Front Page: Iraq, April 5, 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:

Alfredo Corchado of the Dallas Morning News offered this look on the war from Mexico: "In a concrete-block house behind a humble church, a mother steels herself for the latest casualty report from Iraq. A father, sister and two brothers swarm to the television set to await the news, sharing a silent dread. Relief replaces agony when the name of Rogelio Almeida Jr., a U.S. Army soldier, does not cross the airwaves. 'No news is good news,' said Rogelio Almeida Sr., who looks like he hasn't slept in days. 'This time, war has reached our household.' Mexicans overwhelmingly oppose the U.S.-led war on Iraq, as do hundreds of millions of others from Paris to Peru, polls show. But here in the arid central state of Zacatecas, there is little talk of boycotting U.S. products, trampling or burning American flags. At least 1.5 million Zacatecanos and their offspring live in the United States. Up to 200,000 of these Zacatecanos are of military age, according to the state's Institute for Immigrants, which estimates that up to three-quarters of the Zacatecanos living abroad are legal residents or citizens of the United States. 'Zacatecanos,' explained Miguel Moctezuma Longoria, an immigration expert at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas, `tend to lead simultaneous lives. Opposing the war isn't exactly black and white.' As the war in Iraq intensifies, the prominence of immigrant soldiers like Pvt. Rogelio 'Roy' Almeida Jr. underscores how intertwined the United States and Mexico have become, despite the governments' sharp policy differences."

Richard Dujardin of the Providence Journal looked at war and religion: "From the first moment he realized U.S. officials were entertaining thoughts of a new war in Iraq, the Rev. Jonathan Almond knew he was against it. As pastor of Providence's Mathewson Street Methodist Church, he had seen enough suffering in his eight visits to Israel and the nearby villages in the West Bank to convince him that violence only begets violence. 'There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is not a nice man. His regime is not one worthy of any praise,' he said the other day. 'But war is never a good answer. It brings pain and suffering and loss of life.' Perhaps because his congregation has been accustomed to hearing him preach on love and radical hospitality, few in his church were surprised when he and his wife, Nora, made known their opposition to the impending conflict, encouraging people to attend anti-war rallies and candlelit vigils. What many did not know at first is that the Almonds have a stake in the war in a way that many other ministers do not: their daughter Elizabeth, 23, fresh from being accepted for pre-med study at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, is now part of the Army National Guard's 115th military police unit, which shipped out yesterday for Kuwait."

The Salem (Oregon) Statesman-Journal offered this look at a local loss: "Sgt. Donald Walters, a 1988 graduate of North Salem High School, was confirmed killed in action Friday night. The 33-year-old was part of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company, which was ambushed March 23 in Iraq. Walters is thought to be the first combat fatality since Vietnam with ties to the Mid-Valley. In the days since his disappearance, support for the former Salem resident's family has arrived in many forms: commemorative bracelets and buttons, yellow ribbons, and too many gifts and phone calls to count. Walters' family in Salem stayed behind closed doors Friday night. His sister, Kimberly Cieslak, issued a brief statement: 'We are very thankful and appreciative of all the thoughts and prayers people have given us and everything that the community has done during this time.' Donald's parents, Norman and Arlene Walters, received a secondary next-of-kin notification at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Donald Walters' wife, Stacie, got the official visit from military officials a few hours earlier at her home in Kansas City, Mo., where she cares for their child, a 9-month-old girl. Major Arnold Strong of the Oregon National Guard, accompanied by a chaplain, made a similar visit to the Walters' home just east of Salem. Also present were Walters' sister and her husband, Jason, and their school-age child. 'They were pretty shaken up,' Strong said."

Diane Bell of the San Diego Union-Tribune shared this vignette: "The District Attorney's Office lent four staffers and a law clerk to the forces invading Iraq. Military reservists Yadira Aquilina, Mario Enriquez, Bill Gentry, David Greenless and John Mobius were called up for active duty. Imagine the surprise of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis when she got an unexpected special delivery from the front lines. Maj. Greenless, her former law clerk, sent his colleagues a U.S. flag, encased in glass, that the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force had flown over 'Camp Commando' in Kuwait. Accompanying the flag was a citation recognizing the San Diego County District Attorney's Office for its support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Dumanis has proudly displayed the flag and citation in the 13th-floor reception area of the Hall of Justice."

