the U.S. Army checkpoint all morning Monday demanding to get into the locked-down pharmacy, and asking when the power plant and water works would be turned back on. It was one crisis after another for an Army Civil Affairs team short on Arabic interpreters. Then suddenly an elderly gentleman with a blazer over his black robe came around the corner. He was shouting hysterically, gesturing wildly, getting right into the face of the soldiers with their M-4 rifles. Behind him was a woman in a black burka. The man shouted for several minutes until an interpreter figured out he was irate because women in the village were being searched by male soldiers when they approached the checkpoint — something considered a violation in Islamic culture. Civil Affairs stepped in, promising to get female soldiers to the checkpoint. It was just another crisis averted for Civil Affairs teams, who have one of the toughest non-combat jobs on the front lines in Iraq."

Donna Moxley of the Rutland (Vermont) Herald filed this report: "About 70 pounds of toiletries, coffee and candy are on their way to troops in the Persian Gulf from the offices of Springfield Savings & Loan. Tracy Putnam, who works in the loan department at the bank, started to collect donations of items like soap and mouthwash from co-workers after hearing there was a need. Her boyfriend's brother, U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Vernon 'Butch' Sheldon, 38, who had been stationed in Kuwait, said there was a lack of those basics among fellow Marines. The drive has taken off during the past two weeks, to the point where people who aren't even customers of the Main Street bank have been dropping off supplies. The bank is filling its third box of supplies. Sheldon's mother, Ann Sheldon of Proctorsville, said she was touched by the amount of support the troops were getting. 'It's a tremendous outpouring of support from Springfield, which has been economically devastated,' she said. 'It makes me feel better. The people in Springfield are just so giving to these troops...No matter what your politics, these people (the troops) are doing what their government has told them to.' U.S. officials are attempting to limit the volume of material being shipped to Iraq because of space restrictions on air transports and due to safety concerns."

Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post offered this perspective on media coverage: "The Pentagon briefing is proceeding crisply — with praise for the "brilliant" war plan, videos of U.S. bombing hits, color-coded maps of coalition progress — when the tone abruptly turns combative. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, noting that officials have confirmed just 28 American dead and 40 wounded, demands: 'Is there any effort to either un-report or underreport casualties from the battlefield?' 'Oh my goodness. Now you know that wouldn't be the case,' Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says. Growing more agitated by the moment, he says: 'That's just terrible to think that. Even to suggest it is outrageous. Most certainly not.' ABC's John McWethy strikes next, pointing out that no one has contradicted a lieutenant general who says the war will last longer than expected. 'So is this an endorsement of plainspoken assessment of your battlefield commanders when it may not necessarily agree with the perception that the administration has?' 'There's not some coordinated perception that's being peddled,' Rumsfeld shoots back. But the debate over the state of the war is, at bottom, a question of perception, and it is shaped in part by four veteran television reporters who patrol the corridors of this massive building. The M brigade — Miklaszewski, McWethy, CBS's David Martin and CNN's Jamie McIntyre — provides the daily scorecard for millions of viewers. And the Pentagon reporters, it turns out, are not the biggest fans of their embedded colleagues filing from the battlefield."

From around the world:

Saudi Arabia's Arab News offered this: "'People on board joke around with me, and like to give me a hard time,' says Philip Rafic Daou, a Lebanese American. But 'a joke's a joke, and I know they're just kidding with me. No one has been critical of me as an Arab-American.' Daou, 23, is a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, and works in the supply section of the MAG (Marine Aviation Group) 16. He was born and raised in eastern Texas, but his father grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. Daou said his father left Lebanon, in search of a better life, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. 'My grandparents were killed by an Israeli missile.' He says his father worked hard to make a good life for himself in his new country, and met his wife in Mexico. Daou was raised in a two-culture family, and remains a fan of both Lebanese and Mexican food. He has fond memories of his father taking him, and his younger brother, on weekly shopping sprees to a local Lebanese supermarkets. Even now, when he's not on this ship, Daou said he still tries to buy Arab food every week. This is his first trip to the Middle East. He has made plans to visit Lebanon after the war, even though much of his immediate family is scattered throughout the world: 'I have family in Syria, my aunt lives in Kuwait, another uncle lives in Oman, and the rest of my family is in Lebanon. I have a cousin in Paris and another cousin who owns a Lebanese restaurant in Frankfurt. I have another uncle that owns a beauty shop in Beverly Hills, California. So I'm very proud of my roots, and I regret that my father did not teach me Arabic. When this finishes, I'm going back to school to learn to read and write Arabic, so I can use it when I visit Beirut.'"

