Front Page: Iraq, April 8, 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:

Billy House of the Arizona Republic offered a look-ahead: "The treatment and deaths of Pfc. Lori Piestewa of Tuba City and other members of the Army's ambushed 507th Maintenance Unit are being investigated as potential war crimes, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday. And the Bush administration said it does not intend to turn to an international tribunal to handle any criminal prosecutions. 'I think it's safe to say that everything being done surrounding that particular unit is being conducted in terms of potential war crimes,' Army Maj. Ted Wadsworth said. Wadsworth said that includes forensic tests and evidence 'from many of the settings' tied to the Army unit, including the burial site where Piestewa, 23, a Native American; seven other members of her unit; and another soldier were unearthed last week. Their bodies were recovered when U.S. special forces stormed a hospital to rescue Pfc. Jessica Lynch. The bodies were at Dover Air Force Base on Monday and likely will not be released to their families until at least the end of the week because of the documentation and evidence-collection necessary for any war crimes prosecution."

Ann Scott Tyson of the Christian Science Monitor filed this from near Baghdad: "Pvt. Mario Rodriguez has advanced to within a few miles of Baghdad in recent days. But even as the 3rd Infantry soldier pushes ahead with his mission in Iraq, he worries about what he will face back home. 'In Colorado, in my town, people are protesting the war, so I'm stuck,' says the young private. 'Are people going to thank [me]...or are they going to look down on me?' Across the battlefield in Iraq, U.S. troops are asking the same question: What do Americans think of the war? Soldiers for generations have sought public approval for executing a war, with sensitivities reaching new heights during the Vietnam conflict and its anguished aftermath. Today, the intense public scrutiny of the war in Iraq, combined with vocal domestic and international criticism, has some troops wondering if all the risks and toil may earn them only scorn. 'I've seen these kids busting their humps. I don't want us to get involved in another Vietnam. I want us to be involved in a good cause, not a stupid one,' says Staff Sgt. Timothy Roberts of the 3rd Infantry Division's 1-3 Air Defense Artillery Battalion. 'Everyone remembers or sees news clips of soldiers returning from Vietnam, and some of those images still linger,' agrees Capt. Will Griffin, of the 3rd Infantry Division support command. 'We look for validation of what we do,' he says. 'We want to know what the public thinks.' But finding out what Americans think isn't easy in the remote encampments of Iraq. Largely isolated from the world beyond the Army, the soldiers snatch at tidbits of news, read between the lines of the rare letter or call home, and pick up rumors and hearsay."

Patrick Crowley of the Cincinnati Enquirer looked at one airman's wish: "U.S. Air Force Capt. Mark Wisher, the Northern Kentuckian injured during a grenade attack carried out by a member of his own unit in Kuwait, is back home in Tennessee, comfortable but not content. The 29-year-old Florence native is recovering from severe internal injuries and thankful to be back with his wife, Tara, at their home in Clarksville, Tenn., just outside the Army base at Fort Campbell, Ky. Yet Wisher, an F-16 fighter pilot trained to guide air strikes from the ground for advancing troops, is itching to get back into the action. 'It's good to be home,' Wisher said Monday by phone in his first interview since returning to the country Sunday. He spent nearly two weeks recovering at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a U.S. military hospital in Germany. 'But the hardest part about this whole thing is being away from the guys' in his military unit, he said. 'I was with 22 other Air Force guys, and they have pushed north into Iraq. I don't know where they are for sure, but I'm guessing they are close to Baghdad. But because of what happened, I was left behind. It's like not being able to play in the big game.' Though doctors have told him recovery and rehabilitation from injuries to his abdomen, leg and arm will take three to six months, Wisher said he wants to be back on duty much sooner."

Mike Billington of the Delaware News-Journal talked to Vietnam vets: "They hacked through jungles, slogged through rice paddies and scrambled up and down mountains, but Vietnam veterans see parallels between their war and the fighting in the deserts and cities of Iraq. Some Iraqi soldiers reportedly are discarding their uniforms to fight in civilian clothes the way the Viet Cong did. News reports say some Iraqi commanders have forced men to fight by holding their families hostage. The Viet Cong did that, too. Like the Viet Cong, Iraqi soldiers are using religious and medical facilities as operations bases. Iraqi civilians are mounting weapons on vehicles and attacking American troops in rear areas. So did the Viet Cong. 'In war, not everyone wears a uniform. The guys who blew me up wore dungarees and button-down shirts,' said Robert Corsa, 55, of Millsboro, a former Marine sergeant in Vietnam. 'The climate is different, the terrain is different, but it's the same thing,' said Corsa, who received the Purple Heart after he was shot while on patrol. 'Everyone is a potential enemy.' Tim Brooks, 57, a retired dean of students at the University of Delaware, agreed. A lieutenant in the 11th Armored Cavalry, he said he never really knew who the enemy was. 'In one instance I had a very young child try to pick up a gun and shoot me,' said Brooks, who also received the Purple Heart."

Bruce Finley of the Denver Post looked at life and death in Basra: "They died in the mud at the edge of a pond — a dozen paramilitary fighters with rocket-propelled grenades, rifles and blankets. Some were Iraqis. Others came from Syria and Saudi Arabia. One of them, making this last stand for Saddam Hussein, apparently had tried to sleep, burrowing into a berm. Bullets tore into them, a head here, thigh there, chest, neck. Now Iraqi Red Crescent volunteers wearing clear plastic gloves, mouths and noses covered, waded into the mud and lifted out the bloated bodies. These men are 'martyrs,' said Enas, 24, a schoolteacher who helped lug a bloodstained stretcher. 'They were resisting,' she said. 'My heart is broken for these dead soldiers.' Monday brought many sorry scenes like this, as coalition tanks and paratroopers punched into the heart of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city. While the Red Crescent workers loaded their dead onto a pickup, British soldiers nearby lay on their bellies. 'Apparently there's mortars coming in,' Rob Hammond, 26, said as he flattened himself at the side of the road."