The Washington Post paid tribute to one of its columnists, the first US journalist killed in the war in Iraq: "Every day of war brings painful losses. One on Friday hit home with particular ferocity for us: the death in a vehicle accident at the front lines in Iraq of Post columnist and Atlantic Monthly editor Michael Kelly. Michael Kelly was one of the premier writers and magazine editors of his generation. He was fearless in all things. He could be ferocious in print, merciless in exposing hypocrisy, intolerant of what he deemed immoral in public life. He didn't care whom he offended. But in person he was warm, funny, unpretentious: It would be difficult to find an editor more beloved by his staff than was Mike -- he would kill us if we called him Mr. Kelly -- during editing stints at the New Republic, the National Journal and the Atlantic Monthly... Like the soldiers fighting the war, and the 600 other journalists embedded with them, he was a volunteer who understood the risks. Like many of them, he left behind a family -- a wife and two young boys whom he loved above all. On the facing page today, we reprint one of the rare columns in which the boys play a starring role. It is not Michael Kelly at his most thunderously indignant, whom we will miss very much. It is Michael Kelly at his most wry and delighted, whom we will miss even more."

From around the world:

Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper reported this: "A communique received in Jerusalem from the American administration this week says the United States is operating with strong resolution to neutralize the Iraqi threat to Israel. After the war, the message continued, the United States will deal with other radical regimes in the region - not necessarily by military means - to moderate their activities and fight terrorism. These current and future U.S. operations will also serve Israel, the American administration says, but have caused tensions between the United States and the Arab world. Israel, the American message says, must play its part to help ease these tensions by taking action with regard to settlements in the territories. The message from Washington adds that the current U.S. administration has no illusions about peace and a return to the political process, merely a realistic view of how to manage the conflict. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet on Sunday with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who returned yesterday from a visit to the United States, and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to discuss Israel's position on the international 'road map' for a resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians. The three will also discuss the recent U.S. communique, which speaks of the importance of dealing with the settlements as a means of bolstering U.S. standing in the region."

Patrick Nicholson of London's Independent newspaper offered this perspective from inside Iraq: "I have recently returned from Angola where I witnessed haunting scenes of poverty but I never expected to see the same levels of misery in Iraq, a country floating on oil. I visited Umm Qasr as part of a Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (Cafod) emergency response team, and had been led to believe it was a town under control, where the needs of the people were being met. The town is not under control. It's like the Wild West, and even the most serious humanitarian concern, water, is not being adequately administered. Everywhere I went in Umm Qasr, people asked me for water. Wherever you look, people are carting around buckets and drums. While tankers are being sent into the city by the Allied forces, people in the town told me that the water was being sold by the Iraqi drivers at 250 dinars for 20 litres - the average Iraqi earns 8,000 dinars a month. The standard humanitarian quota for water in emergency situations is a minimum of 20 litres per person each day. One mother of 14, Umm Sami, listed her day-to-day problems as 'First problem, water, second problem water, third problem water'. Next to her two-room house was an oil drum containing dirty, stagnant liquid, which was the only water store for her entire family. She told me that she was embarrassed not to be able to offer us a drink and also for having a dirty face."

The Kuwait Times looked at this important local story: "Instead of feeling hopeful that the war on Iraq will bring them home alive, families of more than 600 people who disappeared during Iraq's 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait are now more fearful than ever before. With U.S. forces fast closing in on Baghdad, the families of the POWs and missing are fearing the worst -- that the Iraqi regime will take revenge on any Kuwaiti prisoners it may still hold. 'We have mixed feelings,' said Sultan Al-Jazzaf, whose brother Jamal was 20 years old when Iraqi security forces plucked him from his home in Kuwait City during the seven-month occupation. 'Personally, I'm optimistic that if Saddam Hussein's regime is overthrown, the prisoners will be there. But at the same time, I feel that the Iraqis could take their revenge against the prisoners,' he said. 'We're watching the news closely, my other brother is making contacts with his connections in Iraq, but there's no news. Security is getting tighter in Baghdad.' Al-Jazzaf said that early on in the war on Iraq, when the Kuwait Red Crescent Society was providing aid to Iraqis in Safwan, the first town bordering Kuwait, the families were requesting that the society push through the issue and try, through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to search for the missing."

The Times of Oman focused upon Iraqi troops: "Omar Al Hadithi is beyond tough. He keeps struggling to rise from his hospital bed and return to join elite Iraqi forces for one last battle against advancing U.S. troops who have taken control of Baghdad's main airport. The 23-year-old lies on his bed, staring at bloodstains on the floor of his room at the Al Yarmuk Educational Hospital while holding the bandage covering a wound just under his heart. Then, he suddenly lifts his upper body, rests on his palms and slowly utters in a voice revealing tremendous pain: 'I am ready to go back to the front. I want to get up, and go back to the fight. I will fight again, and again and again. I will fight for Iraq till I become a martyr,' he said. The crowd of relatives, friends, journalists and nurses gathered around his bed freezes in silence. Omar says he is a 'proud' member of the special forces of Iraq's elite Republican Guards, headed by Saddam's son and heir apparent Qusay, and who have been behind the resistance to the US occupation of the airport."

Compiled by Andrew Cohen