Lara Marlowe of the Irish Times focused upon an Iraqi family: "You might have thought that Samira and Mouna were likely candidates to support the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq. Widowed sisters in their 70s, they inhabit a tasteful villa on the banks of the Tigris, filled with antiques, family portraits and English books. But steeped as they are in British and American culture, they, like older generations of Iraqis, see this war as a recurrence of colonial history. For the 10 years I've known them, talkative Samira and the more reserved Mouna have reminisced about their school days with the American Presbyterian missionaries, and further studies at the American University in Beirut. Several of their children married Britons or Americans, and they have grandchildren who carry British and U.S. passports. A small portrait of President Saddam Hussein has always sat in the entry of Samira and Mouna's house, but I assumed it was a talisman to ward off neighbor's suspicion, rather than a sign of real affection. Their old Baghdadi family produced diplomats and high-ranking civil servants under the 1921-1958 pro-British monarchy that preceded the Baathist revolution. Over the years, each time I tried to elicit an opinion on the current regime, the conversation veered sharply to literature and painting. So I was surprised to find these two grey-haired ladies spewing epithets against Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair — especially the latter. 'Bush is an idiot — a religious fanatic who understands nothing about the region,' Samira says. 'But we're far more angry with the British, because they know us.'"

The (Amman) Jordan Times offered this editorial view: "One of the pillars of this badly planned U.S.-British campaign against Iraq is obviously the militarization of humanitarian aid. War planners must attach great importance to the fact that aid be delivered by U.S. and British soldiers, if they are willing to openly come to loggerheads with all international relief organizations on this issue. Well, like most other 'plans' of this so-called 'coalition' waging war against Iraq, the Pentagon's attempts to militarize humanitarian operations are not going to work. The first point to be made is that Iraq is a country being invaded. Both words, 'country' and 'invaded,' are to be stressed here. The state of Iraq hinges on a well-organized, though too centralized, capillary network of local authorities. Since 1996, the Iraqi government has put in place an efficient system strong of 45,000 distribution points, from the largest towns to the tiniest villages, to deliver aid purchased under the oil-for-food program. No foreign army will ever equal that. That Iraqis might be more inclined to tolerate the presence of U.S.-British forces on their land once these forces provide them with food, water and medicine, is another illusion. Iraqis know well that, if it weren't for those very U.S.-British forces, they wouldn't be in need and wouldn't find themselves in want of food, water and medicine in the first place."

The Times of London reports: "Shaking his fist at the British armoured column speeding past him, Abdiraza Jeri and his friends spat out a volley of insults as others in the weary trail of refugees threw stones at the Desert Rats [Britain's Seventh Armored Brigade]. The 42-year-old haulage contractor had been walking for three hours to escape the siege of Basra. He was intending to return with his fleet of lorries filled with water so that some of the city's 1.4 million parched residents had something to drink. But he and thousands more tramping along this main road could not understand yesterday why such a formidable array of British tanks was parked on the edge of his city while gangs of Saddam loyalists slowly strangled Basra. British soldiers sitting on their Warrior vehicle looked stunned when a couple of packets of sweets that they had thrown to children were hurled back by their fathers. Clenching his fists in frustration, Mr. Jeri apologized for his outburst. 'I have no love for Saddam, but tell me how are we better off today when there is no power, nor water. There are dead bodies lying in our streets and my children are scared to go to bed because of the shelling.'"

Compiled by Andrew Cohen