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Insurgents intended "spectacular" attack on Bagram airbase

The machine gun fire ripped through the silent night air just three hours after I had fallen asleep. Sleeping on the top bunk in a plywood hut at the media unit here at Bagram airbase, I was happy to get out of humid Dubai about nine hours before to fly to this base, which sits on a high altitude plain at 4,000 feet. The air was cool. Upon arrival, I went for a run, followed by a decent military dinner during which I watched part of a Simpson’s episode on the cafeteria’s TVs.

In Iraq, Americans have one foot out the door

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The hot dry wind kicks up the dust around the plywood table and broken chair that pass for a police checkpoint in east Baghdad. The lone policeman is unusually nervous. For once, the police are afraid of us rather than the other way around. After a series of shootings at checkpoints by gunmen with silencers, even a reporter and an Iraqi bodyguard getting out of the car could be potential assassins.

A touch of Hollywood in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq — In a city without cinemas, in a country without movies, the impossible is happening. A tattered red carpet adorns the steps of a battered, gaudy facade in front of the long-defunct Semiramis cinema in Baghdad and cheerfully-dressed journalists, artists and intellectuals bustle past surly soldiers on the way to a movie premiere.

Iraq rolls out the red carpet

Iraq: Dante's hell for animals?

ERBIL Iraq — After a long journey from Thailand to Iraq smuggled inside a backpack, the stale stench of her new concrete surroundings is no doubt an improvement for the 6-month-old lion cub. After pacing the few steps her squalid enclosure allows, "Sero" settles down to chew on the bars of her cage. Aside from the occasional taunting by young visitors, this seems to be the only distraction on offer in her cell.

ElBaradei says sanctions on Iran will fail

MEDFORD, Mass. — Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, believes it is likely the international community will move to impose tougher sanctions on Iran. But the genteel, bespectacled diplomat, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his tireless efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons, is just as convinced that sanctions will fail.

Deconstructing Iraq

Iraq: breaking up is never easy

FORWARD OPERATING BASE QAYYARAH WEST, Iraq — The “consolidation yard” at Contingency Operating Base Qayyrarah West, better known as Q-West, is the size of a football field, and surrounded by steel shipping containers stacked two high, their paint fading under the desert sun. The base is slated to be closed this summer and transferred to the Iraqi government, as the U.S. cuts its number of troops in Iraq by nearly half, from 95,000 to 50,000, by Sept. 1.

Worldview: My first day without Saddam

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Since Iraq became independent from the British in 1921, it has undergone 11 coups. However, for the better part of the 20th century, the structure of the state had never experienced significant change. April 9, 2003, however, saw the end of the Iraqi state and the chaotic beginnings of a new state. On that day a line was drawn to distinguish between two eras. It was the first day of my life to live without Saddam.
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