August 15, 2004
The Associated Press

Iraq Evicts Reporters from Najaf

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi police ordered all journalists to leave the holy city of Najaf on Sunday, just as a new U.S. offensive against militants hiding out in a revered shrine there began. . . .

Though the order did not spell out a punishment for those who did not comply, the police who delivered it said any reporters remaining would be arrested, according to journalists at the hotel. The police said any cameras and cellular phones they saw would be confiscated. In response to the threat, many journalists left the city. The order would mean that the only news coverage of the ongoing violence in Najaf, one of the most revered cities to Shiite Muslims, would be provided by reporters embedded with the U.S. military. . . .

A constitution endorsed by the members of Iraq's now disbanded Governing Council in March includes protections for freedom of speech.


"The U.S. Controls 'Sovereign' Iraq," The Wisdom Fund, June 8, 2004

Milan Rai, "Slaughter in Najaf: Bush Ignited This Insurgency, Not al-Sadr," CounterPunch, August 13, 2004

Jonathan Fenby, "No wonder they banned al-Jazeera. The truth hurts," Independent, August 15, 2004

Adrian Blomfield, "Police fire at reporters as US tanks roll up to shrine," Telegraph (UK), August 16, 2004

[In many ways, the scene seemed like a metaphor for America's problems in Iraq, with the rebel attacks that have spread to virtually every Sunni and Shiite town across this country of 25 million threatening to overwhelm plans for three rounds of national elections next year, ending with a fully elected government in January 2006.--John F. Burns, "Iraqi Conference on Election Plan Sinks Into Chaos," New York Times, August 16, 2004]

[. . . the government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was "blocking" any peaceful resolution of the crisis--Elmarie Jack, "Sadr agrees to peace demands,", August 18, 2004]

"Renewed US attacks target Najaf," BBC, August 20, 2004

James Drummond and Javier Blas, "Baghdad seeks way out of siege at shrine," Financial Times, August 20, 2004

"Senior Muslim figures back Iraqi insurgents," Reuters, August 23, 2004

Sharif Hikmat Nashashibi, "What is so radical about Iraq's rebel cleric?," Independent, August 24, 2004

Donald Macintyre, "Sistani mobilises his 'believers' to march on Najaf in peace bid," Independent, August 26, 2004

"Sadr orders fighters to lay down arms," AP, August 27, 2004

Karl Vick, "Iraqi Holy City Left Broken by Urban Warfare," Washington Post, August 27, 2004

[Whole areas of the city are now in ruins; scores of civilians are dead and tens of thousands of people have left - or lost - their homes. The hotels and restaurants that serve the pilgrim trade to the ancient town are smashed hulks, the roads are littered with ordnance, much of the world-famous cemetery has been shot to pieces.--Jason Burke, "Uneasy peace in rubble of Najaf," The Observer, August 29, 2004]

[t's the same kind of sovereignty Iraqis had under Saddam.--Bill Kauffman, "Operation Slaughter Iraqis," Calgary Sun, August 30, 2004]

["Allawi is a Baathist at heart, and he inherited all of his thoughts and behavior from them," said a senior leader of an Iraqi political party. "He is like Saddam; he has a smile on his face, but a gun in his hand to shoot you with - and he will use it."--Dexter Filkins and Erik Eckholm, "Allawi Walks Out on Sadr Peace Deal," New York Times, September 1, 2004]

"Iraq extends ban on al-Jazeera TV," BBC, September 4, 2004

Steven R. Weisman, "Under Pressure, Qatar May Sell Jazeera Station," New York Times, January 30, 2005

Rupert Cornwell, "US accused of plan to muzzle al-Jazeera through privatisation," Independent, February 15, 2005

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