And from around the world:

The Jordan Times reports on the death of one of its reporters: "Jordan Times' staff reporter Tareq Ayyoub, also a correspondent for Al Jazeera satellite television station, was killed by a U.S. missile strike on the station's Baghdad offices early Tuesday morning. Ayyoub, who worked with The Jordan Times since 1994, had been seriously injured in the bombing. The station aired footage of him being taken away for treatment in a car belonging to rival network Abu Dhabi television. He later died of his wounds. Another member of Jazeera's Baghdad crew, Zuhair Al Iraqi, was wounded in the neck by shrapnel. Ayyoub, 35, was married with one child, Fatima, and had only been in Baghdad for less than a week. Al Jazeera accused the U.S. military of deliberately targeting its offices and recalled that the station's Kabul bureau had been hit in November 2001 during the U.S.-led assault on Afghanistan. 'We regret to inform you that our correspondent Tareq Ayyoub was killed this morning during the U.S. missile strike on our Baghdad office,' Jazeera said in a statement read out during its news bulletin. Jazeera's Baghdad correspondent Majed Abdel Hadi called the U.S. missile strike and Ayyoub's death a crime. 'I will not be objective about this because we have been dragged into this conflict,' he said, visibly upset. 'We were targeted because the Americans don't want the world to see the crimes they are committing against the Iraqi people.' Jazeera and fellow Arab network Abu Dhabi TV are the only two international channels with their own offices in Baghdad. The two stations were filming the arrival of two U.S. tanks on a major bridge in central Baghdad, close to their offices overlooking the Tigris River. Several incoming blasts boomed out, engulfing the area in smoke, and Abu Dhabi TV said it had lost contact with its correspondent."

The London Daily Mirror offered this perspective: "The grieving parents of the youngest British victim of the war said yesterday that he had dreamed of serving his country since he was four. Kelan Turrington, of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, celebrated his 18th birthday on November 26 last year. He was killed in action as he entered Basra with British forces on Sunday. As Kelan's 15-year-old brother Liam sobbed in the background, his parents John and Ann talked of their tragic "much-loved" son. Ann said: 'We are extremely proud of him. We really, really loved him. He wanted to go to war. He said: "I joined up to serve" and that we weren't to worry because the British are the best. And they are.' John, himself an ex-soldier, added: 'I wrote to him that we were very proud of him, not because he was a soldier, but because he was a good bloke. I have lost my best mate.' According to one report, Kelan was killed by a booby-trap device as his unit swept into northern Basra as part of Operation Sinbad."

The Moscow Times reported on a meeting between Russian and American officials: "U.S. President George W. Bush's national security adviser met with President Vladimir Putin on Monday and delivered a message from her boss saying that the United States is committed to continued partnership with Russia despite the very serious disagreements over Iraq, a senior U.S. diplomat said. Condoleezza Rice's visit, which the diplomat said was scheduled last week, coincided with the firing on a Russian diplomatic convoy outside of Baghdad on Sunday. Even though there has been no confirmation that U.S. troops were to blame, the incident had the potential to sour efforts by both countries to mend relations, but Russia did not appear to allow this to happen. Rice also met with presidential chief of staff Alexander Voloshin, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. Her meeting with Putin was not announced until late in the afternoon, when Interfax reported it, citing Putin's spokesman, Alexei Gromov. The U.S. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the foreign and defense ministers were present during the hour-long meeting with Putin. Following the meeting with Foreign Minister Ivanov, Rice said only that she had had a 'very good' conversation and declined to answer questions from reporters. Later in the day, the U.S. diplomat said both sides seemed 'very pleased' with the talks, which were 'useful in keeping up the dialogue on our relationship.'"

The Yemen Times reported this: "As recent reports from Iraq confirmed that U.S. forces have entered Baghdad on Saturday, Iraqis as well as hundreds of Arabs are bracing for long and exhausting guerrilla fighting that could be carried into the summer, when soaring temperatures would sap the American will to fight. Despite the superiority of the U.S. military, there is hope amid Yemenis and Arabs that the U.S. forces will not be able to continue for too long. 'We will do our best alongside our Iraqi brothers to find Americans face to face' said one of the Yemenis who arrived in Baghdad recently to fight U.S. forces. The Yemeni government however, tried to limit the number of Yemenis leaving for Baghdad as much as possible. It was reported that Yemeni authorities at Sana'a airport prevented Thursday 29 persons from leaving the country for Syria on their way to Iraq to join 30 others who have already arrived in Baghdad last Wednesday. The volunteer fighters denounced behavior by the airport authority and even clashed with them. Some of them were arrested while others set a strike inside the airport for some hours and went back home without their passports. Some sources said that the Syrian airlines said that the passengers should have a round trip ticket which the Yemeni fighters did not have. However, some informed sources said that the Yemeni authorities have denied travel to many people to Syria and that orders have been issued that newly issued passports mainly for ordinary workers should be monitored. 'The Yemeni government is very sensitive to this issue which would embarrass it before the U.S., with which it is having good cooperation, mainly in the war on terrorism,' said one of the Yemenis prevented from leaving."

Compiled by Andrew Cohen